Album Review – Ildaruni / Beyond Unseen Gateways (2021)

A spiritual journey to the mysteries untold in the form relentless, epic Black Metal infused with ancient folk melodies, masterfully brought forth by this emerging Armenian raging force.

3.5rating

ildaruni-beyond-unseen-gateways-2021Having emerged as a raging force from the depths of the Armenian underground metal scene in 2016, Yerevan-based Pagan Black Metal horde Ildaruni (which by the way is the ancient pagan name of the second largest river that flows through Armenia, currently known as Hrazdan River) represents a blend of relentless, epic Black Metal and ancient folk melodies, forgotten from times immemorial, exploring the height of the Urartian domain through the cognitive machinations of a bygone age and the esoteric apprehension of ancient pagan occultism. Recorded by Armen Shaverdian and Mark Erskine at Armen Shaverdian’s Guitar Clinic Studio, mixed and mastered by George Emmanuel (Lucifer’s Child, Rotting Chris) at Pentagram Studio, and displaying an ominous artwork by Mark Erskine (Erskine Designs), the band’s debut opus Beyond Unseen Gateways is a hymn to the blazing light that sank into shadowy shrines, to the wild darkness that covered the debris of Ardini, and to the bygone flame that enlightened the sanctum of Haldi, introducing an authentic sound and a spiritual journey to the mysteries untold masterfully brought forth by frontman Artak Karapetyan, guitarists Robert Meliksetyan and Mark Erskine, bassist Garbis Vizoian and drummer Arthur Poghosyan.

Atmospheric and epic from the very first second, the intro Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani will transport you to the fantastic realm ruled by Ildaruni, with the tin whistle by guest Arthur Atayan adding an extra touch of mystery to their music, before Robert and Mark begin slashing their guitars in the Epic Metal tune Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, presenting beautiful hints of Folk and Pagan Metal while Artak roars and growls lie a true demonic entity; followed by the also imposing Perpetual Vigil, showcasing an obscure, sinister intro led by the tribal beats by Arthur and morphing into a headbanging beast crafted by this talented Armenian horde, living up to the legacy of Melodic and Pagan Black Metal. And get ready for over eight minutes of infernal blast beats, incendiary riffs and venomous growls in the Black Metal aria Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini, a lecture in extreme music spearheaded by the sulfurous vociferations by Artak that will haunt your soul for all eternity.

Once again blending the epicness of Pagan Metal with the heaviness and fury of Black Metal, the quintet fires the demolishing musical journey Towards Subterranean Realms, not to mention how thunderous the bass jabs by Garbis sound in paradox with all background orchestrations; and there’s no time to breathe as those Armenian metallers keep embellishing the airwaves with their bold and dense sound in Exalted Birth, another explosion of modern-day Melodic Black Metal with the band’s guitar duo stealing the spotlight with their wicked riffage supported by Arthur Atayan’s hypnotizing bagpipes. They still have fuel for another ass-kicking Black Metal onrush entitled Arakha, with Arthur setting the tone with his tribal, massive beats, accompanied by the strident sound of the guitars and the always vile roaring by Artak, and right after an imposing and stunning start Ildaruni come ripping in Whence Ravenstone Beckons, providing us fans eight minutes of impressive Black Metal where Arthur sounds more devilish than ever on drums while also featuring guest vocals by  Anna Hovhannesyan, with the music flowing darkly until the end.

ildaruni-2021I must say that listening to Beyond Unseen Gateways is indeed a unique sonic experience, or a “spiritual journey” as the band itself mentioned, and the hybrid of Black Metal with folk elements and paganism matched flawlessly with the stories told throughout the album’s impressive 52 minutes of first-class metal music. Having said that, let’s all show our total support and respect to the guys from Ildaruni by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know info about the band, by streaming their awesome creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing a copy of Beyond Unseen Gateways from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album in full). The ominous flame now burns stronger as Iladruni have just unleashed their long-waited cryptic incantations in the form of their incendiary debut effort, appealing to fans of renowned acts the like of Kawir, Rotting Christ and Windir. And may the gates of genesis reopen and herald forth an epoch of exaltation anew.

Best moments of the album: Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini and Exalted Birth.

Worst moments of the album: Perpetual Vigil.

Released in 2021 Black Lion Records

Track listing
1. Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani 3:38
2. Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom 6:23
3. Perpetual Vigil 6:02
4. Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini 8:10
5. Towards Subterranean Realms 7:50
6. Exalted Birth 6:05
7. Arakha 6:34
8. Whence Ravenstone Beckons 7:58

Band members
Artak Karapetyan – vocals
Robert Meliksetyan – guitars, keyboards
Mark Erskine – guitars, keyboards
Garbis Vizoian – bass
Arthur Poghosyan – drums

Guest musicians
Arthur Atayan – tin whistle on “Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani,” “Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom,” and “Towards Subterranean Realms”, bagpipes on “Exalted Birth”
Anna Hovhannesyan – vocals on “Whence Ravenstone Beckons”

Album Review – Yoth Iria / As The Flame Withers (2021)

Dark, diabolical, and majestic while taking a fresh look into 90’s Greek Black Metal with a nostalgia of the past and a twist into the future. That’s what these infernal veterans have to offer in their newborn spawn.

Forged in the fires of Athens, Greece in 2019 by bassist Jim Mutilator, a founding member of legendary Greek Black Metal band Rotting Christ, and vocalist The Magus, who formed Necromantia in 1989 together with Baron Blood (R.I.P.), one of the most influential and avantgarde bands of the scene, Hellenic Black Metal outfit Yoth Iria is an amalgam of the influences and visions of its creators, sounding dark, diabolical, emotional, powerful and majestic while taking a fresh look into 90’s Greek Occult Black Metal with a nostalgia of the past and a twist into the future. Now in 2021, the duet which developed and pioneered the underground scene back in the day is ready to crush our souls with their first full-length album, titled As The Flame Withers. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Pentagram Studio by Yoth Iria and George Emmanuel (Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, Lucifer’s Child), and displaying a Stygian artwork by Indian artist Harshanand Singh, As The Flame Withers represents everything this primeval entity stands for, supported by guest musicians George Emmanuel on the guitars, John Patsouris on keys and J.V. Maelstrom (Dephosphorus, Nigredo) on drums, dragging the listeners into the pits of the underworld and keeping them there forever in pitch black darkness.

The Children of Bodom-inspired riffage by George kicks of the melodic and infernal The Great Hunter, bringing to our ears old school Norwegian Black Metal blended with the epicness of Behemoth and Rotting Christ, whereas mesmerizing, imposing sounds permeate the air in the insane title-track Yoth Iria, showcasing beyond obscure lyrics growled by The Magus (“For aeons he laid dormant / speaking through dreams / conspiring in visions / watching from his Throne / Arch-Priest and King / of the Seven Hells / The Highest of Angels / the Brightest of them all”) while his bandmates keep the atmosphere as heavy and somber as possible. Then it’s time for George and Jim to slash their respective guitar and bass in the very melodious but of course heavy-as-hell Hermetic Code, a very atmospheric creation by the band offering our ears a good dosage of Doom Metal added to their core ferocity; and arising from the pits of the underworld like a demonic entity, The Magus and Jim bring forward Demonaz-inspired vocalizations and dirty, rumbling bass lines in The Mantis, with the background keys by John Patsouris sounding insanely epic while J.V. Maelstrom hammers his drums mercilessly.

In the excellent The Red Crown Turns Black we face more of their blasphemous lyrics (“From the deserts of Saturn / and the depths of the Abyss / the General of Chaos / the Devourerof Souls”) while the music sounds like a demonic fusion of Behemoth, Immortal and Children of Bodom, with George being once again sensational with his wicked riffs and solos, and rocking guitars and classic beats ignite the Stygian extravaganza titled Unborn, Undead, Eternal, reminding me of some of the most recent creations by Rotting Christ, with The Magus gnarling like a creature from the netherworld nonstop. The second to last explosion of their Ritualistic Black Metal comes in the form of Tyrants, where The Magus’ roars are effectively supported by the hellish kitchen by Jim and Maelstrom, resulting in another doomed, thunderous aria blasted by this talented Greek horde, while Jim continues to smash his bass in the closing tune The Luciferian, accompanied by the grim guitars by George. Once again blending old school Black Metal with Doom Metal and more contemporary styles, the song unfortunately loses its grip after a while, albeit nothing that could do any harm to such powerful album.

In the end, As The Flame Withers, which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube, is exactly what such prominent duo from the Greek Black Metal scene is saying the album is, an ode to the early days of the genre without sounding outdated, tiresome nor bland at all. Hence, if you want to explore their obscure realm in more detail and stay updated with all things Yoth Iria, you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course purchase your copy of As The Flame Withers from the Pagan Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (including the CD and black LP versions of the album), as well as from Record Shop X. It’s indeed a true pleasure witnessing two trailblazers of the Greek Black Metal scene generating such infernally dark music with so much punch and potency even after all these decades on the road, proving once again extreme music can be a true fountain of youth for many, while the flames of Black Metal keep burning the souls of the unbelievers for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: Yoth Iria, The Mantis and The Red Crown Turns Black.

Worst moments of the album: The Luciferian.

Released in 2021 Pagan Records

Track listing
1. The Great Hunter 4:24
2. Yoth Iria 5:41
3. Hermetic Code 6:34
4. The Mantis 7:19
5. The Red Crown Turns Black 6:26
6. Unborn, Undead, Eternal 5:14
7. Tyrants 4:51
8. The Luciferian 6:32

Band members
The Magus – vocals
Jim Mutilator – bass

Guest musicians
George Emmanuel – guitars (session)
John Patsouris – keys (session)
J.V. Maelstrom – drums (session)