Sacred Son – Sacred Son (Self-titled)

Sacred Son - Sacred Son

Label: Self-released

I’m sure every blogger and writer approaches their reviews differently, but here’s the case for me: about half the time, I won’t even look at an album’s artwork until a few spins have gone by. We all know that presentation influences our perceptions of a record, and so getting the opportunity to listen to something without seeing the artwork can be a boon, helping ensure that judgments made on the music are based on the music itself, not the packaging.

Yet, there’s no denying the importance of artwork to a record, and it’s because of this that Second Son have been gathering some unwelcome attention recently in the underground metal press. Rather than some monochrome Transilvanian Hunger knock-off, or lurid depiction of Satan or the horrors of humanity, Sacred Son is presented with a photo of sole member Dane Cross on his holidays, looking pretty happy with life. Frankly, if people are taking issue with Sacred Son simply because of that, then it’s further proof of how concerned with image (rather than music) parts of the black metal underground are; and it’s their loss, because the music contained within is uncompromising, forceful, and in large parts, every bit as grim as the cover isn’t.

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World Negation – Born Broken

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Label: Demons Run Amok Entertainment

Hardcore four-piece World Negation hail from Germany – not that you’d initially guess that from their music. The four tracks on new 7″ Born Broken are steeped in New York hardcore, filled with down-tuned guitars, heavy as fuck riffs, and an air of violence and self-confidence. Even though it draws clear influence from the classics of the genre – with Madball in particular being an obvious comparison – there’s a swagger and assured nature to Born Broken that helps it stand apart.

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One Master / Ninhursag – Split

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Label: Eternal DeathRed River Family Records

Regular readers will know that I hold Eternal Death Records in high regard, considering them to be one of the most consistent and discerning bastions of underground extreme metal in the US. You’ll also know that I consider Eternal Death regulars One Master to be one of the most under-rated bands in modern USBM, with their ferocious brand of black metal being consistently devastating. Following hot on the heels of their excellent full-length, Lycanthropic Burrowing, comes a new split release with Ninhursag, a co-release with Red River Family Records, that sees One Master unleash some of their most ferocious music yet; whilst Ninhursag’s take on black metal is more other-worldly and cold, yet no less effective for it.

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In Twilight’s Embrace – Vanitas

In Twilights Embrace - Vanitas artwork

Label: Arachnophobia Records

The best black metal isn’t always the most immediate. It’s a genre where there is much to be explored in the shadows, with subtle changes, repetition, and a general disregard for convention often holding the most potential. Yet there’s also a good number of bands playing black metal who can take you by the throat, and it only takes a single play of their album for you to understand just how good they are. The new album from Poland’s In Twilight’s Embrace, Vanitas, is one such example. This is black metal with all superfluous elements removed, streamlined in to its most deadly form, unleashing an all-out assault right from the start with great results.

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BOYED – BOYED (self-titled)

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Label: Vetala Productions

London-based Vetala Productions have been (not-so) quietly putting out some of the better records to be found in the underground in recent times, with releases from the like of Unyielding Love, Dark Mother, and Art Of Burning Water. The latest addition to their roster is two-piece powerviolence band BOYED, whose self-titled EP is a no-nonsense, ten minute slice of viciousness, with a few slowed-down, sludgey moments to add extra dimensions to the record. But the focus really is on playing loud, fast, and violently, and BOYED absolutely nail it.

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khost – Governance

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Label: Cold Spring Records

Of all the records to have come my way recently, Governance by Birmingham band khost is probably the most punishing. Combining harsh noise with an industrial stomp and muscularity, Governance is far from an easy listen; but at the same time, it’s one that’s relatively easy to sink in to. Whilst khost may excel at creating an atmosphere of utter darkness, filled with horrific malevolence, they do so in a way that includes just enough shades of light to make the darkness all the more effective, whilst also stopping it becoming overwhelming. This sense of contrast is vitally important, and helps make Governance be such a success.

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Hello Bastards / Herida Profunda – Split

HP HB cover front+back

Label: 783 Punx

There’s a lot of shit to get depressed about these days. Each morning seems to bring some new disaster on the news, and the world is turning in to an ever-more hostile place for those who are minority groups. As such, it’s heartening to hear bands taking an active stand against all the racism, sexism, and prejudice that is becoming more prevalent. On their new split, hardcore/crust ragers Herida Profunda and London-based powerviolence group Hello Bastards deliver a short, sharp blast against hate, and against those who stand idly by when cries for help are met only by silence.

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