Thursday, June 30, 2016

Strange Flowers for a New Year: Kaptain Carbon’s Mid Year Review

By Kaptain Carbon. When Max offered me a chance to write an article, I knew I wanted to go over a bunch of extreme metal bands that were experiencing popularity in 2016. The albums discussed are also from bands that have been recently formed or used 2016 as the year to come out with their first or second release.
By Kaptain Carbon.

When Max offered me a chance to write an article, I knew I wanted to go over a bunch of extreme metal bands that were experiencing popularity in 2016. The albums discussed are also from bands that have been recently formed or used 2016 as the year to come out with their first or second release. The bands could be considered newcomers or freshman to the world of black and death and are also enjoying buzz among internet forums. These releases also share similar strands of cavernous occult theme, atmosphere, and production; it would not be that much of a stretch to see how each of these bands could fit into a twisted family tree.

While I would love to profile every new band of 2016, and particularly every far off but excellent release, that would require a lot more coffee and a sabbatical away from my day job. Every year is a great time for heavy metal, and the first half of 2016 sounds as hellish as ever.

Artwork by Paolo Girardi

The internet is a weird place, and even though Le dernier crépuscule feels already discussed in reviews like this, if you step back a few spaces, this Canadian death metal band is still relatively hidden from the majority of people. Chthe'ilist lies in a special place of both death metal bands that pay tribute to the murky hell sounds of Demilich and bands that I have to type their name really slow to spell right. Le dernier crépuscule is the Profound Lore Records debut following an obscure self released demo no one heard or can even spell without looking at. Chthe'ilist's cavernous sound is catching the hearts and imaginations of people, who are finding that it won't let go and is constricting their breathing. Slow moving and eroding of sanity, it was only a matter of time before this sound crept up in popularity. Add to this the band's not so hidden love for the Zelda mythos and you have tens of fans falling over themselves in ecstasy.


Artwork by Zbigniew Bielak

In the small microcosm of the internet metal community, Icelandic extreme metal has experienced a surge in interest following great albums by Svartidauði, Sinmara, and Misþyrming. Zhrine comes in with a more monstrous disposition, as their love for death metal has crept into their sound giving it a more focused aggression. While still on the low end, Unortheta retains hypnotic qualities as if guided by the thoughts and whims of extra terrestrial aberrations. Zhrine is also enjoying the attention of Season of Mist, which is supporting this release and thus bringing the sound of Iceland's small but vibrant extreme metal scene to more people. This is death / black for the misty terror creeping closer into full view.


Cover artwork by Denis Forkas

Oh shit, look at Gevurah. This Canadian band was first exposed to audiences on the Svn Okklt tape compilation released by Fallen Empire in 2011. Gevurah sat along side of Witch in Her Tomb, Axis of Light, and Xothist for a hellish 4 sides of destruction. Somewhere between here and now, Gevurah caught the attention of Profound Lore, which not only sponsored this year’s debut but the band’s 2013 EP. Gevurah has always been interested in deep production with Hallelujah! being the pinnacle of their years of work. Ruminating spirituality runs through the heart of this record, which goes beyond the standard dark themes and becomes something more complex and frightening.


Cover art by Kris Verwimp

Melodic black metal is not a style that has aged well. While most of the bands discussed here have a similar cavernous occult outlook, Uada leans more towards older bands like Dissection and newer bands like Mgla. This is black metal that is not only grinding and hypnotic but also entertaining to listen to. Devoid of Light is a shorter record compared to contemporaries but the depth and richness of the sound makes this 33 minute release well worth the travel. I expect many people to stumble backwards into this release as no one expects melodic black to be hiding in the corners. Uada could be this year’s surprise that no one saw coming.


Cover art by Skaðvaldur

We are back to Iceland and, unlike Zhrine who had minimal ties to the known black metal scene, Naðra is right in the middle. With band members sharing duties in Misþyrming, 〇, Carpe Noctum, and Mannveira, this band is only a few steps away from a bounty of soul wrenching music. Having vocals strangled and prominent in the mix help the emotional components in Allir vegir til glötunar make the black metal qualities even more effective. The band also released Form, a followup digital EP, which is sometimes just attached to their 33 minute debut. With both of the releases high in quality, this nebulous entity is a hammer swinging into the side of 2016.


Cover art by Business For Satan

I have been writing about LVTHN since the band’s first 2014 demo. Eradication of Nescience is the logical conclusion for a band who has measured themselves with careful precision in terms of releases. With a long carpet of lo-fi and raw black preceding this debut, Eradication of Nescience fulfills the promises of the demos and splits with a swarming hornet’s nest of black metal. This band also has the extra benefit of being from Belgium and is comprised of 5 people who have not had their identities revealed. LVTHN could be a collective of well known black and death metal musicians just under the auspices of mystery.


Cover art: "Theoin II" by Agostino Arrivabene

Howls of Ebb is a little different from the above group of bands. For one, this 2016 release is the second following a 2014 debut. Additionally, the band seems to be completely insane and whatever we are listening to is just a manifestation of that insanity. With deep ties in some obscure US black/Death from the 90’s, Howls of Ebb takes that sound and sends it banging down a well to the underworld. The tenacity of this act in terms of composition and aesthetic choices is bizarre and frightening, which makes Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows not only exhilarating but also dangerous in terms of bodily harm.


Artwork and logo by View From The Coffin.

Sun Worship has always been an interesting band ever since their 2014 debut Elder Giants. Sun Worship has also been a band that is interesting for their visual themes and album art. From just their music, this German band seems pretty on top in terms of angular and entrenched black metal. Compare this to their artsy album covers plus band photos that go against the grain of many black and death metal photography and you get a very strange dichotomy. Their unorthodox presentation, compared to the very traditional sound of their music, makes Sun Worship an enigma that is only accelerated by the fact that their albums are devastating.



Altarage is from Spain and comes by way of support from Iron Bonehead. With a sound that is firmly rooted in the deepest and darkest caverns, these group of anonymous musicians is just waiting to experience a full blown explosion of hype and support. NIHIL is the debut record following a sinister 2015 demo which took 10 minutes of horror and expanded it into a landscape of grotesque atmosphere. If you were ever thinking if riffs could become monsters capable of devouring children whole, Altarage is finally the answer to the question you never wanted to say out loud


Kaptain Carbon moderates Reddit's r/metal as well as writes reviews for lesser known black, death, and doom metal for Tape Wyrm as well as Dungeon Synth, Tabletop, and Movie Reviews for Hollywood Metal.
Tagged with 2016, Altarage, black metal, Chthe'ilist, death metal, free download, Gevurah, Howls of Ebb, Kaptain Carbon, LVTHN, melodic black metal, Naðra, Sun Worship, Uada, Zhrine

Monday, June 27, 2016

Death - Leprosy

An Autothrall Classic. For the longest time the Death reissues on the Relapse Records' Bandcamp were only available in expensive ($25) editions with lots of frankly unnecessary rehearsal/live versions of the songs.
For the longest time the Death reissues on the Relapse Records' Bandcamp were only available in expensive ($25) editions with lots of frankly unnecessary rehearsal/live versions of the songs. I mean four extra versions of "Open Casket"? That's only of interest for the most fanatical collectors. Thankfully Relapse has now released trimmed down editions for a much more reasonable price ($12). Half the price, half the number of "Open Casket" bonus versions. We approve, and we celebrate with:

An Autothrall Classic. Originally published here.

Edward J. Repka

Where Scream Bloody Gore provided us with a glimpse of corpse strewn genius, it was Chuck Schuldiner's sophomore monstrosity Leprosy that would hammer in the final coffin nails: death metal had truly arrived, and with it an almost entire musical landscape would either book passage on the funeral barge or sink into the Lethe. Sure, thrash had of brilliance yet to offer, and to an extent, many considered Leprosy itself to fall under that category in its day. But as time has proven, it is by far one of the most expressive, beatific statements of brutality and evil that I've ever experienced, and I enjoy it with the same solidarity today as I did over 20 years ago. In fact, I hold it upon the same lofty plateau of carnage as I place a Consuming Impulse, Realm of Chaos, Left Hand Path, or Altars of Madness: a mastery of the genre's fundamentals, with unanimously catchy songs to boot.

Yes, I said catchy. Many might forget that the inauguration of death metal was not simply a thing of blunt, indifferent brutality or charnel atmospheres, but actual song craft. Such a large ratio of the genre's rabid followers today came into the fold in the 90s or beyond that I fear many might have taken (or still take) an album like Leprosy for granted. For example, you won't hear excess storms of double bass, blasting or technical drumming here where they're not viable. This was well before the market had been cornered by Cryptopsy or Suffocation. Bill Andrews' beats offer nothing more than a concrete foundation for the wondrous, insanely well written riffs and the thick as thieves bass lines, rolling on his bass drums where applicable. And know what? Nothing more is needed for this album whatsoever, because the star side of beef in this slaughter house is without any doubt the guitar riffing and the caustic vocal torments of Schuldiner.

They do not make riffs like this anymore, not often at least. Such simple but instantaneously memorable fare that manages to encapsulate the menace and threat of a worldly change for the worse. In today's climate of brickwalled, ProTools brutality, death metal has transformed into an acrobatic light show in which the most gallantly executed tricks are fawned over by brooding masses that forget them once the following weeks upstaging has transpired. But how many are writing a riff that might actually scare the fuck out of you? I mean, no offense to Deeds of Flesh or Behemoth (I enjoy some material by both), but if you were alone in a morgue during a power outage, would you feel terrified if their music started to play in the background? Fuck no you wouldn't. It's brutal, indeed, but it doesn't possess that same skin crawling atmosphere, conjured directly through its notation. You don't feel that instant repulsion as if being covered in spiders, or that wondrous, jaw-dropping disbelief you might have felt when watching human entrails being exhumed from their corporeal hosts by the zombies in an 80s Romero flick.

I feel that sensation every time I listen through Leprosy, for nearly the entirety of its 39 minutes. Even at its most goofy and uplifting ("Forgotten Past"), I'd need to hold your hand in the theater when the lights go out. The slow, sure chords of the title track de-Christen the album, dire melodies cycling across Chuck's bass lines before that ineffably damning death howl erupts around :40. Jesus fuck, I feel like I'm staring at my own corpse while cold, dead spectral hands are forcing me backwards into the maw of the underworld. Yet, it's all still catchy, in particular where the guitars cut in before 2:00 and the searing velocity of the riff after that. Not many bands can stop/start you this often and hold your attention. This one could. "Born Dead" arrives with almost playful deviance, a gaggle of gremlins and fiends dancing on your hide as they stab it with poisoned barbs, fast and brutal guitars alternating into the escalation of pure chord force in the chorus, and then the clinical tapping sequence after 1:00 which is legendary.

"Forgotten Past", as hinted above, is even more playful with an almost happy-go-lucky muted punk veneer to its introductory riff. However, it soon collides into a graveyard wall, and the lower bridge/groove rhythm at 1:00 is a knockout. "Left to Die" begins with one of the creepiest riffs on the entire album, a surgical thrashing that feels like you're watching some unfortunate be pumped with formaldehyde while still drawing breath. Big, swaggering grooves cede towards another of those glorious, thick rhythms, and I dare you not to explode at the chorus, one of the most tangible and enduring statements of DEATH METAL to date. "Pull the Plug" follows, one of the most popular pieces from this sophomore, another smorgasboard of splatter and horror with at least 5 unforgettable riffs, and a chorus that has probably broken as many bones in mosh pits as anything else in all of thrash or death (excepting "Raining Blood", of course). Listen to that riff at 1:20. That is all I should have to say...

Yet Schuldiner, Andrews and Rick Rozz are not finished with us here, and they burst out the meaty, meandering causeway of "Open Casket", with another monolithic, almost doom metal breakdown bridging the verses. I particularly enjoy the wild nature of the lead in this one, shrill and cavernous and resonant across the pathological plague-scape of the album. "Primitive Ways" has a similar, escalating brightness about it that we were teased with in "Forgotten Past", but once again composed front to end with perfect, plausible guitar lines and Chuck's unforgettable, flesh stalking vocals. "Choke On It" festers with some of the same, slower breakdown segues that populate other songs here, but is marvelously concise and offers another of the album's most malevolent, genius riffs just before 1:30. All of these are seasoned in a lyrical sauce similar to the debut. Still heavy on simplistic imagery, but more consistently composed.

We are living in 'old as new' times, folks, with many younger artists turning back to the past for their inspiration. But I'll be damned if I wouldn't pay a band double for an album that made such flawless use of inspiring, simple rhythms; or one that could conjure such morbid malignancy without simply steering towards the cavernous, deep guttural terrain. The production here is perfect, raw but resonating through the listener's mind like an autopsy on the television set. You want to turn away, you want to squint but you're glued to the gore, fascinating by the fleshy flaws and organs that lie within all of us. Leprosy was one of the most repulsive yet alluring metal experiences I was honored to undertake in the 80s, alongside the over the top Slowly We Rot or Cause of Death, or the thrashing unto death transition of Pestilence. It's probably cool in some circles to rally against Chuck from beyond the grave, and my own feelings on Death are mixed once he transformed into a philosophical cosmonaut on the fourth album (half forgetting what got him there in the first place), but I am sure as a starving bear in a spring thaw that this is one of the best goddamn things I've ever heard in my middle-age nearing existence. Leprosy forever. May the limbs of all unworthy poseurs fester in putrid permanence.


Tagged with 1988, Autothrall, Death, death metal, Relapse Records

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hey, Check This Out! #2

Hey, Check This Out! is an irregular column of DIY reviews, where we give you just the basic facts about albums that we wanted to give a full review but for some reason it never happened.
Hey, Check This Out! is an irregular column of DIY reviews, where we give you just the basic facts about albums that we wanted to give a full review but for some reason it never happened. Without further ado:

Artwork by Andrew Millar of Patrons of the Rotting Gate

Band:Patrons of the Rotting Gate.
City:London, United Kingdom.
Genre:Progressive Black Metal ~ Sorrowful dissonance.
Interesting fact:The Rose Coil is the proud recipient of a 0% review from The Metal Archives, with the awesome line "If I wanted to drift aimlessly, I'd snort some ketamine."




Band:DreamLongDead.
City:Athens, Greece.
Genre:Primitive monolithic punkish doom death metal.
Interesting fact:Recorded in Universe217's studio. A band that's pretty much the opposite of primitive and punkish.



Cover art by Joshua Klegerman

Band:Clad in Darkness.
State:Chicago, Illinois/Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Genre:Jazzy post-black metal.
Interesting fact:Leading internet metal experts are trying to convince the band to make a new album. We give such endeavors our full support.


Tagged with 2013, 2015, Clad in Darkness, death metal, doom metal, DreamLongDead, free download, Patrons of the Rotting Gate, post-black metal, progressive black metal

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Spirit Adrift - Behind - Beyond

By Ulla Roschat. Spirit Adrift is the solo project of Arizona's Take Over and Destroy guitarist and vocalist Nate Garrett. Behind - Beyond is his debut EP consisting of "only" two songs
By Ulla Roschat


Spirit Adrift is the solo project of Arizona's Take Over and Destroy guitarist and vocalist Nate Garrett. Behind - Beyond is his debut EP consisting of "only" two songs, both of them are of epic length "Specter of Ruin" (12 :07) and "Perpetual Passage" (15:36) with expanding and exploring melodies.

The dominating pace is that of slow Doom, few speedy passages are included, but there are riffs and melodies in abundance and they burst with emotions related to experiences of inner brokenness and the painful process of healing and renewal. Everything is drenched in atmospheres of dirge, melancholy yet there's a definite tone of hope and confidence, too, that shines through.

The (almost always) clean, warm vocals are kind of bellowed out with an urgency and vigor that make sure the words conveyed won't go unnoticed. Still they are utterly melodious and add a great deal to the EP's magic. Melodies and riffs are what the EP relies on, plus there is a great sense of a slow quietness which is, nonetheless, in a constant motion that induces enormous shifts in mood with barely noticeable smooth transitions. An open sound leaves room for the wailing guitars, the crushing drums and glorious melodies to breathe and resonate.

"Specter of Ruin" is of a slightly lighter tone and atmosphere and of a simpler structure than the other song. It starts off soft, clean and quiet, then steers into a heavy riff. When the warm powerful vocals set in, the song begins to unfold its enchanting magic, that gets even more fascinating in the last part where a fundamental change in tone and mood into an uplifting direction takes place. The mantra - like repetitions of melody and the words "Taken away... Freedom from pain" reflect and enhance that change wonderfully.

"Perpetual Passage" is without doubt the heavier and more complex one. It is also different in the overall atmosphere. It's darker, rougher, more aggressive and abrasive . There are even more shifts and changes, including a speedy passage. But again, like in the first song, everything seems to fall into place naturally; and again, the ending part has a compelling emphasis on the last words of the lyrics.... "Doomed and blessed to live and die again."

And these two last phrases of the two songs seem to sum up what this EP is all about. The lyrics perfectly fit the atmosphere of the music and Nate Garrett's haunting vocals always point out their relevance.

What a stunning first release, with an already distinctive style of emotionally driven Doom, tinged with psychedelic and stoner vibes. The beautiful melodies combined with the vocal brilliance and great songwriting are simply mind-blowing.

The song "Specter of Ruin" is featured on The Wicked Lady Show 116

Tagged with 2016, doom metal, Spirit Adrift, Ulla Roschat

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Terra Tenebrosa - The Reverses

By Justin C. I get the impression that for a lot of people, Terra Tenebrosa gets stuck in the "too avant garde/too weird/only if I'm high" category. There are probably a few reasons for that.
By Justin C.


I get the impression that for a lot of people, Terra Tenebrosa gets stuck in the "too avant garde/too weird/only if I'm high" category. There are probably a few reasons for that. The vocalist--credited only as The Cuckoo--pushes the metal-vocalist-as-an-instrument idea to its fullest. He screams, hisses, whispers, rumbles, croaks, and everything else you could think of. Then there's the issue of genre. It's heavy, but what kind of metal is this? I've seen variations on "avant garde black metal," which...doesn't really cover it. On their latest, The Reverses, there's definitely an industrial influence. Do I add that in to a multi-hyphenated description? Or is this just post-everything? Well, I'm not going to let you off that easy. I'm not going to hammer it into a subgenre, because it deserves better than that.

Having gone back through all three of their full-length albums in preparation for this review, I realized something: Terra Tenebrosa isn't that weird oddball band that's too much even for the true kvlt. In fact, they're damn good song writers. Go back to The Tunnels, their first full-length, and listen to "Through the Eyes of the Maninkari." Yes, when the vocals kick in, it sounds like a demon recorded at half speed, but at its heart, this song is based on a damn fine, stomping guitar riff with an eerie line overlaid on top. (And just wait--the vocals later in the track sound like The Cuckoo is singing from the bottom of a blender.) Sure, the band often takes detours, but when you really listen, as I've done lately, you realize that these are solid metal tunes, even catchy ones, that are being reflected back to us from a funhouse mirror.

Terra Tenebrosa 2014. Photos by Webzine Chuul.

You can find plenty of examples throughout their discography. On The Purging, "The Compression Chamber" is shifting, dissonant, and just slightly off-kilter, but the drums are rock solid. The vocals come somewhere between a whisper and croak, but broken down to its fundamentals, this is a song that could be the soundtrack to the best horror movie you've never seen. Strip some of the stranger bits away, and this is a song that wouldn't have sounded completely out of place from one of your more adventurous-but-mainstream artists, maybe even 90s-era Bowie.

"Black Pearl in a Crystalline Shell" gave a glimpse of what's to come. The kind of driving, industrial rhythm in this track is something that's grown to be a major feature of The Reverses. The Cuckoo has some new friends this time around--with guest contributions from Blut aus Nord, Aosoth, and others. And yet somehow, even with these boundary-pushing conspirators, The Reverses might actually be Terra Tenebrosa's most accessible album yet. Hell, some of this is actually dance-able. "Dance metal?" you cry. "Blasphemy!" But listen to the thundering rhythms of "The End Is Mine to Ride" and tell me you're not itching to shake your black-clad ass at least a little.

Terra Tenebrosa 2014. Photos by Webzine Chuul.

Have they gone soft? Are they selling out? Unlikely. "Where Shadows Have Teeth" is another horror-fest, carried along on an alternate-note guitar riff that sounds like an ambulance siren that never arrives. The vocals are spine-chilling, but that's pretty much what you'd expect from bitey shadows. "Exuvia" starts with a guitar played to sound like a child's toy piano that's been half-melted in a furnace, and they let that ride with gurgling vocals for well over two minutes before the crashing percussion enters to add more form. Even the closing track, "Fire Dances," plays with your expectations, stretching to a mesmerizing 17-minutes. It makes you want to move, but it's a dance around a fire pit, not a club with glow sticks and MDMA.

Is it still weird for me to call this album accessible? I don't think so. Weird and creepy, but downright addicting, and in the end, expertly crafted music with just enough liberties taken to keep things fresh. The band is known, but after checking some of my favorite sites, I realized that they really haven't gotten the kind of coverage they deserve, especially since they're nowhere near as impenetrable as some of the highlights of the metal scene these days. Start with The Reverses, and then do as the album title suggests--go back and grab up the rest of their discography.






Tagged with 2016, avant-garde metal, Debemur Morti Productions, Justin C, Terra Tenebrosa, Webzine Chuul

Friday, June 17, 2016

Thrawsunblat - Metachthonia

By Andy Osborn. It's difficult to feel connected with nature while living in the heart of one of the world's biggest cities. The hardest part of my new life in Mexico is coming from a place where both ocean and mountains were minutes from my front door.
By Andy Osborn.


It's difficult to feel connected with nature while living in the heart of one of the world's biggest cities. The hardest part of my new life in Mexico is coming from a place where both ocean and mountains were minutes from my front door. Where hiking, camping, and hanging out in National Forests aren't just hobbies, they’re an assumed part of life and universally understood to be enriching, no matter how hard that is to quantify. Since moving here and losing that part of my life, I've had to frequently turn to music to remind me of the beauty of the natural world, a motif in no short supply in metal. But, like the trash-strewn, overcrowded national parks near Mexico City, the world of folk-influenced heavy music often lacks a sense of meaning and is becoming increasingly easy to wave off. There's a certain authenticity required when attempting to play folk-inspired anything, and too often bands who turn to this style lack the depth, nuance and reverence it deserves. Thrawsunblat is not one of these bands.

Joel Violette and Co’s brand of folk metal is subtle, even hard to identify at times. It lies not in haphazard use of some obscure instrument or forgotten language, but deep within the melody and soul of the music. It’s enriching and uplifting, filled with a sense of grandeur and visceral beauty. With Metachthonia they have created something near-impossible for the style: an album that’s equally ferocious, somber, void of pretense and utterly majestic.

The first listen of Metachthonia borders on overwhelming, so there’s nothing to do but embrace it, and revere. It’s an album that demands the listener to just sit back and absorb. On my first playthrough I let it run without looking at the track titles or progress, and it was an intense and harrowing experience. It's easy to make assumptions about what to expect, where the songs will lead, and the emotions that will be evoked. But the difficulty in penetrating it was astounding as its structure slowly became clear. The whole thing blurs the line between concept album and single, longform work as it feels like there are dozens of distinct tracks on the album. In reality that's not far off: as the lyrics sheet reveals, each of the six tracks is a triptych, split into three distinct parts with their own feeling and story. The blurry lines eventually become clear, but slowly discovering the links and breaks and finding each piece at they fall into place is what makes the entire creation something special; with deeper and deeper meaning brought forth on each listen.

My feelings of longing for natural beauty and grappling with isolation in a modern city were awakened by the music, so I was floored to find that exact theme make up most of the lyrical structure of Metachtonia - a testament to Joel’s skill as a songwriter. The lyrics are well worth a deep-dive, meaningful for anyone with similar feelings (and indeed humanity as a whole). The album represents, in all its parts, the essence of what folk metal should be.

But not every listener needs take an existential approach to the album, and they, too, will be rewarded. Because at its core it’s still a ripping batch of melodic extreme metal. Built around Joel’s lush, swirling and badass tremolo’d riffs, there’s a nonstop sense of excitement and exploration. Very few repeating choruses and an ever-changing, labyrinthine structure evoke a constant feeling of surprise and anticipation for what will come next; a burst of cello, a dance of acoustic strings, or the molten, unexpected vocals provided by drummer Rae Amitay, whose varied performance on the skins provides the perfect backdrop to the heart-melting adventure. Both a sprint and a marathon, the album almost never slows, and the small gulps of fresh air intoxicate before you’re once again plunged into the fray. Mixed beautifully, the production gives plenty of room to the multi-layered guitars while still providing enough room for the immense amount that’s going on with the rest of the key players.

Metachtonia is a grand statement, both in music and in word, about the importance of our world, our history, and how we live our lives. I can’t be transported back to the wonder of the Pacific Northwest on a whim, so this album is as close I can get imagine to returning. Metachtonia is proof of the power of music, showing that the most skilled songwriters can export us to a different, yet familiar, realm while keeping a smile on your face during the ride.


Tagged with 2016, Andy Osborn, folk black metal, melodic black metal, Thrawsunblat

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dave’s Demo Roundup Vol. X

By Dave Schalek. My neck has just about managed to recover from Maryland Deathfest XIV, held a few weeks ago. And, just in time! It’s time for another edition of Dave’s Demo Roundup! This time around, I examine demos from Tomb Mold, Erraunt, and Mortuous.
By Dave Schalek.

My neck has just about managed to recover from Maryland Deathfest XIV, held a few weeks ago. And, just in time! It’s time for another edition of Dave’s Demo Roundup! This time around, I examine demos from Tomb Mold, Erraunt, and Mortuous.


Also released on cassette, The Bottomless Perdition is the first demo from Tomb Mold, a duo from Toronto. Playing a slow to mid-paced form of dirty death metal, Tomb Mold are as heavy as their name would suggest, and The Bottomless Perdition is a solid release in the vein of early Incantation. Standing out immediately is the densely heavy, yet still very rough, production on this four-song demo, giving the music a tremendous amount of heft. Current information has Tomb Mold listed as unsigned thus far, but I can easily imagine a label such as Blood Harvest, or maybe Iron Bonehead, being very interested in Tomb Mold in the very near future.




One man, basement black metal has sort of faded as a distinct genre over the last few years, but Oneiric, a mysterious figure from Chicago, intends to resurrect the genre with The Portent, his first demo as Erraunt. All of the hallmarks of the genre are present: wafer thin production, muted, rasped vocals, simple percussion patterns with a drum sound that seems to fade into the distance, a bare hint of melody, and a horrid atmosphere. The guitar tone has an annoying, jangly quality to it; so much so that The Portent ends up being a challenging listen. No doubt, that’s the intention, as most releases in this genre tend to be, but, rather than focus on suicide as a theme, Erraunt explores, instead, dark fantasy with striking cover art. The Portent ends up an intriguing release.




Mortuous, a quartet from San Jose, California, play straight ahead Swedish death metal, HM-2 pedals and all, on Demo 2012, a five song affair. This is the second demo from Mortuous (and the last one recorded), but there’s a great deal of maturity being displayed here with good songwriting, solid production, and tons of great riffs and a galloping pace. This is not surprising, as members of Mortuous have appeared in a number of other bands, including some heavy hitters such as Repulsion and Exhumed. If early Dismember, Entombed, etc. is your bread and butter, then Mortuous will fill your plate nicely.


Tagged with 2012, 2015, 2016, atmospheric black metal, Dave Schalek, death metal, Erraunt, experimental black metal, free download, Mortuous, Tomb Mold

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Phobocosm - Bringer of Drought

By Justin C. If I've learned anything in my brief stint as a metal writer, I've learned that when people describe metal as being "atmospheric," it could mean anything or nothing: maybe it just has some quiet/slow spots, maybe it's more melodic than usual, or maybe it's just peppered with some white noise or field recordings.
By Justin C.


If I've learned anything in my brief stint as a metal writer, I've learned that when people describe metal as being "atmospheric," it could mean anything or nothing: maybe it just has some quiet/slow spots, maybe it's more melodic than usual, or maybe it's just peppered with some white noise or field recordings. Phobocosm, on the other hand, embody atmospheric on their latest, Bringer of Drought. Sure, they use some of the tricks of the trade I mentioned, but more than that, they earn it the hard way: by making the music ooze atmosphere with every note and controlling its build and fall with a deft and delicate touch rarely heard in death metal.

Phobocosm 2014. Photo by Carmelo Española.

For one thing, Phobocosm is great with portion control (which, sadly, most of us Americans are not so skilled at). This is slow, doomy death metal about the end of the world, but the songs are eight, nine, and even six minutes long. Where are the endless, 24-minute slog-fests about the apocalypse? Not here. (The closing track is a long-for-this-album twelve minutes, but I'll come back to why that works so well later.) The opening track, "Engulfing Dust," starts out with a simple, melancholy riff accompanied by the sound of a hot, drying wind. A counterpoint riff joins in, and ultimately the song really starts to rumble with the entrance of the rhythm section. But none of this drags--there are no "Riff 1, repeat 120 times" scrawled on their music. It's a perfectly balanced, two-minute build into the song proper. It's hypnotizing, and they manage this over the course of the whole album. The first time I listened to this album, I played it twice back to back, mesmerized.

Phobocosm 2014. Photo by Carmelo Española.

If the opening track seems like not quite enough to be "real" death metal, don't worry. There's plenty of fury to come in the next tracks, often driven by the excellent bass and drums, pushing the riffs along in waves, which is particularly appropriate for a song called "Tidal Scourge." Both of the middle tracks are great, but that album closer, "Fallen," is a perfect gem. The hypnotic, alternating-note riff that starts the song is revisited, built on, and woven throughout with painstaking craftsmanship. The song is always moving, even if it's done subtly, ultimately to the end and back to its opening riff, punctuated by the lines, "Hide in shame / Limp in pain / End in flames / Fallen." In what might be characterized as the one bit of excess here, the track ends with a bit less than a minute of crackling white noise, but on the other hand, maybe that's appropriate for a song detailing someone's exile from society--and in fact the dissolution of society itself--ending the journey with lonely static from a radio receiving no signal.


Tagged with 2016, Carmelo Española, Dark Descent Records, death metal, Justin C, Phobocosm

Thursday, June 9, 2016

By Andy Osborn. It’s been seven months since I, along with my girlfriend, moved to Mexico City from the Pacific Northwest. The move has been an adventure for sure; filled with tacos, tequila and pretending to understand Spanish despite not speaking a word of the language before arriving.

By Andy Osborn.

It’s been seven months since I, along with my girlfriend, moved to Mexico City from the Pacific Northwest. The move has been an adventure for sure; filled with tacos, tequila and pretending to understand Spanish despite not speaking a word of the language before arriving. But it’s also been great getting used to the quirky Mexico City metal scene which is at times both incredible and confusing.

Despite being one of the world’s largest cities filled with rabid metalheads and a hotspot for big tours, Mexico City (or the country as a whole) has never produced bands that captured too much attention. Anything more extreme than thrash didn’t arrive until almost the mid 90s, and even then the death-dealers found little success outside of the city. The few that were lucky enough to gain some attention (Cenotaph, The Chasm, Xibalba) were still hardly a blip on the radar. And though last year’s great Fearless by Acrania - which fuses Latin jazz with death metal - made its rounds in the metal blogosphere, it still wasn’t enough to even begin to turn a spotlight on the megacity’s metal scene.

In this series I’m hoping to expose what I come across through various local shows in addition to the never-ending cache of wonder provided by of Metal Archives’ advanced search and Bandcamp’s tag pages. It won’t be an easy task, though, as Bandcamp is only very slowly starting to gain traction here, as the focus is decidedly old-school with emphasis on live performances over recording. Let’s kick things off with the lesser-knowns; some up-and-comers playing world-class extreme metal more than worthy of attention.

Cover artwork by Yellow Mushi

I’m always on the lookout for that sweet spot of old-school-but-not-really death metal. When it’s done right it has that tantalizing combination of headbanging riffs, to-the-point songwriting, and beautiful ferocity (and let’s not forget the HM-2) all of which perfectly captures the pure essence of what the classic genre should be about. Grotesque Deity’s Bloodream sounds like a long lost Swedish experiment, similar to the first Bloodbath EP, and proves there’s more to the young band than killer artwork and hero worship. The vocals, deeper than the caverns of hell, lead the charge while the never-ending catchy riffs are as 1993 as they are timeless. Melodic guitar solos and dueling leads serve up a fantastic dive into a taste of something both familiar and exciting.




Newly formed, Omianthropy dropped this lovely little debut EP a few months back. Atmospheric black metal with gothic and doom overtones, they use a perfect contrasting balance to bring out the beauty of extreme metal. Mixing black metal riffs with melancholy keyboards and rasps with clean, mournful crooning, Wood Within is something you would expect from the frozen tundras of the north rather than a tropical metropolis. It’s a small, interesting initial release to declare their intentions while the band continues to solidify their lineup and looks for what’s next.



Artwork by Alí Ripper

This type of murky black/death is usually the last thing I keep my ears open for, but In Obscurity Revealed do something different by letting the listening actually hear what’s going on. Too often, these war metal bands choke the listener oppressive production that drips with reverb and too much bass in an attempt to shroud the music in mystery and filth - usually because the musicians themselves are a bit too far removed from talent. This 11-minute demo is refreshingly clear and mid-range heavy which makes the astonishingly good riffs and tremolos stand out while still having that grimy feeling that this type of demo should have. It helps that they don’t drag anything out as the sub-3 minute tracks spew forth their blasphemies with deadly efficiency. The band has a killer live show to boot, and they’re gaining exposure as they regularly open for high profile international acts. It’s only a matter of time before they get signed and put out a bone-crushing full-length.


Tagged with 2015, 2016, Andy Osborn, black metal, death metal, free download, Grotesque Deity, In Obscurity Revealed, Infernal Devastation Records, Omnianthropy

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cough - Still They Pray

By Karen A. Mann. Cough’s music has always strongly evoked that sweet spot between feeling no pain and puking your guts out after drinking a bottle full of codeine-laced cough syrup. You never quite know where any of their songs will lead you.
By Karen A. Mann


Cough’s music has always strongly evoked that sweet spot between feeling no pain and puking your guts out after drinking a bottle full of codeine-laced cough syrup. You never quite know where any of their songs will lead you. One moment it’s ethereal and fuzzy. The next moment you’re begging for death. The band seemed to have peaked with the 2010 release Ritual Abuse, a misanthropic slab of agony that brought them a wider audience, and some often unfair comparisons to Electric Wizard.

Aside from their 2013 split with Windhand, the band was mostly silent for six years, during which the members focused on other projects (guitarist Brandon Marcey leads Sinister Haze and bass player Parker Chandler is also in Windhand). Now Cough is finally back with the incredible Still They Pray, appropriately produced by Jus Oborn and Windhand mastermind Garrett Morris, who coaxed the band to create their strongest, most melodic release to date.

Photos by Karen

Still They Pray begins with a feedback shriek that segues into the shuffling, howling “Haunter of the Dark.” Driven by a gut-punch groove and David Cisco’s wah-freakout guitar, “Haunter” is a perfect vehicle for Cisco’s tortured, from-the-abyss vocals. It’s also a good indicator of what to expect from the rest of the album: groovy rhythms that can turn unexpectedly jammy, layers upon layers of hypnotic riffing, and vocals from both Cisco and Chander that sound utterly desperate and morose, whether they’re screaming or quietly singing in a clean voice.

Still They Pray also amps up Cough’s dark, psychedelic tendencies, especially on the beautifully horrifying “Dead Among the Roses,” (my pick for the album’s best track), and the funereal, keyboard-driven “The Wounding Hours.” All these elements meld together in “Let It Bleed,” which begins with some sweet riffing that could almost be from a Neil Young deep cut, but ends deliriously raw and angry, as Cisco intones “Life and death, all the same, just let it bleed.”



Karen's photos are from Cough's album release show. See more of them over at her blog.

Tagged with 2016, Cough, doom metal, Karen A. Mann, Relapse Records, sludge metal, stoner metal

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Gevurah - Hallelujah!

By Justin C. Gevurah, a Canadian black metal duo, put out an EP in 2013, Necheshirion, that I was not sure I completely understood. It was music I felt drawn to and frustrated by at the same time, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
By Justin C.

Cover artwork by Denis Forkas

Gevurah, a Canadian black metal duo, put out an EP in 2013, Necheshirion, that I wasn't sure I completely understood. It was music I felt drawn to and frustrated by at the same time, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Good art should make you think, and sometimes even make you hate it a little bit because of your own perplexed reactions to it. Even after all this time, I'm still a bit mystified by it, but after three years, they're back with their debut full-length, puzzling me all over again.

Hallelujah!, which probably isn't the black metal album title you were suspecting, starts slowly. "The Fire Dwelling Within" opens with whispering over a swelling guitar line, and even with the addition of the percussion, it takes a bit for the track to coalesce. There's some chanting involved, and oh God we're already passed the two-minute mark. You might be tempted to click away--there's so much else to listen to--but hang on. The song proper finally kicks off with a growl and we're treated to some excellent, mid-paced rhythms underneath furious, buzzing riffs. There are plenty of clanging, dissonant chords to come, and a vocal style that sounds like Lemmy doing black metal. I swear I'm not making fun here--the style works, and once the comparison popped to mind, it stayed there.

A lot of the album is like this. It seems to aim more toward disturbing hypnosis than metal ass-kicking. Musical ideas build and fall, although the intensity rarely drops. There's no real true breather until the lovely, mid-album-ish "Lifting the Veils of Da'at," which presents a melodic idea and builds on it, simply and effectively, over the course of four minutes.

All of this push-pull is the album's strength and possibly its weakness, depending on how you like to be challenged. It clocks in at just over an hour, which certainly isn't that unusual or particularly unmanageable, but it's really heavy on the back end, with a 19-minute-long closing track. The penultimate track, "Dies Irae - Lacrimosa," would have been a killer album closer. The opening riff is simple but infectious, the vocals build to the point of sounding physically painful, and there's an abrupt break in the middle of the track that lets it build up all over again.

But then this closing track, "הַלְּלוּיָ." (It's also the title track, as the Google machine tells me this is Hebrew for "Hallelujah.") It moves and evolves, but ever so slowly. On first listen, I asked myself if these ideas needed to be repeated so often with so little variation. At one point I thought it was close to the end, but I was still only halfway through. Eventually some monkish choral work kicks in, which on first listen annoyed the hell out of me. But then the riffs after the choral parts pick up that melody, which is cool! I didn't know what to think. I wanted to punch this song in its little song face for taking so long, for weighing down this album. After a second listen, though, I was a little more convinced. Additional listens drew me in a bit more.

My ultimate conclusion? I honestly don't know. There's a lot to like here, with a dose of frustration mixed in. The album's too damn long, but on some listens, I feel truly elevated by it. Other times I feel like I'm just being ground down. With that said, post-review I find myself still listening and still thinking about it, which I've found is often a mark of good art. I highly recommend finding your own love-hate relationship with it.



P.S. If you’re interested in a fantastic breakdown of the spiritual ideas involved, head over to Last Rites for an excellent summary.

Tagged with 2016, black metal, Gevurah, Justin C, Profound Lore Records

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wo Fat - Midnight Cometh

By Karen A. Mann. If Kyuss, the High Priestess of Stoner Rock, and ZZ Top, the Priest of Texas Boogie, made love at the Temple of the Riff, the resulting magickal aura just might be Wo Fat.
By Karen A. Mann

Artwork by David Paul Seymour

If Kyuss, the High Priestess of Stoner Rock, and ZZ Top, the Priest of Texas Boogie, made love at the Temple of the Riff, the resulting magickal aura just might be Wo Fat. Few bands worship riffage more joyously or fervently than this band of Dallas guitar slingers.

Midnight Cometh, their latest release, which is out May 20 on Ripple Music, continues the band’s signature psychedelic sonic exploration and pulls you headlong into its smoky spell.

The first song, “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” begins with ambient, singing bowl-like tone, lulling you into a trance before a droning riff comes rolling in and pounds you with a High on Fire-worthy breakdown. Guitarist Kent Stump has a great ability to construct riffs that double back on themselves, leading the listener through an intricate maze of sound.

Stump charges through all six songs, creating rifftacular jams that are by turns shredding and grooving, and making copious use of slide, wah and delay. Songs like “Of Smoke and Fog,” which begins with a nod to Robin Trower, and “Le Dilemme de Detenu” are the true psychedelic standouts. “Riffborn” pretty much speaks for itself, and showcases Stump’s guitar work at its most ferocious. Midnight Cometh ends in a similar place where it began, with a full and perfect union of ZZ Top-inspired slide work and a hazy, desert groove.


Tagged with 2016, Karen A. Mann, psychedelic stoner metal, Ripple Music, stoner rock, Wo Fat