Jul 282021


(DGR compiled the following four reviews to help clear out his backlog.)

The first one of these smaller and shorter review roundups was pretty death metal focused and also well-travelled, taking us all over planet Earth in the quest for the finest gurgles and blastbeats upon which to gorge ourselves. It also helped alleviate some of the guilt of having such a massive collection of bands I’d wanted to write about but was quickly watching the sand dwindle on available time given that we’re slowly crawling towards another likely back half of the year flood.

However, as is always the case, there was still another collection waiting in the wings and this one much more diverse across the musical spectrum, though equally world-traveling. Mileage-wise it may be a little more concentrated, as it’s fairly European-focused but we do reach the outskirts a bit, with this roundup taking us to places like a France/Sweden combo act, all the way to Texas, to the Netherlands, to Greece, to the wild and exotic reaches of Sacramento, California.

If that seems like a wild mess, then let me assure you, this collection of music is also wild, but after this I may be as close to having a clean slate as I’m ever going to get. So, let’s start my second attempt at a ‘shorter’ review roundup and get this ball rolling. Continue reading »

Jul 122021


(In this article DGR combines shorter than usual reviews of three records released during the first half of the year — by In Asymmetry (international), Mvltifission (China), and Cathexis (U.S.).)

It’s not too often that I’ll try my hand at the “Short but Sweet” style of reviewing, but my travels around the world of heavy metal have proven quite fruitful, so much so that it would be criminal to have some of these releases locked away while I wait for the brain to fully congeal some sort of deep-dive review on them.

Also, in some cases albums can be exactly what is presented on the cover. You know what you’re in for staring at the cover art, and from there it’s just a choice of how far you want to be punched into the side of a cliff. In this case, there’s a near ceaseless brutality flavoring the international travels, starting with a massive union of multiple countries before landing in China for an unexpected visit, and then finally arriving somewhat closer to home with one hell of a tongue twister in the opening line.

Will this be a new norm? Probably not, but there’s an excellent chance here to dispense with the intellectual bullshit – briefly – and just enjoy the death of every instrument present here, because every band within this review collection absolutely destroy on that front. Continue reading »

Jul 072021


(We present another one of DGR’s typically deep-dive reviews, this time focusing on the latest album by Hannes Grossmann, which is out now.)

Hannes Grossmann has over the years become one of metal’s more prolific names and certainly one of metal’s more recognizable drummers, and for good reason. His unerring precision behind the kit could make anyone jealous. Had Gene Hoglan not already earned the nickname ‘The Atomic Clock’ through his own hard work, Hannes could easily step up as the next candidate to experiment with how gravity affects time via blastbeats after being launched into space.

When you have a resume that has included banner names of the tech-death scene and on some of their landmark works, it’s easy to understand how Hannes has gained the following he has. It also makes sense, then, that he could easily make his way in the world of solo projects, and in fact has been doing so for four albums now, the most recent of which — To Where The Light Retreats — saw release in early June, following a solo single last year. Continue reading »

Jul 012021


(We present DGR’s extensive review of the new album by Germany’s Mental Cruelty, which Unique Leader released at the end of May.)

For the sake of complete transparency this one is going to begin with a minor confession; One of the driving reasons for the choice to deep-dive German group Mental Cruelty‘s newest album A Hill To Die Upon is because the idea made me laugh.

It’s no fault of the band themselves, who are in the midst of something of a soft re-branding on their latest album, having shifted further and deeper into a symphonics-assisted world after two albums of whirlwind brutalizing deathcore. It’s because around here we’re fans of the black metal group A Hill To Die Upon, and something about seeing those words – admittedly a common phrase – on an album cover with a logo gave me the fun sort of “world-inverted” dynamic that you’ll see put to use in comedy from time to time.

So, in the sort of drunken crashing around that normally determines whether I’ll glance at a band, sometimes it’s some strange coincidence, no matter how stupid or small, that manages to catch my attention. Continue reading »

Jun 232021


(DGR wrote the following extensive review of the new album by the French progressive death metal band Fractal Universe, which will be out on June 25th via Metal Blade.)

There are times when one can feel like some sort of mystic far-seer when it comes to an album release, hovering over whatever magical talisman grants them vision into other realms, timelines, worlds, various 7-11 bathrooms, and so on, and able to see an album like some sort of organic creature, as if it were a living plant, sparked from the seed of an earlier being, and you somehow feel like you can follow that trail all the way back to its genesis, point to it, and say “This, this right here, is what created this exact moment in time”.

Of course, given how music is written and that most musicians are more likely to have an idea come to them in the shower than any concrete expanding upon specific concepts, you’d mostly be dead wrong on that early prediction. Yet in the case of Fractal Universe‘s latest Metal Blade offering – the being known as The Impassable Horizon – it is difficult not to pontificate on what songs bore fruit from the group’s prior release and how it might have led to this one.

In this case, there is one song in particular on the group’s 2019 release Rhizomes of Insanity that seems to have grown into its own fifty-some-odd-minute album, and that song is the angular and prog-worshiping song that arrived near the end of that particular release, “Fundamental Dividing Principal”. Continue reading »

Jun 222021


(This coming Friday, June 25th, M-Theory Audio will release the fifth album by Tampa-based The Absence, and here we have DGR’s deep dive into the new record.)

The first time I ever crossed paths with The Absence was around the time of their first album, From Your Grave. Featured as one of the many bands on those twenty- to thirty-track sampler discs you used to be able to buy at your local mall-topic, the first time I ever heard the song “From Your Grave” it caught me by surprise. Providing a bit of historical perspective of course: As a young adult just growing into his own as a metal fan, melo-death projects served as a gateway to so many different genres, and at the time, with At The Gates being a long accepted – yet broken up – pillar of the style, it seemed like melo-death was one of those styles that remained firmly in the grasp of Europe at large, while the U.S was launching itself deeper into the metalcore trend that would eventually lead to boy-band-esque crooning in just about every song vs times where it might actually be effective musically.

Thus, a band hailing from the U.S. that seemed to have a proper grasp of that ceaseless one-two heartbeat of a drumming style alongside the endlessly catchy melo-death riffs was almost mind-blowing to someone who was just starting to submerge themselves into the underground. I became a longtime fan of the band – and still recommend 2007’s Riders of The Plague to people.

Afterwards would see the solid follow-up in Enemy Unbound and then a very long period of dormancy from the band. The Absence would release two other singles in that time, in 2013 and 2016, but three-year gaps for just one song each was getting brutal. Continue reading »

Jun 142021


(We present DGR’s review of the second album by the Slovenian progressive death metal band Morost, which was released this past spring.)

Morost are one of a handful of groups I came across during one of the many adventures where I sought groups from corners of the globe you may not normally cross paths with. This prog-death band hail from Slovenia, and their latest release – the mid-March album Forged Entropy – is the group’s second full-length, arriving nearly seven years after their debut record Solace In Solitude. In that time Morost has seen some shifts in its lineup, with three new people occupying different spots than on their debut.

At first glance Forged Entropy is a big album. The eight songs within its confines clock in at a little over fifty-five minutes, and considering that the first ‘song’ is mostly a two-minute intro track, the reality of it is that you’re looking at seven songs where the run time is commonly in the seven-to-nine-minute range. It’s one of those albums where the first impression is one of grand ambition that likely doesn’t hit every single note it’s trying to, but damned if the crew behind it aren’t enthusiastic in their execution, and that may just be enough to carry you through a listen. Continue reading »

May 252021


(Here’s DGR’s review of the debut death metal EP by a group of Swedish veterans who’ve taken the name Grand Cadaver.)

It’s very likely that a large part of what might catch people’s eyes with a project like Grand Cadaver comes from the band’s lineup – so much so that I assumed our search bar had to be broken within our smoking crater of the internet since I could’ve sworn they’d gotten a shoutout here before.

The project itself is one of many recent creations of the swede-death revivalist forge. While the genre has never gone away, the last few years have seen a humongous resurgence of groups playing that blueprint-perfected, chainsaw-toned, snare-drum-thumping style of death metal. The revivalists often seem to have been made up of names from larger projects – many from the melodeath scene even, as if to stake some sort of claim along the lines of ‘We can play this type of shit too!’.

In the case of the newly founded Grand Cadaver project you have Dark Tranquillity‘s Mikael Stanne at the vocal front, and alongside him stands journeyman drummer Daniel Liljekvist (whom you might recognize as having sat behind the kit for In Mourning and Katatonia in times past), with Stefan Lagergren (whose resume is deep in the death metal scene, including an early stint in Tiamat as well as years in Expulsion), Alex Stjernfeldt (most recently of Let Them Hang, and Novarupta) and Christian Jansson (Pagandom, ex-Transport League) completing the lineup. To say that the group’s resume is stacked is putting it mildly.

So, when you see names like that with the death metal tag attached to it and a near-thirteen-minute EP entitled Madness Comes… you pretty much know what you’re in for from moment one. Continue reading »

May 242021


(This is DGR’s review of the debut album by the French band Sol Draconi Septem, which was released in March of this year.)

The genesis of this review happened some time ago and it is one that has been long simmering.

Believe it or not, it was actually our featuring of the prog band Wheel – of whom I’m a fan – in one of our round-ups a while back that was the ‘something different’ which caused the re-activation of dormant neurons that led to where we sit right now. In our round-up we covered their song “Fugue”, which is a peaceful interstitial number in between two much larger tracks on their latest album Resident Human, and our editor mentioned that the song had been inspired by the Hyperion Cantos series of books by Dan Simmons.

There are actually a few songs throughout Resident Human that take cues from those books, but it was that mention which reminded me that in one of the many metal rabbit holes I have a tendency to tumble down I had come across another group who also pulled inspiration from that series: the French space-prog/black-metal hybrid of Sol Draconi Septem and their early-March release of the aptly titled Hyperion.

If anything, I figured that if the admittedly excellent Wheel release wasn’t our usual reader fare, then the plumbing of the depths of space and all things synth that happens during the forty-five-or-so minutes of Hyperion probably would be. Continue reading »

May 182021


(DGR prepared the following very enthusiastic review of the new album by Fallensun from Prince George, British Columbia, which is out now via Bandcamp.)

It has been a blessing in disguise that the recent crop of newer crew inhabiting the upper reaches of the NCS cave have somewhat similar taste to my own. It has freed me up tremendously to just bounce around the internet and look for projects that might otherwise have a hard time getting out into the wider reaches of the metal-sphere while stuff that I would normally consider myself on the hook for has found pretty good coverage here. It’s let me make strange trips, review quieter and more ambient albums, and also get into some crushingly heavy stuff by way of just bouncing around the internet.

To put it mildly, my recent musical discovery quests have been executed with the grace of a body having been thrown down a mine shaft. I don’t know where I’ll land or what stuff might’ve fallen through the NCS net that I’ll catch but its been great so far. The most recent discoveries have been a vast combination of things, including albums that came out earlier in the year – in quite a few recent cases, in February – that are really worth looking in to. Thus, I found myself at the doorstep of Canada’s melodeath/prog-death hybrid Fallensun and their album The Wake Of The Fall. Continue reading »