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.

Sovnya – Sovnya [US, Raw Black / Punk] (2021)

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Self Released | 8-31-21

I fist would like to give a special thanks to whoever designed the cover for Sovnya’s self titled debut as I feel it is a magnet for anyone who seeks out visual low fidelity. The raw cover is similar to other raw black metal but its use of mostly white and light blue is unique especially when paired with more of a punk sound. Sovnya is from New Jersey and their debut only totals about nine minutes with three of it being spent in noisy space. It is within these nine minutes though, the band has ample time to lob a brick at its listeners. With as much attitude as ample chaos, Sovnya positions themselves in an interesting space where the ruin of sound propels the music towards entertaining conclusions. As mentioned before, the use of noise and space in such a short timeframe shows a band that is not in a hurry to make anything commercial or even accessible to listeners. Sovnya is making music the way they want to and with the time they have they have chosen things that deconstruct reality.

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.

Gramarye – Spellbound in Black Majesty [US, Black] (2021)

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Signal Rex | 6-18-21

Gramarye is a new band on the scene from Minneapolis, Minnesota – a land that rivals much of North America in its cold winters. Given that Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are pretty darn far inland, it’s no wonder they get some extreme temperatures on both sides of the equation. (See also: Fairbanks, Alaska – where 100 degree Fahrenheit days are not uncommon.) This is Gramarye’s second demo, released just several months after the first one. It’s 21 minutes of raw black metal and echoing vocals, with the guitar fuzz taking center-stage. Lord Ülzetaere (awesome name) roars on this one, throwing all kinds of manic vocal approximations of shrieking ghouls, bellowing ghosts, and associated distorted mayhem. There are some cool little bookends that make each track unique – with “Vomit from the Serpent’s Mouth” finishes in that curious noise akin to some Portal tracks in their early albums. The title track ends with swirling synths and dungeon-esque effects, recalling the creepier side of Paysage d’Hiver’s “Kerker”. Only three months til Halloween.

Omnikinetic – Dragon Hymns [US, Black / Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-6-21

Omnikinetic is a prolific one-man extreme metal project from Portland, Oregon headed by VXR. He first came to my attention last year with the release of several war metal-adjacent EPs and demos that excited my ears in a year that was fairly lacking in that genre. “Kinesis” and “Submerged” both had some serious firepower in low-to-middle-fi. Not to mention what interested me in the first place: the black and purple flowers that adorn the cover art “Kinesis”. “Dragon Hymns” continues that destructive yet quirky approach to black death. This three-track demo starts and ends with dungeon synth elements that recall the genre’s proclivity for fantasy. It then dives straight into what one might expect from a dragon: death, harshness, and destruction, with resonant yells and multi-tracked guitars streaming overhead as the synths occasionally peak their heads out among charred homes and melted rock. Firm, intense, and firmly intense black / death of harrowing experience it would be to actually be near a fire-breathing, malevolent dragon instead of a typical fantasy experience.

Grinning Death’s Head – Cataclysm [US, Black / Death] (2021)

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Youth Attack | 5-14-21

We’re on fire now. “Cataclysm” is a two-song EP of black metal plus some crust punk influences and cool use of underpinning synths. Grinning Death’s Head has two LPs so far, both apparently about “misanthropy” and “anarchy” according to Ye Olde Archives. Jason Wood is the only member of this band, hailing from Georgia. Fittingly, Jason has a strong background in noise music and power electronics, in addition to fusing noise into several of his other projects and demos. Grinning Death’s Head seems to be the primary one though, with this EP exploring one’s eventual decline into the “true purpose […] our denouement” of death. The melodic synths strongly elevate this release, giving it an occult hit in black / death fashion. No noise to be found here – this is a singularly clean yet dirty EP.

Torturers’ Lobby – Again [US, Black / Punk] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-23-21

Upon reviewing my list of so-far-listened releases in the first half of 2021, I noticed that I had missed writing on one of my favorite demos so far. Torturers’ Lobby is certainly an evocative name for a band – let alone a photo of a half-decapitated (strangled, perhaps?) dove. The group comes from the hot and humid land of Tampa (though not as bad as Tallahassee, lemme tell ya from experience). The sweat and grime is all over this 18-ish minute demo, throwing screamed black / punk vocals and some serious guitar licks. “Pro War” has a psuedo call-and-response break to it that ends in a dive bomb before blasting back into the fray. Love it. The four-minute outro is nice as well, being a slow burn of guitar feedback, cycling clean-ish progressions, and percussion going on the down side. Lots of that intense, manic black / punk on “Again” – the kind of raw fury that keeps me focused on furiously typing those Tape Wyrm reviews. Get at the power, get at the sound. It rips. Do you? Yes, you do. Believe in yourself, you cad.

AGAIN -DEMO- by TORTURERS’ LOBBY

Bleeding Shroud – DEMO I [US, Raw Black / Neofolk] (2021)

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Self Released | 7-13-21

This came out today and I think I am the only one that listened to it thus far. This is noisy and offensive and it is wonderful. It is difficult sometimes to explain to people the aesthetic of things like this. Bleeding Shroud is a dungeon synth, black metal, and neofolk project with all of those elements twisted around each other and smudged with noise. There is certainly a level of mastery that goes into a production like this as it should be immersive for people without being repellent. Well, maybe a little repellent. The whole of DEMO I isn’t longer than 5 minutes and I have a feeling that it isn’t even finished as there are tracks that feel like they are cut off before finishing. This demo is a fucking mess and for a debut it is certainly a grand statement that is full of violent outburst and layers of complexity blurred under a collapse of noise. Come for raw black and stay for the car crash.