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Well, it’s been a bit since we’ve done a proper Roundup, with the last few weeks being devoted more to catching up on September recording edits, research and a new recording and edit over at Weird Scenes (three episodes ready to roll and on schedule throughout December and January, with one more in the research phase!)

This is good news, particularly after a 5 week long illness laying up yours truly (and for much of it, the wife who passed it my way as well)…so while it’ll leave us working more behind than usual going forward, we’re a lot closer to “up to date” and some measure of “status quo” than it looked like we’d be a week or two back.

But all’s not bleak as it seems, we’ve made sure to drop a few fill in bits on this end to boot (particularly over on the Facebook page, head on over and take a gander for some news, commentary and off the cuff reviews you may have missed) – just so you’d all know we were alive and kicking and didn’t forget ya.

And yes, it’s brought another positive change to our setup, in that we’ll probably continue what you’ve been seeing over at the Facebook, with more news and spontaneous reviews of whatever catches our fancy at the moment. The views and engagement have been picking up, and it’s a lot more casual than what we do here or over at Weird Scenes…so there you go, more for you from Third Eye.

So that being said and done, here we are again, right on the cusp of the holidaze…and we had to give ya at least one more actual Roundup review to whet your collective appetites, between all the visiting of annoying relatives and overeating and shopping for deals that don’t really exist in the first place (if you haven’t liberated yourselves from all that noise yet, anyway).

One way or another, we’re all going to be running around more over the next 5 weeks or so…and while there’ll certainly be more coming before the year gives way to the double crit (get it? 20/20…), whatever we can squeeze in on this end between is pretty much a bonus.

Stuff keeps coming in, so all you labels, bands and reps, don’t worry, it’ll all be gotten to over time. For now, here’s the latest and greatest…bon appetit!

ISON – Inner – Space (September 20)

Damn, was this ever a nice one to start off with!

Shoegaze, dreampop and straight up Tangerine Dream-style space rock/trance meet, shake hands with Faunts and the Mass Effect soundtrack, and come out with the trippy drone of “a golden force”.

Oddly accented, ready to sneeze they’re so nasal male vox and much clearer femme vox drone on in some reverb-suffused planetarium lecture of sheer nonsense that sounds soooo deep, man, when you’re tripping on some shit…but doesn’t mean a fucking thing in the cold light of day. Even so, it SOUNDS really cool, eh?

That’s “a golden force”. The title track goes full on vintage Lycia, with Tara VanFlower…er, Heike Langhans over some lumbering gothic shoegaze darkwave so much akin to classics like “cold” or “pray” that it gave me the urge to go blow the dust off those hoary discs and give ’em another spin…

“Radiance” even drags in black shoegaze pioneer Alcest’s “Neige” for a guest spot, “Equals” is…you know, it’s hard to pin down, when the sound is somehow akin to the likes of Lush and Velocity Girl in their heyday, with hints of Curve, Cranes or even at a stretch Ride, but with a darker, more gothicized bent. Ultimately, they’re riffing on vintage Lycia, and that’s the locus around which their sound is built.

Not a bad role model to fashion yourselves around…and so far, less inconsistent than that earlier band so often proved to be.

Very good stuff, colour me impressed.

Dikasterion – Stavelot 1597 / Rome 897 (Amor Fati Productions) (September 9)

Belgian act (or if you go by the cheesy D&D inspired promo writeup, “born from the elvish…er, evilish alliance of North and South Hellgium!”) who shoot for a raw yet somehow still melodic at core Finnish style black metal.

So underproduced and raw, you’ll wonder if there are some ties to “war metal” or “bestial black” here…or perhaps the earliest Tsjuder release (recently reissued and “cleaned up” cough), but it’s just too catchy and likeable beneath all the nastiness to ignore.

Yeah, I’ll definitely give ’em a passing grade. Let’s see what a full length brings.

Imperial Cult – Spasm of Light (Amor Fati Productions / Sentient Ruin)(August 23)

Improv is nothing to sneeze at.

Done right, some real works of genius can result…hell, jazz was built on it, as was the legendary satirical comedy of SCTV.  My own band back in the day, that’s all we did, bar the occasional cover – you have to know your musical partners and read each other’s cues to follow all the changes, twists and unexpected modulatory turns. It’s art in the truest sense, when done by the right people, in the right mindset and spirit.

Of course, it can also result in a lot of wasted time, mistakes, questionable choices and awkward bits and transitions, depending on just how bad a night someone’s having, or if a given group of players simply isn’t up for this sort of thing.

Like Jon Pertwee trying to act against Pat Troughton in those old Doctor Who special episodes, some (like Jon) need a script as a road map, not to be deviated from on pain of death. Others, like Pat or yours truly, prefer the spirit over any given letter, and are apt to take things off on fascinating tangents, throwing in unexpected twists and flourishes that ultimately elevate the final performance above the original material and intent. It can be like oil and water, if the rigid partner doesn’t learn to loosen the fuck up and go with the flow…or as Bruce Lee said, “be water”.

These guys fall somewhere in the middle. 34 minutes of straight single track droning black metal, appropriately busy yet droning and hypnotic, with a few notable shifts in tempo and to a lesser extent approach, without ever actually changing key or modulating anywhere.

There’s pluses and minuses to this, chief among which is that it gets pretty fucking boring without any real build, even in the Wagnerian sense of endless delay and build of (sexual) tension before finally bursting into the climactic release of anthemic chorus or shift to a more powerful riff.

Never happens, even when they fool ya by slowing down to a big dramatic false cadence around the 17 minute mark. Surprise! Goes nowhere, right back to the blazing away, same riff and key as before…

Is it bad? Nah. Definitely good driving or background music, sure to set a mood or trance you out.

But is there any real point here?

Fuck, no.

Волчий Источник (AKA Wolf’s Source) – S/T (Goatowarex) (October 6)

Okay, this is the free period project of a Russian jailbird while he was down for 8 years on a murder rap. A few years later, he finished his sentence and killed himself as well. umm…okay, sure…

As such, it’s probably no surprise the sound is pretty raw, with some really crap guitar tone and vox and the hyperaggressive yet mournful feel of…geez, what is this? Tormentor’s Anno Domini gone South American blackthrash, but far more depressive at core.

Weirdly, it’s quite appealing to these ears, with the naivete and “evil” feel that marks all the best first wave black metal, yet not fitting into any of the usual tribal patterns and expected sonic palettes. It’s clearly Eastern European, but can you really compare this to, say, Master’s Hammer or Root? And what of those Sono Morti/Chris Isaak bits, where entire tracks or close to it are devoted to clean toned guitar with tons of reverb, chorus and delay?

Yeah, this one’s pretty unusual…and if you dig this sort of almost unclassifiable first wave black metal as much as we do here at Third Eye, you really won’t want to miss out on it.

It’s definitely special if not unique, and you really can’t argue with that.

Burier – S/T (Goatowarex) (October 6)

Interesting. Super raw sounding demo that bears so much in common with the earliest days of second wave, largely Norwegian black metal…you’ll be shocked to hear it hails from Down Under.

Yep, this rather Manes meets Carpathian Forest demos by way of…what, Fleurety minus the shriek vox? affair comes straight out of the Outback.

Promo materials reference Les Legions Noires as a touchpoint, but while it certainly shares some of their cheap-ass C30 C60 C90 go! aesthetic (check out the transitions between tracks around “mausoleum ritual” and “beneath the world”) it’s more aggressive and raw than that…even Vlad Tepes at their nastiest didn’t come off quite like this. No, I’m thinking demo era Manes most of all…

Now, that said…not all of this bears the dark power and brutally soul chilling atmosphere Manes once brought to the table. There’s a tad too much saminess and awkward transposition, a saminess to some of the riffing (“beneath the world” in particular suffers from this)…which still hearkens to Carpathian Forest circa the demos and to a lesser extent, Chasm, Caves and Titan Woods, but does dampen the enthusiasm somewhat.

Even so…from a band with a death metal moniker hailing from the home of the vegemite sandwich in 2019? This is really damn good stuff!

Who knew…?

CATHARI – Corporeality (Seeing Red Records) (September 27)

Wow…wasn’t expecting to hear SST-era Sonic Youth stylings here…much less paired with clean sung, depressive yet hopeful Ahab-style funeral doom (the title track)!

Sure, some of this bears a bit too much emo influence (tell me “drown” doesn’t sound like a Hot Topic band who just discovered The Giant…), but while not as dynamic and progressively well fleshed out (much less classic literature based!) as that storied act, these Philly funeral doomsters do themselves pretty proud on this debut.

Yeah, I’ll probably play The Giant or Boats of the Glen Carrig again over this one given the choice…but it’s pretty damn respectable if you’re looking for something similar to scratch that itch.

Mother’s Tomb – Absent Not Dead (Redefining Darkness Records)

Really bizarre approach to death metal from this Atlanta act.

There’s a touch of melodeath, weird and unwelcome hints of prog/tech and blackened style blastbeats and even a long, mellow folky acoustic break in the title cut alone, and this continues with a bit of an Arabian minor feel on the subsequent throwaway filler track “eternal master”.

Essentially if you want death metal in any proper sense, you have to stick to the oddly bouncy, almost singsongy riffing of “slaughtering innocents” (the EP’s best track by far), because all that’s left after that is the overly tech nonsense that is “mutual hostility”.

Moments work…but they’re kind of few and far between, the somewhat Desultoryesque “slaughtering innocents” aside.

More tracks like that, maybe. As is, forget it.

Next?

Shadow Limb – Burn Scar (Seeing Red Records) (October 11)

Yeah, this one doesn’t work either. They take hints of the Ahab worship Cathari brought to the table (“cry off” shows this off in particular) and cross it with a Conan-worshipping sludge thing (nice vocals, there, buddy! Favorite truck stop waitress take too long bringing your hash?) and some overly busy, almost djenty prog bits.

97% sucks, just that touch of proggy funeral doominess shining through at times spares ’em from a disgusted backhand toss into the Flaming Pyre of Dead Bards.

Next?

Mutilatred – Ingested Filth (Redefining Darkness Records) (August 30)

We had a bit of a laugh on this Mortician meets sludge act about a year back in relation to their split with Buffy fanboys From The Hellmouth, and not much has changed since.

No, they’re still rather samey and basic, overly detuned and the guitars are too noisy, the vox not deep and up front enough to appreciate even on the level one can dig Mortician for Rahmer’s uber-deep belches and all those choice slasher film soundbytes (they try, once or twice, like the title track).

Almost grindcore, it’s so simplistic…but doesn’t even hold the same fascination as Mortician, much less classic acts like Carcass, Repulsion or Terrorizer.

Listenable…but an easy pass.

Horrid Apparition – Evil Reigns (Redefining Darkness Records) (August 30)

French/Dutch act that turns the clock way back to ’85-87 with the riffing and sound…too bad about those stupid Johnny Dordevic style vocals. Shatters the illusion just when you’re about to blow the dust off your old patch-covered denim jacket and bullet belt…

2 song single, doesn’t hang around long enough to get in your hair.

But yeah, guys. Change that frontman, fast.

Atomic Witch – Void Curse EP (Seeing Red Records) (August 30)

You know, when I see “for fans of Tourniquet” in a promo writeup, one eyebrow raises, in that trademark Belushi style.

Seriously? And is this supposed to be a positive, or a negative? They were interesting, but kind of all over the place…played Psycho Surgery many times back in the day, but never figured out whether I actually liked the damn thing or not…

But yeah, sure enough…this is a lot like Tourniquet as crossed with…what? Anacrusis? Fleurety? The vocals are overly high pitched and insane when he’s not trying to growl…sorta, and all under a lot of digital delay and reverb, mind.

The music is all over the damn place, very busy and technical, but less in the manner of, say, Watchtower or even Atheist than the spastic feel of Tourniquet.

Where their ostensible peers Believer…er, believably managed to meld thrash, death metal and prog (even with classical vox and aspirations at times!) while still sticking to anthemic choruses and a core melodic base…Tourniquet was kind of a mess, clearly busy and knowledgable in their playing, but having lost the plot and forgotten what makes a fucking song work…forget melody, build, even proper harmony. Just throw all these fast single note lines and busy riffs at the wall and see what shit sticks…

So yeah, here we are again. And like Tourniquet (whose recent Gazing at Medusa left us equally nonplussed and of mixed feelings), it’s very much a case of…I don’t think I like this, but they’re clearly decent players and there’s something good buried amidst all this chaos…

…if only they’d get off the crystal meth and bath salts long enough to cut the shit and get back to the art of crafting a proper song!

Soul of Anubis – The Last Journey (Seeing Red Records) (September 6)

Wait…wha? This is supposed to be doom metal?

By what fucking standards?

…oh, wait. They mention High on Fire in the promo writeup.

ooh, yeah, when I go for doom, the first thing I think of is fucking HIGH ON FIRE, right?

(shakes head, purses lips in disgusted sheer disbelief)

…yeah, whatever. If you like those assholes, you’ll probably dig this as well.

But no, I’m sorry.

By no means is this anything even approximating doom metal, in any of its myriad forms.

Graveview – Demos ’18 ’19 (Raw Skull Recordz) (September 26)

“Brutal death metal” ala Suffocation, but a bit less slavish to template than usual for the rather one note genre.

Still can’t compare this stuff with proper death metal, back when it was all hailing from Sunlight and Morrisound in the R/C and Earache days…that stuff got dark and abrasively nasty, but it had hooks and melodic underpinnings derived from the more extreme end of the thrash scene it derived from and grew out of.

This stuff is just bulldozers with angry guys buzzing away speedily and belching over the top, and is pretty damn forgettable for all that.