From stone cold classics to fantastic new finds, check out what’s been on heavy rotation this week here at Dark Matter HQ…
'Sanguinem' ('Shem Ha Mephorash', 2019)
From the brimstone-scorched vitriol of Dark Funeral to Shining’s grimly engrossing mix of manic aggression and coldly entrancing atmospherics, Sweden has long been an exceptionally fertile breeding ground for deliciously dark and diabolical extreme metal. Hailing from the same disarmingly pretty and picturesque locality as reigning genre titans Watain, fellow Uppsala natives Mephorash may occupy a decidedly less lofty and conspicuous rank within this prestigiously blackened wealth of national talent. But for those privileged enough to already be acquainted with the Swedes’ crushingly immense signature blend of visceral aggression and blood-drenched, tensely ritualistic atmospherics there is, quite assuredly, nothing humble or unassuming about this delectably malicious proposition. Comprising just one freshly severed choice cut in an expansive back catalogue spanning four albums of intensely sinister and sharply penned audio, 2019 smash ‘Sanguinem’ is a violent and perversely beautiful subterranean gem.
Like an eerily bewitching siren call luring doomed sailors to a watery demise, airily flourishing soprano leads and weighty, ominously pounding slabs of percussion leave the listener breathless with anticipation from the get-go. From here, icily abrasive lines of tremolo infiltrate the mix with wicked, tautly manipulated precision, their darkly churning throes thoroughly flooding the synapses with adrenaline. Across a richly layered plethora of raggedly abrasive tremolo, bloodcurdling screams and elegantly unfurling symphonic trappings, the sheer variety of elements at play here is nothing short of astounding. Imploding in a final, electrifying climax of fevered ritualistic utterances and screams vicious enough to have been ripped, ragged and freshly bleeding, from the very bowels of the abyss, this is as mesmerising a blending of blistering abrasiveness and artfully manipulated atmosphere as you could possibly imagine.
'Down In A Hole' ('Dirt Redux', 2020)
As well as a love of stoner and doom music, I also have a morbid love of cover versions. I blame cutting my musical teeth in the nu-metal era, with a load of no-hopers identifying themselves by massacring perfectly good (and not so good) songs. So imagine my delight when a load of heavyweights from the doom and stoner scene covering Alice In Chain's seminal 'Dirt' album. The downbeat and melancholic vibe of the Seattle grungers is a perfect fit for the like of -(16)- and Thou, but the highlight is Khemmis' take on 'Down In A Hole'.
NINE INCH NAILS
'Heresy' ('The Downward Spiral', 1994)
Since the gift of lockdown, I've had plenty of time to delve deep into music that once passed me by. Not being a big fan of electronics at the time, I'd dismissed all but the most guitar-heavy NIN tracks as not for me. How wrong I was; Trent Reznor could twist any instrument into a howling vortex of despair, but 'The Downward Spiral' is his masterpiece. It's difficult to pick a stand out track, but 'Heresy' is at the heart of it all, twisting electronics and guitar into a collage of anguish.
'Burn' ('The Crow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack',1994)
Cult horror classic The Crow is ideal viewing for melancholy nights in and a veritable feast for lovers of dark melody, its dusky rock soundtrack complementing a heightened moody gothic fever dream, lashed with endless rain and unfolding like a series of '90s MTV music videos. In a soundtrack studded with gems, one particular treasure enchants with its darkly glistening beauty. All heady bass and gathering synthetic gloom, with strangulated vocals that ache with painful longing, 'Burn' is the perfect accompaniment to the film’s bleak theme of doomed love. Like the black candles that flicker in the dilapidated structures of The Crow’s broken cityscape, 'Burn' drips with all the velvety allure that characterises the film’s slick, sultry sensibility.