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Grimoire – L’ Aorasie des Spectres Reveurs EP
One-man black metal band from Quebec. It is not overtly difficult to take a correct guess as to Grimoire’s style; atmospheric (in a nostalgic, crave-for-past-glories way) black metal, with a furious edge, graced with excellent guitar riffing (simple yet highly effective in conjuring pure epicness), sparse use of beautiful keyboards, and above all a highly evocative mythical atmosphere. The vocals are more or less of the typical black metal variety, quite passionate, but where they truly shine is when they go for a clean, desperate and hugely epic hue, as in the ending of “Tragedie des Ombres”. Just under 25 minutes, this ep is pure gold, highly recommended for fans of Forteresse and Ephemer, but also for anyone into quality atmospheric black metal.
Heathen – Heathen
Being the first of 4 full-lengths released by this obscure band in 2015 (up to now), all of them named “Heathen”, all of them sporting pre-Raphaelite paintings for covers, all of them released exclusively in tape format. The album in question, released in January, is among the black metal releases (there are also ambient works) of Heathen , and is also the only one that can be found in its entirety online. Here one can listen to mainly early-Burzum-influenced black metal, instrumental in its entirety, with discreet keyboard-aided atmosphere thrown in between. Production-wise the album stirs slightly towards the lo-fi end of the spectrum, though not in an obtrusive way. What really shines in here is the riff quality, which is well above the average. Fans of early 90’s black metal should definitely give it a listen.
Misþyrming – Söngvar elds og óreiðu
Both Iceland (the band’s homeland) and Fallen Empire (the band’s vinyl label) are sectors towards which I turn my radar frequently. Already introduced to Misþyrming via last year’s Fallen Empire compilation, I looked forward to their debut, which rewarded my anticipation. Noxious, maelstromic black metal, which draws upon the darkest side of the orthodox genre (Svartidaudi, Numinous), and wanders through subterranean passages with majestic skill. Top-notch riffing, suffocating atmosphere, and vocals full of command; the necrotic spirit of black metal breathes mightily in here. Another masterpiece from Iceland, following on the tradition of Wormlust, Sinmara and Svartidaudi.
Nocternity – Harps of the Ancient Temples
This one we’ve been waiting for ages. 12 years after the amazing “Onyx”, Nocternity’s third full-length comes finally into light. Taking a different approach, more hypnotic and subdued (not in a bad way), without moments of elation, “Harps of the Ancient Temples” showcases a band that has matured in an elegant way. Mesmerizing mid-tempo black metal of refreshing clarity and originality. If one searches for influences, he may well stumble into the middle tracks of “Hvis Lysset Tar Oss” and the gloomiest parts of “Filosofem”, as well as the more shadowy parts of “Thorns”, all filtered through Khal Drogo’s personal mark. Minimalistic in many ways, Nocternity’s new opus is an album that breezes, not blasts, its path through the listener without much effort, without climaxes, and ends up winning you all the way.