The Round Up Tapes // Volume XX

Imber Luminis – Same Old Silences

Imber Luminis is one of many projects from Belgian artist Déhà and while his output is incredibly prolific, the work doesn’t seem to suffer so much as become elevated through his preternatural drive to create. Of course, such efforts will sap the energy of the person behind them and so it seems that Imber Luminis, while dwelling somewhere between depressive black metal, atmospheric black metal and doom, deals with feelings of being overwhelmed and of suffering on a more human level. Same Old Silences moves through its horror via two songs that are split into sections, each giving weight and desolation to the next and it’s through these movements that Imber Luminis creates waves of sadness and depression that are so tangible it almost becomes your own.

“Same Old Sufferings I and II” are re-recorded from the Same Old Sufferings release of 2011 while “III” is a new composition to complete the trilogy, much like “Silence III,” which finalises (perhaps) the beginnings of the trilogy found on A Cold Distance (2011) and Imber Aeternus (2014). In these re-recordings Déhà has truly given weight to some of his more crushing songs with vocals that are much more refined and full and with clean sections that are beautifully rendered, showing that as an artist (vocalist/instrumentalist/producer amongst many other facets of studio work), he has learned so much and is willing to improve on the past while trying to move towards the future.

The newest portion of the song begins on a piano-led section that is overlayed by emotional clean vocals, cutting to the core of your being and giving a voice to feelings of devastation that carry us all at some point. Such peace, though, cannot last and soon harsher vocals move into view with gruff, guttural sections tempered by higher pitched howls and a distinct feeling of utter hopelessness is ushered in on the back of these suffocating screams. 

“Silence III” seems somewhat freer in feeling compared to “Same Old Sufferings I II III,” as its structure is not dictated by the entire movement of music – its first two parts not being included here – and so it shifts through cascading post-rock, shimmering guitars and tangible waves of despondency on its way through seventeen minutes of sorrow. Déhà’s voice is torn with anguish throughout and the song is coloured with beautiful patterns of synthesised strings that add dimension to its rays of despair. Same Old Silences is mesmerising in its morbidity and commendable for its uncompromising honesty. 

Listen and purchase here.

Tome of the Unreplenished // Starless Domain – Epistolary of the Fall

Starless Domain are not new to these pages with an earlier edition of The Round Up Tapes speaking of their last release, ALMA, with great admiration and Epistolary of the Fall is no different in terms of its excellence. This time around Starless Domain have split their release with Tome of the Unreplenished, a project that hails from Cyprus but now resides in the UK. This project is one that melds black metal instinct with power electronics and noise influences and in doing so creates a wall of sound that is as dense as it is complicated. Perfect, then, for matching the cosmic structures of Starless Domain and their otherworldly reach.

Each band brings one, long-form track to the split and in doing so they are able to explore the more nuanced details in their music and thus create whole worlds and narratives within the sounds. Tome of the Unreplenished’s “Proskynesis” moves through oppressive metallic whirlwinds and curiously vocalised sounds that are beyond human comprehension. They are not here to find the beauty in the darkness, but rather to embrace the pitch black cosmos and to expand the consciousness alongside it. “Proskynesis” is a difficult listen and at almost nineteen minutes it is hardly an enjoyable task, but that seems to be the way that Tome of the Unreplenished want it and who are we to argue when the screams come layered with electrical noise, claustrophobic clashes and ramped up pulses of sound?

“CERES” from Starless Domain is the band’s third release of the year and they show no signs of slowing down. This nigh on forty minute track is another example of the band pushing their sound to the absolute limit and still it seems as though they have more to offer. Along with EOS and ALMA, Starless Domain are building a portfolio that encompasses the darkest corners of the universe via synthesisers, multiple layers of guitars and a voice that reaches for the highest possible registers of screams in order to cultivate complete terror. This high-pitched horror is something that adds dimension to “CERES” and its rippling effects and incorporating the blackened waves of Gnaw Their Tongues mastermind Mories and his voice during the track is another plus point in this sea of heightened tension.

 Listen and purchase here.

The Round Up Tapes // Volume XVI

Barshasketh – Barshasketh

Originally a one-man band from New Zealand, founding member Krigeist’s relocation to Scotland brought new opportunities to enhance his music and after session members and live line-ups were solidified, Barshasketh began to take the form that we see today on their fourth full-length, Barshasketh. Stripping back their sound to that of their early days, Barshasketh are reclaiming the essence of black metal and while their music isn’t breaking down barriers or smashing genre lines, the expertise and musicianship on display here is more than solid and definitely worth multiple listens.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XV

Devouring Star – The Arteries of Heresy

Finland’s Devouring Star plays with evil as theme but does so in less Satanic ways and rather explains that mankind itself is the ultimate embodiment of sin, that humans are the scourge and that religion is not the hopeful tenet that we have been led to believe.

The Arteries of Heresy is Devouring Star’s second full length and the person behind it all, JL, is using the band as a vessel of deliverance for personal enlightenment. There’s a sense that the evil that lurks within is one of primal matter and on “Procreation of Blood” the chaos is laid bare for all to see. Within the maelstrom are subtle grooves that can be latched on to in order to orientate oneself but for the most part the song, and the album as a whole, is an ode to embracing sin and taking it into yourself in order to fulfil your purpose on this earth.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume X

ColdWorld – Autumn

coldworld

The eight years since ColdWorld’s debut Melancholie² has only served to increase the attention on Georg Börner’s one man project, and while the somewhat enigmatic German hadn’t outright said the band was over, the hope for a follow-up dwindled with each passing year. Melancholie²  is a record that speaks of emptiness, despair and sadness and is often deemed a starting point for anyone interested in depressive black metal. It’s by no means perfect, but the atmosphere that is captured is one of an artist using his medium to guide him through moments of anguish and with new record, Autumn, that feeling is wrought in ever more stunning ways.

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The Round Up Tapes // Submission Edition

Often I have bands send me a nice email asking if I’d like to hear some music. I like that, I like hearing new things that I may not have found otherwise. Sometimes I have bands who I have been in touch with previously send me something they think I might like. And I like that too. What I don’t like is when I take forever to write something about those bands. Life is busy and I don’t do enough on here. The Round Up Tapes this time is five bands who have submitted themselves, or have been submitted by someone I have dealt with before. Enjoy!

Barbelith – Mirror Unveiled

barbeith

Baltimore’s Barbelith attack black metal with a sly atmospheric tone that creeps beneath their otherwise harsh sounds and lifts their music into the more intriguing category of USBM. The band are raw where it counts and beautiful where it matters with Mirror Unveiled flowing from fast, staggering black metal to gorgeous arrangements of softer movements that layer the epic “Astral Plane” from beginning to end in light and shade. Harrowing screams from Barbelith’s frontman stand against the darkness and encompass the anguish that is held within their walls of sound. Highly recommended.

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The Round Up Tapes

I like to makes lists. So many lists. My “to do” list is, quite frankly, massive. I thought that instead of trying to do twenty individual reviews that would take approximately one million years, that perhaps once a month I would collect together a few cool little releases that have come my way and talk about them and why they are good. A lot has happened this year (mostly bad, some good) so it would save my sanity because there are not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs doing.

And so, The Round Up Tapes are born. Hat tip to Opeth because I made a play on a name of a release of theirs. I hope that’s cool?

Ainulindalë – Nevrast

Ainulindalë

Nevrast is a gorgeous, folky and affecting record from the French project Ainulindalë which is centred around Tolkein’s universe and heavily influenced by The Silmarillion. Ainulindalë’s sound is comprised of dark elements that contrast with lighter, sunnier currents that shine through the acoustic progressions of sole member Engwar’s guitar and his voice which carries with it a gorgeous tone that embraces the subtleties of his music and wraps it in warmth and soul. Nevrast incorporates simple movements that link together to create a work that ebbs and flows with a tender grace while Engwar’s vocal layers over majestic strings to lift tracks to a higher plane of beauty. The title track dips into choral lines that slowly build to a brass and a female voice that shimmers with light over the shadows created by the words of Engwar.

Nevrast moves with a refined style that genuinely moves and breathes with a deep-rooted love and knowledge of J.R.R. Tolkein’s work and never comes across as cliché or overwrought. The emotion is honest and the music breathtaking.

Nevrast can be purchased via bandcamp.

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