Apr 152014

Metal is such a diverse genre of music that you would need an enormous number of axes to diagram the spectra of its manifold characteristics (I’m using “axes” as the plural of “axis”, not that electrified thing you use to shred up a storm of notes or the implements you use to cleave the skulls of your enemies). On one of these axes I imagine two extremes at either end:

At one end there’s deeply somber, glacially paced atmospheric music, with few if any riffs and a pall of gloom and grief hanging heavy like a fog. On the other end — well, that’s where you’ll find Rocket Propelled Chainsaws: the place where you party ’til you vomit and mosh ’til everyone’s on their way to the emergency room with sirens screaming.

I found out about this band because it includes guitarist Sean Corkum, who’s also in a band I’ve written before named Eldritch Flamethrower. Obviously, either Sean hangs out with people who’ve got a gift for coming up with awesome band names or he’s got the gift. Either way, Eldritch Flamethrower and Rocket Propelled Chainsaws are mighty fine names.

Apr 142014

This morning I saw a positive Facebook mention about this band by Patrick Bruss (Crypticus), who knows a thing or two about old school death metal. Sentience is a one-man death metal band from Woodland Park, New Jersey, formed only this year by guitarist/vocalist Matt Moliti (ex-Dark Empire). He has recorded a three-song demo entitled Beyond the Curse of Death — and here’s what really caught my attention: It was mastered by the legendary Dan Swanö, who had this to say about the music:

“One of the best SweDeath projects I have come across in the last 20 years. The perfect blend of all the highlights from the Swedish scene from 89 to 91. Truly awesome!”

I mean, shit, that’s some very high praise, given the source! And who am I to disagree with someone like Dan Swanö when it comes to old-school SweDeath? And in fact, I don’t disagree at all.

Apr 132014

Sadhak is a Norwegian band (from Trondheim) about whom I’ve found very little information. I learned of the band through a message from Shadow Kingdom Records, which released Sadhak’s self-titled demo on cassette tape last month (Sadhak originally released the demo on tape and digitally last fall). According to the message, the band is a side project of Andreas Hagen, who is a member of High Priest of Saturn. I’m not familiar with them, but Shadow Kingdom’s message compared Sadhak to Warning and 40 Watt Sun, and that was enough to lure me in.

The demo consists of two long songs, “On the Arrival of Man” and “The Perfection of Wisdom”, and I found them both immensely appealing. They very effectively draw you away from the world around you and into a place where the light is failing and the void beckons.

In both songs, Sadhak employs slow, distorted guitars, gut-rumbling bass notes, and the powerful whump of drums and vibration of cymbals — everything drenched in reverb. Of the two, “On the Arrival of Man” is the more desolate and fatalistic, though the bleak melody proves to be thoroughly entrancing as it loops through the song. With two minutes left, the otherworldly quality of the music is underscored by a mesmerizing guitar solo — ethereal, psychoactive, and rapidly shimmering — and then leviathan-sized riffs will hammer you back to the edge of oblivion.

Apr 062014

Germany’s Iron Bonehead label has unearthed yet another seething snakepit of blackened death metal, this time from the deceptively beautiful land of New Zealand. The band’s name is Verberis and their debut demo is Vastitas.

With a bit of googling, I learned that “Vastitis” is a Latin word that variously means “wasteland”, “desolation”, and “immensity” or “vastness”. It’s a fitting title for this four-song offering. The music is cold, inhuman, and brutally destructive, with a style that falls somewhere in the plague-ridden landscape between Incantation and Mitcochondrion. The songs are driven by a raging storm of thrashing, low-pitched riffs and thundering, blasting percussion, with the only breaks coming in brief moments of solo bass grinding, eerie ambient conclusions, and a dirge-like segment in the last track, “Fangs of Pazuzu”.

Suppurating lead guitar melodies surface here and there, and the gargantuan echo-chamber roars and howls of the vocalist are reminiscent of Craig Pillard in his Onward To Golgotha days. While full-speed destruction is the name of this game, if you listen closely, you’ll notice a fair amount of flashy fretwork, changing guitar styles, and occasional bouts of drum acrobatics. Every now and then the band will also veer into a convulsive groove (my favorite of those moments coming from the pulsating melody that ends “Kaliginous Ascent”).

Apr 042014

cover art by Anne O’Neill

I’ve been waiting impatiently to hear Majestic Downfall’s contribution to the band’s forthcoming split with The Slow Death for two weeks, ever since hearing the latter band’s part of the split (which I thought was wonderful). And this morning it began streaming through the interhole. Using my well-known cat-like reflexes, I pounced on it without delay. I prepared to be enveloped in its fuzzy embrace, but instead lost my grip and fell into it like a drowning pool.

As the solo project of Zombiefication’s Jacobo Córdova, Majestic Downfall secured a place on my personal “listen to everything they do” list with 2013′s Three, an album from which we had the pleasure of premiering a song last year. And this new song proves the wisdom of pouncing on the band’s every new release without delay.

The song’s name is “The Dark Lullaby” and it’s an amazingly rich and varied tapestry of sound that makes full use of its 13 minute run-time. It may be premature to say this, since I’ve only heard the song a few times, but I’d venture to say that it’s the best thing I’ve yet heard from this very talented project.

Mar 272014

I discovered Germany’s Owl and their 2013 album You Are the Moon, I Am the Night through a guest post on our site last summer by KevinP. That was Owl’s second album, and I was hugely impressed by it. Now, this two-man band have completed a four-song EP entitled Into the Absolute, and I’m hugely impressed by it as well — so much so that we obtained the privilege of premiering its title track for you.

Owl’s Christian Kolf says that if that last album was drenched in the atmosphere of night, the new EP is “set right before dawn, when the first light appears,” with “a feeling of a new awakening”.  There are in fact moments of beauty in the music, most strikingly in the latter part of the long, stately closing track, “Unearthly Arcana”, but when these moments come, the atmosphere is one of deep melancholy. And if the EP as a whole stands on the brink of dawn, it is nevertheless still very much wrapped in the mantle of night.

Mar 262014

My friend and NCS colleague Andy Synn is the vocalist for Beyond Grace. My objectivity about the band’s new EP, Monstrous, could therefore be called into question. But the truth (so help me Satan) is that I’m writing about it for the same reason I write about every other song, EP, or album I choose to write about: I’m enthusiastic about the music. (Andy, by the way, doesn’t even know I’ve written this review.)

The three songs on Monstrous represent a change of course for this band formerly called Bloodguard, so if you happen to be familiar with their work, its time to turn the page and listen again. What you will hear is something like Spawn of Possession with more convulsive grooves, or Blotted Science with unexpected digressions and more sharp teeth, or The Black Dahlia Murder with an added progressive bent.

If you’re up on those references, then you may be ready for the combination of jabbing, jamming riffs, serpentine melodies, sparkling solos, and an enveloping atmosphere of alien menace that make up Monstrous.

Mar 252014

Spain’s Morbid Flesh are about to follow up their 2011 debut album Reborn In Death with a new EP — Embedded In the Ossuary — and in cooperation with Germany’s Unholy Prophecies, we’re bringing you a full stream of the EP, right here, right now.

I was already primed to like this EP without hearing a note, based on the grim cover art (by Javi Castaño) and the fact that the band includes members of two other excellent Spanish death metal groups — Graveyard and Insulters. My interest was peaked by the first single from the EP — “Charnel House” — which we featured in this post in February. As it turns out, the rest of the EP fully justifies all those optimistic expectations.

Morbid Flesh have a potent ability to unleash rampaging death metal in the vein of Dismember, Entombed, and Grave, with huge grinding riffs, punishing percussion, spitfire soloing, and cruel, savage vocals — all of which unite to create an atmosphere of dread and menace. But the band bring something more to the table as well.

Mar 212014

(In this post DGR takes us on a globe-hopping tour of recent releases that fall within the varied realms of doom.)

It’s hard to believe that it is already March. Of course, I say that every year because February feels like a bullshit month with its short amount of days, but still. Sacramento has decided to park its hot ass right at about eighty degrees for the next week or so, yet I still find myself feeling bleak and down. Maybe it was the promise of grey skies and rain, but I found myself surfing the web seeking out doom in all its various forms and today I’d like to share with you some of the discoveries that I made.

A couple were found by just wading through circles on Facebook and by the random band button on Metal-Archives, which is always an interesting experiment in its own right. You could probably do a whole feature on that some day with the right amount of time and investment. As I wrote this over the past week or so, I kept adding more and more bands that I was coming across and wanted to talk about, so I apologize if this gets a little too verbose, but I figured it might be worth it to concentrate a bunch of smaller reviews into a post than spread out a bunch of giant tomes on a group of really good EPs.

Plus, maybe we’ll expose people to multiple groups in this one post. On top of that, I’m going to add in a little mini-review of an artist we’ve covered before in one of our ‘free music’ updates — as they released a new album earlier this year and it’ll be a good change of pace from all the roiling waters and restless seas you’re about to get dragged through. If anything, the tempo change will probably be appreciated.

Mar 202014

Transience is the name of the debut EP by a mysterious new group named Dead In the Manger. Although the band has not publicly disclosed their identities or location, nor even shared much information about themselves with 20 Buck Spin — the label that pounced on this EP after hearing it and will be handling the release on April 29 — their music says all you need to know.

The EP consists of six songs, entitled “Parts I – VI”, and it’s a multi-headed beast. “Part I” for example is a slow guitar instrumental, the slightly distorted notes conveying a somber, affecting melody while deep in the distance the vocalist howls in a throat-bursting agony.

“Part II”, on the other hand, races from the starting gate, driven by a swirling, swarming lead guitar melody and a high-speed drum assault. And that brings us to the song we’re premiering today: “Part III”.

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