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 XIX

Andavald – Undir skyggðarhaldi

The black metal scene in Iceland has been thriving for many years and where many projects from the volcanic country are proving their worth with second full lengths and touring the world, Andavald have been slowly curating their sound and biding their time before unleashing their debut upon an unsuspecting scene. Undir skyggðarhaldi is the culmination of years of work with Andavald forming around 2014 but waiting until 2019 to release their music. Their debut is more moderately paced than, say, Sinmara’s work, but it’s no less impactful for it; instead the band use moments of doomed rhythm and slow, drawn out screams to create their darkness. Speed is not of the essence here and for Andavald it is the building of terror, the procession towards finality and the beauty found within the pitch black cosmos that serves Undir skyggðarhaldi the most.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XVII

Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna

Iceland’s black metal scene is one full of creativity and unique sounds and Sinmara are but one part in a much larger group of musicians who make music so unlike other current black metal that the small country is now home to some of the most interesting projects around. While the Icelandic sound is different to most modern black metal it’s still difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes it so intriguing. Is it the vast, desolate landscapes of their home country? The pitch black darkness or blinding sun of the most extreme times of the year? The remoteness of their locale giving rise to untainted ideas and themes? It could be all of those things or none of those things but Sinmara are one of the trailblazers of a scene that is so revered that it became one of Roadburn Festival’s commissioned projects at the 2018 edition (although Sinmara members were not a part of this performance, many of their contemporaries were).

Sinmara’s second full length builds on 2014s Aphotic Womb and 2017s EP Within The Weaves of Infinity plays a large part in informing the melodic structures of this new record – Sinmara do not shy away from creating moments of great beauty within their chaos and many songs are deceptively harmonious at times. The dissonance of “Mephitic Haze” is tempered by Ólafur Guðjónsson rasping vocals and guitars that suddenly soar on high, rich notes that create passages of utter elegance.

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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 XIV

Couch Slut – Contempt

Couch Slut aren’t taking any prisoners on their follow up to 2014s My Life as a Woman and on Contempt they continue to mine the terrifying real situations the band members have found themselves in. On first glance their music is a mind-melding mesh of noise, old school hardcore and even some nods to second wave black metal, but Couch Slut introduce increasingly off-kilter moments to create an atmosphere of dread and unnerving fury. Front-person Megan Osztrosits wraps her harsh, visceral tones around opener “Funeral Dyke” and its bizarre segues from raging punk to weirdo black metal and even a subtly beautiful riff that soars suddenly over all before fading into groove-laden guitar and screams.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XIII

Cavernlight – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache

Cavernlight’s debut is a record wrought with absolute despair and in the five passages that make up this work, there is no hope to be found. The members are clear in their utter desperation and in As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache there is almost a willingness to revel in that sadness, to let it be all-consuming and to allow it to take over. Some doom holds a little light but for this Oshkosh band there is nothing at the end of the tunnel. For a debut, As We Cup Our Hands… is extremely assured; the themes run beautifully throughout and the differing elements are brought together succinctly to create a palette of darkness. Doom is the key but noise, ambient and abstract tones filter through the shadows to build an aura of claustrophobia that is unrelenting in its scope.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XII

Former Worlds – Photos of Eve IX – XVI

Former Worlds use differing palettes of sound to create a landscape that is ravaged by the harshness of life. Soft, spinning drones echo in the quieter moments while filth-laden sludge bears the brunt of their rage in the opposing loud passages, all within one epic, seventeen minute track. Their first release, Photos of Eve IX – XVI, showcases the quartet’s ability to turn things on a head with barely any notice, yet it’s tight and cohesive and the inclusion of Erin Severson’s voice gives them a little leverage over other bands of this ilk.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume XI

Dodecahedron – Kwintessens

Dutch avant-horror group Dodecahedron are back after a seemingly eternal wait for their follow-up to the incredible Dodecahedron from 2012. Using their time wisely, the quintet have dredged another terrifying prospect from the depths and in Kwintessens they have a record that moves their avant-garde black metal ever further into the realms of chaos.

“Prelude” forces you directly into the abyss with frenetic beats and jarring guitars vying for space in the heat surrounding echoing voices and industrial machinations before “TETRAHEDRON – The Culling Of The Unwanted From The Earth” whirls into view on discordant rhythms and off-kilter attacks. M. Eikenaar’s vocals are guttural and filled with spite, his approach one of total hatred and in line with the despair that echoes throughout the music, which often turns on its own head and becomes increasingly more claustrophobic as time progresses.

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