Hails! Aaron here from quite possibly the shittiest webzine in gutters of the internet, Black Metal Daily. You may have heard various cringeworthy things about Australia, such as it doesn’t exist (does anything, really?), we survive solely on Vegemite, Fosters and shrimps on a barbecue [ed. note: umm…it’ called a ‘barbie.’ You sure you’re Australian, dude?] (I haven’t barbecued a shrimp in my entire life… The rest is true), or we frequently call each other “cunts” as a show of affection (also true).
However, what you might not have heard is that we have an absolutely thriving black metal scene to rival anywhere in the world. From the biggest bombastic blasts to the most depraved howls from the raw underground, the black flame is alive and well down here and I’m honoured that the absolute lords at Indy Metal Vault have graciously allowed me some space in their esteemed publication to do two of my favourite things in the world: yell in grotesquely obnoxious fashion at anyone who will listen about how fucking good our music is, and to shove all sorts of deserving new releases in everyone’s faces.
And oh BOY is there some absolutely monolithic new stuff coming up later this year that I just can’t wait to shout about. So join me on this journey, dear readers as I drag as many recent shimmering black gems up from the caverns Down Under as I can carry (or until Clayton tells me to go home) in this first edition of The Antipodean Flame. I’ll be back with more as soon as I can. Cunts.
We’ll kick things off with some relatively fresh meat from the best subterranean Australian label around: Impure Sounds. As evidenced by their carefully selected roster of filth they have a superb eye for the underground, and their latest slice of prime rotting flesh is Cenotaph by Queensland’s Graveir. Counting current and ex-members of the incredible Moon (who, as an aside, I’m absolutely fiending for some new shit from) and more amongst their shadowed ranks, Cenotaph is the project’s fourth release overall and follows their end-of-year-list-making split with labelmates Mar Mortuum from 2017. This is black metal but done differently; I once wrote in a review that “it’s as if the songs try to take flight, but are weighted down by utter hopelessness” and that’s still the best way to describe their bleak miasmic fugue. Admittedly this was released a few months ago but hey, it’s the first column so I’m gonna backtrack a bit.
Heading a bit more into the traditional atmospheric side of things, this past May saw the enigmatic D of Woods of Desolation bestow not one but two great new releases upon us through his label Cold Ways Music. Bringing his project Forest Mysticism back from the dead after a seven year silence, Hearken is a neat little two track EP ripe with triumphant, autumnal and slightly pagan/folk vibes with an affecting instrumental piece added to close it out, while Remete’s new offering The Winter Silence is altogether colder and closer in tone to his main project. Conceptualized as one long piece it traverses beautiful landscapes overflowing with integrity and a melancholia that’ll make you want to curl up and ignore the world for days. Both are unsurprisingly outstanding; if you don’t know, then get to know.
“Old, bitter, late to parties and with one foot in an early grave”… If all this talk of pansy atmospheric shit is just boring you to tears, then fret no more my friend. The annihilators in regional Victorians Vahrzaw have been in the game for over a quarter of a century and recently put out their ripping third full-length Husk through Sweden’s Blood Harvest Records. These men aren’t here to fuck around; they play a strain of heavily riff-driven lethal black death that still kills the old way and generally wants nothing more than to rip off your head and shit down your neck. They’re also a pack of massive arseholes, but don’t hold that against them. Big love for these fellas.
Side note: if even this is somehow too soft for you, suss out sticksman Brandon’s other blackened death (but mostly just death) project Eskhaton who also just unleashed Omegalitheos, a 50-minute assault akin to windmilling the entire time with an angle-grinder being smashed into your face.
If you think Striborg is the epitome of Australian rawer-than-your-mum potato quality kvltness then holy shit, do I have some news for you. We’ve got more top-shelf raw black metal delights than you can throw a boomerang at, and one that just released its self-titled sixth demo tape back in March is the great Obsidian Forest. Emanating from New South Wales and conjuring mesmerising spectral atmospherics since 2005, it may appear harsh at first but is also hauntingly melodic and has the odd post-black feel winding amidst it’s jagged, dysphoric peaks. Out on limited tape through NZ label Rapacious Projections, it’s now long sold out and not available for full streaming anywhere I’m aware of, but keep a keen eye out for future releases. Oh, and a confession: I’ve also never thrown a boomerang.
“Commodus is not a moral man…” Keeping things firmly entrenched in raw end of the spectrum, we now have the sophomore demo from Queensland’s Kommodus. Does Ancient Roman themed pestilential black power imbued with a thrilling primal immediacy, liberally scattered with glorious headbanging moments and forays into lo-fi neofolk with tranquil ambient bird noises sound good? One Thousand Years of the Wolf is utterly gripping stuff that main man The Infernal Emperor – Lepidus Plague says is intended to “…ignite a flame deep within, a flame that harkens back to the old world, to establish a connection with your ancestors. To have you feel inspired by the blood in your veins, the blood of those who have conquered with strength and honour, those who have contested the very same conquerors with bravery and resilience, those who have lived and fought and died during a time when our species was true to itself.”
This is really something else and one of my low-key favourite things I’ve heard in a minute. I can’t wait until the LP drops on Goatowarex later this year, and I really can’t wait to then miss out on it because the time difference living down here is bullshit and I’m always sleeping when they drop/sell out in the space of three and a half minutes. Oh well, I’d have to sell my car to afford the postage out here anyway.
Heading back to more polished fare, if “jam-packed with frantic, lush melodicism” is how you like your blackened tea served then Tasmanians Atra Vetosis have you deliciously covered. Describing themselves as “melodic black metal with a fusion of atmospheric, depressive and post influences”, their crystalline assault was perfected ever further on second album Apricity which saw the energetic and emotional storm they create reaching absolutely elemental proportions. Released at the end of February through Immortal Frost Productions they’ve recently returned from a European tour in support of the album too, so if you don’t start hearing their name bandied about more often very soon I’ll be extremely surprised. Big things ahead for these lads.
Flowing on nicely from that, we have a quick shot of epic black metal: Byrhtnoth. Running along the same lines as Summoning or Caladan Brood with a heavy dungeon synth feel and solid dose of Tolkien love, this South Australian act is the project of a lone man known as Baelathvan (who also makes noise in Ascensions Fall, Farrore, Altar Defecation) and his debut album Brethren to the Fire Trumpets is a measured and beautiful listen that’s well worth your time and has just copped a release through Polish label Wolfspell Records. Great work, one for walking through sun-dappled glades and misty, battle-strewn valleys.
Time to show some love for our brethren across the Tasman Sea. As evidenced by the name, this column will also cover any fresh conjurings from New Zealand when they cross my path, so feel free to alert me to anything I should know about.
Verberis’s last album Vexamen came out on Iron Bonehead in 2016 and was a masterclass in modern black death, so excitement levels were naturally through the roof when new EP Vorant Gnosis was announced. They take a somewhat different and less immediate approach here, but it works; the two lengthy tracks are a slow burn of heaving paranoia and mystic carnage that builds until by the end of it all any sense of reality has been disintegrated by the chaotic crescendos. Showing off another arrow in their quiver, this pays off on expectations in spades. Out now through Pulverized Records.
And finally, to take us out with a bang here’s an astonishing project that I’ve been meaning to interview for quite some time; hopefully spreading the word to you lovely folk makes up for it. Tucked away deep in the Dandenong Ranges mountains of Victoria The Horn is a project that’s truly like few others. For more than twenty one years the man known only as A Demon Sheen (also of experimental Zen black metal duo Intrinsic Light, but that’s another story) has been toiling away with one singular task in mind: putting every one of the 189 spells contained in the Egyptian Book Of The Dead to Egyptian themed psychedelic-space-black metal. I shit you not. It’s one of the most mental things you’ll ever hear in your life and over the course of the 20 volumes he currently has out he doesn’t stick to merely black metal, oh no; while traversing the ancient mysteries you’ll encounter immense ambient compositions, Egyptian folk instruments, reggaeton, the works. He composes some spells by playing riffs from other spells entirely backwards. Volume 19 contains no guitars but is a droning microtonal assault summoned only via Turkish Saz, while latest Volume 20 then flips back to solely riff-driven raw black carnage. He’s even collaborated with fellow Australian experimentalist Nekrasov (also of Rebel Wizard fame) on one volume. Nothing I can say could properly encapsulate the scope and breadth of this project; check it out and tumble headlong down the rabbit hole yourselves, this man deserves far more attention than he gets. And I still intend to run that interview one day.