Hello everyone! Erin here. We’re doing something a little different today, something that I’m calling “Black Metal Demo-lition.” Instead of a longer review of a full-length album, I’m doing four short reviews of some shorter releases that I’ve heard and enjoyed over the past few weeks. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
I’ll be honest, if you like your black metal to experiment with the genre and push boundaries, this one may not be for you. If, however, you simply want your face blasted off by pounding drums, dark tremolo riffs, and howled vocals, then Sectes is right up your alley. This EP doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, but the wheel it does come up with is solid and well-constructed. Actually, this EP is less of a wheel and more of a tank tread, destroying everything in its path. Definitely check this out if you like your black metal without frills, upfront and in your face.
Now here we’re getting into something for fans of the weird. The first clue that this isn’t your typical vampyric black metal is that there’s actually some color in the album cover. The second clue is the distinct atmosphere that Bat Magic conjure. Most black metal of this type brings to mind gloomy castles and cobwebbed corridors, but Bat Magic’s combination of the vampyric aesthetic with fuzzed-out guitars and dissonant psychedelic solos makes me think more of some of the old Hammer pictures from the 60s. This was definitely one of the more interesting listens I’ve had so far this year.
Ice-cold melodic black metal from Canada, this release switches from frenzied tremolo picking and blasting to groovy thrashing without missing a beat. For as raw as this album is, it’s just downright fun to listen to. The hook (yes, an actual hook in black metal) in the title track is sure to get your head banging and your fist pumping, with its gang shouts of “Hail! Hail! Hail the serpent!” The whole release strikes a nice balance between rough-hewn and accessible, and should be enjoyable to genre purists and newcomers alike.
I saved my favorite for last. I certainly enjoyed all of the releases on this list, but this one stood out to me in particular, and is probably the one I’ve listened to the most over the past couple of weeks. It’s a two-track demo, and it’s one for those deep in the weeds of black metal. It’s raw and uncompromising, full of gloomy, ghostly riffs that sound less like guitars and more like wind howling through bleak forests. The drums pound away, stopping occasionally to let the listener catch their breath before going nuts again. And above it all the unhinged roars of the sole member. This is my favorite kind of black metal, the kind where everything blends together to create a glorious maelstrom of chaos. If you don’t like raw black metal, you probably won’t like this, just to be upfront with you. If, however, you enjoy the dark, eerie atmosphere that the best of this genre provides, then this is for you.