Video Premiere: MORDIAN Pays Tribute to Bathory’s “Ring of Gold”

I have shared and premiered music for Decibel magazine for around eight years. I can count the number of track or music video premieres that did not feature heavy guitars on one hand. Today Chicago-based singer and composer Mordian joins that short list. Mordian’s metal cred is well established as vocalist of symphonic shredders Shield of Wings and DiAmorte. But as part of her gothic folk solo project she now pays honorable homage to Bathory’s viking ballad “Ring of Gold” with a stunning music video.

Directed by James Gregor, the video is a lush rumination on tortuous time away from a loved one. Gregor packs the video with vibrant autumnal color and edits the video with a pensive pace. Mordian establishes a bittersweet atmosphere with clean guitars and naturalistic avian calls. But it’s her voice that drives the song with a tale of aching hearts and vast distances apart. Mordian’s vocal range emerges most impressively during chorus harmonies that are rich and emotive. It’s a tasteful tribute to Quorthon’s memory that will bring you peace and power.

“The music of Bathory, especially the Nordland albums, has had quite an influence on me in my life,” Mordian shares. “I wished to pay respect to that influence and memory with a cover of what would have to be my favorite Bathory song. “Ring of Gold” made its impact on me from the moment I heard the opening guitars. I was enchanted not only by where the music brought me but the beauty and simplicity of the story told through the journey of song. I hope my rendition can bring you to a similar realm, some place afar, where high adventures await thee.”

Transport yourself to a time before gods and man by pressing play.

Download “Ring of Gold” on Bandcamp HERE

Follow Mordian for news and updates HERE

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Album Premiere: Desolate Realm – ‘Legions’

Back in 2018, two members of Finnish death metal battalion Decaying formed a new doom-focused project. Featuring Matias Nastolin’s riffs and mighty bellow and Olli Törrönen behind the drum kit, the collaboration emerged as Desolate Realm. Their Unleash the Storm EP revealed a downcast heavy metal band that invokes the forlorn majesty of Solitude Aeternus and Candlemass. The band’s self-titled debut LP retained that edge of classic metal and indulged some faster tempos while remaining entrenched in traditional doom. Now Desolate Realm prepares to unleash their newest album, Legions. Join Decibel Magazine as we exclusively explore this record a few days before its March 17th release.

From the first licks of the opening title track, Desolate Realm shun the slow ‘n’ low trappings of modern doom. Nastolin punctuates the tracks with a King Diamond wail as the riffs rollick through the grim soundscapes. As the album stomps through its second half, the duo’s doom affinity shines in “The Lost One” and “Through the Depths.” Like Solitude Aeternus also explored the depths (of eternal sorrow), Desolate Realm deep-dive into a well of doom influences in the closing epic “Eternal Winter.” It’s an album that feels confident and unrushed at any speed while bringing a welcome iron-fisted toughness to the doom genre.

“The vision for making Legions was clear from the beginning,” Desolate Realm shares in a statement. “We wanted to introduce new elements to the band’s sound, but also make sure that the musical style doesn’t change. The music once again consists of crushing riffs, big drums and epic vocals. Slower parts sound massive and faster parts are powerful. “Forsaken Ground” and the title track are faster songs and “Revelation” shows more of the doom side. “Eternal Winter” ends the album in an epic way. Cheers to Decibel for the full album stream! Play it loud!”

Beckon eternal winter and press play on Legions below.

Legions by Desolate Realm

Pre-order Legions on Bandcamp HERE

Follow Desolate Realm for news and updates HERE

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Album Premiere: Bastard Grave – ‘Vortex of Disgust’

Back in 2012, Swedish death metal maniacs Bastard Grave crawled from the casket in Helsingborg. They began with a perfectly titled demo (Unmarked Grave) and established themselves with their crusty Swedeath revival sound. Now a little over a decade into their killing spree, Bastard Grave unite with one of the nastiest labels in the underground (Singapore sadists Pulverised Records). Today Decibel Magazine cracks open the coffin a few days early to bring you Bastard Grave’s malignant third album, Vortex of Disgust.

The opening dissonance of “Sunder the Earth” sets a grim mood. From there Bastard Grave sprint and stomp through blood puddles with old school malice. But it’s not all crust and cranium-crushing riffs. “Necrotic Ecstasy” concludes with some sinister atmospherics that lead into the ominous intro of “Consumed and Forgotten.” The slithering riffs of “Nameless Horror” eventually explode into the album’s catchiest and gnarliest groove. Later, the haunting piano of “Hunger to Devour” is the closest you get to any sanctuary within this record.

Outside of the drums, Vortex of Disgust was recorded directly by Bastard Grave. The album was then mixed and mastered by Greg Wilkinson, giving the guitars an extra diseased bite. The title track is the record’s final death blow, ending with a massive-sounding statement of violent intent.

Venture into the Vortex of Disgust and press play below before the album’s March 10th release.

Pre-order Vortex of Disgust from Pulverised Records HERE

Or order the album on Bandcamp HERE

Follow Bastard Grave for news and updates HERE

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Festival Preview: Grim Reefer Fest

Since 2017, Grim Reefer Fest has been an annual Baltimore-based bash. The fest was created and hosted by members of Haze Mage and High Underground Booking. Last year we interviewed festival co-founder Scott Brenner who proudly discussed the fest’s mix of doom, psychedelic, acid rock, post metal, stoner metal, and everything in between. The fest’s primary mission is celebrating “the amazing variety of regional heavy bands from around the east coast (and beyond) rolled up into one heavy-hitting live show.” But this year Grim Reefer Fest also welcomes some midwestern menace from Bongzilla and a double-dose of New York doom. Oregonian oddballs Wizard Rifle will discharge a wild set as well. This year, the fest will give Baltimore’s Ottobar a contact high on April 29th. Good news, you can still grab tickets to the biggest rendition of this fest yet.

“We’re so very excited and proud of what this year’s Grim Reefer Fest has to offer” Brenner shares. “It’s our biggest and most ambitious one yet. We have 10 bands, which is the most we have hosted. That includes a huge headlining band (Bongzilla), which has been a goal of ours since its inception in 2017. Also, over half of the line up is from out of state. It’s a very full day of great music, delicious food, and the best people the scene has to offer. We’re very grateful for the support we’ve received from the Ottobar and our incredible music scene which has allowed each iteration to be bigger and better than the year before. We have lots of ambitions for how we would like to continue to grow this incredible grassroots event for years to come!”

Here are some of our favorite tracks from each band on Grim Reefer Fest’s stacked lineup.



These Weedconsin sludge titans have been dealing blunt force trauma since 1995. This song is exactly 4 minutes and 20 seconds and boasts one of my favorite stoner stomps.

Gateway by Bongzilla


By now you’ve probably heard something about “the swamp” in Washington DC. 15 years into their term, Ilsa still sounds like they crawled straight out of black muck with their misanthropic death sludge.

ILSA Tutti Il Colori Del Buio by A389-114


Stoner rock for burnouts who like beer and boogie with their bud. Press play and study riffography with these DC delinquents.

Pound of Flesh by Borracho

Haze Mage

Members of Haze Mage created and run this fest. They bring trad metal swagger and Danzig’s theatrics to stoner doom, as well as a world of warlocks and bong witches. In fact, that song was played during my own wedding reception.

Chronicles by Haze Mage

False Gods

Bruising yet melodic, with neck-snapping tempo spasms. These Long Island lords of emptiness get fast ‘n’ nasty on this personal fav.

Neurotopia by FALSE GODS

Wizard Rifle

These raucous Portland rockers blast down genre walls. It’s heavy, loud, and elusive. Plus, they wrote “Rocket to Hell”—one of the best heavy psych songs of the past 5 years.

Wizard Rifle by Wizard Rifle

Faith In Jane

These Maryland rockers released a four-volume “bootleg” series demonstrating their improvisational prowess. But this soulful, grungy anthem packs that power into a seven minute serenade.

Mother To Earth by Faith In Jane

Sun Voyager

Radiant doom rock from New York. Their harmonies flicker like solar flares. Close your eyes and drift to another world. You’ll return to Earth in a better mood.

Sun Voyager by Sun Voyager

Holy Fingers

Sunbleached psych rock that roams interstellar deserts. Every time I hear jam rock I wish it sounded a million times more like this.

HOLY FINGERS by Holy Fingers


This is a new project from Haze Mage drummer JD. Self-described as “Shredding Doom from Baltimore.” No music available yet, but follow them for news and updates.

Get your tickets HERE

Follow Grim Reefer Fest for news and updates HERE

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Album Premiere: Merlock – ‘Onward Strides Colossus’

Back in 2017, Spokane got a lot louder when doom trio Merlock formed. This power trio is a shadowy hybrid of wailing trad doom, garage-born psych rock, and the proggy side of sludge. After cutting their teeth on two EPs, Merlock released their debut LP (You Cannot Be Saved) in 2021. Since then, they have haunted the Pacific coastline with live performances. Now Merlock return with their sophomore record, Onward Strides Colossus. Praise Crom, because Decibel has an exclusive premiere for you a few days before the record’s February 24th launch.

The album fittingly begins with a rumbling Andrew Backes bass line. One by one, each musician shapes the song from nebulous psych rock to something darker and grittier.  There’s a leathery toughness to “Sunnbarrenn” driven by Taylor D. Waring’s reverberating bellows. Later, an undercurrent of Mastodonian sludge simmers before exploding on the ripping “Behold! the Sword of Lock.” Along the way, engineer Nic Wilbur highlights what makes the band singular in a super-saturated sea of stoner fuzz clones. Merlock cast gloom despite being a high-energy rock band. The album gets heavier as it romps onward, perfectly matching the title’s promise.

Onward Strides Colossus is a sort of “hero’s journey” set in a posthuman, postdoom atmosphere,” Waring shares. “Sonically and lyrically, it explores cycles of death and rebirth, notions of hell, and of self-actualization. Seeking truth is the primary urge of the album, and that urge becomes, at times, colossal, which is where the name comes from. Heady pretension aside, the album is also very much about the three of us building this monstrosity that is Merlock. Writing albums, touring, failure and victory—all of those intense experiences that continually shape and reshape us as people. We all had to grow into new, more powerful versions of ourselves to create this album. We know the colossus doesn’t stop here.”

Shiver in the shadow of colossus and press play below.

Pre-order Onward Strides Colossus on Bandcamp HERE

Follow Merlock for news and updates HERE

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Track Premiere: Black Helium – “Another Heaven”

Back in 2018 I shared a stream of the Black Helium debut album (Primitive Fuck) on this very site. I described the UK psych rockers as invoking Detroit proto-punk, late ’60s downer rock, and Sabbathian fuzz. When the band released The Wholly Other in 2020, I shared their heaviest track (“Two Masters”). I said the track “crawls from doom metal’s primordial ooze and should appeal immediately to fans of Electric Wizard’s black-mass distortion.” To this day, that song remains one of my favorite stoner/doom tracks of the 21st century. Now Black Helium returns with their third LP, simply entitled UM. Today I go for the threepeat by sharing the album’s opening track, “Another Heaven.”

While Black Helium shares stylistic sensibilities with space rock, there’s a grit and heft in their sound that anchors them to earth. “Another Heaven” embodies that dichotomy perfectly. The song’s hypnotic journey lasts nearly a dozen minutes, but this isn’t a song that chews on a riff until it loses all flavor. The track’s first half feels like a hashish hymn, replete with acoustic strums. But the song soon turns on the ominous thunder of Beck Harvey’s bass. UM was recorded by Wayne Adams (Big Lad, Pet Brick) at Bear Bites Horse Studio, who nailed Black Helium’s balance of textures. In fact, the band specifically mentions their eclectic sound when discussing their single selection.

UM is bookended by two of our longest, and most “out there” tracks,” Black Helium shares in a statement. “Both songs were written intensely and quickly, given the length and the fact that there are so many twists and turns.

“We thought “Another Heaven” would be a great way to start the album as it’s a sort of continuation from the other two former LPs. We wanted to give the listener a proper ride, as the track goes from frenetic mania, to blissed-out stoned bliss, to crushing K-hole doom”

Riot Season Records release UM on March 3rd. Ascend to “Another Heaven” and press play below.

Pre-order UM from Riot Season Records on Bandcamp HERE

Follow Black Helium for news and updates HERE

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Track Premiere: Grand Cadaver – “Serrated Jaws”

It has been a quick, violent ascent for Swedeath gravemakers Grand Cadaver. After releasing their first two singles in 2020, their debut EP Madness Comes arrived a year later. With two members of Dark Tranquility among the ranks, their sound channels Stockholm’s crusty death ‘n’ roll far than Gothenburg’s more elegant touch. Mix in some hardcore and Bolt Thrower riffage and you get the tough-as-nails mayhem of their Into the Maw of Death full-length. Now Grand Cadaver is back with a new single, streaming early courtesy of Magic Mountain Records.

“Serrated Jaws” commences with a mid-paced groove and vocalist Mikael Stanne’s growl. But there’s also a melodic component that’s new to their winning formula. Their sound is even more apocalyptic with this single; it feels like the crescendo of plagues before doomsday. It reveals a band that welcomes transformation without losing their sound’s inherent bite.

“Rejoice! This here is the first nasty stench from our upcoming album,” Grand Cadaver says in a prepared statement. “”Serrated Jaws” has this deliberate, mechanical and oppressive quality to it. We feel that this deeper plunge into darkness is just what you need now in order to get a glimpse into the wicked sounds of our new album. Go for the jugular – go for the kill!”

Press play below and let Grand Cadaver take a big chomp out of your day.

Follow Grand Cadaver for news and updates HERE

Follow Magic Mountain for upcoming info on pre-orders HERE

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Video Premiere: Mawiza – Mapuche Ül Metal Documentary

Today Decibel magazine shares a short documentary focused on Mawiza, a metal band belonging to the Mapuche nation. The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants in Chile and Argentina, including parts of Patagonia. After forming in 2014 as Nunca Seremos Dichosos—which translates to We Will Never Be Happy—they released two albums under that name. In 2019 they became the first band to release a metal song entirely sung in Mapuzungun, their tribe’s native tongue. That album (Kollong) ended up winning them the Best Metal Artist honor at the 2020 Pulsar Awards.

Soon after, they changed their name to Mawiza and decided to honor their ancestry by singing entirely in Mapuzungun. That’s the impetus for the short documentary profile directed by Andrés Hetzler. Along with additional cinematography from Soledad Gatica, Hetzler strikingly focuses on Mawiza’s connection to their past and the natural world around them. After ancestors carried the tribe’s torch through the oppression of colonization, the band uses their music to channel strength and keep history alive. As they say in the film, “We have to be more deafening than the noise of the city.”

“We launch this reflection to make known the thinking that our ancestors left us,” Mawiza shares in a statement. “We currently live in a place where different ways of thinking converge. But like the trees, our roots are well established in the earth, wherever we go singing.”

Press play and watch the inspiring documentary below. It’s only 4 minutes long, and beautifully made.

The band is currently mixing their next album with producer Pancho Arenas. The expected release date will be in late 2023. The band is also re-recording drums and vocals for Kollong, which will be re-released and entirely sung in Mapuzungun in April or May 2023.

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Track Premiere: Sorceress – “Nine Muses”

Before Mizmor and before Hell, there was Sorceress. From 2008 to 2011, Sorceress was part of the stoner rock explosion of the early oughts. The members included A.L.N. of Mizmor and M.S.W. of Hell, who previously played together in Love Machine. Since that point, both of those solo projects have been decorated with accolades and acclaim. But Sorceress has remained tragically underheard outside of Salem, Oregon. That ends now. After 14 years, the lone Sorceress album Beneath the Mountain has finally been rescued from obscurity. After a fresh remaster, King Volume Records tattooed the album on wax for the first time (due out in March). Today Decibel Magazine presents one of our favorite tracks from the record, “Nine Muses.”

Don’t play “Nine Muses” expecting the blackened extremity of Mizmor or Hell. This is stoner doom through and through, albeit an exceptional offering of the genre. The band admits that Vermont rockers Witch were a big inspiration, and that’s easiest to hear on today’s exclusive stream. The song is drenched in occult grime and hallucinogenic vocals. But the guitars from A.L.N. and Blake Ferrin have an extra bite of heavy fuzz that starts around the 4 minute mark. That additional edge creates darker shadows throughout “Nine Muses,” down to the nightmarish psychedelic swirl of the song’s denouement.

“”Nine Muses” is one of the older songs on Beneath the Mountain and really epitomizes the sound Sorceress was striving for at the time,” A.L.N. shares. “I was greatly influenced by the band Witch while writing this record, and I think that is most evident in this track. I feel the song is kind of the North Star of the record, laying out all the aural pathways you are about to be led down over the course of the rest of the album, in an almost overture-like way. “Nine Muses” is the first example of released music that contains my now-signature vocal shriek, as heavily inspired by the Nazgûl in Lord of the Rings. You hear it at the end of the track and at times it’s almost whale-call-esque. This vocal style is scattered across the record as a sonic theme, alluding to the layers of fantasy and lore in the lyrics.

“Though LOTR was the main influence in that respect,” A.L.N. continues, “Greek mythology takes a close second, which is where the title “Nine Muses” comes from. The song also has crumbs of Zoroastrian and Christian lore sprinkled throughout. Though rich in symbolism, the track is actually about heartbreak; pining loss of love on the heels of a severed romance that was important in my life. Back then, I heavily veiled the meaning of everything I wrote to the point of being almost nonsensical to the casual reader or listener. I must have felt my experiences weren’t interesting enough, so I tried to turn them into the type of epic story that I loved.”

Surrender to the spells of Sorceress and play “Nine Muses” below.

the Mountain by Sorceress

Pre-order Beneath the Mountain on Bandcamp HERE

Or from King Volume Records directly HERE

The post Track Premiere: Sorceress – “Nine Muses” appeared first on Decibel Magazine.


Video Premiere: Freja – “Scattered Shields”

After forming in the Netherlands in 2019, atmospheric black metal duo Freja released their first recorded music last year. Their debut LP Tides revealed a band interested in exploring the boundaries of black metal. Instead of summoning dusk, the duo of C. (Witte Wieven) and W. (Laster, Verval) explore the golden hour before sunset throughout Tides. Their songs feel cinematic and basked in dying light, perfect for the music video medium.  Today Decibel Magazine exclusively shares the video for “Scattered Shields.”

Amongst the green leaves and tall grass, one tall dead tree feels like a natural tombstone. Meanwhile, a shadowy figure (played by Valeria Echevarría) sulks through the forest. It’s a dreamy narrative of woodland witchcraft that invokes a sense of dread as mid-song blasts launch the song forward. But there’s also a sense of wonder as the robed figure roams through the tranquil wilderness. For those hearing Freja for the first time, “Scattered Shields” is a great introduction to the band’s sullen but striking sound. The duo implements melody and melancholy throughout, expressing the band’s varied and vibrant approach to black metal.

“We live in the fragments of an illusion,” the band explains in a statement. “Our true nature shines through sometimes, reflected in our shields. It’s about breaking free from these forms, but also letting forms guide us to our true self. The pathway into being. Ancient symbols, signs and spirits from other dimensions can show us the way.”

Venture into the woods by pressing play on Freja’s “Scattered Shields” below.

Order Tides from Babylon Doom Cult Records HERE

Or order the album on Bandcamp HERE

Follow Freja for news and updates HERE

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