Sep 152023

Twenty years ago Black Lotus Records released Waltzing Mephisto, the second album by the Italian progressive black metal band Hortus Animae. And on October 31st of this year, just in time for Halloween, Symbol of Domination and BlackHeavens Music will celebrate the anniversary with the release of Waltzing Mephisto 20th Anniversary, a special two-disc record that will please fans of this distinctive band and provide a fascinating introduction for newcomers.

The first CD includes a remastered edition of the Waltzing Mephisto album, along with two new bonus tracks. The second disc is Godless Years Live, which is a previously unreleased recording of a live performance by the band. Collectively, the two CDs include 23 tracks, packaged with new artwork.

Hortus Animae have a storied history of both recordings and performances that has made them a cult favorite among fans of unorthodox music. And the music definitely is unorthodox, intertwining “gothic atmospheres, progressive rock majesty, orchestral grandeur and the primal fury of black/death metal” (to quote the labels’ comments).

The band are also known for recording unusual cover songs, and the new 20th anniversary release includes several of them. One of those is a two-part cover of “You’re Dead” by Norma Tanega, a folk song first released in 1966 that many decades later has used as opening theme song for the What We Do in the Shadows TV series.

That two-part cover is included as the bonus tracks for the remastered edition of Waltzing Mephisto, and what we have for you today is “You’re Dead (Part 1)“. Continue reading »

Sep 152023

The animation in the video you’re about to see creates images of disgustingly gruesome horror, but you would likely get visions of horror simply from listening to the song, because foul supernatural sensations ooze, stalk, and spasm in the music. The song is also a certifiable neck-ruiner.

The name of that song is “Metamorphosis“, and it’s the title track from the upcoming second album by the Dutch death metal band Ecocide, set for release by Memento Mori on October 23rd — more than a decade after the first one, with nothing but a few singles scattered across that long gap.

This one song, standing alone, proves how lucky we are that Ecocide are making their album-length return. Continue reading »

Sep 142023

In introducing our song premieres I have a tendency to try to linguistically map what happens in the song, like a completely unnecessary tour guide trying to prepare impatient tourists for a jaunt that they’re completely capable of taking on their own. In the case of the OWDWYR song we’re premiering today, however, such an effort isn’t merely unnecessary, it would be doomed to failure.

Ein” is a thoroughly head-spinning spectacle, so intricate, so elaborate, so stylistically kaleidoscopic, and so packed with unpredictable contrasts that carefully dissecting what happens from moment to moment, if that were even possible, would detract from the abundant thrills of the experience.

But if a careful mapping is out of the question, it still might be worth providing some other reasons why you should set aside the five minutes it will take to get your head thoroughly spun around. Continue reading »

Sep 142023

(Andy Synn offers up another triple-taste of British steel)

Let me tell you something, the last quarter of this year is absolutely packed with awesome (and potentially awesome) new releases.

And that’s just as true when you take a look at the UK scene too, with a bunch of big names and new contenders scheduled to drop their proverbial bombs over the next couple of months.

As a primer for all that, I’ve selected three albums – two from last month, one set for release next week – that I can practically guarantee are going to end up on several end-of-year lists.

They really are that good, embodying the best of the best of merciless Metallic Hardcore, audaciously unorthodox Black Metal, and dynamcally doomy, drone-inflected Post-Metal, respectively.

Continue reading »

Sep 142023

For those of us who enjoy our weekly or daily descents into the black metal underground, discovering the existence of a new band whose line-up includes members of Dauþuz, Häxenzijrkell, Abythic, and Lunar Chalice is an intriguing development. For those of us familiar with the music of those other entities, nothing more is needed to kindle the desire to listen to what this new formation — Hagatiz — has created.

The allure is even stronger because the label (Amor Fati Productions) that will unveil the Hagatiz debut album Cursed to the Night on October 11th has such a strong track record in choosing what to release.

Of course, even die-hard fans of those other groups named above will want to hear what Hagatiz has done, because it’s not predictable. And for the die-hards, and everyone else, we have an early sign today through our premiere of the album track “Drown In Darkness“. Continue reading »

Sep 142023

Across all the many sub-genres of extreme and not-so-extreme metal, there’s an upper echelon of technical virtuosity — musicians who, through some combination of genetics, devotion to practice, and experience, are exceptionally good performers.

Across the same range of sub-genres there is also an upper echelon of composers who have a knack for writing songs that not only make an immediate impact but also get stuck in people’s heads and stay there — albeit for differing reasons.

To achieve success it’s not necessary for a band to combine both types of exceptionalism. For example, as the ongoing tech-death arms race demonstrates, some bands do quite well moving at ferocious speeds and demonstrating exceptional dexterity, even when there’s not much more than that on offer. On the other hand, other bands are capable of consistently leaving people humming, head-nodding, and remembering, with music that makes few technical demands.

But when a band not only achieves rarefied heights of technical skill at all positions but also conceives of songwriting ideas that are so far outside the ordinary as to be startling, and memorable for that reason, the results can be truly exceptional.

Which of course brings us to Alkaloid and their new album Numen. Continue reading »

Sep 132023

The birth of the Italian band Huronian in 2020 was one of the silver linings to the lethal black clouds with which the covid pandemic was then shrouding the world.

Word of their existence spread through a self-titled EP released that year, and then spread further through a very impressive 2021 debut album, As Cold as a Stranger Sunset.

Now Huronian are returning with a new five-track EP. Entitled Beyond Frozen Heights, it’s set for release on September 15th by Gruesome Records, and today we’re bringing you an advance listen to the whole record. Continue reading »

Sep 132023

On September 29th the UK label Cult Never Dies will release Eloah Burns Out, the second album by the black/death band Trivax. The group have already made a notable name for themselves since their recording debut in 2012 with a scattering of demos and EPs and an impressive first album, 2016’s SIN (which we praised here as “a rip-roaring assault of burly (yet melodic) riffs, slithering tremolo runs, and punchy drum work topped off with Shayan’s surprisingly comprehensible mid-range snarl”).

The Shayan referred to there is the band’s Iranian-born founder and guitarist as well as vocalist. The founding occurred under challenging circumstances, as Shayan planted the seeds of Trivax‘s fruition in Iran, whose theocratic government has been hostile (to put it mildly) to the music and lyrical themes of extreme metal bands like Trivax.

Shayan managed to exit Iran and put down new roots in the UK, where he established the band with bassist Sully (himself an immigrant from Syria, where we’re told he faced imprisonment for his metal associations) and drummer Matthew Croton. Continue reading »

Sep 132023

(Andy Synn sets out once more to explore the post-genre hybrid of Limbs)

The bitter truth is that, no matter how dedicated and conscientious you are about trying to keep up with new releases, you’re always going to miss stuff.

Heck, there are albums which have gone on to become all-time favourites of mine that I didn’t get around to hearing until months, sometimes years, after their original release, and bands I’ve been fans of ever since they started who I didn’t realise had something new out until they announced they were working on their next record.

Thankfully, however, I’m only a little late to the party when it comes to Everything Under Heaven, the recently-released third album from Manila-based trio Limbs.

Continue reading »

Sep 122023

In this article we present a full stream of the debut EP by the two-person band Aabode from the French town of Nancy. The EP’s name is Moist, and it’s set for release on September 15th by Godz Ov War Productions. The label introduces it, at a high level, with these words:

Aabode is a dissonant, haunting twisted mixture of industrial beats and death metal riffing. Low-tuned, blackened, oppressive death metal riffing provided by Aabstracter is combined with ambient noise and glitched 808’s drum patterns. Assymetric track composition is overhanged by Abyssal‘s harsh vocals.

But like most views from a high level, that summary, while useful, omits the details. So let’s move into the EP at ground level, where the riotous dangers it poses to sanity are more apparent. Continue reading »