Showing posts with label cd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cd. Show all posts

Lvcifyre- "Svn Eater" CD/LP (Dark Descent)

Greetings readers. Thanks for being patient with my slight delay in reviews. Today we're visiting an album that's only been out for a couple days and has already been causing quite a stir in the general metal media. I tend to try to steer clear of releases that are receiving larger amounts of coverage, but this one impressed me enough to warrant sharing with my readers. With a name like Lvcifyre, I would normally be slightly hesitant about the music, as the whole business of substituting "v' for "u" is typically an indication of campy junk, but even my first listen yielded great interest. It's evident these guys are dead serious and focused on cultivating a truly evil atmosphere, not just playing with Satanism for laughs.

While Svn Eater lurches in slowly with a nearly five-minute long buildup on opener "Night Seas Sorcery," the rest of the album's nearly fifty minutes passes quickly with very few moments of relief. While the lyrical and visual aesthetic of the album is clearly rooted in black metal's symbolism, this is very much an efficient and precise exercise in death metal perfection. Guitars swirl and roar in lower frequencies, yet don't tread into the more subterranean horror that's so popular now. Instead, this is a modern take on the classic aggression of early 90's acts, relentless and full of great riffs. In fact, the mix is crystal clear without treading into slick or obnoxious territory. Everything is crisp and balanced, exactly as it should be, with just enough variety and nuance to keep things from being a simple rehash of a genre overplayed. Copies of this album are officially on sale from Dark Descent now, so grab it on the format of your choice while it's available.

Dalla Nebbia- "The Cusp of the Void" CD (Razed Soul Productions)

American black metal act Dalla Nebbia doesn't just dabble in unorthodox black metal sounds, it revels in taking the traditional and expanding upon it in a majestic way. With "The Cusp of the Void," Dalla Nebbia's debut full-length, they seem poised to place themselves among bands like Enslaved and Agalloch, with songs that feel equally at home in wintry black metal atmospheres as they do pushing the boundaries into slightly less conventional territory.

While galloping drums and meandering guitars are tried and true trademarks of the genre, these only appear to provide a foundation upon which the band builds a strangely familiar yet unique atmosphere. Synths echo stringed instruments, replicating the folk-inspired feeling of fiddles and violins, yet the band doesn't just cash in and head straight into folk landscapes. Instead, as with everything Dalla Nebbia does, they dip their toes in and carry a bit of it with them as they continue on their journey. Even the seemingly acoustic interlude track "Sovereign Moments" builds up into something slightly more present and full-formed than I might have anticipated. It seems fitting to me that these guys end their debut offering with a cover of a classic Windir tune, as they seem to share the same wandering spirit. Their musical products may differ, but the approach and effect on the listener turn out quite similarly. These eight tracks capture the sensation of being surrounded by a white flurry of snow and chaos. It's blindingly beautiful yet potentially lethal. In other words, it's exactly what I love to hear in my black metal.

Five hundred copies of this promising debut have been released by Razed Soul Productions. As always, I recommend purchasing a copy if you're at all interested in this group. However, for skeptics and those of us who can't afford to buy everything we like, the band has the whole album streaming on their bandcamp, with a purchase price set at only $5.

New Music: Empty Suits, Arbre, & Horse Drawn Death Machine

Empty Suits- "MMXIII" CS (Self-Released)
Holy hell this one came as a surprise. Lots of bands contact me referencing classics like Motorhead, Celtic Frost, Venom, and the like. Few bands deliver in such a filthy and delightful way. Empty Suits' self-titled demo release captures the rawness of classic first wave black metal and pairs it with the genuine fun of punk rock. Including phrases black metal and punk rock in the same sentence does not, however, make these guys fit in with the likes of Bone Awl. Instead, think of the morbidly catchy aggression from dudes like Abscess and you'll be somewhat on your way to picturing Empty Suits. With only one live performance to date, these guys are as fresh as it gets, so hop on it while the getting's good. Free download or cheap cassette--the choice is yours.


Arbre- "II" CD-r (Distant Voices)
Described by its label as "a solitary journey amongst the labyrinths of mother nature," Arbre's "II" is an album I could hardly find better words to explain. These four tracks of blissfully hazy wintry black metal nearly occupy an entire hour, and the process from start to finish is indeed a journey. While my first listen yielded a dense world of fog, snow, and greyscale forests, the more I revisit this album, the more things pop out to me. Much like straining to see a distant shape in the midst of a snowstorm or heavy rainfall, Arbre's true direction only reveals itself when the listener becomes a part of the album rather than a distant observer. Murky field recordings, dense black metal, and occasional acoustic interludes all work together to create one of the most exciting proper black metal albums I've heard in a while. Only 76 copies of this limited CD-r have been created, so act quickly to obtain yours.


Horse Drawn Death Machine- "No Light" (Self-Released)
This brief EP from Ohio-based Horse Drawn Death Machine is something of an experiment in loving metal of all sorts in the internet age. Psychedelic black metal swirls in and out of urgent mid-2000s melodic death metal with a ton of stoner rock influences. The end result is an album that works just as well for the "party metal" crowd as it does for the serious headbanger. While possibly not grim enough for some of my purist black metal readers, this is an incredibly good time from a group of musicians who know how to mix their influences well without creating a sloppy mess. This one is only up for streaming, but it looks like they've got a full-length coming in 2014, so keep your eyes on these guys.

New music: Brennendes Gehirn & Dorian Williamson, thisquietarmy, Australasia, and The Chewers

Today we're visiting four albums for our music post instead of the usual three. The reason is that none of these are quite typical Black Metal & Brews releases, yet all four are worth your time and energy. For the readers with a broader appreciation of music (which seems to be most of you), I hope you'll visit with each of these releases and enjoy yourself.

Brennendes Gehirn & Dorian Williamson- "Rites of the Aethyr" CD (Antithetic)
This collaborative effort by Brennendes Gehirn and Dorian Williamson of Northumbria fame is everything I'd want in a versatile droning noise release. Three tracks that are unique even in context of the album they share, as each features a different lineup. The first track, "Involution," belongs to Dorian Williamson. It has an almost womb-like security and palpable emotion in the texture of its circular drones, the rest of the album is decidedly more ominous. The title track is a collaborative effort between both artists, and features a bit of percussion and chanting early on, yet grows into spiraling, crackling madness. Ending the album is the monumentally creepy "Geheimnis," an offering from Brennendes Gehirn, which begins with two or three minutes of speech before growing into some of the most somber and haunting noise atmospheres I've heard this year. Listen to this song in an empty parking lot on a windy night, watching paper and litter blow along. It's hard to feel like you aren't the last person on earth. The album's progression feels like the slow and final fade of the brain as one enters the realm of death. Perhaps there's more to it than that, but the vastness and severity of this release certainly work in my understanding of it. This is absolutely worth your time and interest, so grab a copy as soon as you're able.

thisquietarmy- "Hex Mountains" CD/LP (Denovali)
thisquietarmy has typically been the one-man project of Eric Quach, and while it still is, this album features many guest appearances, including the previously discussed Dorian Williamson. thisquietarmy's trademark sounds are all present on this release of subtle yet dynamic doom and drone, and if anything, this is probably the most expansive release I've heard from this artist.  Perhaps it's the influence of others, as this feels like a very organic album. Nothing is forced, nothing seems to be scrutinized. Instead, the flow of these songs feels like one artist creating something and allowing others to leave their own delicate marks. Triumphant guitars soar across the peaks of snow-capped mountains, while live drums punctuate the already breathtaking intensity and beauty created by Quach in the opening track. In contrast, many segments of this album are passages of minimal sound, with delicate waves of drone crashing off in the distance, balancing out the massive nature of the heavier passages.  While this can be a dark and personal affair at times, I feel a sense of rebirth and self-discovery when listening to this album. As always, it's featured here, so I recommend obtaining a copy.

Australasia- "Vertebra" CD (Immortal Frost Productions)
Italian post-rockers Australasia already graced my site earlier this year with a very solid EP debut. Now they've returned with a full-length album, featuring some of the tracks from their EP as well as some interesting new territory. There's a much stronger vocal presence on this album, although it's still primarily an instrumental affair. These guys are now dabbling in everything from tremolo picking heaviness to subtle synth beauty to dark trip-hop inspired passages, yet it still feels like a very natural progression for these musicians who clearly love experimenting and playing with each other. Fans of progressive or otherwise playful music should enjoy this greatly. Purchase a copy of this album from Immortal Frost while they're still available. Also note--the bandcamp link above only has a small selection of songs from this album, which is far longer than bandcamp would have you think.

The Chewers- "Chuckle Change and Also" (Self-Released)
The Chewers are by far the strangest band I've featured here, and for their strangeness they've burrowed a funky little hole into my heart. Their music feels like a mix of the broken junkyard blues of late-80's Tom Waits and the unconventional madness of The Residents at pretty much any time in the past forty years. This stuff might fall under the whole "outsider music" tag but I'd be the last person to consider myself an expert on it.  Many of the songs are on the shorter side but it works nicely. Rather than allowing tunes to feel like good ideas that stretch on longer than they need, The Chewers let each song exist as it needs to, with no extra instrumentation or needlessly long songs. Purchase a download from their bandcamp and immerse yourself in the oddness. If you're at all curious about the weirder side of music, you need to hear The Chewers.

New music: Judas Christ, Nostalgique, Craar

Judas Christ- "American Gulag" CS (Male Activity)
This four song cassette marks South Carolina death industrial outfit Judas Christ's debut, and boy is it a handful. Waves of minimalist noise crash back and forth over sparse percussion and shredded howling in opener "Labourgrave." The constant restraint and bare approach are what make "American Gulag" more than just an experiment in horror from another young noise group. It's obvious that these creeps know exactly when and where they want to add the uneasiness and it's the expert control of atmosphere that ultimately makes this such a convincingly dark album. Lyrics seem to focus mostly on the inherently oppressive nature of capitalism, hence the smothering dread all around. This tape is limited to fifty copies and seems to have been selling rather well. Get it from Male Activity while supplies last.

Nostalgique- "Veil" (Self-Released)
Nostalgique is the solo project from a member of Baltimore black metal group Barbelith. This album is a forty minute testament to the potential of the "depressive" black metal subcategory. While groups aiming at sounding bleak usually just sound cheesy to me, there's a buzzsaw-like consistency to the fuzz here that really does it right. There's just enough pain and misery to feel urgent and honest without falling into cliches and the melodramatic suicidal claptrap that surround this otherwise promising community. At moments Nostalgique even delves into the subtle beauty of "Souvenirs" era Alcest, which really broadens things and prevents this release from turning into mindless repetition. This sounds like it was recorded in a small home studio setup, but the rawness is welcome in such a somber release. Isolation reigns supreme here and this makes for a great solo listen. Download it for the price you desire from Nostalgique's bandcamp page.

Craar- "In Solitary Minds" CD (Self-Released)
"In Solitary Minds" is the debut full-length album from Belgian atmospheric black metal group Craar. This album works well on many levels for me, with surprisingly crisp production for a black metal debut and instantly familiar yet original tunes. These guys are working on a slightly bigger feeling sound, with crunchy guitar tones and open chords that resonate endlessly to contrast with black metal that seems to take influence from progressive giants like Enslaved. The overall clarity and largeness of sound do not prevent Craar from buckling down and producing some fast and aggressive black metal, and in fact serve to further accent these chaotic passages. Craar's ambition seems to be to break into the larger black metal community and with an album this well honed and clever, they stand a good chance of receiving more widespread recognition with future releases. Order a CD from the band directly via bandcamp.

New Music: Smorg, Astral Rebirth, Being

Smorg- "A Morbid Chapter" CDr (Self-Released)
Have you, dear readers, ever wished for the maddened howls of LLN-inspired black metal to be fused with the punkier side of grindcore? Smorg sees an absence of this in the overall metal community and is filling this void. The rawness of this demo only adds to the fabulously murky sound these guys have crafted. While the songs are aggressive and the vocals are as inhuman as it gets, there are occasional melodic leads that are well integrated, allowing for even less adventurous listeners to become assimilated as Smorg grows to engulf the weak. The CD-r the band sent me is about as DIY and simple as it gets. My laptop even refuses to play it (although other devices of mine seem to have no issue--thanks computer), perhaps because it can't handle the intensity of Smorg's assault. With songs like "Spilling Imperial Blood" being both addictive and vicious, it's safe to say these guys deserve a listen. They just released a split with Cold Crypt on Depressive Illusions, so snag a copy of that if you enjoy what you hear.

Astral Rebirth- "Surrendered to the Black Immensity" CD (Winterglow Records)
Immensity is as apt a term as any to describe the majestic black atmospheres Astral Rebirth creates on this beast of an album. I've had the promo email sitting in my inbox for four months, and like the fool I am, I've listened many times and neglected to review it. This hazy brand of ambient black metal is perfect for rainy days, contemplation, and even winding down in the evening. That's not to say that Astral Rebirth makes mellow music, but it embodies heavy grey days and clear starry nights. On a deeper level, the name and the atmosphere here make it clear that this music comes from a place of deep focus and possibly self-reflection. I'm not able to speak to the themes on this release, but these songs capture a vastness and timelessness that I can't quite place. It appears that copies are sold out from the label, although I'd keep an eye out, as I'm sure more will emerge.

Being- "II: Nyx" (Super-Void)
If Astral Rebirth isn't cosmic enough for your liking, Being's most recent release will surely capture the right state for you. Easily the cleanest recording featured in this post, "II: Nyx" is a two-track affair of cosmic melancholy. Opener "Hypnos" has a purposefully repetitive vocal melody, driving a sense of great emptiness in over the course of many minutes while the music spirals from somber to chaotic. Closer "Ex Nihilo" is decidedly more planted in progressive metal territory, yet doesn't lean towards needless noodling. There are absolutely no harsh vocals on this album, which might not suit all fans of extreme music but works quite nicely here, with a clean presence that is firm yet almost ghostly in its wavering nature. The bleakness of the music and the solemn determination of the vocals work together to create an elegant and multifaceted album. While just under twenty minutes in length, "II: Nyx" feels fully realized and lacks little. Download it from the Super-Void/Being bandcamp.

Anagnorisis- "Beyond All Light" CS/CD (Self-Released/Like Young Records)

Anagnorisis initially contacted me a few months ago with a simple "hello" email and a note that they had their music up for free on bandcamp. I listened briefly and enjoyed what I heard and promptly slept on their music like I'm so good at doing. Today I decided to get with it and give them another listen. I'm already on my second play-through of their new album today and I'm disappointed in myself for sitting on such a monstrous album. With that in mind, these fellas get their own entire post so that we can really delve deep here.

Anagnorisis plays an urgent and almost cinematic form of black metal, with twists and turns aplenty but a primary focus on straight-up aggression. Unconventional instruments such as mandolin, violin, and saxophone all make appearances here, but Anagnorisis implements them organically rather than turning the music into a jazz/classical hybrid of black metal as many bands are tempted to do when incorporating such instruments. On tracks like "This Cursed Blood," you can feel the pain that Anagnorisis pours into the music, making the experience more personal and wholly fulfilling. The personality of the music really strengthens the whole atmosphere, removing the need for genre descriptions and instead making an experience that is evocative for the listener. While "symphonic" elements appear from time to time (often a big downer for my tastes personally), they serve to accent such glorious moments that their presence only emphasizes the beauty and melancholy crafted by this vicious machine. The two separate halves of this album (or sides of the tape) do feel like two distinct statements, yet both work together as one unified beast. The production here allows for sufficient clarity to hear the music but does nothing to mess with the raw ferocity these guys generate. I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy this album and wish I'd been on my feet to review it sooner.

Luckily for all of us, this album is available in many different ways through their bandcamp. Whether you're looking for an affordable download (only $5 for the whole album), a limited tape, CD, or shirt, you can grab it all. Tapes are available in red and black from the band, and yellow from Like Young Records. Hop on this now, as only 100 tapes exist and these guys are sure to sneak up on the overall metal underground with an album this intense. Previous albums are also still up for free download, so you can collect the whole back catalog pretty easily and catch up with this group.

New from Glorious North Productions: Nordland & Vesterian CDs

Glorious North Productions is a UK-based label dedicated to releasing black metal from a select few artists, hand-picked for their commitment to high quality output. While a new label to me, their two newest releases have done their part to impress me and convince me that this label knows what it's doing. Visit Glorious North's website to snag each of these CDs after reading my review.

Vesterian- "Anthems for the Coming War Age"
Vesterian's galloping war-themed assault comes in with much more beauty than I would have expected from an album with such a title. While vocals are croaked out in the grimmest of fashions, the music is well balanced, with rapid-fire guitar leads balancing out the more aggressive black metal passages, making for a more melodic and listenable release than one might expect. On songs like the impressive and daunting "Unknown Spells Cast from Nibiru's Watch Towers" Vesterian delivers everything that made me curious about black metal in the first place: fantasy themed song titles with meandering song structures that are full of melody and intrigue but also defiantly keep a step or two ahead of the listener's expectations. While this release doesn't quite strike me as evil or vicious, the imagery and album title are perfect accompaniments to this maniacal music. If this is what war sounds like, I'm not quite ready to give up my own peaceful ways, but I'm intrigued and impressed by the great art it inspires.

Nordland- "The True Cult of the Earth"
While Vesterian seems intent on focusing on the subject and feeling of the battlefield, Nordland's similarly confrontational black metal focuses on reclaiming the earth for those who truly work with it in the traditional heathen fashion. The music plays a bit more with paces, working just as well at a crawl as at punky faster speeds. While albums with themes of reclamation of the land and regional identity tend to make me a bit anxious about tentative judgment of "outsiders" from a racial or social perspective, Nordland seems more focused on raising up those who would truly tend to the timeless lands they love so well, visiting mythical themes that evoke majestic imagery. If the Bathory influence isn't implied in the name of this project, it certainly is present in the music in the best way possible. I feel I could march along under Nordland's guidance for ages. This is truly uplifting and gorgeous music that makes me wish more folks working in the pagan/heathen-centric genres of black metal would hit the formula this well.

New Music: Australasia, Sleestak, Incinerated Divinity

Today's batch of reviews examines a few releases that tread outside the realms of black metal and noise on which I so often focus. Instead, here's an offering of some great new bands playing other enjoyable forms of music.

Australasia- "Sin4tr4" Digital EP (Self-Released/Golden Morning Sounds)
Australasia is starting things off today with a stunning display of instrumental post-rock brilliance. Let's make things clear from the start here: post-anything can be a dirty phrase, but don't let the thousands of Explosions in the Sky clones prevent you from examining this release. These guys draw influence from the intense pace and tremolo picking of more traditional black metal, throw in the urgency of well crafted hardcore, and blend it all into a deceptively pretty package. This is probably one of the most accessible albums I've featured, yet I find myself frequently revisiting it, captivated by the delicate beauty Australasia has managed to carve out of such dark inspirations. This release appears to only be available digitally, but they've got a new release entitled "Vertebra" coming out in the near future on Immortal Frost Productions.

Sleestak- "Book of Hours" CD (Self-Released)
Not so sure you'd like to be lifted up by your music? Then perhaps getting low with the psychedelic sludge created by Sleestak will suit your needs. Unlike most sludge-related music referenced here, this muddy madness touches more on the early 70's hard rock and heavy metal with occasional nods to modern doom. This isn't a filth-fest, it's just slow, heavy, and a really good time. Organs follow bluesy guitars as you are invited into decadence and indulgence by the band's seductively smooth jams.  My personal favorite tune, "Lone Wolf," feels like the smoky aftermath of a battlefield as viewed from the sole survivor. There are only six tracks streaming on the bandcamp, but obtaining this album gets you an extra four bonus tracks, including two demos from 2004, a live track, and the instrumental backing track for "Lone Wolf," all of which double the length of the album. Needless to say, I recommend purchasing this, so hop on it and support these talented doomsters.

Incinerated Divinity- "Incinerated Divinity" Digital EP (Self-Released)
I'm leaving this release last since I'm attaching the whole album as a stream here, and boy is this ever worth hearing. While I'm rarely into tech death these days, their merciless assault is both enjoyable and mosh-worthy. Vocals howl out from some sort of timeless void while the band seamlessly integrates groove heavy passages into their breakneck death metal madness. Even on my tinny little laptop speakers, the production shows through so nicely, with bass actually distinguishing itself from the guitars. On a proper sound system, this album is absolutely crushing. For a band with only a couple shows beneath their belts, these guys are rapidly preparing themselves for death metal domination. Musicality and aggression are both cranked to 100% while presenting something both familiar and new all at once. Download this EP for free and buy a shirt from their store to show them how much you appreciate the free tunes.

New from Temple of Torturous: Fyrnask and Vom Fetisch Der Unbeirrtheit

Temple of Torturous has graced Black Metal & Brews once this year already with a couple of the most pleasantly surprising releases I'd received, so when I heard there would be more, I knew I had to check these out. Once again, these groups are almost entirely new to me (although I'd heard the name Fyrnask thrown around a bit) so it's been enjoyable coming into this review with virgin ears, so to speak. Let's not waste any time here, as these albums are already up for pre-order. Time to read the reviews and decide if these are for you.

From the beginning of Fyrnask's newest offering, "Eldir Nott," there is an uncanny sense of coldness. Not necessarily in the grim, pure icy evil black metal sense. Instead, I feel the beauty and slight darkness of seeing my breath at night and watching snow slowly take over my surroundings. The production on this album gives the right amount of clarity to Fyrnask's elegantly layered atmospheric black metal while still allowing it to retain its edges. Nothing is cleaned up into oblivion, instead it's nicely presented so that I can hear what I'm trying to hear. As the intro fades into the first "proper" song, "Vigil," the coldness becomes something of a heavy blanket. Still, this music doesn't feel evil so much as it feels passionate, perhaps even deeply spiritual or personal to the artist. The songs flow as almost a seamless piece rather than as a collection of independent songs, allowing for me to fully immerse myself in the dark and fantastic landscape created by Fyrnask's music. It's sometimes suffocating, sometimes tranquil, but it's constantly captivating. If you've ever wanted to go into a snow-covered forest at night and meditate upon your darkest personal demons until the sunrise comes to thaw you from the chilling intensity of your own uneasiness, this might make the perfect soundtrack. This brilliant album is already one of my top releases of the year, and it's unlikely that something will come along to challenge it. Snag this on 2xLP (black or splatter) or CD formats while they last.

Removing oneself from the meditative personal journey of Fyrnask is quite easy when Vom Fetisch Der Unbeirrtheit's jagged and cerebral electronic-heavy black metal assault on "Vertilger" starts with things cranked to eleven. For an album obsessed with the concept of decomposition, it's appropriate that things feel like a series of synapses misfiring. I'm not musically inclined enough to comment on time signature, but VFdU clearly enjoys toying with stop-start dynamics and sporadic drumming that will keep even the most math-oriented listeners on their toes. The vocals are often throaty and painful on this album, and the music is maddening in a way that even makes me feel uncomfortable at times. Conventions such as genre and form are thrown aside to create something truly depraved and unsettling, perhaps this would be a dance party for the sickest of souls, but I find it hard to do much more than simply keep up with the music. I often indicate that an album is challenging, but this album will challenge even those in search of difficult music, which to me is a good thing, but I can easily see this being intimidating to folks who like their metal to be predictable or familiar. Frequently I find songs disintegrating into electronic mush with little regard for length or anything else that most artists use to create boundaries. The album's centerpiece is even a sparse and glitchy industrial piece that feels like it could be at home equally well on a power electronics album as in the midst of this black madness. Normally a release with such little restraint would feel like a forced experiment in excess, but it seems that VFdU is constantly in control of this psychotic acid trip of an album, and the brief moments of overwhelming sound are so well integrated that I can and do find it to be worth visiting. Even if you're not that brave with your musical choices, this is a great example of how to properly generate chaos in your music without allowing your songs to become bloated and masturbatory. Grab this CD (with or without a patch) and lose yourself for a while. Sometimes losing your mind is the sanest thing you can do.

New Music: Welter In Thy Blood, Waves Crashing Piano Chords & Tanner Garza, and A Void In Coma,

Today we're going to delve into some albums that embody the coldness, anxiety, and horror that I love so much. If you're looking for some music to really saturate your environment with darkness, this post is for you.

Welter In Thy Blood- "Todestrieb" digipack CD (Dusktone)
Welter In Thy Blood's newest offering, "Todestrieb" approaches slowly, like the onset of old age and the weakness that accompanies it.  A low frequency static rumbles across the desolation of an empty wasteland as the band readies itself to deliver an ominous offering of slow and bleak industrialized doom. In many ways, the miserable territory covered here reminds me of the slower moments of Blut Aus Nord's "Work Which Transforms God," with layers of guitar collapsing in on themselves in a way that is just melodic enough to retain the attention of even skeptical listeners. Vocals howl in and around the song like icy winds, but seldom come to the forefront, which further darkens the atmosphere. While I've grown a bit skeptical of bands with nearly indecipherable logos, I'm really glad I gave this one a listen, as it's been something of an obsession for me for the past couple weeks.  The label's based out of Italy, but it's worth the cost of shipping. Grab a copy here.

Waves Crashing Piano Chords & Tanner Garza- "de Sade" CS (Forever Escaping Boredom)
This collaborative effort from two very different noise-based artists creates a chilling environment in which gently humming tape loops set an ethereal yet eerie backdrop for high-pitched feedback and chaos. For the uninitiated, Garza (also a member of the legendary Black Leather Jesus) is the loop mastermind, while WCPC brings the feedback-heavy assault. When vocals appear, they seem to mock and challenge the listener, before becoming part of the manipulated sounds that torment the mind of the listener. This is neither as soothing as Garza's solo material nor is it as abrasive as WCPC's typical chaos, making it a great release for folks who are familiar with either artist or for people simply looking for a good sampler of two of the more prolific noise artists around right now. Get this limited tape from Forever Escaping Boredom by ordering through the bandcamp link above.

A Void in Coma- "A Primal Obsession with the Cosmos" (Self-Released)
A Void in Coma are a new group to me, having never crossed my periphery until the band themselves contacted me. I'm glad they did. Their hypnotic, droning approach to ambient black metal works nicely. While they cite influences in the shoegaze genre, there's little to no presence of the highly overdone "blackgaze" sound. Instead, the music is meditative, clear, and can easily be listened to without digging through tremolo-picked guitar, although there is a heavy haze that adds to the mood. Vocals are delivered as chants, harsher traditional black metal vocals, and even occasional depraved howls, which presents a very enjoyable balance. While this album is not currently available for purchase in any physical formats, the band has plans to repress this demo and it is presently available as a download by clicking the link to the album itself.

New Music: King Carnage, Gukurahundi, Ancst

King Carnage- Ounce of Mercy, Pound of Flesh CD (Badgod Music)
Today I'm in a bit of a mood for some absolutely hideous death metal, and there are few better releases I've been checking out for review than King Carnage. This album, like pretty much every Badgod release, is downright filthy. Do you want to be strung up and tortured by your death metal? This is the album for you. The guitars are tuned so low they carve the very earth beneath them. The drumming is tight enough to be clearly well played but loose enough to add to the overall murky atmosphere. The vocals are in that lower realm between a primitive grunt and an ominous whisper often inhabited by bands like Beherit. Grab this album from the label's bandcamp (link above) while you still have the opportunity. It comes with a sticker and a poster in a limited edition of 250.

Gukurahundi- An Apparition in Nocturnal Splendor CD (Manicidic)
These guys sent me an email a couple of months back and I was so preoccupied with my studies that I didn't even shoot them a response back. Big mistake on my part (and kinda inconsiderate, sorry dudes). This album is noticeably cleaner than the aforementioned King Carnage CD, but it's no less punishing in its own way. Blistering melodic riffs circle around insanely paced drums while the vocalist throws seems to fill just about every space not occupied by the other instruments. The band does have enough empty space and change of pace to keep things fresh, so this isn't so much a criticism as it is an observation. Solos aren't as common as a general driving assault, but these guys definitely take the time to show off their chops and the vocalist is more than competent enough. The occasional groove-based breakdown may steer away some purists but I still recommend a listen. This album is currently available in an edition of 100 digipak CDs.

Ancst- The Humane Condition CS (Dark Omen Records)
This album's a brief two song cassette, but they make every second count. With two tracks averaging six minutes each, Ancst has created one of those tapes that just begs to be flipped and replayed countless times (each side has the same program, conveniently enough). Ancst's brand of black metalisn't necessarily reinventing a genre, but it's one of the most memorable and compelling things I've heard in this niche in quite some time. The band can switch from grind-influenced black metal that tears the ears like shrapnel to glacial sludge in a heartbeat, and it feels completely natural. There are even a few moments of pure bliss just to showcase the band's diversity and clear musicianship, which is what makes this band stand out from the pack. While fans of groups like BM&B favorites Terzij de Horde will enjoy this, there's also a good chance that fans of the more nebulous and ugly side of black metal will also dig Ancst's urgent fury. This tape was available in 100 copies, with the first 15 on an orange tape with patch while the remaining 85 are on purple tapes without a patch, but the orange is already sold out. Grab a purple copy while they last.

New tunes 5/22/13: Deathcult, Deuil, The Infernal Sea

Deathcult- The Test of Time CS (Caligari Records)
Deathcult is a one-man thrashy death metal band from Chicago who plays with the intensity of a full band. The album is loaded with eerily catchy leads and galloping riffs that are perfectly tailored for headbanging. The vocals at times remind me of the legendary Don Tardy from Obituary, so expect a really throaty attack. One hundred copies of this tape are available here, which is the debut of both band and record label. The label is rooted here in my current home of Tampa, FL and seems set to release more quality stuff in the very near future. With addictive songs like "Mutant Generation" and "Hail the Antichrist," this will be a hit at your next party.

Deuil- Acceptance/Rebuild CDr (Self-Released)
Deuil are one of those bands that totally caught me off guard. I've been receiving many emails from bands seeking review, (which is why I'm now doing these abbreviated posts in the first place--to catch up), and these guys instantly stood out. The album begins with a rather peculiar yet intriguing vocal drone that leads into filthy sludge that reminds me of the ferocity of groups like Amenra or Fall of Efrafa, with all the dynamics, peaks, and valleys you'd hope to find. These Belgian maniacs absolutely crush from start to finish with this album, which you can either download for the price you'd like or purchase on a beautifully packaged and screen-printed CDr. It's limited to 50 copies, so I'd hop on it quickly.

The Infernal Sea- Call of the Augur CD (Self-Released)
The Infernal Sea are probably the only band in this post that fit into the black metal spectrum, but they are vicious enough to cover all three slots in blackened fury. These guys have a very precise and well-executed brand of black metal that is not exclusively rooted in any one subcategory of metal. Drums are aggressive and perfectly placed, the vocals are truly ravenous, and the guitar tone is rooted in classic black metal while the riffs tend to meander through whatever territory The Infernal Sea deems necessary. It's solid, aggressive, and instantly memorable black metal with strong elements of death metal that never quite overpower the darker side of the music. Purchase a download from their bandcamp or do the right thing and order the actual CD for your collection.

Uvikra- "Bi" CD (badGod Music)

For some reason, some people like black metal to follow a traditional formula and never deviate from it. To these people, sounds that were good twenty years ago are still the law for newer artists. While I love traditional black metal and own most of the classics, I fail to see the logic in this mindset. For me, black metal really excels when it achieves such a level of rebellion and chaos that even its own community isn't sure what to make of it. The second black metal becomes predictable, it stops being dangerous. With this in mind, Lithuanian one-man monstrosity Uvikra is dangerous. Not because sole member Loikav going to dominate the world with his music, and not because he's going to hurt you. No, Uvikra is dangerous because it moves through black metal's territory without ever firmly committing itself to a particular set of sounds.

The album starts off in a rather unassuming fashion, yet quickly makes its way onto a riff-hopping madness that lingers around only long enough to tempt the listener with a moment or two of understanding. Many bands find a riff or two and set them to work for the better part of a song, yet Uvikra seems almost fearful of stagnation. If the song begins to feel melodic or familiar, it will almost certainly disintegrate into filth. Conversely, and a little more uniquely, many of the ugliest sections of this album crawl upwards into something resembling melody and beauty. Pairing the album's title with this sonic duality, it's almost as if Uvikra intentionally finds the beauty in the agony and the horror in the sterile and strives to share each of these sensations with the listener. It makes for an unsettling yet rather enjoyable album of primitive and angular black metal. It neither follows tradition nor charts wholly new ground, but each piece of music presented here is almost entirely separate from the rest of black metal as a whole.

This album is currently available for purchase from badGod Music. If dissonance, chaos, and fuzz are familiar vocabulary words in your musical selections, this album will soon find a happy home in your heart. It may not make sense, and it certainly won't always be a comfortable experience, but that isn't the point. By the time "Bi" has finished, you won't know up from down.

Echtra- "Sky Burial" CD & Total Negation- "Zur späten Stunde | Zeiträume" CD (Temple of Torturous)

By this point, many of my readers may have noticed that I love finding new things. They may not be things that are new to others, but I enjoy a new experience here and there. When Swedish label Temple of Torturous emailed me two separate new releases of theirs, from two groups I'd never even heard of before, I was quite intrigued. While some may view unknown or unfamiliar bands and sounds as an issue, I took this as an invitation to find something new and exciting. I'm happy to state that I was quite right, as both of these unique albums have impressed me thoroughly in their own ways.

Echtra is the guitarist/vocalist of black metal heavyweights Fauna, among a handful of other groups with which I'm not yet familiar. His work here seems slightly more meditative and personal, with this album, "Sky Burial,"  focusing on the need of each individual to make peace with his or her own mortality. The practice of sky burial is a Tibetan tradition wherein the recently deceased is left in a specific location that has been designated for the decomposition and disposal of human remains. The body is left to the elements, where it is often consumed by predatory birds. As the soul has left the body, there is no need to honor its former home according to this tradition. In a similar fashion, Echtra creates a fluid representation of chaos and peace with this album. There is a focused sort of deconstruction that occurs here, with sparse vocals occasionally dotting a deserted landscape of textured guitars and dense keys. As each of the two tracks are simply halves of a greater single performance, they blend together into one massive, cathartic piece of music. I find myself listening to this album as I fall asleep at night, yet when I listen during the day, I find it invigorating. Something about this is familiar and comforting, much like the understanding of death itself, yet it is never dull or tiresome. The Temple of Torturous release of this album includes a DVD of the only live performance of "Sky Burial," which dates back to 2008. While I haven't yet seen the live performance, I can say that it will be worth watching if it captures even a fraction of the beauty and intensity presented on this album.

Switching things over to Total Negation, we're presented with two EPs packaged as one full-length album. While many bands release separate albums that are essentially the same, these two EPs are easily distinguished from one another, so I'll review them separately. The first four tracks belong to the "Zur späten Stunde" EP, which explores the intense moments the mind often experiences right before body and mind drift into sleep. Opening track "Einkehr" sets the stage appropriately with clean yet dissonant leads creating psychedelic atmospheres over fuzzy and dense chords and howled vocals. The darkness here isn't suffocating, but there is an eerie uncertainty that forces the music onward, deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole of one's own mind. The overall feeling here is dark and uncomfortable, but with a faint glow around the edges. Moving on to "Zeiträume," a sequel of sorts, Total Negation explores the textures and sensations of dreams themselves. For first listens, I try not to read the press information lest I be swayed. Despite this, I instantly picked up on some instruments that are unconventional for black metal. Sure enough, both melodica and vibraphone are featured prominently here, showcasing both creativity and skill with composition. This doesn't sound or feel like a half-hearted attempt to "transcend" black metal, nor does this feel like an amateur musician playing with an idea. "Zeiträume" is a creative and engaging testament to the potential within sole member Wiedergaenger's grasp. Crunchy guitars and foreign instruments play in unison at times, adding depth to the heaviness of the more metal moments, while at other times the two sets of instruments seem to dance around each other, both at odds and working in a peculiar sort of harmony. While there's a confusing element to these four tunes, I would say that I prefer the vision displayed here. These four songs are unique and beautiful in a most remarkable way. A solid example is presented on closing track "Traum," which leaves things off on a perfect note. This release will be packaged as a sole compact disc, but the music here should be more than sufficient reason to consider purchase.

Both of these albums will be released from Temple of Torturous on March 31st. The label has recently announced that distribution in the United States will be done through Unholy Anarchy, but I'm not entirely sure when the album will be sold through the distributor. In the meantime, save your pennies and get ready for these two incredible albums.