Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Earth and Pillars - Earth II

The glorious cover artwork for Earth and Pillar’s newest record, Earth II’ evokes many feelings but mostly for me the idea that atmospheric black metal and nature work so well together, even when not the stereotypical frozen wilderness. ‘Earth II’ is out now through Avantgarde Music.

Opener ‘Becoming’ grows with glorious synth swells and clean guitar, before the distortion and the snarls appear. But the atmosphere remains majestic with the ethereal backdrop and clean guitar melody flowing around the more traditional black metal instrumentation. There’s a wistful longing about this track, that seeps through into each of the others. ‘Falling’ flows like a raging mountain torrent, Cascadian black metal riffs pouring from the guitars. There is no let up from the relentless battering here until the last minute or so but it is invigorating! This perfect mix of synth led atmosphere, clean guitar and raging black metal is truly breathtaking in places, and I particularly was drawn to the mesmerising third track ‘Ascending’.

‘Earth II’ is a record of sweeping majestic, melancholy and savage blasts of black metal fury. Often this kind of black metal can feel overly long, repetitive or monotonous but Earth and Pillars fall into none of those traps. ‘Earth II’ is a glorious monolith to Cascadian black metal done right, and this is a record full of dark beauty.

https://www.facebook.com/earthandpillars/

https://earthandpillars.bigcartel.com/products

https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/earth-ii

Vofa - Vofa

Vofa is the work of Icelandic musicians that have contributed to the underground scene there throughout many genres; black metal, hardcore, death metal, electronica, and this is their exploration of the bleaker side of life. This is funeral doom soundscapes at their most evocative, and is out now through Funere Records.

Split into three tracks, ‘Vofa’ is an encapsulation of the grim cold of their homeland. ‘I’ builds with evocative clean guitar; glacial melodies weaving within a deep gloom before distortion and a titanic growl appears to shatter the illusion. There is a little bit of a trad doom swagger that starts to appear towards the end of the first track, which is unusual in proper funereal doom, but I like it. There is a wretched misery about each track, ‘II’ oozes from your speakers like a malignant growth ready to swallow the ground you walk on. The vocal interplay here between a raspy growl and mournful clean vocals is excellent, and it brings a much heavier crunch to it. ‘III’ brings forth a sludgey doom to it, giving us a nihilistic swampy feel to it.

‘Vofa’ is an album that paints with a dark palette; shrouding guitar in weeping mist and then building a deep heaviness to the fore by the end. An intoxicating mix of glacial calm and soul crushing brutality that should appeal to most. Rumbling magnificence.

https://funere.bandcamp.com/album/vofa

https://www.facebook.com/VofaDoom/

Paganizer-Bandcamp.jpg

If there was a band that, in 2019, defines Swedish death metal better than Paganizer, I’d love to hear about them. The hardest working dude in death metal, Rogga Johansson, is back with more riffs and more savagery with ‘The Tower of the Morbid’, released late last year through Transcending Obscurity.

Cloaked in some awesome Dan Seagrave artwork, this is a record that goes for the jugular straight away with the galloping ‘Flesh Tornado’ and barely lets up from there. The guitar work is thick; chunky riffing with that trademark Swedeath buzz, ripping solos and chugging brutality. Can you avoid banging your head to the thunderous stomp of ‘Cannibal Remains’? No, that is impossible. But this is no one dimensional hack and slash death metal record. The melancholic ‘Redemptionless’ is a melodic tour de force, the gloomy ‘They Came to Die’ is gloriously Amon Amarth-like in its sword swinging power and the title track throbs with an ancient darkness.

A stunning microcosm of just why Swedish death metal is so highly regarded as a style, ‘The Tower of the Morbid’ is as close as you’ll come to a modern classic of the genre. The guitarwork is top notch, the songwriting is creative and yet very streamlined, and the overall atmosphere is laden with death. Rogga does it again, and Paganizer are a joy to behold in full flight.

https://www.facebook.com/paganizersweden/

https://paganizer.bandcamp.com/

https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

Chaos Motion - Psychological Spasms Cacophony

The twisting carnage of French death metal scientists Chaos Motion’s newest record ‘Psychological Spasms Cacophony’ must, frankly, be written by some kind of laboratory born mutant. That is the only way to explain how the genre is pulled in the strangest of directions by this band. It is out now through Transcending Obscurity.

The jerky, spasming ‘Intro’ will immediately let you know that something is afoot here. ‘The Sound of Specter’ ramps up the Gorguts and Atheist influences, but with a lot of added weirdness. This is an album that truly lives up to its title, with random jerking riffing interspersing the almost mathcore rage that infests ‘Perturbation of a Spin’. I’ve never heard anything that resembles this before, and throughout the forty minute runtime that feeling becomes more and more apparent. Just when you think you’re going to have a bit of a headbang it stops on a dime, spins and careers off in another direction.

The brain melting ‘Vital Vision Void’ sits astride the middle of this record, and its maddening structure is possibly the ideal summation of everything this record brings. There are times when I’m not even sure it still counts as death metal; where the abstraction of sound takes precedence over what we would think of as ‘typical’ death metal. ‘Inner Chaos’ is a great example of this. Don’t get me wrong though, when the heavy comes it is dense and devastating and a respite almost from the aural tyranny wrought upon us.

‘Psychological Spasms Cacophony’ is the logical conclusion of Psyopus, Meshuggah and Gorguts all fighting on a space station orbiting a black hole. An album that is not catchy, has no specifically memorable riffs or melodies but is yet utterly mesmerising. A staggering achievement, Chaos Motion have created something terrifyingly addictive with this; a genuinely unique sound.

https://www.facebook.com/chaosmotionband

https://chaosmotionband.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurityrecords

A new two man project of death from Richmond, Virginia, Priests of Prometheus released their debut EP on New Year’s Day 2020 so it seems like a good record to start the year with. ‘Lodestar’ is out through their Bandcamp.

Opening with the visceral ‘Omnigore’, it is clear that main songwriter Justin Wolz has really managed to put together a great collection of songs here. A dose of grandeur dissolves into an acidic Swedeath riff, but that sense of majestic space returns and the crunchy guitar tone really breathes well here. A genuinely different take on modern/old school death, punctuated with glorious soloing. The battering, Cannibal Corpse-esque assault of ‘Darkened’ is superb, as is the chugging Suffocation-like thunder that powers the indomitable ‘Lacuna of Forgetfulness’.

Closing with the sweeping, brutal and technical tour de force of ‘Enlightened’, ‘Lodestar’ pulses with potential for what a full length could do. Priests of Prometheus have made a stunning start to 2020, and this will remain in rotation throughout the year. Great stuff!

https://priestsofprometheus.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/PriestsofPrometheus/

‘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.

https://www.facebook.com/dimholt.official

https://dimholt.bandcamp.com/album/epist-m

 

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.

https://irillion.bandcamp.com/album/fatanyu

https://www.facebook.com/irillion/