Review: Suspiral – Chasm

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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.

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Review: 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) – 一期一会 (For This Time Only, Never Again)

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories 

The previous record from 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker), 5772, was one of the surprises of 2017 – a progressive, jazz-inspired take on black metal that followed no path but its own. The multinational band are already back with follow-up 一期一会 (For This Time Only, Never Again), and it has taken my expectations and stomped all over them. This is an even more nonconformist, experimental take on black metal that 5772 was, emphasising the psychedelic elements of their sound and adding drone elements – whilst still retaining a sense of fearlessness and black metal aggression. It’s an album that is seemingly full of contradictions, yet takes all of its opposing influences and makes them, somehow, work together. It’s quite special, and makes most other records being released today seem tame.

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Album of the Day: Boris – Akuma no Uta

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Label: Diwphalanx Records / Southern Lord Records (reissue)

Anyone even vaguely familiar with Boris know that the Japanese band have a vast, hugely varied discography, ranging from drone to psychedelic metal to J-pop – sometimes in the space of a single album. Akuma no Uta is the album that introduced me to the band, and remains my favourite – which is why I’m slightly apprehensive about getting to see them on their UK tour with Amenra. Their most recent album, Dear, is a different beast to Akuma no Uta, being based upon drone, rather than the psychedelic heavy metal of Akuma… – and, as good as I expect them to be, part of me will be disappointed if nothing from Akuma… is played.

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Review: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard / Slomatics – Totems (split)

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Label: Black Bow Records

When isn’t a split a split? When it’s Totems. Though it would be somewhat accurate to consider the new record featuring Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (MWWB) and Slomatics a split, it’s also been described by both bands as a collaboration, with the bands sharing ideas during the recording of Totems. It helps make the record stand out from most other splits released, and the creative process has obviously paid dividends, as the songs here build upon the success of previous records – Y Proffwyd Dwyll and Future Echo Returns, respectively – to produce something captivating, and as strong as either band has ever been.

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Seventh Genocide – Toward Akina

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Label: WOOAAARGH

Toward Akina, the second album from Italian band Seventh Genocide, is a pretty distinctive beast. Though the marketing and press releases tag this album as post-black metal, the emphasis is very much on the “post” part of that equation. There are far more sections on Toward Akina that recall Pink Floyd’s psychedelic sounds, or even the raw emotional passion of late-90’s/early-00’s screamo than there are moments of classic black metal coldness. It may not appeal to those who judge a record by it’s kvlt appeal, but if genre is less of a concern than the music simply being good, then Toward Akina has a lot to offer.

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Ewige Schlangenkraft – Eternal Serpent Power

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Label: Yamabushi Recordings

The depressing fact about too much music released today is that it is boring. Bands may play and write with what they feel is enough passion, but those feelings may not come across on record; or the ideas were never as good as they thought they were. Alternatively, bands may be content with creating something that touches upon too many well-worn furrows to come across as exciting, leaving instead a general feeling of “this is OK, but it’s too similar to [insert band name here], I’ll just listen to them instead.” I may love a bit of Darkthrone worship every now and then, and there’s no shame in playing something generic if that’s what you want to do, but sometimes, I want something more.

Enter Ewige Schlangenkraft. Though rooted in black metal, with Les Legions Noires being a valid reference point, the duo are creating something entirely their own, with Eternal Serpent Power feeling like an authoritative statement of psychedelic, raw-as-fuck black metal. Incredibly uncomfortable and challenging, this is a true hidden gem of UK black metal.

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