Every month I present reviews of black metal albums culled from throughout the world. Whether progressing into unknown territory or falling back on tradition, Within The Abyss looks at the various styles of black metal. This month I review albums from Fuath, Gorr, Mare Cognitum, Order of Nosferat, Reaper and Revenant Marquis.
Fuath – II (Season of Mist)
Fuath’s sophomore album II has Saor’s Andy Marshall once again handling all instruments, albeit this time with the help of Spanish drummer Carlos Vivas. Fuath means “hatred” in his native Gaelic. Although Fuath hail from Scotland, their sound recalls Norwegian legends such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum and Windir.
Bearing a cover depicting a ghostly, death-ridden winter and song titles such as “Into the Forest of Shadows” and “Endless Winter,” II expresses the majesty of nature’s darkness. Keyboards are present, although the album is mostly guitar driven (which are atmospheric in their own way) with hypnotic, repeating chords. Two guitars merge icy tones or melodies with chugging aggressiveness. Vocals are fairly standard BM, but clean moments recall Enslaved. The album has a good mix that doesn’t betray the loudness of the bass. Emotional, melodic and trance-inducing — this is the type of black metal that lured fans to this grim genre in the first place.
Gorr are a Norwegian duo, and their sophomore release Kvit Som Snøen, Kald I Blikket is inspired by the harsh conditions of their countryside. The title translates to “white as snow, cold stare” and the cover art depicts a country side blanketed by snow. Gorr reflect this theme both musically and lyrically.
Opening track “Innleiing” has a depressive feel with its clean guitar tones and slow tempo. “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” begins on a similar note, but transitions into cold, distorted tones with elements of DSBM. The title track heads into death metal territory with low-end churning riffs. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” is the fastest track with blasting drums and the most memorable guitars. The vocal shrieks are throaty and the album is sung in Norwegian, as evidenced by the song titles. Kvit Som Snøen, Kald I Blikket is a brooding record with a cold countenance that meets the expectations of the cover art.
Mare Cognitum – Solar Paroxysm (I, Voidhanger)
Mare Cognitum return with another cosmic black metal album titled Solar Paroxysm. Once again Jacob Buczarski handles all instruments. The fifth album by the USBM act retains its cosmic atmosphere, but lyrically Buczarski averts his gaze away from the cosmos and sets it on the third rock from the sun. He looks into the heart of mankind and sees a species not only destroying itself, but also destroying the planet.
Musically, Mare Cognitum utilize guitars tones to create atmosphere without the aid of keys. The use of reverb creates a comet’s tail of trailing sustain. Many of the riffs, in particular opener “Antaresian” and “Luminous Accretion,” swell dramatically, piercing the listener emotionally. Much of the album is fast. Also, its driven by melody, especially the leads. Vocally, Buczarski layers highs in lows in the right spots. Solar Paroxysm is a complex, intelligent album that maintains a flow throughout its double-digit-length songs.
Order Of Nosferat – Necuratul (Purity Through Fire)
Order Of Nosferat’s debut album Necuratul sounds as if it were recorded in a ruined medieval castle. Production-wise, the album sounds like the distant audio of an antique record, especially the crackling of the intro track, “Awaiting His Arrival.” Dungeon synth interludes create chapters and pauses between each black metal song. It’s not hard to figure Order of Nosferat are a vampire-themed band similar to blood fiends Black Funeral, Vlad Tepes and Mütiilation.
Order Of Nosferat are a duo consisting of Count Revenant (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) from Germany and Anzillu (percussion) from Finland, so their sound has aspects of Finnish and German black metal. Horna often comes to mind. Emotionally driven raw guitars, muffled drums and gothic keys create grim, sinister sounds. Keyboard interludes instill cinematic horror, while the ensuing black metal tracks keep the album moving. Fingernails and fangs on point, Necuratul is the ultimate soundtrack to the undead.
Reaper – The Atonality Of Flesh (Iron Bonehead)
Sweden’s Reaper return for the second consecutive year to execute more blackened speed metal in the form of The Atonality Of Flesh. Their approach is totally old school. Not only do they set their sights on evil speed metal owing to the first wave of black metal, they also make use of D-beat punk rock rhythms. The production is raw with over-driven guitars and bass. Heavy on the gain, the mix showcases the bass with the croaking, Abbath-meets-Quorthon vocals deeper in the mix.
The Atonality Of Flesh has a fun vibe; the band don’t take their songs too seriously like fellow Swedes Gehennah. The tongue-in-cheek-titled “Piss, Bile and Violence” is a good example. Three instrumentals create brooding, spooky interludes including the Lovecraft-inspired “Nightgaunts.” String bends and whammy bar solos add wicked effects. The Atonality Of Flesh is a banger seemly from yesteryear that crushes in its crudeness.
Revenant Marquis – Below The Landsker Line (Inferna Profundus)
Revenant Marquis are a mysterious band. While their location is given — Wales, United Kingdom — not much else exists about the band. “S” is their lone member, and has an impressive array of albums. Below The Landsker Line is his fifth album since 2018. He creates music with raw, lo-fi production. This production is distant and instills upon the album an otherworldly, ritualistic quality.
While the production values on Below The Lansker Line create atmosphere, it also results in an album that is difficult to listen to. The drums sound boxy, and drown out the other instruments during upbeat moments. S’s vocals are deep in the mix, so he’s barely audible. His music is most palatable when a single instrument such as keys play. These moments are enjoyable, but the low volume and murky sound of the drums make Below The Lansker Line a hard listen.