Saturday, May 2, 2020

Bandcamp Picks - Cult of Fire, Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum, Bezwering, Khôra

2020 can't be all bad if it brings a new album by criminally underappreciated Czech band Cult Of Fire. Despite a concept derived from Eastern religions, Moksha follows the Slavic black metal playbook faithfully, weaving the band's characteristic melodies through blastbeats, mid-paced shoegazing sections, and classic metal histrionics alike. Who says yoga metal has to be mellow? [€6]

Topping one of the best atmospheric black metal releases of the last decade is no small undertaking, but Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore attempt do so with their new split release; if anything, Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine is even more ambitious than their previous collaboration. In defiance of A-Side/B-Side conventions, the two bands alternate tracks, each dedicated to a planet in our solar system, and most of which stretch past the 10 minute mark. When they're not blasting at full speed, the Athens-based Spectral Lore dips into slow, goth adjacent dark metal akin to Katatonia. Holding off on their usual atmospheric sections, Mare Cognitum employs discordance and haunting melodies to create their post rock-inflected celestial black metal. The two solo artists combine their talents on the final two tracks - one being an ominous (and expected) ambient composition, and the other a trebly ode to both Pluto and blackened thrash. As cold, dark, and vast as space itself. [€9]

Newcomers Bezwering join the list of Dutch black metal bands giving their scene an identity distinct from its Scandinavian forbears. Their debut Aan de wormen overgeleverd makes a focal point out of their vocalist's baritone sprechgesang, putting it front and center during mid-paced rock outs and pure blasting sections alike. Throw in some eerie atmosphere and jagged post-punk rhythms for a commendably varied album.  [€1]

Like our current pandemic, progressive black metal project Khôra has spread across continents, bringing together contributors from Ukraine, Norway, Greece and the US. Timaeus bears the distinct influence of Arcturus and the later Emperor albums, with vocalist Kranos turning in a startlingly accurate imitation of Ihsahn's yowling rasp, as well as the soaring tenor of ICS Vortex. The orchestration gives some genre appropriate grandiosity, along with some forgivable Dimmu Borgir-acity. [€7]