Jul 062014


The new album by Spectral Lore (III) has more facets than a passion-cut diamond, and it shines just as brilliantly. So much care and craftsmanship have been devoted to its creation that it’s one of those rare metal albums that rises to the level of a work of art — except it’s only partially a metal album. And therein lies much of its appeal.

With a run-time of almost 90 minutes, it’s the longest album I’ve listened to in years, which is one reason why this review comes later than I had originally planned. It’s also not an album that can be fully appreciated by listening to a track here and a track there, as time permits. It’s best heard as a whole (at least as I hear it — I have no inside knowledge about the artist’s intentions). Each song brings its own rich rewards individually — indeed, most songs are themselves dramatic sagas in sound — but when you listen without interruption from start to finish, you feel as if you’ve discovered secrets hidden from the eyes we use to observe our daily lives, as if the surface layers of our routine existence are being peeled back to reveal something more profound. The music seeks transcendence, an escape from the crushing weight of the world and its manifold tyrannies, and it comes very close to finding it.

The album is divided into two parts, denominated “Singularity” and “Eternity”, with four songs in Part I and three in Part II. With the exception of the album’s first song “Omphalos” (which is “only” 7 1/2 minutes long), the individual pieces are epic-length works ranging from roughly 11 minutes to more than 16.

Both within and across the songs, the music ranges from the vast and panoramic to the introspective and intimate. It moves from passages of disorienting dissonance to explosions of well-choregraphed mayhem, from warlike gallops to moments of shining benevolence and the glow of hopefulness. But whether the music is storming like a maelstrom, with blasting drums and ravaging waves of guitar distortion, or shimmering like a sun-lit stream, it’s almost always dense and richly textured, often to the point of being senses-flooding in the richness of its construction. Continue reading »

May 022014

This is one of those days when the old fuckin’ day job is going to wipe out my blog time.  So this will likely be our last post of this Friday.  What I’ve done — hurriedly — is to feature a handful of things I heard last night that I think you should hear, too.


Burial Ground — the new album by the long-running French band Loudblast — is one I’ve been anxiously awaiting. In late March I featured the album’s first advance track, “Ascending Straight In Circles”, and yesterday DECIBEL premiered an official video for the same song. As I’ve written before, the music is part thrash, part death, part doom — and as catchy as it is decimating (with thoroughly ravaging vocals).

It appears the album will now be released on June 10, by Listenable Records. It can be pre-ordered here. Check out the video next. Continue reading »

Oct 142013

We all have our own recipes for dealing with the grimness of Mondays, even if those recipes simply involve falling into a state of clinical depression or foul surliness. My own recipe today was to go in search of fearsome new metal, the kind that would put a shot of adrenaline into the old brainstem or open a door into the pitiless void. The search proved to be highly successful, as you shall see. Here are four new songs from forthcoming releases that brightened up my Monday (and by “brightened” I mean “darkened”).


Soul Remnants make their home in the Boston area, and their second album Black and Blood is slated for release on October 31 by a Philadelphia label named Horror Pain Gore Death Productions (by coincidence, this band is the first of two in this post whose new releases are being handled by that label). This morning I listened to two recently unveiled advance tracks from the album that are worth your time — “Incinerator” and “No Afterlife”.

The music is a hot shot of adrenaline straight into the bloodstream, a burst of ripping riffage and furious drumming, segmented by powerful pneumatic grooves and fleet-fingered soloing and flavored with seductive melodies. The caustic harsh vocals are aces too, and the production gives the music the sharp edge of scalpels at work. It’s a bracing brew of melodic death metal, tech-death, and even black metal stylings. Very nice. Continue reading »