Welcome to another installment of Within The Abyss. Each month I review albums from humanity’s darkest form of music, black metal! I unearth bands from all the around the world of various styles. This month’s column contains reviews of new albums from Azazel, Fustilarian, Journey Into Darkness, The Necrosexual, Pestilential Shadows, Runespell and Saturnian Mist.
Azazel – Aegrus Satanas Tecum (Primitive Reaction)
Forming in 1992, Azazel are one of the first black metal bands in Finland. However, beyond a couple of short recordings in the ’90s, the band’s main output has been over the last decade. As expected by the white-on-black cover art drawing, Aegrus Satanas Tecum, the band’s third full-length, is a primal, bestial sacrificial offering to the lords of the underworld.
Following an intro, “Invocation (Hail the Ancient Ones),” comprised of ominous keys and the sound of a forest at night, Azazel make their bestial presence known on “Jesus Christ Impotent Rotting Savior” through steady pounding drums and pitch-shifted growls. Bestial bands tend to be repetitious as this song is, but it’s catchy. “Welcome to the Bizarre Church” features dark harmonies and battle-ready rhythms. Along with welcomed tremolo riffing, the group also employ mid-paced ringing chords similar to Hellhammer and Samael. Aegrus Satanas Tecum has all the satanic carvings of a bestial black metal album, but with a more diversified sound.
Fustilarian – All This Promiscuous Decadence (Amor Fati)
Fustilarian are a musical act shrouded in mystery. All This Promiscuous Decadence is the first album release from the anonymous artist from Portugal. What is known, though, is he (assuming it’s a he) creates fierce black metal true to the conventions of the ‘90s standard, while also utilizing the melodic framework of newer orthodox black metal groups.
Orthodox black metal groups believe in Satan, but the lyrical concepts of All This Promiscuous Decadence, as the album title suggest, are rooted in humanity’s decay. The mysterious single member makes use of dissonant sounds, warped tremolo picking, devilish groove and a seething pace fueled by blast beats. Doom-filled moments make occasional appearances as do ambient sections. Echoed howls and cries bring a disturbing sense to the overall production. “Irreversible Cessation” has mesmerizing repeating guitar themes transformed by drum transitions. All This Promiscuous Decadence is not entirely unique, but is a psychotic, frightening experience that must be heard!
Journey Into Darkness – Infinite Universe Infinite Death (Spirit Coffin)
Infinite Universe Infinite Death, the third album by Journey Into Darkness, is a symphonic black metal album similar to Emperor and Limbonic Art. That comparison stops here as the album also consists of down-tuned death metal-style guitars and a mix of black shrieks and death growls. The death metal influence shouldn’t come as a surprise since Brett Clarin played in early ‘90s Roadrunner Records death metal group Sorrow.
Clarin created the album by himself with the help of session vocalist Jei Doublerice. Screams, blast beats and cosmic keys initiate the album on “Leave This Place.” The vocals and keys are the most conspicuous sounds at first, the aspects that really drive home the album. Further listens reveal menacing guitar tones, hints of groove and intricate melodies. The orchestral arranges are superb, but the death metal elements separate and differentiate Infinite Universe Infinite Death from other symphonic black metal groups
The Necrosexual – Seeds Of Seduction (Folkvangr)
Corpse painted and bound in BDSM leather, The Necrosexual is back with another EP of old school black metal meets Hollywood sleaze. The piece of steak hanging from his dong on the cover art prepares the listener for his aural debaucheries, as does the song title “Screamin for the Steamin’ Demon Semen.”
Musically, the Seeds Of Seduction EP follows their last EP, Gory Hole. It’s a mix between old school black metal like Celtic Frost, King Diamond and Destruction (especially vocally) with sleazy hard rock. “Chaos Command” even has a touch, maybe not consciously, of Gwar. The bass is heavy and prominent. Guitar solos are on point. Demon semen and goat penises are often referenced in black metal, in a semi-serious manner. The Necrosexual, who is also a journalist (“the Joan Rivers of metal”) who interviews subjects in full corpse paint, seems like he’s making parody of some of the aspects of black metal, which is ok since black metal can be entirely too serious.
Pestilential Shadows – Revenant (Séance)
After seven years away from the studio, Pestilential Shadows return with their sixth album, Revenant. This marks the band’s third decade of maleficent offerings. The group is led by Balam (bass/vocals), also known for Nazxul, forerunner in the Australian black scene, and part of the black metal circle known as Ordo Ater Anguis.
Revenant tells six tales of the Reaper, seeking out its many forms and planes of existence. Pestilential Shadows dig deep into the cold earth with 1990s black metal as their shovel. Here, one will find brooding mid-tempos, chilling guitar tones, violently blasting rhythms and harrowing melodies. Nine-minute-closer “Beneath the Dying Stars” is a stand-out track for its unforgettable, emotionally stirring content—true black metal greatness. Black metal can be very traditional, dare say conservative, in it’s influence. It’s not hard to understand the allure, as this style is the perfect vehicle for conveying darkness, evil and the morbidity found here.
Runespell – Verses In Regicide (Iron Bonehead)
Australian bands are a common theme in this month’s column. Runespell’s fourth album, Verses In Regicide is forged in the steel of European black metal. While Poland (think Graveland) comes to mind first, France and Scandinavia also seem to influence this one-man project created by Nightwolf. Since his debut in 2017, he released one recording every year including last year’s split with Forest Mysticism. Each recording has been a similar display of medieval might and mysticism.
The production has a distant quality, which combined with the reverberated vocals produces an primitive, wayward sound. The album has atmosphere built around this production and guitar sound, without many keys. Nightwolf also layers his vocals to enhance this effect. Just listen to “Shadow’s Dominion” for an example. “Into Dust” and “Windswept Burial” feature acoustic guitar that chime like water dripping from icicles. Verses In Regicide is a glorious ride onward into battle.
Saturnian Mist – Shamatanic (Petrichor)
Saturnian Mist hail from Finland. Their members are connected with other Finnish bands such as Sargeist and Azazel. As suggested, the group’s third album, Shamatanic shows them continue down ritualistic and occult pathways. The song “Chaos is the Law” appears to contains a sound bite from Aleister Crowley, the grandfather of chaos magic. Enchanting keys, ritualistic drumming and lyrical themes cement the album’s occult/magic themes.
Keys are used sparingly, utilized at opportune times. This is hardly a symphonic black metal album. However, keys are a major component of “The End Times.” The group mix up the pace and styles with blasting black metal, tremolo licks, thrash and heavy metal. “Alter of Flesh and Blood” has a Manowar-ish gallop. “Arbatel of Black Magick” adeptly mixes black and thrash metal, while including another Crowley sample. Vocally, the group don’t have the usual snarling style, rather, a dry, death-like bellow. Shamatanic reveals a unique style and enthralling occult themes.
Other 2021 Within The Abyss’
January 2021 Within The Abyss
February 2021 Within The Abyss
March 2021 Within The Abyss
April 2021 Within The Abyss
May 2021 Within The Abyss
June 2021 Within The Abyss
July 2021 Within The Abyss
August 2021 Within The Abyss