interrogation chamber

September 12, 2020

Whether it’s the luscious, airily flourishing territories of symphonic metal, Norwegian black metal’s raggedly abrasive trademark riffs or the windswept, stirringly evocative throes of Scandinavian melodeath, it’s easy to pigeonhole and compartmentalise new music we seldom afford more than a moment’s fleeting glance. Perhaps never more so than in this perpetually restless modern era of automated ‘genre’ playlists, random shuffle plays and disparate downloads that’s all but robbed us of the simple, richly immersive pleasures of digging deep into an album and savouring it from start to finish in the full, blissfully uninterrupted form it was intended. But with their richly layered melding of grandiose orchestral flourishes, violently energised aggression and mind-bending progressive symmetri...

Satan worship and substance abuse aside, there are few more painfully well-worn clichés that could be applied to the metal genre than that of the token, down-on-their-luck band battling against all odds, sourcing inspiration from tough times or even (wince) suffering for their art. Indeed, it’s a yarn that we at Team Dark Matter are all too well-acquainted with, and one that’s been spun, over and over again, out of all meaningful value and significance, into the stuff of vacuously insincere PR hype and hackneyed cliché. But with a nightmarishly turbulent sound whose every battering hyperblast and blackly introspective refrain audibly vibrates with existential pain and anguish, it’s clear just how richly authentic a craft Delaware’s Black Crown Initiate have forged with meticulously realise...

From brutal bouts of famine, drought and flash flooding to the devastating international pandemic that’s presently decimating hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe, the terrifying fragility of our own mortality has, in the year 2020, never appeared more keenly clear and apparent. Yet for all the unimaginable horror and destruction these savage elemental forces are capable of inflicting, there’s no denying the pivotal moments of civilisation-altering change, revolution and enlightenment born in these violently turbulent throes of suffering and catastrophe. And as an act that owes as much to deliciously brutalising aggression as it does to profoundly observed musings on the mysteries of the universe, Egyptian wrecking crew Scarab are only too expertly versed in grappling with such...

July 26, 2020

If the pandemic restrictions (which sounds like the worst thrash band ever) have taught us anything, it's that we can't take anything for granted. But when live gigs started dropping like a house of cards in a hurricane, that's when the shit really hit the fan. Doubly so for the metal fan, whose prime escape from the mind-numbing mundanity of modern existence in sharing a room with a load of fellow misanthropes banging their heads to a stageful of similarly nihilistic noisemakers has now been replaced with the mind-numbing mundanity of homeworking, furlough and no gigs whatsoever to look forward to. Lockdown might have been an attractive prospect when dealing with the vast majority of the human race, but it's since become a hellish banality when it's imposed on us. With all the time in the...

If there’s anything experience has taught us, it’s that meddling with the classics is seldom a particularly rewarding or worthwhile exercise - a fact richly illustrated by the many painfully lacklustre ’80s horror reboots, retro acts and hyper-commercialised cover songs that have spent the past few decades ruthlessly desecrating the legacy of this famously iconic era of music and filmmaking. Every so often though, there’s that rare breed of artist who is capable of not only competently handling the trappings and traditions of old, but also of skilfully forging and refashioning them into a work of their own ingeniously orchestrated design. Presenting, for your delectation, the grave and grimly absorbing pleasures of Gothenburg crypt-dwellers, Vampire…     

“You expect metal music t...

Although classical music is now considered the stuffy and socially acceptable face of the industry, it’s worth remembering that operas have been banned for their questionable political overtones, symphonies have caused national unrest and a ballet once incited a riot. Often at the cutting edge of innovation and originality, music categorised as ‘classical’ and considered genteel has in the past inspired similar levels of passionate frenzy to the chaotic pandemonium of death metal mosh pits, and caused more controversy than even the most darkly blasphemous, necro and ritualistic excesses of black metal. One band that tap into the raw, primitive and often divisive energy of this most traditional of art forms are Greek titans Septicflesh, who like many purveyors of symphonic death have found...

The crumbling bones of our ancestors may have long lain cold and still in the ground, but the illustrious legacy of ancient lore and legends they left behind remains one gloriously untouched by the ravages of time. And thanks to the meticulous labours of Forndom visionary Ludwig Swärd, these ancient, stirringly evocative vibrations have never felt so tangibly vivid and enthralling.

As far as compromising and, in some cases, utterly desecrating the authenticity of ancient myths, legends and even major historical events goes, popular culture certainly has a lot to answer for. Take, for instance, Walt Disney’s ruthless corporate butchering of original Germanic fairytales, Mel Gibson’s garbled excuse for a Scottish accent in Braveheart or the array of historical inaccuracies with which 200...

With its pitch-black legacy of grisly murder and dismemberment, of moonlit rites and crumbling tombstones, of frigid fjords and desolate dark forests, extreme metal has long been intimately acquainted with the darkest and most unspeakably horrific facets of the human condition. But while the mining of such deliciously macabre thematic territories is nothing particularly new or unprecedented within this most intensely sinister of subgenres, there is, nonetheless, something eerily timely about the advent of Naglfar’s latest apocalyptic masterpiece. Specifically, that a work as flawlessly attuned to the death-knell beat of this uncommonly harrowing new century should have reached completion just days before the world fell prey to the lethal ravages of COVID-19. Following ‘Cerecloth’s’ anticip...

Amidst the relentless bustle of normal human life, it’s often difficult to find space to reflect. However, with a global pandemic running rampant throughout the world and social distancing proving a necessary evil, pretty much all of us have holed up wherever we call home and begun to inhabit the inner world of our own minds. Bands that lean towards the introspective side of the metal spectrum can offer a kind of wistful solace in these strange and unsettling times, and the absorbing, pensive strains of leading Gothic doom outfit Paradise Lost are ideally suited to this deepening contemplation. Dark Matter were lucky enough to catch up with accomplished lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh to discuss their latest, highly anticipated release, the more thoughtful aspects of their music and how the...

Ask any avid metal fan precisely what it is to be ‘extreme’ and they’ll likely reel off an endless, inexhaustible list of bands displaying varying levels of brain-liquefying sonic abrasiveness and brutality. From frantically accelerating staccato blasts and crippling slabs of churning bass to lacerating accents of tremolo that leave the synapses swimming in adrenaline, there’s no overstating the supreme pleasure to be derived from these deliciously aggressive elements. But what of those rare artists whose compositional skill and vision enables them to take their meticulous craft somewhere altogether more sinister and intriguing? To a shadow realm devoid of light and steeped in unimaginable suffering and horror. Look no further, dear reader, than the nightmarish, coldly entrancing entity th...

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