Kryatjurr of Desert Ahd – Unbearable Nightmares of Heat and Desertification [Australia, Raw Atmospheric Black] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 6-30-22

I have spent a considerable amount of time searching for the meaning of “Kryatjurr” and looking up any references to the name. What I have surmised is I know less about this Australian project than when I started. Obscurity seems to be a veil for Kryatjurr of Desert Ahd as this black ambient project comes with little information and is even supplemented by potentially misleading lyrics. “tauhn ruo eerufg” is a jumble of the title “Haunt our Refugee which is part of this EP’s closing track. If I am spending most of this review talking about the puzzle it presents, it is because the music for Kryatjurr of Desert Ahd is deeply immersive and leaves one in an abstract space after it is finished. Through lo fi black ambient, this EP presents a charred landscape that is constantly transformed by fire as if destroyed and then rebuilt once finished. The cover for this release presents a confusing picture of dark hands reaching out from a void which is fitting for music that is continually interesting and foreboding.

Kvad – Cold & Dark, As Life [Norway, Atmospheric / Raw Black] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 6-10-22

It is difficult to type the phrase Norwegian black metal” and not have it anchor to a certain time period. For better or worse this county and style elicits certain images which is a shame for bands and artists who are just making music for the void. Kvad is related to another Norwegian black metal act Darkest Bethlehem who had one single in 2021. Cold & Dark, As Life, for Kvad, represents the debut full length following an EP in 2021. This seems like the start for the act with an explosive 30 minute statement that is full of energy and entropy. There are obvious nods to Norway’s history in black metal with frostbitten aesthetics yet Kvad succeeds as a raw black act that sculpts landscapes of torment and demise. Each of the tracks which run 4-5 minutes feel like a swirling void where the vocals bounce around walls of madness. This is truly music for the distraught and Kvad commands its like a symphony.

Collapsed Skull – Eternity Maze [US, Punk / Hardcore] (2022)

Standard

This is the type of kickstart I need everyday. All I need is coffee and a swift kick to the jaw. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this release is the non sequitur samples that are thrown in to segment the power violence which spills out of its speakers. Collapsed Skull has a good handle on harsh music but also the ability to mesh disparate styles together in some sort of horrid quilt. Both Collapsed Skull and the label Closed Casket Activities seems to be on the same page of presenting hardcore / punk / ??? in the most antisocial and dangerous way possible which is both scary and exciting.

SENTENCED 2 DIE – NO REASON TO LIVE [US, Death] (2022)

Standard

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.

Various – Black Steel from the Heart of the World [Finland, Raw Black] (2022)

Standard

Sol / Deviant Records

“Local scenes have always been crucial nuclei of the Black Metal underground. Separated from their contexts many of the most important releases we know would not have emerged the way they eventually did. Mutual inspiration, reciprocal challenging, the creative flux of ideas and at times decades long personal ties of comradeship form invaluable dynamics – a rich multitude of perspectives on the one hand, common distinctive sounds and patterns on the other. One of such spheres that constantly managed to excite us over the past years is the obscure Black Metal underground of the Jyväskylä area in the western Finnish Lakeland. Here at the dark, cold, hilly and forested slopes of the Jyväskylä ridge already plenty of Deviant Records releases originated. “Black Steel from the Heart of the World” offers a gathering of seven closely connected entities, each deeply rooted in ecstatic Black Metal yet each with their very own share of this somewhat intangible moonstruck lunacy that is born under the same moon, the same stars, the same night sky.

I feel including the Bandcamp description was important for this compilation as it captures to scope and thesis for this collection. This is also important since the music from this compilation is cast without much information. From far as I can tell most of the material is new or unreleased from these seven acts. This is exciting especially when given a focus as this is a very interconnected scene of Finnish raw black from a local region of a country. Some of these bands share members and most all of them have probably played on the same shows. there is a cohesiveness when presented with a time and place and Black Steel from the Heart of the World does just that in the loudest way possible.

Black Steel from the Heart of the World by Various

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

SHROUDED INFINITY – THROUGH CAVERNS UNKNOWN [US, Death] (2022)

Standard

Transylvanian Recordings | 4-1-22

Here we go. I guess the caps are just from the Bandcamp page, but I feel for this band, I will leave it all as exclamatory. It is unsurprising Shrouded Infinity is getting accolades. Despite this two piece having their debut EP released through Transylvanian Recordings, the power and efficacy of rhythm heavy death metal which echoes bands like Incantation and Autopsy combined with some esoteric lyrical material is a recipe for a splattered success. Everyone loves death metal with guitar solos which skate on top of heavy riffs which makes one fist curl tighter and teeth clench to a grinding level. With a tape cover that looks like it was buried in a car footwell and a sound that could be from anytime between 2019 and 2025, Through Caverns Unknown is an unmitigated triumph that I am sure will make more rounds before the end of the year.

Through Caverns Unknown by Shrouded Infinity

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

Nailwalker – The Gutted Trout of Dear Life [US, Post Black / Crust] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 3-10-22

If anything can be said about this group from Texas, is they are unexpected. While the cover for the band’s third release and first EP for 2022 looks like dark hardcore / crust, only part of that remains true. Nailwalker carefully weaves together elements of chaotic crust with more introspective and abstract post black which results in a mindbending journey into emotional ruin. From the black/punk opener “A Shocking Display of Nepotism” to the three part elongated closer “The Horn of Empty I-III,” this band holds nothing back and flings everything out like switchblades. Not everything lands perfectly but there is some elegance in broken bones and Nailwaker rides the entire way on gut feeling.

The Gutted Trout of Dear Life by Nailwalker

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