PICK OF THE WEEK: Lovecraftian monsters the Great Old Ones lurch violently on dark ‘EOD…’

Photo by Valerie Cridelause

Photo by Valerie Cridelause

Lovecraftian lore, like many other dark elements, has become a vital component in heavy metal over the years. Songs and records have been based on H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of horrors, including a few tracks by Metallica, and it works just perfectly to create a sense of charnel wonder in the genre. There even are bands that base their entire existence around Lovecraft, and we have one of the better ones today.

French death and black metal squad The Great Old Ones, who take their name from the mysterious deities now at rest who once ruled the Earth (the vaunted Cthulhu is included in that group), are one of the more fascinating and crushing on the earth. They’re back with an excellent, mind-warping new record “EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy” that further unfurls Lovecraft’s creations and weaves them into their mesmerizing mix of black and death metal. EOD, of course, stands for Esoteric Order of Dagon, a fictional cult in the Cthulhu mythos, and the eight songs on here wrap their tentacles around you and pull you into an outer space hellscape. This, their first record for Season of Mist, might be the first opportunity many people have to hear the band, and if so, get ready for a heavy experience you can’t really relate to anything else. Your mind and body will go for a journey, likely ending right at the heart of Innsmouth.

the-great-old-ones-coverThe Great Old Ones first unfurled their mission to celebrate Lovecraft’s creations in 2009, putting out their first record “Al Azif” three years later in 2012. They started to gain momentum in 2014 on their excellent second album “Tekeli-li,” and since that time they’ve awakened Season of Mist to their massive wares. The band—guitarists/vocalists Benjamin Guerry and Jeff Grimal, guitarist Xavier Godart, bassist Sébastien Lalanne, and drummer Léo Isnard—put a strange, yet alluring touch to their music. What they do is heavy and brutal and can turn your bones to dust. But they also capture the imagination and transport you to these dark times, where unimaginable horrors await, things that would make you expire in your meat suit if you ever were to encounter them.

“Searching for R Olmstead (introduction)” is a quick beginning cut, 26 seconds with a narrator noting, “I’m finally here,” referring to Innsmouth, and then it’s into “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” a track that’s deadly right off the bat. Savage growls and a steamrolling pace launch, while melodies and atmosphere roll in the chaotic scene. The song continues to slither along, as the vocals scathe and the song finds another level of terror. Wrenching punishment swims with fiery playing, as air rushes into the room and sweeps away the horrors. “When the Stars Align” has a steady black metal-style riff, and that’s amplified by a blistering pace and vocals that rip apart any sense of serenity. Spacious playing adds more adventure, and even though the song goes calm for a stretch, that’s overrun by gruesome heaviness, chilling choral calls, and a final dose of bruising. “The Ritual” runs 9:31, with rhythmic drumming leading into the ceremony and sounds spilling over that. The song is torn apart eventually, with a storming fury mixed with moody playing, twisting up emotions. Later, a terrifying assault is carried out, again delving into black metal seas, while the back end rushes with vicious vocals and a thundering pace that’s eventually washed away.

“Wanderings” is another brief track, the breather at the center point, with our narrator saying, “My soul wanders into nothingness.” “In Screams and Flames” is a death eruption right away, with the band thrashing heavily and the leads cutting through stone. The melodies ride high but eventually wash into the background, almost as if they’re disappearing into a watery grave. Crushing drums awake the beast, as the song is ground into dust, and spacey madness spill out from the other side. “Mare Infinitum” is the longest track at 10:55, and its bed of eerie noises chills the flesh before the power ignites, and the band delivers a slow-driving thrashing. Everything later is pushed into a tornado of noise, causing hypnosis and panic, and out of that comes vicious crunch, more black metal-style guitars, and the final threads slowly falling to the ground. Closer “My Love for the Stars (Cthulu Fhtagn)” is a fittingly odd ending, with acoustic guitars, clean singing, and echoey, ghostly apparitions. Pianos drip in, smearing the lights, while wordless calls spread, organs give a gothic glow, and the track ends suddenly, almost as if swallowed whole by a great monster.

I was predisposed to pay attention to the Great Old Ones when I first learned of them several years back based simply on my adoration of Lovecraft tales, and it was a huge plus when it turned out their music is destructive and massive. “EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy” keeps the screws turning and continues to expose the late author’s horrific work in their twisted and cataclysmic music. The Great Old Ones are an entity that exists in a strange place where few others inhabit, and they’re the unquestioned rulers of that realm of existence.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/thegreatoldones

To buy the album, go here (North American store): http://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here (International): http://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

German black metal institution Horn fires back with compelling new adventure ‘Turm am Hang’

hornArtists that can make music feel like it jettisoned through a time warp and ended up in the modern era always intrigue me. Being able to capture an essence from a time that’s gone on and translating it into sound can’t be easy, but those who can pull it off (I’m thinking a band such as Obsequiae) tend to be really special ones.

Long-running German black metal project Horn is another of those acts, and over the course of 15 years, the band led by sole member Nerrath (Cross Vault, Shrine, Latitude Egress) has dug back into history and lore and come up with another compelling slab called “Turm am Hang,” the seventh record from this band overall. Focusing on myriad topics such as 17th century German folk song “Es ist ein Schnitter” (a poem that addresses the Reaper); lansquenets (15th and 16th century colorful German mercenary soldiers); wars of the past; tribalism; and the spirit of masculinity, and all that bleeds through on these eight cuts (well, nine, but one is a cover). Perhaps that’s part of what makes this music feel like it comes from another era. It doesn’t have a purposely vintage production nor does it try to seem from a bygone time. It simply achieves that time travel seamlessly and makes these songs interesting and exciting.

horn-coverThis new Horn album, the first since 2015’s killer “Feldpost,” is heavy, raucous, and melodic. In fact, it does sound a lot like “Feldpost,” or at least where Nerrath was coming from at that time, and it’s such a great, spirited listen. The album itself is such a mighty release that it is taking two labels—Northern Silence and Iron Bonehead—to give it the proper treatment it deserves. It’s destructive and spirited, a great slab of heavy metal and blackened drama that continues to unload with power that could help remind you why you fell in love with this style of music to begin with.

“Alles in einem Schnitt” starts the album with strings striking and the song blasting forward. Melodic guitar work and an undeniable catchiness sweeps over, while harsh barks mix with clean singing (something that repeats often on this album) and takes the song to its end. The title cut has a Primordial vibe at the start, with cleaner guitars sounding majestic and gigantic. The song breaks open, with grisly growls and bellowing singing (especially on the chorus), as the guitars get ready for another attack. A rousing singalong section breaks out, and that energy stands until the song fades away. “Verhallend in Landstrichen” begins with doom horns that sound like they came from an old black-and-white film, and then it’s into a rushing dose of punishment. Strong growls combine with thunder-and-lightning riffs, rolling heavily over everything and capturing whatever’s in its wake. The song rounds out with militaristic drumming and a strong sense of adventure. “Die mit dem Bogen auf dem Kreuz” is clean and murky to start, with strong calls of “oh-oh!” and waves of energy pushing. The music, like most of the record, is heavy and catchy before things end abruptly.

“Ä(h)renschnitter” unleashes dirty guitars and gravelly singing, as the pace ruptures and makes the earth quake, and the song suddenly hits the gas pedal. That bursts through the gates and sprays shrapnel, while the chorus feels rowdy as hell and the guitars raise their swords. “Totenräumer” erupts right away though it teases to go serene just moments into the track. Bells start to ring, seemingly signaling a battle will start, while unmistakable energy bleeds through, and fiery riffs lead the song to a smashing end. “Lanz und Spieß” is a quick interlude, with strange, psychedelic-filled guitars drizzling strange colors, and then it’s onto “Bastion, im Seegang Tauber Fels” and its classic metal start. The growls are gruff, and the lead guitars stoke the fires, carrying the song onto its boisterous assault. There’s a great sense of a journey with this one, as it should excite you and possibly want to follow along the same muddy path behind it. The album ends with a cover of When Bitter Spring Sleeps’ “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way,” the only song sung in English, and a really cool take on the track from 2013’s “Coven of the Wolves.” It adds a nice touch to the back end of the record and gives you something a little different from what burned you over the first eight songs.

Horn’s accomplishments the past decade and a half are to be celebrated, and “Turm am Hang” is another spectacular chapter for Nerrath and his dusty storybook creations. The music is powerful and catchy, and it might have you going back into history to learn more about what’s going on here. If you’re just here for the music, then you’ll get a heaping serving of metal full of Medieval power and glory, with you practically feeling the foot soldiers approaching and taking aim at you.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HornOfficial/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/

Or here: http://shop.northern-silence.de/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

And here: http://www.northern-silence.de/

Grand Rapids trio Dakhma bring black metal fury, crusty chaos on earthquaking LP ‘Suna Kulto’

dakhmaSurely, we’re all inundated with new bands every year, and it’s really hard to keep up with everything that’s going on out there. It’s even tougher from a writing standpoint to take note of it all and find really good music to feature that won’t be here today and gone tomorrow. But sometimes you know just from hearing the band’s music for the first time that something special is going on, and it’s worth paying attention to where things are headed.

It’s not like Dakhma is a brand-new band. The Grand Rapids-based trio have been grinding faces off for a least a few years now (their self-titled first EP was released in 2014), though their path has mostly been on the underground/DIY trajectory for the bulk of their run. The band—vocalist Claire, guitarist Derek, drummer Dylan—powers through mostly with a sooty black metal assault but also works in elements of hardcore, punk, and crust. They obviously got the attention of Halo of Flies, who are reissuing their 2016 effort “Suna Kulto” on vinyl, and damn it if it doesn’t deserve it. The collection is two massive tracks of chaos that stretch over 40 minutes, and while these epics do require your commitment in order to fully engage, what you get in return is more than worth the energy you spend. Plus, the music is a splattering blast of chaos that will topple your world and leave you heaving in a pit of dust. Trust me, it’s actually a good thing.

dakhma-cover“Coins” is the first cut, starting clean and calm but, before long, tearing open fully. There is a crazed passion in Claire’s screams, while the melodies are thick and charred, and the energy cascades over everything. There is so much energy and emotion—I can’t stress that enough, and it’s present in both cuts—while the band keeps destroying you and rolling out your bones. About halfway through the 20:37 cut, the path changes slightly, as the surge pulls back. But Claire disrupts any serenity simply by opening her mouth and unleashing her dragon cry, and from there, the band blazes forward fully. Great riffs roll down as the song lights up and pummels you. There’s a brief halt for clean trickling, but then the heart is ripped out again, blood splatters the floor, and the track ends in a storm of ferocity.

“East” is just a bit shorter at 19:27, and the band eases you into the song, with clean playing guiding you on your way. Then, an earth-tearing eruption arrives, as the guitar work sends compelling melodies flowing, and the spiraling playing can help hypnotize you. The drums crash even harder, as the band achieves raucous fury, and a short stretch of slower playing dives in, with some less-harsh calls entering the mix. Again, the song completely explodes, with screams that could peel the flesh from your face and the melodies pushing into a tornadic loop that eventually chews away and brings bruising. A slight pullback occurs, with warbled speaking swimming amid the floating shrapnel, and from there, the band brings one last assault, with your nervous system imploding from within, and the smothering sounds sizzling out, leaving a skeletal path of fire on the ground behind it.

Dakhma hopefully will reach more people now with Halo of Flies behind “Suna Kulto,” as their power and fury are tangible and can power your heart. Every moment of this effort ripples with chaos and blinding power, and I can only imagine the damage this band does live. This is the first fresh band that’s truly torn our eyes open in young 2017, and this trio is worth paying attention to as they blaze their trail into the future.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dakhmaband

To buy the album, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo97-dakhma-suna-kulto-lp/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/

Germany’s the Ruins of Beverast take strange, hypnotic turn on mesmerizing EP ‘Takitum Tootem!’

the-ruins-of-beverastWe all have those bands we like enough to do a pilgrimage to see live. In Pittsburgh, we get a lot of good shows, but many metal bands from overseas don’t always come here, preferring to hit bigger towns on their tours (which I get), so often we have to drive some miles to see these groups, which can be a fun and fulfilling experience.

Luckily, we’re close enough to Baltimore, so Maryland Deathfest is a destination we make just about every year. A few years ago, it was a necessary stop as the German black metal/doom warriors The Ruins of Beverast were making an appearance, and what were the chances of seeing them in my backyard? Actually, we came close last year, but their local date was canceled, as was their entire tour. But that MDF sojourn was so worth it, as they were a standout band, and were just unreal to witness. I already was a massive fan of the band, and they were touring on their great last record “Blood Vaults—The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer.” They were a nightmare even draped in midday sunlight, and each wave of terror lapped over the one before it, leaving the crowd in murk.

trob-takitum_tootem_van198The band is back now with one of their strangest releases yet, and that’s saying something for a group that often pushes boundaries. “Takitum Tootem!” is a two-track EP that has some of The Ruins of Beverast’s most intriguing music. One track is the first of a two-part series lamenting the downfall of humankind’s loss of the crown of creation, with the second part set to be delivered later this year. It adds a whole new perspective to the band’s DNA, and it will be intriguing to see if that spreads to their future music as well. If so, we’re in for one hell of a weird adventure. The other track is a warped-as-fuck cover of a classic that’s been done before by other metal bands, but not even close to how Ruins do it.

The title cut opens, that being the first part of a bipartite meditation that begins with woodwinds, warped chants, and a strange essence spreading itself. Guitars kick up and create a strange noise halo, while washed-out growls crawl inside of you and light fires. A strange robotic voice begins to sprawl, adding some weirdness, and then the music temporarily fades before tribal drumming begins to bubble, and a grinding pace takes over. Hypnotic tones and alien voices take over, as the music spirals, sending you into a trace, and then things slowly fade, with a sting of sound hanging in the air. The final track is a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which is one of the oddest but most enthralling takes on the classic cut ever. It maintains the same mentality as “Takitum” by feeling like a spiritual expanse that literally takes you on that trip into the star. Strange vocal effects, synth that swims in and brings with it the cosmos, and mesmerizing drums highlight this piece, giving a dose of psychedelic oddity even its initial creator likely could not imagine. The song then bleeds out with the same types of chants that opened the title cut.

The Ruins of Beverast remain operating on a level most bands only could dream of attaining, and the weird “Takitum Tootem!” keeps their creative energies alive. I’m really intrigued to hear how part two is going to sound, which probably will be something I can’t even dream as I write this. Whether this is a brief stopover in a different world, or if this is how Ruins will operate going forward, these two songs are enough to keep our interest high and bubbling over.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/The-Ruins-Of-Beverast-116265971848680/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.van-records.de/product_info.php?products_id=3048

For more on the label, go here: https://www.van-records.de/

PICK OF THE WEEK: The Flight of Sleipnir infuse dream-swelled atmosphere on riveting ‘Skadi’

tfos2016Bands come along now and then that I can’t believe more people aren’t into. Not that people aren’t necessarily sweet on said music, but these bands don’t carry with them the ridiculous word of mouth than can turn a group from nobody to the greatest thing on the planet in 24 hours.

For all their time as a band, The Flight of Sleipnir never have been a recipient of a massive furor pushing people to their records. That’s a shame, because for the past decade and over the course of six records, the Colorado-based band have done nothing but turn out good music. Their mix of doom, psychedelics, and black metal are blended so well, and with their unique personality, I find the band ridiculously listenable. Their latest album, the rushing “Skadi,” is another heavy dose of Norse-inspired lore (after all, the record is named after a Norse goddess and hunter who lives in the mountains where snow never ends, and she adorns the cover) and stirring music that not only should please those who have been along for this band’s raucous ride, but it should turn on newcomers who are down with groups such as Panopticon, Enslaved, Agalloch, Obsequiae, and others. FoS do not sound like those bands, but they operate in a similar headspace. So, there’s a good chance there will be serious crossover appeal. Or shit, just listen to the Flight of Sleipnir because they’re an awesome band that keeps getting better with the ages.

cover_1500_rgbThe Flight of Sleipnir started off as a duo and remained that way until just last year. David Csicsely (drums, vocals, guitars) and Clayton Cushman (guitars, vocals, bass, and keyboard) have been the driving force of the band for their entire run, but in 2016 Justin Siegler joined up on guitar, and David Borrusch took over bass duties. Both members have played as part of the live ensemble in the past, but now they’re a part of the solidified group. The band’s first full-length arrived just two years after they formed, with “Algiz + Berkanan” landing in 2009, and they’ve come back pretty regularly since then, with their last one, “V.,” coming three years ago on Napalm. They’ve moved to the steady Eisenwald for “Skadi,” a record as strong as anything in their catalog.

The adventure starts with 10:29 “Awaken” that opens slowly and immediately immerses itself in coldness. Moody guitars slide as shadows are cast over the land, and then spacious screams stretch while a strong, epic tempo unfurls. Clean, dream-inducing singing rushes in as the lead guitar work bathes in gaze, cosmic keys rise, and the song slowly fades away. “Tenebrous Haze” gets chunky right away with a static-filled bassline, doomy riffs, and harsh growls. The song has a sense of atmosphere, but it’s also heavy as hell, as grisly and melodic elements combine and swell before the band breaks down the song and thrashes away. Acoustics take over as spirited singing joins, and glorious guitars bubble up and soar, bringing the song to a riveting finish.

“Earthen Shroud” is dusty and folk-led at the start, with harmonized singing adding unexpected textures, and spacey, chilled playing raising goosebumps. Keys create a blur, while sounds whir in a halo around your head, and the guitars begin to heat up and thaw the ice. Harsh cries tear apart the serenity, but it’s only for a moment, and heartfelt singing returns, as guitars kick up to add a rushing sense to the final minutes. “Voices” is a dreamy instrumental with acoustic splashes, moody and haunting passages, and strings quivering, driving into your senses and preparing you for the 11:20 title track finale. There are taps and cymbal smashes that raise the curtain, while riffs begin to ramble, and the growled vocals wrench your muscles. There is a great deal of pounding balanced by another dose of harmonized singing, and then the guitar soloing takes on a classy, jazzy edge, not unlike Opeth’s earlier days. Harsh shrieks pierce the serenity, while the band trudges heavily, and a numb psychedelic wash works its way over you and takes you off to deep slumber full of vivid journeys.

If the metal gods, if those even exist, are just, the Flight of Sleipnir will find a healthy new audience with “Skadi.” The record is a fine rush of emotion, the metallic version of riding aboard Odin’s eight-legged steed into the sky. This is a band that’s operated under the radar for far too long, and this record is strong enough for them to capture as many hearts and minds as they so desire.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/THEFLIGHTOFSLEIPNIR

To buy the album, go here: http://records.eisenton.de/merch

For more on the label, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/

The Ominous Circle scar, warp death metal, bring fear back to genre on ‘Appalling Ascension’

Photo by João Fitas

Photo by João Fitas

I know it’s all clever for people to go around saying, “Let’s make Something Something Again,” based on U.S. embarrassment Donald Trump’s ever-so-creative campaign slogan. But what the hell. We’re feeling pretty lazy, so we’ve been hoping that a band would come along and make Death Metal Fearsome Again, and damn it if a strong candidate hasn’t reared its ugly head.

Mystery-shrouded Portuguese death metal band The Ominous Circle sound more than happy to take the sharp-ended baton and drive it mercilessly into the chest of every band trying to create a name for themselves in the death metal field. There is no desire here to sound pristine—none whatsoever—as they offer a complete bludgeoning on their massive debut record “Appalling Ascension.” Co-released by 20 Buck Spin and Osmose Productions, whose names guarantee quality, this shadowy sect pours acid and fire into their mix and comes out with death so ferocious, it will make pretenders and those weak at heart run and hide. Over these tumultuous eight tracks, the band grinds and punishes the listener, serving up sooty, basement-level carnage with gurgling vocals and a rhythm section that powders bones. Every step of this record is taking your life into your hands as you stare down danger and pray to anything you’ll survive to see the other side.

ominous-circle-coverThe record begins on an odd, troubling note with “Heart Gird With a Serpent,” a strange sprawl of a piece that has music beaten beyond recognition and growls working their way through the formless chaos. “From Endless Chasms” follows, with twisted guitar lines wrapping around you like a tourniquet and molten death splashing and maiming. The ferocity is pile-driving at times, with lead guitar work flashing and wailing and crazed runs coming right at you. Grisly growls and panicked shrieks intertwine, while the guitars sting on their way out. “Poison Fumes” sounds like just that, as it trudges forward and makes it feel like foreign agents are invading your blood. Gang howls arrive at one point, sounding formidable and scary, while a crushing, hypnotic pace pummels. Soloing goes off at the end, with the music cutting back and making it feel like you’re in a vortex. “Atec-Gibor Le-Olam Adonai” (a Kabbalistic acronym that stands for “You, O Lord, Are Mighty Forever,” is a humid, weird instrumental cut built on noise clouds hanging in the air and dark sounds haunting.

“A Gray Outcast” picks up the throttling all over again, but in a much different manner. Here, the band slides into Sabbath-style doom crawl, remaining as heavy as ever but delivering the pain in a more calculated manner. As things go on, guitars shriek and then the cut leaps into hyper drive, as the band delivers total annihilation. After that manic stretch, they’re back to miserable pounding and guitars jolting you with heat beams. “to En” greets you with drums lacerating your flesh and the tempo sickening you inside and out. The leads pull ahead and light up the room, at least momentarily, and the playing easily could stymie you and have you gripping the walls for balance. Guitars tear open and bring the cut to an abrupt end. “As the Worm Descends” fades in and brings with it a cloud of horror. The guitars grind away as if trying to juice you for blood, while a deliberate and thrashy assault breaks out and deals the blows, adding insult to your crusting wounds. All the elements later smash together and cause confusion, while the soloing blinds and has a blurry finish. Mammoth closer “Consecrating His Mark” is an absolute beast over its run time, making no bones about how it extends its assault and makes you gasp for breath. Guitars spit fire while the tempo mangles, and there are bends into slower playing and neck-jerk turns back to speed. As the song reaches its end, the guitars boil and wilt your skin, hulking growling instills fear, and the track comes to a fiery end that could engulf an entire forest.

It sounds odd to say The Ominous Circle breathe new life into death metal, as all they carry with them is pestilence on “Appalling Ascension.” This unit will carve you up, remove your bones, and drive over them with a cement truck. On top of all the heaviness is that eerie premonition that safety is nowhere to be found and that the most ghoulish of spirits are here to pick up your maimed carcass and ensure you are properly terrified well into oblivion.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/theominouscircle/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/20bs-vinyl

Or here: http://www.osmoseproductions.com/index.cfm

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

And here: http://www.osmoseproductions.com/

Au Champ des Morts put dark shroud over black metal with emotional debut ‘Dans la Joie’

acdmDarkness and dreariness reign this time of year, as the sunlight is choked out early, and the skies remain grey for what seems like eons. Many people suffer from seasonal mood disorder, making them feel down or sad because of the lack of sunlight and being trapped inside for such a long time without fresh air and sunlight. I’m not saying those things influenced today’s band and music, but they certainly go hand-in-hand quite well.

Au Champ des Morts (translated means Field of the Dead) formed just a few years ago, but already they have a thick slab of black metal filled with anguish and depression. Their debut record “Dans la Joie,” which translated means “In Joy,” sounds like a record that’s anything but that. Clouds and black rivers flow out of the band’s music, and while the atmosphere is rich and the melodies often flow heavily, there’s so much here that pulls back to the doldrums, left to face these drab days alone. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing, having a morose companion such as this band—vocalist/guitarist Stephane Bayle, bassist Cecile G., drummer Wilheim—can be something of a helping hand, a means to show you that not only is your world drowning in shadows, so are many others’ as well. The band’s music certainly is swelling and heavy, enough to blow down buildings. But there also is a hint of sensitivity (that is not to be read as weakness, as vulnerability is an act of self-strength) in the Alcest/Deafheaven that makes these songs slightly colorful.

au-champ-cover“Nos Decombres” starts the record with an emotional burst and creaky growls, as the music streams and soars as it goes on, making it feel like the band literally is bleeding into this. Some clean singing enters and quivers before the track opens anew, spilling in spacey keys and drubbing power. “Apres Le Carnage” opens like water trickling through a hole in a wall before the whole things gives way, with clean calls and grisly growls hammering. Pain can be felt around every corner, and when melody strikes and brings in lushness, it’s always balanced by bruising and cinders being embedded into your elbows. Toward the end of the song, a huge tidal wave of feels crush you, as a swirl of voices sweeps over you and robs you of breath. “Le Sang, La Mort, La Chute” has a watery ambiance to start, as it travels along a mid-tempo, with clean singing leading the way. Gazey fire erupts while growls emerge, as the torturous pace grinds you into the ground, and a heavy curtain of doom drops over everything, bringing a smothering force. In fact, the final minutes remain in the dark, coming to a moody, shadowy end.

“Contempler L’Abime” follows a post-rock path, which is odd but fitting, and then it tears into a pocket of a gaze storm that hangs overhead and saturates the ground. The vocals are heart-wrenching, with a strong, riveting finish that shows a different side of the band’s sound. The title track is the longest cut at 9:59, beginning in a cloud of murk before tearing the sky apart and unleashing a storm. The song is mostly a total assault on the senses, keeping your brain rattling inside your head and, even when it slips into the mists and lets synth rise up, always promises to ignite again, which is does as it steamrolls toward the finish. “L’Etoile Du Matin” has the drums leading in and keys gathering, with the singing giving off a classic Celtic Frost vibe. Unhinged yells join later, as a gothy smear spreads soot and sadness. Closer “La Fin Du Monde” is a curve ball of a final cut, with clean guitars bubbling and drizzling singing darkening the setting. Chant-filled singing brings a hypnotic push, and that circles around your head before it disappears into the unknown.

Au Champs des Morts’ entrance into our world three years ago added another force into the black metal scene that, while their teeth are sharp, are not just here for physical violence sake. “Dans la Joie” deals as much mental anguish as anything, helping you connect to these dark times and perhaps find a way to survive the whirlpool. The fact they do so in such an interesting, emotional way leads to their impact being felt long after you experience their music.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Au-Champ-Des-Morts-1061663760580553

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/