Oct 202021


(This is DGR‘s review of the new album by The Breathing Process, which was released on October 8th by Unique Leader.)

Sometimes a song can define a whole album for you. Samsara, the previous release by the genre maelstrom of deathcore, symphonic death, and black metal that is The Breathing Process, definitely had one of those songs. An eight-year gap between albums saw a group with a ton of material available to them, and Samara was one of those albums where every song was different, but if you’ve lurked around these hallowed halls long enough you’ve probably heard me banging the drum about the song “The Nothing” enough times to consider calling the cops and filing a noise complaint.

It was a massive song that was equal parts dynamic and cinematic and it was something that I had hoped The Breathing Process would take cues from in the future. Well, like all good turn-of-the-millennium TV commercials about the internet, “The Future Is Now”. October 8th saw the release of the band’s newest album, Labyrinthian, arriving only three years after Samsara and with a new vocalist in tow. Armed with over fifty minutes of music on their latest release, The Breathing Process have an album that is singularly focused on one objective, in comparison to its predecessor. After a handful of listens the one thing the band really seem to have settled on is sounding massive. Continue reading »

Oct 192021


(This is DGR‘s review of Hate‘s 12th album, which was released by Metal Blade on October 15th.)

I guarantee you my Hate collection is incomplete given the storied career that Poland’s blackened death metal export have had, but my music library informs me that I still have upwards of ninety-something songs accredited to them. I sometimes wonder if that is being generous, as Hate are one of those groups who are a hallmark of consistency in the metal scene.

After having found a blueprint that worked for them, Hate have been rigid adherents to it. They’ll put a spin on it so that over time the outside of the package morphs and changes, but that core is solid and immovable. That’s why it doesn’t really feel like I have ninety-something songs from Hate, so much as I have three-to-four distinct moods of the band, as they continually remake the outer structure of their machine while keeping that main sort of imperial march to their overall sound.

In my review of Aborted’s Maniacult release, I mused on the idea of how some bands have served as a gateway to deeper genres, and one of the ways of doing so has been by achieving the sort of consistency that could be compared to a Japanese train line. Continue reading »

Sep 172021


(The new Carcass album is being released today by Nuclear Blast, and to celebrate the occasion we have a review by DGR that compares them to… well… you’ll see.)

In the before times when restaurants were a thing and you were lucky enough to live in a mid-sized town, then you had an increasing chance of finding a restaurant in town that you loved and that treated everybody like shit. There are, of course, gimmick places like this where the service is a Disney-fied version of the sort of genuine scorn you’d encounter at such a place. But, if you had the real thing, you’d immediately recognize the atmosphere — of you being an inconvenience by being there, and the sort of “get your food and get out attitude” that would color your whole impression of the place.

Usually, places like that made about four or five dishes, tops — the one I frequented only made three, and to be honest, I’m convinced the third one was a myth because I only ever saw the spaghetti and the garlic bread and that was it — but those four to five dishes were really, really good. Those sorts of restaurants were unyielding, in that you as a customer were a known quantity, and likewise, so was how they would treat you. You came to an agreement, though: As long as you understood that, you could generally get by and, dare I say it, enjoy yourself.

Over the years this is how I’ve come to view Carcass. Continue reading »

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 152021


(Aborted‘s latest album was released last Friday by Century Media, and DGR reviews it today.)

I’ve pontificated a lot over the years about the idea of gateway bands, mostly because its always amusing to see which groups ascend to that role as pathways into the deeper and heavier traverses of metal. It never quite seems to be who you’d expect until years later, when you have the gift of hindsight to scry into the past and see who wound up there.

One hallmark of all groups who wind up in the gateway position has been a consistent sort of quality. Ata certain point they become known quantities within the music world. You can pretty much rely on the expectation that a disc will not be bad by any conventional measure and that the group have long since found a sound that works for them. Often, every release after that particular point can feel like an iteration or a spin on that particular sound but overall is still pretty recognizably them.

It also means there’s a pretty good argument for being able to take everything the band has done and throw it on shuffle and generally have a pretty good time. It’s the sort of plateau that groups like Amon Amarth, Revocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, Gojira, and even to some extent Skeletonwitch, tend to inhabit. 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 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 242021


(Here’s DGR’s review of the latest album by the UK extreme metal band Necronautical, recently released by Candlelight/Spinefarm.)

Necronautical are a band we’ve been lucky enough to cover since their first record. They’re a somewhat familiar name around these parts since all of their releases have been here and they’ve been the subject of a Waxing Lyrical piece too. In fact, the group’s newest record – and second for Candlelight RecordsSlain In The Spirit is now my own third go for a review with this group. So there’s something of a written record of the band here as they’ve grown and evolved into the creature they are today.

We’ve watched as they’ve shifted in terms of both subject matter and the meaning of their name, expanding the group’s lyrical and philosophical reach into explorations of the mind. What was initially a sea-inspired voyage started to become journeys into deeper recesses of spirituality — still nautical, but less literally than before and, given the creeping influences of symphonic black metal on the group’s sound, increasingly ‘necro’ with every release.

Slain In The Spirit is the latest expansion of that, as it works as a natural evolution of what the band started on Apotheosis. The songs presented here are about as expansive as they were on the previous release but this time around, Necronautical have become a little bit more focused in the two years since Slain’s predecessor. Continue reading »

Aug 052021


(This is DGR’s review of the new album by the Swedish band Night Crowned, which is out now on the Noble Demon label.)

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we found ourselves checking in with Night Crowned and their first full-length release, Impius Viam. Granted; a large part of that feeling is attributable to us missing the boat on the late-February release and coming around to it eight months later. Yet even considering that,  you’d have to admit that returning to the stage a year and a half later with a follow-up release is a pretty quick turnaround time.

That prospect can be terrifying, since albums released year-over-year can be pretty hit-or-miss depending on how prolific the musician is, and on top of that last year was just generally a fucking mess.  When given such a massive amount of time to be trapped inside, what else is a musician likely to do other than create, and it seems like that is the path Night Crowned chose.

The group’s second full-length came out via Noble Demon in early July and plays fully into the moodier-sibling aspect that one expects from any growing family. Bearing album art now fully in black and white, lyrics and song titles mostly in Swedish, and a less-packed run time where the only peaceful bit is the title song, Hädanfärd is a ferocious follow-up. It leans much more on the extreme side of things, and save for a few surprising deviations with clean vocal lines, it is the sort of release that never lets up, playing fully into the apocalyptic blastfest one expects from a group veering further into their black-metal inspirations. Continue reading »

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 »