Give Me Alchemy! Give Me Sorcery! Give Me A Bonehead Bounty!
All the music released by Iron Bonehead Productions is made by ill-tempered bands with diabolical-sounding plans. The label’s a prolific merchant of arcane and atavistic devilry too, but the standard of its releases is consistently high. Admittedly, you’ll probably need to be a devotee of the harshest and most primitive strains of black, death, and doom metal to fully support that statement. But whatever your opinion, there’s no question that Iron Bonehead’s roster occupies a fair share of floor space in the pantheon of necromantic metal.
Iron Bonehead had a triumphant 2018, and the label’s gotten off to a roaring start this year. Because I’m such a nice guy, I thought I’d throw three recent Iron Bonehead releases at you. They all devoured my pitiful soul, and fingers crossed they’ll consume your rotten little hearts too. There’s no grand, interlinking theme connecting these releases. But they’re all created by uncompromising musicians with infernal interests, and custom-made to test your mettle. Tune in for the madness, stick around for the malevolence, but most of all, enjoy the more-evil-than-evil exploits below.
Terror Oath – Terror Oath
The PR pitch for the vinyl release of Terror Oath’s bristling self-titled debut noted the band are “an international entity: no info, no use, no more, but certainly no less.” Fair enough; a lot of underground bruisers seem to enjoy their anonymity. However, I’m hardly spoiling a well-kept secret when I tell you that Terror Oath was founded by like-minded fiends from black/death band Vassafor and similarly Stygian death-dealers Weregoat.
I’m telling you the above to underscore that you’re not dealing with a bunch of weekend warlocks here. Terror Oath’s members are all extremely familiar with black-hearted endeavors, and they put their bad intentions to good use on their savage first release. The band’s debut was originally released on cassette by (now defunct) Canadian label Vault of Dried Bones in 2014, and it would be a significant overstatement to say the release is carefully constructed or meticulously arranged. Instead, what you get is red-raw antediluvian metal that’s about as comforting as snuggling in a sack full of razorblades and scorpions. Still, if you’re a fan of the untamed intensity of off-the-cuff recordings, you’ll love the loathsome noise here.
Essentially, Terror Oath’s debut sounds like a powder keg of blackened death metal thrown into a disintegrating meat grinder. The band’s music is murky, murderous, and punishingly barbaric. Dense walls of pitch-black abrasive noise crash and collide (while churning chaos swirls) and a vile atmosphere oozes venomous intent.
If you’re angling for a couple of points of comparison, then the Blasphemy or Black Witchery school of über-blasting mayhem sort of works. Although, I’ll be the first to admit that Terror Oath would likely reject those bands as influences and offer up a “fuck you for even taking a guess” in response.
What’s certain is that Terror Oath’s handiwork is obnoxious and the obliteration of everything sounds like the end goal here. The band’s ugly music features mutilated vocals, primordial riffs (delivered at whirlwind speeds), and relentless percussion that rains down mercilessly. The end result is probably best appreciated on 9-minute track “Desolations Kommand,” which takes a steep dive into primeval destruction, and drags degeneracy along for the ride.
Forget about fancy flourishes, accommodating songwriting, or any showboating whatsoever—Terror Oath are interested in ultra-violent cacophonies, and ultra-violent cacophonies alone. The band’s torrents of hate and hostility are crude and unadorned, but that’s no criticism and you can’t fault their dedication to making truly demented music.
Intensity and intimidation are rife on Terror Oath’s debut, and while the band sure ain’t pretty or pleasant, it’s still great to see their debut getting dragged back into the light.
Blue Hummingbird On The Left –
Atl Tlachinolli is the full-length and notably challenging debut from Black Twilight Circle co-conspirators Blue Hummingbird on the Left (BHOTL). If you’re scratching your head about the band’s name, it’s the translated title of Aztec deity Huitzilopochtli—a god of war, the sun, and human sacrifice. But a curious moniker is the least challenging part of the BHOTL puzzle.
Atl Tlachinolli is one of those albums you’re either going to love to an unhealthy degree or hate with an unbridled passion—and I’m sure BHOTL wouldn’t have it any other way. (Obviously, complete indifference is also an option, but why let reality mess with my hyperbole, right?) A couple of my erstwhile Last Rites colleagues described Atl Tlachinolli thusly: “I couldn’t get through that album, and I can’t believe I was forced to listen to it,” and “Pretty bad, with AWFUL reverb on the vocals.” Clearly, my aforementioned colleagues are terrible human beings and I’m still waiting for formal written apologies from both. However, in all honesty, their reactions to Atl Tlachinolli are entirely understandable.
If you’re not a fan of REVERB + REVERB + a
little lot more REVERB, you’re definitely going to find Atl Tlachinolli to be a neverending/forever echoing nightmare. (Let me rephrase that: the reverb here is fucking brutal.) You might also want to sidestep the album if you’re not a fan of extremely primitive war metal that’s as grisly and raw as the themes it explores.
Now, that’s the ‘fair warnings’ delivered, and hopefully all the lily-livered posers dispensed with. Onto the good news, kidz.
BHOTL are part of esoteric label Crepúsculo Negro’s roster, home to black and death voyagers like Volahn and Arizmenda, and Atl Tlachinolli is a co-release between Crepúsculo Negro, Iron Bonehead, and Nuclear War Now! Like every other release from Crepúsculo Negro’s stable, Atl Tlachinolli is unapologetically confrontational, and the primal music within clearly meets primal demands—there’s no shame in desiring such crude and ugly sustenance. Every Black Twilight Circle band has taken an uncompromising approach to music making, and BHOTL clearly don’t care about anyone’s approval or disapproval either. They’re more focused on crafting “hymns of war” and “odes to the lords” while stoking the flames of Aztec metal ever higher until they scorch the heart of heathen black metal.
Musically, Atl Tlachinolli features abrasive black and death metal scoured (ever-so-slightly) by psychedelic influences. BHOTL’s multilayered and reverb-heavy vocals are definitely an acquired taste—although fans of dissonant noise punk will likely find that brain-drilling aspect of Atl Tlachinolli to be entirely familiar. For the most part, Atl Tlachinolli forgoes technicality in favor of raw war cries threaded with stark melodic hooks. Swarms of tremolo guitars and jarring bass and tribal percussion set blast-beaten brutality at the forefront of BHOTL’s sound. But it’s those deranged vocals that suggest fevered communion with the gods is possible.
Like many of their Black Twilight Circle kin, BHOTL combine an aesthetic and narrative focus on their cultural heritage and ancestral mythologies. That’s supported on Atl Tlachinolli by indigenous instrumentation woven into songs. And that fusion of culture and mythology will clearly resonate with fans whose own indigenous roots have been assailed by colonizers historically or whose cultures are being attacked or exploited to this day.
Atl Tlachinolli definitely isn’t for everyone—see the decidedly positive and negative reactions to the album—but it doesn’t need defending. It’s resilient enough to take any knocks and it’s well worth investigating if you’ve found the mysteries of the Black Twilight Circle alluring before now.
I’d hazard a guess that those enthralled by Atl Tlachinolli hear something more sacred than the album’s detractors do. It certainly feels like a challenging rite of passage, and its raw primitivism does have a mesmerizing, cumulative effect. Blood-red horrors beyond imagining await. Time to embrace the unknowable, my friend.
Bloodsoaked Necrovoid –
The Apocryphal Paths of the Ancient 8th Vitriolic Transcendence
The clue’s in the name for this soul-crushing death ’n’ doom beast. Bloodsoaked Necrovoid is definitely an apt handle ably encompassing the carnage-filled chasms of doom that the Costa Rican trio explore. The band’s music is suffocatingly heavy, it features plenty of funereal atmospherics, and Bloodsoaked Necrovoid sound all in for summoning unfathomable beasts from beyond or below.
The Apocryphal Paths of the Ancient 8th Vitriolic Transcendence is an apt title for an album that features its fair share of esoteric mysteries. The title also alludes to transformation, and Bloodsoaked Necrovoid slither through dark catacombs and traverse vast cosmic horrorscapes, all the while mangling our collective minds—which is certainly one way to transcend the mundane. I should also point out, The Apocryphal Paths of the Ancient 8th Vitriolic Transcendence collects Bloodsoaked Necrovoid’s first two demos, which were originally released in 2018, and they’ve been mastered for vinyl by Vassafor founder/sinister sound wizard, VK.
Also note some of the album’s song titles: “Metaphysical Prolapse Through Purulent Detaching Nightmares,” “Flesh Divinations for the Ego-Plundered Psyche,” “Dismal Catacombs of Eternal Astral Flagellating Torment”… you get the point, amigos. There’s plenty of enigmatic wordplay to conjure sepulchral intrigue as well as the specter of death and a legion of hideous deep space demons besides. In fact, imagine The Exorcist taking a sharp swerve into Event Horizon. That’s pretty close to the tone of the abominable creativity here.
What else is good? Well, The Apocryphal Paths of the Ancient 8th Vitriolic Transcendence‘s production is as putrid as a flyblown corpse—and it duly reeks of decay—so that’s a couple more crucial points on the crushing doom checklist ticked off. Every note here sounds about as pleasant as gargling sarcophagus slops, and the heaviness and crawling pace of Bloodsoaked Necrovoid’s music amplify its dismal oppressiveness.
To be clear, Bloodsoaked Necrovoid aren’t carving out an original route. You’ll recognize the weaponry in their armory, but familiarity isn’t likely to stop you enjoying the band’s grim tidings. The rawness of their music might. But abrasive edges are also what anchors all the gut-wrenching grisliness.
What’s most impressive about The Apocryphal Paths of the Ancient 8th Vitriolic Transcendence is that Bloodsoaked Necrovoid use fairly simple ingredients to achieve a mastery of malevolence. A few bludgeoning riffs and guttural barks here, some battering bass and percussion there, and then everything is dunked in a boiling vat of shit before being smothered in a choking blanket of cemetery fog.
The key to Bloodsoaked Necrovoid’s creative cunning lies in their astute balancing of those ingredients. (And yeah, I’m well aware that “astute” probably sounds ridiculous when referencing such raw nastiness.) Still, if you’re aching for some filthy sonic torture, take note: Bloodsoaked Necrovoid’s music wrenches open a fathomless abyss filled with endless torments and terrors. You’d be a fool not to leap straight in.