(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Black Crown Initiate from Reading, PA.)
Black Crown Initiate have been something of a favourite of mine (and, if I’m not speaking out of turn here, the majority of the NCS crew in general) for quite some time now and, as such, Selves We Cannot Forgive (released today on eOne), has been sat at the top of my “most anticipated” list for 2016 ever since it was first confirmed.
Thanks to my moonlighting for Terrorizer I’ve been lucky enough to have access to the album for quite a while now, which has allowed me the opportunity to really dig deep into its many layers, as the Pennsylvanian quintet have clearly gone to great lengths to push themselves and their music down an ever-proggier path on their second album.
But… and it’s a surprisingly big but (and I cannot lie)… despite all of its impressively progressive inclinations and some undeniably heroic highlights, it’s hard not to view Selves We Cannot Forgive as the band taking one step backwards for every move forwards they make.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the two bands who participated in the split release you’re about to hear — Bent Sea and To Dust — their collective rosters include current and former members of such groups as Napalm Death, Aborted, Soilwork, Abigail Williams, Black Dahlia Murder, Phobia, and Megadeth. And if that doesn’t seize your attention, then consider this: The two EPs that are combined in this album-length split under the title Ascend / Descend will explode your head — and who doesn’t crave a massive head explosion?
If you’re somehow still wavering, consider the assessment of Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan:
“Bent Sea come out firing on all cylinders with their kick ass blend of modern grind and discordant musings with hints of later-era Gorguts, leaving To Dust to finish you off with a scathing hardcore attack of HM-2 influenced grind!”
Ascend / Descend will be released by Give Praise Records on July 22, and one solitary day before its release we’re bringing you a full stream of this dynamic grindcore detonation. Let’s take these two groups and their contributions to the split one at a time.
(In the glorious 75th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy reviews the discography to date of South Dakota’s Woman Is the Earth.)
Recommended for fans of: Agalloch, Wildernessking, Wolves In The Throne Room
Hailing from Black Hills, South Dakota, Woman Is The Earth deal in a brand of Black Metal that’s as heavy in atmosphere as it is in aggression, with songs that meld writhing riffage and rolling drums with passages of acoustic contemplation and ambient meditation, all without falling prey (in my opinion at least) to the more generic tropes and clichés of the over-saturated “Post Black Metal” scene.
They do this by never forgetting that – unlike some of their more populist peers — they’re definitely, even defiantly, a Metal band at heart… and a Black Metal band at that… so their music is never in danger of pandering to the notions of bland accessibility or pretentious artistry which undermine so many other acts of this type.
Having released their latest (and greatest) album earlier this year, and with the recent demise of Agalloch still weighing heavy upon so many of our hearts, now seemed like an opportune time to expose our readers to the band’s particular blend of grim grandeur and metallic majesty!
You’re about to hear the new EP of a monstrous Japanese band named Urobilinemia, which will be released by Gore House Productions on July 22. It’s a bit outside our usual wheelhouse(s). In fact, as I began listening to it, I wondered whether it was too far outside. And then I lost my mind.
When most people say they lost their mind, they just mean they temporarily misplaced it, or it escaped briefly but will come home again soon, happily wagging its tail. In my case, I fear that Urobilinemia have pulverised, pureed, and poisoned the contents of my skull so ruthlessly that reassembly may be impossible. How do you reassemble something that has been reduced to a quivering mass of goo?
(We present TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Boston’s Revocation.)
Sometimes regression is evolution. While I haven’t kept up with the press surrounding this album, my friends who have tell me that this is supposed to be Revocation’s most progressive record. It certainly, in my estimation, isn’t that at all in the conventional sense you’d suspect. “Progressive” is also a word that’s been pretty butchered in the world of metal. When we live in a world where TesseracT is considered progressive, that shows how much water the label holds.
Revocation’s Great Is Our Sin is interesting, in that it indeed contains elements that might be considered progressive (extreme amounts of stylistic inclusion/blending and nuance brought about by that inclusion), but the music itself isn’t really what I’d call progressive. It’s fantastic technical, thrash-driven death metal that switches gears among just about every variation on the style, and Davidson’s guitar playing in and of itself is certainly progressive in ways that perhaps could only be explained to other musicians or the super-musically-inclined.
Revocation’s music, especially on this record that follows Deathless, which was also played it very straight, is largely devoid of any sort of meandering, exploration, or head-turning twists. It’s all pure, unrestrained brutality and darkness with eccentricities sprinkled throughout.
In yesterday’s Part 1 of this large round-up, I said I would post Part 2 later the same day. Someday I will learn that part-time metal bloggers who have actual paying jobs and/or families who occasionally need their attention should not make forecasts of what they plan to do on the blog. Not even what they think they will accomplish later the same day, or even in the next hour. That’s just laying the groundwork for stepping on your own crank, so to speak.
Anyway, here’s Part 2, which unlike yesterday focuses on new or newish music that I wanted to recommend rather than simply announcements. One silver lining to the delay is that it enabled me to add the first item in this collection, which appeared late yesterday.
HEAVEN SHALL BURN
Our small band of beleaguered writers at NCS includes some ardent (perhaps even slavish) fans of Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn. I count my own self on the slavish end of the spectrum. And so yesterday was a banner day, because…
(Andy Synn reviews the great new album by Austria’s Harakiri For the Sky.)
A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet. Or so they say. But when it comes to musical genres… is that really the case?
Now I’m sure some of you are already sharpening your claws ready to declaim that all genres are bullshit, and that you’re above such petty concerns… but for the rest of us who live in the real world, genre terms remain a useful way of tagging and identifying music – though I’m more than happy to admit that once we start getting bogged down in arguing about sub-sub-sub genres things start to get a little silly.
I’d contend that tagging a band with the right term remains important though, particularly when you’re introducing them to a potential new fan. Because, like it or not, using the wrong genre when talking about a band can give a new listener a false impression of what to expect, and sometimes it can be a real uphill battle to overcome this and and get them to judge it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.
Such is the case with Austrian angst-merchants Harakiri for the Sky.
(Wil Cifer brings us this review of the new album by Germany’s ColdWorld.)
Finally after 8 years, Germany’s ColdWorld has released a new album, Autumn. This world might be more of a slight chill than a cold one, as the sound has certainly changed. With this album, everything is bigger, so the compromise is even up to some of the starkness created by the more lo-fi ambiance of this project’s earlier work. I love depressive black metal; if you have read my other reviews then you know I like it as dark as a band can give it to me. So after hearing the changes, which have made this more of an atmospheric black metal album than a depressive black metal album, I had to pry my stubborn old mind open even further.
The mood has changed; something hopeful lies within the chords propelling the scowling vocals. Things become even more refined when clean vocals appear in the first song, creating a more Porcupine Tree sound. Female vocals are even layered within “Void”. Synths set the stage for “Woods of Emptiness”. There is an emotive pulse to the guitar, but to my ears it’s not what I call dark; instead it paints the song in a hazy, dream-like gray.
(Andy Synn reviews the debut EP by The Comancheros, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri.)
As my third and final entry this week on the theme of bands beginning with “The” I’m venturing a little bit outside of our usual wheelhouse with the smooth and smoky brand of musical misery served up by The Comancheros.
But Andy, how are these guys in any way relevant to the NCS audience, I hear you ask?
Well, for one thing, one of their members just so happens to be a certain R. Michael Cook of the inimitable A Hill To Die Upon (who, I have it on good authority, are back in the saddle and working on new music themselves), and for another The Comancheros list their main influences as “Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, Judas Priest, and Dwight Yoakam”, which suggests to me that one or two of you might just find something to like on their new EP, Four Horsemen.
(Andy Synn provides this review of the latest album by The Drowning from Wales.)
For those of you unfamiliar with Welsh Death/Doom disciples The Drowning, allow me to provide a quick introduction – forming in 2003, and releasing their debut EP, Withered, in 2005, the band have thus far produced three (now four) albums of impressively potent, though widely underappreciated, doom-laden delights which largely eschew the genre’s more gothic leanings in favour of a more vigorous, riff-based approach – albeit one still swathed in layers of sombre melody and creeping gloom – that’s a little less My Dying Bride and a little more Novembers Doom in sound and style.
In that same spirit of introduction it’s probably also worth offering up a quick a word of warning as well. At an hour and six minutes in total, and with an average song length which hovers around the eight-and-a-half minute mark (not counting brief intro track “Dolor Saeculi”), the band’s new album, Senescent Signs, is certainly a significant endeavour, and one not necessarily best-suited for those simply in search of a quick fix of melancholy to (un)brighten their day.
However, that doesn’t make it a ponderous listen. In fact, for the most part, these eight tracks (and one intro) pack more than enough of a punch (not to mention a solemn sense of gloomy glamour) to render this album capable of going toe-to-toe with the best of them.