Sep 242020


(DGR finally got around to writing about the second album from fellow Sacramento denizens Wastewalker.)

There is a part of me that worried for a while that I was holding Wastewalker to a much higher standard than I would have for most groups, which may be why this review took so long to hammer out.

Wastewalker are something of a local Sacramento tech-death “supergroup” as far as the term could be stretched, comprising members who have been involved in some of the more interesting projects to come out of that region in the past few years. Born from of the ashes of the “too death metal for the core kids, too core for the death metal kids” Conducting From The Grave, guitarist John Abernathy found himself accompanied by a stellar roster of musicians.

Their drummer Justin has been in a small collective of projects – the highlight of which is the angular madness that is Journal – while bassist Joel Barrera has been holding down the rhythmic fort for a handful of promising death metal groups, the most recent of which (actually written about here) is the newly launched Katholik. Vocalist Cam Rogers comes shrieking in from an impressive first volley on Alterbeast’s first album, and guitarist Nate Graham was involved in a later lineup of that same group, while also recently joining the promising The Odious Construct.

It’s such a promising lineup that you couldn’t help but be excited for them, which is why it was so frustrating that even though it found a foothold here, only half of the group’s debut album Funeral Winds seemed to stick with me. The group’s sophomore disc Lowborn, released in May after a sizeable delay, is proving to be a far different story. Continue reading »

Sep 212020


(Here’s DGR’s review of the new album by the Swedish band Night Crowned, which is out now via Noble Demon Records.)

Night Crowned‘s debut album Impius Viam came out in the tail end of February and it has felt like a musical mental roadblock on this end ever since. We were lucky in being able to cover the band’s premieres at this site and even got their drummer to sit down and talk with us for a bit, yet when the full album came out we never fully sat down to dedicate words to it. Yet it’s been in constant rotation here, an ugly sort of beast clawing at the back of the skull.

The group’s hybridizing of a collective of extreme metal genres — with a heavy ratio of melodic black metal dominating the recipe — seems to have spread like an infection, and in between the spinning of newer releases this year, there’s always that haunting voice in the back of the head with its incessant whisper “what if you gave that Night Crowned disc another listen?” Continue reading »

Sep 182020


(Kunstzone released a new album last week, and so, like clockwork, we of course have a review of it by DGR, who spares no words.)

I’ve often pitched the Kunstzone project around here as sounding like the results of an ongoing battle between Anaal Nathrakh and Fear Factory. Each disc successfully blurs the lines between the two, in differing ratios depending on how the duo of multi-instrumentalist Alex Rise and Khaozone artist Andy felt at that particular recording session.

Thus, with four discs and a scattering of remix EPs and singles lying in their collective wake, you have a project whose debut release Eschaton Discipline splits about 60/40 in favor of Nathrakh’s brand of madness, and the following releases The Art Of Making The Earth Uninhabitable and Solarborn splitting about 70/30 and 80/20 in that same general direction. Which brings us to the group’s newest album Exit Babylon, which saw release on September 11th of this year. Continue reading »

Sep 152020


(Here’s DGR’s review of the eagerly anticipated new album by Napalm Death, which is set for release by Century Media on September 18th.)

Napalm Death have realized that they are one of those groups whose name and cultural brand makes it so they can do whatever the hell they want musically, and it’s been fun watching the group throw their weight around. The Napalm Death banner extends far beyond just music, as mentioning them raises the specter of grind as a whole genre, and so in one way or another the two have become inextricable. Yet as their career has proven, the band have long aimed past the idea of incredibly short musical tantrums and into realms both far heavier and more violent, and also worlds slower and much more atmospheric.

Apex Predator – Easy Meat was a good example of that sort of musical exploration. It existed like a condensed version of the band’s career and musical tastes in a head-on collision, resulting in a dense package that was all over the map musically but as heavy as a group with the name Napalm Death should be expected to make. Logic Ravaged By Brute Force, released earlier in the year, suggested something different. It contained both the punk-flavored title song and a noisier than hell Sonic Youth cover.

You could glean from that some sense of where the band might be aiming in the future, but their recent comments that they were really leaning in a noise-rock direction with their newest release Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism suggested that the album might be something very different for them. Which makes the release all the more fun because it is a very different exploration of music for the band. Continue reading »

Jul 232020


(DGR reviews the new album by the Swedish death metal band Volturyon, which ViciSolum Records will release on July 24th.)

When it comes to death metal out here in our private corner of the far reaches of the internet, we’ve often found our fair share of comfort in the caveman-striking-rock aspect of the style. We’ve celebrated this ideal as being appropriately ‘stupid’ and embraced it. If you’re looking for chin-stroking and thought-provoking versions of the genre, you can look at other groups, and we’ve done our best to warn you what you’re in for, early on in our reviews, when it comes to those more primitive assaults. Sometimes, it’s been tempting to just post album art and have a review play out as the written equivalent of the Dead dove do not eat scene from Arrested Development.

The death metal collective Volturyon fall firmly in the caveman camp musically, although the band are a decidedly more modern take on the blastbeat-happy chainsaw riffage of current death metal than they are the classic hammering thud of death and roll – yet you can glance at the group’s collected album and EP artworks over their career and have a pretty good picture of what the crew sound like.

Which is why it’s nice that on the group’s newest album Xenogenesis – their first with vocalist Mikko Voutilainen handling monster noise duty – there are a handful of nuanced and subtle takes on current world events, approaching issues from a multitude of angles, recognizing the grey area that is often called ‘the truth’, and speaking on the economic impact these sorts of things can have on the…. just kidding. There’s a song on here called “World Pandemic” and if you’ve glanced at the album art and remembered what we were discussing in the opening paragraph then you know exactly what the song (and from a broader perspective, the musical stylings of Xenogenesis) are going to be about. Continue reading »

Jun 262020


(Here is DGR’s review of the latest album by Finland’s Wolfheart, which is out now on Napalm Records.)

If you’ve been following, with …And Oceans and Feastem having gotten reviews, Wolfheart marks three from Finland that had been hanging out in the backlog pile.

With the April release of Wolves Of Karelia, it is clear that by their fifth full-length album — their second for Napalm Records after their couple on SpinefarmWolfheart have found a pretty solid niche for themselves. Performing epic-length hybrids of folk metal, melodeath, and a very light airing of the sort of ice and melancholy that affects their region’s branch of the doom metal tree, Wolfheart have for some time now been the ultimate representation of frontman/guitarist and project owner Tuomas Saukkonen‘s musical consciousness.

In fact, up until the release of this year’s Dawn Of Solace album Waves — arriving nearly fourteen years after that group’s previous disc — Wolfheart has been his only project for the last seven years and was consistently dishing out enjoyable music, Wolves Of Karelia included (for the early spoiler), on a nearly two-year interval. Other than the addition of new guitarist Vagelis Karzis into the band’s ranks, Wolfheart remain largely unchanged from when they became a full group rather than just a solo project. Continue reading »

Jun 252020


(As part of his effort to circle back to earlier parts of the year and catch up on stuff we missed, DGR has a good time reviewing the nuclear shockwave of an album released in March by Finland’s Feastem.)

It’s tempting to write short reviews for grind albums, in part because in the time it takes to hammer out some words about them there’s a distinct possibility that you could loop around the whole disc four-to-five times. Feastem’s Graveyard Earth is no different in that regard: Released in March to close off a close-to-seven-year gap between full lengths, Graveyard Earth clocks in at a little under twenty minutes of drum kit battering and shrieking violence.

Grind albums trend toward being quick expulsions of auditory violence and Graveyard Earth is very comfortably nested in that musical family tree. It is – understandably – seething and mean, with a whole range of targets serving as musical clay pigeons for Finland’s Feastem to knock out of the sky, with only one song clearing the two-minute mark.

Feastem move fast and Graveyard Earth will likely toss its fair share of people to the side, and honestly, Graveyard Earth is easily one of those albums better suited for a specific mood. But if you need all-consuming blasts and guitar work that could power you through even the slowest of events, then Graveyard Earth is fantastic.

Especially the way everything hits after the opening bass guitar dirge in the title song, my goodness. Continue reading »

Jun 232020


(Three months after its release, DGR finally dug into the fourth album by the Québec band Aeternam and is damned glad he did, as explained in this extensive review.)

Easily one of my biggest brick walls in terms of recent writing, because I have kept going back to it, over and over.

I wracked my brain for a while wondering where exactly I had picked up on Montreal’s hybrid symphonic death/folk/blackened-death metal group Aeternam and their new disc released in March, Al Qassam. It’s been a ghost haunting the backlog for a little while now, until it occurred to me that we hadn’t really covered the lead-up to their new disc at all.  Our most recent mention of them was due to vocalist/guitarist Achraf Loudiy appearing on Egyptian death metal group Scarab’s new disc, Martyrs Of The Storm — also released in March.

The whole reason they’d remained in the ‘keep an eye on’ pile was due to a handful of enthusiastic reader recommendations for them in previous years during our year-end list roundups. In fact, I think both 2012’s Moongod and 2017’s Ruins Of Empires are part of my collection now due to those recommendations. So, Al Qassam and its excellent cover art have been waiting for a proper look up and down almost since its announcement.

Given my current quest to sweep through the early parts of the year for anything we might’ve missed on top of the usual collection of albums I’m prone to dive into, finally diving headfirst into Aeternam’s latest felt like a natural thing to do. And wow, what a fantastic choice that has been proving to be. Continue reading »

Jun 172020


(This is DGR’s evocative review of the debut album by the Tunisian metal band I the Intruder, which was released on April 27th.)

Sometimes it’s fun to guess why a certain album might be sent to yours truly with a note that says, “You should probably check this out”. Psychological analysis aside, the fun part is trying to figure out why they sent it specifically in this way and what they saw in it that said, “Y’know what? maybe this person might like it”. I certainly can’t be the only one who semi-enjoys this game when friends recommend stuff, so when the late-April-released album Hunger by I The Intruder came sailing across the desk, the immediate “Okay, why?” came into play.

In this case, I would have to wonder if it was my unabashed love for Vitriol’s To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice last year and how it was a relentless beating of an album that just kept unleashing musical whirlwind after musical whirlwind. While not quite as suffocating a brand of death metal (I The Intruder do have a knack for rapid-fire grooves that just pile on top of each other), Hunger is of a similar nature, at eight tracks and a little over a half hour of non-stop deathgrind. Continue reading »

Jun 162020


(This is DGR’s review of the latest album by the Finnish symphonic black metal band …And Oceans, which was released on May 8th by Season of Mist.)

…And Oceans‘ latest album Cosmic World Mother is a handful of different things: It’s a comeback album, the group’s first full-length release since 2002, with a small series of splits, silence as the crew continued on as Havoc Unit before splitting, and then an EP in 2019 after the band had re-formed. It’s also a return to their older sound because it is almost singularly focused on being a black metal release with a healthy symphonic element in the background (it is so singularly focused, in fact, that at times it can be overwhelming in its intensity. with every element available to the band ratcheted up to 100).

It is also one of the more blistering releases to come out in 2020, as it seems like …And Oceans decided their new modus operandi was going to be absolute hellfire in song form, a fierce shrieking assault propelled forward by a volley of drums just hammering away in the background — fitting, when you have Gloria Morti‘s current drummer behind the kit, because if anyone is going to be fairly blast-happy it’s that gentleman.

Further, it is an album that because of those aforementioned elements can feel surprisingly long at times. Cosmic World Mother is nearly fifty minutes in length — near the high end of the average, but without the sticker shock of seeing an hour plus — and though it’s a trope to proclaim that you’d be perfectly okay taking a break at the midpoint of an album and then throwing yourself back into it, Cosmic World Mother recognize this. But intentionally or not, the …And Oceans crew have built in one of the best mid-points of an album out there, giving the record a very distinct ‘two act’ feel. Continue reading »