Villiger Cigars – Newminster No. 400 Superior Navy Flake

newminster_number_400_superior_navy_flake

The first question any smoker should ask when approaching this tobacco is whether or not Navy Flake is a style that they enjoy. The name conveys both the form, which is dense slices from a pressed brick, and the flavor which is provided by Virginia tobacco with very minor casing or additions to the mix. The result is a thick sheaf of tobacco that can either be rubbed out into shreds or stacked in the bowl.

Its flavor will appeal to those who like straight Virginias: a combination of harvest hay smells and clover honey, lightly touched with warm molasses and perhaps the scent of leaves in fall. It tastes like it smells, and brings a warmth of flavor into the bowl. This tobacco competes with other Navy Flakes like those from Dunhill, Escudo and Gawaith, but aims for a more middle-of-the-road appeal for those who want something flavorful to smoke all day. Its nicotine dosage registers at the lower half of the middle of the scale, not as light as the drugstore aromatics but not as hard hitting as the flakes which appeal to the battle-scared pipe smoker, aloft in his mountain retreat or on the prow of a ship, pausing only briefly to inhale before firing back at some unseen enemy. Newminster flake burns gracefully and leaves behind a fine white-grey ash, coating the room in a gentle note that often appeals to non-smokers as well.

Navy Flake appeals to a certain type of smoker in a certain situation. It is a light smoke not as in taste reduced, but in that all of its flavors strike gently rather than hard; the smoke from this, while somewhat harsh with some bite, floats gently and rewards slower smoking. The disadvantage to this blend frankly is that it is lighter in nicotine and flavor, which makes it better for smoking all day when distracted than sitting down for a good solid smoke when working or relaxing. While it ranks higher in gentle flavor than some of the other flakes, it lingers behind them in power and interest; a good Virginia brown, better than many but not configured to be a favorite.

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40 Candles upon the Altar of Heavy Metal

If we say that the average life-expectancy age in the western world is 80 and simplify things a little further by positing that half of those years are spent asleep during the night, then we’ve only got about 40 years to do some real, serious living. It’s been that many years to this day since Black Sabbath released their debut album, as good a day as you’re going to get to hail the 40th anniversary of Heavy Metal, and every single one of those years has been spent wide awake through procession of the daily sun and the darkness of the night. Heavy Metal arrived at a time to sentence a generation of delusion to death and confront the rest of modernity with the weight of reality and the power of the occult. A lot of newer generation listeners entered the Metallic planes of hell through bands that were breaking away from Heavy Metal’s Rock formalities and Blues atavisms, giving an impression that the older music was in most cases obsolete. From the moment that Sabbath had arrived and Satan unveiled his majestic black wings, the spirit of Metal was unlocked like a Pandora’s box that held all the secrets from the past and future, and the subversion of the present ensued, encoded in the language of the riff! Let us mark this unholy day with the truest celebration of Heavy Metal imagineable, as Devamitra introduces his epic compilation chronicling this wise and powerful art-culture:

History has become obscured, for few are interested to learn and explore the dawn of the barbaric and romantic sounds of metal music. All sorts of glam and joke bands are mistaken for Heavy Metal, which they aren’t, and many even believe there was never any serious merit, dark insight or focused direction to Heavy Metal in the past. The “Anvil of Thor” compilation was created to aid discourse on death metal and black metal with a friend of mine, as our musical learnings were composed in entirely different moulds and I wanted him to see the language of heavy metal with its forms, symbols and motion at least partially from my perspective. “If you don´t know the past, it´s impossible to understand the present.” Listening to these tracks in the preferred order as they appear in the playlist file, it should be easy, for example, to see how the tritone blues of Black Sabbath and the poetic narrative of Judas Priest contained the suggestion of high energy riffs as they appeared in occult bands Mercyful Fate, Death SS and Angel Witch, consequently mutating into Doom Metal in Trouble and Candlemass, Speed Metal in Slayer and Metallica and Epic Metal in Manilla Road and Manowar. This isn’t quite a “best of Heavy Metal” but one of the possible paths of seeing through core visions, techniques and moods of Heavy Metal music. For old heavy metal fans, it will hopefully revive fond memories of these sinister and majestic LP’s and for others, broaden the perception and hopefully bestow surprises.

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Mørketida – Panphage Mysticism (2018)

Written by Merlin Lemasters

Hailing from Finland, Mørketida present us their debut album which, unlike most of the festering horde laying claimant to the precipitous banner of black metal this year, has some actual merit. Perhaps what is most impressive about this release is that, despite its utter reliance on the most elementary of black metal chord and note progressions, there is such a wealth of depth in the interplay between elements that the essential lethargy and entropy prototypical of the modern form of this threadbare genre is fully exceeded. Verily —and in traditional, true black metal fashion— they have made the utmost out of rudiments. Every section here is wrung out, thoroughly, meticulously and by means of layering, coalesced into a microcosm of sound. This is aided by the production’s overlaid murk, an intensely atmospheric affair; manifold veils reveal obscured information upon close inspection, in this way taking its cues from early Burzum. Indeed, most parts of this album can be traced back quite easily enough to the cornerstones of the genre. As mentioned before, the language that makes up the barest essence of this genre is present here in full force and yet that language has been twisted to fit its needs, to create an experience. There is no concession to vanity here, all is arranged in service to a pervading darkness and this puts the craft of this album above most. In this way, it is true, it has not simply regurgitated the requirements of the genre but used them in expression. Traces of Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Graveland, Ancient and Burzum, all make appearances here, though not in imitation by any means. These classic bands have indeed scribed the language but the arrangement and order of its morphemes is fully Mørketida’s own.

A deliberate brooding pace sets the tone for much of this album, at times finding brief resolution in well-worn, thrumming tremolo bursts, hallmark of the Norwegians. Drums too, are played in the classic way, wisely devoid of any clutter they rumble, blast and accentuate without syncopation, pure in that they do not attempt to suffer arbitraries upon the listener. Vocals chant in intonations obscure, oft buried in the umbrage and at times barely discernible, only made known by their echo, like chanting heard from a cave some distance away. Some brief sections of keys, emphasize moments of power or ambience, they are present in much of this album however, usually as another layer in the foggy production. In its most fervent moments, there is force of passion here, etched out as sharp contrasts between the meandering stride. The brunt of this work appears uniform with its slow chords and droning arpeggios but sections are arranged in repetition only with the greatest patience, never failing to end that which has dwelt too long. In fact, this album is utterly untouched by the inertia of lingering thought-forms past their day; all sections have been measured diligently and like the ancients they shift when it is time, never after or before.

This organic sense of composition is much missed in these days of note clamor, where the essential power of the black metal language is roiled by the entropy of an unnecessary, incessant changing of riffs, vomited out with little application of artistry. Songs are well wrought, there are no loose ends to composition and another impressive facet of this release, there is no excess of vanity, no flirtations with extraneous influence. The uniformity of this approach, with just enough discernible waymarks to keep the listener guided throughout its realm, lends a rare strength to this release. Very few parts make any attempt to be seen as indelible, and of these, the title track in particular sets itself apart by letting the bass wander, exploring different trails and in one glorious moment lets it solo, a longing sonority against the melancholic scratching of the guitars. Moments like this one are rare and with good reason, this is the type of black metal that longs to dwell in worlds away from modernity, it crushes the ego, it spurns the trappings of the mundane. The goal of a permeating, consuming, crepuscule is always in mind and with it; the apprehension of an atmosphere pure, reveling in its fealty to an ultimate darkness. A mature and conservative work in all aspects, what may at cursory glance appear to be contrived or unremarkable will soon prove itself well worthy of study.

Experience it as a whole and experience it with headphones!

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Decieverion – Decieverion (2002)

D E C I E V E R I O N

Decieverion

2002 Era Horrificus

Decieverion start out making what can precisely be described as dark metal, an amalgam of death, black and heavy metal techniques underpinned by extreme metal vocals which can be of a variety of kinds. The purpose of this music is first and foremost to take the listener through sights both bleak and destructive, but also moving and pensive. To this end, dark metal, and so Decieverion, adopt a variety of techniques which, while not disparate or incongruous, make it hard for the critic to place them within one style or genre. Unlimited by such restrictions, the music wanders around seemlessly without great contrasts being perceived as outright offensive. On the downside, the lack of stylistic focus gives this music an altogether weak voice, even if execution is enjoyable and profficient. Incumbered by the liberties and confusion of dark metal, Decieverion tread a middle path that allows for the transmission of varied emotionality at the expense of clarity and elaboration towards depth. A final valuation of the present work reveals that the greatest treasure to be found here is one of countless things to say subsumed under a same aura and personality.

Dark metal moves, as its name directly implies, towards themes “of darkness.” In short towards the less pleasant, the less visited, but no less crucial aspects of our lives and minds that are often neglected but which are more decisive to human experience than the parts that are “positive” or “nice,” —human delusions not withstanding. Furthermore, dark metal as a whole tends towards personal sensations of frustration or desperation, rather than the painting of mythological outlooks. In this there is the advantage of being able to raise a sign that says “I have seen and I have lived.” The disadvantage is that in taking up the space and time to represent this subjective, changing and capricious individuality, the comprehensible link that would make the music self-evident through structures and style to others becomes blurred and debilitated. Instead, it is the bleeding emotionality that seeps through the cracks that impressionistically transmits a holistic image that can only be captured by intuition. Furthermore, the commonplace nature of the expressions used ensures that it is the intuition of a human unencumbered by layers of abstractions and “artistic” demands that finds the emotional clarity found herein as the Decieverion’s most important asset.

Decieverion then moves between passages that hint at black metal, at death metal and at so-called doom metal, in a way that many would interpret as a that of an undefined underground metal. But being these stylistic differentiations within an ultimately united genre, a prudent mind can fuse them together without the slightest hint of incongruity. Sufficiently intelligible complexity is achieved by smoothing out the textures of adjacent sections, and using contrasts in this texture as narrative markers, rather than as tools of shock, which would have destroyed the music’s credibility. The rightful complaint to be made is not so much that the styles are mismatching, because they are taken back to the power chord, as well as the multi-purpose percussion style that is founded upon the rock-based extremisms of underground metal. As such, and in order to attain stylistic variety, Decieverion errs on the side of more mainstream genres. To summarize, Decieverion let themselves be understood by choosing the more comprehensible popular aspects of metal, as far as they go, while developing a narrative by extending songs that connect sections through a proper minding of texture and by protecting the integrity of tonality.

If music is to be ultimately interpreted as an art of communicating what words cannot describe, then the art of Decieverion is accomplished at that of the transmission of experience-based insight from individual to individual. While other works leave great impressions of great art, they are ultimately impersonal and lacking immediate relevance to the majority that behold them in awe.

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Capharnaum – Reality Only Fantasized (1997)

Capharnaum were a short-lived “tech-death” band hailing from Connecticut but then after the release moved to Florida in the dying of the Floridian movement in an attempt to gain recognition for what is a technical Death metal album that genuinely has musical quality beyond mere feats of virtuosity. Influences range from bands like Monstrosity, Death and Iron Maiden with various Jazz techniques inserted. Though this formula has led to an infinitely long list of terrible tech Death bands, Capharnaum avoid these shortcomings by implementing these techniques within a genuine Death metal context and a true passion for genre not halted by technical acumen.
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Putrid Offal – Premature Necropsy (split w/ Exulceration) (1991)

At its most direct and well-calibrated, grindcore is a viciously effective medium for both emotional and corporal catharsis. But, as is often the case with experiential intensity, those equally delightful and terrifying moments seldom endure and will at best leave us grappling with a sensation of unresolved clarity. Whether or not this observation resonates with the reader, it may well be applied as an analogy for the grindcore phenomenon at large. Once a fortuitous offspring of hardcore punk and primordial death metal, early grindcore managed to tap into the deeper recesses of human discontent and paranoia and somehow channel this raw force into musical form. However, it didn’t take long before this short burst of essentially intuitive creativity gave in to rationalization and before anyone had realized it: game over.

The main point in case here would be Carcass. As have been previously chronicled on these pages, early Carcass lifted grindcore out of its self-inflicted musical and ideological circumscriptions with their debut Reek of Putrefaction (1988) —somewhat ironically, given its crude nature and presentation— before embarking on a steady slope into insignificance as the band got caught up with making music to please audiences. Since then, a veritable substyle has been founded upon Carcass’ earliest works reaching up to their third LP. Not surprisingly, the artistic results have been chiefly meagre because most successors have focused on mimicking style rather than the essential qualities of the music. Consider this in parallel to the poignantly limited musical palette of grindcore and a scenario takes form where novelty rather than substance is rewarded; because in a field where everything sound practically identical on the surface, the easiest way to gain notoriety is through aesthetic manipulation. Consequently, discovering worthy material quickly turns into a struggle of Sisyphosian proportions, as it requires extensive and often in-depth digging.

Unanimously forgotten by the metal world at large, Putrid Offal’s 1991 split LP with Exulceration comes across as a seemingly indistinctive affair at first glance. However, a deeper acquaintance with the material reveals this to be one of the more rewarding non-canonical works within the genre. Putrid Offal comfortably operates within a style somewhere between the first and second Carcass album if played with the intense rigidity of an early Napalm Death. Where the band excels is in a conjoinment of Reek of Putrefaction’s playful and frequently destabilizing nature with the more cogent and death metal-oriented riff sequencing witnessed on Symphonies of Sickness (1989). Riffs strive to expand beyond the simple chromatic patterns that has become a staple among grindcore acts. This allows the band not only to apply greater textural nuance to phrases, but also an opportunity to string riffs into sequences that defy binary modes of communication. While intensity remains as main focus throughout the playing time, both structure and riffology implies an undercurrent darker than what is usually expected of such a direct form of music.

Setting aside aspirations of petty “uniqueness”, Putrid Offal ironically enough belongs to the infinitesimal cadre of bands who’ve managed to expand upon the Carcass legacy.

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Hvile I Kaos – Agios O Fotiá (2017)

H V I L E   I   K A O S

Agios O Fotiá

2017 Era Horrificus

We are witnessing the rise of a label that, on the one hand, boasts of being led by personel experienced in different spheres of nefarious action on the ground, and that on the other, shows itself selective at both musical and ideological levels. The conjunction of these creates a unique opportunity seldom seen in the history of metal, a genre in which great artistic potential has been squandered by a lack of comprehension of what is being ultimately held in one’s hands. Deathwave Nexion promises to be one of the first loci of mature metal cultivation on North American soil. We see a far-reaching influence and presence stemming from a source that appears more monstruous the more one looks into it. In its train, the opening of mainstream operations by the nexion has brought to our ears the Hvile I Kaos’ first full album —a grand opening indeed.

For precise descriptions, Hvile I Kaos can be considered a chamber music ensemble, the music of which circles around the cello as the main instrument. As per classical tradition, it is indeed the wielder of the central instrument who leads the ensemble. He is as well the composer of these evocative pieces, to which the rest of these talented musicians contribute their own interpretations and idiosyncracies. The music is, to this writer’s amateur ears, modernist acoustic arrangements built on popular and folk melodies, but taken to a singular level of development in composition where they escape their roots and become the means with which the artist carves forth a new path. It is tempting, and perhaps not wholy unjustified to liken this to soundtrack music, although as far as that music goes, the generalizing comment does Agios O Fotiá a great disservice. As one follows the opening ‘populisms’ of the music, a joyous Pagan defiance that summons Life as much as it does Death communicates the unabstracted existence of human beings in a reality that is truly beyond these illusory poles —in reality, states of being distorted by blundering mundane minds.

A hidden, but effective power of manifest action and the bringing about of evil, not in the form of mythology as in the olden days of underground metal when daydreams and blurry visions led the way, but of an accumulated range of experiences that condense into the sonic efluvion that acquires depth by virtue of hindsight into concrete events. While this music is somewhat derivative in terms of expression, and may artistically show an imitative character of pre-established tropes, great acumen is shown in narrative elaboration, attention to detail —not to mention an intense emotional, even psychical, connection to more than simply music: this is art that extols visceral terror. The sensation is not unlike the immediacy and premonition of survival in danger that the neophyte might feel upon repeatedly calling on Shaitan while uttering his name and beholding his sigil. This is the plain, subtle and direct elating sensation of the edge of a cold blade; the living of eternity in moments of unsurpassed focus and clarity through sheer horrific ecstasy.

While one may at the very outset be dismissive of some or all of these works, especially given their surfaces’ blatant resemblance to mainstream cliches and overly-trodden figures of musical speech, the moment one engages the music thoroughly for what it has to say, the soul is carried away. More interestingly, despite any impressions words or claims might make, the character of the music —the marks it leaves on the heart— are of a humble tone. Echoes resound in the sensitive listener that become humbling to them as well, triggering introspection and self-challenge, or at least the heart’s need of it. There is no pretension, but rather just a well of remembrance, of pain from life and individual circumstance. This is true not only of Hvile I Kaos, but also of other projects linked to Deathwave Nexion in one way or another, such as Decieverion and Serpent ov Old , whose music should also be perused delicately to find the grain therein. [1]

Under a thin skin, we see highlighted here as part of the underground brotherhood relations and influences that come to feed the belly of this beast. Revelry and joy, mixed with blood-letting and pain, all in the most vivid possession by unnamed deities given tribute by those who aspire to join their ranks, by those whose minds reminisce of their non-existing past beyond the stars, to which they must strive to return, unto death, beyond death. The present work hints at this evolutionary movement into and across an abyss out of sight —yet beheld just below our quivering senses, resounding at the base of our skulls— in a path the entrance to which bears the mark of Shaitan, and upon which the Initiate fervently wishes to be blessed by the apparition of the Mistress of Blood. [2]

The reader on whose ears these words find a welcome reception, will perhaps take them as a salutary note for those who need no further justification for self-overcoming. As enactment of magick, a sword of death, Hvile I Kaos’ present, and hopefully its future, work has a transformative effect over those capable of raising themselves above themselves. Let its passionate music fill your heart, listener; let its muliebrial spectre haunt your wake and your dream, seeker. I for one never cease to long for its embrace.

Notes

[1] Recommended works: Decieveiron – Decieverion (2012); and Serpent ov Old – Withering Hope (2012). We must also emphatically commend the new single by Serpent ov Old in 2018, a preview of their next album to be published through Deathwave Nexion. The band has ascended through their own style to a new stage of coalesced beauty and virtuousic emotionality tempered by its dignified adoption of black metal.

[2] Baphomet – An Esoteric Signification : https://wyrdsister.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/baphomet-an-esoteric-signification/

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Statement from DEATHWAVE NEXION Record Label and Publishing House [MMXVIII E.H.]

D.A.R.G. : the statement below came to us from the leadership of Deathwave Nexion, and is published here as part of our continued support of outstanding music by people fostering genuinely dark philosophy through adversarial action.

Statement from DEATHWAVE NEXION Record Label and Publishing House:

Whilst remaining largely driven to the release of Neoclassical, Electronic and Ambient records, as detailed in the past and present efforts, our nexial decision to begin incorporating Heavy Metal bands into our cadre has come with no easy discernment. Purposefully aimed at quality over quantity, we have thus far approached or have been approached by artisans who we can collectively say are ‘masters of their craft,’ and no such lower tier of delivery should be permissible if our full weight of promotion and esoteric pairing are to be present.

We have selected a small group of individuals, each with their own sublets from which they are respective champions, but maintaining a shared lineup throughout. These are: DECIEVERION, a classic Black Metal act from Pennsylvania, and no stranger to the nightspirits of yesteryear; SHADOWS IN THE CRYPT, a ‘Sinister Cult’ from Pennsylvania whose sole purpose is to create the most menacing, hate-driven anthems of Devildom, and SERPENT OV OLD, the masterful effusion of many-years of learning through hardships and grief.

These three bands share one common thing among themselves: the members, whose efforts in the genre of North American Black Metal, and especially that which has thrived within the tri-state area, has existed and proliferated independent of genre-trends, subcultural infiltration or consumer interest. Nay, this Unholy Trinity has been, each respectively the bastions of inspiration, and each collectively, the circle of tradition, from which in the darkest times of the Black Metal genre’s foolery, have held down the fort for all of those whom have stayed pledged in allegiance to the dark.

What then separates the efforts of some small, underground, virtually invisible label, and its venture into the metal genre, from any other plastic theater? It is the fact that these “musicians,” are not just that, they are each individually, archetypes of the new aeon. The personnel surrounding the groups in question are antibodies within the mundane superstructure. Given to paths of sharp-living, recognizing no law, and no authority – foregoing the “normal” life which is emblazoned on the armbands of every reactionary, neo-Neckbeard; these are real criminals. They are dedicated to the dark deeds of the devil. In this, their journey towards restoration of principles once commonplace in Black Metal might yet see a renaissance, and in their seedings, might a new prototype of individual arise to stand before the failing species of man.

A New Sample Track from SERPENT OV OLD (2018 via Deathwave Nexion)

Many thanks to D.A.R.G. for the continued support and camaraderie, to S.R. Prozak and the Hessian stratosphere, and for their journalism, which has intersected with our work in the past, and with any luck will continue to in the future.

Julvarg
Deathwave Nexion
2018 Era Horrificus

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