Self Released | 1-9-18
there are sometimes inklings of things one is going to enjoy. Seeing the color used in Superstition’s logo and artwork wasn’t the reason for enjoying this demo rather an inkling that t was going to be intriguing. Perhaps it is because that warm sickly grey was a gateway into a certain aesthetic. Perhaps I am drawn to certain shades of off white. Whatever it is, Surging Throng of Evil’s Might is a triumph and offers sanctuary in the creepiest, most dilapidated cathedral this side of the afterlife.
Did I mention, I adore spooky organ music? If not, I would like that noted on the record. One of Superstition’s greatest assets it the sense of atmosphere which compliments their mastery on the music. Songs like “Outer Mutation” comes out of a gothic style organ interlude and have enough flair and flounce to make it a towering monstrosity in rotting velvet. This is weird fiction death metal and with songs like “Grave Portal,” it is a place which I want to stay forever.
Camo Pants Records | 3-16-18
I do not think I have so thoroughly entertained with music while being baffled by the name of the record label. Camo Pants Records is either a goofy name with no meaning or some hidden tongue and cheek reference to death metal fashion. I think I spend so much time discussing this aspect as Cist’ Frozen Casket is the inaugural release for the UK label and if subsequent records are going to be as good, then we need to get this name thing worked out.
Cist is a Russian outfit with an unabashed infatuation with 90’s US death metal and 80’s European thrash. I know this because their Bandcamp page states they are “high speed, manic, death thrash, forged through an uncompromising meld of eighties era Tampa death metal and aggressive European style thrash.” Cool, we know where to start. Pestilence, Death, Solstice, and Obituary are all ghosts which hang around this newcomer and by the sounds of their first EP, this band nails everything about the sound. Though I usually applaud bands for not becoming too absorbed in costume, my love for old school death eclipses everything else and songs like “Antisceptic” are sugary and sewery in its enjoyment.
I still have no idea what the record label name means but I am willing to waive them through as long as things like The Frozen Casket keep getting produced. Camo Pants and Cist make a strong declaration for the beginning of the year and provides a wonderful soundtrack for Valentines Day. This holiday, spend it in the arms of 90’s era death / thrash and die a thousand times.
Cirsium Kollektivet | 2-8-17
I feel the best way to start this review is to reiterate the description from the label and their confusion and excitement is all I need “Here we are…, I don’t even know how to describe the music of these sociophobic polish junkies. Imagine a underproduced blend of blackened ’70’s Punk and dirty Ska with occasional sprinkling of noise or at least something which’s only purpose is to confuse your dull mind… ” If that short description didn’t capture your imagination, then you and I are on different life paths.
Kwestia Kwasu, for all their bizarre antics, is a competent and cohesive band. Their collective vision pushes the music into the realm where experimental music should always aim. Being weird for the sake of being weird does not guarantee success. Challenging oneself to make music which lies on the outside of orthodoxy which triggers confused emotions and even more troubled mental images and being successful is worthy of merit. Kwas Topi Czas excels as an exercise in depravity with its sonic landscape a blistering wasteland of shooting alleys, punk basements, and haunted polka bars.
I was struggling to actually fnd the “experimetnal” tag since I never really use it to describe heavy metal. Though the tag of “avant” is sometimes use, Kwestia Kwasu seems uncomfortable even with that description. There seems to be little quest for art in the realm of Kwas Topi Czas and more of a primal embrace of weirdness. Experimental seems more feral in its description at least that is what I hope to use to describe music that is near indescribable.
Caligari Records | 3-1-18
I feel at this point I could run quarterly feature going over all of the new Caligari material and still be pretty happy. I try not to hover too much on certain labels like Fallen Empire and Vrasubatlat as constant coverage would make me seem like a fanboy despite the fact thier output being above average. This is the case for Caligari records who have consistently gone above and beyond in finding gems from around the world which worship at the altar of death and disease.
Evil Priest is from Peru and two years ago this trio released a stellar demo of classic sounding death metal. Since we are past any era of a genre resurgence, the classic death sound for Evil Priest is a thematic celebration of death metal’s most famous competent which is riffs and darkness. Guitar solos, 5th gear snare drumming, looming intros, and guttural vocals all make their appearance in a demo which sounds between here and 1991. Aside from the sound, Evil Priest is young and virulent enough to be a force which will be around for much longer as Black Seeds...of Creation sounds like the band is halfway having fun and half way really serious about this whole death thing.
Solar Asceticists Productions | 1-22-18
Well, that is it. Janaury is offficially over with perhaps the coolest looking release of the month. Add to this the forcoming coverage by No Clean Singing and the fact this band has no Metal Archives page, and yhou have the [potential for a hype explosion that will be celebrated by a small group of people on the internet. Whatever the future holds for the oddly named Abyssal Vacuum, it will be marked by an explosive demo that again has the coolest looking cover in recent memory.
Very much like their name, the sound for Abyssal Vacuum is cavernous and akin to falling backwards through chasms that never seem to end the suffering. Even though the cavernous death style has been mined excessively over the past few years, Abyssal Vacuum is not apart of that sound rather chooses deep arcane sorcery performed in a lightless void. The addition of the subtraction of information adds to the band’s mystic allowing a single track to act as a beacon for anyone seeking this type of aesthetic. Abyssal Vacuum knows its audience and delivers well.
Solar Asceticists Productions, by hook or by crook, has managed to release two demos with great success in a style that is only popular with a select group of people. The Cendres demo, released lat month, is swirling hypnotic black metal which again is super cool but also super niche. I have no idea who is hyping this label so early but the end result is decent demo releases with above average tape covers. I will not complain rather relish in the glow of arcane sorcery.
Self Released | 1-17-18
From their Bandcamp page, Death Void states “Recorded (mostly live) in October 2017. Cassette release will be available to order after we return from The Abyss Underground Festival.” It is as if we caught this band going out of the door and had little time for us being in their place. Add to this a photocopied demo and one wonders if we should just come back in a few months. This nonchalance regarding their demo only serves to heighten interest as The Looming Spectre, while not a perfect demo, is more than fun to listen to with a band that seems to have tons of potential hidden away under a cool visage.
As the rule with demos goes, one could be getting a 4 minute or 70 minute release. The Looming Spectre falls somewhere between with 33 minutes being dedicated across 4 tracks of rotten death / doom or just slow moving death. As far as sound goes, this is music that works as low fidelity as it would with better production since there is a thesis under these corpses and it is one of existential obliteration. This is music to dance to if dancing mean wearing your ankles down to the nub.
One of the band’s promo pictures has the tag line of “non ritualistic death metal” and since this band is the only one using that tag, I can only assume it is a step away from occult black / death to something more primal and ultimately festering. One may think there is not much separating Death Void from the likes of bands like Temple Nightside and QRIXKUOR but in the world of death metal, Dead Void is far beyond civilization hidden under the stench of verdant decay.
Self Released | 10-14-17
If one hasn’t noticed by now, the last few reviews for this year are things that I initially missed. These things are still under the radar for the greater scope of heavy metal but still fit into the strange idea of Tape Wyrm material. Cavurn is an unsigned/independent death doom band from Washington whose demo/rehearsal is one of the top tier releases of the year and for that they need revisiting.
Death / Doom is a strange genre since each time it is employed, it is unique among the practitioner. Some bands lean more on the side of doom with harsh vocals while other played a rotted form of death. Cavurn is in the middle as they employ both aspects of the genre and seem to glean the most interesting aspects of both. From the monolithic atmosphere of doom married with the classic riffs of death, this demo shows a band that already has everything figured out and is ready for the next challenge.
There is little way, anyone can kep up with everything released in the year. Other well known releases like Witch Vomit, Vanum, and Cult of Eibon are still excellent just out of the range for what I hoped for this blog. Cavurn seems to fit well inside the other releases with a demo that is worth anyones attention despite their attraction to lesser known metal.
Amor Fati Productions | 10-30-17
Holy shit, how in the world did I miss this. Not only is the album cover fantastic and everything I dreamed of but the sound is swirling black metal madness. Add to this the fact I am completely in the dark to what the name and album title means which means this is my new favorite record. It takes a special album to meet the aesthetic requirements of intriguing and an even greater one to slip by detection.
Mûspellzheimr is not new, rather this is the second full length along with a handful of demos. The lack of band members is to be expected as well as their absence on social media. Nidhöggr (the dragon/serpent who gnaws at a root of the world tree, Yggdrasil) follows the similar under the radar release Hyldest til trolddommens flamme in 2015. Nidhöggr is very apparent in its presentation that the madness which is flung at the listener at the beginning is going to be a theme throughout the record. From wailing to music that feels like it is about to fall apart, Mûspellzheimr redefines the idea of mental erosion with a record that is frayed sanity and composure. Nidhöggr is for a select audience. There really isn’t a single or unique track which would encompass the thesis of this record. Mûspellzheimr , despite a lack of information regarding themes and even the erasure of album tracks for roman numerals, one can surmise the summary of the band’s intent. Through some easy guesswork, Mûspellzheimr ‘s intentions are nothing less than malefic as well as hellbent on being ghastly.
Self Released | 12-21-17
Blackened death is a strange genre to play and even to seek out. While it sounds similar to the black/death style, there is a maddening difference between the two to the point that when seeking one out will lead to dissatisfaction with the other. This is what I find so interesting when bands like Karcist knowingly employ the less popular of the styles and ultimately succeed with the sound.
Inner Sanctum Immolation is the debut EP from a Los Angles based act that is not interested in the tomb of low fidelity. Though Karcist does not have the top tier of production on their debut, Inner Sanctum Immolation could work with high fidelity as much as medium. The fact that the band succeeds at a medium range and manages to make their sound interesting is a testament to a band that has their shit together. Though I think their black/red muddy aesthetic works well visually, the fact Karcist manages to travel outside what is expected for underground metal and still make entertaining music is a near surprise.
Ill be interested to see where this band goes and if they align with any popular trends. Songs like “Incursion of Christ” sounds like it is from a high profile metal band with different art and probably not on Bandcamp. the fact that this sound can be achieved by an unsigned act is exciting to hear if the sound will be explored in the future. Whatever the case, I am sure Karcist will land on their feet somewhere as it seems this band has competent members aboard their horrid ship.
Xenoglossy Productions | 12-29-17
Something I always enjoyed about this time of the year was the complete lack of caring by labels and bands for end of the year lists. December is usually a dead zone for larger labels and bands as most of the year lists are being generated. there are some who do not care about frivolous cycles of release and there are others who will wait until the last hours of the year unleash terror.