In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.
There’s a few things in my life that get me extremely hyped up like a new batch of releases from Psychic Violence Records. The underground metal stalwarts have been churning out heavy music par excellence from some of my favorite acts like Ash Borer, Urzeit, and Ruin Lust (seriously, please listen to their album), for eight years, and the trend in quality is only ever upwards; between the latest Predatory Light full-length, Sanguine Eagle album, and the newest Akatharsia (which I raved about over here), the label’s most recent output has been some of the best they’ve ever released. So when Psychic Violence announced their newest batch of releases, I knew I couldn’t just pick one to review. That’s where our Second Circle format comes in handy. Buckle up for a double dose of destruction by way of A Story of Rats and Vilkacis.
Our first offering is A Story of Rats’ The Immeasurable Spiral, which may be one of the most out-there albums I’ve heard in a while, but definitely one of my favorites as well. The Immeasurable Spiral is an album that straddles many lines, between analog versus digital, noise versus structure, and metal versus “not-metal.” During the album’s two monolithic tracks, droning electronics wash over crisp live drums, ethereal keyboard choirs intertwine with sparse, almost post-punk vocals, and clouds of static condense into a doleful march. Indeed, for all its noise and electronic elements, much of The Immeasurable Spiral reminds me of the best parts of my favorite funeral doom records. It’s bleak, melancholic, vast in use of space, and yes, at times is crushingly heavy. If you’re looking to add something more adventurous in your listening tastes, A Story of Rats have you covered.
Something along more traditional lines, but equally as good, is the long-anticipated new album from US black metal act Vilkacis. Four years after the release of the band’s acclaimed demo The Fever of War, Beyond the Mortal Gate expands upon the triumphant black metal laid out by sole member Mike Rekevics. Much like his work on the recent Vanum album (also released by Psychic Violence), Vilkacis’ sound is dominated by a sense of brash confidence, with tracks that barrel headlong onward, propelled by Rekevics’ no-holds-barred drumming, distinctive vocal ability, and undaunted melodies. Beyond the Mortal Gate is black metal of a classic style delivered with a fervor matched by few.
I hope this post has inspired you to check out one of the undergrounds best hidden treasures. And if you already know, then I hope this gets you even more excited for this Friday when these albums release in full.