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Another week of sickness and misery. Cough cough.

Below you will find a truncated list of metal (and otherwise) releases slated to be unleashed in the week of November 15th thru 21st. Chances are I missed something - I ended up sending ten albums from my own list to the chopping block due to time constraints (I have a job, too, you know). Feel like telling me about stuff I missed? Have an opinion about something I actually did list? Is there something neat coming up? Be nice and say more than just an album title and/or band name in the comments. Being conversational is a lot nicer than just shouting "HEY YOU MISSED DARKENING SATANIC MYSTIFICATION OF DEEP DARKNESS."

—Jon Rosenthal

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Pneuma Hagion - Trinity II & Trinity III | Independent/Digital (cassettes soon on Nuclear War Now! Productions) | Death Metal | United States
In an ambitious move, Pneuma Hagion released two EPs last week, completing the trinity of demos started with Trinity I earlier this year (and subsequently issued on tape via Nuclear War Now! Productions). I’ve found myself burned out on the "war metal" genre, often finding myself filled with a desire to listen to the genre’s progenitors Blasphemy, Antichrist, and Conqueror, rather than lose myself in a sea of pretenders. Hell, I even found myself mildly unfazed with the latest Revenge album. Pneuma Hagion is a special sort of anomaly in the "cavernous death metal" scene. There is a striking clarity in R.’s music, something which even pervades his noise/brutal death metal band Intestinal Disgorge, which adds volumes to the bottomless pit of disgusting, rumbling filth. Too often are instruments in blackened death metal reduced to a layer of oppressive noise, which is fine, but Pneuma Hagion’s riff work is just so solid that you need to hear it.

Luminous Vault - Communion | Graceless Recordings | Black/Death Metal | United States
Here’s a surprise, but I suppose a band who had been slated to play Martyrdoom Fest (who went? Jealous) with a yet-to-be-released demo is bound to be excellent. The recently-unveiled/formerly anonymous duo of Andrew Hock (Psalm Zero/ex-Castevet) and Mario Diaz de Leon (Oneirogen) comprise Luminous Vault, whose unconventional approach to industrial-tinged black metal is as triumphant and melodic as it is terrifying and crushing. Hock and de Leon’s own unique, learned musical approaches only lend to the epic miasma of this two-track demo, with interesting chord voicings and pummelling rhythmic ideas to really drive this band home. I happen to be very excited to see just where this band goes, because Communion is one hell of a grand opening statement.

Weeping Birth - The Crushed Harmony | Apathia Records | Melodic Black/Death Metal | Switzerland
I miss Mirrorthrone, or, rather, I miss Carriers of Dust-era Mirrorthrone. I suppose we are almost a decade removed from that album, but prolific solo musician Vladimir Cochet lives in its shadow every day. It is important to realize that musicians are multi-faceted, as is the case between Mirrorthrone and Weeping Birth, which happens to be one Cochet’s multiple "side projects" (though it appears he treats each project equally). The Crushed Harmony, Cochet’s third full-length outing as Weeping Birth, is an intense one. A decidedly modern, melodic take on the blackened death metal sound, this album’s intense precision (yes, with frequent forays into "shreddy" territory - know your place) and crisp, polished sound might come off as a surprise for a project whose studio is limited to Cochet’s bedroom. Wrap your head around this one.

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OF NOTE

Contrarian - Polemic | Willowtip Records | Progressive Death Metal | United States
I’m not really one to cover things found in the "brutal" end of the spectrum (I think the last "Brutal death metal" album I covered was Putridity’s Ignominous Atonement - another Willowtip release), but Contrarian are in a field all their own. Though brutal in its own light, especially in the vocal department, Contrarian's Polemic is surprisingly smooth - drawing immediate comparisons to Cynic's Focus and the less frantic moments of Atheist's Unquestionable Presence or Elements. Featuring an all-star lineup, featuring members of Nile, Sulaco, and the unsung kings of jazz fusion death metal Delirium Endeavor, it's no wonder Contrarians' debut is so enjoyable.

Chron Goblin - Backwater | Ripple Music | Stoner Rock | Canada
From our director of Promotions Kelly Kettering's premiere of "The Wailing Sound": "If you’re not into stoner metal, or music that pays homage to the less urban side of rock music, beware. If that’s in your wheelhouse, however, then the album’s upcoming album, Backwater, deserves your attention."
...She isn't wrong.

Bränd Jord - Ont krut | Independent/Digital | Progressive Black Metal | Sweden
What a cool band - existing solely on Bandcamp (and, surprisingly, Spotify), Bränd Jord's seamless melding of progressive rock's mathematical tendencies and black metal's driving intensity makes way too much sense to be real. Their second full-length (and third release) in two years, Bränd Jord shows no sign of stopping. Strap in.

Månegarm - Månegarm | Napalm Records | Viking/Black/Folk Metal | Sweden
Last week it was Kampfar, now Månegarm? Look out, world, we're partying like it's 800 AD.

Dodsferd - Wastes of Life | Moribund Records | Black Metal | Greece
Dodsferd's lengthy follow up to 2013's The Parasitic Survival of the Human Race is an aggressive ode to misanthropy. Conservative in execution and self-destructive in spirit, I can only think of three words to accurately sum Wastes of Life: pure, Hellenic misery.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Wyrding - Agony in Being | Small Doses | "Funeral Folk" | United States
Okay, so if you click on the link above, you will find that I wrote Wyrding’s little bio/press quote thing earlier this year. To avoid quoting myself, Wyrding is... weird. They bridge the gap between folk and funeral doom in a way which approaches the latter being performed by musicians better-versed in the former. Some people might think "Oh, so Uaral?" upon reading that description, which could be a little on the apt side, but Wyrding’s doomed Appalachian sound is so much more singular. Frontman Troy Schafer’s deep gurgle fits so well over the extended acoustic instrumentation dirge that you almost wonder if Wyrding is a funeral doom band, or merely a folk band in Skepticism’s clothing. Where is the defining line?

Norman Westberg - 13 | Room40 | Ambient/Drone | United States
It’s right here where most people gush over the fact that Norman Westberg was in Swans (yes, "was" - the most recent lineup is no more and Michael Gira is *apparently* constructing a new one), but citing a musician’s other bands as a means of defining a solo project is just, I don’t know, lazy. Unfortunately, the sparse, effected guitar drone found on 13 also sounds, you know, lazy. Like a collection of bedroom recordings he decided he might as well release.

MBRS (Michael Bjella & Robert Skyrzyński) - Black Box Recordings | Instruments of Discipline | Ambient/Drone/Noise/Darkwave | United States/Poland
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this release, but both Michael Bjella and Robert Skyrzyńsk's outputs are so vast and varied that it is really hard to pinpoint what could exactly happen upon impact. Luckily, we have a literal black box recording to document the result. Bjella and Skyrzyński's fusion is as nightmarish as one might expect, a relentlessly noisy and grating foray into nightmare sounds. I feel as if I, too, was lost in the wreckage.

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OTHER RELEASES

Celestial Dirge - Aeon Aether | Distant Voices | Ambient Black Metal | France
As it is with all Distant Voices releases, Celstial Dirge's 17 minute, single-track debut is frigid, lifeless, and depressing. Perfect for the cold, dead days ahead.

Enthauptung - Adirondack | Independent/Digital | Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
I'm not quite sure why Enthauptung insists on using the "post-black metal" tag - there isn't music which really makes this any different from Ihsahn's work in the early 90s. Not that sounding like In the Nightside Eclipse is a bad thing.

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