Jul 232017

 

Listeners who have closely followed Iceland’s burgeoning black metal scene over the last decade know that there has been considerable cross-pollinization among bands in the vanguard of that surging movement. Sinmara is perhaps the best example, with a line-up that includes members of such other groups as Svartidauði, Slidhr, Wormlust, and Almyrkvi. Their 2014 debut album Aphotic Womb (which we had the privilege of premiering) was a gripping display of what such a creative collaboration could produce. Since then, Sinmara have released only one other song, “Ivory Stone”, which appeared on their split with Misþyrming early this year (reviewed here). But Sinmara now return with a new EP, and once again we’re fortunate to host its premiere.

The new EP, consisting of three interconnected songs, is named Within the Weaves of Infinity. It will be released on August 24th by Terratur Possessions on vinyl and CD and by Oration on cassette tape. However, as of today it’s available digitally via Bandcamp. We have the full stream below, along with some impressions of the music and news of a forthcoming Sinmara tour.

Jul 202017

 

(We present TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by West Virginia’s Byzantine, scheduled for release by Metal Blade on July 28.)

When Byzantine basically slowly imploded after their fantastic self-titled comeback I’ve no shame in admitting I was super-concerned about what would happen. I knew Chris Ojeda wanted to continue on, it was his baby, he’s the reason Byzantine exists, but the “OG” lineup of Byzantine, the one people remember, was pretty hard to beat and had some uniquely talented musicians in it, stylistically. Lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough would be especially the hardest element to replace, as his angular jazz-fusion-esque approach to soloing over the thrash/math-metal/southern-swagger juggernaut of the Byzantine sound served as the final piece in the band’s musical jigsaw puzzle that saw the whole thing come together.

To Release Is To Resolve, the band’s first album with its current line-up, was a great record, but one that had a lot of jagged edges on it as the effort to incorporate the new blood’s musical talents and tendencies hadn’t quite yet been worked out. Brian Henderson’s guitar playing was far more melodic and hook-oriented than Rohrbough’s, and Ojeda had bassist Sean Sydnor, who was much more technically skilled at his instrument than Michael Chromer, to account for. It was still Byzantine in all of the right ways, and even saw the band visiting more progressive pastures in light of the absence of Tony Rohrbough, who was a zealot for cutting songs down to the absolute minimum efficiency possible.

An evolution was definitely on the horizon, and I was eager to hear what would come next. Original drummer Matt Wolfe is now out of the picture since To Release…, making Ojeda officially the only original Byzantine member left in the band. Matt Bowles has stepped into the kit position, and he brings with him a greater degree of technical prowess.

Jul 192017

 

(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Concrete Age, along with our premiere of a full album stream.)

 

Technical thrash-style riffing? Check. Melodic death metal styled melodic approaches and emotive song-writing? Check. Eastern ethnic cultural instruments and influences? Check. Raw thrash/hardcore styled vocals that have a complete disregard for technique and are all passion? Check. Concrete Age encapsulate a lot of things I love in extreme metal.

If this were a different time, these guys would definitely be classified under the so-called “Neo-thrash” tag alongside Hatesphere or Carnal Forge or even Darkane. Their music is more technical melodic death metal, I guess, with a great deal of Eastern ethnic instrumental moments and melodic tendencies.

The Totem Of The Great Snake, Part 1 is an immensely powerful album and is also the best melodic death metal album of the year that I’ve heard by FAR so far. Big deal, considering the style’s been in a real slump the last couple of years.

Jul 182017

 

(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Italy’s Order Ov Riven Cathedrals, which was released on July 5, 2017.)

Italian death metal and I have a pretty tense relationship. It tries so hard, and there’s certainly impressive things about it, but I’m usually not impressed. I like Hideous Divinity, and some Hour Of Penance and Fleshgod Apocalypse, but that’s really it, and even then I’m not so enamored that I couldn’t do without them.

The hyperspeed “let’s out Pole the Polish” aesthetic has always been commendable, and I have nothing against it in and of itself, but I often find that Italian bands lack the sense of efficiency and hooky song-writing that makes the Polish death metal template so appealing. Fleshgod has always been a band I enjoy because of the gimmick they offer (it works), and while I wasn’t impressed with Hideous Divinity at the beginning, they have evolved into a very good Annihilation Of The Wicked-era throwback band, and their new album this year is undeniably one of 2017‘s best.

And that brings me to Order Ov Riven Cathedrals. This is the first time I’ve encountered Italian hyper-speed death metal and actually LOVED it from the first listen. I might even go as far as to say that, at least for me personally, this is the first time the Italian death metal formula has been both perfected and extrapolated upon effectively. The Discontinuity’s Interlude is one of the most unrelenting, savage, and uncompromising death metal albums I’ve heard all year.

Jul 162017

 

(In April the French band Gorod released an EP that they had prepared for distribution on a European tour. DGR finally caught up with that EP, and now turns in this detailed review.)

Heavy metal is often at its most fun when it feels like the artists behind it have lost their minds. There’s something about a musical genre oft-described as an explosion of catharsis having a creative explosion of its own and going nuts.

It’s not easy to stay reserved when you know that a band has set out to try something that is completely out of the norm for them, and such is the case with France’s frenetic tech-death titans Gorod and their recent thrash experiment EP, Kiss The Freak, which the band wrote and recorded in a very short window before going out on a European tour that saw them hitting the road with the likes of Havok, Warbringer, and Exmortus. Gorod themselves described it this way:

Jul 152017

 

I’m sure it’s obvious to most people who visit us, and perhaps painfully obvious, that I listen to a lot of music, flitting like a hummingbird amidst the fecund and constantly flowering garden of metal in search of nectar, nightshades, and sharp thorns. And although dark new delights never seem far away, some of them are so arresting that they freeze me in my flight, locked into the embrace of what I’m hearing. That was the effect of Хиус (Heeus), the new album by Neverending Winter, which is being released today.

The album is so creative and so captivating that it caused me to reflect again on the happenstance of location as it affects the global reach of a band or an album.

Neverending Winter are located in Tomsk in Siberian Russia. They lack the visibility that a substantial label or professional PR representation might provide. Because of their remote location and low public profile, it’s unlikely they would be able to mount tours across Europe, much less North America, and that in turn will likely make it even more difficult for them to attract the backing of organizations that could help expand the global reach of their music — although I have no idea whether they even have such ambitions.

Jul 142017

 

(New Zealand-based writer Craig Hayes (Six Noises) joins us again with this review of the new album by NZ’s Vesicant, which is being released today by Iron Bonehead Productions.)

 

New Zealand black/death metal duo Vesicant have only played a handful of shows, and their 2014 Edict demo was originally released in limited numbers, too. But that hasn’t stopped powerhouse German label Iron Bonehead Productions from stepping in to release the band’s formidable full-length debut, Shadows of Cleansing Iron.

If you’re wondering how an obscure band from the far-flung reaches gets to enjoy Iron Bonehead’s patronage, the answer is twofold. First, and most obviously, Iron Bonehead were clearly impressed by the stockpile of murderous music Vesicant have housed in their armory –– and we’ll get to those battering munitions soon. But it’s also well worth pointing out that Iron Bonehead’s shown a marked interest in NZ’s extreme metal scene over the years.

Jul 122017

 

I’m showing rare restraint in this round-up. Rather than try to stuff 8-10 new things into one bulging post, which my gluttonous self has a habit of doing, this time I’ve just picked four new things. Following this new, but probably short-lived, format, my plan is to scatter more of these shorter round-ups over the remaining days of this week, too.

GODHUNTER

Back in May we had the pleasure of premiering an unusual song named “Cocaine Witches & Lysergic Dreams” off the band’s new EP, Codex Narco, which has now been released. The whole EP is as hard to pin down as the song we premiered, and that’s one of its many attractions — the creative and unexpected splicing together of disparate musical elements, along with the strong emotional force of the songs, is a big part of what makes Codex Narco stand out.

One of the tracks on the EP is a cover song, Godhunter’s take on “Walking With A Ghost“, which was originally recorded by Tegan & Sara. I also mentioned that the song would eventually become the subject of a music video made by Mitch Wells from Thou, and that video was finally released yesterday. It’s the first item in this collection.

Jul 122017

 

(Here’s Andy Synn’s glowing review of the new second album by the Norwegian band Timeworn.)

 

Do you ever feel like Mastodon have gone too mainstream?

That The Ocean (Collective) were better before they got lost up their own prog-hole?

That Burst were the best band no-one’s ever heard of?

Well then, do I have an album for you!

Jul 122017

 

(Norway-based NCS contributor Karina Noctum usually brings us interviews, but this time it’s a review — of the eighth Limbonic Art album, the first one in seven years.)

Limbonic Art is a Norwegian Black Metal band formed in 1993 that blends melody with the melancholic pace and ambient elements of Funeral Doom. It is now the solo project of Daemon (Zyklon) project, and one of my favorite one-man bands.

I discovered Limbonic Art 15 years ago. I was drawn to the cover of Moon in the Scorpio, a beautiful artwork, at the music store and ever since then I’ve been following every new release. I like the fact that it is melodic but not the kind of annoying melodic that wears you off.

Every release has a distinct nature that keeps it interesting, from the devastating, relentless, tight, and fast-paced music of Ad Noctum – Dynasty of Death to the more experimental and varied sound and ambience of In Abhorrent Dementia. Every album is different and yet each one carries the Limbonic Art mark.

Their latest album Spectre Abysm is perhaps one of the albums that remind me the most of the band’s first album, Moon in the Scorpio. The grandiose dark and ritualistic ambience of the early days is combined with excellent guitar and bass work and awesome layered vocals, all firmly framed in the Norwegian BM style.

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