Aug 212014

Photo by Greg Neiser

Almost exactly one year ago I reviewed the debut EP (Sylvan Matriarch) by a Pittsburgh band named Dendritic Arbor. Listening to the EP, I had the sensation that the music was causing my own dendritic arbors to grow in rampant fashion — and then burning them to ash. Borrowing chaotically from black metal, hardcore, sludge, industrial, doom, and freakish electronic noise, the music created an overall atmosphere of severe derangement, as if the inmates had been put in charge of the asylum after being injected with gasoline and then set on fire. I found the whole EP (which is available on Bandcamp) fascinating, wildly creative, and extremely destructive.

Dendritic Arbor have now recorded a new song that will be released on a forthcoming compilation to be released by Philadelphia’s  Anthropic Records, and we’re premiering it today in the form of a music video. The song’s name is “Genie”, and it’s based on the tortured life of Susan Wiley (nicknamed “Genie”), whose abuse, neglect, and social isolation at the hands of her father during the first 13 years of her life prevented her from ever learning speech and led her to be considered a “feral child”.

After being rescued from the prison in her home by Los Angeles child welfare authorities in 1970, Genie became the subject of extensive scientific study, while being moved in and out of foster homes and a series of institutions for disabled adults — many of which seem to have been environments just as abusive as the one from which she was “rescued”. (Read more here.)

Aug 212014


The Ukrainian black metal horde Blood of Kingu are on the verge of releasing Dark Star On the Right Horn of the Crescent Moon — their third album and their first in more than five years. As you will soon hear, it is a grim devotional to disease, doom, and decay — an intense, immersive listening experience that over its length builds a wholly enveloping atmosphere of ominous peril.

With Drudkh’s main man Roman Sayenko once again piloting this dangerous vessel, Blood of Kingu drive the music with relentless blasting percussion and huge moving waves of almost ceaseless tremolo-picked chords, accented by eerie and ominous keyboards that effectively deepen the aura of doom. Through these dense moving walls of sound, bleak minor-key melodies ripple like disease vectors, and Sayenko’s monstrous, hollow roars sound like a ritualistic chant in an occult ceremony of death. When the band isn’t storming like a hurricane, they’re pounding like titans hammering nails into granite, or using massive groaning chords in a way that sounds like chains being dragged across a crypt floor.

The album’s savage assault is segmented by two brief ambient interludes, but even those breaks do nothing but further intensify the sense that you have been transported to an arid, decomposing wasteland of perpetual night.

Aug 212014


(BadWolf introduces our co-premiere of “Archways”, the first track on the forthcoming second album by Sweden’s Stench.)

Stench features members of Tribulation, whose last album, 2013′s Formulas of Death, endeavored to stretch black metal into uncharted territory, whether that be 70′s prog or 60′s surf rock. Tribulation’s approach didn’t always strike gold, or a chord for that matter, but it usually struck a nerve. Successful or not, that band was trying to do something genuinely new and interesting. The same could be said of Arizona’s Take Over And Destroy, who have a new record out this way. Stench finds itself between these bands, vying for an adventurous mix of prog, black, and death metal. It’s not orchestral in a Cradle of Filth kinda way, but there’s definitely some melodrama to Stench’s approach. All the better, I say.

“Archways,” the first track on the trio’s second record, isn’t immediate—it submerges itself in isolated guitar tracks before launching into a full assault part-way between the low-fi onslaught of Bathory and other proto-black bands, and the unforgiving rhythm of something like early Entombed. Likewise, the restless creep factor of both groups is present on this track. You can almost envision the black leather giallo gloves slipping into the hands of an unknown psychopath as the group’s death metal assault is joined by some vintage keys and sound effects. Before you know it, “Archways” is done, but that’s the way we like it, right? Never overstaying one’s welcome. All of Venture is like that—creepy and precise. Check it out in Europe on September 26 and in America on October 28.

Aug 202014

If you’re a fan of Swedish death metal but you’re also hungry for something out of the ordinary, you need Usurpress in your life. This band from Uppsala have completed recording their second album – Ordained — and it will be coming out later this year via Doomentia Records. It follows the band’s 2012 full-length debut, Trenches of the Netherworld, and a handful of splits and shorter releases. Today we’re bringing you a taste of the new album — and it’s a two-fer: In addition to the premiere of a new song, we’re giving you a first look at the full-gatefold album cover by Ola Larsson, which is just downright gorgeous.

The new song is “Storming the Mausoleum”, and it’s a good representation of the Usurpress sound. Though it’s a compact four-minute affair, it’s packed with enough variations that it seems to end too soon — and if you’re like me, your first impulse after finishing it will be to hit “play” again.

In addition to that distinct, fat, corrosive guitar tone that’s the hallmark of the genre, plus gruff, bone-chewing vocals, the band show their affinity for d-beat rhythms — plus some other twists and turns. It begins with huge, lumbering,  swampy riffs and sledgehammer drum hits but then accelerates, with grinding tremolo-picked guitar parts and knee-capping percussion. Before it ends, the band shift into a galloping rhythm, inject menacing spoken-word vocals, and lace the music with odd, dissonant scales that aren’t exactly par for the course. It’s an excellent song, and an excellent teaser for what promises to be an album that’s both brutal and interesting.

But before we get to the song, feast your eyes upon this (click the image to enlarge it):

Aug 192014


We don’t write much about deathcore at this site, which may be why we’re not exactly a “go to” location for bands in that space who are interested in getting some increased exposure for their music. But Fail To Decay from Rochester, Minnesota, happen to include James Benson of Amiensus in their ranks, and that’s a band we’ve written about more than once in glowing terms. So when he asked us to check out Fail To Decay’s new music video, that got our attention — and now we’re bringing the video to you as well.

It was directed, filmed, and edited by Rico Roman Productions (The Human Abstract, Born of Osiris), and it’s for a song named “All Seeing Eye” off Fail To Decay’s 2014 EP, The Black Book., which was mixed and mastered by another favorite of this site, Roman “Arsafes” Iskorostenskiy (Kartikeya, Arsafes).

Aug 192014


The Belgium death cult Emeth were the subjects of Andy Synn’s 18th SYNN REPORT for NCS, in a series that’s now approaching its 50th edition. Back then, in August 2011, the band had produced three albums of striking savagery mixed with seismically shifting tempos, technically immaculate instrumental work, and incisive hooks. Now Emeth are on the verge of releasing their fourth album through their new label, Xtreem Music, which has proven to have a reliable eye for brutality that’s a cut above the ordinary.

The band’s new album is entitled Aethyr and it’s expected to hit the streets in September of this year, with pre-orders coming soon. Given the passage of six long years since the band’s last full-length (Telesis), one might well wonder whether time has pacified Emeth’s ferocity or dulled the edge of their blades. Well, wonder no more, because today we’re bringing you the premiere of the new album’s title track, and it should banish all fears.

Aug 192014


There’s a song premiere at the end of this post. It’s a really good song. Those of you who are squeezed for time or afflicted with attention deficit disorder, I won’t blame you if you jump to the bottom and press Play. But I’m going to have my say about the whole album, because Transient is one of the most interesting I’ve heard in 2014. It might even be the best album Krieg has yet produced in a career that’s coming up on two decades. And if you think that any one song on this album will faithfully represent all the rest, even the one we’re premiering, you might want to read on.

Increasing age is a double-edged sword for all of us, and it’s a particularly unpredictable blade for musicians, one that’s just as liable to cause self-inflicted wounds as to carve new trails through the underbrush. On the one hand, skills can improve and the accumulation of life experiences can add maturity and new depth to an artist’s creativity. But goddamn, it can also make you boring, or lazy, or both. Some bands are content to tread water, some of them try to force-feed a fire that died out long ago, and the sparks sputter instead of blaze. Transient is about the furthest thing you could imagine from that.

Neill Jameson (aka Imperial), the man behind Krieg, cemented his place in the black metal underground a long time ago. He’s older now. By the sounds of Transient, he might not be any happier, but he sure as hell isn’t treading water. What he’s done instead is to feed the smoldering fires of the black metal vehemence he has tended so well with an array of new and different fuels, producing flames of different colors, though the overarching emotional hue of the album as a whole is still mostly bleak, blasted, and broken.

Aug 182014


Fortune (or Satan) has smiled on us, because today we have been chosen to deliver unto you a stream of the new album by Midnight, from beginning to end, from “Penetratal Curse” to “Aggressive Crucifixion”, and beyond. And we introduce you to No Mercy For Mayhem with this review of the album by our brother BadWolf:


Jamie “Athenar” Walters spent a long time recording demos, 7-inches, and splits as Midnight before he released his debut album, much like many other solo black metal musicians in America. But that long gestation period, I’m afraid, is where the similarities end. Midnight is nothing like Krieg, Xasthur, or Weakling. Bedroom black metal? More like satanic sex dungeon metal-n-roll. The only thing atmospheric about Midnight is the thin film of grindhouse sleaze that permeates its propulsive stew of old-school black metal and cock rock.

Further far afield from midwest black metal, Midnight has a distinct look and aesthetic. With painted cover art featuring hooded executioners and scantily clad women, the band has a sense of style, all wrapped up in violence, delinquency, and BDSM naughtiness. For a pretty anonymous, gender-indifferent genre, Midnight deals with sexual subjects, while sporting a strong, theatrical sense—something that used to be a big part of black metal until everyone but Immortal forgot about it. Live, Midnight comes across like a crust-punk KISS, albeit with hoods instead of platform shoes (an upgrade, if you ask me).

Walters’s 2011 debut, Satanic Royalty, wound up being one of my favorite albums of that year—too bad I didn’t get a chance to hear it until 2012. That record mixed Venom-and-Motörhead-isms with arena-ready hooks. For the past two years, I’ve been frothing at the mouth to get a taste of its followup, and the Complete and Total Hell compilation album (reviewed here), though incredible, just did not scratch the itch. Seeing Midnight’s energetic performance at Maryland Deathfest 2013 only made the wait more unbearable.

Aug 182014


Last spring I discovered the existence of a Montréal death metal cult named Phobocosm, who had just recently signed with Dark Descent for the release of their debut album, Deprived. In the spring, one song had been posted for streaming. Its name is “Solipsist”,  and it’s a monster. The dreadful chiming chords that begin the song are like the bells that herald the final doom, and the rest of the song provides a reasonable approximation of that world-ending event. Today we’re lucky to bring you the premiere of a second track from Deprived. This new one is named “Knives In the Senate House”. It, too, is a monster.

The music creates an atmosphere of choking, poisonous miasma with bleak, ripping riffs that grind and vibrate as if emulating the super-heated process of radioactive decay. Huge bass and drum hammers punctuate the storming onslaught with concrete-splitting force, and a sinuous melody slithers through the toxic storm, giving the music character as well as a potent aura of dread and imminent destruction. The drum performance throughout the song is both acrobatic and brutally effective, and the deep, gargantuan vocals enhance the music’s message of utter catastrophe.

Phobocosm are practicing a very dark art, one that displays mastery in the creation of both oppressive atmospherics and sensations of physically compulsive power. Like “Solipsist”, “Knives In the Senate House” heralds the advent of an album that will be a must-listen experience by all true acolytes of lethal death rituals.

Aug 142014

Long-time followers of our site will be familiar with Nick Vasallo, but for any newcomers in the audience, he is the lead vocalist and songwriter for the excellent technical death metal band Oblivion – and he has a Ph.D. in Music, he is an assistant professor at Cal State Polytechnic University (Pomona), and he is a composer of contemporary classical music whose works have been performed internationally.

When last we featured him in these pages (here), the subject was the composition that earned him his Ph.D., a unique collision of heavy metal and classical music entitled Black Swan Events. Now we’re delighted to bring you the on-line premiere of another composition that incorporates elements of both musical genres.

The title of this new work is “Ozymandias”, and it comes in the form of a remarkable music video. Accompanying the video we also have a brief interview of Nick Vasallo in which he discusses the music and the way in which it has been presented in the video.

As the name suggests, the music was inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous poem “Ozymandias”, an allegory for the impermanence of empires, and at a deeper level, of most human achievements; perhaps only art survives, the poem suggests, and even then in a state of gradual decay. The music is an unpredictable work — sometimes dissonant, distorted, and disturbing, sometimes quite head-bangable, and sometimes dramatically powerful. And it ends with the sound of singing bowls!

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