Nachtmystium and more...
While Mixtarum Metallum now begins to look forward to what 2013 has in store for us metal fans, we leave you with this infernal manuscript documenting 20 of 2012’s most devastating metal records.
After the successful side-step of the Black Meddle LPs, Blake Judd assembled the most fearsome Nachtmystium line-up yet (Parker, Lindsay, Fell and Markuszewski) and unleashed Silencing Machine’s atmospheric black metal on an unexpecting world. Where the dastardly duo of Black Meddle: Assasins & Addicts rippled with Judd’s newly inherited influences (post-rock/industrial/post-punk/prog) at the expense of the band’s black metal origins, Silencing Machine inverted the approach using these atypical influences as a means to accentuate the burning black metal; similar in effect to 2006’s Instinct Decay. This almost retrogressive progression produced some of the band’s most engaging songs: “Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem”, “I Wait in Hell”, “The Lepers of Destitution”, “Give Me the Grave” and the emotional downpour of “These Rooms in Which We Weep”, not to mention, as a whole, the most realized record of Nachtmystium’s notoriously toxic and wildly experimental existence. DB
Netherlands-based black metal trio Nihill returned in 2012 with the harrowingly dissonant invocation Verdonkermaan, the final vile screed in a traumatic trilogy (see equally disturbing predecessors Krach and Grond). Verdonkermaan was a nerve-shredding howl of raw black metal combined with vortexes of cataclysmic noise, made all the more effective by its discomforting, unorthodox nature. Like fellow avant-garde black metal brutes Gnaw Their Tongues, Nihill craft corruptive suites that eschew any hooks or, at their best, any sense of predictable structure. Verdonkermaan‘s five lengthy songs buried hints of melody under waves of remorseless abrasiveness, with static-ridden riffs, frost-bitten feedback, distortion and drone smothering all. The album’s finest moments came when its raging pyres of chaos and cruelty overwhelmed with their intensity—misanthropic murderousness was heaped upon atonal annihilations till all became a singular blur of black-hearted nefariousness. The band clearly reveled in the demoniacal glee of elongated churns of depraved and discombobulating noise.—CH
No Absolutes in Human Suffering
Viciously opinionated, anti-religious, with the intellect to back his beliefs, Gaza vocalist Jon Parkin’s deadly serious but often witty observations on life and politics—articulated through his caustic scream—continued to serve as a lethal weapon when matched with the sheer severity of Gaza’s grinding hardcore on their latest release, No Absolutes In Human Suffering. Musically, as dangerous a fist full of pit vipers, and twice as venomous, Gaza constructed a record that pulsed and probed throughout; the equivalent of tearing open a chest cavity just to see what humanity lay inside, only to find there was a glimmer of beauty found amidst the bile, rage and blistering fury. Gaza’s talent for writing serious music for serious times, and their capacity for creating songs that lodged themselves inside your brain despite being complex and grating, while at the same time causing you to think and re-evaluate your own thought-process/beliefs, stands as No Absolutes in Human Suffering’s greatest achievement.—DB
Oro: Opus Primum & Opus Alter
Italian Hermetic sludgelord Ufomammut has always crafted ambitious albums. But the sheer operatic (and psychedelic) scale of the band’s 2012 interlinking albums, Oro: Opus Primum and Oro: Opus Alter, deserve a medal for audacity alone. Released six months apart, both albums were infused with an intoxicating elixir of the oracular, metaphysical and the sonically stentorian, telling an overarching tale of alchemical sorcery. Each album was stacked with undulating and distorting riffs, drone, tribal percussion, and celestial keyboards charged with the energy of hitherto obscured secrets. Heavy on the esotericism and bong vapors, the engrossing, lengthy songs were created to run as a singular 90-minute epic, united in spirit. Opus Primum brought the mind-altering uppercut, Opus Alter the trippy rumination, and each simmered with shamanistic enticements. Each track underscored the transcendental nature of Ufomammut, but the transformative tenor of the band has never been so explicitly explored; the Oro saga is the band’s true magnum opus.—CH
With the only mass worth attending, Belgian post-apocalyptic terrors AMENRA returned this November with Mass V. Signed to Neurot and with Scott Kelly’s unmistakeable vocals on the annihilating album closer, “Nowena | 9.10”, Mass V kept the sonic totem of Neurosis burning red in the background. But it was the band’s own brand of opaque post metal—the kind that exposes nerves and plagues your spiritual being—that established AMENRA as a singular entity worthy of the same levels of worship as its forebears. A frightening and instinctual control over song structures steeped in harrowing atmospherics was found on each of these four, massive compositions: “Boden”’s expression of extreme emotion through cataclysmic climaxes stood as the album’s zenith—an insurmountable peak of despair, and amongst the horror, enlightenment. Mass V was the sound of this tribe of Neurot finally marching defiantly beside those who have journeyed through silver in blood before them.—DB