Alhistja – Alhistja [Netherlands, Black / Punk] (2022)

Standard

4-8-22

I don’t think I have ever been so surprised by a guitar riff than in the middle of “TERINGFRIEDUS.” Perhaps that is follows a sinister laugh from the guttural pit of vocals or that the song abruptly ends following this bright implosion of melody. There are many things wonderful and wild about this Dutch black / punk band and at the top of the list is the ability to be surprising in offering flowers in one hand and bricks in the other. Alhistja comes partially from the black metal band Botulism and filled in with the vocalist from German death metal act Chapel of Disease. the collision of talents plus an unorthodox approach to an unorthodox style results in a very short but brilliant demo that is full of bats, piss, and searing attitudes.

Alhistja by Alhistja

Corroder – Tombs of Terror [Norway, Thrash] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 1-14-22

Corroder is when thrash metal rediscovers its punk roots. This is mad, this is pissed, this is angry. Tombs of Terror is five tracks that takes the three-chords-and-the-truth aesthetic of punk rock and rolls with all the punches and glass bottles one can take. It’s like Morbid Saint had a really bad day (and decided their drummer could scream) – a boilingly bad day, like the kind that opens up Falling Down. “At One with Chaos” drops plenty of f-bombs for any punkier take on thrash metal in lyrics as well as sound, and the tupa-tupa beats of “Death Throes” are a great match to the air siren lead guitar. The rhythm guitar cycles through simple yet effectively destroying compositions, with each vocal invective sending a new arrow in the heart. This is a hard listen, as if thrash metal decided to go back into the deepest CBGB underground rather than pivot to so much post-grunge alt-rock in the early 90s. “Kicking, squirming, dying” indeed.

Tombs of Terror by Corroder

Thermokarst – Thermokarst [Canada, Black] (2022)

Standard

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

Brånd – Wo draht da Weg? [Austria, Experimental Black / Punk] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 2-4-22

This is positively bizarre black / punk from Austria. Wo draht da Weg? is a completely out-there EP in five tracks. Though raw black metal on paper, the vocals completely eschew the typical harshness of either black metal or punk. There’s baritone prostrations to whatever god of Faust might be listening at the moment. Perhaps it’s better to describe this as black / post-punk. The title track certainly demonstrates this, with an echoing guitar lead that is slowly buried under the cacophonous percussion and lo-fi aesthetic. And then it rips right back into tupa-tupa-tupa beats that place it alongside a deranged Raspberry Bulbs. Give this a listen if you enjoy your black metal raw and wriggling.

Wo draht da Weg? by Brånd

Pale Shroud – In Sight O the Bog [UK, Raw Black] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 1-29-22

Oh frequency illusion, have heart! Bands with “shroud” in their name keep popping up in raw black metaldom. For us today, it’s In Sight O the Bog – the second demo from the anonymous Pale Shroud. In my raw black metal listenings, there exists the “Paysage threshold” of emotional resonance – a moment like in Paysage d’Hiver’s self-titled album where the violin soars through the ice-cracking tremolo. Well, In Sight O the Bog has one of those moments – it’s on “VII” where the synth briefly soars through the punky rhythms. Those little moments of “oh wow” are what elevates exceptional melodic raw black metal from the fray of so many Darkthrone worshippers – moments where the hair on my arms stands up just a bit. Pale Shroud also stands out by how punky it is; though the whisper-raps might put off, the crashing stilted percussion works (again, “VII” stands out). Alright Kap, your move on the raw black game.

In Sight O The Bog (Demo II) by Pale Shroud

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

Standard

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

Zwarte Dood – Waanzin [Belgium, Raw Black / Doom / Dark Ambient] (2022)

Standard

Zwarte Dood is one-man raw black metal group that plays an absolutely harrowing mix of raw black and doom metal. Waanzin is the act’s third demo – though it’s remarkably different from the others. Waanzin is one twenty-minute long track that starts in a ghoulish dark ambient aesthetic before evolving into positively catastrophic metal with manic vocal invectives. The man behind this project is also the main creative force behind LVTHN, and it shows in both band’s haywire compositional style. Though Zwarte Dood is far more “off” than LVTHN; I don’t recall LVTHN’s music having a full-on minute of laugh-sobbing. Waanzin is a deeply discomfiting listen but damn if it isn’t powerful as all hell.

Waanzin by Zwarte Dood

Rose Cross – Rosicrucian Song [US, Raw Black] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 1-17-22

Pull out your copies of Foucault’s Pendulum. Rose Cross is a raw black metal-cum-punk band from Florida that plays three tracks exploring the arcane. In contrast to the more rapid-fire black / punk of bands like Bone Awl or Raspberry Bulbs, Rose Cross is a bit more mid-tempo. “Ceremonies for Ancient Knowledge” is nearly ritualistic, and “Madathanus” could be described as plodding. But that doesn’t mean to imply boredom; check this out for some of that dirty raw black and punk rock sound that just might have strong feelings about prime numbers. The Templars do not hold a stake in Tape Wyrm.

Rosicrucian Song by Rose Cross

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

Standard

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

Deliriant Nerve – Uncontrollable Ascension [US, Grind] (2021)

Standard

Self Released | 2-1-22

In December 2021, I saw my first show since COVID-19 at Comet Ping Pong in north Washington, DC. Though I went for Caveman Cult, I left with a hell of an impression from a combative grindcore band named Deliriant Nerve. Birthed from the region’s incredibly strong extreme metal and punk scenes, Deliriant Nerve is a true fusion of both genres. Their debut Uncontrollable Ascension is an EP in the way only grindcore can do: nine tracks, 12 minutes, all fury. There’s breakdowns galore and rhythmic order in chaos with excellent drumming that weaves in and out of its own grooves. The band even finds enough energy to put in a minute-long noise outro into which the deathiest track on the album fades into feedback. Tracks get almost mathy, but that’s what happens when you’re blitzing through lightning-fast chord and tempo changes… how do these guys find time to breathe? There’s no cramming ideas into tracks, they just happen to be that multifarious – Deliriant Nerve makes all forty-eight seconds of “Vice” into erupting controlled chaos with no sloppiness whatsoever. Special shout-out to the bass guitarist, who is wonderfully unafraid to assert himself and adds a distinct sense of groove on “Shrapnel Spiral” and “Mouth Full of Eyes”.

Uncontrollable Ascension by Deliriant Nerve