Found amongst a pile of mp3s gathering dust in a folder on a hard drive, this self titled record from Norwegian hardcore punks NAG is absolutely fucking great, and needs to be spoken of highly, even two years after its initial release. Hopefully I can prompt some retroactive love for these fine folks!

A rampant slab of blackened hardcore punk songs, ‘Mute’ and ‘Fray’ are instantly vibrant and ready to go. There’s a fire and an energy here that is infectious, and the rabidity of the songs is fearsome. It isn’t merely just hell for leather all the time, as the jarring slow parts in the awesome ‘Master’ and ‘What is Punk?’ showcase as well. Most of the record speeds past in a blur of Discharge/Amebix riffing and visceral screams, and with 13 songs clocking in at a snappy 26 minutes, NAG leave no time for messing about.

Atonal slower sections collide with racing, feral punk/crust in a hailstorm of greatness. I can’t believe I missed this the first time round, and now I’m just glad that I got to it eventually. Seek this out for a thrill ride of intensity and speed.

https://www.facebook.com/nagnorway/

https://naghardcore.bandcamp.com/releases

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I reviewed Draghkar’s ‘World Unraveled’ demo last year, (you can read here: https://thoseonceloyal.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/review-draghkar-world-unraveled/) and was pretty impressed by the crush and nastiness on display. Well, these Californians have returned with their latest EP ‘The Endless Howling Abyss’, which by the sounds of it is going to be much more upbeat and positive…

Oh wait, no it is more of the same murky, devastating death metal as the first demo. THANK FUCK! ‘Traversing the Abyss’ crawls forth with deadly intent, exploding into a wonderful slab of pure Autopsy worship as cavernous death growls echo around you.  The rough production really adds to the feeling of death, decay and darkness on display in the malevolent horror of ‘Eternal Disintegration’. The guitar tone has, somehow, sunk even deeper into the abysses of primeval death, and the grinding ‘Fade Into Emptiness’ is one of the heaviest things I’ve heard this year.

‘The Endless Howling Abyss’ could be one of the more aptly titled reocrds this year, because Draghkar have conjured all sorts of madness from the depths. The kind of death metal that reeks of ancient chambers hiding eldritch magicks and terrors, this is four tracks of primordial, nameless doom.

https://www.facebook.com/DraghkarBand/

https://draghkar.bandcamp.com/album/the-endless-howling-abyss

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Just released on Twin Earth Records is the debut of Norwegian doom rockers Saint Karloff, who bring us mighty 70s riffs channelling the mighty Sabbath and Pentagram. As you can tell by their name, there’s a definite old horror movie vibe in ‘All Heed the Black God’ too, and

Cawing crows open ‘Ghost Smoker’, over a soulful, distorted riff that becomes this stomping, bluesy beast. You can feel the Iommi influence immediately, with swaggering proto doom fretwork becoming a stalwart of the whole record. The driving ‘Space Junkie’ is an early highlight, and there’s little dashes of psychedelica and even a bit of prog creeping into the rumbling ‘Radioactive Tomb’. Saint Karloff ain’t afraid of a massive groove either, coming to the fore during latter segments of ‘Dark Sun’ or the soulful chug of ‘When the Earth Cracks Open’. When the howling ‘Spellburn’ takes us to a close, you’ll be itching to take one more drag of Saint Karloff’s magic.

If you’ve got a Sabbath itch that just won’t quit, then put on ‘All Heed the Black God’ and drift away into smoke filled corridors, where the primal building blocks of heavy metal were formed. Saint Karloff reimagine the classic works with a modern edge, and a ballsy swagger that gives every track that little bit of oomph. Cool as shit.

https://www.facebook.com/SaintKarloff/

https://saintkarloff.bandcamp.com/

https://twinearthrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Due out next week is the vinyl of the debut of New Jersey death metallers Siege Column. The CD edition came out early July, and ‘Inferno Deathpassion’ looks to be another rabid gem in the Nuclear War Now! Productions arsenal. Count me in for rage, crust and filthy, filthy death.

Opener ‘Agonized Corpse’ is low fi, crusty death metal with a nasty attitude and raw production to match, and that really is the modus operandi for the whole record. Maddening solos scream from tortured guitars, while rough and ready riffage spills forth from your speakers and necrotic vocals vomit forth blasphemies from beyond. The guitar tone is very Swedeath chainsaw in places, but the likes of ‘Blasting the Moongate’ has a dose of old school, deathly Finnish melancholy woven into it too.

‘Inferno Deathpassion’ is a record that, despite feeling a little one dimensional on the surface, gradually reveals subtleties over repeated listens. A murky mix adds to the intensity to the faster and aggressive parts, while some of the slower elements have this eerie, melodic quality that I really dig. Siege Column can play both ends of the spectrum, and this makes ‘Inferno Deathpassion’ a much more nuanced record than first impressions dictate. Fantastic stuff.

https://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/inferno-deathpassion

http://www.nwnprod.com/

https://www.facebook.com/nwnprod/

Coltsblood - Ascending into Shimmering Darkness

The vinyl edition of Coltsblood’s superlative 2017 record ‘Ascending into Shimmering Darkness’ has been released just a few months ago through Black Bow Records, and it gives me an opportunity to revisit one of last year’s bleakest and harrowing doom records from these British purveyors of misery.

The opening title track builds with lumbering dread; striding forward towards gloom and destruction. Cold, bleak riffs belch under powerful roars, while glacial melodies hover above this miasmic chaos. The oppressive atmosphere is unbearable, each breath snatched under a suffocating sky. The production is massive, capturing fully the scope of what Coltsblood can do. The savagery of ‘Mortal Wound’ is sudden and awesome; crushing doom penetrated by galloping death metal riffing and teeth gnashing heaviness. ‘The Legend of Abhartach’ is sickeningly heavy, with tectonic Tom G Warrior riffs laying waste to shrouded lands of grey.

Closing with the twin hit of the monstrous ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ and the smothering darkness of ‘The Final Winter’, Coltsblood remind me a lot of what Triptykon do, which is no mean feat. ‘Ascending into Shimmering Darkness’ is a monolithic record filled with death, doom and destruction. The guitar work is huge, the atmosphere is pure dread and the vocals breathe life into demons unholy and unbound. Coltsblood are fucking awesome, and this release is a timely reminder of just why.

https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/

https://coltsblood.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/Coltsblood/

Another new release from La Caverna Records in Colombia is a pair of demos from Colombian black metallers Siete Lagunas, collected together on CD. ‘I&II’ is also available now.

Squalling feedback leads us into the raw ‘Llegando a la primera laguna/Carco’, a track soaked in primitive and raw black metal dread. This pervasive rawness infects every song on this release, from the terrifying ‘Madremonte’ with its maddening shrieks to ‘La reina de la moscas’, an ugly, manic and yet melancholic burst of raw, bleak emotion. Siete Lagunas aren’t for those of us who enjoy density or nuance in our black metal; they are for those who seek only primal, insanity inducing carnage. Distorted noise weaves in amongst the black metal riffs, increasing the tension and uncomfortableness.

Almost disappointingly short, you’ll be reaching for that replay button as soon as the final, necro notes of ‘Oscurece en la segunda laguna’ bring us to a close. Siete Lagunas could be the future of raw black metal, steeped in dark and terrible things. ‘I&II’ is only the beginning.

https://sietelagunas.bandcamp.com/

https://lacavernarecs.bandcamp.com/album/i-ii

https://www.facebook.com/La-Caverna-Records-1576145459327889/

 

‘Mental Turmoil’ is a long lost tape from defunct American death metallers Thrombus, released in 1993. This is being released on CD through a new underground metal label from Colombia, La Caverna Records, and it is out right now.

Opener ‘From Beyond’ is instantly ‘of the time’, with a creaky death metal riff summoning ancient creatures from the US death scene of the early 90s. Chunky riffs, blood spitting growls and a dense low end all collide in a frenzy of old school death metal. Or as it was known at the time, death metal. There’s shades of Immolation in the thick low end, the rabid frenzy of early Deicide and it all comes to a bloody head in the superlative ‘Structured’. The ugly closer ‘What a Waste’ has some of the coolest, low end Morbid Angel rumbles this side of ‘Covenant’.

Thrombus definitely feel like a band that are due a bit of a revival. There’s plenty of ‘old school death metal’ bands out there peddling music that isn’t as good as this and doing well. ‘Mental Turmoil’ is an awesome snapshot in time, where death was real and the scene was thriving. Hopefully this rerelease will inspire enough interest to get another recording….?

https://lacavernarecs.bandcamp.com/album/mental-turmoil

https://www.facebook.com/La-Caverna-Records-1576145459327889/