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Stream in the Northern Sky #4 – Act of Impalement, Void Ritual, Skáphe

In honor of what’s sure to be a doomed USA showing at the World Cup, here are three U-S-A picks for this stream rundown. A little death to kick it off followed by two solid black metal picks. In what feels like a nostalgic trip to FF/RW, these three are all out on tape (edit: yes, and digitally).

— Wyatt Marshall

Act of ImpalementEchoes of Wrath/Hyperborean Altar

I love a band that’s palpably earnest—not in a try-hard way, but one that by their very aura gives off the feeling that they seriously care about what they’re doing, that what they’re doing is urgent and important. Something depends on it—what, I don’t know. I get that vibe from Act of Impalement, a band from Nashville that, according to Cvlt Nation, is made up of members who are quite young. That youthful vigor bleeds through on this double album, Echoes of Wrath/Hyperborean Altar, a compilation of earlier demos (also available digitally) out on the gem of a label Caligari Records. There’s something about Act of Impalement’s lo-fi, slightly doomed-out death metal, with it’s crust-caked, filthy guitars, raw cavernous drums, and, lyrically, its unabashed praise of all things necro that plucks the heartstrings.

Void RitualHolodomor

This polished slab of black metal comes courtesy of another tape label that’s been stringing together impressive releases of late, Tridroid. According to Nefarious Realm, Void Ritual is a one-man black metal band from Daniel Jackson of Ancestral Oath. A lot of one-man black metal falls into the lo-fi, screaming in a basement with a single lightbulb variety, the stuff of remote hidden horrors and abstract weirdness, where atmosphere reigns—Void Ritual doesn’t. Here, relentless, sharp drumming machine guns away with big, layer upon layer of melody-minded guitars, reminiscent of a big-hitter festival band. It’s a different idea from the other kind of one-man black metal, one that’s arguably more powerful—it’s certainly more muscular. The name “holodomor” means “death by hunger” and refers to a Ukranian genocide, a man-made famine that killed 7.5 million Ukranians between 1932-1933.

SkápheSkáphe

I take back what I just said about lo-fi black metal lacking muscle—Skáphe’s twisting, murky, utterly disorienting weirdo black metal has heft and punches with force. A release from Fallen empire, a label that both of those mentioned above no-doubt should tip their hats to, Skáphe has remarkable depth. The demo’s experimental without ever going into obnoxious territory or losing its way. It’s utterly absorbing in warped, viscous atmosphere. The vocals are fantastic—buried rasps that I compared to the vocals of Epistasis elsewhere—the guitars chime in some interstellar cosmic pattern, and the bass explores freely, roaming in unexpected but welcome paths. (There’s a bass trill around 4:20 on that reminds me of the band Floater—anyone remember them?) Skáphe can blast, too. Don’t sleep on this, listen to the whole thing, and let’s hope there is more material in the works.

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