May 292020


Over the course of the nearly 20 years that have passed since the spawning of Irae in the Portuguese black metal underground, the project has been prolific, with Irae’s music being released in three dozen demos, splits, compilations, live recordings, and five full-length albums, the most recent of which will be released by Signal Rex on the 20th of June.

Operating from within a Portuguese alliance known as the Black Circle, whose members also include Mons Veneris, Vetala, Decrepitude, and Rainha Cólera, Irae’s sole creator Vulturius has pursued a nihilistic vision of malice and misanthropy through a distinctive formulation that combines the aggressive abrasion of raw black metal with melodies of penetrating emotional power. On this new album, Lurking in the Depths, he was aided by session members on drums and synths, with the latter adding an important dimension to the music’s multi-faceted sound. Continue reading »

May 292020


At least from a distance the vision I have of Sicily is a sun-drenched land, hilly and pastoral, surrounded by the brilliance of Mediterranean waters, culturally rich and filled with the evidence of ancient civilizations. To be sure, there are contrasts with those visions — aspects of human darkness and brutal violence (as there are wherever human beings congregate), and the looming menace of Mount Etna, whose active vulcanism still periodically casts black ash over this vast island.

It is the darkness that fuels the creations of the Sicilian band Fordomth, along with the inspirations of ancient esoteric mystery. The warmth of the sun does not touch their music, even though it often blazes. Instead, through a striking combination of black, death, and doom metal, Fordomth deliver explosive power, and create sensations of dread, despair, and revelation, with unnerving intensity.

Their new second album, Is, Qui Mortem Audit, is certain to leave deep and unsettling impressions that will linger long after its June 26 release by Auric Records — just as memorable as the gripping cover art created by Khaos Diktator Design. There, a Capuchin monk gazes into the abyss. The abyss is revealed through the music as well. Continue reading »

May 282020


Fans of brutal and technical death metal should need no introduction to Germany’s Defeated Sanity. Still helmed by co-founder Lille Gruber (drummer and current guitarist), the band have been releasing savage and scintillating music since the mid-’90s, with five albums to their credit, the most recent of which — The Sanguinary Impetus — will be discharged by Willowtip Records on July 24th.

One track from the new album, “Propelled Into Sacrilege“, has previously been released, and today it’s our privilege to present a second one through an official music video in which the band perform the song. Its name is “Imposed Corporeal Inhabitation“. Continue reading »

May 282020


Over time most ardent music fans learn to identify different experiences that provide listening thrills. There’s the pleasure of listening to new music from old favorites, even though those old favorites may not be bringing anything new to the table in comparison to their defined sound. There’s the delight of making new discoveries — finding new bands doing new things. And then there’s the pleasure that comes from following the progress of bands, like Minnesota’s Amiensus, who start strong and then evolve, becoming both more intriguing and even stronger as the years pass by.

We’ve been following the progress of Amiensus, essentially step-by-step, since the release of their 2013 debut album Restoration (which, by the way, has lost none of its appeal in the ensuing years). It was evident from the beginning that this was a very talented group of songwriters and musicians, and what has become evident since then is that they are confident enough in their talents, and exploratory enough in their interests, to branch out in ways that enrich their brand of atmospheric and progressive black metal. And that adds intrigue to the announcements of new Amiensus music.

The latest source of intrigue was the news that later this year Amiensus will be releasing their third album, Abreaction, through Transcending Records. We’ve all already had one interesting peek into the album, when the band released an acoustic version of a song called “A Convocation of Spirits“, and today we’re providing a further insight as we premiere a different version of that same song. Continue reading »

May 282020


Today we have an opportunity to revisit a band, and a particular song, we’ve written about before — and an opportunity to provide a further recommendation (and review) of their latest album.

The band is Gorilla Wizard from Long Island, New York. As we observed when we first encountered their music late last summer, their outward trappings almost dare you not to take them seriously, perhaps most especially the white-bearded, wizard-capped gorilla costume in which guitarist Bertrum (the Gorilla Wizard himself) performs while his bandmates Mikal (Bang Boom), Ry (Slap Bap), and Gabrel (Howl) kick up a ruckus around him.

But as we also observed, you shouldn’t be misled by all that, because although the music definitely is a raucous kick in the head, it’s no joke. “The songcraft is excellent, the performances are razor-sharp, and when you hear the band’s debut album, Tales From the Cauldron, you’ll understand why this fearsome foursome chose a name like Gorilla Wizard” (they can pound you to smithereens, but the music is also magical).

What we have today is a video for a song from Tales… named “Maple Crunch” — a video in which the hungry protagonist makes the mistake of digging into a bowl of Gorilla Wizard cereal that’s not meant for human consumption, and winds up going on an unexpected excursion. And then after that we’ve got some thoughts about the rest of the album. Continue reading »

May 272020


The current viral plague has made many people think the world is going to shit. But we know better: the human plague had already turned the world to shit long before the corona first reared its spiky head. We lived then, as we do now, in societies marked by a dearth of generosity, a dearth of honesty, a dearth of simple human decency, and instead infected by greed, deceit, cruelty, and hate. Who better to unleash the apocalypse that the ugliness of humanity deserves than a band named Dearth.

“A sonic reign of terror clawing deep into the most wretched, abominable, and hideous realms of human nature”. That’s part of the verbiage to be found in the advance press for Dearth‘s debut album, To Crown All Befoulment, and those aren’t hollow words. The record is indeed menacingly malignant, devastatingly ferocious, and deeply unsettling. It’s also frighteningly well-crafted and tremendously thrilling to hear. Paradoxically, from abyssal depths of disgust comes something that makes the wretchedness of life more bearable.

Sentient Ruin Laboratories, which will release the album on June 19th, has already previewed one stunning track from the album with the assistance of DECIBEL, and today we’re presenting another — “The Reverence of Swine“. Continue reading »

May 272020


The riffing of Gloom has a raw and ravaging tone, the sound of gale-driven sandstorms or flesh-slicing blizzards — if not “lo-fi”, close to it — and it achieves dominance over the pounding of the drums and the hammering of the bass. The vocals are even more abrasive, the kind of throat-ripping shrieks that would permanently destroy the vocal chords of normal humans (and might put some listeners in mind of DSBM voices, though that genre label doesn’t completely suit the black metal that Gloom has fashioned).

But within these rough and raw maelstroms of sound, as captured on this Finnish band’s debut album, are powerful melodies and dynamic variations, melodies that don’t merely set hooks in the mind but have penetrating emotional power. True to the band’s name, gloomy moods are to be found within their vicious music, but “gloom” is not the word that comes to mind in listening to the album’s title track, which we’re premiering today. A better word might be “euphoric”, or “spectacular”. Continue reading »

May 262020


Cryptonight’s song “Abstertion” (the title of which refers to the action or process of cleansing) is an unnerving experience, and also a bone-smashing one. Stripped-down and primeval in its sensations, it pounds with crushing drum blows and near-atonal chords, the combined effect of which is something like a series of meteor impacts on granite monoliths. Interspersed with those titanic detonations are sharp bursts of dissonant shrieking tones — and the vocals themselves have a screeching, nerve-abrading quality (sometimes paired with malevolent roaring).

The combined effect of all these sounds is nightmarish. And the utter nihilism and disgust for humanity represented in the viciously declaimed lyrics makes the experience even more nightmarish. And to pour more salt in the wounding of your dreams, the lyric video we’re presenting takes us on walk through haunting, barren woods in the dead of night.

There’s only one reprieve…. Continue reading »

May 262020


Death looms large in Exaugurate’s vision of death metal, but it is not a vision of sudden death or the endless void that would follow it. Instead, their malevolent and morbid music channels raging infection and delirium, protracted misery, the ravages of despair, the foul rot of untreated corpses, and the crushing grief of those left behind. Their death metal is a contagion shaped in sound, in the full expanse of its ravages, and so seems entirely appropriate for the current plague year.

Exaugurate’s debut EP, Chasm of Rapturous Delirium, will be released on May 29th by the Maryland-based label Rotted Life. It contains four monstrous abominations, and we’re streaming all four of them today. Continue reading »

May 252020


Last fall the Vancouver band Boreal Hymn made a very auspicious debut through a demo entitled Tundra. Uniting the exceptional talents of Bronson Lee Norton (the vocalist of Seer and Eyes Without A Face) and instrumentalist Colby Hink (of Wormwitch and ex-Old Graves), Boreal Hymn created a musical experience that could easily be called transportive.

To paraphrase some of the the words of acclaim from commenters on the demo’s Bandcamp page, the music was a shifting slice of dark pagan metal incorporating dark growls, lofty vocals, and evocative chants, conjuring visions of crackling fires, hoary trees, and vast open spaces — evocative and expansive. And to repeat some of what I wrote about the demo at that time, the sensations of the music ranged from cold and dismal to fiery and majestic, sometimes undeniably bleak, but persistently enchanting.

And so it’s a real pleasure to premiere a new Boreal Hymn recording today — a cover of Bathory’s classic “Man of Iron” from Blood On Ice (1996) — especially because Boreal Hymn will be donating 100% of the sales in May to The Canadian Mental Health Association for Mental Health Awareness month. Continue reading »