It should hardly need saying that there’s a lot of music out there; far more than can possibly be covered by any one site. It’s also true that, when I come to write reviews, they tend to be fairly long and in-depth. There’s only so many hours in the day, and as such, I can’t write reviews of that nature for everything I want to write about. So, from time to time, I’ll be unleashing a series of shorter, much more concise reviews. This time: Abbath’s self-titled album, caustic death-industrial by Abjection Ritual, Antlion’s tech-death, crusty rage from Crutches, glorious post-black metal from Ethicist, and Widower’s sophomore record of black-thrash. Enjoy!
Abbath – Abbath
Label: Season Of Mist
Following his departure from Immortal – who are now attempting to carry on without him – frontman Abbath has released his debut solo album. To say it picked up where Immortal left off with All Shall Fall is both accurate and misleading. For sure, there’s no mistaking that voice, and the album is clearly a musical continuation of later-day Immortal – Battles In The North it ain’t. Sadly though, it doesn’t possess the same epic sense of grandeur as anything his old band released. Too many mid-tempo sections mean that the album never takes off the way it could, and some of the riffs are pretty throw-away (and the less said about the opening moments, the better). There are some great moments – such as lead single “Count The Dead” – and I imagine the songs absolutely slay live, but on record, it often feels like Immortal 0.5.
Abjection Ritual – Futility Rites
Label: Malignant Records
To describe Futility Rites – the debut full-length by Abjection Ritual – as uncomfortable would be to do it a disservice. Drenched in the mostly deathly and unsettling of atmospheres, it combines death industrial with power electronics style violence. Topped off with tortured, post-human vocals full of the promise of suffering – physical, emotional, and spiritual – this is every bit as cold and suffocating as being buried in a shallow grave. More sparse tracks such as “Thrust In Thy Sickle And Reap” contrast well with more overtly destructive ones, such as the title track and “Objects Of Wrath”. Futility Rites is not to be approached lightly, and is further evidence – were any needed – that Malignant Records are at the forefront of releasing such nihilistic dark arts.
Antlion – The Prescient
It’s hard not to be impressed by the technical flair that Antlion show on The Prescient. The debut from this Canadian four-piece is a dizzying slice of tech-death, gliding through different atmospheres and movements with remarkable ease. It’s not the case that they simply deal in different degrees of heavy, either; there’s plenty of refreshing, jazz and psychedelic influenced sections that keep the songs fresh and moving. Stand-out track “A Seer’s Elegy” even manages to lend an emotional edge to proceedings without sacrificing any of the elements that make the rest of The Prescient so thrilling. A remarkably assured debut, crushing and invigorating in equal measure.
Crutches – FörlOrAD
Fuck yes! Swedish five-piece Crutches exemplify everything that’s great about no-frills (but lots of thrills) crusty d-beat. Less than 20 minutes in length, FörlOrAD is the kind of album perfectly suited to giving your day the shot of political rage it needs. There’s no subtlety to tracks like “FUCK you forever” or “Propaganda”, and nor should there be. “Condemned” introduces some 80’s anarcho-punk style spoken word, giving you a moment to catch your breath before the d-beat onslaught continues. There’s more than a hint of Japanese hardcore intensity and craziness too, which is a very welcome thing. If your record collection contains any “Dis-” bands, then odds are you need this in your life.
Ethicist – II
The new record from Ethicist is most definitely un-kvlt – anyone who judges black metal solely upon monochrome mid-90s criteria will hate this. For those with broader tastes, II offers dizzying, intense post-black metal with a decidedly emotional edge. The production is rawer than usual for this style, but it’s no bad thing; it keeps the music grounded, even if the emphasis is very much on the ‘post’ part of the equation. The almost indie-emo moments in some tracks – such as the opening moments of “Cricket” – mix in well with the introspective black metal sections, and showcase a band with their own identity, stepping out of the big-name shadows that so dominate this style. Cathartic and challenging, this is post-black metal as it should be. Wonderful artwork, too.
Widower – The Unholy Oath
The artwork might imply classic 80s heavy metal, but Widower‘s metal is more akin to Absu-esque black thrash. The Unholy Oath conjures up similar sounds and spirits to that mythological occult metal, though it takes a little time to get going; but by the time third track “Unholy Force” is going, the true power of the EP is on display, and Widower make good on the promise of The Unholy Oath. Give it a spin, and headbanging is as good as guaranteed. It’s also good to hear a band drawing clear inspiration from Absu, rather than the typical names, though it’s not as unique as Proscriptor McGovern’s group.