Archive for August, 2016

Tomb Mold - The Bottomless Perdition

Tomb Mold are another Canadian death metal band that have both a lot of potential and a lot of love for the Finnish classics. ‘The Bottomless Perdition’ is a mere taste of what is to come from this duo, with a full length due out from Blood Harvest Records hopefully soon. Never has death felt so alive…

‘(Regions of Sorrow) Intro/Demon’ opens with an ominous drone, a primal vibration of the bones before a nasty riff slashes into your consciousness. A guttural riff that instantly conjures up the bloodstained crawl of Autopsy, which flails and rumbles with primitive fury. Like a force of nature, the deathly howl flows like a fell wind through a dark valley. Corpses line that valley, victims of Tomb Mold’s awesome assault. The skull rattling ‘Gates of Bereavement’ and the furious ‘Valley of Defilement’ is no frills, no bullshit death metal carnage, unhinged and with the sickest of guitar tones.

The thudding closing title track has some of the best, cavernous vocals on the whole release. Blood Harvest have found a raw gem here, and I’d suggest only the merest of polishing is required, because Tomb Mold’s ancient, morbid frenzy is simply fucking great.

Macabra is a study in old school Scandinavian death metal. Not just the more famous Stockholm or Gothenburg ‘sounds’, but of classic fetid Finnish death as well, like the early days of Amorphis and Demelich. Before the sound became bastardised, watered down or copied so much it almost lost what made it special in the first place. Death metal artist icon Dan Seagrave has created the perfect cover painting for an album that creaks with primordial fear. The man behind the music, Mark Riddick, designed what Seagrave painted, and he has also designed a cracking record of death metal!

Opener ‘Death Speculation’ has that ancient, murky melody lurking in amongst the most vintage of death metal riffs. Macabra is one of the most authemtic ‘old school’ death metal acts I’ve come across; ‘…to the Bone’ genuinely reeks of that early 90s influence to the point where I had to check to ensure I wasn’t actually just listening to a lost gem from 25 years ago. I’m not. ‘Sadocrat’ has this excellent, almost wailing melody that incessantly burrows into your mind and won’t leave.

Primal brutality aside (killer vocals from Adrien Weber by the way), Macabra’s main strength lies in the dark and atonal leads that puncture each song and add that sense of the uneasy, of insidious evil. I love the wailing thunder of ‘Royalties on Murder’, and the rampant ‘Cannibal Black Market’ but you’d struggle to find a bad song here. This is excellent, authentic worship of death metal’s finest era, and taking influence of one of the most unsung areas.

Fire of the Spirit cover art

American blackened folk about the Appalachian mountains? Well, you’ve got me intrigued. It’s a wet day here at the Killchain headquarters, and on these days I get most enjoyment of black metal, gloomy folk etc so I think Twilight Fauna are likely to be in good company today. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Ravenwood handles everything here, and it is out on Fragile Branch Recordings now!

Exploring the snake handling rituals of a rural church in Appalachia, Twilight Fauna have put a lot of research and time into this concept, and the music conjures up a ritualistic, rural feel quite expertly. The building acoustics of ‘Walking with the Ghost’ leads into a lo-fi, buzzing black metal crawl that feels like a lost mountain path, overgrown and wet. This is a path to be trod alone, following the hypnotic drone of ‘A Green Moth in the Mist’ into darker climes. The soothing ‘Laying Out the Fleece’ leads into the haunting ‘Anointing Oil’.

‘Tongues of Knowledge’ opens with a babbling woman, leaving a rather disturbed taste in your mouth as crawling raw tar envelopes your senses. An intense bleakness is innate with all of Twilight Fauna’s music, and this is a perfect example. ‘Fire of the Spirit’ is a record of deep meaning, of evocative sound and glacial, stark beauty. I heartily recommend you seek it out

Vow of Thorns - Farewell to the Sun

The fusion of black metal and doom is a task that can only be achieved successfully by bands who understand the subtleties, the nuances of both. The unbridled darkness and rage of black metal, meeting the gloomy melancholic introspection of doom is something only a few bands have managed to pull off. Mid 2000s Agalloch is a good reference point for Canadians Vow of Thorns, whose ‘Farewell to the Sun’ is a masterpiece.

The gloomy magnificence of ‘Meeting on the Astral Plane’ is obvious for all to see. It soars with blackened glory, and other sections trickle past with melancholic acoustics. ‘Great Abomination’ is a more traditional black metal piece, with scything riffs cutting through the cold misty atmosphere, and a frostbitten aesthetic that rears its bleak head again in the three part title track.

‘Part 1’ is the scene setter; a lonely melody weaving its wintry way towards an icy peak, where ‘Part 2’ takes us upon that journey, high above any of those mere human concerns, to where ancient spirits shriek and the snow falls. This is an excellent, evocative record that brings to mind the naturalist strength of Drudkh, but the weeping melancholy of Agalloch. ‘Part 3’ is the most “doom” section, with a dirging riff crushing those trapped beneath.

Closing with the grey epic ‘Doomed Woods’, Vow of Thorns have crafted one of my favourite record this year. ‘Farewell to the Sun’ is an album that sits perfectly on a rainy day, and with each listen unlocks new levels and subtleties. I love this record, and you should too.

American atmospheric black metallers Ashbringer return after last year’s stunning ‘Vacant’ with the follow up, ‘Yūgen’, remarkably quickly. One of these bands that follow mighty examples like Drudkh and Panopticon to bring emotive, natural black metal epics to the masses, Ashbringer look to be a new, glimmering star amongst the blackness.

Opener ‘Solace’ is exactly what you’re looking for in an atmospheric black metal song. It builds, swelling with emotive string work and a lonely melody, before soaring into the night sky with soaring temolo riffage and a rasping scream. Ashbringer weave folk melodies into each piece, giving this record a very traditional, olden feel about it. Like a message from a day long since dead, where nature ruled us with its primal power and we ebbed and flowed to it. ‘Oceans Apart’ is a melancholic masterpiece, with many evocative acoustic moments.

The enormity of ‘Yūgen’ hits you on the second or third listen, when each delicate moment and raw emotional black metal collide and meld together into a complex and yet strangely beautiful whole. The glorious ‘Celestial Infancy’, or the touching bleakness of ‘Glowing Embers, Dying Fire’ are two highlights within a record that is made almost solely of them. I can’t wait for those misty winter mornings to return for this album to take its place perfectly.

In Obscurity Revealed - Grim Fumes of Revelation

The debut EP from Mexicans In Obscurity Revealed is out in but a month’s time on Blood Harvest Records, and it is a bleak, nihilistic slab of twisted decay. If this is a precursor to their upcoming full length then count me in, because ‘Grim Fumes of Revelation’ is excellent.

The burning hatred that fans the flames of opener ‘Storms Conjured’ blinds like the noonday sun, with scathing riffage slicing through flesh and bone. In Obscurity Revealed are raw, but not incomprehensible. Their material is more of the surgeon’s knife than the frenzied bludgeoning of some black/death metallers. But that knife is coated in disease, leading to the atonal melodies that spiral around the main, barbed riff.

‘Varcolaci’ continues this path, with an opening riff that is as icy cold as anything to come out of Norway 20 years ago, but leading into the twisted offspring of Marduk and Deathspell Omega. Black metal is no longer one dimensional, and these new bands breathe new, fetid life into the black and white corpse that old school black metal has become. By injecting glorious, raging energy into the genre again, In Obscurity Revealed show that you don’t have to buck the blueprint a lot, but if its executed well, it is a fucking delight. ‘Grim Fumes of Revelation’ is that delight, now spill blood in the name of GRIMNESS!

Burial Hordes - Extinction

Greek blackened monsters Burial Hordes have been going for about 15 yeaars, and their latest EP ‘Extinction’ is a continuation of their anti everything message. This four track EP is out in October on Folter Records, and it is going to be a recommended pickup by the time darkness graces our world.

When you think of Greek black metal, you automatically are drawn towards Rotting Christ, but Burial Hordes are a little bit more towards the deathly, morbid crawl than their genre peers. This has more of a Speticflesh feel about it; while the atmosphere is definitely dense and dark in opener ‘Demise’, the riffing is more death metal, more frenzied. Evil vocals spew upon the flailing blackened death metal riffs that crawl and lurch from the underground. The fiery ‘World Ablaze’ has a murky, Deicide-esque feeling about it which is pretty badass too.

‘Dawn of War’ writhes with a blackened energy, and is the most pure black metal track on here, bringing to mind the likes of Gorgoroth and Marduk. It is uncompromising in its blitzkrieg assault, and even when it does, the musical directions are fairly intense. Rampant blasting and horribly dense guitar work finishes us off in ‘Hatred’, leaving us battered, bloodied and ready for more. Burial Hordes are a band to cherish, as this release shows, because their art is true, dark and very very good.