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Another week in Chicago proves the temperatures are getting lower and my destiny to die Valfar's death become all too real. It's times like these where I really delve into the music of the season. To get discussion going, I figured I'd make a short playlist (yes, you can click that) of some of my winter favorites. Do you have any winter favorites? Feel free to share.

Below are a few metal-and-related releases slated to come out this week (December 6 through 12, 2015). Of course, I miss things. Want to tell me about what I missed? Was I wrong about something? Is something cool getting released soon? Did you have a favorite winter album you wanted to tell me about? Are you getting me something for Christmas? Tell me in the comments!

—Jon Rosenthal
send Jon your promos at jon@invisibleoranges.com

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Spectral Lore - Gnosis | I, Voidhanger Records | Ambient Black Metal | Greece
Ayloss, Greece's most enigmatic son, offers up the second installment in his new EP series, in which he departs from Spectral Lore's singular sound as a means of expanding a sound which is already vast and uncompromising. Concentrating on traditional Eastern and Balkan folk musics, Gnosis successfully diving headfirst into the meditative and exotic. You can read more of my thoughts on Gnosis here.

Triumvir Foul - Triumvir Foul | Blood Harvest Records/Vrasubatlat | Death Metal | United States
Filthy, putrid death metal from the unlikely sons who have brought you Ash Borer for the past six years. The apocalyptic sound of Triumvir Foul's debut is a miasma of sinew, bile, and soot, enveloping the listener in riffing, pummeling rage. Triumvir Foul is the eternal serpent squeezing the very life out of you, watching the life drain from your face. Death metal should sound like death, and, by god, I think Triumvir Foul have achieved that.

Read more of my thoughts on Triumvir Foul's debut and stream album opener "Labyrinthine - The Blood Serpent Unwinds" here.

Yellow Eyes - Sick With Bloom | Gilead Media | Black Metal | United States
I'm not going to lie, Yellow Eyes definitely lost me after their split with Monument. I mean, after a killer, unique demo and the aforementioned split, Yellow Eyes shed their singular, chiming sound for a much more "by the books"/standard US black metal sound. I was devastated, and had actually resigned my disappointment's furthering with Sick With Bloom, but the Skarstad brothers, now joined by M Rekevics of Fell Voices, Vilkacis, Vorde, et al fame, seem to have found their way once more. Yellow Eyes's twisting, harmonically intriguing approach to melodic black metal has been known to dazzle and dizzy, but it wasn't until Sick With Bloom that I found myself fully disoriented by the music. The unhinged, chilling, chiming black metal found on Sick With Bloom is Yellow Eyes living up to their namesake. With a scarred liver and bilious gaze, Yellow Eyes's jaundiced vision is finally complete.

Nar Mattaru - Ancient Atomic Warfare | I, Voidhanger Records | Death Metal | Chile
Ancient Atomic Warfare is an all too fitting title. Nar Mattaru's second full-length effort hammers any unsuspecting listener with the fury and explosive strength of the flaming fist of an ancient Sumerian deity. This Chilean death metal trio's harrowing, epic and extremely heavy brand of death metal is a powerful statement - simple and efficient without becoming a slave to monotony, atmospheric without becoming mud, majestic without becoming cheesy. Death metal doesn't have to cater to an aesthetic. It doesn't have to be about Satan - the album doesn't have to sound like an ancient cave - the album aesthetic doesn't have to devote itself to goat worship (though there is a goat on this album's cover - shh); sometimes an album can just be, and that is Nar Mattaru's greatest achievement. Becoming singular in such a homogenized genre can be hard.

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OF NOTE

Monolithe - Epsilon Aurigae | Debemur Morti Productions | Funeral Doom Metal | France
This is an interesting departure for Monolithe - once known for the sprawling, hour's length single tracks found in Monolithe I through Monolithe IV, this long-running French funeral doom metal band seems to have picked up the pace. Gone are the massive, emotive bouts of extremely slow, funereal dirges, project mastermind Sylvain Bégot opting for a much more mechanical, harrowing sound, concentrating on large dissonances and spidery melodies. It seems as if Monolithe has taken a few pointers from their previous frontman Vindsval, whom you might know as the entity behind Blut Aus Nord, and it isn't bad, by any means, it's just going to take a while for me to get fully used to this shift in sound.

Nekrasov - There Is No Other Way | Independent/Digital | Atmospheric Black Metal/Ambient/Noise | Australia
The return of the enigmatic Nekrasov is as surprising as it is embraced with open arms. The master of completely detached, raw-as-sin, noise-drenched black metal all but dropped off the face of the earth after 2011's mammoth, two-disc harsh noise wall The Ever-Present (which wasn't really what I had wanted from a double disc album, but it's not my band . . . what can a guy do?), briefly re-emerging with a strange collaboration with fellow noise metal legend Mories, but otherwise hiding in the shadows. There Is No Other Way is Nekrasov doing what he does best, slicing my eardrums with a whirlwind of mechanical, shrieking black metal. It's like he never left.

Fórn - Weltschmerz | Gilead Media | Sludge/Doom Metal | United States
Okay, so, first off, I can't tell if I like the fact that each aspect of this album is named after words synonymous with "sadness" and "pain," including the famous Portuguese "Saudade."[Speaking as a partially Brazilian man raised by a Portuguese-speaking mother, I must say that “sadness” is not quite an accurate translation of “Saudade,” but the word has no precise analogue in English. You win some you lose some.- Ed.] There is power in these words: Dolor, Weltschmerz and Saudade, and I can't tell if using all three in one go is hokey or not. Musically, however, Fórn hits the nail on the head. While achieving devastating levels of thickness, Weltschmerz does live up to its namesake. I mean, this is sad stuff, which sets Fórn apart from other, much more blues-inclined sludge bands. Driven by subtle melodies and rhythmic plod, Weltschmerz is a strong reminder as to why bands like Samothrace were so good early in the game - balance is key, and Fórn are right at the fulcrum.

Yidhra - Cult of Bathory | Black Voodoo Records | Doom Metal | United States
I've successfully avoided groovy "throwback" doom for a good few weeks, but it always seems to find me. You know the sound, The Sword did it so well on Age of Winters, but Yidhra is definitely much more . . . gruff about it.

Ur Draugr - With Hunger Undying | Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundemantum | Black/Death Metal | Australia
Hey guys, this is pretty weird. Everywhere likes to call Ur Draugr black/death metal, but there is a lot of nuance to their sound. Concentrating on some pretty extreme dissonance and extreme percussion, With Hunger Undying is a unique take on the new "avant-garde" school which pervades extreme metal. Tread lightly.

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FROM THE GRAVE

Chaos Echoes - Transient | Utech Records | Avant-Garde Death Metal/Aleotoric Music | France

The bizarre French masters take the sounds of death metal to its furthest reaches, completely dissecting and reconstructing the genre into a disparate shadow of itself. Steeped in improvisation and Eastern classical tendencies, the near-free-jazz approach found on Transient proves itself to be the most challenging "metal" listen of the year, if not the decade. It will take a few listens to fully understand just what is going on, and that is what sets this full-length apart from Chaos Echoes's previous works. There is nothing concrete happening here, just musicians feeding off of each other in real time and creating magic. Though previously available on CD and vinyl through Nuclear War Now! Productions, Utech Records is handling a new double-cassette edition which is bound to dazzle.

Empylver - Wood Woud Would | Stress Hormones Records | Folk Metal | China
Oh man, I used to listen to this album all the time back when it first came out in 2006. I mean . . . folk metal? From China? Count me in! Looking back, sole musician AJ Alex definitely composed and recorded this whole album on his MIDI laptop, but at least his songwriting chops are still there. Not sure why an entirely digital album is getting released on vinyl, but I definitely got to flex my nostalgia muscle over this.

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OTHER RELEASES

Nachtlieder - The Female Of The Species | I, Voidhanger Records | Black Metal | Sweden
Pretty solid, middle of the road black metal . . . but Dagny Suzanne's vocals need a lot of work. Not sure about the album title, too, but I'll shut my trap about that.

Diavolos - You Lived Now Die | Hells Headbangers Records | Death Metal | Greece
Hey guys, have you heard the Mantas demos but couldn't stand the recorded-onto-sandpaper sound quality and Kam Lee's awful vocals? You're in luck!

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