Even by the standards of what TSNTW usually covers, this edition of short reviews covers an exceptionally heavy selection of records. Evolution by Übergang brings the thrash and groove with hardcore energy, before Steel Casket by doom merchants Primitive Man buries us all in waves of noise. In Other Climes bring us back to live with the ferocity of the well-named Ruthless, whilst Mairu explore post-metal riffs with The Sacred Dissonance; before the wonderfully named Warcrab drown us in their sludge-laden death metal. Riffs! Volume! Fuck yeah!
Times have been good for death metal recently. The old-school death metal revival is going from strength to strength, and it seems you can’t go to a gig without there being at least one band creating black/death metal that would make Teitanblood and Incantation proud. But more than that, what’s been really exciting has been the rise of sci-fi death metal. A fresh appreciation for Demilich and Timeghoul has come about, and resulted in some genuine modern classics, most notably Blood Incantation’s Starspawn. Into this fertile scene step Nucleus with latest album Entity, a relatively concise – yet still expansive – journey into the unknown.
Label: The Flenser
Considering that the band contains members of Ulthar, Abstracter, and Atrament, and that it’s being released by the mighty The Flenser label, expectations are inevitably raised for the debut album by Vale. Thankfully, Burden of Sight absolutely delivers, with its blackened crust onslaught possessing not only the rabid edge that helps characterise the genre, but also a slightly progressive aspect. Combined, it ensures that Vale are at the fore-front of this style – blackened crust has been lacking a real scene leader ever since Young And In The Way disbanded in the light of rape allegations, and in Vale, the scene may just have found one.
Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Metal, at its most extreme, becomes a genre of seemingly contradictory forces that are reliant upon one another to succeed. As volume and speed increases, bringing with it a sense of chaos, so too does the need for control. After all, a great deal of technical proficiency and practice is needed to strike the right balance between a song sounding rampaging and it simply sounding sloppy. It’s that sense of contradiction that Chasm, the new album from Spanish black/death metal band Suspiral, is forged upon. A combination of bestial carnage and ritual-esque repetition, the album is the sound of a tightly-bound beast, straining at its chains, desiring nothing more than to be let loose upon the world to unleash devastation; and yet there is an almost religious aspect to the control displayed, making Chasm a ritual in a very real sense.
Happy International Workers’ Day! For those of you who have this day as a holiday, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. For those of us in the UK, we have the bank holiday coming. And here at TSNTW, I’m getting back into the swing of things with a series of short reviews. For this installment, we have world-ending black/death metal; speed-laced black-thrash; a furious feminist statement; a wonderful meeting of progressive technicality and black metal horror; and beautiful modern classical. Enjoy!
Label: Unholy Anarchy Records
Italian trio Hierophant have had an interesting journey to bring them to where they are today. Initially starting life as a cross between hardcore, black metal, and sludge, their first records were released by hardcore stalwarts Demons Run Amok and Bridge Nine Records. 2016 saw the jump to the arguably more fitting Season of Mist though, and a subtle shift in sound – their approach to sonic devastation become less hardcore, more grind. New EP Spawned Abortions carries on in that style, being a short, yet undeniably vicious slice of black/death/grind, that takes no prisoners.
Label: Peaceville Records
It’s an old tale: classic band splits. Classic band re-forms a few years later. Classic band releases new material. Classic band releases an absolute clanger of a record. Classic band splits, and we all collectively agree to never talk of said disaster of an album ever again. Classic band splits for the second time. Such was the case with Cancer, the UK’s death metal veterans who released some undeniable classics in the form of To the Gory End and Dead Shall Rise. They also released the horrid Spirit in Flames – but we won’t talk about that. Instead, we’ll focus on the fact that Cancer have reformed again, and have a new album, in the form of Shadow Gripped. And, other than the artwork, it’s an utter triumph. It’s the sound of a band who have learnt from past mistakes, and come back with something that can sit comfortably alongside their old classics. This is no-nonsense UK death metal, as vicious as ever, and it’s just what you want from Cancer.