I, Voidhanger haul: Mare Cognitum, Inconcessus Lux Lucis, Tongues
The honorable chaps at I, Voidhanger Records saw fit to send a load of promo material to the toilet, and promo’d it shall be. Do we feature all the promo material we receive? None of your goddamn business. But, you can be sure that if it’s anywhere near as good as this haul, we’ll promo the shit out of it; no ifs, ands, or lolbuttz about it.
Also note: It also helps if the word “void” is in your name. We love that shit around here and strive constantly to stay it.
Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith
Mare Cognitum belongs to the growing assemblage of black metal bands who, instead of drawing from the burning depths below, turn their eyes upward to the stars for inspiration. Tobias Möckl’s Darkspace would likely be the most prominent example of this nontraditional approach to the genre, But Mare Cognitum responds to Möckl’s air of suffocating terror with a sense of wonder, instead exploring the vastness of space with wide, starry eyes. For the simple, it’s less “space is scary as shit” and more “space is like, awesome, man.”
With four songs averaging at around twelve and a half minutes long, meandry is a valid concern, but know that it’s unwarranted; the payoff is extraordinary. As you may expect, they’re generally achieved by layering those stirringly melodic trem-picked leads on the high strings; nerve fibers spiraling around the structural backbone of the blastbeat. Though nothing novel, Phobos Monolith’s true strength is in the blooming development of its songs, expertly organized to become more than the sum of their parts. “Nuomenon’s” build follows the winding but well-traveled tracks to what you expect will be its logical climax. Only it isn’t. From there it climbs higher, and higher, and higher still. It reaches the apex, and it goes further. At each new stage shattering expectations, transcending barriers, becoming bigger, fuller, more resonating. “Nuomenon” is a highlight to be sure, but each song is a journey in its own right, lifting you off the ground, sweeping you through the immensity of space, burning brighter after each passing star system, and finally dying out in the pitchblack nothingness behind the last sun.
Jacob Buczarski’s distant, whispering wails clearly emulate John Haughm, and they sound just as at home in the black ether as they do in Agalloch’s primordial forests. Paired with the shifting, cosmic leads they sprawl across a number of emotive lines: fascination, longing, melancholy, sometimes dancing on the edge of despair, now and again even flirting with full-blown evil. It’s remarkably poignant and relatable given the unearthly concept. Perhaps not a portrayal of space itself, but of some mortal response to it. Dude…
Inconcessus Lux Lucis – Crux Lupus Corona
Merely flirting with evil was never enough for Inconcessus Lux Lucis. They fully courted and then totally scored with evil, got it pregnant, and named the little bastard Crux Lupus Corona.
INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS should be perceived as a fissure in this reality, through which the night can freely creep. We are smugglers of spiritual contraband!
– W. Malphas (singer/guitarist)
Crux Lupus Lucis is a burner if I’ve ever heard one. It will burn everything. Your face, your ass, your soul, your dinner, your pet, whatever. And all in record time. Calling themselves Saturnian Black Magic might just be a clever way to avoid listing out the myriad of genres they draw from, but with songs this good, they can call it whatever the hell they want. At its root it’s black metal that knows its history (particularly the aggressive groove of 80’s heavy metal), but at the same time it’s not afraid to throw more than a dash of death, thrash, and doom into the Satan stew.
“Crux” violently convulses between its death and thrash leanings, one section in particular being catchier than something this nasty has any right to be. “Lupus” pillages Celtic Frost territory (though with no small amount of eccentricity) until closing things down with a squealing guitar solo straight out of the 70’s. “Corona” is a veritable clusterfuck of tempos and styles, consistent only in its quality and hateful tone.
4 songs. 17 minutes. Infinite Satans.
Tongues – Thelésis Ignis
My father once told me, “Listen you little shit, if you spend your whole life standing on the edge of the void, you’ll never learn how to dwell within it.” Then he pushed me in without arm-floaties and I sank to the bottom and we never connected on an emotional level ever again and that’s why I am the way I am. You know what it sounded like down there? Tongues.
The Danes in Tongues play the hell out of the murky death/black hybrid with unhinged dissonance. Ranging from atonal to kinda-tonal, the blackened churn of riffs froth and foam beneath mechanically precise drumming, creating a contrast that, during the faster sections of “Will of Fire” and “Last Grip of the Hand of Guilt,” I wouldn’t hesitate to compare to Ulcerate. When things slow down, the comparisons hold little water and Tongues go about fevered, lurching ceremonies that are very much their own. The void is their temple, the slow boil of muddy distortion, ritual drums, and foul, protean gargling their incantation.
After three punishing hymns, we’re left with my favorite track, “Bloodline of the Blind,” six-and-a-half minutes of stretching ambiance. The subtle build of organ yawns beyond a deep, abysmal voice chanting its mantras; reverent but depraved, sacred but profane. If the first three tracks were psalms to the abyss, the fourth is its loathful reply, murmuring through dimensions.
A moment of inexplicable horror it was
When he, the foul one, rose from the depths
Blackened sludge fell from his mouth,
Filled with rotting teeth and words of war
His eyes, empty of soul, peace he knew not of