July 27, 2012

Wolvhammer - The Obsidian Plains

Review by Andy Osborn.

Wolvhammer was another great 2011 addition to Profound Lore's roster. Unfortunately, with this release sandwiched between The Atlas Moth's critically acclaimed psychedelic stoner anthems and Leviathan's controversial album, The Obsidian Plains seemed to get lost in the ether and fall short of the praise it deserved.

Photo by Carmelo Española

This is urban black metal. It's a lifeless, concrete-grey, devoid of life and filthy beyond hope. The Minneapolis quartet aren't "post" or "gaze" anything, throwing down slabs of blackened sludge riffs that crush your skull and warp your mind. Adam Clemans' horse screams form a blistering inferno over the punk-ish verses and brilliantly placed guitar solos. The songs generally follow the same pattern of medium-paced fist pounding that become increasingly infections before suddenly turning to upbeat jams that kick your teeth in. Second track "Writhe" is mid-tempo madness that's angry in the best possible way; it makes you want to bang your head against the rotting corpse of an abandoned warehouse, raging against the bleak emptiness around you. Only the closer "The Sentinals" breaks this mold by turning it down a couple bpms and suddenly ending the album by pounding away at your psyche, leaving you lost and confused.

If you ever wonder if there's any great USBM you've missed in the past couple years and notice this gem isn't in your collection, do yourself a favor and add it.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 26, 2012

buioingola - Demo 2012

Written by Ulla Roschat.

The Sweet Nightmare

Have you ever had this feeling of an utterly dark and cold unknown terrifying void tries to swallow you while another force, not less evil, crushes your hands that clutch at the edge of this void so that you inevitably release your grip and vanish into nothingness? No? Then go get your nightmare from buioingola.

buioingola is a three piece Sludge/Drone Metal band hailing from Italy. This demo of three songs is their first release (May 2012). This is basically monolithic sludge riffs meet creepy ambient drone with black and crust metal elements and harsh vocals (Italian lyrics) thrown into the blend. Each of the three songs builds up its own dynamic breathtaking tension of dark atmosphere and and blasting riffs to create a perfect sweet nightmare.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 25, 2012

Anion - Carrion King

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Vancouver, BC-based Anion have dropped a grotesque slab of anger on the world in the form of their new seven-inch, Carrion King. Composed of five incensed, emphatic tracks (the longest of the bunch well under five minutes)
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Artwork by Alison Lilly.

Vancouver, BC-based Anion have dropped a grotesque slab of anger on the world in the form of their new seven-inch, Carrion King. Composed of five incensed, emphatic tracks (the longest of the bunch well under five minutes), Carrion King is a succinct but lugubrious EP. The distortion and torturous roaring of the vocals conjure something rotten, flesh torn off in chunks.

"Piss Warm Goat's Milk" has an aggressive, spraying structure to the riffs, spitting out teeth like machine gun fire. "Corspeflower" is the heaviest, sludgiest track, and a particularly successful one at that. It best showcases the sloping, circular song structures the band employ, circling like clotted blood around a drain. The vinyl is curdled purple, the colour of a bruise just beginning to fade, which suits Anion's sound perfectly.

July 23, 2012

Ophidian I - Solvet Saeclum

Review by Dane Prokofiev.

Cover by Marco Hasmann

The metallic razor-sharp band logo, the polished look of the artwork and its cartoonish depiction of human extinction via the extremely plausible natural disaster of having two planets and possibly a moon or dwarf planet crashing down on what is assumed to be Earth, causing a great fire and igniting rockets to fly up into space and somehow wiping out every human but a serpentine mutant holding a spear all seem to suggest that this album is certain to be the work of a typical modern technical death metal band from a typical European country. Your musical instinct is spot-on about the typical modern technical death metal part, but it is not for the other. Ophidian I come from a country seldom heard being mentioned in metal press: Iceland, despite that they play a brand of technical death metal that is remarkably reminiscent of the kind being peddled by their European and American peers.

They have the technical edge and high-pitched guitar soloing style of Arsis (USA), and a vocalist who does guttural growls just like his peers in Spawn Of Possession (Sweden) and Gorod (France); although ultimately, the brutal vocal style could be an American influence too since it is very similar to Frank Mullen’s vocal style. However, the very European style of having an audible bass guitar line (gasp!) harmonize with a single (or more) electronic guitar motif while being accompanied by rustling drum cymbals in the background can be heard occasionally, with two examples being the introductions to “Mark Of An Obsidian” and “Nadir”. This aspect of Ophidian I’s musical style is most remindful of another European peer, Obscura, and it would certainly do the band good to utilize this heart-thumping motif more frequently. As it stands, their current music sounds up-to-par with the demanding standard of modern technical death metal. All Ophidian I needs is to explore more creative directions, to sound a little less typical in the future.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 22, 2012

Mortalicum - The Endtime Prophecy

Mortalicum's new album The Endtime Prophecy is available on the Metal On Metal Records Bandcamp. This is traditional doom and heavy metal. More on the heavy metal side I guess, as this is not a very dark album. It is also not very original, but that isn't the point, after all Metal On Metal Records motto is old school metal.. or no metal at all!. Besides a silly name, Mortalicum got riffs that are both groovy and cuts sharply. Great fuzzy guitar work and a rhythm section that is both tight and heavy. And finally the beautiful clean singing from Henrik Högl. Here's a couple of reviews from The metal Archives.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 21, 2012

Laser Flames on the Great Big News - Lambs to the Slaughter

Artwork "Lambs" by Stephenie Bailey

Laser Flames on the Great Big News - Lambs to the Slaughter is available on the Handshake Inc. Bandcamp. This is metallic southern rock with lovely male-female harmony vocals, solos and viola. But wait there's more; tracks veer into progressive hardcore territory adding angular riffing and screamo vocals to the mix, and then back to a Cat Powers doing southern rock vibe with thunderous riffing, more viola and soloing. Great stuff, check it out. Here's a review from Gun Shy Assassin.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 17, 2012

Kosmograd - Kosmograd

By Natalie Zina Walschots. This self-titled EP is the first solid musical artefact from Toronto, ON-based post-punk/rock/metal/hardcore whatsits Kosmograd. Formed in the winter of 2009, Kosmograd released three individual digital demo tracks
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

This self-titled EP is the first solid musical artefact from Toronto, ON-based post-punk/rock/metal/hardcore whatsits Kosmograd. Formed in the winter of 2009, Kosmograd released three individual digital demo tracks throughout 2010 (which were also re-released as a tape via Delicate Artifacts). This EP, however, is their first effort towards a cohesive collection. The result is a raw, textural album that the ear learns through touch as much as cerebral analysis. The guitar's crunch gives way to softness, the drums crackle and melt, while the bass slowly congeals.

The songs are composed as scientific experiments through the states of matter. "The Weather of the Hangman" stretches and aches, folded and folding back on itself like liquid metal. "Cheeseburger Picnic" percolates delicately, bubbling and fuzzy as the sound sublimates. And "Velossakaykin" straight up boils. Kosmograd's minimal vocals give the release an anchor, keeping the poetic progression of the album direct, aggressive and above all, human. But, generally, Kosmograd is content to drift off into orbit and stretch time, ambient and exploratory, unconcerned with gravity.

July 16, 2012

This White Mountain - Spanning The Void

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Hailing from Connecticut comes the one man BM band This White Mountain. The first thing that leaps out is the production. Guitars are crisp and full. Drums are audible, and the vocals are mixed perfectly. Adding the quiet moments of Atmosphere help to add dynamics and depth to the songs. Reminding one of Wolves in the Throne Room and Skagos at times.

As his bandcamp page shows, this guy is pretty prolific. Four albums and two splits in two years. Each album different and showing growth from one to the next. Yet all with quality and forward thinking.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 12, 2012

Trilobite - Delusions of Grandeur

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork by Justin Bartlett

Hailing from Florida comes the band Trilobite. While being a state more known for its contributions to Death Metal. Trilobite instead contribute to the ever growing genre of Sludge.

First word that comes to mind as this album starts is groove. This album is overflowing with it. This is Sludge that is aggressive without being overbearing. Riffs are thick and shifty. Never staying with one riff too long. The drumming just pops. Every snare hit sounds like your ear is attached to the drum head. The absence of vocals is usually an issue for me, but not with this album. They would actually take away for the record. The music gives you plenty to focus on and never loses the listener.

Just an exciting album all the way through. Once you press play it takes off. With so much to process this album lends itself to multiple listens.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 11, 2012

Morgion - The Relapse Collection

On the Relapse Alumni Bandcamp you can find a collection of Morgion's Relapse recordings. The Relapse Collection kicks of with the full-length Solinari and the EP Oceans Without Shores, both from 1999. This is doom, mournful, mystical and solemn. Switching between heavy parts with grating guitars, and more ambient passages occasionally veering close to Pink Floydian territory. The intelligent drumming, and the textures created by the guitars and keyboards all gives Morgion a dynamic not found in crushingly heavy funeral doom or plodding traditional doom. Here are reviews of Solinari from The Metal Archives.

The collection continues with their debut full-length Among Majestic Ruins from 1997. This is atmospheric death/doom with deep growling and blastbeats. Rawer, and with much more of a death metal vibe. Here are reviews from The Metal Archives. The collection is rounded out by 7 unreleased studio, demo, and rehearsal tracks. The Metal Archives also has a review of the entire collection.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Whether you like the included extra tracks or not $10 is quite reasonably for a collection of this size. Unlike the $18 Relapse wants for the similar sized Disembowelment collection...

Titans Eve - Life Apocalypse

Cover art by Björn Goosses

Titans Eve's new album Life Apocalypse has been released their Bandcamp. Titans Eve plays modern thrash, without the retro feel of the many thrash revival bands. They add a few extreme touches like blastbeats and tremolo picking, and write memorable songs full of hooks and melodies. On Headbäng Adrien Begrand called Life Apocalypse
heavy metal that unites rather than polarize, aggressive enough to attract fans of modern mainstream metal while at the same time appealing greatly to those who long for more bands that actually put as much care into the craft of songwriting as technical ability
Here is a review from Valley Of Steel.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 9, 2012

Necramyth - Slaughter of the Seoul

Review by Andy Osborn.

Last year, underground metal lost one of its greatest minds with the tragic death of David Gold. David was best known as the mastermind behind Woods of Ypres, but his many side-projects all carried his signature dedication to quality. During a stint teaching English in South Korea, David briefly drummed for death metal group Necramyth and recorded 2009's Slaughter of the Seoul.

Despite the comic nature of the album title, the band is damn serious about what they do. Combining aesthetics from across the death metal spectrum, Necramyth has a typically western sound which pays homage to the greats without sounding too bland. The songs change on a dime between Cannibal Corpse-style brutality and '90s Melodeath riffage; fans of any type of death metal will find something to like. The only respite you'll get is in "IV Heaven III Calyx IV Anthem", an out-of-the the blue acoustic jaunt that separates the album's murderous near-hour pummeling.

It's not the most unique death metal album you'll ever hear, but the songwriting, solos and David's uniquely laid-back drumming are all top-notch. Besides, when was the last time you listened to Korean Death Metal?

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Invitado de Piedra - Quema el Sol

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Hot as the Burning Sun

Four piece stoner doom band Invitado de Piedra put out their first release December 2011. “Quema el Sol” - an Ep of four songs.

The songs have a psychedelic bluesy doom groove played with a laid back attitude you would call “cool” if it wasn’t so hot - hot as the desert sun. Since, despite all calmness, they all have an intriguing tension due to tight songwriting, virtuoso play and lots of heavy fuzzy riffs that melt even the desert sand into a viscous substance.

All songs are sung in Spanish, which is an extra bonus to me (I must admit I hardly understand a word though), I simply appreciate the different sounds of different languages, all the more when it emphasizes the images the music creates. With “Quema el Sol” this works out perfectly.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 8, 2012

Cut Your Teeth - 2 HOT 3 HANDLE

some good, wholesome, all-American summer fun, the kind of fun that includes a swift kick in the nuts and sliding on vomit-smeared floors in mosh pits across the length and breadth of this great land of ours.
It’s the solo work that really tickles me in the jiggles. Pure, white hot SHRED, blazing lines of awesome across your subconscious. Combined with smatterings of helplessly head nodding riff cannons and you’ve got a band who not only has more fun than you, they also play better than you.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Jucifer - Throned In Blood

Jucifer's latest full-length Throned In Blood was released by their own record label Nomadic Fortress, and is now available on Bandcamp. Throned In Blood has been heralded as the first album that recreates the raw aggression and sheer power of Jucifer in a live setting. This makes some (AllMusic) yearn for the more varied songwriting and unpredictability of earlier albums, while others (Lambgoat) tips the hat to Jucifer now linking the two halves of the band's personality in recording.

The production is raw and live sounding, you can hear the crackle of the over-pushed amplifiers. I haven't heard Jucifer live, but this album makes me want to. Coupled with the stripped down songwriting and the DIY approach, and you can draw a line all the way back to Nadir, their self-released debut cassette from 1994.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: Jucifer's two previous albums, L'autrichienne and If Thine Enemy Hunger, are available on their Relapse Records Bandcamp page.

July 7, 2012

Jucifer - Nadir

Jucifer's Nadir is a rough gem from the Grindcore Karaoke Bandcamp. Their self-recorded cassette from 1994 has been transferred to digital and mastered by Scott Hull. Extremely heavy sludge and doom combined with the dreamy, pop-influenced melodies from Gazelle Amber Valentine. As she writes in the charming liner notes included with the download, this is "something pretty raw and sketchy". But it does paint a vivid picture of why Jucifer became the cult legends they are today. Here's a review of the re-issue from The Sleeping Shaman.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Chaos Inception - The Abrogation

Guest review by Utmu.

Cover painting by Paolo Girardi

Chaos Inception was formed during 2008 in the state of Alabama. They play death metal with a tinge of bestial blackness. The riffing conveys the feeling of being on a run-away locomotive carrying explosives, and if you add the insane blasting, you'll find the locomotive is heading straight for a tornado. The higher-pitched, tech-like riffs and soloing help switch up the variety of the songs a great deal.

This is a top-notch underground band—the riffs are memorable and the ferocity of the music, incredible. For fans of Krisiun, later Behemoth, Hate Eternal, and black death in general. The stunning artwork by Paolo Girardi isn’t part of the music but it gives you a good idea of what you’re about to hear, and adds to the atmosphere the band succeeds in creating.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 6, 2012

Lost Inside - Mourning wept beside me

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

From the sunny city of San Diego, California comes the Depressive Black Metal band Lost Inside.

Like the genre prescribes the concentration is not on speed or virtuosity but on mood. HEAVY on mood. But unlike many other DSBM bands the production is clean, with each instrument heard clearly in the mix. Vocals are standard fare for this sort of music, but mixed well and never overbearing. Guitars lines float above the slow deliberate drumming. And no matter how depressing it gets those guitars give you a feeling of moving towards something positive. As if there may just be light at the end of the beautiful depressive tunnel. That this album is the catharsis for not only the band, but also for its listeners.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 4, 2012

Old Man Gloom - No

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Old Man Gloom are a sludge/doom metal/post-metal super-group currently based in Boston, MA. Formed by Aaron Turner (Isis) and drummer Santos Montano (Zozobra) in 1999, the band now include Nate Newton (Converge)
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Old Man Gloom are a sludge/doom metal/post-metal super-group currently based in Boston, MA. Formed by Aaron Turner (Isis) and drummer Santos Montano (Zozobra) in 1999, the band now include Nate Newton (Converge) and Caleb Scofield (Cave In, Zozobra). No is their first album since 2004's Christmas and its release marks the continuation of a new productive period for Old Man Gloom, who just played several dates in the U.S., their first live performances in years, at the beginning of May. Instead of fanfare and triumph, however, Old Man Gloom have marked their return with flamethrowers and anthrax.

No is a sick, angry album that allows itself the time to wallow, like an infection swelling under the skin until it must be lanced. The sound is incredibly bright and metallic at the forefront, with a deeper, anguished thickness in the background. The guitars buzz like a robotic hornets' nest while the cymbals crash against each other like a fistful of gleaming knives. The sludge element comes via the pacing, crawling along like angry magma. The vocals are so harsh, so poisonous that they're capable of raising welts, causing blisters to fill with blood. The emotion that drives No is one full of backlash, of counterpunch and reactionary fury.

This record stands against, denies, defies and negates. It strives to be the opposite of positivity, acknowledges and gives a voice to those moments when rejection and revulsion are the only response, when rebuilding is impossible and it's time to strip and scourge, give up and burn to the ground.

Natalie also interviewed Old Man Gloom.

July 2, 2012

Wildernessking - ...And the Night Swept Us Away

Written by by Andy Osborn.

Artwork by Stephen Green

Wildernessking fit perfectly into the newest-wave of black metal; a forward-thinking, progressive amalgamation of the genre that ranges in influence from screamo to shoegaze. The Cape Town quartet surprised fans with this new three-song EP just four months after their debut full-length, and it's an intriguing departure.

Only the second track which shares the name of the EP is a 'proper' song, but it fits perfectly as a crescendo between the introspective ambiance of "Adrift" and the complex acoustic melodies of "Morning." ...And the Night Swept Us Away builds on The Writing of Gods in the Sand by toning down the over-crisp production and focusing more on hypnotic rhythmic guitars, making for a fantastically dreamy soundscape that will appeal to fans of the Cascadian scene.

Time will tell if this is a one-off experimental record that is simply bridging the gap between full-lengths, or a preview of what's to come. But one thing is certain; these South Africans are serious about making music, and they're seriously good at it.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Agalloch - Faustian Echoes - The Grey - The White

Agalloch has made a new song, Faustian Echoes, available at their Bandcamp. It is a single, two-part song based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s epic masterpiece “Faust.”. It is also the longest song Agalloch have ever written. Islander from No clean Singing said this about Faustian Echoes:
The piece works in a melodramatic, sturm-und-drang mode befitting its source material, with a central section recalling the melodic doom passages of Yob, and fluttering guitar leads that reminded me a great deal of the last Cormorant LP—which is always a good thing. Much like their previous 20-minute epic, “Black Lake Nidstang,” Faustian Echoes has a remarkable ability to hold my attention for its complete duration.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Also, you can now buy the companion EPs The White and The Grey at the Agalloch Bandcamp. The Grey from 2004 is a re-interpretation of two songs from their second full length The Mantle, and The White from 2008 collects seven lovely neofolk and dark ambient tracks.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

July 1, 2012

Ophis - Withered Shades

Ophis - Withered Shades from 2010 is available on the Solitude Productions Bandcamp. When two of the best metal writers, one former and one very much active, have kind things to say about an album, I hope I am forgiven for simply hitting the quote button. First up is Kim Kelly, writing for Metal Army America:
An understanding of timing and tension is absolutely crucial on albums like this, and Ophis are clearly more than well-versed. In the instance, the almighty riff slowly, purposefully wends its way through the distortion and despair, augmented by tasteful, moody keyboard accents and an admirable commitment to ugliness. While so many death/doom bands have fallen victim to the lure of beauty, Ophis scorns it, gleefully embracing the filth (and bastardized Skepticism riffs) they’ve accumulated along the way. Simply put, this is some bleak, brutally depressing shit.
And here's Cosmo Lee, the former editor of Invsible Oranges:
This may sound strange for metal, which often traffics in the morbid, but this music respects death. It does not puke all over it with blastbeats and streams of notes- It does not glorify it with gore. Instead, it acknowledges it, then gets to work. We have metal tools, let us dig trenches. We have metal strings; let us make them sing. We have metal lives; let us show how trapped and suffering we can be. Yet let us rise above it all through the power of the riff.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]