(This is Part 1 of a 3-part series written by Austin Weber about noteworthy January releases and a few from the end of last year.)
While the quantity and quality for label-released metal in January seems a bit sparse as far as my tastes go, the underground never disappoints and 2017 is already off to a fantastic pace due to plenty of lesser-known acts dropping killer new material. Just recently I came across a number of new releases (and a few largely unknown ones from 2016) that you just might want to check out — presented here in three parts.
CARBON COLOSSAL – The Disassembly of Earth
Recently a friend shared Carbon Colossal with me, and I’m really glad he did. Longtime NCS fans may recognize the distinctive artwork as familiar, since it’s done by a perennial favorite here, Luca Carey. Using his bright and extremely psychedelic art for such a dark release works quite well in a fucked-up kind of way. The Disassembly of Earth is some sort of technical doom from hell, gone a death-metal-infused path, with fleeting blasts of black metal peppered in between all that.
(Andy Synn prepared this review of the debut album by the Irish band Partholón.)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this whole “Post-Metal” malarkey seems to be one of the easiest of Metal sub-genres to do – get yourself a bunch of delay pedals, mix a few churning riffs in with a plethora of gloomy, hanging chord progressions, and bob’s your creepily over-attentive uncle – but also one of the hardest of Metal sub-genres to do right.
Just ticking the right boxes in the right order isn’t enough. You have to have some sense of identity, some sort of character, to be able to stand out from the crowd.
Yes, everyone can do it. But not everyone can do it well.
Which is where Partholón come in.
It’s time to blacken the Sabbath again. As usual, I find myself up to my eyebrows in new advance tracks and new or newly discovered full releases I’d like to write about. I picked this group not only because they’re among the best of what I have on my list but also because they provide an array of different sounds and a mix between higher-profile and more under-the-radar bands.
Agalloch is no more, of course, and I would guess that many people who mourn the band’s dissolution blame John Haughm, certainly in part because of a poorly worded and widely lampooned statement he made when the news broke last year. His former Agalloch comrades have joined forces with Aaron John Gregory of Giant Squid to form a new band named Khôrada, who are now busy recording demos — and I’m quite anxious to hear what they’re creating.
Meanwhile, John Haughm founded Pillorian.
(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new 14th studio album by Germany’s Kreator.)
Kreator is a pretty big fucking deal to many people, including me. They are one of the most consistent thrash bands from the genre’s early heyday who have not only produced consistently killer music but have been unafraid to experiment and change things around during their career, always doing so with bold ambition. I’ve been a big fan of the thrash-meets-melodic-death-metal direction the band have been on since Violent Revolution, with Enemy Of God and Phantom Antichrist being absolute modern classic albums that have undeniable power.
In addition, Mille Petrozza is one of my favorite thrash front-men and one of the best riff writers in metal, his voice striking in how pissed-off and forceful it sounds and his riffs bringing remarkable intensity and tasteful technicality. Among the old guard, those talents are almost unrivaled (among modern thrash bands, David DiSanto of Vektor would probably take my vote). And with those confessions of zealous loyalty out of the way, let’s turn to Gods of Violence.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by NY’s Black Anvil.)
Towards the tail-end of 2016 I conducted an as-yet-unpublished interview with Black Anvil bassist/vocalist Paul Delaney about the band’s upcoming new album, As Was (out today on Relapse Records).
During said conversation he ruefully acknowledged that the fact that the band’s members all have roots in the NYC Hardcore scene tends to unnecessarily dominate the conversation a lot of the time, often causing people to read into things, or hear things, that aren’t there, and leading interviewers to say or ask things which make it clear they’ve made certain assumptions about the band, and about their music, that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
So I had to laugh when skimming through some of the coverage of As Was on the internet recently, noting several writers/reviewers still attempting to cast doubt upon the band’s sincerity and/or integrity, with the general gist seeming to be that it’s impossible for tattooed ex-Hardcore guys to truly “get” Black Metal, which is a genre that’s solely the preserve of weedy dudes in face paint, who truly understand “darkness” (no parents?).
I mean, are we honestly still going with the whole “jocks vs nerds” stereotype?
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the urge, the need, to see and hold a style of music as “yours”. Particularly if it’s been such a formative part of your identity for so long. But to write off a band simply because they haven’t followed the same path as you is just ludicrous.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat… or to blast a beat… after all.
(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the new album by Begerith, which was released on January 7.)
Sometimes we really are just born in the wrong place. Life really is just a matter of random chance and circumstance. Sometimes we’re born out of time, out of place, our identity isn’t consistent with what surrounds us, and we were always destined to be that eyesore. Begerith seem to have been so convinced of that wrongness that they literally relocated to the country that hosts the sound they identified with. Russian natives, they fled to the majesty of Poland, so they too could build their own ramparts on an imperial mobile sonic fortress that knows no equal.
Begerith are 100% consummate scholars of the Polish deathly metallic arts despite their Russian roots. If you love the scathing, bleak imperial might of Behemoth, Hate, or Vader you will be right at home here. A.D.A.M. is an impressive record, both in its dedication to what it wishes to be and also because it’s really fucking good.
(Austin Weber reviews the new album by the Belarusian band Leprous Vortex Sun.)
Try as I might, it’s just not possible to catch every new gem that dropped in 2016, especially among releases that dropped in December, such as the Youdash which Islander covered and I recently covered myself elsewhere. But, since Youdash has been covered here, let’s focus instead on the Belarus black metal band Leprous Vortex Sun, who dropped a terrifying new album on December 21st. Thankfully, my fellow geeky friends often tip me off to stuff like this, so thank you Amir for sharing this with me!
I had to translate the album title (По направлению к Солнцу, плавящему изнутри кости), as it’s originally written in the band’s native tongue using the Russian Cyrillic alphabet, if I’m not mistaken. Roughly translated, what it comes out to in English is: Towards the sun, melting the bones inside. Couple that creepy title with the freakish artwork, and the vibe is set for something grim and otherworldly before you even hit play.
Once you do, it’s a veritable carnival of feverish horror at every turn, mainly consisting of lengthy lumbering songs punctuated by intense chaotic shifts. It poisons you with skin-crawling dissonance masked as “riffs” amidst waves of bestial hoarse screams and growls, while the drumming alternates between a lurch and a full-on weaponised full-throttle assault on a whim. To call this fucked up and deranged-sounding is almost an understatement.
Within Temple of the Adversarial Fire, the Norwegian conjurors in Shaarimoth open a Pandora’s box of wicked marvels, delivering such a mind-bending display of esoteric extravagance that the album threatens to eclipse most everything else released in the early months of this new year. It will be disseminated by W.T.C. Productions on January 13, and today we’re privileged to bring you the premiere stream of the whole thing, in all its twisted magnificence.
More than a decade has passed since Shaarimoth’s last emergence, with 2005’s Current 11. In that time, Shaarimoth have not lost the spiritual sources of their musical inspiration; the fires of the Adversary unmistakably fuel the music. Through the course of all 11 tracks, it’s a wild and chaotic interdimensional trip, a fusion of death and black metal with a pronounced experimental bent and an exotic, esoteric atmosphere, and it’s so brazenly and exuberantly creative that it’s likely to leave you wide-eyed and gasping by the time you reach the end.
(This is Todd Manning’s review of the debut EP by Australia’s mysterious Miserist.)
A new year is upon us and there’s no reason to believe we’re not just one more step closer to the carnivorous abyss. No wonder extreme music just gets nastier and more oppressive, the most recent torchbearers coming in the form of the Australian mystery collective Miserist. This self-titled debut EP is a cavern-borne Death/Industrial hybrid, and strangely, considering the style, entirely instrumental. This one facet proves to be most compelling, coming across as a strange absence at first, but then as an abstraction upon repeated listens. The more one listens, the more this one facet opens itself up to speculation about the thought process behind the decision.
For the most part, Miserist alternate between devastating yet obscure slabs of blast-beat-driven Death Metal, often reminiscent of the mighty Portal, and more mid-paced Industrial-fueled sludge. Without vocals, the music becomes both inhuman and weightless; even the most straightforward riffs become atmospheric. And there is a layer of grime and filth overlaying the whole affair as well. The listener is invited to imagine all sorts of post-apocalyptic futures stimulated by their assault.
(We present Andy Synn’s review of the latest EP by Germany’s Wolves Carry My Name.)
Honestly, at some point I will start reviewing new albums from 2017. I promise.
In fact I plan to review a certain new album by a certain gang of US Black Metallers this Friday.
But, in the meantime, I’m continuing full-steam-ahead with my attempt to catch-up on some of last year’s most overlooked gems.
2016 is over when I say it’s over!!!