Oct 222021


(In late September Prosthetic Records released the second album by the UK band Cognizance, and better late than never we hope, DGR gives it the following very enthusiastic review.)

Upheaval, the newest album by tech-death group Cognizance, looks pretty standard if you go by tale-of-the-tape measurements for a disc, at ten songs and a little over thirty-three minutes. But one of the things that stands out with Upheaval – once you get past the eye-popping artwork – is that this is an album that fucking moves.

It may sound like a joke at first, but Cognizance waste absolutely no time with this one. The band find their groove early and stick to it for a half hour, and often you don’t even notice the time going by until the opening drum hit of “Hymns” reminds you that you’re back at song one.

Cognizance are brutally efficient with their time on Upheaval and it quickly lands the band in the ‘rolling landslide of riffs’ category of albums. You throw the thing on, it just bowls you over, and then the process starts anew. Which can sound wild at first, because it gives the impression that Upheaval kind of blasts by you without a second thought, but then you start breaking it down into individual songs and you realize that because the bar is set so high, so early on, that what is happening here is that Cognizance became ruthless in making hammering tech-death tracks in the interim. Continue reading »

Oct 212021


I wrote yesterday that there would be a Part 2 of this mid-week roundup. I wrote that to keep pressure on myself to follow through. Self-pressure doesn’t always work, but it did this time.

Just like the music in yesterday’s installment was geared to keep you on your toes as you move through it, or set you back on your heels, I think this collection will do the same. It consists of three EPs and then a couple of songs from a forthcoming album.


This makes the third time I’ve raved about this solo project of Oklahoma City musician Manuel Garcia, having done so in considering both the 2019 album Life Is A Disease and the self-titled 2017 debut. What makes it even easier to continue raving in the case of Blattaria’s new EP They Seek Power is the realization that Blattaria just keeps moving from strength to greater strength. Continue reading »

Oct 212021


The French funeral doom band Funeralium named their 2004 debut demo Ultra Sick Doom, and the name has stuck as a shorthand for their music. But what does it mean? As portrayed in their formidable fourth album Decrepit, it’s music that plumbs the depths of human illness — not so much the magnitude of the diseases that afflict the human body (though as you’ll see, this plays a role) but the deep-seated flaws in humankind which cause us to relentlessly ruin the Earth, our only home.

More precisely, we’re told that the concept of Decrepit was born in 2019 from the conviction that mankind was working tirelessly toward its own demise, diligently destroying its own habitat and the habitat of all other species — only to have these convictions reaffirmed during the first year of the pandemic, a year that seemed to cement the certainty of these convictions, and a likely forerunner of even worse times to come.

And so it was during the pandemic that Funeralium went back to studios in scattered locations to record the four imposing songs that make up Decrepit, creating devastating music on a scale (and with a sound) that matches the magnitude and nuances of the self-destructive human sickness that inspired it. Continue reading »

Oct 212021

(Andy Synn brings forth another terrific trio of releases from his green and (un)pleasant homeland)

It’s pretty appropriate that I’m doing another “Best of British” column this week, as I just got back from playing a festival in Manchester featuring a wealth of good/great/excellent bands from the UK underground scene.

Of course, since we were there as performers rather than just punters we weren’t able to catch as many bands as we’d have liked, but I encourage you all to keep an eye out (and at least one ear open) for more from up-and-coming Thrash-core whippersnappers Tortured Demon, groove-driven and harmony-laden Post-Grunge metallers Scare Tactics, and cinematic Symphonic Death-dealers Ghosts of Atlantis (whose latest album was covered by our own DGR not long ago), as what we caught from each of them proved very promising indeed.

However, today isn’t about those bands, today is about God ComplexGreen Lung, and Still.
Continue reading »

Oct 202021

What’s in a name?

In the case of extreme metal bands, there has been a long tradition of names that invoke evil, violence, dark fantasy and mysticism, horror, nihilism, and of course death itself in all of its guises. The impact of such names as Slayer, Emperor, Immortal, Immolation, Suffocation, Darkthrone, Hellhammer, Entombed, Mayhem, Bloodbath, and of course Death (to pick just a few) has been long-lasting.

Of course, the tradition hasn’t been rigidly honored — for example, remember the “verb-the-name” formula that dominated at the height of deathcore? — but naming rites to this day still tend to signify something about musical inspirations, many of them continuing to reflect the transgressive nature of the music in serious and shuddering words.

Which brings us to SexMag. So what’s in a name? In the case of this band and their debut EP Sex Metal, more than you might guess. Continue reading »

Oct 202021


(This is DGR‘s review of the new album by The Breathing Process, which was released on October 8th by Unique Leader.)

Sometimes a song can define a whole album for you. Samsara, the previous release by the genre maelstrom of deathcore, symphonic death, and black metal that is The Breathing Process, definitely had one of those songs. An eight-year gap between albums saw a group with a ton of material available to them, and Samara was one of those albums where every song was different, but if you’ve lurked around these hallowed halls long enough you’ve probably heard me banging the drum about the song “The Nothing” enough times to consider calling the cops and filing a noise complaint.

It was a massive song that was equal parts dynamic and cinematic and it was something that I had hoped The Breathing Process would take cues from in the future. Well, like all good turn-of-the-millennium TV commercials about the internet, “The Future Is Now”. October 8th saw the release of the band’s newest album, Labyrinthian, arriving only three years after Samsara and with a new vocalist in tow. Armed with over fifty minutes of music on their latest release, The Breathing Process have an album that is singularly focused on one objective, in comparison to its predecessor. After a handful of listens the one thing the band really seem to have settled on is sounding massive. Continue reading »

Oct 192021


(This is DGR‘s review of Hate‘s 12th album, which was released by Metal Blade on October 15th.)

I guarantee you my Hate collection is incomplete given the storied career that this Poland’s blackened death metal export have had, but my music library informs me that I still have upwards of ninety something songs accredited to them. I sometimes wonder if that is being generous, as Hate are one of those groups who are a hallmark of consistency in the metal scene.

After having found a blueprint that worked for them, Hate have been rigid adherents to it. They’ll put a spin on it so that over time the outside of the package morphs and changes, but that core is solid and immovable. That’s why it doesn’t really feel like I have ninety-something songs from Hate, so much as I have three-to-four distinct moods of the band, as they continually remake the outer structure of their machine while keeping that main sort of imperial march to their overall sound.

In my review of Aborted’s Maniacult release, I mused on the idea of how some bands have served as a gateway to deeper genres, and one of the ways of doing so has been by achieving the sort of consistency that could be compared to a Japanese train line. Continue reading »

Oct 182021

(Andy Synn takes up the challenge of reviewing the new album from Archspire, out 29 October )

I don’t know about you, but it seems more and more evident to me with each passing year that the current Tech Death scene has gotten itself caught up in a perpetual arms race of velocity and virtuosity.

And, sure, it can be a real thrill to witness bands continually pushing themselves, and pushing the envelope, in terms of how many notes per second and beats per minute they can crank out, but you know what happens when an arms race reaches its inevitable conclusion, right?

Mutually assured destruction.

Thankfully, this particular scenario may not be quite as inevitable as it appears, as several of the genre’s leading lights seem to have realised that this constant competition over who can be the fastest, techiest, or shreddiest isn’t necessarily the healthiest way to live, and have already begun taking steps to ensure that when the bubble finally bursts – and it will – there will at least be a few bands left standing.

And I’d put money on Archspire being one of them.

Continue reading »

Oct 152021


I grew up in central Texas in a household of three generations that included an old-time folk fiddler and a square-dance pianist. Sometimes other musicians would drop in for rehearsals or impromptu performances for friends and family. I’d sprawl on the floor with my brother, mesmerized by the sometimes fiery sometimes forlorn bluegrass and mountain music they made.

This was long before black metal (or really any kind of extreme metal) existed. I mention it because it may help explain how thoroughly my mind was blown when I first heard Primeval Well‘s self-titled debut album two years ago, though that was probably evident from the run-away words that spilled out of me at the time:

Primeval Well make you understand what black metal would have sounded like if it had originated along the Mason-Dixon line in America or in the Appalachian mountains, instead of Norway. It swirls and spins, it dances and cavorts, it soars to grandiose heights of sheer ebullience, it takes us under sodden wisteria beneath crescent moons. It unleashes hellfire and black magic, lunacy and seizures, the savage delight found by lean, hard-living people who were given nothing by anyone and found their own pleasures in the devil’s dream, and the woozy somnambulance brought about by corn liquor from the still.”

All this comes back to me because I’ve had my mind blown again, this time by Primeval Well‘s second album, Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, which is set for release on October 20th by Moonlight Cypress Archetypes, and which you will now have a chance to hear for yourselves. Continue reading »

Oct 142021


“The Lights of Zetar” was the 18th episode in the third season of Star Trek, originally broadcast in January 1969. It clearly made an impact on R.G., the central Texas musician who chose Zetar as the name of the metal project he created in 2019, choosing to carry forward (as he has written) “the name of a planet of telepaths who’d transcended into a roaming mass of pure psychic energy to curtail their own meteoric extinction”.

Sci-fi inspirations have also carried forward into the band’s striking debut album, Devouring Darkness, for which R.G. enlisted the aid of French vocalist T.P. and Ecuadoran drummer David Lanas to help realize his vision for Zetar. And it is indeed an arresting vision, both thematically and in the unusual and unpredictable amalgam of influences which make their way into the music, including ’90s death metal, synth-laden and thrashing black metal, and classic science fiction scores.

Today we invite you to experience those visions of horror and wonder through our complete premiere stream of Devouring Darkness in advance of its October 15 release by Spirit Coffin Publishing. Continue reading »