May 252015


Listen to the first 90 seconds of “Weltverloren”, as it moves from a lilting solo guitar melody into a racing torrent that carries the same melody, driving it home, and then changes again to a rocking rhythm, never losing its fast grip on that brilliant melody — nor its grip on you. If you’re not hooked in the first 90 seconds, I’ll be surprised.

But “Weltverloren” is far from finished in 90 seconds. Before it ends, it staggers into a pool of tears, drenched in sorrow but no less transfixing in its emotional impact, and then accelerates into an even more intense, ravishing finish. And this is only the first song in a magnificent album — all of which you will be able to hear through our premiere of a full streaam.

The album is Grausammler. The band is Germany’s Vargnatt.

May 222015


(Andy Synn reviews the crowd-funded solo album of Daniel Cavanagh.)

As the old saying goes, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play”. And with both Islander and Badwolf currently semi-AWOL from the site due to attending MDF, it’s definitely time to play…

In that spirit, and as part of my continued quest to drag down the good name of this site, I hereby present to you the entirely clean-sung, all-acoustic, and almost completely un-metal, covers album by Anathema guitarist/co-vocalist Daniel Cavanagh.

Let the games begin!

May 212015


I continue to have a weakness for metal bands from Austin, Texas, the place where I was born and spent my formative years and to which I still return a couple of times a year. But I’m not so weak-minded about bands from Austin as to lose a sense of perspective about the music — and I’m pretty sure Unmothered’s new EP would have blown me away even if I’d grown up in Bangkok.

This new three-song offering is entitled U M B R A and it’s being released by Crowquill Records on May 26. Today we give you the chance to hear the EP for yourselves before jumping for it on the release date. Since you can listen for yourselves, I’m not sure there is much to be gained by writing about U M B R A, but I can’t help myself.

May 152015


(DGR reviews the new album by Poland’s Antigama.)

Antigama’s Meteor was one of those albums that felt like a band finally getting a bit of much-needed spotlight. The Polish grind band, whose music strayed heavily into industrial realms while sticking mainly to the core four instruments that make up any group, hit a disc out of the ballpark with Meteor, and it served as an effective closer to the band’s time on Relapse – one that had seen the releases of Resonance, Warning, and Meteor. In their long career Antigama have spent time on different labels and now find themselves returning to Selfmadegod — who had previously handled the group’s disc Zeroland – for their seventh full-length album release with early May’s The Insolent.

The Insolent continues the band’s slow drift into cybergrind territory, one that sees them not so much playing their instruments as fully desecrating them — with chord changes that sound like the performers’ hands had to be physically yanked across the guitar by the speed at which they happen and are so jarring that people familiar with Meteor should be right at home. The Insolent is high-minded viciousness, an album that hints at a bunch of different things happening under the surface but on top is like three trains all destined for collision — and a huge chunk of The Insolent is that moment of impact.

May 142015

photo by Svartwerk

(Here, Andy Synn reviews two EPs by Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris that were distributed as limited-edition rewards for participation in the band’s successful crowd-funding campaign for financing of international tours.)

As much as I acknowledge that Citadel by Ne Obliviscaris is a fine-fettered beast of an album, one which rightly appeared on a lot of end-of-year lists, my personal feelings towards it are a bit more muted than some.

Oh, the instrumentation is certainly as flawless and inventive as anything you might care to mention, and the compositions impressively complex and creative, but to me the whole somehow seems less than the sum of its parts.

For one thing it’s clearly written to be almost self-consciously “progressive” in nature and this, combined with a few other things (the fact that there’s only three proper “songs”, the seeming disconnect between the clean vocals of Tim Charles and the rest of the material), means that it just doesn’t work for me in the same way their debut did.

And apparently I’m not alone in feeling that way.

May 132015

(In this post Dan Barkasi continues his monthly series recommending music from the previous month.)

Welcome back to Essential Entries. April has already passed, and it’s hard to believe. It feels like we – at least those unlucky enough to live in areas that deal with winter – were just freezing ourselves stiff, and now the temperatures are in the 80s. Thank goodness. Winter is awful. Thankfully, good music is the antithesis of such, and we’re loaded this month.

Also, my apologies for getting this up a bit late. Yours truly was out of town for over two weeks, and that resulted in a ton of catch-up listening in order to do this right. No way will this column ever be done half-heartedly!

With that out of the way, let’s get to the tunes.


Abyss – Heretical Anatomy

Gritty Canadian death metal. Abyss proves that it’s not all maple syrup and politeness up there. Equal parts catchy and punishing, this proves to be a great debut full-length.

May 132015


It has taken me longer to write this review than I had planned, despite the fact that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the album. Apart from the quality of False’s untitled EP in 2011 and their split with Barghest in 2012, their live performance last summer at the Gilead Fest in Wisconsin (which included some of the material from this album) left me stunned and almost breathless. Yet in retrospect, the very qualities that made that performance by this Minneapolis black metal band so gobsmacking were the ones that delayed this review:

The album is so unremittingly intense, so overwhelmingly powerful, so emotionally draining, that it has taken time to absorb it — and I’ve had to leave more than the usual amount of time between listens, just to clear my head and recover from each listening experience.

Searing intensity is the signal feature of False’s full-length debut (also untitled). And because it includes an hour’s worth of music spread over only five long tracks, that’s a lot of intensity. Much of the time, the music is warlike and tumultuous, the kind of senses-filling cyclone of sound that repeatedly conjures images of nature in the throes of a vicious deluge. Listening is like being cast into a storm-tossed craft on a heaving sea — with a battle between gods raging in the black skies overhead.

May 132015


(Wil Cifer turned in some thoughts  about the debut album by the German band AZAVATAR.)

On a whim while clicking through my in-box I came across AZAVATAR’s debut album and decided to give it a spin and was surprised at the quality of songwriting that followed. This German band boasts vocals that are grim and scraping, closer to a croak than not. They are eager to blast beat you into submission if given the chance. I am glad these guys are not on the Deathspell Omega bandwagon, as that seems to be the case with every other band in my in-box. The drums do get a little overzealous toward the end of the opening song (“KVLT“) as the riffs grow more restless, but it’s not a total prog-out. This album is brought to you by the letter K as “KVRSE” comes after “KVLT“.

May 122015


(Our pal Leperkahn took a break from his studies and wrote this review of the new second full-length by Baltimore’s Noisem.)

Hi guys. As some of y’all who’ve lurked around this cult for a while might know, my writing output has plummeted considerably more or less since I started up my time here at The University of Chicago. Put briefly, UChicago surely earns the unofficial slogan “If I wanted an A, I would’ve gone to Harvard”, and taking four paper-based classes doesn’t leave oodles of time to wax ecstatic about the wax I’ve been literally of metaphorically spinning.

That said, when I have a moment (or pretend to have a moment, to the chagrin of future me), I still like to pop in here and give my two cents about stuff I’ve been digging that might not have been properly reviewed here yet. Also, in the case of Noisem, I’ve got a streak and reputation to keep up here – I’ve reviewed everything they’ve done for NCS except for the split 7” they put out with Occultist, and even that was mentioned in my review of their Consumed 7”. Thus, I’m here once again, and for good reason – if you thought Agony Defined or any of the material released from these guys since then has been good, just wait until you dig into Blossoming Decay. Hell, even if AD wasn’t your cup of tea, give this one another shot – it’s a whole different beast from its predecessor(s).

May 082015


Following the release of two well-received EPs in 2010 and 2012, Scotland’s Haar have recorded an hour-long debut album that is being released by the Italian label ATMF.  The album’s name is The Wayward Ceremony, and we’re bringing you a full stream of all seven songs.

When I see that an album comes with cover art by Costin Chioreanu, I presume the music is going to be good. This may not be logical, but it turns out to be a completely valid inference in the case of The Wayward Ceremony.

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