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Album Reviews Reviews Short Sharp Shock

Short Sharp Shock #45: Black Metal Special

Welcome to the latest edition of Short Sharp Shock, where we take a look at some of the shorter metal releases that are out there.

Yep, it’s time to cast your eyes and ears into the darkness, for this latest edition of Short Sharp Shock is all about the black stuff.

Ars Veneficium Ulvdalir - In Death's Cold Embrace - SplitBand(s): Ars Veneficium/Ulvdalir
Title: In Death’s Cold Embrace – Split
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 9 minutes
Release date: June 21, 2019

Opening with “A Thousand Weeping Angels,” Ars Veneficium waste no time in establishing brutal dominance over the airwaves. Sharp and harsh, with cold streaks of venomous melody running throughout, this track is a sleek and efficient killer. Based on how much I enjoyed the band’s 2016 debut album The Reign of the Infernal King I had high expectations for this song, and I was not disappointed.

Although unfamiliar with Ulvdalir’s music prior to this split, the band reveal themselves to have more of an old-school influence than Ars Veneficium. This includes some first wave elements that can be heard in the vocals and riffs. ‘Litany of Death’ is energetic and larger than life; imagine a black metal version of a mix of Celtic Frost and Usurper, and you’ll be on the right lines.

A solid, enjoyable split from these two different, yet complementary, black metal artists.

Nameless Void - Nameless VoidBand(s): Nameless Void
Title: Nameless Void
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 32 minutes
Release date: May 31, 2019

A longer release now, included as it’s billed as an EP, despite the more album-length duration. Nameless Void play black metal mixed with elements of drone, industrial, and noise. Two lengthy songs bookend a shorter one that’s entirely a droning dark ambient track. Named “Black Wormhole,” it sounds like its name.

Synths provide a cosmic backdrop for the music, while the black metal components are harsh and raw, barely a level above noise themselves. Serpentine, alienesque screams seem to float in and out of existence, and all the while the music mixes its abrasive buzzing black metal and calm, atmospheric synths together like it’s the most (un)natural thing in the (under)world.

Your tolerance for this sort of thing will depend on your tastes, of course, and I don’t think this will be even remotely for everyone. As a first release, it’s a good sign of things to come, and with a few tweaks to the songwriting and sound, I think the band could be on to something.

Hellripper - Black Arts & AlchemyBand(s): Hellripper
Title: Black Arts & Alchemy
Style(s): Black/Speed Metal
Duration: 12 minutes
Release date: April 5, 2019

I’ve heard it said that Hellripper’s one man metal machine answers the question of what a black metal version of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All might sound like. Yep, this is blackened speed metal played with character and passion, and filled with all manner of tasty riffs, leads, and solos. Full of anthemic catchiness and instant memorability, this is old-school in both style and attitude. I almost want to say that they don’t make them like this anymore, except that they clearly do in Scotland. Hail!

Hidden Mothers - The Longest Journey YetBand(s): Hidden Mothers
Title: The Longest Journey Yet
Style(s): Post-Black Metal
Duration: 5 minutes
Release date: June 17, 2019

The debut single from UK band Hidden Mothers has appeared on the scene fully-formed and ready to blaze.

Starting soft and gentle, the music soon reveals a preference for the sort of post-blackened blackgaze that bands such as Alcest and Deafheaven do so well. Hidden Mothers are still finding their own sound, of course; this is only their first recording. However, that doesn’t mean that ‘The Longest Journey Yet’ is without merit. This is a well-played, written, and performed song.

The Longest Journey Yet ‘shows a band that knows what this style of music has to offer. They’ve effectively channeled their love of the style into a track that’s effective in what it does and is quite enjoyable too.

Rotting Christ Varathron - Duality of the Unholy ExistenceBand(s): Rotting Christ/Varathron
Title: Duality of the Unholy Existence – Split
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 9 minutes
Release date: June 28, 2019

This is a split between two well-known Greek black metal bands, one which won’t disappoint fans of either group. Both tracks offer up dark, occult black metal, delivered with melody, atmosphere, and power.

Rotting Christ’s sense of rhythmic energy and anthemic ostentation powers “Spiritus Sancti” along at the kind of blistering pace that can set dance floors on fire, while the synths and melodies provide added depth and atmosphere. Varathron’s “Shaytan” offers up a deeper sense of evil and malignant atmosphere, while still providing accessible groove and enticing melodies.

I like that rather than consisting of throwaway B-sides, this split provides two enjoyable, well-constructed tracks for the listener to enjoy. Top stuff from both bands.

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Bob Sacamano
Bob Sacamano July 16, 2019 at 1:04 pm

@hellrippermetal @hiddenmothersbm @AthanatoiEste @varathron Hellripper shreds

Hidden Mothers
Hidden Mothers July 16, 2019 at 1:36 pm

@hellrippermetal @AthanatoiEste @varathron Thank you so much!!!

Liam Knowles
Liam Knowles July 16, 2019 at 1:36 pm

@hiddenmothersbm @hellrippermetal @AthanatoiEste @varathron 🖤🖤🖤


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