January 31, 2017

Vanha - Within the Mists of Sorrow

By Karen A. Mann. Though they've only been together since the summer of 2016, Swedish doom duo Vanha (which is actually Finnish for "old") offer an impressive debut with Within the Mists of Sorrow. Moving at a dirge-like pace, the album envelops the listener with multi-layered sounds, including mournful piano, blackened guitars
By Karen A. Mann


Though they've only been together since the summer of 2016, Swedish doom duo Vanha (which is actually Finnish for "old") offer an impressive debut with Within the Mists of Sorrow. Moving at a dirge-like pace, the album envelops the listener with multi-layered sounds, including mournful piano, blackened guitars, atmospheric sounds and violin. Singing in English, vocalist Jan Johansson, alternates between a clean, forlorn voice (at times whispering to great effect) and an angry growl. The result is funereal and almost oppressively gloomy, but with flashes of clear, melodic beauty shining through.

The album’s opener, “Old Heart Fails,” sets the bleak stage with a sorrowful piano melody that gives way to blackened guitars, crashing cymbals, tolling bells and plenty of lyrics about darkness and loss. From there, be prepared for a slow, dark and depressive journey through six more songs -- with titles like “Into the Cold Light” and “Desolation” -- that evoke longing, sorrow, and a deep sense of impending doom. The occasional violin riff offers the lone bit of musical warmth. The album ends quietly with the piano-and-violin-driven instrumental, “The Curse.”

Overall, Within the Mists of Sorrow evokes a feeling of being left completely alone in a harsh, but astoundingly beautiful landscape, with no resources and no hope of rescue. It’s a noteworthy achievement from such a young band.

Tagged with 2017, atmospheric doom metal, Black Lion Records, death metal, free download, Karen A. Mann, Vanha

January 29, 2017

Pijn - Floodlit

By Justin C. Pijn (the Dutch word for “pain,” pronounced "pine") is a UK group that's been tagged as "post-metal," even though I've found that to be one of the less-meaningful genre labels going around right now. That said, the closest comparison I might make is to Russian Circles
By Justin C.


Pijn (the Dutch word for “pain,” pronounced "pine") is a UK group that's been tagged as "post-metal," even though I've found that to be one of the less-meaningful genre labels going around right now. That said, the closest comparison I might make is to Russian Circles, another band that's tagged post-metal. The care in melodic lines and songcraft are what's put the Russian Circles comparison in my head--I wouldn't call them soundalikes by any means, especially since Pijn includes some minimal vocals, but I find that Pijn tickles the same parts of my brain that Russian Circles does.

A blurry press photo suggests nine collaborators on their four-track EP, Floodlit, although I've read other sources that say they're basically a trio with seven additional musicians, including but not limited to a violinist, cellist, and sax player. Regardless of exact numbers, they've created something both delicate and heavy at the same time, yet mesmerizing over all.

The band has done something a little unusual, structurally, with Floodlit. The "anchor" songs, "Dumbstruck and Floodlit" and "Lacquer," begin and end the EP, and sandwiched between are two much shorter interludes, although it's a bit unfair to call them that since "interlude" suggests something a bit more ephemeral than what these two short tracks add.

"Dumbstruck and Floodlit" comes in quietly, with some strings and a ringing guitar line. As the song starts to coalesce, you might be fooled into thinking this is a shoegaze throwback, although a very good one. But it's not long before the main riff dives in with a wailing, siren-like guitar line behind it, eventually augmented with some pretty interesting harmonic textures. The song weaves a bit more, but if you need to know the time, it's right around 5:20 when the "real" metal kicks in, with bellowed, sludgy vocals and slashing riffs. There are so many interesting parts to describe, it's hard to tell where to begin and end, but do stick around for some Jørgen Munkeby-style saxophone freakouts toward the end.

And that's just the first track. "Hazel" follows from the opener to a piano line and guitar dancing around each other. For some reason, it puts me in the mind of a seaside carnival. "Cassandra" offers a bit of dissonance and distortion before giving way to another blast of sludgy vocals in the closer, "Lacquer." I could go on about the jagged riffs, rumbling drums, sparse guitar parts, and the like, but suffice it to say that "Lacquer" matches the EP's opener in complexity.

Is this really metal, you might want to ask? Well, that's a tough question. The music is catchy, but it's demanding of the listener at the same time, and those bellowed vocals means you're not going to hear this too much in the mainstream. Maybe "post-metal" really is the best way to describe it, but either way, this is a beautiful bit of music that you should get your paws on, even if you usually prefer straight pummeling.

Tagged with 2017, Holy Roar Records, Justin C, Pijn, post-metal

January 27, 2017

The Great Old Ones - EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy

By Calen Henry. The Great Old Ones (named after the cosmic deities within the Cthulhu mythos) play Cthulhu metal the way Sleep play Stoner metal: with complete devotion. They're all in. From band name through to musical style, everything about the band is steeped in Lovecraft.
By Calen Henry.

Cover art by Jeff Grimal.

The Great Old Ones (named after the cosmic deities within the Cthulhu mythos) play Cthulhu metal the way Sleep play Stoner metal: with complete devotion. They're all in. From band name through to musical style, everything about the band is steeped in Lovecraft.

Lovecraftian horror and the Cthulhu mythos in particular have long been lyrical themes in metal. Bands as far back as Metallica have touched on them to varying degrees and the Cthulhu mythos has proven a fitting vessel through which to channel heavy metal. Metal, and black metal in particular, uses themes of cosmic insignificance, world-weary nihilism, and demon worship. All are also integral to Lovecraft's world.

Photos by Francis Bijl.

Across their three full lengths—an album of Cthulu themed songs, a concept album based on At The Mountains of Madness, and now EOD : A Tale of Dark Legacy, a concept album based on A Shadow over Innsmouth—The Great Old Ones have channeled those themes through blackened post-metal.

Through their catalog they've moved from post-metal with blackened embellishments to focus their sound on the caustic black metal sound most recently thrust into the spotlight by Icelandic bands like Misþyrming. Though rooted firmly in black metal a lot of the post-metal influence remains, albeit filtered through the lens of dissonant black metal.

Photos by Francis Bijl.

The maelstrom often breaks into slow crushing grooves but with the same dissonant chords and intervals as the black metal as well as slightly dissonant leads layered over top. This approach gives the whole record a cohesive sense of foreboding and a pervasive wrongness, another important tenet of Lovecraft and something lacking in much Cthulhu themed metal. Even the final track, a long ambient acoustic album closer oozes foreboding like an evil Agalloch.

With EOD : A Tale of Dark Legacy The Great Old Ones have delivered on every level. It's a great album regardless of one's Lovecraftian proclivities, and even better for Lovecraft fans.

Tagged with 2017, Calen Henry, post-black metal, Season of Mist, The Great Old Ones

January 26, 2017

Italian ultraviolence: Nomura - Inerte Affondare / Zeit - Monument

By Craig Hayes. Back in 2010, Italian blackened grindcore band The Secret caught my attention with their blistering third album, Solve et Coagula. And a couple years later, the even more intense Agnus Dei. Thanks to those albums I started looking around to see what other violent Italian punk ’n’ metal bands I was missing out on
By Craig Hayes.

Back in 2010, Italian blackened grindcore band The Secret caught my attention with their blistering third album, Solve et Coagula. And a couple years later, the even more intense Agnus Dei. Thanks to those albums I started looking around to see what other violent Italian punk ’n’ metal bands I was missing out on, and that’s how I first stumbled on ferocious "deathpunk" horde Hierophant. I unpacked Hierophant’s latest album for you here, but I also thought that I might as well mention a couple of other storming releases of a similar ilk from Italian metallic hardcore bands Nomura and Zeit.

Artwork by Blessend

Post-rock adds that extra special something to Italian blackened hardcore quintet Nomura’s Inerte Affondare EP. In fact, if not for that additional element, Nomura might well have been lost among the oceans of metallic hardcore on Bandcamp. But the band clearly appreciate that it’s the subtle variances in tempo, tone, and even genre itself that can provide the all-important hooks or handholds when otherwise pitch-black and warp-speed music goes flying by.

Bookending Inerte Affondare are two great examples of just that. The first track "Nebbla", and last song "Apnea", are the most atmospheric and multifarious tunes on the EP. Both mix howling black metal with screaming vocals and hard-hitting hardcore. But it's the melodic undercurrent of post-rock/metal that rises and falls on those tracks that makes them so interesting. That said, Nomura also sound pretty goddamn appealing when they're just tearing it up with the kind of neck-wrecking metallic hardcore and that would make any Converge fan happy on "Foschia", "Vento Contro" and "Ageusia". So I guess that's the best of both worlds, then. Inerte Affondare annouces a band that's well worth keeping a close eye on in the future.

FFO: Hessian, Oathbreaker, Young and in the Way, The Secret, Hexis and Converge.


Cover Artwork by SoloMacello

Venice-based four-piece Zeit coat their hardcore in a thick metallic crust. But it’s not the usual 'blackened' metal fuelling their sound. Grindcore and mathcore are what drives the propulsion systems on Zeit's recent Monument EP, and much like the band's full-length debut, 2015's The World is Nothing, Zeit's aggressive new EP hurls sonic barrages at you in a rapid and unforgiving fashion.

Along with three new original tracks, the Monument EP also features a ripping cover of At The Gates’ "The Swarm". That adds melodic death metal into Zeit’s sonic repertoire this time round, and that’s a pretty good indication of a band being open to developing their sound further. Monument is volatile and vitriolic, and it serves as great introduction to Zeit. But don’t forget to also check out that excellent debut, The World is Nothing.

FFO: Rot in Hell, Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Napalm Death and all the bands above.

Tagged with 2016, Craig Hayes, crust, free download, hardcore, Nomura, post-rock, Zeit

January 23, 2017

Domkraft - The End of Electricity

By Matt Hinch. In this particular case “Domkraft” is taken as more or less a play on words with “dom” meaning judgement in Swedish and “kraft” meaning power. Judgement and power. Sounds cool enough. The literal translation is “jack-screw”. Judgement and power is a much better angle for the Stockholm based doom crew than a device for jacking up a car.
By Matt Hinch.


In this particular case “Domkraft” is taken as more or less a play on words with “dom” meaning judgement in Swedish and “kraft” meaning power. Judgement and power. Sounds cool enough. The literal translation is “jack-screw”. Judgement and power is a much better angle for the Stockholm based doom crew than a device for jacking up a car. However, the circular motion of the screw in order to raise something to a new height also works. Domkraft utilize a hypnotic repetition in order to elevate the listener to a higher state than they were previously.

That’s pretty much what the band does on The End of Electricity. They take a riff and wrap it around and around, adding psychedelic touches and crashing percussion, not unlike OM or Sleep (Hawkwind, Monster Magnet and Spacemen 3 also fit into the equation) but in a more concise manner. The results are seven songs over 40 minutes that easily lift the listener high above earthly realms.

Monolithic and apocalyptic doom is the preferred tool for cracking the consciousness here. Domkraft seamlessly blend badass doom, bent on annihilation through repetition, with a trippy side to destroy the mind from inside and out. Deep tone takes the big, gut-wrenching riffs assaulted by crashing cymbals and makes you feel helpless as the mesmerizing loops take hold.

To continue the metaphor, often times the band will hone in on a riff like a drill boring through stone until it explodes out the other side unleashing a torrent of sound that spreads like a plague. You can feel that unstoppable determination resonating with every downtuned note.

Domkraft prefer to let me music take center stage as the vocals aren’t very dominant, either in frequency of use or mix position as they prefer to sit back and yell/lament from the middle distance. Right where they should be.

Domkraft combine their alchemical elements in such a way as to guarantee that the sounds meeting the listener’s ears are as precious as gold for those who enjoy being broken through power over emotion. Huge riffs, tone so gnarly it sounds like the empty stomach of a very large beast, and crushing percussion pummel ahead of the smartly commanding vocals creating an irresistible doom feast.

The end of electricity is a scary thought. But The End of Electricity is scary good.

Tagged with 2016, Domkraft, Matt Hinch, psychedelic sludge metal

January 21, 2017

Kyy - Beyond Flesh - Beyond Matter - Beyond Death

By Justin C. Kyy's first full-length, Beyond Flesh - Beyond Matter - Beyond Death, features songs that mostly stick in the 4-minute range. They get in, rock hard, and get out. The band mostly eschews waves of tremolos and blast beats (although don't worry--they're there), for a thrashier, more traditional-sounding version of black metal.
By Justin C.

Artwork by Kyy

Kyy's first full-length, Beyond Flesh - Beyond Matter - Beyond Death, features songs that mostly stick in the 4-minute range. They get in, rock hard, and get out. The band mostly eschews waves of tremolos and blast beats (although don't worry--they're there), for a thrashier, more traditional-sounding version of black metal. A lot of the riffs are straightforward and catchy, especially like the fist-pumper that starts out "Bloodline of Edom." Don't mistake "straightforward" for simple or boring, though. These songs may be short, but they're also restless in a way, with plenty of variety in tempo and fury, often making them feel like mini-epics.

And speaking of variety, the vocal performance is a tour-de-force. There are higher shrieks that are more typical black metal fare, mixed in with lower growls, occult-sounding chanting (in "Legio Serpenti," for example), and a sound I can only describe as paying homage to throat-singing in the aforementioned "Bloodline of Edom." The intro to "In Eternal Desire to End" has what sounds like a very, very pissed-off wraith, and "Panta Rei" has what I'm going to dub "speed-screeching," as if there just weren't enough time for the vocalist to spew all his bile in the time allotted. There's even what some people in the more rural areas of the U.S. would call plain, old-fashioned hollerin'. Maybe we have a Finnish reader that can translate that for us, but either way, it's a good time.

Beyond Flesh - Beyond Matter - Beyond Death is a great blast of blackishness that sounds rooted in older metal but still fresh, and as I've hinted, the vocals make it worth the price of admission alone. If it got lost in the end-of-year rush for you, go check it out now.

Tagged with 2016, black metal, Justin C, Kyy, Saturnal Records

January 17, 2017

Bölzer - Hero

By Calen Henry. Despite blowing up in the metal underground in 2013, Hero is Bölzer's first full length album. Their legacy is built on a single track, "Entranced by the Wolfshook", featuring a riff so good that it has overshadowed everything they have since released. It's impossible to talk about Bölzer without talking about that riff. "Entranced by the Wolfshook", in a single riff, is Bölzer.
By Calen Henry.


Despite blowing up in the metal underground in 2013, Hero is Bölzer's first full length album.

Their legacy is built on a single track, "Entranced by the Wolfshook", featuring a riff so good that it has overshadowed everything they have since released. It's impossible to talk about Bölzer without talking about that riff. "Entranced by the Wolfshook", in a single riff, is Bölzer. Their sound, raging tremolo riffs back flipping between extreme low end and high end supported by driving drums is both phenomenal and original.

Bölzer have since fallen victim to their own prowess. "Entranced by the Wolfshook" is un-followup-able, yet everything they do is checked against it. Reading reviews of Hero makes it seem as though the only way their full length debut could possibly have delivered is to have been comprised entirely of "Entranced by the Wolfshook", but also not because no one really wants that....

Photos by Pedro Roque.

I have to admit to myself and now the Internet at large that I never really liked either of their previous EPs, apart from the riff. The way their trademark riffing was spun out into songs pulled too much from the sides of death metal that don't appeal to me resulting in an overly busy cacophony supported by fantastic riffs.

Within the framework of Bölzer's sound Hero is a drastic change. The trademark sound is drawn out into cohesive songs that combine crushing riffs with elegant transitions and showcases an unabashed commitment to melody. I love it. Every change makes me like it more than their previous work. It's everything I didn't realize I wanted Bölzer to be.

The riffs are stretched out over entire tracks and themes are repeated between tracks giving the album incredible cohesion that rewards repeated listens. The vocals supporting these titanic compositions are much cleaner than before combining a sort of melodic bellowing, reminiscent of Troy Sanders' vocals in Mastodon, and a kind of commanding oration completing the martial Roman feel the band has toyed with since Aura.

Don't believe the anti-hype. Bölzer know exactly what they are doing, how to do it, and that no one else can do it.

Tagged with 2016, black metal, Bölzer, Calen Henry, death metal, Pedro Roque

January 15, 2017

Forndom - Dauðra Dura

By Hera Vidal. Atmospheric black metal has always been my favorite kind of black metal due to the eerie softness of the music and the slow build-up between major movements. However, what I like most about atmospheric black metal is the way it makes the listener forget everything—time, space, and reality—and how it transcends the listener elsewhere.
By Hera Vidal.


Atmospheric black metal has always been my favorite kind of black metal due to the eerie softness of the music and the slow build-up between major movements. However, what I like most about atmospheric black metal is the way it makes the listener forget everything—time, space, and reality—and how it transcends the listener elsewhere. However, transcendence into death and the afterlife should be something that needs to be looked into. After all, what’s the point of exploring the possibility of dying if you are going to only explore it in the lyrics?

Would you be willing to offer a deeper explanation of Dauðra Dura, which translates to "Door to Death"?

Within a Christian perspective, you have two options: either you go to damnation in Hell for your sins, or you go to Heaven. The life you live now is the one and only chance you get. Within Norse religion, the way that death is understood is very different. It very seldom contains any kind of realm for punishment, and when it is seen, it is very much likely that the source is under Christian influence. I would say that the album is about the journey to Hel within Norse religion as seen from different perspectives. Hel is not simply a place where the dead linger—it is also a place of Wisdom. Hel is a mournful place, but it is also the pathway we all must take sooner or later, god as man.


What I am finding to be exceptionally relevant in atmospheric black metal now is the use of a droning hum that serves as the atmosphere creator. Thus far, the majority of the black metal albums I have listened to this year have had that droning hum, some used to great effect and thus creating music that resonates deep within somewhere. However, unlike the majority of said albums, Dauðra Dura (“The doors of death” in English) is succinct in using the atmosphere, and places emphasis on its instruments rather than its vocals or the after effects of the droning hum.

On this album, you can hear echoing drums, acoustic guitars, and violins, with other traditional instruments, such as horns. The music borders on meditative, and it tends to be rather repetitive. However, the instruments, weaved and combined with the constant prominence of that droning hum (possibly created through a synth), are what makes the album so compelling. In fact, the strongest aspect of the album is when the sound changes, and it no longer borders on the repetitive tonality that seems to be in vogue these days. It would have been nice to hear other chants throughout the album, but changing that would have most likely ruined the album’s atmosphere.

This album also reminds me of funeral music; while listening to this, I was constantly reminded of Chopin’s Marche Funebre and I fully expected it to come up while listening to the album. The chanting also reminds me of funerals, except I don’t know whose funeral I am attending. The music does sound religious; as to whom the chanting is directed to remains unknown. By the end of the album, the listener feels that their long walk to the afterlife is over and have met God, who allows him to finally rest. I don’t know if L. Sward’s voice would be the musical equivalent to meeting God, but it’s the closest analogy we have for comparison.

All in all, it’s a beautiful, well-crafted album that conveys religious music a la Batushka, with the exception that is not as bombastic as Litourgiya. It does border on being repetitive, but it’s comforting and peaceful. Anyone who is looking for something loud and bombastic should not listen to this, but if soft, airy music is more your forte, then I wholeheartedly recommend this album.

Tagged with 2016, ambient, atmospheric black metal, Forndom, Hera Vidal, Nordvis Produktion

January 13, 2017

Suppressive Fire - Nature of War

By Karen A. Mann. North Carolina’s war-obsessed death-thrashers Suppressive Fire offered their first full-length in early 2016 with Bedlam, a powerful slab of Teutonic-inspired military thrash that had all the subtlety of a bayonet in the stomach. The band doesn’t stray too far from that line of attack on their latest release, Nature of War. Even artist Matt Slime’s cover art is grim and nihilistic
By Karen A. Mann

Artwork by Matt Slime.

North Carolina’s war-obsessed death-thrashers Suppressive Fire offered their first full-length in early 2016 with Bedlam, a powerful slab of Teutonic-inspired military thrash that had all the subtlety of a bayonet in the stomach.

The band doesn’t stray too far from that line of attack on their latest release, Nature of War. Even artist Matt Slime’s cover art is grim and nihilistic: Inspired by true events from World War I, it depicts hapless, gasmasked soldiers in a trench being eaten alive by starving wolves.

With this release, the band did add a new member to strengthen their assault. Bass player/vocalist Aaron Schmidt shifted to guitar and vocals, while Will Saenz was brought in to take over bass duties. This gives Nature of War a fuller, more focused sound, propelled by the double guitar blitzkrieg of Schmidt and Joseph Valhal as well as Schmidt’s scalding vocals.

After a brief build up, the album’s opener, “Violent Enlightenment,” throws you into battle with little time to react. From there, the album plays like a series of brutalizing mini skirmishes with stinging solos, pummeling beats, and the occasional slower part that gives you just enough time to catch your breath.

At its heart, Suppressive Fire is a rock band with a true appreciation for the riff, and nods to Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest can be heard throughout the album. Still, songs like “Dreaded Bastards,” “Earthripper” and “Nature of War” keep the band firmly entrenched in thrash territory, with death and destruction gleefully reigning.

Tagged with 2017, black metal, Karen A. Mann, Suppressive Fire, thrash metal

January 11, 2017

Madder Mortem - Red in Tooth and Claw

By Kevin Page. I always find that reviewing an album by one of my favorite bands is a double edged sword.  On one hand I'm more than willing to give it the time to sink in and appreciate it, Yet on the other hand I go in with a lot of preconceived desires and tend to expect more from it than another band. So hopefully at the end of the day both of these things cancel either other out
By Kevin Page.

Cover art by Christian Ruud.

I always find that reviewing an album by one of my favorite bands is a double edged sword.  On one hand I'm more than willing to give it the time to sink in and appreciate it, Yet on the other hand I go in with a lot of preconceived desires and tend to expect more from it than another band. So hopefully at the end of the day both of these things cancel either other out and I am realistic about the matter at hand.

Madder Mortem's Red in Tooth and Claw is the first new material by the band in 7 years. The album was written and recorded well prior to it's release back in October 2016 (while they searched for a record label and then determined a release date). So to say I was anxious to hear it would be an understatement.

For anyone familiar with their prior material, Red in Tooth and Claw is more akin to a collection of songs this time around. There is no unifying plot or specific vision/purpose like on All Flesh is Grass, Deadlands, and Desiderata. The prior album, Eight Ways, somewhat broke that mindset, so the band has taken that idea to its ultimate conclusion. Red in Tooth in Claw is the perfect jumping in point for new fans of the band. You get a taste of the many styles and emotions the band is so good at delivering. They jump around from heavy groove riffs to controlled chaos to tenderness, back to rock and roll and progressive jazz (that almost feels danceable, as weird as that sounds). While this may sound like the band has a case of musical tourette's, it never comes across as disjointed or an attempt to simply smash a bunch of things together for the sake of being different. If anything, the band excels at simply being who they are and sounding genuine, something I prefer in my music which only adds to their cachet.

Of course I'd be remiss if I failed to mention vocalist Agnete M. Kirkevaag.  I make no secret that I feel she has no equal (male/female/etc.) regardless of the music genre. I could listen to her read the phone book, sing me a lullaby or scream at me as a drill Sergeant. Once again she puts in an expected tour de force performance. No matter where the music takes you, she's there to give you chills. Highs, lows, in betweens, oozing with power and emotion.

When it comes to bands I really adore, I no longer try to judge each release under the guise of is this their best album or where does it fall in order of best/worst. I simply want an enjoyable album to listen and something that I find repeatable. This is exactly what Red in Tooth and Claw is.

Tagged with 2016, Dark Essence Records, Kevin Page, Madder Mortem, progressive metal

January 9, 2017

Nuclear War Now! Label Spotlight: Sacrificio, Death Worship and Bestial Raids

By Steven Leslie. The warlords behind Proclamation have returned. While I’ve seen this, their first full length, referred to as war metal in some places, likely because of the band photos and member history, that actually does Sacrificio a huge disservice.
By Steven Leslie.


The warlords behind Proclamation have returned. While I’ve seen this, their first full length, referred to as war metal in some places, likely because of the band photos and member history, that actually does Sacrificio a huge disservice. The real roots of their sound are based around speed metal and mid 80s proto death and black metal. What makes this album so enjoyable is the way Sacrificio melds that throwback style with the oppressive blackened atmosphere they produced so effectively in their previous band. Most importantly, they manage to craft infectious songs that really stick in your head and keep you coming back for more. This is far from the straightforward, uncompromising blastfest that many would expect based on the member’s history, and it is all the more enjoyable for it. The have also cleaned up the production just enough to highlight their riff work while still keeping a crude and downright evil atmosphere. Throw in some squealing solos and malicious growls and you’ve got thirty-four minutes of blasphemous fun. If you wish that early Venom were as evil as the pretended, took their tongue out of their cheeks and learned to play their instruments just a little better, Sacrificio’s debut full length is for you.



Death Worship is one of those bands who come with a built in cult following. Spawned from a veritable who’s who of the war metal scene, including Ryan Förster (Blasphemy, Conqueror), Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds (Blasphemy) and J. Read (Revenge, Axis of Advance, Conqueror), the real question was always going to be how they stack up against their prior bands. Right from the opening seconds of “Abomination Storm” it is obvious you won’t be let down. This offers all the blasting blasphemy you could hope for from such a lineup. Built around J. Read’s bone crushing battery and Ryan Förster’s corrosive riffs, Death Worship drag you kicking and screaming headlong into their hellish vision. While war metal of this kind can easily become monotonous, Death Worship manage to avoid this pitfall by adding a few carefully placed breaks in the otherwise relentlessly feral onslaught. While songs like “Holocaust Altar” offer three straight minutes of machine gun drums, acerbic riffing and savage howls, other tracks like “Desolation Summoning” and “Evocation Chamber” include sections where the drumming slows and the guitars lock into a pestilential groove that will get any metal fan’s head banging. These brief moments of clarity amidst the swarming, auditory onslaught ensure that the blitzing sections never lose their bestial power and continue to hit like a boot heel to the teeth. If you have even a passing fondness for war metal or blackened death metal, do yourself a favor and don’t sleep on this one.



Bestial Raids return after five years to show just why they belong at the top of the war metal pack. They take everything that is great about the genre, the primal power, raw aggression and oppressive atmosphere, and meld it to top notch songwriting that drives their songs deep into the back of your cranium. Unlike many war metal artists, Bestial Raids allow their songs to breath, which makes each and every track infectious, unique and unforgettable. On Master Satan’s Witchery, they manage to harness chaos and channel it into seven deadly odes the devil would be proud to call his own. Aided by a killer drum sound and savage guitar tone, songs like “Descending the Thantifaxath” and “Darkness Visible” veer between speedy, flesh-searing assaults and slower sections that are catchier than syphilis among heroin addicts. There is not a second of this release that is monotonous or superfluous, as the bands primordial power and deft songwriting has produced thirty-three minutes of profound and uncompromising darkness that offers endless replay value. This is the soundtrack to World War III and the total annihilation of all mankind. While they have never released a bad album, Master Satan’s Witchery may well be their best one yet.

Tagged with 2016, Bestial Raids, black metal, death metal, Death Worship, Nuclear War Now! Productions, Sacrificio, Steven Leslie

January 8, 2017

2016 was a shitty year in many ways, but not when it came to new metal releases. I usually argue that there's no such thing as a bad year for metal, but 2016 certainly proved that some years are better than others. I had the hardest time ripping out pages of my diary, there were just so many great releases that made me want to yell "you gotta listen to this too!".

But here we are again. Similar to last year these are 12 pages (and a special chapter) from my Bandcamp diary, containing some of the albums that stuck with me the most (only time will tell if they are all true keepers). Genre wise they are all over the map, I take it as another indication of the bountiful of great metals in 2016. And without further ado:

January 26th, 2016.

January 29th, 2016.

February 1st, 2016.

February 12th, 2016.

February 18th, 2016.

April 8th, 2016.

August 12th - August 14th, 2016.
Video by Islander from No Clean Singing

An entire chapter in my 2016 diary is dedicated to the Migration Fest in Olympia (south of Seattle). A metal festival curated by the nice folks from 20 Buck Spin and Gilead Media, that was a stunning success in every way. Great music, great atmosphere, very well organized; it was a fest that I and, I'm sure, all other attendees look back on with fondness.

One of the highlights was a spellbinding set by False on day three. It was my first time seeing them, and I was left both drained and stunned by the intensity of their performance.

A special shout out to Burial Grounds, the friendly coffee shop just opposite the main fest venue. Staying upright throughout three days of metal, at my age, was helped by a copious amount of their iced Zombie Defenders with four shots of espresso and "secret flavors".

Another highlight was Dead to a Dying World (also on day three). Expansive blackened sludge/doom with an unique sound due to violin being one of the lead instruments. No video, so here's the next best thing, a recording of their set from the 2016 Roadburn Festival.


August 15th, 2016.

August 18th, 2016.

August 26th, 2016.

Isn’t it beautiful
To know exquisite remorse,
To see the truth that drives men fleeing into early graves,
To be wise, to dream every day of a great escape, of a Houdini blade?

"Black Majesty"



September 16th, 2016.

October 14th, 2016.

October 21st, 2016.

Thanks to all of you out there for reading and listening. See you around in 2017, enjoy the year while it is still new and shiny.

The XXII Ultimate Blackmetal font is © Doubletwo Studios
Tagged with 2016, 2017

January 6, 2017

The Vomiting Dinosaurs - Exoplanets

By Justin C. I reviewed some heavy albums near the end of 2016, and I mean "heavy" in every sense. Anagnorisis put together a powerful, multi-layered chunk of personal history, and I talked about Oskoreien's take on free will and mass shooter Charles Whitman. So it's time to start 2017 off with a little breather
By Justin C.


I reviewed some heavy albums near the end of 2016, and I mean "heavy" in every sense. Anagnorisis put together a powerful, multi-layered chunk of personal history, and I talked about Oskoreien's take on free will and mass shooter Charles Whitman. So it's time to start 2017 off with a little breather and revisit a more fun-loving project: The Vomiting Dinosaurs.

Matt Hinch covered Worship the Porcelain God, their first album for Grimoire Records, back in April of 2015. With their second Grimoire release, the band has turned their eyes skyward with Exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets that have been discovered outside our own solar system, and since we're hellbent on ruining our own, The Vomiting Dinosaurs's tour of the heavens comes at an appropriate time.

Matt described the band as "seriously amped thrash, death and grind," and to be honest, not much has changed on that score. If anything, the band has moved to slightly grindier song lengths, hovering around one minute in comparison to Porcelain God's two- and three-minute epics. "Lava Planet" clocks in at a massive four minutes, but the whole album (or EP?) tops out at 16 minutes. I live in the Boston area, so I've been able to measure my travel times in Exoplanet units. Most trips involve two to three full plays of the album at least, but you know what? I'm happy to let it repeat, because it's fast, dirty, and fun.

And I've learned some science by checking out some of the song titles. "Circumbinary" has a great, grumbling riff, while at the same time describing a planet that orbits two stars instead of one. "Ganymede" is a short ambient interlude, but did you know it's also a moon of Jupiter that happens to have its own magnetic field and a thin oxygen atmosphere? If you use Exoplanets as a study guide, though, you do need to be careful: "Jupiter" is not, in fact, an exoplanet, although the song's only lyrics, "I AM SO BIG!" is a correct description of the planet.

But maybe don't worry about the details so much and just thrash around in your car to this one. I promise it will help make the grim ending of 2016 and worrisome beginning to 2017 seem far away for at least a little while.

Tagged with 2017, death metal, Grimoire Records, grindcore, Justin C, The Vomiting Dinosaurs

January 2, 2017

Toke - (Orange)

By Karen A. Mann. Hailing from Wilmington, NC (home of Weedeater, Sourvein and ASG), Toke, carry on the Cape Fear smoked-out sludge tradition but take it on their own anxiety-laden negative trip. They self-released an impressive album of feel-bad doom and a split with Charlotte’s Green Fiend in 2015.
By Karen A. Mann


Hailing from Wilmington, NC (home of Weedeater, Sourvein and ASG), Toke, carry on the Cape Fear smoked-out sludge tradition but take it on their own anxiety-laden negative trip.

They self-released an impressive album of feel-bad doom and a split with Charlotte’s Green Fiend in 2015. Earlier this year they released one of their best songs to date, the heavily groovy and slightly jammy “Legalize Sin,” on their Bandcamp.

Now they’re back with a full album, (Orange), that solidifies their position as a band to be reckoned with, and in spots even manages to live up to their ferocious live shows. “Legalize Sin” and “Four Hours for Hours” from the Green Fiend split reappear on this release.

Photos by Karen

It’s no secret as to what these dudes are all about: Their name is Toke, their logo is a pot leaf, and their tag line is “rips and riffs.” But Toke’s high isn’t a happy, social one. Theirs is the kind of deeply paranoid high where you find yourself totally alone with the demons in your skull and no way to climb out.

(Orange) opens with “Blackened,” a song that, musically at least, isn’t blackened at all but instead is raw and sludgy with fuzz, distorted and almost Southern Rock-like riffing. From there Toke tends to move between mid-tempo riffing and a head-bobbing lurch, but they’re guaranteed to give you two things with every song: that fat, heavy groove, and vocals that sound as if they’re wailing up from the depths of hell.

The lyrics that can be discerned are often anguished. When singer/bass player Bronco snarls “Lying stoned awake at night/I haven’t slept in weeks,” he truly sounds as if he’s on the verge of a breakdown. In the middle of the “Within the Sinister Void,” the album’s final, doomiest track, he lets loose with a tortured wail. In Toke’s world everything seems pretty bleak and dark, but the riffs are so killer and the groove is so deep and nasty that you really don’t care.

Tagged with 2017, Karen A. Mann, sludge metal, stoner metal, Toke