We’re at the end of months 2 of lockdown (here in the UK, at least), and it’s getting no easier. When it comes to music though, it’s worth noting that Bandcamp are trying to help by waiving fees on the first Friday of each month for the next few months, to help artists survive. So, here’s a few reviews that might give you new ideas of what to check out, including my current AOTY for Forlesen; melancholic black metal by Graveir; an EP of laid-back synthwave from Jaime Irles; Karnstein offering raw black/death/gothic metal; Koniec Pola taking us on an avant-garde adventure; and Resent bringing some nasty, filthy sludge. Enjoy!
It’s always nice when an intro leaves you guessing what the album proper will sound like. ‘The Debt’, which opens up the debut album of the same name from WitchUrn, does exactly that, with its four minutes of acoustic guitar being the kind of opener that could give way to prog, or death, or thrash, or just about any other metal style you can name. It’s when ‘Deserts Beyond the Tomb’ begins that it is clear what The Debt truly offers – face-ripping blackened thrash laced with death metal, that’s delightfully vicious and – whisper it – a little bit progressive.
Label: Throatruiner Records
France’s Fange have been consistently releasing records of utmost nastiness and noise-drenched extremity for seven years now, with their previous albums and EPs showcasing a blend of HM-2 powered death metal/hardcore that’s laced with industrial noise. Third album Pudeur carries on in the same style, but with the departure of drummer Alexandre Jadi, it represents a critical juncture for the band. Rather than replace Jadi, Fange have slimmed down to a trio, with Benjamin Moreau (guitars, machines), Antoine Perron (bass) and Matthias Jungbluth (vocals) building the album from drum machine rhythms instead. Whilst it inevitably loses a human touch to the rhythms, what Pudeur gains instead is an increased sense of clinical violence, making the album almost equal parts Godflesh as it is Entombed.
What a month. What a fucking month. I don’t know what to say that you probably already haven’t heard before. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from others. Stay the fuck inside as much as you can. Look after those less fortunate than yourself. These are such trying times, and they are bringing out the best and worst in us all. I just hope we all get through this, and that what improvements may come, from those in power realising how vulnerable so many citizens in genuinely important jobs are, don’t turn out to be short-term ones.
In the meantime, here are some reviews to help distract you from, well, everything else. There’s lovely guitar-based glitch/drone from Animal Hospital; The Ditch and The Delta delivering colossal riffs from deep within our shared DNA; Feminazgul with an album of the year contender; Hyperion delivering high-energy heavy metal straight from the 80’s; Live Burial bringing death metal that could have come from the Peaceville vaults; and Mystic Priestess‘ punk-infused deathrock. Enjoy!
Label: ViciSolum Productions
Let’s just get this out the way now: Nile. However good our intentions, it’s hard to not think of that band when talking about “death metal” and “Egypt”, so let’s get it out the way now. With that reference made, we can get on to talk about what actually matters for this review: the fact that Scarab’s latest record, Martyrs of the Storm, absolutely slays. Put this on for someone without telling them who it is, and Martyrs of the Storm could easily be mistaken for a prime-era Morbid Angel or later-day Behemoth album.
There’s a lot of fear out in the world right now, with Covid-19 (aka Coronovirus) causing all sorts of problems, to put it lightly. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get much worse. To try and help us all get through such troublesome times, here’s six records which range from the heavy to the, well, ridiculously heavy. Crowhurst and Bandit destroy speakers with Bulldozer; Dead Man’s Chest bring the beatdown on Dear God; the self-titled record from 黒い樹海 (KUROI JUKAI) is, simply, brain-melting; God of Dead Roots by Sicarius offers up some vicious black metal; Video Nasties offer some sort of relatively respite with Dominion but it’s still heavy as fuck; and finally, Viscera‘s Obsidian combines deathcore with tech-death with punishing results. Enjoy, and try not to worry!
In the past few days, some musicians and labels of whom I think incredibly highly have released a few records which I’d like to spend a little time talking about, not only because of the superb musical qualities on display; but also because the releases are aiming to raise money for different charities. One comes from Dutch band Black Decades, who share a few members with the mighty Terzij de Horde and is raising money for Stichting Sam&, a charity that helps families and children living in poverty. The second is a recent compilation from Akashic Envoy Records, focusing on LGBTQAI+ artists and bands, with all money raised being donated to The Trevor Project, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQAI+ youth. Both highly worthy causes, and both records are worthy of your time.
Severance of Serenity is an album that brings the adjective “forceful” to mind. The brand of melo-death displayed by Nephylim may recall the masters of the genre – chiefly Amon Amarth in that kind of largely mid-tempo, stomping way of theirs – but it does so without sounding uninspired or tired. Severance of Serenity is the kind of album that understands that sometimes, it’s more important to be good than it is to be original; whilst it sticks pretty closely to the melo-death template, it does so in a way that demonstrates the best of the genre. If that sounds like damning it with faint praise, well, that’s to underestimate how damn forceful it all sounds. Frankly, Severance of Serenity is taking no prisoners.
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!
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.