SENTENCED 2 DIE – NO REASON TO LIVE [US, Death] (2022)

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Maggot Stomp Record | 5-18-22

I feel whenever I go to Maggot Stomp, they are going to have a specific sound. Usually when I go to Maggot Stomp, I know I am going to be generally pleased and possibly amazed by most of the things they have to offer. Sentenced 2 Die might have the funniest / odd way of presenting their name but this is part and parcel to a lack of care they have for their image. Yes, their name is kinda cheesy and yes their EP title leaves much to imagination and technically yes, their debut came out in November of 2021, but all of this can be forgotten since the presence of disgusting riffs which doesn’t give a fuck what you think. SENTENCED 2 DIE is being repackaged with different art on a larger label and hopefully all of this spectacle brings in more people as the sound of NO REASON TO LIVE is nothing but a party in a basement where no one cares about anything except for grooving decay.

Various – Black Steel from the Heart of the World [Finland, Raw Black] (2022)

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Sol / Deviant Records

“Local scenes have always been crucial nuclei of the Black Metal underground. Separated from their contexts many of the most important releases we know would not have emerged the way they eventually did. Mutual inspiration, reciprocal challenging, the creative flux of ideas and at times decades long personal ties of comradeship form invaluable dynamics – a rich multitude of perspectives on the one hand, common distinctive sounds and patterns on the other. One of such spheres that constantly managed to excite us over the past years is the obscure Black Metal underground of the Jyväskylä area in the western Finnish Lakeland. Here at the dark, cold, hilly and forested slopes of the Jyväskylä ridge already plenty of Deviant Records releases originated. “Black Steel from the Heart of the World” offers a gathering of seven closely connected entities, each deeply rooted in ecstatic Black Metal yet each with their very own share of this somewhat intangible moonstruck lunacy that is born under the same moon, the same stars, the same night sky.

I feel including the Bandcamp description was important for this compilation as it captures to scope and thesis for this collection. This is also important since the music from this compilation is cast without much information. From far as I can tell most of the material is new or unreleased from these seven acts. This is exciting especially when given a focus as this is a very interconnected scene of Finnish raw black from a local region of a country. Some of these bands share members and most all of them have probably played on the same shows. there is a cohesiveness when presented with a time and place and Black Steel from the Heart of the World does just that in the loudest way possible.

Black Steel from the Heart of the World by Various

Alhistja – Alhistja [Netherlands, Black / Punk] (2022)

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4-8-22

I don’t think I have ever been so surprised by a guitar riff than in the middle of “TERINGFRIEDUS.” Perhaps that is follows a sinister laugh from the guttural pit of vocals or that the song abruptly ends following this bright implosion of melody. There are many things wonderful and wild about this Dutch black / punk band and at the top of the list is the ability to be surprising in offering flowers in one hand and bricks in the other. Alhistja comes partially from the black metal band Botulism and filled in with the vocalist from German death metal act Chapel of Disease. the collision of talents plus an unorthodox approach to an unorthodox style results in a very short but brilliant demo that is full of bats, piss, and searing attitudes.

Alhistja by Alhistja

SHROUDED INFINITY – THROUGH CAVERNS UNKNOWN [US, Death] (2022)

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Transylvanian Recordings | 4-1-22

Here we go. I guess the caps are just from the Bandcamp page, but I feel for this band, I will leave it all as exclamatory. It is unsurprising Shrouded Infinity is getting accolades. Despite this two piece having their debut EP released through Transylvanian Recordings, the power and efficacy of rhythm heavy death metal which echoes bands like Incantation and Autopsy combined with some esoteric lyrical material is a recipe for a splattered success. Everyone loves death metal with guitar solos which skate on top of heavy riffs which makes one fist curl tighter and teeth clench to a grinding level. With a tape cover that looks like it was buried in a car footwell and a sound that could be from anytime between 2019 and 2025, Through Caverns Unknown is an unmitigated triumph that I am sure will make more rounds before the end of the year.

Through Caverns Unknown by Shrouded Infinity

Corroder – Tombs of Terror [Norway, Thrash] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-14-22

Corroder is when thrash metal rediscovers its punk roots. This is mad, this is pissed, this is angry. Tombs of Terror is five tracks that takes the three-chords-and-the-truth aesthetic of punk rock and rolls with all the punches and glass bottles one can take. It’s like Morbid Saint had a really bad day (and decided their drummer could scream) – a boilingly bad day, like the kind that opens up Falling Down. “At One with Chaos” drops plenty of f-bombs for any punkier take on thrash metal in lyrics as well as sound, and the tupa-tupa beats of “Death Throes” are a great match to the air siren lead guitar. The rhythm guitar cycles through simple yet effectively destroying compositions, with each vocal invective sending a new arrow in the heart. This is a hard listen, as if thrash metal decided to go back into the deepest CBGB underground rather than pivot to so much post-grunge alt-rock in the early 90s. “Kicking, squirming, dying” indeed.

Tombs of Terror by Corroder

Nailwalker – The Gutted Trout of Dear Life [US, Post Black / Crust] (2022)

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Self Released | 3-10-22

If anything can be said about this group from Texas, is they are unexpected. While the cover for the band’s third release and first EP for 2022 looks like dark hardcore / crust, only part of that remains true. Nailwalker carefully weaves together elements of chaotic crust with more introspective and abstract post black which results in a mindbending journey into emotional ruin. From the black/punk opener “A Shocking Display of Nepotism” to the three part elongated closer “The Horn of Empty I-III,” this band holds nothing back and flings everything out like switchblades. Not everything lands perfectly but there is some elegance in broken bones and Nailwaker rides the entire way on gut feeling.

The Gutted Trout of Dear Life by Nailwalker

Thermokarst – Thermokarst [Canada, Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 2-17-22

Oh hey, I know this one! A thermokarst is an irregular, pitted surface of marsh and bog that occurs near and around permafrost. I knew bumming around in Alaska during my early 20s would pay dividends in underground black metal cred. Well, Thermokarst (capital-T, don’t be confused) is a group based out of British Columbia who plays ferocious, punky black metal that screeches through the burial bog. These drums are painful and plentiful, thundering through the mix with an extraordinary hollow snare sound like smacking the decrepit chests of ex-wendigo lying in the mists. The vocals are pretty horrific in the literal sense: these are throat-shredders at their best. Give it a try for unhinged black metal maniacs.

S/T by THERMOKARST

Brånd – Wo draht da Weg? [Austria, Experimental Black / Punk] (2022)

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Self Released | 2-4-22

This is positively bizarre black / punk from Austria. Wo draht da Weg? is a completely out-there EP in five tracks. Though raw black metal on paper, the vocals completely eschew the typical harshness of either black metal or punk. There’s baritone prostrations to whatever god of Faust might be listening at the moment. Perhaps it’s better to describe this as black / post-punk. The title track certainly demonstrates this, with an echoing guitar lead that is slowly buried under the cacophonous percussion and lo-fi aesthetic. And then it rips right back into tupa-tupa-tupa beats that place it alongside a deranged Raspberry Bulbs. Give this a listen if you enjoy your black metal raw and wriggling.

Wo draht da Weg? by Brånd

Pale Shroud – In Sight O the Bog [UK, Raw Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-29-22

Oh frequency illusion, have heart! Bands with “shroud” in their name keep popping up in raw black metaldom. For us today, it’s In Sight O the Bog – the second demo from the anonymous Pale Shroud. In my raw black metal listenings, there exists the “Paysage threshold” of emotional resonance – a moment like in Paysage d’Hiver’s self-titled album where the violin soars through the ice-cracking tremolo. Well, In Sight O the Bog has one of those moments – it’s on “VII” where the synth briefly soars through the punky rhythms. Those little moments of “oh wow” are what elevates exceptional melodic raw black metal from the fray of so many Darkthrone worshippers – moments where the hair on my arms stands up just a bit. Pale Shroud also stands out by how punky it is; though the whisper-raps might put off, the crashing stilted percussion works (again, “VII” stands out). Alright Kap, your move on the raw black game.

In Sight O The Bog (Demo II) by Pale Shroud

Contortion – Lapidation of the Synod [US, Death] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-1-22

Contortion and my cat at 5AM have one thing in common: they start with a minute of screaming. Lapidation of the Synod (Wiktionary tells me the first word means “the act of stoning”) is a two-track demo (three if you count the screaming… you should) of deep, deep pummeling death metal. Hey, it’s the first time I’ve used the word “pummeling” to describe a death metal demo this year. Anyway, this demo’s most interesting feature is the vocals, which are more like five-to-seven-second ejections of guttural promise. This is equal parts muttermouth and motormouth, with the vocalist spitting rapid-fire sentiments of fear and hate in between bass-heavy guitar crunches and halfway skanky kick-snare tempos. Like last year’s Exanguinated demo, my main gripe is that I want more.

Lapidation of the Synod by Contortion