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

Standard

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)

Standard

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)

Standard

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)

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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)

Standard

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.

Human – Delicacies of Extinction [US, Death / Hardcore Punk] (2021)

Standard

Silence Is Death | 3-5-21

“Death metal made by hardcore kids” is a bit of a pejorative nowadays, but it’s also a pretty good descriptor for a select group of bands. It’s worth mentioning that “deathcore” may technically be an accurate tag, although whether it’s responsible to call it so might be more questionable. Human is a three-piece from the sunny (yet suffocating?) land of Orlando, Florida. The demo features a great smattering of punk-infused death metal, with potential appeal for those who have enjoyed recent releases from Fuming Mouth, Anthropophagous, and perhaps even Black Breath. Note that I am excepting Swedish death-n-roll hybrids; there’s a distinct Floridian riffing here that lurks beneath the punky aesthetic. Like if Obituary decided they were really into DC hardcore. Speaking of which, hardcore punk’s socially-minded lyrical themes are a huge part, lest the sardonically-named “Brown Scare” and “White Jesus” give it away. Protest songs for the death metallers, and that intersection remains in genre melding and proceeds going to black activist organizations. “Days of Rage” and “M.Y.O.E.” have short bursts of rapid-fire chaotic solos that recall early 80s thrash metal in their fall-apart charm. This demo ends on a hard mid-tempo groove and extended drums breakdown through the title track, finishing a powerful 20 minutes of bass-heavy death metal/hardcore. Oh, it was mastered by James Plotkin? Makes sense – the chunky depth of sound is impressive!

Skadalv – Demo II [US, Raw Black] (2021)

Standard

Self Released | 5-4-21

In an effort to get focus on the the most horrid of black and death metal, I seek music that could come from the astral plane. Skadalv is from the US and with only two demos from the past few years, this act only has a few sold out cassette demos to their name. With the release of the second Demo, Skadalv continues to write a chapter in an apocalyptical book which is full of spectral hauntings and psychic ruin. Though the demo only totals about 11 minutes, that time spent with Skadalv is one that is oppressive with its noise and exhilarating with the energy. Not a lot of information is available regarding this band outside of Metal Archives page which lists the lyrical themes as “Death, Mysticism and Reincarnation.” I feel the elusive nature of the band combined with the abstract lyrical themes allows this release to be something special for some very weird listeners. It is a sound which is not for everyone but those of us who are here to worship at the alter of death couldn’t ask for anything more.