Aug 032019
 

 

In a rare showing of restraint, I didn’t slaughter millions of brain cells last night in celebrating the end of the work week. Consequently, I woke early this morning without feeling like I’d contracted the plague while asleep, and spent a block of time making my way through many new songs that had come my way over the last couple of days. From those I picked this collection.

Today, in addition to emphasizing stylistic diversity, I decided to focus even more on lesser-known names than usual, though it’s always our standard practice to make sure we’re not just writing about what everyone else in the metalverse is writing about. Having said that, I couldn’t resist beginning with a name that’s undoubtedly been on the lips of vast throngs since yesterday’s song reveal. And that name is…

BORKNAGAR

In his review of 2016’s Winter Thrice, my friend Andy remarked that “it only takes a quick glance at the Membership Timeline on the band’s Wikipedia page to see how many different members and line-ups the group have gone through over the years, while somehow still retaining the same creative drive and overarching musical identity that first brought the band together”. That list will become longer now, with the impending release of Borknagar’s 11th album, True North, which features new drummer Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow and new lead guitarist Jostein Thomassen. Missing this time around are Vintersorg, Jens Ryland, and drummer Baard Kolstad, who had made his first appearance on Winter Thrice.

On the other hand… Continue reading »

Jul 152019
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the 7th album by the solo project Arctic Sleep from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was released on July 12th. It is a significant exception to our “rule” about singing. The cover art was created by Jennifer Weiler.)

Some of our readers may not be aware of this, but the Metal blogosphere (of which we are but a small part) is kind of like its own separate ecosystem, with all the various sites and zines and writers sharing and interacting within the same digital space, by turns feeding, and being fed upon, and occasionally coming together to copulate, exchange information, and (hopefully) create something new.

This doesn’t mean we’re all “in cahoots”, by any means. I’ve questioned and criticised the work of others just as much as I’ve been questioned and criticised in turn. But it does mean that, sometimes at least, the circle of life – or the circle of riffs, as it were – moves us all in similar ways.

Case in point, I have to give full credit to those brave lavatorial adventurers at The Toilet ov Hell for introducing me to the music of Arctic Sleep, whose latest album I’ve been listening to pretty much non-stop over the weekend. Continue reading »

Jul 062019
 

 

In pawing through new music yesterday, like the digital-age version of what I used to do in record stores, I found myself thinking that the music of the following four bands belonged together. I wouldn’t know how to label them if I put them together in a section of the record store in my head, because their musical styles are different. Maybe “DOOMY METAL, BUT OTHER THINGS GOING ON”. Or maybe just “HEAVINESS (AND OCCASIONAL HEAVENLINESS)”.

MADDER MORTEM

The first song I’ve selected is a big exception to our Rule about singing, all the way up until near the end, when Agnete M. Kirkevaag does something shocking with her voice. Until then, as always, she’s bewitching.

But before we get to the song, I should share some important details about the new Madder Mortem album that includes it. Continue reading »

Jul 042019
 

 

I have mixed feelings about the Fourth of July, especially this year, and I’m not the only American who’s feeling torn today. While there are migrants in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on the southern border, the country’s most famous Independence Day celebration has been turned into a taxpayer-funded militaristic political rally for a man who not only could care less about what’s happening to people in Texas detention camps, but actively tries to score extra political points among his supporters by doubling down on the prisoners’ misery. And that’s just today’s most visible one-two punch to the nation’s ideals. There will be more battering tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

On the other hand, I still feel fortunate to have been born here, and still take pride in much of what the country has achieved, and in much of what it stands for when it’s at its best. I also recognize that even though I’m not feeling particularly celebratory today, the Fourth is for many Americans a day of joy, even if it’s just because the day is a good excuse to be in the company of good friends or family, to gorge on comfort food and too much beer and booze, and to watch pretty explosions in the night sky. To all those people, I wish them a fantastic fucking day. Continue reading »

Jul 012019
 

 

To get this new week off to a rousing start I have a round-up of new music from six bands, culled from the good, the bad, and the ugly sounds that found their way to my earholes this past weekend. As is often the case, part of my design in this culling was to provide a selection of metal that might appeal to a range of tastes.

SORCERY

2019 has already proven to be another banner year for death metal, but the news that Sorcery will be releasing a new album still lit up my head like a Roman candle. I know it seems like my enthusiasm overflows on a daily basis around here (the appearances, by the way, aren’t deceiving), but Sorcery still occupy a special place in my black-hearted affections. (The fact that their new album is adorned with another fantastic piece of artwork by Juanjo Castellano is sweet icing on the cake.) Continue reading »

Jun 272019
 

 

“…the atmospheric heft of Fallujah… the punishing hardcore of Wolf King… the brutal technicality of Behold the Desecration and Anisoptera… influences that range from alternative rock to slamming brutal death metal… an intersection between all things dark, melodic and heavy…”

Well, that seemed like an intriguing come-on for this new California band Black Passage, whose line-up actually does include members of the bands referenced above. And as it turns out, their music actually does harness those divergent musical ingredients, and does so in ways that prove enticing rather than forcing them together like manacled prisoners on a chain-gang.

We have an example of Black Passage‘s successful hybrid of contrasts for you today, a video for a track called “Tables Turn” off their new album The Veil, which will be released on July 26th. Continue reading »

Jun 202019
 

 

The music of the German band High Fighter now exists in apparently opposed but interchangeable states. Rather than juxtapose their contrasting stylistic ingredients like hard veering lane changes on some musical Autobahn, however, they’ve created songs that are more like the confluence of river systems, all joining to flow powerfully forward in an intermingling of upstream sources.

The band’s new album, Champain, will be released on July 26th by Argonauta Records. As a follow-on to their 2014 EP The Goat Ritual and their 2016 debut album Scars & Crosses, it is itself the product of new soundscapes through which the band have passed, as if other tributaries have joined this river in new convergences on its rush to the sea. The Goat Ritual has been left far behind, and Champain certainly isn’t Scars & Crosses Part 2 either. The song we present today, “Dead Gift“, makes that plain, and could stand as a proud emblem of this river’s new course. Continue reading »

Jun 082019
 

 

I managed to get Part 2 of this Saturday round-up finished in time to actually post it on Saturday, leaving the field wide open tomorrow for a SHADES OF BLACK column, which also might be a two-parter, and a Sunday premiere. The five songs I chose for Part 1 were consistently high-energy, full-throttle attacks, but the songs I’ve selected for this second installment are much more variable. There is also (gasp!) a healthy helping of clean or almost-clean singing to be found here, but I think you’ll find that it earns the exceptions to our Rule.

HEILUNG

I thought for sure I had written about Heilung before today, but can find no evidence of it. I know that I meant to, because I have been fascinated by their past music. But if this is the first occasion, it’s a worthy one, because their new song “Traust” is simply fantastic. Continue reading »

Jun 072019
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the latest album by the Finnish band Lucidity, which was released in February by Inverse Records.)

It’s interesting that we have never before penned words about Lucidity and their branch of the sad-sack melodeath musical tree, as the Finnish group’s keyboard-laden doom-influenced style seems to be perfectly within this website’s wheelhouse — well, at least in one particular writer’s wheelhouse. But now the time has come.

Lucidity have existed for quite a while now, though only recently appearing to have become a more album-oriented project. Prior to the release of their debut disc The Oblivion Circle in 2015, Lucidity had been putting out a steady stream of demos, totalling around five before the aforementioned debut. Nearly four years later — in the back part of February — the group released their sophomore album Oceanum. Clocking in at nearly fifty minutes across eight songs, Oceanum has some heft to it as it drapes itself in a veil of melancholy while conjuring familiar imagery of forests, lakes, and all things pensive. Continue reading »

Jun 052019
 

 

(Evan Clark reviews the new album by Gloryhammer, which was released by Napalm Records on May 31st.)

Hark! And hear the glorious call of power metal! Before you now stands the mighty Gloryhammer, the last bastion of true fantasy power metal for the modern age. Perk up your ears mere mortals, and journey with us on the third chapter from the Kingdom of Fife! Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex finds our heroes returning back to their rightful time to combat the evil forces of blah blah blah…

Okay, for those who don’t know, Gloryhammer is the symphonic power metal project founded by Christopher Bowes of Alestorm fame. The band is known for their over-the-top, satirical approach to the genre. Take a seat, grab a goblet of ale, and try not to take things too seriously. Continue reading »