Nine Circles ov…Blackened Death Records

0007198319_100

Underground Forever.

Those words stand as the rallying cry for Blackened Death Records, a UK label founded and run by Richard Weeks, a stalwart of the online metal community and a whirling dervish of musical activity, recording under various names and styles for the label, as well as taking over bass duties for The Meads of Asphodel. The label specializes in extreme metal and noise, with an eye to off-kilter and truly independent passion projects, many headed by Weeks himself, who proves adept at a number of different genres and styles.

All that plus a regular podcast where Weeks raps rhapsodic on anything under the sun (as long as its metal), unique merchandise such as the popular “Stop Supporting Racist Bands” t-shirt and various compilation albums featuring new and upcoming bands. It’s a huge output from anyone, let alone a solitary dude so we’re bringing back Nine Circles ov… to not only spotlight a true soldier of metal, but to help immerse you in some of our favorite offerings from Blackened Death Records. Let’s do this.  

0006078311_10

Carnivorous Forest – Frozen Rivers

Blackened Death started with Carnivorous Forest, so it’s only apt to start this off with the newest release and debut LP from Weeks’s one-man neo-folk project. Frozen Rivers envelopes the listener with sparse and haunting guitar arrangements as multi-tracked vocals invite one into a cold world where wolves, wendigos and other natural horrors await.  This is an album of night, of visible breath, and of a delicate death.

Shiteater, Clit Eastwood – Shit Clit Split

Tongue firmly planted in cheek (although I shudder to think where it was before) Shiteater is Weeks’s alter ego Grandmaster Flush in full-on old school death metal mode, banging out short, staccato bursts of buzzing guitars, bottom of the barrel vocals and song titles to make your mother scream (I’m partial to “Shrine of Strangulated Infants”). On the other side of the split is Austin, TX grind/power violence band Clit Eastwood, who spit out a rough and angry set including “Miyagi vs Munster” and a cover of the Ramones’ “happy Family” that puts a good does of fun in the fury.

Suicide Wraith – In My Garden of Self Mutilation

DSBM with shades of industrial and gothic doom, Suicide Wraith is the anguished scream of divine loss. Weeks puts all of his vocal styles to use here, crafting a short but immersive darkwave explosion on the title track and “Unable to Live Like This,” a cover from his avant-garde noise project Shrug.

Shrug – Apathy

And since we brought it up in the previous entry, let’s talk about the multitude of styles clashing in Shrug, which might be the most ambitious project to date. Ambient net-goth noise with hearty doses of doom and pop help but don’t hint at the amount of emotion and intimacy as the tracks leads the listener on a devastating journey without relying on a specific narrative. The standout track here is “Cancer” which manages to convey an entire spectrum of emotions through the repeated use of the word intoned by a plethora of guests, including Karl Willetts of Bolt Thrower and, crazily enough, yours truly.

Harsh Noise Movement – Sucking Off Satan

My fascination with noise comes from my complete lack of understanding about it, both from a compositional standpoint as well as a conceptual one. So there’s not a lot I can say about this release from Harsh Noise Movement, except that as the tracks go on my mind starts to slowly push the sound to the background, and only picks up certain spikes of static that bring me back to wonder what it was about that piece that caught me. It’s challenging, it’s intense, and it’s a prime example of the type of music Blackened Death tries to champion.

Disfinite – Godmode

Death metal. Pure and simple. Heavy and dark and technical and the work of someone named V who handles all the music. From a genre perspective this might be the most mainstream things on the label, but “mainstream” in this instance means slickly produced technically proficient death metal that doesn’t pull punches and has a cold and clinical sound that accentuates the tight riffing and solos. Godmode implies a video game theme, and songs like “I Love This Level” and highlight “Bad Guy” do nothing to change that (nor do the programmed drums) but it’s all part of the charm of the record.

World Controller – Apocalypse

If I have a favorite thing on Blackened Death, it’s this goth metal mix of Type O Negative and stomping rock and roll. Weeks shows a gift for a catchy chorus on opener “Epsilon Minus” and quirky lyrical play on “Robot Girlfriend”. It’s probably the most fun thing I’ve heard on him do, and quite frankly it makes my son and wife sing along, so for that alone it gets my MVP award. Both this and the earlier EP Sacrifice to Rats are great examples of how simplicity and directness can impart an impact.

Hammer Smashed Faith – Volumes I-IV

While the majority of Blackened Death Records serves as home base for the myriad of projects Weeks helms himself, he also is keen to spotlight underground bands from all over the world. The Hammer Smashed Faith compilations run the gamut of death, black, thrash, and any other metal you can think of, and keep the focus squarely on underground metal. Full disclosure: my band is featured on Volume III, which by no means is any kind of endorsement, except that it is. So take it for what it is, but at Pay What You Want you’re bound to find a hidden gem, even if it’s not me…

Elk – Wōđanaz

Elk works the neo-folk angle from a more pagan place. The instrumentation is more varied, adding synthesizers and a more percussive vibe to the guitars, but the vocals have the same dark folds of elder gods and harsh cold that imbue Carnivorous Forest with its signature sound. As much distortion as can be found on Blackened Death, I always associate the label with the neo-folk Weeks does so well, so it made sense to bookend this series with two of his best works in that field.

-Chris


All releases can be purchased on the Blackened Death Records Bandcamp page. For more information on Blackened Death Records, visit their official website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s