Weathered Crest – Blossoming Of The Paths [Austria, Raw Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 10-13-21

Somewhere in the dark forests (?) of Austria lies a hovel in which a creature stirs. This creature has bene apart of projects like Brånd and Kinga and is the work of Vritra. While also running the label that releases work from all of these projects, Vritra seems to be at the center of a dark and uncaring world. Blossoming Of The Paths is the first full length from the project Weathered Crest and similar to other entities, it is a sharp and crude extension of unprocessed emotions. With a wall of noise that the music barley breaks, Weathered Crest makes music in the same way objects fall downhill with the momentum of emotion and mood dictating the direction. Abrupt starts and stops are only respites from an avalanche of black poison which is at the center if this recording. I have already expressed my love for noisy black metal and the tone employed by Weathered Crest is so fitting to its atmosphere as Blossoming Of The Paths is the underside of a cinder block left out in some cold field for years. It is ugly, raw, and entirely cathartic.

Winter Lantern / Possession Cult – Split [US, Raw Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 9-1-21

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.

Thecodontion / Vessel of Iniquity – The Permian-Triassic Extinction Event [Italy / UK, Death / Black / Noise] (2021)

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I, Voidhanger | 9-3-21

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.

Revolted Excrescence – Ritual Violence [US, Death / Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 7-29-21

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.

Void Column – The Chasmic Death [Canada, Death / Doom] (2021)

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Self Released | 8-2-21

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.

Eternal Sword – The Cursed Land [?, Raw Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 5-22-21

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.

Fossilization – He Whose Name Was Long Forgotten [Brazil, Death] (2021)

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Transylvanian Tapes | 3-21-21

More EPs! It’s a thing, y’know. This debut demo from the Brazilians of Fossilization is an excellent death EP with doom undertones and a crunchy, bassy production. I’m always going to be into a layered guitar aesthetic in death metal (quick, in how many reviews can I put “aesthetic” until Kaptain Carbon calls me out for it). Fossilization delivers on that front. This hits the same spot as a lot of those Vrasubatlat bands such as Triumvir Foul, in addition to the Mylingar LPs from the last few years. While literal vomit vocals aren’t there, we do have those deep roars that slowly build into a foggy hollow. Midway through “Caronte” shows this best, with a slow build in the gloaming resound that builds alongside frenetic guitars. The break toward the end resolves into a slow lament and a strange backing of feedback. That track is one of my favorites of the year so far in death metal. Check this out if you’re into the death / doom aesthetic (there it is again!) that’s really popped up in the last few years. Transylvanian Tapes says it’s for fans of Dead Congregation and Portal. That’s a fair cop.

Cruel Master – Repeat Offender [US, Black / Punk] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-22-21

Black / Punk hybrids often fall into a trap. The inherit rawness of the fusion’s forebears in Ildjarn plus the contemporary sounds of Bone Awl (et al.) have inspired lots of bands to record the harshest sound they can make with sticks-and-stones instrumentation. Which is fine, there’s absolutely a base for that – in addition to the axiom that artists should make the music they want to make. And (not “but”), I hugely enjoy hearing a black / punk artist who pushes a little out of that murk. As the album and track titles demonstrate, “Repeat Offender” is a bit scarier, a bit more disturbing – bringing in abuse, harsh sex, and stalking. I don’t mean to imply voyeurism. If anything, Cruel Master sounds like a band that actually can pull off the “this stuff is pretty horrible, and it’s actually disturbing” aesthetic. If you’re not on board with that, then I can absolutely understand.

Sxuperion – Auscultating Astral Monuments [US, Black / Death / Ambient] (2021)

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Sxuperion landed on my digital doorstep with last year’s “Omniscient Pulse”. I reductively described it to friends as “Darkspace but death metal”. In retrospect, that’s unfair; Matthew Schott certainly has some of Tobias Möckl’s proclivity for dark ambient and sci-fi samples, but there’s far more to the Sxuperion project. The project began as something akin to war metal with dark ambient, but upon the release of “Cosmic Void”, Matthew Schott began a multi-pronged series of releases based around the harshness and emptiness of space. Yeah, you know how so much space sci-fi is about the adventure of space? Sxuperion is more like experiencing the long period of utter, incomprehensible, nigh-complete emptiness that is most of the universe. Imagine floating in the Boötes Void – the Great Nothing – with the curious effects of relativity changing your perception of space-time, having you become your own Godhead by being the only form within the formless. With, of course, some of the strongest and coolest black and death metal echoing in your afterburners, be it the laser-effect on “Eyes of Gankhar” or the dissolving threads of “Philotic Astrogation”. Sxuperion’s newest LP is one of my favorites of the year so far, and hopefully it’ll be yours too.

Ancient Tome – Final Tome [US, Black / Doom] (2021)

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Transylvanian Recordings | 7-27-21(?)

I sure hope that the 2027 release date is not a typo and stays up on the Bandcamp forever. I can safely say this is the best black / doom release of the late 2020’s. the combination of black and doom metal has come with a sense of wild abandonment when it comes to expectation of sound. Unlike black/death or death/thrash, there is no agreed upon meeting point and the combination can be any mixture of the elements. Final tome, the second Ep from US based Ancient Tome further complicates this with a 23 minute exploration into a landscape of slowed black metal with punctuations of violent outburst. Final Tome comes with the endorsement of Transylvanian Recordings which has ceased to be a reliable storyteller of horrid tales and a dealer for rotten sounding music. Whether or not this is coming out next month or in 6 years is little consequence since the clouds are gathering on the horizon and things are about to get fucking dismal.