Friday, July 31, 2015

Lake of Blood - Omnipotens Tyrannus

By Justin C. Lake of Blood play what, at first blush, seems like pretty standard USBM. The opening song of Omnipotens Tyrannus puts me in mind of a more aggressive version of the Cascadian sound, but like a lot of bands that manage to elevate themselves beyond "serviceable" into good or great territory
By Justin C.


Lake of Blood play what, at first blush, seems like pretty standard USBM. The opening song of Omnipotens Tyrannus puts me in mind of a more aggressive version of the Cascadian sound, but like a lot of bands that manage to elevate themselves beyond "serviceable" into good or great territory, the details make all the difference.

That wave of sound that opens "Blood & Mercy" suddenly breaks at just after the 1:30 mark, and you get an awesome, stuttering riff that kicks off a new direction, string scrape included. I usually hate those, but for whatever reason, it just screams "METAL!" here in an utterly satisfying way. The slithery melody line that follows is addictive as anything I've heard in recent memory, and we're off on an 11-minute black metal odyssey.

There are a lot of great touches here. The majority of the vocals are a lower growl than the typical black metal shriek, but it's also mixed with some unhinged howls and even some cleanly chanted vocals in "Agape." The taut, distorted riffing is sometimes overlaid with an acoustic guitar pushed way up in the mix. This isn't done in the usual "Now it's time for a folky interlude" way, but rather it's added as additional texture.

Like the instruments themselves, the song structures in general also have a lot of variety, mixing in slower passages with all the fury. "In Wells of Shadow" features a an eerie, doomy intro that morphs into some of the highest energy music on the album, and ultimately the track mashes the two ideas together in a pretty ingenious way.

If there's one minor fault to the album, it's the length, or more accurately, how that length is delivered. 76 minutes isn't an absurd album length for metal--it can and has been done successfully--but it doesn't completely work here. There are a couple of overly long outros that could have been cut for an overall tighter album, but I think the real issue is the sequencing. The penultimate track, "Omnipotens," is the longest song here, stretching over 16 minutes, and it's probably the most unusual song in terms of structure, sound, and pacing. Having the bulk of that track fall after the 60-minute mark and following it with a three-minute, mostly instrumental outro track can cause a bit of fatigue. I did an experiment where I started with listening to that track first, and I liked it much better that way. I was charmed by its oddities and dissonance in a way that I wasn't when listening to it in the "proper" order of the album.

But that's a problem with an easy solution: If you get a little worn out, press pause and come back to it. Whether or not that track would have made a better standalone EP is a minor gripe compared to the fact that you get so much good music here.

Tagged with 2013, atmospheric black metal, free download, Justin C, Lake of Blood

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mouth of the Architect - Dawning

By Natalie Zina Walschots. For all ten years of their venerable career, Dayton, OH post-metal band Mouth of the Architect have been seeking a balance between delicate, emotive atmospherics and crushing, sludge-influenced heaviness. Dawning represents their finest effort in this regard, the huge, looping song structures
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.


For all ten years of their venerable career, Dayton, OH post-metal band Mouth of the Architect have been seeking a balance between delicate, emotive atmospherics and crushing, sludge-influenced heaviness. Dawning represents their finest effort in this regard, the huge, looping song structures (which gesture towards pioneers in the genre like Neurosis and Isis), filled with moments of fragile intricacy and frail emotiveness, are pitted against the ponderous weight of doom metal structures and laden, psychedelic guitar tones.

Photos by François Carl Duguay.

Dawning sits neatly between their tender 2008 offering Quietly and 2006's more aggressive The Ties That Bind, with disarming moments like the opening of "How This Will End" standing in contrast to the rest of that track's towering intensity. A great deal of the fine balance that characterizes Dawning is made possible not only be the finely crafted instrumentation but the perfectly deployed dual vocals of Steve Brooks and Kevin Schindel, who can layer death howls overtop of each other, contrast harsh against clean, or offer moments of naked, crooning vulnerability.

Tagged with 2013, François Carl Duguay, Mouth of the Architect, Natalie Zina Walschots, post-metal, Translation Loss Records

Dave’s Demo Roundup Vol. VII - Runemagick Special

By Dave Schalek. Long running Gothenburg doom/ death trio Runemagick are currently on hold, but are still a presence given their recent activity on Bandcamp. Runemagick have uploaded a lot of early demo recordings, six in all, plus all of their full-lengths from 2002 onwards. All of the newly uploaded material has been remastered for a digital release.
By Dave Schalek.

Long running Gothenburg doom/ death trio Runemagick are currently on hold, but are still a presence given their recent activity on Bandcamp. Runemagick have uploaded a lot of early demo recordings, six in all, plus all of their full-lengths from 2002 onwards. All of the newly uploaded material has been remastered for a digital release.

In this installment of Dave’s Demo Roundup, I take a look at the release of the demo material. I should say that I only have a passing familiarity with Runemagick, so I’m eager to dive into these releases with my ears wide open.


Initially, what Runemagick have released is a little confusing. For example, the first of the demo releases is a single song, “Nocturnal Creation,” which may be taken from either Full Moon Sodomy or NecroLive, both from 1992. I’m not familiar with either of the original demos, but the version of the song included on Full Moon Sodomy is less than two minutes long according to Encyclopaedia Metallum. This version, however, is over seven minutes long, so I can either assume that either a) this song was originally recorded and released on NecroLive (interestingly, Encyclopaedia Metallum does not list a song length for the version of “Nocturnal Creation” on NecroLive), or b) Encyclopaedia Metallum's information is in error.


At any rate, whatever the case, the remastering of the song itself is well done; beefing up what was probably a primitive sounding recording to begin with. The song showcases Runemagick's early approach in blending straightforward Swedish death metal with the more plodding pace of doom metal and with minor moments of melody.


Curse of the Dark Rune is the next release and is a three-song demo originally recorded in the ‘90s and released in January, 1995 according to Runemagick’s Bandcamp page. However, Curse of the Dark Rune does not appear as one of the “official” demo releases in the band’s discography, increasing my confusion. You know what? I’m going to stop worrying about the official canon at this point. Let’s just get on with it.

Curse of the Dark Rune is definitely a step forward from "Nocturnal Creation" as the musicianship is tighter, the recording is better with a snappier drum sound. The music is more melancholy, resulting in a doomier sound as blastbeats have been largely excised.


Dark Dead Demos appears to have been recorded just prior to the release of Runemagick's first full-length, The Supreme Force of Eternity, in 1998. Interestingly, though, most of the songs did not appear until 2000 with Runemagick’s third album, Resurrection in Blood. Decidedly heavier and less melancholy than Curse of the Dark Rune, Dark Dead Demos also features a deeper vocal delivery from band founder Nicklas Rudolfsson, and a faster pace. Dark Dead Demos also proves that Runemagick had a wealth of written material to choose from by the time of the release of The Supreme Force of Eternity.


Sepulchral Realms was recorded in Runemagick’s rehearsal room in 2001 and was originally released as a demo in between full-lengths. Appearing here in remastered form, this appears to be that demo with an identical track listing, including a "heavily improvised" cover of "The Return Of Darkness And Evil". What if Bathory had played doom metal? Answers here.


The last of the demo releases is the two-song Eternal Dark. One of the songs, "Doomed", originally saw the light of day on a 7" vinyl split with Lord Belial. Obviously difficult to find today, here’s your chance to get on board with an obscure release. Both Eternal Dark and Sepulchral Realms are very professional sounding recordings and thinking of them as demos is a bit of a stretch, regardless of the circumstances regarding their original release.

Needless to say, Runemagick's presence on Bandcamp should invigorate interest in the band with what are ultimately modestly priced demo releases, and remastered full-length albums like the 2003 classic Darkness Death Doom. Devotees of the band as well as newcomers such as me have much to explore here.
Tagged with 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2002, Dave Schalek, death metal, doom metal, Runemagick

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hope Drone - Cloak of Ash

By Justin Collins. It takes a lot of guts for a band to start their album with a 20-minute-long song called "Unending Grey". It's a steep admission price to ask of a listener, and the jokes about "unending" things write themselves. But yet, Hope Drone does that on their new album, Cloak of Ash, and it might just work.
By Justin Collins.


It takes a lot of guts for a band to start their album with a 20-minute-long song called "Unending Grey". It's a steep admission price to ask of a listener, and the jokes about "unending" things write themselves. But yet, Hope Drone does that on their new album, Cloak of Ash, and it might just work.

I really liked the band's previous self-titled album. It hit an emotional chord with me at the perfect time, mixing post-black metal with vocals that come close to a pure distillation of emotion, with all the inherent beauty and ugliness contained therein. That album was a relatively svelte affair at just 35 minutes, but their Relapse debut is big. Really big. An hour and 18 minutes big. My first few listens made me fear that the band's deft touch for melody was getting lost in the expanse of the album's runtime, but I've come to an interesting place with this album since then.

Take that opening track, for example. It starts out of the gate with pure fury--the band is a master of slow-moving melodies over complex rhythm--but the song drops down into a delicate, gossamer place at about the 5:00 mark, and it stays there, slowly building, for the next seven minutes. That subsection of the song is longer than most whole songs, but there's something eerily compelling in it. Listened to at the right time and in the right environment, it feels like just a moment passing by, yet still filled with wonder.

I said this album "might work" at the outset, and sometimes the album still feels too long to me. Couldn't they have cut some of the riff repetitions? Well, maybe, maybe not. Maybe that would change the entire feel of the album, sacrificing something crucial from its character for brevity. Listening to this album I often found myself in a strange state of uncertainty, unsure of whether I was losing myself in the music or just getting lost. But I do know that, about a week ago, I took a long drive listening to this, and the album just made the miles disappear. It's strange to say for an album that I'm writing a positive review of, but I probably wouldn't recommend it to just anybody. That said, I won't soon forget the trance it put me in while I was belting down the highway, and if that sounds like a place you might like to be, you should give this one a try.

Tagged with atmospheric post-black metal, Hope Drone, Relapse Records

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Black metal roundup: Dissociative Visions

By Kaptain Carbon. Dissociative Visions is a two day black metal festival in New York City. It is an inaugural event, bringing together artists from a variety of underground labels to celebrate darkness in probably the most oppressive heatwave of recent memory. The lineup for the show is a dream
By Kaptain Carbon.

Dissociative Visions is a two day black metal festival in New York City. It is an inaugural event, bringing together artists from a variety of underground labels to celebrate darkness in probably the most oppressive heatwave of recent memory. The lineup for the show is a dream, most likely being what you get if you asked some guy on the internet to make an imaginary show with all the dorky black metal from a few labels like Fallen Empire and Terratur Possessions. I'm here to tell you it is not a dream. This show is real. If the last few afternoons at Maryland Deathfest were a main destination for you this year, then you owe it to yourself to make the journey, or at least curse under your breath for not being able to attend.


I feel fortunate to write this article as I have been reviewing the majority of these bands in various releases over the past couple of years. Seeing Dissociative Visions and the rise of Fallen Empire as a label has only been a treat for fans of really decent and mostly United States black metal. Enjoy the heat you miscreants.

Friday.
One Tail, One Head.


Woosh. You know a band has a strong following when the last real thing they released was a few EPs in 2011. This Norwegian black metal band may only have enough material to fill a compilation, and maybe play a 30 minute set, but good goddamn will it be a blistering one. While One Tail, One Head has members who are busy with other Scandinavian black metal projects, like Behexen and Vemod, finally seeing the source of so much hype would be gratifying...or paralyzing.


Sortilegia.


This show is particularly interesting if for nothing else than to see how artists with lo fi recordings translate to a live setting. Sortilegia from Canada has a wonderful and harrowing release called Arcane Death Ritual, which came out late in 2014. The album’s raw recording sound is something that should easily translate to a live setting given the right equipment, or right damage to equipment. Something tells me that the ghostly aspect of this band will soon be present with fuller sound and those shadowy knives will finally draw blood.


Vanum.


Vanum (and Predatory Light) is lightly connected with the U.S. black metal band Ash Borer due to guitarist Kyle Morgan. Ash Borer is also the meeting point for a shit ton of new black and death metal bands as their other members share duties in Serum Dreg, Triumvir Foul, Urzeit, and Uškumgallu. We are not going to talk about this web of connected black and death projects, but rather the fact that Vanum is equal in quality with whatever this group is releasing outside of it. Realm of Sacrifice, released in 2015, is probably the most high profile release, being supported by Profound Lore. I can imagine the cloud of locusts growing as we speak.


Hæthen.


Hæthen’s Shaped by Aeolian Winds is probably one of the more popular underground black metal releases of the year, closely behind other entries from Fallen Empire’s roster. How does one justify this release being discussed with so much vigor? Harrowing black metal, mixed with even more terrifying atmosphere, combined with a love for metaphysical darkness and matched with a pretty decent album title. There are few certainties in life, but one of them could be a reliable black metal act from the U.S. being at least interesting for a day or an eternity.


Eos.


Holy god. I loved this 2014 demo. In fact, one of my first introductions to Fallen Empire came with Canadian black metal three piece Eos and their debut demo L'avalé. Even though I did not know I wanted disorientating black metal in my life, Eos was there to throw me to the floor. L'avalé had a distinct lo fi tone that made the whole demo pulsate with sinister noise. Additionally, their ability to make the world feel like it is being sucked through a netherworld vortex is knee-weakening. It would be interesting to see this outfit live and see the mystery that sat behind this amazing release in the flesh.


Vorde.


Yes. Another one from Fallen Empire. Vorde is a newcomer with only one record from 2014 and a massively hyped split with Predatory Light. If that most recent split is any indication of the direction for Vorde is headed, then their next record will eclipse the 2014 debut in quality. This is something amazing, since their debut was already a trip in the hallowed halls of hell.


Saturday.
Sinmara.

Artwork by Alexander L. Brown

On Tape Wyrm, I was going insane with the amount of Icelandic black metal that came out in 2014. Sinmara was one of them. The others are oddly related, as the members of Sinmara share duties in both Svartidauði and Slidhr. Whatever weird Icelandic close connections are being made is nothing I want to think about, but 2014’s Aphotic Womb was a unique combination of atmospheric texture veiling some blistering raw black metal. Oh, let us not forget the sense of dread that came with their tempo and structure. Sinmara feels like clawing at the walls while something horrible begins breathing at the nape of your neck.


Lluvia.


End of the year lists are funny because, in all honesty, people start wrapping up their selections mid November. This becomes increasingly difficult when an album of the year contender is released late November and it throws everything for a damn loop. Premonición de Guerra was released in the late hours of 2013 and was so astounding in its quality, I believe it could have made it on a lot more lists given more time. This Mexican one man black metal project has everything people desire in black metal. Whether or not it is smooth texture between the guitar, drums, and vocals, or the fact that the density within that texture feels endless, Lluvia channels the best part of second wave black metal and gives it a stronger drum kick. Lluvia recently released a 2015 record entitled Eternidad Solemne, which I hope has the possibility of reaching many end of the year lists this time around. Time will only tell, but it will be worth stopping at this burned out ruin to participate in their musical ritual.


Predatory Light.

Art by Todd White

It is funny to talk about lesser known black metal in terms of popularity and hype but goddamn if this U.S. four piece isn't on fire I do not know what is. With only two demos and one split to their name, Predatory Light has come out screaming in 2015, demanding attention from people already exhausted with quality black metal. One of the best parts of Predatory Light, aside from the hypnotic guitar lines, is the distinct snarl that compliments the vocals. It is something that lies somewhere between a banshee, a werewolf, and a nameless ghoul haunting a foggy grove.


Slidhr.

Cover by J. Deegan

Ireland is not a country that comes up often in discussion of black metal. Well, aside from Primordial. Ireland may be a little far off from having a heavy metal aesthetic but Slidhr's recent album Deluge, released by Debemur Morti, has enough stopping power to make one ponder many things. With only two members, the members of Slidhr create a sobering landscape of distinct vocals among a surprisingly clear production. Aside from the near growled narratives, and the heavy slow riffing, this record is full of terror akin to being taken alive by a roving party of Orcs.


Aureole.

Art by Ariella Vaystukh

I love Aureole for many reasons. First of all, the 2014 release, Alunar, was a beautiful ambient black record, which was odd at first but after many listens the texture and mood of the album became undeniable. I also love Aurele because the creator also creates 3D DOOM maps based on the castle that adorns the cover for Alunar. That level of dedication to a personal space frames Alunar as being a fortress for its creator. This fortress provides a place to slumber under horrible looking stars. The aesthetics and themes used on Alunar are near majestic, which sharply contrasts the ugliness kept in the dark dungeons beneath the castle walls.


Vilkacis.


I feel Vilkacis is sitting and waiting for some reason. In 2013, they released a really decent EP called the Fever of War. I feel if the band replicates the same level of hypnotic vortex that was the hallmark of their EP then they would be golden for 2015. We are also not going to talk about how Vilkacis relates to a dozen other bands, half of them being on this roster, because I do not want to get into charting everything on graph paper. For now, just allow the sandstorm that blows off this necropolis to envelop you.


Even if you do not make it up or down or across for this show, rest assured that new and decent black metal is being made, and potentially making friends, with each other. From this gathering of bands, possibilities of more splits and collaborations, or just bigger arms race to see who can be the scariest act alive, will be forged. If you want to follow the continual coverage on these types of bands, please visit Tape Wyrm. If you want to read my fantasy culture reviews on film, comics, and power metal records visit Hollywood Metal.

Dissociative Visions took place Fri-Sat July 24-25 2015 in Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, New York.
Tagged with Aureole, Eos, free download, Hæthen, Kaptain Carbon, Lluvia, One Tail One Head, Predatory Light, Psychic Violence Records, Sinmara, Slidhr, Sortilegia, Terratur Possessions, Vanum, Vilkacis, Vorde

Monday, July 20, 2015

Indesinence - III

By Matt Hinch. Indesinence have been plying their death doom trade for almost 15 years but the aptly titled III is but their third full-length and first since 2012's Vessels of Light and Decay. I had some pretty nice things to say about the band back then and nothing has changed in that regard here.
By Matt Hinch.


Indesinence have been plying their death doom trade for almost 15 years but the aptly titled III is but their third full-length and first since 2012's Vessels of Light and Decay. I had some pretty nice things to say about the band back then and nothing has changed in that regard here.

For 71 agonizing minutes they continually drag the listener through murky depths of emotional torment. Terror through dissonance and pain through pace.

III doesn't see its first deathly growls until the second track, after “Seashore Eternal” sets the stage with some punchy death mixed with very English doom. That's the thing here too; it's dark and brooding but with a certain cleanliness instead of purely tone and massive chords.

For much of the album Indesinence dole out that slow pound, stately and measured. Mixing in the quicker tempos puts the tracks through dramatic movements preventing a complacent listener. For just as one may fall into a deep sense of melancholy, up rises something more triumphant you can bang your head to.

From thunderous, driving rhythms to the most ponderous plods (“Strange Meridian”) and much in between, it's their ability to play with tempos while maintaining a sense of utter misery that makes them so special. Except when they bring melody into the fold. The light breaks the darkness making way for feelings of desperate hope. Or is it ignorance? Or innocence? Or a lucidity toward accepting a grim fate? That's up to the listener.

Through quiet/loud dynamics, controlled and controlling vocals, effectively used atmospheric organs, acoustic touches and a heavy percussive pulse Indesinence work their listener over. But lying at the album's heart is “Mountains of Mind/Five Years Ahead”. Featuring guest leads by Robert Roth (Truly) and easily the album's strongest and most complex track, it brings together big riffs and bigger atmosphere with an almost Fear Factory feel to the synths. It moves into lighter fare with dark undertones and whispered vocals. Black metal is pulled into the mix of styles going on before seamlessly segueing into a cover of “Five Years Ahead” originally by The Third Bardo.

Rounding out this marathon of despondency is the title track. After an hour of hammering doom and oppressiveness, “III” is simply 11 minutes of ambience. A myriad of field recordings cascade through the mind mated to humming synths. Waves, wind, birds, chimes, and more let the listener down gently after the despair, the pain, the darkness.

Like Vessels before it, III is a grower. It takes time to appreciate its depth and character. There are nods to the Peaceville Three but Indesinence make a name and sound for themselves. If you haven't been turned on to them already, now is the time as III is their strongest effort to date and a must have for those seeking bother power and depressiveness.

Tagged with 2015, death metal, doom metal, Indesinence, Matt Hinch, Profound Lore Records

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Dirty Dozen From New Zealand

By Craig Hayes. The international profile of New Zealand metal and punk is at an all time high. Homegrown bands such as Vassafor, Diocletian, Jakob, Keretta, Heresiarch, Witchrist, Open Tomb, Ulcerate, and The House of Capricorn have all released applauded albums on respected international record labels.
By Craig Hayes.

The international profile of New Zealand metal and punk is at an all time high. Homegrown bands such as Vassafor, Diocletian, Jakob, Keretta, Heresiarch, Witchrist, Open Tomb, Ulcerate, and The House of Capricorn have all released applauded albums on respected international record labels. And bands like Sinistrous Diabolus, Exordium Mors, Bulletbelt, Dawn of Azazel, Winter Deluge, and Sabbatic Goat have drawn plenty of praise in the overseas music media too.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as hard-edged New Zealand music is concerned. There are plenty of other interesting bands located in the far southern reaches, and in May this year, I highlighted around 85 groups that I thought were well worth tracking down on my backwater blog, Six Noises.

I choose May to do that because the New Zealand media and music industry get together every May to celebrate New Zealand Music Month by hosting loads of events that pay tribute to both the nation’s musical diversity and its success stories. However, generally speaking, there's not a great deal of underground New Zealand metal and punk ever included in those celebrations. Which is a shame. Because if there's one thing underground music in New Zealand has done, it's consistently punch well above its weight.

So, I figured I'd spend every day in the month of May highlighting some of the underground New Zealand bands I like. And I thought if a couple of persons discovered a couple of new groups to enjoy via all the resulting posts then I'd be happy that my job was done.

But, as it turns out, my job isn’t quite finished yet.

Metal Bandcamp overlord Max has kindly invited me to try and hook a few more listeners by picking a selection of bands from my New Zealand Music Month series to shine a light on once again. So what I’ve done is try and choose a few groups that aren’t as well known as those New Zealand bands I mentioned in the first paragraph of this introduction. I've also included a couple of bands that have released albums or demos since my series finished at the end of May.

As always, cheers for reading.


Numbskull – Powderslave
Numbskull play turbo-speed thrash ‘n’ grind. Think old school howlers like D.R.I or Crumbsuckers mainlining Napalm Death and Cripple Bastards. (Something like that.) Numbskull swing the hammer at whirlwind velocity, and although it’s been a few years since Numbskull released any music, the band’s debut full-length, Powderslave, is an endlessly enjoyable crossover classic. An outstanding (and blistering fast) addition to New Zealand’s raucous  underground rock canon.


Opium Eater – Canis Major (The Greater Dog)
Wellington band Opium Eater deal in "Post-Traumatic Sludgescapes" drawn from the realms of experimental/post-metal. The band’s debut, Canis Major (The Greater Dog), features a single eponymous 18-minute track that features delicate violins and drifting post-rock, before transforming into a heaving requiem.



Meth Drinker – OIL
Yes, I know that Meth Drinker are fairly well known outside of New Zealand these days. But I can’t resist another opportunity to have a quick rant about the band’s noxious sewer sludge. The Wellington punks have just returned from another DIY tour of Europe to promote their latest spirit-crushing release OIL. Uber-downbeat, Meth Drinker deal in ultra-heavy crud and crust and nihilistic dirges. (Note: the band are now on hiatus. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying all the misanthropy and misery on offer.)


Hollywoodfun Downstairs – Reactions
Hollywoodfun Downstairs deliver stop-on-a-dime noise punk with a razor-sharp post-hardcore edge. The band’s second album, Reactions, is intense. Its produced to perfection. Was mastered in New York by Alan Douches. Sounds huge, and gnarly. And is sprinkled with spiky popilicious hooks.

Look for the cassette release of Reactions on Press Gang Records. And while you’re there, I recommend you sample further Press Gang releases from the likes of stoner rock punx Viking Weed, pitch-black post-punk band Society, and sludge ‘n’ doom trio Over-population.



Stone Angels – Within the Witch
In order to understand why Christchurch-based Stone Angels’ Within the Witch album is so powerful you need to appreciate that it was born from tragedy. In 2011, the South Island New Zealand city of Christchurch was hit by a major earthquake that killed 185 people, injured scores, and destroyed much of the city. Within the Witch was created in the aftermath of those events, and it’s a raw exorcism featuring corrosive sludge, doom, and intimidating atmospherics.


Negative Capability – Negative Capability
Hamilton punks Negative Capability sound like Big Black driving a steamroller over Jesus Lizard and Fugazi –– i.e. filthy and furious, and goddamn magnificent. The band’s self-titled debut only features four songs, which is a tantalising tease considering how fully formed and imposing those tracks are. Fingers crossed for more tracks soon. (The band’s debut is also set for a tape release on Press Gang Records.)



Shallow Grave – Shallow Grave
Auckland quartet Shallow Grave dish out distortion-heavy atmospheric sludge, thickset doom, and psychedelic drone. The band's self-titled 2013 debut album features colossal dirges where Shallow Grave weaves in ambient passages and layers of feedback. Ensuring there were plenty of cavernous deadfalls to get entangled in. HIGHLY recommended.


Bonecruncher – Bonecruncher
Bonecruncher push all my crusty-punk-lovin'buttons. Their self-titled debut released earlier this year delivered 24 frantic and frenetic minutes of steely punk rock. There are callbacks to the earliest years of crossover crust; deluges of dirty and crushing riffs; wailing solos squirming through the mix; spat out, howled, and growled vocals; battering percussion; and nary a pause for breath anywhere on the album.



Slavedriver – Marauders Of The Wasteland
Slavedriver’s Marauders Of The Wasteland album was the definition of all killer no filler. (See also supersonic releases from fellow New Zealand bands Graves, Shitripper, Parents, PCP Eagles, and Starving Millions.) Slavedriver didn't waste a second on any superfluous doodling on Marauders Of The Wasteland. Fortifying their breakneck, cutthroat and curt sound with sampled dialogue and noisescape atmospherics.


Two Wolves – The Roar and Peal of Distant Thunder
Two Wolves’ debut album, The Roar and Peal of Distant Thunder, was inspired by Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian, and bleak outback films like The Proposition. It’s all blood-soaked dirt and dust, and Sergio Leone landscapes, with slide guitar and campfire harmonica adding to the band’s evocative sound.



Trepanation / Spiteful Urinator – Split
Trepanation released their vitriolic first demo, Hideous Black Abyss, back in 2013. That demo was stacked to the gunnels with bleeding-raw and chaotic black and death metal, and it came with a fair amount of pitch-black crust punk. As did the band’s excellent 2014 split with Sabbatic Goat.

Spiteful Urinator is affiliated with infamous New Zealand doom trio Open Tomb. Although, Spiteful Urinator deal in far brisker punked-up metal on solid gold piles of bile like the band’s Work Crimes album. Together, Trepanation and Spiteful Urinator’s split from earlier this year is the perfect meeting of similarly misanthropic and murderous minds.


Vomit Storm – Mudge or Be Mudged!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Vomit Storm are scumbags making scumbag music that is perfectly suited for scumbags like you, and me. Mudge or Be Mudged! is filled with stench-ridden, bullshit-free punked-up metal. The kind of cruddy crossover thrash that any studded-jacketed rivethead worth their salt will instantly fall in love with. (And that’s a deeply unhealthy and unsanitary love, obviously.)

Tagged with Bonecruncher, Craig Hayes, free download, Hollywoodfun Downstairs, Meth Drinker, Negative Capability, Numbskull, Shallow Grave, Slavedriver, Spiteful Urinator, Stone Angels, Trepanation, Two Wolves, Vomit Storm

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Moonknight - Valinor

By Aaron Sullivan. Moonknight returns with a new album entitled Valinor. As was mentioned in my label profile of Rising Beast Recordings. Moonknight is the Atmospheric Black Metal solo project of James L. Brown of Harassor fame. The growth from the first album, Toplov, to Valinor is tremendous.
By Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork by William David Pollard

Moonknight returns with a new album entitled Valinor. As was mentioned in my label profile of Rising Beast Recordings. Moonknight is the Atmospheric Black Metal solo project of James L. Brown of Harassor fame. The growth from the first album, Toplov, to Valinor is tremendous. With each release he seems to get more and more comfortable with his style, and how to incorporate his influences into his music while making it his own. Valinor exemplifies this even more so than previous releases.

One of the first things you notice it that this is a very dark record. The atmosphere of the opening track is mid paced drumming, grindy guitars with an eerie synth sound over it. Vocals sit right in the middle of it all. The last few minutes vocals shift into a more Death Metal style and the music has hints of it also. Songs like "Broken Blade", "With Bright Knives" and "Aconitum" are among my favorites. They ooze sadness and depression. They take their time engulfing the listener in their melancholy. The buzz of the guitars is just right. Not too tiny and not too clean. He does this thing on "Broken Blade" that I enjoy and find a bit spooky. When the vocals kick there is a single keyboard like note played repeated over the top that just creates a cool feel

I also love the atmospheres he can create. Some, as mentioned, are dark and morose. But on a song like "Western Shores", the atmosphere is almost spacey, reminding me of Neptune Towers. The vocals on "Helplessness" are anguish personified. The main riff of the title track is so sorrowful it sounds as if the guitar is crying. It just tears through you. The whole album just gets to your core. James went through some tough times in the last year and this album certainly reflects that. I imagine that he, like many artists, find this to be cathartic and a way for him to work through his pain. For an artist to bare that pain for the listener to hear is brave, and that authenticity can be heard throughout Valinor.

Tagged with 2015, Aaron Sullivan, black metal, free download, Moonknight, Rising Beast Recordings

Metal Blade is now on Bandcamp!

By Andy Osborn. Metal Blade is now on Bandcamp. I was wondering when, if ever, I would get the chance to type those words as that little sentence is about the most exciting news that could land on the desks of our little site. Ubiquitous and world-renowned
By Andy Osborn.

Artwork by Necrolord

Metal Blade is now on Bandcamp. I was wondering when, if ever, I would get the chance to type those words as that little sentence is about the most exciting news that could land on the desks of our little site. Ubiquitous and world-renowned, the California-based label has been arguably the most important supporter of metal over the thirty-three years of its existence. They helped give birth to and nurture extreme metal in all its forms and continue to put out some of the best heavy music in the world.



They've started stocking their page with some of their best artists including the complete catalog of The Black Dahlia Murder and all of Cattle Decapitation's full-lengths save their debut. Not that they need any introduction, but simply seeing these bands on Bandcamp is a joy. The Black Dahlia Murder is THE band that got me interested in extreme metal, and while their recent output hasn't been overtly original, they are still without a doubt one of the best Melodic Death Metal acts on the planet. Their first three albums were absolutely pivotal in forming my tastes in all things extreme, and doubtless this is the case with many people. Cattle Decapitation, on the other hand, are only improving with time. Monolith of Inhumanity ranks in my top five albums ever. It embodies everything I love about metal and shows the long-running Deathgrind weirdos are at the top of their game. Both bands' highly anticipated upcoming albums are up and ready for pre-order.

Artwork by Wes Benscoter

The across the board $10 asking price is a bit high, but knowing that the money is going straight into the hands of this important label makes it worth it. Obviously, we here at Metal Bandcamp are excited. Expect plenty of Metal Blade-centric reviews, roundups, and discography specials in the near future.

Tagged with 2007, 2012, Andy Osborn, Cattle Decapitation, grindcore, melodic death metal, Metal Blade Records, progressive death metal, The Black Dahlia Murder

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Immortal Bird - Empress/Abscess

By Justin C. It's easy to get fixated on subgenres in metal, although I'd argue that there's nothing inherently wrong with that impulse. Humans like to categorize things, and I've caught myself trying to work out the relevant percentages for Immortal Bird
By Justin C.

Cover art by Kikyz 1313

It's easy to get fixated on subgenres in metal, although I'd argue that there's nothing inherently wrong with that impulse. Humans like to categorize things, and I've caught myself trying to work out the relevant percentages for Immortal Bird on more than one occasion. 57% death, 33% black, 10% grind? Take 13.7% away from death and add it to grind? Where's my pie chart, damn it? But although that genre slipperiness robs me of an easy first sentence for a review, it's also a sign that Immortal Bird are doing things right--if they slapped together a bunch of sounds and the boundary lines were clear for all to hear, it wouldn't sound as good as it does. So let's go with blackened death-thrashish grindy Bird-core and leave it at that.

Photos © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

Immortal Bird’s first full length, Empress/Abscess, is both a refinement and an expansion of the sound on the band's EP, Akrasia. Rae Amitay's vocals remain a fantastic centerpiece. Yes, they're raspy, screaming goodness, just like you'd expect and hope for, but they also bleed with emotion, be it rage, sorrow, or despair. One could probably argue that most metal vocals are packed with emotion, but it's no small feat to clearly convey such a depth and breadth of feeling while you're screaming like a banshee. The riffing proves itself to be the equal of Amitay's vocals, and I think they're also a step up from the previous EP. "Saprophyte" pits ringing arpeggios against thrashy chugging, only to switch it all up later to angular black metal dissonance. The opening of "Sycophant" could be from a straight-up hard rock song from that genre's glory days, although the entrance of Amitay's vocals dispels any illusion that this is retro radio fare. The interaction between the band members is another big part of these songs' strength. Vocals, riffs, and drums all key off of each other, acting and reacting. Like the genre blending, the lines between rhythm and lead blur. It's a pleasure to hear a band getting this so right--I want to hear musicians interact, not individual parts recorded separately without regard to the whole.

Photos © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The last two tracks of the album find the band stretching their sound. "To a Watery Grave" might start up with an air-raid siren riff that builds and breaks into a stomping, punk rhythm, but the band's not above having a little fun with a jazz piano reprise of the main riff later in the song. It makes me feel like I should be sitting in an opulent hotel, drinking a martini with my pants off. (That's what bankers do in opulent hotels, right?) Album closer "And Send Fire" is long by Bird standards, and it's a push and pull between slower, moodier sections and grinding, jagged fury. Is the outro a wee bit too long? Maybe, but maybe it only seems to that way because it's in contrast with the complete lack of filler through the rest of the album. Even with a bit more experimental flair than Akrasia, the songs are still immediately accessible. "Accessible" can be a dirty word in music, suggesting a lack of depth or interest, but that's not the case here. It's not "easy" music, but it's music that's easy to get close to. The songs are well crafted, making all the zigs and zags seem natural, rather than something to be puzzled over. Immortal Bird songs burn directly into your ear and stay there, and Empress/Abscess isn't going to be leaving my heavy rotation anytime soon.

Tagged with 2015, death metal, Immortal Bird, John Mourlas, Justin C

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Vorum - Poisoned Void

By Natalie Zina Walschots. [Back in May Vorum released a great new EP, Current Mouth, on Bandcamp. And now that Finnish label Woodcut Records is on Bandcamp their 2013 full-length is also available:] Though Finnish death metal band Vorum have been
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

[Back in May Vorum released a great new EP, Current Mouth, on Bandcamp. And now that Finnish label Woodcut Records is on Bandcamp their 2013 full-length is also available]

Illustration by Alexander L. Brown

Though Finnish death metal band Vorum have been together since 2006, Poisoned Void is their first full-length, following the Grim Death Awaits EP in 2009 and the Profane Limbs of Ruinous Death split they did with Vasaeleth in 2010.

Poisoned Void makes good on the promise of a thick, palpable foulness their earlier material hinted at; the atmosphere of this record is all about murk, density and viscosity. The pace is unrelenting, from the battering drums to the angry, hornet-swarming guitars, all smothered in fat, dank distortion. The tone has an almost sumptuous violence to the texture, like being hit by heavy leather with some proper muscle behind it.

"Thriving Darkness" has a sinister, writhing quality to it that makes it a highlight, and the titular track is fierce enough to raise welts. While the sheer thickness of the tone can be smothering now and again, this is nonetheless an extremely promising piece of classic death metal delivered with a sadistic streak.

Tagged with 2013, death metal, Natalie Zina Walschots, Vorum, Woodcut Records

Friday, July 10, 2015

Label Spotlight: Dark Horizon Records

By Steven Leslie. ounded in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1996 by Andy Newton a.k.a. Lord Typhus of US black metal crew Typhus, Dark Horizon Records specializes primarily in underground black and death metal. A fantastic split from two bands that need no introduction to fans of underground barbarity. Both bands showcase their specific brand of war metal on this split
By Steven Leslie.

Founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1996 by Andy Newton a.k.a. Lord Typhus of US black metal crew Typhus, Dark Horizon Records specializes primarily in underground black and death metal.


A fantastic split from two bands that need no introduction to fans of underground barbarity. Both bands showcase their specific brand of war metal on this split, originally released in 1999. Black Witchery kick things off with a wall of churning guitar riffs, relentless blasting, crashing cymbals and pissed of screams. One of the best things about any Black Witchery release, this one included, is the vocal performance put in by Impurath. His vocal phrasing and the cadence of his delivery adding an additional rhythmical element to the music, making each track that much more impactful. He never fails to find that sweet spot between guttural death metal grunts and harsh black metal shrieks. Black Witchery offers up four tracks and fittingly cap off their end of the split with cover of Blasphemy's "Demoniac". Underground war metal legends Conqueror continue the relentless audio savagery with four more tracks of ruthless desecration. J Read’s unstoppable blast beats providing the backbone for Conqueror’s inexorable attack. Read is a legend for good reason as it is a rare thing to hear so much variety in drumming this fast. Brimming with vitriol, Conqueror unleashes a barrage of lo-fi sonic violence that few can match. Tornado like riffs swirl around laying waste to everything in their path as Read’s hate-filled screams eviscerate any living thing left standing. There is nothing subtle about either band here; this is war metal after all. Considering how difficult it is to get ahold of Conqueror releases, this is a must have for anyone who considers themselves a fan of bestial metal of any variety.




Another classic war metal band here also featuring the talented Mr. Read. Revenge somehow manages to push the audio violence to levels even beyond that conjured by Black Witchery or Conqueror. Never straying from grind-like levels of intensity, you will be happy that this is only about 17 minutes long. Not because it isn’t absolutely killer, but because you will finally be able to catch your breath. Read's vocals are genuinely psychotic. You can feel the hatred dripping from every single syllable. It sounds like the speakers are going to blow out at any given moment. Bands like Revenge are generally pretty hard to review because there really isn't a single part of the music that stands out. Everything from the guitars to the drums and vocals are designed to crush every bone in your body. And that is exactly what this EP will do. When you absolutely want to destroy every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitute.




Hailing from the Netherlands, Sauron have released three superb full lengths of fairly traditional black metal. Originally released in 2003, Universe of Filth is their first and arguably best album. Storming out of the gate with wonderfully catchy guitar lines and relentless blast beats, "Sauron.Death.Squad" sets the tone for the next 33 minutes. While later albums focus more on satanic themes, this beast of an album is dedicated to war. And a fitting soundtrack it is. While the pace rarely changes, Sauron does a great job of writing riffs that are actually memorable despite rarely changing pace. Eclipse’s vocals deserve mention as well. While he follows the traditional black metal template, he injects enough venom into his deliver to make him stand out above the masses of second wave copycats. Those of you who are fans of Panzer-Division era Marduk will find a lot to enjoy about this monster.




Taking a slightly more experimental approach to their black metal, Hordes of the Lunar Eclipse unleashed this, their first full length in 2003. This band sadly flew under most people’s radars when this album was originally released and haven’t gotten the recognition they rightfully deserve. Unlike a lot of the drivel that was being passed off as black metal in the early noughties, Hordes crafted memorable songs and managed to inject enough originality into their music to stand apart from their peers. Constantly shifting and warping from one minute to the next, this album will keep you enthralled from start to finish. Dancing is overflowing with ice-cold tremolo riffs and disturbing grunts all wrapped in a remarkably sinister, occult atmosphere. This again is one of the few bands of this time that was writing memorable riffs, where you could actually distinguish one song from the next. While the production quality does leave something to be desired, there is quite a bit of quality to be found here. Anyone who missed out on this gem first time around would be advised not to sleep on hidden gem.


Tagged with 1999, 2001, 2003, black metal, Black Witchery, Conqueror, Dark Horizon Records, death metal, Revenge, Sauron, Steven Leslie

Monday, July 6, 2015

Label Spotlight: Apathia Records

By Kevin Page. French label, three French bands, each one different and odder than the next. Let's find out... Existing since 1994, this is Orakle's third full length album. They are labeled as atmospheric black metal, which I find strange. Maybe they were previously, but this new album is firmly in the avantgarde, progressive death metal-ish camp
By Kevin Page.

French label, three French bands, each one different and odder than the next. Let's find out...

Sculpture by Robert Le Lagade

Existing since 1994, this is Orakle's third full length album. They are labeled as atmospheric black metal, which I find strange. Maybe they were previously, but this new album is firmly in the avantgarde, progressive death metal-ish camp (with maybe even a little experimental stuff thrown in for good measure). The vocals at times have that black metal vomit, so there's a hint of it here and there, Ultimately, you are going to find them more in line with Opeth and even Tool, than anything else. That might scare some people off, but don't let it, since they are not a clone by any stretch of the imagination. The strange tempos and time changes make sure to give this a character all it's own.



Artwork by Michael Yee

Earth's Disease is the sophomore effort from this self proclaimed hypnotic dodecatonic black metal band. Yeah, I had to look up the term dodecatonic (which refers to the twelve note piano scale) and still don't understand what they mean. This is black metal, but like most things from France these days, it by no means follows a well established path. There's some proggy stuff going on no doubt, at times you can hear a Deathspell Omega guitar twang, yet its strange enough in its own fashion to stick its neck out. Julien Payan (guitars) and Marquis (bass) of funeral death/doom band, Ataraxie, are featured here on guitars and vocals, respectively. The vocals are thoroughly tortured and strained. There's also some old school Victorian horror movie sounding cello used to wonderful effect as well.



Artwork by Julie Gagne

And for our final and most wonderfully weird entry, we have Pryapisme. These "genre by damned" chaps combine 8-bit gaming, world beats, jazz, island sounds, dance beats and orchestral pieces you'd hear on a movie soundtrack, into this non-disjointed hodgepodge. The band states this release is about space, cats, and house rent. It’s not a full-on metal assault by any means and much less "metal" than their previous album, Hyperblast Super Collider (which was a fabulous), but that doesn’t make it any less potent or interesting. No amount of me describing it will truly due it justice, You'll just have to give it a listen for yourself. And once your brain is fried, feel free to sit back and enjoy a complete classical re-orchestration of the EP as an included bonus.



[Check out more bands from Apathia Records on their free label sampler from 2013.]

Tagged with 2015, Apathia Records, atmospheric black metal, avant-garde metal, black metal, Kevin Page, Void Paradigm