Trhä – lhum jolhduc [?, Raw Black / Dark Folk / Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-26-21

Another release where I know next to nothing about anything. Trhä is an enigma. Searching the name of course only gives me Bandcamp and Metal Archives. But what’s more, searching the informational blurbs also gives me nothing. Whether that means it’s a conlang or a more obscure, less-spoken language is something up to debate. It certainly gives Trhä a deservingly mysterious aura, one bolstered by the vague band information that simply lists “Thét Älëf” as playing everything (occasionally written as “jaa”). I fear that the answer is obvious and I’m just ignorant. The music is 30 minutes of raw black metal with distinct melodic harmonies and almost constant shrieks, some of which curiously follow the leads’ notes. I appreciate the craterous snare, sounding like pieces of wood smashed together on “ëpfêrhäth”. Each of the tracks flow through different movements, some of which start or end on a dark folk meandering with distortion. Ever heard of Flying Saucer Attack? Think of the “Further” album, except raw black metal instead of shoegaze-avant-folk. This is a fascinating release, and I’m happy to recommend it.

lhum jolhduc by Trhä

Effluence – Ballistic Bloodspray [US, Brutal Death / Grind / Noise] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-9-21

I can’t imagine a better title to this EP: this is a ballistic spray of blood. No question. The Czech deathgrind band Contrastic notably merged totally non-metal instruments into their self-titled LP (the one with The Little Mermaid on the cover); but if they were the fun one in the family, then Effluence is like the unhinged younger brother who took his sibling’s imagery a bit too far. This 12-minute EP is an absolutely bonkers mix of technical death metal, brutal death metal, grindcore, and noise. There’s the slightest bit of remaining wonkyness that hints at a sense of humor(???), like the piano on “Unending Separation” and the clarinet on both “Unholy Liquid” and “Miasma of Entrails”. It’s weird, experimental, and intense music – similar to what Genophobic Perversion is doing, and this feels a little more polish in perversity. Celebrate in good vibes.

Ballistic Bloodspray by Effluence

deathandserenity. – Endless [US, Post Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 6-11-21

The tags for deathandserentiy.’s third release includes an umbrella of styles including DSBM, skramz, and raw black metal. This all sounds wonderful and is something I have been waiting for. The history of screamo is separate from black metal and aside from a few crossovers, the overlap between the two remains on opposite ends of impassable divide. Endless is not the crossover that is going to bring the two styles together rather the new demo from deathandserenity. allows raw black to have emotive tones and offers a chance for depressive black to be played without the need for morbid clichés. Endless is a powerful 7 minute release which not only offers an interesting path forward for wayward genres but also a chance for the band to make a bold statement for 2021.

Natürgeist – Reinvigorated Terror [US, Raw Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 5-21-21

Morris Kolontyrsky is a busy man. The member of Blood Incantation/Black Curse/Spectral Voice/etc./et seq./ad inf. now has a raw black metal project to add to this repertoire in the way of Natürgeist. The “Reinvigorated Terror” EP is a new two-track demo of the layered extreme metal that characterized 2020’s Black Curse LP (which was one of my top five albums of its year). Starting off with a powerful, Weakling-inspired style of US riffing, this demo slowly incorporates more studio tricks than raw black metal usually hits, with layering and slight psychedelia hitting at the end of both tracks. Low-tempo clean guitar leads contrast with that fast-paced black metal tremolo to cool effect. Those deep in the raw black sauce might hear this as another cash-in and dislike how obviously careful the production really is, but I find it immensely successful for that same reason that Black Curse release did the same for me. Plus, it’s obviously a bit crazier than the other Denver bands – penis metal notwithstanding. Give this a hit of mystical, cold, black hell.

Æumbra – Æumbra [US, Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 5-26-21

A search for “Æumbra metal” reveals exactly nine results, none of which tell me much about this band. From what I can tell, they’re a fresh US black metal act with at least one member. I don’t believe we’re at the point of deep fakes for raw black metal. This demo features 21 minutes of strongly melodic raw black metal more so than the punk- and/or noise-inspired strain. Vocals are a constant high-pitched screech but not annoyingly so; more like Silenius from the early Abigor releases in that raspy affect. There’s a ton of wonderfully written tremolo leads that hearken back to the early second-wave Norwegian black metal aesthetic, but in no way does it sound tired. In fact, the paunchy bass lines give this a slight “oomph” where the rawer-than-your-average-bear production really bolsters the melodic sound. While most of them follow root notes, they bolster the leads ever so slightly to make the demo stand as a sonically impressing work. If you can’t tell, I really like this – and the higher-pitched vocals round out the sound to make everything sound dynamic in a way I can’t describe without sounding like a goober or a pedant. Basically (hah!), there’s serious promise for an LP, and I hope they keep that semi-raw sound for the future. It does well.

Arna – Dragged to a Lunar Grave [Spain, Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-23-2021

2020 and 2021 have been the dual years of wampyric black metal. There’s been a significant uptick in bands releasing short LPs or demos themed around erotic death, moonlit nights, and star-crossed romance (and often, all three at the same time). They’re evocative themes and ones that have rightly been a constant presence in the sturm und drang of the popular consciousness. Who doesn’t love a good story about fated love, especially when so many have experienced or nearly experienced it themselves? Well, back to the music: “Dragged to a Lunar Grave” is four tracks of black metal in 28 minutes. Though from Spain, it kinda reminds me of Nachtmystium’s “Demise” and some other mid-2000s US black metal. Fast, riffy, and layered – not at all as raw as the cover art may impress.

Fōr – The Life Feeding Flame [?, Black / Death / Doom] (2021)

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Nihilstic Noise Propaganda | 5-11-21

Ah, another entry in the “dissolving” extreme metal tag. What does that mean anyway? I use “dissolving” to describe that kind of caustic black, death, or doom with hollow vocals, percussion that’s stilted or curiously laborious, and guitars with a precipitated limestone crust. Allegorically, it’s the “I’m being dipped in the acid pools at Yellowstone” kind of metal. (Not that I know what that’s like.) And here’s one of those: the anonymous Fōr from who-knows-where and their 23-minute, 3-track release “The Life Feeding Flame”. This combines black, death, and doom metal in a way that recalls a cavernous Icelandic black metal album – and it’s nearly as scary. Dissonant and, yes, dissolving. The shorter runtime does it a ton of favors in hookability with its tempestuous yet mid-paced drums. Everything about this adds to a slow, creeping dread that is accurately demonstrated through the smouldering lake on the album art. The bass is a steady rumble under every percussive pummel; and the lyrics echo, overlay, and roll off each other in a conflagration. Give me more fire!

Mephitic Grave – Into the Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity [Hungary, Death] (2021)

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Carbonized | 5-7-21

Originally formed as Mothrot, Mephitic Grave is a Hungarian death metal band – a scene I admit to having next to no experience with. This is their first release, landing on the California label Carbonized Records. Here we’ve got something that sounds like a lost Finnish or Dutch death/doom LP from 1992. “Intro the Atrium…” is full of chunky, half-wonky riffing and extremely deep vocals half-buried under the mix. There’s also that slight punky influence that characterized so much of early death metal, which is especially prevalent on some of those groovy mid-tempo breakdowns as on “The Vault of Strangling Fear”. This is death/doom in the sense of incorporating doom metal influences in death metal riffing, with those slow and hard pick-ups into 1.5-times hitters. It’s the kind of roughness I get down, and one of those strong releases that reminds me of my time first exploring early nineties death metal and learning about all these magnificent versions of extremeness. That’s a bit poetic, but hey, it’s what I’m feeling.

Batholith – Alpine Tomb [US, Death / Doom] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-23-21

A batholith is an igneous rock formation that extends deep into the earth, like Half Dome at Yosemite. Neat! What’s not neat is dying on a mountain. This is precisely the concept behind “Alpine Tomb” from Batholith, the Connecticut duo’s debut LP after last year’s EP. This 40-ish minute album describes the slow, harrowing process of experiencing hypothermia, starvation, high-altitude sickness, and psychological terror that would occur with having an immobilizing accident on an alpine peak. This is paired with dissolving death/doom with a hollow vocal aesthetic that might appeal to fans of Cianide’s “The Dying Truth” or Infester’s “To the Depths, in Degradation”. The album ends with appropriately mournful clean leads that demonstrate the ign(eous)ominious ending to the body being slowly encased in ice as the deep freeze sets in. Enjoy your summer!

Brainspoon – Monstrous Chains [Finland, Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 2-12-2021

Ah, this one almost passed me by. If Ye Olde Metal Archives are to go by, then Brainspoon has been around for almost a full decade with two EPs and two demos to their name. “Monstrous Chains” is the second emo – three tracks demo of monstrous Finndeath with slight crossover elements. Dirty and sloppy, but in the way I’m into. And with a name like Brainspoon, you know well what to expect: hoarse vocals, Autopsy-esque production, and punky rhythms that are firmly grounded in death riffing. This is a great example of a demo with more ideas in 12 minutes than what others do in 40; the nigh-3 minute “Graveside” swaps between Sempiternal Deathreign-style death/doom elements (read: not just quarter-speed riffs!), fast as hell switch-ups, and even a couple quick solos for good measure. There’s a slight hollow production to the sound that gives an extra paunch not usually heard in this type of death metal; I like it, beat the bloated corpse. The title and closing track matches cycling solos alongside chugging-engine rhythms. So come on! Do it!