Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia

Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia album cover ghostcultmag

Thrawsunblat initially started as a side-project of Wood of Ypres members Joel Violette and later, David Gold. Thrawsunblat became the Joel Violette’s main project since the passing of Gold and the end of Woods. Sadly, until being asked to review this I’d not heard anything by them, something which was rectified very quickly after hearing this.

Metachthonia (Ignifera Records/Broken Limbs) is their latest album and is released on Ignifera records. The title Metachthonia is Greek for “the age after that of the earth” and this concept album addresses that which we are yearning for and has been taken away in the modern world. Describing the style of the new album as ‘folkened black metal’ the anticipation is that Metachthonia shifts from their folk sound to a much blacker sound.

Opening track ‘Fires that Light the Earth’ begins sombrely with cello courtesy of Raphael Weinroth-Browne, before being joined by the guitar and drums which begin a short-lived lament but then branches into blackened blasting drums from Rae Amitay (Immortal Bird) and the bass of Brendan Hayter (Obsidian Tongue) and the tone for the album is set, and it is considerably blacker.

The folk elements and blackened parts juxtapose well, and give a better balance to their sound than before: emphasised by an ebb and flow to the track. The more subdued folk elements provide beauty and the enhanced blackened elements combining with excellent production which gives it an immediacy and a very satisfying sound.

Whilst very much a different band from Woods of Ypres, their enhanced blackened style creates sections where the similarities in tonality and pacing are very difficult to ignore. This can mean that if already familiar with woods it can take a few listens before appreciating Thrawsunblat in their own right. Those few listens however, are truly worth it as this album is incredibly well-crafted and a wonderful listen.

They display a much more palpable sense of optimism and rebirth in their work, which is further emphasised by the organic feel of the folk elements woven throughout. A yearning to what has been lost in the modern era and the desire for its return. The feeling being similar to seeing nature reclaiming abandoned places, that sense that no matter what the natural world can and will survive humans be damned.

Ultimately, Metachthonia is a fantastic album from opener ‘Fires that Light the Earth’ right up until the phenomenal final track ‘In Mist We Walk’, highly recommended!



Hidden (Blackened) Treasures – The Watcher from Fen

With their last proclamation Carrion Skies (Code666), British band Fen let the Black Metal flood back into their sound, releasing their strongest album to date and ultimately featuring in the Ghost Cult Magazine Top 40 Albums of 2014. In celebration of opening the sluice gates, front man The Watcher revealed the depth of his Black Metal love by unveiling his Top 5 unsung oft overlooked underground treasures


Setherial – Nord (Napalm Records – 1996)

Cold. That’s the one overriding word to sum up this furious blast of mid-nineties Swedish black metal – cold. Freezing, even. Taking its cues fairly heavily from Emperor’s seminal In the Nightside Eclipse (Candlelight) album, Nord strips backs the keyboards whilst simultaneously cranking up the intensity levels considerably. Riff after riff of freezing melody pours forth across thundering percussion, lengthy songs (the opener alone is nearly 12 minutes long) buoyed by relentless twists and turns. An exhilarating, windswept listen and serious contender for black metal’s finest hour.


Diabolical Masquerade – Nightwork (Avantgarde Music – 1998)

Anders Nystrom may be much better known for his “day job” in Katatonia but back in the mid-90s, as the mysterious Blakkheim he released four records of haunting, horror-themed black metal under the banner of Diabolical Masquerade. The pick is undoubtedly the third full-length Nightwork, a peak-laden brace of songs replete with infections fretwork, searing melody and an underlying sense of humour. This isn’t at all to detract from the ‘abandoned mansion’ atmospherics of the album and Nightwork simply oozes a convincing crepuscular ambience in amongst the riffage.


Armagedda – Ond Spiritism (Agonia – 2004)

From pure early Darkthrone worship on their debut to ‘fist-in-the face’ muscular black metal on ‘Only True Believers’ to occult-themed dungeonesque roamings, Sweden’s Armagedda explored a gamut of expressions within their short, three-album career. Swansong ‘Ond Spiritism’ is the peak – a lengthy, sprawling opus with an undeniable cloak of darkness wafting across the whole thing. Graav’s guttural croak spits venom in his native Swedish whilst the guitars and bass swirl like a thick fog. Absorbing and unsettling work from the young Swedes.


Tenebrae in Perpetuum – Antico Misticismo (Debemur Morti – 2006)

Yet another band who are no longer with us, Tenebrae in Perpetuum specialised in a particularly brittle, shrill form of frozen melodic black metal – made particularly surprising by the fact that they were actually Italian! Mainman Atratus’ guitar sound is one of the most distinctive you’ll hear – a treble-heavy, reverb soaked saw that nonetheless manages to convey the band’s excellently-developed sense of melody and song structure. All three of their full-length releases are worth tracking down so consistent is their quality but Antico Misticismo probably edges it thanks to a couple of genuinely spine-tingling moments.


Obsidian Tongue – A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time (Hypnotic Dirge – 2013)

The most recent release on this list and hopefully a band who won’t remain ‘hidden’ for too much longer, this US-based duo ply their trade with a particularly punishing brand of “Post” black metal. Building on the template laid down by the so-called ‘Cascadian’ sound (Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room et al), Brendan Hayter and Greg Murphy lay down a serious challenge on their sophomore effort here. Winding passaged of considered guitar, inventive percussion and a darker atmosphere than many of their peers render them a real one to watch. That they can pull it off live is just the icing on the cake.

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The Watcher was speaking to STEVE TOVEY