Canadian Metal: Sortilegia / Thantifaxath / Sylvus

From the wistful beauty at the center of Gris and Forteresse, through the doom-noise recordings of Menace Ruine and the cascadian delights of Skagos to the outright brutality delivered by Revenge, Canada has produced some of the most interesting takes on extreme metal in recent years. Last years Canadian scene report gave us only a handful of the projects that are marking waves in the underground. In truth, the abyss of extreme bands that haunt the cities, country and coasts of Canada is unnervingly large. Equal in scope only to the sheer magnitude and breathtaking beauty of this country. This feature focuses on three incestuous acts that have caught my attention in the last few weeks. Sortilegia, Thantifaxath and Sylvus have shaped their own sound uniquely to unleash demo’s and EP’s that will undoubtedly be among the years finest. Read, listen and purchase.


‘Pestilent Black Sorcery’ is a masterful exploration of frozen, reverb-drenched, soaring black metal. Drums clatter and thud along under the largely instrumental framework of sprawling, evocative guitar work. Vocals wail and screams echo through the caverns of this thirty minute voyage. Demo opener ‘White Bones Black Flame’ sees the band switch between blasting sections of wonder and slower sections of glory and awe. Unforgiving sections of blasting euphoria collapse to one sole guitar struggling to maintain order. Sortilegia have an incredible knack of switching up their songs to create dynamic atmospheres that genuinely move and affect the listener.

The trance like nature that emanates from this recording is testament to the bands strong occult themes. Sortilegia do share similar traits to current limelight stalwarts Ash Borer in their approach to instrumentation and song development. Nonetheless, invest some of your hard earned cash on a copy of ‘Pestilent Black Sorcery’ to hear one of the strongest black metal demo tapes released in years. You’d best act quick, as this is limited to 100 copies from Vault of Dried Bones. Check out the ultra limited t-shirts while you’re there too.


This Torontonian duo features Haereticus, who handles drum responsibilities in Sortilegia, and which may hint to the quality of black metal that is offered up here. Thantifaxath is an intense listen. The tempo is kept high and constant, with drums alternating between relentless blastbeats and the more orthodox styles of play. The sound is thicker and more developed than the tape from Sortilegia. The bass is actually audible. Guitars chime to the sound of Blut Aus Nord styled incantations and more intense, tremolo riffs. The debut self titled EP is as atmospheric as riff-based black metal can possibly go.

Very little is known about the band, save their place of origin. The few images of the duo that exist involve huge Sunn 0))) like gowns and hoods. What is certain is the quality on offer here. The demo tape can be purchased from the Dark Descent Records store. Media Tree are due to release the EP as a 7”.


Sylvus are the oldest of this incestuous group, channelling their rage through undivided worship to ancient times and the prowess of mother earth. Eschewing the more technical approach adopted by Thantifaxath, Sylvus present us with glorious melodies, textured riffs layered on top of haunting guitar leads, varied drum patterns and a Weakling inspired vocal delivery. Although the sound rarely drifts from orthodox blueprints, Sylvus does a very good job at enveloping the listener in their web of melancholy atmospheric arrangements.

At times reminiscent of earlier Drudkh and other atmospheric black metal acts, there is a more orthodox undercurrent that shoulders an aggressive edge in the band. A brilliant amalgamation of two very distinct camps of black metal without sounding too much like a Cascadian clone. You can contact the band directly through their Facebook for those wishing to get their hands on a release or two.

You'll find me in the vast wilderness of British Columbia, talking metal at LURKER, or working in publishing and front-end web/eBook development.


  • Reply August 8, 2011


    awesome. it so good to see these bands getting some attention, they really deserve it. CANADIAN METAL!

  • Reply August 8, 2011


    also, there are 3 people in Thantifaxath, and no bassist in sortilegia (they’re a two-piece)…

  • Reply August 10, 2011


    thantifaxath are amazing to see live. their drummer is incredibly skilled and they are totally ripping.

  • Reply August 24, 2012


    Thantifaxath breaks my heart. So great, so unattainable. Bandcamp your shit forthwith, motherfuckers! I want to give you my money!

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