Arcturus V is a mysterious project by a dude from Minnesota who goes by the psuedonym Vakhul. I can’t really find much more information about the project than that. He seems pretty active on Instagram where I was able to find a some videos of him performing. In so many words, I can say that this guy really likes horror flicks, black metal aesthetics, and all manner of dark stuff. Arcturus V first showed up on the scene on October 31st, 2019 with the release of “First Verse.” Since then he has had eight digital releases, including five full-lengths, two singles, and an EP. While I don’t entirely understand this sort of rapid fire release strategy, I will say that I have a soft spot for music like this.

“Verse 3” is the fourth full-length album by Arcturus V. It features nine tracks that are a near perfect fusion between suicidal black metal, and ambient darksynth. The cover art is pretty intense using only variations of black, white, and red for the color scheme. The image depicts a very angry looking gentleman surrounded by a red aura and an almost mandala-like sigil blob above his head.

The first time I listened to “Verse 3” I ended up playing it on repeat all day long. I grew up listening to some pretty gnarly black metal, so this was not only real treat, it was something quite different than what I usually listen to nowadays. Sound-wise the production quality is absolutely stellar for this type of music. Typically, I think that it’s satisfactory for music of this nature to be a little muddy and/or noisy. Arcturus V goes above and beyond that expectation with a clean, but not too clean production value that reminds me of early Shining. There isn’t a lot of singing on this album, but when there is, it’s pretty fucking awesome. The album closer, “Spirits Ov the Sun,” which reminds me of suicidal black metaller Leviathan (“Tenth sub Level of Suicide,” and “Scar Sighted”). It is a really great cut that showcases the full potential of Arcturus V as a traditional song writer. Generally though, the album is mostly instrumental. “Verse 3” has a lot of droning clean guitars, reverb galore, and a fair amount of dark synthy goodness. “Visonary” features a pretty disturbing atmosphere combining the sound of a choir and a sample of a man talking about his “odd tastes and eccentricities.” “Throne of the Stars” stands out to me as the most Synthwave like track of the album. I really thought it was something special even though I was singing Theatre of Tragedy’s “Black as the Devil Painteth” to it every time it came on (they share the same chord progression). Comparatively speaking, I think that “Verse 3” shares the same pedigree as stuff like Vrolok’s “Soul Amputation” from 2005, and Xasthur’s “Noctural Poisoning” from 2002. I can even hear a little bit of influence from Snorre Ruch’s Thorns, in “Aten” even if it’s coincidental.

Overall, I think that Arcturus V has produced a very passionate look into the darkness that dwells deep inside of us all. It definitely has that creepy suicidal feel to it that really brings back a lot of memories for my fondness of this type of music. If you’re at all curious to find out what darksynth would sound like if it was mixed with suicidal black metal, look no further than “Verse 3.”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR: People who like darksynth but want something a little darker.

Stand-out tracks: “Spirits Ov the Sun,” “Throne of Stars,” and “Visonary.”

Album Color Profile: #000000

You can find all things Arcturus V at https://arcturusv.bandcamp.com

NNHMN (aka Non-Human Persons) is a minimal wave duo from Berlin, Germany. I accidentally discovered them last year after I went on a post-punk binge. To say that I’m in absolute love with NNHMN is an understatement. To me—they’ve done no wrong. They are aesthetically and musically flawless. I truly think they are doing the (dark) Lord’s work here on earth. The Minimal synth revival is currently having a bit of a moment, and in my opinion, NNHMN is the spearhead.

“Shadow in the Dark” is NNHMN’s third full-length. It had some big shoes to fill as the follow up to “Church of No Religion.” And let me just say, it doesn’t disappoint. “Shadow in the Dark” sounds like the soundtrack to the most dank 1980s goth club you’ve ever had the displeasure of stepping into. The production quality is warm, especially for an album that is so goddamn cold. There’s a grainy, hissy quality to “Shadow in the Dark” that makes me feel like it was made on an analog four-track tape recorder. And if it wasn’t, it definitely sounds legitimate. To further paint illustrate what NNHMN is like, take one lo-fi randomized bass sequence, one drum loop, and some sparse synths to add a little air to the high-end. Repeat it over and over again. Now add subdued, cold vocals with a light plated reverb to the mix. This isn’t something groundbreaking or new, and in theory it shouldn’t work—but it totally does.

It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with the artwork for “Shadow in the Dark.” It’s by a really talented painter named Aleksandra Waliszewska, who does a lot of this sort of thing. I honestly think that it’s a gorgeous piece which perfectly matches up with the grotesque spirit of “Shadow in the Dark.” Which is very much like listening to a beautiful, cold, faceless clone of Wednesday Addams with something ugly in sitting in her open head surrounded by lamprey-like teeth.

I’ve always admired artists that can take a sound from a bygone era and recreate it flawlessly. Ultimately, I think that the greatest potential for creative output arrives when an artist perfects an old formula and builds upon it with subsequent releases. Deathspell Omega, did this type of thing for Black Metal when they released “Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice,” and I think that NNHMN could follow suit—only with Minimal Wave. “Shadow in the Dark” is unsettling, groovy, calm, and oddly chic.

And I know it’s a little late at this point, but it was totally album of the year for me 2019. I’ve listened to this one…a lot.

Anyway…GO CHECK THIS ONE OUT. RIGHT MEOW.

RECCOMMENDED FOR: Non-human persons, people who have permanent resting bitch face, minimal wave enthusiasts.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Shadow in the Dark,” “Scars,” “Der Unweise,” “Vampire,” “Special,” “Black Sun” (ALL OF THEM)

Album Color Profile: #000000

You can find all things NNHMN at https://nnhmn.bandcamp.com/


Philippe Gerber is something of a visionary. I was first introduced to his occult project JOHN 3:16 way back in the early 2010s. The first track I ever heard from him was his interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s fire and brimstone leaden sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” I instantly knew right then and there that what I was hearing was an intimate glimpse of Hell itself. Mr. Gerber is connected to something I can’t even begin to describe with words. It scares me to death—and I can’t keep myself from looking away.

Earlier this year, Philippe released a short EP entitled “Sodom & Gomorrah.” The artwork is by the amazing Azi Hariramdani. It features a black and white ram’s skull and sigil that easily could have been used on an early Deathspell Omega release. It gives “Sodom & Gomorrah” a certain cult-like mystique that I haven’t felt the presence of since 2004.


Musically, I find that “Sodom & Gomorrah” matches its namesake well. To me, this EP is sixteen minutes of pure bliss. Inside are two tracks, each one based off of the depraved bibilcal cities. Here JOHN 3:16 took me on a doomy whirlwind journey that took me places beyond the outer reaches of human experience. It is transcendent, metallic atmospheric, dark, and hellish. Of the two tracks available I much prefer “Gomorrah” especially for it’s industrial infused moments. It also breaks off into a ritualistic drum rhythm towards the end of the track that adds some cinematic excitement to the overall release. It made me feel like I was walking hand-in-hand with the Devil himself through Israel during the crucifixion.


Of all JOHN 3:16’s releases, this is probably my favorite. It’s concise, the artwork is on point, and it just sounds great. It’s releases like “Sodom & Gomorrah” that makes me remember what it’s like to be mystified by music that goes beyond the music.


RECOMMENDED FOR: War-torn veterans of the black/death/doom/occult crowd looking for something completely new, but familiar. It reminds me of something that could’ve been on Northern Heritage back in the mid-2000s.

Album Color Profile: #000000


You can find all things JOHN 3:16 at https://john316.bandcamp.com/