Negativa – 03 [Spain, Black] (2018)

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Sentient Ruin Laboratories | 10-19-18

I probably will not get to hear this. Maybe. The idea of physical exclusive music is appealing in an age where one can hear anything they please for free. when I said appealing, I also mean frustrating for people who enjoy reviewing records. Still though the exclusive album from Negativa, which comes on 100 tapes, fits into the idea of intimate black metal and provides objects for collectors to seek. If one misses out on the album, it will not be the end of the world and for those who do find themselves in possession of this new record, well then I am sure it will be harrowing.

Negativa at least has given a preview track which is something that marks distinction from other bands pulling the same thing with zero preview tracks. The music is advertised as depressive black but has few characteristics from the DSBM sound which haunts Bandcamp. Rather than shrill basement black metal, the sound from Negativa is full with the weight of remorse and emotion providing the heaviest burden. The vocals from H.V (Wormlust/Mystískaos) offers shards of rust and violence which tear holes through the sound. This is depressive black but not out of style of pageantry rather depressive as lineage or birthright.

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Azath – Demo 2018 [US, Death] (2018)

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Caligari Records | 9-9-18

Malazan themed death metal? I have to know these musicians in some fashion. Yep. The world is not that strange. Malazan Book of the Fallen is a popular fantasy series consisting of 10 main books and dozens of related novels. I am not here to geek about fantasy literature rather put into context that as a thematic focus, it works for the raw unrelenting sounds of bulldozer death. Though the series sports high magic, gods, and thousands of years of history to go along side its thousands of characters, fans of the series will nod their heads and agree that “yeah, this makes sense.”

Azath as a band is related to the various world of Ripped to Shreds, Draghkar, Grave Spirit, and Begrime Exemious. The coalescence of talent and worlds could only result in high nerdy combined with what sounds like tombs being imploded and the dust settling on writhing undead bodies. This demo fits into the idea of a demo meaning it is a horrid stretch of things to come but for the people who digest this sort of thing on a regular basis, this is going to be filling for quite sometimes.

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Constrained Ferocity – Dusk Of Humanity [Russia, Death / Grind] (2018)

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Self Released | 9-3-18

It looks like there is little information regarding this act so we are just going to start making things up about this act which seemed to come from nowhere. I believe it was the cover which got me in ensnaring my attention. The underground comic violence cast in blue shades was something that could only come from a band which the right mindset. This was shades of humor cast from a large imposing object of death / grind. Dusk Of Humanity is the band’s debut EP. I think. In the summer the band released a rehearsal demo which was poorly recorded even for fans of lo-fi extreme metal. Dusk of Humanity sounds full which allows the bleeding style of music to shine and even showcases the band’s biggest aspect; filthy death metal riffs in the worship of bands like Autopsy and Asphyx. The marching beat of the EP’s (?) title track is something that could only come with a cover of cartoonish violence and devotion to disaster.

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Temple Ash – I [US, Raw Black / Noise] (2018)

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Self Released | 8-23-18

Who is ready for the abyss? I hope you are serious because we are going into the depths of madness. Temple Ash is a new band with, unsurprisingly, little information regarding members, location, and day to day functions. What we are given instead is a short deceleration of warfare on our philosophies, a bitchin cover, and a hellish 10 minute demo which raps apart the subconscious with a rogue bulldozer. Throughout my travels with extreme metal, I always find it refreshing when I find something that makes me wide eyed in horror and disgust and the death industrial black noise detonation of Temple Ash is something that I will most likely never forget.

Noise and noise related metal can be hard to do as its obscuring qualities can easily overrun the music. Temple Ash’s invocation of noise is much like a call for a plague which swarms its immediate area. Through the haze of blown out vocals and distant percussion is a discordant structure as well as harrowing soundclips. Through all of this chaos is an exhilarating push towards aggression as all of these replacement parts allow the first demo from Temple Ash to truly become a declaration of war on things once held true. Even if this demo does not achieve its philosophical goal, then once still has a demo which is shocking still in 2018.

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Svartmálm – Svartmálm [Faroe Islands, Atmospheric Black / Doom] (2018)

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Tutl Records | 2-2-18

I think I just wanted to type in the place Faroe Islands which the description of atmospheric black / doom once in my life. Svartmálm certainly comes from a place not known for its metal and is one of 14 metal bands registered in the history of the Faroe Islands. It is not like this small island is out of reach of the rest of the metal world as it is positioned between Iceland, The United Kingdom, and Scandinavia which all have their histories steeped in extreme metal, it is just the island is now know for bands like Tyr and its breathtaking beauty.

Svartmálm is certainly cinematic in its approach to combine both the edge of black metal to the soothing atmosphere of both doom and folk metal. which the vocals are crips and stalk across the music, the band employs theatric elements which allow their self titled debut to become something more than just the black metal record from the Faroe Islands. The three part closer, “Svartideyði” allows the band to stretch out and shine in becoming the band they truly want to be — which is the weird witches on an isolated island. The only difference between that dream and others like it is this island seemd to be well produced and come with dramatic hooks.

Seclusion – Occultess Unknown [US, Death] (2018)

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Self Released | 7-31-18

Oh man, things are about to get dirty and by dirty I mean we are all going to be covered in grave soil and coffin dust. Seclusion is a pretty new band from the lands of Texas and by their unassuming debut, this act is aiming low to subterranean levels with a sound that feels as claustrophobic as a tomb collapsing with the weight of the Earth. Seclusion’s sound rests on an air of attitude and style as the muddy production does less to draw people in as the heavy themes of occult ritual and slow death does for listeners to stay. At only two tracks, Occultess Unknown presents a band that has all of the right aesthetics and beginnings for potential releases and while this demo does not punch through the soil and grab an unsuspecting leg, it does enough to raise interest or at least a little bit of trepidation of the things that are going on under one’s feet. If the sounds of “Burning Human Incense” are of interest to you, imagine what this act can do when they finally break out of their imprisoned tomb.

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Dauþuz – Des Zwerges Fluch [Germany, Black] (2018)

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Naturmacht Productions | 09-15-18

Alright we have to talk about it. Lyrical themes: Historical mining. In all of my years spent in heavy meta, this is perhaps the first mining centered metal band I have come across. In fact, looking through the Metal Archives for other bands which share the aesthetic, Dauþuz is one of five and the second German band to explore this topic. Germany’s Die Knappen did a similar dive into the traditions of mining in 2010 and Spain’s Astigarraga Thrower delved into mining and extractive metallurgy with their 2015 release Aiako Harria. With something so specific and off the beaten path for heavy metal, it is almost arresting in its use since most listeners are wondering what mining has to do with anything.

Des Zwerges Fluch is the band’s third release following a short string of full releases that no one really paid attention to. This is surprising as the preview track from Des Zwerges Fluch is chilling black metal probably played at the bottom of a cave. While the cave jokes could write themselves, the combination of crips black metal combined with an odd lyrical approach makes for engaging listening which urges listeners to revalature the aesthetic traditions of lower class occupations. Dauþuz seems more connected with the primal qualities or unrefined earth with music that feels arcane and chaotic in its slumber. Since the lyrics are in German, I will never know the true answer but there is sometimes a feeling which transcends languages.

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Disgusted Geist – Reign of Enthrallment [US, Death / Doom] (2018)

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Self Released | 6-18-18

Check. Check. Check. This band has everything I look for in a potential match including a badass name, grimy looking album art, and a tone which carries clout in the tomb stalking world of death metal. At this point in my existence the presence of bands like Disgusted Geist immediately draws my attention since they travel to place where I would like to rot in eternity. Shrouded in atmosphere and with the weight of stone sarcophagi, Reign of Enthrallment is a genre piece which provides the soundtrack to subjugation by an evil necromancer.

With all of the aesthetics aside, Disgusted Geist does a fantastic job at combining Vastum style riffs with the frenzy of complete annihilation. Though I believe the band has room to grow in this underground tomb, the premiere of their morbid world is enough for attention and possible courtship int he afterlife. Come for death, worship eternity resurrected as a thrall.

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Slidhr – The Futile Fires of Man [Ireland, Black] (2018)

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Ván Records | 6-26-18

I wrote about this band way back in 2015 with their 2015 EP which turns out was not their first nor their last record. I remember being impressed with the ferocity and sound this Irish band brought to their recording. In 2018 I have learned new things, mainly this band shares many past and current members with the Icelandic black metal band Sinmara. While Slidhr is itself a separate entity, the grounding in the Icelandic sound makes sense as the band’s second full length winds down the rivers of hell into complete oblivion.

One of the more interesting aspects about Slidhr and the thing which really allows The Futile Fires of Man to make a connection are the lengthy tracks which fill this 46 minute record. Each song unpacks a lot of material which twists and winds its way through corridors of sound. Even some of the shorter tracks at 5 minutes, takes its time to craft mood and elaborately set the stage for presentations devoted to metaphysical darkness. While the band’s sound is obviously heavy given the nature, the lyrical and vocal content matches the weight of its subject matter. This is not fleeting occult references rather a reverence to forces unseen and potentially unknowable.

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Changeling – II [US, Atmospheric Black] (2018)

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Self Released | 6-12-18

This is the second full length release for Changeling as of yet unsupported by a label. In 201, there is less of a need for label support outside the desire for more resources. Though I can see this band being at the attention of many more interested in winding atmospheric black, finding Changeling’s second album with few other around was interesting. Perhaps this is the sleeper hit of 2018 or even the album that will feel like cold water to the face.

Even though I added the tag atmospheric black as to fit the Metal Archives description, Changeling shares little in common with the other forest dwelling hermits that have typified the genre. Though there are still instances of sweeping texture and arching guitars, the turns taken by Changeling is more reminiscent of bands like Altar of Plagues than Wolves in the Throne Room. Perhaps this is why II is so refreshing as it uses whatever tools necessary in any genre to accomplish a unique picture of mystery and destruction. This is also why I find the need for labels to not be a priority as Changeling has presented a fully competent and fluid second release on their own with little help from the outside and from outsiders.

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