Effluence – Ballistic Bloodspray [US, Brutal Death / Grind / Noise] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-9-21

I can’t imagine a better title to this EP: this is a ballistic spray of blood. No question. The Czech deathgrind band Contrastic notably merged totally non-metal instruments into their self-titled LP (the one with The Little Mermaid on the cover); but if they were the fun one in the family, then Effluence is like the unhinged younger brother who took his sibling’s imagery a bit too far. This 12-minute EP is an absolutely bonkers mix of technical death metal, brutal death metal, grindcore, and noise. There’s the slightest bit of remaining wonkyness that hints at a sense of humor(???), like the piano on “Unending Separation” and the clarinet on both “Unholy Liquid” and “Miasma of Entrails”. It’s weird, experimental, and intense music – similar to what Genophobic Perversion is doing, and this feels a little more polish in perversity. Celebrate in good vibes.

Ballistic Bloodspray by Effluence

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

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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.

Æumbra – Æumbra [US, Black] (2021)

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Self Released | 5-26-21

A search for “Æumbra metal” reveals exactly nine results, none of which tell me much about this band. From what I can tell, they’re a fresh US black metal act with at least one member. I don’t believe we’re at the point of deep fakes for raw black metal. This demo features 21 minutes of strongly melodic raw black metal more so than the punk- and/or noise-inspired strain. Vocals are a constant high-pitched screech but not annoyingly so; more like Silenius from the early Abigor releases in that raspy affect. There’s a ton of wonderfully written tremolo leads that hearken back to the early second-wave Norwegian black metal aesthetic, but in no way does it sound tired. In fact, the paunchy bass lines give this a slight “oomph” where the rawer-than-your-average-bear production really bolsters the melodic sound. While most of them follow root notes, they bolster the leads ever so slightly to make the demo stand as a sonically impressing work. If you can’t tell, I really like this – and the higher-pitched vocals round out the sound to make everything sound dynamic in a way I can’t describe without sounding like a goober or a pedant. Basically (hah!), there’s serious promise for an LP, and I hope they keep that semi-raw sound for the future. It does well.

Batholith – Alpine Tomb [US, Death / Doom] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-23-21

A batholith is an igneous rock formation that extends deep into the earth, like Half Dome at Yosemite. Neat! What’s not neat is dying on a mountain. This is precisely the concept behind “Alpine Tomb” from Batholith, the Connecticut duo’s debut LP after last year’s EP. This 40-ish minute album describes the slow, harrowing process of experiencing hypothermia, starvation, high-altitude sickness, and psychological terror that would occur with having an immobilizing accident on an alpine peak. This is paired with dissolving death/doom with a hollow vocal aesthetic that might appeal to fans of Cianide’s “The Dying Truth” or Infester’s “To the Depths, in Degradation”. The album ends with appropriately mournful clean leads that demonstrate the ign(eous)ominious ending to the body being slowly encased in ice as the deep freeze sets in. Enjoy your summer!

Ritual Laceration – Putrid Womb [US, Black / Death / Noise] (2021)

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Life After Death | 5-18-21

Ritual Laceration’s “I” demo was one of my favorites of 2019, so hearing that this “dual bass bestial black metal” group had another one out was an insta-sell for someone who likes to blend his death metal with noise and whey protein. And wow, this is noisy. The first demo was a strong delivery of two bass guitars where each track steadily increased to maximum controlled cacophony (not unlike the Italians in Thecodontion). “Putrid Womb” adds shards of glass to the mix with a distinct overdrive that contrasts with the previous demo’s relative cleanliness. Not that this band was ever “clean” – maybe in the sense of how a wound can be clean in the hands of a responsible scalpel-holder. In that case, the metaphor here is the rats on the cover: an infesting mix of the harshest drive where redlining is a feature, not a bug. “Putrid Womb” also features some excellent Diocletian-sounding manic solos that are barely demonstrative of normal musical ability and instead have that wonderful “ready to explode” aesthetic. And indeed it does explode – the indistinct vocals samples come in and out of the mix at the most (in)opportune time, sliding in and out of varying levels of discord. If you’re into chaos (and I have a feeling you are if you read Tape Wyrm), then grab “Putrid Womb”.

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

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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!

Vorvadoss / Magic Find – Moondrawn, Foul​-​Crescent Rapture [US / Australia, Dungeon Synth / Dark Ambient] (2021)

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Attic Shrines | 1-21-21

When I found Attic Shrines, I knew I wanted to highlight this tape label. Lucky for me, there was only one release this year which makes it easy to frame in terms of releases since this is the best Attic Shrines release in 2021. I have always had an interest in drone/noise/ritual ambient and find its relation to dungeon synth fascinating since this type of synth is always lying underneath other genres like some interconnected catacomb that anyone can enter if they get lost enough. Attic Shrines may release more infrequently to the average dungeon synth artist yet their tapes are from some of the more intriguing artists. This combined with a underground black metal aesthetic and one has dungeon synth that has been left in crypts for centuries. Moondrawn, Foul​-​Crescent Rapture is a split between Australian Vorvadoss and US Magic Find. both tracks which equal to around 30 minutes are a wonderful blend of depressive noise and dissonant memories which float through ruined cathedrals at dawn. I look forward to following this label even though they remain ghostly and elusive. Dungeon synth comes in many varieties and it is always wonderful to find more to be haunted by.

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

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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.

źmiarćvieły – čornaje połymia [?, Black] (2021)

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Caligari Records | 5-21-21

Caligari always comes through in terms of pulling me back into a world of rot and despair. At this time of writing this review, this band has no Metal Archives entry, nor any other Bandcamp page, nor anything on the internet about its existence. This band exists only as an ugly six minute black metal track which feels like it was birthed in a witches hut and now is running towards the nearest town gibbering unholy speech. This preview track is a grotesques sound and the tone of the raw production combined with the lack of information gives this release the amount of excitement and potential dismay it deserves. I thank Caligari for being there for me reaching a hand in a cauldron and pulling out something that should never had existed.

Effluvium – Symphony No. 2 [US, Dungeon Synth / Experimental] (2021)

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Moonworshipper Records | 1-1-21

I do not think Effuvium ever intended to make dungeon synth but got caught running around with contemporary classical and noise music to really care what time curfew was. Symphony #1 is dedicated to Dimitri Shostakovich with a quote the feels like it is attributed to the Russian pianist but is another false flag in a theater of odd red herrings. Walking a line of experimental and apocalyptic sounds, Effluvium makes music much in the same way people wake up from night terrors.

This was a review I did of Effluvium’s 2017 release Symphony #1. This was also the release which solidified my love for dungeon synth which had trouble hiding its weirdness. In fact, it was a closing entry in a short lived Best of the Weird collection for 2017. Effluvium was something special for me and recently I heard my reviews were something special for its creator. It was only this year I learned of the passing of Jake Dunwoody (J. R. D.) and Symphony No. 2 was a posthumous construction of the last piece he composing. Even outside this personal connection for me, Effluvium has always represented an avatar of weird in this genre and urges listeners to be as strange as they want to be. Without limits or bounds, Symphony No. 2 is an overture to the frightening freedom of chaos, a procession for all of the idiosyncrasies and predilections one possesses but never shares. IT is a march of the strange and for J. R. D., it is a coda to a wonderful life. I thank everyone involved in this process for I know it means the world to to those who knew him and oddly those many who just knew him in music.