Now I have been waiting a long time for this. I first came across Mountains Crave a few years ago with their track ‘The Violet Hour’, and have slavered in hope that a full length would eventually appear. And here it is, the enigmatically titled ‘As We Were When We Were Not’, coming out on Avantgarde Music in May. Something bleak and black for the coming spring!

Opener ‘Ynisvitrin’ opens with ritualistic whispering before a cold, bleak black metal riff takes us far from our safe, warm place. Bleak, depressing black metal is the name of the game here, with hypnotic melodies soaring above a frozen waste. Far more melodic than it has any right to be, Mountains Crave have injected a vastness and a glorious atmosphere here. The ethereal delights of ‘Clear Light of the Void’ sounds like if Isis had made black metal instead of post metal. It is expansive, melodic and yet intensely grim in parts.

The grasp of dynamic shifts in pacing, volume and ferocity here is staggering. Effortlessly darting between blasting torrents of ferocious black metal and delicate, contemplative acoustics, Mountains Crave have designed and crafted one of the most starkly beautiful records I’ve come across in years. The shimmering open to ‘O Arise Magnificent Sun’ is breathtaking, as is the soaring keyboards. If for whatever reason you are sleeping on this band or this record, then wake up now, because these guys could be the next Wolves in the Throne Room. A stunning record.

https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/as-we-were-when-we-were-not

https://www.facebook.com/mountainscrave

http://www.avantgardemusic.com/

Impavidus - Eradication of Mankind

I reviewed Impavidus’s demo recently here on the blog, and they’ve returned with a new four track EP called ‘Eradication of Mankind’. This continues their journey creating some of the more interesting melodeath to come out of this country for a while. It is out on the 29th March via Bandcamp.

Gloomy, blasting opener ‘Reprisal’ pulls no punches immediately, with haunting clean vocals twisting around the chunky riffing. The raspy screams of vocalist Michelle Adamson works well with the ragged melodies and chunky groove. There’s a more overt death metal influence on ‘Eradication of Mankind’, but I can’t say I’m overly convinced on the use of the clean vocals on ‘Lies’, which treads the fine line between extremity and commercial metal a bit too closely for me.

The fantastic ‘Void’ rescues that for me, with some delightfully galloping melodeath riffing and earworm melodies proving to be a hit, and closing with the almost sultry menace of ‘XII’ really puts a stamp on that Impavidus ‘sound’. They don’t sound like anyone else, and while ‘Eradication of Mankind’ has the odd stumble, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

https://impavidus.bandcamp.com/album/eradication-of-mankind-ep

https://www.facebook.com/impavidusuk/

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Lock Howl, from the grey north of Scotland, come to me described as a post punk band drenched in reverb, with touches of black metal in there too. Now, as a reviewer who salivates at the idea of something out of the norm, ‘Pareidolia’ sounds like a very interesting prospect indeed…

‘The Seventh Room’ opens the record with an eerie incantation before the gloomy, post punk vibes take over. Like a black metal version of Type O Negative, there’s definite savagery hidden amongst the reverb loaded riffs. A pervasive melody lurks within ‘Nephilim’, while the dark influences of the likes of Joy Division comes through on the gloomy ‘Into the Darkness. Into the Unknown’. It is a sound that, when pierced by a savage black metal moment, works really well.

There also seems to be a great resemblance to In Solitude; while removing the King Diamond-esque worship, the miserable heavy metal riffs stay, and you get a similar vibe here. I really like the propulsive ‘Graveless’, which builds gracefully with an infectious melody line that burns its way into your mind. ‘And She Was Found by the Lake’ is a melancholic beauty; a powerful piece of emotional turmoil. ‘Pareidolia’ is a rewarding album with plenty of  awesome little moment, you’ll have to listen to it twice.

https://www.facebook.com/LockHowlBand/

https://lockhowl.bandcamp.com/

Good, old fashioned punkish speed metal/rock and roll is the name of the game from Denver natives Poison Rites, whose self titled record is high energy and seriously catchy. If you like shit like Hellacopters or the Dead Boys, you’re gonna dig this a lot. A self released effort, but you can pick up LPs etc from Splattered Records too.

Opener ‘Everything I Love’ is kick ass rock and roll with a grimy coating. It’s Motorhead without the snarl, Dead Kennedys without the snotty attitude but all of the infectious melodies. Poison Rites seem to have tapped into an old school punk rock vibe that isn’t about politics, anarchy or controversy, but about getting in that van, travelling gig to gig and rocking out to sweaty crowds. ‘Soft Opening’ has a bit more spit and fire about it, and is a grinding, garage punk classic. The more I listen to this record, the more I like the one dimensional, bloody mindedness of the whole thing. Having the same vocalist as the sadly dead Speedwolf only increases the greatness for me.

Laden with killer hooks and no nonsense punk riffing, Poison Rites feel like they’re that lost band that didn’t make it when the Stooges and MC5 made it big, yet are as capable of writing great songs. Nostalgia punk and roll is what everyone needs sometimes, and the awesome ‘Darkest Darkness’ is the perfect example of how Poison Rites do it so right

https://poisonrites.bandcamp.com/album/s-t-lp

https://www.facebook.com/Poison-Rites-185851571761685

http://speedwolf.bigcartel.com/

Ascended Dead - Abhorrent Manifestation

Ascended Dead prove that not all of the best metal comes from grim or frozen climates, hailing from the sunny city of San Diego in California. But the ugliness of their music belies that location with a vile and sickening death metal sound that goes somewhat back in time but remains relevant in today’s scene. Invictus are handling the European release of ‘Abhorrent Manifestation’, while Dark Descent are doing North America.

Opener ‘The Promised Land’ builds with an ominous guitar line; a dense rumbling is battered by a thundering percussive force while an unholy roar fills your ears. A maddening thrust slices through your consciousness, leaving Autopsy-esque carnage in ‘Perdition’s wake. The thick guitar tone is awesome, and the rabid ferocity that infuses Ascended Dead comes from the same dark places as Deicide and Morbid Angel. An avalanche of death metal cascades upon you, but it isn’t all heavy craziness.

The acoustic interlude in ‘Dormant Souls’ is a welcome respite, and the contrast with the more savage elements comes as a stark reminder that metal doesn’t need to strike hard at all times. Sometimes, where light and dark meet is where music can be truly effective. The ferocious ‘Subconscious Barbarity’ seems even more vicious after the acoustic parts, and it is probably my favourite track here.

‘Abhorrent Manifestation’ is a hellacious album of infected, rampant death metal that is simply stunning. Sickening riffs, mighty roars and drumming that’ll flatten you into mush. Ascended Dead have crawled from beyond the grave to punish us all for listening to death metal that isn’t as good as theirs. Which is most!

https://www.facebook.com/Ascended-Dead-365392833471969

https://invictusproductions.net/

https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/track/subconscious-barbarity

Cultes des Ghoules - Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Love

Cultes Des Ghoules are one of those bands that come along but once in a lifetime, and these Polish black metallers have stepped up their game on their magnum opus ‘Coven’. A massive, double disc album running over an hour and a half of supreme evil and oddness, Cultes Des Ghoules are changing black metal as we know it, creating unsettling and ritualistic black magic that is hypnotising.

Massive opener ‘The Prophecy (Prologue) / Devell, the Devell He Is, I Swear God… (Scene I) ‘ (catchy!) runs a massive 22 minutes, and yet is NOT the longest track here. Yes folks, this is an endurance test but one made up of some fine black metal and occult teachings. It is carved into 5 ‘scenes’, like some macabre play with a cast of characters that exist in some hellish, otherworldly void of Sabbathian groove and shrieking black metal madness. Each scene is musically dynamic, shifting from blasting to more midpaced riffing and even some rumbling doomy parts. You get latter period Darkthrone, stifling Deathspell Omega moments and creepy, Ruins of Beverast style darkness, particularly the latter in ‘Strange Day, See the Clash of Heart and Reason… (Scene III)’.

An album like this cannot be taken lightly. It isn’t just a record that can be chucked on while you’re doing other things. It is a record that you need to sit down, ignore everything else and just indulge in the sheer creativeness. Cultes Des Ghoules have taken the concept album, turned it on its head and created a shapeshifting, emotionally distraught record of unsettling music. To be honest, it is almost too difficult to review each part, as the album flows together like one piece. All I would recommend you do is to get it and settle in for a true experience, because for once this is a band that sounds like no one else.

https://www.facebook.com/CultesDesGhoules/

https://cultesdesghoules.bandcamp.com/album/coven-or-evil-ways-instead-of-love

Assault are considered to be the hidden secret of Singaporean metal, with a potent deaththrash sound that mixes ferocity and killer melodies into some excellent songs. Their new record, ‘The Fallen Reich’, looks to capture the hearts and minds of those of us lucky enough to come across it, and will be another standard bearer for music from the region.

Opener ‘Enslavement to Torture’ is, simply put, fucking incredible. Visceral and savage, yet insidiously melodic, it hits me right in that part of you that FEELS how good a band are. So does the galloping/blasting ‘Genocidal Conspiracy’, where harsh almost black metal style vocals couple with some great thrash licks and some brutal double kicks to complete the holy trifecta in extremity. ‘Spawn of Rage’ is vicious in its attack, and in parts reminds me of latter day Hypocrisy which is cool.

The crushing ‘Ghettos’ is more like chunky death metal ala Asphyx in parts, which helps show the diversity of what Assault can bring to the table. Galloping thrash, blackened ferocity and death metal heft blending together to create an invigorating record that hits all the right spots. Brutal yet melodic, Assault are to be watched, and really should be shared far and wide as an awesome band with awesome songs!

https://www.facebook.com/AssaultSG/

https://assaultsg.bandcamp.com/

http://tometal.com/