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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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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Spill Your Guts – Hungry Crows

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Label: Self-released

Shanghai’s Spill Your Guts are the kind of band that pretty much everyone needs in their lives. Though nominally a hardcore band, their style of music takes in much more than that descriptor suggests, with previous releases Full Blast and Slip and Fall including plenty of elements taken from black metal, crossover, and full-on thrash metal. Theirs is an energetic, invigorating sound that is all but guaranteed to brighten your day and add a burst of energy. Full length Hungry Crows builds on what has gone before, pushing the energy levels even higher, and is the best thing the band have done so far.

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Sacred Son – Sacred Son (Self-titled)

Sacred Son - Sacred Son

Label: Self-released

I’m sure every blogger and writer approaches their reviews differently, but here’s the case for me: about half the time, I won’t even look at an album’s artwork until a few spins have gone by. We all know that presentation influences our perceptions of a record, and so getting the opportunity to listen to something without seeing the artwork can be a boon, helping ensure that judgments made on the music are based on the music itself, not the packaging.

Yet, there’s no denying the importance of artwork to a record, and it’s because of this that Second Son have been gathering some unwelcome attention recently in the underground metal press. Rather than some monochrome Transilvanian Hunger knock-off, or lurid depiction of Satan or the horrors of humanity, Sacred Son is presented with a photo of sole member Dane Cross on his holidays, looking pretty happy with life. Frankly, if people are taking issue with Sacred Son simply because of that, then it’s further proof of how concerned with image (rather than music) parts of the black metal underground are; and it’s their loss, because the music contained within is uncompromising, forceful, and in large parts, every bit as grim as the cover isn’t.

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Cadaver Soiree – Demo 1

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Label: Self-released

If you’re anything like me, then as much as you might be able to appreciate modern, technical, slickly produced death metal, it’ll never win your heart in the same way that the dirty, heavy, gruesome likes of Autopsy have. Full of memorable riffs and a delightfully crushing old-school feel, the demo from Cadaver Soiree is sure to appeal to fans of early death metal; it might not stray far from the traditional template set down in the 80’s, but it does it so very well, and with such passion, that it’s hard to hold this against the demo or band.

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Abandoned By Light – Melancholia

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Label: Self-released

DSBM is a considerably broad church now, to the extent that, as a descriptive on its own, it’s almost meaningless. Encompassing everything from the most melodic moments of introspection, to drawn-out odes of nihilism, the genre has grown considerably, especially in the last ten years. Solo act Abandoned By Light‘s fifth album, Melancholia, situates itself firmly in the darkest end of the sub-genre, with guitars that move between jarring dissonance and frostbitten melodies competing with hate-filled vocals and merciless drums. Much like the artwork, the only shades to be found here are different hues of black, and that is both the strength and weakness of Melancholia.

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