Good readers, we’re witnesses to a time when analogue’s coming back with full force, with vinyl rising from its grave and tape following in its wake, yadda yadda yadda. I could carry on if I was some Vice journalist with a pumpkin spice latte and not a Hungarian misanthrope with a dead-end job and a chip on the shoulder, so I’d rather analyze the sort-of recent output of two renowned underground tape-centered labels. Silver Key Records under command of Seventh Blasphemer (of Sadogoat and Sadomator amongst others) has been flying the flag of primitive stripped-down black metal in the footsteps of Blasphemy, Beherit and Von since its inception in the early 2000’s. Legion Blotan‘s the black metal propaganda organ of George Proctor, also active in the noise scene, whose work is categorized by a strong DIY aesthetic and a fierce Anglo-Saxon paganism. So without further ado, let us see the contenders:
The first offering upon our altar is Abandoned, Vanyar‘s sixth tape from 2017. As usual there’s not much in the way of information on the project except the music itself, but one doesn’t need to be a detective to detect the influence of George Proctor‘s hidden hand. What we get is a bit more than twenty minutes of midtempo melancholy, not a million miles removed from the atmospheres evoked by White Medal. The main difference that instead of a longing for a lost pagan past, the main inspiration seems to be Tolkien‘s depiction of loss and a passing of an age.
Next up are the good Hellenes of Goat Synagogue‘s debut Enter the Feast. If one would ask about the typical Silver Key band, they wouldn’t need to look any further than GS: primitive Beheritean din with disgusting vocals and zero willingness for experimentation. The only innovation they seem to bring to the table (no pun intended) is the use of synths, which slither out from under the noise, exuding a certain B-horror flick aura.
Aphotykum‘s The Cimmerian Sessions basically a long-overdue collaboration between George Proctor, who serves as a drummer here and Swiss underground heavyweight Karnov Apokalyptron (nowdays of Todeszone, previously the sorely-missed Ghost Kommando among others). The final product with Karnov handling vocals and strings sounds like a decidedly more organic incarnation (thanks to the live drummer) compared to the cold inhuman atmospheres invoked by Todeszone. In certain tracks the vocals can also make one recall blackened punks Sump, one of the labels more well-known acts.
Psychomorphis takes Seventh Blasphemer‘s Beherit fetish to a new dimension: now it’s the rotting corpse of Goatvulva that gets exhumed for a quickie not even lasting ten minutes. Amorphous Chaos is an intangible mass of Lovecraftian cacophony veering on the borders of noisecore with its short, abrupt assaults. The music of Erich Zann on angel dust.
Jorvik is sort of the odd one out on the Legion Blotan roster, at least pagan-inspired doomdeath isn’t exactly what the West Yorkshire label’s famous of. What we get on this tape is nice early Paradise Lost-isms, make no mistake though, this isn’t the time for funeral dirges, a certain defiance shines through the slow crushing riffs. Along with their (?) own compositions the tape also includes a thankfully unrecgonizable Nirvana cover.
Last but not least we have the split of Danish Cultus Asal and the Panamians of Antumia as a co-release between Silver Key and Sodomistic Rituals.
Cultus Asal are the undisputed winners here, they’re one of the many offshoots of Naestweth Havn Kult. Their side of the tape contains rotten oldschool death metal reminescent of the earliest offerings of Impaled Nazarene. I would like to point out two things: first the ultra sloppy solos which would make any progressive fan reach for the closest gun/noose/blade availible and the demented vocals resembling barking what made yours truly recall the many happy hours of listening to Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz as a teenager.
Antumia‘s a grind brigade their drums being handled by no other than Herr Kretschmer of Temple of Adoration/Sodomistic Rituals fame. Since I’m pretty far from being the biggest grind freak on the block I can’t really say anything past that it’s effective yet unremarkable. It ticks all boxes, the sound’s filthy enough for my exquisite tastes, yet serves nothing beyond its brutality (which is my general problem with grind but I digress).
So all in all it’s a worthy pairing of forces from both sides and a worthy addition to any collection of anti-music.