Jul 032020


I’m mindful of the fact that today Bandcamp is waiving its revenue share, which means that more of the money you throw at Bandcamp releases today will land in the pockets of bands and labels. So I’m trying to make a lot of recommendations, many of which were included in Part 1 of this post. But I’m also mindful of the fact that time is running out. And so although this Part 2 of today’s collection consists of complete releases rather than individual songs, I’m not attempting anything close to reviews, just a few words of description and recommendation.

Needless to say, there are dozens of other recent releases I could have included here (2020 has been ridiculously strong for metal, IMO), so there’s more than a bit of randomness in the choices I made. Nevertheless, I back each of these wholeheartedly. (I should add that this collection is heavy on the black and blackened metal, because that’s where I’ve spent a lot of my recent listening time.)


A beautiful and ravishing split that includes not only a great Amiensus song but also the magnificent return of Adora Vivos after a 7-year silence, a band that includes former Amiensus multi-instrumentalist J. Waller (on both Restoration and Ascension) and Amiensus vocalist/guitarist James Benson. This one won’t leave you the same way it found you. Continue reading »

May 012020


In making my way through the continuing flood of new music over the last 36 hours I hit a stretch of high-energy, technically impressive music with pronounced melodies, albeit with a lot of different embellishments and stylistic intersections (most involving elements of death and black metal). I decided to put those together here, and then veered way off the rails at the end with a trio of songs that make me smile when I imagine your reactions.

LANTERN (Finland)

To begin, let’s consider “Strange Nebula“. You won’t need a telescope, merely your ears and an open mind. Continue reading »

Mar 102017


On March 17th, Dark Descent Records will release the second album of the Finnish death metal band Lantern, which bears the name II: Morphosis. The album can be understood as a reflection on the processes of dying and death and what may lie beyond the extinction of mortal life, an attempt to divine and manifest the chilling chaos of unseen terrors, a channeling of visions from eldritch spheres, an exhibition of dark perceptions and even darker imaginings about the transformation of life through death into something inherently mysterious.

The striking cover art Zbigniew M. Bielak is itself a collage of the album’s song titles and lyrical themes, with its centerpiece an image of a human cocoon parting, and a form leaving the clutch of rot and decay and rising up toward a domelike spire. And in that image, the cover makes a connection with the album’s epic final track, “Lucid Endlessness“, which happens to be this writer’s favorite track on the album — and the one we have the pleasure of premiering today. Continue reading »

Feb 092017


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by the Finnish band Lantern.)

I’ve been eagerly anticipating a new Lantern record since I heard and reviewed their undeniably powerful debut full-length Below. That thrash/death/black combo, which personified a synthesis of early Napalm Death, Celtic Frost, and Emperor, still holds absolutely true and finds itself achieving new progressive ambition on the band’s sophomore opus II: Morphosis.

This is also a new chapter in the project’s lifespan, upgrading from an enthusiastic duo to a full-fledged five-piece, although I still suspect guitarist/composer Cruciatus and vocalist Necrophilos call the majority of the shots, if not all of them. Continue reading »

Jan 282017

Morta Skuld

It seems that some lessons can’t be learned no matter how many times they’re taught. A case in point: Once again, I’m now recovering from alcohol poisoning, probably not severe enough to require hospitalization but debilitating enough that even typing hurts and coherent thought is a goal that’s out of reach.

Fortunately, I picked the following songs and videos yesterday, before severely damaging my coherence with an end-of-the-work-week blowout last night. If you find more mistakes than usual in what I’ve written today, you’ll know why.


The first item in this collection blind-sided me without warning yesterday, though I probably just wasn’t paying attention as carefully as I should have. The news is that Milwaukee-based Morta Skuld have returned with a new album. Entitled Wounds Deeper Than Time, it will be released by Peaceville Records on February 17 and it follows the band’s comeback EP Serving Two Masters (2014). Like the EP, it includes cover art by Patrick Kachellek: Continue reading »

Jan 302014

Welcome to Part 15 our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here.


This Finnish duo’s 2013 album, Below, was one of the year’s best — and most astonishing — surprises. At one level, it is dank, moldering, primitive, highly destructive death metal with an overhang of catastrophic doom. In fact, when I wrote about the album’s first advance track, it was in a post entitled “Horrific”. And yet there is so much more to it than a recapitulation of old-school crypt-born precedents. The music often evolves in unpredictable ways, with strange guitar interludes and off-balance drum rhythms, and the atmosphere is often completely otherworldly, as if we are being treated to death metal from a parallel dimension different from our own.

The production quality is murky and obscure. The vocals become vehement proclamations of damnation when they’re not howling with ghastly malevolence. As TheMadIsraeli put it in his review, “The music of Lantern is really, at its core, an esoteric roar from a cavernous abyss.” And yet I think many of the songs are also strangely infectious. I wouldn’t go so far as to cay they’re “catchy”, but they exert a strong magnetic attraction that has drawn me back to Below many times since first encountering it. Continue reading »

Jun 272013

(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Finland’s Lantern. The album is out now on the Dark Descent label.)

Lantern are a discovery who I have to say surprise and bewilder me with their sound.  Equal parts early Napalm Death, early Emperor, and Celtic Frost, the resulting sound is badass in all of its off-kilter bestiality.  The inclusion of a mix intentionally made to resemble late 80’s demo work makes it even stranger, yet it fits their sound perfectly.  All in all, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more talk of these guys considering their three previous releases (two demos and an EP).  I haven’t heard any of those previous releases; this album is my first exposure.

Those influences I listed?  This really is an attempt to merge all those sounds together.  The result is something that is chaotic, yet melancholic and alien.  The strange riffs hybridize the styles (there are no specifically identifiable death metal riffs, black metal riffs, or anything else of the sort going on here) and the vocals are insanely primitive, the production only applying a minimum degree of dirtying, amounting to something like a caveman grunt or roar.  Vocalist Necrophilos comes off as something of a more raw, more open-sounding Barney Greenway back in Napalm Death’s early 90’s days.

The instrumental work, all provided by second member Cruciatus, boasts its own personal flare.  His riffs, as I said, hybridize death, black, thrash, and doom metal, all to astonishing effect, while his drum work has an impeccably old school feel to it.  Blast beats fall in and out of sync; as a matter of fact, the drums are always on the verge of derailing when the music speeds up, which brings a nice chaotic touch. When the slower pieces come, his drumming takes on a commanding simplicity that marches forth with agonized perseverance. Continue reading »

Feb 222013

I couldn’t monitor metal news as closely yesterday and the day before as usual, so I tried to catch up last night. I saw and heard a lot that interested me. But I hit one stretch when, by chance, I listened to six new songs in a row that were . . . horrific . . . and horrifically good. The first three of those are in this post — from Azrath-11 (Italy), Humanity Delete (Sweden), and Lantern (Finland). The next three will be in a subsequent post. But first, a bit of welcome news from . . .


A new Immolation album? Yes please!

At a time when Slayer seems to be immolating itself after 30 years of existence, Immolation are still going strong in their 27th year. Yesterday they announced that Kingdom Of Conspiracy is the title of their ninth full-length album and that Nuclear Blast will release it on May 14 in North America.

This follows 2010’s Majesty And Decay and the strong 2011 EP Providence.  Very stoked for this. Continue reading »