Witch’s Heart – The Harrowing

Harrows Hymn is actually a pretty damn cool industrial black ambient piece, and the desolate beauty is a surprisingly pleasant to listen to psychedelic, quiet, sludgly black metalish track. Unfortunately the rest of the album is boring, mindlessly repetitive industrial sludge noise that tries to make itself out to be experimental and satanic. It’s an interesting take on blackened sludge, but interesting does not equate to good every time.



Swampcult – The Festival

Simultaneously manages to be too conceptually large for the band to handle, while also containing, on an equal level, completely unadventurous music. It’s not terrible, but even it’s short length is wearing and none of it’s ideas achieve their intended purpose of scaring and possibly shocking the listener. A failed experiment, but there was at least an earnest attempt.



Gilded Lily – Mongrel’s Light

Ok, but nothing great. The industrial influences are just not nearly as pronounced as they should be I feel. It’s got this weird sound combination of dirty and slightly melodic that doesn’t quite come together well. It’s also just way too short, i think an added 10 minutes with like an 8 minute track or something would’ve been great. As is nothing is memorable enough to stick at all. I didn’t grow tired of it at least, the sound was unique enough to warrant some of my attention. Just not unique enough for me to give it ALL of my attention.



Dakota Westbrook – When the Snow Falls

Not much to say about this, just very decent lo-fi atmo black. But some of the technical missteps are pretty funny. You have the random 2 minutes of silence at the end of the first track, the acoustic guitar segment on Blood on the Ice that seems like it’s been recorded while the TV plays in the background, and the fact that the dude apparently just forgot to mention the 11 and a half minute final track in the track listing on his bandcamp. The album isn’t exactly spectacular, but it’s a nice enough listen, even if it’s a bit repetitive.


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ZE3o1dluE&feature=youtu.be


A Diadem of Dead Stars – Kingdoms Bathed in Golden Light

On the one hand, I appreciate the display of the beauty of night in the record, and having listened to this late at night, I got a certain cathartic feel with it that I haven’t achieved in a while, maybe since the Augrimmer record I reviewed earlier. I also really appreciated the night time field recordings of crickets and owls, it added a certain charm to the album. On the other, the two main 20 minute tracks do not justify their length at all, and the last track is just about useless. This album should not have been an hour long, even though it wasn’t really a bad listen in hindsight. I liked this, but if you can’t stand any kind of monotony, this is not the record for you, as the two 20 minute tracks can test your patience quite a bit. I have a bit of a tolerance for that, but it only goes so far.



Celestial Shadows – An Endless Void

There are certainly worse things out there, but this sounds just about exactly like any other random black metal bandcamp project from aussieland would be expected to sound like. I’m not sure the “experimental” aspects are entirely intentional, let’s put it that way.



Svirnath – Il regno della natura

In terms of low budget black metal that covers the theme of the beauty of nature, you’re not going to find much better than this. The acoustic guitars are absolutely superb, I can feel the soaring, inspiring riffs of the guitars in my blood, and the entire listen was an extremely joyfull experience that made me grateful to be in an area so full of wonderful nature beauty (Oregon). I’m very weary of black metal albums with real life color photos as the cover, but this made me a believer, at least for now. The only issue I have is the synths, which I felt were just to hollow and empty. I also think, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, that the nature recordings they used during the intro should’ve been used more as a theme throughout the whole album. There’s a lot to like here, just don’t expect a highly produced master piece. Though again, what better way to display the beauty of nature than with a recording that’s much more down to earth?


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ZE3o1dluE&feature=youtu.be


Winterhorde – Maestro

I feel like this is just on the cusp of being great, but not quite there. It’s incredibly consistent, but rarely does any track absolutely wow me (with the exception of They Came with Eyes of Fire and maybe the title track). The main melodies are pretty samey, but there’s just enough variation that I don’t mind it too much. I love the heavy progressive tinge to the record, really separates itself from other sympho black album. This isn’t just campy symphonics, there’s actual compositional skill involved. Overall this is good, but I don’t think it justifies the length at all, and consistently only gets your far if it’s consistently amazing, rather than consistently decent.


Forteresse – Thèmes pour la rébellion

I really do appreciate the inspiring aura of this album, but I just don’t think I can get the context enough to full appreciate it. The repetitiveness gets to me, despite all my efforts contrary. I have lots of family in Quebec, and I know the whole situation of them not exactly having the best relationship with the rest of Canada. That said, I’m an American from Oregon, and as such this album just doesn’t quite do it for me. Decent, very listenable, but that’s all really.