Occulsed – Crepitation of Phlegethon [USA, Death] (2021)

Standard

Everlasting Spew | 9-17-21

We all have our heuristics in pre-judging music, and one of mine is “does the album art evoke Zdzisław Beksiński”. If the answer is “yes”, then there’s a baseline 20 percent chance that I’m going to enjoy it regardless of anything else. Yeah, I’m basic, so what? It’s not like I’m only into drip coffee and indie Metroidvanias or something. Anyway, Occulsed’s choice of album art was a must-listen for me – and it did not disappoint at all. This is primarily the brainchild of Jared Moran and Justin Stubbs – both of whom have been in a metric fuckton of bands (e.g. Encoffination, Father Befouled, and Draug). This is completely early 90s death metal: there’s that off-kilter and unsettlingly airy production style, a brutal death metal-lite style of songwriting that recalls NY death metal, and a stitched-together approach to songwriting that occasionally sounds more like a collection of distinct riffs than cohesive compositions. I don’t mean that third one in a bad way: I love that kind of sound. It’s half of why I’m so obsessed with the year 1992 (the other being Sister Act). Kenneth Parker’s vocals match the style of music with his breathy approach to deep, deep growls. An album like this is practically tailor-made to my interests; if you’re picking up what I’m putting down in the least bit, then give Occulsed a listen.

Crepitation Of Phlegethon by Occulsed

Perdizione – Descend Without Fortune [USA, Black / Punk] (2021)

Standard

Spiritual Disease | 4-16-21

A Xeroxed photo of a hanging as the album art? Tell me, is this black metal or a Controlled Bleeding demo from 1984? Oh, it’s black metal – and oh boy is it spooky. This year, there’s a plethora of black metal and punk rock hybrids that are immensely unsettling. Not that the hybrid has ever been amiss from disturbing subject matter – I’m not going to play Bone Awl at my little brother’s wedding – but it tends to be more intense in visual art and subject matter than the sound itself. Perdizione is an example of a demo where it’s just straight-up unnerving. Diavolo Odioso (translation: “Hateful/Hated Devil”, implying both qualities at once) presents 17 minutes of pain to music. Did you check out the Grinning Death’s Head EP from earlier this year? Like that, but as a demo, and far more misanthropic. There’s a delay effect to the vocals that I’m not usually into within extreme metal, but it works here for a similar reason to Arckanum; almost like a more evil, intense, and obscene version of that band. Recommended for fans of the aforementioned Grinning Death’s Head as well as the Леший demo from this year.

Exsanguinated – Millions of Tortured Souls [USA, Death] (2021)

Standard

Self-Released | 11-3-21

New York death metal’s brutal, pummeling aesthetic comes to the forefront on Exsanguinated’s first-ever release. This two-track demo recalls the hollow horror in the production of Immolation and Morpheus Descends, but with a spacious (though I wouldn’t say cavernous) approach to death metal songwriting that’s distinctly contemporary death metal. “Demon Infested Tomb” is like Pan.Thy.Monium after listening to too much Cop-era Swans; perhaps not industrial, but definitely churning, and with the open-throated hoarse growl that invoked Raagoonshinaah. Pinch harmonics buried under dust abound, as if the metal is entombed beneath the cemetery’s centerpiece. In nine minutes, Exsanguinated hits the autumnal nature of things ending; or perhaps here, they’re already rotted.

Millions Of Tortured Souls by Exsanguinated