I hope you’re having a good Saturday, and that this post will make it even better.
I know we’ve been throwing vast quantities of music your way lately as we try to clear the decks for the coming orgy of year-end-list features, but I still have a lot of metal that I feel the need to recommend. I’ll continue trying to keep abreast of advance tracks from forthcoming albums that sound promising, but what’s really burning a hole in my head are excellent full EPs, splits, and albums that have already been released but that we’ve neglected. The best way I know to deal with that problem is to compile posts like this one, abbreviating my own reviews and letting the music speak mainly for itself.
THE LOOM OF TIME
NihilReich is the eye-opening debut album of an Australian trio named The Loom of Time. It was released in March, though I didn’t listen to it until last month despite the significant praise it received from numerous reviewers.
The music is a creative and compelling integration of diverse elements, with black metal and melodic death metal as perhaps the dominant forms but with abundant progressive instrumental flourishes and detours into the hallowed halls of classic heavy metal and doom. It does a fine job jolting the skull and pumping electricity straight into the spine, but it’s also wonderfully melodic and regularly hits moments of arena-ready grandeur.
Apart from their talent in stitching together so many stylistic ingredients so seamlessly and naturally, these dudes can really play their instruments with a high level of skill, too.
The cover art, which is quite an eye-catcher, is “The Two Crowns” (1900) by Sir Francis Dicksee.
NihilReich is available on Bandcamp, where you’ll also find a single that The Loom of Time released in June, which shows a different side of their creativity. Though it’s just one song, bearing the title “The Wings of Ingenuity”, it appears as the contents of its own EP with a different title: Admirable, O Daedalus, Your Son.
This next album has some personal significance that goes beyond the excellence of the music, not just for me but for a lot of other people both in Seattle and elsewhere who knew Adrian Guerra. People who didn’t know him may still recognize the name — he was the drummer and co-vocalist in the Seattle funeral doom band Bell Witch. Adrian parted ways with Bell Witch after the recording of the last album but he was also a member of a Seattle group called Morose, along with vocalist/guitarist Jeff King, bassist Chris Connell, and guitarist Rachel Lynch.
Adrian died on May 17, 2016, and with his passing the other members of Morose decided to lay the band to rest as well. But as a way to honor Adrian’s life and his involvement in music, they decided to finish and release the album they were recording with him. Adrian had recorded all of his parts of the album before his death; it now stands as his last musical offering. Morose was released on October 15.
The four long songs, two of them in the vicinity of 12 minutes, combine slow-moving, earth-scouring abrasion, passages of steamrolling destructiveness, and dismal, haunting melodies that flow like viscous rivers of tears. The vocals vary from heartless roars to panther-like howls and shrieks of violent agony.
It’s a trip through a desolate, post-apocalyptic landscape of perpetual night in which the sky sometimes shines with the ethereal glow of descending meteors. It could just as easily be imagined as a window into a mind tortured by grief and isolation but in which wistful, longing remembrances of a better time haven’t completely vanished. Crushing and often mesmerizing doom….
Morose is available as a “name your price” download at Bandcamp. The cover art is by John Santos. R.I.P. Adrian.
CHURCH OF DISGUST
On Thanksgiving Day of 2012, I wrote about some music from an EP named Invocation of Putrid Worship, which was the second demo released by a group from San Marcos, Texas, named Church of Disgust. As good as that demo was, I managed to neglect both the band’s 2014 debut album Unworldly Summoning and their 2015 EP Dread Ritual. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t neglect their new album, Veneration of Filth, which was released in digital form on October 24.
It’s a very impressive 41-minute Lovecraftian monster. It includes guest vocal appearances by Tobi Zama of Sewercide, Jamie Stewart of Disevered, and Mike Browning of After Death and Nocturnus AD (ex-Morbid Angel, Incubus, Nocturnus).
The music is heavy and hard enough to jackhammer your head into mush, but it throbs and seethes with malignant energy. One minute it’s staggering in a plague-ridden doom stomp, the next minute it’s romping in bursts of punk-fueled mayhem or spitting pestilential guitar solos like streamers of eldritch flame. It chugs like a smoke-belching locomotive so effectively that it can get your head bobbing forcefully, it rips and tears like a frenzied piranha swam, and it also delivers slow, serpentine melodies that conjure images of a python coiling around its prey.
Calling Church of Disgust a death/doom band doesn’t begin to encompass the variety of the music on Veneration of Filth. Yes it’s filthy, but it’s a gourmet meal of filth. Damned infectious, too.
Veneration of Filth is available on CD from the band and from Memento Mori. A tape edition is forthcoming from Headsplit Records, and a vinyl edition is expected from No Posers Please!. The filthy cover art is by Putrid Matt.
Doomentor are a German band whose debut album Dominus Omnes was released on October 30. It was preceded by a demo in 2014 and an EP named The Second Ceremony (reviewed here) in 2015. Doomentor describe their music as “Black Occult Imperial Doom Metal from Hell”. Truer words were never spoken.
Dominus Omnes is available digitally through Bandcamp now. A CD edition will be released by GoatKult Symphonies, and Messe Noire Messe Noire Productions will release it on tape. GoatKult Symphonies also plans to release a vinyl edition next year.
“The Entrance” sets the hook in your cheek right from the start, delivering a phalanx of sinister, sickening, but highly addictive riffs and the shivering assault of terrifyingly demonic vocals. The song deftly splices together elements of classic doom and black metal; it gets your head moving, while fogging it with an atmosphere of occult ritual.
From that gripping opener, Dominus Omnes doesn’t let the listener off the hook. The following song, “Witches Sabbath”, confidently strides deeper into occult doom territory, slowing the pace and mixing very good clean vocals in with the infernal growls, and a witchy, warbling guitar lead in with the hammer blows.
Doomentor never leave the aroma of an occult ritual very far behind, but they still vary the music with aplomb, sometimes pumping out narcotic, hallucinatory vapors stored up since the ’70s, sometimes bolting forward in hellish gallops, and sometimes striding forward in ominous imperial marches. They also mix and match intro passages in appealing ways, using electronica, organ music, and acoustic guitar to create the most beautiful moments on the album, often with a medieval folk air (they really function more as interludes than true intros connected to the melodies of the songs).
In short, this is very strong stuff from start to finish that I’m surprised hasn’t garnered more widespread attention. Give it your time, especially if you’re a fan of occult doom.