Album Review – Orphans of Dusk / Spleen (2023)

Nine years after releasing their last offering, this New Zealand and Australia-based entity returns with their most mature album to date, one that should gather the world’s gothic-doom scene’s attention.

Ten years after the band’s inception, and nine since their last offering, the 2014 EP Revenant, New Zealander/Australian Gothic/Doom Metal entity Orphans of Dusk opens their goth-doom gasket again, coming back to life to present Spleen, their haunting new full-length album.  Mixed and mastered by Simon Cohen at Studios 301, and displaying a classy artwork by Moreno Matkovic (with additional artwork by Luciferium War Graphics, Irina Micic and the band’s own guitarist James Quested), the album picks up where Revenant left with a greater focus on dark hooks carried by excellent gothic vocals and guitar harmonies brought forth by Chris G on vocals, the aforementioned James Quested on the guitars and synths, and Mike Wilson on bass, supported by guest drummer Jonas Schütz (Cyclopean Walls, Sacrosanct, Diësis). The band’s most mature offering to date, and one that should gather the world’s gothic-doom scene’s attention, Spleen is highly recommended for fans of Type O Negative, Woods of Ypres and My Dying Bride, among others, offering the listener eight memorable songs with powerful riffs, weaving heaviness and beauty into a lush gothic atmosphere.

The vibrant and dense intro Welcome Black sets the tone for the rest of the album, darkening the skies and bringing sheer doom to our hearts before the band smashes our senses in Wasted Hero, with the sluggish, massive drums by Jonas dictating the song’s thunderous pace. Moreover, Chris’ deep vocals, most probably inspired by the unparalelled Peter Steele (RIP), match perfectly with the lugubrious riffs by James. In the somber I’m Going To Haunt You (When I Die) we’re treated to caustic lyrics growled by Chris (“Shadows grow over your own / A bitter chill descends, are you sure you are alone? / Such rage, it can defy the grave”) while Mike enhances the song’s density and darkness with his puissant bass lines; and it’s then time for a nine-minute aria exhaling melancholy and obscurity titled Aurora Australis, where the synths by James help the band generate an enfolding atmosphere. Needless to say, Chris is once again spot-on with both his enraged guttural and somber, clean vocals, sounding hypnotizing from start to finish.

The title-track Spleen keeps the atmosphere dense and muggy, blending the absolute heaviness of Doom Metal with the groovy feeling of Gothic Metal and Rock. It definitely feels like their personal “tribute” to Type O Negative, I might say, whereas Victim of a Vampire is even more touching and melancholic than its predecessors, a beautiful creation by Orphans of Dusk spearheaded by the minimalist but sharp guitars by James and the low-tuned bass by Mike. The instrumental interlude Magic Keys will then drag your soul to one final ride with Orphans of Dusk titled Falling Star, once again showcasing poetic words (“All alone but together we’re here at last / A violent zone, looking up to long black clouds / You wish upon a star”) embraced by a slow, heavy-as-hell goth-doom sonority. As a matter of fact, the CD version of the album comes with an exclusive bonus named A Spell of Bad Luck, definitely worth the investment in the physical copy, offering a nice hybrid of Gothic and Doom Metal where Chris’ deep vocals are nicely complemented by James’ keys and Jonas’ pounding drums.

Chris, James and Mike are eager to know what you think about their album, and you can easily get in touch with them via Facebook or Instagram and know more about the band, their plans for the future, tour dates and so on. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to their YouTube channel and to stream more of their music on Spotify, and above all that, to grab a copy of the excellent Spleen from their own BandCamp page, or from the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (or click HERE for all things Orphans of Dusk). Gloomy, inspiring and extremely detailed, Spleen is a fantastic return to action by Orphans of Dusk, and may that represent just the first step as they restart their journey through the dark and grim lands of Gothic and Doom Metal.

Best moments of the album: I’m Going To Haunt You (When I Die), Aurora Australis and Victim of a Vampire.

Worst moments of the album: none.

Released in 2023 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Welcome Black 1:44
2. Wasted Hero 8:18
3. I’m Going To Haunt You (When I Die) 6:37
4. Aurora Australis 9:07
5. Spleen 8:20
6. Victim of a Vampire 6:41
7. Magic Keys 2:22
8. Falling Star 6:52

CD Exclusive bonus track
9. A Spell of Bad Luck 5:29

Band members
Chris G – vocals
James Quested – guitars, synths
Mike Wilson – bass

Guest musician
Jonas Schütz – drums

Album Review – Bròn / Pred Dverima Noći (2020)

Embark on an atmospheric voyage to the mysterious and untamed nature of Serbia’s wilderness adorned with enthralling, majestic soundscapes and endless streams of melodies and harmonies.

Through the cosmic mists it descends upon us, Pred Dverima Noći, the new (and fifth) full-length album by Atmospheric Black Metal/Ambient act Bròn. Formed in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2014 as a sonic chronicle of the wanderings of New Zealander KG (from Barshasketh), but currently based in Belgrade, Serbia, Bròn (which by the way means “sorrow” in Gaelic Scottish) has already released a handful of ambient, down-tempo albums exploring life within a sprawling urban expanse since the project’s inception, but now with the addition of drummer GH (from A Forest Of Stars), Bròn has permanently left urbanity behind and has returned to the mysterious and untamed nature of Serbia’s wilderness in Pred Dverima Noći. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Sonorous Studio, and featuring a grim artwork by Khaos Diktator Design, Pred Dverima Noći is adorned with enthralling, majestic soundscapes and endless streams of melodies and harmonies, propelling the listener into the vast expanses beyond the conscious mind throughout its three sprawling tracks, all clocking in at over 15 minutes, being therefore recommended for lovers of the music by Limbonic Art, Evilfeast and Darkspace, among others.

The atmospheric keys by KG grow in intensity in the opening track Dverima Noći, darkening the skies and preparing our senses for an onrush of Stygian and captivating Black Metal spearheaded by KG’s devilish gnarls and the fulminating drums by GH in a 16-minute journey through the bitterly cold lands of extreme music, changing its shape and form as the music progresses while showcasing stunning keys intertwined with venomous riffs. If that wasn’t complex enough for you, Bròn offers us all Usnulu Zlobu Razbudi, which already begins in full force like an infernal tempest, filling our ears with scorching riffs, vicious blast beats and endless obscurity while once again presenting elements from classic Black Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal and even Symphonic Black Metal for our vulgar delectation. Moreover, KG sounds like a true beast with his hellish roars and riffage, supported by the talented GH and his unstoppable drums in this full-bodied, dense and very detailed aria. And the third song from such grandiose album, entitled Zastore Skrai, brings forward more of Bròn’s thrilling and epic fusion of heavy and austere sounds with the finesse of atmospheric music, also presenting elements from Blackened Doom and Depressive Black Metal to make things even more somber. In addition, GH pounds his drums slowly and steadily while KG keeps gnarling with tons of anguish and pain, flowing darkly and embracing our souls majestically until the very last second.

In the end, after the three songs (which offer an impressive combined running time of over 52 minutes of music) from Pred Dverima Noći are over, you’ll definitely feel trapped in the vastness of the Serbian uncharted lands forever and ever, going back to the start to savor every second of such imposing album of Atmospheric Black Metal again and again. Hence, don’t forget to follow KG and his cryptic Bròn on Facebook and to purchase your copy of Pred Dverima Noći from his own BandCamp page (or you can also click HERE or HERE and select your favorite version of the album), inspiring the wanderer KG to keep exploring the most desolate, uninhabited and serene regions of the world armed with his idiosyncratic music, bringing a paradox of peace and violence to our souls just like a feral creature trying to survive in the cold and dark nights out in the wilderness.

Best moments of the album: Usnulu Zlobu Razbudi.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Dverima Noći 15:57
2. Usnulu Zlobu Razbudi 19:31
3. Zastore Skrai 16:56

Band members
KG – vocals, guitar, bass, keys
GH – drums

Album Review – Barshasketh / Barshasketh (2019)

Dive deep into the pit of corruption crafted by an evil entity of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal to the sound of their highly anticipated fourth full-length opus.

Forged in the scorching fires of Wellington, New Zealand in 2007 as a solo project by KG (also known as Krigeist) with the intention of creating pure Black Metal, but currently located in Edinburgh, Scotland, the obscure and devilish entity known as Barshasketh is unleashing upon humanity their highly anticipated fourth album, simply self-titled Barshasketh, conceptually centered on Be’er Shachat, from which the band’s name derives. This term roughly translates as “pit of corruption”, a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification, and ultimate adversarial rebirth. Indeed, that conceptual arc poignantly and perfectly illustrates Barshasketh’s evolution over the years, and finds its apotheosis within the winding corridors of Barshasketh.

During its uniquely vast-yet-compact 54-minute run-time, the quartet comprised of KG on vocals, guitars and synths, GM on the guitars, BB on bass and MK on drums, vocals and synths is truly firing on all cylinders, exploring new territory with ambitious compositions and showcasing a certain percussive savagery previously unheard on previous recordings, all within the remit of pure, undiluted second-wave Black Metal. Featuring a menacing cover art and additional illustrations by Artem Grigoryev (Black Typography), Barshasketh’s brand new opus is the purest distillation of the band’s essence to date, pointing to a dark and vile future for mankind as a black sun rises at the dawn of 2019.

A somber and menacing atmosphere enfolds the band in the opening track Vacillation, a highly recommended song for admirers of the most obscure fusion of classic Black Metal with Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal where KG gnarls demonically from the very first note while MK showcases all his skills as the excellent extreme drummer he is, followed by the also grim Resolve, continuing from where the previous tune ended (which obviously means an ode to darkness). Furthermore, KG and GM are in total sync with their scorching riffs, while BB and MK generate a dense background atmosphere with their devilish instruments. Then drinking from the fountain of old school Norwegian Black Metal we have Consciousness I, another visceral creation by the band spearheaded by MK and his unstoppable blast beats, with KG roaring and growling like a true creature form the netherworld, not to mention how the background keys also boost the song’s taste and impact considerably, whereas Consciousness II brings to our avid ears over eight minutes of damned sounds and tones, starting in a cryptic manner before exploding into classic Black Metal for our total delight. The stringed trio KG, GM and BB simply slash our senses with their axes, with the music also presenting some disturbing Blackened Doom-inspired passages.

Ruin I sounds and feels brutal and piercing form the very first second, a lecture in Black Metal not for the lighthearted with all band member extracting pure evil from their instruments, in special MK and his demolishing drums, while the second act entitled Ruin II sounds a lot more melodic and obscure, crushing our senses in over seven minutes of putrid Black Metal spearheaded by KG’s infernal growls and MK’s visceral beats, all enfolded by the hellish riffs by KG and GM and flowing majestically until its grand finale. The second to last blast of extreme music by Barshasketh, named Rebirth, is just as demonic as its predecessors, with all instruments exhaling demonic notes, especially KG and GM who penetrate deep inside our damned souls with their guitar lines, setting the tone for the closing song Recrudescense, a tribute to all things evil where the smell of death and despair reeks in the air for over nine minutes, with KG leading his horde of darkness with his visceral growls. Moreover, it’s truly impressive how the music gets more intense and vile as time goes by, with all violence and hatred giving place to a phantasmagorical ending that will haunt our souls forever and ever.

Actually, you don’t need all the detailed review and explanation above to purchase your copy of Barshasketh from the W.T.C.Productions BandCamp. All you need to know is that it’s vile, macabre and thunderous, just the way we all love in true Black Metal. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, therefore showing your true support to underground extreme music, and finally succumb to the darkest side of Black Metal to the sound of their infernal but at the same time very melodic and dense new album, diving deep into their “pit of corruption”. However, I must warn you that once you join Barshasketh down there, there’s no turning back (as if you would want to return from such distinct place, I might say).

Best moments of the album: Vacillation, Consciousness I and Recrudescense.

Worst moments of the album: Rebirth.

Released in 2019 W.T.C.Productions

Track listing
1. Vacillation 5:29
2. Resolve 5:10
3. Consciousness I 6:24
4. Consciousness II 7:53
5. Ruin I 4:47
6. Ruin II 7:26
7. Rebirth 6:30
8. Recrudescense 9:31

Band members
KG – vocals, guitars, synths
GM – guitars
BB – bass
MK – drums, vocals, synths

Album Review – netra / Ingrats (2017)

The perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres into a coherent stream of melancholy, might be right in front of your eyes thanks to this exquisite Urban Black Metal one-man project.

Conveying images of a grey, boring and anxiogenic city life, Urban Black Metal one-man project netra is back with its third full-length album, titled Ingrats (which is French for “ungrateful”), the perfect soundtrack for late-night walks in the city, combining several different music genres such as as Ambient Black Metal, Trip-Hop and moody Jazz into a coherent stream of melancholy. Put differently, the music found in Ingrats is highly recommended if you like bands such as Manes, Katatonia or Burzum, and especially if you are not afraid of trying something truly new that will defy your senses and concepts in music.

Formed in 2003 by French multi-instrumentalist Steven Le Moan in Quimper, a citiy located in Brittany, in northwestern France, netra relased its first album Mélancolie Urbaine in 2010. Two years later, netra presented the highly claustrophobic Sørbyen, recorded after relocating to the city of Gjøcik, Norway over the course of a year. In addition to that, netra also collaborated with Californian rap duo We’rewolves in 2013 to create a true hybrid between Hip-Hop and Black Metal, the EP entitled Dreading Consciousness. Now in 2017, after moving to Auckland, a major urban city in the North Island of New Zealand, Steven and his netra found the right amount of inspiration to mesmerize us once again with the Depressive Black Metal and all other styles featured in Ingrats.

Gimme a Break, a Jazz-like intro with smooth piano and drums, introduces us to the universe of Ingrats before netra’s Black Metal strikes the listener like a lightning bolt in Everything’s Fine, a dark and aggressive composition where netra manically grasps the song’s lyrics, full of anguish and hatred. Furthermore, the song’s hints of Jazz and Experimental Metal, together with some clean vocals by the end of the song, make the whole experience of listening to this multilayered tune even more exciting. In Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours, an atmospheric instrumental composition alternating between electronic music and sheer obscurity, simply close your eyes and savor its musicality, getting ready for the melancholic Live with It, continuing with netra’s wicked fusion of sounds and proving music doesn’t need to be heavy and fast all the time to be good. Its clean vocals are spot-on, not to mention the gentle balance between acoustic guitars and electronic elements, turning it into one of the top moments of the album in my opinion.

Infinite Boredom, an instrumental bridge displaying gentle piano notes under the rain, paves a gray and sorrowful path for Don’t Keep Me Waiting, a movie-inspired creation by netra where all instruments keep growing in intensity, transpiring melancholy and pain. It’s interesting to notice how the saxophone somehow “replaces” the vocal parts, with a dense background voice, as well as the song’s Atmospheric Black Metal beats, enhancing the overall darkness present in the music. And A Genuinely Benevolent Man, the most modern and electronic of all songs, blends Trip-Hop with Atmospheric Black Metal elements, with the music gradually increasing in intensity while netra delivers only a few sick growls throughout the whole song.

The hopelessness depicted by netra continues in the ambient Paris or Me, where subtle hints of Jazz and Black Metal coming from the piano and guitar lines add to this instrumental piece a delicate feeling of solitude; whereas in Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve I highly recommend you keep your eyes closed and follow netra in his walk through the dark and hazy urban streets where he lives. Bringing forward Industrial and Alternative Metal nuances, there’s no sign of happiness in the music, which can be felt through his clean but acid vocals, reminding me of some of the best creations by Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And how about a sweet Jazz song as the closing act of this unusual album? In Jusqu’au-boutiste you’ll not only get that, but netra also offers trenchant riffs and blast beats in the best Atmospheric Black Metal style imaginable, like a sharp razor cutting our ears while the piano parts give peace to our souls, ending the album in a tempestuous fashion.

Only time will tell what’s next for the urban black metaller netra, but based on the amazing quality of the music found in Ingrats (which you can listen in its entirety HERE), I don’t think he’ll take too long to release more of his eccentric music. While we all wait for another blast of his multilayered creations, let’s keep in touch with him through his Facebook page, and purchase a copy of Ingrats through the Hypnotic Dirge Records’ BandCamp (where you can find some interesting bundles like the “ultimate netra listener pack”) or official webstore in a 4 panel sleeve with 8 page booklet format or as a fantastic package containing the CD, a 11cm x 7cm all-weather vinyl netra sticker and a beyond awesome “Urban Black Metal” shirt, as well as on Amazon and on CD Baby. Now please excuse, as I’m going for a lonely walk through the dark and cold shadows of Toronto, and I guess you know which album I’ll be listening to.

Best moments of the album: Everything’s Fine, Live with It and Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve.

Worst moments of the album: A Genuinely Benevolent Man.

Released in 2017 Hypnotic Dirge Records

Track listing
1. Gimme a Break 1:19
2. Everything’s Fine 5:24
3. Underneath My Words the Ruins of Yours 3:36
4. Live with It 4:30
5. Infinite Boredom 0:44
6. Don’t Keep Me Waiting 4:32
7. A Genuinely Benevolent Man 5:10
8. Paris or Me 3:32
9. Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve 5:00
10. Jusqu’au-boutiste 5:55

Band members
netra – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Iron Knights / Iron Knights (2014)

Behold the Iron Knights, as they’re ready to rock.


coverFinally after almost two years since their debut album, and especially after some huge lineup changes (only bassist Paul “Beam” Robbie and drummer Lawrence “Larry” Paterson remain from the original lineup), British Heavy Metal warriors Iron Knights are back with a new release, the excellent self-titled album Iron Knights, which will surely please all fans of that raw “old school” heavy music from the 80’s.

If someone asks me to summarize the music from the new and invigorated Iron Knights, who by the way ditched their pseudonyms a while ago and have been using their actual names since then, I would say it’s pure Heavy Metal created by the fusion of hot metal blood from New Zealand with an absolute passion for heavy music from the UK. All band members sound totally fired up and excited, which translates into great music full of stamina, and in my opinion the addition of British singer and guitarist Jamie Gibson (ex-Possession) was crucial for their new “formula” to actually work. As Mr. Larry Paterson stated in his interview to this webzine a couple of months ago, “The new stuff coming out is sounding really strong to my ears and I can’t wait to get it on the road.”

We can say Larry was absolutely right in his statement as soon as we hit “play” and the amazing opening track, Transparent, fills our ears with pure Heavy Metal:  a very traditional intro, extremely heavy riffs, pounding drums, some Thrash Metal elements from bands such as Anthrax, and an awesome chorus that will work perfectly live with the fans screaming “I SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU!” with the band, are the perfect mix for inflaming the listener and making him start headbanging like hell. And the band keeps on rockin’ with Falling from Grace, with its Southern Metal riff, lots of groove and a very pleasant melody, and the 80’s Thrash Metal sonority from Vicious Circle, with highlights to the great vocals by Jamie Gibson on top of all the shredding and fast beats.

The next track, a ballad named A Chapter’s Lesion, might not be bad but it sounds a little generic, maybe showing the band should stick to the heavier and faster music from the first three songs, which is proven in Genocide, with its very traditional heavy sonority full of interesting riffs, guitar solos and especially the breaks halfway through the song. Then we have the good Cry for Help, with its intro and riffs a little similar to Iron Maiden’s classic “Flight of Icarus”, where it’s clear how much the band members put their hearts and souls into this album. Moreover, I could see this song being played a lot at most Rock N’ Roll radios in North America if the band had signed with a major record label.

IronKnightsAlthough the last two original tracks in Iron Knights might be completely different in terms of speed and violence, they are truly awesome and achieve their purpose almost flawlessly: I’m pretty sure Mr. Larry Paterson loves to play what is the best song of the album for me, Blind, a fast, heavy and furious mix of Heavy and Thrash Metal with a magnificent chorus; while Jacob’s Ladder, the second ballad of the album, is a lot better than the first one due to all the emotion in it, and besides, it gets a lot heavier after 3 minutes, ending the album in a very energetic way.

Last but not least, in regards to the bonus tracks (all re-recordings of some songs from their 2012 album New Sound of War), they’re all very powerful and perfect for hitting the road, especially the amazing Jericho. The only thing I didn’t understand in the album is the absence of the awesome single “Destroyer”. What the hell happened to it? I thought it was going to be part of the album for sure. Anyway, I downloaded it a while ago and will simply add it to my album folder as an “additional” bonus track.

And after Iron Knights (which can be purchased at the band’s official online shop) is over, you’ll probably grab another beer, hit “play” again and enjoy this great traditional Heavy Metal album one more time, because that’s how things should be when the music in question is not only good, but also potent and rightful. So behold the Iron Knights, as those guys are ready to rock and keep the fire of Heavy Metal alive, hopefully for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Transparent, Vicious Circle, Blind and Jacob’s Ladder.

Worst moments of the album: A Chapter’s Lesion.

Released in 2014 Metalbox Recordings

Track listing
1. Transparent 5:05
2. Falling from Grace 3:41
3. Vicious Circle 3:47
4. A Chapter’s Lesion 4:20
5. Genocide 4:00
6. Cry for Help 4:42
7. Blind 3:21
8. Jacob’s Ladder 4:39

Bonus tracks (re-recorded from New Sound of War)
9. Bloodstorm 3:54
10. The Messenger 4:33
11. Jericho 4:21

Band members
Jamie Gibson – vocals, guitars
Wayne Mann – guitars
Paul “Beam” Robbie – bass
Lawrence “Larry” Paterson – drums