Enigmatic Ukrainian kvlt black metal band Windswept, founded by Drudkh mastermind Roman Sayenko are streaming their entire new album The Onlooker. The stream is live now at Season of Mist’s YouTube Channel and out tomorrow, February 8th! Continue reading
Never giving interviews and never playing live shows is certainly a good way to give your band a certain mystique. It may seem pretentious and it does mean the art you create loses another dimension by never gracing the ears of a live audience, but there is something to be admired in letting the music quite literally speak for itself, especially when the scene is over saturated. Continue reading
Ukraine based black metal wizards Drudkh has released a brand new song ‘U Dakhiv Irzhavim Kolossyu’. This track comes from their upcoming album due from Season of Mist on March 9th, dubbed Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About the Spring). Jam out to the bleak track below. Continue reading
Part three of the Ghost Cult Magazine countdown to our Album of 2015.
And now the end is near, and so we face 2015’s final curtain, and once more the Ghost Cult army got together to vote for their favourites. The results? Over 20 writers pitched and voted on over 220 albums ranging from indie pop to the most horrific savage tentacle laden death metal showing the depth, breadth and class of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year for 2015.
The countdown (to extinction) continues…
“The Children of the Night, save for snarled vocals and horror themed lyrics, is a classic heavy metal record, far more interested in melody and catchy songs than aggression and violence; a brave record from an exceedingly talented set of musicians who are just that more subtle when it comes to what style of darkness works best.”
“…something has happened here; an unsettling event or rite of passage, propelling this captivating outfit to the stars without drastically changing their identity. In doing so it has enabled the band to create its most sombre, hypnotic, emotive and supreme piece of work.”
“Where The Raven… was mysterious and downright grave emotionally, the new album is poignant and uplifting almost all the way through. Even in somber moments, the songs have an underlying feeling of hopefulness that defies the melancholy. Wilson is a master delivering the unbridled beast of a song in a beautiful package.”
“Seething with a fulminating ire, yet showing unexpected versatility; if you’re pissed off with parents and / or bullies, but don’t want an ignominious revenge to stick you on the front pages, exercise your frustration with these guys instead.”
“Like all great Drudkh releases, this is an album that reveals more with every listen, a rousing yell of defiance backed by a passionate beating heart. Tenth full-length release A Furrow Cut Short is one of their finest efforts to date.”
“Writing this review is a bit like trying to make conversation with a devastatingly attractive woman – all I could initially think of to write about each song was “Fucking Brilliant”. In summary, Deliverance is a stunning piece of work that can only be criticised for coming to an end. More of this please lads.”
“Death jams like ‘In the Name of Amun’ and ‘Age of Famine’ give way to breadth and dizzying tempo changes, the kind of searing death metal that recalls prime Morbid Angel. If the prog fans and metal elitists can get past the death grunts and learn to love the blast beat they may just find a band fawn over other than Dream Theater.”
“A sprawling mini-opus, one that tells us much of where this band can really go musically in the future. While not as groundbreaking or original as Sunbather, which any band would be challenged to follow, New Bermuda hits you in all the right G-spots musically and emotionally for one of 2015’s undoubtedly finest releases.”
“Despite the overwhelming misanthropy that is conveyed, the seamless flow and rousing melodies are emotive and enriching. It’s an album crafted with passion and dedication, which is overtly evident in their music. Mgła have honed a pioneering sound that is now getting the recognition it so very much deserves.”
Ghost Cult Album of the Month – June “The boys have put out one monster of a record. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, get yourself a gallon of Pike Juice instead and keep an eye out for an upcoming tour date near you.”
In an age where all the mystique has vanished from the extreme music scene, Drudkh’s uncompromising no live shows/interviews/promo pictures/music videos approach is to be cherished, for it is the music they produce that is the only thing that matters. Of course the flipside to this is that the band are open to unsavoury accusations from those who seek to project their own agendas; despite no association with extremist ideology, Drudkh have been branded a far-right band primarily due to their lyrical references to nationalist Ukrainian poets.
While the four members may still draw inspiration from the glories and failings of their country’s past, it’s likely that the present is currently a far more pressing concern. The conflict in Ukraine shows no sign of abating, and with death and destruction a daily concern, it’s a wonder that they have been able to record a new album. But we should be thankful they have, for tenth full-length release A Furrow Cut Short (all Drudkh releases are Season of Mist) is one of their finest efforts to date.
The first thing one notices after pressing play is just how much passion Drudkh have captured here. The dry post-rock flavours of 2010’s Handful of Stars and the somewhat formulaic approach of 2012’s Eternal Turn of the Wheel have been consigned to the dustbin, with a much-needed injection of self-belief and renewed vigour the order of the day. Opening track ‘Cursed Sons’ follows the traditional Drudkh pattern of rapid, windswept riffing, energised percussion and sorrowful melodies, but is just that much more alive and urgent than on recent efforts, with vocalist Thurios in particular sounding mightily pissed off. The second part of the track slows down towards the end before racing off into an utterly triumphant finish complete with a fantastic guitar melody.
The influence Drudkh have had on current UK darlings Winterfylleth is evident in the magnificent driving riffs and subtle soaring keyboards of ‘To the Epoch of Unbowed Poets’, a stirring call-to-arms that harks back to the glory days of 2004’s Autumn Aurora, conjuring images of soldiers marching to war under a glaring sunset. Elsewhere, ‘Embers’ slows the pace slightly for a thoroughly melodic and more introspective six-odd minutes before the aggression returns with a vengeance on the first part of eighteen minute two-part epic ‘Dishonour’, with part two giving off a strong Burzum feel with its gloomy refrains and vicious, snarled vocals.
This is still main man Roman Saenko’s baby of course. As the main songwriter and guitarist, the man appears to be a bottomless well of creativity, and his guitar playing is capable of evoking emotion like few others. Well versed in black metal lore yet resolute in his vision, Saenko is a true artist who has made a fiercely private band from Eastern Europe into one of the most respected and revered acts in the annals of underground music. The music he and his comrades have captured on A Furrow Cut Short may not quite hit the heights of 2006’s magnificent Blood in Our Wells but it has come pretty damn close. Like all great Drudkh releases, this is an album that reveals more with every listen, a rousing yell of defiance backed by a passionate beating heart.
The influence of nature and earth on black metal has become somewhat more of a recurrent theme in recent times. Some of black metal’s current champions such as Drudkh, Wodensthrone and Winterfylleth have embraced inspiration from such landscapes, in some degrees from their own locales rather than necessarily the stereotypical Satanic lyrical content of the genre’s forebears; also offering a more atmospheric approach. On this split, From Moonrise To Moonset (Blackwood), we see the contributions from two upcoming UK bands of such an ilk, with some variation in style and result.
The first half sees contributions from Torver, beginning with an ominous, gradually building introduction track, complete with wolf howling and strings, setting the tone and expectations quite high. The following tracks ‘Naked Moonrise’ and ‘Lunar Ritual’ are both bold examples of forward thinking Black Metal, alternating in pace between a slow crawl to more uptempo, and combining typical shrills with an eerie chant like drawl. A lot of positives to take but sadly it becomes unstuck by a thin production which buries the vocals far into the mix and kills some of its atmospheric air.
In the production stakes Arcane North’s half fairs a whole lot better and thus has a much more encapsulating tone to it. Vocally this is on much more familiar territory but elsewhere it still holds an ambitious streak, but is simultaneously familiar for the less au fait with the genre. As a result it is much more immediate and is certainly the more recommended part.
Neither band gives a complete or perfect offering, but both bands show a lot of potential, if not very much to differentiate in an arena that is starting to get a lot more crowded.
Torver on Facebook
There are two things I want to get out of the way before I get into this. The first is that I’ve never really seen the appeal of the whole Atmospheric Pine Forest BM thing – even ignoring the uncomfortable nationalist overtones, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone and Drudkh et al leave me cold, and A Forest Of Stars seem like a band who had a great idea for an image, but rushed into the studio before they’d written any songs. It’s not a style I’m inclined towards, despite its current popularity, so when an album in that style does click with me it’s something to pay attention to.
The second thing is that Fen have made me rewrite my End Of Year List just over a week before the deadline, and for that I am not happy with them.
On paper Fen are very much part of the aforementioned Black Metal subgenre, and their previous albums have all passed me by much like their peers, but despite no obvious shifts in style Carrion Skies (Code 666) manages to transcend the limitations of its chosen style. A big part of the problem with this music for me is that “atmospheric” is frequently an excuse for nothing to happen – big, heart-rending riffs take their own sweet time to float majestically past, and everything is filled with a sense of mounting tension that never goes anywhere – but Carrion Skies is dynamic. Songs are long but eventful, striding purposefully from huge riffs and tormented shrieks to more contemplative passages as if THERE’S ACTUALLY A GOOD REASON FOR THEM TO DO THAT, rather than it simply being lazy musical short-hand for “we are interesting”. There are suggestions of latter-day Enslaved at several points, but without the sense of lazy back-slapping and tedious “maturity” that plagues their recent albums.
Another thing that’s frequently absent from the more “atmospheric” or “progressive” Black Metal bands is passion. Indeed, it’s a concept that Black Metal bands frequently struggle with balancing effectively, either overloading on it to the point that they’re constantly spitting fury anger and nothing else, or they’ve traded in all their feeling for vague “atmosphere” and ripping off a bunch of second-hand Pink Floyd references (hello again, Enslaved). Carrion Skies is a passionate album, charged with fist-waving bravado, teary-eyed loss, bits that go Duh-Nuh! Duh-duh-nuh! and all the other ridiculous stuff that makes Metal great, but it balances that passion with a thoughtful, contemplative approach to song-writing which strengthens rather than detracts from it.
What really makes Carrion Skies stand out not just in its own subgenre but in Extreme Metal in genre is the depth and range of expression. Extreme Metal is by nature monolithic – that’s frequently one of its selling points – and it’s rare to hear an album that spends much time exploring more than one mood. We can have Angry, Sad, Majestic or Bat-shit Insane, but having more than one of them across an album is ambitious, and blending several together in a rich, unfolding tapestry of more than one feeling? Is that even legal?
Carrion Skies is certainly one of the Metal albums of the year in any sub-genre, and a genuinely impressive achievement for a band who until now have usually been mentioned in reference to other, similar bands. It ranks alongside new releases by Pyrrhon and Tombs (with whom they share some similarities, but Fen are the rawer, rockier, more achingly human cousin to Tombs’ Neurosis-driven thunder) as the richest and most emotionally expressive Metal albums of 2014, and should have something to offer even to people who haven’t previously found Fen and their peers terribly interesting.