A DEATH METAL HAMMERING: MAZE OF SOTHOTH, BROKEN GLASS SANCTUARY, FORETOKEN
Maze of Sothoth
(We have DGR to thank for the following trio of reviews, covering two records just released on March 17th and one that’s coming out on March 24th.)
As we draw closer to the end of March we find ourselves with a veritable bounty of music available to us, and while we do a commendable – cue rim shot here – job trying to keep up with the world of heavy metal, sometimes it’s fun to cast off the task of keeping up and just throw yourself into the river of discoveries as they wash over you.
That’s the case with the three groups here, as we travel to opposite coasts of the US after making a journey into Italy. The one big unifier is the constant death metal hammering, but hey, you’re on NoCleanSinging and that is one of our favorites to traffic in.
Maze Of Sothoth – Extirpated Light
Much like your local supermarket – assuming we aren’t in the midst of the umpteenth millionth crisis of the week – will have a stocked meat section that is often refreshed, so too does the death metal scene with plenty of acts more than happy to provide the day’s daily brutality without jumping too far from the genre that defines them.
When you have a path so clearly laid in front of you, how you choose to walk it often becomes the story after those first couple of steps. Those who choose to leap clear off of it and fly into other worlds get their time in the sun but often the very base of a structure like the brutal death scene draws its strength from an act like Italy’s Maze Of Sothoth, who are so clearly a band for whom brutality is the general throughline that you can sense the percussive grooves coming from a mile away, the way animals seem attuned to sensing earthquakes before our dumb brains can comprehend them.
This is a long way of saying that Extirpated Light is an album that is constant in its aggression, full of jarring grooves and plenty of death metal tropes to make fans of the knocked-over hornet’s nest guitar style plenty happy – since we’re lacking an actual genre definition for an album that could best be described as a meat tenderizer anyway.
Extirpated Light is a steady album; which seems like a weird descriptor at first, but this is the sort of release that is so incredibly straightforward and firm-footed in its placement that you could rest assured it wouldn’t get knocked over in a hurricane. It is a rock amidst crashing waves. The type of release that has become the Everlasting Spew label’s artisanal specialty.
You’ll recognize a lot of the hallmarks of the genre from this four-piece’s sophomore offering from the word ‘go’ as “The Unspeakable” barrels through your speakers for the first time. That constant blastbeat backbone and ever-rolling bass drum amidst chaotic guitars becomes the defining sound of Extirpated Light. Maze Of Sothoth augment that style a bit throughout the album, bringing in backing synth work – including one real heavy lean on the keyboard to close out a song – and a small amount of backing symphonics, but overall it’s that steady chug and razor-cut guitar that Maze Of Sothoth always loop back to.
When you have a rhythm section who can rumble as hard as this band does, who would even deny it? It’s how in spite of the numerous guitar leads that Maze Of Sothoth toss out with reckless abandon, Extirpated Light walks away feeling percussive and punchy. It isn’t until you’ve leapt past the pairing of “Eliminate Contamination” and “The Revocation Dogma” that you get a song wherein the opening isn’t the band at a million miles an hour to launch things off. Granted, “Blood Tribute” hails insteady from the school of gigantic and lumbering guitar riff akin to Morbid Angel and Nile, but again, who is going to shoot that down?
On the other end of that spectrum from the world of large guitar you have a song like “The Plague” which revels in its chaotic form. The way that song darts about is one of the better examples of how Maze Of Sothoth poke and prod around the edges of their chosen genre without letting themselves get lost in exploration. “The Plague” tries to cram as much as it can in its sub-three-minute time, and the distance between a song like “The Plague” and “Blood Tribute” two songs earlier is where the rest of an album like Extirpated Light exists.
That gulf between “giant rhythm section song” and “chaotic death metal storm” is where most of Extirpated Light‘s thirty six minutes of brutal death are to be found. It’s a constant battering, the type of album written as a never-ending hailstorm, eminently recognizable for what it is but easily capable of sating the hunger for a new ass-kicking while the quest for metal-genre-fueled beatings continues.
Broken Glass Sanctuary – Praeceptum
We last made contact with Broken Glass Sanctuary all the way back in 2021 to review their release A Kingdom Below. It may have taken us forever and a day to check in with the Bay Area bruisers, but such is the nature of falling down a thousand different rabbit holes while digging around for new music.
Praeceptum is the group’s newest EP, arriving a little under two years after A Kingdom Below, but one that continues hurtling down the cavernous halls of low-end-focused death metal that the group had been exploring on their full album prior. The lower-end focus of the group means that while many death metal bands obtain their auditory violence from a sheer wall of sound, overwhelming the listener, or by spinning up a whirlpool of instrumentation that could swallow buildings, Broken Glass Sanctuary deal in sheer heft — everything in service of the final crush, the falling building, or the way a stone may be shoved atop someone to suffocate them.
Broken Glass Sanctuary deal in that style of death metal wherein the battering is rhythmic and the silence left between each caveman crushing rock style guitar chug only punctuates the next couple of hammers from the sky that follow. It allows them to cherry-pick from the vast smorgasbord of genres available to them, all to contribute to the altar of head-empty musical activity that forces subconcious headbanging. You’ll get plenty of elements from brutal death and slam, alongside traversing the many, many worlds of -core,- which means that yes, Broken Glass Sanctuary are very happy to musically march all over the carpet of a bunch of deathcore bands if they can make one of those big, burly moments work in their service. Praeceptum is twenty minutes of that style.
As part of the never-ending wave of tech-death, deathcore, brutal death, and various other concrete blocks thrown against the ground stylings, Broken Glass Sanctuary make their statement very early on within “Draconian Induction”. They join the ranks of the many who’ve caught on to the attention-grabbing effect of going zero to sixty songwise, in the same way drag racing cars do, and much of what makes up Praeceptum is laid out in those opening moments.
Every snare-drum hit strikes with the force of a rail gun and sounds like rifle fire and the rest of the band put in work to make things as burly as possible. Praeceptum will not be an EP joining the world of the high-minded and intellectual. While those will be happy sitting in a garden debating the philosophies of the world and how things intertwine and change, Broken Glass Sanctuary‘s only entrance into that world would likely be if the truck they’re driving loses control and slams through the wall close by.
The group cash in their tech-death bona-fides later on in this EP on “The Divine Construct”, which is a blisteringly fast sandblaster of sound. The group turn all the hurricane fans on immediately in that song and for a good chunk of its short run-time – shortest on the EP as well – they let that giant cloud blow past you time and time again. It’s a fun bit of controlled chaos right when it seems like the group are settling into a groove of hammering drums and low/high interchanging vocals.
Praeceptum goes to show that even with some lineup changes happening for the group, Broken Glass Sanctuary are still well-positioned to be within the genre they’re in. They already nail all the checkpoints to the wall, and between this and 2021’s A Kingdom Below, you have a solid hour of ass-kicking available to you.
Foretoken – Triumphs
Virginia’s Foretoken are probably the newest discovery in this mix this time around, having been spotted among a recent batch of releases from Prosthetic Records, their Spartan artwork standing out amidst the group of hardcore-punk and more abrasive genres that the label has specialized in over the years. What was found within will certainly perk some ears, as the two-piece’s sophomore album is a blend of symphonics and melodeath that often elevates both into the style of catchier death metal that becomes the ‘everything at once’ style.
Triumphs is an album of spectacle and gains its weight in having an army of melodies and lead lines dancing into and out of each song, leaning hard on its musicians to keep things interesting and pull as much out of their pockets as possible to keep up with everything else going on. Alongside the two main musicians of Foretoken, the group were able to land Hannes Grossmann as a drummer and Brandon Ellis for a guest solo. You can see how someone like Foretoken would give the impression of being very cinematic with their music, and the combination of all of those elements mentioned before guarantees that – as mentioned – Triumphs is a musical ‘event’.
Triumphs is also an album of journeys and interesting subject matter on top of the huge musical focus that Foretoken take on. Drawing from various battles and mythology from around the world – “The Wraith That Weeps”, for instance, draws from the tale of La Llorona for one of the album’s longer songs – to match the sheer amount of instrumentation that the Foretoken pair make use of. That’s perfectly fitting, given that often large mythological figures and battles lend themselves well to albums of massive bombast.
The shortest songs are still over four minutes long, in both “The Labors” and “Devil O’ The Sea”. That said; “Devil O’ The Sea” is also one of the more head-on brutalizers of the album and hits right in between two much larger, more expansive songs. The massive, heavy weight of that song evokes the crashing of waves and turbulent seas before spilling over into the grander tale of “A Tyrant Rises As Titans Fall”. “The Labors” draws its subject matter from Herculean tales and also lands in between two larger tracks, though “The Serpent King’s Venom” is more immediate in its aggression than the calm that opens “A Tyrant Rises As Titans Fall” later in the album. Releases like this suit themselves well by being as packed to the brim as possible and do gain points for having a constant sense of discovery once the initial overwhelming spectacle loses some of its immediate shine.
Triumphs and albums of its ilk are the type that are fun to dissect as you listen; you’ll go back to them constantly if the initial grand-opera appeal wins you over during the initial volleys of the album. Foretoken are a band who have left everything on the table with each release, and Triumphs is the latest refinement on that ambition.