Unsettling sonic explorers gaze into the abyss
Being enigmatic is nothing new in the darkened corners of the black metal world, and for new entity Gaerea, secrecy is paramount; they wear masks featuring occult symbols, they use single-symbol stage names, and they are from everywhere and nowhere (various sources of the internet suggest numerous locations on the European mainland). Mystery is always welcomed within the dark arts, with bands often choosing to either allow their music to speak for itself, and with a self-titled EP on the cusp of release, this quintet are preparing for some of that mystery to be broken. They may be keeping themselves hidden, but their music needs to be heard.
“Gaerea emerged from the ashes of different times and cultures, languages or beliefs,” Ω explains. “And that’s all we know of ourselves.”
It’s fitting for a band that, on initial glance, are fairly black metal in tone and appearance, but delving further into Gaerea allows much more depth to shine through. Gorgeous palettes of sound rise form the shadows and shimmering post-rock guitars cascade through the songs while the vocals of Ω segue from deep bellows, to fiery screams and even a hardcore edge on occasion.
“The music is the cloth our visuals dress in to present themselves to the public. It’s as organic as its message and atmosphere and that’s something to keep,” Ω continues. “The creation process is slow, yet tempting for us. We are mainly visual art admirers and followers and that’s where we found what could probably be a first creation. We picture the images and modulate the whole atmosphere and then we create the music as the unique soundtrack of this vast void we’re in.”
Gaerea is a stunning work whose huge swathes of guitar carve out scorched and deeply affecting emotional landscapes while a voice extolls the deepest fears and problems of the world. Black metal is a dark place, and Gaerea take us ever further into the abyss with a debut that will place them firmly alongside Mgła with their modern take on the genre and Downfall Of Gaia with their sorrowful guitars.
For Gaerea, though, comparisons are moot and they would rather be taken on their own merit, although they do think that it’s up to them, and not the audience to stop making such comparisons.
“Both arts live by themselves, though it’s the artist’s job to end this need from an audience that has to compare and judge from it.”
It’s all very serious and for some it could come across as an act, that Gaerea respond this way because it’s part of their mysterious veil and selling point, but in reality it seems as though they genuinely feel that their clandestine approach is completely necessary for their band to be whole.
“The mask is part of the persona that represents the human beast. That’s our approach to the blind, yet invisible individual of our daily routine. The personification of doom and narcissism at the same amount of time.”
Enter the void.
Who are they?
LINEUP: Ω (vocals), Α (guitars), Ψ (guitar), Φ (bass), Λ (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Furious black metal with a cinematic edge that takes in hardcore, post-rock and doom on its way to the outer reaches.
FOR FANS OF: Mgła, Downfall Of Gaia, Secrets Of The Moon
CURRENT RELEASE: Gaerea (Everlasting Spew Records, 2016)
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The seedy sound of the true underworld
A four-man wrecking crew with members from France, Italy, Brazil and the UK, and with a sound that draws equal inspiration from black metal and hardcore punk, Calligram are as ferocious as they come. Their debut EP Demimonde is a flat-out riot of raw aggression and pitch-black menace.“We simply love these two genres,” says guitarist Tim. “But what makes us stand out is our DNA. We’re from all over the world and it shows in the music we write.”
“We all grew up in entirely different cultures and initially we didn’t have much in common musically either,” says drummer Ardo. “We just enjoyed jamming on aggressive stuff, whatever the genre. Everything soon fell into place, so maybe it’s exactly that cultural and musical diversity that makes it work for us.”
While there has been no shortage of bands eager to explore the blurred lines between black metal and punk, Calligram have stumbled upon a fresh and subtly eccentric take. Even the title of the new record points to a stubborn maverick streak, not to mention an unsettling frisson of nefarious deeds going on in London’s darkest shadows.
“The term ‘demimonde’ originally referred to the world of prostitutes,” says Tim. “But then its meaning extended to the underworld of gangsters and crooks, people who lived in the margins of society. That’s what we sing about on this record: people who somehow don’t fit in.”
Calligram are making music that aims for the jugular, drunk on adrenaline and the promise of chaos. “Punk and BM are very similar,” says Ardo, “in the sense that it’s filthy ugly out-of-tune music for people who either can’t play technical stuff or don’t care about the sound quality. It’s great that we get to do this.”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Ardo (drums), Tim (guitar), Bruno (guitar), Smittens (bass), Matteo (vocals)
SOUNDS LIKE: A Satanic knees-up in a pub car park, as Mohawk-sporting ghouls d–beat each other to a bloody pulp.
FOR FANS OF: Carpathian Forest, Martyrdöd
CURRENT RELEASE: Demimonde (Cimmerian Shade, 2016)
Morbid Brittanyians aim for greatness
When he’s not raising hell all as Demonic Oath or vomiting black/thrash in Perversifier, Kevin Desecrator lends his talents as live session drummer for Australia’s Trench Hell and Assaulter, and for Brazil’s Whipstriker or as guitarist for Necrowretch. But while his new venture started as a two-man operation, it has since then morphed into an actual band.
“Venefixion was born out of me wanting to do something with Goathroat. He’d take care of all the vocals and concept and I’d do the rest” he says. “It’s quite straightforward, with some thrash and punk elements but still very morbid, filthy and disgusting, as any form of death metal should be.”
After a demo, Deifixio, recorded as a two-piece with extra contribution from Cadaveric Fumes’ Cadaver, they’re now a four-piece, with the latter plus Obscene from Hexecutor and his “longtime friend” Max Abomination from Perversifier on bass for stage shows. The band’s name is “a mix of both ‘Venefice’, the act of poisoning someone via witchery” explains Goathroat “and ‘Defixio(n)’, when you take revenge by cursing somebody using a curse tablet for example. It’s a variation on voodoo, yet had to be broad enough in meaning to be able to deal with the many aspects of death and its mysteries.”
What sets Venefixion apart is that they’ve aligned their raw sonic aesthetics with their own cultural roots in Brittany, and its rich folklore. “The funny thing,” says Kevin, “is we got the idea to do this when we both lived in very distant places upon the globe very far away from home. As an entity, death is omnipresent here and our elders ones thought or talked about it often here, so it felt quite natural for us to talk about it from a death metal perspective.”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Kevin Desecrator (guitar, bass & drums), Obscene (guitar), Cadaver (guitar), Goathroat (vocals)
SOUNDS LIKE: Raw late 80’s death metal, like early Morbid Angel, yet with some surprisingly elaborate guitar soloing.
CURRENT RELEASE: Armorican Deathrites EP (Iron Bonehead, 2016)