Month: May 2017 (Page 1 of 3)

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 29 May 2017

Last week there was no Frozen In Time published. I was having a much needed break during the week and catching up on the mountain of releases I plan on reviewing in the near future. There was plenty of rest and relaxation, plenty of reading new books for upcoming reviews, and plenty of dark ambient soundscapes filling the This Is Darkness HQ (aka my bedroom). There are a ton of excellent releases to peruse on this edition. I have combined all of last week’s news into this week so that there will be no dark ambient releases falling through the cracks due to my little spontaneous vacation.

Don’t overlook the “week in review” at the bottom, highlighting the latest articles on This Is Darkness. Also, if you haven’t yet, please have a look at the campaign set-up through Patreon, and consider showing your support to This Is Darkness! If you have something that you would like us to cover or any suggestions/criticism about This Is Darkness, please let us hear your thoughts at info@thisisdarkness.com

I wish you all a dark and dreary week, fully of introspection, meditation and hopefully not toooo much self-loathing. Thanks as always for your support!

Music Videos

Ashtoreth – New Music Video
The video for “Kala Nag” from the latest album, Morana, by Ashtoreth was created in support of water protectors worldwide.

New Releases and Preorders

A Bleeding Star – Three New Singles (Self-Released / Digital Only)
Over the last two weeks A Bleeding Star has stayed busy. He has released no less than three singles which you can sample below. As usual we can expect some hi quality production of dark ambient that pushes the boundaries of the genre. All three singles are “name your price” and definitely worth checking out.


Ager Sonus – Preorder Available (Cryo Chamber / CD + Digital)
You can read my review of this album here. Cryo Chamber says of the new album, Book of the Black Earth, “The old leather bound book smells of crusted honey. Flecks of dust and dried parchment rain from it’s interior as you open it. Ancient hieroglyphs and diagrams point the way to the obsidian gate. A year later you walk through long forgotten caverns with lantern lit. You’ve finally found the underground lake. A tired face stares back at you from it’s reflection. The air taste sweet down here and in the distance flutes echo of a buried civilization. The feeling of dread washes over you. This is your last chance to get her back from the underworld. Dark bass drone rumbles in the caverns under long forgotten cities. Ager Sonus has succeeded in creating an Egyptian backdrop that is accentuated with flutes and atmospheric layering. Occult and ethereal, this album is for lovers of Necromancy and the unexplored ruins beneath the sands of Egypt.
Releases May 30, 2017

Dead Melodies – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber / CD + Digital)
You can read my review of this album here. Cryo Chamber says of the new album, “The hearth warms your bones as you peer out the crosshatch window. The damp morning dew forms translucent drops on the knee high grass. Whatever was out there last night seems gone but the birds are not yet singing and the animals still hiding. You pull your trekking boots on and head out the gnarled door, leaving the heat of the lonely cabin behind. Save the faint caw of a crow from up in the canopy, the forest lay silent; Devil’s Hill looms in the distance. Through crooked trees you go as the headache hits you and flashes from last night come flooding back; Hooded figures. Blood. The sacrifice! Through clenched teeth you gaze down at the compass in your hand. The needle spinning faster and faster. Anxiously, you look back for the cabin, but it’s gone. Gone! Devil’s Hill dominates where it once stood, only one way to go. Lush field recordings, detailed soundscapes and melancholic melodies drench this album in atmosphere. For lovers of high fidelity dark ambient.”

DeepDark & Xerxes The Dark – New Split Available For Preorder
(Black Mara Records / CD + Digital)
Two prolific and well respected artists from the dark ambient scene come together for this extremely dark experience. Black Mara has brought together Xerxes the Dark and DeepDark for a release which sees some of their darkest and most detailed works to date. As usual with Black Mara, there are limited copies of a deluxe hand-crafted CD that comes with a hand-made pouch with a wax seal logo. Inside the bag: CD on a wooden base with velvet, and also manuscript with poems and info.

Endless Melancholy – New Album Released (Hidden Vibes / CD + Digital)
Hidden Vibes label says about the new album, The Vacation, “Pleasant warmth of summer reflected from grainy surfaces of sound, unfolded once from pages of old book… Radiating through space & time, entering the minds of lazy dreamers, sleepless readers and helpless slackers, hovering behind the dark windows of those nights, when city feels abandoned… The story once whispered changed many forms but still returned to inspire, to bring this feeling of inevitable elusiveness of everything we love and care.”

Kalpamantra – Three New Full Length Releases


Arrival by Reza Solatipour releases 3 June 2017

Noctilucant – New Album Released (Sleep Unit / Cassette + Digital)
About Sleep Unit’s second cassette release they say, “Noctilucant provides us with a deep and ominous offering on red cassette tape (ferric). The quality on this tape is astounding – Noctilucant’s post-apocalyptic soundscapes translate perfectly to the analogue format. Nine finely-crafted soundscapes composed over the period of year are laid out over this 60 minute tape. There’s a dark, fuzzy, heady space on these tracks which leaves you satisfied immediately upon listening, but the compulsive need to re-listen again, until the tape wears out and degrades, like the civilisation Noctilucant has left behind.”

Nubiferous – New Album Released (Self-released / Digital Only)
Ritual/tribal/folk ambient artist Nubiferous came from the dark ambient style, but he has slowly evolved his music over the years into a milder but no less interesting sound.

Rapoon – New Album Released (Self-released / CD + Digital)
The prolific artist Rapoon has yet another new release with which to grip listeners. Un Flic is one of the darker recent releases by Rapoon. As usual we can expect his sounds to veer off into several directions, but keep that dark ambient foundation throughout.

Sombre Soniks – New Compilation Released (Sombre Soniks / Digital Only)
The impressive roster of artists on Sombre Soniks comes together for a celebration of their 100th release. About the new compilation Sombre Soniks says, “We are releasing something rather special to mark this milestone…We have invited artists from thee label to choose a komposition from other artist’s releases and remix/rework this with their own unique sound and style.”

Sun Through Eyelids / Endless Voyage X – Preorder Available
(Self-released / Digital Only)
Sun Through Eyelids have been staying very active since their first album not so long ago. Yet, over this time their sound has progressed greatly and they seem to have some great opportunities on the horizon. Sepulcher Hymns will be released on 2 June 2017. An interesting FYI, Tom Necklen, half of Sun Through Eyelids, has taken over my position of covering the dark ambient releases on Terra Relicta since I started working full-time with This Is Darkness.

Trepaneringsritualen – New Album Released
(Tesco Germany / Vinyl + Digital)
Tesco says of TEERAAL RÄUM PHEYNIX, “☿☿☿ Awake, Jǫrmungandr! Awake and release your tail. Let the worlds be set ablaze. That which is created must be destroyed. Awake, Jǫrmungandr, and let twilight yield a night eternal. »Union & Dissolution« Ev To Παν collects and expands a working previously available on an limited edition cassette split with Celldöd, and adds a previously unreleased excerpt from a working conducted during 2013 through 2015. The material finds T × R × P at its most ritualistic; reaching beyond the atavistic, to time beyond time, and the formless void.

vÄäristymä / DRS – New Split Released
(Eighth Tower Records / Digital Only)
Eighth Tower Records says about the new split, “vÄäristymä and DRS are two projects, the first a duo from Finland, the second an Italian artist, united by the experimentation around the minimal and oblique forms in drone ambient music. Searching for analogue instrumentation and recording generates an obliquely dark sound, alien in the case of vÄäristymä, cavernous and almost underwater in the case of DRS. Both at the frontier of the new minimal ambient drone.”

Vladimír Hirsch – New Album Released
(Old Captain Records /  CD + Digital)
Old Captain says of Scripta Soli, “Scripta Soli (“The writings of the earth”) is a thematic contemplation triggered by a great Czech artist in the form of a fictive experience during an apocalyptic war catastrophe, perceived by a person imprisoned in the bunker. Epically dramatized, it consists of 12 figurative parts to strip moral vacuum accumulated by memories, fears, visions and expectations of the inevitable, like echoes from the devastated core, sonically interpreted by the ground and aborted on the surface. Vladimir Hirsch offers expressionist sharpness and contrast to gouge out the focal sound from the background cacophonous substance to evoke stark and haunting imagery behind. Proving his expertise and repertoire he renders field recordings, electroacoustic and digital techniques through his typical metamorphic musicalization of primarily non-musical elements realizing the shrill, dynamic realities of the inner conflict: the titular sonic earth eventually turns into a grave.”

Xerxes The Dark – New Album Released (D.M.T. Records / Digital Only)
D.M.T. says of the new album, “The album is inspired by a true & heavy Overdose of Morego in fall of 2008, when he was 20 years old. He lived about 2 hours not on earth nor hell, but in a gloomy place like a limbo, after seeing many things and suffering from unknown disorders, experimenting flashes about his past and his death, he gradually came back into life by a mysterious cosmic power that changed the game. This album is a simulation of what happened in his darkened trip on that cold-foggy November night!!”

Sales

Cryo Chamber

This weeks sale is all about Ambient with Neoclassical influences
Save 50% on these digital downloads:

Flowers for BodysnatchersAokigahara $3.50
Come visit Japan where Duncan Ritchie takes you to the suicide forest, Aokigahara. Lonely piano and textural field recordings brings you through the forests, cities and back alleys of Japan.

Flowers for BodysnatchersLove Like Blood $3.50
If you enjoy Aokigahara, you don’t want to miss the sequel. Love Like Blood takes you to the underworld that is Tokyo. Experience a sense of safety within a chaotic world.

Enmarta Sea of Black $3.50
If you haven’t listened to this album yet, you should. Enmarta’s first album on Cryo Chamber shows you that Viola and Dark Ambient work together. Smell the salt, swim in dark waters and don’t forget a life west when the violas hit.

EnmartaThe Hermit $3.50
Thick fog rolls in over majestic mountains as you read the dusty book. Cold wind knocks at the rusted gate, begging the soaring tower for attention. A lingering smell of burnt oil reaches you from agitated torches left standing til dawns first light. An album about enlightenment through isolation. Listen to this one at the midnight hour and you’ll get it.

Deep Audio

Week In Review

Husere GravEntropy & Illusion
“If your musical tastes lie closer to the death industrial, power electronics and harsh noise wall side of the ambient world, then this album will surely be to your liking. It holds similarities to these other genres, while still keeping its roots in a black / dark / ritual ambient foundation. For fans of drone music, this will likely be a welcome album. It seems to fit into that drone ambient territory, yet has a thick and menacing lifeforce which is often lacking with those sort of albums.
Read the full review here.

Sielwolf & Nam-kharOppressfield
The second review for This Is Darkness by Przemyslaw Murzyn!
“It’s a fine album, especially for those who prefer the louder forms of ambient music. Thoroughly deliberated from beginning to end. And the good thing is that the guys are not interested in repeating themselves and while you can easily recognize that both collaborations were composed and performed by the same projects, you can’t deny that they differ from one another quite significantly.”
Read the full review here.

The Vomit ArsonistMeditations on Giving up Completely
“Realizing himself, honestly, over the last few years, The Vomit Arsonist has no scruples with doubling down on his style. This is where he feels he belongs, and it really shows on Meditations. Everything done previously by this artist seems to come to a head on Meditations. Listeners should immediately recognize the intensity of the release, an intensity which rarely is diminished through the entirety of the album. I would highly recommend Meditations on Giving up Completely to any readers of This Is Darkness who don’t mind a bit of extra heavy distortion and apocalyptic martial vocal tones. If Meditations is the soundtrack to the end, then we are in for a hell of a climax.”
Read the full review here.

Dead MelodiesLegends of the Wood
“With the perfect combination of atmosphere, emotion and technical prowess, Dead Melodies gives us a lot to enjoy. Whether listening to every minute detail attempting to fully realize the back-story, or putting the album on in the background as a musical companion to work or study, Legends of the Wood proves itself to be an invaluable addition to the collection of any dark ambient listener. For me, this is one of the most interesting and refreshing albums so far in 2017. It is yet another reason to reassure their fan-base that Cryo Chamber is a dark ambient force with which to reckon.”
Read the full review here.

Ager SonusBook of the Black Earth
“Listeners of the more cinematic varieties of dark ambient will be over-joyed with this release. There is enough cinematic work presented here to build numerous narratives. Yet, there is enough room for flexibility in the imagination to complement many other forms of entertainment. Book of the Black Earth by Ager Sonus, along with Legends of the Wood by Dead Melodies have given us vastly detailed works of cinematic art to enjoy for a long while to come. The darkness of these works are only trumped by their technical presentation. If malefic darkness and full immersion are your goals, this album will give ample reason to keep returning to its haunted and dusty tales of ancient antiquity.”
Read the full review here.

Vinterriket – Interview
Vinterriket is mainly a dark ambient artist, though some albums move more into black metal or neo-folk directions. For the past two decades Vinterriket has been honing their style, with many albums to show for their effort. With a new album release on the horizon, now seemed like a good time to catch up with the man behind Vinterriket and find out a bit about his plans and inspirations.
“The new album will be released this summer 2017 and is entitled Nachtfülle. The album will be released in a limited edition only by a French label. There won’t be any surprises. This time it is a pure dark ambient album again, no lyrics, no, vocals. Again, the album is very moody, depressive and atmospheric, here and there also quite hypnotic.”
Read the full interview here.

Rosalie Mulder – Interview
Rosalie Mulder is quite the unique dark ambient artist. At the age of 17 she has managed to release her debut album on the Minnesota based Dark Winter label. Dark Winter has released some memorable albums since founding back in 2002, with releases by well-known artists such as Alio Die and Steve Roach. In recent years their output has slowed considerably, but the quality has remained consistent. Rosalie Mulder started her journey with dark ambient several years ago, experimenting with music for the fun of it in her father’s studio. Chords of Chaos is the culmination of these experimentations. When speaking with her, it is quite obvious that she is still a young artist, with a whimsical approach to her output and just beginning to find her place in the music world. However, the sounds on Chords of Chaos are quite experimental and interesting, it seems that as her experience progresses in this field, we will almost certainly see some more amazing albums coming from her in the future.
Read the interview here.

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Vinterriket – Interview

Interview with: Vinterriket
Conducted by: Michael Barnett

Vinterriket is mainly a dark ambient artist, though some albums move more into black metal or neo-folk directions. For the past two decades Vinterriket has been honing their style, with many albums to show for their effort. With a new album release on the horizon, now seemed like a good time to catch up with the man behind Vinterriket and find out a bit about his plans and inspirations.


Michael: I first encountered your music through the split you worked on with Northaunt many years ago. Do you know each other personally or was this the doing of a label?

Vinterriket: Hi Michael. The first split with Northaunt from Norway was released in 2002 if I remember correctly (in the form of a 7” EP). We did not know each other personally. I think it was me who contacted Northaunt because I thought it would be a great idea and because I thought the styles / the concept / the atmosphere fits. It was the time when Northaunt had the “Ominous Silence” CD out. It is a great record. The 7” EP turned out really great, I think. After the first split 7” EP release, various other Vinterriket/ Northaunt versions and releases saw the light of day (limited CD-r/MC-version/CD 2004/another 7”EP). Back 15 years ago, I was actually the man behind Neodawn Productions and I released the first 7” EP of Vinterriket/ Northaunt myself.

Michael: Your music takes on many different forms, from dark ambient, to black metal, some instrumental, some with spoken words. Is there a central concept behind all these different styles or do you allow your music to move in any direction you choose?

Vinterriket: Vinterriket is only influenced by the dark side of nature, nothing else. Sure, you get influenced by many things around you if you want or not, you can even say by ALL things around you: Friends, books, films, landscapes, pictures, etc.
But my main source of inspiration is the “night-side” of nature. Nature is all and everything to me. I am a “nature-child” so to speak and I have a very close relationship to nature. All Vinterriket tracks so far have been odes to the dark side of Mother Nature. Of course I prefer dark, melancholic and moody places and landscapes. I really like to walk around alone in autumn and winter through stormy, snowy, misty and cold woods… We have a lot of great dark and powerful places here in our area where you can really feel the energy and might of nature. Well, maybe there are some people out there saying that I’m repeating myself (with regards to releases) but I do not think so. Different music styles also reflect different tributes to the dark side of nature. Vinterriket’s music expresses a lot of feelings and atmospheres, just like nature itself. At one point the music turns more warm, romantic and “sunny” at the other point more dark, cruel or frightening. But the dark aspect is very dominant, I think. I am of the opinion that Vinterriket is very connected to the north because of the nature- aspect. Ice, coldness, loneliness, dark winter nights, northern lights, endless & vast landscapes, mysterious forests,… The list is long.

Michael: Do you often perform live? Do you have any favorite venue where you have performed in the past? Where would be your ideal location for a concert / festival?

Vinterriket: Up ‘til now Vinterriket has never played live, maybe in the future? Who knows… This mainly depends on finding other competent session musicians. The music is mainly pure Ambient as you know. So it is senseless to make live-shows, at least in my opinion. In general, Vinterriket’s music is absolutely NOT made to be performed live in crappy concert halls. People should listen to it individually at home during the uttermost darkness. If there would be a gig it would be something very special, I am sure. But there are absolutely no plans for a live-show right now. And 2nd, it would be difficult to perform the stuff live, too. But on the other hand I have several offers for live shows lying here. People are asking more and more about it. But I do not know… Maybe I’ll do gig or more in the future, we’ll see what the future will bring. In the past I had mentioned in several interviews that plans existed to bring Vinterriket to stage in spring 2005 with the help of some session members. Unfortunately those plans died due to one session member leaving the live line-up because of several reasons. With his departure the plans to bring Vinterriket on stage were laid on ice now…. Maybe the plan has died forever….I am seldom attending gigs, actually. I prefer to listen to the stuff at home. I haven’t really thought about any live gig in the last months and years. Playing on a mountain or in the forest would be perfect for a Vinterriket performance.

Michael: Where is your hometown? Does this area have an affect on the style of your music?

Vinterriket: At the moment I live in the countryside in Switzerland. It is a nice area here and the mountains are not far. My hometown is in the countryside of southern Germany. As the dark side of nature is the main source of inspiration for Vinterriket, the place where I live definitely has an influence. I think the translation of the text included in the booklet of the 2004 CD “Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit” (Landscapes of eternal emptiness) expresses the situation with nature being an influence very well and is valid for all my records released so far. Here is an excerpt… There is nothing to add, I think:

“Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit” is a tribute to the night and the shadowed obscurity that is exclusive to nature, and should be understood as such. It is a conceptual work which was created with the intention of describing the dark side of nature through music and to transform its atmosphere into tonal soundscapes. The content of this CD is not music in the conventional sense; it is dark, natural, and mystical art. The title of the CD translates in English to “Landscapes of eternal emptiness/solitude”. Like the title of the CD describes, it includes soundscapes that make the listener envision solemn lands. The musical interpretations (put simply) are desolate, dark, and mysterious. Nothing more, nothing less… Similar to the way that the dark side of nature can express variations of conflicting atmospheres, “Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit” also reflects different sceneries, moods and “landscapes” of human emotion, if you will. It is only of this melancholic, dark, cold, moody and unique realm of nature’s obscured darkness that this work resides within, and it does not deviate from this at all. This CD shouldn’t be compared with technical, or so-called “industry standards,” and furthermore should not be connected with them in any way. This work was consciously created without the inclusion of predictable passages. Sublime silence, coldness and solitude are presented in it’s place. Other than what has already been stated, this work was not created to simply portray depressing-sounding song titles. “Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit” is timeless and should be regarded as a complete work. Anyone who finds their way into a mysterious and dark realm while listening to this CD has understood “Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit”. Anyone else should simply ignore this record. In order to capture the correct atmosphere of this record, it should be listened to during the uttermost darkness.”

Michael: How old were you when you first began working on dark ambient music?

Vinterriket: The story/ history of Vinterriket is quite boring and nothing special, I think. I have started the whole project back in late 1996 when I was a young boy. In the early days the whole thing was very slow and I was not 100% behind it. The first demotape was released in early 2000 or in the end of 1999, I think. So it took 3 years to finish the stuff. This was mainly because of bad equipment and so on. After the release of the demo the whole thing became more serious and I totally focused on the project. Up ‘til now many EP’s, CD’s Demos and so on have been published on different labels around the globe. Too many stuff to mention, actually. Vinterriket was founded because of my endless love to the dark side of Mother Nature. I wanted to express my feelings and the way I see nature through this kind of art in order to satisfy myself. Principally, I make music ONLY for myself, for nobody else. If others like the music, too: Ok. If not, I do not care at all. Of course it is great to see that many others share the same feelings, that many others have the same visions/ landscapes/ feelings inside when listening to the music of Vinterriket and that many others interpret my lyrics as I’d do myself. Then I see they got the point I want to express. Others listen to the stuff and they understand simply nothing of what I wanted to express. But as I said: I do not care at all and it’s ok. Vinterriket is me and I am Vinterriket. No other members have been included in the past.

Michael: Sound design was so much different before computers and DAW programs made things simpler. When you first started out, was the recording process much different for you than it is today?

Vinterriket: Yes, that is correct. In the past I used 4/8-track recording machines and real keyboards. The process of creating and recording music was definitely different and more complicated. Nowadays, with software synthesizers there are many more possibilities I would say. These new technologies also bring new inspiration. The old stuff I composed as a teenager back in 1996/1997 was only heard by a few close friends and it seemed that they liked it, though the sound was very bad. I had no good recording- equipment. I borrowed the synthesizer and the recording-equipment from our local school…! Some of the old riffs you can hear in the first song of the demotape’2000 called “…Gjennom Tåkete Skogen”, but of course a little bit differently arranged. I do not even have these old recordings anymore. I lost them or erased them… I don’t know. Or there is no device that can actually play the material anymore.

Michael: You have a large discography. For a newcomer to your sounds, what would be your recommended album for them to hear first?

Vinterriket: This is a very difficult question. If people are into Dark Ambient, I would recommend listening to Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit – it is my 2004-release.

Michael: What can we expect on the new album? Will there be surprises or is this going to stay similar to previous releases?

Vinterriket: The new album will be released this summer 2017 and is entitled Nachtfülle. The album will be released in a limited edition only by a French label. There won’t be any surprises. This time it is a pure dark ambient album again, no lyrics, no, vocals. Again, the album is very moody, depressive and atmospheric, here and there also quite hypnotic.

Michael: You have some beautiful frozen landscapes as your album art on many releases. How important is the album art to the greater picture for you? Do you usually create these covers yourself or do you have a favorite photographer with whom you collaborate?

Vinterriket: The cover- pictures/booklet pictures should always fit 100% to the music. I am of the opinion that the layout and the pictures on my records fit perfectly to the music. The pictures I used on covers / booklets and so on have more or less ALL been taken by me. I am proud to use self-made pictures and not to steal them in the internet like others do. Photography is a great field of art. I have created all the artworks of my releases so far (almost…. there are some exceptions when it comes to re-releases). Layout, music and lyrics are always going hand in hand within Vinterriket, therefore I have chosen dark “nature-layouts” in order to underline the music. Vinterriket’s music is a tribute to the dark side of nature, exclusively, nothing more and nothing less. I am of the opinion that a record consists of four main parts which should perfectly fit together: format (extravagant packing), lyrics, music and artwork. I am of the opinion that black/white covers/booklets are fitting best to Vinterriket’s music. I’ll probably never use coloured stuff…Lyrics, song-titles and pictures are very important to me. Music, lyrics and pictures (layout in general) should go hand in hand to underline each other. All three components should melt together and the whole thing should be considered as union. And therefore I always use black/white booklets/covers because nothing would fit better, I think. For example, Winterschatten, …und die Nacht kam schweren Schrittes and Landschaften ewiger Einsamkeit are conceptional releases exclusively. On all mentioned records layout, packing, music and lyrics (titles) are perfectly fitting together in order to become “ONE”!

Michael: How does your studio space look? Do you just have a laptop and midi keyboard, or is there an elaborate set-up of analog synths and the like?

Vinterriket: I actually use both – Some analogue synths and software –synths together with a midi-keyboard that is connected to the computer.

Michael: Do you have any favorite artist in the dark ambient scene, or some specific album that you listen to the most frequently?

Vinterriket: Not really. I more focus on individual songs instead of albums. I am actually not listening to music that much anymore. There are definitely some great artists – too many to mention. I mostly like music that also reflects and expresses the dark side of nature.

Michael: Our modern world seems to be in a bad state sometimes. Do you think the apocalypse is coming? If so, how do you think it will happen?

Vinterriket: Yes, it is worrying with regards to the modern world. But I think it is also realistic that e.g. something from space hits us,… or e.g. a natural disaster. But technology and digitalisation is also scary.

Michael: Thank you very much for your time, I’ll leave the last words to you!

Vinterriket: Thanks for the interview Michael.

Vinterriket links: Official Site, Facebook

Here is the link to an interesting and beautifully executed video interview with Vinterriket from 2015 created by: Highelvetia Movies. Link.

Ager Sonus – Book of the Black Earth – Review

Artist: Ager Sonus
Album title: Book of the Black Earth
Release date: 30 May 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

Tracklist:
01. Through the Desert
02. The Dead City
03. Discoveries
04. Inner Sanctum
05. Osiris’s Courtroom
06. Apophis
07. Awakening

Ager Sonus is the second new addition to the Cryo Chamber roster in the last month. Yet, it is no less interesting than its predecessor, Legends of the Wood by Dead Melodies, reviewed here. Ager Sonus succeeds where many have previously fallen short in creating a near-eastern tale of mysticism and ancient esoterica. The album focuses less on concrete narration and more on atmosphere and suspense. In this way listeners are able to freely extract their own meanings and practical uses for the album.

The barren landscape of an Egyptian desert invite us into this tale. As we travel “Through the Desert” the sounds of the abrasive sands can almost be felt, pelting our agitated skin as the sun cooks us from above like ants under a microscope. Feelings evoked from this opener are immediately dark, yet they seem to precipitate an even greater darkness to follow.

This revelation of something more sinister to come is immediately justified by the following track “The Dead City”. “The Dead City” does an immaculate job of building an atmosphere of ancient abandonment by the world of the living. There is a hollow air to the track, with a magnitude of interesting hints and cues to hold our attention. While the city may be dead, there is yet a sinister afterlife with which it haunts.

As Book of the Black Earth progresses, each track takes us further into the catacombs of this once illustrious city. A place which is now bleak and arid. The sounds of ancient stone grinding stone, sands scraping one more layer of history from the surface, these things give us that sense of loneliness, a sense of abandon. Yet, we can’t help second guessing ourselves. While the living may no longer reside here, the dead still walk these ruins. There is an afterlife radiating from this underworld. Sounds like the occasional near-eastern instrumentation or the sacral vocals of some long forgotten muse still haunt these passages. As if there is something still alive and terrible within its depths.

The most important point about Book of the Black Earth is Ager Sonus‘ ability to invoke a true sense of darkness. Outside the feelings of isolation and abandonment, there is a distinct sense of evil, malicious elements to this story. Fear is evoked within each track, giving listeners no sense of relief at any point. Introspection is not necessary in such a dark setting. There is indeed little time to look inward when so much shadowy maleficence is right before our eyes.

Book of the Black Earth is the perfect soundtrack to the reading of horror stories, playing video-games which take the player into the darkest realms of the human mind. The focus on atmosphere over narrative gives the album’s listeners room to take their own unique journeys in many different directions. The occasional use of instrumentation adds a sense of familiarity to the work, its gives us a foundation upon which to build our nightmares. Whether lying awake in the dark absorbing every note of music, or imagining the grinding of ancient stone upon abandoned surface, Book of the Black Earth is a portal to ghastly realms which much of humanity would prefer to be left forgotten.

Listeners of the more cinematic varieties of dark ambient will be over-joyed with this release. There is enough cinematic work presented here to build numerous narratives. Yet, there is enough room for flexibility in the imagination to complement many other forms of entertainment. Book of the Black Earth by Ager Sonus, along with Legends of the Wood by Dead Melodies have given us vastly detailed works of cinematic art to enjoy for a long while to come. The darkness of these works are only trumped by their technical presentation. If malefic darkness and full immersion are your goals, this album will give ample reason to keep returning to its haunted and dusty tales of ancient antiquity.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Dead Melodies – Legends of the Wood – Review

Artist: Dead Melodies
Album: Legends of the Wood
Release date: 16 May 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

Tracklist:
01. A Trial of Crows and Blood
02. On Devil’s Hill
03. The Hooded Nine
04. Peach Black Descent
05. Unearthed
06. A Malevolent Rising
07. Wretched Masquerade
08. Beautiful Coalesce

Dead Melodies is one of the newest additions to the Cryo Chamber label. Their album Legends of the Wood, however, seems to be right at home on Cryo Chamber. This sound finds its roots in its creators post-rock influences. But very little of this actually comes out. It will be easy to find elements on Legends of the Wood that would satiate any dark ambient fan, no matter the years’ experience behind their loyalty to the genre. Dead Melodies have already produced two full lengths as well as some EPs over the last few years, but Legends of the Wood is likely to be the album that gets them their greatest following to date. The exquisite attention to detail, the darker theme, and the mastering work of Simon Heath (Atrium Carceri, Sabled Sun) all come together to provide us with a polished gem which gets more beautiful each time it is put on display.

The impeccable composition by Tom Moore on this album can’t be understated. From the very first seconds of the opening track, “A Trial of Crows and Blood”, we hear a rich environment coming to life. The album commences with the crackling of a warm fire. This is complemented by equally warm guitar drones that fade into the mix. The combination immediately pulls the attention of the listener, takes them on a journey to this picturesque setting. The feelings induced by the opener give listeners a sense of wonder, pastoral calmness and introspection. As if we are all alone, sitting in front of the warm fire, contemplating our past and our most likely future.

“On Devil’s Hill” moves the story into the outdoors. Rushing winds, birds and a plethora of other ambiance washes over the soundscape. With the move to the outdoors, so also has the album moved into darker more ominous territory. The synth drones take on a more eerie mood than their predecessors. The guitar drones lose their warmth, replacing it with the frigidness of a shadowy and uninviting land.

Each track truly seems to move forward into a discerable direction. Dead Melodies may in fact be one of the best artists on Cryo Chamber at pushing their narrative forward without needing overt cues to direct the listener. Each playthrough adds another level of understanding to the whole picture. Yet, the best part about this story is its lack of rigidity. There is plenty here to contemplate, but the narrative is fluid, the listener is free to draw their own conclusions.

To me, the greatest aspect on Legends of the Wood is its adherence to a dark ambient framework that seems to be growing smaller by the day. There once was a time when all this sort of music was heaped into the dark industrial bin, these days we heap it all into the dark ambient category. Meanwhile, I find distinct differences between various musicians working within these styles. One album may be 100% analog synth, giving it a much more impersonal and industrial vibe. While an album like Legends of the Wood brings a whole collection of techniques into the studio. The ambient territory on this release is brilliantly realized. At any given moment, especially on a track like “Peach Black Descent”, we are able to hear a whole world of life around us. The music easily delivers listeners to its intended realms. Much like Simon Heath’s Sabled Sun and Atrium Carceri, we are given more than just 45-60 minutes of music. We are given hours worth of material to ponder, a skeleton key to entering new realms, a looking glass into the mind of the creator.

With the perfect combination of atmosphere, emotion and technical prowess, Dead Melodies gives us a lot to enjoy. Whether listening to every minute detail attempting to fully realize the back-story, or putting the album on in the background as a musical companion to work or study, Legends of the Wood proves itself to be an invaluable addition to the collection of any dark ambient listener. For me, this is one of the most interesting and refreshing albums so far in 2017. It is yet another reason to reassure their fan-base that Cryo Chamber is a dark ambient force with which to reckon.

Written by: Michael Barnett

The Vomit Arsonist – Meditations on Giving up Completely – Review

Artist: The Vomit Arsonist
Album: Meditations on Giving up Completely
Release date: 5 May 2017
Label: Malignant Records

Tracklist:
01. Meditations
02. What’s Left
03. It Never Ends
04. On Living
05. When the Last Flame has been Extinguished
06. There is Nothing Here
07. Sick Over Trying

Death industrial powerhouse, The Vomit Arsonist, is back with another album on Malignant Records which is sure to invoke revulsion and terror. The Vomit Arsonist has been through many phases and progressions as an artist over the last decade. Yet, one thing always holds true, his sense of loathing and abhorrence toward the modern world. This seems to hold especially true for his latest Malignant release.

Owner of Danvers State Recordings, Andy Grant knows what he wants out of music, and he knows how to bring his visions to reality. Grant’s own label focuses on cassette releases, one of which was previously reviewed here; Pulsed in a Dull Glass Bell, a harsher project by R.C. Kozletsky which falls somewhere between Apocryphos and Shock Frontier.

Meditations on Giving up Completely is quite possibly the best work to date by The Vomit Arsonist, bringing forth all the forms of aural assault that Grant has honed over the years. The result is close to perfection of the death industrial sound.

On Meditations, The Vomit Arsonist has finally gone too far in the sense of mental stability. It could be the case that Meditations is only meant as a representation of the mind of the author but it does seem to speak on a grander scale.  The album seems as if his thought process has moved from individual despair to a loathing and invocation of an impending doom for the entire planet. Always one to appreciate nihilism, The Vomit Arsonist writhes and seethes within an apocalyptic vision of total death and destruction, the final chapter for the entirety of Earth’s inhabitants.

If The Vomit Arsonist found and learned to live with himself on Only Red, Meditations could be seen as the first studio album where Andy Grant is able to totally and unquestioningly be himself. Meditations is that moment when an artist is in full control, knows what they want and delivers it without ever skipping a beat. While his career has been rather long, and quite illustrious, Meditations may be the masterpiece, the total acceptance of himself and his capabilities.

Meditations has a cinematic edge which flows through it. One gets the idea that Grant sees himself as a bystander in the final war, taking cover in the basement as the world tears itself to pieces just outside his door. Yet at the same time, it’s also easy to imagine him as taking to the frontline in this battle. His vocals shouting orders to his followers as an apocalyptic destruction ensues. This dichotomy could be intentional or subliminal, he could be characterizing the views of two seperate people, or showing his own mixed emotions with regards to fighting an internal or external battle.

The digipak, released through Malignant Records is quite the high quality release. A glossy black and gray finish displays a distorted image, which appears to be a man either standing on a bridge or a dam. The thoughts in his head can be deduced from the album content. According to Grant, there will be a cassette extension of Meditations released on Smrt Productions in the near future. After hearing the entirety of Meditations on Giving up Completely on multiple playthroughs, I’m sure readers will be as eager to hear some extra material as I am.

The Vomit Arsonist should find the acceptance of many varied listener bases with this release. For death industrial fans, there is everything to love about this sonic assault. There is very little downtime and from the vocals to the booming bass The Vomit Arsonist delivers with perfection. Dark ambient fans of the strictest sense will find Meditations to be a bit overwhelming and a bit too loud, but those on the periphery who love blending of styles and a harsher edge to their soundscapes will welcome Meditations happily. Even moving into the power electronics and industrial scenes, Meditations should hold its own, standing up to the greatest of critiques.

Realizing himself, honestly, over the last few years, The Vomit Arsonist has no scruples with doubling down on his style. This is where he feels he belongs, and it really shows on Meditations. Everything done previously by this artist seems to come to a head on Meditations. Listeners should immediately recognize the intensity of the release, an intensity which rarely is diminished through the entirety of the album. I would highly recommend Meditations on Giving up Completely to any readers of This Is Darkness who don’t mind a bit of extra heavy distortion and apocalyptic martial vocal tones. If Meditations is the soundtrack to the end, then we are in for a hell of a climax.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Rosalie Mulder – Interview

Interview with: Rosalie Mulder
Conducted by: Michael Barnett

Rosalie Mulder is quite the unique dark ambient artist. At the age of 17 she has managed to release her debut album on the Minnesota based Dark Winter label. Dark Winter has released some memorable albums since founding back in 2002, with releases by well-known artists such as Alio Die and Steve Roach. In recent years their output has slowed considerably, but the quality has remained consistent. Rosalie Mulder started her journey with dark ambient several years ago, experimenting with music for the fun of it in her father’s studio. Chords of Chaos is the culmination of these experimentations. When speaking with her, it is quite obvious that she is still a young artist, with a whimsical approach to her output and just beginning to find her place in the music world. However, the sounds on Chords of Chaos are quite experimental and interesting, it seems that as her experience progresses in this field, we will almost certainly see some more amazing albums coming from her in the future. So without further ado, let’s hop into the conversation with Rosalie!

The following track is “Chords of Chaos” from her debut album.


Michael: First off, congratulations on your debut release! It is not everyday that someone is able to make their first full length release on a label at such a young age! Can you first tell us a little bit about the concept for Chords Of Chaos?

Rosalie: The concept was kind of vague. I tried to give the right feeling to the music.  The feeling I felt was like a dream or another world and it seemed a good concept for this album.

Michael: Each track on Chords Of Chaos is ten minutes in length. What was the reasoning for doing it this way?

Rosalie: Oh you noticed… I heard around 10 min would be a good length for a dark ambient song. I am weird.

Michael: Ah, so you decided on this from the very beginning?

Rosalie: Yes, when I was finishing the first track, “Yoru”.

Michael: I see that you have used a variety of live instruments on this album including: lap harp, guitar, flute, drums and your own voice. Can you tell us a bit about how you learned to play such a wide range of instruments?

Rosalie: Oh I didn’t say I play them well, just making random cool sounds I guess. Like, I even played some weird flute, really out of tune, but it still worked out. We have a lot of instruments at home to use.

Michael: When did you first start taking interest in music?

Rosalie: Around age 12 I guess.

Michael: How long have you been listening to dark ambient music?

Rosalie: Well, I don’t remember. My dad played it a lot when I was a kid.

Michael: Did your father teach you many of the techniques you used to make this album, or are these ideas that came to you on your own, after hearing his and other music?

Rosalie: Well he kind of taught me how to use the software, when he played dark ambient and other stuff so I learned what it was. Then, some years after that, I experimented with sounds and it ended up becoming this.

Michael: How long have you known that you wanted to make an album like this?

Rosalie: I don’t know, I just started making songs, selected a few and made it into an album.

Michael: How long did the whole process take once you started writing and recording?

Rosalie: No idea. I took my time. It took a few years, with breaks.

Michael: What was your favorite instrument to use on Chords Of Chaos?

Rosalie: Oh, the little harp was fun. I have no idea how you are actually supposed to play it, but it made nice sounds.

Michael: What is your favorite piece of equipment in your studio space?

Rosalie: I use a laptop to produce and record the music. There is a studio but I like to make music around different places.

Michael: What were some of the places or emotions that you drew on to make this album?

Rosalie: I don’t know, I tried to produce some kind of feeling in the songs.
To show my idea of an interesting atmosphere, like dreaming music in a way.

Michael: Do you listen to dark ambient other than your own and your father’s music? If so, who are some of your favorite or most influential artists?

Rosalie: Hmmm, I listen to a lot of uh stuff… I haven’t really heard my father’s music in years, hehehe. I remember it being good though. I have listened to Abelcain in the past, though more the breakcore-ish stuff. I dont really listen to others in the style much.

Michael: Did you create the art for Chords Of Chaos, if so what was your motivation behind it?

Rosalie: Oh yes I made it. Well, the motivation was just trying to make images that fit the feeling of the album and my style.

Michael: Do you create music in different genres? Or, are you only creating dark ambient style music now?

Rosalie: I’ve tried some other stuff too, like programing a metalish song and trying to learn to play it on my actual guitar too. Now I don’t even know what to call most of it. I’ve been experimenting a lot.

Michael: Do you have plans for writing another dark ambient album?

Rosalie: Now that Chords of Chaos is finished, I’ve started working on a second album.

Chords of Chaos is available from Dark Winter as a free download here.

Sielwolf & Nam-khar – Oppressfield – Review

Artist: Sielwolf & Nam-khar
Album: Oppressfield
Release date: 23 January 2017
Label: Sombre Soniks

Tracklist:
01. Platium Insert
02. Cron Tabs
03. Oppressfield
04. Failed States
05. Crypt Trap
06. Exorial

The second installment of Sielwolf and Nam-Khar partnership comes about 16 months after the first segment called Atavist Craft, which I remembered as a decent piece of dark ambient with a ritual touch. And that’s basically all that I could recall as it was a well crafted but not particularly memorable release, especially in the times when new music attacks you almost every day. But before writing this review I played their first album again a couple of times and my vague impressions from the past have found the confirmation – maybe not original, but highly enjoyable – in dark ambient understanding of that word – fifty minutes of music.

Interesting story with this Sielwolf project – they were active in the early nineties, as an industrial band often compared to legendary Einstürzende Neubauten. Then they went on hiatus for around 20 years and came back in 2015, not with a huge reunion though, but with this inconspicuous collaboration with a relatively young dark ritual ambient project. I think Nam-Khar has a bright – or dark – future ahead, as he’s obviously a talented fellow, although in my opinion he has a lot of potential which is still to be discovered and revealed.

Today I think I like Atavist Craft better. It’s a matter of personal taste – that one was more atmospheric and leaving more space for meditation. The Eastern ritual elements have also played a more important part there, while Oppressfield – especially the first three pieces – is focused rather on the dark industrial side of things. Also, the sound seems to be more dry and inflexible. Mechanical and soulless. Oppressive as the title suggests. There’s a lot of raw industrial horror on this CD, some clattering of unknown origin, hums and buzzes, which you don’t know from which device they’re generated. The first composition I really like without any objections is the fourth one on the album, “Failed States” where the drones reach an almost perfect level of density, the industrial feeling is diminishing and making a place for a truly intense dark ambient with the cool quasichoir parts hidden between other layers. Also the longest composition, “Crypt Trap” is worth attention, with its slowly pulsating rhythms and the overall temperance which makes the music more anxious and eerie than those rather straightforward tracks which dominate the first half of the album. It somehow reminds me of that H. P. Lovecraft short story I read many years ago, In The Vault, about the guy, well… trapped in the crypt. But it’s not only the title’s suggestion, this track is indeed creepy and claustrophobic.

It’s still a fine album, especially for those who prefer the louder forms of ambient music. Thoroughly deliberated from beginning to end. And the good thing is that the guys are not interested in repeating themselves and while you can easily recognize that both collaborations were composed and performed by the same projects, you can’t deny that they differ from one another quite significantly.

Written by: Przemyslaw Murzyn

 

Przemyslaw Murzyn – Reviewer


Name: Przemyslaw Murzyn
Location: Katowice, Poland
Languages: English, Polish
Contact: santasangre.magazine@gmail.com
Social Media Profiles: Facebook
Outside projects:
Santa Sangre Magazine
Embers Below Zero: Bandcamp, Facebook

Michael Barnett – Owner & Senior Editor


Name: Michael Barnett
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Languages: English, Latin, Ancient Greek
Contact: info@thisisdarkness.com , mbarnett25@gmail.com
Social Media Profiles:
PatreonFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, Steam, Youtube, VK, Bandcamp
Outside projects:
Vocalist / Photographer for Fear-Modern-Man: Facebook, Bandcamp
Photography / Photo-manipulation for Opuscula Obscura: Facebook
Physical materials for review consideration can be sent to This Is Darkness headquarters at:
513 Pleasant Hill Road
Owings Mills Maryland 21117 USA

Husere Grav – Entropy & Illusion – Review

Artist: Husere Grav
Album: Entropy & Illusion
Release date: 20 January 2017
Label: Annihilvs Power Electronix (APEX)

Husere Grav is a black ambient project that has been making its rounds through the darker underground musical scenes for the last decade. Their sound takes on the form of a blackened meditative ambient session. Focus on harsh sweeps of sound texture fill the music with a doom and gloom element which saturates ever inch of itself.

Their latest album, Entropy & Illusion has made its release on the highly respected Annihilvs Power Electronix (APEX) label. Annihilvs has spent two decades now creating albums which are as dark and disturbing as they are beautiful. Orchestrated by the man behind Theologian, often referred to as Theologian Prime, Annihilvs has a relatively small, but highly influential discography. So when the latest album by Husere Grav released on Annihilvs, it is safe to say that they found a good amount of attention from those with the more harshly inclined palates.

Entropy & Illusion has been compared to the early works of Jarl, which seems a fitting association. The sounds are dense, dark and ugly. But the production is deliberate and precise. The album, even considering its thick and harsh characteristics, takes on a meditative element. The listener can sit back, eyes closed, and allow the textures to overtake their consciousness. Each track brings them a bit closer in touch with this dark and menacing spirit world. While I do refer to this album repeatedly as being on the harsher side of the ambient spectrum, it rarely, if ever, moves into that dreaded harsh noise wall territory. The sounds manage to keep their composure and build slowly off of one another, creating a setting encompassed with a sense of death and desperation, while simultaneously holding an element of beauty.

If your musical tastes lie closer to the death industrial, power electronics and harsh noise wall side of the ambient world, then this album will surely be to your liking. It holds similarities to these other genres, while still keeping its roots in a black / dark / ritual ambient foundation. For fans of drone music, this will likely be a welcome album. It seems to fit into that drone ambient territory, yet has a thick and menacing lifeforce which is often lacking with those sort of albums.

Released in a 4-panel digipak through Annihilvs, the quality of the physical album is noteworthy. The album art takes on a simple yet haunting setting of death and decay. Bound prisoners and skeletal remains fill the graphical designs of this album, giving listeners an immediate sense of the bleak nature of this project. The album also comes with a bonus collaboration with Theologian. A set of tracks which Theologian has re-imagined and built upon with his own unique manipulative style.

I would highly recommend Entropy & Illusion to any fans of the blackened side of dark ambient. This is a fine introduction to the Annihilvs label for those few readers who still haven’t been introduced to APEX. If this album is to your liking, there are surely many more releases on APEX which should also be considered. As usual, APEX has released a noteworthy album which gets better with each listen.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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