Alright folks, time slipped away as it always does and here we are at the end of 2017’s cycle. It was an intense year on all fronts but you are here for the music part and that’s what I’m gonna give you, thus hopefully satisfy your tastes of extreme sounds. Black metal in particular offered a rich harvest. In fact, so much that I couldn’t handle myself, which is why I fell behind on the main highlights of this year. Anyway, for the last (probably) recommendation til we turn 2018, I’ve selected a splendid collection of 3 CDs that embody variety at its highest magnitude. From crushing brutality and unexpected twists to a strikingly beautiful ambience that will infect you immediately. Without further due, I present you Arkhon Infaustus, Heir and Spectrale of Ladlo Productions.
Arkhon Infaustus – Passing The Nekromanteion
When it comes to Arkhon Infaustus, I’ve gotta admit that my very first encounter with their legacy was when I discovered “Passing the Necromanteion“. This band is one of those having an abundant discography encompassing a stellar reputation ever since 1998 when their first EP saw the light of day. Yeah, they have been around for quite some time but somehow they never crossed the limits of my radar until today. Anyway, what I discovered in the package is probably the most wicked and putrid sonic mass that I’ve ever heard in LADLO’s roster so far. This brings me to exclaiming:
Ladlo, you need to produce more of this stuff!
I’ve repeatedly stated that I associate LADLO Productions with the post/experimental shades of black metal and Arkhon Infaustus’s latest opus struck me as surprised in the most positive manner. “Passing the Necromanteion” does not shy away from experimenting, mind you. Its core is very much so but it is heavily inclined towards the harsh black/death universe. In fact, it is so damn heavy and downright brutal that one could experience the raging fires of chaos throughout the span of 33 minutes. Every part building this masterpiece is performed in a professional manner and with strong character. Be it sound engineering, packaging or song writing. The latter is what I loved the most! The 4 tracks outline a metaphysical experience tearing precipice wide open to a realm of utter chaos magic and satanic supremacy.
Psychedelic delirium and turmoil are the driving forces behind this destructive EP. A symbiosis of maniacal instrumentalship encompassing unexpected twists, each with its point of interest that make you stick around and admire at the unique ideas that break apart any possibility for dullness whatsoever. Clearly, Arkhon Infaustus make it evident that they are very much into challenging technical stuff, which is why versatility is the single most important word I could use to describe “Passing the Necromanteion“. Simply, just the right amount of complexity to spice things up and make you wonder what’s coming next until you get blown away by the upcoming black storm.
Aside from the outstanding instrumental performance, the vocals are my biggest favourite here. Deviant’s inhuman growls reek of demonic obsession and poisonous madness that perfectly complement the rest ingredients. His dedication to the left-hand path is manifested through the intensity that continues to grow with each following track to a point where no remnants of humanity are left. Absolutely awe-inspiring as this genre is meant to be!
You see, for some people black metal has become as easy and comfortable as pop music. However, Arkhon Infaustus remind us that this sub-genre is truly dangerous and obsessive. That it deals with forces mightier and so damn corrupted that there is no way back from the abyss. And most importantly, that it is not meant for everyone!
Heir – Au Peuple de l’Abîme
Ever since I featured Heir participating in a split with Spectrale and In Cauda Venenum, I had that frustrating feeling about them. I was a little mad because this band turned out to be so bloody good yet they had very little room to shine through and dammit, I wanted more of it so much! Well, finally this 5-piece blackened orchestra has returned with a debut titled “Au Peuple de l’Abîme” and man, it is quite the beginning! For a band that marks its existence since 2015, their work appears to be so mature that one could think their discography offers far more than 3 releases. But let’s see what’s inside this CD, shall we?
Overall, Heir comes forth with a track list of 5 songs that equal to 40 minutes of oppressive anti-human matter. They portray the pitfalls of human nature and susceptibility to corruption leading to mass confusion and hysteria. A deviation from the right path to enlightenment inspiring this album that sings about the malignant state of existence we are all put in. Although, this lyrical theme has been seen and heard many times already, Heir captures the emotions of anger and disappointment very tightly, which is why “Au Peuple de l’Abîme” is so infectious and honest. The pain and darkness is carried through a torrent of fast-paced black metal riffage, topped up by opiating melodies of shattering dissonance. Amidst the beating aggressiveness, there are calm passages of heartbreaking sorrow that could easily seduce the listener into deep reflection about the world we live in and the fact that we do not deserve its goods. We are not ready for them.
Now, if you happen to be a purist or so-called “black metal elitist”, I need to clarify something. “Au Peuple de l’Abîme” is not your true 90’s like release as it borrows elements from genres like post-metal and sludge. They are not predominant but vital enough to adapt Heir’s style in their own way of envisioning how black metal should sound in the modern era. Personally, I am always up for all things experimental as long as it doesn’t wash away the original purpose of this dark form of artistry, which is not the case here.
Speaking of the production, I am more than satisfied because there were no factors that prevented me from enjoying this record to the fullest. I did notice that the sound is intentionally dull, setting an appropriate vibe given the massively oppressive nature of the album itself. Anyway, my expectations were confirmed since the day I discovered Heir; amazing quality and promising future that I am keen to witness as time unfolds.
Spectrale – ▲
As we just reached the grand finale, we are about to step away from the extreme metal underground and resort to an unexpected climax. The last CD that I am about to recommend you defines what exploring new musical grounds mean. Spectrale’s debut album symbolically marked as triangle sets off to an esoteric journey that will trigger all your senses. The project’s mastermind Jeff Grimal (The Great Old Ones) presents an introspection that involves a different approach of blending acoustic music, oriental influences and meditative atmosphere together.
“Triangle” is an atypical effort to reach new heights by exploring combinations that will further deepen the contemplation process and immerse the listener into the experience itself. Although, I am rarely spending time digging up acoustic albums, I’ve got to admit that I am glad that I bumped into “Triangle” as it gives away more than a mere listening session.
In fact, this is a complex and highly intelligent form of art no matter what angle you look at. From the intricate instrumental compositions to the stunning artworks, all done by Jeff Grimal himself; everything speaks of how much great care was taken of during the production of this album. In one way, I see Spectrale’s debut as a cure for wellness where you take on your treatment and re-imagine yourself as a purified soul. Completely free of the rusty chains of life, with wings spread wide open flying towards the golden sunrise of rebirth. My initial judgement that I shared about Spectrale in the previous post concerning the split with Heir and In Cauda Venenum was not entirely adequate. I believe this is the best opportunity to admit that I didn’t appreciate the potential of this band as much as now. I hope you understand how truly beautiful this debut is.