Sunday, 15 July 2018

SLUDGECAMP #4: A deep dive into the newest black metal releases on Bandcamp w/c 13/07/2018

By: Daniel Jackson

Stíny plamenů,

Welcome back to “Sludgecamp”! Summer is in full swing, so of course I’m about to recommend you a bunch dark, depressing, downright bleak music to ruin all the good energy the life-enriching sun is blessing us with on these long, hot days. Whereas last week was particularly death metal-heavy, this week is essentially an all black metal extravaganza! As always, I hope you find something to love here!

Released this week:

1). Stíny plamenů, ‘20 let kanalizačních zmetků’ (
Czech Republic)

Stíny plamenů is a name I’ve heard over the years, and it’s one I’ve wondered about each time I see it, but I’ve never really pulled the trigger until now. I’m glad I did this week! Though weirdly obsessed with sewers (so much so that it’s the first theme listed in the band’s lyrical themes on Metal Archives), the music is an awesome throwback to that speed-crazed late 90s black metal sound. The riffs here have depth and personality, stabbing and twisting as the songs roll along, all with a touch of melody. The performances here are so precise and yet so natural, which makes this an absolute joy, especially if you’re a big fan of the more melodic side of 2nd wave black metal.

2). Svältvinter, ‘Att Öde Vara’ (Trollhättan, Sweden)

This is some pretty straightforward black metal, but with an obvious eye on whatever the greenest pastures of the genre might be. The songs are written specifically to stick in your head and make an immediate impression. It’s a brilliantly stipped-down, nearly punk rock approach that gives the band plausible deniability when it comes to selling out, while being immediately accessible in a way you might have expected from an early 2000s Moonfog Records band. The vocals are absolutely venomous here, and lead off track “Skogsbrand” even features something approximating gang vocals. The EP concludes with an uncharacteristically atmospheric song, swinging along in a way that almost gives it a folk metal feel. Great stuff all around, if you don’t mind an especially “basic” songwriting style.

3). Kryptamok, ‘Profaani’ (Finland)

Blood Harvest this week brings us a delicious gritty black metal EP, via Finland’s Kryptamok. Where reinventing the wheel clearly isn’t the goal here, the band succeeds in a big way by taking a classic, established sound and just doing it in way that feels raw, vital, and coursing with frenetic energy. You’ve likely heard something that sounds like this, but it’s rarely done this well.

4). Qafsiel, ‘The True Beast’ (London, UK)

The band have self-tagged themselves as blackgaze, and I get that this might appeal to fans of that genre somewhat, but truth be told there’s a lot more going on here, and none of it strikes me as Alcest or Deafheaven worship. So what is going on here? It’s dense and heavy for a black metal band, and the atmosphere here comes across as more powerful than the more delicate vibe you tend to get in a blackgaze band. Really, this is current day atmospheric black metal that should appeal to folks to like a band like Mgła as much or more that it does a fan of Lantlôs or the like.

5). Codex Daemonicum, ‘Doctrines of the Fallen’

Simplified in a similar manner to Svältvinter, though much more atmospherialc bent overall, is Codex Daemonicum. These riffs will often straddle the fence that resides between prime 90s Marduk and ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’. The songs immediately feel familiar, but with a character of its own. As with our last band, the name of the game here is immediacy. Codex Daemonicum seems content to let their classic 2nd wave guitar work take center stage, as the vocals are drowned in reverb and mixed quietly enough that they take a back seat to almost everything else going on. It’s a unique tactic for a band that favors this specific black metal sound, but it works well here. Bonus points to Blood Harvest for having two strong releases come up in one week like this.

6). Solitary Key, “Sulphosfurous”

Raw, lo-fi, punk-ish, and dripping with schlocky charm, Solitary Key are probably the most fun album on the list this week. The key (sorry) here is the purposefully cheap-sounding keyboards, which give the whole thing an almost cartoonishly spooky feel; the stuff of local horror hosts’ late night movie marathons, rather than something more stoic and grim.The riffs here are catchy as can be, with Solitary Key feeling like the kind of band that would fit in nicely on a bill with Carpathian Forest or Emperor in their demo years.

7). Mythic Dawn, ‘En Svunnen Tid’ (Sweden)

To get right to the point: this stuff is super by-the-book. It’s so basic that I’m having a hard time explaining why I’m so drawn to it. There’s something powerful in being this doggedly committed to a subgenre’s orthodoxy. Its black metal stripped down to only its essential core elements. Fans of Darkthrone, Judas Iscariot, etc. have a good shot at enjoying this. It’s cold, fuzzy, harsh, and unabashedly grim, and that’s more than good enough for me!

New Pre-Orders:

8). Dauþuz, “Des Zwerges Fluch’ (25th of August)

With so much to talk about from the albums released this week, I felt it necessary to focus on just one pre-order this time around, so I’m going with Dauþuz. Naturmacht Productions released the band’s excellent ‘Die Grubenmähre’ last year, and they’re already back with a new release next month. It’s the same sort of powerful, pitch black melancholy that made ‘Die Grubenmähre’ so great. In fact, if I’d heard it before the end of the year last year, it would have almost certainly made my year end list. The track we can stream now bodes well for ‘Des Zwerges Fluch’ in 2018!