EP Review: Vials of Wrath – Ataraxia

cover.jpgReview published at Indy Metal Vault.

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Album Review: Widziadło – Void

September 29th, 2017 (Poland); Opus Elefantum Collective
LP (47 min.)
Dark Ambient, Funeral Doom Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal



cover (1).jpgVoid is the debut album of the Black Metal duo Widziadło. The label dubs their music “Cosmic Ritual Black Metal”, which is a fitting description, but only touches on some elements of their music. More on that later. The band consists of the musicians Zguba, who debuted in 2016 with an interesting martial industrial album titled „The Last Command”, and T., who would like to stay anonymous. The whole project was born in 2012, when the artists met each other by mere accident on a Chilean beach. They realized that they shared the dream of space travel to experience the cosmic void and this shared dream united them instantly. The idea behind Widziadło was to reach sonic transcendency, a breakaway from well known reality and dimension. Widziadło is the result of the longing for a metaphysical, out-of-body liberty, a transcendence into the cosmic void.

The completion of Void took over half a decade. Through the years, the project continuously changed its sonic identity –  from space ambient to shoegaze, from sophisti-pop to harsh noise. The final result is an almost entirely instrumental album that combines all these elements into a rather unique sonic experience.

The album starts with “Gateway”, a track that begins like your typical shoegazy Atmospheric Black Metal song – a repeated riff and monotonous drums, howling incomprehensible vocals in the background. The folk influences become more obvious as the song goes on and the guitr works gets a bit more varied. It isn’t until the song is halfway over though, that something really interesting happens. The second half of the song was quite surprising to me though, as it introduces ambient elements to the Black Metal sound, reduces the tempo and starts getting more and more “spacey”. It becomes clear what the band is trying to convey with this album – a connection with the endless void of space on an atmospheric level. The guitar work on this track is a bit hindering in my opinion, as it stays rather monotonous and kind of boring throughout the whole track. A stronger focus on the ambient elements would have made this a better introduction to the album, in my opinion, but it is still a solid track in the context of the whole record.

With “Beyond Earth And Reason”, Widziadło are clearly paying hommage to well known Cascadian Black Metal acts like Wolves In The Throne Room or Falls of Rauros, but expand the typical Cascadian sound by synth lead melodies reminiscent of Atmospheric Black Metal bands like Elderwind. It is a very atmospheric and beautiful track, that isn’t crazily original, but a very good Atmospheric Black Metal track that shows that Widziadło definitively have some decent songwriting skills and a feeling for atmosphere.

“Nether Reach” is the first pure Ambient track on the album – and a fantastic one. The atmopshere evoken by the droney industrial and cosmic sounding noises on this track is creepy and very evocative – it takes you right into “the void”. A fantastic track and probably one of my favorites on the album.

“Halo” is a combination of what has happened so far on the album – a song that takes in both Ambient and Metal elements and floods the listener with crushing waves of sound. This song cannot be described as Black Metal, but comfortably sits in the genre of Atmospheric Funeral Doom. With slow drums and guitars, laid over an ethereal Ambient soundscape, the track instantly creates an atmosphere of solitude and emptiness on a cosmic level.

“Creation” continues this stylistic direction and is another slow paced track that is primarily defined by dark Ambient walls of sound and slow Funeral Doom riffs, but also brings back some of the Black Metal elements that dominate the first two tracks on the album. The song has a very creepy vibe to it, which is supported by the avantgard structure of the first half of the track. This song is another fine example of great atmospheric music that sits in the upper echelon of the songs on this record.

The album is brought to a close by the epic 13 minute long “Entering The Void”, which is the culmination of all the influences that define the sound of this record, and is at first even slower in tempo, leaning towards the Drone Doom side of things, then getting back to the Black Metal sound that dominates the first two tracks, while throughout the playing time once more strengthening the ethereal concept of the album with dreamy synths and shoegazy guitar riffs.

Void is a surprising album that starts off sounding like an average Atmospheric Black Metal album, but then progresses into a mighty fine ambient-laden Blackened Funeral Doom record that is evocative and entertaining, chilling and beautiful and with a unique sonic and thematic identity. While the album has some problems regarding creative guitar work, especially on the Black Metal parts, the ambient elements and the general atmospheric value of the whole record make Void an album that is definitely worth your time, especially if you are a fan of Atmospheric Black Metal, Funeral Doom and/or Ambient music.


Void will be released September 29th and can be preordered from Bandcamp.

Album Review: Eoront – Another Realm

June 16th, 2017 (Russia);  Code666 (Aural Music)
LP (62 min.)
Atmospheric/Symphonic Black Metal


coverAbout the band

Eoront is a Russian Atmospheric Black Metal band that was founded in Krasnoyarsk in 2012 as a one man band. In 2013 the band independently released its first full length record “Neverending Journey”. In 2014, the German underground label Wolfsgrimm Records released the second album “Dhaar” consisting of two twenty-minute tracks. In the same year the band got a full live line-up and began to play concerts. One year later the band signed a contract with the Italian label Code666 and began recording their newest full-length album “Another Realm”. All members of the band participated in the recording and production of the album.

The band name “Eoront” is a neologism and the name of a fictious world with its own legends, myths, traditions and structure, which were initially the main content of Eoront‘s lyrics.

About the album

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“Another Realm” is a continuation of the journey around the world Eoront.
At this point in the history of this fictious world, Eoront has developed into a world of flourishing industry, pollution and large-scale wars. But it’s also a world where magic is always present. According to the band, the music on this album tries to portray the dichotomy and war between the decadence, dirt and chaos of the dark side of Eoront and the beauty and purity of its nature on the other side.
Lyrically, the album doesn’t explicitely talk about Eoront but consists primarily of poems by the Russian poets of the Silver Age – Nikolai Gumilev, Maximilian Voloshin, Alexander Blok and Konstantin Fofanov, who in their works combine the pain of the modern world and the enjoyment of the natural beauty of the past.

Track by track review 

The album is opened up by “The Rain”. The track begins with an Ambient introduction with a creepy atmosphere to it and then abruptly leads into raw Black Metal with the ambient theme still playing in the background. A very promising introduction into the album that sets the dark tone of the rest of the record very effectively and wakes interest for what is to come.

Track 2, “Two Worlds”, goes into a slightly different stylistic direction than the first track. The pacing is similarly fast, but the song isn’t as raw as the intro track and features a big amount of orchestral elements that play in the background. The orchestral elements, which immediately reminded me of the Norwegian band Kråke, are a major part of the whole album and give the music a very grand and epic atmosphere.

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The third track, “Genesis”, is a rather monotonous track with a very dark and pressing atmosphere. In my opinion, it’s a little too long for what it has to offer musically, but that’s just a minor flaw, considering the atmospherical value of this track.

“The Glow”, the fourth track on the album, is slower paced than most of the music on “Another Realm”, but contains multiple tempo changes, making it a very exciting song to listen to. Being both varied and atmospherically coherent, this song is a great example of a good balance between atmosphere and compositional creativity. One of my favourite tracks of the album.

“The Sea” is a song that begins with rather uninteresting classic Black Metal riffery but in the middle part it becomes very atmospheric and interesting. The orchestral and ambient elements are very effective on this track and give it a nice atmosphere that leads perfectly into the following song.

“Dreamcatcher” is again slower paced in the beginning and becomes a bit faster later on. This song has a very nice flow and takes the listener on an almost hypnotic and at times nightmarish journey. The drumming on this track is rather prominent and adds a dynamic element to the dense atmosphere. It seems like the longer tracks on this album are also the best ones. This song, much like “The Glow”, offers atmosphere and musical variance, it is both constantly atmospheric and musically creative. A great song, all in all.

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The last track on the album, “The Order of Light”, begins at very high tempo blast beats and guitar riffing with relentless vocals and impending symphonics in the background. A piano line adds a certain amount of “beauty” to the dark atmosphere and makes it an interesting listening experience that than leads into creepy distorted keys playing over a slow guitar riff and slow, heavy drumming. From there the song develops into an almost progressive sounding track with varied drumming and exciting synth and organ passages and ends with a nice ambient passage that is reminiscent of the album’s intro. A nice way to close the album off.

A few general things about the music, that more or less count for all the songs on this album: The vocals on the album are very good. They are not very versatile but in their range they are powerful and perfectly fitting for the music. The music generally sounds epic and “big”. This isn’t the lo-fi kind of Black Metal but is well produced and pleasant to listen to. In my opinion, Eoront really managed to create an atmosphere on this album that is both dark and frightening and kind of beautiful at the same time.

Conclusion

To sum it up, “Another Realm” is a very strong Black Metal record that provides a great amount of musical and compositional variance but is also very coherently atmospheric throughout the whole playing time. If you speak Rusian, I’m sure the listening experience will be even more interesting for you. If you like atmospheric, symphonic and/or melodic Black Metal, you have to give this album a spin!


You can purchase this album physically and digitally from Bandcamp.

Visit the band’s official facebook page.

Album Review: Arkheron Thodol – Thaw

April 20th, 2017 (USA); Self-released
LP (57 min.)
Atmospheric Black Metal, Post-Black Metal, Folk Metal


Review Thaw 2Because Black Metal originated in Europe and is commonly seen as a “European” genre of Metal, many seem to forget (or ignore) how many great Black Metal bands there are on the other side of the big sea. Among those who do not ignore that fact, the US-American Black Metal scene is primarily known and loved for their atmospheric, folk and nature influenced style of Black Metal¹. The American scene gave birth to some of the greatest bands and artists in that particular subgenre. Bands like Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room and Panopticon are loved by Black Metal fans internationally. Those are only some of the rather “popular” bands in the scene, but there are many, many more great bands in the underground.

Arkheron Thodol is one of those bands. Hailing from Bozeman, Montana, Arkheron Thodol is an unsigned/independent band that was founded in 2012 and currently consists of four members. In 2015 the band released their 18 min debut EP “Oneironaut” (which I haven’t listened to yet). “Thaw” is the band’s first full-length record.

I was really happy when I received an email from the band asking me to review this album, because Atmospheric Black Metal is one of my favorite subgenres of Metal and I honestly can’t get enough of it. While I really enjoy other subgenres of Black Metal, as well, none of them really touches me on an emotional level the way many Atmospheric Black Metal bands do. Only if they’re good, of course. And this album is good. It’s actually much more than just “good”. It might be one of the best albums of 2017 I’ve heard so far.

The music on “Thaw” is a combination of many different styles of music, like Funeral Doom Metal, Folk and Ambient, all masterly melted together on the foundation of Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal.

The first track of the album begins with a folky acoustic passage that is followed by melodic doomy guitar riffs and earshattering vocals. After a short acoustic passage the song’s tempo is then increased and the guitars and vocals become more aggressive and Blackened. The song than ends with an acoustic Folk passage. This structure and the contrast between beautifully melodic and atmospheric parts and raw passages is representative for the whole album. It is one of the reasons why “Thaw” is so entertaining and interesting. The band manages to create atmosphere without being too repetitive and one-dimensional – unlike many other bands in the genre. Their best characteristic is variety and versatility. And while the elements of their music generally aren’t anything completely new in the genre, Arkheron Thodol‘s music is still quite unique in the way those elements are put together.

Besides acoustic passages in most of the tracks on “Thaw”, there are also a few completely acoustic tracks on this album, which is again pretty common for the genre, but they are very well played and placed on the album, which makes them stand out from many other songs of that kind I’ve heard.

Another pretty cool element of the music on “Thaw” are the ambient and spoken word parts. Fun fact: This is the second album I’ve heard this year that features a spoken word passage from the Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man” (the other one being “The Storm Before The Calm” by Death Therapy).

Generally, “Thaw” is well structured and produced, every song on the album is very well written, the musicians know what they are doing and the vocals are fantastic, as well. “Thaw” has beautiful melodies, great riffs and an absolutely captivating atmosphere. It really brings the best out of Folk, Doom and Black Metal together. I actually don’t have anything negative to say about the music, except for it maybe being a bit to “generic” in the sense that the music is not exactly anything “innovative”. But to be honest, if the music is good and manages to intrigue and entertain me, that doesn’t bother me at all, especially not in the genre of Black Metal.

But not only the music on “Thaw” is great, the lyrical concept of the album is pretty awesome, as well. It is quite complex, so I let Mycah Tippit, guitarist of the band, explain it to you instead of trying to summarize it myself:

Thematically, the album Thaw tells the story of someone awakening to a new depth of consciousness, and a more fully embraced sovereignty. However, before this path can be truly realized, one must clearly see the extent of the artificially created social programming that colors their experiences. Then they must make a focused effort to dismantle these behaviors. It is this conditioning or programming that forms the ice that must be thawed to release the true self. Thaw is the melting away of the force field that blocks one from experiencing the truth of our shared experiences. Thaw is the story of our species and its quest to fully connect and unify itself. The album touches on social issues regarding personal sovereignty and a harmonious symbiosis with the natural world.

To sum it up, if you like your Black Metal atmospheric and melodic or if you generally are a fan of atmospheric, yet extreme music, this album is for you and you should definitely check it out. As for myself, I’d say this album is a strong contender for my Top 10 of 2017 already, but we’ll see what the rest of the year will bring. Either way, go ahead and listen to the two tracks that are available for streaming on bandcamp and preorder the album if you like what you hear.


“Thaw” will be released April 20th, 2017 and can be preordered on bandcamp.

The band on facebook: Arkheron Thodol


¹) Some of those bands are often summarized under the genre tag “Cascadian Black Metal”, which is, much like “Norwegian Black Metal” or “Swedish Black Metal” often used to describe the specific sound of certain bands, even if they are not Norwegian, Swedish or Cascadian. I do not use these terms as genre descriptions because I often find them to be rather confusing and misleading.