Album Review – Witches Coven / World on Fire (2022)

A Stoner Rock and Metal lone wolf highlights the illnesses that doom today’s society in his debut opus, paying homage to the early sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock.

Conjured by Imran Manaff (aka Azrael, the multi-talented vocalist and instrumentalist of Singaporean one-man Black Metal band Funeral Hearse) in 2020 during the Covid-19 global pandemic, the newborn Stoner Rock and Metal beast that goes by the name of Witches Coven is set to release the project’s debut opus, entitled World on Fire, paying homage to the early sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Cactus infused with elements of Japan’s Church of Misery and Sweden’s Monolord. Produced by Imran himself, recorded at Hellblaze Studio, and mixed and mastered by Sonicmonk, all embraced by the sinister cover art by Pedro Rey, World on Fire showcases seven original songs loosely inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s infamous poem Howl while highlighting the illnesses that doom today’s society.

Raw, dirty guitars and sluggish beats ignite the opening tune Reason to Believe, evolving into a Stoner and Doom Metal feast the likes of old school Black Sabbath with Imran also firing his raspy vocals to make things even more infernal, whereas featuring excerpt from Consumption & Consumerism by Joseph Patrick, Shackles of Desire is even more demonic and grim. Put differently, it’s one of those Doom Metal compositions perfect for darkening the skies where Imran is ready to crush our souls with his riffage and beats. And Imran keeps hammering his sonic weapons and delivering ass-kicking Stoner Rock and Metal for our total delight in Waiting for Time, feeling like Imran is simply jamming with himself, sounding very organic and thrilling form start to finish.

Then drinking once again from the same obscure fountain of bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Celtic Frost, it’s time for the dirtier-than-hell tune Blinded by Lights, with the inebriate vociferations by Imran walking hand in hand with his wicked riffs and rumbling bass lines; and let’s keep banging our heads like true bastards to the sound of Falling Through, another Sludge Metal extravaganza by Imran and his Witches Coven that will please all lovers of the most damned side of music. Imran shows no mercy for our necks and souls in Blurring the Lines, with his low-tuned bass jabs and sharp, crude riffs generating a reverberating vibe that penetrates deep inside our minds, and last but not least, Imran’s menacing bass returns in full force in Dawn of the Morning Star, a song that will block all light coming from the sun, therefore leaving us in pitch black darkness with the cryptic vocalizations by Imran sounding demented and hopeless until the very end.

The unstoppable Imran Manaff and his Witches Coven are waiting to darken our hearts and minds on the official Facebook page for Funeral Hearse (simply because Witches Coven doesn’t have its own specific page, or at least not yet, and because we can consider both bands as Imran’s alter-egos), and if you want to show your support to such hardworking and skillful lone wolf, you can purchase a copy of the excellent World on Fire from the Spy Satellite Records’ BandCamp page. May the hands of doom touch your soul through the infernal and piercing music blasted by Witches Coven, and may the energy and mystery of 60’s and 70’s rock and metal music keep flowing in the air for centuries to come thanks to awesome musicians from the independent scene such as Imran, who will surely bring forward more of his wicked music in the nearby future with both his Funeral Hearse and Witches Coven.

Best moments of the album: Reason to Believe and Blinded by Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Falling Through.

Released in 2022 Spy Satellite Records

Track listing
1. Reason to Believe 8:11
2. Shackles of Desire 8:15
3. Waiting for Time 6:25
4. Blinded by Lights 4:45
5. Falling Through 6:41
6. Blurring the Lines 8:26
7. Dawn of the Morning Star 7:56

Band members
Imran Manaff – vocals, guitars, bass, synth, drums programming

Metal Chick of the Month – Terra Teratos

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Hic et ubique odor mortis… Hic jacet Aeternitas est.

Very few women in the world of heavy music are as reserved, taciturn and mysterious as our metal chick this month. Dark and visionary, the idiosyncratic Russian musician/artist Katerina Khoroshiltseva, best known as Terra Teratos, has been playing a very important role (even if she doesn’t want to or doesn’t like the idea) in the obscure and sexist realm of Extreme Metal. She has been breaking many barriers and paradigms with her powerful music through the years, no matter which band or project she’s involved with, becoming an inspiration for many other women that are starting their careers in Black Metal and an icon for admirers of the darkest side of music.

In regards to her personal life, Terra Teratos is so reclusive to the point that there isn’t much information available about her likes and dislikes, personal background or any other intimate details. For instance, except for her Google+ profileYouTube channel, BandCamp and SoundCloud page, where she publishes selected songs from all her different projects and bands, she’s not present in any of the major social medias such as Facebook and Twitter, keeping her life private even if that means restraining the reach of her work as an artist. Well, at least for me it looks like that’s her goal anyway, remaining as underground as possible and far away from any commercial labels.

Apart from her real name, all we know about Terra Teratos is that she comes from the city of Voronezh, Russia, about 540km south of the Russian capital Moscow and 300km from the border of Ukraine. And that’s it, everything else revolves around her music, her projects and her vision of the world we live in. With that said, let’s focus on each one of her main bands/projects at a time (Terra Teratos and Furva Ambiguitas), and then provide some extra details about her inspirations, experiences and creative process as a musician, as well as her opinion about different topics related to music and life in general.

Perhaps the one-woman project Terra Teratos is the most interesting or distinct work of her career, not only because she’s responsible for all instruments and vocals, but mainly due to the origins and essence of the music crafted. Terra Teratos is an Experimental/Dark Ambient Black Metal project originated in 2006, stemming from the unification of several other individual projects including Teratos (Avant-garde piano music), Mertvye Pesni (only vocals, medieval folk and funeral rituals), Goetia (Dark Ambient), Rokot Voln (Black Ambient), Tierdrama (Black Metal), N.O.V.A.R.A. (Cyber Black Metal), Chaos (Ambient/Psychedelic Noise) and Tern (Symphonic Ambient), all considered a preparation for what the whole project is today. The music, as you can imagine, is an extremely complex and experimental mix of Black, Funeral and Doom Metal, enriched by symphonic elements, eerie noises and a dark atmosphere. To date, the following albums have been released by Terra Teratos: the demo Asphodel (2006), the EP Never (2007), the full-length “trilogy” Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part 1 (2007), Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part Zero (2009) and Meditations About Secret of My Dark Destiny Part 2 (2010), and more recently the EP Ambrosia (2013). In order to feel what Terra Teratos is all about, you should take a good listen at songs such as Evil, My Evil and III, or go to her official BandCamp page for more obscurity in the form of music.

Regarding Depressive Black/Funeral Doom Metal project Furva Ambiguitas (also known as FAAS), which started in 2007 as Terra Teratos’ own idea and is Latin for “obscure ambiguity”, she is responsible for all vocals, keyboards, programming and lyrics, while Russian musician Anton Mrak is responsible for all stringed instruments. The duo has released so far the following odes to occultism and mysticism: the demo At the Bottom of the River (2007), and the full-length albums In Articulo Mortis (2009) and Sacer (2012). There are several interesting songs from that project, as for example Invocation to Hecate, Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, Primus Inter Pares and Debitum, among other dark compositions.

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Besides those two main projects, Terra Teratos is also involved with Black Metal band Terribilis, which you can check by listening to the songs Чтобы Потухли Глаза…На Заклание к Черту! and Баллада (Пять коней), as well as other past bands and guest appearances like Goetia, Lethargia (under the curious name of PanTera or Pantera), Rokot Voln, Tierdrama, Мертвые Песни, Н.О.В.А.Р.А., Rainwill, Absenthe, Burelom, Dregva and Humanizer. I don’t know about you, but for me that more than proves this Russian woman lives for obscure music.

And all that obscurity has a huge influence in the way she sees music and life in general, keeping a good distance from any cliché or pedestrian art. For instance, Terra Teratos believes a band’s name should match with what the listener is expecting, in other words, it should reflect the band’s harmony or the author’s personality, otherwise it’s completely meaningless and hollow. In addition, she also believes that there’s no way any digital source can replace a live analog sound, and as much as you try to imitate it you’ll never get its true identity,. Also, she said there’s no specific scene where her music can fit in, as she stays away from any competitiveness in the world of art. With that said, I guess we can say her music is truly unique and biotic, different from most bands and artists we know and perfectly representing her view of the world, her dreams, reflections and internal needs, becoming more and more organic through time.

Her definition of Black Metal is also very peculiar and totally in line with her ideas and beliefs, as she sees it as a musical and poetic demonstration of the Death cult. In her own words, “the sense of existence of this genre is beyond a pure art. As Hermann Hesse put this in his ‘Demian’, ‘The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.’ A genuine transformation demands a never-ending staying in the bifurcation points which replace each other. That also caused praising of Darkness, Evil, Chaos, War, total correlation with an archetype of the Devil, immersion into the images being the most frightening for an ordinary person – that is, everything, for what we honor the real Black Metal so much, and what the Black Metal really is…” Don’t worry if you don’t understand it at first, what really matters in this case is that Terra Teratos proves through her words how Black Metal is more than just a music genre in her life.

Lastly, when questioned about the future of Terra Teratos, she mentioned the project exists without any time frames, without any objectives being set or plans being made. As long as there’s still something arising, Terra Teratos will exist. And we all hope that’s the case for many years to come.

Terra Teratos’ Official Website
Furva Ambiguitas’ Official Website

“Black Metal for me is a musical and poetic demonstration of the Death cult. It is necessary to understand that it is not so much about literal perception of the Death, but the Death as a symbol of total transformation, a transgressive act of coming to an essentially other level, a ruthless separator in all its aspects.” – Terra Teratos