Within The Abyss is a monthly black metal column meant to shed light (or darkness) on black metal albums featuring groups of varying styles from around the world. This month I review new albums from Dødsferd, The Ember The Ash, Ereb Altor, Seance Of…, Seth, Thanatomass, and Vritrahn-Werwolf.
Ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Dødsferd – Skotos (Transcending Obscurity)
Dødsferd are one of the most productive black metal bands in Greece. The group have released a long list of recordings including last year’s compilation Death Shall Purify The Wounds Of Your Fragile Mortality and the 2018 full-length Diseased Remnants Of A Dying World. With Skotos, they offer just two tracks with a running time of just under ten minutes. This is different from epic-length tracks of former recordings, but not any less fierce.
Skotos goes straight for the kill! These two tracks are raw and built on speed. The duo consisting of Wrath (vocals, guitar, bass) and N.D. have chemistry. Wrath creates harrowing guitar sounds. The use of cold tremolo picking works brilliantly with his abysmal bass notes and N.D.’s swift beats. Wrath’s tortured cries ties it all together in an understandable manner. Skotos may be brief, but it’s another true, tenebrous offering worthy of the Dødsferd imprint. Be on the lookout for the tape version on Wrath’s Fucking Your Creation Records.
The Ember, The Ash – Fixation (Prosthetic)
Following their 2019 debut Consciousness Torn From The Void, Canadians The Ember, The Ash return with their sophomore album Fixation, their first via Prosthetic. Those who heard their debut will probably be scratching their heads with the style change. While the debut was grim, atmospheric black metal, Fixation reveals a deathcore influence.
Fixation is primarily a deathcore album, but this time the group further explores keyboards, resulting in a symphonic effort comparable to Dimmu Borgir or Septic Flesh.. “The Colossal Void” is mostly black metal, albeit with some deathcore. “A Growing Emptiness” hints at black metal and the group revisits the title track from Consciousness Torn From The Void, but with a piano ending. Fixation is unique in its blend of deathcore and symphonic black metal, but fans of The Ember, The Ash’s first album may be disappointed.
Ereb Altor – Eldens Boning (Hammerheart)
Ereb Altor contains members of the epic doom band Isole. Isole formed from the ashes of Forlorn (Sweden). Ereb Altor were created to continue Forlorn’s musical themes. In the case of their EP Eldens Boning, the group have composed four epic Viking/pagan songs. Lyrically, the group look to Norse mythology and pagan themes for inspiration.
Eldens Boning mostly consists of grandiose, clean vocals comparable to Turisas and Falkenbach. A mix of black metal and clean vocals coming into the foray on the title track and “Sacrifice 2.0.” Album opener “The Twilight Ship” contains Norse choirs and melodies bringing to mind the Viking era of Bathory. Bathory is a major influence, but with better vocals than Quorthon. “Fenrisulven” is a rich folk song complete with acoustic guitar and violin. Eldens Boning is another powerful take on Viking/pagan metal. If bands like Falkenbach, Bathory, Vintersorg and Turisas float your long ship, then this is mandatory listening.
Seance Of… – The Colour Of Magick (Signal Rex)
Seance Of… consists of just one member, AR, who hails from Perth, Western Australia. What started as a side project of Grave Worship turned into three albums being recording in 2020. The Colour Of Magick was the third album made in chronological order, but the first to be released. It is black metal in all it’s cloven-hoofed glory. It’s raw, evil and spell-binding.
AR’s use of dual guitars results in a thick guitar section. Good black metal riffs speak to the listener, and his riffs seem to be saying “Satan.” At least that’s what he’s saying vocally. AR didn’t title his songs, leaving it up to the listener to title each song. The riffs alone could lead to a title, but track three could be titled “In The Name Of Satan,” due to his repeating that phrase. AR’s demonic shrieks enchant with a heavy use of delay. The Colour Of Magick is absolute darkness!
Eight years have passed since Seth released The Howling Spirit. With La Morsure du Christ, the group have returned with a sound that harkens back to their 1998 debut Les blessures de l’âme, when Season of Mist was still a young label. Even after a quarter century, Seth still sound fresh and engaging.
The title track opens the album with heat. Blazing fast drums and guitars move the album along, but hardly define it. La Morsure du Christ tempers rapid tempos with melody and keyboard-induced atmosphere. Saint Vincent pairs standard black metal shrieks with clean singing as heard on “Métal noir.” Acoustic guitars provide a denouement to “Hymne au vampire (Acte III),” the third act of the vampire themed tracks on their first album. “Le triomphe de Lucifer” ends the album with a glorious symphony of gothic organs. La Morsure du Christ heralds the oncoming downfall of religion. Only blackest of hearts dare listen.
Thanatomass – Black Vitriol & Iron Fire (Living Temple)
Thanatomass hail from Russia, but their exact location and year of formation is unknown. Black Vitriol & Iron Fire is the group’s sophomore EP. There are elements of thrash, especially in the guitar leads and occasional high-pitched screams similar to early Slayer, in this chaotic, fast recording.
“Funereal Ejaculation” opens the album in a din of feedback, wicked guitar solos and a barrage of drums. The use of guitar leads over fast tempos recalls Destroyer 666, but the overall feel is more raw and chaotic. Each song averages around six and half minutes running time, although “Phallvs Lvciferi” runs over nine minutes of pure satanic evil! “Sulphureous Darkness” is a trip into hell complete with sounds of terror. This is not a melodic recording. Black Vitriol & Iron Fire will punish the listener with a a raw bombardment of speed and hellish howls.
Vritrahn-Werwolf – Vritrahn-Werwolf (Werewolf)
Vritrahn-Werewolf consist of Satanic Warmaster’s Werewolf (drums and keyboards) and White Death frontman Vritrahn (vocals, guitar, bass). Formed in 2014, the satanic duo released two demos and EP. Their self-titled effort is their debut full-length album. Vritrahn-Werewolf’s sound is pure Finnish raw black metal with facets of punk, ambient, symphonic black metal and primal, black incarnations.
“End of the Ages” kicks off the album in dirty punk rock fashion. Black metal and death rock vocals collide with layered guitar harmonies and low-lying keys. Hell-blazing drum blasts and cold guitar tones follow on “Silver Aurora” and “Lord of All Evil.” Vritrahn’s guitar tones sound tremendous throughout the album. Part of “Death Torments” and all of “Sacrament” relate infernal ambience. “Blasphemous Metal” is the epitome of black metal attitude with its “Fuck You” chorus. Vritrahn-Werewolf’s self-titled effort is another prime example of the menacing black metal available on Werewolf’s namesake record label.