Hallux Valgus - Reflections of Distant Dreams

Review by Sandre the Giant

Chilean death metallers Hallux Valgus released their debut full length earlier this year, and ‘Reflections of Distant Dreams’ was released on cassette and digital through Burning Coffin Records, and more recently through Ex Nihilo Records on CD. It’s fifty minutes of old school, thrashy death metal at its South American best.

Opener ‘Ghastly Fascination’ burns with a deathly heavy metal passion, reminding me of some early Possessed. There’s a killer solo, the melody is front and centre, but there’s a definitely savage edge here too. Imagine Angel Witch crossed with early Celtic Frost and you’re about there. ‘Murderous Instinct’ is a rampant, cavernous slab of proto death metal that slowly begins to slide into a doom crawl by the end, while there’s plenty of old school guitar work in the ravenous ‘Disturbed Corpse’. It, along with a few other tracks on the record, has this slower, doomier, moodier interlude sections that give the album a nice touch of atmosphere about it. The whole record is inspired by a surrealist yet indigenous terror that is typical of the more rural and insular areas of Southern Chile, and you can feel that type of lurking horror in the creepy ‘Atlas, the Hunt’ and the building complexity and ancient thrust of ‘Internal Cryptic Gathering’.

‘Reflections of Distant Dreams’ is a strong piece of work, again proving that the South American (particularly Chile) scene is so fertile and rife with bands who aren’t just rehashing old Sarcofago and Sepultura works but creating their own glorious darkness. Hallux Valgus fill their time with a classic early death metal sound but intersperse plenty of interesting doomy interludes and some excellent song writing, particularly at the end of the record. Great stuff





Borboropsis - Decorticated Burial of Delirium

Review by Sandre the Giant

The debut record from American death/doom merchants Borboropsis is carved from a similar vein as Dusk and dISMBOWELMENT. ‘Decorticated Burial of Delirium’ is a three track EP, and it is out now on Solitude Productions.

Opener ‘Echoed Winds of Corporeal Derangement’ is a groaning, rumbling heavyweight; powerful riffs meeting bleak melody and guttural roars in an orgy of slow brutality. That dissonant melody line that winds throughout is intoxicating, as is the upping of pacing into a thunderous, stomping beast in ‘Transmute Miseries of the Solemn Halls’. A mammoth chug is the bread and butter of this behemoth track, and that leads us into the final track, ‘Decortication | Burial’, which combines those two disciplines of monstrous riff weight and atonal melody into a devastating finale. There’s a shift into a more violent death metal thrust for a middle section where the pace quickens and there’s a definite Swedish old school feel to it, before the aching miserable crush returns into a cold, bleak ending.

‘Decorticated Burial of Delirium’ is an exciting new addition to the genre, combining a brutal heaviness with a genuine touch of the melancholy to create something very special. This is just the kind of stuff I’m really into at the moment, and Borboropsis have captured my attention. I look forward to much more to come.



Antediluvian - The Divine Punishment

Review by Sandre the Giant

Antediluvian are the Canadian equivalent of Portal, if even for my money a little more terrifying. I first came across their hellish aural terrorism on their 2011 record ‘Through the Cervix of Hawaah’ and was disturbingly hooked. Their newest record, ‘The Divine Punishment’, is out now through Nuclear War Now! and explores the many manifestations of carnal deviance and sexual blasphemy perpetrated in the cosmos. Something tells me it won’t appear on any ‘Records To Fuck To’ lists…

Opener ‘Obscene Pornography Manifests in the Divine Universal Consciousness’ begins with sanity grinding samples, gurgling voices spouting madness into the void before clattering death metal dissonance splutters into life. Cavernous growls echo around churning, grinding riffs and a suffocatingly dark atmosphere. This is a stylistic choice that pervades every song on this record, and while that means each song can sound similar, it does not preclude their quality. The eerie chanting on ‘How the Watchers Granted the Humans Sex Magick in the Primordial Aeon’, which feels like a hypnotic ode to the beings in the track name, the cosmic folkiness of ‘Guardians of the Liminal’, the constant feeling that something is watching you from the shadows as every track fades in and out with unsettling sound effects. It all collaborates into a record with a serious capacity to disturb.

Moments like ‘Sadomaniacal Katabasis’ and the start of the succeeding ‘Temple Prostitute’ are only part of the story here though. The real star is the punishing, cavernous death metal riffing that serpentines its way through your mind and threads its way through the unholy murky atmosphere. There’s a lot of the aforementioned Portal, Gorguts and Blut Aus Nord seeping in as well, but the end result is purely Antediluvian. They’ve established themselves as one of my go-to acts for pure dissonant hellscapes, and this hour plus is certainly qualified as that. After a while, the songs begin to bleed into each other and you can’t quite figure out where you are or where this is going.

‘The Divine Punishment’ is one of those albums that may seem overly long until you realise that some of the pleasure is derived from the endurance required to fight through this soul shredding insanity to the other side. Antediluvian provide more than enough interesting moments but the real draw here is the unutterable darkness and dissonance. Like the universe collapsing on itself, this is music for black holes and armageddon.




Solfernus - Hysteria in Coma

Review by Sandre the Giant

The reissue of Czech cult black metallers Solfernus’ debut full length ‘Hysteria in Coma’, first released in 2005, has been handled by a collaboration between some excellent labels (Godz Ov War in Poland, Satanath in Russia, Lava Productions in Czechia, Slovak Metal Army and Azermerdoth Records in Mexico) known as the True Metal Cartel. This release also includes the never-officially-released ‘Diabolic Phenomenon’ EP from 2003 as well, so it’s got even more to punish you with.

After the grandeur opener ‘Lucifer’s Orchestra’, you are immediately attacked with waspish riffing in the fiery ‘Advent Massacra’. This is about as pure black metal as you can muster these days, a truly old fashioned sound that has none of the experimental nature that plagues much of black metal nowadays. Solfernus are bringing it pure, second wave and dark as all hell’s corridors. There’s notes of Mayhem and early Dimmu Borgir in the vocals, while the constant blasting is immediately evocative of Marduk. ‘Bros of Inferno’ is a punishing assault, while the slower and vaster ‘Victoria Karisma’ keeps the fire burning while adding some pagan melody in there as well. ‘In Bondage of Blind Desire’ is a devastating exercise in powerhouse drumming and riffs, while the darkly anthemic ‘Furious Beat of the Black Hearts’ is a majestic highlight for me. The cover of Slayer’s ‘The Antichrist’ is a natural fit, and the main album closes with the raging ‘Darker than the Darkness’.

As for ‘Diabolic Phenomenon’, it is a fascinating insight into the formative years of Solfernus. As a debut offering it is raw at times, but generally of a high quality. We’ve got three tracks that were later rerecorded for ‘Hysteria…’ in Furious Beat of the Black Hearts’, Darker than the Darkness’ and Bros of Inferno’, so I’ll concentrate more on the other two. ‘Legacy of Death’ opens with a maelstorm of utter blackened barbarity while ‘Human Medium of Evil’ is a much more measured affair, bleak and bitter. They would’ve fitted in perfectly on ‘Hysteria in Coma’ as well, but they’ve now become these stunning curios.

As much as I appreciate how black metal today has managed to move beyond mere second wave worshipping, monochrome forest dwelling copycats, when I get a hold of something truly fiery and old school like this, there is not much in the world of metal like it. Solfernus have the sound nailed entirely, even from the get go if ‘Diabolic Phenomenon’ was a little raw in places. By ‘Hysteria in Coma’, they had it down and it is full of furious black metal classicisms as well as insidious heavy metal melody at times too. Excellent, and a worthy gem to be unearthed in these modern times.



Review by Sandre the Giant

I keep coming across these Finnish bands and find myself impressed with not only the frequency with which they appear but the quality of them as well. Drops of Pain and Suffering have been a side project for over a decade, and their EP, ‘Perdition of the Fittest’ has been in the works since 2014. This is melodic black metal, and it is out now through Bandcamp.

Opener ‘Lord Death’s Midnight Masquerades’ is a gloriously melancholic piece written with a load of melody in mind. There isn’t your hail of blastbeats, this is a midpaced stomp with a hefty dose of gloom about it. There’s still a buzz to the guitar tone, it still feels razor edged but it isn’t all unrepentant savagery. ‘Beyond the Ivory Towers of Sanity’ is a dense number, an incessant murk smothers some really nice melodic work, which ‘Leviathan’ continues to build on that throughout a relentless march into the foggy misery of closer ‘The Fumes of Desolation and Ruin’. Now this has a lot of interesting moments; bringing a definitely depressive feel to the EP and a sense of loss or hopelessness. It feels like this is where the more experimental edge fits in, with an almost dark ambient section appearing in the middle to increase the atmosphere.

‘Perdition of the Fittest’ is the precursor to a full length that will be recorded later this year, and it has definitely left me interested in more. Drops of Pain and Suffering have an interesting sound, one of melody and darkness that coexists quite nicely underneath a necro atmosphere. The songs are memorable and well written, and the ‘feel’ is just about right too. I look forward to more.


Slimelord - Moss Contamination

Review by Sandre the Giant

Following on from their disgustingly heavy and brilliant ‘The Delta Death Sirens’, which I reviewed here, Slimelord of deepest, darkest, foulest Yorkshire have vomited forth another EP of sludgey doomy death metal for us to drown in. It is out now through Dry Cough Records, Sewer Rot Records and Seed of Doom Records, and it is called ‘Moss Contamination’.

After the growling backwards incantations of ‘Noitanimatnoc Ssom Gnittor’ (use a mirror people), ‘The Day of the Triffids’ piles upon you huge crushing riffs and cavernous, distortion drenched reverb that will make you feel genuinely uneasy if you paly it too loud. This feels like you are trapped underground, walls collapsing while an intractable sludge creeps towards you. The sheer low end power is tectonic, while wailing guitar screams behind tortured, subhuman growls. ‘Puddle Dweller’ is clearly set in a puddle that suffers from intense sewage and possibly nuclear waste contamination, such is the utterly monstrous tones and earth shaking music being uttered forth. The creepy as hell interlude of ‘Epithelial Contaminant (Amphibious Dirge)’ just about prepares you for ‘Loretta’s Bane’, where the explosion of decrepit death metal riffs gradually collapses under its own weight into a doomy trudge through death infested sewers. It feels like it was recorded in the ‘Alien’ universe, somewhere in their waste system, such is the unearthly and uncomfortably slimy murk being regurgitated here. As it fades out with the ambient sounds of a swamp, marsh or other damp boggy spot, you’re left to contemplate what horrors you accidentally unleashed when you pressed play…

‘Moss Contamination’ has rocketed into my top records of this year list. Slimelord’s graps on how to make something so unutterably heavy and also so tonally uneasy and dissonant at the same time is staggering. I cannot stop listening to this, and hopefully neither ill you. This is what drowning in multidimensional algae must feel like. Horrifyingly brilliant.






Review by Sandre the Giant

The Finnish black metal underground may be the most fertile soil in all of Europe, such is the frequency in which they belch out new, conquering outfits. The latest is Fordom, whose debut full length ‘Manic Howls’ comes out in November on Night in Terrors Records, and are determined to bring us all back to a golden age of black metal purity.

Savage, murky and undeniably evil, opener ‘Inside the Temple of Bael’ throbs with primal malevolence like an ancient beast craven and slavering. Unholy shrieks and screams accompanied a set of filthy riffs and black magick wrought melodies. In fact, those same melodies frequently struggle to break through the shroud of darkness, until you realise that it is you who has passed through it, not them. The sinister rumble of ‘The Uprising of Barbatos’ reminds that pace isn’t always as effective at forming an atmosphere, which is also in serious effect in the occultist stylings of ‘Rituals Spreading Around the World’. Those eerie clean vocals really emphasise an idea of ritualistic magicks being cast.

‘Fuck the Messiah’ has just the kind of necro attitude you’d expect from a title like that, but ‘Lucifer Rises Again’ closes us with a regal, almost melancholic finish to a record that has played it straight almost entirely with its necrotic savagery. It is a glorious dichotomy that shows, despite the savage heart of black metal’s core, when it adds a layer of majesty the results are just as evil! ‘Manic Howls’ is a tremendous addition to 2021’s black metal catalogue!


Morbid Messiah - Disgorged in the Coffin

Review by Sandre the Giant

Mexican death metallers Morbid Messiah’s new EP, ‘Disgorged in the Coffin’, is the follow up to 2018’s ‘Demoniac Paroxysm’, which I was a big fan of. I’ve been looking forward to more Morbid Messiah, as their murky violent death metal sound is a hit in the Killchain’s world. It is out next week through Chaos Records.

The title track opens the EP with sadistic samples and then an explosion of sickeningly heavy death metal riffs crashes down upon you like a rotted body landslide. Frenzied guitar stabs out of a murky mix, while rabid vocals growl and flail within. The band’s aim to make things even sicker and more horrific is immediately apparent, the churning ‘Rupturing into Madness’ is an ode to the most rabid and violent breed of death metal brutality. There is no let up, there is only riff, roar and blood spilled. ‘Grinded into Carnage’ has an insatiable groove lurking beneath the bilious fury, while ‘Dungeon of Vermin’ is my favourite track here; a rager that morphs into a slimey, Incantation-like crush with a jagged solo. ‘The Maniacal’ is the first death metal song to use Heath Ledger’s Joker’s infamous “Why so serious” quote as a sample, and it actually fits a lot better than I initially suspected, as the song tears off into a frenzied, murderous rampage that would suit that particular version of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Finishing with the bowel scraping gurgle of ‘Angel of Disembowelment’, ‘Disgorged in the Coffin’ is the kind of EP every death metal band should strive to create. Short, visceral and full of inventive takes on the heaviest of all metal subgenres, Morbid Messiah make sure you know they don’t give a fuck about trends, they are here to create brutality and death metal. For that, they have succeeded mightily.




Alda - A Distant Fire

Review by Sandre the Giant

The fourth full length from Tacoma, Washington’s Alda has been six years in the making, and ‘A Distant Fire’ is out at the start of October through Eisenwald Productions. Atmospheric black metal is the order of the day, and your cover art somehow makes that clear and yet totally not at the same time. It is a very striking piece, giving you that epic scale but in a much more technicolour scheme than your usual black metal monochrome..

After the pastoral acoustic tones of ‘First Light’, ‘Stonebreaker’gives us a calvacade of black metal riffing, submerged in a slighty murky production that takes the edge off their razer bite but not blunting the severity of the music. This is atmospheric black metal at its best, trying to remain grounded with reality. There’s a nice range of acoustic and clean guitar work in here too, not just distortion and hate. This is atmospheric black metal with its eye firmly trained on the more melodic side, with some lovely acoustic flourishes to keep that misery in check. ‘Drawn Astray’ personifies this approach, with its fearsome relentless barrage punctured by some genuinely affecting melodic moments. ‘Forlorn Peak’s brutally direct assault leaves little breathing space; a grinding bassline pummels you beneath savage riffing and occasional clean guitar, post rock melancholy. The poignant acoustic tones of ‘Loo-Wit’ provide the base for the closing title track, a sixteen minute odyssey taking every part of Alda’s sound and creating a majestic epic. From the soothing forlorn duet at the start, through cascading black metal fury and big doom riffs to the soaring winds of guitar that take us towards our quiet, natural ambient finish.

Like most atmospheric black metal albums, you may find there is a little too much of ‘A Distant Fire’ and you’ll feel that the songs need reigned in a little in the length department. I’m here to tell you that this isn’t the case as it unfurls further. Alda’s work expands and evolves as it grows, taking elements from black metal, folk, post rock and creating something piercingly beautiful and at times intense and fiery. ‘A Distant Fire’ is a grower, and each step on this journey is one you’ll want to take. Great stuff.




Sepulchre by the Sea - Ratiocinations

Review by Sandre the Giant

Apart from sounding like a quaint Victorian seaside town with a creepy underbelly, Sepulchre by the Sea caught my attention on last year’s ‘Conqueror Worm’, and they’ve not left it long before releasing a new EP, ‘Ratiocinations’. It is out at the start of October through the band’s Bandcamp.

If you’re not familiar with Sepulchre by the Sea, they play atmospheric black metal themed around Edgar Allan Poe, almost as if to enhance that old world horror aesthetic the name conjures up. Opener ‘Ghost of the Departed’ creeps from its starting berth with an ambient hum and soft gentle keyboard melody before a razor sharp black metal riff tears through this veil. The more soaring, melodic black metal style I had expected is not here however, as Sepulchre by the Sea go more for a depressing, dense fog of atmosphere clinging to each riff. Even when the savagery abates towards the end of the track, it feels very gloomy and miserable. ‘Beast Made Flesh’ begins with samples of screaming before you’re faced with the kind of fiery black metal riffs that you’d get from Marduk, but there are moments of eerie atonal melodies that also reminds me of Blut Aus Nord as well. The closing title track is a beast, starting slow and quiet before an explosion of blackened carnage rains down upon you. Hints of melody, of uplifting and hopeful moments appear, begin to state their case and are buried under avalanches of pure black metal fury.

‘Ratiocinations’ is a strong follow up for Sepulchre by the Sea, and their sound feels a little unique at the moment. There’s no other bands I can think of at the moment marrying such a desolate atmosphere into black metal but still maintaining a clarity of sound and vision. ‘Ratiocinations’ maybe only be three tracks, but it is enough to see the evolution of Sepulchre by the Sea already. This will be a tale worth following.