March 31, 2012

Barshasketh - Defying the Bonds of Cosmic Thralldom

Barshasketh is a duo from New Zealand. Their album Defying the Bonds of Cosmic Thralldom is raw black metal, at the face of it. I mean, the trappings are there: The production is tinny, there's no use of keyboards and, the vocals are harsh screams buried way behind the music. But the songs are dynamic, well constructed and remarkably melodic. The playing is excellent, the use of layered guitar tracks that play off against each other works well. Foreboding atmospheric parts lead up to explosions of raw aggression. Dig below the rawness and you'll discover that there is a lot going on on this album.

Planks - The Darkest Of Grays

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Raw energy!! Planks have it in spades. Their brand of Sludge is raw and unrelenting. It's also addicting.

Despite only being a three piece band Planks engulfs you in massive waves of guitar. Energetic drumming keeps things moving at a high pace, only slowing down on occasion for you to catch your breath, and then back to the crushing. The vocals give the impression they are being yelled by a drill sergeant, adding to the immediacy of the music. The songs shift and move on dime. But never lose the listener. The production is warm and full, with a nice dry drum sound. Just the right balance so that no one instrument dominates. Making sure your ears are assaulted evenly.

Southern Lord is also selling this album on CD for the first time. They have added Planks E.P. Solicit To Fall on the same CD. If you like your Sludge raw and in your face. Then I would suggest giving this a listen.

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March 29, 2012

Conan - Monnos

Artwork by Anthony Roberts.

Monnos, the new album by Conan, has been released on the Burning World Records Bandcamp. Their previous full-length, Horseback Battle Hammer, was a lumbering mammoth of extremely downtuned doom riffing. On Monnos Conan ups the ante, the ridiculously heavy riffing is still there, but the songwriting has gotten more attention, and has been coupled with a much larger range of song dynamics.

Some tracks are relatively faster, there's even a few passages with double-kick bass drum. Due to the clean production, you can hear that drummer Paul O’Neil not only provides the raw driving power, but also lots of finesse and feeling. The drumming is perhaps the single biggest improvement on Conan's previous output, but O’Neil also has more to work with due to the songwriting being more varied. This review by The Sleeping Shaman describes the vocals:
There’s something about the combination of guitarist Jon Davis’ and bassist Phil Coumbe’s vocals atop such an unstoppable wave of uncompromising doom riffs that is entrancing. While Davis chimes out in the distance, Coumbe’s deep, booming growl anchors him to the thick layer of bass-heavy fuzz underlying everything.
Here's a detailed review by The Obelisk. Check out this fantastic album below.

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Crypticus - The Rites of Infestation

Art by Derek Waugh

Crypticus - The Rites of Infestation is groovy old school death metal. You've heard it before but a nice meaty low-end, deliciously evil sounding vocals, solid drumming and pretty soon your head is banging. That is what uncomplicated, thrashy death metal does to you, and that ain't a bad thing. The EP includes three Crypticus originals and a cover of the Runemagick classic Into the Realm of Death.

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Some of the songs on Rites of Infestation appeared on a split with Scaremaker. You can stream the rest of Crypticus songs from that split here.

March 28, 2012

Vile - Metamorphosis

Vile's Metamorphosis from 2011 is available on the Willowtip Bandcamp. This is a mix of brutal and melodic death metal. The standard verse-chorus-verse-guitar solo structure is expanded with occasional touches of experimentation, like ambient parts, acoustic guitars and chanting vocals. The album got somewhat mixed reviews, here's a positive from Don't Count on it Review and one with some reservations from Angry Metal Guy. Form your own opinion by clicking play below.

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Cut Your Teeth - Feed - Dungeon Master


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March 27, 2012

Shroud of Despondency - Pine

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Shroud of Despondency are a black metal act from Wisconsin, which isn't something you hear terribly often. Their second album, Pine, opens to the sound of rainfall and the occasional growl of rolling thunder
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Shroud of Despondency are a black metal act from Wisconsin, which isn't something you hear terribly often. Their second album, Pine, opens to the sound of rainfall and the occasional growl of rolling thunder, accompanied by dark, lingering keyboard chords, uncertain, warbling violin notes and lightly plucked guitar. These elements gradually coalesce and melt, resolving into a disembodied voice. Then, Pine shifts into hissing, venomous black metal, as bleak and dry as the buzz of papery insect wings, giving off very little light to read by.

The black metal sections have all the desolation of a pine barren, an emptiness that encourages the listeners to pour themselves into it and become lost, like a forest that wants to swallow you whole. This is interspersed with ambient, improvisational passages, all titled "Wanderlust," like the first track, which is an eerie and upsetting combination of voices (anything from spoken works to agonized screaming), synth and acoustic strings.

The final number, "The Unchaining of an Animal," is an incredible closing song, with moving, unsettling lyrics, clean singing and acoustic guitar, but it's just as grim and desolate, if not more so, than the traditional black metal passages. Pine must be taken as a whole; it is more than the sum of its parts.

March 25, 2012

Lord Mantis - Pervertor

Artwork by Justin Bartlett

Pervertor, the new album by Lord Mantis has been released on the Candlelight Records Bandcamp. The is blackened sludge, but it also more than that. The use of noise, the way some of the vocals are processed. The mechanical riffing on some of the songs, with the drums playing against the rhythm. The keyboard noise/flash on Levia, combined with the desperate screaming. Industrial blackened sludge makes no sense, bu there are black machinations at play here. Read the review from Last Rites and check it out.

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Lord Mantis debut full-length Spawning The Nephilim is available on the Seventh Rule Recordings Bandcamp.

March 24, 2012

Sylvus - The Beating of Black Wings

Sylvus demo The Beating of Black Wings is the followup to their self titled full-length from 2010. This is three tracks of black metal bound together by some very distinctive guitar playing. The production is crisp and clear making room for both the raspy vocals and the powerful drumming. The songwriting has it's roots in traditional black metal, but ideas from both black n' roll and the cascadian black metal scene creeps in. Here's an interview with the band, by Natalie Zed from

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March 23, 2012

Author & Punisher - Drone Machines

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

The first time I heard if this band it came with a video to watch. You see this is truly a one man band. He uses instruments(see machines) he has created to produce the sounds that make the music he has unleashed upon the masses. It is a sight to behold. But does the music hold up without the visuals? It does!!

The music is full of hate, spite, and fury. Combining elements of Dark Ambient, Drone, DOOM, Industrial, and Electronica. Like Lustmord and Swans had a child. A very evil and angry child. Musically it is harsh and bassy. Melody takes a back seat to a pummeling sound that reminds the listener what it feels like to be a stamped out piece of steel on an assembly line. The vocals are anguished screams that seem to come from the depths of a tortured soul. But for all of it cold industrial feel it still possesses an emotional connection the listener can connect to.

Those who enjoy this album would be doing themselves a disservice if they did not youtube this guy to see just how he does it. He resembles someone controlling a robotic monster more than a person playing music. That robotic monster is Author & Punisher.

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March 21, 2012

Pith - Fore

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Halifax, Nov Scotia-based extreme metal band Pith unleash four-song EP Fore. Much like "cleave," "pith" is a dual-pronged word that refers to the central, elemental part of something, particularly in a botanical context
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Halifax, Nov Scotia-based extreme metal band Pith unleash four-song EP Fore. Much like "cleave," "pith" is a dual-pronged word that refers to the central, elemental part of something, particularly in a botanical context; it is also a term that means to destroy the spinal chord. So, this band's moniker refers to something generative and life sustaining ― the marrow of a thing ― and also a type of destruction.

This paradox neatly sums up Fore, which is a very carefully crafted, vital piece that simultaneously wants to rip something apart. This tension between creative and destructive forces defines the record. The fierce drumming and bright, visceral guitar lines carry the energy of the four, four-minute songs like arterial blood. The shredding, blade-mouthed vocals and the aggressive, grinding tempo make the listener feel as though they're being chased, trapped in a nightmare of pursuit and consumption.

This would be a fine soundtrack to those dreams where you're being pursued down a narrow hallway by something with chainsaws for teeth.

Yayla - Sathimasal

Art by Emir Toğrul

Yayla is a one man band from Turkey and Sathimasal is their sophomore release. This is ambient black metal, hypnotic and sometimes even relentless. The first track, the instrumental Fordreame Wonderlore, consists of synthesizers playing off the repetitive tremolo riffing. The dark atmospherics continue on the rest of the album, but the songs now has vocals and more dynamic songwriting. The production is warmer than usual for this type of music. This accentuates the ambient atmosphere by making it sound a little less grim and frostbitten. Here's the From the Dusk Returned review, and below is your chance to check it out.

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Yayla also have some great looking hand painted tshirts available.

March 20, 2012

Havohej - Dethrone The Son Of God

The re-issue of Havohej's Dethrone The Son Of God from 1993, has been added to the Hells Headbangers Bandcamp. Havohej is Jehova spelled backwards and, yes, this is the blackest metal. Featuring an unique drumming style and plenty of Christian hating vocals, Havohej straddles the thin line between jaw-dropping cheesiness and stunningly well-executed metal as this review from Illogical Contraption puts it. Here are five very positive reviews from The Metal Archives.

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March 19, 2012

Sigh - In Somniphobia

Artwork by Eliran Kantor

Sigh's In Somniphobia has just been released on the Candlelight Records Bandcamp. At the core this is black metal. But it is black metal featuring oriental sounding passages (courtesy of the Sarangi, an Indian string instrument), drops of electronic circus music, a blackened lounge song complete with porn sax, hand clapping and squelching keyboards, accordion and chanting, buried trip-hop beats. And so on. And so forth.

There are few blast beats, and very little tremolo picking; most of the blackness is in the vocals. As Dan Obstkrieg puts it in this review from Metal Review:

In Somniphobia is not particularly heavy in any conventional sense, but is so dense and unremitting in its strangeness that you would never really threaten to call it “light”.

It is also fun and catchy, has a much better production than Sigh's previous album Scenes From Hell and is littered with awesome solos, ranging from NWoBHM shredders to jazzy Santana style licks. Read more in these two reviews from Angry Metal Guy and No Clean Singing, and check it out.

March 18, 2012

Nephelium - Coils of Entropy

Artwork by Juanjo Castellano

Canadian band Nephelium - Coils of Entropy plays death metal. Grinding and technical, but not overly so. Middle Eastern melodies and flavors, especially in the solos, betrays the bands roots in Dubai more than ten years ago. And the solos, they're tasteful, melodic, and plentiful. The vocals are goregrinding belches as Atanamar Sunyata puts it in his review for Metal Injection. He sums up Coils of Entropy like this
Nephelium aren’t the new shit, nor are they the old; they’re simply the shit. Coils of Entropy is about riffs and reaction; I feel an uncontrollable desire to destroy when in its clutches

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March 17, 2012

Orthodox - Amanecer en Puerta Oscura

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Southern Lord has been a label I have found quality music from time and time again. Spain's Orthodox are no exception. With their first album they established themselves as a Drone/DOOM band. But with this second album they have expanded their sound a great deal.

This time around some of their songs have almost as much in common with free form Jazz as anything Sunn O))) has done. With the addition of clarinet and trumpet on few of the songs they add an interesting twist to their style of Drone/DOOM. The album has a great flow to it. Mixing the hit you over the head style DOOM, along with few ambient tracks. Keeping the album varied and the listener on it's toes. The drumming is monstrous. He beats the skins like a rented mule helping to really drive many of the songs. While the bass and guitars give you everything from sparse ambient sounds to full on ear assault.

Another band that they bring to mind is OM. Like them, their songs feel like meditative rituals. Whether they are songs that free your mind or exercise your demons.

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Update: The album was released in Europe by Alone Records, Southern Lord handled the US version.

March 16, 2012

Nunslaughter - Hex

Nunslaughter's Hex from 2007 has been added to the Hells Headbangers Bandcamp.
9 demos, 2 singles, 27 EP's, 21 splits, 8 Best Of/Compilations, 6 live albums and 3 full-lengths. This is what Nunslaughter's career has been; a giant laundry list of death metal

There is no sign of "progression", "maturing" or other form of weakness; "Hex" is a continuation of NunSlaughter's last album or last 7" EP and soon to become a fan favorite... This is the same music you've enjoyed for the last two fucking decades!!

Let’s get something straight. Nunslaughter isn’t technical. Nunslaughter isn’t tight. Nunslaughter isn’t about sterile, clinical production. Nunslaughter is all about sloppy, goofy, hilarious old school death metal. And Nunslaughter doesn’t want to hear your God damn yap about it.
Quotes from a review from The Metal Archives, the Hells Headbangers Bandcamp page, and this review from Teufel's Tomb.

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March 15, 2012

Vattnet Viskar - Vattnet Viskar

Artwork by Bryan Proteau

The self-titled debut EP by Vattnet Viskar is available on their Bandcamp. The band is from the US, their name is Swedish for "the water is whispering", and they play majestic black metal. The songs are hypnotic and propulsive, with a drive similar to parts of Altar of Plague's White Tomsb.

Vattnet Viskar have a great sense of songwriting dynamics, check out the epic synth part in Weakness and the last six minutes of Barren Earth, which is essentially varitions on a single riff done with great effect. A stellar debut. Here's a review from Don't Count on it Reviews

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March 13, 2012

Mutilation Rites - I Am Legion

Art by Reuben Sawyer of Rainbath Visual

Mutilation Rites has released I Am Legion, a new 12 inch, in preparation of their debut full-length, Empyrean for Prosthetic Records. This is aggressive and raw black metal with elements of doom, crust, and lots of booze-soaked thrash. Mutilation Rites knows how to effortlessly switch from breakneck thrashing to well-oiled grooves, the three songs form a cohesive whole due to the well blended variety of styles and tempos. The physical release of I Am Legion is available from Gilead Media.

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Agnosis - A Painful Pattern

Doom/sludge heavyweights Agnosis have released their new EP A Painful Pattern, the followup to 2005's Hecate. The 2012 version of Agnosis still plays emotional and melodic doom a la Pentagram and Cathedral, but the sound has changed. It is now much more dense, the cliche "crushingly heavy" is actually quite fitting.

Here's an interview with guitarist/vocalist Austin and bassist Andrew Jude from Doommantia, where they discuss Hecate and it's successor. A little confusingly, Agnosis have enlisted Austin Lunn of Panopticon and Seidr fame as their new drummer, using his A. Lundr pseudonym.

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March 12, 2012

King - Sufferance Obsolescent

King's Sufferance Obsolescent from 2008 is available on the NHR Records Bandcamp. You could call this anti post-black metal. This review from The Metal Archives has a good description:
King's music is a simple and pretty brilliant setup: combine suicidal black metal with a bit of rock and roll and primitive second wave Norwegian BM to create something that's melodic, atmospheric, and depressive
The music is matched by a clear production with a raw garage rock feel. The synth driven passage are made more effective because the guitars are only half-distorted, and without the usual black metal buzzing.

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March 11, 2012

So Hideous, My Love... - To Clasp A Fallen Wish with Broken Fingers

So Hideous, My Love... - To Clasp A Fallen Wish with Broken Fingers is available on the Play The Assassin Bandcamp. This is very theatrical metal that fuses blackened hardcore, post-rock, and classical composition. Pained screams, turbulent percussion, frantic black metal riffing, and an emotional barometer that constantly veers between rage and helplessness. All of this contained on four short and concise tracks, unlike many bands in the post-black genre So Hideous, My Love... doesn't meander. Here's a short review from Heavy Blog is Heavy and one from Teeth of the Divine.

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March 7, 2012

Spiralmountain - Spiralmountain

Artwork by Jimmy Rowe.

Spiralmountain is instrumental metal, more interested in creating ambient soundscapes than shredding your face off. Think of it as a heavier and more visceral version of Cloudkicker. So yes, this is djent, I can even use my new favorite genre name 'ambidjent'. Passages here and there does turn into elevator music, but in quite a nice elevator. In general there's a good mix between the hypnotic crunchy riffing, the progressive parts, and the ambience. Here's a review from Sputnikmusic.

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March 6, 2012

Death Denied - Appetite For Booze

Death Denied is a southern metal band from Poland and Appetite For Booze is their debut from 2011. This style of music is easy to turn into one big cliché, but Death Denied pretty much nail it. Their take on southern sludge is not original at all, but the riffs are solid, the solos are cool, and there are more vocal hooks than there are stars on the rebel flag as Full Metal Attorney says in his review. Give Appetite For Booze a spin below.

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March 5, 2012

Bloodshot Dawn - Bloodshot Dawn

Album artwork by Pär Olofsson

Bloodshot Dawn has opened a Bandcamp and released their same-titled debut album on it. And, wow, this is good. Ever since Islander sang their praises and streamed a couple of tracks over at No Clean Singing I've been hoping this would happen.

The main attraction of Bloodshot Dawn is the wicked soloing of the two guitarists, but all that guitar goodness lies on a solid foundation of well written melodic thrash / death metal. Here and there progressive parts peek through - there are a few passages that sound like an extreme version of Pharaoh. The vocals function as a gruff counterpoint to the slick soloing and the rhythm section is spot-on.

It's just a classy package. Awesome album art, and a sharp, clear, and well balanced production. An excellent debut.

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March 4, 2012

Town Portal - Vacuum Horror

Artwork by Simon Væth

Vacuum Horror from Danish band (yay!) Town Portal is metalicized math-rock with swirling guitar leads and a fat bottom tone. The band plays their almost sludgy groove with a heavy and very dry precision. The excellent production allows you to enjoy the skills of each musician, thankfully those skills fully backs the melodies on Vacuum Horror. Here is the review from No Clean Singing, that alerted me to the existence of Town Portal.

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Abazagorath - Abazagorath

Cover art by Worthless Endeavours

The new self-titled EP by Abazagorath has been released on the NoVisible Scars Bandcamp. This is primal black metal from a band with 16 years of experience in the USBM scene. Not experimental or progressive, but not a full-on assault either. The pure aggressiveness is tempered with slower parts, there are a few solos and even a bass break. The production is modern without taking away too much of the rawness. Here's a review from The Metal Archives.

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Ominous Black - Repressed Memories of the Collective Subconscious

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork by Alysså Møcere from Epicene Print Collective

A lot of Sludge bands like to put the word 'atmospheric' before Sludge because they have a few slow parts in their music. But others use it because they are able to create just that, atmosphere. Ominous Black is the latter. It's like Pink Floyd coated in NOLA Sludge. Their songs are more like movements then just slabs of Sludge. When they are done you feel as though you were on a psychedelic journey. You weren't sure where you were going. But you liked where you ended up.

Ominous Black only being a three piece allows the listener to hear each instrument individually, whether focusing on the noodling bass lines, the jangly guitar work, or the tribal like drumming. The way they seem to be soloing at the same time but never loose the groove and then bring it all back into focus. Upon my first listen I was hooked. I've never done psychedelic drugs. After hearing this album I feel I don't need to.

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Fire in the Cave - Fire in the Cave

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork by Jean Saiz (Shroud Eater).

From the ashes of Bad Actor comes a new band Fire In The Cave. Consisting of the same line up but with a different approach. This time with a more atmospheric type Sludge. The riffs are meaty and the vocals have a Hardcore Punk feel to them. The ebb and flow of the songs work well. They balance the heaviness with the softer parts, allowing songs to breathe and progress naturally. The lead work is also something that stands out adding an old school metal feel to it. Only two songs. But they show the promise this band has. Hoping to hear much more from these guys in the future.

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March 3, 2012

The Flight of Sleipnir - Essence of Nine

I became interested in The Flight of Sleipnir's Essence of Nine after reading this Full Metal Attorney review. Essence of Nine combines doom, folk music, and a little black metal into one hauntingly beautiful package. As the good attorney writes
"Black metal rasps, clean singing, folk melodies and harmonies, and the overall mellow mood of the album set it apart. The end result has more in common with Agalloch than any of their brothers in doom."
Here's another review, from The Obelisk. The Flight of Sleipnir Bandcamp has just been updated, both Essence of Nine and their previous full-length Lore are now available for sale there.

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Hell Headbangers - Compilation Vol. 5

Hell Headbangers - Compilation Vol. 5 is a free download on the Hells Headbangers Bandcamp, featuring 23 tracks from 2011 Hells Headbangers catalog (Vol. 3 from 2009 is also there, but not Vol. 4). My favorites are the tracks from Acid Witch, Sanguis Imperem and Void Meditation Cult. Sanguis Imperem is not on the Bandcamp at all and Void Meditation Cult is streaming only. Boo hoo.

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March 1, 2012

Christian Mistress - Possession

The new album by Christian Mistress has been released on the Relapse Records Bandcamp. Possession is the followup to their excellent 2010 debut Agony & Opium. This is energetic Heavy Metal with tons of classic metal licks and soulful clean singing.

The new album by Christian Mistress has been released on the Relapse Records Bandcamp. Possession is the followup to their excellent 2010 debut Agony & Opium. This is energetic Heavy Metal with tons of classic metal licks and soulful clean singing. And solos, lots of solos. Compared to the debut the production is bigger and fuller, but still warm and analog sounding. You hear the great sound of band playing together, in one room,

Photo by Carmelo Española.

Another difference is that Christian Mistress sounds just a little more laid-back on this album. As Dan Obstkrieg says in this review from Last Rites: "where Agony & Opium was a rubber-burning hell-ride fleeing the police, Possession is the sun-drenched cruising speed once you’ve crossed the border." Here is the review from AllMusic.