We’re rounding up some of the latest releases from the venerable metal label Nuclear War Now!
Demonomancy/Witchcraft – Split
The first new Demonomancy material since the Italians’ debut full-length back in 2013 opens up this split with Witchcraft. The cavernous eight-and-a-half minute opus, “Archaic Remnants of the Numinous,” spends a considerable time brooding, setting mood and introducing the deranged shouting of Witches Whipping, the band’s main vocalist, before allowing the primitive, mid-tempo riffing to wash over. Did I say cavernous? Because if I did, scrap that. The production on Demonomancy’s side of the split is surprisingly clear; the dry drums and bass can be felt, but barely heard, leaving plenty of room for the massive riffs and vocals that shift between reverberating growls and manic shouting, sometimes even layered together. The band’s second track, “Underground Church”, is a Goatlord original covered at a higher tempo, and follows Demonomancy’s sound enough to sound like their own, but isn’t enough to sate my appetite. Managing to tread a fine line between accessible (by NWN! standards) and kvlt (with its sheer length and weight), I’m left wanting for much more.
Witchcraft hails from Finland, and has released a number of demos (some of which as Black Feast), and a split. Pairing the two seems a good choice, as Witchcraft builds their music with the same blocks but sounds unlike their Mediterranean counterpart. “At The Diabolus Hour” is nearly five minutes of squealing guitar noise and demonic goat-vocals processed into obscurity. “Grave Immolation” furiously picks up the pace with the familiar, obscured vocals of Black Moon Necromancer of Funeral Fornication and Goat Prayer of Black Baptism creating a disturbing atmosphere, and painting pictures of a hellish demon sexually violating an innocent goat. The raw and noisy guitars spew riffs faster than the average ear can pick them up, with the rumbling and jangling rhythm section doing their best to keep up. The last track, “Perverted Temple of Goatsodomy,” shifts to a lower tempo, setting the drums at the forefront and crawls onward reminiscent of the aforementioned Goatlord (a tribute, perchance?). The scarce strikes of a keyboard towards the end bring the split to a satisfactory end, and I find myself craving more from both bands.
Two bands drawing from the wells of blackened death metal, two notably different sounds, that first shared a stage at the fourth NWN! fest in 2014 and now on vinyl. One can only hope next year sees both bands wielding their strength in the form of a full-length.
Perverted Ceremony – Demo 1
Perverted Ceremony is another beast, but a familiar one; exhibiting loud bass coupled with thin, distorted guitars that execute one tremolo riff after another. A few slower sections capitalize on the bass’s domination of this demo’s soundscape, as the guitars struggle for their existence under the occasional, moody synth-flourish, and the drummer bangs away in a very Hellhammer/Profanatica manner under overtly reverbed gutturals. It sounds like the band wants to play cavern-core but can’t get the sound right. Did I mention the guitar-sound is thin? I should’ve called it “tin.”
Perverted Ceremony is everything you could ask from a band releasing their first demo, I guess. Demo 1 is the kind of recording you snatch on cassette after seeing the band play, only to forget it after a few spins and rediscover at the eve of their next record’s release. Not the kind of record you want to spend a lot of money on to get on wax. Decent songwriting doesn’t do enough to distinguish Perverted Ceremony from their brethren and stands testament to why I’m not thrilled with NWN!’s decision to release so much demo-material. This is a demo, and it sounds like one; the question remains why did anyone think this good enough to gain a proper label release? I like the songs OK, but this is not something I think I’ll want to return to.
Demoncy has been more or less active since ’89, but the attention bestowed upon their brethren in Von, Profanatica, Black Funeral and the likes has eluded them. While it would be easy to draw lines from here, it’d be worthwhile to keep in mind the aforementioned bands haven’t garnered the underground’s (un)divided attention with just their music. As an appetizer for their upcoming sixth full-length, Nuclear War Now! has deemed fit to re-release their debut/demo Faustian Dawn. Despite the lack of persevering attention, Faustian Dawn is hardly an unsung masterpiece, having been re-released thrice before, by three different labels on three different formats. Remixed and -mastered by mastermind Ixithra, Faustian Dawn still lacks oomph. Lately I’ve been growing pickier and pickier about an album’s production, especially so when it comes to black metal, and this here record just doesn’t sound good. It’s not raw in a Darkthone-y tape-hiss way, or Black Cilice’s unhinged noise-way; it just sounds poor.
But like with any album, the music comes first (unless it’s a particularly hideous sounding record, which this isn’t) and Faustian Dawn is ripe with down-tuned, heavily distorted riffing, layered vocals, and neolithic drumming. Capped with a few, dark, synth-y interludes and wrapped in a sinister atmosphere you’d think you were holding a lost (but not forgotten) masterpiece, but the truth isn’t kind. These songs aren’t very good. You’d be hard pressed to find a handful of good riffs in this mess. It’s not a particularly bad album, just very uninspiring. Imagine the most average sounding black metal album from the early nineties that you can, and you’ll have Demoncy’s ’93 effort. It’s more significant as a piece of USBM history than as a record. You’d be better off just waiting for Ascension of A Star Long Since Fallen or grabbing their re-recording of Empire Of The Fallen Angel from last year, which encapsulate the same sinister atmosphere with much better riffing and interesting songwriting.