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 »

May 252020


In its earliest formation the Montréal band Shezmu was a duo consisting of vocalist/guitarist Olivier Bérubé Emond (aka Comte Bergaby) and drummer Marc-André Labonne. Following their self-release of a demo and two EPs under the banner of Les Fleurs du Mal Productions (with the second also being co-released through Iron Bonehead Productions), they were joined by bass player Yanick Tremblay-Simard (Sol Miracula, Aiauasca), and that trio recorded a debut album entitled À Travers Les Lambeaux, which is now set for release on July 27th by one of our favorite labels, Krucyator Productions.

As on their previous releases, Shezmu’s lyrical themes for the new album draw upon ancient history, but here the songs explore the themes of rage, sorrow, and madness. Employing ingredients from the realms of doom, black metal, and death metal, Shezmu’s music channels these sensations and experiences, reaching depths of profound anguish and manifesting the triumph of darkness over sanity.

Today we present the album’s title track, which the band tell us is “about suppressed emotions and actions — feelings that, a long time ago, were part of the human routine, but which are now considered unacceptable, even illegal”. The song explores themes such as “violence, loss of control, and the virtues of death.” Continue reading »

May 252020


The first full-length album of the Icelandic band Nexion is a union of literary, visual, and musical art that makes a striking impression. In all those respects, the artists have aimed high, and they’ve achieved their integrated visions in unusually impressive fashion.

The album is Seven Oracles, and it will be released by Avantgarde Music on June 20th (the Summer Solstice). On the cover is a rendering of a seven-headed beast, each one representing an oracle, each one with its own message and its own song. The messages are revealed in powerful lyrics, which are beautifully displayed through hand-crafted calligraphy in the 16-page booklet accompanying the record, each page further illustrated by the hand of Jose Gabriel Alegría Sabogal, who created all the album art and the calligraphy.

These seven messages and the music accompanying them are all connected, and we’ll come back to that subject before we leave you. But first we’re honored to premiere one of the seven oracular messages from the album, a song named “Revelation of Unbeing“. Continue reading »

May 222020


Atræ Bilis trace their inception to a chance encounter in a Vancouver record store between guitarist David Stepanavicius and drummer Luka Govednik. It didn’t take long for the ideas to begin flowing and the jamming to start. A wide range of influences naturally worked their way into the creative process, though as Stepanavicius tells it, there were no preconceptions about what the music would sound like — and the debut album of Atræ Bilis (a Latin phrase for a malady that translates to “black bile”) is indeed difficult to shoehorn into any rigid genre definition, though death metal (of varying kinds) is at its core.

That album, Divinihility, will be released by Transcending Obscurity Records on August 14th, adorned by the typically terrific artwork of Adam Burke. Today we’re premiering a video for a song off the album named “Phantom Veins Trumpet“, and it vividly displays the band’s multi-faceted yet cohesive songwriting talents, and the tremendous energy of their sounds. Continue reading »

May 222020


You listen to this new split by Chaos Cascade and Kapala and you get the sense that they don’t think the viral plague is acting fast enough. They’ve formed a Contamination Alliance to accelerate the extermination, aided by a conspiracy with Dunkelheit Produktionen who will release this audio warfare on vinyl (July 18) and digitally (May 23rd).

Germany’s Chaos Cascade, ever-prolific, returns to the slaughter grounds after two other splits and an EP also released this year. The Chaos Cascade track on this new split is “Wreak Havoc“, and that’s exactly what it does. Continue reading »