wormlust – the feral wisdom (2013)

don’t really know how to… mental disorder black metal? it is so refreshing and life-affirming to find out that people do such music. just as the colossally awesome cover work hints, the album is an exceptional piece of abstract art. horror, confusion, chaos, atmosphere all put together. there are precious few moments of conventional music, as we know it. the songs are structured in a way that feels random pieces randomly put together, at first few listens. so frequent shifts in tempo, direction and melody. it is so inaccessible and hard-to-listen that it embraces you. i listened, with my beloved headphones over and again and i feel i will do so for some time to come. technically, dare i say the reversal of the bass / lead guitar may be revolutionary. bass leads the melody, supported deliciously by masterful drum work and the guitar for the most part adds the buzz / noise layer with occasional ring / lead exceptions. oh and the electronics. and the atmosphere created collectively. brief singing sections range from furious shrieks to whispers and carry along the atmosphere (besides the album title, everything is in icelandic). the first song explodes with deranged and disorienting energy and confusion after a brief intro and carries on pausing and shifting for over ten minutes. the confusion intensifies at the second track, which wanders the deeper parts of the black metal realm, directionless. possibly my favourite. the third one is more of a totally ambient piece, and it is without exaggeration a masterpiece of deranged and confused form of ambient music, if that is a thing. and the closing track  carries on where the second track left, with so much wandering, experimenting and shifting to give way to the closing minutes of deathblow, where everything is wrapped up beautifully. wow iceland.


almyrkvi – pupil of the searing maelstrom (ep, 2016)

ever since samael took all of us totally off guard by the first beats of “rain” some twenty years ago (whoa), not only with its unprecedentedly evolved and fresh sound structure (which took years to accept for the conservative metalhead), but also a fresh concept, several black metal bands have dabbled in space stuff. today cosmic black metal is a thing. besides the likes of black metal elite oranssi pazuzu, bands like alrakis (reviewed below), darkspace, midnight odyssey, mesarthim and such include cosmic black metal elements in their music in varying degrees. now almyrkvi, the one man project of icelander garðar s. jónsson, the guitarist of sinmara, have hit us hard with his oven-fresh debut ep. the music is slow, heavy, loaded with electronic effects and using the electronic beats for emphasis to perfection. the vocals are throaty and brutal and seriously, i have no problem with that. the fourth song feeding the void is my favourite. i have a feeling that i will fondly look back at today as the beginning of something beautiful.

ravencult – temples of torment (2007)

through my black metal explorative journey, supported by youtube, i come across such pieces of art that totally embrace me and keep me from multitasking. today was a lucky day and the greek band’s debut is such an album. the 2007 work is, in blood, fiercely old-school. razor sharp guitars, (extremely well played) fierce drums, shrieking vocals and no bullshit. the song structures, cymbal / shriek openings or fade out / ring out closings, or the loud chanting that open and close the album, are so in tradition. but, and that’s a big but, it is so fresh. the clear and crisp production gives all the instruments’ due, the sound borders industrial and the vocal effects fit the music perfectly. especially the first half carries a strong punk influence that we came to love in black metal, when executed this successfully. you just can’t help but bang your head or play the air drum (if that is a thing). things take a more traditional nordic turn by the sixth song “the nightsky codex”, my favourite, which is oh so slow and strong. the last two classic black metal pieces and the loud chanting close the album, which i wouldn’t mind playing in loop.

〇 – null & void (2014)

the singer is in pain. the guitarists are in pain. the listener is in pain. the listener’s ears are in pain. everyone is in pain and there is no hope, no joy, only emptiness, agony and loss.

the amount of black metal majesty coming from iceland these past few years is so pleasing. the debut album of the icelandic quintet 〇 includes a single song that lasts for 34 minutes full of anguish and insanity, appropriately titled “null & void”.

the band obviously hold no regard of traditional music structure or any slightly positive human emotion. they also take a different, patient and artful approach to song build up. starting up ever so slowly and painfully, gradually evolving into a repeating structure of riffing and crescendo accompanied by painful black metal shrieking. there are no audible lyrics, i’m not sure if there is any. around the 8 minute mark the tempo drops even slower, two guitars ringing somewhat independently, the bass calmly following the main theme and now we have awesomely spine-chilling chanting. this shriek and riff filled song / chant and ring filled interlude structure is loosely followed throughout the album and each time we see a change of main theme, if not tempo. oh, and the drums. so calm and well executed.

the song peaks at around 15 minutes with a blast beat that lasts for a while, then giving way to typical slower passages that delve further into doom/black madness and experimentation. despite sounding like an obvious pink floyd / king crimson style improvisation throughout, the material is meticulously put together. although one could only wonder the state of mind during such a composition. the themes are so intertwined and patiently shifted, 〇 make you lose track of the music as well as time and reality.

the song returns to a recurring main theme and builds it to a peak to finish off. after the song ends, the guitars are still ringing in my ears. an extraordinary black metal experience.

skáphe – skáphe² (2016)

behold, a black metal happening. chaotic to the point of cacophony, relentless, brutal, disharmonic, sinister, deep and without compromise. not much can be said about song structures besides being norm breaking. intertwined soundscapes, echoes, sound effects, overlaying vocals and confusion. the overall effect is a vision of hell being raised on earth. literally. a great listen, commanding another go. and another.

skáphe includes alex poole of chaos moon and krieg and icelandic d.g. of misþyrming and 〇 (a personal favourite) and even those black metal credentials do not prepare you for what to come in their debut skáphe2. the main feat is the sound. so full of reverb and noise, the music seems to emerge from a cave, or more specifically the depths of hell, which might be the idea judging from the cover art. an interesting note is that it is painted by the icelandic h.v. lyngdal, the mastermind of the colossal black metal act wormlust.

as the first paragraph hinted, the music structure is pretty difficult to describe and there is an evident lack of source for comparison. the songs open, build up and shift so abruptly and unexpectedly, it feels like the duo have ocd and just wish to play with new ideas. there are passages cut mid-scale for the sake of new material. most songs are loaded with lengthy psychedelic experimentation, especially in the slower and heavier side b.

bass tops the sound, first to be heard and instead of following the rhythm, it sways and leads, adding further complexity. then comes the insane drums that set the tone. the shrieking, delirious, painful and overlaying vocals adds to the insanity. there are no lyrics available and i highly doubt if there is any. while the guitars ring and wail most of the time, riffing actually takes effort to hear, creating the base buzz layer.

skáphe seem to have opted for an experience of horror that transcends reality into a hellish / nightmarish phantasmagoria instead of conventional musical structure. and they deliver. since there is no abstract division between songs, which have no names but roman numbers, it is difficult to speak of a favourite song, but a collection of favourite moments, which last for about 35 minutes.

addaura – burning for the ancient (2012)

burning for the ancient is the debut and so far the sole full-length album of the american four-piece addaura. and it is such beautiful music. not particularly ground-breaking or avant-garde as such, but so well executed. all the instruments are well toned and easily audible, yet the overall sound is rather deep, murky and kind of old-school. still, addaura leans toward the newer black metal in song structure and atmosphere. the four songs contain rather simplistic melodies that have ample space to repeat and bleed out, cut timely between slower passages. the drumming carries the music and often stands out to define the melody, thanks to artful cymbal work. the deep and shrieking vocals complement the melancholic atmosphere created, accompanied by the very rare female chanting at the end. the opening track with that haunting theme is definitely my favourite.

burning for the ancient, abd’li dörtlünün ilk ve şimdiye kadarki tek albümü ve o kadar güzel bir müzik ki. black metal’de çığır açan bir albüm değil tabi ki, ama yapmak istediklerini son derece iyi biçimde yansıtıyor. tüm enstrümanlar uygun tonda ve kolayca duyulabilir olmakla beraber, genel ses biraz derin, çamurlu ve eski usul. yine de, addaura, black metal’in daha yeni halini sunuyor. dört şarkı, hakkını verecek süreye sahip, uzunca tekrarlanan basit melodiler ve düzenli, daha yavaş geçişlerden oluşuyor. davul müziği taşıyor ve özellikle sanatkarane zil performansıyla zaman zaman önüne geçip melodiyi belirliyor. derinden gelen çığlıklar, yaratılan melankolik atmosferi tamamlıyor. albümün sonundaki çok kısa kadın vokal geçişi de kayda değer. aynı zamanda albümde bas çalan heidi gruptan ayrılmış. bana musallat olan temasıyla açılış parçası mutlak favorim.

alrakis – alpha eri (2011)

alone in a dark and cold room with the windows open is how this piece of music makes me feel. german one-man project alrakis’ sole album (so far) alpha eri is the perfect album for such a narrow audience. the album masterfully combines the outer space feeling with ambient / atmospheric black metal, topped with sorrow and loneliness; a formula tried numerous times with varying levels of success. the overall sound is deliberately distant, as if from underwater. there is no evident distinction of individual songs, the album is rather like a one lengthy song, starting at low tempo, continuing ever slower and ending at an ambient tone. especially that last track ngc 3242 (ghost of jupiter) is a masterpiece in itself. the minimalistic, repetitive and stretched keyboard leads the music, supported by drone-y riffing and shrieks of anguish and loneliness. however, through all this murky soundscape there is an undeniable beauty. alpha eri is such a rare example of a solid, minimalistic and transcendental black metal piece that engulfs the listener on a trip through the stars and feelings. hats off. 

bu müzik bana soğuk, karanlık ve pencereleri açık bir odada yalnızmışım gibi bir his veriyor. alman tek adam projesi alrakis’in şimdiye kadarki tek albümü alpha eri, çok dar bir dinleyici kitlesi için müziğin doruk noktası. albüm son derece başarılı biçimde ambient / atmosferik black metal içine uzay boşluğu hissinin üzerine üzüntü ve yalnızlık katıyor. bu, aslında defalarca denenmiş ve değişik ölçüde başarılmış bir formül. albüm genel olarak istemli biçimde uzaktan veya su altından geliyormuş gibi bir sese sahip. şarkılar arasında belirgin bir geçiş yok; albüm daha ziyade yavaş bir tempoda başlayıp daha da yavaşlayarak devam eden ve ambient halde biten uzun ve tek bir şarkı gibi. özellikle son şarkı ngc 3242 (ghost of jupiter) bir şaheser. minimalist, tekrarlı ve uzun klavye tonlarının öncülük ettiği müziği drone’umsu riff’ler ve acı ve yalnızlık dolu çığlıklar destekliyor. yine de, bütün bu duygu karmaşası içinde inkar edilemez bir güzellik var. alpha eri dinleyiciyi yıldızlar ve duygular arasında bir seyahate çıkaran, sağlam ve boyut ötesi, nadir bir black metal örneği. şapka çıkardım.