I admit it, I fucked up. When Irk contacted me during the summer of last year about reviewing their Bread and Honey EP, I was thoroughly impressed with their noise rock assault and told the band that I’d be all about giving it a write-up. But as I continued to drown in a never-ending flood of new music in the ensuing weeks and months, I got in over my head, and as a result the promised review never materialized. So when the band graciously contacted me again regarding their split with fellow UK noise-makers Wren, I immediately felt like total crap when I realized I had allowed their previous release to slip through my fingers.
Although Satanic Warmaster has long been one of my favorite black metal bands due to their unwavering commitment to genre traditionalism, I found myself rather underwhelmed by their last full length, 2010’s Nachzehrer. The production was atrocious (and not in a good way) and to be blunt the songs simply weren’t there; the goofy looking werewolf on the cover and the less than insightful interview SW ringleader Satanic Tyrant Werwolf granted me that year did little to improve my opinion.
Beginning life as a traditional-sounding Norwegian black metal outfit, Oslo’s Dodheimsgard have evolved drastically with every release, to the point that if you were to play each of their full-length recordings to someone who was completely unfamiliar, they’d likely attribute them to several different bands. This near-constant state of progression and reinvention has made DHG into one of the most exciting groups to emerge from the Scandinavian second wave, the lengthy periods of inactivity between albums doing nothing whatsoever to dull my anticipation of their next move.
Yes friends, I realize that hating on any Venom album that isn’t Welcome to Hell, Black Metal or At War with Satan is the cool kid thing to do. But, I’ve never been one of the cool kids, and as such I’ve found much to enjoy amidst Venom’s latter-day discography; even if those albums aren’t as ground-breaking as the first three, that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining. From the Very Depths is Cronos and Co.’s thirteenth full length, and although it’s by no means perfect, it’s certainly as enjoyable a slab of throwback heavy metal as you’re likely to encounter in 2015.
Finland’s Archgoat have been spewing their patently barbaric brand of blackness since 1989 and are the very definition of a “cult band;” they’ve put out only three full length albums in their two-plus decades of existence including 2015’s The Apocalyptic Triumphator, which makes its release feel like a special event. But it’s not just special because it’s a rare occurrence; the simple fact of the matter is that Archgoat do this style of bestial black/death metal better than just about any other band in existence.
Sacramento was positively drenched with rain last weekend. The meteorologists called it an “atmospheric river;” I called it a great time to wallow in some seriously depressing music to match the shitty weather. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better band in 2015 to accompany overcast skies and sheets of (probably toxic) precipitation than Australia’s Weeping Rat. The band is set to drop their debut album Tar via the mighty Handmade Birds, and it’s a deliciously dismal listen, to say the very least.
Darkness comes in many forms. A band doesn’t necessarily have to scream about Satan or pile on the distortion in order to take listeners to pitch-black places. Subtle Cruelties, the debut album from West Coast duo Barren Harvest, is an exquisite example of this. A collaboration between Jessica Way of Worm Ouroboros and Atriarch’s Lenny Smith, Barren Harvest’s sound is rooted in the subtle tones and textures of ambient and neofolk, yet somehow manages to be darker and more sorrowful than even the most depressive of black metal bands.