I got an e-mail a few weeks ago that made me happy because it indicated something I worried was long gone and another victim of the cannibalist record industry had survived. There it was, an e-mail containing new promo albums from Moribund Records, a label long known for bringing the filthiest, deadliest in black metal. What a relief that was.
True, earlier in the year they did put out a new record by Chasma, and that was one heck of a fun album to absorb, but before that and after that, there was silence. It’s not a punchline to say that smaller labels have a hard time existing in today’s economy and the state of the music industry, and considering people would rather steal digital copies than pay for someone’s art, selling records isn’t as easy as it once was. But perhaps with a new slate of releases in our hands from the label, and with more to come, Moribund can bounce back and reclaim some of the dark underground that other labels such as Hells Headbangers have serviced recently.
We’re going to look at two of those new releases today, but they’re not all that Moribund has ready for your filthy mitts. You also can find new records from Satan’s Host, Vardan (in advance of yet another full-length set for January), and a split featuring Nocturnal Fear and Seges Findere, all of which are wretched, furious pieces. There also are January plans for new records from Pact and Apostolum. But let’s concentrate on two Australian bands that drape an even darker, morbid film over the increasingly mean land Down Under.
We’ll start off with Thrall, a band we haven’t heard from since 2011’s “Vermin of the Earth” and that represents a sound pretty close to the second wave of black metal, but with a punk rock, crust, and death metal edges. Their sound is furious, fast, and drubbing on their new record “Aokigahara Jukai,”, and there are times when they remind me a little bit of early Darkthrone. The four who make up this unit–vocalist/guitarist Tom Void, guitarist Ramez Bathish, bassist Okkvinkalfa (who just joined this year), and drummer Em Stoy–play with a purpose and can be just as fun and infectious as they are violent and unforgiving.
The band’s new album is eight tracks that blister you over 45 minutes, and it’s a pretty nice dose of viciousness and maniacal intent. From the opener “Longing for Death” that is drenched with noise, punishing thrashing, and aggravated mauling, over the rest of the running time, they swing and connect again and again on cuts such as the punk-flavored, trucking title track; the oddly melodic and razor-sharp “Of Hate”; doom-encrusted, dismantling “The Pact,” that is … uh .. packed with wild, deranged shrieks and throaty growls; and the epic closer “Slaves” that runs 7:42 and swaggers with power. Some of metal’s bluesy roots can be heard here, and they fill this track with attitude not often heard in black metal circles, piling on top of you with muddy guitar work, grisly growls, and an old-school sentiment that pokes at those Darkthrone comparisons.
Thrall’s been a killer band since they started, always responding with collections that sound dangerous and a heathen-like good time simultaneously. They’ve managed to stay under the radar so far, but maybe this record will help them open more eyes and bloody more faces.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.thrallofvoid.com/
As for Moon, this project is the bizarre brainchild of Miasmyr (the band’s Facebook site lists other members as bassist Dirge, drummer Bernd, and keyboardist Pandora), who pours every ounce of warped, mind-altering madness into this music and has even more strangeness for you on the new “The Nine Gates” album. This is a follow-up to Moon’s 2010 effort “Caduceus Chalice,” an album that seemed to slip in, make a quick mark, and disappear again, and it certainly isn’t for all listeners, especially black metal fans who need things bloody and brutal at all times. There is a lot of Xasthur, Leviathan, and Deathspell Omega sentiment here, where you often soak in the ether and remove layer after layer of sound, but there’s no doubt this record keeps you engaged and feeling just a little bit unsettled for good measure.
Moon’s songs take some engagement by the listener, as they won’t lift you up, carry you through noisy riots, and deposit you into a pit of madness. These are journeys you take, mental ones, and they can make you feel pretty messed up when you’re taking on these eight songs. They’re smeary, nightmarish dreamscapes, from “Inhale Darkness,” that unfurls poisonous murk, with eerie, hypnotic guitars, vicious growls that are buried a million miles under the surface, and drowning noise that’ll make your head spin. That blanket of strangeness remains on the subsequent tracks including “Poison From the Abyss,” that has watery undertones and dizzying melodies; “Sabbat,” that’s foggy and chilling, what with its funeral-dirge organs; the druggy, sleep-soaked “Lillu Drowning,” a song that spits evil intent but also remembers to rock you into a terror-induced coma; and near-10-minute closer “Gates of the Moon,” that melts and trickles over your brain, with spooky melodies, weird churning and burning, vocals that sound like they’re being whispered from beyond the grave, and Miasmyr’s final gasps of toxic punishment. This is just a bizarre record, but it’s one you can’t help but get lost inside of for hours at a time.
Moon’s return is a welcome one, and it’s nice to see Miasmyr is keeping things as mentally baffling as ever before. This record could work really well if you’re listening while watching a blinding snowstorm, imagining the chaos outside your window, or simply when in a substance-induced daze as you imagine rituals in your brain. It’s equally great to have Moribund Records back, who hopefully plan to terrify us well into the future.
For more on Moon, go here: https://www.facebook.com/moon.gateway
To buy either album, go here: http://www.moribundcult.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?
For more on the label, go here: http://www.moribundcult.com/2013main.html