Upcoming Metal Releases 2/28/2016 – 3/5/2016
Okay, okay, fine. I will start covering things as they happen. You win.
Below is a super long list of things which either come out this week (February 28th through March 5th) or were surprisingly uploaded to Bandcamp last week. There is a lot, and I expect you to read it all. There will be a quiz afterward. If you disagree with any of my opinions (you can agree, too!) or think I missed something (which is probable, but this document is single-spaced and ten pages long), feel free to leave a comment below.
Primitive Man/Northless - Primitive Man / Northless | Halo of Flies | Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal / Sludge/Doom Metal/Post-Hardcore | United States
Two of the heaviest bands in sludge team up for an extraordinarily oppressive split. Primitive Man’s thick, filthy, sleazy plod is an interesting, albeit ultimately fitting, pairing with Primitive Man’s equally as heavy, post-hardcore-directed "technical sludge" wizardry. Primitive Man opens with the sidelong bummer "Empty Husk", fifteen agonizing minutes of nightmarish dissonance and heavy-handed, slack-tuned minimal bludgeoning. Northless essentially acts as Primitive Man’s intra-style foil; as mentioned before, Northless doesn’t stray from the thickness of the lowest-of-the-low bass spectrum, but their progressive approach, with changing time signatures and bizarre harmonies reminiscent of the 90s Touch and Go roster, results in a different, more challenging monster.
Mesarthim - Isolate + Suffocate | Avantgarde Music | Atmospheric Black Metal/Ambient | Australia
To sum up Mesarthim’s sound very briefly, "Summoning in deep, colorful space". Of course, that is a vast oversimplification - Isolate is ethereal, gigantic, and decidedly astral in approach. The crystalline sound offered on their debut begs a strong comparison, especially vocally, to fellow countryman Dis Pater’s Midnight Odyssey, though Mesarthim is kind enough to truncate any lengthy thematic ideas. Borrowing Gamma Arietis’s obscure "traditional" name, Mesarthim smoothly blends a base of dense, colorful ambient black metal with elements of trance and electronic music, resulting in expansive, prismatic sound. Those of you who were nice enough to pre-order the LP edition will receive a special treat - Suffocate was recorded last December and will be included as a bonus CDr with the LP.
Inverloch - Dusk | Collapsed | Relapse Records | Death/Doom Metal | Australia
Two of diSEMBOWELMENT’s original four make a triumphant, crushing return to extreme metal. Marrying the melodic misery of traditional Peaceville death/doom metal with rabid, crushing death metal, the twenty-two year question left open-ended after diSEBOWELMENT’s post-Transcendence Into The Peripheral breakup will go answered.
Stream "From The Eventide Pool" and read more of my thoughts here.
Wolvserpent - Aporia:Kāla:Ananta | Relapse Records | Black/Drone/Doom Metal | United States
The Idaho desert-dwellers of Wolvserpent return with their most ambitious work yet, a single, forty-minute epic, melding echoing chamber music with bottomed-out, cavernous drone/doom metal. Having watched their style develop from their Pussygutt days, Blake Green and Brittany McConnell’s unique sprawl across the ethereal and nightmarish reaches an apex with Aporia:Kāla:Ananta, with endless layers of mournful violins joining hands with explosive, droning rumbles. Listening to a forty minute song is definitely an investment, yes, but Wolvserpent makes it easy. Trying on the soul, fine, but easy.
Atrament - Eternal Downfall | Broken Limbs Recordings/Argento Records/Sentient Ruin Laboratories | Blackened Death Metal/D-Beat | United States
I’ll keep this brief since you’ll be hearing more from me about this killer debut by Bay Area d-beat death metallers Atrament Wednesday. You like d-beat? You like Bolt Thrower? How about both at once? Cool. Have a full listen here in a couple days.
LVTHN - Eradication of Nescience | Fallen Empire Records/Amor Fati Productions | Black Metal | Belgium
An unfortunate run-in with a dastardly music pirate (Fallen Empire’s second this year, how unfortunate) means we get to hear this one earlier than expected. LVTHN expounds upon the evil they had briefly demonstrated with their well-received Adversarialism demo and split with black metal darling Lluvia and are completely rabid. Though most of Eradication of Nescience suffers from "similar sound syndrome", calling certain chords and tones "home", but it is performed with such precision and fury that the near-45 minutes slip by. Orthodox black metal, maybe, but definitely a step up.
Suspiral - Delve Into The Mysteries Of Transcendence | I, Voidhanger Records | Black/Death Metal | Spain
Spaniards Suspiral have effectively taken the "cavernous, scary black metal" sound and put it through a blender...and it actually goes down smoothly. Swarming and psychedelic, Delve Into The Mysteries of Transcendence oozes and envelopes with wave after wave of dissonant filth. There’s a lot to sift through, with different layers of guitar, ambiance, and ever-present, albeit muffled percussion to differentiate, but, then again, simply letting Suspiral wash over you all at once is all the more exciting and terrifying.
Primitive Man/Sea Bastard - Primitive Man / Sea Bastard | Dry Cough Records | Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal / Sludge/Doom Metal | United States/England
As if the world wasn’t miserable enough, Primitive Man happens to have a second split out this week, this time with UK sludge behemoths Sea Bastard. Primitive Man is just as suffocating and nihilistic, if slightly melodic and on the "morose" side this time around, and Sea Bastard seemingly vows to rumble any loosely hung pictures from errant walls with their twenty-minute "The Hermit".
Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest | Dark Descent Records | Black/Death Metal | Canada
Breaking the bonds of the "old school death metal" tag, Begrime Exemious takes the "old school" term much, much further, with a sound which cites Incantation, Judas Priest, and even Doom (UK) comparisons. The Enslavement Conquest merits a solid listen, preferably with a beer.
Dream Death - Dissemination | Rise Above Records | Death/Doom/Thrash Metal | United States
I always thought Tom Warrior’s further excursions into blackened doom with Triptykon were backwards glances toward Dream Death’s adventurous 1987 album Journey into Misery. Given the current connotation of the death/doom metal tag, people might dive into this album and emerge wet and disappointed, but Dream Death’s mix of Celtic Frost’s riffy brutality and Saint Vitus’s drugged misery is still just as exciting thirty years later.
Sorcier des Glaces - North | Obscure Abhorrence Records | Black Metal | Canada
The grandfather of "Metal Noir Quebecois", though the term was canonically coined by fellow countrymen Forteresse, Sorcier des Glaces brings forth yet another flawless ode to the eternal winter. Icy, melodic, and biting, North is another successful entry in what has been a consistently great body of work. It surprises me that bands like Gris, Sombres Forets, and Forteresse, though incredible in their own rights, receive more attention than the innovator of what has become Quebec’s country-distinct approach to black metal.
Church of Misery - And Then There Were None | Rise Above Records | Sludge/Doom Metal | Japan/United States
Armed with a completely new lineup, borrowed from Repulsion, Earthride, and Blood Farmers, Church of Misery is still very much bassist Tatsu Mikami’s child. Not even a new lineup could avoid Mikami’s signature heavy groove, but Scott Carlson’s vocals only aid in creating the strongest lineup since Master of Brutality
Skáphe - Skáphe² | I, Voidhanger Records/Vánagandr/Fallen Empire Records | Black Metal | United States
Oh man, what an unfortunate mess. After what I thought was a pretty successful demo of hypnotic, melodic, frightening black metal, Skáphe makes a complete about-face and produces the most incoherent black metal album I’ve heard get more than just a Bandcamp or CDr release. I know people are generally making a comparison to the Icelandic scene, especially since this particular album boasts the presence of Misþyrming and Naðra’s D.G., but, though the new Icelandic scene isn’t my favorite thing, I can concede that at least they are able to perform coherent music. Skáphe² sounds more like someone mixed the contents of varying picture puzzle boxes and proceeded smashed them all together with a hammer. There is no flow at all, which really kills it. I was looking forward to this one, too.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Contradictory to the "bloodied scarecrow mask" visage, demonstrated in their first music video you can see below, Wyrding’s hushed music flows over you like a warm blanket, Schafer’s warm baritone voice soaring above fellow bandmates Brian Steele, Kyle Roessler, Bret Hartl and Jerry McDougal’s smooth lugubre. Gone are the overt folk influences of Wyrding’s demo, who have emerged from the cocoon with a sound akin to Benedictine monks performing funeral rites with modern electric instrumentation. Unlike their more conservative funeral doom brethren, Wyrding seeks out the dramatic not only in minimal execution, but minimal sound. They are quiet, unassuming, but are able to portray immensity with their subtle movements.
Ulaan Passerine - The Great Unwinding | Worstward Recordings | Psychedelic Folk/Drone/Ambient | United States
Nine months after the lilting breeze of the Light in Dust EP, Steven R Smith’s Ulaan Passerine returns with yet another lengthy work of hazy, meandering, psychedelic folk soundscapes. Presented as four long tracks spread across two tapes, Smith weaves so many sounds into brightly sunlit, faded sound photographs. As it is with all his projects, be it Hala Strana, thuja, the other two UIaan projects (Passerine and Markhor), and the "culmination" of Ulaan Passerine, Steven R Smith has always been at his strongest when he simply lets his music dissipate, and the hours seem to melt to Smith’s living soundtrack. I almost wish he would have waited until after winter had unleashed its tight grip (Ulaan Passerine is more of a mid-to-late Summer pick in my book), but I always welcome new additions to my ever-growing Worstward collection.
Dissvarth - Between The Light And The Moon | I, Voidhanger Records | Darkwave/Ambient | Australia/Slovakia
Darkwave and world music have been a consistent part of Australian musician Dis Pater’s discography - the deep space chimes of Midnight Odyssey, the Medieval echoes of The Crevices Below, the graven cold of Tempestuous Fall all held to the genre’s synthesizer-heavy gothic character. It really was only a matter of time until he dove in headfirst with a complete tribute to his beloved influences. Joined by Aeon Winds’s Svarthen, Dissvarth is a solid first attempt at pure darkwave and ambient, echoing the greats like Dead Can Dance (Dis Pater’s singing voice is surprisingly similar to Brendan Perry’s) and krautrock master Klaus Schulze’s Tangerine Dream, but some elements border on caricature. To be blunt, some of this comes off more like video game soundtrack music, which is fine, but the melodrama Dis Pater attempts to convey doesn’t come off with the clarity of his main project.
FROM THE GRAVE
Mania - Revel | Pesanta Urfolk/GreySun Records | Experimental/Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
Weirdo Salem solo black metal stalwart finally gets the wider release he deserves. I had the pleasure of seeing Mania perform live at the first Gilead Fest back in 2012 and sole musician Nate Myers (Hell, Predatory Light, Leech, River, et cetera) pulled a complete reversal on the "solo black metal" live performance, instead playing live drums over pre-recorded instrument tracks. I’d see it again.
Darkspace - Darkspace I | Fallen Empire Records | Black Metal/Dark Ambient/Deep Space Terror | Switzerland
The pivotal first album, now available on vinyl for those of us who couldn’t afford to import it from Europe. In space, no one can hear you scream.
Earth And Pillars - Earth I | Fallen Empire Records/Eisenwald | Atmospheric Black Metal/Ambient | Italy
Beautiful black metal ambiance - Fallen Empire’s terrestrial foil to the Darkspace release above.
Miasmal - Tides of Omniscience | Century Media Records | Death Metal | Sweden
I remember seeing Miasmal play in an apartment back when I was in college. They’re on Century Media now? Looks like the "new old school death metal" bubble finally burst.
Neoheresy - Potop | Elegy Records | Symphonic Pagan Black Metal | Poland
Hellveto is back? Since when? It looks like Filip Mrowiński has gotten much better recording equipment, as this newest artistic incarnation much more adequately expresses his cinematic, "epic" scope.
BIG OL’ BATCH OF TAPES
This will be a rarely recurring section in which any smaller label (to my knowledge) releases a handful of tapes, or "batch", at once. A few weeks ago there was a new batch of tapes on the awesome Defiled Light label...which just so happened to go up immediately after I submitted last week’s column. Life is a big game of catch up. Smaller labels who want to take over this randomly occurring section should hit up my e-mail all the way at the beginning of this column.
Ghaisiuan - Ghaisiuan II | Defiled Light | Raw Atmospheric Black Metal/Ambient | United States
Ghaisiuan’s second demo is a hallucinatory whirlwind of mechanical black metal psychedelia. Though raw, as it is with all Defiled Light releases, there is a certain fullness to Ghaisiuan’s sound which is communicated much clearer on Ghaisiuan II than its predecessor, which suffered from an excessively quiet recording.
Atel/Bastard of Majesty’s Sin - Atel/Bastard of Majesty Sin | Defiled Light | Black Metal / Raw Black Metal/Punk | United States/United States
Atel’s plodding black metal stomp acts as the perfect pairing with Bastard of Majesty’s Sin’s raw, disgusting noise black metal.
Solstice Ritual - Demo 1 | Defiled Light | Raw Black Metal | United States
Short (only two minutes in total), but promising first demo from Virginia’s Solstice Ritual. Though very raw, there are some very striking melodies which work their way through "The abysmal land"’s crackling wall of distortion.
Orgy of Carrion/Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect - Orgy of Carrion / Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect | Defiled Light | Raw Black Metal / Black/Doom Metal | United States/United States
The raw, clumsy, creepy black metal with spectral vocals offered by Orgy of Carrion meets Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect’s harsh black/doom plod.
Lux Nigrum - Chaos Ritual | Defiled Light | Black Metal | Chile/Mexico
This one came as a bit of a surprise - Lux Nigrum is...not so raw! One of the highlights of this batch (the other being the Ghaisiuan tape), Lux Nigrum echoes Sarcofago and even some of the Medellin Ultra Metal sound. Maybe not the most groundbreaking material around, but still pretty great.
Todesbaum - Demo | Defiled Light | Black/Doom Metal | United States
I wasn’t super into Todesbaum’s tape, which came as a surprise as I generally like bedroom-recorded black/doom metal, but this demo seems a little rushed...like it should have gestated a little more. I’ll definitely keep Todesbaum on my radar, as there is a lot of potential, it just hasn’t been realized yet.