Archive for the ‘Best of 19 – Prediction’ Category

Abrasive Audio 2020 – Part Thirteen

abrasive audio header gif

I’m at it again! Metal from all across the globe and from wide across the varied spectrum which makes up the extreme audio realm. In this installment you’ll find Doom, Black and Death and a few things in between. Hopefully I’ve found something to tickle those pleasure receptors. Feel free to drop me a note and tell me which one(s) “did it” for you. I’m intrigued.

March Releases

Dawn of Ouroboros album

Dawn of Ouroboros (USA) – The Art of Morphology

https://dawnofouroboros.bandcamp.com/album/the-art-of-morphology

Release – March/30/2020

Rain Without End Records

ARTWORK – 82

Classical with a splash of cosmic nature yet overlaid with ominous tones perhaps an indication of the music within? Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK – 88

Drenched (literally) in haunting atmosphere this track transforms the listen to a stormy day environment invoking the mood to match. Ambient tones, emotion and ferocious black metal. An excellent mixture guaranteed to leave any listener mouth agape eagerly awaiting what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN – 90

Epic effective atmosphere encased in a variety of vocal approaches; spoken word (poetry), angelic singing and a ferocious assault makes for an intriguing listen that’s far from traditional. Progressive elements (including a hypnotic instrumental outro of sorts) and a whirlwind, blistering, percussion cavort playfully amidst the arrangements adding depth and the desire to dig deeper within future experiences. DoO (which is an obvious abbreviation) have managed to rein in a fluid approach here which others only attempt with unfruitful results. Transitions are masterful and the flow exquisite a testament to the bands vision, a stellar spin on the Beauty and Beast approach with a myriad of elements one might not expect resulting in an album which one can find themselves lost within. Major props go out to Chelsea Murphy who’s solely responsible for the stunning vocal range exhibited throughout.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic from beginning to end.

FFO; Gates of the Morning, Akercocke, Emperor.

April Releases

Caustic Wound

Another Void Recc
Caustic Wound (USA) – Death Posture

https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/death-posture

Release – April/10/2020

Profound Lore Records

ARTWORK – 78

A raw BnW image of a face stripped of flesh shattered like a mirror. Makes an impression and leaves little to Imagination as to what to expect from the audio.

FIRST TRACK – 78

Pulverizing OSDM with a deviant raunchy tone and gutteriffic vox.

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

Blast beats, chaotic dirge riffs, tumbling over each other, fighting for supremacy, enough diabolical groove to start a Goblin mosh pit in the catacombs, a gargling sewerage vocal approach and a nostalgic aura part Crust, part Brutal Death which tosses one gleefully back to the late 80’s/ very early 90’s extreme underground scene. There’s plenty to get excited about here!

Favorite Tracks; Cematary Planet, Black Bag Asphyxiation, Blast Casualty, Uranium Decay, Acid Attack, Guillotine, Catackysmic Gigaton.

FFO; Fetid, Repulsion, Terrorizer.

But wait for it…Void has a few words to share on this one

Spawned mostly from members of Mortiferum and Cerebral Rot / Fetid, Caustic Wound’s debut “Death Posture” is one hell of a throwback, nailing its claim that it sounds like it was recorded no later than 1992.  Worshipping at the altar of Nuclear Death, Defecation (a personal favorite), Terrorizer, Napalm Death, early Carcass and of course the mighty Repulsion, “Death Posture” blows by in a furious cyclone of grinding death metal that doesn’t hold back.  The sound on this thing is perfection, thick and moldering and so, so nasty.  The bass is just thundering, you can feel the twanging of those strings booming through your speakers in those slower, grinding doom parts between the frenetic blasts. Consisting mostly of songs that don’t breach the two-minute mark doesn’t hold “Death Posture” back from having catchy tracks without being ridiculously heavy.  Albums like this are what gets me out of bed in the morning.

90

Abduction

Abduction (France) – Jehanne

https://abductionfr.bandcamp.com/

Release -April/29/2020

Finisterean Dead End

ARTWORK – 78

A classic portrait of Joan of Arc, on whom, incidentally, this album is based.

FIRST TRACK – 83

A Baroque introduction ripped in Twain by the arrival of malicious blast beat laden Black metal. The vocal presence is unique, showcasing three distinct styles, and the track soon calms to offer rhythms of an undeniably addictive nature which are melodic, triumphant and powerful. A great start and introduction to an album which appears thus far in rather unique in its approach.

INITIAL LISTEN – 86

There’s over an hour of Atmospheric, (slightly Avant Garde in instances) and Melodic Black metal with a thin veil of melancholic Doom to get lost in here. Sweeping rhythms coupled with both fierce and majestic arrangements accompanied by a diverse, multi-faceted vocal lineup adds depth to the albums eye-opening allure. An epic thoroughly immersive audio journey with plentiful movement, epic sonic-scapes and even in instances passages which are oddly relaxing. This boasts the grandiosity, flow and diversity to appeal to a large audience across a wide radius within both the Black and extreme arenas.

Favorite Tracks; Top notch Black Metal dotted with fluid diversity flowing throughout!

FFO; Angellore, Schammasch, Sigh, Blut Aus Nord, Aodon.

May Releases

Naglfar Sweden - Cerecloth

Naglfar (Sweden) – Cerecloth

https://music.apple.com/us/album/cerecloth/1499904426?ign-gact=3&ls=1

Release- May/8/2020

Century Media Records

ARTWORK – 86

An exquisitely rendered ominous image. Is this a procession of the dead about to wreck vengeance? Or spirits merely out for a leisurely wander? Either way it’s a fantastic piece of art which has revved up the curious part of me to dangerous levels.

FIRST TRACK – 83

Blistering pace, majestic rhythms, venomous vocals and a familiar Blackened Death/Melodic Black vibe. Although this isn’t a new style it’s hard not to appreciate.

INITIAL LISTEN – 81

This is my introduction to the band. Many have commented this is the bands weakest effort to date, but not having heard them (yet) I will comment on this release alone (then most probably dig into the acts past work, depending on my appreciation of this).

Classically melodious and overflowing with swift rhythms and a sense of menace the style here is downright sinister and utterly recognizable. Overall, the album sports a great many arrangements to get excited about and is a pleasure to listen to throughout, though I can’t help but think it’s somewhat ‘safe’ with rhythms occasionally existing in the realm of strikingly predictable. The production is a little muddy and could be better but for as introduction to the band I’m left impressed and will definitely revisit again. I will also take a moment to discover their past work.

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout!

FFO; Dissection, Old Man’s Child, Sacramentum, Necrophobic.

barrenwomb

 Barren Womb (Norway/Finland) – Lizard Lounge

https://barrenwomb.bandcamp.com/

Release -May/22/2020

Loyal Blood Records

ARTWORK – 84

It might take a few glances and exploration of this image to work out what’s going on. To me it appears to be an image plucked from the mind of someone who contributes to AdultSwim on a regular basis. Teeth are flying everywhere and the person in the foreground appears to be holding a fork, or is a tiny hammer? (Is that an ear on the fork or a tongue?) This is strange indeed, perhaps an indication of the music on offer? Hitting play.

FIRST TRACK – 89

Not sure if this is Punk, Noise, Rowdy Rock and Roll or all of the above mashed together. It’s certainly interesting and I’m all ears.  What a curiously infectious start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

Once in a while I come across a collective of audio which is quite indescribable. Such is the case here. A few genres and styles come to mind while this tears its way through the senses but they soon dissipate as the unpredictability takes hold, moreover in some Tracks than others. This might be easier to describe if it wasn’t so addictive, infectious and humorous. It just grabs ahold and doesn’t let go. Frenetic is a good word to use here, distortion is rampant and the vocals are spat with punk attitude. However, there are calmer, slower moments to make for a breather. All in all, a diverse slab of surprising wrapped in odd, bizarre and enigmatic. As if the track titles don’t suggest such.

Favorite Tracks; Delights throughout!

FFO; Freighter, Wizard Rifle, Faith no More, Dog Fashion Disco, Polkadot Cadaver.

Red Mesa (USA) - The Path to the Deathless
June Releases
Red Mesa (USA) – The Path to the Deathless

https://redmesaband.bandcamp.com/album/the-path-to-the-deathless

Release – June/12/2020

Desert Records

ARTWORK – 92

Vibrant, vivid and striking.

Exquisite colors and details (courtesy of Joshua Mathus) make this image stand out and catch the eye. So much so that I honestly couldn’t resist a listen. Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK – 83

Palpable desert ambience leads into distortion-laden melodies with a violin accompaniment. Color me intrigued.

INITIAL LISTEN – 86

It would really be untoward for someone to call this merely “Stoner Rock”. For it’s so much more than merely that. This album sees a merging of many styles; namely Psychedelia, Blues tinged Rock, Heavy Metal (and even in instances Sludge). The resulting creation has a heavy Western sounding, passion fueled, slant which goes far beyond intriguing. “Chilling” is a word which works well in instances, “Ghostly” fits too. The band make the most of the injected Psych moments for atmosphere (of which there is plenty courtesy of violins and steel guitar guest players) while also adding momentum into their arrangements to keep unpredictability levels high and the listener on their toes. Overall, this is a fantastic album for anyone interested in the scene to take the plunge. This is neither this nor that, but a great many things interacting on many levels for a fully subversive listening experience one needs to explore over several listens.

Favorite Tracks; Delivers a hypnotic aura from start to finish.

FFO; The Sword, Baroness, High on Fire, Conan.

 Stygian Crown

 Stygian Crown (USA) – s/t

https://stygiancrown.bandcamp.com/album/stygian-crown

Release- June/26/2020

Cruz delivers Sur Music

ARTWORK – 79

A skull, snakes and swords embossed upon a leather clad volume or tome (of sorts) this leaves me intrigued as to what type of audio this album might contain. Pressing play.

FIRST TRACK – 82

An introduction dripping in presence offers the listener their first glimpse of the vocalist here although it’s more an angelic chorus. It’s not until the music actually kicks that her pipes are displayed in all their magnificence. The percussion oddly fits although it’s more distorted dirge (Bolt Thrower comes to mind) rather than the clean sweeping melodies one might expect (ala Candlemass; Snowy Shaw and Messiah Marcolin whom her voice is comparable to). Oddly, the combination works. A certain remarkable grandiose nature results from the combined mixture of styles and it’s surprisingly fitting for the term “Doom”.

INITIAL LISTEN – 84

This could well be called traditional Doom. All the ingredients are there; the exquisite, passionate vocals and the catchy af rhythms (guitar and drum based) though there’s one small difference. The fact I’ve mentioned before, and although this ‘presence’ does seem to wane somewhat towards albums end the aura is still there. The impression has been made and it’s a formidable mark. “CandleThrower” (as the band term the style) is one hell of a spin on the traditional take and it’s not so wildly inventive as to scare potential listeners away, traditional elements still exist, solid are invocative and plentiful. This feels right, comfortable even. And this is album is downright fire which only spreads out of control as it starts anew, again and again and…

Favorite Tracks; Devour the Dead, Up from the Depths, Flametongue, When Old Gods Die, Trampled into the Earth.

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus.

 Shed the Skin (USA) - The Forbidden Arts

 Shed the Skin (USA) – The Forbidden Arts

https://shed-the-skin.bandcamp.com/

Release – June/26/2020

Hell’s Headbangers Records

ARTWORK – 93

Courtesy of James Bullock this gloriously grotesque BnW image highlights the dire consequences of dabbling in “The Forbidden Arts”.

Brilliant inks but I’m left wondering how difficult it’s now going to be to get his (?) pants on.

FIRST TRACK – 82

Plenty of groove and diabolical nature in this track. Mid-paced madness with maniacal maelstrom tendencies and vicious throaty vocals.

INITIAL LISTEN – 84

With constantly shifting arrangements offering a myriad of styles ranging from Thrash laden Death, Melodic Death and Maniacal Death complete with groove passages, sinister solos/leadwork and palpable atmosphere this is an altogether accessible style. And honestly a few steps away from what I was imagining with term “Satanic DM” in my mind (which conjures the words raw, blistering paced, blackened chaos). However, this delivers throughout with its twisting somewhat unpredictable melodic approach to keep me intrigued and my whims pleasingly sated (with my limbs tapping of their own accord).

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout!

FFO; Deicide, Asphyx, Incantation, Grotesquery.

Dark Tranquility (Sweden) - Skydancer

Plucked from Metal Past
(In this case revisiting a classic to evaluate if it still leaves an impression)
Dark Tranquility (Sweden) – Skydancer

https://darktranquillity.bandcamp.com/

(Re)release – August/30/2013 (original release – August/30/1993)

Independent

ARTWORK – 78

An image depicting a moody sky. Rays of light break through the clouds to fall upon the forest below. Gives little away in regards to the music.

FIRST TRACK – 88

Highly infectious, exuberant and energetic structure. Rhythms incite movement and harsh, venom dripping, vocals add a vicious edge to propel this from a merely melodic (albeit swift and multifaceted) audio landscape into one that straddles both Technical and Aggressive Thrash and Death territories. A fantastic start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 89

Simply put… a stunning feat! One of the forerunners of the Stockholm melodic movement. A perfect balance of harmonies and melodies (draped in an array of invocative folk and classical auras) and swift paced rhythms (utilizing exciting riff combinations which are far from repetitive to the point of boredom) resulting in an unpredictable, often frenetic, though altogether fluid audio collection which is difficult not to appreciate. For Thrash and Melodic Death fans alike. This still makes an impression even close to some thirty years after its initial release. Fingers crossed a rerecording/reworking doesn’t appear to leave a stain upon long-time fans admiration of a classic.

Favorite Tracks; Inventive, energetic and enjoyable throughout.

FFO; At the Gates, (early) In Flames, Insomnium, Sabbat (UK), Eucharist, Omnium Gatherum, (early) Arch Enemy.

WTF Lightning Fire Reviews
A single listen of an album from a diverse selection complemented by a quick scribble.

Cursed be Thy Flesh - The Ritual

Cursed be Thy Flesh (USA/Slovenia) – The Ritual

https://cursedbethyflesh.bandcamp.com/album/the-ritual-album

Release – April/30/2020

Necrotic Records/Wrought Records/Anti // all forever

Artwork – 77

Ferocity – 76

Infectiousness – 78

Groove – 75

Originality – 64

Genre – Black Metal/Symphonic Black/Raw Black/Melodic Black/Blackened Death/Blackened Speed/Dungeon Synth

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 81

Covering a pleasingly diverse radius of the BM genre this offers audio newcomers and traditional fans of the genre can (and will) enjoy. Raw yet polished in its production with applaudable, plentiful, nods to familiar influences there’s a great deal here to entice the first footstep within an unfamiliar realm without suffocating the listener in an absolute and unforgiving nature many associate with the BM genre.

Cryptic Brood (Germany) - Outcome of Obnoxious Science

 Cryptic Brood (Germany) – Outcome of Obnoxious Science

https://rottedlife.bandcamp.com/album/outcome-of-obnoxious-science

Release – November/22/2019

War Anthem Records/Rotted Life

Artwork – 78

Ferocity – 77

Infectiousness – 68

Groove – 72

Originality – 65

Genre – Grinding Death/Death/Doom/OSDM/Crust

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 74

Varied pace displayed throughout each track (from plodding, sinister, Doom to blast beat-laden ferocity and stomping groove passages making for an unpredictable listen) slathered in putrescence and grime evokes a dismal, bleak surrounding where hope has long since faded replaced by inevitable dread and longing for a final release. Recc for those with preferences far from mere chuggery realms.

 Demonomancy (Italy) - Poisoned Atonement

 Demonomancy (Italy) – Poisoned Atonement

https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/poisoned-atonement-2

Release – February/23/2018

Invictus Productions

Artwork – 76

Ferocity – 78

Infectiousness – 71

Groove – 72

Originality – 72

Genre – Blackened Death/Melodic Black Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 71

A grandiose affair utilizing chants, choruses, tribal drums and a slightly different approach in the vocal department; a style which appears more spoken than sang. Percussion is akin to ‘light’ Grinding Death with a darker slant. The result is a sound boasting both depth/presence but an overall aura which might take a few listens to fully appreciate.

Excuse the Interruption… but Void has an album he wishes to share
Death Mask – Split the Atom

Release – July/1986

Killerwatt Records

Sometimes digging into the deep underbelly of metal you retrieve some unknown gems.  And other times… well you’re not as lucky.  Not to say that Death Mask is necessarily bad, but let’s just agree there’s room for improvement here.  Sounding like Motörhead b-sides got a low-dosage injection of thrash metal with a vocalist doing their best to sound like a cross between Tim Baker (Cirith Ungol) and John Stewart (Slauter Xstroyes), there’s nothing tremendously noteworthy here.  Sure, there are some cool tracks like “Lust for Fire” where the energy is palpable and all the ingredients come together properly, but you also have some half-baked duds like the cringey, mid-paced self-declaration of badassery in “Walk Alone.”  But hey you can’t win em’ all.  Death Mask isn’t a total waste, there’s a bit of a good time on here, but they’re definitely not in the upper echelons of any genre of metal they touch here.  An obscure curiosity to check out on a rainy day.

60

Drakonis (UK) - Blessed by Embers

Let us return to our normally scheduled programming
Drakonis (UK) – Blessed by Embers

https://hostilemedia.bandcamp.com/album/blessed-by-embers

Release – April/3/2020

Hostile Media

Artwork – 78

Ferocity – 79

Infectiousness – 82

Groove – 76

Originality – 65

Genre – Blackened Death/Symphonic Black/Industrial/Doom/Melodic Black/Viking Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 80

Although the description (above) is varied the music here flows uninterrupted by transformation hiccup with varying degrees of menace, melody and ferocity to keep the listener entertained. And thankfully no over-indulgence in any one factor. Mood and majesty combine superbly with just the right amount of atmosphere alongside a vocal approach which has bite and should be instantly acceptable for most genre fans. For a debut full-length this bodes well for the bands future hinting at avenues which could well separate them from the herd. Keep tabs on these guys!

 Power Theory (USA) - Force of Will

 Power Theory (USA) – Force of Will

https://powertheory.bandcamp.com/album/force-of-will-2

Release – December/6/2019

Pure Steel Records

Artwork – 73

Ferocity – 64

Infectiousness – 83

Groove – 78

Originality – 64

Genre – Heavy Metal/Power Metal

Revisit- Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 86

I’m not usually a fan of the genre. However, for some reason this grabbed my attention and held it! Fluid melodies, epic arrangements, intriguing lyrical content and top- notch musicianship accompanied by an impressive vocalist sporting a range minus falsetto elements which usually keep me away from the genre. If like me you thought you were done with the genre, give this a shot, it might well reverse your opinion.

Apostasy (USA) - Accuser of Brethren (demo)

 Another Void Recc
Apostasy (USA) – Accuser of Brethren (demo)

https://pathologicallyexplicit.bandcamp.com/track/accusser-of-brethren

(Re)release – April/1/2020 (originally released in 93′)

Pathologically Explicit Recordings

Artwork – 71

Ferocity – 76

Infectiousness – 76

Groove – 73

Originality – 65

Genre – Brutal Death/Death/Grinding Death/OSDM/DeathDoom

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 80

Maniacal and diabolical flourishes abound as well arrangements which sport effective sinister atmosphere and rhythms to transport the listener to the edge of the abyss. Raw production fits the style perfectly. Tragically, this is all the band (or any of its members) released, perhaps it was released too soon and/or didn’t reach the circles it needed to. There’s no doubt this boasts an easy to appreciate level of quality. Who knows what the future may have manifested?

obedmarsh

 Obed Marsh (Australia) – Dunwich

https://obedmarsh.bandcamp.com/

Release – January/8/2019

Independent

Artwork – 78

Ferocity – 76

Infectiousness – 78

Groove – 74

Originality – 76

Genre – Funeral Doom/Atmospheric Black/Sludge/Ambient/Drone

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 83

Ethereal quality hypnotic audio suffocates the senses conjuring an as if being propelled by the body working of its own accord through a thick fog towards “something” sensation. Vocals bear a’far off’ element which somehow adds depth to the already remarkable palpable ominous vibe throughout. This is meticulously crafted Lovecraftian Doom which channels elements from a variety of genres to evoke an atmosphere rarely experienced. Sit back, give this the time it requires and let the mind wander into realms both enigmatic and fascinating though altogether unfathomable.

 Torture Tomb (USA) - Killing to See How it Feels

 Torture Tomb (USA) – Killing to See How it Feels

https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/torture-tomb-killing-to-see-how-it-feels

Release- June/6/2020

Transylvanian Tapes

Artwork – 75

Ferocity – 83

Infectiousness – 78

Groove – 81

Originality – 65

Genre – OSDM/Blackened Death/Crust/Brutal Death/Sludge

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 74

Cavernous, sick, OSDM with plenty of groove and a myriad of pleasing influence.

 Wartooth (Australia) - Programmed Dichotomy

A Recc from Demnuts3  (on Twitter)
 Wartooth (Australia) – Programmed Dichotomy

https://wartooth.bandcamp.com/album/programmed-dichotomy

Release – April/9/2020

Independent

Artwork – 81

Ferocity – 78

Infectiousness – 92

Groove – 89

Originality – 75

Genre – Thrash/Technical Thrash/Crossover/Aggressive Thrash

Revisit – It goes w.o saying.

Final Score/Remarks – 94

How is that only after three tracks Wartooth have managed to exhibit screamingly neon signed influence from more than a handful of ultra- recognizable acts and so brilliantly executed with such fluid precision? Also, in the vocal department, I’m not usually one for vocal gymnastics. But the effect works so remarkably here that it manages to widen the eyes in stunning appreciation rather than prompt pen to keyboard in complaint.

In fact, the album seethes with a level of enthusiasm, energy and exuberance that’s off the charts. I can only imagine what a spectacle the live show must present. In short, I can understand why so many are touting this as AoTY material (and so early on). This offering from Wartooth is undeniably a damn good reason to get excited about Thrash again! Be prepared to praise the genre again. This, moreso than anything else recently released, has given it the kick in the ass it so desperately warrants. And the bands “message” is refreshing also (that of waving the flag of individuality), yet another reason to jump on this and support the band (as if one needs another reason?)

Thrashin’ mad Koalas and Kangaroos. Are they a thing? (Did I just go there? You betcha’). Probably not, but with this in mind it’s now most certainly a possibility.

Altar of Rot (USA) - Altar of Rot

 Altar of Rot (USA) – Altar of Rot

https://altarofrot.bandcamp.com/album/altar-of-rot

Release – March/15/2020

Independent

Artwork – 85

Ferocity – 82

Infectiousness – 86

Groove – 84

Originality – 75

Genre – Blackened Death/Blackened Speed/Black Metal/Crust/Doom/Thrash.

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 86

Surprisingly versatile mixture of styles executed with flair. Raw production adds to the albums allure. Addictively infectious throughout!

With this quality on offer I’m sure labels will fight amongst themselves to pluck this act from obscurity.

Wretched Fate (Sweden) - Fleshletting

 Wretched Fate (Sweden) – Fleshletting

https://wretchedfate.bandcamp.com/album/wretched-fate-fleshletting

Release – February/22/2019

Redefining Darkness Records

Artwork – 86

Ferocity – 86

Infectiousness – 88

Groove – 85

Originality – 79

Genre – HM2 Death/Brutal Death/OSDM

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 87

Just when one begins to think the HM2 sound was exhausted along comes Wretched Fate. They give the familiar a twist, add their unique stamp, inject an atmosphere which showcsses their adoration for the horror genre then execute the whole with a reverance, precision and skillfull devastation a samurai swordmaster would be jealous of. In short, this is the arena I wished Dismember, Bloodbath or Entombed might have taken, as their styles  progressed, but never did. And to think I missed this ragin’ beast last year. Is there still time to add to the EoY lists?

Kryptograf (Norway)

Kryptograf (Norway) – s/t

https://kryptograf.bandcamp.com/album/kryptograf

Release – June/12/2020

Apollon Records

Artwork – 68

Ferocity – 53

Infectiousness – 69

Groove – 84

Originality – 72

Genre – Fuzz/Doom/Stoner Rock/Psychedelia/Vintage Rock/Progressive

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 72

Honestly, this is a lot mellower audio than I usually divulge my senses in but it boasts a certain something to keep the finger from the skip, and/or eject button. It bears definite flow, a dreamy fluidity, cosmic elements (which bring to mind Hawkwind), tons of “fuzz”, haunting atmospheres, melodies you can drift upon, but also an aura which recalls early Black Sabbath. This is probably not for everybody (admittedly I’m warming to the inner most circle of what the Doom genre offers) but it’s making an impression on me as somewhat of a pallet cleanser. A relaxing step away from that which usually brutalizes my senses.

Aeons Abyss (Australia) - Impenitent

 Aeons Abyss (Australia) – Impenitent

https://aeonsabyss.bandcamp.com/album/impenitent

Release – November/1/2019

Independent

Artwork – 79

Ferocity – 78

Infectiousness – 78

Groove – 82

Originality – 68

Genre – Death/OSDM/Brutal Death/Atmospheric/Melodic Death/Black Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 78

Far from mere chuggery this is pleasingly diverse. Each track boasts a unique identity with a myriad of styles, auras and pace showcased within the album’s length. A superb vocal range, occasionally nodding at the theatric, adds to the intrigue as well unpredictable, often intricate, arrangements hinting at a wide range of influences.

 Sanctifying Death Ritual (Germany)

 Sanctifying Death Ritual (Germany) – s/t

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/sanctifying-ritual-s-t

Release- June/5/2020

Iron Bonehead Productions

Artwork – 81

Ferocity – 83

Groove – 78

Infectiousness – 91

Originality – 68

Genre – BlackThrash/Bestial Metal/Death/Speed/Black Metal

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 92

A jaw dropping audio cauldron of cavernous Death, Blackened Speed Metal and arrangements which will turn the ear of even the most casual genre fan. The albums raw production only bolsters its (masterfully controlled) chaotic approach and appeal which seethes with both nostalgic elements and present-day frenetic attitude. Expect to see this mentioned again come years end.

Heads for the Dead (International) – Serpent’s Curse

 Heads for the Dead (International) – Serpent’s Curse

https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com/album/serpents-curse-death-metal

Release – September/24/2018

Transcending Obscurity Records

Artwork – 83

Ferocity – 77

Groove – 76

Infectiousness – 78

Originality – 72

Genre – Death Metal/DeathDoom

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 82

An unsettling audio landscapes smoky with the haze of dread and unquestionable sinister intent accompanied by an enveloping swath of amorphous percussion boasting varied degrees of ferocity invites the listener into its fold. Draped in a heavy pitch, all consuming, blanket of ill intent this is not the typical DM release but rather one relying on dense atmosphere than bludgeoning riff brutality. Aided by the echoed vocal attributes of (Revel in Flesh’s) Ralf Hauber and the mesmerizing drumming of Erik Bevenrud (Hail of Bullets) the spell is cast. And the audience is consumed by a delirious fog resulting from the masterful manipulation of the finest elements of Doom, Death and Crust.

Sangre de la Luna (USA) - Stirrings (demo)

Sangre de la Luna (USA) – Stirrings (demo)

https://bloodmoonproductions.bandcamp.com/album/stirrings

Release – November/5/2019

Blood moon Productions

Artwork – 72

Ferocity – 88

Groove – 71

Infectiousness – 65

Originality – 66

Genre – OSDM/Grind/Black Metal

Revisit – No

Final Score/Remarks – 64

Classical interludes break up a hyper-speed collision involving raw Black Metal and Grinding Death vehicles. Incomprehensible vocals and atmosphere adds to the mix making for a dismally, pitch, uncompromising brutal affair which, I’m assuming, only the extremists among us are likely to fully appreciate.

But wait for it, Void has a few words on this release also…

Black metal hailing from Portland, Oregon, I’ll admit this is not what I was expecting.  The acoustic intro led me astray in expecting an album with a heavier emphasis on an atmospheric approach.  Not quite, as the black metal contained herein is heavily distorted and blown out; the tone and drumming are very overbearing and give “Stirrings” a very mechanical feel, one that I don’t think does Sangre de la Luna justice.  The drums pummel out the guitars, who in turn drown out the vocals, and there’s simply too much going on at once, but not in the over-the-top chaos way that bands like perhaps Teitanblood have mastered.  There are good ideas lurking around in here and I can appreciate what they were aiming for, but the execution isn’t quite fully realized yet.

65

Woe Betide (UK) - Throne of Spines

 Woe Betide (UK) – Throne of Spines

https://woebetide.bandcamp.com/album/throne-of-spines

Release – May/24/2020

Independent

Artwork – 74

Ferocity – 82

Groove – 78

Infectiousness – 82

Originality – 72

Genre – Symphonic Death/Deathcore/Tech Death

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 81

Oozing with atmosphere and wicked, often intricate, riffs and rhythm transformations this one manages to capture the attention throughout warranting addition to a heavy rotation playlist.

 Henry Kane (Sweden) - Age of the Idiot

 Henry Kane (Sweden) – Age of the Idiot

https://henrykanecrust.bandcamp.com/album/age-of-the-idiot-death-metal-grind-crust

Release- May/22/2020

Transcending Obscurity Records

Artwork – 83

Ferocity – 78

Groove – 71

Infectiousness – 75

Originality – 74

Genre – HM2 Swedish Death/Brutal Death/Grinding Death/Industrial/Grindcore/Doom/Crust

Revisit – Yes

Final Score/Remarks – 79

Surprisingly diverse for a “Grindcore” release, this sports individual sounding tracks with varying lengths as well the traditional under-a-minute type. Levels of ferociousness are varied as well pace and rhythm arrangements. All in all, somewhat a mature, ‘out of bounds’ effort that’s well worth discovery and a few listens to fully appreciate.

tired zombie

Done. Now I’ll sleep like the dead!

And that’s about it for another monstrous entry in the Abrasive Audio series. Thanks for reading this far, hopefully I’ve introduced a few albums/acts which delight the senses.

I’ve tried to keep this installment diverse and have even added a few Recc’s I was most curious about. As always, I’m finish this by imparting the customary spot of sagely advice – don’t fear discovery of that which is normally foreign to the ears.

Cult

Whoops, nearly forgot. A huge thanks to Void for the Reccs and stepping in with his wisdom and insight at the last minute.

Abrasive Audio 2020- Part Four

black metal gif

As the year blossoms as too does the onslaught of extreme audio. At this point I’ve given up trying to keep track of it all, it’s a worthless endeavor (well it’s not worthless) lest all else; responsibilities, family and career, falls to the wayside. So rather than try I’ll merely report on that which I recently found to be entertaining and worthy of praise. Without further waffling on all manner of things which one doesn’t wish to be made aware of let’s just say we get started…

January Releases-

faidra

Faidra (Sweden) – Six Voices Inside

https://faidra-northernsilence.bandcamp.com/album/six-voices-inside

Release- January/26/2020

Northern Silence Productions.

ARTWORK- 83

A classic image which puts me in mind of Archaic Decapitator’s EP (I’m thinking a little research is in order here) wizened monks, Greek philosophers and bearded doomster peddlers. A bronzed effect only adds to its intrigue.

FIRST TRACK- 89

Atmosphere aplenty and an undeniable doom malevolence all topped by a hypnotic black metal majesty. I’m still a stranger to this realm but this is oddly comforting much like unexpectedly finding a blanket on a cold winters night when the heater has abruptly decided to go on strike.

INITIAL LISTEN- 92

Exquisitely crafted arrangements and hauntingly deep rhythms accompanied by atmospheric choruses, synth effects (in instances, and in part, described by “blips and bloops” which in fact isn’t that far off) and an undeniable (somewhat traditional) black metal aura. The description sounds somewhat odd, in fact as though all the ingredients shouldn’t interact, even in protest. But they do, and this is astoundingly impressive. Mesmeric is a good word but it doesn’t come close to what the all-encompassing experience here offers. An audio package complemented by commendable production values far from what fans of the mentioned influences (below) might expect, however this element only serves to heighten the experience resulting in an album which delivers each and every time its placed into the senses. More impressive still is that this is yet another example of what a single, solitary, mind can visualize, produce and bring to full realization. Do not miss out on this!

Favorite Tracks; Not a bad passage from start to finish, prepare to sink into atmospheric black depths which will result in the minutes passing and days woes dissipating.

FFO; Burzum, Hermodr, Mist of Misery.

proscrito

Proscrito (Spain) – Llagas Y Estigmas

https://proscritoyolvidado.bandcamp.com/album/llagas-y-estigmas

Release- January/27/2020

Momentous Mori

ARTWORK- 83

“Hey Mabel, would you look at this. Some silly bugga has flipped this cross over.”

– Yea, it was a bitch getting it to behave and stand up straight.

“…Mabel!!”

FIRST TRACK- 88

A melodic otherworldly doom introduction leads the listener into realms they might not expect. Throaty vocals, at times seeming to issue from more than a single orifice, somewhere between death and black metal (with an obvious similarity to a vocalist any fan of the roots of the genre will instantly be able to name), elevate this far and beyond traditional Doom territories and spiralling across what many perceive as the boundaries of death/doom. The music and vocals combined form a soundscape that’s both harrowing and nightmarish though is unique in that it strays from utilizing the more familiar vehicle in order to get there. An intriguing introduction to both the band and their ‘take’, their invocation, of a genre which has become stale as of late.

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

The cover might scream Black Sabbath (taken to the extreme) but this most definitely isn’t. Obviously, the influence is there. This is mammoth riddled riff Doom, though it’s what’s “added” that might not appeal to the traditional purists. Think plodding menace in a blender with Tardy throat issuances from Obituary. Add to that undeniable groove, a thick ominous nature occasionally traipsing into cinematic depths, nods to traditional heavy metal influences, distortion laden rhythms which touch upon sludge waters, atmosphere melodies to leave any old school fan of Paradise Lost in need of a new pair of pants and an overall infectious nature and you’ll be close. The vocals here aren’t for everyone; this is death /doom with an emphasis on vocals plucked from the cavernous death arena. Although for those with an appreciation for the slightly different, in effect audio which clings to familiar structures whilst adding/embellishing upon their dimensions, this will about hammer home all the nails! With that I’m mind stay tuned to the album’s final moments for the cherry on the proverbial cake. Huge thanks must be given to @gregorywjkelly on Twitter for reminding me of this (when I only remembered the covers image) He has an infinitely better memory than my own!

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout!

FFO; Obituary, Paradise Lost, Novembers Doom.

malignament

Malignament (Finland) -Demo I

https://malignament.bandcamp.com/releases

Re-release January/31/2020 (originally October/21/2019)

Purity Through Fire

ARTWORK- 80

Another image which panders to my weaknesses; the macabre and black and white inks. (Yea I know it’s not white but rather ‘open space’ and I also know the artist isn’t pandering to my whim, but this sounds good. I’m going with it!)

FIRST TRACK- 88

Majestic yet melodic with a splash of folk, discernable rhythms which are downright infectious all complete with surprising production values which showcase each instruments role. This is Black Metal I can subscribe to without even trying. A fantastic opener!

INITIAL LISTEN- 86

(Note; Originally released with the first two tracks, the third was added for the tape fornat and this unleashing). For a demo this shines with a wicked, undeniable, appeal. The production is surprisingly decent, it fits the genre perfectly, and the tracks highlighting the musician’s knowledge (of the scene) and stellar abilities both in the composition and talent department. Cold, somewhat traditional, riffs are complemented by atmosphere, groove (yes “groove”) to incite movement and lyrics which make one want to dive into the physical releases accompanying text/lyric sheet. All in all an outstanding offering which should leave fans eager, salivating for more. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the scene but this made an impression instantly.

Favorite Tracks; Call to Arms, Wolf and the Moon.

FFO; Arctos, Dissection.

February Releases –

plague album

Plague (Greece) – Portraits of Mind

https://plague-gr.bandcamp.com/album/portraits-of-mind

Release – February/14/2020

Redefining Darkness

ARTWORK- 91

A wicked collage of skulls, eyeballs, bones and rot with exquisite colors to boot. An amazing image. If the audio is half as good as this, we’re in for a treat!

FIRST TRACK- 91

A typical introduction including Doom laden riffs, a little piano tinkering and a few bass chords leads into what I’d like to term “utter old school bliss”. Familiar yet fresh this channels riffs, phrasing and arrangements those of us who have a rabid hankering for the roots of the scene will instantly be able to appreciate. Melody, pacing, even the vocal cadence and delivery evokes the golden era of the genre – I’m hooked! Suffice it to mention if the remainder of the album plays out like this my headphones will most probably have to be forcefully pried from my head come days end.

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

Trust those (talented) Greeks to take something good and add upon its appeal. This does just that! Manipulating the familiar, twisting it and tossing in composition genius this album serves up an experience which might divide the camp. I for one appreciate its ability to make me reminisce upon that which brought me into the arena of extreme audio while others might comment that it’s too much like celebrated releases I can see part of this argument though I’ll also add that its becoming increasingly more difficult to be 100% original and or unique without the fear of acceptance.

With this release Plague have somehow managed to insert old school values, sensibilities and stylings into the foundation of a framework which might at first appear all too (instantly) recognizable but upon further inspection is a new take on a vintage design, utilizing talent, ingenuity and obviously undeniable homage as the mortar of said structure. Expect to see this mentioned again, multiple times, as the year draws to a close.

Favorite Tracks; An (old school) eargazm from start to finish!

FFO; mid era Death, mid era Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Pestilence, Immolation, early Gorguts.

invocation

(A last-minute entry)  Invocation (Chile) – Attunement to Death (EP)

 

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/album/invocation-attunement-to-death

Release – February/21/2020

Iron Bonehead Productions

ARTWORK – 80

An array of forms left to wither to dust. From this image one might wonder if the last vestiges of life are seeping away in the form of smoke. An interesting image which invokes bleakness and a dismay aura making great use of grays, black and white to highlight certain areas.

FIRST TRACK – 82

A bout of heavy breathing (a meditative concentration state deep in diabolical predicament I’m thinking) brings about the first riffs and the album begins offering a rolling suffocating dirge assault with a vocal accompaniment which seems distant thought equally as sinister as the musical style employed. There’s groove here too but it’s the aura which is impressive; cavernous and saturated in occult themes. An impressive start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 86

Hardly the typical chuggery many might think when the genre comes to mind this utilizes a constant pulverizing assault. Though not the type employed by either Origin or Nile but rather an aura which seethes with an underworld motif; a highly-effective cavernous saturation bringing about images of ancient locales forgotten by humanity at large, though still employed by robed denizens of the underworld for ritualistic purposes one would rather remain ignorant of. In short, an excellent representation of doom/death drenched in pitch darkness and slathered in an ominous nature that’s palpable. Hardly audio for the whole family but I’m over this like white on rice (does that sound right?)

Favorite Tracks; Impressive from first to last note!

FFO; Tomb Mold, Incantation, Krypts, Funebrarum.

theophagist

Theophagist (Luxembourg) – I Am Abyss

https://theophagist.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-abyss

Release – February/22/2020

Independent

ARTWORK- 87

A hand reaching for help. Look closer and you’ll soon discover this hand is much like a Siren bringing many to their doom. This image can be interpreted many ways to include several mental conditions and possibly the word “toxic” but seems as I don’t wish to write a dissertation, I’ll leave my thoughts brief.

FIRST TRACK- 82

A fantastic build leads into pummeling riff territory and an intriguing introduction to the bands style. Providing many layers, multiple twists and turns and a variety of tempo changes, far from one trick pony/genre chuggery ville, this bodes well for the remainder of the album and certainly tips the hat to a smorgasbord of influence plucked from a wide radius of genres. An execution bolstered by top notch musianship and production values.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

When I think of Luxembourg honestly nothing comes to mind.  But in experiencing this, that will now be brought to a screeching halt. For my virgin foray into what the country offers by way of extreme audio I left with a sizable smirk upon my chops. “I Am Abyss” provides a myriad of mixed styles, primarily melodic death sporting a decipherable vocal style (occasionally a twin pronged attack much like what Trevor from Black Dahlia Murder provides) but also other elements, exquisitely interwoven, plucked from genres as wide afield as Deathcore, thrash, melodic black and even groove with pinches of Djent tossed in for good measure. The addition of cellos and bass as an instrumental is a great touch putting me in mind of the brilliance supplied by Apocalyptica. I was left wondering if Ville Valo might add his trademarked sultry voice at any moment. Overall, this provides more than one might assume, boasts great production, plentiful riffs and terrific rhythms to make even the most stubborn of head bob in appreciation. A damn good debut, even if it did take four years to come to fruition but I’m glad it finally did and it only leaves me eager for more.

Favorite Tracks; Cannibal Preacher, The Awakening, Terrors from the Deep, R.I.S.E, Apocalypse (redux).

FFO; Black Dahlia Murder, Abysmal Dawn, Amon Amarth, Gojira.

But let us not forgot that which we may have missed (Huh?)

Short Sharp Bursts of 19′

Kharma

Kharma (Venezuela) – Chronicas Deletereas I (of 2!) EP

https://kharmagrind.bandcamp.com/album/cr-nicas-delet-reas-l

Release-July/13/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 92

Lady Liberty, tentacles and a bunch of skeletons writhing in eternal torment. What’s not to like? But seriously, the tone and colors here are quite amazing. If you’re reading this guys, where can I pick up the shirt?

INITIAL LISTEN- 88

Grinding death, groove and lyrics I can’t understand one word of. But it works and this near twelve-minute slab of brutality is one I’ll gladly recommend to fans of grindcore mixed with brutally melodic death… and did I mention groove? There’s plenty of it and plenty of excellently orchestrated rhythms to move to. These guys need more attention!!

subservience

Subservience (UK) -Ascending from the Abyss (EP)

https://ukemrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ascending-from-the-abyss

Release- May/25/2019

UKEM Records

ARTWORK- 75

Something is making itself known, slowly but undeniably, but will it ever make it way to the shores of mankind? And of it does will it be mistaken for z loofah and sold by the thousands? This remains to be seen, until then I’m hitting play…

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

Clocking in at under nineteen minutes these Brits show us that, although they don’t add much to that which has gone before, they can still deliver audio of a caliber which shouldn’t be ignored. This EP provides rhythms, riffs and passages which take instant hold of the listener proving that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, especially if your brand of the wheel is of such a high quality as this. Surprisingly there’s a slew of influence here at varying degrees which doesn’t in the slightest detract from the composition on offer, but rather adds to its appeal. Suffice it to say I’m eager for a full-length as too should fans of brutal melodic death which keeps the excitement of the genre alive.

infernal conjuration

Infernal Conjuration (Mexico)- Infernale Metallum Mortis

https://infernalconjuration.bandcamp.com/album/infernale-metallum-mortis

Release- June/6/2019

Iron Bonehead Productions

ARTWORK- 88

Grandiose and classical. I’m of the belief this is a depiction of the landscape of a birthday cake for a God, an entity for which the number of candles cannot equal the amount of years. It’s a losing battle, how about a gift card instead?

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

Like the most wicked mashup of vintage Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Death (and to a lesser degree a few others) sans the all too frequently utilized and all too obvious copycat vibe. Executed with precision, diabolical flair, savage fury and undeniable revenance resulting in a slab of audio whose appeal should be akin to the ravenous onslaught of a populace devastating virus (sans the boils, general listlessness, hemorrhaging, seepage from every orifice, loss of life and grieving loved ones) if there’s any justice! Old school dipped in diabolical menace draped in homage to the chaotic black. Call it what you wish, but it’s best not to disagree on semantics rather enjoy the brilliance and talent on offer here. I’ve had this lined up for some time (since early 19′) but up until now haven’t hit the play button, I can’t for the life of me fathom why. Don’t be like me, leap upon this, ears first, at the next given opportunity, you can thank me later! This is a top of the year list addition for sure. Is it too late to perform a “last minute edit”?

allagash

Allagash (Canada) – Cryptic Visions

https://allagash.bandcamp.com/album/cryptic-visions-2

Release – May/6/2019

Independent

ARTWORK- 84

A fantastic image depicting a cave in which Neanderthals encounter aliens. It’s like a mashup of Nell and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I only wonder who would stand victorious in a (best of three) game of Checkers.

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

The music on display here is fluid. Reminiscent of traditional heavy metal yet with more a speed metal approach putting me in mind of a slew of German acts under the Power/Speed genre umbrella. The vocals are a little harder to get into. Various online comments have likened them to those associated with Brocas Helm but not being a fan of their work, I can’t tell whether I fully agree with this. They do however take a little getting used to, but once ‘over the hurdle’ this develops into an album which puts the listener in an entrancing spell, whether it be through admiration of what’s on offer or the album’s nostalgic qualities, a slew of albums/acts/tracks, attached to names which might not quite reach the tip of the tongue, will pass through the memory banks as this plays out. Sound bites add to the albums intrigue (good old Ronny Reagan pulls in the listeners from the get go) and the theme interwoven throughout, (strangely Blood Incantation comes to mind during the albums more mystical passages) which the covers illustration covers sublimely. In conclusion this was a damn sight better than I expected, to be honest I was thinking black metal at first based on the bands moniker (explained much later in the album via a soundbite), it delivers throughout, supplies a great more than merely I can incoherently gush about and should not be missed especially for those of us with a soft spot for traditional Heavy Metal accompanied by pace (sans brutality) and atmosphere of remarkable scope. Do not let this pass you by undiscovered, I’m in awe even to the point of stating that the final track “Eagle Lake”, a fourteen-minute instrumental, is one of my fave tracks from 19′ (albeit belated).

warbound

Warbound (Brazil) -Behind the Unreal

https://thrashordeathrecords.bandcamp.com/album/behind-the-unreal

Release – September/21/2019

Thrash or Death Records

ARTWORK- 84

Raw black and white imagery depicting savagery and all manner of sin, suffice it to say I’m left curious as something that’s quite curious indeed!

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Energetic old school thrash coupled with heavily accented vocals. If only it were that easy to summarize. Truth be told this has more to offer than just that as the riffs showcased here are both ferocious and melodic. The album’s atmosphere is surprising, a great addition, remember this is thrash and not death or black and the result; an album I’m surprised isn’t talked about more. This isn’t a ground-breaking feat but it does its job damn well and will spark interest in the vast majority of thrash fans where aggression reigns supreme in their listening habits! Add to this to your high energy playlist, alongside Whiplash, Destruction, Kreator and Sodom. But before hitting play put away all the breakables, this will make you move!

mix tape action

Keep it up Cult, at this pace you’ll drive yourself into an early grave!

And that brings another mammoth installment to its climax. I’ve barely managed to get this out in time. Hopefully I’ve succeeding in including diverse enough audio for most tastes, as always feel free to drop me a line with any comments, queries, suggestions or with any wishes to contribute. Seriously your grammar can’t get much worse than mine. And this is usually where I say “Don’t fear discovery” and there it is.

Your slave to audio (and celluloid) in many of its extreme guises,

Cult

Abrasive Audio – The Year in Review

clothing-optional

C’mon, even seals love the sun.

Part the Third

Half the year has disappeared already and one might be wondering where, as it certainly doesn’t move that fast when one wishes it to. The lawn is demanding attention as it’s sprouting faster than a leopard after a potential mate and clothing is apparently optional (which isn’t always a bad thing). The world of extreme audio is still chugging along and the intensity only seems to be building. Now if only the kids could find something to do (for more than five minutes at a time) I might be able to fully immerse myself within all that the metal universe has to offer. (“…but, Dad!”) Onward.

(As is traditional my absolute favorites are marked with an *)

July

abominism

Abominism – s/t

https://abominism.bandcamp.com/album/abominism

Occasionally, albums and artists come from out of nowhere to kick one on their ass. And this did just that! Only six tracks on offer here but they are more than enough with their epic qualities to whet the appetite and leave the listener wanting more. Atmosphere is rampant as too dissonant rhythms, technical passages and progressive elements concocted and woven with such creativity and professionalism as too only draw the listener into the album’s entrancing spell the deeper in the listener gets. There’s a great deal for everyone to enjoy here as the style blankets a wide radius of the extreme metal spectrum all balanced delicately with absolute precision.

Baleful abyss

Baleful Abyss (F.K.A Zombieslut) – Death Propaganda

https://balefulabyss.bandcamp.com/

Dirge driven groove that’s highly nostalgic of the 90’s which demands respect and makes a fantastic addition to any collection bursting at the seams with death/doom laden dirge and death bordering on grindcore.

Beastmaker – Eye of the Storm

beastmaker

https://beastmaker.bandcamp.com/

Think traditional heavy metal with speed metal tendencies draped in a fine shroud of occult doom. This flows so damn well it should be criminal, and that voice. And although it’s short, barely four tracks I can honestly say this is dangerously infectious audio.

desecresyDesecresy – Towards Nebulae

 

https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/towards-nebulae

Crushing, heavy machinery, sonic barbarity with unmistakable influences aided by a suffocating atmosphere and an occasional cavernous doom presence which teases dragging the listener through grindcore waters. Highly effective and evocative audio with a vast cosmos conflict type narrative.

disowning human cattle

Disowning -Human Cattle

https://xenokorp.bandcamp.com/album/human-cattle

A myriad concoction of styles assaults the listener herein add a splash of technical expertise, undeniably excellent production and the album offers ten tracks any fan of the genre can readily consume without complaint and each with their own identity. Add vocals which fit perfectly and the album rockets into unforgettable realms. This album begs to be played again and again. Jump on this at your next earliest convenience!

 

ecliptic visionEcliptic Vision – s/t

https://eclipticvision.bandcamp.com/album/ecliptic-vision

Far from the typical brutal/progressive death affair this is an effort which delivers throughout and demands multiple listens to fully appreciate. Progressive themes knit tightly, and flirt constantly, with technical passages injected with nuance, varying pace and abrupt transforming rhythms. Ambient interludes add to the albums overall effect; the combination is bathed in other-worldly themes resulting in an album which thankfully stays this side of the gone too far to be saved cosmic tech-wizardry fence.

freighter the den.jpg

Freighter – The Den

https://freighter.bandcamp.com/album/the-den

Hard to describe, even harder not to instantly like. There’s truly something unique and utterly mesmerizing about the style, or rather the mixture of styles here. The lyrics are comic book-esque and fantastical in their scope with a style that’s somewhat comical and the audio is a hodge-podge of styles which are familiar yet hard to instantly place. Riffs here and there leer at the listener with an air of arrogance as if to say I dare you to pair me with an act, track and album. I dare you to tackle the quest.

gates to the morning

Gates to the Morning – Return to Earth

https://gatestothemorning.bandcamp.com/album/return-to-earth-ep

Odd how Jazz and Metal are two genres so vastly separate from each other yet they come together so amazingly well. Close to an hour in length this is so much more than merely an album, it’s far from traditional in any senses, more a journey through an audioscape which offers an experience demanding the undivided attention. A sojourn through a wilderness fraught with melancholy, bliss and exhilaration. Melody intertwines with majesty; brutality cavorts with the innocence of beauty accompanied by rhythms which are soothing yet shot through with an undeniable sinister air.

pathetic

Pathetic – Rat King

https://pathetic666.bandcamp.com/

A glorious mixture of influences keeps this album rolling. D-beat rhythms cavort with old school values and plodding riffs akin to that of the earliest Grave material. Lyrics often reek of a deliciously jaded Pungent Stench vibe, add this to an occasionally wicked soundbite, a dirge-laden tone ripped straight from the basement of the underground 90’s (think Bolt Thrower, Terrorizer) and a pace which often picks up frequently offering groove one cannot sit still to and you have all the right ingredients for an album which feels like it might have been released twenty-something years too late.

shades of deep water

Shades of Deep Water – Death’s Threshold

https://dunkelheitprod.bandcamp.com/album/deaths-threshold

Although this doesn’t seem that complex in rhythm or composition (at times it appears to dive deep into drone waters) it has a certain undeniable quality, a power, a captivating quality which is difficult to ignore. The album is only made even more impressive based on the fact that it was composed, mixed, recorded and mixed by a single soul, a talented individual indeed, J.H. A Fantastic mood accompaniment!

Thy_Art_Is_Murder

Thy Art is Murder – Human Target *

https://open.spotify.com/album/6P55RLLgax6WruBMdKWlvf

The partnership of Djent, Slam, melodic, brutal death and one of the finest voices in the industry is stunning; mixed to genius levels and appreciatively differing ratios within each track. Atmosphere, brutality, melody and a caliber of production only elevates the albums grandiose nature. It’s all here, in spades, making for a release which demands respect and the senses upon it.

vagrant

Vagrant – The Rise of Norn

https://vagrantblacklion.bandcamp.com/album/the-rise-of-norn

Weaving a masterful combination of melodies and atmosphere with lyrics based around warriors, folklore, fate and superstition Vagrant have managed to create an album which flows exquisitely. Rhythms intertwine with galloping and heavy riffs forging a release which is far from the run of the mill melodic death or even blackened death album. Offering symphonic death, melodic death exquisite acoustic elements, doom, folk and Viking metal this has the potential to appeal to a wide audience.

August

abysmalist.jpg

Abysmalist – Reflections of Horror

https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-of-horror

Only four tracks on offer here but as an introduction to what the band offer this is stunning, an outstanding example of how death and doom realms can be manipulated to great effect. A delicate balance of atmosphere and brutality presented by considerable oomph to grab and hold the attention rapt. With this as a debut the future is blinding!

anticosm call of the void

Anticosm – The Call of the Void

https://anticosm.bandcamp.com/

Dynamic, ever evolving, melodic, passionate and draped in atmosphere yet miles from what could be termed traditional, both in rhythm and vocal departments. For those who aren’t quite willing to fully immerse themselves fully in any one genre this is great location to start a life-long exploration drenched with realms of amazement and wonder which is guaranteed to set the senses on fire.

Book of wyrms album

Book of Wyrms – Remythologizer *

https://bookofwyrmsrva.bandcamp.com/

A true celebration of epic heavy metal and traditional doom with NWOBHM stylings, cantering and galloping rhythms, swaying melodies and wicked leads topped off with ethereal vocals. Overall a fantastic achievement which thankfully never wanders too far into psychedelic waters, though on occasion dips more than a toe into its murky depths. Now this is Doom I can subscribe too!! Tear me away from this now, it’s fast becoming an addiction.

Cruickshank

Cruickshank – s/t

https://crckshnk.bandcamp.com/album/cruickshank-s-t

Driving rhythms, which often fight for supremacy in chaotic standoffs, traipse through a slew of styles offering the listener a great deal to discover. Overall a release which will please fans of Kyuss, Olde, Tool, EyeHateGod, Acid Bath and a slew of others acts who refuse to conform to a style that defined by any one genre. Someone is going to have to pull me away from this with considerable force, it’s growing on me like a ravenous parasite.

darkened

Darkened – Into the Blackness

https://edgedcircleproductions.bandcamp.com/music

Although the familiarity is undeniable there is also something else which makes this stand apart. Presence, subtle atmosphere or the audios leaning toward death/doom territories. Whatever it is it works and I’m eager for more.

detherousDetherous – Hacked to Death

https://redefiningdarknessrecords.bandcamp.com/album/detherous-hacked-to-death

Channeling Malevolent Creation, Death and Asphyx, Detherous have managed to create a style that’s exuberant, furious (boasting exquisite time changes and abrupt mosh frenzy changes in pace) and technical. This is audio which unceremoniously pulls one back to the old school (both European and American) and does a great job of doing so. Call it homage, call it what you will but there’s no doubt this is executed with passion, flair and precision.

graveview.jpg

Graveview – Demos 18-19’

https://graveview-us.bandcamp.com/album/graveview-demos-18-19

Influences are undeniable but it’s what the band does with the tone and the myriad of other factors and how they incorporate it into their style which makes this special. Abrupt pace shifts and breakdowns executed with precision, know-how, flair, the fact that this is stunningly fluid, will incite grins aplenty and will delight long-time fans of the scene.

lllvilja livet

lllvilja -Livet *

https://phobiarecords.bandcamp.com/album/illvilja-livet-lp

A primitive, mysterious, spice heats up that which is already incendiary, both in its nature and infectiousness. Touches of stylistic diversity, and appreciative breaks from the same old, same old (which could well be expected based on this albums categorization, hailed as “Dbeat/Blackened-Crust”) propel this to refreshing heights making this a release set to be the bar which others in the genre will struggle to reach. This came out of nowhere to catapult me to the nearest medical facility on account of my abrupt skyrocketing excitement levels, it’s that damn impressive!

nomas last laugh

No/Mas – Last Laugh

https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/last-laugh

I can honestly say I believe this to be their best work to date, as it makes an instant impression and is criminally infectious/inciteful from its nuclear-powered launch. Six tracks and perilously close to eight minutes in length. Yep, this is grindcore! And these fellows have an axe to sharpen and senses to obliterate.

 

overt enemy possessionOvert Enemy – Possession

https://overtenemy.bandcamp.com/

Slayer worship through and through (there’s even a ripping cover of “At Dawn They Sleep” and the bassists name even has a decidedly “Slayer” slant to it) of that there’s no doubt but Overt Enemy execute the style so damn well that odds are they’ll take the vacated throne without a qualm and little complaint.

wraith

Wraith – Absolute Power *

https://wraith-us.bandcamp.com/album/absolute-power

Like an adrenaline shot to a form weary of hype this awakens immediately the same feeling one had when first introduced to the scene. With splashes of punk, a style which rarely lets up pounding maniacally at blackened thrash/speed gates and a myriad of influence which vomits from near every track this is an album not to be missed. Add a double billed Hellripper, Wraith show to my bucket-list and I’ll leave this plane a happy fellow.

wizard rifle self titled

Wizard Rifle – s/t

https://wizardrifle.bandcamp.com/

The sound is altogether mesmerizing, even from the albums first notes, while wholly unclassifiable. The exuberance and energy are undeniable and infectious whilst the rhythms and tempo are ever evolving, shifting like an amorphous beast the likes of which you’d kindly invite in from the cold for a spot by the fire. Dense riffs collide with sacrificial drum salvos and plodding rhythms transform into galloping frenzied moments all accented by a diverse vocal tirade which incorporates melody, shouting and angst in equal measures. An epic feel underscores the whole shebang though its hardly given much heed as the music whisks the listener away to undiscovered realms, vistas and valleys frequented by constructs which are nonsensical yet accepted as easily as a birthday check, in the mailbox, from a long lost relative.

September

arctos.jpg

Arctos – Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands *

https://arctos-northernsilence.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-grasp-of-mortal-hands

I’m not normally a fan of the Black Metal genre but this blows me away with its diversity and delivery in every way. Enthralling, hypnotic and stunning from start to finish, a must visit genre experience!!

alcoholocaust.jpg
Alcoholocaust – Necro Apocalipse Bestial

https://brigadantiposers.bandcamp.com/releases

Aggressive speed metal with the occasional splash of punk accompanied by maniacal and archaic heavily accented vocals. This could well be the foreign long-lost twin to Whiplash’s “Power and Pain” release. Criminally addictive and requires limbering up before hitting the play button. Prepare to have this reside in your audio equipment for an extended duration of time.

algebra

Algebra – Pulse?

https://unspeakableaxerecords.bandcamp.com/album/pulse

There’s an undeniable fluid nature here. Timing changes are exquisite, rhythms infectious and dynamic. Melodies are plentiful and change enough to keep a listener on their toes. A sense of familiarity abounds, leaves one scratching their heads as to which band or album this or that part sounds like, but it doesn’t take away from the listening experience in the slightest. Oftentimes an epic narrative unfolds by way of the music alone complementing the thought-provoking lyrical content. In short, a winning combination which if someone could bottle it would most probably be titled something along the lines of ‘Excuse me for a second while I blow your mind’, or” Forget the Remainder of your day you’re about to be Unfathomably Distracted”. Naturally words, as they often do, fail me as I attempt to imprint my appreciation upon the flashing screen beneath my hands. Don’t, DON’T, don’t, allow this to go unnoticed.

ankhara

Ankhara – Sinergia

https://fighter-records.bandcamp.com/album/sinergia

Showcasing passionate rhythms, galloping riffs and dynamic, high energy, percussion there are zero dull moments here to be discovered. The style varies and brings to mind a plethora of acts some more distinct than others as the album unfolds. If your interests lay more in hard rock more so than the darker end of the metal/rock universe this is where you’ll want to rest your ears for a while.

coldclaw.jpg

ColdClaw – Anti Martyr: Decades to Suffer

https://ritualsoundrecords.bandcamp.com/album/anti-martyr-decadess-to-suffer

Coldclaw’s is a style which captures the essence of black metal. Crust as experienced throughout the album in various passages featuring dominant drum salvos; which are difficult not to move to and death metal as heard within various chugging riff approaches and the brutality which is displayed dominantly throughout. The result is a collection of tracks which has the potential to appeal to a wide audience, some who are curious about arenas they perhaps haven’t discovered before and others whose interests lay within the styles mixed with such passionate precision here

come back from the dead album

Come Back from the Dead – Rise of the Blind Ones

https://comebackfromthedead.bandcamp.com/

With melody and groove throughout this rarely let’s up in the infectious department. Think a hybrid of 90’s European death, old school British grind/death with a complementary sprinkle of doom and a maniacal essence. A mixture no doubt which has been perpetrated before but, in this case, somehow it feels fresh and leaves quite an impression.

cult of sorrow.jpg

Cult of Sorrow – Invocation of the Lucifer

 https://cultofsorrow.bandcamp.com/

Traditional, melodic, riff heavy with just the right amount of fuzz, keyboard laden, passionate doom with heavy metal leanings. Think The Obsessed with vocals of an Ozzy era Black Sabbath slant. This has undeniable staying power, shows experience beyond only being a second full-length and is extremely difficult not to instantly appreciate. And this only gets better with repeated listens.

ethereal riffian.jpg

Ethereal Riffian – Legends

https://robustfellow.bandcamp.com/album/legends

A varied smorgasbord of doom, wall to wall melody and influence ranging from across the metal spectrum. Vocal inflections channeling Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies) a musical style often akin to that of early Faith no More, and unpredictable, driving rhythms with occasional strangely soothing qualities. Highly entertaining audio that’s dangerously infectious and pleasingly varied throughout.

high command

High Command – Beyond the Walls of Desolation *

https://highcommandsl.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-wall-of-desolation

Every once in a while, there comes an album which has a buzz surrounding it. This is one such example. Often this buzz has much to do with unique qualities; a quality which has the potential to take genres in new and exciting directions. This is hardly another run of the mill, dime-a-dozen thrash album although it bears the ingredients which most exhibit if only in part, and all wish to master. Is this the thrash album of the year for me? It’s certainly up there in the mix and unashamedly guilty of rekindling my interest in the genre.

Horror God

Horror God – Cursed Seeds

https://lavadome.bandcamp.com/album/cursed-seeds

Melody and groove take a backseat to the menace and ferocity on display though it’s still apparent albeit in frenetic doses. The constant timing and rhythm shift as well the musicianship on offer and the booming vocal cadence elevate this above the herd. A dark nightmarish, punishing, narrative is what’s on offer here and I’m taking the trip again.

 

IATT
IATT – Nomenclature

https://iattblacklion.bandcamp.com/album/nomenclature

Once over the initial foreign aura the album’s foreign nature grows on the listener, starting its enthralling conquest of the senses. In short, this will appeal to those with an open mind whose penchants run to blackened realms as well arenas which are often referred to as a tad experimental. Be prepared for you’ll want to lose yourself in its grandeur again and again.

netherbird.jpg

Netherbird – Into the Vast Uncharted

https://netherbird.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-vast-uncharted

A remarkable invocation of the blackened death style crafted with precision showcasing passionate guitar leads, acoustic brilliance and sweeping evocative melodies. A veil of doom, a definite well-executed presence, accentuates the palpable emotion throughout making for a release one will only want to experience repeatedly.

Sempiternal Dusk

Sempiternal Dusk – Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/cenotaph-of-defectuous-creation-2

Catacomb-esque mid-tempo rhythms with subtle nuance and oodles of archaic, cinematic quality, atmosphere in the form of an unmerciful steamroller assault. Suffocating audio with a slight funeral doom aura, dense yet also flirting with a blackened vibe, a myriad of tempo and time changes under epic skies offers the listener plenty to chew upon. This might take a second listen to fully embrace but it’s worth the effort!

void king

Void King – Barren Dominion

https://voidking.bandcamp.com/

Took me a while but now I’m thinking the raw, unbridled, emotion-laden vocal style is a hybrid of Staind Channel Zero (although my only experience is the album “Unsafe”) and Danzig it’s highly effective against the slow to mid-tempo rhythms and presence, the combination is nothing short of powerful and utterly mesmerizing. The fact that this is radio friendly should not deter one from giving it a fair few spins. An altogether brilliant slab of doom/stoner rock with Southern rock touches. Highly recommended!

wintercrown

Wintercrown – Northern Lights

https://cultofosiris.bandcamp.com/album/northern-lights

I can’t pinpoint it, perhaps it’s the fact that Wintercrown aren’t afraid to branch out (ever so slightly) to encompass elements from other genres both musically and vocally. Or the fact that the combination works so ungodly well. Whatever it is, it’s executed excellently, I’m sold! And this has been one of the most impactful Black Metal experiences I’ve heard in recent memory. Bravo!

mix tape action

Keep it up, you maniac!

Well, there’s another couple of months’ worth of releases to dive into. Naturally, I haven’t heard everything within these three months, not even close in fact. I was slightly distracted with the summer holidays and the kiddos not being in school. However, I did make an attempt which often resulted in virtually sleepless nights and varied exciting moments of zoning out at work the following day. And all in the name of metal! (What a trooper). Due to the sheer volume of releases unleashed during the final three months of the year I’ve come to the conclusion that what I believed to be an initial four-part endeavor will now transpire into what I’d like to think of as a five-part opus. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Cult (a certifiable slave to audio extreme)

 

Abrasive Audio…Best of Year Lists #3

sixintheheadzine

Taking a break from the monstrous endeavor which I’m referring to as divine punishment for listening to tunes which are decidedly not wholesome in nature, I’ve decided to post the last of the Year End Lists to roll into my email. ‘Lists’ which a pair of friends have pondered over for, much like myself, weeks. Admittedly, it’s a daunting task. Without further ado.

 

 

A few selections which have rocked Paul PMZ’s (@paul_pmz on Twitter) world
star devourer
Star Devourer
Contact

https://winterdynasty.bandcamp.com/album/contact

An album unlike anything I’ve ever heard, this falls into the category of, “Sci-Fi Black Metal”, which is a new one on me… A concept album that is as whacked-out f**king insane as it is compelling. Contact combines spacey (couldn’t think of a better word sorry) synths with KILLER vocals and guitars to achieve something utterly bonkers and utterly brilliant. A truly epic black metal space opera in the truest sense of the word.

Bitter Lake
New Branches on Old Trees

https://officialbitterlake.bandcamp.com/album/new-branches-on-old-trees

Before I joined Twitter again in Summer 2019, I got all my music from iTunes, Spotify and Boomkat. I didn’t really understand Bandcamp. I’d bought a few things on it in the past (a Gucci Mane album, a Perc album and the Minecraft soundtrack) but I wasn’t aware of the sheer amount of jaw-dropping talent waiting to be discovered there for just a few quid. This album is an example of the kind of jaw-dropping talent I’m referring to.

catafalque
Catafalque
Catafalque

https://catafalque.bandcamp.com/album/catafalque

I have a vivid memory of listening to this album drunk, pacing around a kitchen on my own at about two in the morning listening to it on headphones full blast. An overwhelming, crushing, grinding beast of an album. The eleven-something-minute second track is like being dragged into a piece of hellish machinery to your death in a way that is hugely enjoyable. Like most of the albums on my list, the people who made this deserve to be millionaires but they’re probably not. I have a feeling I’ve used that line before in something else I wrote for Cult… Anyway, I dunno. It’s a fucked up, unfair world and this is the perfect music for it.

Blood Incantation
Hidden History of the Human Race

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hidden-history-of-the-human-race

Why is this on my end of year list? Because it’s everything a death metal album should be. Everything about it is perfect. Also, it was on everybody else’s list and I just copied them.

Tomb Mold
Planetary Clairvoyance

https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/planetary-clairvoyance

Listen, I’m not like Cult or K-MaNriffs or all of you reading this who have an encyclopedic knowledge of metal and all of its sub genres and can go on about so-and-so plays a down-tuned this and Deep Purple recorded that in 1970-whatever. I just like f**king good music. And this is f**king good music and it deserves repeated listens. That’s all there is to it. That’s why it made my 2019 list.

wintercrown
Wintercrown
Northern Lights

https://cultofosiris.bandcamp.com/album/northern-lights

Everyone who knows me knows I love this album. Like, I really love it. And I feel honored to have interviewed Danthor from the band in the first issue of my zine SIX IN THE HEAD (working link elsewhere in this article). “Northern Lights” was very unfairly left off many ‘end of year’ lists but we won’t go into that… Simply put, this is perfection from start to finish and if you can’t recognize that I don’t know what to tell you.

Vastum
Orificial Purge

https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/orificial-purge

I put this on my list firstly because I like brutal death metal and this is most definitely that. And also, because the cover, album title and song titles remind me of Carcass and Carcass was one of the first bands I got into when I first started delving into extreme metal music. If you’re going to be brutal, then be brutal. Don’t half-ass it. Cut the ass off with a scalpel and stick a load of knives into it.

Texas Hippie Coalition
Texas Hippie Coalition
High in The Saddle

https://texashippiecoalition.bandcamp.com/album/high-in-the-saddle

Some people would call this a guilty pleasure but I don’t. It’s as simple as can be in about every possible way but the second I discovered it I wanted to put on a ten-gallon hat, grab a shotgun and drive my truck to the local bar and do bourbon shots with a load of chicks in “vest” tops who think that sort of behavior is perfectly acceptable. They can take this album when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

So those were my favorite “metal” albums of 2019. Follow me on Twitter @paul_pmz and download the launch issue of my tabletop gaming and music magazine SIX IN THE HEAD at https://sixintheheadzine.com/

Cheers.

fistful pof doom logo

Finally, here are a handful of releases (actually a ‘Top Ten’) which have caressed and molested the pleasure sensors of Fistful of Doom (@flatulentFuzz on Twitter) for the past couple of months.

No need to read up on thoughts on any of these, just dive right in.

KUBLAI KHAN- ABSOLUTE

https://open.spotify.com/album/6klYyVkzntFBjJch93UB6y

GROND/GRACELESS- ENDLESS SPIRAL OF TERROR

http://rawskullrecordz.bandcamp.com/album/grond-graceless-endless-spiral-of-terror-rsr-036

tort void addiction
TORT- VOID ADDICTION

http://discosmacarras.bandcamp.com/album/void-addiction

THE HANDS RESIST HIM- STONE HANDS

http://thehandsresisthim.bandcamp.com/album/stone-hands

RED BEARD WALL – THE FIGHT NEEDS US ALL

http://redbeardwall.bandcamp.com/album/the-fight-needs-us-all

do astral death cult
DO- ASTRAL DEATH CULT

http://doofficial666.bandcamp.com/album/astral-death-cult

CYCLES OF THE DAMNED- A TIME TO SURVIVE

http://cyclesofthedamned.bandcamp.com/album/a-time-to-survive

OGRE- THRICE AS STRONG

http://ogrereal.bandcamp.com/album/thrice-as-strong

SIFTING- THE INFINITE LOOP

https://open.spotify.com/album/20uNba0tEcRPrXjYwqAPKJ

HOUND THE WOLVES/GLASGHOTE- HOUND THE WOLVES/GLASGHOTE SPLIT

http://monochord-records.bandcamp.com/album/hound-the-wolves-glasghote-split

But let us not forget the link to the ‘Fistful of Doom’ show which deserves attention (apparently he likes bacon).

https://www.mixcloud.com/jameymorris/

That’s it. Thanks to all involved, in this and past lists. And to those who I’ve interacted with throughout the year. I’ve made a few friends and probably pissed of a great deal more with my inane questions and intolerable personality. Here’s hoping this, and the lists before it, introduced new acts and albums which might otherwise have been ‘ignored’ (for want of a better term).

Animal - music is meant for sharing

After all brilliant audio is meant for sharing, new genres to be explored no matter how scary they might initially seem. And this is a community. #SupporttheScene.

Here’s to another fantastic, mind-blowing, 365 days, unless it’s a leap year then I guess Hallmark will be rolling out a new line of movies for my wife to lose herself in.

Cult

Abrasive Audio – Special Edition

kmans champions

Challenging Kman’s “Champions” 

This has been a busy year for metal, an outstanding one, again. And with so many releases to keep track of the prospect of doing so is daunting. I’ve attempted to scribble a few words upon that which has caught my ear from time to time, but the spectrum of metal is quite the unrelenting mistress. There is an individual however who weathers the storm and reports like no other, whose tireless dedication is a wonder to behold (I believe in order to do this he must be ‘besties’ with Doc Brown or alternatively, that he drives a DeLorean on a regular basis).

kman riffs

As the year reaches its climax this same individual took it upon himself to tackle a myriad of genres (some which I’m honestly quite unfamiliar with if truth be told) to stand triumphant with a short list plucked from each. A list featuring his choice for the years champion and runners up, or the” champion’s entourage”, if you will. Naturally tastes vary, and my list is most probably going to be different from his, yours, hers and the guy who runs the off license down the street on the corner. With that in mind I thought it prudent to take it upon myself to do a spot of exploration. The task is daunting. But it didn’t take me but a few seconds to consider an approach to start upon such a quest. Then it struck me, I need a companion who’s willing to also take the same plunge, a glutton for audio punishment if you will. Enter Paul PMZ, (@paul_pmz on Twitter) a chirpy like-minded fellow whom I shoot the shit with from time to time. Paul is the editor of a new tabletop gaming and music zine SIX IN THE HEAD (the first edition dropped recently. I even have a few words featured in it). https://sixintheheadzine.com/

Reluctantly he agreed to my demands, though I did promise to send him a few pictures of the wife’s Yorkshire Pudding to sweeten the deal.

holiday drumming animal

Yorkshire Pudddinnnnggg-!

Without further preamble, Paul imparts a few words on the task at hand and his surroundings;

Where I am right now the weather isn’t just frightful – it’s brutal. “Man overboard!” levels of rain and wind lash and howl outside (Ed* And there I was thinking …” the rain in Spain fell mostly on the plane…”). Lives will be lost in this today, mark my words. So, I’ve stayed inside with the dogs and listened to all the following albums in their entirety (pretty much).

These are my thoughts –

Insomnium-heart-like-a-grave_

Melo- Death
Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave 
https://open.spotify.com/album/5pIG0iF4OvplbceJAx73ys?autoplay=true&v=L

Paul – Not for me. I can totally see why somebody would totally love this but I don’t. Too anthemic. Too melodic. I imagine this is what it would sound like if Europe never wrote The Final Countdown and became a death metal band instead. Would make great theme music for an anime series about freezing to death.

CultWith rhythms which are criminally infectious, an aura which feels part Amon Amarth, part Arch Enemy, part Swallow the Sun, soaring leads and melodies which make one want to close their eyes and drift away (to where I do not know) an effective atmosphere to match and arrangements which scream expertise there’s no doubting that this will continue to delight as its audience grows reaching near bubonic proportions. Probably not for every mood but for when the mood fits, this delivers! Prepare to be swept away.

dimhav.jpg

Power Metal
Dimhav – The Boreal Flame 
https://dimhav.bandcamp.com/album/the-boreal-flame

Paul Great cover art and the intro to this is wild. Sounds like three separate albums all playing at once on fast-forward. The rest of it though, you can keep. The vocals alternate between over earnest and over shrieking. Also, it’s far too musical. Keep your musicianship to yourself I don’t want to hear it.

CultPower Metal is a realm I rarely frequent, if truth be told. However, the art here has me intrigued; I’ll give this a once over. In short; The introduction is fantastic, the musicianship superb, there’s enough pace variation to please most anybody and the album burns bright with an epic flame. But it’s all a little too much for me. Hardly horrid, this is a release I would really have to be in the mood for to be able to sit through in its entirety.

Demiurgon

Tech – Death
Demiurgon – The Oblivious Lure 
https://everlastingspewrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-oblivious-lure

Paul OK now we’re talking – fast, hard-hitting and guttural. No idea what any of this album is about but, based on its title alone, maybe it’s about fishing. A pummeling 39 minutes of music. Nothing negative to say about this apart from the band’s logo, which should by rights be a lot more unreadable. Beautiful stuff.

Cult Upon discovery of the album’s art one is immediately hit with an image which brings to mind a “World Eater” type creature. Which is either a scene from a StarWars film or the title of a legendary Bolt Thrower track all depending on one’s tastes. The album hits hard immediately and continues to deliver all one could wish in a tech-death release; Brutish Orc vocals, a ferocious twin pronged assault, tight riffs, a pace which is diverse, head spinning and unpredictable and pummeling precise drum salvos. All without offering too many layers (one would require a scalpel to dissect) or going overboard like a few other acts in the same genre I’ll refrain from mentioning. I honestly can’t see a single reason why a fan of the genre won’t fall ass over tits for this. Top notch from start to finish, this will leave one feeling exhilarated and sweaty!

zig zags.jpg

Hardcore/Punk/Crust
Zig Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive 
https://zigzags.bandcamp.com/album/theyll-never-take-us-alive

PaulI hear echoes of Metallica, The Stooges and Saxon in this but the Zig Zags play it punk and fast. This is music for drinking cheap beer, skating makeshift ramps in backyards and travelling about LA with scabs on your shins in the back of a stinking van. If that’s the feeling the band were hoping to conjure up with this record then they’ve achieved it perfectly.

CultHemorrhaging nostalgia this pummels the listener with influences plucked from when the scene itself was in its adolescence. Metallica, Misfits, Blitzkrieg and even a slew of nods to landmark tracks (from around the time), surf rock and plenty of punk attitude. Sheesh! The vocal style even brings to mind Mike Muir (Suicidal Tendencies) in some tracks. Get out the skateboards (forget the pads and helmets. We’re rebels, what a little blood harm anyone!) and the Walkmans. Let’s ride! Do not miss this!!

finterforst.jpg

Pagan/Folk/Viking Metal
Finsterforst – Zerfall 
https://finsterforst.bandcamp.com/album/zerfall

Paul Pagan metal intertwined with orchestral “soundscapes” that thankfully are used to great effect and don’t disappear up their own arse into Jean-Michel Jarre/prog-opera territory. I’m not a huge fan of choirs in metal but everything else on this is just so good that I can live with it. Warhammer music and I say that as a huge compliment. Tonight, gentlemen, we ride into battle. Epic.

Cult Admittedly, this is a genre I visit rarely but I’ll state without reservation that I was left stunned by the first tracks impact. One might think this to be akin to atmospheric black with the cover art in mind. It has elements but there’s so much else on display and arranged in such a way that any newcomer to this will instantly sprout a smile upon experiencing what caresses the senses. Doom, melodic death, black and folk elements (showcasing traditional instruments) with no value over crowding the other, everything co-exists in grandiose, exquisite, harmony. And the fact that the lyrics are in German only makes it infinitely more intriguing. I’d usually balk at seeing a thirty-seven-minute track listed, but not here. It crosses off every box and obliterates all expectations. I foresee this featuring heavily in my play history in the coming months. Don’t be the last to jump on this!

ruadh

Atmospheric Black Metal
Ruadh – Sovereign
https://ruadh.bandcamp.com/album/sovereign

Paul I’m not saying this isn’t very good indeed because it is. For some reason though it left me feeling a little underwhelmed. As atmospheric black metal it does exactly what you want it to do. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s very good but then so are mashed potatoes and I don’t want to eat them on a daily basis.

CultWrapped in an effective storm atmospheric motif, dramatic and epic qualities this album provides a rich tapestry bursting with depth, emotion and majestic rhythms. Even a few in a style one might not expect (based on genre assumptions) and a few passages one might. A symphonic accompaniment, including vast nature-scapes fits perfectly, executed in such a manner that one can close their eyes and imagine actually being a part of the scene. An aura the listener can easily melt within. In short, an experience which showcases just how diverse the genre can be, is, and the surprising heights an excellently crafted album within its ranks can attain if handled with care such as this. A fantastic jumping on point for those even slightly interested in a genre which has yet to garner the attention it deserves.

First Hellripper, now this. Glasgow is getting quite the moniker for its high-quality metal output.

Evergrey

Progressive Metal
Evergrey – The Atlantic 
https://open.spotify.com/album/7IBDcZQla4fTMEmjzcHneu?autoplay=true&v=L

Paul If I were to draw you a Venn diagram for this, I would put Soundgarden, Korn and Whitesnake on it and stick these guys in the overlap. I don’t really have anything else to say about this. It’s not really for me. “All I Have” has a good intro. Sorry that’s all I have.

CultAudio which brings to mind both the 70’s, 80’s and more recent audio with hints of thrash, djent, melody and riffs for days. Top notch vocals and an eye-opening level of musicianship certainly aid the intrigue. And all in a manner far from what many might perceive as traditional extreme audio. Doom shrouds the whole affair although this is at times rather upbeat there’s still an underlying melancholy. And a surprising diversity which spans Gojira, Devon Townsend, Nevermore and Dream Theatre qualities. Hardly what I listen to on a regular basis but with quality such as this on offer it’s not going to be hard to persuade me to dip my ears into the genre on a more regular basis. This may well be the type of audio which is served as a stepping stone towards the spectrum of metal for this is extremely difficult not to like.

necropanther the doomed city.jpg

Black/Thtrash/Speed Metal
Necropanther – The Doomed City 
https://necropanther.bandcamp.com/album/the-doomed-city

Paul Thrash, black, death, who cares what it’s called? Is it any good? Yes, it is! It’s very good. The guitars are thrash, the vocals are a combination of black and death and the drumming is totally berserk. This one got my head bobbing and my legs bouncing vigorously. Which, bearing in mind this is the eighth album I’ve listened to in a row and this chair is hurting my arse, is no mean feat.

Cult A melting face, body bits floating around in a crimson stew storm, with a “Darkman” type character front and center. I am intrigued. The vocals grab the attention immediately, a dual assault. A growling approach and another which is a doppelganger for Chance Garnett. This isn’t a bad thing in the slightest, as who doesn’t love SkeletonWitch in their prime? The audio is a likely result of drunken night slippery (?) shenanigans including the minds behind 3 Inches of Blood, Arch Enemy and SkeletonWitch with liberal sprinkles of darkness and wicked flourishes of criminally infectious power metal flair tossed into the pot. Thrash, speed, death, blackened death, call it what you will, it certainly doesn’t feel like a “concept” album, but be sure to set a timer as listening to this will make the hours fly. This, much like their last, is (in short) beyond top-notch. With another release such in their future I’ll predict Necropanther to resident in a league of their own. Damn good doesn’t even come close to how I would describe this! Pick this up at your earliest convenience.

thelordweirdsloughfeg

Heavy Metal
Lord Weird Slough Feg – New Organon 
https://thelordweirdsloughfeg.bandcamp.com/

Paul After listening to all of the above, this album of classic heavy metal jams welcomed me like a pure and loving embrace. This is what it’s all about. Forget all that other nonsense. Death? Thrash? Black? You kids think you bloody invented music you do. Get a dose of this down you son. This is all you need. Now go on get out of here.

CultTwin harmonies, galloping riffs, lyrics saturated in intriguing historical themes, playful folk rhythms, an aura which tosses one back, grinning, several decades and a style which is a timeless often imitated but rarely achieved in a quality and tone such as this (did I mention the production is crystal clear but also finagled in such way as to make one think this could well have been plucked from assorted vinyl racks in a store circa 1979). There’s little not to like here. A somewhat unique vocal style, one could easily place among the likes of Dickenson, Dio and Kilminster (it’s ‘Lemmy’ for those not in the know) adds to the overall fun. I’ll admit this grows on me the more I allow it entry into my system.

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Stoner/Doom/Fuzz/Psych Riffs
Hazemaze – Hymns of The Damned 
https://hazemazeband.bandcamp.com/album/hymns-of-the-damned

Paul Imagine smoking a shitload of strong weed, dropping acid and listening through the wall to Sabbath playing next door. That’s what this album is – the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Not that I’ve ever done acid. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. This is chunky, groovy masterpiece. A great listen and an addictive vibe. Man.

Cult If the Psychedelic sacrificial, goat head wearing cultist, art doesn’t pull you then the audio certainly will. Sabbath-esque in tone sporting plodding riffs, surprising agility (for an album of this ilk) and a production which only heightens the intensity of the heavens are gonna fall riff assault. If you only buy one doom album this year this is where the money should be spent. I’m not a fan of the more traditional end of the genre. This however, is captivating and its rhythms downright trance-inducing. Now, where are my Bell bottoms, Denim jacket and that large bucket of Kool-Aid?

Basilysk – Emergence

Death Metal
Basilysk – Emergence 
https://basilysk.bandcamp.com/album/emergence

Paul A bit like the Ruadh album this one is what it is. If you like death metal, which I do, there’s nothing not to like about it. It’s very good indeed but so what.

CultBoasting a collection with no track sounding the same as another is a mean feat. But Basilysk pull it off! Channeling a myriad of influence, a technicality which brings to mind Pestilence, progressive elements veering heavily towards Schneider worship and passages which scream OSDM, whilst others growl grindcore with undeniable groove this is an album which doesn’t disappoint. It might not possess your senses on the first listen, but its hooks are in. After another its grip is tighter, deeper and there’s absolutely no denying this is far and beyond the typical “death” release. There’s something here for everyone and this becomes clear as the album plays out. Doom weaves its way alongside the tendrils of an occasional cavernous aura which frolics with South American aggressive thrash, melody appears as if out of nowhere to levitate the intrigue and a diabolical essence seeps from out of the ether adding to the enjoyment. Let’s not forget, however, the epic closer; a maniacal arrangement with a second act. An exquisite Arabian themed tribal drum affair which hints at much more than merely a little (Black) Sabbath here and there in the bands past listening habits. Seek this out if you haven’t already!

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Thrash
Overkill – The Wings of War
https://open.spotify.com/album/2IUZN5c0AVdrnQKfxdMaPK?autoplay=true&v=L

Paul On the other hand, I’m never really sure if I like thrash. I don’t dislike it so that’s something. But you know what? This album fucking kills. I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase before but I’m pretty sure I want to listen to this album over and over again and cover my wall in this band’s posters and buy everything they’ve ever done.

CultA few moments in and I’m hit with as perplexing question. Why did I ever stop listening to Overkill? I wore out the Horrorscope cassette If any band is deserved of a place in the ‘Big 4’ now Metallica have ‘defected’ it’s this band and this album proves it. Trademarked “Blitz” vocals accompany incendiary rhythms which scream we’ve been doing this for years and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Add a Ramones -esque tribute to the bands home state (New Jersey), a touch of crossover, a handful of riffs which will have the mind reeling as to whom it reminds you of, a diverse lineup of tracks and you have an album that’s repeatable without complaint and sure to get the listener twitching with delight every time. For the record, this isn’t my favorite of the year, it’s close and damn enjoyable!

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Doom
Arctic Sleep – Kindred Spirits 
https://arcticsleep.bandcamp.com/album/kindred-spirits

Paul I appreciate what they’re trying to do here and it’s an enjoyable enough listen but it’s not for me. It’s too emotional. I like to keep my emotions tightly wrapped up and locked away where I don’t have to think about them thanks very much.

CultAt times dreamy, often mesmerizing but always captivating, this runs into epic lengths and boasts a fluid nature which is outstanding. Occasionally it might put one in mind of a “light” November’s Doom. The vocals however are miles from what one might expect, with this in mind, not in the slightest “growly” they’re more on a par with tranquil Pink Floyd output, an aura this album also boasts in equal measure. Ideal for those nights when a blazing hearth is the only light in the room and one is bathing in the comfort of a self- induced haze (I’m not going to spell it out). This is an album you can lose yourself within, surprisingly it’s also radio-friendly. Shit, the wife (or significant other of choice) might even like this. Truth be told. It’s extremely difficult not to appreciate even if, like me, ‘extreme’ is your preferred audio arena of choice.

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Death/Doom
Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove 
https://novembersdoom1989.bandcamp.com/album/nephilim-grove

Paul First of all, can somebody please explain to me why this band doesn’t have an apostrophe in its name? That aside, this doesn’t do much for me sorry. If you come around my house you can stick it on if you want. I won’t complain. I’ll enjoy it. But I won’t ask to borrow it.

CultAdmittedly It’s been a while since I’ve laid ear upon a release by these guys. However, I’m glad to report that trend has come to an end, and how. Shattering my preconceived notions Novembers Doom have utilized all the death/doom genre is known for them added their trademark thunderous rhythm approach, passionate vocal diversity and stupendous epic arrangements (which tug at even the most hardened of emotions) and have fashioned an album which delivers from start to finish. This is perhaps their finest work to date. Seriously, who can look upon the covers art and not be curious? Expect to find this upon many a year end list. It’s more than deserved!

Borknagar – True North

Black Metal
Borknagar – True North 
https://open.spotify.com/album/6rgxoXvmfe33dbnm8CdVlU

Paul You head true north and I’ll head true south and let’s keep it that way (*Ed – I’m guessing he didn’t like this one!)

Cult Hardly what I expected, though if truth be told I’ve little experience with the band, this is epic themed, melodic, emotional and irrefutably stylistically diverse. Boasting symphonic elements, intricate arrangements, a wide vocal range/approach and unmistakable progressive heavy metal leanings this is probably not for the casual black fan, or one who demands instant, primal raw, gratification but rather for one whose tastes run to audio which demands exploration through several immersive experiences. To be honest this might take several listens to fully appreciate. With that in mind this is far from horrid, just unexpected, one might even go say far as to state; “different”, at times bordering on Avant Garde. If Amorphis were a smidgen “blacker” in tone this might be close to the result.

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And, as a bonus a few words on a release featuring dominantly in Werewolves in Siberia’s ‘Best of 19’ List’
Voyag3r – War Mask
https://voyag3r.bandcamp.com/album/war-mask

Voyag3r - War Mask

Paul

CultAlthough the albums art, a bold image surrounded in what first appears to be flames, suggests the audio might belong to the metal arena, it surprisingly doesn’t. This is synth. Far from the usual/traditional this showcases both a drum and guitar accompaniment. The result; added depth and an epic audio narrative overflowing with intrigue, adventure (and all manner of audio which would typically accompany the type of on-screen action one would expect of an over the top dramatic cinematic affair) which successfully evokes a myriad of emotion and nostalgia. Effectively conjuring images from a slew of celebrated (usually for the wrong reason) features more often than not boasting a Goblin-esque score, and various television fodder from the 80’s, this gets the imagination reeling as the arrangements flow seamlessly. Rhythms are dynamic, smooth, smoky, suspenseful and occasionally drip in palpable sinister values. Transforming they slip over each other much like dialogue but more often akin to a montage scenario telling a story which doesn’t need words. Befitting a wide array of cinema ranging from Tarantino, Guy Richie, Bava and Fulci (seriously if this doesn’t make you think of Zombie Flesh Eaters at least once there could be something seriously amiss with your viewing habits) this boasts the potential to appeal to a huge audience, as it should. Honestly, if more soundtracks were of this quality my collection would be full of them. Forget your presumptions about the genre and dive into this with a mind willing to appreciate something other than the usual. I’ve played this more than a few times today, and I’m sure I will tomorrow.

 

Well, that was exhausting. Here’s raising a glass to another year with more of the same.

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses – Part Thirty – Eight

heavy metal santa

It’s that time of the year, again. The Year-End lists are in and it’s about the time that one realizes there’s so much (quality and otherwise) audio out there that the sheer prospect of getting to it all is damn near impossible. With that in mind this installment (the last of the year) will cover both the usual suspects and a few items plucked from a number of lists which especially intrigued me. This is a shorter than normal entry (praise the Gods!) on account of last-minute Holiday wot-not which begs for my attention (I’m expecting my bank to call me at some point today). Without further ado.

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Bednja – Doline Su Ostile Iza Nas
(Croatia)
Release – November/29/2019
Transcending Obscurity Records
https://bednjacroatia.bandcamp.com/album/doline-su-ostale-iza-nas-black-metal-hardcore
ARTWORK – 78

This image of a rotting bird carcass reminds me of a vintage Katatonia release (the name of which I forget, but not the impact) although grislier and without the purple filter.

FIRST TRACK – 78

Storm atmospherics dissolve in a dense wall of audio transpiring into a machine gun riff assault, a chaotic approach and angst by the truckload a package channeling sludge values and something more sinister still. An interesting concoction indeed!

INITIAL LISTEN – 79

A dense blanket of black metal sensibilities weighs down upon angst delivered with a hardcore vocal approach. Excellent drum salvos, synth supplied torn atmosphere elements, crows doing their thing adding to the overall atmosphere, heritage and traditional music introductions and passages which dip into trance and a style akin to that found within Somali Yacht Club territories add flavor and heighten the intrigue. But, it’s the audio itself and the mix of styles which one would think wouldn’t meld which oddly leaves the impression. And it’s one that lasts. This is a keeper which might not grab ahold instantly but will after time and begs to be replayed. Did I mention the lyrics are in the bands native tongue? It doesn’t matter it only makes this more curious audio still. A mix of crust, black metal and hardcore which demands discovery.

Favorite Tracks; Iz Magle, Posljednji Krik, Tisnia Je Smrt.

FFO; I’m at a loss of who to mention here, just lay ears upon this already!

deathswarm

And as Promised, An End of Year List Recc
Deathswarm – Shadowlands of Darkness
(Sweden)
Release – February/25/2019
Chaos Records/Phychocontrol Records
https://deathswarm-chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/shadowlands-of-darkness
ARTWORK – 76

At first this looks raw and primitive, an old school near indecipherable chaotic black and white mass. But upon closer inspection figures appear and faces, skulls and horses. This could well be the secret entrance to the cave of the four horsemen or perhaps just an ancient cliff with a hole blown in the side of it which No one has managed to traverse the heights of, that is, until these intrepid fellows.

FIRST TRACK – 84

One would need to be deaf, or supremely ignorant, to not hear the influences on display here. The hooks and rhythms are criminally familiar yet the track has enough movement to make one think of a slew of acts (who admittedly aren’t too different from one another) rather than a single one and imagine how an acts more famous output might sound if some of the members had migrated from different bands around at the same time.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

Drenched in old school values and a tone which is both HM2 worship and British dirge, ala Bolt Thrower, and the slightest mist of black metal this offers a great to like, and instantly! Bouncing from criminally addictive mid-tempo D-beat/industrial/grindcore groove to slower doomier tracks riddled with undeniable presence, palpable sinister nature and soul-crushing melodies this ironically boasts that which many albums of similar ilk are without. In essence, a wicked amalgamation of that which permeated, in heavy rotation, the senses of wickedly smirking extreme audiophiles a few decades ago but with an added fierceness in just the right amount. Homage if you will but with added flair, style and sound fans will be able to instantly appreciate without regret. I’ll be spinnin’ this a great deal in the foreseeable future!

Favorite Tracks; Honestly, this doesn’t disappoint from start to finish!

FFO; Carnage, (vintage) Dismember, (vintage) Grave, Bolt Thrower, Gatecreeper.

nox irae

NOX IRAE – Here the Dead Live (EP)
(France)
Release – November/15/2019
Transcending Obscurity Records
https://noxiraedeath.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 79

A Gothic staircase and like surroundings complete with a person in a sheet (climbing its gradient). Or, is it? Could this be a ghost in a sheet with a sense of humor. Is he/she clocking in or out? I appreciate the irony on display.

FIRST TRACK – 80

Commencing with a vomited like a hell-bent projectile pace this grabs the attention quick and holds it with a mixture of old school sensibilities, a touch of grindcore, dense atmosphere and surprising rhythms. A good start.

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

Thrashy melodic death with a dark dense aura and an old school European vocal approach. Infectious rhythms and a hint of black metal and hardcore influence amidst mid-tempo breakdowns make for an intriguing album, with maniacal moments that make one think upon old Slayer and others instances where one will think upon bands which perpetrate the dirge laden steamroller approach. This offers more on a second listen basis, but remains formulaic in instances.

Favorite Tracks; Phantom Parasite Trauma, Cold Wind, Supposed Dead.

FFO; Benediction, Bolt Thrower, (vintage) Slayer.

Superstition

Another End of Year List Recc
Superstition – The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation
(USA)
Release – June/21/2019
20 Buck Spin
https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/the-anatomy-of-unholy-transformation
ARTWORK – 93

I’m a sucker for black and white imagery and this has to be some of the year’s most impressive. Detailed yet seething with a raw nature this sports a Grim Reaper figure illuminated from on high going about his duties of turning unfortunates into shadows of their former selves. (Why is there no shirt available? I feel silly as I recently dropped a huge hint to the wife.)

FIRST TRACK – 94

Combining Synth, a score seemingly plucked from a European cult gem (circa the early eighties), palpable diabolical nature and various grunts, growls and unholy issuances this has my intrigue wrapped up bordering on unhealthy smothering/suffocation. Then the maelstrom of riffs commences and my face is torn asunder by a mischievous grin. The vocals add to the cavernous depth and I’m eager for more.

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

And to think this nearly passed me by. Admittedly it was the black and white imagery (and a mention on a social media post comparing this to the heights of Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation, neither of which I liked, apparently as much as I was supposed to) which pulled me in. However, it’s the arrangements, the aura, the supreme coalescing of maniacal, diabolical, old school and cavernous elements which makes the (“no time to slow down, this is gonna hurt”) impact. Riffs are furious, fierce and tumble over each other with rhythms leaning more towards a constant barrage than that heard within the albums from the two acts mentioned previously. The aura and atmosphere between tracks remind me in part, albeit minuscule, of Entombed “Left Hand Path” with undeniable and unmistakable homage to celluloid boasting invocative synth accompaniment from decades previous. Relentless, often harrowing and part nostalgic (this fondly tosses me back to the first time I laid ears upon “Altars of Madness” and the foreign emotions which coursed through my largely unsuspecting form). This crosses all the right boxes without veering too far into over the top realms, in short, a delicious combination of filthy tone, unholy rhythms, sinister riffs which combined superimpose Underworld menace over that which is everyday familiar. Consider this a last minute, just made it, years best entry. The appeal of this is downright sinful.

Favorite Tracks; Distracting, in the best possible way, from start to finish.

FFO; Tomb Mold, Morbid Angel, Incantation.

gatecreeper deserted

Another End of Year List Recc
Gatecreeper – Deserted
(USA)
Release – October/4/2019
Relapse Records
https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/album/deserted
ARTWORK – 90

Intricate, detailed and fascinating. A veritable pallet of colors which seem like they shouldn’t go together but do. The more you concentrate the more thoughts, and the idea that either the artist is brilliant or mad, run rampant through the head in regards to what this might represent. I’d buy the shirt but I’d fear that my washing machine and dryer would inevitably consume the image that or the dry cleaners bill would cripple me.

FIRST TRACK – 85

A slow build to a mid-tempo huge riff rhythm. But the filthiness of the tone is delicious, the old school aura unmistakable and the groove enough to have the neck contract a mild case of carpal tunnel.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

The Stockholm sound but from the States? That’s my fairest assessment, as sadly my lexicon is rather lackluster this morning, but add a handful of other influences (Celtic Frost comes across occasionally like a chunk of mortar to the forehead) and the album offers both nostalgic qualities and enough groove to set any dance floor on fire (what?) The transformation in pace is spot on and although rhythms put one (most?) in mind of either Entombed or Dismember, perhaps even Gorguts in instances Gatecreeper wrangle arrangements away from plagiarist realms to homage territories adding their own creative fingerprint to delight the eager senses. An excellent combination of death/doom/old school and HM2 worship this rightfully is dividing the audience. Personally, I’m in the can’t get enough collective as it reminds me of both vintage British death (vocal cadence wise) as well the European sound with the obvious dirge/’buzzsaw’ elements. This is hitting the spot! Highly recommended!

Favorite Tracks; Deserted, Puncture Wounds, Sweltering Madness,

FFO; Entombed, Carnage, Celtic Frost, Bolt Thrower, Fleshcrawl, Revel in Flesh.

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PRRRESSEEEEENNNNTTTSSS!!

And that concludes this years Abrasive Audio offerings. I hope you’ve all had fun (all two of you) and I hope I’ve at least mentioned a few acts which have left an impression. A huge thanks for letting my atrocious grammar swim before the startled retinas. All that remains are Holiday greetings and salutations for the New Year (insert wickedly devilish meme or gif here) Be safe, cherish those who are close and don’t forget to preach the word of metal to all who wish to care. Until next our paths of audio interest meet, don’t fear that which is normally foreign to the ears.

Your slave to audio extreme,

Cult