Sep 162021
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the new EP by Insomnium, which will be released on September 17th by Century Media Records.)

Insomnium are one of those bands for whom the impact of an addition or change of a lineup member is almost immediately felt. This may sound strange but the two big additions to the group over the years have been on the guitar front, and both the musicians chosen have proven to be quite multi-faceted in their approach to Insomnium’s music.

The addition of Omnium Gatherum’s Markus Vanhala to the fold in 2011 brought his penchant for some glorious guitar leads and solos to the forefront of the band, and giving them ammunition for times when the group weren’t entirely ensconced in their own frozen wasteland of melancholy. The more recent addition of Jani Liimatainen has been a bit more immediately felt, as the band quickly made use of his talent for vocal melody alongside his own guitar writing, such that he was already imprinted into the blueprint of the band for Heart Like A Grave and now is one of the defining elements of the group’s 2021 EP Argent Moon, which sees the band adding four new songs to the overall repetoire – all titled with the formula of “The _______” – for another twenty-plus minutes of distant and lightly depressed music. Continue reading »

Sep 142021
 

 

(A Los Angeles band whose 2020 release hit the No. 5 spot on DGR’s year-end list has already returned with a follow-up, and he gives it an enthusiastic review below.)

If you were one of the unfortunate victims to cross paths with my end of the year tome/list – which somehow still managed to happen in the face of 2020 as a whole – then you likely caught my sincerely held belief in the final issue of the list that people had fucked up by letting Choke Me‘s debut release The Cousin Of Death fly under their collective radars.

All joking aside, as a piece of punk-fueled grind, The Cousin of Death was a furious album that wrapped up as shockingly fast as it started. Even were it just a proof-of-concept style release, it showed that there was a lot of potential to whatever spark ignited the Choke Me sound. That is why – even with reservations about the year-over-year churn when it comes to music – it was exciting to learn that the group had issued a follow-up release. We even gave it a brief shout-out in one of our weekend round up posts which archives everything that manages to hit in the back half of the week.

Entitled Hauntology, it consists of six songs and is still very much in line with what worked for the Choke Me crew in their debut. With six new songs – most around two minutes plus – Hauntology only comes in a couple of minutes shorter than its predecessor yet still manages to strike with the same sort of righteousness that blazed through that initial twenty-minute outburst. Continue reading »

Sep 052021
 

 

You want to know how the sausage gets made? Okay, I see one hand at the back of the room and that’s all I need even though the rest of you are recoiling.

When I woke up at 4:30 a.m. this morning I had about half a dozen candidates I was considering for this column based on previous listening. But I didn’t stop with that. After feeding the cats, caffeinating myself, and smoking a couple cigarettes, I collected links to more than 20 other possibilities, some of them from tabs I’d opened on my computer during the past week and some I found from crawling through arrivals in the NCS email in-box over the last few days, which I hadn’t perused carefully until yesterday afternoon.

I then copied all those links into the NCS WordPress editor and opened them again at a computer in our house that has shitty wi-fi. The one with a decent internet connection is in the “family room” where the TV is, and my wife was in there catching up on the news (she wakes up ridiculously early too). Even with headphones on, I can’t listen to metal in that room when she’s there. I have to crank up the volume, and her ears are so sensitive that she can hear the sound leaking through the headphones. It annoys her because she can’t stand extreme metal. I strongly prefer that she not be annoyed. Continue reading »

Sep 012021
 

 

(DGR prepared the following trio of reviews for 2021 releases that don’t require a lot of your time but make a big impact nonetheless.)

It still feels strange when we get to use the “Short But Sweet” review tag for the purpose it was designed for instead of the usual ‘these reviews will be shorter than usual’ style that I favor, but when you combine the total time of the three releases we’re discussing here you wind up with a little under twenty-five minutes worth of music. Two are short because they’re the usual suspects – grindcore groups smashing out music with reckless abandon – and the other is brief because the whole release consists of only two songs, but serves as a fantastic addendum to an excellent album released earlier this year.

The Amenta – Solipschism EP

Solipschism is the newest release from Australia’s The Amenta, a two-song EP consisting of tracks that were initially part of the run for their earlier-in-the-year return album Revelator – in case the continued portmanteau in the song naming wasn’t enough to tip you off. It serves partially as an addendum to that previous release, unleashing one crushingly heavy almost song recorded during the Revelator sessions that seems to exist solely to ratchet up in intensity while at the same time burying vocalist Cain within an abrasive wall of sound, and one quieter experiment, both of which fall perfectly in line within that album’s current run.

As to specifically where? It’s hard to tell, but they currently do a great job stitching themselves right onto the end of an album that is already difficult to describe at times, given its tendency to murder its own momentum for the sheer fun of it and try to create haunting soundscapes out of the rubble left behind. Continue reading »

Aug 272021
 

 

As I hoped, I had time to compile a second round-up on this Friday… and I have ideas for a third one tomorrow, so do check back. There’s no sandwich this time, unlike the first compilation today, just a severe case of whiplash as you go from the first song into what comes next.

DAWN OF SOLACE (Finland)

It appears that the revival of Dawn of Solace by Tuomas Saukkonen will be a lasting one, because a new album named Flames of Perdition is now set for release on November 12th via the Noble Demon label, and the first item I chose for this collection is a video for its first advance track, “White Noise“.

The emotional power and intensity of the song absolutely floored me. The intensity builds steadily, from its soft and wistful beginning through grim, heavy chords, neck-cracking drums, darting riffs, and the soaring, spine-tingling voice of Mikko Heikkilä (of Kaunis Kuolematon). It reaches a zenith of dark and moving impact via a stunningly beautiful and deeply moving guitar solo by Jukka Salovaara. Continue reading »

Aug 232021
 

 

Three excellent Greek black metal bands — Moeror, Human Serpent, and Kvadrat — have just released a split in support of a charitable endeavor which they describe as follows:

“All funds gathered through this split release are donated to help and support animals that were affected in the recent Greek wildfires. The consequences of which are going to heavily affect the hurt areas for the years to come. We witnessed the death of an ecosystem and we are facing a new reality that needs every bit of our help. Our goal is to gather funds that will cover the cost of medical care, food and the financial support for the early costs of an adoption”.

By now, many of us are painfully aware of the devastation that out-of-control fires have inflicted throughout Greece, a catastrophe that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has described as a “natural disaster of unprecedented proportions”. It has forced the evacuation of dozens of villages and spawned rage against the government’s handling of the fires, but evacuations have not helped the animals caught up in the conflagrations. And thus the cause supported by this release is a worthy one.

As you’ll discover from our complete stream of the split at the end of this review, the music is also tremendously good, making the purchase of this release a true win-win situation. (The entire split is available now on each band’s Bandcamp page.) Continue reading »

Aug 152021
 

 

For today’s black metal column I’ve included reviews of two EPs, a pair of new videos, and just a sampling of tracks from two recently released albums that I want to recommend even though I don’t have enough time to give them proper reviews. Hope you find something to like.

FIAT NOX (Germany)

I decided to begin today’s collection with a song that will get your pulse racing. Part of that effect derives from the hammering propulsive drive, the wild and sinister fieriness of the riffing, and the scalding savagery of the vocal tirades. But the song is also a thriller because of its dynamism — from the skull-popping beats and infectious yells to the bubbling bass solo and the sweeping melodic blaze behind it. Continue reading »

Aug 082021
 

 

After spending a ton of time listening to new songs and writing about many of them in the two enormous roundups I posted on Friday and Saturday I despaired of being able to do very much with this week’s SHADES OF BLACK column. But I got a second wind and became inspired by the varying sounds you’re about to discover.

In this two-part edition the bands whose music I chose include some old personal favorites and some very promising newcomers.  My second wind is dying, so you’ll most likely have to look for Part 2 on Monday.

KATAVASIA (Greece)

These Greek black metal luminaries, whose lineup includes members drawn from Varathron, Hail Spirit Noir, Aenaon, Melan Selas, and Agnes Vein, have a new two-track EP headed our way, and the first of the two songs — “Descending to Acheron” — has now surfaced. Continue reading »

Jul 222021
 

 

(In this article we present Todd Manning‘s review of a new EP by the Czech band Supreme Conception which will be released on August 6th, and our premiere of a track from the EP.)

It’s easy to get Tech-Death wron;, endless flurries of indistinguishable notes make for unremarkable material. It’s a good thing then that Supreme Conception avoid the genre’s pitfalls on their new EP Empire of the Mind. The trio consisting of Michal Kusak (ex-Imperial Foeticide) on vocals, Martin Meyer (Heaving Earth) on guitar, and Aaron Stechauner (ex-Rings of Saturn) on drums, display plenty of instrumental prowess on these five songs, but also manage to create an engaging listening experience as well. Continue reading »

Jul 012021
 

 

The dumpster fire of the past pandemic year was wretched in countless ways, but most of us have realized that it also gave birth to a multitude of changes that were not all bad. Among other fortunate developments, the shutdowns and solitary confinements gave many experienced musicians the space to turn their talents in different directions, no longer wholly consumed by the feverishness of routines that might have marked the pre-pandemic age.

The Swedish band Kryptan represents one such new beginning. It is the brainchild of songwriter, guitarist, and keyboardist Mattias Norrman, who is best known for his work with October Tide and Katatonia. But while the music on Kryptan‘s debut album does include recognizable traces of his other more brooding and doom-directed work, it is a vehicle for channeling the passions inspired by Scandinavian black metal from the ’90s, perhaps especially the influence of such bands as Dissection, Naglfar, and Marduk.

Kryptan‘s debut EP is et for release on July 23rd by Debemur Morti Productions, and today we’re providing thoughts about all four of its tracks, and premiering one of them Continue reading »