Riddle of Meander Orcus

Riddle of Meander play what we could easily describe as “standard black metal”, in that it adheres to the usage and application of technique and composition style that characterizes the genre; such strict adherence, however, does not in any way impede them from presenting ideas of their own as someone who is expressing himself in any human spoken or written language does not need to reinvent the wheel of the language or the way ideas are expressed in order to deliver a valuable insight. The music here remains mostly at around a guarded slow-to-slightly-fast pacing, while introducing blast beats for intensifying effect without letting them be an afterthought; this is perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments of this album: that despite the non-innovative approach it is able to subsume a variety of vocabulary to its own purposes without them ever feeling out of place or as a collection of tropes, as one spirit is expressed through them.

Orcus is the second full-length album by Riddle of Meander coming out two years after their debut, End of All Life and Creation, and greatly improving upon it in terms of dynamism (in the sense of organic mobility between more distinct modes of expression) without losing in the strengths of the first; we find here that the composer of the music is more sure of his decisions, and while we saw a prudent shyness about the adventurousness and twists in the music in the first album, Orcus embraces what were occasional jumps and reserved hints and now makes use of them unabashedly to move the music forwards with increased potency, allowing the music to thrust not only forward but farther into different territories.

The music in this mature release shows a band that is in dominion and has a certain focus, thereby carrying the music beyond, or raising it above itself; and while this statement might be misconstrued by applying a dualistic interpretation of a separation between form(aesthetic) and meaning(essence), what is actually meant here is that one can perceive and trace a goal in the music, perhaps expressed through the progression of moods and changes, however small they are, that makes the music not about its presentation or about a conceptual idea to which the music is soundtrack, but as the music as the enacting of the action itself. In effect, this is music as it should be, encapsulated and holistic, well-rounded and concise despite expressiveness.

In light of these highly positive traits, there is something to be said for the lyrical content, at least in what one may glimpse from the titles of the songs; for now it may suffice to say that one may find here more than your average satanic expression, divested from the usual mother worship or simpleton craving for destruction that one may see more commonly paraded elsewhere; instead, there is an interesting combination of references to witchcraft in its very earthy and private sense —the only way it can be remotely in touch with reality— and a black alchemy, the ars regia of self-realization and self-overcoming, thus hinting at a more Traditional approach to living that address the need to counter the tide of the current era.

Remember that you’ll die


On approaching the end of the year, many feel drawn towards either the superficial self-assurance, or a fatalism that is the result of mechanic lives guided by motivations completely divorced from a conscious “spiritual” goal (read as materialist; unconscious animal drives). For most people these seem to blend into one, and if they are religiously inclined, they fall into extreme opposites in the spectrum of balanced considerations. Whatever the delusion at hand, few actually make a real commitment that translates into action for the following cycle. Pure, materialist and utilitarian atheism, falls by its own weight. If you consider yourself merely a big-brained monkey, then you’ll probably act like one.

On the typical religious side of the current era, we are reminded by Christians that we must be thankful for the “birth of Jesus”, even though they do not understand half of what that means, reducing it to the dead-letter fairy tale they read in their holy book. Does repentance and resolution mean anything if there is no actual change? Conversely, pseudo-Satanists (also known as “spiritual” or “theistic” Satanists, indistinguishable from civil sheep except for a particular kind of speech and a unique kind of pretension) will further indulge in their (often misplaced) pride and revel in an infantile blindness that mirrors the Nazarene dogma in an inverted position. In truth, two sides of the same coin; equally self-indulging, equally self-excusing, and equally mediocre.

If you’ve made it this far, it may be that you are very well suited for nihilism. This should be, in short but not limited to, constantly reminding yourself that you will one day die (at least your physical part, and your ego probably as well, as far as we can tell for sure), and consequently reorganizing your life and its priorities to get the best out of it. Part of this includes not staying stuck in the sentimentality arising from the first step (the frequent remembrance of your mortality). The second is understanding how unsuited a materialist mindset is to experiencing life: money and possessions truly do not bring a lasting feeling of accomplishment or happiness. The third is throwing away systems of spirituality as ways to truth, for the key to the mystery lies not in a book or the words of a master, but in your experience of life and your mental digestion thereof. That is not to say that there is no value in following a system, for discipline is necessary to get anywhere, but to not confuse the tool for the work. Go out there and have some “fun” (cause problems)!

In this spirit, here is a list of records to finish the current year with a soul-cleansing, ego-dissolving albums.

possessed seven churches

Possessed Seven Churches

A classic and a perfect example of what underground metal is, in musical terms, Possessed brought something in this album which was simultaneously more than some could handle, and yet too little pretension for those who wanted “the real deal”. That is to say, Seven Churches does not take its own concept completely “seriously” as to indulge in it, but it does take its treatment of it as a representation of something within reality, seriously. The result is an unstoppable barrage of massive riffs that do not properly spell out “evil”, but rather the physical, raw side of violence and affront which knows no descriptions or appellations. Seven Churches should always stand under Bathory’s The Return, as a backdrop to it, providing the shadow of something more mundane perhaps, but also as a reminder that symbols are symbols, that names are names, and experience and action are everything.

profanatica collection 2001

Profanatica Collection 2001

This is a wonderful series of re-recordings by Paul Ledney’s Profanatica, the evolution of Havohej. We see some new versions of Havohej songs as well as songs in the developed style of Profanatica. Profanatica later would reach the peak of their outer style with Disgusting Blasphemies Against God, only to be followed by the kind of great work that clearly goes beyond all of the project’s limits and signals the end of it all: Thy Kingdom Cum. In this Collection from back in 2001, we hear a delicious balance between the raw, blasphemous torrent of Dethrone the Son of God and the refined aesthetic that Profanatica channeled it into a few albums later. Interestingly enough, the first album is not as good as this first official(?) recording. The sound is particularly damp, but clear. Its murkiness emphasizes overtones and provides it with an atmospheric depth that the clearer recordings in the official albums, which make them sound a little thin as the distorted guitar cuts through open space, lack. Profanatica embodies blasphemy as a pathway, a cleansing in itself. Not the embrace of an inverted religion for its own sake or the satisfaction of the ego, but the destruction of pretension and the questioning of one’s own limits. Take from it what you will, the burden is, after all, on you.

Don’t forget to listen to lots of Hellhammer, lots of Bathory, and definitely lots of Burzum.

P. S. Some awesome recommendations picked up elsewhere during this year; some of them seem to be on the more real side of what could approach an actual Satanism without pretensions and more action, but who knows? The music, however, speaks tons:

  • S.V.E.S.T. Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum [GOLD, an application of actual progressive-symphonic composition to satanic black metal.]
  • Riddle of Meander End of All Life and Creation [Perfect, dark atmosphere; maintained through quiet but well-developed aesthetic. Something is hidden under these seemingly still waters.]
  • Katharsis 666 [Pure destructive onslaught; nondescript, yet driven, highly concordant and dense in content. Painfully delightful!]
  • Uruk Hai Archi Catedra Nigra Diaboli [Standard, but good. Nothing new per se, an aesthetic channeling from early Darkthrone and Graveland that coalesces into a very atmospheric story-telling affair of its own.]
  • Desolation Chorus from the Ruins [Bloody, obscure and unique ambient.]
  • Kaeck Stormkult [Simply, one of the most solid black metal albums in recent years. Classy, elegant minimalist and focused raw channeling.]

And don’t get lost in the labyrinth! 😉


It happens more frequently, as has been implied, that a scientific head is placed on an ape’s body, a subtle exceptional brain above a common soul—an occurrence by no means rare, especially among doctors and physiologists of morality. And whenever anyone speaks without bitterness, quite innocently, of man as a belly with two different requirements, and a head with one; whenever anyone sees, seeks, and wants to see only hunger, sexual desire, and vanity as the real and only motives of human actions; in short, when anyone speaks “badly” about man—and not even wickedly—, the lover of knowledge should listen subtly and diligently, he should altogether have an open ear wherever people talk without indignation. For the indignant and whoever, with his own teeth, perpetually tears and lacerates himself (or as a substitute, the world, or God, or society) may indeed, morally speaking, stand higher than the laughing and self-satisfied satyr, but in every other sense they are a more ordinary, more trivial, more uninstructive case. And no one lies as much as the indignant do.

—F. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, ‘The Free Spirit’

Record / Release of the Year: