How to describe Satarial? Aside from possessing a broad extreme metal tendency, this Moscow based outfit are almost impossible to pigeonhole. A rather clumsy description might be “operatic battle black metal”. It sounds implausible, but that’s kind of where the bulk of their inspiration comes from on their 2016 release ‘Blessed Brigit’. It should be a mess; it should be so confrontational that almost no-one would want to listen…but, somehow, their noisy sound collages are fascinating in their aural brutality – and after over a decade of plying their ugliness, the fact that they still sound so original and so vibrant is no mean feat.
Originally featuring members from the Ukraine and Hungary, NordWitch formed at the beginning of 2015. Although firmly selling themselves as blackened death metal, it’s only ever really frontwoman Masha’s vocal style that holds them to that, since so many of the tunes on their debut ‘Mørk Profeti’ have more variety than your average blackened death band. For starters, none of this release is blighted by the cold sheets of sound so often associated with black metal; the band much prefer to concentrate on classic contemporary death styles, but take things further by mixing those traditions with the melodicism associated with early In Flames and the more extreme elements of Soilwork.
Stripping away the lightning speed drums and very much favouring a mid paced plod, or a funeral march, Estonia’s Vanad Varjud experiment with some of black metal’s more avant-garde elements throughout their 2016 release ‘Dismal Grandeur In Nocturnal Aura’. Although they are billed as “ambient”, fans of genuine ambient music will certainly want to give this a wide berth. Judging by the four compositions featured on this release, the band don’t always seem to understand what ambient truly means. Most of the supposed ambient moments seem to be either just slow, or hastily composed oddness with a jarring noise for accompaniment.
In the summer of 2015, German experimental black metal trio Zeit dropped their third EP ‘Trümmer’. The bulk of its material was cold, uncompromising but rather interesting, putting the DIY band firmly among the heavy hitters with regard to truly challenging metal sounds. Less than a year on, their fourth release, ‘Gram’ sets out to thrill, frighten and confront – almost in equal measure.
On ‘Dichotomy’, Exterminas’ third release – their second full length – the Italian extreme metallers take the basics of black and death metal sounds and shake them by their foundations. The guitars and drums still attack at lightning speed, the voice – if it could be called as such – veers towards the rather typical growl, and yet there’s something within these eight tracks which suggests at least one band member has a couple of musical interests within the classical sphere. You won’t find any orchestrated parts, though; that sense comes rather more from the way the guitar riffs occasionally leap from the more typical speed and into intricate tunes that sound as if they’ve been mangled from melodies centuries old.