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.

Contortion – Lapidation of the Synod [US, Death] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-1-22

Contortion and my cat at 5AM have one thing in common: they start with a minute of screaming. Lapidation of the Synod (Wiktionary tells me the first word means “the act of stoning”) is a two-track demo (three if you count the screaming… you should) of deep, deep pummeling death metal. Hey, it’s the first time I’ve used the word “pummeling” to describe a death metal demo this year. Anyway, this demo’s most interesting feature is the vocals, which are more like five-to-seven-second ejections of guttural promise. This is equal parts muttermouth and motormouth, with the vocalist spitting rapid-fire sentiments of fear and hate in between bass-heavy guitar crunches and halfway skanky kick-snare tempos. Like last year’s Exanguinated demo, my main gripe is that I want more.

Lapidation of the Synod by Contortion

Dødskvad – Krønike II [Norway, Death] (2022)

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Horses gallop into the maw of battle… therein lies Dødskvad. I hesitate to compare this to the two most over-compared bands in death metal, but to my ears, Krønike II blends Bolt Thrower and Timeghoul. Of the former, we have the chunky riffs and bass-heavy production – plus a warfare-hardened aesthetic. From Timeghoul, it’s all in the vocals: bassist/keyboardist Erlend Rønning has this strikingly enunciated roar-bellow that’s a dead ringer for “Coda Infinity”. Come to think of it, the band also has the middle-fidelity production that calls to mind NVNM – but I digress in analogies. This demo is hard but not harsh; at no points does it lapse into noise or black metal. There’s a deep aggressiveness that’s most demonstrated on “Etterlatt Til Ulver”, where Rønning uses his voice as an additional layer of percussion in the trotting guitars and dashing kick drums. The slight technical-yet-thrashy edge on “Jakten” leads into an absolute FUKK moment where guitar squelches become a veritable compositional element that culminates in Rønning’s demented laughter. Absolute must-grab.

Krønike II by DøDSKVAD

Dripping Decay – Watching You Rot [US, Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 12-31-21

Never discount the end of the year. It’s tempting to call it quits in mid-November, but there’s always something that could come out day-of that shakes it up. Dripping Decay is from Portland, OR – a region that’s developed one hell of a death metal pedigree these last few years. The Watching You Rot demo is seven tracks of rolling and ripping death metal with a significant grind aesthetic and intense barked growls. Torture Rack’s also from Portland, and I had to check if they had members in Dripping Decay given how both bands excel in writing short death metal songs that aren’t always entirely deathgrind. Short and sweet but oh so sweet, like putrid maggots. The half-chug breakdown midway through “Sadistic Excruciator” is the highlight.

Watching You Rot by Dripping Decay

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

Deathless Void – DEMO MMXXI [Netherlands, Death / Black] (2022)

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Iron Bonehead | 2-4-22

Well this is it. A release which has all of the the parts that are cool and interesting. Iron Bonehead vinyl / tape. Death / Black. Netherlands. Cryptic album cover. Even with three or two of these, I would be interested but all four makes for an exciting time. Deathless Void is a new entry into the world with this debut demo proudly displaying the bandmembers as initials. Through three blistering tracks the listener is treated to a chaotic world which is abrasive yet accessible. Dynamic riffs and a versatile sound palette makes for an easy onboarding experience into something that is potentially dangerous. This is a sound in which things seem the most intriguing and full of deathless life. Though this whole package could have been constructed based on things the internet likes, to hear it in real life hits just the same.

DEMO MMXXI by Deathless Void

Blood Upon Thorns – The Sanguinarian Oath [US, Death] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-9-22

Here’s three tracks in eight-and-a-half minutes (great Dismemberment Plan song!) from Blood Upon Thorns, a one-man death metal act based out of Tennessee. Making up superlatives would be silly: this is no-frills, straightforward death metal that hits hard. With a slightly brutal death metal aesthetic in the percussive vocal delivery, Blood Upon Thorns produces exactly what it sets out to do. The drum programming is on target, with ending track “Daemoneum” having a great echoing snare. Not much to say, but that’s not a bad thing: those looking for a crude, vicious time will be more than happy with what’s here.

The Sanguinarian Oath by Blood Upon Thorns

Penny Coffin – ΤΕΦΡΑ / ΣΚΕΛΕΤΙΚΟ ΣΚΟΤΑΔΙ [Scotland / Greece, Death / Doom] (2021 / 2022)

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Dry Cough Records | 1-15-22

ΤΕΦΡΑ / ΣΚΕΛΕΤΙΚΟ ΣΚΟΤΑΔΙ is kind of a compilation, kind of bonus material: it comprises Penny Coffin’s first two demos, but the second demo just so happened to be concurrently self-released by the band when this release was issued. Dry Cough Records thoroughly impressed me last year with incredible releases from Vaticinal Rites (my non-LP of the year), Slimelord, Plague Patrol, and Gouger; this is only another addition in an already stellar catalogue. Penny Coffin exhibits what I like to call “dissolving death metal”: death metal with hollow production, hoarse vocals, and huge layered guitars; as if one is being dissolved in acid. The first half demonstrates that caustic, primitive attitude most readily, while the second half introduces hyper-fast riffing and roar vocals. Though from two completely different recording sessions, the compilation flows strongly – the second half’s gradual introduction of gear-grinding guitars works perfectly as augmented doom. “Confinement” from the first demo and “Skeletal Darkness” from the second are the compilation’s two strongest tracks, with the latter’s fading three-note pulse eerily peering out from the gloom.

ΤΕΦΡΑ / ΣΚΕΛΕΤΙΚΟ ΣΚΟΤΑΔΙ by Penny Coffin

Blood Ouroboros – Demo MMXXII [USA, Black / Death] (2022)

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Self Released | 2-14-22

This is one of the coolest demos I’ve heard in the last few years – and that superlative isn’t for its own sake. Blood Ouroboros put out their first equally-awesome demo in 2020, which captured the attention of not a few extreme metallers who like their guitar leads at that curious superposition of melody. Two years later, and we have another – the appropriately titled Demo MMXXII. This leads from the very start with pseudo-punky black / death rhythms and chugs that show remarkable songcraft abilities within this two-piece. The production has that ever so slight guitar crunch to it, which only adds to the wrung-out growls. It’s all full and fire – and full of fire. On their Bandcamp page, the band implores “any label” who wants to release on tape to get in touch with them. I can only hope that this write-up into the aether will help them with that goal. Besides, I want one.

Demo MMXXII by Blood Ouroboros

Begravement – The Anaphylaxis Demo [USA, Death / Thrash] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-7-22

Ah, I’ve now hit that point in my life where I look upon ye band photos and despair, for I cover musicians ten years younger than me who have far better taste than I had at their age… and have been in more bands than I’ve been in now. To quote a famous extreme pop punk band – well, I guess this growing up. Enough blather. Begravement is a four-piece from Minnesota, a place so well-known for cold and ice that a bunch of Scandinavians moved there in the 1800s. This demo is their fourth release since forming in 2018, and it demonstrates one hell of an evolution. Three tracks riff between mid-90s death / thrash rippers, some terrifying spoken word (about whom I assume to be Jeffrey Dahmer), and a dual-vocal attack. The band describes the release as “represent[ing] our transition into a more intricate and technical style”, and I’m inclined to agree – a comparison to Morbid Angel would not be inappropriate, along with some punk-laden thrash on the mid-track break of the title track. There’s a slight undercurrent of melodic death metal, especially in how the vocal tactics are slightly reminiscent of an early Black Dahlia Murder (think “Funeral Thirst”). One would be tempted to say this is impressive given their age, but I find that an unnecessary (and condescending) qualifier – this is impressive, stop. While one may point to the stitched-together riffs being a little too stitched-together, it’s very exciting to hear a band so fresh with ideas that they want to include all of them in as much time as 15 minutes will allow. Suffocation, no breathing – this is my anaphylaxis demo. (go home, booo, you’re not funny sunn_bleach)

The Anaphylaxis Demo by Begravement