Review: Led by Delusions – Natural Decay

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Label: Self-released

It’s interesting how DSBM has become two different genres within itself: the raw, murky style exemplified by the likes of Xasthur; and the brighter, melody-led style that Ghost Bath are a prime example of. Led by Delusions, the new solo project of Immørdæk following the end of former band Uncanny Reality, is not without its own sense of melody, but in terms of intent and atmosphere, debut album Natural Decay is all about misanthropy and misery. Revelling in the darkness it creates, Natural Decay is an album infused with a sense of nihilism, every note steeped in existential sadness and despair.

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Review: Ifreann – Desecration

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Label: Self-released

Of all the various styles of metal, thrash is perhaps the one that arrived most full-formed. Upping the speed and intensity of heavy metal, the genre may have different strands – compare US thrash to German thrash, for example – but generally, there’s been no major changes to the style in 30-plus years now. And this is no bad thing – why fix what isn’t broken? Scottish thrashers Ifreann are proof of that maxim, with Desceration being a short, sharp shock of classic thrash that could have been written and recorded at almost any point since 1985, and is all the better for it.

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Review: Wretched Empires – Bloom

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Label: Self-released

Getting to hear a new project from members (past and present) of bands you respect is always exciting, especially if it’s something different from their current/previous bands. Such is the case with Wretched Empires, which is formed of Allfather vocalist Tom B. and former Redbait members Will J. (guitar) and Cody A. (drums). Yet whereas those bands strode the lines between hardcore and metal, Bloom is firmly rooted in black metal, particularly the Scandinavian second wave and more modern American incarnations, with all the grim majesty that implies. It’s an exciting, empowering listen, that achieves a lot in its short duration.

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Review: Jenn Taiga – Plight

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Label: Tridroid Records (cassette) / Self-released (digital)

There’s a certain strain of retro-futurism that runs heavily through most synthwave and its related genres. You know the type; all neon lights and action hero poses drawn straight from the 80’s, along with all the problematic politics that period could embody – the kind that thinks it’s being cyberpunk, but is just a cosplay version of the original ethos. As such, it’s a delight to hear something that’s totally different in its retro-futuristic and synth-heavy styles, that, whilst still recalling the late 70’s and early 80’s, it does so in a way that captures the most forward-thinking elements of that time. Such is the case with Plight by synthesizer wizard Jenn Taiga. Drawing heavily from the Berlin school of electronic music, with a heavy dash of psychedelica, Plight is a captivating record that simultaneously conjures up visions of technological dystopia whilst railing against such nightmares.

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Review: Alien Private Eye – No Programmed Instructions

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Label: Self-released

When it comes to a debut release, most artists will play it relatively safe. A teaser single, maybe, or perhaps an EP. What most musicians won’t do is release an 82 minute re-imagining of the soundtrack to one of the most important science fiction films of the past 30 years. Yet that’s just what Alien Private Eye have done with No Prorammed Instructions. Taking the original anime film version of Ghost in the Shell as the starting point, Alien Private Eye have created their own musical accompaniment to the story of self-actualisation and identity. The original OST, by Kenji Kawai, was a study in minimalism and restraint, and sounds ground-breaking even today. No Programmed Instructions, however, is very different.

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Review: Poppet – Rememberance of the Forgotten

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Label: Self-released

Cover records are, generally speaking, a total waste of time to listen to. Sure, they’re probably a lot of fun for the musicians involved to create, but most of the time they just come across as an inferior version of the “real” thing. There are exceptions, but they tend to be the ones which do something unexpected with the source material, taking aspects of the song and using them to take the music in new directions. It’s this later camp that Rememberance of the Forgotten falls into. The latest album from Poppet takes ten original tracks and twists them through Poppet’s distinctive take on dungeon synthand vaporwave. In each case, something new is revealed – or, at the very least, the songs are presented in such a different way that they become something new entirely.

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Review: Svengahli – Nightmares of Our Own Design

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Label: Self-released

Tech-death can often be an overwhelming experience, with most bands who play the broad style adopting an “everything-and-then-some” approach to song-writing. Sweep-picks? Yes. Relentless drumming? Yes. Weaving bass patterns? You get the picture. But then there’s some bands who understand that space and restraint is just as important as overt extremity in constructing a memorable record. Svengahli are one such band, with Nightmares of Our Own Design being a prime example of how less can be more. Their brand of tech-death has the expected moments of intensity and bravura musicianship for sure, but it has has a deftness of touch and understanding of flow and momentum that many of their contemporaries would do well to study.

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Review Blasts: February 2020

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!

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Review: Demersal – Less

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Label: Self-released

Describing Demersal‘s music as “blackened screamo”, whilst largely correct in a technical sense, only gives part of the story. Sure, Less is the kind of album that features the throat-shredding vocals and desperate octave chords of screamo, combined with a vicious black metal edge; but there’s much more to it than that. There’s a heavy thread of French screamo running through Less, as well as more unexpected treats that come as a surprise including, most notably, trumpet; and some seemingly contradictory emotional and musical moods.

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