Both Winter Lantern and Possession Cult are from the US and both of them seem to be drawn together by an shared interest in vampyric blood letting. The tag of vampyric black metal may seem obvious or even too niche for mention but its combination produces, mostly, raw black metal that has thrown itself to the whims of aesthetics. I enjoy when artists allow themselves to be carried by theatrics and the undying love for the undead has broad appeal for people outside the raw black sphere of interest. The union of both artists is ugly only in that the sound for each side is raw and soiled and complexly fitting for its intention. Possession Cult is the hideous creature locked away in some basement while winter Lantern is the specter that haunts the spires of this castle. Both are entirely unique and each one is terrifying in its approach.
I fist would like to give a special thanks to whoever designed the cover for Sovnya’s self titled debut as I feel it is a magnet for anyone who seeks out visual low fidelity. The raw cover is similar to other raw black metal but its use of mostly white and light blue is unique especially when paired with more of a punk sound. Sovnya is from New Jersey and their debut only totals about nine minutes with three of it being spent in noisy space. It is within these nine minutes though, the band has ample time to lob a brick at its listeners. With as much attitude as ample chaos, Sovnya positions themselves in an interesting space where the ruin of sound propels the music towards entertaining conclusions. As mentioned before, the use of noise and space in such a short timeframe shows a band that is not in a hurry to make anything commercial or even accessible to listeners. Sovnya is making music the way they want to and with the time they have they have chosen things that deconstruct reality.
The Permian-Triassic boundary is a great mystery of geological science: an event in which over 83 percent of all genera died. This period separates the Paleozoic Era from the Mesozoic Era – two of the great eras in our planet’s history. If you were a 6-year-old obsessed with dinosaurs like I was (or a 29-year-old like me now for whom that obsession still lives!), you might recall that the Mesozoic Era was when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. So what better two bands to explore this event than Thecodontion and Vessel of Iniquity? Thecodontion brings two black-and-death metal tracks from the Supercontinent recording sessions, which was my #4 album of 2020. These explore two taxa that emerged after the extinction, heralding the start of the Age of Reptiles, using dead-serious and extraordinarily researched history of both species’ classification schemes. Both tracks feature the band’s characteristic drum-and-bass approach to death metal with octave pedals to produce a unique, clean “lead guitar” tone. They’re riffy, clean, and filled with evocative solos that will click for fans of last year’s LP. And yet for this life to have flourished, death first occurred – that’s where Vessel of Iniquity comes in. “The Great Dying” is another name for the extinction event, and Vessel of Iniquity’s mixture of black metal and noise is perfectly suited for the harrowing, slow death brought to tens of millions of species. The track’s eleven minutes begin with a roaring wall-of-noise that gradually settles into a slow dread, later culminating in SP White’s layered shrieks and mournful guitar strums. Two stories of the same history – one of life, one of death – and an excellent split for all fans of extreme metal.
Dirty, filthy, destructive death metal demo that sounds like it’s straight out of the Midwest USA in 1991. The production is grating (and took me a second to get used to), but at the end I felt like I listened a modern band that gets as close to the sound of Necrovore and Rottrevore as the best of them. It’s astoundingly captured that raw basement death metal feeling, from the gory dual-growls and caustic slow guitar leads. It never feels its 20-minute length either; the title track alone deserved immediate replays after its eight minutes are up. I love that – a death metal release that isn’t afraid to capital-D doom in context of Sempiternal Deathreign, Torture Rack, or Cianide as opposed to reliance on far-far-downtuning guitars. Each dirge on “Lord of Misery” hits like a grimy brick; the spoken word intro and mid-song skank beat of the title track inspire violent head-nodding; the deep snarl and dungeon-guitar solos on “Homocidal Erotic Torment” slay. These guys need to be watched for future execrations.
All hail death and grime. Void Column is from Canada and from the very stark design and name of this release, The Chasmic Death is a frank and heavy opening statement for the band’s vision for the future. Blending the best aspects of death and doom adorned with a cover that could be of any grim genre, Void Column falls in line with all of the cool aesthetics but also manages to present music that is just as satisfying. this is of course if you do not mind subterranean riffs and vocals buried under pounds of grave soil. Void Column is new and this first demo has yet to receive physicals copies which are planned in the near future. We are all here early and the band is just getting started but this feels like a great place to stand for the show.
I’ve listened to this release five times. I still don’t know what to write. Not that it’s bad – in fact far from it. This is one of the best demos I’ve heard this year regardless of genre. “The Cursed Land” is the (thus far known) first demo from the anonymous Eternal Sword, released on a certain day to uncertain parents. It’s a 31-minute romp of two tracks, both of which have plenty of extraordinarily riff-centric melodies with tupa-tupa-tupa percussion (that endearingly lags behind the guitars) and buried shrieks. One could call this “atmospheric” in the sense of being encompassingly produced. The midway riffs on the second track recall the best, most fervent parts of Weakling’s “Dead As Dreams” or Misþyrming’s “Söngvar elds og óreiðu”. Yet this is an autumnal album; “Dead As Dreams” is synthy and depressive, and “Söngvar elds og óreiðu” is hollow and scorching. “The Cursed Land” feels effervescent, pouring out grand and bombastic melodies that resolve into each other as the tracks bring back previous movements after sidewinder escapades to form wonderfully cohesive closers. I can’t wait to hear what’s next.
This is one of those releases I can’t believe exists. Perilaxe Occlusion is a death metal band out of Canada that’s centered around 3D rendering techniques, computer modeling, and optics. The “Raytraces of Death” demo appears soon to blow up (so long as it’s not my disk drive, ha ha !), getting multiple physical releases through Epidemia, Blood Harvest, and Rotted Life. These three tracks are sweet HM-2-ish death with some doom influences and slightly dissonant. There’s a strong flavor of Swedeath as well, throwing harsh wrenches in the gears of the computing machine. Ah, these puns are terrible. Anyway – lots of mid-tempo grooves and breakdowns to be found, potentially agreeing with fans of Caustic Vomit and similar demos from the last few years. When this band blows up on their next demo (or LP), remember your buds at Tape Wyrm.
Gramarye is a new band on the scene from Minneapolis, Minnesota – a land that rivals much of North America in its cold winters. Given that Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are pretty darn far inland, it’s no wonder they get some extreme temperatures on both sides of the equation. (See also: Fairbanks, Alaska – where 100 degree Fahrenheit days are not uncommon.) This is Gramarye’s second demo, released just several months after the first one. It’s 21 minutes of raw black metal and echoing vocals, with the guitar fuzz taking center-stage. Lord Ülzetaere (awesome name) roars on this one, throwing all kinds of manic vocal approximations of shrieking ghouls, bellowing ghosts, and associated distorted mayhem. There are some cool little bookends that make each track unique – with “Vomit from the Serpent’s Mouth” finishes in that curious noise akin to some Portal tracks in their early albums. The title track ends with swirling synths and dungeon-esque effects, recalling the creepier side of Paysage d’Hiver’s “Kerker”. Only three months til Halloween.
Omnikinetic is a prolific one-man extreme metal project from Portland, Oregon headed by VXR. He first came to my attention last year with the release of several war metal-adjacent EPs and demos that excited my ears in a year that was fairly lacking in that genre. “Kinesis” and “Submerged” both had some serious firepower in low-to-middle-fi. Not to mention what interested me in the first place: the black and purple flowers that adorn the cover art “Kinesis”. “Dragon Hymns” continues that destructive yet quirky approach to black death. This three-track demo starts and ends with dungeon synth elements that recall the genre’s proclivity for fantasy. It then dives straight into what one might expect from a dragon: death, harshness, and destruction, with resonant yells and multi-tracked guitars streaming overhead as the synths occasionally peak their heads out among charred homes and melted rock. Firm, intense, and firmly intense black / death of harrowing experience it would be to actually be near a fire-breathing, malevolent dragon instead of a typical fantasy experience.
We’re on fire now. “Cataclysm” is a two-song EP of black metal plus some crust punk influences and cool use of underpinning synths. Grinning Death’s Head has two LPs so far, both apparently about “misanthropy” and “anarchy” according to Ye Olde Archives. Jason Wood is the only member of this band, hailing from Georgia. Fittingly, Jason has a strong background in noise music and power electronics, in addition to fusing noise into several of his other projects and demos. Grinning Death’s Head seems to be the primary one though, with this EP exploring one’s eventual decline into the “true purpose […] our denouement” of death. The melodic synths strongly elevate this release, giving it an occult hit in black / death fashion. No noise to be found here – this is a singularly clean yet dirty EP.