Album Review – Nechochwen / Kanawha Black (2022)

This Apalači Folk Metal entity returns from the underworld after seven years of silence with a new album that will further cement their rich and powerful legacy.

Born out of the desire to explore the heritage of the Eastern Woodland Indians of North America through stunning classical guitar instrumentation and lush atmosphere, West Virginia, United States-based Black/Folk Metal entity Nechochwen (a Lenape word that basically means “walks alone”) returns from the underworld seven years after the release of the full-length album Heart of Akamon with a new opus, entitled Kanawha Black, the fourth studio effort in their already solid career. Playing what they like to call “Apalači Folk Metal”, the duo comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nechochwen and bassist and drummer Pohonasin offers in their new album fierce melodies, heartfelt compositions and riff stylings that will further cement the rich and powerful legacy that they’ve nurtured since their inception in 2005, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Panopticon, Agalloch and Falls of Rauros, among others.

The incendiary riffs by Nechochwen are powerfully complemented by the blast beats by Pohonasin in the opening tune Kanawha Black, a fulminating Black and Folk Metal onrush where Nechochwen roars like a demonic entity while also providing top-notch clean vocals. Then we’re treated to The Murky Deep, where a tribalistic, folk start evolves into a Melodic Black Metal feast spearheaded by the massive drums by Pohonasin and the gentle acoustic guitars by Nechochwen. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how they blend the most primeval folk elements with their more extreme core sound, which is also the case in I Can Die But Once, bringing forward over six minutes of ethereal, atmospheric passages intertwined with bursts of anger and obscurity, resulting in a multi-layered adventure through the realms of Neofolk for admirers of the genre.

And those mesmerizing sounds flow into the rumbling Folk Metal extravaganza titled A Cure for the Winter Plagues, where Nechochwen sounds like a beast with his deep roars and piercing guitars while Pohonasin will make your head tremble armed with his bass. Then investing in a more direct Atmospheric Black Metal sonority it’s time for the duo to crush our souls in Visions, Dreams, and Signs, bringing to our ears seven minutes of blackened riffs, infernal drums and the always hellish gnarls by Nechochwen, whereas their second to last breath of Black and Folk Metal comes in the form of Generations of War, presenting pulverizing growls and hammering drums that will smash you mercilessly while folk elements add a touch of finesse in the background. Lastly, the duo once again captivates our senses with their acoustic sounds in Across the Divide, another solid display of the band’s dexterity and passion for heavy music, with their Heavy Metal-infused guitars sounding utterly awesome.

After all is said and done, it’s a true pleasure to witness the triumphant return to action by Nechochwen with the excellent Kanawha Black after such a long period of silence, and if you want to put your hands on the album you can already preporder it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp page. Moreover, don’t forget to also follow the duo on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to stream all of their atmospheric creations on Spotify, getting more familiarized with their music and, consequently, being able to explore the North American Indian heritage together with Nechochwen and Pohonasin in the name of the band’s trademark Apalači Folk Metal.

Best moments of the album: Kanawha Black and Visions, Dreams, and Signs.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing
1. Kanawha Black 6:23
2. The Murky Deep 4:03
3. I Can Die But Once 6:16
4. A Cure for the Winter Plagues 3:32
5. Visions, Dreams, and Signs 7:27
6. Generations of War 6:16
7. Across the Divide 7:50

Band members
Nechochwen – vocals, guitars, e-bow, keyboards, hand drum, floor tom, rattle, cedar flute, lalawas
Pohonasin – bass, drums, backing vocals

Album Review – The Glorious Dead / Into Lifeless Shrines (2020)

Ranging from blasting intensity to a more down-trodden doom crawl, enjoy over 50 minutes of “Filthy Northern Death Metal” by this talented Michigan, US-based act.

Founded by T.J. Humlinski (Feast Eternal) and Marty Rytkonen (Prosthesis, Slaunchwise, Charnel Valley, Bindrune Recordings) in Traverse City, a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, Death Metal four-piece act The Glorious Dead is a band that finds its roots planted somewhere back in 2008 and 2009 with the three-song demo The Burdensome Ceremony of Internment. Upon suffering a few line-up changes the band went dormant until 2017, when drummer Chris Fulton (Reasonable Deception, Neither) relocated to the area and agreed to join the band. With Chris Boris from the Northern Michigan band and forest metal stalwarts Pan permanently joining the ranks on bass, the band finalized a two-year quest and all necessary material for their debut full-length album Into Lifeless Shrines, offering the listener songs that range from blasting intensity to a more down-trodden doom crawl. Highly influenced by ancient Death Metal and the 80’s darkened thrash movement, The Glorious Dead focuses on memorable and diseased sounding riffs lurking at its core in Into Lifeless Shrines, resulting in the rise of what they like to call “Filthy Northern Death Metal”.

The eerie, cinematic intro Solium Mortis opens the gates of hell to the putrid and violent Vitreous Hemmorhage, a solid and straightforward Death Metal song with no shenanigans where T.J. roars and growls like a creature of the underworld while his bandmates generate a venomous ambience with their instruments, whereas Chris Fulton pounds his drums nonstop in the heavy-as-hell The Noise of Gravediggers, another bestial Death Metal feast with T.J. and Marty extracting sheer savagery from their stringed axes, living up to the legacy of renowned acts like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide and Morbid Angel. And they keep smashing our skulls with their brutality in Cranial Festering, where Chris Boris and Chris Fulton generate a dense and menacing base perfect for T.J. to thrive with his gruesome gnarls, maintaining the album at a high level of aggressiveness and obscurity.

The band then ventures through the realms of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, and the final result is a sluggish and grim creation entitled Tenebris Arca, with the slashing sound of the guitars bringing an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, while the crushing beats by Chris Fulton dictate the rhythm in the venomous Putrefactive Adoration, a brutal display of classic Death Metal shredding by the band’s guitar duo, all spiced up by the always vile guttural by T.J. After such high level of dementia, it’s time for the quartet to arise from the pits of the netherworld and fire one more round of bestiality in the form of Reunite in Grotesque, a lecture in old school Death Metal with no artificial elements, just plain, unfiltered violence, tons of shredding and the unstoppable beats by Chris Fulton. And even darker than its predecessors, Celebrate the Corpse blends Death and Doom Metal with subtle nuances of Black and Thrash Metal, presenting a great job on the guitars by both T.J. and Marty while Chris Boris keeps delivering endless groove through his bass punches.

Into Lifeless Shrines, one of their oldest compositions, comes smashing our heads mercilessly, showcasing a violent pace boosted by the song’s austere lyrics while once again bringing to our avid ears classic Death Metal spiced up by the most Stygian elements from Doom Metal, and the rumbling bass by Chris Boris kicks off the also visceral Leave it with the Worms, where the guitars by T.J. and Marty will pierce your ears while Chris Fulton gives us all a very good reason for slamming into the pit. Following this ode to darkness, Cannibal Corpse-inspired riffage and intricate and berserk beats are the main ingredients in the Death Metal extravaganza titled The Ruin of Flesh, with T.J. demonstrating all his skills as a growler once again, and there’s nothing better than a huge dosage of gore and violence to end a Death Metal album, which is exactly what you’ll get in Exordium of Decay, with its wicked guitar solos and hammering drums keeping the music vibrant and grim until the song’s climatic finale.

If you consider yourself a fan of underground Death Metal, then you should definitely give the guys from The Glorious Dead a try, as their raw and pulverizing creations might be exactly what you’re looking for in extreme music. Hence, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other details about the band, and purchase a copy of Into Lifeless Shrines from the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp page or webstore, fueling The Glorious Dead to keep demolishing our heads and disturbing our peace with their frantic and heavy Death Metal for many years to come. Put differently, let’s all hail the northern hordes of Death Metal together with the talented metallers from The Glorious Dead, with Into Lifeless Shrines marking the most cohesive and detailed step in their career so far.

Best moments of the album: The Noise of Gravediggers, Tenebris Arca and Reunite in Grotesque.

Worst moments of the album: Celebrate the Corpse.

Released in 2020 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing
1. Solium Mortis (Intro) 1:42
2. Vitreous Hemmorhage 4:17
3. The Noise of Gravediggers 5:02
4. Cranial Festering 3:16
5. Tenebris Arca 5:27
6. Putrefactive Adoration 4:21
7. Reunite in Grotesque 4:14
8. Celebrate the Corpse 5:33
9. Into Lifeless Shrines 4:20
10. Leave it with the Worms 4:11
11. The Ruin of Flesh 5:25
12. Exordium of Decay 4:37

Band members
T.J. Humlinski – vocals, guitars
Marty Rytkonen – guitars
Chris Boris – bass
Chris Fulton – drums

Album Review – Paths / In Lands Thought Lost (2018)

An impending opus of Scandinavian-inspired Black Metal infused with the bitterly cold and somber sounds of the Pacific Northwest, generating a stunning and vicious atmosphere that will beautifully embrace your soul.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Victoria, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Michael Taylor, Atmospheric Black Metal project Paths has evolved from its psychedelic-laced Black Metal beginnings to embrace more of a grand in scope atmosphere, more properly upholding and defining the beauty of their surroundings through the dense music they create. Hence, that evolution in the music by Paths is beyond clear with their impending third full-length album, entitled In Lands Thought Lost, a powerful and dense fusion of Scandinavian-inspired Black Metal with the bitterly cold and somber sounds of the Pacific Northwest, generating a stunning and vicious atmosphere that will beautifully embrace your soul.

Featuring an austere artwork by Sólfjall Design, as well as Austin Lunn from Panopticon as a sessions drummer (who by the way volunteered to re-record drums for the album to replace Michael’s carefully constructed synthetic drums for a more organic result), In Lands Thought Lost can be considered the most stylistically developed full-length from this crushing musical entity known as Paths, uniting melody and atmosphere in a puissant Black Metal vibe that summons your spirit back to the 90’s in each of its five distinct but thoroughly connected songs, showcasing how focused Michael was when writing this amazing album of extreme music.

In the opening track, a multi-layered and visceral creation titled Nights Tomb, a short intro explodes into brutal and atmospheric extreme music, with Michael becoming a beast with his demonic gnarls and crushing riffage while Austin makes sure the music flows demonically with his blast beats, invading your mind like a giant dark wave of sounds. Then we have To Brave The Storm, another classic and vibrant Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza sounding and feeling more melodic and anguished than its predecessor, with Michael being flawlessly supported by the unstoppable Austin and his rhythmic beats and fills, with the song’s visceral guitar lines emanating a mesmerizing and creepy vibe from start to finish. And the song’s abrupt finish sets the stage for the melancholic Creaking Boughs, also traveling through the realms of modern Atmospheric Black Metal, with the intensity of the beats growing together with the lancinating growls by Michael, who also fires some delicate guitar solos embraced by the song’s furious ambience. Furthermore, a gentle break provides the listener some time to breathe, before the music once again bursts into blackened sounds and tones.

The following tune, entitled The Everbright Land, kicks off in full force with Austin taking the lead with his demolishing beats, while Michael makes sure his growls and gnarls are in total sync with his obscure guitar lines and background phantasmagorical keys. Moreover, his bass lines also bring thunder to the musicality in the most Black Metal of all songs, with the music remaining disturbing, harmonious and electrifying in its entirety for our total delight. And finally, ethereal sounds ignite the longest and most intricate of all songs, South Ever South, blending the introspection of Doom Metal with the band’s characteristic Atmospheric Black Metal, with its bass lines presenting a mournful tone in contrast with the enfolding sound of the keyboards. Sometimes their most Black Metal side dictates the rhythm, sometimes it’s their doom-ish and atmospheric vein that takes the lead, until desolate and Stygian sounds put a climatic end to Paths’ obscure journey.

In summary, In Lands Thought Lost is not only a top-of-the-line album of Atmospheric Black Metal highly recommended for fans of the genre, but the precision and dedication the mastermind behind Paths, the aforementioned Michael Taylor, put in the development of the album is so compelling to the point all of us fans of extreme music should start beginning him to turn Paths into a full-bodied group or at least into a live band, allowing us to admire his music in the most organic way possible, which is on stage. I have no idea if that’s ever going to happen, but we can all go “bother” Michael on the project’s official Facebook page, and of course inspire him to write more music by purchasing In Lands Thought Lost as soon as the album becomes available on the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp and webstore in digital format or as a red vinyl (limited to 500 copies). As a matter of fact, if you’re an admirer of Atmospheric Black Metal, I’m pretty sure you’re already well aware of that, eager to have such inspiring album on your metallic hands.

Best moments of the album: Nights Tomb and The Everbright Land.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing    
1. Nights Tomb 7:32
2. To Brave The Storm 8:40
3. Creaking Boughs 8:43
4. The Everbright Land 9:11
5. South Ever South 12:33

Band members
Michael Taylor – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Austin Lunn – drums (session)

Album Review – Coldfells / Coldfells (2017)

Feel the beauty and desolation of the Appalachian landscapes through the Blackened Doom by a talented American power trio with their debut album, a perfect soundtrack to journeys outside frozen windows and within frozen souls.

“Visions of deep desire lay dormant, broken into fragments by an icy stare from the haggard, furrowed brow of nature – its cruel intent, to taunt the soul with beauty always out of reach, that disappears like mist with time…”

Hailing from Martins Ferry, a city in Belmont County, Ohio, United States, on the Ohio River, the extremely talented American Blackened Doom power trio Coldfells has just unleashed their debut full-length self-titled album upon us, bringing the aura of the band’s Appalachian surroundings as the album’s core essence. According to Coldfells themselves, the sonic purpose of the album is “to see the winter Appalachian landscapes we grew up around, the dead trees, grey skies, run-down mill towns, but, besides everything being desolate, it’s still beautiful.” And the trio comprised of Aaron Carey on vocals and additional guitars, Jonny Doyle on guitars, and Andrew D’Cagna on bass, drums and backing vocals definitely succeeded in providing with the music found in Coldfells a perfect soundtrack to journeys outside frozen windows and within frozen souls in a winter night of introspection.

Creepy, obscure keys ignite a 10-minute darkened feast of Doom Metal named The Rope, spearheaded by the sharp, slow-paced drumming by Andrew while Aaron fires his raspy gnarls tailored for the music and atmosphere created. This song brings a beautiful and melancholic musicality with a precise balance between clean and harsh vocals, or in other words, a very detailed composition recommended for fans of dark and smooth music with a piercing sonority, with its last part flirting with traditional Black Metal. With a melancholic start just like the opening track, The Sea Inside explodes into gripping Melodic Black Metal with highlights to the deep growls by Aaron and the mesmerizing riffs by Jonny, sounding atmospheric and doomed at all times and, consequently, providing amazing Blackened Doom for admirers of the genre. In Time Shall Be Forgotten, the shortest of all songs, is devastating from the very first second, with Andrew demolishing his drum set while Jonny fires sheer darkness through his strings. In addition, the song contains elements from the music by Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and other darkened bands, which ends up making it as menacing and lugubrious as hell.

All Night We Flew offers the listener sluggish and devilish Blackened Doom, with Aaron and Andrew adding tons of malignancy and darkness to the music with their anguished growls and steady, pounding beats. Once again, harsh and clean vocals complement each other in a fantastic manner, not to mention its magnificent main riff. Hence, while listening to this full-bodied hymn, simply bang your fuckin’ head nonstop until you feel that excruciating pain inside your head. And the last explosion of atmospheric Doom Metal by Coldfells, titled Eons Pass, sounds very stylish and harmonious, with the clean voice by Andrew bringing hope to our ears while Aaron reminds us all life is dark and dammed. Furthermore, the trio wants to drag us to a dark and cold side of life with the song’s mournful rhythm, and after a melancholic break the band returns in full force for one final breath of their Blackened Doom led by the blast beats by Andrew, until the song’s hellish conclusion.

In a nutshell, if what Coldfells wanted us all to feel while listening to their music was the beauty and desolation of the Appalachian landscapes, as aforementioned, they more than triumphed with each one of the five tracks of the album, which by the way can be enjoyed in its entirety on Spotify. And if you want to purchase Coldfells, the album is available at the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as on CD Baby and on Amazon. Actually, there’s a special edition of the album that’s already sold out at the Eihwaz Recordings’ webstore, which includes the two songs from their 2014 demo Black Breath as bonus tracks, but if I were you I would keep an eye on that just in case they print more copies of it.

Best moments of the album: The Rope and All Night We Flew.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Eihwaz Recordings

Track listing
1. The Rope 10:26
2. The Sea Inside 8:18
3. In Time Shall Be Forgotten 5:36
4. All Night We Flew 8:28
5. Eons Pass 7:51

Eihwaz Recordings Black Breath Demo 2014 (Disc 2) bonus tracks
1. Dungeons Deep 8:32
2. On Carven Throne 8:17

Band members
Aaron Carey – vocals, additional guitars
Jonny Doyle – guitars
Andrew D’Cagna – bass, drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Falls of Rauros / Vigilance Perennial (2017)

Feel embraced by the Black and Folk Metal thoroughly crafted by this American quartet, ranging from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion.

Rating4

nvp055-coverTheir name comes from one of my favorite books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, inspired by the great falls of River Anduin beneath Nen Hithoel, where the river fell from Emyn Muil to the wetland of Nindalf. Their music, a fusion of Black and Folk Metal with several other elements from distinct genres of music, ranges from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion. I’m talking about Falls of Rauros, an extremely talented quartet hailing from the city of Portland, Maine, in the United States, who are releasing their fourth full-length album titled Vigilance Perennial, for the delight of fans of complex and atmospheric music.

Since their inception in 2005 the band has been in a constant state of evolution in their career, with their music flowing organically and increasing in intensity with each of their releases. Featuring an impactful artwork by Sólfjall Design, Vigilance Perennial offers the listener five unique compositions that not only represent the core essence of Falls of Rauros, but that will also take you on a journey of creativity and discovery together with the four members of this idiosyncratic band. If you truly open your mind to the music found in Vigilance Perennial, the entire album will probably become a constant part of your daily music playlist without a shadow of a doubt.

Smooth guitar lines by Jordan and Aaron kick off the opening track, White Granite, being gradually accompanied by Evan on bass and Ray on drums, before Jordan begins firing some hellish gnarls completing the band’s aforementioned fusion of Folk and Black Metal, in this case nicely complemented by subtle hints of Doom Metal. You’ll be travelling through serene fields and harsher landscapes with the band in this full-bodied composition, elevating your emotions and senses before the second aria of the album, Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes, continues to guide you through Falls of Rauros’ whimsical journey. Slow beats and soulful guitars dictate the rhythm in the song’s gentle beginning, but it’s after around three minutes that things get more flammable with their dark and melodic Folk Metal exploding once again, with Jordan growling in a very somber way while Evan and Ray add a lot of progressiveness and epicness to the sonority.

The instrumental piece Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains showcases two minutes of tranquil guitar lines and a pleasant atmosphere, preparing our ears and souls for the dense and multilayered composition that will certainly blast the minds of fans of the genre entitled Arrow & Kiln, where the band fires heavy and aggressive sounds from the very beginning, with Jordan sounding more menacing and demonic than before. Moreover, Ray has an amazing performance on drums with both his Black Metal blast beats and his more rhythmic and progressive beats, helping the other members to constantly alternate between calm instrumental passages and piercing folk sounds powerfully. And closing the album Falls of Rauros offer us all another extreme music extravaganza named Impermanence Streakt Through Marble, a very harmonious and exciting tune where all band members deliver top-notch Folk and Black Metal through their sharp instruments. The song gets remarkably heavy at times, especially halfway through it, with the riffs by Jordan and Aaron and the precise drumming by Ray creating a darkened ambience perfect for the harsh growls by Jordan to sound even stronger.

If you’re ready to tame the unrestrained waters of Falls of Rauros, simply go check their Facebook page for more details on their career, tour dates and future plans. And there are so many different places where you can grab your copy of Vigilance Perennial I might have missed one or two from my list, as you can buy the album at the Falls of Rauros’ BandCamp page, at the Nordvis Produktion’s BandCamp page or webstore (in CD or LP format), at the Bindrune Recordings’ webstore also in CD or LP format, as well as on iTunes or Amazon. Feel embraced by the beautiful extreme music crafted by Falls of Rauros, and let your emotions flow to the sound of their distinguished creations.

Best moments of the album: Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes and Arrow & Kiln.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. White Granite 10:11
2. Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes 9:30
3. Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains 2:17
4. Arrow & Kiln 12:02
5. Impermanence Streakt Through Marble 10:17

Band members
Jordan – vocals, guitar
Aaron – guitar, vocals
Evan – bass
Ray – drums