(Gonzo presents another end-of-month roundup spotlighting releases that have attracted his enthusiastic attention.)
I have, and always will be, a voracious consumer of new music. Though nothing may take the place of how much fun it was to trade tapes with other weirdos in dark corners behind every sweaty beer-stained venue in creation, it’s sure as hell convenient to now find the same variety of under-the-radar bands on Bandcamp and Spotify.
With this installment of my monthly Heavy Roundup, I managed to find a list of bands that span the metal spectrum. I think that’s a testament to how insanely diverse and varied extreme music has become. And, seriously, few things bring me more joy in life than making playlists and sharing new music with people.
Hence, this column was born. Here are the albums and EPs I’ve highlighted from the month of July (and technically, one from June that passed me by until now.)
Lithuania’s Erdve have come crashing out of their homeland to drop an enormous megaton bomb onto the unsuspecting masses with Savigaila. Filled with punishing grooves and more chaos than a 10-car pileup, this album is a study in unfettered brutality.
If there was one opening song on any record in 2021 that says “we’re not fucking around,” it would be “Lavondemes.” From the instant you hit “play,” Erdve straps your ass to a rocket with this leadoff track and blasts you face-first into a brick wall. If you recover and keep going after that point, though, you’ll find Savigaila to be stacked with memorable highlights – “Smala” throws its weight around like an angry juggernaut, “Betonas” sounds like an angry fire god being belched out of an active volcano, and “Sugretinimas” brings to mind what you’d hear if Harm’s Way took psychedelics and jammed with Dirge. As brutal as it is, though, there are interludes that break up the onslaught quite well, and they’re actually very well-placed after delivering such beatings as the aforementioned tracks.
All in all, Savigaila is a big step forward for these Lithuanian blackened sludge slingers. If 2018’s Vaitojimas was a soundtrack to a madman bludgeoning everything in sight indiscriminately with a hammer, Savigaila is the madman being more precise with his targets.
WIZARDTHRONE, HYPERCUBE NECRODIMENSIONS
This might be the debut album from this international symphonic tech-death quintet, but you’d never know it after hearing it. Featuring members of such bands as Gloryhammer, Aether Realm, and Nekrogoblikon, Wizardthrone channels elements from these and their own collective creative brilliance to release Hypercube Necrodimensions.
Technical proficiency and the lore of H.P. Lovecraft join forces on this record to unleash a bubbling cauldron of imaginative tech-death. I heard a lot of similarities to Wintersun on the first few spins, with near-impeccable musicianship and arrangements that will leave absolutely nobody bored. The way this band stays in lockstep together through some seriously maniacal songwriting tells me they’re far from being done, and that the creative hivemind that powers Wizardthrone is not just a one-time experiment.
For a solid sampling of the best of what Hypercube Necrodimensions has to offer, try “Incantation of the Red Order” and “Forbidden Equations Deep Within the Epimethean Wasteland.”
DUSKMOURN, FALLEN KINGS AND RUSTED CROWNS
There’s a lot of high-quality melodeath flying under the radar as of late, and there might not be a better example of that than the newest album from New Jersey’s Duskmourn. (Technically, it was released in June, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave this one out regardless.)
Deftly toeing a middle ground between melodic death, folk, and black metal, this duo has crafted an album that’s undisputedly all killer, no filler. I’m probably on my tenth listen of Fallen Kings and Rusted Crowns, and I’m continuously amazed at how each song seems to consciously want to one-up the one that came before it. Just when “The Sleeping Tide” majestically fades away in a keyboard-laden haze, “Deathless” comes roaring triumphantly out of the gate. When that’s over, in comes “Blood of the Forest” with an infectious head-nodding gallop that I’m currently devouring as I type this.
It all comes to a head with the phenomenal “Mountain Heart,” which is rapidly becoming one of my favorite songs of the year. Duskmourn have crafted one of the finest displays of modern-death / melodic death metal with Fallen Kings and Rusted Crowns, and I’m already wondering where I’ll place it come December when it’s time for our annual Listmania series.
It’s not often you see the descriptor of “a one-man post-black metal band from southeast Texas” as a band’s bio, but that’s exactly what Invillith is.
Entirely self-produced and released by a mysterious figure known as Somniare, Druid is a spellbinding debut record. It captures the same ethereal energy as early Alcest and Wolves in the Throne Room, with the songs being lengthY but never drifting into overly idealistic territory. The way the record seamlessly combines old-school lo-fi black metal and post-black metal is both inventive and admirable.
Any album that begins with a 13-minute song risks asking too much of its listeners, but Invillith is up to the task. Moody instrumental interlude “Wanderlust” is a captivating listen and breaks up the cacophony quite well. Anyone who can conjure up the songwriting chops to create something like Druid as a debut has a promising future in extreme music, and I highly recommend you give this release a listen.
DREAM TROLL, REALM OF THE TORMENTOR
Based on the name of our revered website, I’m again breaking the rules.
Though there’s nary a hint of growling or agonized screams to be found throughout the latest EP from the UK’s Dream Troll, it’s too goddamn fun to ignore. It harkens back to the days of classic heavy metal and is completely self-aware about the tongue-in-cheek approach. It’s catchy, hook-laden, and is the perfect choice to blow out your speakers in a shitty Honda Civic while driving way too fast down an open road. Nostalgia gets me every time.
Is it corny? Of course it is. But does it have absolutely razor-sharp musicianship and choruses that practically force you to sing them as loud as you fucking can? Also yes. As any fan of “throwback” bands like Eternal Champion or Blazon Rite can attest, the cheese factor might be what you notice first, but look past it, and you’ll discover Dream Troll does what they do almost better than anyone else does. “She Got the Devil Inside” and “Here Comes Chaos” will make you want to run through a wall, while “Watch it Burn” has a distinctly old-school flavor that sounds like Mötley Crüe on steroids.