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Well, it’s been a few weeks since our last meeting, and with the season finally starting to change, the ol’ Spring cleaning urges have come to play.

Yep, this is yet another push to catch up on the indies and suchlike, herewith finally putting all of that backlog to bed so we can pick up with what little we left off of our last post and move forward in a more au courant fashion from here on out.

So here at last, with regards to those longsuffering souls who’ve been either completely on hold or whose coverage had slowed to a trickle since that major shakeup at the start of the year, we present a conclusion at last!

Dust yourselves off, dig in one last time to the back catalogue and gird your loins for battle…because from here on out, things are finally back up to snuff.

Cheers!

Wykan – Brigid: Of The Night (EP) (June 7)

hmm.

Not to give much away on an early part of a long and winding journey, but when I see the name of Brigi(d) invoked alongside track titles like “Imbolc” and what translates to “tri(une) goddess”, I’m thinking wicca, likely (though not necessarily) with a Celtic bent. So…gothic rock. Maybe even wiccan folk, like Kenny Klein and his ex Tzipora, or Enchantress? Something along those lines, and quite late 80’s/early 90’s at that.

So…why are we hearing black metal snarls and sinister blackened-something or other riffing, with Hendrix (or for that matter, Third Eye podcast end theme) style multitracked psychedelic guitar on the solos?

Yeah…I don’t know. Somehow I doubt the “bright lady” would approve…and even “dark mother” Hecate would drop a snort of derision at this frankly bizarre black metallized (with hints of trad/stoner doom) tribute.

Diana’s silver daughter farts in your general direction.

“Next time, drop the comedy act blackened bullshit,” she offers.  “You can keep the stoner doom, I don’t mind…oh, and blessed be.”

Tessitura – Unearth The Underworld (EP)  (June 8)

Melodically inclined “deaththrash” act that comes off far more blackened than they intend.

There are some decent riffs to be found herein, and better, some melodically oriented dual harmony leads.

Sometimes the riffs gallop like they’re supposed to…but more often, they come off like some melodeath veneer take on Watchtower or some math metal/tech thrash act ala Atheist*…but with blastbeats, Gorgoroth-style tremelo lead lines and some guy vomiting, belching and snarling all over the mic vigorously.

…gee…thanks for that, guy! Much appreciated, eh?

(shakes lowered head, facepalm)

So yeah, in the end, aside from a sort of melodeath approach to what occasionally seem like mildly thrashlike (or overly math/tech) riffs and some trad-style harmony leads…and here it seems a good time to insert the asterisk footnote:

* but which could just as often be read as inspired by the likes of Dissection. It’s that much of a razor’s edge, which way they lean shifts by the measure.

…these guys come off far more indebted to the blackened end of things than they have any right to. It’s kind of a mess, like a mulligan’s stew of leftovers mouldering in the kitchen. “It’s either in tonight’s meal, or it’s in the trash can!”

Never mind that precious little of these rather disparate elements actually belong together or blend.

Oil and water, people. Enough with this musical miscegenation, it seldom actually works.

Can the guitarists play? No question.

Should they can this guy on the mic? No question.

Does this work? Holy shit, no.

Too blackened to appeal to the melodeath, prog, trad or any other crowds they’re shooting for…and as seems to be an increasingly regular sticking point in newcomer acts of late, if you can’t find a frontman who can actually sing or work within the accepted parameters of a given style?  Just release a fucking instrumental album or something, pretend it’s jazz.

(shaking head disgustedly throughout the typing of the last paragraph, still doing so)

(sighs exasperatedly)

…next?

Thrash La Reine – La Foi, La Loi, La Croix  (May 31)

Hey, wow, USPM!

Yeah, it’s out of Canada, specifically Montreal (as you may have guessed from the band name and album title)…but yeah, this is vintage Accept (“garde la foi”) crossed with Judas Priest (“pourchasser le dragon”) and a hint of Iron Maiden (“le redempteur”).  Hell, there’s even a touch of Heavy Load in there (“du sang sur les plaines”).

I’d say they’re working in the fine tradition of acts like High Power, Lust and Excess, but in many ways, they’re better than all of those acts.   Well, maybe not High Power, but they’re certainly up there when it comes to French/Quebecois traditional/USPM acts of note…beats Steel Angel all to shit, that’s for sure!

I liked this one quite a bit, even with a few tracks (all unnamed herein) that couldn’t hold a candle to those mentioned.

Keep that old school power metal sound alive!

Damage S.F.P. – S/T (Rockshots Records) (June 14)

Finnish thrash act.  Frontman is trying really, really hard to sound like the jump the shark-vintage James Hetfield, all we-IIIIIRRD ho-OWWWLS like you’d hear on And Justice for All or The Black Album.  Acceptable, but why not emulate when he (and they) were actually worth listening to, instead?

Another problem: every song sounds quite similar to the one prior…and the one that follows.  I guess you could say the same about some classic thrash albums as well, if you’re being particularly brutal (or just don’t like the band in question), but this is somewhat more pronounced.  It’s pretty rare when they break the pattern to deliver something more punchy and midtempo like “tyrants”.

That said…we’re hardly talking, say, Gama Bomb here.  There are clearly distinct riffs (like the midpoint of “in termination”, for example) that break up all the monotonous pedal tone and speedy gallops that pepper the better part of the album, and it’s these, alongside a clear and obvious attempt to recapture the vintage Bay Area sound and approach, that elevates Damage SFP above much of the (far more “modern” and hence quite generic) thrash competition of late.

Not perfect…but worth checking out, and definitely has its moments amid the saminess and (just barely) sub-Hetfield vox.

Ghoulunatics – “Move Along” (April 26)

Quebec act. Never heard of ’em, but they apparently have been floating around the local scene for quite some time, as they claim to be celebrating a 25th anniversary! Umm…cheers?

So anyway, what you get here is literally a single – one track, no waiting. It’s not a million miles remove from Wolverine Blues-era Entombed, but with a touch of US style blackthrash ala those 5 million biker band acts on the Hells Headbangers roster (you know the sources to namecheck, early Bathory, Venom, Motorhead…) to give ’em the extra vigor the Swedes…forgot entirely when they jumped the proverbial shark into “death n’ roll”.

Hey, let’s have a picnic, grill up some burgers and hot dogs…oops, forgot the rolls and condiments!  Good job, there, Nicke, Uffe, Lars and company…

Anyway, we’re not talking about that band and where they went wrong…but this band who sounds kinda like them, and where they should’a went.

Not bad, even with the silly At the Gates-style vomit your tongue all over the mic vocals.

Cathartic Demise – S/T (EP) – (April 26)

Kitchener, Ontario, eh?  Not often we see bands hailing from there, despite its comparative nearness to Toronto (and Niagara Falls, for that matter).  And if these guys are anything to go by, that should come as a bit of a surprise.

It’s a pretty punchy brand of thrash metal they bring to the table, and despite being very much of the modern school, they actually remembered to bring the riffs and memorable harmony leads besides. Hats off, guys, you may save the present day thrash scene after all…

Vox…yeah, they’re pretty shouty with that pinched “puke it out…just push till it comes!” ipecac thing going on, as if they were working some crappy cross between hardcore punk and aggro…but by those measures, at least the guy’s actual voice comes through more than usual amidst all the near-screaming.

The tonsil waggling is still present enough to feel like the mic (and hence your ears) are being slapped by the damn thing…but as such subpar singing styles go, it’s less annoying than usual.

But the riffs! Those leads! Even the drumming’s pretty decent, with lots of syncopation going on and some fancy fills…too bad the drums weren’t more prominent in the mix, but hey.  It’s thrash, you want the wall of guitars front and center. And damn, if they didn’t bring it in that respect (check out the close of “the vice” for example)!

Overall? I liked these guys even more than Damage S.F.P. Some surprisingly decent thrash coming out of the Great White North of late…

Age of the Wolf – Ouroboric Trances (Aural Music) (May 17)

Slow and sludgy blackened doom from Costa Rica.

The riffs are huge sounding, with a wall of distortion and some obvious stoner heritage to both guitars and vocals…but it comes off too strange, too oddly distant from the usual doom templates somehow.

The vocals are buried in cavernous reverb (as, to some extent, are the guitars) and they’re of the “fat guy bellows and roars” variety so beloved of acts adhering to the sludge label, and there’s so much of that dark atonal thing so much a part and parcel of modern black metal as to bleed over anything else bands adopting some measure of same, turning all intended shadings of color into the same muddy black.

Definitely not my idea of doom, be it trad, stoner, death/, gothic or whatever other crossover or hybrid you can think of, despite bearing elements of same as noted hereinabove.

Handful of Hate – Adversus (code666) (May 10)

Speaking of black metal, here’s an Italian act who work the (yawn, stretch) usual, typical, workaday, everybody and their mother’s doing it black/death thing popularized by Swedish acts like Watain, and which never seems to stop generating more and more maggot-ridden offspring in its own gruesome image.

Someone must still be buying this stuff.

I gave up on the style after being slapped in the face with The Wild Hunt several years back, and have been assiduously avoiding, mocking or damning with faint praise those who see fit to perpetuate variants of this particular sound ever since.

…next?

Hot Suede – S/T (May 17)

Sorta grungified take on retro rock, as if Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age occasionally decided to go all Black Crowes on your ass.

It’s got enough punchiness and melodic sense that you’d probably leave it on if you stumbled across a track or two on the radio. Who knows, you may even find yourself humming along, particularly when they go a bit more in the direction of Matthew Sweet on “tell me”.

Otherwise…shrug of the shoulders.

Nothing bad about it. Just nothing especially interesting or outstanding to report, either.

LIFES – Treading Water (Triple Eye Industries/Middle Man Records/Knochen Tapes/Here and Now! Records) (June 28)

Sociopolitically minded “hardcore” (in the modern sense, all aggro/screamo vox and inclinations towards noise on the band side) with some awkward doom-ish elements.

In sum, it sounds like a DIY train car going off the rails at high speed, pieces falling off and the entire thing in danger of collapse throughout from the stressors it was never designed to face, the load it was never designed to carry.

I guess if you’re just looking for a musical tantrum to express your extreme rage at existence…

(raises eyebrows, shakes head)

…next?

The Hÿss – Hound (June 7)

Heavy stoner rock. Promo materials note Fu Manchu as a possible progenitor, and you can definitely hear that – somewhat bluesy and decidedly generator party, falling somewhere in the Kyuss/CoC spectrum but less “heavy” for its own sake, and more blues oriented.

While still clearly waving that 90’s post-grunge meets Southern groove flag high for all to see, there’s a lot of rootsiness to this Chicago act’s sound, hearkening more back to throaty 70’s monsters like Grand Funk or even Budgie than any of the aforementioned.

There’s also some angry punch to tracks lke “off with their heads”, but don’t fret – this is music to light one up and chill to, not start a pit and start beating on folks with.

I was good with ’em, yeah.

Botis – Grand Abominations (July 26)

Busy black metal act out of Philly.

Picture a far less crazed Centurian or a somewhat mellower Necrophobic and you’ll get the general idea: herky jerky high speed riffing with oddly punctuated syncopation between blastbeats, with the standard snarly vox and vaguely mythical pseudo-occultic lyrical focus, you know the story.

Yeah, I sort of hear where they were trying to go with the drumming and such…but it really didn’t do anything for me, sorry.

Silver Devil – Paralyzed (Ozium Records) (June 7)

Thick tube amp style lead tones and fuzz pedal distortion very much in the vein of early Monster Magnet over Kyusslike riffs and tripped out processed vox.

Then blow everyone’s expectations out of the water by delivering some decidedly NWOBHM/traditional metal dual leads and dramatic, melodic solos…seriously, they’re really good, and mesh oddly well with the more simplistic, rather stoned vibe of the rest of this.

Fuck, I was and am a huge fan of Spine of God and Superjudge from the time of release, ditto on Blues for the Red Sun…did you think I wouldn’t absolutely love this one?

Top tier stoner rock, with further inclinations towards stoner doom…could they possibly have made this any better?

Nah. Five stars.

Plague of Carcosa – Ocean is More Ancient Than The Mountains
(Sludgelord Records) (July 19)

2 man instrumental sludge/doom project.

Song titles (and one guy callling himself “Erich Zann”) try to get you thinking Lovecraftian, though a less Lovecraftian music genre cannot be dreamt of, e’en
under the hideous oversight of the most unimaginably horrible rays of a gibbous moon, in the most unspeakably eldritch of the small hours of neronian night...

Perfectly fine if you’re looking for a lumbering, massive sounding stoner doom sans vox…but HPL would have certainly leant towards a far more delicate and sinister gothic rock, the sort that subtly creeps up on you before delivering a soul shattering frisson.

A lumbering behemoth drunkenly slamming its way through the door and knocking shit over everywhere in its path, however it may appeal to fans of same, is quite inimical to the man’s approach and affectations.

Otherwise, nothing wrong with it – it’s pretty damn heavy.

Automb – Esoterica (Satanath Records) (October 22, 2018)

Recent Morbid Angel…geez, does anyone listen to them seriously anymore?

I mean, once they left the first few letters of the alphabet…personally, I run the double “A”‘s through “C”, but some stubbornly hang in through “F” for whatever reason…

Anyway, their most recent replacement for Mike Browning and Pete Sandoval, a Scott Fuller, a fella named Serge who apparently joined Necrophagia after Whiteworm Cathedral and before Killjoy passed and a frankly stunning young lady named Danielle get together and deliver a fairly typical slab of black/death.

It’s certainly bombastically riffed and busily drummed, and you can tell on tracks like “into nothingness” and “horned god” that Morbid Angel is being tapped. And if you have some weird thing for pretty ladies who belch out death growls (and it’s always very obvious when it is a femme working that style, it’s thinner and hollower, a bit more strident in feel), then hey, here’s your far less annoying Alyssa analogue.

But aside from that, is there anything that really stands out here?  You’ve heard this sound soooooo many times now, does anyone actually get excited for template black/death anymore?

Look, there was enough about this that was at least interesting enough to comment on, and their overall sound is surprisingly listenable for the type (most black/death is frankly hard to sit through a full album worth, even one time through…this one just played, and the impression was both “comfortable” and “solid”.

And if you’re gonna blow a few bucks to catch one of these bands live…at least they’ve got someone worth looking at on the mic, right?

Yeah, I’ll give ’em the nod. Passing grade, for sure.

Nordland – The Dead Stones (Satanath Records) (October 24, 2018)

One man UK bedroom black metal band. It’s pretty damn dry (unfortunately the case with many British metal bands of all stripe) and consequently a bit lacking…even, dare we say it, boring. 

And tacky, on the nose lyrics like “I am your god, you are my slave” are too cheesy even for theistic satanism based black metal – even obvious wholehearted devotees like Lemouchi or Nodtveidt would balk at penning so laughable a line…

…next?

From The Vastland – Daevayasna (Satanath Records) (October 25, 2018)

Former one man bedroom black metal band out of Iran, now situated in Norway and expanded to a full band. The sound is solid, production is strong, vocals are nasty but very much in the right range for the genre.

What I found most likeable and interesting about this one was their propensity to start songs off blazing away in the usual manner, only to shift gears and drop into something more paced, pensive and introspective in the second half. And it happens track after track.

Y’all know that’s where my BM loyalties lie: primarily first wave and very early second wave, all atmosphere and quirky post-thrash, but after that, it’s still all about mood and feel. Pacing is important, vibe moreso (hence all the positive coverage for the more introspective, depressive and expansive sounding/”Cascadian” acts).

And while these start off somewhat typical, even sub-Norsecore in approach…those more thoughtful zones the band keeps dropping into are what make this one worthwhile.

Yeah, I was good with this.

Humanity Zero – Proselytism (Satanath Records) (October 26, 2018)

2 man Greek doom/death. There’s an undue presence, if not emphasis, on some really cheesy Casio keyboard business here, and something about the production lends the whole thing a very demo-ish feel.

Guitars sound thin toned for all their distortion and oddly mixed, with later (and quite rare, apparently!) punched in leads sounding like they came from a completely different studio, with a far better, drier and more centered sound…the mix leaves them sounding like they were beamed in from an entirely different planet than the rhythm guitars, keyboards, or drums (check out “celebrating the opener of the way”).

The overall impression is of a band just starting out who can’t decide whether they want to be Autopsy, Gloomy Grim or Sorrow. It’s not terrible by any reasonable standards of doom/death…but the parts never quite gel.

Who knows, give ’em time. They may figure it out yet.

Hekata – Ruin (Satanath Records) (October 27, 2018)

Deliberate, groove-oriented midtempo death metal out of Russia.  Solos are pretty likeable, being somewhat reminiscent of Fast Eddie Clarke gone death metal (if you can picture such a thing).

The one thing wrong here is the black metal influence, which leads to nearly every track being sidelined at least partially into BM style tremelo riffing and blastbeats, with grindcore-origin snarl vox (which not coincidentally also fit into the black metal thing) doubling and punctuating the bellow/belch death vox heard otherwise.

But I did like the band’s very Obituary/Autopsyish, quite vintage midtempo to groove approach otherwise…so if you can either sit there editing out all the BM bits (my suggestion) or sit through ’em (good luck…), these guys and a gal are actually pretty decent.

Too bad they grew up on black metal…as ever, it mars…or hey, blackens whatever it touches or some deluded soul tries to mix it with.

Agos – Aonian Invocation (Satanath Records) (October 28, 2018)

Greek black/death.

Interestingly, there’s some sitar work on tracks like “glorious return” that somehow still manages to feel native, like bouzouki gone Desi (or more accurately, the reverse).

There’s a similar vocal intro to “trojan desolation” that manages to sound both Arabic and Greek simultaneously, and another strings based take on same that kicks off “devourer of men”. Fascinating stuff, there should have been more of
this on the album.

Unfortunately…I wish they’d delivered something more worthy of their intros.

Generic sound, not aided by iffy production, where tremelo guitars and drums all blur into one continuous roar of hiss, like you’re spending an hour or so on a busy construction site. Over the top yet buried beneath the wall of hissing cymbals and suchlike, barely audible croaks issue from the back of somebody’s throat.

Was this mic’ed outside the studio, like we’re all listening in from down the hallway to something going on behind closed doors? Does the song ever change?

Well, yeah, a few times you get this really nice, interestingly Indian/Arabic yet very Greek traditional music interrupting the otherwise nonstop barrage of jackhammers, rip saws and leaf blowers.

Can we re-record this without the band?

Mallephyr – Womb Of Worms (Satanath Records) (October 29, 2018)

Czech black death.

It’s all stop/start, atonal and avant-gardeish, as if some crappy math metal band decided to see what all this black metal stuff was about, then only listened to the most modern and crappy of black/death acts, swiped a few tricks (like those stupid ass string glissandos…hello, “temple of nothingness”) and ran to the studio to cut an album.

I particularly loved when they tried to break the land speed record as a faux Morbid Angel by way of Suffocation (nice squeaking pinched harmonics, there) on “towards the interminable hatred”. Pure comedy.

…yeah, next?

Indesiderium – Of Twilight And Evenfall… (Satanath Records) (October 30, 2018)

Two man USBM act out of…er, sunny Los Angeles.

Vocals are overly raspy, there’s some Gloomy Grimlike keyboard bits (“fallen into shadow”, for one)…but the whole thing was so…bleh as to bring Ancient immediately to mind.

Hey, I know Ancient has a few fans out there. They’ll probably run to pick this one up too.

cough.

(brightly) …next?

Pannychida – Missense Mutation (Satanath Records) (October 31, 2018)

Well, I’ll say this. Less than 15 seconds in to “false victim” (as ever, last track is the first heard), and I find myself banging my head along to ’em.

Can’t fault that as an instant compliment…

Problem is…that’s their most basic, Morbid Angelesque midtempo track. You’d think they could keep this up, and it looks promising at first, with both “harmonious mechanism” and “subsistance will” kicking off with what sounds like some seriously old school death metal riffs…

…but which, like the rest of the album, turns high speed and spastic, all tech/prog death like someone let Cryptopsy into the post-Considered Dead Gorguts rehearsal room or something. Whoa, hard right turn into shitsville, there!

Well, you could say it’s still “old-ish school”, as this is apparently where death metal went in the latter 90’s, when everyone bailed in favor of black metal* and sales dropped dramatically.  Seriously…nobody cared about death metal come ’94. If you believe different, you probably weren’t even alive at the time, much less there to see just how wrong you are.

* Or whatever else, who knows. The 90’s were strange.

So…yeah. Don’t let “false victim” or those two quick intro riffs fool ya…this is about as “classic” death metal as last week’s debut album.

Comatose – The Ungodly Lamentations (Satanath Records) (November 24, 2018)

Filipino death metal. I’m sure they didn’t have much of a budget, so we’ll excuse the piss poor production.

But for the record, said production? Whoo, boy. It sounds like the guitars were recorded on an ’80’s boom box, so low, murky and distant are they. Then you’ve got some very wet, quite Cookie Monster vocals coming in from a far more recent recording session and hence MUCH louder in this mess of a mix.

Occasionally some later tracked guitars come in out of the blue, much louder and clearer in the mix than anything else. Drums sound like the guy’s playing tupperware, and while still much clearer and louder than the damn guitars, are pretty awful sounding and low in the mix.

Again, it’s obvious there wasn’t much of a budget here, so while it needs to be acknowledged, we’ll try to give ’em a pass on this aspect.

So what are we left with? hmm. I liked the church bells on “the incantation”.

umm…well, they’re pretty aggressive and busily riffed, to the point where most of the album falls under the “crazy pointless finger movements across the fretboard with blastbeats” category so beloved of modern death metal acts…

…yeah, sorry, there’s really not much to say that could save this one.

It’s quirky as hell, the production is a mess, the basic sound they’re shooting for is iffy and the guy sounds like a cross between that crazy bastard Roger Martinez from Vengeance (nee Vengeance Rising) who couldn’t decide whether he was religious or a satanist and a straight up Frank Oz muppet.

I guess that makes it funny, at least…

…next?

Degragore – From Sin To Redemption (Satanath Records) (November 25, 2018)

Pretty basic, brutal grindcore out of Hungary, complete with chunka-chunka Suffocation stop/start riffing and those fucking stupid pig squeals ala Ned Beatty in Deliverance as “vocals”.

umm…sure.

…next?

Edremerion – Ambre Gris (Symbol Of Domination) (November 2, 2018)

Weird French black metal act that takes some of the typical black metal vibe, throws in a touch of post-, gets a bit weird and avant garde at points, but never really manages to deliver, except possibly on closer “mais les etoiles ne sont pas pour l’homme” (the closest they come to traditional black metal).

As acts throwing the “avant garde” thing around go, these guys are far more listenable than usual, and for long stretches may even fool you into thinking they’re something they’re not, i.e. a proper black metal band…so there’s that.

Montes Insania – Fikcia Erao (Symbol Of Domination) (November 20, 2018)

Insane is right!

Okay, this is a Russian one man bedroom black metal band, recording in Esperanto (hey, William Shatner would be proud!), where sorta black/death nonsense gives way to bizarre, wholly atonal keyboard and organ business in the middle of every song.

Seriously, notes go every which way, a female singer shows up, it all gets practically Charles Ives.

What a mess!

Next?!?

Ethir Anduin – Loneliness Of My Life (Symbol Of Domination) (November 21, 2018)

Another one man band out of Russia, this time a strange crossover between doom (or more precisely, doom/death) and black metal (or more precisely, DSBM, with nothing but established DSBM acts referenced in the promo materials(!)

It’s all instrumental, with another weird mix: thick but hollow toned guitars and wet sounding drums shoved right up front in the mix (to the point where tracks like “anchor DECIB” are filled with audio crackle and signal bleed) and occasional weird ass Casio keyboards in the Gloomy Grim mode.

It’s certainly listenable and could set a mood…if the drums weren’t pounding oddball polyrhythms right up against your ear throughout to sabotage it!

shrug of the shoulders. Didn’t hate it.

A Thousand Sufferings – Bleakness (Symbol Of Domination) (November 22, 2018)

Belgian blackened…what? I guess it’s sort of Hour of 13esque on tracks like “clouds”, but it’s hardly doom or “occult rock”…

Those stupid yodel howls so beloved of lesser modern black metal acts are here to make you laugh, tracks like “temple” are so deliberate with their thick toned tremelo riffing that it’s hard to tell whether they were leaning more death metal or black metal, while others like “clouds” are straight up old school black metal with some guy yelling over the top like a hardcore punk reject from back in the day. It’s all over the damn place.

Not unlistenable, by any means…but kind of a mess, structurally and otherwise.

Xoresth – Vortex Of Desolation (Grimm Distribution) (July 22, 2018)

Turkish act that mixes ambient and screwed up experimental black metal with the uber-slow vibe of funeral doom.

Effectively, this is Abruptum, slightly tuned up, complete with the snotty snarl vox, cavernous reverb and slap echo and ridiculously minimal amount of actual playing going on – a child could come up with as much on the My First Instrument its parents picked up at the local toy store.

(rolls eyes, shakes head, sighs)

…next?

Nocratai – Tormento (Grimm Distribution) (July 24, 2018)

Italian industrial dance music, where someone forgot to bring the dance and substituted some obnoxious black metal blasphemy in its place.

And to answer that first track? Christ spits in your eyes too. Only no matter how much mud he rubs over them, you remain blind.

And pretty talentless, to boot.

…next?

Marche Funèbre – Death Wish Woman [ep] (Grimm Distribution) (October 14, 2018)

A rather strange form of death/doom out of Belgium, emphasis on the former.

Occasionally frontman Arne Vandenhoeck belts out some warbling clean vocals like you might expect from trad or gothic doom, but mostly it’s straight up (if snotty sounding) death growls.

And while that’s not a problem for this corner of the doom genre, what is is just how rarely the band ever attempts to play any variant of doom whatsoever. That Paradise Lost cover aside, the first minute or two of “a departing guest”? That’s all she wrote, kid.

Best track is the title track, as it features most of Vandenhoeck’s aforementioned doom vox…too bad the band never gets the cue and pulls back on the death metal!

Invocation Of Death – Into The Labyrinth Of Chaos (Grimm Distribution) (October 18, 2018)

Death metal from El Salvador. They seem to be drawing from some weird cross between Sinister, Pungent Stench and Gorefest, so it’s very listenably old school…but not exactly what you think of when someone says “classic death metal”.

Production’s not bad all things considered, and about the worst you can say here is that the vocals come off a bit obvious and overly cheesy, particularly given that it’s all done in Spanish. I dunno, just reminded me of Brujeria, somehow, but even more aged on the fromage, as it were.

Not bad. Not bad at’all.

Gloomy Grim – Obscure Metamorphosis [ep] (Grimm Distribution) (October 20, 2018)

Boy, 20 years on from Blood, Monsters, Death…and these oddball Finnish symphonic black metallers are still dropping ’em out on a fairly regular schedule.

This one’s a four track EP, “Agathon’s” vocals are raspier and rawer than you’ll remember and the guitars are more in your face and aggressive, while those patented creepy children’s nightmare style keyboards are relegated to background punctuation at best…a bare minimum of the one element that always made these guys stand out from the crowd.

Even so, you’ll be unlikely to confuse Obscure Metamorphosis with the latest Marduk or Watain album, or even anything else hailing from the ever-interesting Finnish black metal scene.  If there ever was an ersatz heir to King Diamond’s brand of spookshow satanism, Gloomy Grim is it.

Never really have a bad word for these guys, and this one doesn’t change that status one bit.

Abigorum / Striborg – Spectral Shadows [split] (Grimm Distribution) (June 24, 2018)

Satanath Records mainman Aleksey Korolyov drops another of his quirky electronic-infused industrial black metal efforts here, alongside long running Aussie one man bedroom black metal band Striborg, whose sound has…changed quite a bit.

We’d covered Korolyov’s Abigorum on the split with Cryostasiumand at least half of the four tracks he contributes here feel a bit less aimlessly ambient this time around (likely due to some guest vocals on said tracks).

Even so, it’s pretty laid back and far from the sort of atmospherics, dark anthemic bombast and/or driving “running in place madly without harmonic motion” quality associated with black metal…so don’t go thinking he’s moved on from ambient yet.

Striborg, whose Spiritual Catharsis and Mysterious Semblance we covered here has gone full on electronic…what?  Not dance, surely, but there’s nothing gothic, industrial or blackened about this.  Hell, it’s practically major key, it’s so un-dark.

Thankfully, he only drops one track…

Yeah, not sure what else to offer, here. You should already know whether this sounds good to you or not.

Forbidden Rites – Pantheon Arcanum (Grimm Distribution) (July 11, 2018)

Mexican act, though a dual citizenship to Cyprus is mentioned. Don’t ask me the story here – I didn’t see any Greek monikers in the roster, so it’s anybody’s guess what went down.

Speaking of which, we’re informed that they “recorded a bunch of stuff 20 years ago, but nothing was officially released”…so this is old pals getting back together and rectifying that error.

It’s not bad, really – there’s a sort of 3 Inches of Blood sub-power metal feel to the dual lead guitars, and some of the riffing comes off more modern thrashlike than blackened, despite the snarly vox.  Gallop rhythms and little flourishes and fills abound…good by this old school metaller!

Feed Them Death – No Solution / Dissolution (Grimm Distribution) (August 11, 2018)

Strong elements of Suffocation rub shoulders with bits of Malevolent Creation and bobs of Necrophobic in this grindcore-leaning (more lyrically and in terms of short tracks than anything further) death metal act out of London.

Ah, Merrie Olde London. Gee, hope they didn’t have to pay all those congestion rates just to get to the damn studio! Not to mention being tailed by camera everywhere you walk…yeesh!

Anyway, bottom line here, it’s a lot of buzzing bee guitars with those “brutal death” punch in the mouth rhythms, but more death metal proper than either “brutal” or “grindcore” implies.

Not exciting to these ears, but it breaks the established molds, so I didn’t mind it, either.

Necrospell – Awakening Of Tyrants (Grimm Distribution) (November 23, 2018)

Italian melodeath project with strong elements of trad/power metal – think Rotting Christ, but even more mainstream in influence.

Lead lines are quite melodic and likeable, it’s as speedy as Helloween and the overall feel is more thrash/speed than death metal…even calling it melodeath is misleading in that respect.

In fact, if they’d drop the silly pseudonymed frontman and hire a soaring voiced clean vocalist, they’d be much heralded by the ProgPower crowd…it’s that degree of Euro meets USPM, with all the NWOBHM, thrash and melodic elements that implies, outside of the growly-belch death vox.

I liked these guys quite a bit, actually…

Sinister Downfall – Eremozoic (Funere Records / Weird Truth Productions (Japan) (November 28, 2018)

German one man band funeral doom act.

Dark, despairing, hauntingly melodic…it’s everything you expect and want from a funeral doom act (or for that matter, a gothic doom act, which this is merely a slower variant of).

Really nice stuff, particularly if you’re in the (rather introspective, depressive) mood.

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