BLVGTH - From Behind the Frosted Sun (Self-released)

It’s easy to lose track of what Lucas Wyssbrod is working on. Best known for the hyperactive dissodeath project MOSTRO, his portfolio grew in 2021 with the cosmic doom act Monovoth, then again with the debut release from his cybernetic deathgrind collaboration Golden Cannibal earlier this year. Now, Wyssbrod turns his attention to black metal (BM) as one half of BLVGTH, sharing the stage with Eyes of Perdition's Lindsay O'Connor in a feral and frostbitten EP that prostrates itself before the altar of BM’s elder gods.

In sharp contrast to the futurist aesthetics of Wyssbrod's previous releases, From Behind the Frosted Sun overflows with primordial fervour. Like a lot of great BM, the music tugs at something deep, like an ancestral call of the wild. But unlike the starry-eyed pastorals of Panopticon and Falls of Rauros, BLVGTH’s naturalism is nothing but cruel, relishing its own windswept hypothermia. Here, the death metal pedigree of Wyssbrod and O’Connor works in the record’s favour—whereas a more puritanical outfit might play these songs as simple Darkthrone worship, BLVGTH infuses them with a savage bite. The production is far weightier than you might expect from a BM outing, and O’Connor brings a throaty growl to her shrieks, channelling Putrescine in her marriage of more genre-standard rasps with porcine gutturals. The record isn't without its imperfections; the backmasked drones that bookend "Like Sun Breaks Through Winter" feel superfluous given their incongruity alongside the prevailing atmosphere of ritual antiquity. What’s more, the occasional forays into siren-song cleans attempt to add an element of heart-swelling grandeur that awkwardly contrasts against the otherwise cold-blooded dolour. These are momentary hiccups, however, and it's impossible not to get lost in Wyssbrod and O'Connor's vast desolation. From Behind the Frosted Sun is the running start the duo need in their hunt for BM mastery, and if Wyssbrod’s prolific output is anything to go by, it’s only a matter of time before BLVGTH’s antediluvian zeal overcomes us all.