January 7, 2018

Vhorthax - Nether Darkness - Music Review + Full MLP stream.

Vhorthax - Nether Darkness. 

Review by Trevor Proctor.

As witnessed by us all 2017 was an exceptional year for underground music but with the post-Christmas blues and fog of our festive hangovers barely lifted it’s now time to look forward to 2018 in the hope it can bring us the same high standard of music as last year. 

Very few labels come close to Iron Bonehead Productions when it comes to seeking out underground genius for the baying masses and once again the label has kick started a new year in an exceptionally strong manner with the debut release from a new malevolent entity, Vhorthax.
From Russia Vhorthax formed in 2016 during a night of black candle mass meditations in their rehearsal space/bunker and was founded by members of the Russian underground group, Abyssfire, who are no strangers to the dark arts.

The band comprises three members with the underground legend that is Morkh performing voices and psalms; as well as being a member of Abyssfire Morkh is also a member of Sickrites and Serpentrance as well as being the creative genius behind Nether Temple Designfollow this link for an in-depth artist profile I had the honour of creating with Morkh last year. The other members are Nicholas-N.A.-I.I. who performs drums and M.P. who plays guitar and bass, Nether Darkness was recorded by Vhorthax in Bunker 218 and mixed and mastered by Sdst at Nuclear Phoenix Studio. All band photos are by Svetlana 'Arcanum' Stukalova, the cover artwork is the creation of Artem Grigoriev, Morkh was responsible for the layout of Nether Darkness and the Vhorthax logo and sigil were created by Cesar Valladare Illustration.

The raison d'être behind Vhorthax is simple, to channel the “Primitive and cavernous chants of the Devil in the rough form of morbid black/death echoing within the sounds of the altars of worship.” Vhorthax spent several months honing their art by performing at several underground gigs before locking themselves back in their rehearsal bunker to craft the four main tracks we’re presented with on Nether Darkness. These four tracks are now book-ended by an intro and outro to complete this twenty two minute MLP, both of which are by Ludo Evil from Melek-Tha, with Spirito Destitutus of Ill Omened also featuring on the outro, ‘Altar II - The Descent of the Martyr.’
The MLP also features other guest appearances – the possessed witch on ‘Crushing the Vessels of Trinity’ is Hella from Maledictvs and Thornspawn and some of the demonic wailing throughout Nether Darkness is by none other than T. Kaos of Lvcifyre.

‘Altar 1 – The Mass’ is a two minute intro which ensures an atmospheric start thanks to haunting effects, background chanting and church bells that bring you to the start of this blasphemous ceremony. Once this is dispensed with we’re thrown into the Nether Darkness by ‘The Levitating Tomb’ which builds slowly, led by guitar and ominous chants before upping the tempo less than two minutes in to assault us with the sheer power behind the band and their music. 
From the first note it’s noticeable this is an assured and confident release with the pedigree of Vhorthax’s members illustrated by the strength of the music. Vhorthax has crafted four heinous hymns that are the epitome of Death Metal – never rushed nor too slow, each track weaves in and out of the darkness while never losing atmosphere and keeping the blasphemy levels high. The pace is varied exceptionally well throughout the MLP’s duration, from the initially slow pace of ‘Stabat Master’ to the full frontal assault that is ‘Thy Foul Graal,’ - further illustrating the member’s experience and adept ability to keep things varied. 

Cavernous Death Metal is a term that’s been over used and bastardised in recent times but is a term you could easily, and accurately, apply to the music of Vhorthax. Morkh’s vocal is suitably unsettling and captures your psyche from the off, casting an ominous shadow over the diabolical hymns and furthering your descent into the pit of Nether Darkness. The riffs central to the music are also very catchy and combine with some exemplary drumming to form the driving force behind this powerful MLP. The production levels are spot-on, showcasing the musical ability of the band without losing the murky, otherworldly domain the band drags us kicking and screaming into. 

Nether Darkness was succinctly summarised by the press release that stated, “Nether Darkness indeed evokes its title: a plunge into the deepest, darkest recesses of the eternal abyss. Muscular yet atmospheric and travelling across all sorts of diabolical terrain, Vhorthax craft a sound that's both patient and potent, simmering with sinister energies before winding up and into a fiery fury. Moments of ritualism become full conflagrations, and the slip-streaming momentum becomes too much to bare. Truly, this is Nether Darkness, and Vhorthax are leading the way downward with torch in hand.”

I spend the last two months of every year listening, and re-listening, to the year’s best releases in order to try and formulate my year end EP and Top 25 album listings. As a result of this the first release I review for the coming year is in some serious company in terms of quality and musicianship but you can take my word for it that Nether Darkness stands strong even in the company of some of 2017’s best releases. I can’t fault this release in any way and with the entire MLP available to stream below there’s no need to further describe this release – just give it a listen and you’ll realise how good this new band is. 
An assured debut from these seasoned underground veterans.

A perfect start to the year 10/10.

01 - Altar I - The Mass
02 - The Levitating Tomb
03 - Stabat Mater
04 - Thy Foul Graal
05 - Crushing the Vessels of Trinity
06 - Altar II - The Descent of the Martyr.

Nether Darkness by Vhorthax is currently available here on 12" MLP + CD from Iron Bonehead Productions and is also available here on digital formats.

The cassette version of Nether Darkness is available here from Vonfrost Records.

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