Cult Of Osiris is a relatively young label from Leeds (in the U.K.), focusing on digital releases with a harsh character. On their roster, you can find acts like Apothecary, Wintercrown or Uten Håp (for which I published a review a while ago). The net-label also released / releases several compilations with some of the better bands or projects floating on our globe. This review will deal with ‘one’ of those.
Simply called One, this compilation consists of thirteen tracks by thirteen international bands – some not that known, others quite notorious. I will not go too deep into each one’s background, history or discography – that would bring me too far – yet I’ll focus on the sonic side of this smartly compiled recording. Nothing more than that, but a brief, to-the-point description of what I hear. And experience. A mixture of subjective thoughts and objective facts, let’s say, but hey, I am the reviewer, am I not…
Oh yes, one more thing: the very beautiful cover artwork was created by label owner Grim…
- Black Sigil, Helioren (4:12): Californian one-man army; Black Sigil contributes with a previously unreleased composition (if I’m not mistaken). After a somewhat up-tempo introduction, Helioren balances in between slow and even slower, doomed dimensions, with truly cool vocals, eccentric, little progressive drum patterns (drum computer?), raw strings with a very melodious touch, and the addition of some spoken words. Hints of the Second Wave trend are included, without doing that infantile copycat thing. Actually, this first composition sounds like a timeless tribute to the essence of the scene.
- Svneatr, The Whisper (5:38): Canadian formation that surprised in 2018 with their full length debut The Howl, The Whisper, The Hunt. Their contribution track is taken from that album. It’s a loud and merciless piece, with an industrialised production, guitar riffs that sort of pay tribute to the glorious tradition, wretched and icy screams, and a monumental, bathorian and heavy-as-f*ck rhythm section. There is a certain groovy force and a specific attention for the balance in between melody and harshness.
- Abigail Williams, Akasha (5:38): this solo-outfit by multi-instrumentalist Ken Sorceron does not need any presentation, I guess. The introduction is, well, let’s call it ‘different: first little droning in a cinematic manner, soon evolving with a psychotropic approach, mesmerizing and transcendental. You feel the increase of tension, and after two minutes, a mostly mysterious orchestration paves its way to another aural dimension. Words like unworldly, magic, psychedelic and experi-mental (mind the ‘-‘!) are apposite for sure.
- Unreqvited, Anhedonia (5:23): strongly upcoming (properly deserved) act from Canadian soil, strongly getting recognized within the international Underworlds; the track opens in a very atmospheric, almost emotional way, and it does show, throughout the whole composition, that fine, typifying (and talented) ability to combine integrity with an expressive mentality. Anhedonia is a ‘full’ sonic experience with an extremely diversified song writing (and execution), yet maintaining a stable one-directional attitude.
- Apothecary, Murmurs (9:17): Arkansas finest Apothecary are no stranger to this label; and one of the most extreme ones too. Their Black Metal is of a most chaotic kind, dissonant, contrary and noisy. Apothecary sort of mingle turbulent drum salvos, raw string raping, bestial growling and diabolical screaming, with a certain form of precision – call it structured deconstruction or so. All this gets strengthened by the rough, unpolished sound quality. Even that semi-acoustic outro isn’t but frenzy. Oh yes, in a near future, I will publish a review for their split with Crossburner and Uten Håp – FYI.
- Wolfheart, Breakwater (5:33): the Finns from Wolfheart come up with a piece from 2018’s album Constellation Of The Black Light - and that is quite another angle, compared to the former piece on One. Breakwater is a fierce and powerful Death / Black / War epic with a very professional sound. Pay attention: it does not mean that the production is catchy or exaggerated; it just gives a well-balanced impression of the mix. This song provides a fearless, brave atmosphere, injecting the whole with acoustic passages, harmonious chants and crafted solo-work on guitar. Everything is well-balanced, even neat and decent, yet seen the heaviness and war-mongering approach, it exceeds pathetic catchiness. Luckily…
- Void Ritual, A Glorification Of Fire (5:13): productive outfit from the South-West of the U.S.; the Nordic-styled approach breathes the victorious essence of the fabulous Second Wave current. Okay, it means a total lack of originality, but who cares about that? I do not at all, at least as the result is as great as the origins. Void Ritual are able to revive that specific sound that characterised the Norwegian and North American scene (and some other, of course), and this fast and kinetic piece combines all necessary ingredients: power, melody, energy, that grandiose typifying atmosphere, and a truly splendid execution.
- Uten Håp, Inert (5:47): for more info, I’d like to refer to my review on Life Obliteration; link below. Everything starts with a somewhat melancholic introduction on Grand Piano, yet after one minute, the true identity of Uten Håp comes forth. It is not exactly DSBM in its most deep definition, but this band’s Atmospheric Black Metal surely brings unhappiness and anger, despair and gloominess. The main guitar leads are strongly hypnotic, and the wretched screams only support that mood of negativism and isolationism.
- Winter Dynasty, Oh Mighty China (8:14): this is an outfit by some Leo, a Mexican-born guy who moved over to China. And that ‘Chinese’ thing, well it does certainly influence the opening sequence of Oh Mighty China, which combines acoustic guitars and Orientally-influenced flutes (or something that sounds that way). Soon everything evolves into a primal and conventional, yet rhythmic and grooving play, down-tuned yet somehow multi-layered too. I appreciate the ‘primitive’ approach (hey, this is not a negative connotation!), and seen the variety in structure it is a blessing to experience this composition with a certain no-nonsense wink. Oh yes, those Chinese elements do return, be it very subtly executed.
- Enslaved, Sacred Horse (8:14): yeah, why not…; part of the Nordic origins, as you know. They did evolve, throughout the years, to one of the most respectable Prog-influenced Extreme Metal bands, whether you like it or not, and this specific piece, Sacred Horse, represents everything that makes that specific scene attractive. Personally (for what it’s worth) I do not like ‘progressive’ elements whatsoever, yet there are a couple of exceptions, and if you listen to this band, or this specific track, I get strengthened in my choice. Anyway, with a touch of eccentricity, Enslaved’s balance in between blackened, progressive, traditional and atmospheric elements gets canalised into some hazardous adventure, but it works (once more).
- Unholy Baptism, Nihil (4:58): Arizona-based duo with two excellent albums; creators of timeless supremacy. This project is able to find a great equilibrium in between the tradition of the Old School and a pertinent quest for modernised influences. The main structures remind of the old days, with ‘orthodox’ melodies and a conventional rhythm section. The universal execution is a surplus, for Unholy Baptism trespass the limitative borders of narrow-mindedness. No, I am not going to pretend that these guys are renewing - for they are not at all. Yet it’s the subtlety of hidden aspects that differs from ‘the grey masses’.
- Wintercrown, Frost Winter (4:16): a band located in Spain that includes Uten Håp’s Danthor. The demonstrational piece is another border-crossing example of a crafted and experienced existence within the Extreme Music scene. Despite a certain catchy song writing and a huge focus on ‘tradition’, Frost Winter is a monumental hymn that convinces by its monstrous sound, its unstoppable and energetic force, and the professional craftsmanship of this band’s members. Fast, vengeful, epic and uncompromising, this elegy, well, it’s just monumental.
- ForbiHavet, Ghost (10:34): one-woman project from the centre of England, representing the longest hymn on this sampler. But hey, it’s way too short! No, seriously, Ghost is a deeply intriguing piece, which opens quite intimate and calm (acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars, some percussion elements, all wrapped within an integer veil). Step by step, it climbs up, slowly yet continuously adding new elements, new layers of instrumentation, then again returning to that devout serenity. Doom and melancholy, this Atmospheric Black Metal composition is an instrumental one, but for once I do not exactly miss any screams / vocals whatsoever. It accompanies the listener on a journey through the Inner Self, a quest for the Inner Eye (damn, my spiritual and poetic alter ego woke up?). No fierce outbursts, no harsh eruptions of blaspheme incantations, but a certain tranquillity with a dark-edged atmosphere…