Mar 292021
 

(Our man Andy Synn has been busy recently, but not too busy to help catch us up with a bevy of new (or new-ish) albums from the first quarter of 2021)

We’re now at the end of March and I can officially say that the stream of new releases, re-releases, and surprise releases, has finally gotten the better of me and I have fallen well behind on my “to review” list.

Sacrifices will, inevitably, have to be made, and some things I intended to write about will either have to wait until an opening appears in my schedule somewhere down the line or, in the worst case scenario, have to be content with appearing in one of my year-end round-ups.

But I’m not going to give in to the inevitable without a fight, which is why, in a desperate effort to provide some interesting coverage, commentary, and – in some cases – criticism about a bunch of records (some dating back to January, some only just about to hit the streets) I’ve decided to pen a few thoughts about six different albums – three Death Metal, three Black Metal – which I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time.

So, without further ado…

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Mar 292021
 

 

As we all know, revivals by long-defunct metal bands are hit-or-miss affairs, even when the bands in question were vital in the spawning of much-beloved sub-genres within their countries (or globally) many decades ago. Talents fade, interests wane, sometimes the music seems like a pale re-tread, sometimes the effort to stand out again falls flat in a world that has moved on. But every now and then a revival proves to be a glorious occasion — and that has definitely proven true for the Serbian band Scaffold.

Born in Belgrade in 1992, the band put out their first demo that year and followed it in 1994 with a debut album named The Other Side of Reality. But by 1996 the band had dissolved, and remained dormant for a dozen years. After taking shape again in 2008, Scaffold began performing live once more, but new recorded music still didn’t surface until 2015, with the first of a few short releases.

However, on March 31st the second Scaffold album, Codex Gigas, will be released, 17 years after the first one — and it’s remarkably good. You’ll discover just how good it is today, because we’re presenting a full stream of all 8 tracks. Continue reading »

Mar 292021
 

 

(What is old is new again. Wil Cifer reviews a come-back EP by the Texas crossover band Angkor Wat, who first made their deep marks with albums released in 1989 and ’90.)

Once upon a time bands were discovered in zines, Maximum Rocknroll, or on college radio, and yeah I am not counting MTV, it was bullshit. In those golden years you would find bands that seemed like your little secret. Maybe you might get one of your friends into them, but they were a deserted island for your ears otherwise. This Texas band was one of those.

When Corpus Christi came out in 1990 it was light years ahead of its time, though both of Angkor Wat‘s albums held up over the years. They remained marginally active after 1990, with a few small tours here and there. When I stumbled across this EP Worst Enemy released on their website with zero fanfare, it was a wonderful surprise. Continue reading »

Mar 282021
 

 

We had a rare Sunday premiere earlier today, but fret not, Shades of Black has not been forgotten.

I enjoyed figuring out how to arrange the music I picked for today. The music of the first three bands seemed to complement each other, so I started there — and then made a hair-pin turn in the road with the full album stream that follows them. And, given how chilling and unearthly that album sounds, I decided to follow it with a couple of tracks that will give your adrenaline levels a sharp kick in the ass.

CODE (UK)

As usual, I owe some of today’s picks to reliably tasteful friends. I would have eventually discovered this first one on my own, but listened to it a lot faster because of the enthusiastic message I received from Rennie (starkweather). He called this new song by Code “fantastic”, and possibly his “favorite song of theirs since the first album’s ‘Brass Dogs.'” Continue reading »

Mar 262021
 

 

The French one-man band Dïatrïbe came into existence in 2019, “with the aim” (as its creator explains) “of creating radical and intense music, an extension of the French Orthodox scene.” Embracing the mysticism and spiritual subject matter of black metal, Dïatrïbe devoted itself to “the artistic exploration of something else, creeping and powerful like a fiery cloud, uncompromising with very clear guidelines, acceptance to let go to the unknown, the search for this unexplained vibration that grabs us between fear and fascination… an artistic vision of the unfathomable, indomitable abyss hidden behind all things”.

We use those words to begin introducing our premiere of Dïatrïbe’s debut EP Odite Sermonis because they succeed so well as a preview of the music to come — perhaps especially in their reference to the “unexplained vibration that grabs us between fear and fascination”, because that is indeed what these six tracks achieve in striking fashion. Continue reading »

Mar 242021
 

(Andy Synn continues to seek out the best new bands and boldly go above and beyond with the new record from Nanga Parbat)

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that discovering, and falling in love with, a brand new band is one of life’s great joys.

This is especially true when that band absolutely knock it out of the park with their first try.

Such is the case with Downfall and Torment, the debut album from Italian Progressive Death maestros Nanga Parbat.

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Mar 232021
 

(Andy Synn takes time out of his busy schedule to catch up with an album he’s been dying to write about for some time, namely the debut album from Disso-Tech upstarts Klexos)

So here’s the thing… originality is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, when something does come along which truly moves the needle, shifts the paradigm, or [insert zeitgeist-y term here], I’m usually right up there with everyone else, marvelling at how brilliant it is and wondering how no-one thought to do… whatever it is… before.

But originality isn’t, or shouldn’t be, everything – being original doesn’t necessarily make you good, for one thing – and the way it’s often fetishised has led me to encounter some very odd people/statements online over the years (for example, did you know that since Gorguts exist that any band who plays in 4/4 or uses standard song structures no longer counts as “real” Death Metal?).

Let’s face it, we’re all, ultimately, the sum of our experiences, our influences, and our environment. This is especially the case if you’re a musician, because who you are as an artist is largely shaped by the music which inspires you. Not just in the way it colours and dictates your listening preferences, but in how it actively alters how you listen to and understand – and, in turn, create – music.

Which I suppose is a long-winded way of getting to the point and saying that while Apocryphal Parabolam, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Klexos may not be a wholly original affair, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have a certain spark of something – call it inspiration, call it individuality – which makes it well worth listening to.

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Mar 222021
 

 

(We present Aleksha McLoughlin’s review of the new album by the British melancholic black metal band Abandoned By Light, just released last week.)

There are few names as prolific in British black metal than Sheffield’s Abandoned by Light, a one-man project that for eight years has been putting out a steady stream of solid records, with this newest one being the ninth overall, and the best effort yet. I must disclose that I have worked on records with Karhmul, but that does not cloud my judgement.

People may remember this project for its origins as a DSBM band, but in recent years Abandoned by Light has shifted over to a melancholic sound. This was done in order to break away from the genre staples of depressive black metal, as many of these songs have a much faster tempo and increased aggression, without sacrificing the intensity.

Like some other Abandoned by Light albums such as The Angel Experiment, one of the band’s most well-regarded releases, Gentle is a concept album, in this instance based upon the 1951 Dylan Thomas poem of the same name, with various references throughout. Continue reading »

Mar 182021
 

(Andy Synn returns to the fray after a hectic week with a review of the upcoming new album from Hatalom)

With so many albums, EPs, and other releases coming out, in an almost unending flood of new music (not that I’m complaining, mind you) it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on. And with so many bands forming, reforming, going on hiatus, and making a comeback, it’s also hard to know everyone’s status and when (if ever) to expect new material.

Thankfully, as a part-time, semi-professional writer/reviewer/critic (delete as appropriate) I’m generally able to keep one eye open, and one ear to the ground (though not necessarily at the same time) for news and updates about artists we’ve covered here before, which is why I’ve been carefully tracking the writing, recording, and release schedule of Occhiolism, the debut full-length from Canadian Tech-Death crew Hatalom, ever since its nascent existence was first made public.

And with the album set to hit the streets (and the net) tomorrow, now is probably a good time to check out my review of their first EP, Of Sorrow and Human Dust, from 2018, as not only does it provide a useful primer as to what, in general terms, to expect from the band, but it also provides some key context for all the ways in which the band have developed since… something which I’ll say more about after the jump.

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Mar 172021
 

 

The Brisbane-based band Feculent chose for their name an adjective that means “foul with impurities” and “saturated in waste”. That was obviously a carefully considered decision, because their brand of death metal is foul and disgusting, unhealthy and repugnant, devoid of hope and lethal in its objectives. But Feculent’s administration of audio murder is multi-faceted — they are as capable of delivering the most pulverizing of punishments as they are at radiating sensations of flesh-eating contagion.

And they are very, very good at doing all that, and more. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, because although Feculent is a new name, the line-up includes members of Snorlax, Shackles, and Resin Tomb, who’ve already made horrifying names for themselves.

Feculent’s debut release is a six-track monstrosity named The Grotesque Arena, and it’s coming out very soon (March 19th) via Brilliant Emperor Records — but you need not wait a moment longer to experience it, because we present a full stream today. Continue reading »