Nov 112019


The pleasure of watching talented musicians take their first steps in a new venture, and then grow and evolve, and soon have their works exposed to a wide audience, is one of the more satisfying rewards of participating in a site like ours, particularly when we’ve done our own (very small) part to help them along the way.

In the case of the Portuguese band Oak, we were first drawn to their activities under that name because both members were also part of the terrific black metal band Gaerea — although the music they’ve created in Oak (a blend of mystical funeral doom and death metal) is very different. In the spring of 2018 we premiered a live recording (captured on video) for a spellbinding single called “Sculptures“, which in final form appears on their debut album, Lone. A bit later in the year we also premiered a video of the band’s live set in a chapel within the old Portuguese fortress known as Castelo de Santiago da Barra (and if you haven’t seen that video, you really must!).

And then in January of this year we devoted space to a discussion of an Oak song called “Abomination“, which was released in connection with the announcement that Transcending Obscurity Records would be releasing Lone, and that the Italian maestro Paolo Girardi had painted a fitting piece of cover art for the record. Now it’s our pleasure to premiere another of the four tracks on Lone. This one comes second in the running order (just after “Sculptures“) and its name is “Mirror“. Continue reading »

Nov 112019


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Colorado-based Blood Incantation, which will be released on November 22nd by Dark Descent Records (NorthAm) and Century Media (Europe), and features artwork by Bruce Pennington.)

The rapid rise of Blood Incantation can, when all is said and done, be attributed to a combination of a few different factors.

First and foremost, of course, is that fact that the Colorado quartet are just a fantastic Death Metal band. No caveats, no equivocations.

They’ve got the technical talents, they’ve got the songwriting skills, and, perhaps more importantly, they’ve got just the right blend of sounds – proggy enough to keep themselves from being boxed in with the rest of the “old school” revivalists, but “classic” enough to appeal to the nostalgia-hounds – to reach a surprisingly wide audience, both young and old.

Then there’s the group’s blissfully baked, “I’m not saying it was aliens…”, aesthetic which, when combined with their impressive songcraft and easy meme-ability (the scraggly logo, the hesher-friendly merch designs, the far-out ’70s sci-fi artwork) has given rise to a near-perfect storm of viral fame and critical acclaim that’s seen the band go from “relative unknown” to “next big thing” in just a few short years.

And while there’s definitely a little bit of home-grown hero-worship going on with some of their more rabid (typically American) fans, the truth is that the band’s highly-anticipated second album makes a strong case for why you need to start believing the hype.

Well, most of it anyway… Continue reading »

Nov 112019


“Prepare yourselves for a death metal rocket-ride that may leave your eyes rolled back in your head, your teeth bared in your frothing mouth, your head banging in a fury, your body convulsed in a seizure.” That’s how we began introducing our June 2017 premiere of a track off Verthebral‘s debut album, Regeneration. It’s not a bad way to introduce today’s premiere either, because in the two-plus years since their debut release these high-octane death-dealers from Paraguay haven’t mellowed in the slightest.

The song we’re presenting today — “The Art of Perversion” — comes from the band’s new album, Abysmal Decay, which has a December 27 release date via Transcending Obscurity Records. As you can see, the colorful cover art by Marcos Miller is an eye-popping come-on for the album, and the music is just as hellishly attention-grabbing. Continue reading »

Nov 112019


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Mayhem, which is out now via Century Media Records.)

Mayhem is one of Black Metal’s most storied names.  They were pioneers — a lot of modern stylistic conventions of black metal are owed to them, and you can hear their influence even today in much of what you listen to.  A lot of my personal favorite black metal is definitely influenced by Mayhem in significant ways, and I’m a huge fan of the band’s diverse yet admittedly hit-or-miss discography.

Although not all of their albums have hit the mark, they’ve never failed to live up to the inherently rebellious ethos of black metal, always trying something different and attempting (sometimes desperately) not to pander to expectations from release to release.  Mayhem have also often displayed a leaning toward more eccentric quirks, and kind of a flare for technical guitar work before a lot of other bands of their era did that.

So it may seem peculiar that my two favorite Mayhem records are Grand Declaration Of War and Esoteric Warfare, both which pursued really weird or chaotic tangents from black metal convention.  Grand Declaration… was almost a spoken-word recording with black metal accompaniment, and Esoteric Warfare seems to explore every extreme metal style in a black metal framework with a lot of interesting noise elements, and it really spoke to me. Continue reading »

Nov 102019



Just a few opening notes:

First, all of the following songs are the first advance tracks from forthcoming albums, The opening four in today’s collection are absolutely wild, and the first three of those put me in mind of the kind of full-throttle, all-enveloping extravagance that often forms the closing movement of a classical symphony.

Second, today I’m just launching immediately into thoughts about the songs I picked, and providing the details about the bands and the releases only after that.

Third, I’m so far behind in mentioning recently released full albums from the black realms that I have in mind another one of these columns tomorrow, which won’t include full reviews of those albums but only teasers. Because that won’t take me as much time, there’s a greater likelihood I’ll be able to follow through. Continue reading »

Nov 092019


Lo and behold, I managed to finish the second part of the round-up of new music I began here yesterday. Not a great shock that I couldn’t finish it yesterday; more shocking that I finished it at all. Hope you enjoy what you’ll find here. Musically, it’s pretty diverse.


I’m not embarrassed to admit that when I first listened to the title song of the debut album by Exulansis, which opens the album, I got a lump in my throat and moistness in the eyes. It’s no secret that I tend to have stronger emotional responses to music (and tend to express them more unabashedly) than many people who are (or pretend to be) music critics, mainly because I think of myself more as an enthusiastic fan than a critic. But this song damn near broke my heart. And it turns out that the song continues to have that effect every time I hear it, which means I have to ration how often I turn back to it (simply forgetting about it isn’t an option). Continue reading »

Nov 082019


After recording and independently releasing three records from 2013 into 2017, the instrumental post-rock band Glories (who live in Birmingham, Alabama) were shaken by the death of guitarist Zachary Cooner. During the heartbroken hiatus that followed, the band’s remaining members — Dallas Kelley, Adam Blevins, and Kyle Posten — wondered how, or whether, to proceed with the project they had created with him. Ultimately, they decided to forge ahead, and the album they wrote became a way of both working through their grief and a tribute to their lost brother.

The name of the album is Distant After, and it will be released on January 24, 2020. In its sensations the music spans an array of changing emotions, but perhaps most of all (in the accurate words of the advance press for the record) “a sense of uplift and triumph following melancholy and struggle”.

Although the album was meant to be heard as one continuous piece, the song we’re presenting today, “Make the Hills Echo“, all by itself seems to capture much of the emotional journey that animates the album as a whole. Its poignancy is unmistakable, but it becomes even more powerful once you know (as you now do) what lies behind it. Continue reading »

Nov 082019


Happy Friday to one and all. Although I continue to be distracted with personal obligations (I’ve become a caregiver to an injured family member, which is something that will persist for at least another month), I found time to do some scattered listening last night and this morning. Even with a lot more listening yet to do, that yielded a cornucopia of good finds, six of which you’ll find below.

The reference to “Part 1” in the post title is more a sign of optimism than a present reality. And if I can get it done at all, it might not arrive until Saturday.


To get your motor running hot and fast before moving into everything else in today’s compilation, I picked a new song and video by Sepultura, which is the one item in this collection that I caught this morning. It sure as fuck got my motor running, and the video is kind of spectacular too. Continue reading »

Nov 082019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Abigail Williams, which will be released by Blood Music on November 15th.)

Patience, as we’re so often told, is a virtue. As, perhaps, is perseverance.

If so, then Abigail Williams mainman Ken Sorceron must be practically a saint at this point, having spent over a decade weathering the slings and arrows of hostile critics and the ignorant public in equal measure.

Thankfully, all this time playing the black sheep of American Black Metal has had a paradoxically freeing effect on the band’s music, allowing it to adapt and evolve at its own pace without being shackled by commercial considerations or concerns for the critical consensus.

And nowhere is this more true than on Walk Beyond the Dark. Continue reading »

Nov 082019


(We present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by the British doom lords Esoteric, which is being released on November 8th by Season of Mist, along with a complete stream of the album.)

What I love about this band is their ability to take doom to places that have little to do with Black Sabbath. Nothing against Geezer and the boys, but I don’t need a genre of impersonators. I want the kind of sonic despair a band like Esoteric are capable of delivering. Eight years after Paragon of Dissonance, which is pretty much a perfect album. expectations are high. What is a band to do after such an achievement?

In the case of Esoteric, they decide to open the album with an almost 28-minute song. To put this in perspective, that is the length of the entire Reign in Blood album. Granted, Slayer were moving at the speed of punk, and these guys are a slow trudge through the apocalypse. With a song of this length I tend to approach it as if it is a symphonic work, written in movements rather than the compact verse-chorus formula. Continue reading »