ergholae somptator – morendo jusqu’à la fin (ep, 2016)

there are so many reasons to be happy in life. you have kittens, smell of earth after a brief summer rain, lazy sundays, and french black metal. of all the amazing stuff coming from france, ergholae somptator is the most recent one, which i would have missed if it wasn’t for the polite notification of the drummer/keyboardist/singer jérôme bouquet that made me feel kind of famous. léo louis-honoré handles guitars and vocals.

the duo’s second release “morendo jusqu’à la fin”, just under 20 minutes contains four songs individually travelling different realms of black metal. and you would expect an ep to showcase songs that variate (fun fact: limited to 66 cd’s and 66 cassettes). the short opener “rhizomes insidieux” is a thrash/black blast that abruptly drops tempo towards the end, making the blast beat filled “prisonnier des orbites” even more striking. this track, still in the thrash vein, serves some death and atmospheric black metal moments as well. the band keep exploring new ground as the third piece “un manteau en chauves-souris” delve into pagan & stoner/doom with a hypnotic main theme and light symphonic touches of keyboards and a sorrowful clean guitar interlude. and frankly, they are at their best in those moments of suspense and atmosphere. the horror show that closes the proceedings, “la mélodie de l’horloge” (hello ctrl+v my old friend) travel through different human emotions, with a morgul-esque, insane slow and heavy first part supported by piano and a theme that carries of throughout the song. that riff is also present in the opening of the first song, giving a nice loop effect. tempo picks up to a peak towards the end, only to drop again.

the bulk of the sound is thin and crispy guitars and raw drums. it feels like a live record and i’m digging the dirty low budget / garage sound that gives musicians room to express creativity. the dual vocals add to the chaos with a range from death metal to shrill. this is a tough job to tackle and an obvious example is another french powerhouse arkhon infaustus. i failed to notice any bass, not credited either, maybe except the fourth track. the ep satisfies the expectations from a french black metal release, a psychopathic atmosphere, unexpected shifts and changes of tempo, chaos and creativity. the duo also boldly steps over different genres and influences with ease. now all that is left is to wait for the full-length. again, merci france.


naðra – allir vegir til glötunar (2016)

icelandic black metal is literally bursting out with creativity and extremely well releases and this is a gift. and often we see collaborations and side projects rather than constant bands. naðra is such a project, formed by members of other projects including carpe noctem, misþyrming, 〇 and skáphe (more on that later). allir vegir til glötunar (all roads to destruction) is the sole full-length and follows down a different path; rather than cold, distant, mechanical and insane icelandic releases of late, this is an organic black metal album leaning towards epic & folk/pagan.

the classic 5 piece, individually bearing initials as it is fashion now evidently, includes t. (aka tómas, who also plays guitars for carpe noctem, misþyrming and drums for 〇) on lead guitars, who completely controls the proceedings. leaving the melodic rhythm tremolos / riffs to d.g. (of misþyrming, 〇, and skáphe), t. here is liberated to sway as he pleases, experimenting hidden realms of night, ice and fury, and taking us with him, all the while contributing to dual rhythm. his solos are a joy to behold. the drums, handled by h. (aka hilmar) are quite heavy, loud and thunderous to be honest. so generous on the blast beat and double bass, even on slower passages, drums contribute heaviness to otherwise mellower moments. along with him, bassist g. (of misþyrming) completes the rhythm section.

lastly, ö. (örlygur sigurðarson, who played guitars on〇) has the microphone and his extremely energetic, furious, rather varied and throaty vocals would also feel at home in a death / core release, and maybe even more so. no real complaints, his lyrical lines fit like a glove and occasional shrills / shrieks complement the instrumental parts, but i felt the tone is somewhat out of place.

also, differentiating from other recent icelandic releases, for example the mechanical precision of wormlust – the feral wisdom, the sound is on the scratchy, rather low-fi side with an old school raw production. among quite fast and angry tracks and a 14-minute epic 3rd track “falið”, the slow and heavy pagan metal beauty “sál” is my immediate favourite.