Saturday, March 24, 2018

Deep Death Doom...

Assumption - Absconditus (2018)

Though they've been releasing material since 2012, this year marks the first full LP to come from the Italian duo of Assumption, and with the three tracks contained in Absconditus, the band shows what they've been building in that time away from the public's ears.
Slow, heavy, and deliberate, “Liberation” opens the album to strains of guitar and tidal bass, drums providing an elephantine pulse. When the vocals arrive, they're in the form of a deep growl, delivered on that fine edge of recognizability where you can follow along if you want to focus, or just take them in on the emotive level as snarled aggression. The escalation is managed quite well through the rest of the song, and its completion comes with a transition into cold but gentle wind instruments (or at least keyboard emulations of such) as “Resurgence” begins.
Before too long, that intro section of the song gives way to harder tones, translating the form of the first track into faster speeds and hookier riffs. Again, it flows so well that it's almost a shock to hear the guitar and bass draw to a close. And as “Beholder of the Asteroid Oceans Part I & II” climbs into gear, the band's fondness for growing from an atmospheric start is once again demonstrated, this time with layered drones and slow-rippling synths. The move from there to metal action comes with a vengeance, as the duo turns out their hardest song of the LP, with spacy drifting peeking back up in the latter half. All together, it's a pretty damn impressive first album, and well worth the wait for fans of the group's previous two EPs.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Disenchanter, Heavydeath, Jupiterian, early Opeth


Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Bloody Alteration...

Wykan - Solace (2018)

With their debut EP, this Montreal-based trio kicks things off with a mean groove, leading with “Lahppon Olmmos”, which brandishes a sample of tribal chanting before the guitar, drums, and bass drop into place. Heavy metal noodling on the guitar joins doom-worthy bass and blackened vocal grinds, while the drums bounce heavily without holding too fast to any one of the influences. Though there's plenty of energy all around, the riffs supplied by the guitarist steal the lead focus pretty handily, and despite the aggressive flavoring of the singing, there's a strong current of fun running through it.
“The Gathering” picks up after “Lahppon Olmmos” wraps up its ~7-minute run, moving to a slower pace and gentle melody, drum intensity building up to the bursting point for the metal switch. This is probably the track which most evidences band-leader Jeremy Perkins' background in black metal, with tremulous strumming, sustained passages of tension, and more naked venom than either of its EP-mates. Lastly, there's “Wykan” to serve as the EP's closer and (what with sharing the band's name) offering up something of a mission statement for the group's coming efforts. Like “The Gathering”, it moves from a slow opening to heavy intensity, and the riffs come chugging like a train loaded down with corpses. All told, it's an impressive debut, with enough hooks to catch ears wherever it gets play. So grab yourself a copy, turn it up, and consume some mean doom.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Bath, Jupiterian, The Munsens, Vodun, Yanomamo


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gilded And Grotesque...

Et Moriemur - Epigrammata (2018)

Coming four years after their last album, Epigrammata shows the Czech group of Et Moriemur performing in high form, with a blend of black, death, and doom metal furnished in elegant presentation and finesse in crafting. Piano melodies thread through bellows and sinister bass drones, choral arrangements mix with razor-ground guitar-work, and moments of tenuous serenity are regularly bashed into pieces. Good handling of tension and momentum give the songs an unnervingly focused honing of their tone, and while a few of the tracks sound a bit too similar for the good of the album, the band's care for letting individual moments have adequate room to breathe helps Epigrammata rise above a pretty large slice of their peers' efforts.
As the majority of the music operates with an ear towards atmosphere as the dominant quality, there's some paucity of memorable riffs. Luckily, the band is deft enough with their juggling of the various elements at play to keep it from growing overbearing, and the production has enough power to it to effectively serve the king-sized sound. A few sections of somber spoken-word glazing are evocative of Ulver's late-'90s material, but by and large, Et Moriemur do a fine job of establishing their own style. Check it out if big and bold doom with emphasis on mood over fuzz fits your tastes.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Gallow God, Lurk, Tons, Ulver, White Darkness


Saturday, March 03, 2018

Wonders and Woes...

Towards Atlantis Lights - Dust of Aeons (2018)

Bringing together members from an assortment of bands, including Void of Silence and Pantheist, the group of Towards Atlantis Lights make their debut with this album and its four tracks, and sound truly colossal in doing so. Hell, the opening track (“The Bunker of Life”) is half an hour long, which makes for a pretty big first impression, you know?
Naturally, the group takes its time building things up over that duration, but it's not long before the gothic guidance comes to the fore, with monastic vocal drones and resonance to put you in mind of a massive pipe organ rising up from the depths of doom. Growls and sprawling guitar riffs join the affair, packing on the heaviness and adding some welcome complexity to the proceedings. Ride along with the slow-moving power, don't spend too much time breaking down the pieces, and you're in for a doom experience to soak through your ears and into your bones.
Once they clear that monster of an opener, it's on to the second half of the album, spread out over three tracks. First of those is “Babylon's Hanging Gardens”, which concentrates the vibes from the first thirty minutes into something with a beat to which you can (slowly) head-bang. “Alexandria's Library” moves from beat to tone studies, spilling out its bass-lines at the speed of tar, coaxing out a mournful vocal treatment to give you goosebumps, and drifting out on a delicate twist of piano. That leads nicely into the final track, “Greeting Mausolus' Tomb”, with its trembling string-pluckings and clear-voiced dedication, before the swarming heat of the deeper textures take over and death holds sway.
It's quite an experience, and while it will probably put off those with a need for speed, the listeners seeking some powerful doom metal should dig it, while the funeral doom fans get chills. Set to drop on March 6th through Transcending Obscurity Records, this is one to get your ears around as soon as you can, as it'll take quite a while to fully digest.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Bell Witch, Jesu, Ksyatriya, Thergothon, Ufomammut


Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Luminescence of Stains...

Leechfeast - Neon Crosses (2018)

Aiming big with their sophomore album, the Slovenian group of Leechfeast have put together four tracks, each one at least eight minutes long. It's their first album release since 2012, though they've put together material for splits in that time, and the atmosphere they build over the course of the new LP's two sides is one of smothering dread, making the lengthy wait for the follow-up something quickly forgiven as it plays.
The album leads with “Sacrosanct”, which quickly establishes the nasty tone and gritty textures which persist from there 'til the end, a lo-fi spoken sample providing a nicely disorienting blare of detached reference before the bass and drums come in to set a pace like a stoned sloth with razors in its paws. “Halogen” follows, bringing a more concentrated throbbing to the bass-beam swinging, plus a tasty melodic nod to a classic piece of heaviness (cast your mind back about half a century when you hear it yourself), and “Tar” leads the way into the second half by diving head-first into a morass of grime you can practically feel on your skin. “Tar” is also the longest track of the LP, and its time is well-spent by the band as they grimly take hold of the riffs and twist them into lethal configurations.
By the time “Razor Nest” comes about to usher in the end, the album's already taken a compelling journey through its soundscape of pits and pains, but the band doesn't let up with the final track. Instead, they push on into even more massive sound ranges, lending a grandeur to the suffering that's almost symphonic in the way it stretches up and out, though the music stays well-grounded with its instrumentation. As the last of it rattles to a close, the band takes a minute to linger on some stripped-down echoing, providing a care to it that neatly captures the effort taken to make the album as a whole fit together in sludgy glory. And they succeeded, pretty damn well at that.
Sludgers who want it truly dirty and despairing, don't let this one slip by you. It's out March 30th, dually released by Dry Cough Records and Rope Or Guillotine, with a later cassette version from Hellas Records, and a string of European live dates through April in various countries. Damn, I envy those of you who get to catch those shows.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Dead Existence, Meth Drinker, Mudbath, O.D.R.A., Zeppheroin


Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Fleshless Abode...

Evil Spirit - The Imageless Mirror (2018)

Performed by just two members (Marcelo Aguirre on vocals and percussion, Ari Almeida on guitars and bass), this mini-album bridges the gap between the German group's first album, Cauldron Messiah, and their second LP, which is still cooking. Over the course of this release's five songs, the duo brew a mean atmosphere of low tones, strained strings, fierce wailings, and malefic attitude, bringing slow doom slogs and sludgy burners together with panache and a startlingly large-scale vibe. Heavy slams and gnarly riffs are in plentiful supply, there's a hefty Death SS cover which Evil Spirit does a great job of making into their own thing, and the music includes several creative surprises that are rather neatly worked into the flow. If you're like me, and haven't yet heard the group's first LP, this is a great introduction to the band's style and capabilities, and should leave you wanting to check out more of their catalog. Of course, that'll mean you'll end up hungering for that second album to show up, but that's an acceptable price to pay for music this stimulating.
~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Brume, Heavydeath, Narcosatanicos, Sunken, Uroboros


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nations Of Corpses...

Gnaw Their Tongues - Genocidal Majesty (2018)

Gnaw Their Tongues are pretty damn prolific for a one-man group, having put out a dozen albums (not including splits and side-projects) since self-releasing his first LP back in 2006. Keeping up that pace, GTT's first album for 2018 launches out from its start with howls, monstrous bass, and an enveloping sense of doom, compressing the massive-feeling music into just a little over half an hour of material. Electronics augment the nasty vibes, generating unstable fields of disturbance and high-speed percussion that ramp upwards into harder and harsher power. Industrial strength solvent for the nerves, high-pressure doom, nightmare factory recordings, and a big dose of unhinged, unrestrained maddened outpouring come together with fantastic results, while titles like “The Doctrine of Paranoid Seraphims” lure in unsuspecting listeners expecting something symphonic.
Not something which will appeal to everyone (thank goodness), Genocidal Majesty finds GTT continuing to experiment, but doing so with the confidence and dependable underlying technique that comes from having been at this for over a decade, with no signs of compromising the effort or earnestness of the various approaches he's taken in that time. The demonic passion which consumes GM at times (during “Cold Oven”, for instance) puts a long list of extreme metal groups to shame with how fiercely it comes at the listener, and the coatings of programming do nothing to get in the way of that assault. High-grade audio pain, intense and superb.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Boyd Rice, Iron Justice, Skin Chamber, Sunken, White Darkness


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Life In The Graveyard...

Burning Saviours - Death (2018)

With albums in their catalog dating back to 2005, there's no question that the Swedish group of Burning Saviours have a firm handle on the hard rock they play. With this latest album, they pay homage to some of the forebears who made the links between original doom metal and hard rock stand out most clearly, keeping the songs of Death heavy and theatrically menacing while emphasizing chuggy riffs, burnishing thick bass slabs, and singing about (what else?) the inevitable cessation of life.
Though there's a lot of homage filling the music, it also stands strong as a solid batch of old-school doom pulled off in fine form. Head-banging beats and hooky riffs are supplied in ample measure, the amping sounds warm (and pretty close to period-accurate for the style they're working), and refusing to stay small when there's a chance to go big with the rocking add up to an album which comes in without a trace of fear and does everything it sets out to do. Really, the music explains it better than I could, so as soon as the album drops (March 9th, through the good people at Transubstans Records), grab yourself a copy and get ready to ride a time-traveling train of heavy riffs back to the days when every piece of metal cover art would look good on the side of a van.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Black Knight, Candlemass, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Salem Mass


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ways Of The Waves...

River Cult - Halcyon Daze (2018)

Making their debut back in 2016 with a self-titled EP, the trio of River Cult are dropping their first LP this year, and for a group rooted in Brooklyn, they do a pretty damn respectable job of channeling the bluesy heavy psych sound into the five hefty tracks Halcyon Daze boasts. Thick pedal-boosted string textures and rolling drum rides build rich atmospheres of warm bleariness, and with not one of the songs dipping below seven minutes in length, the band gives themselves plenty of room to flesh out and shade in the nuances with care. It's heavy without losing momentum, psychedelic without going (too far) off the rails, and fucking groovy with hardly any bloat.
While the vocals are a lot of fun, keeping a sort of grungy, cool indifference going even in their roughest yells, the band packs in plenty of instrumental rocking, twisting their way through gnarled riffs, riding crescendos to a peak before leaping to another one, and getting down 'n' dirty in the earthiest tones. They've got heart, they've got chops, and from the sound of it, they're having a lot of fun bringing them together while pushing past emulation of their influences into something really great. Check this one out once it lands on February 9th (in CD, digital, and vinyl formats), play it loud, and play it again; just don't expect to catch all the details on your first time through.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Desert Suns, Frozen Planet....1969, Major Kong, Zombie Picnic


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Obverse and Occluded...

Zombie Picnic - Rise of a New Ideology (2018)

Debuting back in 2016 with their album A Suburb of Earth, Zombie Picnic made quite an impression on us with their free-wheeling strain of prog rock. They're back with their sophomore album now, due for release in March, and with it, the Irish quartet has assembled ~40 minutes of new material, perfectly portioned for the vinyl release it'll receive through Burning Shed.
Things start off in a low-key approach on “Democracy Cannot Survive”, with a gentle melody line cycling about as it finds footing, rising energy and expanding drum flourishes steadily infusing the measures, and the sharp, clear guitar tones wrapping firmly around the whole. The intensity continues escalating from there, with follow-up “They See Science as Dangerous” highlighting the group's ability to tighten up on a riff-ride while bringing all the members into vibrant action, with the bass-lines in particular grabbing listeners by the ear-balls.
Almost half of the album's duration is covered between those first two tracks, and for the rest of it, the songs are served up in more easily digestible form, from the focused drive of “DEFCON” on through to “Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow)” and its relatively brief outro crash. Concise samples discussing the merits and impact of science fiction, among other societal concerns, are sprinkled throughout the music, and it's from these (and the titling) that the otherwise vocals-eschewing grooves get their thematic flavor. Whether they're really needed is up to the listener to decide, but they do add a nice splash of character (and personally, I'm always in favor of a well-used sample or ten).
Looking at the album as the group's sophomore outing, ZP have certainly managed to grow while holding on to the weird facets that helped make their first so distinctive. Fans of prog rock should go ahead and earmark some money for a copy, and fill the time before release by checking out the group's first album if it managed to slip past them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Crown Larks, Indukti, Mondo Drag, Planes of Satori, early Porcupine Tree

Zombie Picnic - Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow) (320 kbps)


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Plots And Pyres...

NEST - Metempsychosis (2018)

We last heard from NEST about two and a half years ago, with the release of their self-titled debut EP, which made a good impression with its stylish treatment of a blackened doom base.  After a follow-up EP in late 2016, NEST are back again to deliver their first LP, and with its half-hour or so of new songs, the Kentucky-based duo show that they're still in fine form when it comes to crafting concise assaults of weight-laden fury.  Instead of going the route of sheer blow-out screaming and thrashing, they put in the work to build carefully-developed melodies, letting listeners get attached to the tunes before smashing in with bolts of harsh violence, and keep that defiance of easy templates going the whole way.
While they've got a certain distance kept between themselves and rock-out vibes, they do have the ability to tap into those head-banging energies (check out the end section of “Gallows of Forever” for a demonstration).  Again, though, it's a work in contrasts; without the more serious majority of the music, those leaps into more traditional metal vibes wouldn't have the impact they do.  Similarly, their ratio adjustment between the doom and black metal takes them through a nice, wide range of effects and atmospheres, finding just as much room for deep grooves as they do for bone-rattle beatings, not to mention some good old feedback-soaked power drives.  Hell, I actually found myself throwing up the horns while listening (to “Divining by the Entrails of Sheep”, for the record) and I genuinely can't remember the last time a record provoked that response from me.  Even more impressive, they got the whole album recorded in just three days, with the songs' cohesion reflecting that feverish outpouring.
The time NEST have taken to put these songs together has been well-spent, no doubts there, and it's exciting to hear them stretching their style in so many different ways on their first full album.  As with their first EP, they pack in one song which dwarfs the others.  This time, it's penultimate track “Life's Grief” (embedded below), which rolls out to nearly ten minutes of powerful resonance, mixing its huge-sounding majesty with a deep-trenched coat of filthiness, capably covering the album's two extremes (plus the band's more experimental side) while also pounding out some heavy power.  If you're a fan of grisly doom and you're not sold by now, check the full album out once it drops, and let that take you the rest of the way.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Hesperian Death Horse, Odradek Room, The Sleer, Sunken, Trees


Saturday, January 06, 2018

Transmuted By Erosion...

Apostle of Solitude - From Gold to Ash (2018)

Returning three years after their last album, Apostle of Solitude have assembled forty-five minutes of new material for their fourth solo LP, due out February 23rd, working big riffs and heavy atmosphere to nice effect.  It's doom with some force behind it, and as the band moves along through the seven tracks, they balance the slabby bass-lines with emotive vocals, drums both thunderous and gentle, and some fierce guitar-work.  Almost all the songs break the 6-minute mark, so you get to hear the band build some big structures and give them thorough exploration, all the while using some lush production to bring out the finer details in the resonating chords.
The band also maintains a strong sense of character and consistent tone through the songs, without falling into monotonous drudgery or predictable tricks.  It's an album that really hits the feel of being conceived and executed in one fruitful go of it, while still fitting into the larger scope of the band's full catalog.  Closing out on the funereal “Grey Farewell”, the band shows that they've developed the important quality of restraint with their doom, letting sparseness and simplicity have their place without being buried under tons of fuzz or over-amped bass wallows.  By emphasizing the role of well-made melodies in the style, AoS give promise that there's more ideas yet to be shared from their group, and that they'll be given the time and growth they need to come out smashing.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Below, Earthshine, The Fateful Hour, Of Spire & Throne, Pilgrim