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

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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

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

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

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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)

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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

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

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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

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

Vast Night – The Mountain’s Shadow Demo [UK, Raw Black] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-3-22

The Mountain’s Shadow Demo is the first release from solo artist Vast Night, who claims to have worked on the demo for two years. Nice! Congratulations on your first release. Now what is it? Well, this demo is six tracks of raw black metal with a bit of an “atmospheric” black metal sound. But that atmosphere comes not through muddling riffs, but through a commitment to sharp guitar aesthetics (like Ulver) and significant dark ambient influence. Vast Night has a snow-tearing shriek, but the album also features a lot of reverbed spoken word that evoke an appropriately creepy tone. While the demo doesn’t really have much in terms of straight-up riffs, that’s also not entirely the point; the pain and frost is a feature, not a bug. Ever been lost at night on a talus slope? Well, with Vast Night, you could be.

The Mountain's Shadow Demo by Vast Night

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

Vintlechkeit – Is Vidder… [Norway, Black / Ambient / Drone] (2022)

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Self Released | 1-18-22

It’s been a weird week in the Chesapeake Bay. While we had a lovely month of suitably winter weather (with not a few days getting down in the single digits at night), we’ve been slapped in the face by weather that sadly can no longer be called “unseasonable”. And next week it’ll only be weirder, with highs like a late spring and lows like an late autumn. In times like these, I stick to my frozen vegetables: Paysage d’Hiver, DarkSpace, Arkhtinn, and Lunar Aurora – anything that can trick me into believing it’s actually a frosty wonderland outside (there’s a reason I no longer live in Florida). We can also add Vintlechkeit to that mix. Is Vidder… is just one part of a very, very large discography of instrumental black metal + ambient music – like a low-key (and lo-fi) version of Paysage d’Hiver’s Einsamkeit. These three Norwegians specialize in that kind of slow-burn (or slow-freeze?) type of dirge-ish but not necessarily depressive black metal, being more a long gaze toward an obfuscated sun. The first track is more guitar-oriented, whereas the second track is oscillating drone. It’s icicles made from frozen tears all the way down.

Is Vidder… (demo) by Vintlechkeit