Review: Agvirre – Silence

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Label: Trepanation Recordings (CD) / Surviving Sounds (Cassette)

Though they may be relatively young as a band, Agvirre contain within their ranks quite considerable music-related experience. The trio have years of writing music (both songs and as journalists), putting on gigs, and a lot of the other, unglamorous work that goes into making underground music survive. That experience – and passion – is evident throughout Silence, an EP that offers a personal take on post-black metal. The themes of mental illness, abuse, and self-worth help imbue the EP with a grace and power that can be lacking in other bands of this style, as well as a sense of personality. It’s a bright start, and helps the band stand out in an increasingly crowded scene.

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Review Blasts: January 2020

We did it. We made it to pretty much the end of January. It’s felt like this month has gone on for a long, long time, and it’s been a very strong one for new releases. Here’s this month’s pick of short reviews of records either out now or out soon, kicking off with the split between sludge behemoths Body Void and Keeper; experimental metal from Bornwithhair; catchy alt-rock/punk from Lowlives; Plague Weaver‘s sickening death/black metal; Qoheleth continuing to explore new experimental music grounds; and TRAPS, featuring OHHMS members, with an EP of brain-melting prog-metal. Enjoy!

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Review: Snorlax – II

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Label: Brilliant Emperor Records

A few people within the metal underground seem to be fixated on Snorlax‘s choice of band name. The sheer audacity for this solo project to share its name with a heavy-as-fuck Pokémon seems, to some people, a step too far. Frankly, it’s their loss. Behind a disarming choice of band name lies some of the heaviest black/death metal you’re likely to hear anytime soon, full of crushing riffs and a few nice (i.e., nasty) surprises. II is an uncompromising 22 minutes of utter destruction, that leaves a lot of other extreme metal bands looking a little bit silly in comparison. This is vicious.

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Review: Ossaert – Bedehuis

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Label: Argento Records

One of the most difficult tasks for any album is to capture the essence of its chosen genre whilst also expanding upon its possibilities. Striking this balance is such a monumental task that few will even attempt it, content instead to write something that clings tightly to the constraints of genre. Yet rarely, an album like Bedehuis will appear, that not only channels the dark heart of black metal but also manages to push at the boundaries. Fuelled by hatred, Ossaert‘s black metal onslaught blends the melodic with the oppressive, contemplation with raw violence, the brutal with the beautiful. It is quite an achievement.

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Review: Nordhausen – A Map Of the Moon

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Label: Self-released

One of the greatest difficulties in instrumental music is to convey a sense of narative. It’s one task to conjure up a sense of atmosphere; but another entirely to not only maintain said atmosphere across tracks, but to also insert a sense of motion and cohesion that tells a story. Yet that’s exactly what A Map Of the Moon does, with its half hour of dark ambient and drone putting across a tale that’s every bit as unnerving as the music itself is. The first release by Nordhausen can hardly be described as an easy listen in any sense of the phrase; but it is one that as captivating as it is unsettling.

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Review: Ruin Lust – Sacrifice

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Label: Self-released / Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Much like doom, three-chord punk, and free jazz, war metal is the kind of genre that can seem, on the surface, kind of simple. Whilst it might seem simple enough to conjure a layering of buzzsaw guitars, relentlessly blasting drums, and cavernous vocals adding up to something primal and claustrophobic, there’s a narrow margin between doing so well, and simply doing so. A lot of bands might get the basics right; but that’s all they do, resulting in something servicable, and ultimately, forgetable. It’s within this context that Ruin Lust release their second album, Sacrifice. A lot of bands play war metal; but few do so as well as Ruin Lust. Demonstrating not only a mastery of the genre fundamentals, they also find space for subtle growth within their chosen style, making them one of the best bands of the genre today.

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Review: Spectral Child – Morbiund Kingdom

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Label: Self-released / Akashic Envoy Records

Well, this came seemingly out of nowhere. The sole figure behind Order of the Wolf took some time away from creating underground black metal, and the result is Moribund Kingdom, a misleadingly named record if there ever was one – it may be cold and dark, with a sense of the ethereal, but there’s nothing moribund about it. Released under the Spectral Child name, Moribund Kingdom sits at the intersection between dungeon synth, 16-bit video game soundtracks, and horror music. A sense of haunting presence lingers throughout, yet there’s also something concrete and tangible here too; a feeling of weight that keeps the music grounded. The result is something that feels both nostalgic but also forward-thinking, combining different styles with great results.

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