Iron Bonehead Productions Roundup: Ithaqua, Autokrator, Nocternity, Spite, & Shroud of the Heretic
We at the Toilet Ov Hell Offices™ are no strangers to the reliable Iron Bonehead Productions. The label’s promos have been covered on this site more than once, and its releases have also been featured extensively in our ongoing Mini-Reviews series. A quick glance at their Bandcamp reveals fifteen (15!) 2015 releases so far, including: the beloved but quickly forgotten Death Karma’s The History of Death and Burial Rituals part 1 (remember how much you loved Death Karma in February?) , Vassafor and Temple Nightside’s monstrous Call of the Maelstrom, and Hic Iacet’s twisting and underrated The Cosmic Trance Into The Void. Let’s uncover several Iron Bonehead releases that haven’t received coverage on the site yet, and one due out at the end of July.
Ithaqua | Initiation To Obscure Mysteries
Bandcamp | March 3rd, 2015
Being pretty familiar with Iron Bonehead’s output, I was a bit surprised by Ithaqua’s Initiation To Obscure Mysteries. I pushed play and expected the usual Iron Bonehead fuckfest. After a windswept intro with ritual chanting (which would be right at home on any black metal record), Obscure Mysteries has as much in common with an older tradition of heavy metal as any of its extreme relatives. This is the kind of heavy metal Toilet Ov Hell writer JAG would just call “heavy metal.” Right off the bat it reminded me of Dawnbringer’s excellent Night of the Hammer (with harsh singing). The album continues forward and mixes classic metal and black metal; returning time and time again to big hooks, big riffs, and catchy melodies, before picking up steam and embracing its darker qualities. Ithaqua is Lovecraftian in origin, but this record is much more straighforward than their namesake would imply. This is a solid debut effort. Iron Bonehead is running it on sale, head over to Bandcamp to stream it or buy it.
Autokrator | Same
Bandcamp | March 27th, 2015
In Greek, an autokratōr is one “who exercises absolute power, unrestrained by superiors”. It’s fitting given how strange a release this on the Iron Bonehead roster. Elements of music are cornered by industrial tremors throughout. Think black metal played by early Nine Inch Nails, Godflesh, or Aeon Flux’s Trevor Goodchild. This record marches through its first two tracks with a nigh unstoppable mechanical rumble. These songs are heavy, thick, and oppressive. Lyrics alternate between screams and grotesque shouts, akin to a military official shouting down the chain of command. Pause is given briefly to interject harsh noise at the end of the second track “Exsuperator”. “Autokrator” opens with a prolonged sampled dialog. The last two tracks break the pattern and slow down, “Optimus Princeps” ends on the same note as the beginning of “Autokrator”. This album has two definite drawbacks. First, it suffers from being highly repetitive (a common complaint across the board in extreme music). Second, the album ends of a low note, given the intensity of the first six songs. If you are looking for a change of pace, you could do much worse than Autokrator’s debut.
Nocternity | Harps Of The Ancient Temples
Bandcamp | April 18th, 2015
The Masterlord told me Harps Of The Ancient Temples was his favorite black metal release of 2015. Granted that was weeks ago, and things change quickly when you plumb the subterranean depths. This album was allegedly over a decade in the making, Nocternity’s first full length album since 2003’s Onyx. It was also allegedly recorded two times with two different bands; the second recording (in analog) made the cut. This record is black metal pared down to the essential elements. This is largely no frills, no gaze, no dissonance, guitars drums and harsh vocal black metal. Harps Of The Ancient Temples summons black metal’s icy progenitors; mid-paced tracks also remind me of Akitsa and Silencer (with vastly different vocals on the latter!). Much of the album moves at a slower clip than what would expect from black metal; the drums sound quite rich in spots and blast beats are almost nonexistent. This is the kind of album that pulls you in, pulls you down, and gets you lost. Catchy riffs sneak in at various points (like the opening of “B.O.D.D.”). On “Blood Rite Tree” the album breaks from its mold and takes a turn for the weird; which also features a standout guitar solo to close it. Harps Of The Ancient Temples is a deeply satisfying record. It hasn’t yanked Scar Sighted out of my top black metal spot for 2015 yet, but it’s a worthy contender.
Spite | Trapped In The Pentagram
Bandcamp | May 8th, 2015
Another Iron Bonehead debut in today’s round up comes from USBM act Spite. This band hails from Brooklyn, New York, but you would be foolish to associate them with well known Brooklynites like Liturgy or Krallice. This debut comes in the form of a two song 7″ (that’s according to the label). These songs are fast, gritty, and fun. Campy clean singing alternates with high shrieks and belched vocals. The band plays tremolo riffs and chord changes with abandon. Spite owe as much to the hay day of heavy metal theatrics as they do any of the classic second wave bands. With only two songs in existence, I’d be interested to hear what this band does with a proper release. At only five minutes and forty odd seconds worth of music, just check it out for yourself.
Unorthodox Equilibrium is grand in its scope and execution; sprawling, cavernous death metal reminiscent of personal favorite Grave Miasma, mixed with plodding doom not unlike Japanese favorites Coffins. The shortest song (of four) on this record is over eight minutes long; the longest is over thirteen minutes. Those lengths allow the songs to breathe and grow and move in their own time. Huge, hollow drums maintain forward momentum; riffs slither in subtle yet surprising ways. This is a monolithic, byzantine structure. If you are a fan of the “sepulchral” death movement of the last few years, you do not want to miss Unorthodox Equilibrium. If you do, expect to be reminded of that fact at the end of the year – by everyone.
All photos via Iron Bonehead Productions.