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Originally created as an outlet for JB of Spain’s Graveyard to try out some new ideas that wouldn’t fit in there, Apologoethia have blossomed into an outfit whose debut release, ‘Pillars’, is a cohesive and vibrant statement of intent of black metal ruthlessness. Due out on the 24th of November through Invictus Productions, ‘Pillars’ is going to be an essential journey.

‘Pillar I: De fundamenta spiritus’ is a howling torrent of black metal, spiralling tremolo riffing spraying across the speakers while scowling vocals rasp blasphemies. This is a magnificent dose of blackened metal steeped in the traditions of the second wave. The slower sections of ‘Pillar II: De humanae natura’ have a great, doomy atmosphere but surrounded by the kind of single mindedness that we all find so pleasing in latter day Behemoth. Apologoethia are more than capable of being both visceral, savage and yet thrashy in the ways of early Celtic Frost or Venom. Riffs are both razor sharp and laced with venomous, eastern melodies that enhance the majesty of this filthy racket.

‘Pillar III: De absentiae vitae’ is a virtuoso lead guitar performance, with spiralling leads and galloping rhythms creating something that is both macabre and memorable in one fell swoop, and closing with the triumphant, grandiose ‘Pillar IV: De aeterno praesentia’ that marches upon the thrones of kings, banner in hand and challenge raised. Apologoethia come with the regal and terrible wrath of conquering kings; savage yet graceful in their war.

https://www.facebook.com/apologoethia/

https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/apologoethia

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Malokarpatan - Nordkarpatenland

A joint release from The Ajna Offensive and Invictus Productions sees ‘Nordkarpatenland’, from Slovakia’s Malokarpaten, released on both sides of the Atlantic this Halloween. Following from their acclaimed debut in 2015, Malokarpaten have steeped their second record deep into Eastern European folklore to bring us black metal of a truly esoteric and pagan nature, infested by the dark spirit of heavy metal.

‘V okresném rybníku hastrman už po stáročá vyčína’ is the first proper track, and it features some killer lead guitar work that is very classic heavy metal, while the rougher vocals keeps us firmly planted in proto-black metal territory. When you think of Eastern European black metal you’re going to go more towards the Drudkh style, but Malokarpatan are more on your Master’s Hammer side of things. The band also like to sneak in strange samples from Slovakian movies just to keep everything a little odd. ‘Ked gazdovi upeleší sa v chyži ne’ has some Iron Maiden-esque leads in it that would make most cry with jealousy!

This is definitely the kind of black metal that takes as much from King Diamond as from Mayhem, and while there is a defiant icy streak of pure northern blasphemy about them, Malokarpatan have got a flair for the theatrical at times, and possess many vintage metal riffs lurking away in their collection. ‘Nedlho po púlnoci opacha sa dopla’ is gloriously old school, and done with no hint of fashion or irony. ‘Nordkarpatenland’ exists as an album that captures the raw filth of early black metal and retains the indomitable spirit of heavy metal within.

https://malokarpatan.bandcamp.com/album/nordkarpatenland

https://invictusproductions.net/

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‘Void Masquerading as Matter’ is mysterious Canadian trio Thantifaxath’s first release since 2014, and is another slab of bleak and dissonant black metal. Dark Descent Records are bringing this EP to us, and you can catch Thantifaxath on tour in Canada with Cruciamentum this month which sounds like a hellacious live apocalypse.

Opener, and superbly titled, ‘Ocean of Screaming Spheres’ is a burning torrent of black metal fire; relentless guitar work sprays dissonant riffs upon a scorched, heaving earth while blastbeats rain down. Eerie piano-led atmospherics provides respite, but not comfort from the onslaught and you’re left with a palpable sense of dread. ‘Self Devouring Womb’ opens with waves of dissonant guitar, building gradually under tortured screams into a hypnotic, throbbing beast. It builds and builds, never quite reaching the crescendo that you’re expecting, before the bottom drops out and quiet acoustica takes over in a jarring change of pace.

‘Void Masquerading as Matter’ is a disturbing record; dissonant black metal that never quite keeps to your expectations. It is that oddness, that otherworldly evil that pervades each track that keeps bringing me back to Thantifaxath. There’s a blackness about them that isn’t of this world, or even this space time. It makes their black metal both mentally jarring and terrifyingly dark at the same time. ‘Void Masquerading as Matter’ is one of the best and weirdest black metal records you’ll hear all year.

https://www.facebook.com/DarkDescentRecords/

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/

http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

‘Blood Feud’ is the third album from Arizonian doomsters Twingiant, and it is a rather sizeable chunk of granite riff laden groove. Following on the heels of 2014’s ‘Devil Down’, these folks are seemingly aiming to bring the whole world down about them with this new record, and Argonauta Reocrds are here to help! Out at the beginning of October, ‘Blood Feud’ is something of a pleasure to behold.

Striding out with power and intent is opener ‘Throttled’, which comes from the Conan/High on Fire axis of crushing doom and guttural roars, before inklings of psychedelic melodies seep through near the end. ‘Poison Control Party Line’ has more of an early Clutch groove about it, while vocalist Jarrod LeBlanc’s primal bellow is soaked in that southern, ‘cigarettes and whiskey’ timbre. Truly embodying the power behind each track, the vocals are my favourite part of this record. It isn’t just your average desert rock croon but gives ‘Blood Feud’ a rougher, more bloodied edge to it. ‘Shadow of South Mountain’ is one of my favourite tracks of the year.

From the heft of the rumbling ‘Re-fossilised’ to the swinging axe blows of ‘Kaishakunin’, Twingiant are more than your copycat stoner doom band. They’ve got a bit of grit, some scars and a broken smile that helps them carry the weight of those massive riffs. It is an honesty that is appealing in this world of endless genre repeats, and ‘Blood Feud’ is refreshingly rough and ready.

https://twingiant.bandcamp.com/album/blood-feud

https://www.facebook.com/twingiant/

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I feel like judging Mother Slug by their album title may be unfair, but if there isn’t some serious epic space doom lurking on this record somewhere I’ll be a little disappointed. These Australians are giving us their debut full length after some excellent EPs, and you can expect some awesome Kyuss worship to emanate from your stereos on ‘The Electric Dunes of Titan’…

God I was so right, as the titanic rumblings of the title track loom from the speakers and lonely melodies lurk within mountains of fuzz. Massive, tripped out doom is what these guys are all about, and the soulful ‘Downriver’ wields huge Josh Homme riffs amid psychedelic freakouts. There’s powerful Electric Wizard vibes on the brutal ‘Followers of the Sun’, while the howling, evocative desert rock guitar work is gloriously scorching throughout. Expect the earthy, dryness of Kyuss to merge with the slight oddness of Reverend Bizarre and the psychedelic potency of Cathedral to create something quite special.

Closing with the omnipotent gloom of ‘Cave of the Last God’, Motherslug have become as transcendent as the ghostly dunes of Titan; vast and lonely among the infinite deserts of space. This is a fantastic record, a place with riffs and spacetime can meet in an avalanche of glorious doom.

https://www.facebook.com/Motherslugband/

https://motherslug.bandcamp.com/album/the-electric-dunes-of-titan

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Vaultwraith seems to have born out of a desire to bring the horror metal of early King Diamond and Mercyful Fate to a more extreme and bloodthirsty audience. Searching in amongst the ruins of ancient castles, these Missourians have found rituals and arcane magic that brings to life the ghosts of Nocturnus, Celtic Frost and Bathory, weaving a classic heavy metal streak through them to create ‘Death is Proof of Satan’s Power’. Hells Headbangers is dropping this on Halloween.

First to rise from the grave is ‘The Vaultwraith’ and the band’s eponymous track is a perfect encapsulation of what is to come, with galloping thrash riffs meeting scowling vocals and insidious melodies to create something defiantly old school. Haunting keyboards hover in the distance, enhancing but never overpowering. Imagine ‘Ravaged in the Crimson Mist’ as a Judas Priest song, but dipped into the murky black waters of Sodom, or Bathory. Vaultwraith’s true talent lies within their ability to create a collection of songs that are both catchy and still raw and filthy.

You’ll be humming every nasty riff and throaty growl, air keyboarding when the ethereal notes seep through this blackened thrash nightmare. The rumbling menace of ‘Open Grave Rape’ and the ethereal grimness of ‘High Priestess of the Wolf Coven’ mixes the raw thrash of the early tracks with a more measured, horror-induced style that really stands out. ‘Death is Proof of Satan’s Power’ is an album that unlocks its majesty slowly, drawing you in with temptains of headbanging and then meanders through your mind, enslaving you to its ghostly horrors. Stunning.

https://vaultwraith-us.bandcamp.com/album/death-is-proof-of-satans-power

https://www.facebook.com/vaultwraith/

http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/

Sludgy Arizona band Horse Head have already disbanded by the time you hear their final release ‘Terminal’, and it feels like I’m getting to know them too late. Their follow up to the well received ‘Missionary’ will appeal to fans of EyeHateGod and Rwake, but Horse Head aren’t mere clones. In fact, they could’ve been something incredibly special.

Opener ‘Inferno’ builds with rumbling bass and a cold, clean guitar riff then strong doom guitar crashes behind a nihilistic shriek. While lacking much of the squalling feedback of EHG, Horse Head definitely capture a more sun scorched take on sludgey nihilism. It is dry, suffocating heat with almost brutal takes on Kyuss riffs, rather than your murky swampy eastern sludge. ‘Throne of Lies’ is a stomping, Godfleshian nightmare where southern fried riffs take on a ritualistic, nightmarish edge. They remind me of fellow Arizonians Godhunter, especially in the deathly, sludgecore crush of closer ‘Price We Paid’

Horse Head have left quite the epitaph in ‘Terminal’. Sludgey, fire scorched riffs burn brilliantly under throat shredding screams and a dangerous sense of groove. It seems quite the shame that they have gone, but we have this to remember them by.

https://www.facebook.com/horseheadphx/

https://horseheadphx.bandcamp.com/