american – Violate And Control

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Fragile Branch Recordings / Shove Records

In the increasingly populated world of extreme music, it gets harder and harder to stand out. There’s only so many novel ideas out there, and there’s no guarantee that musicians have the requisite talent to properly convey what they have to express. It’s this context which helps make american seem an all the more startling prospect. Their mix of black metal, industrial, and harsh noise already sounds exciting on paper, but what Violate And Control demonstrates is that the duo have both the ideas and talent to take this combination in to strange new places. This results in an album that feels remarkably fresh, even as it indulges in some of the most horrific music committed to tape whilst still remaining listenable.

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Caïna / Cara Neir – Split

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Label: Broken Limbs Recordings

This was an unexpected surprise. I had thought that Christ Clad In White Phosphorous was to be Caïna’s final recorded output, but evidently not, as this split with blackened crust masters Cara Neir has emerged. Each band has a single track, though that’s all that both bands need to demonstrate their talent and unorthodox natures. Whilst both bands may have different sounds, it’s safe to say that their mentalities are comparable, making this split a bittersweet triumph – triumphant because of its undeniable quality, but bittersweet as this now marks the last output of Caïna to be committed to tape.

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Carnivorous Forest – Frozen Rivers

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Label: Blackened Death Records 

Some things are worth waiting for. After a collection of demos, splits, and EP releases, the full-length from neofolk/death metal act Carnivorous Forest is finally here, and it does not disappoint. Frozen Rivers is a powerful, atmospheric record, varied in scope and tone, yet with a consistent character that ties everything together. Listeners who have enjoyed previous Carnivorous Forest releases will not be disappointed. Sole member Amarok is in fine form throughout, and of all the different releases he has put out over the past few years in many guises on Blackened Death Records, this is undoubtedly one of the best.

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Wet Nurse. & Matt Finney – Vases

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Label: Self-released

If you’re in the market for something to get sad to, then Vases is just what you’re after. The collaboration between dark electronics musician Wet Nurse. and Matt Finney is bleak, depressing, and possessed of a certain beauty. This is music for staying up late, wondering where it all went wrong and feeling powerless to do anything about it. And yet, as unappealing as that may make it sound, there’s something about Vases that makes it easy to listen to for hours at a time, sinking in to its dark, melancholy embrace.

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Oak – Your Mess As Much As Mine

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Label: Truthseeker Music / Hydrogen Man Records / State of Mind Recordings

It’s easy to take for granted the emotional and physical catharsis that a good hardcore record can bring about. After all, it’s over fifteen years since Jane Doe sent seismic shocks through the hardcore scene, and bands are still taking plenty of leads from that mighty album. Sometimes though, a record comes out from the underground that hits you right there, taking you by surprise with its strength and honesty. Your Mess As Much As Mine by Swedish trio Oak has done just that, and whilst there’s no ignoring the influence of bands like Botch and Converge on their sound, there’s enough nuance and more than enough sincerity here for Oak to have an identity all of their own.

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Wiegedood -De Doden Hebben het Goed II

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Label: Consouling Sounds

It doesn’t feel like it was long since the first album from Wiegedood was released, with the Church Of Ra affiliated band unleashing a masterclass in modern black metal that rightly saw them lavished with praise. In the almost two years since the release of De Doden Hebben Het Goeg, the band have been touring and generally building upon the buzz surrounding them, meaning that expectations are high for the follow-up. Now that it’s here, does De Doden Hebben Het Goeg II meet them? The answer is: absolutely. It takes all that was good about the debut and doubles down on it, resulting in an album that is intense, captivating, and sure to be recognised as one of 2017’s finest.

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Saille – Gnosis

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Label: Code666

In the crowded world of black metal, small changes can make a big difference. Such is the case for Belgian band Saille. Compare the logo on their latest album, Gnosis, with that on previous efforts. It’s more direct, with less superfluous elements. A subtle shift, but one that speaks volumes about the music contained within. This is still epic black metal, as was present on previous albums such as Eldritch and Ritu; but it’s a much more muscular version, hitting harder than ever before. This is black metal that is not content to simply sit and ask questions; it will demand answers, by force if necessary.

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