Burgfried – Geistertum [Germany, Raw Black] (2022)

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Narbentage Produktionen | 7-1-22

“BURGFRIEDs 2nd strike of Primitive Franconian Black Metal. Dedicated to the chivalric specters that roam the Upper Franconian valleys & hillsides.” I love this line which is on the Bandcamp for Burgfried’s Geistertum. It is near absurd but is unique enough to be evocative. The images of ghost knights roaming the hills of the French country side is something that feels comfy to imagine. Add to the the crashing sounds of shredded black metal and one has an evening of terror and abject horror. Geistertum is the second release from Burgfriend following the equally gripping and hilariously named 1631 which I am sure is the date of some obscure French atrocity. Burgfried brings history, or at least the flavor of history, to the table and messily mixes it with black metal producing something that may not be novel but is undoubtley effective. Chivalric specters certainly carry the banners for these dead rulers which seem to ride into battle on horses that are probably also ghosts or some shade of dead.

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.

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.

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.

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