“Black Metal is a sub-genre of metal typified by its usually raw or under-produced sound and Satanic/rebellious aesthetic, as well as simplistic guitar phrases and under-accentuated rhythmic dimensions which allow more power for the atmospheric, detached and wandering riffs. Vocals are often higher pitched than death metal (or, screams rather than death metal’s grunts) and can sound detached or unnervingly direct.” (RateYourMusic/Sonemic, Inc., 2021)
Portland, Maine has a thriving black metal scene. Falls of Rauros, Eave, Feral and Alghol are all among great company, but stand as underground scene darlings that have reached their wretched eldritch tentacles beyond the walls of the Northeast. But, it is still very enticing that a place so close to home has such a blossoming sound (we get it Massachusetts hardcore/noise/doom/deathcore scene, you’ve been around for a while). While still in their infantile phases, New Hampshire does have some growing bastions of worshippers of the devil fist. Be it Manchester thrash, Rockingham tech-death or any other local scene, we have plenty to be proud of here in the Granite State.
To begin, I would like to mention that for this (and presumably more installments in the future) edition of the NH Metal Memorandum, I had to vet certain groups from being included here. I will not be mentioning groups that I have decided are lyrically sensitive or outwardly oppressive within this collection, as there are unfortunately some that also call New Hampshire their home (I could expound further upon this, but this is already going to be a lengthy article). I completely stand for artist vs. art integrity, and understand that artistic freedom extends toward everyone, but I will not stand for, nor give a platform towards groups that I determine to be too extreme in, particularly, lyricism.
With this out of the way, lets jump right into it. Because there is a ton of music to cover here, we’re going to view them in two categories. The first will occupy NH bands based on relative location to “the only Henniker on earth,” while the second will be organized based on release date of their most recent recordings from last year (these groups haven’t listed their location anywhere but ‘New Hampshire’). This way, we can at least differentiate between all this 2020 content. Final anecdote aside, get ready to worship demons and scream into the wintery air, let’s dive into one of my favorite genres of music.
Home Is Where The Hate Is (Location-Based)
The Trve Morderisk – Hidden Darkness EP (Black Metal)
What record better to begin with than arguably the trvest of them all? The Trve Morderisk (aka Corpse of Ennuai/Numb) is closest to home in Sunapee, New Hampshire, and performs a great tribute to the lo-fi Scandinavian groups of the time. Swirling guitars and thundering drums muddle the mix to soup, as the raspy chants of Mordedrisk call forth shadow sermons and vampiric hymns. This solo debut is despondent, harsh, and surprisingly well put together. The instrumentation isn’t as grating as much of the lo-fi scene’s, and the songwriting is advanced and engaging throughout. It shows that there is a proficient understanding of the genre behind this music, as it bleeds into the aesthetics of the music itself. It’s a great release, and definitely one for the old-heads to rave about.
Worthless Life – Severed Roots (Symphonic/Depressive Black Metal)
Our first example of the metaphorical incestuousness of the metal genre appears with this Rindge, NH-based duo. Caleb Hennessey (Aetheric Existence) also serves as the bassist, percussionist, and vocalist of this project, and we’re glad to see that expert songwriting back in full force on the band’s sixth LP, Severed Roots, a progressive and multi-style journey across eight tracks. While the symphonics are used much more tastefully with this project, they still play an integral role in the songwriting, as we touched upon with H O R R I F I C A. This band takes a lot from The Ruins of Beverast, but in the best way possible, doomifying the tremolo picking and faster tempos. With seemingly the largest following among the groups here, one can certainly appreciate the unique take on black metal that these local guys create.
Bone Fragments – Fractured (Avant-Garde Black Metal)
The award for stylistic uniqueness goes to Dover, NH-based Bone Fragments, for a band that has previously focused on the subject matter of clowns and pure violence, has now switched to rocks. Fractured‘s tracks all reference different types of gemstones, but this doesn’t even describe their music. This enigmatic duo/quartet (information varies) plays a unique brand of melodic mid-pace black metal (at least, on this record). Impressive guitar lines and solos drive this record, with enticing melodies and solid riffs. The production gives room for all instruments to breathe, but not enough to not completely leave the thick mix, and the programmed drums sound alright throughout most of the record. Enchanting and ethereal, this one is hard to classify as anything but a wonderous jaunt of weird blackgaze, which is a blast to listen to.
Into The Void (2020 Release Date-Based)
Malus Votum – Tradition (Black Metal)
I think the band themselves put it best: “Grim, occult darkness, channeling the abyss since 2010.” It sure sounds like it too, as this NH duo has the chops of a multi-decade old group, with the vibrant, youthful energy that makes their modern lo-fi sound incredibly impressive. Both members have either: a. a plethora of additional projects other than Malus Votum, or b. a position in a long-living black metal group. While a shorter release at just over a half-hour, the lengthy cuts on here are fully realized, with nothing held back as the band breaks into a whipping necrotic storm of evil incantation. The harsh, cold aesthetics on display here are immense, maintaining a uniquely demonic vibe while remaining confidently rooted in the basics of the genre. Hypnotic to the best end, and atmospheric even moreso, Tradition holds itself up.
Decarabia – Lunar Incantations (Ambient Black Metal)
The subgenre doesn’t get enough credit about the beauty many groups are able to curate with wonderful synths, sweeping guitars, and good songwriting. This three-piece certainly does that on the first (and only) instrumental release on this list. Lunar Incantation takes a lot from black metal’s sister electronic genre, dungeon synth, but is primarily metal throughout its eight tracks. In a genre with so much hatred, rebellion, and loss at it’s focal point, it is relaxing to hear almost ‘passive’ black metal. More ambient in its tone than its songwriting, the group’s second full length album is a vibe from track to track, with clear-cut songwriting and post-rock performances, this eerie and freezing version of Mogwai is perfect to lie back and watch the moon travel across the freezing abyss it occupies.
Swamp Temple – Descending From The High Heavens (Black Metal)
Undeniably the most prolific artist here, NH solo outfit Swamp Temple has a total of five full-lengths, eight demos, seven EPs/splits, and a number of other singles, all in the matter of four years. Immediately impressive with those songwriting feats alone, DFtHH is an immediately demanding record in it’s own right. Extremely raw, considerably quiet and genre-bending, Jake Boardman produces an unfiltered and otherwise uncompromising release. Serving up a challenging, classic and disorienting ennead of short-form tracks, each one brings another layer of intrigue into its sound, be it more sung vocals and bright keys on “Nocturnal” or an unrelenting windstorm of grinding black metal on “Gates of Hell.” Fans of Lamp of Murmuur and Revenant Marquis should keep an eye on this group’s future.
Misanthropist – Left with Misery (Depressive Black Metal)
To this, and all other artists who struggle with mental illnesses, I extend my best wishes and hope you are doing well, as this music is incredibly hard to create mentally and physically. In arguably the most unnerving and unyielding of the list, Life with Misery is breaking. Intense, peaky instrumentation and an emphasis on dissonance, the four tracks are incredibly raw, unkempt and emotive. Part of the DSBM sound is the acute focus on emotion as a driving factor in the sound, and the Haverhill, NH anonymous solo outfit nails this on this record. This is, additionally, one of two releases that this artist put out last year, in addition to a remastered version of this record that was recently released on Bandcamp. Misanthropist is hard at work (and so far successful) at making some of the noisiest and unhinged depressive black metal out there.
Northern Curse – “Ceremony of Loss” (Melodic Black Metal)
While just one single has been released by this triplet in the last few years, it is an absolute headcrusher of a melodic black metal cut. “Ceremony of Loss” is the first track to the group’s second coming LP, Universal Bleeding (release date TBA), but I couldn’t be more excited. This destructive bout of crusty, punky black metal is mixed incredibly heavy, and the group is cognizant of it. Fully leaning into the pummeling blast beats and sporadic tremolos, it is no wonder that Northern Curse has previously shared the stage with big names like Fuming Mouth and Wolves In The Throne Room. These vets also were members of Portsmouth hardcore group Backstabbers Inc., which featured former members of now enormous groups Unearth and The Red Chord, as well as the vocalist of Trap Them, so their chops should not be doubted.
The Next Form of God (???)
Worthlessness – As The Dimness Grows EP (Death/Doom Metal)
What’s this? Another new release from a New Hampshire band in 2021? How could everyone’s favorite metal blogger trick us so? Apologies for my conniving actions, but I wanted to surprise the wonderful reader base with a new record from this year, even if we were strictly discussing black metal in this article (this may happen again, mind you). This depressive death/doom project of Contagium guitarist James Maron has been around for a couple of years, and have only recently released the Nashua-based artist’s fourth EP, As The Dimness Grows. These recordings are true demos, and are extremely bare bones, with a likely chance of being re-envisioned or rewritten in the future. Yet the two slabs of near funeral doom tempo death/doom shake the ground with somber melodies and droning repetition, i.e., music to wither to.
All of this black metal was released in 2020, but there is so much more to come. You may not be a fan of this music, but supporting your local artists is also extremely important, particularly in the times of COVID-19, as there are a severe lack of live performances (where bands make most of their money). Listening to the music is helping them out too, so don’t hesitate to check out these artists!
Check out these releases below!