None More Black: Forever Plagued Records

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Forever Plagued Records are no strangers to the Toilet, but it’s been some time since they sat upon the commode and dropped off a few presents. Firmly ensconced in the deep underground, they’ve never been a label to churn out release after mediocre release, instead choosing to focus on quality over quantity. Last year saw some excellent albums from the label including Akrotheism, Demoncy and Orcultus, but so far this year there has been a dearth of output. Fear not, Flushers. New music is upon us. But don’t get carried away. I’m not talking about some biblical deluge of tunes, rather a few itsy bitsy drips from Satan’s very own spigot.

First off, Colombia’s Nox are about to release a follow up to last year’s Manifestaciones de la eterna noche. The Ancestral Arte Negro EP will be released on August 26th on 7” black vinyl, and it’s packed with over twenty minutes of burnt offerings. It begins as you would expect any quality South American black metal record to begin: with a monstrously bestial riff, veiled in low end belligerence. What follows is less expected as the record quickly mutates into pure Scandinavian second wave orthodoxy. Think Gorgoroth’s Pentagram and you’ll not just be in the ballpark, but right in the center of the field. Reminiscent of the might Hat, even the vocals have that extraordinarily high, ear-splitting frequency that will shatter your beer glass. This is the kind of vocal performance that requires frequent visits to the otorhinolaryngologist.

Ancestral Arte Negro 7_ EPEach of the four songs on offer hover around the five minute mark and there’s not a dull moment to be found, with each having it’s own unique identity. While the riffing is varied, engaging and right in your face, it’s quite surprisingly filled with subtle hooks, and despite the relatively raw/lo-fi sound, the riffs are discernible and wait for it, backed up with audible bass. The production on this record is superb, perfectly walking that taught line between clarity and obscurity like a veteran funambulist. Drum-wise, there’s nothing too fancy with each of the songs showcasing some decent blasting, double-bass rumbling, and dare I say it, even a little bit of head-banging groove. What stands out though is how these techniques seem to be effortless incorporated at exactly the right moment. I don’t know if the riffs would be half as memorable without such a tight connection to the kit. The highlight of the record is the last track, “Esperando La Muerte”, where we see the band exploring their sound, wayfaring into subdued atmospheric black metal territory with some subtle keyboards, arpeggiated chords and a celestial bass-line. Excellent stuff.

You won’t find a whole lot of virgin soil being trodden on this release, but who cares when you have music that is this well executed. If you weren’t around during the second wave heyday (which you probably weren’t, you young rascals), listen to this and pretend that you were.

Next up is the debut record from the bunch of unstable Spaniards that make up Unbegotten. Proem Of The Unborn is a five track EP that will be limited to 150 hand-numbered tapes and also comes out on August 26th. The EP contains five songs (although the first is an ominous sounding and rather unnecessary ambient intro) of raw black metal that care not one iota for your self-absorbed feelings. Most of the songs sound like they are careening uncontrolled down a cobwebbed hallway, bouncing off walls, peeling paint and dinging doorways as they go, attempting to hunt and squash your fragile dreams.

Proem Of The Unborn

The vocals billow in and out at different volumes giving the impression that the vocalist is chasing a microphone-wielding producer around the studio. The sound is oppressive and airless with all instrumentation blurring into one thick cloud of noxious noise. For the most part the riffing is somewhat dissonant, but as it’s so blanketed within the whole murky atmosphere it doesn’t sound quite as discordant as it could (which is a plus). Each of the tracks employs a similar style and feel, and so you can pretty much drop a needle anywhere and get you head kicked in. No need to search for a beating here. When the band does slow it down a little, it’s usually with good effect, releasing a little bit of pressure before tightening the vice once again.

What’s strange about this release is the fact that the songs often end abruptly, making me think that when then band was recording them they thought, “Right, that’ll do it, let’s get onto the next one”. Every now and then some melody can be made out amongst the raging cacophony, and it wasn’t until the tenth play-through that I found some juicy chunks to dig my teeth into (e.g. the midpoint of “Porphyric Curse”). I wouldn’t suggest that you spend this much time searching for nuggets as you’re going to know if this is your thing fairly quickly. All in all, it’s a serviceable release, but probably not something that I will come back to very often.

Obviously, neither of these two bands are on Facebook, so show your support (or not) by sounding off in the comments below, and then mosey on over to Forever Plagued Records to spend your dosh.

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