Back in 2017, I wrote about the debut from UK project Vessel Of Iniquity. The self titled debut came out on various labels and I believe I wrote about the Xenoglossy Productions version. I was blindsided by the force and reckless abandoning of the sound. Graveyard of Dead Gods and Architecture of Existence are two “new” EPs for 2022 consisting of songs that were “An old unused EP I found on my hard drive.” The dichotomy between the music and the seemingly carefree attitude of its creator is striking as both EPs feel like a terrible storm. v operates without constraints and the sound of both new EPs has a driving rhythm that feels more like a mounting wave of chaos and confusion. The addition of the music being without a time or place of conception adds to its other-worldly-ness as these two EPs have appeared in our world and now are set loose among the population. This project is unpredictable as it is intriguing and I fully expect to be terrorized by it in the near future.
As of writing this review, Extinguished is without a Metal Archives page. I am sure this will change though it seems like the band is just getting together and going through some sort of metal customs area. Extinguished comes by the way of a confluence of Finnish black / death bands namely Obscure Burial, Sickness, and Sadokist. While the sound s of grinding death maybe new for this venture, the energy of chaotic nausea might be a an aesthetic waymark. Though only one preview track available the power and force at which this music is delivered is enough for interest. At the moment of this writing, there are tapes available for preorder which I am sure will sell out soon. I am sure of it as I can see this sound hanging in the air like dangerous miasma.
Blood Harvest is a pretty well known label for many and also the source of some great releases in 2021. In fact many of you already know the mode and operation of this label and can probably guess this new release is going to sound gross. Explosions is the debut EP for this Portuguese death metal band which has been released late in 2021. I have designated all December releases apart of a cusp of the year which includes them into the next one. this way even a stellar death metal EP being released on the 17th of December can be celebrated with all of the blood and lava as fitting. Phenocryst revels in the sound of subterranean death but now instead of graveyards, metaphysics or alien landscapes of ruin one is confronted with the violence of geology. Lyrical themes are always fun when engaging with a band as what they chose to base their music around can be illuminating to the way they see the world. As of writing this review, Phenocryst is the only band listed on the Metal Archives with Volcanology as a theme. While this theme sounds wild and random, the type of grinding death fits perfectly with images of pyroclastic flows and igneous fluids. It is truly music that makes me feel underground being pulverized into oblivion by emotionless phenomenon.
This is where we are going to have to clarify a few things. Ralvurahvavuimago by the Dutch black metal project Smoke was released on tape in 2012. You might have missed it. The Throat is a Dutch label that not only releases new works but unearths obscure releases from the past that you might have missed. I believe I would have remembered Ralvurahvavuimago as it has the capacity to make its lister physically ill. With a wall of noise and chaos which pull at the core of its audience, Smoke is the embodiment of of terror. Part of my excitement comes from discovering this label as one more resource into Dutch black metal as it continues to be a region of dark and never-ending misery. This is said in the highest regard as after listening to Ralvurahvavuimago, I need to lay down for a bit and rest.
We are going to start the year off right with some exercise, better eating, and horrid sounds from the dungeon. Kjedsomhet is an Italian black metal project that might be one person or a group of musicians working at a very quick pace. Since November 2021, this project has released four full lengths, two EPs, and one Rehearsal/Demo we are reviewing here. The way Kjedsomhet uses releases is reactionary as the tracks tend to be quite lengthy resulting in a lot of material that might not even be distinguishable from each other. The world of Kjedsomhet is bleak and tracks like the 20 minute opener “Fangehullets Redsler” (Danish for Horrors Of The Dungeon) feel like magical invocations to some horrid creature from the void. It is noisy, repetitive, and ultimately devoid of compassion. Horrors of the Dungeon poses lots of questions with not all of them being answered. Perhaps 2022 will bring closure to these inquires but for now we have a very gross declaration of putridity.
The Hermetic Order of Ytene is a collective of black metal and experimental music bands based out of the UK and France. Naturally, their lyrical themes primarily explore esotericism with a distinctly UK volkisch bent. As far as can be told, the primary creator behind most of these projects goes by the pseudonym “O.W.G.A.” – of which Auld Ridge’s Consanguineous Tales of Bloodshed and Treachery has ended up being one of my favorites of the year with its blend of furiously riffy black metal and neofolk. Albionic Hermeticism is another (awesome) part of the Order – though this band plays more straightforward black metal with some minor death metal influences. Where Auld Ridge is sublime, Albionic Hermeticism is raucous; this release has far more discord and way less gorgeous melody compared to Auld Ridge, though still firmly within “classic” black metal aesthetics. Two stand-out tracks include “Ciele Uppan Fells” with its tupa-tupa beat and “Summon’d Orlaeg” in the brash 11 minutes of fire.
Did you find that Tardus Mortem album too long? Well, time for some funeral doom! That’s not a joke (for real this time). Memorandum is funeral doom metal, but it’s the most bite-sized funeral doom out there. Menhirs… Affres is a two-track release in under 30 minutes that fits right in with Worship and Ahab. This is a one-man project from Caleb Simard – and if you’re willing to feel bad about your life so far, he’s only 17 right now. Yep, 17, and put out what I currently think is one of the best funeral doom metal albums of the year. The second track brings in a wonderfully dirge-esque piano lead. That can sound hokey when does poorly, but – as both Skepticism and Memorandum demonstrates – when pulled off, it’s pulled off well. Try this out if you’re interested or already into funeral doom but you don’t want to carve out a weekend to finish an album. One can only imagine where Caleb will be in five years, let alone ten or twenty.
Well y’all, we’ve got just half a month left in the year. And since the holidays are fast approaching, you know what that means – more time to read Internet blogs about dungeon synth and metal. Yeah, your true family! Let’s top off the start of the end with Tardus Mortem, an utterly bizarre death metal band from Denmark. Now Danish death metal often conjures up images of Undergang and Sulphurous, but this is not just in a different ballpark – it’s in a completely different volcano. Armageddon is pure death metal with five tracks in 52 minutes. Yes, and it’s not death / doom. This includes a 23-minute centerpiece. It is very, very rare for any metal subgenre to have tracks stretching greater than seven or eight minutes and them not having doom or atmospheric black metal influence. This is not that – Armageddon is a thundering production filled with solos like early Destruction and Possessed, acidic vocal performances, and manic drumming. Frequently, the album is held together at the barest of threads; I occasionally feel like the percussion takes a page from the Vomitor school of music, where the tempo is more of a light suggestion. That extreme length is going to put off a lot of listeners, but I can’t help but be somewhat enamored by such an adversarial album in a genre where “confrontational” is passé.
We all have our heuristics in pre-judging music, and one of mine is “does the album art evoke Zdzisław Beksiński”. If the answer is “yes”, then there’s a baseline 20 percent chance that I’m going to enjoy it regardless of anything else. Yeah, I’m basic, so what? It’s not like I’m only into drip coffee and indie Metroidvanias or something. Anyway, Occulsed’s choice of album art was a must-listen for me – and it did not disappoint at all. This is primarily the brainchild of Jared Moran and Justin Stubbs – both of whom have been in a metric fuckton of bands (e.g. Encoffination, Father Befouled, and Draug). This is completely early 90s death metal: there’s that off-kilter and unsettlingly airy production style, a brutal death metal-lite style of songwriting that recalls NY death metal, and a stitched-together approach to songwriting that occasionally sounds more like a collection of distinct riffs than cohesive compositions. I don’t mean that third one in a bad way: I love that kind of sound. It’s half of why I’m so obsessed with the year 1992 (the other being Sister Act). Kenneth Parker’s vocals match the style of music with his breathy approach to deep, deep growls. An album like this is practically tailor-made to my interests; if you’re picking up what I’m putting down in the least bit, then give Occulsed a listen.
Let’s see if I can get through this review without using the word “goobly”. The enigmatic θoʊθ (purported to be an ancient name for the god Toth) plays “ancient death metal” with a Phoenician and Babylonian lyrical bent. “Ancient’ is certainly a good self-descriptor: there’s no lack of dust on this production. Note that I use the word “dust” instead of “filth” or “grime” – it’s tempting to interchangeably use those words, but I think “dust” better demonstrates the thick, brow-beating grotesqueness. I would go so far as to call some of these riffs positively stoner – the very beginning has that kind of hypotuned chunkiness I closely associate with Sleep. Most of the demo is the kind of death / sludge embodied by Boy Body (pun intended!), though with a less caustic affect. Track three (“Trumpets of None Ѭ Kingdom of All”, very nice) brings back that stoner-doom quality again with all the grinding criticality that good death metal evokes. This is the kind of release that perfectly fits the demo aesthetic, and I can only hope this isn’t a one-off release; hence why I am making sure there’s a Tape Wyrm write-up for this prior to end of the year shenanigans. There, I did it.