The May 2022 edition of Within The Abyss includes reviews of black metal albums from Iku-Turso, Lord Belial, Nechochwen, Predatory Light, Trolldom and Wampyrinacht.
Iku-Turso – Into Dawnless Realms (Wolfspell)
Finnish symphonic legions Iku-Turso return with their third full-length Into Dawnless Realms. The group has only existed for five years, but judging by this album, they are putting out quality records. While being Finnish, the band does not really conjure music that cries “Finland.” Sure, they’re probably influenced by bands such as Satanic War Master, but I don’t listen to this album and think of that band.
The press release dubs Into Dawnless Realms as “Cold Pagan Black Metal.” While there isn’t any “pagan” instrumentation such as medieval-style acoustic guitars or flutes or a clear hearing of each word, the track listing conveys these ideas (“Wrath of the Woesome Woods,” “The Cranial Galaxy”). What is known best, though, is their inclusion of symphonic elements that bring to mind bands such as Emperor and Limbonic Art. Into Dawnless Realms should appease black metal fanatics with an itching for top-notch symphonic black metal.
Lord Belial – Rapture (Hammerheart)
Rarely mentioned in the same breath as fellow Swedes Watain, Dissection, Dark Funeral and Marduk, Lord Belial are still a top tier black metal band in the Swedish scene. The group originated in 1992, making them one of the oldest BM bands in Sweden, and also the world. Two years after their last album The Black Curse was released, Lord Belial are issuing their latest record Rapture.
Rapture has all the trappings of a Lord Belial album including a cold black metal sound, blasts and, much like Dissection, they mix speed with slow, emotional melodies. I don’t remember the group being this fast. I didn’t hear the last album, but I’ll say this one really goes for the throat in the speed factor. The vocals are diverse with a combination of shrieks and clean-throated narrations. I’ve listened to the album several times, and Rapture is a winner. In fact, I’ll say it’s slightly better the new Watain record The Agony And Ecstasy of Watain (my number one before this album). Expect this to be in my top five of the year black metal albums.
Nechochwen – Kanawha Black (Bindrune)
With a career spanning over 17 years and resume of multiple releases, West Virginia’s Nechochwen have established their sound and theme. Their theme is one of Native American history and folklore. In the case of their newest album Kanawha Black, the group have imbued black metal with folk melodies and clean vocals.
For me, atmosphere and melody always reign supreme when I think of good black metal. These traits are palpable on Kanawha Black. This is a very emotional album. Based on tales of the Old West, the band lives up to their Native American name and themes. In this regard, including their use of acoustic guitar and clean vocals, this album will garner comparisons to Agalloch. However, Nechochwen have their own vision, separated from Agalloch. There is no mistaking the two. If black metal mired in emotion, atmosphere and lush instrumentation drives your listening habits, and then Kanawha Black is a must-have album.
Predatory Light – Death And the Twilight Hours (20 Buck Spin)
20 Buck Spin is a great label! While I mostly know them as a death metal label, they have great black metal artists such as Hulder. Here we are presented with a U.S.B.M. band, Predatory Light. Their newest recording, Death And the Twilight Hours, is a mix of doom and black metal, something that has been at the forefront for decades with bands like Lucifer’s Hammer and Masochist, but Predatory Light have their own take on this style.
Melody-enriched black metal is a common motif in this month’s column, one not lost on Predatory Light. Death And the Twilight Hours only features four songs, seems like an EP, but two tracks are over 10-minutes long. Epic black metal, for sure! At over eleven minutes in length, the title track is a roller coaster of notes; the mid pace keeps churning, but each riff rises and falls. It’s also quite morbid, something that translates well in black metal. NWOBHM fans and fans of guitar harmonies will eat this one up.
Trolldom – Av Gudars Att (Iron Bonehead)
Here we have another band with the word “troll” in its moniker. When I picked this album for review, I thought I was getting a recording by a veteran band. While Trolldom’s history goes back a ways, Av Gudars Att is their first full-length. Actually, the album will be released simultaneously with another full-length, I Nattens Sken. Both albums are similar in their symphonic take on black metal. The Swedish group’s two albums bring to mind such glorious symphonic bands as early Arcturus, Summoning, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir.
The first thing that sticks out to me on the former-mentioned recording are the keys. They make it known from the beginning track “Av Nagelbyggt Fran Doda Man” that this album is mired in atmosphere that seems to make the stars shine brighter. Interesting drum rolls and fills initiate the song’s action. If the above-mentioned bands flip your switch, Av Gudars Att and I Natten Sken are necessary releases for this year.
Wampyrinacht – Night Of The Desecration (Iron Bonehead)
Forming in black metal’s golden age, the mid-nineties, Wampyrinacht are firmly entrenched in the old school Hellenic black metal sound. The group released a cult EP and then disappeared, only to be resurrected (like their goddess Persephone) twenty years later. Look forward five years later and the group present an occult black metal masterpiece, Night Of The Desecration.
Without sounding like the usual Greek culprits – Rotting Christ and Varathron — Wampyrinacht definitely have the spirit of Hades in their blackened souls. This album is a mix of traditional metal, via gallops and melody, and aggressive speed and fast picking. The Greeks always deliver, and once again we’re taken to the top of Mount Olympus, or the bottom of the River Styx, depending on your viewpoint. Whether ascending to heaven or descending into the underworld, Night Of The Desecration is a killer record.