Album Review – Obscura Qalma / Apotheosis (2021)

Exploring human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view, the debut album by this Stygian Italian horde is a lecture in epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm.

Formed in 2018 in Venice, Italy from connections built in their local scene while performing within their prior projects, the unrelenting Blackened/Symphonic Death Metal horde known as Obscura Qalma have just released their debut full-length opus, entitled Apotheosis, the follow-up to their 2019 EP From the Sheol to the Apeiron. Mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni at Domination Studio and displaying a sinister artwork by Mexican artist Néstor Ávalos (Black Arts), Apotheosis (or “to deify” from Greek) explores human existence in an epistemological solipsistic view inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, as well as by contemporary figures such as Massimo Recalcati and James Owen Weatherall, while musically speaking the inspiration comes from bands the likes of Dissection, Emperor and Death as well as by classical music and film composers such as Alexandre Desplat, showcasing all the talent and passion for dark music by vocalist and guitarist Sirius (Necrosy, Supremacy), guitarist Sartorius (As Memory Dies), bassist Theo (From the Shores), and drummer Res (Supremacy).

The cinematic and absolutely epic intro Demise Of The Sun sets the stage for Obscura Qalma to crush our souls in Impure Black Enlightenment, a lecture in Symphonic Black Metal with Res smashing his drums manically accompanied by the wicked riffage by Sirius and Sartorius, all spiced up by an imposing atmosphere and the demonic growls by Sirius. Then keeping the ambience as dark and sulfurous as possible the quartet blasts the venomous Gemini, with Theo and his rumbling bass adding a touch of aggressiveness to the overall result, not to mention how infernal the drums sound once again; and their onrush of obscurity goes on in The Forbidden Pantheon, another epic, massive Blackened Death Metal extravaganza led by the hellish vociferations by Sirius, sounding old school but at the same time offering the listener a fresh and modern twist. There’s no time to breathe as the quartet keeps decimating our souls in Transcending The Sefirot, with Res sounding like a three-headed beast behind his drums supported by the whimsical riffs and solos by Sirius and Sartorius.

It can’t get any more symphonic than in Paradise Lost, a dense, multi-layered creation by Obscura Qalma showcasing their trademark fusion of classic Death and Black Metal with movie-inspired scores and wicked sounds, and you better get ready to have your neck broken in half to the sound of Fleshbound, a pulverizing Blackened Death Metal tune where their riffs, bass lines and pounding beats will hammer your head mercilessly until the very last second. Never tired of bringing forward their passion and admiration for the dark side of music, it’s time for Sirius to roar in anger in The Telemachus Complex, a beautiful composition that will leave you completely disoriented, with Res taking the lead with his intricate and furious beats, whereas not a single moment of peace is offered to us all in Imperial Cult, with its background elements creating an interesting paradox with the savagery crafted by all band members. Lastly, we’re treated to Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion, starting in a more alternative and futuristic manner and evolving into their usual sound, albeit not as compelling as its predecessors.

You can enjoy all the obscurity and fury of Apotheosis by streaming the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course in order to show your utmost support to those talented Italian metallers you should purchase the album from their BandCamp page or Big Cartel, from the Rising Nemesis Records’ BandCamp page or Big Cartel, or simply click HERE for different places where you can buy or stream the album. In addition to all that, don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their wicked music. “From the nihilistic foundations of European culture and epistemological solipsism to astrophysics and psychoanalysis, Apotheosis dwells on the limits of human knowledge and the impassable boundaries of its own existence,” commented the band about their newborn spawn, creating epic and dark Death Metal that exists in its own philosophically inspired realm and, therefore, paving a promising path ahead of the band in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Impure Black Enlightenment, Paradise Lost and The Telemachus Complex.

Worst moments of the album: Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion.

Released in 2021 Rising Nemesis Records

Track listing
1. Demise Of The Sun 1:24
2. Impure Black Enlightenment 4:07
3. Gemini 5:17
4. The Forbidden Pantheon 5:01
5. Transcending The Sefirot 4:33
6. Paradise Lost 6:23
7. Fleshbound 4:01
8. The Telemachus Complex 5:28
9. Imperial Cult 4:28
10. Awaken A Shrine To Oblivion 5:57

Band members
Sirius – vocals, guitar
Sartorius – guitar
Theo – bass, backing vocals
Res – drums, additional percussion

Album Review – Goatchrist / Odes to the Radiant One (2021)

One of UK’s most talented underground entities is ready to mesmerize us all once again with his brand new Kabbalistic Progressive Black Metal album.

One year after the release of the excellent Apotheosis, Leeds, UK-based Experimental/Progressive Black Metal entity Goatchrist returns to action once again with a Kabbalistic Progressive Black Metal album entitled Odes to the Radiant One, a unique listening experience that will keep you hooked until the last minute. The brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist J. Guilherme (or Jacob Guilherme, if you prefer), Goatchrist nailed it once again with Odes to the Radiant One, containing both the experimental tendencies of Pythagoras and an Orthodox Black Metal basis for composition and, therefore, turning the album into a must-listen for fans of the most experimental side of extreme music.

The short and sweet intro Baruch Atta Adonai… warms up our souls for I, the Lawgiver, with Jacob already delivering crisp, piercing riffs and his trademark devilish gnarls, supported by the clean vocals by D. Tann to give the song’s poetic lyrics an extra punch (“I shall be, / Felled before the promised land art reached, / For of my needs and dreams: / I did not them feed.”). In other words, it’s all we want in Progressive Black Metal, whereas in The Emergence of Tiferet from that Qlipa which Envelopes Binah we’re treated to another round of Jacob’s unique words (“Each oneness can be divided into onenesses. / Each single ‘One’ is dependent on other ‘Ones’: / Whether a thought, or whether some force, / Or whether a glare or a stench or a roar, / All possess multiple ‘Ones’!”) amidst a fusion of Melodic Black Metal and progressive and symphonic elements. Guest D. Tann returns with his clean vocals in Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov, while Jacob smashes his drums and slashes his axe in a very melodic and enfolding display of Black Metal, with its vocal paradox adding tons of feeling to the overall result.

Then ominous organ sounds are the main ingredient in Interlude, generating a whimsical ambience before we face Of the Sephirot (Which Art the Qlippoth), another solid Black Metal creation by Jacob showcasing his trademark growls intertwined with eccentric background sounds in a hybrid of extreme music and metaphysical theories. After such intense composition, eerie keys are quickly joined by blast beats and visceral guitars in Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin, with Jacob growling and gnarling like a demonic entity until the very last second; followed by A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El), a classic Goatchrist song with a modern twist bringing to our ears Jacob’s unique fusion of heavy and melodic sounds, all of course spiced up by his wicked roars in a lesson in Progressive black Metal. In the second to last aria from the album, titled Jacob’s Ladder, Jacob offers more obscure and sluggish sounds by adding elements of Doom Metal such as damned beats to Goatchrist’s core sonority, sounding grim and dark until the very end. Lastly, Jacob brings to our ears Im HaShem Lo Yivneh Bayis, his own metallic rendition to a traditional Jewish song that means “unless the Lord builds the house”, also known as “Shomer Yisrael” or “Guardian Of Israel”, putting an upbeat and vibrant ending to the album.

In summary, in the very detailed and exciting Odes to the Radiant One, which is available for a full listen on YouTube, Jacob and his Goatchrist continue to explore the Kabbalah and its importance in Jewish mysticism in a very entertaining way without losing the project’s darkened core sound, proving once again how talented Jacob is and how easily he can incorporate non-metal elements to his Experimental and Progressive Black Metal. Hence, don’t forget to pay him a visit on Facebook to keep up to date with all things Goatchrist, and more important than that, to purchase Odes to the Radiant One from his own BandCamp page, showing all your admiration and support to the underground. And may Jacob release more albums like his latest ones in the near future in honor of his own cultural heritage and, of course, in the name of good extreme music.

Best moments of the album: I, the Lawgiver, Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov and A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El).

Worst moments of the album: Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing
1. Baruch Atta Adonai… 0:22
2. I, the Lawgiver 6:32
3. The Emergence of Tiferet from that Qlipa which Envelopes Binah 4:48
4. Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov 6:56
5. Interlude 1:22
6. Of the Sephirot (Which Art the Qlippoth) 6:22
7. Transcending the Boundaries of Ayin 4:03
8. A People Embattled (or, A Song for Those Who Wrestle with El) 5:14
9. Jacob’s Ladder 4:52
10. Im HaShem Lo Yivneh Bayis 3:48

Band members
J. Guilherme – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
D. Tann – clean vocals on “I, the Lawgiver” and “Proclamations of the Baal Shem Tov”

Album Review – Goatchrist / Apotheosis (2020)

One of UK’s most innovative underground acts returns with a multi-layered and very experimental concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch.

One year after the release of the excellent Pythagoras and after unleashing upon humanity a series of non-metal albums in 2020, those being Revelations of the Gnostic Christ, The Philosopher’s Hand and more recently Goatchrist, Leeds, UK’s own vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme (or J. Guilherme if you prefer) and his Experimental Black Metal alter-ego Goatchrist are back with another imposing opus entitled Apotheosis, a concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch, apocryphal magical texts from antiquity. Following the story of Edris, who leaves his hometown due to his perception of its absolute wickedness in order to find a city of divinely-acting inhabitants, Apotheosis showcases once again the undeniable talent of J. Guilherme, this time accompanied by D. Tann and guests A. Billingham and R. Shipley providing several different voices to give life to all characters involved in the story, inviting the listener to join Goatchrist in another detailed and very entertaining musical voyage.

Stygian guitars permeate the air in the cryptic intro Prologue – From a People Lost… while Jacob begins declaiming its cryptic words, warming us up for the absolutely experimental and progressive Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת), where its lyrics couldn’t have been darker and more poetic than what they already are (“I am born from great evil, / My mind has dwelt in sin. / I have not mind or heart, / As awakened cantors deep within.”), blending Progressive Metal with heavier sounds and non-metal styles and, therefore, turning it into a beyond amazing ride for fans of all types of rock and metal music. And continuing his path of experimentations and metaphysical philosophies, Jacob and his Goatchrist offer another epic composition titled Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth (מֶטָטְרוֹן), where all guitars, drums, keys and orchestrations generate a bold ambience for his demonic gnarls, resulting in a progressive and sharp hybrid of Cradle of Filth and Opeth. Then a very theatrical start kicks off the 11-minute aria Chapter 3 – Five Archangels, bringing to our ears classic piano and keys, deep guttural vociferations and sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats, also presenting Jazz-y moments, endless breaks and variations and an enfolding atmosphere from start to finish, not to mention the amazing job done by guest R. Shipley as the voices of Gabriel and Michael.

Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) brings forward another round of Goatchrist’s wicked words (“[0] “No-thing” is that which exists, / And at the start, is that which is. / But from “thing-ness” it is disjoint, / And thus contracts to a single point.”) while the music is once again an explosion of countless rock, metal and other distinguished styles, with Jacob firing classic bass lines, soulful guitar solos and his trademark growling. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental, multi-layered and dynamic than this. Or maybe it can, as Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) blends elements from Ambient, Shoegazing and Atmospheric Black Metal to Goatchrist’s core Experimental Metal, resulting in a musical voyage where all voices by Jacob, D. Tann and A. Billingham make the whole experience even more enthralling and detailed. Furthermore, it’s interesting how Jacob meticulously added tons of idiosyncratic sounds in the background while at the same time keeping the whole song very cohesive and smooth, growing in intensity until its visceral and beast-like grand finale.

Needless to say, Jacob and his always electrifying Goatchrist managed to surprise us one more time with the high quality of the music and the exceptional concept found in his new album Apotheosis, and after so many top-notch releases in a row and in such a short period of time one can never know where the project will go from now on, which lands and storylines Jacob will explore, nor what types of music styles will be incorporated into his unique compositions. Hence, don’t forget to follow Goatchrist on Facebook, to listen to more of the project’s music on Spotify, and to purchase a copy of Apotheosis from Goatchrist’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon, keeping in mind the BandCamp download will also include two publications, one called “The Magical Key to Understanding the Album ‘Apotheosis’”, and another one titled “Third Book of Enoch”, just to give you an idea of how focused and detailed-oriented Jacob is whenever his mind begins paving the next step in the career of Goatchrist. Are you curious to know what happens to Edris in Apotheosis? Well, why don’t you let Jacob tell you that through the very distinguished music by Goatchrist? I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of his sonic experimentations, just like what he has to offer in Apotheosis.

Best moments of the album: Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת) and Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prologue – From a People Lost… 2:12
2. Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings 9:53
3. Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth 7:13
4. Chapter 3 – Five Archangels 11:23
5. Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ 9:41
6. Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) 17:11

Band members
J. Guilherme – all instruments, narration, voices of יהוה, Uriel, Raphael and Lucifer
D. Tann – voices of Edris, מֶטָטְרוֹן and Lucifer

Guest musicians
A. Billingham – voices of Sophia and Lucifer
R. Shipley – voices of Michael and Gabriel