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It's been a while since the last Stream in the Northern Sky when we played new music from Woodbruch and Volahn, but the hits keep coming. This time, we look to Scotland and Grand Rapids, Michigan—new and upcoming releases from one of Germany's finest labels and, though perhaps there's a bit less competition, Grand Rapids' best label have kept things interesting this month. Without futher ado...

— Wyatt Marshall

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Saor - "Aura"

The list of incredible bands the German label Northern Silence has delivered to us of late keeps growing—to the likes of Nasheim, Ered Wethrin, Caladan Brood, and Woods of Desolation, add Saor, a Scottish one-man band from Alex Marshall (ex-Falloch) that churns out some of the most damn majestic atmospheric black metal I've heard in some time. This is bound to get tagged "epic," partly thanks to some Celtic elements that will be a turnoff to those who subscribe to grim and grim only. But the scale of the sweeping riffs and filthy, awesome drumming provided by Panopticon's Austin Lunn gives "Aura," the title-track of the band's forthcoming album, a solid backbone. The gruff vocals, too, take a step back from the windswept heights towards something more primal.

Saor's got just one release prior to Aura, a 2013 EP that was self-released. That earlier EP, Roots, is an example of a band emerging, fully formed, out of nowhere—Northern Silence has a knack for digging those up. Aura is out on June 6.

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Ornamental Headpiece, Secret Creation, Vestal Virgin, Obliti Devoravit

We've been big fans of the Colloquial Sound Recordings stable of artists for some time around here, and while we celebrate release from A Pregnant Light, Dressed in Streams and Aksumite, the lesser known releases that CSR puts out can sneak by. With the Grand Rapids label's most recent update, we were treated to four tapes from Ornamental Headpiece, Secret Creation, Vestal Virgin and Obliti Devoravit.

Ornamental Headpiece and Secret Creation are new bands trafficking in punky, ugly and heavyhitting lo-fi black metal. Ornamental Headpiece is the punkier of the two, working in and out of riffed-out headbangable moments, while Secret Creation is more of a nearly-off-the-rails spastic black metal blast. Ornamental Headpiece is a hell of a band name, but Secret Creation wins the album and song titles—Secret Creation's demo is titled Holding My Carrot and the first track is My Candle Fears It Won't Be Burned.

I've written about Vestal Virgin before, and it's good to see the project back and delivering murky, impressionistic music that is as post/alt-rock as it is black metal—the first song, "A Path to Venus," is a thing of beauty, and "Gardens Stretch" skews more moody, near Smiths-y and Cure-ish. Obliti Devoravit, on the other hand, is a vile punk stomper loaded with brooding piano and sci-fi sirens, the soundtrack to an alien invasion of your home, bathed in blue light. Make sure you stick around for track four.

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