Showing posts with label death metal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death metal. 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.

Urzeit- "Urzeit" (Psychic Violence Records)

It's not often that I share a cassette on my website that is already sold out, yet this gem has been haunting my thoughts since I came across the bandcamp page for this project late last summer. Those who aren't already familiar with Psychic Violence Records should know that pretty much anything this label puts out is gold, with many of the releases being related to black metal heavyweights Ash Borer and Fell Voices. Urzeit's members do spend time in other notable acts, yet the sound is so separate from anything affiliated that this tape really stands on its own.

Urzeit's self-titled demo is a brief yet harrowing blast of fury. The cassette features three songs with the same program on each side for maximum listening capacity. The pace here is primarily set at breakneck, yet moments like the mid-paced second half of "Entmannen" or the hypnotic repetition that opens "Albtraum" show the band scaling things back just enough to really set a mood and lead the listener onward. Through a subtle balance of apparent repetition and slight variation, Urzeit keeps me from being wholly surprised while listening yet retains my attention from start to finish. Music this blistering actually benefits from the album's brevity, allowing me to revisit the same song multiple times and become quite well acquainted. This tape is the only of this batch to have sold out by now, which is something of a shame for the buyer but a great indicator of this band's growing audience. Still, you can download these songs from Urzeit's bandcamp page for a mere three dollars. Additionally, a second tape has just been announced, along with a new promo track, so keep your eyes peeled for more from this group. When it goes live, chances are it will sell out just as quickly as this one did.

Myopic- "Beyond the Mirror's Edge" (Grimoire Records)

Released just this past week, Myopic's "Beyond the Mirror's Edge" is a journey of an album, just as exploratory as it is rooted in creating something tense and energetic. This band is wholly new to me, yet in many ways this album gives me some of the same rush I felt when I first heard Mastodon's "Remission" back in high school, yet with more of a raw punk rock feel. Technically proficient without being showy, this is the first exciting progressive-leaning metal album of the year.

Equal parts progressive metal, sludge, and rock, with a bit of black metal chord structure thrown in for good measure, this album is too brief for its own good, yet it's somehow appropriate enough for what will be the first many of us hear from this creative and daring group. Many bands with grand ambitions tend to overplay their hand by offering a massive, lengthy release that falters only under its own weight. The brevity of this album is a strength in that it does what needs to be done and comes to a halt, allowing the listener to really get into every second of it rather than becoming an endurance test or display of excess. Still, one can't help be surprised by monumental centerpiece "Backstitch," which showcases the band's capacity for elegance and meandering guitars that go strange places without fully straying from their course. I can only imagine what would happen if these guys let the songs expand past the ten-minute mark. Perhaps future outings will see more expansion. Or maybe they'll get faster and more aggressive. Either way I'll be delighted to see what comes next.

From start to finish, this album had my attention. With such a solid sound and energetic delivery, I look forward to future output from these guys. Grab a CD from Grimoire Records now or wait until March for the cassette release, but don't sleep on this one. These guys will probably start receiving press from sites and publications far larger than mine if they keep this up.

My Experience With Brutal Truth: A Preemptive Memorial

[photo credit: Peter Herneheim; found on Brutal Truth's Facebook page]
This morning, Dan Lilker of legendary grindcore group Brutal Truth announced he will be retiring from being a full-time touring and recording musician on October 18th of this year, his fiftieth birthday. This means no more Brutal Truth. Bands break up all the time for all sorts of reasons, but this is a big one for me. While the majority of my website's content is rooted in black metal, grind has been dear to me for years, with Brutal Truth holding a position as one of my favorites from the moment I first heard them. Even if I hadn't already been fond of their tunes, frontman Kevin Sharp is a vocal beer lover who shares thoughts on what he's drinking with his friends on Facebook, which makes him fun to follow as a metal and beer geek.

While I'm not going to sit and wax poetic about crowded concerts and pure insanity, as I've never had the luck of seeing these guys live, I'm sharing ten of my favorite Brutal Truth songs with you guys as a way of documenting my own experience with this band whose legendary status is well earned. The list is heavy on nineties material because as much as I've enjoyed their two most recent albums, I've had far less time with each, preventing them from sitting in quite as deeply as the material I've had years to absorb.

1. "Denial of Existence" from Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses
This album was probably the first grindcore album I heard that had anything resembling nuance. Until this point, I'd mostly been familiar with bands specializing in spastic blasts of sound, typically with songs that seldom exceeded the thirty second mark. Extreme Conditions brought the intricacy of death metal to the fury of grind in a way that was new to me. This song in particular was among the first to leave its mark, and at a lengthy four and a half minutes it showed me that grind wasn't exclusively an endurance test.

2. "Collapse" from  Need to Control
This song specifically surprised and impressed me when I first heard it and still sends chills down my spine. Brutal Truth proved that speed wasn't the only way to make something sound extreme or heavy. While I was already into a bit of doom metal when I first heard this, the mastery and ferocity displayed here was missing from most of the slower bands I listened to. This had all the rabid aggression I expected from Brutal Truth yet it sounded entirely different. I cannot recommend this song enough.

3. "Dead Smart" from Sounds of the Animal Kingdom
This song was deemed special enough to receive its own music video, although I'll argue that any song from this challenging release is worthy. I really didn't get this album for the first couple of years I had it, but I kept forcing myself to listen until it set in. Eventually, something clicked, and this was among the first songs that I really got into. Straightforward enough to appeal to my desire for aggression, but about two minutes in they introduce a riff so traditionally "metal" and unexpected that it totally changes the simpler trajectory of the song. A true classic.

4. "Time" from Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses
Are those power tools in there? I think so. While the fusion of noise elements and metal has become a bit of a thing these days, this is one of the earliest examples I can find. From what I gather, it's actually frontman Kevin Sharp using these tools to make noises rather than the samples that are so popular in gimmicky gore-based metal songs. Machinery aside, this song displays Brutal Truth's ability to shift speed and mood with perfect grace and skill, something many bands can't do a decade into their careers, let alone on a debut album.

5. "Humanity's Folly" from Kill Trend Suicide
I'm not even sure about half of what goes on in this song, but it's awesome. Textured, almost psychedelic guitars dissolve into a more familiar grinding assault. This "mini-album" is full of weird gems, but this one's an instant attention-grabber.

6. "Sugardaddy" from Evolution Through Revolution
This is one hell of a way to initiate a return to form. This track opens up their first album after a decade of absence in a fashion that most bands who make "comebacks" could only dream of. Aggression perfected, with slightly off-kilter dissonance, yet a far slicker approach than most of Sounds of the Animal Kingdom. It's rare that a band returns with this kind of ferocity; it's a shame they're going away again.

7. "Brain Trust" from Need to Control
Spooky ghost noises, or maybe it's just really low growls, and violently lurching grindcore. This is about as much fun as grind gets in my opinion. This whole album is one of my favorite grind pieces of all time, so it's impossible to isolate a single track, but this one stood out even when I was too young to fully appreciate what I was hearing.

8. "Zombie" from Kill Trend Suicide
This one's got almost a carnival sort of feeling to the spiraling riff that leads into the song. Fear not, grind fanatics, for like most Brutal Truth songs this riff evolves into the ferocious and jagged assault we've all come to know and love from these guys. Wholly unique in the genre, but completely familiar for fans of the band.

9. "Jemenez Cricket" from Sounds of the Animal Kingdom
An acid trip hard rock song that feels equal parts Slayer and Obituary while swirling around itself into maniacal moments of heaviness before the whole thing crumbles into dirge-paced oddness only to revisit its main riff again. I used to hate this song because it was weird, but now it's like if The Butthole Surfers played grindcore in a way. I love it.

10. "Celebratory Gunfire" from End Time
Much like Carcass's Swan Song (until this past year, of course), this album's title is unfortunately accurate. "Celebratory Gunfire" sounds like Today is the Day gone primitive, and is every bit as aggressive as anything they'd have released two decades earlier. It's evident that they've grown so much yet it's apparent they also never lost sight of their roots. What fans of Brutal Truth can take away from this release is that the band ended its career with an album that stands as tall as any other in their storied career. I can honestly say that I haven't heard a single bad track from this band, and that's rare. Even my favorite bands have made some serious missteps in their careers. Perhaps Brutal Truth are dearer to me than I previously realized. They'll be missed, but I look forward to seeing what the members create in its wake.

BONUS: The entire split with Bastard Noise.
Hardly your typical Brutal Truth release, if such a thing exists. This is a foray into pure harsh noise and mechanical horror, collaborating with noisegrind legends Bastard Noise, with a bit of help from Peacemaker and Winters in Osaka. This may not sit well with the metal loving portion of my readership, but those that straddle both lines like me will love the experimentation provided here. Folks looking for something slightly familiar should check out "The Stroy" from the CD version, which is slightly more familiar while retaining the creepy noise atmospheres of the other songs here.

Cronesmoon, Gulag, Ekadzati & Anatra: The Many Voices of Zareen Katherine Price

It was not until Record Store Day of last year that I became familiar with the music of Zareen Katherine Price. A friend posted about a sale (I believe it was one tape free with the purchase of three?) her label Milam Records was hosting, so I paid the label's bandcamp page a visit and listened. Within an hour I decided to order a small handful of tapes from Serpentina, Ekadzati, Mare Cognitum, and Greed & Rapacity. A few months later, through wonders of social media, we came to be acquainted. Having enjoyed her previous works, I have elected to review two separate cassettes (released with no label affiliation) featuring songs from many separate projects of hers in which is the sole member (with friend Dan Nahum assisting on drums). For one artist to have so many separate projects might seem silly to some, but it's evident that each of these projects needs its own space and concept, even if the sounds might be complementary when placed on the same cassette tape.

First, we're examining "VII MMXIII", a split between her three projects Ekadzati, Gulag, and Anatra. The album flows sequentially, with Ekadzati contributing two songs, and Gulag and Anatra sharing one each. Wasting no time, Ekadzati's track "Argham" opens things up with ravenous higher register shrieks and trebly tremolo picking backed with constant drumming. The swelling of sounds feels like an ocean storm, tormenting the listener for a couple of minutes before finally engulfing them. Interestingly enough, while writing this review, I took a look at the lyrics, which give a detailed description of what appears to be an intentional drowning. The ominous nature of the music pairs quite well with the lyrical intensity, but it's especially nice when Ekadzati takes a moment to build up tension with the reflective introduction to "Padyam." I really hate track by track reviews, but in a tape with such diverse sounds, this really just makes sense. As soon as the listener is lulled into comfort, it's back into the typhoon of insanity. Unlike its predecessor, the song relents rather than ending with an assault, showing the many different musical sides of Zareen Katherine Price with just one of her projects.

Up next is Gulag, with "Inscribed in Skin." The song lurches in appropriately enough with frantic low-end fixated guitars and some sort of hideous belch. While not wholly removed from black metal, this more greatly resembles a faster and more aggressive take on the cavernous death metal that's become quite fashionable lately. The song's progression sees the pace escalating wildly until a sudden stop with the crash of a cymbal.

Flipping the cassette, we are presented with Anatra's contribution, "Wind Over Water." In stark contrast to the violent chaos of Gulag, the song opens with a repeatedly chiming bell of some sort. Slightly meditative, slightly foreboding, it perfectly sets the pace for this nearly lengthy piece of dark ambient exploration. With the title in mind, one hears the howling static of cold winds blowing over an empty bay. In the distance you might think you hear the echoes of something resembling human sounds, but they never present themselves as anything other than a possibility. While the song is initially maddening, I find myself becoming more immersed in it about halfway in. Smaller, higher pitched sounds occasionally slither in and out, allowing just enough variation for my attention to remain on the sounds. At the cassette's end, I am left neither at peace nor troubled. Perhaps this was intentional. It does not feel like an intended goal was missed. Indeed, I feel like the B-side is the palate cleanser for the aggression and turmoil of the A-side. While each of the three acts stands alone, the pairing works brilliantly here.

The second cassette featured today is still up for sale: "XI MMXIII." This is a split between Gulag and the newest of Price's projects: Cronesmoon. Gulag's song here, "Icosahedral Keys to the Fleshly Gate" instantly feels like a more focused and accessible beast than "Inscribed in Skin," with an intentionally awkward marching pace starting things off before delving straight into a valiant and driven mid-section. Gulag is self-described as "war metal," and the pacing of this song is the strongest evidence I've found so far. Galloping and violent, this feels like far more of a statement of intent, although both songs are quite enjoyable and clearly come from a similar place musically. In another presentation of direct contrast, Cronesmoon follows Gulag with the closest thing Price has created to traditional second wave black metal sounds, "Sister Tongues of Rain." There's certainly a slightly more cerebral and involved way of approaching the music here, almost as if the progressive and psychedelic leanings of modern-day incarnations of more established black metal bands were infused into the classics of the early nineties. While the song is longer than most of Price's other metal-rooted songs, the furious nature of the song makes it feel like it has passed all too quickly, ending the cassette.

With three projects poised for more output (it does appear that Ekadzati is being put to rest, at least for the time being) I can only recommend you keep an eye on her output however you're able. Even if one of her many projects doesn't appeal to you, another just might. Additionally, all music described here can be heard by clicking the links to each of the album titles. Usually bandcamp embed codes work just fine but today they're being a pain. Rather than delaying this review, I'm just going to force you guys to click links. Thanks for your patience.

New music: Ghost Bath, The Unchaining, Aetherium Mors

Ghost Bath- "Ghost Bath" (Self-Released)
Ghost Bath are a relatively mysterious black metal group from China who seem to have appeared out of nowhere. The four tracks contained on this debut offering are well-executed black metal with roots in the depressive genre, but without some of the negative connotation that the genre might hold. True, there are Lifelover-esque shrieks that take some getting used to, but the music here is instantly memorable and thoroughly enjoyable. Due to this release's relatively short length, I tend to play it a few times in a row, and it hasn't really lost its appeal to these jaded ears. It seems these guys are currently working on securing a label, which would be great. This kind of stuff really deserves to be on some kind of physical format, as these atmospheres would be quite haunting through the hiss of a tape deck. For now you can enjoy it as a free download from their bandcamp page. Hop on it before these guys get the attention they're likely to receive.

The Unchaining- "Ruins at Dusk" (Self-Released)
The Unchaining is a one man black metal project from Italy. While this album is relatively brief, with two of its seven tracks serving as interludes, the pensive and passionate nature of this mid-paced atmospheric black metal release are its trademarks. Every note presented here is clearly meant to be where it has been placed, and there are occasional choral keyboard touches that hover above the music without overwhelming the soundscape. While the production seems to be bedroom quality, the spirit of the music and its creator's intent is not diminished. Instead, The Unchaining seems to strive for clarity within the fuzz in which this album resides. This is truly the work of a dedicated fan of the genre and I'm eager to see what else this artist can turn out in the future. This is available as a free download, so there's no reason you should pass this up.

Aetherium Mors- "Entrails of the Soul" (Self-Released)
By far the most brutal release featured in today's much-delayed post, "Entrails of the Soul" is a palatable yet aggressive blackened death metal release from this UK duo. One member handles all the instrumentation while the other is responsible for the lyrical direction and vocal performance. This slick beast fits nicely alongside some of the genre's larger names with its clear production only allowing you to see the glisten of every single fang in the rabid mouth of this band. Drums fly by at a ridiculous pace while melodies wander from the dark twin harmonies that fueled Dissection's earliest releases to bludgeoning heaviness that might be more familiar to fans of technical death metal. This is a release that took almost no "getting used to" for me, it just simply makes sense. The twenty minutes or so of "Entrails of the Soul" pass far too quickly for my liking, but it hopefully leaves promise of a full-length to come. This is currently available for a very low price (about $2.50 USD) as a download, so stream the thing on bandcamp and decide if you're ready to commit.

Aosoth- "IV: An Arrow In Heart" (Agonia Records)

Greetings readers. Most of you are probably surprised to see such a high profile release here, but after owning it for the past couple of months, I realize it would be absolutely unjust if this album didn't receive some kind of coverage here on Black Metal & Brews. Given that this landmark album is still available in multiple formats, I feel it's my duty to urge you folks to give it a listen and purchase it if you see fit.

If you aren't already familiar with this absolute monster of an album or the band behind it, here's your opportunity. Aosoth is a French black metal group who puts out some of the most discordant, chaotic black metal I've heard in a while. After a performance at this year's Maryland Death Fest and some pretty decent promotion behind this album, it's likely you've at least heard the name. With multiple releases under their belt and hype that they can actually back, it's likely that we're only going to hear more from and about this band in the near future. "IV: An Arrow In Heart" is easily one of the most addictive albums I've heard this year, although I find describing it quite challenging. The entire album feels like it's a transmission from a distant and horrible land, wholly isolated in time and space. Elements both futuristic and archaic weave throughout each other in some kind of unholy symbiosis, with tribal pulses echoing across a severely irradiated wasteland. Pretty much everything I love about black metal is present to some degree here. The guitars are filthy and often chase themselves in circles. The vocals are throaty and depraved, just on the far side of intelligible. The production is jagged and dense but none of the crucial elements of Aosoth's sound are obscured in the process. The lyric insert in the record is written entirely in Braille, an interesting touch for an already challenging album. I'm sure somebody has gone through the effort to decode them, but I have yet to find the words. If anything, I enjoy the mystery the band has created. I feel like less observant listeners might look to similarly minded bands and just throw out names, but there's a frightening sincerity to this album that is often lacking in releases that inspire such dread and I can't find a true peer for this sound. With songs so beautifully overwhelming, repeated listens continually yield layer upon layer of filth and fury. In short, this album is both instantly enjoyable and still has room to grow after multiple experiences. It's rare that an album holds my interest to such a degree, but Aosoth has done just that with "IV: An Arrow In Heart" and I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome.

Visit the Agonia Records Webstore to grab this on CD, traditional black vinyl, or limited transparent royal blue vinyl. If you're in the United States, you can try to order copies of the standard gatefold vinyl from Fallen Empire while they're still in. Listen to an edited version of the album's title track below:

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 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 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.

In Human Form- "Earthen Urn" (Self-Released)

Released on January 10th of this year, In Human Form's "Earthen Urn" is probably the first truly great album of this year. This release and group were recommended to me from a musician friend whose taste I respect and trust greatly, and with the obvious nod to Death in their name I had to give them a listen. I was quite pleased. In Human Form (hereafter referred to as IHF) craft a progressive, urgent, and well-put together blend of aggressive black metal with songs that often pass the ten minute mark yet never feel like they've overstayed their welcome. While some of my readership may not often have the desire to hear more intricate approaches to black metal, this group maintains a lo-fi and pure aesthetic while allowing their music to spiral out of control.

The album opens with the pace-setting "Cognitive Reconnaissance" which runs the gamut from epic black metal to (appropriately enough) Schuldiner-worshiping solos to punk-inspired minimalism all within one track. I've always been a fan of albums that take me for a journey, so it's great to see that IHF manage to do that successfully within each of the six songs on this album. Another thing that really makes IHF stand out to me is their thorough and planned approach to writing lyrics. It's a small thing to many, but as someone who has sung in bands myself, I feel it's crucial to try to make the lyrical direction unique and special. There are a few places on this album where I feel like strings creep into the music, although the only band member description listed that might cover it is "samples," so I'm curious to learn the nature of these sounds, as I feel they lend themselves quite nicely to the bleak melodies they accompany. A personal favorite moment of mine on this album (if for no reason other than how intriguing and strange it is) is the instrumental dark ambient passage "Prisms of Now." As IHF are hardly a noise-based act, I'm curious to know more about this song and how its influences may creep into the background of the other songs. On an album where aggressive riffing with piercing howls is just as commonplace and natural as a soothing saxophone interlude, it's really hard to label or define IHF, and that is the band's greatest strength. Everything feels natural, yet nothing is predictable. If only most bands this ambitious could pull it off so well.

Copies of this ferocious and involved album are apparently available for purchase from the band through email/their facebook (link above) or you can purchase a download from their bandcamp page. While this one isn't available for free, it's definitely worth the price of admission. Whether you're a music geek looking for technically sound music or just a fan of diverse and bizarre black metal, you'll be quite pleased with this album.

Autolatry- "Of the Land" CD (Self-Released)

Snow, nightfall, and the woods are trademarks of classic black metal albums. Many bands intentionally evoke these elements in lyrics, album art, and absurd song titles. Some bands, like Autolatry, barely need to mention the colder, more natural side of black metal for it to shine through everything they do. While New England may not have the regional clout of Scandinavia, cold weather seems to run in Autolatry's collective bloodstream. With this brief EP, they show that they can hold their own with a unique brand of progressive black metal that seems culled equally from American and European influences, all with crisp, precise production, partially courtesy of the studio brilliance of the legendary Morrisound Studios.

"Of the Land" is a collection of four songs that reflect upon different aspects of winter in New England. Opener "Mountain" sets an aggressive and compelling precedent, and though it's my least favorite track on the album, it's still an impressive and enjoyable tune. Every member of the band showcases something unique here, with the drums being particularly on spot throughout the whole album. I find these tunes straddle a territory occupied evenly by Cormorant and Enslaved, with a healthy dose of tech-death influence that adds a certain aggression without sacrificing the black metal aesthetic. The riffs run the gamut from technical to textured and the cold atmosphere is relentless, even when the songs find their way into chunkier, more American death metal influenced territory. Autolatry's creative insanity works its best when they're moving at full-speed, with the occasional stop-start dynamic there to create the perfect tension for the band to break through. A lot of rawer black metal groups don't sound like they'd translate well live, but these songs sound both majestic and stage-ready, which is a nice balance since these guys always seem to be either on the road or gearing up for it.

Snag a copy of this album directly from the band and bask in icy technical mastery or download it for the price of your choice. They're currently working on a full-length entitled "Native," and I can safely say that it will be massive. Keep an eye on these guys before they take over the metal underground and be sure to get their stuff before it becomes rare collectors' items.

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.

Curseworship- "Curseworship" (Self-released)

Today's submission comes from the dry, desolate wastes of Salt Lake City, Utah. I've always been of the opinion that any city that is primarily ruled by religion or conservative values is inherently good for making ugly music as a form of rebellion, and Curseworship seem eager to prove me right. This trio has released a three-song album that would terrify the piss out of any clergyman unfortunate enough to witness it. If the band's name or the three inverted crosses gracing the album's artwork don't make it apparent, these guys have definitely chosen to side with the darkness.

Leading the way into Curseworship's madness is the appropriately named "Summoning."After a brief feedback introduction, the stage is set for some straight up ugly, crawling death metal with some static noise elements thrown in just to make things even more unsettling. The cave man stomp here is thick and well-executed rather than simply aping Obituary as many similar bands tend to do and the rhythm is tight and driving. When the band decides to pick up the speed about halfway through, it's somehow surprising yet the transition feels organic rather than forced. The second track starts off with yet another surprise, a light and melodic introduction that turns into a distorted mess of a song that lingers slightly longer than its predecessor. Closing this beastly album out is the sixteen-minute long horror of "Goat of a Thousand Young (Raising From Hell)." This album is full of surprises, but nothing surprised me more than this track. The eerie power electronics that wormed their way throughout the previous two tracks have finally taken over by the time this monstrosity unfolds, leaving a huge slab of dense noise as Curseworship's final offering to the listener. Rather than finding this a bit uninspired or simple, this is a hair-raising way to end the album and I approve.

While currently only available as a "pay what you like" download from Curseworship's bandcamp page, this album is tentatively scheduled to be released on cassette through Crucial Blast sometime this spring, so keep an eye out. I know I'll be first in line.

Tarantulah- "Kedamaian Jalan Hitam" (Self-Released Demo)

Today's submission is a slab of hideous and bizarre death-influenced black metal from Malaysia. Tarantulah sent me an email with the demo explaining that it was raw, but even the word raw doesn't do this justice. It doesn't sound unfinished or amateur, it's just that raw doesn't quite sum it up. This is raw, but focused. Tarantulah sound as though they've appeared from another dimension to bludgeon the skulls of the weak. There's something so unconventional here, even for extreme music, that I can't quite put my finger on it.

The clarity of the samples leading into each track tell me that the fuzz here is intentional, and the dense production certainly works well with some of the groovier tracks. I think my favorite thing about this demo is the vocals. For the majority of this demo, they sound more like otherworldly chants than actual human shrieks or yells. While I wouldn't exactly liken this to Inquisition, they share a similar bond of unearthly vocals that defy conventional description. While I would like to see a slightly cleaner mix on this release, I'm still quite intrigued by the dense filth that Tarantulah have created here and I'd love to hear more from them in the future to see where they take this compelling sound on their next releases.

Tarantulah has given me permission to share this demo with the internet, so here's the first official BMAB created free download. Get it while it's hot.

Year End Extravaganza: Noteworthy Albums of 2012

So this is probably the entry everybody's been waiting to glance over and pick fights about. It's the albums that made a huge impression on me this year in one way or another. Due to the large number of albums included, I'm just leaving links and images for your viewing/digesting pleasure. If you want to know my particular thoughts about one of these albums in great detail, you can get in touch via facebook, email, or twitter. I'm always happy to discuss my taste in music.

A Forest of Stars- "A Shadowplay for Yesterdays" (Lupus Lounge)

A Pregnant Light- "Hear the Slow Slow Shadow" (Colloquial Sound Recordings)

Ash Borer- "Cold of Ages" (Profound Lore)

Crowhurst- "No Life to Live" (Self-Released) Read the BMAB review

Death Fortress- "Pulling Ancient Stone" (Fallen Empire Records) Read the BMAB review

Dressed in Streams- "Azad Hind" (Colloquial Sound Recordings)

Hell- "III" (Eternal Warfare)

Horseback- "Half Blood" (Relapse Records)

Kuxan Suum- "Kuxan Suum" (Fallen Empire Records) Read the BMAB review

Neurosis- "Honor Found in Decay" (Neurot Recordings)

Pig Destroyer- "Book Burner" (Relapse Records)

Rectal Hygienics- "Even the Flies Won't Touch You" (Depravity Label) Read the BMAB review

Sutekh Hexen- "Behind the Throne" (Wohrt Records)

Trist- "Nostalgie" (Fallen Empire Records)

Unknown Artist- "RH-12" (Rhinocervs)

Vemod- "Venter pa Stormene" (Terratur Possessions)

Venowl- "Gnawed Gristle and Bone" (Ominous Silence) Read the BMAB review

Wulkanaz- "HNI" (Wohrt Records) Read the BMAB review

Also, here are a few of the albums I enjoyed but only listened to once or twice, but expect are of equal quality to those on this list:

Converge- "All We Love We Leave Behind" (Epitaph)

Fauna- "Avifauna" (Pesanta Urfolk)

Gaza- "No Absolutes in Human Suffering" (Black Market Activities)

The Great Old Ones- "Al Azif" (Les Acteurs De L'Ombre Productions/Antithetic)

Krallice- "Years Past Matter" (Self-Released)

Make A Change...Kill Yourself- "Fri" (Black Hate Productions)

Mgla- "With Hearts Toward None" (Northern Heritage)

With that, my magnificent list is finished and so is this year. Since Black Metal and Brews was just a fledgling website in 2012, expect grand things in the year to come. I'm grateful to all my readers, the labels, breweries and artists who have contributed their music and beverages to this blog, and to my close friends and my partner for listening to me ramble about this blog endlessly. You guys have given me a reason and an opportunity to continue writing, and I am grateful for every new person I meet because of this blog. Thanks for being around this year, and I'll see you tomorrow for the start of the next year.