(In this column Andy Synn compiles reviews and streams of six new EPs — by Engulf, Lvcifyre, Maladie, Ordeals, Phobocosm, and Ultha.)
Damn, today is a busy one for big releases isn’t it?
We’ve got Alcest, The Great Old Ones, Vastum, Leprous, Hour of Penance, Fit for an Autopsy, Vacivus (more on them soon), Dawn Ray’d, and about a bajillion others all coming out on the same day.
So, to address this overload of new albums… I’ve decided to write a piece covering a bunch of recently released EPs instead.
Who said I wasn’t helpful?
ENGULF – TRANSCEND
One-man Death Metal maestro Engulf (aka Hal Microutsicos) has been on the receiving end of a lot of hype and praise for his work ever since the release of 2017’s Subsumed Atrocities EP.
And with good reason, because Death Metal is clearly in his bones, something which the four tracks on Transcend, his recently released third EP, make very, very clear.
It’s heavy stuff, obviously, but it’s also smartly structured and darkly dynamic as well, taking its cues from the classic triumvirate of Morbid Angel, Immolation, and Gorguts, and giving them a dash of added dissonance and intensity.
Hopefully one day soon we’ll get a comprehensive full-length album from Engulf, as there’s a very good chance it’ll be a modern day classic when we do.
LVCIFYRE – SACRAMENT
October is a time for horror, everyone knows that. And the new EP from UK Blackened Death tyrants Lvcifyre is a perfect example of horrifically heavy riffs and ugly, oppressive atmosphere bound to appeal to anyone who enjoys the similarly dense and dissonant sounds of Teitanblood, Blasphemy, Akercocke, etc.
Of the four original songs (plus one mordibly infectious KAT cover) presented here, opener “The Greater Curse” is undoubtedly the star, comprising seven minutes of menacing murk and flesh-stripping metallic fury, although both the discordant, doom-laden strains of “Death’s Head in Crown” and the cacophonous chaos of “Sacrament” provide almost as much sadistic sonic savagery in their own way.
Make no mistake about it, this EP is an unforgiving, uncompromising listening experience, and one not for the faint of heart. But blurring the lines between pain and pleasure is what this sort of music is all about, and I can see quite a few of our regular readers becoming totally addicted to this one, given time.
MALADIE – SYMPTOMS II
When is an EP not an EP? That’s a complex question. After all, Symptoms II, the new EP from German Avant-Black collective Maladie is almost as long as the new Blood Incantation album, which raises some questions about how we categorise different releases these days.
In this particular case I think the fact that Symptoms II is built around two lengthy pieces of progged-out, genre-b(l)ending metallic mayhem (“Vulnus – Drowning in Lethal Wounds” and “Discidium – The Return of Nothingness”) and two much shorter, more interlude-type tracks, means that it’s the format, rather than the length, which dictates how it’s classified.
Technical issues aside, this is another weird and wonderful release from a band which I wish more people knew about (and about whom I plan to write a comprehensive Synn Report sometime very soon).
Fans of Arcturus, Dødheimsgard, Oranssi Pazuzu, etc, would do well to give these guys a listen asap!
ORDEALS – CHOOSE DEATH
Despite being made up of only two “real” songs and two ugly, oppressive interlude/intro pieces, the new EP from Blackened Death duo Ordeals is definitely one of the best short-form releases of the year, mostly due to the sheer strength and absolute savagery of the riffs which make up the basis of the bone-crushing “A Throttled Dream” and “Choose Death” (with the latter also featuring some gloriously dour and doomy moments).
That’s not to downplay the other elements of the band’s music by any means – the drums are whiplash inducing and the vocals are utterly monstrous – but the blend of bleak melody, grim groove, and absolute ferocity unleashed by the guitars is absolutely second to none.
Fans of Black/Death/Doom crossover – particularly the foul, Finnish flavoured sort – need this EP in their lives.
PHOBOCOSM – EVERLASTING VOID
One of my favourite Death Metal bands of recent years (2016’s Bringer of Drought in particular still gets regular spins) dropped a surprise two-track EP at the end of last month just as a way of reminding everyone how overwhelmingly powerful their music is, even in small doses.
Comprising the droning dissonance and blast-heavy bludgeon of the title track, plus an even darker, and arguably even more punishing, version of Immolation classic “Here In After”, Everlasting Void shows that time has done nothing to dull this band’s edge, and should leave everyone very excited for whatever they have up their sleeve next.
ULTHA – BELONG
Another release that blurs the line between album and EP, the two tracks (totalling just over 38 minutes) that make up this release provide a much more potent and poisonous distillation of their particular brand of abrasive, atmospherically-intense Black Metal than their last (slightly underwhelming) album did.
“No Fire, Only Smoke” transforms from a simmering, slow-burn intro into a raging blast-furnace of rapid-fire snare drums and howling, harrowing vocals, culminating in a hypnotic, darkly melodic finale, while “Constructs of Separation” shifts back and forth between raging fury and haunting negative space over the course of 21 terrifying minutes.
Needless to say, this is one of the band’s strongest releases yet, and anyone with a taste for Wiegedood, Weakling, and their ilk will doubtless find this one just as satisfying.