So here are a handful of new albums which are coming out this calendar week (that means between 5/10 and 5/16 if you don't have a calendar handy). I can't begin to tell you how excited I've been for a few of these to come out. Anticipation is the mind killer, especially for albums you've been awaiting for, I don't know, three years? However, some of the discoveries I've made over these past few weeks as this sort of...I don't know, “Amalgamator” has proven that, once again, the excitement of new discovery somehow always ends up trumping the excitement of anticipation.

—Jon Rosenthal

Am I missing anything? Do you want to tell me I'm pretty? Did Euronymous have it coming? Am I so wrong that the world is going to end? Let us know in the comments and I'll probably respond!



Obsequiae - Aria of Vernal Tombs | 20 Buck Spin | “Castle Metal” | United States

The anticipation I was just speaking of in my little fancy introduction? That was all about this. “Blondel del Nesle”'s music career has been dear to me since his days in Autumnal Winds (which eventually turned into Obsequiae in 2007), and watching his musicianship blossom has been a satisfying experience, to say the least. What we have here is a forty-five minute foray into what Blondel del Nesle's world of “Castle Metal” - an extraordinarily catchy, Medieval-y inclined throwback to the days of Non Serviam-era Rotting Christ and the first two Fall of the Leafe albums. This isn't your dad's Medieval metal – you won't hear the all-too-saccharine folk caricatures of Subway to Sally anywhere in this album, just triumphant, well-crafted guitar work and a “fist raised to the sky” sense of immediacy and power. The sense of intricacy found in its predecessor, the mighty Suspended in the Brume of Eos, is only furthered here, with Blondel del Nesle's effortlessly smooth guitar playing as stately as it is impressive. For those who are interested in looking deeper into legitimate Medieval music, Vicente La Camera Mariño's harp is in fact true to the era, and he is an immense talent

Void Paradigm - Earth's Disease | Apathia Records | Progressive Black Metal | France

Every once in a while you will get to see me flex my brain muscle...this is one of them. Void Paradigm classifies themselves as “hypnotic dodecatonic black metal.” This (though the terminology is incorrect: dodecatonic isn't really a music term—it's “dodecaphonic.” Sorry, guys!) alludes to the now-infamous twelve-tone composition style pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg. I go into detail concerning twelve-tone technique in an article I wrote for Backlit Zine a few years ago, but, needless to say, it is 1) based in math and charts and 2) unlike anything the untrained ear has ever heard. French modernist black metallers Void Paradigm might not follow the “atonal” style to a T, relying on lyrical melodies and harmoniousness from time to time (the music nerd in me would go as far as to say they should call themselves hypnotic panchromatic black metal, which doesn't have the same sort of ring to it), but man, what a great album. Chock full of big, gross harmonies and loud, almost hardcore-esque barked vocals, this almost reminds me of ATMF's Haar, who I covered in a previous column, but with a much more fearless foray into even-more-than-Deathspell Omega dissonance (can you believe I have to make such a distinction). The title track veers off into a very nicely composed string quartet. Again, maybe not as dissonant as they might want to say, but still very enjoyable as a whole.

Stream the full album Earth's Disease via VS Webzine here.

Hypothermia - Svartkonst | Agonia Records | Black Metal/Post-Rock

I feel very conflicted about this release (this happens a lot). On one hand, this is a new, proper Hypothermia album. Hypothermia, the band whose initial releases (everything up to the massive Rakbladsvalsen, really) led to immense catharsis throughout the early-to-mid “depressive black metal” boom. Then came sole-member-turned-frontman Kim Karlsson's “improvised” era, including releases such as Kaffe & Blod and Gråtoner, which I felt held merit, but, as a whole, did not live up to the intense, enveloping atmosphere held within previous albums. I felt that a proper album as opposed to a demo or an EP would bring about that old, nostalgic feeling. You know, like the one you get when listening to Bergtatt or Det Som Engang Var. That inescapable, detached feeling of youth, formative depression, and separation. I really, really wanted Svartkonst to be that...and I guess at times I felt that, but an instrumental “post-rock” album doesn't quite cut it. I know Kim has it in him – I can hear it in the album...it's just not quite there yet. Maybe some day.




Antlers - A Gaze Into The Abyss | Vendetta Records | Black Metal | Germany
If you had told me Pablo Ursusson from Sangre de Muerdago re-entered the world of extreme music (he used to be in extremely awesome crust band Ekkaia), I would have laughed in your face. Ursusson had really calmed down over the past few years, existing almost solely in the neofolk scene. I suppose it would make sense that he would re-emerge in a folk-tinged, atmospheric black metal band like Antlers. It is almost exactly what you'd expect from someone who emerged from the folk scene to make black metal, and that is totally okay in my book. Big, autumnal sadness which got a Spring release for some reason.
Related to: Sangre de Muerdago

Orakle - Éclats | Apathia Records | Progressive Extreme Metal | France
Every mention of French metal band Orakle showcases two things: 1) they're black metal and 2) they've been around since 1994. What does that tell me? I should expect some cold, Vlad Tepes-style riffing, right? Wrong, this is a strange bout of twisting, turning progressive metal, running the gamut from your saxophone-driven avant-jazz to the blistering cold of the early French black metal scene. Maybe a little too disjointed at times, and they definitely approach the “circus avant-garde” I so despise on more than one occasion...but, I have to say, I really do enjoy this album.
Related to: Diapsiquir (at least at one point)

Valborg - Romantik | Temple of Torturous | Death/Doom Metal | Germany
I can't imagine a few months going by without a Christian Kolff-related release I end up absolutely loving. Valborg's unique, oddly-goth rock-tinged (The Cure, not Nightwish. Sheesh) brand of death/doom is as crushing and majestic as it is catchy and memorable. Kolff might be known more for his odd, avant-garde works in Woburn House, Owl, and Island, but Romantik shows Kolff's keen ear for solid songwriting, as the rest of the Valborg discography does.
Related to: Owl, Klabautamann, Island, Woburn House

Abrahma - Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird | Small Stone Records | Progressive Rock/Grunge | France
My taste in grunge is pretty limited – I like Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, and the like, but I can't say I'm super well versed in the genre. I must admit, I approached writing about this release with hesitance, but, since we premiered a stream of the album, it's only fair that I give my two cents, too. Right? This has some nice, heavy riffing, definitely akin to Soundgarden's BadMotorFinger but through a much denser THC crystal prism. And hey, they played Roadburn, so people are certainly paying attention! Stream Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird here.



that means things which aren't metal

So I'm not going to lie and say I always liked Prurient – in fact, it was quite the opposite. I'd tried and tried for a long time but couldn't find myself getting into Prurient, or power electronics in general. Even the more adventurous and pop-minded Time's Arrow and most of Bermuda Drain was lost on me. However, I could tell in recent years the sole member Dominic Fernow was on to something, reaching further and further into the depths of industrial music, beyond his more traditional noise and power electronics scope, to create something interesting. The mammoth Frozen Niagara Falls double album was the first Prurient album to really make me say “oh wow, I get it now.” Maybe it was his time as a member in Cold Cave, maybe it was the (mostly) demise of his label Hospital Productions (which still puts out releases from time to time), or maybe it was all that Muslimgauze he had been listening to. Whatever it was, Frozen Niagara Falls is quite a grand statement, running the gamut from the most traditional to the most extreme ends of industrial music. Yes, from conservative, Intrinsic Action-esque power electronics to entirely acoustic neofolk (which is an extension of industrial music, to the surprise of most), Frozen Niagara Falls acts sort of like a survey of the industrial genre, taking pristine snapshots of different eras, different places, different people, and bringing them together into a single, ninety-two minute presentation.



Goatlord - Sodomize the Goat | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Death/Doom Metal | United States
Goatlord - Demo '87/Reh '88 | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Death/Doom Metal | United States
Goatlord - Reflections of the Solstice | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Death/Doom Metal | United States
These three are all bundled together because madman Yosuke Konishi from Nuclear War Now! Productions took it upon himself to re-issue almost the entirety of Goatlord's back-catalog on vinyl (save the Promo from 1991, but Demo '87/Reh '88 contains a mostly unreleased rehearsal from 1988, of which two tracks were featured on a split with Nunslaughter in 2004). Why? Goatlord is one of the more important band's you have yet to hear. With recordings which date back to 1985, Goatlord is one of the earliest known death/doom band. Irreverent, brutal, and absolutely disgusting death metal. Though these particularly recordings date from 1987 to 1991, they are just as refreshing now as they probably were back then (Admittedly, I'm a little too young to be nostalgic about them). A big selling point is the super primitive (and rather humorous) Sodomize the Goat artwork. You can even get it on a t-shirt if you really, really want it.

Doom Snake Cult - Love, Sorrow, Doom | Death/Doom Metal | United States
After the demise of Goatlord, vocalist Ace Still lent his signature throat to Doom Snake Cult, who might be known to most as that band whose debut tape, originally released on JL America, was randomly placed in orders by NWN! proprietor Yosuke Konishi. Their sole album, the death/doom oddity Love, Sorrow, Doom, is a hazy adventure into drugged psychedelia and rather surprising lyrical content (“Carnival Freak Show” deals with the mistreatment of sideshow attractions and the sympathy felt by an onlooker). Ten years after the initial, long-sold out re-release, Nuclear War Now! is at it again, this time with an altered track listing, new cover art, and the label's signature, extremely decadent packaging.

Alda - Alda | SickManGettingSick Records | Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
After a few home-dubbed tape and CD editions, “Cascadian” (ugh) black metal band Alda's first full-length finally gets the vinyl treatment. I like to think of this as a nice teaser to their upcoming full-length on Bindrune Recordings.

Mantar - Death By Burning | Brutal Panda Records | Sludge Metal | Germany
I've lost count how many times Mantar's sole full-length to date has been released and re-released. This will be the first time Mantar's aggressive brand of bass-less, punky sludge metal will be available domestically on vinyl.



Metsatöll - Pummelung | Napalm Records | Folk Metal | Estonia
Armed with beer and kanteles, the prodigal sons of traditional Estonian folk metal return. Hoist your beer (I did).

King Parrot - Dead Set | Housecore Records/Agonia Records | Thrash Metal/Grindcore | Australia
Angry, thrashy grind from Down Under. Did I mention it was angry? They're angry.

Valkyrie - Shadows | Relapse Records | Doom Metal/Hard Rock | United States
A retro-sounding doom metal/hard rock band which rides on good vibes, cold pop tops of Old Style, and many hazy nights of listening to Spirit Caravan and Mountain...man...

Fistfuck/Fuck the Facts - Fuck the Facts/Fistfuck | PRC Music | Grindcore/Grindcore | Canada/Canada
A fucky split between two fucky bands. In all seriousness, new Fuck the Facts is always welcome.

Entrails - Obiliteration | Metal Blade Records | Death Metal | Sweden
A squeaky clean, modernized version of the classic “SweDeath” sound made by someone who supposedly was there for its impetus. Apparently there is a bit of controversy surrounding whether or not Entrails actually existed between 1990 and 1998. You decide.

Hackneyed - Inhabitants of Carcosa | Silverdust Records | Germany | Death Metal
It was only a matter of time until a death metal album based on the mythos utilized in True Detective happened.

Luciferian Rites - When The Light Dies | Moribund Cult | Black Metal | Mexico
Black metal done in the old way defined by Strid's End of Life demo almost twenty-five years ago. This happens to feature some especially messed up vocals, but not too over the top. Surprisingly nice, especially if you love the more aggressive side of “depressive black metal” as much as I do.



Eigenlicht - Sacral Regicide | Independent | Black Metal
Ray Hawes of Skagos has been sort of silent for a while, touring with his mostly live folk band Ekstasis (whose fellow member Johnny Delacey [of Fauna] is also in Eigenlicht) but otherwise distanced from the black metal underground. If you're familiar with Skagos, you should know what to expect: stately, powerful black metal, but this time in a much more stripped down fashion and featuring some prominent, not-cheesy keyboards.

Dendritic Arbor - Romantic Love | Grimoire Records | Black Metal/Hardcore
Ripping black metal which has just as much to do with Will Killingsworth's career in Orchid as it does Varg's in Burzum. Big and chaotic. Not sure what warrants the Romantic Love title, though.

Herbarium - Shepherd of Winds | Razed Soul | Black Metal | Ukraine
A surprise discovery – if this isn't a new project of Roman Saenko's in which he attempts to reclaim the grand throne of Drudkh's early discography, then this duo is doing a great impression.

Striborg - This Suffocating Existence | Razed Soul | Ambient Black Metal | Australia
The long-awaited resurgence of the reclusive Tasmanian legend, and a pleasant return to his Southwest Passage sound.


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