Archive for December, 2019

‘Epistēmē’ is the second record from Bulgarian black metallers Dimholt, and it came out at the backend of October this year, through the band’s Bandcamp page. If I was to say that you can tell immediately that this is Eastern European black metal, I think you can guess what it sound like?

‘Death Comes First’ roars from the gate, spraying the band’s obvious early Behemoth influences everywhere, but Dimholt do not just follow in the footsteps of the dark Polish gods. Full of interesting riff patterns, atonal melodies and a savage snarl, ‘Epistēmē’ is a glorious example of modern black metal. Each song is soaked in a blackened majesty, from the regal ‘Into Darker Serenity’ through the fire breathing ‘Nether’ to the eerie instant classic ‘The Hollow Men’. This is an album never content to rest on its laurels, instead always becoming something unexpected, something new and viral. Closer ‘Aletheia’ sounds like an animal, straining to be freed, begging to be unleashed upon the world, and I feel like that is a great metaphor for Dimholt themselves.

‘Epistēmē’ is making a very late play for my black metal album of the year; this is simply tremendous stuff. Potent, swirling in black magic and a righteous fury seeps through every barbed riff and rasped howl. Just listen to ‘The Martyr’s Congregation’ and prepare yourself for the sacrifice. Fucking awesome.


Irillion - Fatanyu

This is the second EP from Venezuelan atmospheric black metallers Irillion, and ‘Fatanyu’ looks to build from 2016’s debut, ‘Egledhron’, It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

The opening title track begins bleak and cold, and then descends into hellish growls and raspy guitarwork. Generally, you’ll expect ‘atmospheric’ to mean ghostly or ethereal, but Irillion conjure up choking atmospheres of brimstone and poisonous flames. The pummelling murk of ‘Belzoond’ is equally dark and miasmic, while closer ‘Meneltarma’ does have a little more breathing room but is essentially more of this dense, gurgling darkness. The South Americans have always excelled at new levels of rawness and evil when it comes to extreme music, so this fits in very well with continental greats.

A claggy, suffocating EP that has a lot of potential to put Irillion on the map. The riffs are venomous, the atmosphere is thick and dense and the vocals are like the belch of Satan himself. This is a killer EP and I look forward to more.

Reido - Anātman

Funeral doom from Belarus sounds like something ripe for this cold, bleak time of year and Reido’s ‘Anatman’ is the third record from this band over thirteen years, and thier first in eight. Not prolific, but when you have this type of statement to make, you don’t need to do it quickly. It is out now through Aesthetic Death.

The creepy soundscapes of ‘Deathwave’ build slowly into the ancient crush of ‘The Serpent’s Mission’, a sprawling slow motion dredge of the earth’s darkest and most miserable locales. Churning guitar rumbles under imperious growls, while the moments of tranquility are as oppressive as the heavier parts. ‘Dirt Fills My Mouth’ is like Electric Wizard with all the hazy drugs stripped away; clean, clear and with singular intent. Staggering centrepiece ‘Liminal’ stretches into unfathomable distance, a dry cracked wasteland inhabited by the guttural howl of the wind and the crash of the riff that really feels like a Tom G Warrior guitar tone. After the industrial hum of the title track, ‘Vast Emptiness, No Holiness’ brings us crashing to a earth shuddering end.

‘Anatman’ is a vast dirge of a record, naked and barren of feeling. Yet the simplicity of the riff is the greatest strength Reido possess. With guitarwork hewn from granite, this behemoth looms unbidden from the darkness laying waste to those before it. The riffs are massive, the tension palpable at points and the melancholic melodies enhancing the brutality. Awesome.

Crs - The Collector of Truths

The return of Mexican death metallers Cirrosis after a twenty year silence, now styled as CRS, is hopefully a welcome one. A lot of bands that have been radio silence for decades are returning to the limelight in this current boom period for extremity and hopefully ‘The Collector of Truths’ is an album that will allow CRS to stay there, not just vanish again. It is out now through Concreto Records.

Immediately there are strong Fear Factory and Meshuggah influences apparent in the stop start, blastbeat powered opener ‘Asfixia’. It is nice to see particularly Fear Factory referenced in modern death metal, considering how superb their early output was. There is a fair amount of technical work going on here and some pretty sweet soloing as well, such as in the frantic ‘Kill My Name’. There’s a lot of Atheist in here too; some of the twisting melodies are awesome and ‘The Art of Breathing’ has a totally out of the blue mid section that I quite like. Some of the songs are a little paint-by-numbers, like ‘Resistencia’, but overall the band have got a good sound and aren’t afraid to slip in a few softer moments.

‘The Collector of Truths’ is a pretty solid return with a lot of nice ideas and some killer songs. It doesn’t grab me as much as some of the other death metal releases this year, but a bit more time with it might change my mind. An intriguing mix of melody and brutality, with some genuinely unexpected touches makes this a record you should at least hear once.

The Osedax - Meridians

The third album from Virginians The Osedax is an odyssey through the possibilities of sludge doom majesty. ‘Meridians’ is out in January next year, and plays with shades of heavy in ways that is refreshing and honest. Named for a bone burrowing deep sea worm, this is definitely something crafted at benthic depths.

Opener ‘Offen’ is a truly majestic piece; trawling the greatest moments of Isis and Neurosis and melding that to a sense of scale that is staggering. The ebb and flow of the primordial crush, sodden with glacial weight, is inspiring. Almost as inspiring is the eerie calm of ‘Beacon/Ox Eye’s opening few minutes, when the quiet ambient hum is only broken by an occasional note. As the riff begins to appear, shimmering like a mirage over a salt flat you are suddenly bombarded with dense, raging catharsis. It is almost black metal in places, with the shrieks echoing throughout, but nothing can outplay the crushing deepsea trench riffs that ooze from the cracks in the earth. ‘White Horse/Tempest’ has this same beautiful juxtaposition of haunting ambient noise, almost whale song-like, before thunderous guitar avalanches through, and closer ‘Ratlines’ is bleak and mesmerisingly peaceful.

There will be an almighty fight for this to be beaten as my album of 2020. It speaks to me in such a primordial way, that I pity what will follow. ‘Meridians’ is glorious, and The Osedax are the gods of these ancient, deep waters. Preorder this now

Bethledeign - Iconography of Suffering

The debut of American death metallers Bethledeign, ‘Iconography of Suffering’ takes much from the likes of Deicide and The Black Dahlia Murder. Despite it being material written almost a decade ago, the mind behind Construct of Lethe (Tony Petrocelly) has reanimated his former work and the band wish to add themselves to the pantheon of death metal greats from the US. Can this be the opening salvo in a new career direction, or ‘just another death metal album’? It is out now through Edgewood Arsenal Records.

The potency of opener ‘Domain’ is plain for all to see, as waves of dense, blasting death metal spills forth; a magma torrent of rage and hate. The guitar tone is thick and the riffing is meaty and technical. The barrage of blastbeats keeps a relentless pace, while the vocals are fierce and savage. ‘Invoking the Apostasy’ has a touch of Belphegor’s blackened fury, and you get the sense of a melting pot of modern, well, 2010 modern death metal influences throughout. The chugging mayhem of ‘Besieged by Night’ and the waspish fury of ‘Eight Pointed Star’ are two particular highlights, but you could almost pick any track here to have a great example of what death metal in 2019 is all about.

‘Iconography of Suffering’ is a tremendous slab of crushing violence; a meal laced with strychnine and forcefed to you. Nothing about it sounds like it is almost a decade old, that is how cutting edge it would have been back then. Bethledeign have started back with a vengeance, and I look forward to anything else they have coming out. Death fucking metal indeed.

The hypnotising, psychedelic grooves flowing from the latest release from Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Healing Hand (just Der Blutharsch from now on), is another trippy slab of psychedelic, doomy stoner rock. A very hard collective to quantify, sometimes it is just easier to describe what we hear, and ‘Wish I Weren’t Here’ falls into that category.

The opening track, ‘Evil’ is pure distilled hallucination, dreamy and psychedelic with a rumbling guitar underneath, soaked in fuzz. The title track is laden with spoken word parts amid a driving gloom, and the soulful blues guitar of ‘Make Me See the Light’ is one of the more electrifying moments. Der Blutharsch are pretty strange at times, but when the freakouts and the groove connect, more often than not it is truly great stuff. The sinister squelch of bass in ‘Just Because I Can’, the soulful psychedelic soloing spiralling throughout the neofolk freakouts of ‘My Soul Rests Free’, the driving ‘Forgotten’; each track gives you something a little different but it all slots together into a mesmerising experience.

‘Wish I Weren’t Here’ is not the kind of record I usually review here on the Killchain, but it is a nice change of pace. If you need something to put on, space out and feel like you can commune with the cosmos at large, this is the record for you. Der Blutharsch will absorb you fully.


Nosferatruxe - Nosferatruxe

The brutality is almost bursting from the self titled debut by Bangkok, Thailand’s Nosferatruxe, which came out late last year through Brute! Productions and it is twenty four minutes of head caving, throat slitting aural torture. In the best way.

There is absolutely no space to breathe on this year, with opener ‘Coronas Blasting Annihilation’ immediately crushing you with one of the thickest guitar tones out there as unintelligible grunts and gurgles spew from your speakers. There is a barrage of clattering drums, sanity shredding soloing piercing through and the sort of relentless violence that any good brutal death record brings you. But this is truly endless violence, as it all flows together in some virulent pulsing mass of disease and putridity. The choking ‘Terrible Cosmic Froze’, the swampy ‘Infernal Gate in Demonic Mandrake’ and the drowning-in-tar-in-musical-form of ‘Lust of Gods’ really give ‘Nosferatruxe’ a lift above.

It’s a shame I’ve taken this long to get to this record, because it has been a refreshing kick up the arse from some of the stuff I’ve been listening to recently. Savage, direct and utterly devastating, it will pound you into the ground and then smear you across the concrete.

The Drowning - The Radiant Dark

If there is one nation suited to bringing us mighty slabs of misery this year, it is Britain. Lords of death/doom The Drowning release their fifth full length record, ‘The Radiant Dark’, on the 5th of November through Transcending Obscurity and it looks to provide us another reason to be miserable during a wet and cold winter. But in a good way!

After the emotional swell of ‘Alpha Orionis’, ‘The Triumph of the Wolf in Death’ crashes upon us like waves in a storm. True great death/doom hits you not only with weight but with an emotional fragility that The Drowning really understand. ‘The Radiant Dark’ oozes with a glimmering bleakness, a towering crush of brutality and melancholy that is staggering. This is a beautiful record, from the sweeping rainy misery of ‘I Carve the Heart from the Universe’ to the glacial gloom of ‘In Cold Earth’ and the majestic ache of ‘Blood Marks My Grave’. The Drowning have honed their craft into something that transcends mere genre classifications. There is true moments of thunderous death metal here as well, not just the slow, inexorable crawl of sadness, best shown in the crushing rage of ‘Harrowed Path’.

‘The Radiant Dark’ looms large in my records of the year, as there is few releases this year that combine both the heaviness I look for as well as the emotional connection. It is a record that, when I hear it, it makes me feel alive. That is a rarity these days, and it counts for a lot.

V - Led into Exile

First published here:

Out earlier in the autumn, Sweden’s sludgey doom lords V’s second record ‘Led Into Exile’ is a forty minute journey over six tracks, and looks to establish them as potential pretenders to the throne currently occupied by fellow Swedes Cult of Luna. This is full of sweeping dynamic shifts and huge riffs, but can they bring anything else to the table?

The opener ‘Broadcast from the Shadows’ begins with a slow-burn build, an almost hypnotic drone accompanied by tribal drumming before some dense riffs crash down. But this doesn’t just become your average ‘riff-shout’ assault that many other bands try for. There are genuine moments of melodic interludes, where the heavier sections are given a chance to breathe and the atmospherics flex themselves. ‘Illviljan’ has a harsher and raw sounding guitar tone, rumbling along with an eye on the grinding early work of Isis or Neurosis. These bands are obviously a great influence on V, and the titanic crush of ‘Hostage of Souls’ that follows just reinforces this. However this isn’t just the glistening weight of ‘Celestial’, nor the primal heft of ‘Through Silver in Blood’.

‘Led Into Exile’ is its own master, be it the ghostly almost silence that creeps through ‘Hostage of Souls’, the swaggering Sabbathian doom riffs that open ‘Phantasmagoria’ or the bleak folk acoustics of ‘None Shall Rise Again’. V are chameleonic; one moment hitting you with visceral heaviness and the next tugging on your emotions with beautiful material. It is this that makes them so appealing. Not every band in this style will risk opening themselves up like that, but V do it with aplomb.

As the monolithic title track thunders us to the close of the record, ‘Led Into Exile’ has left quite an impression on me. Whether crafting massive riffs that loom above like cliffs in the night, wretching vocals echoing around them or allowing us an insight into the quieter moments with acoustics or electronica, V are not just going to play the game the way we expect them too. ‘Led Into Exile’ is a surprisingly poignant work, and the sooner we can get more from V the better.