Black metal is in a state of ludicrously good health right now. 2013 and 2012 respectively churned out a slew of albums from the orthodox old school through to the genre-benders. Whether it’s Sodb or Castevet or Skagos or Wodensthrone, a particularly encouraging scene is painted here. It’s now February and a few weeks into the 2014, this scene is becoming all the more dramatic, especially after the release of Woods of Desolation’s left turn album, As The Stars and Nemorensis’ murky jaunt Lady In The Lake.
Ireland’s own Eternal Helcaraxe are a band that have unfortunately stayed quiet since the release of 2012’s absolutely stunning album, Against All Odds. The band has been making mention of new material and recording on Facebook for the last few months, alluding to a split record in the works. Now the band has uploaded their first music video for the new track ‘Flames in the Darkness’, available through Elemental Nightmares.
What immediately jumps out about this tune is its brevity, at just three minutes, tightening up the assault, which makes it a far cry from the likes of ‘Invictus’ or ‘To Whatever End’. The terse nature of the tracks sees the band exploring an altogether more fiery and aggressive sound, almost as if they’ve intentionally set a time limit and have to ram every idea into the space provided. Normally this sounds like it’s setting up for a disaster but not in the case of ‘Flames in the Darkness’.
If anything, the blazing riffs and familiar barking vocals lay out a salvo for future work. At least one can speculate that and anticipate that more new music from Eternal Helcaraxe isn’t too far off in the distance.
Vyrju are an exciting prospect that has just emerged from the murky depths of late. Based out of Norway but with an international flavour in their personnel, Vyrju play grandiose and gorgeously melodic black metal that isn’t short on frostbitten sorrow and grief, straddling a similar line that bands like Austere did. In fact, Tim Yatras of Austere notoriety is involved in the project. Tthe Aussie lays down some vocals on the band’s forthcoming debut release.
For now, the Vyrju has a track entitled ‘The Residue of Life’ streaming online. It immediately grabs the listener with a glorious (and shamelessly hooky) riff that sets the tone to supreme effect but quickly descends into classic BM territory. The mix of vocals is a mainstay in this track, second only to the lead riff. Harsh bellows and high-pitched shrieks trade blows to start before brief, but soaring, clean vocals come bounding, presumably Yatras but at least sounding very much like him.
Finally, Wildernessking are thought fondly of around these parts. South Africa’s finest black metal export released The Writing of Gods in the Sand in 2012 to a rapturous response across the board. Their rich melodies worked a treat next to more orthodox song structures, especially on sublime tracks like ‘ River’. Despite releasing a follow up EP in the interim, the band has remained rather quiet until now with the release of another new EP offering in the shape of The Devil Within. It’s streaming in full here.