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This column marks my one-year anniversary writing for Invisible Oranges. Can you believe I started simultaneously annoying the lot of you and ruining what was left of my mind a whole year ago? If you don't remember, I thought I had essentially left the whole "music blogging scene" with the dissolving of my former music blog, The Inarguable, but I guess I can't stay away, huh? Here's to another year if my brain doesn't catch fire!

Below is a brief list of metal-and-related musics slated for release between April 24th and 30th, 2016. It's hard to write about everything, and especially difficult to keep up with the random nature of metal releases in the digital age, so please feel free to fill in any gaps with nice, complete sentences in the comment box below. Do you have a release coming up which you would like to see in a future column? Shoot me an e-mail - it's in my signature!

send Jon your promos at jon@invisibleoranges.com

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Kawir - Πάτερ 'Ηλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα | Iron Bonehead Productions | Folk/Black Metal | Greece
Ah, the epic sounds of Hellas. Kawir has been a consistent source of giant, folky majesty, for over twenty years now, and Therthonax isn't about to change that. Πάτερ 'Ηλιε Μήτερ Σελάνα, which translated to "Father Sun, Mother Moon," draws upon the ever-thickening atmospheres once perfected on Ισόθεος and brings them to new, hedonistic heights. Though Kawir's body of work has been largely overshadowed by their contemporaries, bands like Rotting Christ, Varathron really perfecting the early Hellenic sound pioneered in Kawir's early work, but Father Sun, Mother Moon's epic scope and passionate delivery marks itself as the band's crowning achievement. Unfortunately, the grandeur of the album's first few tracks don't pervade its latter half, which leads to an imbalance, but, overall, the Hellenic glory found in Kawir's latest effort is a definite reminder that the progenitors of a sound are bound to perfect it with time.

Ithaqua - The Black Mass Sabbath Pulse | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black Metal | Greece
A powerful backwards glance to Hellenic black metal's formative years. Though definitely paying homage to Rotting Christ's Thy Mighty Contract's beauty in melodic simplicity, Ithaqua's vampyric, keyboard-laden Gothic-isms belie a much more sinister sonic backdrop to what is otherwise a bouncing, excitable listen. Though this EP's brief 16-some minutes fly by, Ithaqua's many hooks warrant many repeat listens.

Darkestrah - Turan | Osmose Productions | Folk/Black Metal | Kyrgyzstan (Germany)
Impeccably performed, epic black metal with a traditionalist scope. Come back on Wednesday to hear Turan's Kyrgyz strength in its entirety.

Verdun - The Eternal Drift's Canticles | Throatruiner Records | Sludge/Doom Metal | France

From my premiere of "Self-Inflicted Mutalitation":

"No doubt following in the unmistakable footprints of fellow doom metal greats Burning Witch and the aforementioned Dopethrone, Verdun crushes and mesmerizes with their steady, organic plod. Make no mistake, Verdun is definitely a stoner doom band, as evidenced by their meandering psychedelia and strong feel for head-bobbing groove, but The Eternal Drift’s Canticles shows a much more mature approach."

Plebeian Grandstand - False Highs, True Lows | Throatruiner Records | Avant-Garde Black Metal/Hardcore | France
Pure, unbridled chaos from France's best kept secret. Shifting further and further into black metal-dictated realms, Plebeian Grandstand's frenzied, darkness-fueled black metalcore bears simultaneously close resemblances to black metal genre garblers Aosoth and chaotic mathcore legends Botch. Though madness in dissonance manifests itself as a constant between those two otherwise unrelated extreme genres, Plebeian Grandstand's mastery of modern black metal's reckless brute strength with early-2000s hardcore's "from chest to eardrum" emotional nudity treads new ground on both sides of the fence.

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OF NOTE

Schammasch - Triangle | Prosthetic Records | Avant-Garde Black Metal | Switzerland
Swiss weirdos Schammasch are further proof that the latter half of the 2010s possess one of black metal's most striking bouts of punctuated equilibrium. From the longform, melody-and-atmosphere-driven sounds which dictated the latter half of the past numeric decade, such a sudden penchant for the bizarre, dissonant, and aggressive is a complete about face for a slow, calculated evolutionary crescendo. Schammasch is that strangeness incarnate, rife with bizarre chanting, surreal dissonance and vaulted ceiling atmosphere. It isn't very often Prosthetic really "wows" me with a release, but this is definitely a band I need to investigate further.

Abhomine - Larvae Offal Swine | Nuclear War Now! Productions/Osmose Productions | Black/Death Metal | United States
Pete Helmkamp is back, and the result is gross. No new ground broken here, but thus is the story of every post-Order From Chaos Helmkamp band out there. And that's okay. As I've said in other "war metal" writeups on here, stuff like Order From Chaos and Blasphemy aren't there to be new, and war metal is more a display of power in place of progression. Pete Helmkamp's songwriting talent and putrid gurgling rasp essentially excuses himself from the binds of time - he can stay in 1991 and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Fister/Teeth - Fister / Teeth | Broken Limbs Recordings | Sludge/Doom Metal / Death/Doom Metal | United States
Two of the heaviest bands in doom metal's underground join forces for a most suffocating ten minutes. Fister's atmospheric blend of grace and Grief finds an interesting match in the hardcore-infused old school death metal of Teeth, but the consistent worship of lower, rumbling frequencies finds a common denominator.

Qrixkuor - Three Devils Dance | Invictus Productions | Black/Death Metal | England
Suffocating, nightmarish murk in three lengthy parts. I normally write off cavernous din of Qrixkuor's jumbled ilk as "thick distortion hiding mediocrity," but the nightmarish Three Devils Dance manages to embody the amorphous, Lovecraftian horror which so many attempt to capture. Expect none of the cartoonish superlative clockwork which defines much of the "cavernous" scene here.

Mistur - In Memoriam | Dark Essence Records | Folk/Viking/Black Metal | Norway
I really, really miss Windir. You should, too, and I hope most of you feel the pangs of inadequacy upon remembering project mastermind Valfar was just twenty-four years old when he met his frosty demise. Continuing in Valfar's fusing Edvard Grieg's folky orchestrations with black metal's ire rose Mistur, who boasts former Windir guitarist Stian Bakketig among its roster. Mistur's melodic, folky black metal is essentially par for the course

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

Wöljager - Van't Liewen Un Stiäwen ("On Living and Dying") | Prophecy Productions | Neofolk | Germany/Iceland
Stunning, pastoral neofolk from the minds behind Árstíðir lífsins and Helrunar. I am no stranger to the many works of multi-instrumentalist Árni Bergur Zoëga's body of work, Dysthymia and Skendöd are longtime favorites, so this sort of "spillover" leaves me ecstatic. Wöljager's minimalist approach is infectious and spacious, building momentum off of Zoëga's careful composition and Marcel Dreckmann's deep, warm baritone. Van't Liewen Un Stiäwen is a dreamy album, the beautiful, slight sounds of nature and the calm which comes with distancing oneself from civilization.

Sacramence - Lovers Seek Dominance | Knife Vision | Darkwave/Industrial/Drone | United States
Originally a psychedelic black metal band (anyone want to help me find a copy of their split with Golden Milk?), Sacramence made a very punctuated about face and re-manifested itself as a miserable, atmospheric mixture of post-industrial music, drone, and ambiance which evokes Coil, Raison d'Etre, and even Burzum's electronic works. Fans of Sacramence's previous works might be left a little dumbfounded, but Lovers Seek Dominance is catchy enough and performed with a tenderness to leave a lasting mark.

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FROM THE GRAVE

Malokarpatan - Stridžie dni | Invictus Productions | Black Metal | Slovakia
Slovenian folklore and black metal fit together perfectly, much like Malokarpatan's mixture of Masters Hammer's Ritual-era strangeness with and Andy LaRocque sense of rhythm and catchiness. I slept on the tape version of this one (shame on me), but Invictus was kind enough to make a larger format CD release. He should re-release the Remmirath albums, while he's at it.

Ultha - Pain Cleanses Every Doubt | Translation Loss Records | Black/Doom Metal | Germany
Though I wasn't the biggest Planks fan in the universe, Ralph Schmidt's latest artistic endeavor, Ultha, makes me want to revisit his discography with a more open mind. Ultha's ethereal, doomed black metal blends the dreaminess of Amenra's droning post-metal with Bethlehem's early desperation (especially vocally, Schmidt destroys his throat with a very convincing Rainer Landfermann screech).

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OTHER RELEASES

Fallujah - Dreamless | Nuclear Blast America | Technical Death Metal/Deathcore | United States
"Technical Death Metal/Deathcore."

Chains/Suton - Balkanian Narko Doom | Ordo MCM | Doom Metal / Drone/Doom Metal | Slovenia/Bosnia and Herzegovina
The fact that Chains's half of this split is titled "Fire Walk With Me" is enough for me to love it, but let's look closer. Chains's Eastern-flavored, dark doom hypnotism definitely evokes the red-tinted, wooded isolation and spirituality of its namesake, performed with just enough sloppiness to really drive the Lynchian atmosphere home. Suton's psychedelia-inclined death/doom metal is a nice refresher after the surrealism of its release predecessor, melodic and crushing, but with a mechanical feel (likely the fault of a poorly mixed drum machine) which makes it oddly harsh.

Germ - Escape | Prophecy Productions | Black Metal/Shoegaze/Electronica | Australia
There are few instances in which I enjoy the whole "new school of post-black metal" performance of shoegaze and post-rock at black metal volume levels. Germ has never been one of those instances. (Bring back Austere!)

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WHAT WE MISSED

Carnis Vale - Carnis Vale | Knife Vision | Black Metal/Punk | United States
The men behind Crippled Sound and Slave House offer up a short, sharp shock of harsh, minimal blackened stomp with an absolutely unhinged vocal performance. Knife Vision releases don't happen as often as they should, and J Neumaier's projects are always ace examples of classic US black metal, so Carnis Vale is definitely one to notice.

Malphas - La terre disparue | Knife Vision | Black Metal/Punk | Canada
Malphas's brand of black metalpunk is definitely of a more conservative sort, pissed and distorted to all hell, but La terre disparue is a catchy and infectious listen.

Blizaro - Cornucopia della morte | I, Voidhanger Records | Progressive Rock/Doom Metal | United States
Giallo doom? John Gallow is way too good at fusing the strange synthesizer sounds of Argento and Fulci with the classic heavy psychedelia of Black Sabbath and Paul Chain (two Paolo Cadena namedrops in two weeks? What a world!).

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