An ecclesiastical nightmare formed by emanations from the metaphysical voids trapped in the eternal light arises to the sound of its debut effort of unearthly Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal.
“As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit…”
An ecclesiastical nightmare formed by emanations from the metaphysical voids trapped in the eternal light, Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal entity Am Himmel, which translates as “in the sky” from German, is the new solo project from vocalist and multi-instrumentalist JMKP, an old soul from the Netherlands whose inspiration lies between doomy synth-based Drone, raw Black Metal and Shoegaze, channeling ancient and metaphysical energies through the combination of eerie soundscapes with raw and buzzing extreme music in his newborn beast entitled As EternalAs The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow. There’s a sinister and unearthly atmosphere surrounding the whole record, not just from the devilish growls and shrieks, but also from the hypnotic mystical synth layers, being therefore highly recommended for admirers of the music by Urfaust, Lurker of Chalice and Xasthur, among other servants of darkness.
Bleared By The Infinite Wings is darkly noisy from the very first second, inviting us all to the ethereal world of Am Himmel by blending the melancholy of Atmospheric Black Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal. Moreover, JMKP does an amazing job with both his sluggish beats and anguished gnarls, and continuing his path of darkness it’s time for The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death, even more somber than its predecessor with our lone wolf’s devilish roars penetrating deep inside your mind in a lecture in Atmospheric Black Metal. Then get ready for over seven minutes of whimsical passages, slow and steady beats and cryptic vociferations in the form of The Virgin Wages Celestial War In The Seraphim Courts, flowing smoothly until the very last second thanks to the piercing riffage by the project’s mastermind; whereas adding elements from Drone and Ambient music to his core sonority JMKP offers us all the visceral The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment, where all background elements match perfectly with his demented gnarling and vile beats, resulting in first-class extreme music. Once again bring to our ears sheer obscurity and despair, JMKP will drag you to his Stygian lair to the sound of his hypnotizing drums and screaming guitars in The Bewildered Firstling Thrusts The Knife Into Her Brother; and lastly, our multi-talented Dutch metaller brings forward another round of wicked, venomous sounds in the title-track As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow, a song which not only concludes the album on a high note, but that will also please at the same time fans of old school Black Metal and admirers of modern-day Atmospheric Metal hands down.
If you want to put your doomed hands on As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow, you can soon purchase it directly from Am Himmel’s own BandCamp page, as well as from the Burning World Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (for the US or the rest of the world customers). A starless kingdom bereft of celestial pureness, evoking strange rituals in the gothic catacombs of Christianity and insanity, Am Himmel will certainly change your view of Atmospheric Black and Doom Metal for the better, with As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow beautifully representing everything JMKP and his new project stand for and, consequently, positioning it not only as one of the most promising names of the Dutch scene, but also as one of the driving forces of the genre worldwide.
Best moments of the album: The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death and The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2022 Burning World Records
Track listing 1. Bleared By The Infinite Wings 6:56
2. The Patience And Silence Of A Saint’s Death 5:12
3. The Virgin Wages Celestial War In The Seraphim Courts 7:22
4. The Fumes Of Thy Preposterous Torment 6:31
5. The Bewildered Firstling Thrusts The Knife Into Her Brother 6:25
6. As Eternal As The Starless Kingdom Of Sorrow 5:23
In times of turbulence, violence, uncertainty, hope and despair, perhaps the best subgenre of metal music to help us express all those feelings mixed together is our good old Death Metal, and in order to do that here at The Headbanging Moose let’s pay a humble tribute to a ferocious woman hailing from Germany that roars and growls with tons of passion when fronting her ass-kicking underground squads. Born on October 20, 1977 in Hannover, the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony, the unrelenting Extreme Metal vocalist, lyricist, songwriter and vocal coach Britta Görtz has been making a name for herself in the German and international scene with her potent guttural vocals since around 2005, standing out as the frontwoman for Thrash Metal act Cripper and more recently for Death Metal squads Critical Mess and Hiraes. Having said that, are you ready to bang your head and slam into the circle pit together with such talented growler?
Let’s kick off our tribute to Britta with her main band at the moment, the ruthless Death Metal horde known as Critical Mess, a Hannover-based act formed in 2012 that has already released two full-length albums so far in their career, those being Human Præy in 2018 and Man Made Machine Made Man in 2019, as well as the EP Zombie Apocoverlypse in 2020, all with Britta responsible for the vocal duties. After the band’s inception in 2012 they underwent many changes in lineup and writing styles until Britta replaced former vocalist Simon Körber in 2016, helping her bandmates Marco Schauff and Marco “Elmo” Evers on the guitars, Lommer Wiesener on bass and Benny Komatitsch on drums establish themselves and quickly finding their own, unique sound and style, always true to the familiar and beloved sound of old school Death Metal that they had all grown up with. Bringing forward crushing riffs, insane vocals, fierce harmonies and drum chops that put any industrial slaughterhouse soundscape to shame, Critical Mess have already shared the stage with insane acts the likes of Six Feet Under and Hatesphere, having also played in some of the most important festivals in the world like Wacken Open Air and Metaldays.
In case you’ve never heard any of the wicked creations by Critical Mess until today, you can stream all of their albums and songs on Spotify and enjoy their official videos on their YouTube channel, including the awesome videos for the songs Feasting, Into Oblivion, Cut The Cord, Pansperm; the song Echo live at Wacken Open Air 2019; live-recordings of the songs Gluttony (for the Apes Enraged Re-Live Online Festival) and Preacher of Lies (for Godslaves “Access All Areas” Online Festival), both recorded in their band practice room in Hannover; and a special video dedicated to their fans for the song Demise, from conception to stage. However, if you think Critical Mess are only brutality and rage, you must check their insane cover versions for the songs Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), by the infamous Backstreet Boys, Remmidemmi (Yippie Yippie Yeah), by Hamburg’s own Hip-Hop/Electro band Deichkind, and my favorite one Blinding Lights, by The Weeknd, all as seen on the German television show Halloween Gamenight with Luke Mockridge, which aired during last year’s Halloween. Britta is flawless on all three songs, but what she does in “Blinding Lights” is beyond awesome I must say.
Our skillful growler is also involved in a brand new project named Hiraes, a Melodic Death Metal band formed in 2020 that combines the full force of all four instrumentalists from Dawn Of Disease, those being Lukas Kerk, Oliver Kirchner, Christian Wösten and Mathias Blässe, with the powerful vocals by Britta in order to create an exciting new melodic death emergence. Currently, Hiraes are working on their debut album, which will certainly be highly recommended for fans of the Scandinavian madness brought forth by renowned acts the likes of Insomnium, At The Gates, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth, pointing to a very interesting path ahead of Britta, therefore allowing her to showcase all her vocal range and potency outside of the purely Death Metal style she’s used to with Critical Mess. I honestly can’t wait to see what she’ll be able to do when venturing through more melodic realms, and let’s hope this never-ending pandemic doesn’t stop Britta and her henchmen from releasing new, vibrant music for all of us metalheads in a not-so-distant future.
Of course, we cannot talk about Britta and her pulverizing vocals without talking about the band that launched her to stardom in the metal community. I’m talking about German Death and Thrash Metal platoon Cripper, formed in 2005 in Hannover, with whom she recorded the EP Killer Escort Service in 2006, followed by the full-length albums Freak Inside (2007), Devil Reveals (2009), Antagonist (2012), Hyëna (2014) and Follow Me: Kill! (2017), with the last two being available on their BandCamp page, and all of them on Spotify. Hence, you can also visit their YouTube channel for official videos, interviews, unboxing of their albums and tons of other amazing footage from this hard-hitting band that unfortunately split up in 2018. Having toured with renowned acts like Overkill and Onslaught, in addition to repeat performances at major European festivals the likes of Summer Breeze, Wacken Rocks, Metalfest and Rockharz Open Air, Cripper effectively converted fans to their cause with their riveting mix of old school and modern thrash, as you can see in the official videos for the songs Animal Of Prey, Mother, Into the Fire, Tourniquet, Pressure, Totmann, A Dime For The Establishment, Shortcut, God Spoken Prayer/Cocoon and Damocles, as well as in their infernal live performances at Rock Im Betonwerk in 2012, at Metaldays in 2014 and at Wacken Open Air in 2016. As you might have noticed, when Critical Mess were formed, Britta was still singing for Cripper, but according to Britta herself it wasn’t difficult at all to manage both bands at the same time. “The two bands feel completely different,” she commented at that time, complementing by saying that “lyrically, Cripper is more expressive, while Critical Mess has so far been more storytelling.”
You can also find Britta screaming and roaring like a true she-wolf in several distinct bands and projects, where she was able to add her own share of violence and creativity to their music. For instance, you can enjoy Britta’s unique guttural vocals in the song My Abomination, from the album ED, released in 2020 by German Death Metal act Corrosive; in the song Into Darkness, from the 2014 album Drone, by German Groove Metal/Metalcore unity Drone; in the song Children of the Pit, from the 2016 album Welcome to the Green Zone, by German Thrash Metal squad Godslave; and doing backing vocals in the 2009 album Marauders, by German Death/Thrash Metal act Lost World Order. Not only that, Britta also showcased her skills as a photographer in the 2007 album Hate Is the Law, by German Death Metal band Ancient Existence.
Regarding her influences, idols and first experiences in music, Britta has a very eclectic and wide range of musicians and bands that she admires. For instance, she said the first-ever concert in her life was back in 1990 in the small town of Seelze, where she grew up, of German Pop Rock band Die Prinzen; her first record was one containing the hit Bruttosozialprodukt, released in the 80’s by Neue Deutsche Welle group Geier Sturzflug; the first CD she bought herself was a live album by Guns N’ Roses (at the same time she bought her first CD player); and she would love to share the stage with the one and only Mike Patton, especially if it’s with his insane cult band Fantômas, which is quite easy to understand why as Mr. Patton is indeed one of the most talented, one of the wildest and one of the most creative vocalists ever. Also, on a side note, if you think Britta makes any distinction between male and female vocalists, or if she cares about the term “female-fronted metal”, she thinks that’s a stupid and very sexist concept, saying that she got tired of it right after her first interview where questions about her being a girl in a Death Metal band started to come up. Having said that, let’s simply stop asking that type of question when interviewing Britta, sounds good?
As mentioned, Britta has already been in several different festivals with all of her bands like the unparalleled holy land of metal music Wacken Open Air, having toured extensively across the entire European continent as well as being part of renowned and innovative events such as being aboard 70,000 Tons of Metal, saying the vibe in each one of those unique events might be different due to the number of people that attend each one, the ticket prices, the age of the fans and so on, but that in the end it’s always a pleasure for her to show her music and art to all types of metalheads. She also said that whenever someone can’t believe how powerful and aggressive her guttural vocals are when seeing he live for the first time, that doesn’t really amuse her as she thinks if you’re a true metal fan you’re already used to women growling for ages. In addition, she mentioned in one of her interviews that she dreams of touring around South America, as (unfortunately) she’s never been there and she would love to experience all South American countries as a touring band, immersing herself in each local youth and music culture.
All that recording, touring and screaming can be extremely strenuous on one’s vocal chords, demanding a lot from the singer, and of course it couldn’t be any different with Britta. She mentioned that there are some warmup exercises she does prior to each show, such as humming and singing some scales, saying that those aren’t only important for her vocal cords, but they also serve as a ritual to prepare herself mentally for hitting the stage, working at the same time as physical and mental warmups. In addition, our talented growler also listed lots of sleep and lots of water as necessary methods for anyone’s vocals to stay in shape, balancing her partying and avoiding drinking too much alcohol, working out regularly and eating healthy, fresh food (without stressing too much about that). If you want to have a one-hour online lesson (or even a face-to-face one after this pandemic is finally over) in growling, shouting and screaming with Britta, you can visit the LCHQ Online Shop and purchase a vocal coaching voucher, hiring her services to provide you some useful tips, teach you new techniques and warmups, and anything else related to guttural singing, and coming from such talented singer like Britta that’s definitely worth the investment.
Last but not least, Britta has a very strong opinion on populism and the tensions we’ve been experiencing worldwide, saying that it doesn’t matter which perspective you take, be it the way the media reports it or how the reporting is perceived, the desire for security paired with the abandonment of freedom, or the contribution that the so-called “western world” makes to all of this, in the end the situation is pretty tricky, leading people to think they have simple solutions to complex problems. There are countless interviews online with Britta where you can know more about her as a person, as an artist, her opinions, her likes and dislikes and so on, such as this one to Mama Goes Wacken where she talks about her passion for chocolate (among other topics, of course), this one to The Metal Gods Meltdown where she discusses the decision of Cripper to call it quits, this one to Rock Titan and this one to DJ Vampire talking about Cripper, and this one to Metal & High Heels when they played at FEMME (Female Metal Event). As you can see, Britta is an extremely talented musician with an open heart and an open mind, always willing to share her ideas, experiences and opinions with her fans and, more important than that, always ready to scream and roar in the name of our good old Death Metal.
“I never thought ‘oh look at what she is doing, a girl in a heavy metal, that’s what I wanna do, too’. What got me to wanting to play in a band was probably that I thought it was a good way for me to express myself and at the same time channel my energy. Energetic live shows no matter of which genre attract me. Shows where you can feel the electricity in the air, where it kicks your butt and really grabs you. I am trying to find a certain kind of flow on stage and to share my energy with the fans. That’s not easy, cause it is nothing that you can create every time, but that’s what I am aiming for.” – Britta Görtz
Get ready for total annihilation, disembodiment and the disintegration of reality and existence in the form of a horrific strain of noise-infested black and death decimation.
Ritual black and death invocation. Terror noise-metal aimed at disintegrating one’s being and entire existence through the sheer force of hell in audial form. These are some of the words that can be used to describe the visceral music found in Void of Infinite Horror, the first full-length opus by British Black/Death Metal one-man sonic extermination entity Vessel of Iniquity. Formed in 2015 in Oxfordshire, a county in South East England, in the UK, Vessel of Iniquity is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist A. White, a talented musician who definitely knows how to transform austere topics such as annihilation, disembodiment and the disintegration of reality and existence into a horrific strain of noise-infested black and death decimation.
Once again crafted and home-recorded in total seclusion, mastered by James Plotkin (Plotkinworks) and featuring layout and design by M. Alagna, Void of Infinite Horror offers the listener five unrelenting tracks of extreme music, sounding claustrophobic, abominable and twisted, all enfolded by a minimalist and dark cover painting by American artist Ellen Hausner named “Untitled (Monoprint series 1A)”. If you’re a fan of the massacring industrial noise scarification by entities like Gnaw Their Tongues, Sutekh Hexen and Abruptum, as well as the grandiose and bludgeoning sonic warfare of bands like Teitanblood and Impetuous Ritual, you’ll have a blast with Void of Infinite Horror, positioning this insanely heavy and wicked one-man army of darkness as one of the most promising names in the the vast but yet unexplored land of what can be labeled as “Terror Noise Metal”.
And the opening track of the album, beautifully entitled Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent, is already the perfect depiction of that so-called Terror Noise Metal, offering our ears a disruptive, eccentric and dissident avalanche of sounds and noises by A. White, with its drums sounding like a machine gun perforating our skulls mercilessly. Babalon is even darker and more menacing, presenting low-tuned sounds and deep, obscure roars that feel more like whispers, resulting in a modern-day Blackened Doom feast tailored for fans of devilish music. Hence, this track could easily be used as part of a horror movie score due to its strength, range and potential to instill fear in our hearts.
A. White’s demented onrush of sounds and noises goes on in Void of Infinite Sorrow, blending the most Stygian elements from Black and Doom Metal in its sluggish beats, thunderous riffs and bass, and malevolent rhythm, also presenting a menacing aura that ends up boosting its impact even more. If you think A. White and his Vessel of Iniquity will have to slow down at a given point to let us breathe you’re absolutely wrong, as his hurricane of dementia only gets stronger and darker as the music flows in Mother of Abomination, being utterly insane from start to finish, before the music switches from total chaos to an atmospheric and ethereal vibe in Once More Into the Abyss, where A. White delivers to our perturbed minds an endless amount of hypnotizing and damned sounds. Furthermore, I’m not sure if this can be called Atmospheric Black Metal, Drone, Noise, none of these, or even all at once, proving how unique and vile Vessel of Iniquity’s music can be.
If I had to summarize the music found in Void of Infinite Horror in one word, that would certainly be “chaos”, and if chaotic music is exactly what you crave in underground metal you must give Vessel of Iniquity a chance and support such distinct one-man act by following him on Facebook, and obviously by purchasing your copy of the album from the Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ BandCamp, from the Xenoglossy Productions’ BandCamp (in a fancy, old school cassette format), from CD Baby or from Discogs. No one knows exactly what lies ahead for A. White and his Vessel of Iniquity, as it’s not an easy task to predict what type of madness and experimentation musicians like him might add to their compositions, but at least we can rest assured that, as long as this cryptic metal entity is alive, chaos will reign.
Best moments of the album:Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent and Babalon.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2019 Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Xenoglossy Productions
Track listing 1. Invocation of the Heart Girt With a Serpent 3:50
2. Babalon 4:26
3. Void of Infinite Sorrow 4:59
4. Mother of Abomination 4:55
5. Once More Into the Abyss 6:07
A dystopian science fiction taking place well after civilization has been destroyed by its own nuclear ambitions in the form of 44 minutes of suffering and austere Doom Metal.
Formed in 2014 in Saint Catharines, the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in the province of Ontario, Sludge/Doom Metal duo Vile Creature is more than ready to release their brand new full-length album titled Cast of Static and Smoke, a logical progression from their previous releases both in sound and content. While in their 2015 debut album A Steady Descent into the Soil they mirrored Blackened Doom with equally melancholy stories of growing up queer, and in their 2016 EP A Pessimistic Doomsayer they explored escaping your demons by forging relationships with works of fiction, now with Cast of Static and Smoke the band have delved into building a world of their own while writing a compelling 44 minutes of what they like to call “suffering metal”.
In order to properly translate all that melancholy and suffering into metal music, the duo comprised of Vic on vocals and drums and KW on vocals, guitar and percussion recorded the core of the album live with only one guitar and one drum kit. Furthermore, Cast of Static and Smoke is a record and a short story at the same time, a dystopian science fiction taking place well after civilization has been destroyed by its own nuclear ambitions. Displaying an eerie artwork by artist Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic) and featuring a few interesting guest musicians who end up bringing extra layers of complexity to the music, the album presents four songs that embody emotions felt by characters and moments that take place within the story, sounding less chronological and more a response to certain instances. Musically the band is as heavy as they have ever been, weaving through different paces and influences with ease while maintaining their foundation in Doom Metal.
Wicked, somber sounds kick off the 10-minute Doom metal aria Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper, with guest Erin Severson talking about all that’s wrong in our society before the sluggish beats and distorted guitars by Vic and KW invade our ears, paving the path for the song’s austere lyrics (“Blinded by visions of the elements of life / Leading to a scorched earth / A crows nest shrouded in metal and rust / Even scraps fear nothingness / I’ve seen blackened, deserted shores / Calling me, whispering lore”). Furthermore, guest vocalist Chris Colohan effectively provides his share of anguished growling, taking the song’s acidity to a whole new level before everything ends in the most visceral way possible. Then we have the absolutely grim Circuits, Bending & Breaking, an excellent hybrid of Doom Metal, Blackened Doom, Drone and Ambient with a violent twist where Vic keeps blasting Stygian, slow-paced beast while KW gnarls desperately and rabidly amidst a high level of distortions and rough noises perfect for disturbing our thoughts.
Forest, Subsists as a Tomb starts as dark and downbeat as the two initial compositions of the album, becoming another feast of devilish sounds and tones led by the lingering drums by Vic, with KW firing some enraged growls and slashing guitar noises. Once again, Erin’s narration feels as creepy as the previous one, with another guest musician, James Claypool, bringing forward a good amount of wickedness to the overall musicality with his flammable guitar. And lastly we have Sky, in Descending Pieces, a song that doesn’t bring any joy or happiness to our hearts and souls; quite the contrary, it follows the same somber path crafted by Vile Creature throughout the entire album, resulting in a solid display of modern-day Doom and Sludge Metal with the duo’s deranged screams and perturbing riffs and beats setting the stage for the final unsettling message by Erin.
In summary, although Cast of Static and Smoke is definitely not an easy listen for newcomers to the world of depressive and suffering Doom Metal by Vile Creature, it’s indeed an album that will grow on you as the music and the story progress together, gradually making your ears and senses more familiar with the band’s eccentric type of music. The album can be purchased through the band’s own BandCamp page, as well as through the Halo of Flies’ BandCamp page or webstore and the Dry Cough Records’ webstore. Furthemrore, if you buy Cast of Static and Smoke you’re not just buying over 40 minutes of high-quality extreme music, but the physical copy is also accompanied by a 16-page booklet that includes lyrics, credits, the full story itself (which you can read HERE), and an audio recording of the entire story scored by Vile Creature for those who have a hard time reading small print or just want another way to experience it. Having said that, don’t waste your time and go show your support to Vile Creature by visiting their Facebook page and buying their new album, and consequently immersing yourself in the bitter and melancholic post-apocalyptic reality proposed by this persevering Canadian duo.
Best moments of the album: Circuits, Bending & Breaking.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2018 Halo of Flies
1. Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper 10:20
2. Circuits, Bending & Breaking 9:16
3. Forest, Subsists as a Tomb 13:36
4. Sky, in Descending Pieces 8:52
Band member Vic – drums, vocals
KW – guitar, vocals, percussion
Guest musicians Chris Colohan – vocals on “Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper”
James Claypool – guitar on “Forest, Subsists as a Tomb”
Erin Severson – the narrator on “Water, Tinted Gold & Tainted Copper”, “Forest, Subsists as a Tomb” and “Sky, in Descending Pieces”
George Zhen – piano