Jun 092023

I was supposed to premiere and review an EP today. Despite knowing better, the label and band decided to publish the stream and circulate it to fans without waiting on us. Not the first time something like that has happened around here, but I no longer ignore it when people care so little about our unpaid efforts to help. Time is better spent in other ways, and so rather than finish that premiere write-up I decided to pull together this round-up of new songs and videos that mostly surfaced just this week.

I’ve not put much thought into some clever way of arranging the flow of them, in part because there are so many stylistic twists and turns in what I chose. Just think of yourself as a tennis ball thrown into a dryer with a lot of other tennis balls and start tumbling.


This week Grand Cadaver released a third single from their new album Deities Of Deathlike Sleep. They sum up the album as “Swedish Fucking Death Metal, the way we love it”, and the lack of pretension extends to the name of the newest song: “Vortex of Blood“.

Prepare for a 2 1/2 minute escapade of d-beat and back-beat propulsion, grisly and chugging chainsaw riffage, and a risk of rabies from Mikael Stanne‘s ugly snarls. Nothing that pushes any envelopes, but a nice way to get your motor running.

Deities Of Deathlike Sleep will be released by Majestic Mountain Records on August 25th.





Now for something more challenging to your sense of well-being.

This genre-bending UK band who’ve been favorites around these parts for a while dropped a new EP two days ago. Their attitude is summed up in the EP’s title, Rotten Fucking Planet. They don’t seem to like our planet, or more accurately, the humanity that it hosts, and the music sounds like they’re doing their level best to scour the scum clean off the surface.

The songs are often brute-force demolition jobs that pull no punches — stupefyingly heavy and either viciously mauling or as grim as a sucking chest wound. Those episodes are worth the price of admission (though you have the option of getting it for free at Bandcamp), but Jøtnarr offer up a lot more than that too, including a plethora of rapid tempo changes, lots of freakishly mutating fretwork and constantly variable forms of percussive obliteration, and enraged and deranged vocalizations.

Or to put it another way, the EP is ruthlessly pulverizing, both furiously defiant and punishingly bleak, but a real head-spinner of a trip too, straight through to the massively crushing but also opium-fumed closer “Nuclear Hornet“. The twists and turns of the EP are manifold, and every one of them is killer. It will bring the rafters down around you and leave you trying to pick up the pieces of your mind and reassemble them into something capable of rational thought again (good luck with that).

I have a very strong feeling this one won’t grow stale, and so I have happily bought it.





Yesterday brought us another single from Fen‘s new album Monuments to Absence. It’s called “Wracked“. I’ll share what they say about it:

“There are days when one is struck by a sense of such overwhelming black despair that it strikes almost as a physical force. We are literally wracked with sorrow, so overcome with the deepest sadness that it hits like a blow – staggering one backwards, grinding us to a halt. All one can do at such points is wait for the wave to subside, to retreat into the dark, yawning chasm of one’s own mind and hope that the storm will pass as swiftly as possible. ‘Wracked’ speaks of those days.”

After you read that you may be surprised to experience the bounding and buoyant vitality of the song’s opening phase. It’s elevating and even joyous to hear, notwithstanding the caustic shrieks with which the words are expelled.

On the other hand, the song does become more disturbingly frenzied and stricken, channeling sensations of confusion and angst, as well as more weighed down by gloom but also even more elevated by hope . Along the way, all the instrumental performances grow increasingly elaborate and involving. Soaring singing, gritty growls, and lacerating cries join in as well. Very easy to lose yourself in this rich musical experience….




ACID MAGUS (South Africa)

Next up I picked “Dead Weight“, a just-released third single off this South African band’s new record Hope Is Heavy. It includes additional vocals by Johni Holiday of Ruff Majik. It’s in a genre space I don’t spend much time in (you can probably guess from the band’s name which one it is), but this one hooked me.

Dead Weight” is a big fuzz-bombed beast that lumbers and bounces, laced with woozy riffing and high-flown but gritty vocals. When the grooves vanish and spaced-out percussive patterns take their place, the music seems to soar off into the stratosphere and beyond, finding wonder.

After a pause that might make you think the song has ended, it enters another phase when the beast lurches but seems to have dropped acid and begun experiencing intriguing visions, though it recovers its bruising bounce again before the end.

Hope Is Heavy is set for release on August 4th by Mongrel Records.





To keep the twists and turns coming, my next pick is the first song released for streaming from Shigenso, the second album by this international atmospheric black metal band. Each of the four songs is devoted to one of the four elements.

Fair warning — “水 (L’Eau)” is almost 17 1/2 minutes long, but this isn’t some kind of seemingly endless drone. Instead, it traverses a lot of varied musical terrain. There are cycles where the guitars buzz, scream, and slash and others where elegant and poignant piano melodies take center stage. Screams and strangled screeching of utmost wretchedness scar the ears like knives and needles, but the music also unfolds through synths into panoramic and even pastoral fullness.

Organ-like melodies and gloomy muttered words over dancing piano keys haunt the mind. The guitars seem to wander in loneliness, musing alongside glinting wisteria-draped brooks of sound. The music itself becomes steeped in gloom, and then hammers and moans in despair, even as a brittle guitar twitters like a wounded bird. As the riffing cycle resumes, it begins to seem like a very dark dream.

The overarching mood of this long piece is unmistakably depressive, but I found it enthralling.

Shigenso will be released by the Antiq label on September 1st.




KARRAS (France)

To close things out today I thought it might be a good idea to kick-start your heart after that Enterré Vivant opus, and to do that I chose a video for the single “Roland Doe“, which came out two days ago. Who is Roland Doe? I found this description beneath the video:

[The song] tells the true story of a teenager who was the victim of demonic possession and was given the pseudonym “ROLAND DOE.” This young boy has descended into the Parisian catacombs with Karras. Here is his story, redefined.

Prepare for a rollicking dose of crusty death/grind. After stomping your bones into dust at the outset, the band kick in the afterburners, galloping and blasting, gouging and screaming. If it’s a beating you want, alternately grim and furious (and who doesn’t?), you’ve come to the right place. If you want to get your neck jackhammered, you’ll get that too.

The song is off the forthcoming Karras album We Poison Their Young, which will be released by M-Theory Audio, though I’m not sure when. The track is available now as a digital single.


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