Panopticon – …And Again Into the Light

Panopticon – …And Again Into the Light

Heightened emotion has long been a staple of Austin Lunn’s music — Panopticon have traversed the world of black metal using personal struggle, social awareness and economic disparity to build a view of a creator who is using their music as a tool to navigate the hardships that they face. Whether that is in reflection or in solidarity with others at the edge, Lunn uses Panopticon to organise feelings of despair and hope in a way that feels organic and true. Previous records have touched on these subjects either directly – Social Disservices and Kentucky, for example – or wrapped their meanings in metaphors that Lunn holds close to his heart as is the case in Autumn Eternal.

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The Round Up Tapes // Submission Edition Volume VII

Firstly, I would like to apologise to all of the artists who feature in this edition of The Round Up Tapes. My desire to write has been tempered by life of late and finding the time or even the energy to sit down and form coherent thoughts on music has been something that has been lacking over the last six months or so. I listen to everything that people send me, but I often forget to reply or even miss emails as they fall in the spam folder only to be found several weeks later. I try extremely hard to not be rude but my memory is not the best.

Without further ado, here is the seventh volume of record submissions that have found their way to me.

Asenath Blake – Zoëtic Songs

Zoëtic Songs marks the second foray into the underground of Welsh artist Asenath Blake, who creates a sound that lies where the occult and black metal intersect. Taking inspiration from Austin Osman Spare and Arthur Machen, as well as others well versed in magick, Blake uses her music to channel another world which dances on the fringes of the fire that makes up much of this second EP.

Opening on “Yelda Paterson’s Teachings,” Blake immediately presents a sound that is raw and primeval. Her voice is mixed into synthesised lines and radiant textures that call to mind the sound of post-black metal, yet the music is somewhat removed from that sub-genre in its manic vocal delivery that is affected by unknown power, possessed by the other that has been evoked by the spells and witchcraft that lie at the heart of Zoëtic Songs.

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Cara Neir – Phase Out

Cara Neir – Phase Out

The evolution of Cara Neir has been a joy to watch unfold since they began over a decade ago in Texas. Their take on black metal has long been a singular one with differing elements taking their music on a fascinating journey from black metal to hardcore to experimental weirdness and back again but all with the incredible ability to make it make sense. Cara Neir’s trick is to take opposing forces and meld them in such a way as to make it beautiful and Phase Out fully realises that conceit during songs that are rooted in RPG lore and a love for gaming.

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The Ruins of Beverast – The Thule Grimoires

The Ruins of Beverast – The Thule Grimoires

The land of Thule is one that has long lain forgotten; a faraway place that lies in the dense and abstract regions of the world, a place that is unreachable by modern humanity and one that is used in literary texts and music to describe the unattainable. For The Ruins of Beverast, Thule could be seen to be a mystical and ice-covered land and these songs (Grimoires, or magical texts) are the keys to unlock the horrifying secrets that lie beneath the surface of its crumbling temples. A world in which a civilisation rises up to defeat those who would stand to destroy the Earth for their own gain with the help of hibernating Gods that have been buried in the deepest oceans and under mountains of ice. The spiritual aspect of Alexander von Meilenwald’s creation is wrought through ritual drum patterns and vocals that echo with gothic textures, chants that are dredged from the underworld and an atmosphere that is as cloying as it is fantastical.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XXIII

Annihilus – Ghanima

Annihilus are, for all intents and purposes, a black metal band, however this project from Luca Cimarusti takes in much more than the usual traits of the genre to create an interesting debut with Ghanima. With influences ranging from Frank Herbert’s Dune to grunge and noise rock, Annihilus is much more than the sum of its parts. Opening on “Epilogue,” Ghanima sets out its manifesto and overloaded, fuzzy vocals that Cimarusti screeches out from behind guitars that hold melody but only if you’re actively searching for it in amongst the debris of the noise.

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Lamp Of Murmuur – Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism 

Lamp Of Murmuur – Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism 

The black metal underground has been abuzz with the name Lamp Of Murmuur for months; the enigmatic soul behind the band keeping to the shadows while those who have fallen for their music trip over themselves to tell anyone, everyone, about this incredible raw black metal act. Purportedly from North America (the bandcamp page states Olympia, Washington as their location), Lamp Of Murmuur has been steadily ramping up their output since their sudden appearance in 2019 with the demo Thunder Vigil and Ecstasy, which was followed up with a handful of other demo recordings and a split with Revenant Marquis, leading the band to this, their debut full-length, Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism. The record is made up of new songs and a couple of re-recordings of tracks only available on out of print physical media (or YouTube if the desire should move you) and, hyperbole be damned, is incredible.

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The Round-Up Tapes // Volume XXII

Atramentus – Stygian

Atramentus

Stygian is vast, bleak, draped in ice and layered with loneliness. Beautiful on its stark and cold voyage from dying embers of Autumn to the eroding ice of Winter. A novel in the guise of funeral doom and a story that brings with it a sense of hopeless dread; the sun has long since died and the world is covered with deep swathes of snow. Our protagonist must find their way through the curse of immortality and live with the knowledge that all they know is dead and buried and their own quest will never cease to end.

Atramentus formed in 2012 after Philippe Tougas (also of Chthe’ilist) walked for hours in sub-zero temperatures, giving birth to the final track on Stygian on his return home and creating the impetus to bring the band to life. However, this took some time and it wasn’t until 2018 that a line-up was secured and their debut could be recorded. For Atramentus this long process was necessary as their music is as deep and rich as it steeped in the echelons of winter; the two “main” songs are bridged with a sombre instrumental passage – “Stygian II: In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream in the Doleful Embrace of the Howling Black Winds)” that links the ebbing warmth of autumn to the overarching frost of winter.

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Esoctrilihum – Eternity of Shaog

Esoctrilihum – Eternity of Shaog

Black metal is an ever-evolving beast and there are a handful of bands who are consistently pushing the underground of the genre into new territory; generally these bands are one person projects who release music independently or on small labels – for the aesthetic, of course. One such band is France’s Esoctrilihum, who have released four full lengths since 2017 and with Eternity of Shaog – the fifth – the band have pushed themselves once again, a little further out from the underground.

Sole member Asthâghul might be a mysterious figure, but Esoctrilihum gives us a small glimpse into the mind of a person who has been creating an individual space for themselves in the pantheon of black metal that is out there. This is a unique vision and one that stands far apart from much of the “popular” black metal or even the less known acts that exist and that it is the work of one person only, makes it all the more impressive in its complexity and concepts.

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