Abrasive Audio -late 21′

And I’m here yet again dropping thoughts upon that which has recently graced my ears. One might ask, and sometimes do, why the scores associated with releases here tend to be on the high side. To which I answer – I only scribble upon that which grabs my fancy, yanks my chain and ultimately carves a smile upon my usually ‘stony’ chops. Ultimately, my opinions aren’t to be taken as gospel, peoples tastes vary (often dramatically), and if I choose to not include something it doesn’t mean (by any stretch of the imagination) that’s its horrid; merely that it isn’t to my liking or that I honestly could not find enough minutes in the day to include it. What follows is the varied selection plucked from either my promo ridden Inbox (huge thanks to all who choose to send me promos, I get to what I can), randomly yanked from Bandcamp, tweezered from YouTube or an album which has been Reccd’ to me by several individuals whose opinions on the subject I hold in high regard. Without further ado may I present, in no particular order, this week’s/month’s/semester’s choices. Starting with…

(Sidenote; this installment has been hacked into half for easier consumption based on its size. The first half is dedicated to ‘regular’ reviews and a brand-spanking new segment entitled ‘The Featured Review’. Whereas the other half, the supplemental if you will, is bursting at the seams with Reccs, ‘Plucked From’ and Releases to Keep an ear out for (aka albums soon to be unleashed).

Triacanthos (USA) – Apotheosis

https://triacanthosatx.bandcamp.com/album/apotheosis

Release – September 21

Genre – Traditional/Melodic Black Metal

Thoughts –

Melodic yet channeling chaotic textures and undeniable nods to the old school this wastes zero time in channeling the attention. A European edge, complete with jagged ice dagger cresting rhythms, aid in the listeners ravenous consumption with feral vox placing one firmly within traditional BM realms.

Score – 90

BRÜD (Germany) – s/t

https://brudpunx.bandcamp.com/releases

Release – April 21

Genre – Hardcore Crust

Thoughts –

This is wake-up and punch everything music. Vicious vocals, dense sludge riffs and a tone which could crush any opposition. This is truly jump around and praise the Gods of Crust audio now if only I knew what these angry chaps were so in angst about. Perhaps the price of gas has risen again, or the spouse has taken the truck to work? Who knows? Fans of Disrupt and Wolf Brigade will eat this up and crap happy sprinkle laden rainbows (ha).

Score – 91

Wingless (Poland) – Nonconform

https://selfmadegod.bandcamp.com/album/nonconform

Release- October 21

Genre – OSDM/Death/DeathDoom

Thoughts –

There’s a great deal of rhythmic variety here, strong vocals, surprising groove and a style which is somewhat akin to a Novembers Doom/ Benediction hybrid. It’s honestly a better combination than it sounds. Each instrument is prominent with an equal measure of excellently-crafted slower and mid temp melodies to keep the listener on their toes.

Score – 93

Eternal Evil (Sweden) – The Warriors Awakening Brings the Unholy Slaughter

https://eternalevil.bandcamp.com/album/the-warriors-awakening-brings-the-unholy-slaughter

Release- November 21

Genre – Thrash/Death

Thoughts –

Hankering for Show no Mercy era Slayer, Vendetta (Germany), Violent Force (Germany) vintage “Under the Guillotine” Kreator. Vintage “Vicious Circle” Vader or a spot of neck snapping Exciter (Canada)?

This should sate the thirst! It’s fast, filthy, has fantastical, occult and carnage themed silliness and a blustering edge is likely to melt small fluffy animals within a wide radius and seems likely plucked from the late eighties. But it isn’t! It’s from Sweden, and not from any number of locations within the South Americas (many might assume from the ferocity on display) Break out the battlevests, spikes and denim and jump on this pronto! This is much like a new age “Power and Pain”, Whiplash, and we all know how good this was (and still is).

Score – 92

Ergholae Somptator (France) – Mille Vertiges…

https://ergholaesomptator.bandcamp.com/album/mille-vertiges-fondent-sur-les-mes-vides

Release- November 21

Genre – Raw/Melodic/Progressive/Avant Garde/Dissonant/Atmospheric Black Metal

Thoughts –

How to describe an act who abide by genre guidelines yet have a seeming total disregard for them. Take for instance Ergholae Somptator. Within seconds one is thrust wide-eyed in an energetic maelstrom of blistering activity which is undoubtedly BM, yet so much more. As the album wears on snippets of plausible influence are thrust into the listeners face only to be whisked away, replaced by others. Define homage is paid to, arguably Gods of the genre, Celtic Frost although a myriad of the same respect is given to other acts peppered through each and every shifting wave of the history of BM. Malokarpeten and their penchant for shifting gears on a whim come to mind as well the exuberance of (another pair of musicians sporting insane cardio attributes) Wizard Rifle. Oftentimes one might be confused as to the acts origins as the music often exhibits an undeniable fury and raw nature (often associated with the South American scene). I seriously could go on and on; there’s occult atmosphere instances (Akercocke anyone?) and passages recalling output via bands who tinker with a style encompassing DM as well cavernous qualities. There’s a great deal on offer here folks and of a mind-melting quality I was just not expecting.

In short, every track bears a delicious identity and enough dizzying momentum to drench any self-respecting Swiss timepiece in jelly (I’m trying to be cool, kiddos; jelly = jealousy!) Even more perplexing is the fact that the often apocalyptic though exquisitely-controlled ruckus is created by a pair of individuals and not a dramatic costumed collective hell-bent on global domination.

This was not a short review, however what’s on offer here is deserved of more than merely the standard bare-bones commentary. Seek this out and expect it to feature on many a year end list for warranted reason.

Score – 95

Rhine (USA) – Ausland

https://rhine.bandcamp.com/album/ausland-2

Release- November 21

Genre – Progressive/Melodic Death/Thrash/Djent

Thoughts –

If this cover doesn’t scream “Fuck! I trampled another Blue Man to pulp betwixt my thighs” I’m honestly not sure what does.

Apart from that attempt at comedic nonsense the art really gives nothing away. And that’s perfectly ok!

Going into this blind (I have no knowledge of the band or their style) I am literally blown away! Many bands attempt to meld a handful of genres. Some succeed, whereas others fail horribly. Rhine nail it! Ranging from At the Gates instances through a style which Scarred (Luxembourg) also employ (aka driving rhythms alongside often unpredictable rhythms and direction) and even a landscape blossoming with both malevolent atmosphere and evocative classical acoustic interludes (insert Devon Townsend similarities here). Rhine deliver a virtual smorgasbord of audio, they aren’t afraid to traipse a myriad of soundscape, and they do it exceedingly well, with an expert fluidity draped in frequent aggression which caresses all the exact pleasure sensors one cod wish. As well excellent production, unpredictability aplenty and undeniable huge appeal (with this album) Rhine display the kind of chops that make one want to explore outside of their comfort zone.

Expect the album to be mentioned adnausium (is that a word?) as the years climax approaches. This is a stunning feat and is well deserved of such.

Score – 95

Existentia (USA) – Calculating Failure (EP)

https://existentiametal.bandcamp.com/album/calculating-failure-ep

Release- September/21

Genre – Tech/Brutal/Deathcore/Progressive Death

Thoughts –

Technical yet altogether fluid this brings everything to the table which alights the pleasure sensors. Wicked rhythms, a slight cosmic Prog vibe, tight musicianship and vocals any Tech fan will be able to easily appreciate. My only complaint is that this is merely four tracks and under fifteen minutes in length!

I CAN’T WAIT FOR ANOTHER!

Hopefully this is the first of many amazing releases to follow.

Score – 90

Viserion (USA) – Natural Selection

https://viserion.bandcamp.com/album/natural-selection

Release – August 21

Genre – Progressive/Harsh Doom/Raw BM

Thoughts –

The ferocity on display here is exactly what one might assume when one is informed from whence the band hails (don’t @ me). This is ugly and harsh (showcasing a no mercy, we aren’t about to abide to your trends approach) with vicious, spittle flying, intention vocals.

Primitive and raw w. slight cosmic undertones this could strip rust from a vehicle left abandoned for many a moon and petrify the immediate surroundings as it does so.

Score – 79

Poppy Seed Grinder (Chezchia) – Faceless Atrocities

https://poppyseedgrinder.bandcamp.com/album/faceless-atrocities

Release – November 21

Genre – Grindcore/Brutal/Grinding DM

Thoughts –

With nine tracks coming in at twenty-nine minutes (exactly) there’s no guessing games as to where this release might reside (genre wise). Well, surprise, surprise! This isn’t fully balls-to-the-wall Grindcore, though neither is it an inaccessible Brutal DM either. It has an edge, of that there’s little doubt. Grinding Death is a term which comes to mind and a similarity to another act who reside within ironically the same area; Fleshless boast a style which is also doused in humor and groove much like this. Another surprise comes in the form of the throat on display. Courtesy of a lady this fact only adds that much more weight to an album which delivers from beginning to end though somehow manages to remain this side of the just another let’s-see-how-“Brootal”‘we-can-get-for-purely-that-sake arena. And that artwork, whomever is intrigued enough to purchase thus (blindly) is going to be appreciative with what asssults the ears (unless of course they fall within the this-is-more-“Brootal”-than-everything-else and for that reason it kicks arse, elite collective) when they hit play.

Score – 89

Katavasia (Greece) – Invoking the Spirit of Doom (7″)

https://katavasia.bandcamp.com/album/invoking-the-spirit-of-doom

Release – October 21

Genre – Melodic/Raw BM

Thoughts –

Shrouded in nuance and subtleties this is more than merely another run of the mill BM (full length) teaser. And honestly if it wasn’t for the chaotic claymation cover drenched in sublime textures of utter madness to think I might never have given this a listen. Unlike many on offer the vocals here are decipherable though still cling firmly to the traditional menace laden reins one might expect. Rhythms are familiar, freezing, stabbing, yet dotted with appreciative melody, grandiose cataclysmic HM tones and classic atmosphere. Overall, this isn’t quite what I expected, and for that I’m grateful. This is wholly consumable for any novice yet basted in qualities most veteran fans will likely rabidly consume without complaint (other than the “this is only two tracks, I want more…” obvious!)

Score – 87

Confusion Master (Germany) – Haunted

https://confusionmaster.bandcamp.com/album/haunted

Release- November 21

Genre – Doom/Stoner Rock/Fuzz/Psychedelia

Thoughts –

Germany might not be the first location which comes to mind when one mentions ‘Heavy as balls’ Doom. Well, that might be about to change. With a delicious molasses tone and vocal accompaniment which sends one reeling through the cosmos at a million miles an hour back to Sabbath heyday this certainly stops one in their tracks. As if the cover didn’t prompt a listen in the first place? Fueled by tracks with a decidedly epic edge, riffs with the power to stop oncoming traffic and coupled with the no hurry attitude of the likely legion of construction workers who would stand idly by to watch it all happen this has all the makings of an album which could have been released decades prior achieving vinyl collector’s cult status. In short, this is surprisingly listenable, devoid of filler and a sure-fire vehicle to incite anyone’s interest in the Occult and Mystical draped diverse realm of Doom.

Score – 85

Eternity’s End (Germany) – Embers of War

https://eternitysend.bandcamp.com/album/embers-of-war

Release – November 21

Genre – Progressive Power/Speed Metal

Thoughts –

Holy melting cheese balls… onto the groin!

Yes, I’ve dropped my lunch. In my lap.

Ouch!

This bears all the markings of an album which will be discussed way past year end. And to think I’m not usually one to wander into “Power” arenas. Admittedly, it was the mention of Hannes Grossman which brought me here. And his sticksmanship isn’t even the most stunning element on display here. The virtuoso guitar work, the rend the limbs asunder in uncontrollable excitement rhythms and the voice. Is it just me, or does this factor yank anyone else back to Riot “Thundersteel” days? That’s not to say that Grossman doesn’t deliver, he does in typical oh my Dark Lord how can someone possibly be that talented fashion, however the fretboard antics edge his talents out, barely.

And the utter boisterous nature of this, the frenetic energy, the sheer inability to sit still while this plays places this firmly in the year’s top 3 (if I were seriously ever interested in scribbling another EoY list).

Don’t think you enjoy Power Metal, place this betwixt the ear holes and let it work its arcane magick, shit, I don’t even mind the mellow track so much, it makes for quite an entertaining breather.

Dizzy with excitement is a great term but it doesn’t come close to how this album makes me feel.

Score – 94

Hideous Death (Norway) – Remnants of Archaic Evil (4-track Demo)

https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/remnants-of-archaic-evil

Release – October 21

Genre – Blackened Death/Melodic BM/OSDM/Dbeat

Thoughts –

Showing absolutely no mercy and pandering not to a single trend this serves to drop the jaw immediately following a press of the play button. Raw and definitely “Demo” in tone this throws punches, holds one in a choke hold and slams one around without a care (why am I utilizing MMA references? I have not a clue). Influences are obvious, Hideous Death like vintage diabolical qualities (Morbid Angel) as well a speed element likely to grind fingers to dust upon the fretboard (think classic era Industrial Ministry as well vintage Vader). Slightly surprising is that they also manage to incorporate chilling atmosphere of a “Cursed” Morgoth likeness. And then there’s the ‘I can’t restraint my limbs’ drum assault. Wicked doesn’t even come close!

Rabid, primal and vicious this obliterates all the elements I require in a release and all in a demo!

DO NOT MISS THIS!

Score – 94

200 Stab Wounds (USA) – Slave to the Scalpel

https://200stabwounds-maggotstomp.bandcamp.com/album/slave-to-the-scalpel

Release – November 21

Genre – Brutal Death Metal

Thoughts –

The art gives definite inklings as to where the audio might lead, and it doesn’t steer one far wrong. Expect stabbing, bludgeoning, soundbites of the grotesque variety and often a style perilously close to Slam boundaries (though who really knows their exact location?) The rhythms showcased here steer a vehicle with an exquisite all-terrain mentality if one were to call a stunning mastery of Brutal DM, Death/Thrash and the occasionally ever so slight touch upon DeathDoom arenas, “all-terrain”. An early irrefutable tip of the hat to a classic DM riff caresses the familiarity sensors and serves to lead the listener into an album that in all likelihood will feature upon many a EoYL. Rare is it that that a first full length (such as this) garners such hype. The previous EP was arguably an indication of the talent on offer, the quality and know how displayed here reinforces that foundation. The bar is stratospheric, if future releases reach similar heights 200SW are going to be a monolithic force to be reckoned with. But for now, we have this, the band have outdone themselves, and this more than suffices.

Score – 94

Inhuman Condition (USA) – Rat°God

https://inhumancondition.bandcamp.com/releases

Release- June 21

Genre – Thrash/Death

Thoughts –

Sure, this is a little formulaic, sounds plucked partially from early Death discography and really doesn’t add much to a genre which has been in existence since the 90’s. But it’s fun, excellently crafted and brings exquisite memories of the extreme met scene before there were so many genres it became a headache. Did I mention that a few of these guys used to be in a legendary outfit by name of Massacre? It shows, and this is an excellent addition to a collection that’s been begging for experienced new recruits for a number of years.

Score – 84

Rise to the Sky (Chile) – Per Aspera Ad Astra

https://risetothesky.bandcamp.com/album/per-aspera-ad-astra

Release – September 21

Genre – Atmospheric/Funeral/ DeathDoom

Thoughts –

Mesmerizing melancholy amidst sweeping, somewhat, classical melodies shrouded with a unhurried growl. Palpable atmosphere and cinematic build add weight to an already immovable foundation of grief and loss. Epic, impactful and, it goes without mentioning, evocative this carries a formidable presence which cannot and should not be ignored!

This is surprisingly from Chile and not the UK or even Europe for that matter. Also rather curious is the fact that only the one person, Serio G, is responsible for everything. A better reason still to not let this go undiscovered.

Score – 91

Coffinnail (USA) – Witchfurnace

https://coffinnail.bandcamp.com/album/witchfurnace-2

Release – February 21

Genre – BM/Crust/Warmetal/Grind

Thoughts –

Not quite as raw as one might think with the above genres in mind, albeit undeniably dense, suffocating and burning with a lava-like flow of primal passion this isn’t in the slightest accessible to those whose thoughts of Heavy include names that even those on their last legs can recite (and most probly even the albums which catapulted some into household name status). Although, curiously enough, it still manages to seethe with a quality that many within the genre do not. Tracks stand out with identities (genres mix, hybrid, meld amorphic in their copious antics though often separate enough to avoid audio of a cataclysmic muddiness) rather than move as seemingly one towards an oftentimes appreciative finale. Melody exists and each instrument stands out in the overall mix. The drums especially shine with an unnerving tightness and the vocals layer the whole in a burning tar spittle. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect going in and left pleasantly surprised and bruised.

Score – 85

Autokrator (France) – Persecution

https://autokrator.bandcamp.com/album/persecution

Release – November 21

Genre – Blackened Death/Dirge

Thoughts –

With this coursing through the ears, you can virtually reach out and touch a vile unwashed battalion of Goblins readying for war. Or, alternatively a Templar sect deep beneath the earth busying themselves with pristine arcane designs in preparation for a conflict with forms the likes of which would drive one insane. This is likely what Morbid Angel might have transformed into if they’d have adopted more a polished (if one can call it that?) cavernous dirge persona draped in ritualistic textures.

Score – 95

Cerberus Attack (Brazil) – Abyss of Lost Souls

Release – November 21

Genre – Old School/Technical Thrash

Thoughts –

Clean production with riffs to lose inhibitions to and a voice which only adds to the overall experience. Think Dew Scented, Exodus, Forbidden then add to the mix an album overflowing with absolute nostalgic top of the heap quality Thrash fire and only then will you be close to what this provides the listener. Easily one of the finest Thrash albums released this year. Easily!

Score – 95

Worm (USA) – Foreverglade

https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/foreverglade

Release – October 21

Genre – DeathDoom/OSDM/Dirge

Thoughts –

I’ve been hearing a great amount of buzz about this release for several weeks. So I decided to see what all the fuss is about.

The cover has a huge “of course you wanna hear me” pull. Art with tones, textures, colors and an otherworldly underworld tableau in a similar vein to that enveloping a certain Gatekeeper release (I’ll look silly if I’m wrong, but it won’t be the first time it’s happened). The music… well the music has a allure of its very own. And for good reason. It took me a while (and a mention from a friend who was busy kicking my ass at Snooker at the time) but passages certainly put one in mind of early Grave, then there’s moments shining light on a My Dying Bride likeliness. The style otherwise is delightfully OSDM with a murky DeathDoom shroud. Groove pops in for a friendly hello every now and again but for the most part this is ‘not going anywhere fast’ music and I’ve no complaint. Atmospheric nuance and classical melody lend this a different than most quality and serves to add to the fact that this is an album which demands several listens to fully appreciate though strangely lands firmly within “Damn. Shitballs, this is fkn’ fantastic” realms with even the initial experience. I can see why others are so silly gaga when they mention this.

It is formidable!

Score – 95

Hate (Poland) – Rugia

https://hate.bandcamp.com/album/rugia

Release- September 21

Genre – Melodic BM/Blackened Death

Thoughts –

I’m late to this shindig. Hate have amassed quite the catalog already and I’m only now giving them a chance. Shame on me!

Upon hitting play an instant grandiose nature engulfs the listener. Then, when the vocalist chimes in there’s immediate Vader similarities (I’ve no problem with that!) As the album wears on and the certain hugeness continues to envelop all who choose to lay ears on these other similarities come to the forefront; chief amongst them SepticFlesh, albeit an incarnation heavier on instrumentation rather than cinematic atmosphere. Along with the percussions weight there’s also a supreme archaic texture which only rare acts actually pull off. Overall, this is a fantastic point to jump into the Hate discography. And after hearing this one is more than likely prone to want to do little else.

Score – 94

And introducing… “The Featured Review

(Yes, yet another “new” segment)

Zornheym (Sweden) – The Zornheym Sleep Experiment

https://zornheym.bandcamp.com/album/the-zornheim-sleep-experiment

Release – October 21

Genre – Symphonic/Atmospheric Black/Melodic Death/Extreme Metal

Thoughts –

If one were to ask about a couple of releases which have stuck out for me in the last couple of years, odds are Zornheym’s last would be one of them. Now, it’s been a while since last I set ears upon it. The track titles are a blur (the art isn’t), the order in which they run and when exactly the album was released are also details, I cannot recite. It matters not however, as I vividly remember it being an absolute scorcher!

So, when faced with an opportunity to review the band’s latest, I jumped at the chance (‘begged’ would be a closer descriptive term, if truth be told). First things first I’ll say that the art isn’t as vivid as their last. It’s a little different (am I led to believe this to be a concept album of sorts?), slightly experimental in as far as one begins to wonder upon who the fellow front and center might be. He appears to be happily displaying something, other than his collection of gas masks.

Zornheym – the band

Let’s move on.

Upon commencement there’s one thing vividly clearer than everything else. Zornheym are not fuckn’ around! Leading with an introduction that’s part Dissection, part Fleshgod Apocalypse and part Septic Flesh the intrigue is sparked. As Corpus Vile continues it showcases an exquisite melding of classical elements, Gothic atmosphere, a twin pronged vocal accompaniment and an array of rhythms to leave a wide genre radius of fans in puddles of saliva.  The album starts off on a fantastic footing, has the bar been set too high (has the band already “shot their wad”?). In response, it appears not in the slightest.

For those who might be curious as to their last effort

https://zornheym.bandcamp.com/album/where-hatred-dwells-and-darkness-reigns

Dead Silence bears criminal catchy elements as well an aura which brings to mind Cradle of Filth with a splash of Dimmu Borgir as heard in their finest symphonic moments. Strange too is that there’s a virtuoso guitar element also; passages with the power to carve the face with an eerie crescent moon shape. Paired with it is the exquisite vocal pairing; a deep growl as well a voice which would fit perfectly in any number of notable Power/Classic HM affairs (Id gate to mention Trans Siberia Orchestra and King Diamond here, sans the falsetto vocals but I shall). Stunning.

My visage is split in twain and I’m merely two tracks in!

Sans a track-by-track commentary (which I’d gladly produce if given the time and energy to be able to) I’ll do my best to keep to the basics. And basic is the exact opposite of the audio herein, let me be absolutely clear. As previously mentioned, there is a concept theme taking place, the occasional spoken word passage adds to this theory (as too the atmosphere), though fear not as Zornheym have somehow managed to keep it fresh, exciting and intriguing (I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this album now, and it still delights each time). Hard to exactly pinpoint the style with too many fascinating examples heard throughout (I could mention most every track if I were to cite an example here) it’s a damn sight easier to say Dark, Extreme or “BlackPowerThrashFolkMelodicDeathSymphonicGothicShred” (say that five times fast! It doesn’t work in the slightest, it’s quite the troublesome mouthful if truth be told!)

I want this image on a shirt!

Hopefully, reading this one can grasp what it is that I’m attempting to describe. In essence, this is a release which embraces the term “fluid”. An album which has gathered a wide array of stylistic elements and married them without complaint, a symbiotic relationship showcasing triumph, tragedy, menace and sorrow in equal measure, not to mention passages boasting ‘get-stuck-in-the-head-all-damn-day-long’ staying power, a formidable quality and creative knowledge that the term ‘rare’ does not encompass. Hard pressed to mention a favorite track I’d mention that each has its own merit, ‘balance’ and classical tone whilst still adhering to a template to please even the most demanding of fan, without veering wildly off course into truly experimental arenas.

The question remains – is this Zornheym’s finest hour? Honestly, I’d have to rediscover Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns (2017 – for the record) in order to answer, though I can say without reservation that this is truly on par with the utter jaw-dropping brilliance I recall found therein. If anything, this is infinitely more intricate, drenched in nuance and complex but don’t let that put you off, this is arguably a Year End throne contender.

Score – 97

This concludes Part the First

Cult

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