Offernat – All Colours Retract [Denmark, Sludge] (2022)

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Self Released | 9-2-22

Part of the reason why I first picked up this EP was the cover as it was so non descript and without any trace of bandname, release title, or anything. It is as if this release just materialized and we have to deal with its existence. Offernat is a Danish sludge / post metal (?) three piece who play music in the style of Neurosis and old Isis. While comparisons are easy to make at first, Offernat quickly becomes dense and complex. The only track available at this monument is a 14 minute preview called “The Winds” which is a raucous maelstrom heavy sludge which tempers into a slow ambient unravel of both form and temper before forming into something unexpected and delightful. “The Winds” is a powerful declaration from a band who has had just one EP to date. All Colours Retract, when release, has a possibility of being a robust release with music that is understated in its album cover.

檳榔袋鼠 Betelnut Kangaroo – 天地頌 [Taiwan, Ambient] (2022)

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The Tidal Charm | 7-10-22

Complete the treasure map and solve its accompanying puzzle before Season 1 ends to find the hidden treasure TCX001, a private album on BC exclusively available to these treasure hunters.

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Absolutely charming. I wrote about a compilation from The Tidal Charm earlier this year mostly because I fell in love with it and if it was a school yard, I would be following this label around asking to be their best friend. We are going to be stepping outside the bounds of even dungeon synth but I feel this is where the spirit lies. Somewhere between ambient, new age, vaporwave, slushwave, and a dozen other names that only exist inside the internet, The Tidal Charm is a marketplace of the dreaming where tapes are made for people seeking dreamwave music. 檳榔袋鼠 Betelnut Kangaroo is listed as a Taiwanese artist making music in Guitar Pro 5 ( a popular tracker software in 2005). 天地頌 is a hidden wonderland of surreal synth, ambient landscapes, and enough sincerity that nothing feels like a farce. 天地頌 is a 2021 release but comes in a tape packaged together (?) with 浮咒 which doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere on the artists Bandcamp page. The tape comes with a quarter of a treasure map which seems to be a hidden album listed as TCX001. The Tidal Charm continues the tradition of esoteric puzzle music and even puts a time limit on the game which makes me wonder how many dreamy treasure hunters are out there. I will absolutely support ventures like this and hope there are more liminal games that are pushed out into the real world warping the fabric of reality.

SCUMSLAUGHT – Knives and Amphetamines [France, Thrash] (2022)

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Caligari Records | 6-23-22

Baptized In Piss.

I think when I opened up my email and saw the name SCUMSLAUGHT, I was immediately sold to whatever style of music these three were selling. Whatever it was, it was going to come with the force of a toppling building. Knives and Amphetamines is the debut EP following a 2020 demo which was rightfully called High on Death. Scumslaught in in the same gross orbit as other French death / thrash bands including Sépulcre, Skelethal, Cadaveric Fumes, and Repugnizer. Its all disgusting and they are probably all waiting for us outside. Knives and Amphetamines takes a giant step in terms of production brining out the energy which was buried under the floorboards during their demo. Now the band is inside the house and they are wielding horrid instruments of destruction. Thrash might be in a weird time period in 2022 but I am glad it is being nurtured by loving and tender maniacs.

Middle Ages – Reclaiming the Throne [International, Dungeon Synth] (2022)

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This whole thing comes with a paragraph of explanation. Reclaiming the Throne is a reissue / compilation of demoscene tracks that were ripped from a website in the 1990’s and put onto a tape. The tape gained a following and was known as “Caduceus – Middle Ages.” It wasn’t until 2020, that the true nature of this music became known to the internet record keepers and extensive work was put into tracking down the three musicians behind this work. The work formally known as Ranger Rick, Mateus, and Blackwolf. Reading the Youtube link for the original Caduceus rip, Blackwolf responds with:

This has been wild – I wrote “Seeds of Desire” for a demoscene music competition in 1995 (it placed 19th in the rookie division of MC3 out of…I don’t know how many, maybe 100?) and then find out 26 years later that it was put on a cassette that has a cult following in a genre I hadn’t really heard of.

This whole affair from the subterfuge, the longstanding misunderstanding to the internet reconciliation is made even better with the Dungeon Deep reissue which rightfully credits the artists and adds bonus tracks and write ups to the presentation. The joyous tracker based synth music makes the whole event feel like the closing credits to some lost Super Nintendo RPG and through arduous strife, the rightful rulers take the throne and suddenly the stormy lo-fi clouds part. Part of my love for this scene of music not only comes from the sound itself but the intesnse desire to archive and catalog music from the past decades. Dungeon synth has laid in the shadows and things like a bootlegged tape that gained popularity feels right when a group of fans reconstruct and credit the true musicians. This entire thing is wholesome and makes me smile all day long.

L A N D S R A A D – Fate; The Inevitability Thereof [UK, Dungeon Synth] (2022)

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Self Released | 8-1-22

Last year, I raved about L A N D S R A A D and their debut The Golden Path. This release kicked off a potential long series of Dune inspired dungeon synth which not only showed excellency in terms of composition and production but also a new avenue in terms of thematic source material. Dungeon synth is not relegated to the earth and the silent foundations of Berlin School / Kosmiche Musik becomes more apparent with each release filed under its name. the dungeon is just the beginning for a brave new world of space based progressive ambient. Fate; The Inevitability Thereof takes its inspiration, and namesake from the themes of Dune Messiah, Frank Herbet’s second book in the Dune series. More than just Dune DS, L A N D S R A A D feels like it is guided by the principles and precepts of Herbert’s universe. Fate, prophecy, power, and the zeal of faith all drive the topics of this record making it not just a tribute album but rather a space ambient record which shares the interests which constructed the book series. Fate; The Inevitability Thereof is a fantastic dungeon synth record which continues an interesting series that I felt was a novel idea at first but is quickly becoming something with unforeseen importance.

Astral Coroner – Leaching the Ancient Void [US/ Canada, Death] (2022)

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Self Released | 6-22-22

This is my everything. Deathgrind obsessed with topics such as aliens, skinwalkers, and quantum suicide. If this was a book, it would already be on my shelf but here we are and these topics comes through a death ray aimed at the listeners chest. Astral Coroner is from both the US and Canada with no members listed so if we were in the conspiratorial mindset, we could assume it is the work of other death metal luminaries making even more underground music. Even if this group is a bunch of Coast to Coast AM weirodos who probably have some documentaries about The Goblin Universe, Leaching the Ancient Void is a punch to the throat which never stops being fun.

Sinistrum – Trichotomy of Death [US, Death / Thrash] (2022)

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Self Released | 7-11-22

Hell Yes. Thrashing Death! I would like to thank Sinistrum for allowing me to research the history of death metal originating from Elizabethtown Kentucky. Without this band, I would not have found the other related bands including Sarcoma and Abominant which seems to make up the foundation for 1990’s Elizabethtown death metal. Trichotomy of Death is the debut EP for Sinistrum and while some of its members date back decades, the entire presentations feels fresh and new. From a stellar cover and logo that would go great on a sleeveless shirt to a ripping sound that is full of riffs and energy, Sinistrum feels like a punch to the side of the face that stings but maybe feels refreshing.

Kryatjurr of Desert Ahd – Unbearable Nightmares of Heat and Desertification [Australia, Raw Atmospheric Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 6-30-22

I have spent a considerable amount of time searching for the meaning of “Kryatjurr” and looking up any references to the name. What I have surmised is I know less about this Australian project than when I started. Obscurity seems to be a veil for Kryatjurr of Desert Ahd as this black ambient project comes with little information and is even supplemented by potentially misleading lyrics. “tauhn ruo eerufg” is a jumble of the title “Haunt our Refugee which is part of this EP’s closing track. If I am spending most of this review talking about the puzzle it presents, it is because the music for Kryatjurr of Desert Ahd is deeply immersive and leaves one in an abstract space after it is finished. Through lo fi black ambient, this EP presents a charred landscape that is constantly transformed by fire as if destroyed and then rebuilt once finished. The cover for this release presents a confusing picture of dark hands reaching out from a void which is fitting for music that is continually interesting and foreboding.

Kvad – Cold & Dark, As Life [Norway, Atmospheric / Raw Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 6-10-22

It is difficult to type the phrase Norwegian black metal” and not have it anchor to a certain time period. For better or worse this county and style elicits certain images which is a shame for bands and artists who are just making music for the void. Kvad is related to another Norwegian black metal act Darkest Bethlehem who had one single in 2021. Cold & Dark, As Life, for Kvad, represents the debut full length following an EP in 2021. This seems like the start for the act with an explosive 30 minute statement that is full of energy and entropy. There are obvious nods to Norway’s history in black metal with frostbitten aesthetics yet Kvad succeeds as a raw black act that sculpts landscapes of torment and demise. Each of the tracks which run 4-5 minutes feel like a swirling void where the vocals bounce around walls of madness. This is truly music for the distraught and Kvad commands its like a symphony.

Collapsed Skull – Eternity Maze [US, Punk / Hardcore] (2022)

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This is the type of kickstart I need everyday. All I need is coffee and a swift kick to the jaw. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this release is the non sequitur samples that are thrown in to segment the power violence which spills out of its speakers. Collapsed Skull has a good handle on harsh music but also the ability to mesh disparate styles together in some sort of horrid quilt. Both Collapsed Skull and the label Closed Casket Activities seems to be on the same page of presenting hardcore / punk / ??? in the most antisocial and dangerous way possible which is both scary and exciting.