Malefic Levitation – The Ancient Plague

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Label: Sentient Ruin Productions / Dawnbreed Records

The Ancient Plague does not fuck about. The debut demo/EP from Malefic Levitation is an unrelenting, skull-crushing twenty minutes of bestial and war metal that takes no prisoners. It taps in to that same sense of barely controlled chaos as the likes of Revenge and Archgoat do, walking a fine line between all-encompassing pandemonium and neck-snapping addictive riffs. Considering that it is a debut release, the mastery that Malefic Levitation display over this most ferocious of genres is all the more impressive.

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Aidan Baker / Simon Goff / Thor Harris – Noplace

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Label: Gizeh Records

Recorded in a few short, improvised hours one day in May 2017 by the trio of Aidan Baker (Nadja), Simon Goff (Molecular), and Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends), Noplace is an album that possesses the kind of depth that would never hint at the way it was created, even if it has been edited down from that improvised session. Hypnotic in the most wonderful of ways, Noplace is an album that creates a psychedelic haze, taking the listener to some place more relaxing and spiritually cleansing than whatever place you may find yourself physically within. This is music that is good for the soul.

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noemienours – Bear Meditations LP

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Label: Self-released

Last year’s Songs From The Life of Bears EP by noemienours was an unexpected delight, an achingly tender and beautiful collection of four songs themed around animal rights. Cloaked in tape hiss and fragile vocals, the EP was the kind of record perfectly suited to late-night solitude, full of melancholy. Follow-up Bear Meditations LP picks up where that EP left off, offering a half hour of low-fi, slow and sparse lullabies that are all the more effective for how gentle they are, and serves as an apt demonstration that there’s more ways to get your message across via music than shouting and screaming.

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Over The Voids – Over The Voids (self-titled)

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Label: Nordvis Produktion

Whilst most bands that seek to offer praise to certain musical time periods end up feeling like little more than tired copies of those that came before, there are some bands who manage to clearly hearken back to an earlier time without being a simple imitation. Over The Voids can be counted amongst that small number, with their self-titled album clearly recalling the dark, mysterious nature of mid-90’s black metal; but at the same time, the album never sounds as if it is ever content to simply repeat what others have done before it, adding aspects of atmospheric black metal in to the mix. As such, it is an individualistic take on a highly imitated style of black metal, conjuring a melancholic, captivating aura over its 37 minute duration.

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Mendacium – Decimating Titans

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Label: Self-released

There is a point at which the only reaction one is capable of is anger. There are limits to how much people can stand before lashing out in rage, and considering the state of the world in 2017, it is surprising that there aren’t as many people taking the route that Daniel Jackson has with Mendacium. The Void Ritual mainman created this project to create a more violent, dark kind of black metal than would fit with the spirit of Void Ritual, and debut release Decimating Titans certainly possesses a lot of anger and violence. There is still plenty of second-wave influenced melody and atmosphere, but compared to Void Ritual the mood is far more belligerent, the tempos faster, and the sense of violent catharsis very much real.

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Pink Mass – Necrosexual

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Label: Self-released

It’s easy to forget just how challenging early extreme metal was back in the 80’s. The sounds of bands like Hellhammer, Sodom, or Repulsion might be taken for granted now, but when they first emerged, they were truly shocking. It’s rare now to come across something that not only captures the sense of musical extremity of those bands, but also the unorthodoxy; the way they did not care for genres or convention, but set out to create something original of their own. New Jersey band Pink Mass manage it though on their new record Necrosexual, a startlingly fearless mixture of early black metal, death, grind, and crust that does not care for genre norms or making the listener comfortable, and is all the better and more dangerous for it. And that’s to say nothing of the way they challenge the non-musical norms of extreme metal. Previous album Slvt Kvlt was good, but this is fantastic.

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Olivia Neutered John – Kill All Men (Starting With The White Ones)

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Label: Blackened Death Records

This is an album that will make a lot of people unhappy. Kill All Men (Starting With The White Ones) is the first album from Olivia Neutered Johnthe satirical porno-grind project of Pope Richard, and whilst that’s a genre normally known for its poor perceptions of women and anyone who isn’t a straight white male, Kill All Men flips the usual practices of the genre on its head. The record mixes sexualised topics with the kind of gore that’s part way between Cannibal Corpse and Castrator, placing women in positions of power. It’s backed up by furious, straight to the point blasts of grind, making Kill All Men a rush of furious energy, that often masks its serious points with crude humour.

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