Our German comrades Vendetta Records are among the strongest and fiercest European labels right now when it comes to stuff like black metal, doom, crust and beyond. In a neverending spawn of qualitative musical greatness, the label has recently hit a new peak in its output, releasing three of the best black metal vinyl releases of the year so far, in what has become to all effects a truly devastating spring for this great label that never ceases to amaze. Here we go.
1. ASHBRINGER – Vacant
An American “Cascadian”-styled black metal hailing from Minnesota, Ashbringer are a young band which must be kept under close observation. Typically, not much time goes by until bands like this one take off and become the “next big thing,” so discovering these guys as they take their first steps towards greatness has been a feeling of great bewilderment, as you can literally feel the seeds for greatness that lie within the thick texture of this band’s music, as they come to life before your ears. Take Panopticon, Addaura, Woods of Desolation, Agalloch, and the such as examples: one day Ashbringer might just be another one of these great bands. Their music after all speaks for itself. There is a vastness, melancholy and artistry in this music that is impossible to ignore. The riffs are cold, vast, and enveloping, and keen sense of melody and “catchiness” never loosens its grasp on your senses as the band weaves a thick fog of black metal dirges with which it slowly drags you with it in a lonesome and intimate descent into the hades of your own soul, where all the darkness and loneliness of the world coalesce and reign unchallenged. Beautifully dotted with the sapient use of acoustic guitars, synths, keys, and clean vocals, and indissolubly woven with the unmistakeable nature-worship that usually characterizes this style of black metal, Ashbringer have created for you a listening experience that promises to be unforgettable and completely unique. Get it in Europe from Vendetta here.
2. DOWNFALL OF NUR – Umbras et Forestas
On a much darker plane unfolds the music of one-man Argentinean/Italian black metal band Downfall of Nur, a project which is in no way new to these pages. Originally self-released in 2014, this amazing EP now sees the light on vinyl through Vendetta, and it’s a spellbinding and trance-inducing listen to behold, a life-shattering encounter with a harrowing sonic void. Wretched, drooping, gloomy but nevertheless absolutely majestic, Downfall of Nur’s music is more rooted in Scandinavian Black metal and draws precious life from the wretched craft of Gorgoroth and Dark Funeral as much as it does from the eerie atmospheres and vast soundscapes of Walknut and Drudkh. Punishing, unrelenting, majestic, abyssal, and endlessly grim, Downfall of Nur’s Umbras et Forestas feels like the cold and unescapable grasp of an eternal nuclear winter setting in, with its cold fingers slithering around your throat to choke you in a cold and eternal embrace. Get the LP from Vendetta here, and there is also a tape version from Monotonstudio Records available here.
3. WODE – Wode
Wode‘s self-titled album was also released on vinyl by Broken Limbs Recordings, and represents a rare CD release for Vendetta. Nevertheless, the fact that such great labels are involved in this release should give you clear queues even before hearing a single note of the absolute prowess of this UK-based black metal band. Much like Downfall of Nur, Wode play a dark and punishing brand of modern black metal which is also beautifully shrouded in an aura of majesty and of sinister grace. Unbelievably wretched vocals and furious rhythms are thrown against a majestic backdrop of ruinous and unrelenting guitars that summon a thick and inescapable mist of chaos and devastation around the listener, creating a dark and stirring sensorial overload that will haunt your senses. Wode can be compared to close UK-relative bands like Winterfylleth, Fen, and Caina for their “Nordic” sounding and refined sense of texture and musical melancholy (with Primordial and Enslaved being obvious influences here), but also branch out into more modern and ambiguous styles of black metal, equally borrowing elements both from American Cascadian black metal bands like Skagos, Agalloch, and Wolves In The Throne Room, and from more experimental and ambitious black metal bands like Blut Aus Nord, Ash Borer, Paramnesia, and Sun Worship. Overall an entrancing and devastating listening experience that will melt your brain. CDs available from Vendetta here (link above for vinyl from Broken Limbs Recordings).