Celestial Sanctuary – Mass Extinction [UK, Death] (2020)

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Redefining Darkness | 8-28-20

Right now I am going to be talking to the three of you that recognize that this demo was released late year year and is thus not apart of 2020. I know and you know but for the rest of us that missed this short slab of looming riff worship. Aside from having one of the best names in recent memory, Celestial Sanctuary nails the related tags of kneeling at the altar of Benediction and Cancer with a short demo of horror and laid back decay. This demo is seeing another round of promotion on Redefining Darkness with a chance to get their out of print tape that was limited to 25 copies.

ABREACTION – Puer Aeternity [US, Death] (2020)

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Aggressively Uninterested } 7-30-20

This is so funny and amazing and only for a few people to enjoy. I do not know where to start. Perhaps the comedic nihilism with the label name or the fact the cover looks like a shirt or the fact this demo? is so arrogant in its raw disgust that it’s imperfections are at the core of its charm. ABREACTION is apart of a label/ collective that seems to be hellbent on crushing the idea of beauty between its slimy claws. Ostentatious and presumptuous, this is death metal that has crawled its way out of a hole and now is coming in and tackling people in broad daylight.

AstralSide – Vacío Final [Chile, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-20-20

I have tagged this release as raw black though I feel it is just black metal fueled with crude oil rather than anything refined. Vacío Final is the second demo this year by Chilean project AstralSlide and continues the act’s short legacy in making black metal that feels and tastes like acrid smoke. Brazen, arrogant, and unsympathetic, Vacío Final is a demo that cares little about the thoughts and feelings of others and will gladly swing around an unpolished demo just at a dangerous speed. This is something only a few people will enjoy but I feel it will be clawed at with insane fervor.

Cruel Master – Demo IX [US, Black / Death / Punk] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-14-20

First off, let me preface this demo review with the aesthetic of home entry and stalker killings is not something I am completely on board with. I usually just write off weird metal aesthetics as idiosyncratic escapism but that is is something about a knife wielding maniac entering into windows that unnerves me. With all of that out of the way, take that sense of unease and give it a sleazy metal punk vibe and you have something that is unwholesome and catchy as fuck.

Hallucination / Arapaima – Death Ambient [US, Dark Ambient / Noise] (2020)

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Moonworshiper Records | 7-12-20

This is certainly something. Dark Ambient is less interesting to me than dungeon synth for various reasons. Dark ambient is also a bigger genre with longer history but still with the same amount of audience. Dark Ambient is hard to approach due to its nebulous nature which matches its nebulous sound. Moonworshipper records has been the weird misfit int he Ds scene for years with its releases that were like dead animals inside cardboard boxes. The Death Ambient split is something that I would not have intentionally sought out outside of its cover. While Hallucination’s harsh noise wall / drone is certainly par for the course, it is Arapaima’s side with its haunted acoustic folk that really shines and when married with Hallucination, becomes sublime.

Forbidden Tomb – The Prospector [Indonesia, Raw Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-10-20

This is a record that bathes in its aesthetic. Raw black thrives on consistency in both its sound and style. From font to covers to general presentation, raw black aims to offer listeners the equivalent to unprocessed ore instead of anything refined. Int hat state people find meaning in its meaning and purity. Forbidden Tomb has its flaws outside of the superficial recording style. The Prospector could be more fierce and there is room to move around outside of the morbid graveyard in terms of lyrics. With that said, Forbidden Tomb is a wonderfully adequate raw black record that feels cold and uninviting. Perfect for those looking to be disturbed.

Sarin Bath – Sarin Bath [Canada, Black / Sludge] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-20-20

With a name and cover like Sarin Bath, one is going to have ready themselves for distilled emotion in the form of black tar. Similar to bands like Thou and to a lesser extent Couch, Sarin Bath delivers a torrent of raw blackened sludge which unlike the two bands listed, comes without any filter of production. This is just the listener and the band in a room together and one of them is waving a knife. It may take a bit but after a some time spent in the depths of madness, this whole affair becomes oddly desirable.

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IIIXK – Demo 2020 [Russia, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-9-20

I have unfairly been critical to Russian black for a while due to various circumstances. I feel this is because black metal, for me, has been cast aside for other forms of heavy metal. This does not mean I ignore interesting releases, especially when it rains down in heavy drops of blood. IIIXK is a brand new act and the Demo 2020 is the introduction to a world carved with angst and a penchant for noise. Rather than surrendering to raw black, IIIXK manages to dance around dissonance with a release that echoes with sonic disdain.

Vampyric – Where Light No Longer Reaches [US, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-6-20

I am going to give it to Vampyric, this whole production works very well. Admittedly, I might be a fan of raw black and also when an artist throws themselves into a sound. Where No Light Reaches submerges itself int he raw black demo sound with dark themes and harsh sounds. The dense yet approachable tone of the music is surprisingly accessible which dances hand and hand with songs about satanic rituals and lycanthropic transformations. This looks like a goofy black metal demo but after allowing it into your heart is a well constructed demo that is running around the woods in a cloak.

Ages of Blood – Pagan Medieval Aristocracy [Argentina, Black] (2020)

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Death Kvlt Productions | 7-2-20

I love Death Kvlt and I love they gather bands that fit a certain aesthetic. I cant help but chuckle at the fact that Ages of Blood is pre ordering their demo on vinyl and the fact it is already sold out. Everyone must be aware that this is going to be a stellar debut from an artist that I had not heard about before today. Pagan Medieval Aristocracy fits a mood and that mood is a fog-ridden clearing in the woods with the spire of an abandoned castle in the back. In these two songs with two book-ending instrumentals, there is a sense of assurance that this music is going to find an audience and a home in peoples hearts. I say this because I feel it has found a home in my heart and for all its weird eccentricities with melody, I can see this being discussed throughout the year and hopefully beyond.

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