Humanitas Error Est – Human Pathomorphism (Satanath Records)
In their debut these Germans make a decent attempt at mixing the guitar-sound aesthetics of clinical, “intelligent” black metal (the kind of late 90s Satyricon, album-era Thorns, etc – this legacy is also evident in the best riffs of this album) with some generic but beautiful-in-moments Swedish black metal extremity (Dark Funeral, Marduk, etc) as far as most of the riff content is concerned. Song structures are somewhat complex, befitting the futuristic edge. Vocal-wise there is a multitude of generic black metal growling, but the Dani Filth-esque passionate growls (of the kind that seems to keep echoing in the throat while being uttered) are clearly standing out above the rest. Some samples thrown in add to the industrial/futuristic atmosphere. The release does try to sound extreme, a bit too much occasionally, and the riffs are not highly original, but all in all this is an album that certainly has its moments, especially for the kind of listener that feels nostalgic about the “intelligent” Norwegian wave. Still, Plutonium’s debut (“One Size Fits All”) probably remains the best retro-intelligent release of the last ten years.
Morar – Wahlheim (Nebular Winter Records)
Since 2013’s really nice “Chants Of Ossian” demo, this act dabbles in obscurity, stating no member names and (until very recently) no country of origin (last time I checked their entry in Enyclopaedia Metallum the country was Greenland). Their debut full-length (which was one of the things that I keenly anticipated) was scheduled to be released last year, but apparently it had to be delayed a bit, hitting their bandcamp in mid-January.
What one can find inside this album with the evocative cover photography is highly melodic atmospheric black metal with a knack for NWOSDM-style leads and (by extension) the occasional heavy metal riffing. Old Emperor’s starry haze is here, in the album’s two best tracks, “Afflications” and “Thee To Scorn,” while the hauntingly melodic, almost lullaby-like, “’Tis Night” is following just behind in quality terms. In general, the band has traded some of the demo’s darkness (and rawer production) for a more folky (some excellent riffs draw upon pure folkish melodies) and flowing side. The thing is, where their character truly shine is in the less formalised (chaotic if you want) side of their music, the most purely black metal (aesthetically) one, rather than in the melodic leads which evoke heavy metal clarity. Nevertheless, this is a good album of melodic nature-worship black metal, with three excellent tracks, reminiscent of past days of glory.