Feb 272018


I’m beginning today’s round-up with two recent videos, which are quite different both visually and musically but which share two common features: Both were directed and produced by the same person (Eric Revill-Dews of Bigger Boat Film), and both include the voice of our own Andy Synn, in all its increasingly varied range of tones.

And then I’m following those two wonderful videos/songs with a selection of other recently discovered releases that also helped make my listening session last night a real joy.


Until watching this first video for the song “Dying Earth” I had no idea that any place in England could look as vast, as inhospitable, or as starkly beautiful as Derbyshire in the wintertime. Until reading the credits I assumed that the three grim-visaged gentlemen in Twilight’s Embrace had smuggled themselves on board a flight to Scandinavia (though of course I’ve never been there either). Apart from teaching me something new about the landscape of England, the video also proved to be a wonderful match for the music… which is itself as powerfully moving as the vision of those snow-covered reaches.



The song is gloomy yet vibrant, craggy and chilling, wistful and wrenching… and it also soars. A mixture of heavy, head-moving riffs, pounding rhythms, and crystalline melodies, it conveys moods of grief, despair, and defiance.

Like the video, Andy’s changing vocals are another fine match for the music, bringing to the table an array of cavernous yet fiery growls, cracked, goblin-like snarls, and somber yet soulful clean vocals. Nice work, my friend!

Dying Earth” is one of four engrossing tracks on Penance, the new EP by Twilight’s Embrace, which was released on February 23rd. A second song, in addition to “Dying Earth”, can be heard on Bandcamp, where the album is available now for download and for order in a CD edition.












According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, “apoptosis” is “a process of programmed cell death that occurs in multicellular organisms” in which cells kill themselves. It happens to all of us every day — tens of billions of our cells regularly destroy themselves. “Apoptosis” is also the name of the song that’s the subject of the next video, and it comes from Seekers, the latest album from Beyond Grace, which was released last summer.

My friend Andy performed the vocals for this track (and album) too. And in crafting the lyrics, he drew excerpts (with permission) from the sci-fi novel Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, which is well worth your time, as is this song.

Apoptosis” is a turbocharged flurry of jolting rhythms and fret-leaping leads that dart in staccato fashion and swirl like a rushing fluid. But the blood-pumping savagery of that attack is balanced by a softer, sparkling-bright final segment that’s simply entrancing… and then becomes eye-popping as it builds to a final crescendo.

If you haven’t heard anything of Seekers before, you’ll find that Andy’s vocals go off in still more directions than those which were displayed in that Twilight’s Embrace video. And this video (which features interior scenes of a disturbed occultist) is quite different from the first one, too.












I was tremendously impressed by Endless, the 2014 debut demo by this band from my old hometown of Austin, Texas, so much so that I attempted to be more poetic than usual in my enthusiastic review. It was thus exciting to discover (thanks to a tip from my Serbian acquaintance Miloš) that Hinayana will be releasing a debut album named Order Divine on March 19th. And so far, it’s sounding even more impressive than Endless.

I say that based on the first advance track, “Return To Nothing“, which builds in a slow burn from a moody opening to a powerful surge. The almost ethereal arpeggio from the opening reappears, leavening the dark, heavy-weight power of the main line, which benefits not only from gargantuan vocals but also from a core melody that’s tremendously memorable. By the end, the music feels like it has taken flight over a breathtaking landscape.

This is an outstanding example of doom-influenced melodic death metal, and gives further reason to get excited about Order Divine.












For the last two items in this collection I’ve resorted to a strategy I typically use when the volume of music I’d like to recommend exceeds the time I have to write about it: I’ve chosen only one track from complete albums that are available for listening in their entirety, in the hope that the songs I’ve picked will lead you to listen to more.

In this case, the full album is Méditation Astrale by the French solo project Âqen. It was released by Endless Decrepitude Productions on February 22nd. The song I’ve chosen, which Âqen also chose to stream first on Bandcamp, is “Terreur Intérieure“.

More than 13 minutes long, the song traverses a variety of soundscapes, intertwining movements that are haunting, achingly soulful, deliriously frenzied, vicious, funereal, ritualistically ceremonial, and as ominous as demons lurking in the shadows. The guitar work is beautifully accomplished, even when it’s discordant; the vocals are ugly (and deranged). The song as a whole is unsettling, but escaping from this menacing apparition isn’t a realistic option.

(I owe yet another thank-you to Rennie from starkweather for pointing me to this release.)












The second full album included in this round-up is Into the Unknown by the band Oracle from Mobile, Alabama. The album will be released on April 1 by a German label that never steers me wrong, Naturmacht Productions, although all the music is available for streaming now on Bandcamp. Naturmacht accurately describes the record as “a blasting, atmospheric and devastating black death masterpiece, which with all its variety like a diamond becomes one amazing opus”.

I chose the opening track, “Caressed by the Hands of Fate“, in part because it follows a pattern that’s somewhat similar to that of the two preceding songs in this collection. Beginning with a light, bright solo guitar melody, it segues into a hammering, plundering, writhing storm of sound (augmented by palpably predatory vocals), while still hanging on to the melody introduced at the outset (which proves to be quite infectious). The song also includes a guitar-driven interlude that turns down the power level, but only increases the song’s engrossing attractiveness.





  1. Major fuckin props to Andy. Two quality bands? Two well done videos? Too much. Glad to see the ol’ boy gettin it done!

    • I second this. It’s been great seeing Andy progress from Beyond Grace (or their former BG name) just starting up a few years back to where they’re at now. Keep up the good work!

      • Appreciate the kind words guys. It’s taken us a while to get our shit together (and, you know, actually get good) but we’re finally starting to build some momentum now it seems.

        Album #2 is scheduled for release in October, and we’ve already got our first UK and European dates confirmed in support of that. Plus I’m currently shopping around for a label release for it AND seeing about getting us on a few festivals (if possible). So hopefully we’ll have more positive stuff to announce very soon!

  2. That Twilight’s Embrace video is HI-LA-RIOUS!

    • Your comments, however, are not. You obviously don’t give a damn about bands who come here and the first thing they may see is something from you making fun of them or treating what they’ve done as a joke, but it’s becoming a continuing embarrassment to me. Of course you probably don’t care about that either, but if so, perhaps you should consider going elsewhere for your jollies before I close the door behind you and lock it.

      • Apparently we are all humorless.

        • If that’s truly the conclusion you draw from what I wrote, then you’re hopeless. Your definition of humor, which seems to consist of persistently peeing on bands and their music, often in bizarre ways, seems beyond the pale to me. And if you don’t think I have a sense of humor, then you haven’t been paying very close attention to what I write.

          Anyway, humorless or not, I do get to decide whether someone gets to continue commenting here. I think I’ve blocked only one other person in 9 years, which means I’m extremely tolerant, but you’re wearing me out. Think on that, or don’t. It;s up to you.

          • I have your site open all day, every day. FAITHFUL. I read almost EVERY REVIEW. I refresh constantly. I PURCHAS much music based upon what I hear here. Most of my comments are supportive in the manner of “FVCK YEAH.” The video, to me, aesthetically and thematically, was humorous. I mean, a plastic bottle as found talisman? CMON MAN. I think DETH METAL bands, by definition, have not only THICK SKIN, but a SENSE OF HUMOUR.

            • First of all, what’s with all the RANDOM capitalised WORDS? It doesn’t really serve to emphasise your points when you do it that much, just makes you sound like you have some weird typing disorder.

              Secondly, “found talisman”…? What in the name of all this is unholy are you on about?

              And thirdly this whole entitled act – “I’m here every day, I’m so loyal, I purchase so much music, I… refresh constantly?” – doesn’t exactly do you any favours either. We have lots of loyal readers, who’ve been with us for years, and who support as many bands as they are able, but who don’t feel the need to resort to some tiresome schtick in order to get attention.

              I honestly think, giving you the benefit of the doubt, that you’re just unaware of how obnoxious you’re coming across, particularly with all these random, non-sequitur “joke” comments which you seem to think are much more funny than they are. The whole routine was marginally amusing when it first started, but quickly became stale, and now comes across more as “oh god, this guy again”, whether you want it to or not.

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