Posts Tagged ‘Review’

HeadsForTheDead-web.jpg

I love Transcending Obscurity. Just in the past year, they’ve culled together a slew of magnificent releases, and particulkarly in the death metal camp. Heads for the Dead’s ‘Serpent’s Curse’ is yet another fine wine stacked in the cellar of death metal, ready to be uncorked. It is due for release on the 24th of September, and is much to look forward to.

Categorising music sometimes feels more important than the music itself. But this is pure, crushing, death metal in a pure form. Formed from members of Ursinne, Henry Kane and Revel in Flesh, the whole album throbs with chainsaw riffing and terrifying vocals. Drawing inspiration from old horror movies, ‘Serpent’s Curse’ howls with morbid rage, while raw riffage gouges through. You can almost feel the dead eyes of the album cover staring through your soul as your ears are battered by the magnificent ‘Gate Creeper’, and your breath is drained by the savage melancholy of ‘Deep Below’. Sure, there’s a little dash of Sweden, a bit of Finland, a helping of Florida and even a little South American ferocity in here too, but Heads for the Dead are their own beast. A mighty, snarling beast of fire, doom and death.

The 35 minutes fly in, and by the time the killer Wolfbrigade cover of ‘In Darkness I Feel No Regrets’ comes to a bloody end, you’ll be clawing for the repeat button. Heads for the Dead are breathing new, fetid life into this death metal genre. Too long it has choked on Autopsy and Entombed clones; finally we have something to build upon! ‘Serpent’s Curse’ is a real contender for my favourite death metal album this year.

https://www.facebook.com/headsforthedead

https://tometal.com/

https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com/

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Monsterworks - Scale and Probability

Monsterworks are a group of incredibly proficient New Zealanders, dropping no less than 15 full length records since their debut record in 2000, and ‘Scale and Probability’ is yet another thrashy progressive metal journey. It was released independently in May.

Opener ‘The Great Silence’ contains many different elements throughout its 8 minute run time. There’s some latter-period Tool-esque polyrhythms underpinning some cool soulful leads, while a dose of heavy, deaththrash moments keeps your head nodding. ‘Weight of Emptiness’ rumbles onward with a little bit of sludge heaviness in amongst the proggy bits. ‘Scale and Probability’ is a conceptually challenging record, exploring the mysteries of finding extraterrestrial life and how it’ll probably never happen, but despite this complex narrative, the music keeps you entertained. ‘The Reveal’ is an earworm, before the meandering ‘Ockham’s Razor’ leads us to our finish. That’s the thing about ‘Scale and Probability’; it’s a really good record, it’s just not a great one.

Having no previous experience with the band, I don’t know how their sound has progressed over the myriad releases but their judicious use of death/thrash elements within a progressive framework is interesting, and the labyrinthine song structures never leave you feeling cold and lost. ‘Scale and Probability’ may have a lofty concept, but Monsterworks keep it grounded in a record you’ll enjoy but maybe not rush back to.

https://monsterworks.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/monsterworks/

Italians Demetra Sine Die have been around since 2003 but this is my first opportunity to hear them. Their new record, ‘Post Glacial Rebound’, is a mesmerising cocktail of sludge, doom, psychedelica, krautrock amongst other things, and it is out now through Third I Rex.

Opener ‘Stanislaw Lem’ builds with almost ritualistic riff and drum combos, while the crooning vocal of Tom Stearn from Kettle of Kites intones hypnotic lyrical poetry. ‘Birds Are Falling’ has a driving power behind it, layered with sinister melodies and post metal roars. This isn’t like many albums you’ll have come across this year; quite experimental and almost art-rock in its execution of a sludge and post metal palette. A churning low end meets with fuzzy riffing, mysterious tales are told, and glorious musical heights are reached, like the gloom of ‘Lament’ or the cosmic madness of ‘Gravity’.

Equal parts miasmic sludge, dirging post metal, psychedelic weirdness and progressive art rock sensibilities, ‘Post Glacial Rebound’ is a record that is very hard to categorise, probably by design. Demetra Sine Die do not aim to fit into genre pigeonholing, aiming instead to create a collection of music that weaves within genres in order to create their vision. Weird but definitively engrossing, this needs to be on your radar if you like things done a little differently.

https://demetrasinedie.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Demetra-Sine-Die-151334924955608/

https://3rdirex.bandcamp.com/

Vanhelga - Fredagsmys

Swedish black metallers Vanhelga released their fifth and most rounded record this June, ‘Fredagsmys’, through Osmose Productions, and it really is a culmination of everything they have built upon since their formation. Vanhelga translates as ‘profane’, and this record explores the darker side of human nature.

Opener ‘Sömnparalys’ is bleak and cold, but is also rife with the kind of Swedish black metal riffs that made Dissection so beloved. There is no shortage of ferocity and black metal tremolo waves, but there is plenty of epic melodies galloping throughout as well. The melancholic ‘Psykotisk Självinsikt’ is a wonderfully evocative piece, oozing with an almost gothic feel. The emotive ‘Ensam Mot Alla’ is a mere drop in a pool of melancholic grandeur, where black metal interplays sadly with gloomy atmospheres. The howling loneliness of ‘Keep the Window Closed’ accentuates the almost My Dying Bride level of misery.

‘Fredagsmys’ is a record that exudes fragility through its ferocity. Fearsome and strong, yet tremblingly weak in places, Vanhelga blends weeping gloom with bleak black metal fury to create a masterpiece. ‘Fredagsmys’ may not be the most ‘pure black metal’ record you’ll here this year, but it could be the most ‘pure’ black metal record. Nothing touches the bleak emotions felt here.

https://music.vanhelga.com/

https://www.facebook.com/officialvanhelga

http://osmoseproductions-label.com/bands/vanhelga/

Malthusian album cover.jpg

Due to come out at the end of September, the dark, dense death metal of Ireland’s Malthusian is something evil to behold. Their debut full length is ‘Across Deaths’, and this is the highly anticipated follow up to their stunning EP ‘Below the Hengiform’, and its release is coming through an Invictus Productions and Dark Descent joint effort

Huge, driving forces power the opening track ‘Remnant Fauna’, which hits immediately with hurricane force. A wall of punishing death metal, taking great swathes of Immolation-esque riffing and cranking up the layering to the max. Cavernous roars growl from the raging maelstrom, while atonal melodies flit into view. The band merge the relentlessness of black metal into ‘Across the Expanse of Nothing’ where torrents of riffs flow like a raging river of blood, while the doomy crush of ‘Primal Attunement – The Gloom Epoch’ sways and almost topples into obscure depths. The otherworldly instrumentation in this, coupled with harrowing shrieks, is particularly affecting.

‘Across Deaths’ is a record of unbelievable heaviness, and almost Portal like density. Not quite as labyrinthine as those Australians but Malthusian plow deep furrows to draw riffs from. Suffocatingly heavy, overflowing with complex riffing and drumming, and capped with an unholy vocal performance, ‘Across Deaths’ is one of the best death metal records this year.

https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/across-deaths

https://www.facebook.com/malthusianDM

https://invictusproductions.net/

http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

Austrian black metallers Sanguinary Trance have just recently released ‘Wine, Song and Sacrifice’, a three track EP that has been about four years in the making. A journey back to the depths of the 90s is on the cards here, a heyday that the genre has struggled to compete with even to this day.

The droning, buzzing title track builds slowly, bringing to mind early Burzum with the incessant hum. It then explodes into relentless blasting, with a mesmerising atmosphere beset by shrieking fury. There is an epic scale of course, but the really interesting parts come within the labyrinthine melodies that play out within the frozen blizzarding riffing. There is a lot of early Darkthrone stuff in there too, and it feels like a lost second wave record come to light. ‘Carvings’ has a more measured, denser tone to it that brings a little Deathspell Omega to the table, while the closing ‘The Dionysis Whip’ has lots of weird atonal melody lines screaming through it. Almost psychedelic in nature, waves of these melodies overwhelm your senses.

‘Wine, Song and Sacrifice’ is a bloodstained love letter to the most iconic of black metal times, but with an unmistakably unique viewpoint on it. With some unforgettable moments that set your teeth on edge and make your hair stand on end, Sanguinary Trance are indeed trance invoking and the feelings it conjures are black magickal.

https://sanguinarytrance.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/winesongsacrifice/

British one woman atmospheric black metaller YYLVA’s debut full length, ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ is due to drop in September, and is the brainchild of Clare Webster, best known for her work with gothic doom gems Edenfall. Evocative, windswept and epic on every scale, follow YYLVA back to a time of mysteries and mist.

Hiding beneath that glorious, ethereal artwork is a record that oozes atmospheric grace. Key to this poised and haunting record is the mastery of the harp, first draping itself across the ghostly ‘A Foreshadowing’, and wielded like a gossamer rapier throughout. It infuses the music with a misty, ancient Celtic vibe that fits well with the aesthetics. ‘A Sidhe in Throes’ drifts like forgotten voices in bleak forests; soaring vocals weave within blastbeats and harsh riffing. Tarja-era Nightwish is clearly a strong influence here, as is the howl of ethereal black metal like Saor or Panopticon.

‘Nepenthe’ has an excellent gothic doom heft about it, bleeding over from Edenfall, while ‘Aurorae’ is the piece de resistance in a record that never fails to affect you deeply. Again the gentle harp in ‘Waterwings’ is mesmerising, and provides a gentle escape from the more lengthy tracks. Nothing here feels overwrought however; no song is long for the sake of being long. In fact, with two tracks over 11 minutes and two that are almost nine, ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ flies in. I scarcely believed it was over when the tinkling close of ‘Niënor’ came.

‘The Wood Beyond the World’ is a record balanced on the edge of fragility; a delicate and beautiful collection of songs hovering above a churning abyss of black metal. Never quite descending to complete blackness, but never too light and airy, YYLVA conjures views of olden forests, snow drifting through ancient clearings, and a slowing blackening sky.

https://yylvaofficial.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.yylva-official.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/yylvaofficial