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I’ve been sick all this week, so most of what I’m writing about has only been listened to in mono. Clogged ears are a real pain.

Below is a cross-section of metal-and-related releases for the week of November 8-14, 2015. Did I miss something? Do you want to do more than just say a band name (like include a YouTube or Bandcamp link)? Is there something neat coming up? Did I get something wrong? Do you want to tell me about your day? Scroll down to the comments.

—Jon Rosenthal

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Gnaw Their Tongues/Dragged Into Sunlight - N.V. | Prosthetic Records | Black/Death/Doom Metal/Noise | Netherlands/United Kingdom
Another long-time-coming collaboration from two big names in "gross, nightmarish, harsh metal." I will admit to not liking the last Dragged Into Sunlight album (what kind of band makes a 3-track album with a 15-minute instrumental . . . and a pretty one, at that?), so half of this collaboration evoked a sort of hesitant dread, but N.V. is Dragged Into Sunlight redeemed. This is an absolutely putrid, perfect amalgam of two very different ends of extreme metal which sets the bar very, very high for future collaborations.

Revenge - Behold.Total.Rejection | Season of Mist Records | Black/Death Metal | Canada
The Canadian cult returns with yet another flexed-arm foray into the blurred world of "war metal." As it is with every Revenge album, the guitars are distorted and speed picked into a wall of distorted mush, leaving room for vocal clarity, but the real star, as it has always been with Revenge, is J Read’s drumming. It’s like his drum kit is trying to float away and all he can do is helplessly smack each drum to keep them within arm’s reach. I have to admit to growing rather weary of the general "war metal" sound, but Revenge definitely helped carve it, with some foreground set by Blasphemy, Conqueror, and Antichrist, so I can at the very least respect this.

Awe - Providentia | Pulverised Records | Experimental/Avant-Garde Black Metal | Greece
Now this is compelling. From seemingly out of nowhere, Greek mystery band Awe have laid down a trilogy of densely composed, intricate, and tastefully technical black metal which would make Deathspell Omega blush. Providentia’s three lengthy tracks (Primus, Secundus, and Purus) are a bit of a bear to take in, but Awe maintains a high level of energy and excitement even in their slowest moments.

The Body/Krieg - The Body & Krieg | At a Loss Recordings | Blackened Industrial/Doom Metal | United States
If you recall, I premiered the opening track from this collaboration a few weeks ago. I’m just going to copy-paste what I said about the release proper:

"I know, I know, everybody, and I mean everybody has announced or already completed a collaboration with The Body. They are a band which has very quickly approached the singularity in which their own music and collaborative selves have become one and the same, but Krieg frontman Neill Jameson’s specific brand of extreme vitriol brings The Body’s misanthropy to a peak. Sonically, this is a bit out of left field for what one would expect to be a crushing, blackened doom metal masterpiece. Utilizing this collaboration as an exploration of their more disparate genre ends,The Body & Krieg is as crushing as one would expect, but in that special, bludgeoning, mechanical way that one might associate with early Swans, the misery of Suicide, and the melodic exploration of Public image Ltd. This one-off collaboration slams your psyche again, again, and again – it is a machine built to break your essence."

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OF NOTE

Autopsy - Skull Grinder | Peaceville Records | Death Metal | United States
Okay, okay, so this is currently part of the After the Cutting boxset, which has unreleased interviews and rarities and stuff, but all we really want is new Autopsy. And here it is, in all its death metal glory.

Swallow the Sun - Songs from the North I, II & III | Century Media Records | Melodic Death/Doom Metal | Finland
Whoa, a triple album? I haven’t been super into anything Swallow the Sun has done post-Hope, but I figured I’d give this a shot. This is definitely the strongest material Swallow the Sun has written, at least musically, since their first three albums, but, man, their vocalist needs to shut up sometimes. Space is key.

Hegemon - The Hierarch | Season of Mist Records | Black Metal | France
A solid, solid slab of black metal done in that special, melodic, powerful French style. This makes me pine for the glory days of Hirilorn.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Gravemist - Valley of the Dry Bones | Brave Mysteries | Gothic Folk/Americana | United States
Oh man, if only this was released on Halloween. The best way I could describe Gravemist is if 16 Horsepower was a bit more minimal, fronted by a much less melodramatic Morrissey, and on 4AD back in the '80s. Valley of the Dry Bones evokes a distinct graveyard atmosphere, familiar and comforting but still kind of uncomfortable. I keep coming back for more.

Horrid Red - Gold of Days | Brave Mysteries | Post-Punk | United States/Germany
The coolest newer post-punk band in my library is back again with some of the best material in their discography. Gold of Days shows Horrid Red dialing back the dynamics a bit, instead reveling in some of the smoother sounds found in Edmund Xavier’s pet project FWY!. Even manic vocalist Bunker Wolf’s distorted, heavily accented rants and ravings have been toned down to something much more...soothing? Soothing isn’t the right word, but I suppose in the context of his work with Horrid Red and (der) Teenage Panzerkorps, this is definitely Bunker Wolf at his most tame and approachable.

Crooked Mouth & Night Profound - Crooked Mouth & Night Profound | Brave Mysteries | Neofolk | Canada
Gosh, it sure is a big week for collaborations. The joining of Canadian neofolk and "chthonic folk" groups Crooked Mouth and Night Profound, the latter of which boasts a member of Mitochondrion among its ranks, ended up being a tasteful display of imbalance. Each band offers an older demo track which was then re-recorded with the help of the other. Crooked Mouth retains his tribal, much more traditional and instrumentally diverse sound, but with Night Profound’s inherent Lovecraftian darkness, and vice versa for Night Profound’s songs. It is a lovely sort of "tilting the scale from the other side" which turns the creative gears and helps develop sound that much further.

Thoabath & Sađr - Indictor | Brave Mysteries | Industrial/Ritual Ambient | United States
This . . . this is intense. I’ve covered Thoabath’s industrial ambiance and noise in a previous post, but his split/collaboration (the lines get blurred with this one) with the anonymous Sađr is absolutely flooring. The end result is a dense, dynamic bout of ritualistic sound which is difficult to fully pinpoint, but always leaves me unsettled.

Burial Hex - Eschatology IV | Brave Mysteries | Industrial/Drone/Ambient | United States
Ever the vessel of difficulty, Burial Hex’s "follow-up" to the critically acclaimed The Hierophant happens to be his most challenging listen since his self-titled album. Starting with a lengthy harsh ambient piece (performed on a metal table - it made for a great performance when he opened for Darkwood), Clay Ruby eventually makes his way to the piano for a brief, albeit beautiful, especially in juxtaposition, melodic exploration. The B-side is where the real magic lies, at least for me. A lengthy re-mix of The Hierophant’s epic closer "The Most Foolish Son Is Always The Oldest One", but I’ve always preferred goth/dance Burial Hex.

Oakeater - Aquarius | Sige Records | Experimental/Drone | United States
What’s with all the most terrifying music of 2015 coming out after Halloween, huh? I will always remember Oakeater’s performance at the Matchitehew Assembly in 2010 - somehow remaining horrific and unsettling even in the brightest daylight. Five quiet years removed and this is that very same Oakeater. A plodding, shrieking, droning beast. Listen with the lights on.

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OTHER RELEASES

Kampfar - Profan | Indie Recordings | Pagan Black Metal | Norway
Long-running viking-obsessed Norse outfit Kampfar raises swords, shields and eyebrows with what is probably their darkest record yet.

Intronaut - The Direction of Last Things | Century Media Records | Progressive/Post-Metal | United States
If I could describe Intronaut in one word, it would be "busy." Lots of rhythmic changes, endlessly-filling drums, off-kilter transitions . . . it’s a far cry from the sound they helped pioneer with Null and Void back in the day. This is actually beginning to resemble the metalcore tendencies of Sacha’s previous band Anubis Rising. Weird.

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WHAT WE MISSED

Chthonic Cult - I Am the Scourge of Eternity | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black/Death Metal | Poland/Germany
Super lengthy, crisp as a cracker black/death metal. Another win for Iron Bonehead. How’d I miss this?

Slidhr - Spit of the Apostate | Independent/Digital | Black Metal | Ireland
We don’t hear from the Irish master of horrific black metal murk (it’s already been two and a half years since Deluge), so this quietly released digital EP was the perfect surprise.

Slægt - Beautiful and Damned | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black Metal | Denmark
Slægt definitely won me over with his (at one time it was just Asrok) off-kilter, folky take on melodic, riffy black metal on the self-titled demo and split with White Medal. Ildsvanger showed a little more of the "stereotypical black metal" sound work its way in, and now Beautiful and Damned sounds like an everyman’s sort of black metal band. Perfectly fine, but also perfectly unremarkable. Shame.

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