(Andy Synn knows how easy it is to miss things when so many albums are released each month, so here’s four from May he recommends you try and find time to check out)
As the first edition of this (now officially “ongoing”) column was such a success (well, some people seemed to like it at least) I’ve made the decision to make it a regular thing.
So, for its sophomore outing I’ve chosen four artists/albums from the past month which we didn’t get around to covering properly before now (though we have featured some of them in various ways).
Don’t get me wrong, this is only scratching the surface of the various violent delights which May had to offer, but I think you’ll still be pleased with my selections, which this time around include a pair of very impressive debuts as well as new releases from not one but two former Synn Report alumni.
ACAUSAL INTRUSION – NULITAS
There’s no denying that the ever-expanding “Disso-Death” scene (although some people throw a real conniption if you call it that) has been on something of a roll in recent years, and 2021 has been no exception, what with the long-awaited return of Ad Nauseum and the highly-anticipated debut from Klexos, as well as killer new records from Intonate and Ageless Oblivion (and I’m already hearing a lot of buzz about the new Cathexis too).
And now, throwing down their own gauntlet we have demonic duo Acausal Intrusion and their debut album, Nulitas, which ultimately/arguably has more in common with the grisly grind of bands like Abyssal, Altarage, and Ævangelist than the abrasive assault of Ulcerate and Gorguts.
In fact, the more I think about it, as good as this album is (and it really is), it’s at its best when it leans away from angular discordance and towards doom-laden dissonance, as while the twisted technicality and cascading chaos of tracks like “Nexious Shapeshifters” and “Invocations Apprehension” is bound to have a devastating – not to mention disorienting – impact on your fragile psyche, I’m finding myself drawn, more and more, towards the grimmer, grimier side of the band’s sound, as exemplified by suffocatingly sinister songs such as “Qabbalistic Conjoining Existence” and titanic, Teitanblood-esque closer “Nebulous Ceremonial Temple”.
Clearly then, Nulitas is more of a grower than a shower, one which only really starts to make any sort of sense (weird, warped sense though it may be) over multiple listens. But, because of that, I’m also finding it to be a much deeper and more rewarding listen than many of its closest cousins that have already been released this year, especially considering how surprisingly melodic – yet still incredibly malignant – it reveals itself to be over time (the spine-tingling “Tetrahedron Quartz” being perhaps the biggest highlight in that regard).
It’s not perfect by any means… but then another word for “perfection” is “stagnation”, and this is one record that actively feels like it’s evolving and mutating as you’re listening to it, which is no mean feat.
BURIAL PIT – SUBHUMAN SCUM
What’s in a name, you ask? Well, when you call your band Burial Pit and christen your first album Subhuman Scum it seems to me that you’re sending a very clear message about what to expect from your music.
And, wouldn’t you know it, but Subhuman Scum is just over thirty-seven monstrously heavy minutes of absolutely devastating Death/Sludge that’s just as abrasive and abusive as its name implies.
The thing is, no matter how nasty, how gnarly, how unrelentingly crushing you’re expecting this record to be… chances are you’re still not going to be ready once the brutal, bowel-rupturing riffs and savage, strychnine-soaked vocals of “Disgrace” kick in… but that’s not going to stop me from trying my best to prepare you for the onslaught to come.
Honestly, even on paper this is a record that comes across as almost too heavy for its own good, as the best way I can think of to describe the band is to say that Subhuman Scum combines the bone-breaking brutality of Disentomb and/or Disgorge with the eye-popping aggression and sadistically sludgy grooves of EyeHateGod and/or Iron Monkey. Yeah, it’s that heavy.
Speed-wise these guys stick closer to the doomy, sludge-drenched end of the spectrum – even the occasional flurry of flying kick drums is less about showing off how fast they can play and more a result of the band simply building up a relentless, unstoppable sense of momentum over time – but there’s definitely no question that they also live and breathe Death Metal too, with the almost overwhelmingly intense final minutes of “Lord of Limbs” or the slow-motion sledgehammer that introduces “Priest” demonstrating that Burial Pit can go toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow, against even the most brutal and/or doom-laden of death-dealers.
But while ungodly heaviness is the prime impression that the band clearly want you to take away from their work, there’s also a surprising amount of melodic nuance – especially during the album’s final two tracks – at work too, suggesting that there’s more to these guys than just a bunch of brutish, bare-knuckle bruisers.
So, consider this a warning – this is one album that is definitely not for the faint of heart (or the weak of bladder), and NoCleanSinging refuses to be held liable for any and all injuries sustained while listening to it.
THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR – EVENTIDE
If there’s one thing I can say, with confidence, about us here at NCS it is that we are loyal (sometimes to a fault) – if we like your band then we’ll keep on writing about your band for as long as you keep delivering the goods.
Case in point, I’m pretty certain that, at this point, we’ve written about practically everything that Colorado quartet The Flight of Sleipnir have ever done, so if you’re looking for a good place to get started with the band (even though this particular article only covers the band’s first four albums) then I definitely recommend you check out this edition of The Synn Report from way back in 2014.
Of course, if you just want to dive right in, that’s ok too, especially since Eventide represents a further refinement and improvement of the band’s signature Doom meets (Atmospheric) Black Metal sound.
From the electrifying, elemental ebb and flow of opener “Voland”, through the elegant blend of doomy grandeur and thunderous intensity that is “Thaw”, all the way to the climactic blackened swagger of “Servitude”, Eventide is the sort of album which… well, it might be cliché to say it takes you on a “journey”, but that’s definitely how it feels as the album progresses, sometimes at a slow, sombre walk, sometimes at a headlong, helter-skelter gallop, through peaks and troughs, mountains and valleys, always following a wandering, meandering course which – nevertheless – inevitably takes you exactly where you need to go.
And not only is the band’s seventh album perhaps their most refined version of themselves, it also finds them at their most powerful too (especially vocally and drum-wise), with songs like “January” and “Harvest” clearly showcasing the band at the peak of their potential.
It’s high time, in my opinion, that The Flight of Sleipnir were given the same level of adulation and acclaim that’s been afforded to so many of peers – think Agalloch, Hammers of Misfortune, The Gates of Slumber, etc – over the years.
They more than deserve it, and if Eventide doesn’t prove it I suppose nothing ever will.
FYRNASK – VII – KENOMA
Here’s another band where, if you want a quick primer on what to expect, I’d encourage you to go check out what we’ve written about them before now, particularly this edition of The Synn Report from August 2017.
That being said, the version of the band behind VII – Kenoma is quite different than the one which wrote and performed the group’s first three albums (conceived, composed, and created when Fyrnask was still just a solo project), so perhaps this is as good a time as any to get to know them, as it seems to me that these six songs represent the dawn of a new era for the group.
At first, of course, it seems like not that much has changed – the band’s intricately layered compositions still owe a lot to, or at least share a fair bit in common with, the works of Wolves In The Throne Room and The Great Old Ones, while also paying tribute at times to the wild intensity of early Enslaved, and even the switch to a new vocalist (with long-time composer and sole original member Fyrnd taking a step back from the mic) has had very little effect on the group’s overall character.
There is, however, an undeniable shift in focus towards an even more hypnotic and ritualistic approach – one involving lengthier, more complex songs and dark, droning atmospherics – whose blend of moody, metallic mantras, delirious, dervish-like drums, and meditative melodic ambience works to induce an almost trance-like (and transcendental) state and, in doing so, repositions the band, subtly but firmly, alongside the more introspective, inner-eye-opening works of artists such as Schammasch and Blut Aus Nord.
This transition/transformation/transcendence is perhaps most apparent during the early pairing of “Sjodhandi blodh” and “Nidhamyrkr”, whose sense of depth, dynamic, and devastating intensity, are practically unmatched (although the sense of sinister space conjured by “Helreginn” also comes pretty close).
And while VII – Kenoma may not break the mould entirely, it’s certainly not just your standard slab of second-wave worship either, and should serve many of you well as you seek to transcend the physical realm.