We may be in the middle of the spooky season, but you’ll find no tricks here: only some of the best “name your price” releases that the internet has to offer. This month’s installment will take us through an age of fire, past the orbit of a haunted moon, and deep into the heart of [checks notes]...Baltimore. Well, wherever we’re headed, there will be riffs aplenty. If you like what you hear, be sure to support the artists!

–Alex Chan


Daeth DaemonSpan Of Æons
March 18, 2022

I’m not a linguist—I’m just a man in his early 30s who still chuckles when he sees the word “diphthong”—but I’m fairly certain that Daeth Daemon have taken some creative liberties with their name. That’s fine, though, because these boys are all about having a good time (and perhaps crushing a few skulls in the process). As such, their debut album Span Of Æ
doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable romp through the sounds of late 80s and early 90s death metal. Take “Walls of Enslavement” for instance, which starts with machine gun riffing and rapid-fire barks that pummel the listener before dropping away into an eerie, synth-heavy bridge. Then, the track slams into a meaty half-time section that sounds like a cross between Gustav Holst and Bolt Thrower (note to self: check if there’s already a Metal Archives page for “Holst Thrower”). There’s a little bit of everything here, but what the album lacks in novelty, it makes up for with meaty old-school brutality.


NeolithicShattering Vessels
June 10, 2022

Hailing from Bodymore, Murderland, Neolithic unleashed their explosive debut album Shattering Vessels earlier this year. Calling these eight tracks of crusty death metal “heavy” would be like saying that a brick to the skull is “distressing” –you wouldn’t be wrong, but you’d also be dramatically understating the severity of the concussive forces at play. From the rumbling, sludgy breakdown on “Terminal Lucidity” to the furious, grinding churn of “Field of Reeds”, Neolithic music has tremendous weight and momentum, not unlike that aforementioned chunk of flying masonry. You’re going to feel this one in the morning.


Sub SpaceI Walk the Devil
July 29, 2022

In the mood for some gritty hardcore punk that is in your face and rude as hell? Then perhaps you’d like to go for a stroll with Sub Space, a New York band full of piss and vinegar (and maybe booze). Their latest release I Walk the Devil sounds loud at any volume, which is perfect for an EP with this much attitude. Something about the band’s mix of punchy drums and bass, searing rock n’ roll riffs, and acrid snarls gives the distinct impression that I’m being flipped off in stereo, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


AutonoesisMoon of Foul Magics
August 25, 2022

I somehow missed out on Autonoesis back in 2020 when they released their eponymous debut, and boy howdy, was I poorer for it. Their fusion of thrash and melodic black metal goes together like peanut butter and chocolate (Reese’s haters: don’t @ me), and regardless of whether this is a solo effort or a full band, the musicianship on display is impressive, almost to the point of being intimidating. Moon of Foul Magics initially opens with what sounds like a low-key prog or folk ballad full of harmonized acoustic guitars and eerie synths. However, the album gradually reveals its hand throughout the ambitious 9 minute title track, which certainly lives up to its name with furious, dexterous riffage; tastefully-applied blast beats; and, when returning to prog mode, soaring leads that almost glow in the moonlight. The album’s production perfectly suits the music, too: just clean enough so that you can hear the individual instruments, but rough enough around the edges to ensure a certain level of old-school grimness.


EMPYREAN VESSELWith Ashen Hearts at the Sign of Dawn
September 4, 2022

If this website (and this column) has taught me anything, it is that the internet is a beautiful place for music. What would inspire me to say something so controversial yet so brave? For one, the fact that I stumbled across this impressive demo by being in the right place (Discord) at the right time (one fateful Sunday morning) when the solo musician behind Empyrean Vessel shared it in the chat. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know this individual, but I imagine that some folks might consider the shared social space to be a conflict of interest. If so…well, I can’t help you there!

Anyway, on to the music. With Ashen Hearts at the Sign of Dawn weaves an epic narrative of rebirth and renewal through a trio of glorious black metal anthems that balance melody and atmosphere in equal measure. It charges out of the gate with triumphant tremolo-picked riffs and dynamic, propulsive drumming. These upbeat sections are tempered by pockets of dissonance and pensive interludes that hint at the complexity of the themes at play. The compositions are as thought-provoking as they are catchy, with lyrics that foretell fiery upheaval and the dawn of a new era. I’ve been assured that this demo’s title and themes are not references to Elden Ring, but you’d be forgiven for picturing similarly sweeping landscapes and epic vistas—all of which must burn.


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