Oct 212016



(Todd Manning provides this review of a debut EP by the Texas band Monte Luna.)

Austin, Texas duo Monte Luna have just released their debut two-song demo on Bandcamp at the name-your-price level, and it would be best if you didn’t sleep on this one. Mixing equal parts Doom, Sludge, and Dark Psychedelic vibes, they create an atmosphere of tasteful heaviness, full of subtle menace.

“Father Arbitor” kicks things off with bits of noise swirling around while a sample invokes the dark spirits overseeing the material. James Cl’s guitar is distant and striking, heavy but not overtly so. The gravity of the track comes from Phil Hook’s immense beats, slow and tectonic. The vocals sound like they blew in on the wind, ghosts creeping at the edge of the campfire. While it would be mistake to say this isn’t heavy, atmosphere seems to take center stage.

Oct 182016



During this past weekend two very good German bands released a split in which each of them covers a song by the almighty Bathory. The bands are Ultha and Morast. The split is available on Bandcmp now and will be released on 7″ vinyl by Vendetta Records (Halo of Flies will have copies for U.S. distro). The songs will also be included in a Bathory Tribute Compilation to be released later this year by CVLT Nation. Here are a few thoughts about the split, plus streams of the songs:


In March of this year I posted (here) an interview of this new German black metal band along with a stream of a song from their debut album Pain Cleanses Every Doubt, which was originally released by a group of European labels last year and then re-released in April 2016 by Translation Loss Records.

And then in August I also reviewed the band’s new EP, Dismal Ruins. Both releases were so very good that I was eager to hear Ultha’s cover song for this new split.

Oct 092016



On their debut demo, Sorguinazia demonstrate impressive skill in conjuring visions of chaos, horror, and inescapable doom. In the space of only three songs, they immerse the listener in maelstroms of dense, violent, suffocating sound while casting dark and mesmerizing spells at the same time. You can easily imagine that the membrane between our own reality and a dimension inhabited by monstrous wraiths is being torn asunder, and we are being inexorably pulled into the vortex where they dwell.

Sorguinazia consists of two members — Axczor (vocals, bass, drums) and Xolaryxis (guitars, vocals). Their location hasn’t been revealed. Their self-titled demo will be released on tape by Toronto’s Vault of Dried Bones on October 31, and today is a good day to spread the word about it, because all three songs have just been made available for listening on YouTube, and we’re bringing all of them to you at the end of this review.

Oct 072016



The debut EP of the Indian black metal band Démonos is fascinating. It doesn’t fit neatly into any of the usual pigeonholes of black metal. There are common threads that link the songs together, but each of the songs is also quite distinct from the others. Making your way through all four tracks from start to finish proves to be an enthralling and immersive experience — and it’s a trip we hope you’ll take with us as we premiere a full stream of From Sacred To Profane.

It’s tempting to attach adjectives like “avant-garde” and “progressive” to the music, in part because the EP is so varied, unpredictable, and instrumentally imaginative. It plumbs dark depths, with an often solemn and even depressive air, but the songs are also infectious when you first hear them and memorable in their aftermath.

Oct 052016



On October 7, the death metal band Construct of Lethe will release a new concept EP named The Grand Machination. Not long ago we premiered one of the six tracks on the EP, and today we have for you a full stream (along with a review).

For those who may only now be discovering the band, Construct of Lethe was started as a project of Tony Petrocelly (ex-Bethledeign, Dead Syndicate, Deranged Theory, Xaoc) and now includes a full line-up of Petrocelly (guitars, bass), David Schmidt (vocals), and Swiss lead guitarist Patrick Bonvin (Near Death Condition). Session drums on the EP were provided by the veteran Kevin Talley.

Oct 022016



This is Part 2 of a collection of metal in a black vein that I began earlier today. In this second half of the round-up I’ve chosen a couple of advance tracks from forthcoming albums and two recent EPs. I’ve again made these choices in part to provide variety and in part (of course) because the music is all very good.


Sordide are from Rouen, France, with one album to their credit so far (2014’s La France a peur) and a 2015 single (Crève salope, a Renaud cover song). Their second album, Fuir la lumière (escape the light), is now set for release through Avantgarde Music on October 5th. A double-LP version will follow from Avantgarde Music, Immortal Frost Productions, Lost Pilgrims Records, and Saka Cost, and the tape version will be released by Breathe Plastic Records.

As best I can recall, I haven’t encountered Sordide’s music before, but I sure as hell am loving the first advance track from their new album.

Oct 022016

Rearview Mirror


Yesterday I provided a teaser about the subject of today’s look back into metal’s past. I discovered this band and their two demos from the ’90s through a YouTube link to the song I streamed in yesterday’s post, which popped up in a Facebook conversation between a well-known underground label owner and an even more well-known musician, both of whom have enough gray hair that they may actually have heard these demos around the time of their release.

The band in question is Cryptophobism, and they were from Varna, Bulgaria. Their two demos were released in 1993 and 1998; the first one was a recording of a rehearsal. The one I’m focusing on here is the 1998 demo, which contains four tracks totaling about 15 minutes, one of which also appeared on the rehearsal demo.

Sep 272016



More than a decade ago a Texas band named Vpaahsalbrox came together long enough to record a three-song demo labeled 14 Sovereign, and then disappeared into whatever hellish dimensions gave them birth, with its members later reborn in other obscure black metal incarnations such as Erraunt, Nivathe, Triphane, and Khimaat. Only 50 copies of the tape that captured the music were produced, yet it made a lasting impression in certain quarters — one strong enough that on the first of next month Pale Horse Recordings is going to re-issue 14 Sovereign on limited-edition vinyl as well as digitally.

The band’s confounding name is an expression in Enochian, a language recorded in the private journals of John Dee and his colleague Edward Kelley in late 16th-century England — the language of angels, given to Dee and Kelley by angels, or so they claimed. In Enochian, Vpaahsalbrox seems to mean “Lucifer’s Wings”.

Sep 122016

Saturno-Thou Art All


Today marks the advent of Thou Art All, the debut EP by a band from Ferrara, Italy, named Saturno, and we happily bring you a full stream of this astounding new work.

Saturno’s ranks include past and present members of Unbirth, Demiurgon, Valgrind, and Hobnailed, and they have turned their talents to the creation of a concept EP about the Trimurti, a trinity of the supreme God in Hinduism formed by Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.

Sep 102016



On Thursday I mentioned that I was on the verge of leaving Seattle for a trip related to my day job. I’m still on that trip, which has taken me to a mountainous region of Utah for a “retreat” hosted by the company I work for. This happens every year, and it’s always fun. This year may be even more fun than usual, because so far I haven’t subjected myself to alcohol poisoning.

Yesterday and this morning I had time to pull together some new music and one news item. Despite the title of this post, most of the following six bands either straddle the line between black metal and death metal or might be considered all the way over on the black-metal side of the line. But the title wasn’t intended as a straight genre descriptor. There are other reasons for the title, which you’ll discover soon.


I’ve been anxiously awaiting the new album by the Finnish band Krypts, because their 2013 debut full-length, Unending Degradation, was damned good. The name of the new album is Remnants of Expansion, it’s embellished with artwork by Timo Ketola, and it’s coming out on October 28 via Dark Descent.

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