Thermokarst – Thermokarst [Canada, Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 2-17-22

Oh hey, I know this one! A thermokarst is an irregular, pitted surface of marsh and bog that occurs near and around permafrost. I knew bumming around in Alaska during my early 20s would pay dividends in underground black metal cred. Well, Thermokarst (capital-T, don’t be confused) is a group based out of British Columbia who plays ferocious, punky black metal that screeches through the burial bog. These drums are painful and plentiful, thundering through the mix with an extraordinary hollow snare sound like smacking the decrepit chests of ex-wendigo lying in the mists. The vocals are pretty horrific in the literal sense: these are throat-shredders at their best. Give it a try for unhinged black metal maniacs.

S/T by THERMOKARST

Void Column – Quiescence [Canada, Death] (2022)

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Mouth of Madness | 1-15-22

Ha! Another Void Column. I know just what to do with you – snatch it from Kap before he can write it up first. All hail death and grime, indeed. Quiescence is Void Column’s second demo, and it’s a three-headed beast from front to back. This is an ugly, ugly album, with a maw that drips acid. This demo exhumes riffs previously described as “subterranean”, giving each track unlife and intensity that is positively overwhelming even for a sub-ten minute runtime. In contrast, the vocals are so buried that you’d be forgiven for thinking Quiescence is an instrumental death metal release. But no, they’re there, and they’ve been waiting for you. Whereas the first demo felt like it had a bit of a doom metal influence, this one is all pure frightful death metal – and maybe even with the slightest of grind thrown in on the ending, self-titled track. It finishes out with one hell of a breakdown; listening to Void Column is directly associated with increases in the paychecks of nearby masons. I foresee these guys being a band to watch out for over the next few years – if Quiescence and The Chasmic Death portend a scant half year of activity, then one can only imagine what a fully realized LP would bring.

Quiescence (demo II) by Void Column

Memorandum – Menhirs… Affres [Canada, Funeral Doom] (2021)

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Self Released | 6-27-21

Did you find that Tardus Mortem album too long? Well, time for some funeral doom! That’s not a joke (for real this time). Memorandum is funeral doom metal, but it’s the most bite-sized funeral doom out there. Menhirs… Affres is a two-track release in under 30 minutes that fits right in with Worship and Ahab. This is a one-man project from Caleb Simard – and if you’re willing to feel bad about your life so far, he’s only 17 right now. Yep, 17, and put out what I currently think is one of the best funeral doom metal albums of the year. The second track brings in a wonderfully dirge-esque piano lead. That can sound hokey when does poorly, but – as both Skepticism and Memorandum demonstrates – when pulled off, it’s pulled off well. Try this out if you’re interested or already into funeral doom but you don’t want to carve out a weekend to finish an album. One can only imagine where Caleb will be in five years, let alone ten or twenty.

Menhirs… Affres by Memorandum

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.

Perilaxe Occlusion – Raytraces of Death [US, Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 6-25-21

This is one of those releases I can’t believe exists. Perilaxe Occlusion is a death metal band out of Canada that’s centered around 3D rendering techniques, computer modeling, and optics. The “Raytraces of Death” demo appears soon to blow up (so long as it’s not my disk drive, ha ha !), getting multiple physical releases through Epidemia, Blood Harvest, and Rotted Life. These three tracks are sweet HM-2-ish death with some doom influences and slightly dissonant. There’s a strong flavor of Swedeath as well, throwing harsh wrenches in the gears of the computing machine. Ah, these puns are terrible. Anyway – lots of mid-tempo grooves and breakdowns to be found, potentially agreeing with fans of Caustic Vomit and similar demos from the last few years. When this band blows up on their next demo (or LP), remember your buds at Tape Wyrm.

Oublieth – Mornelance [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Out of Season | 1-25-21

Another Cusp Record! Mornelance was released independently in the twilight hours of 2020 which would then be picked up by the very great and very reliable Out of Seaosn for tape release. January was the first time many people got to hear the work of Oublieth and their solemn worship of classic dungeon synth. Mornelance is for fans of Depressive Silence to the point where some of the synth sounds match the tones of the veteran German act. This is not to say that Mornelance is derivative rather, Oublieth continues the work of Depressive Silence and other classic era dungeon synth with a record that is both reverent to the style yet creating its own grim castles cloaked in fog. Mornelance is a dark fairy tale where wild fey live in spires among the darkness. It is magical and enchanting in its hypnosis.

Bestial Putrefaction – Gore Drenched Barbarism [Canada, Black / Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 2-3-21

HOLY SHIT. End of review. Most of my reviews are done in the morning with my morning coffee which is why I feel I gravitate to some of the more repellent sounds perhaps as a way to jumpstart my day. Bestial Putrefaction is a new entity with a 2021 demo and now another release which is 17 minutes of fluid leaking chaos. From artwork to sound to general presence, Bestial Putrefaction has found a way to be fucking disgusting without sacrificing on sound. For as much of an avalanche as this release is, Gore Drenched Barbarism is precise in its ability to grab the listener by the throat and never let go with its skeletal hands. Get wild. Get sick. Get your mind ripped open by malevolent ghosts.

Lamerak – Lamerak [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 12-29-20

this is once again a Cups release meaning it was released in the twilight hours of 2020 which I am now considering mentioning in 2021. Lamerak comes from the very new and capable Voices of Anuir which was originally a podcast that expanded to a tape label. Lamerak is actually the first tape release for the label followed by Reliquum in January of 2021. For an opening statement, Lamerk is a fantastic record for a label with a lot of promise. From the sweet medieval sounds which drift over taverns in the woods to abandoned ruins of long forgotten kingdoms, Lamerak is an adventure in under 15 minutes with a release that is structured as a narrative arc. There is many styles here displayed as an overture to a bright future for a label that seems to just be getting started.

Siegecraft – Noble Infantry [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Moonworshipper Records | 12-25-20

I am currently going through my holiday purchases and trying to catalog all of the dungeon synth that was released in the waning hours of 2020. though it is 2021 and most of this material lies on the cusp of years, I am going to make a special designation for material released in December of a year and make considerations when discussing the end of the year. This has been something that I have wanted to do for a while and Noble Infantry is one of those records which I want to include in discussions of 2021. From the band of weirdo misfits at Moonworshipper comes a surprisingly tame record whose strangeness comes in blurred edges emanating from a core of classic sounding dungeon synth. There are dungeons and dark shapes which moves through shows. At points, it sounds calm and at other times, it looms over you as a proper ghoul should. This is Mortiis worship but only in the spirt as Noble Infantry attempts to being medieval grimness back into the cusp of 2021.

Arthel – Ancient Magic of the Forest [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Serpent Swords Records | 11-21-20

This is wonderful. I have always enjoyed the nature of comfy synth even though the niche genre in the larger dungeon synth scene feels like boom that already has passed. Arthel is not a comfy synth artist though the music retains the same brightness and aesthetics just with a few key differences. First and perhaps most important is the embrace of fantasy aesthetics rather than non traditional imagery. While trains, pets, and cookie recipes have all made for fun albums, Ancient Magic of the Forest is just that; a record dedicated to the magic of the woods just cast in noble bright hues and very fitting to the fairy tale tone. It is getting late in the year and dungeon synth continues to put out wonderful records without a care for the calendar year.