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I wonder why I put personal thoughts up here. Last weekend I thought I made some pretty clear points but half the comments were about my brief mention as to how I dislike an album cover. You guys are weird. I mean, I’m weird, too, but sheesh. What’s a guy gotta do to get a dialog going about something constructive?

—Jon Rosenthal

Here are some metally things which are coming out this calendar week and my opinions on all of them. Did I miss something? Sure, I knowingly left a few things out. Did I say something stupid? Yeah, I have a lot of dumb, elitist opinions. Want to tell me about those things? Did you have a nice day? What did you have for lunch? Tell me in the comments.

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Vanum - Realm of Sacrifice | Profound Lore Records | Black Metal | United States
It was really only a matter of time until Ash Borer’s K. Morgan and Fell Voices’s M. Rekevics (they’re both in enough bands with enough released material to fill a CD rack) officially joined forces and started a band together. Vanum, the result of this union, is exactly what you’d want, and, to be frank, everything you’d expect from a band starring these two figureheads of the new US black metal scene. Morgan’s signature brand of caustic, melodic songwriting definitely soars to new heights in Vanum, featuring some rather striking harmonies and, dare I say an almost Hellenic sound. Rekevics is, as always, a capable and creative drummer, maintaining a terrific stamina over lengthy, speedy periods while holding onto the same force in which he completely pummels his drum kit during the album’s many mid-to-slow paced section. After having been mildly disappointed with both Ash Borer and Fell Voices’s recent releases, it is nice to hear members of both bands performing such a masterful, potent display. An LP edition is slated for a Fall release on K. Morgan’s own Psychic Violence Records.

Abyssal - Antikatastaseis | Profound Lore Records | Atmospheric Death Metal | United Kingdom
English troupe Abyssal manages to push through genre restrictions once more. Cut from the same cloth as their murky, cavernous labelmates and brethren Mitochondrion, Impetuous Ritual, and the like, Abyssal’s brand of death metal relies equally on dense, suffocating atmosphere and a constant barrage of putrid, terrifying, Incantation-inspired death metal. Of course, the whole "caverncore" (what an odious moniker) scene sounds like that, sure, overrun with an overwhelming amount of bandcamp and tape-only bands, and yet from Denoument onward, I always thought there was something special about Abyssal—they pay close attention to detail in composition, remaining distinct, sharp, and driving in their vision. With Antikatastaseis, we see Abyssal incorporating more of the "epic," melodious elements which had slowly trickled in from Denoument into Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eus, painting a much more blackened atmosphere than their previous, much doomier efforts. Don’t get me wrong, Atnikatastaseis, much like its predecessors, is a marathon of an album and very difficult to listen to in one sitting. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to plunge back into the murky depths after a brief intermission.

Nevoa - The Absence of Void | Altare Productions | Atmospheric Black Metal | Portugal
Normally when someone brings up Portuguese black metal, the wildly popular and extremely recluse Black Cilice is often mentioned in the same breath. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not a big fan of Black Cilice. I am, however, a fast fan of Portuguese newcomers Nevoa’s debut full-length. A true dark horse, The Absence of Void is a passionate, engulfing experience. Compared to their fellow countrymen, Nevoa is surprisingly polished - crisp and clean enough so that every deliberately-placed note is heard. This isn’t dialed in like the majority of melodic black metal which nears post-rock in its dynamics. I normally find myself turned-off by such uplifting and clear black metal, opting more for melancholy, devotion, or rage, but The Absence of Void is so passionate and convincing that I find myself crawling back for more. This isn’t dialed in like the majority of melodic black metal which nears post-rock in its dynamics. I had an interesting internal monolog concerning this album’s title, but, the more, I thought about how upwardly-tilted the album’s gaze seemed to be, the more I understood how fulfilled the album was. There is no void. It is simply not there.

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OF NOTE

Terzij de Horde - A Crooked Flower In Cosmos’ Mouth/Wacht - Lex Barbarorum | Self-Released | Black Metal/Hardcore | Netherlands
It has been a good while since we’ve heard from Dutch Black Metal/Hardcore/Screamo hybrid Terzij de Horde, their last effort a split with Starve released some three years ago. To break the silence before their full-length, the band has compiled and translated a book of poems by the great Hendrik Marsman, paired with a single, 13-minute song centered around two of the poems they translated. "Wacht - Lex Barbarorum" is a beautiful standalone song - pairing quietly, strummed folk with shimmering, Envy-tinged black metal. With "Wacht…," we see Terzij de Horde moving further away from the black metal/screamo hybrid they championed from their impetus under the name Liar Liar Cross On Fire, but the passion held within more than makes up for the departure. Now all we need is a new full-length. Oh, and congrats to bassist Johann van Hattum, who recently entered the world of fatherdom.

Nahtrunar - Symbolismus | Altare Productions | Black Metal | Austria
I don’t know how it’s been wherever you live, but it has been incredibly hot in Chicago—the hottest June we’ve had in years. According to Nahtrunar’s debut full-length, Symbolismus, it is blisteringly cold in Austria. It almost doesn’t feel right listening to this without my head in the freezer. All goofiness aside, this is an enjoyable bout of just that: cold, grim black metal. No uplifting climaxes, no hope, just cold indifference. There isn’t a lot of black metal like this which heads my way anymore, so Nahtrunar sent me on a nice trip down memory lane. I’m definitely interested in where these guys are heading.

High on Fire - Luminiferous | eOne Music | Stoner/Doom Metal | United States
I have tried and tried and tried again to get into High On Fire (fun fact: I fell asleep during their set when they opened for Opeth in 2008). They’re one of those bands you’re supposed to like right? Sure, I love Sleep and think Matt Pike’s riff work on Jerusalem and Vol. 1 is incredible, but nothing in my relationship with High on Fire has changed over the last 15 years. Sure, I can bob my head to it and think some of the bouncy, chunky riffs are interesting, but I find myself checking the clock once every minute or so to see how much time has passed. Maybe next time. [In the interest of evenhandedness, I’m a longtime High on Fire fan and think this record is pretty good, albeit a tiny letdown. Still “The Falconist” is a heavy-rotation song.—Ed.]

Viscera////Abaton - Diade(ms) | Sentient Ruin Laboratories | Experimental Black/Doom Metal/Post-Hardcore | Italy/Italy
What a strange story Viscera/// has. Starting off as a goregrind band, the band made an abrupt about-face with their debut album, showcasing a much more hardcore (and sometimes grindcore)-oriented approach to the "post-metal" sound pioneered by bands like Neurosis and the Dazzling Killmen. Paired with fellow countrymen Abaton, we find their collaboration still a close resemblance to Viscera///’s sound, albeit a little slower and with more bass. Of course, a Viscera/// release sounding like Viscera/// is...not bad. Not bad at all.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Sten Ove Toft & Dead Neanderthals - Hollow | Utech Records | Drone/Noise/Avant-Garde Jazz | Norway/Netherlands
I was extremely bummed over missing the third Utech Records Music Festival in Milwaukee a few weekends ago. The perils of not having a car apparently include missing a gathering of some of the most challenging music from across the globe which occurred less than 90 miles away. Thus is life. Luckily two of the festival’s acts played an artspace across the street from my apartment, one of them being the frantic, blasting Dead Neanderthals. Dead Neanderthals has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to avant-garde/"free" jazz, and, in the wake of Ornette Coleman’s passing, I find it only fitting that I pay tribute to the genre he launched into the forefront. With this limited lathe-cut 7", the "New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz" duo pairs up with known noise abuser Sten ove Toft, resulting in a whole which ends up greater than the sum of its parts. A slow, plodding mix of low drones, heavy-handed percussion, and, of course, Otto Kokke’s frenetic, pointillistic saxophone noodling. I’d almost say this resembles the early signs of "no wave" than avant-jazz or noise, but I suppose breaking into newer ground is a good signifier of a great collaboration. Hollow is currently available as part of a bundle with the other Utech Records Music Festival III releases, which includes new material from Markerlight, Burning Tree, and Insect Ark (who I should have also covered recently, oops). You should get that bundle here. Look for more exciting Utech-related news below.

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OTHER RELEASES

Eyehategod/Psycho - Split | F.O.A.D. Records | Sludge/Doom Metal / Thrash Metal/Grindcore | United States
Two legends butt heads on this live-recordings-only split. It might be a little while before we get more Eyehategod studio material, so eat it up.

Kingcrow - Eidos | Sensory Records | Progressive Metal | Italy
Listening to this made me really mad. For some odd reason, I have the shortest patience when it comes to progressive metal which has been released after 2005. Though this echoes the rockier sounds of Riverside and Porcupine Tree, which are both bands I have been known to enjoy, I can’t listen to this for more than 5 minutes at a time.

All Out War - Dying Gods | Organized Crime | Thrash Metal/Crossover/Hardcore | United States
You know it’s a good sign when a crossover band has been around for 25 years and hasn’t lost their potency. The true essence of pissed off New York hardcore.

Nekromanteion - Cosmic Horrors | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black/Death Metal | Bolivia
Kind of goofy and earnest, but still intense blackened death metal from South America. You know the drill (gotta love all the effects on the vocals, too).

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FROM THE GRAVE

Satanic Ripper - Southern Black Spells | Blood Harvest | Black/Death/Thrash Metal | Chile
More goofy/earnest metal, undoubtedly devoted to the great Sarcofago. I really enjoy their self-declared genre title of "Evil Grave Metal" - enough to where I changed their ID3 tags in my media player to reflect as such.

Dolentia - Iniciação Eversiva | Altare Productions | Black Metal | Portugal
Altare breathes new light into Dolentia’s sophomore full-length, which was only released this past February. There is definitely a good amount of power behind Dolentia’s sound, but it never progresses past black metal’s standard practices and procedures. I could honestly be listening to most other black metal bands and not even know. I suppose that is okay, and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with Dolentia at all, it just sounds like everything else.

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WHAT WE MISSED

Chaos Echoes - Transient | Nuclear War Now! Productions/Utech Records | Avant-garde Death Metal/Free Improv | France
What a bizarre album. Rising from the ashes of technical death metal band Bloody Sign, Chaos Echoes pulls a complete 180 and concentrates more on modern and Eastern composition styles than technique. Expect deep, hypnotic passages of somehow krautrocky death metal, immense, meditative drones, and resonant bells. It took me a long time to get into this one, but, now that it’s finally clicked, I find it to be one of the most rewarding and forward-thinking metal albums of the past few years. Chaos Echoes exists in the same heady space as Jute Gyte, and that is one of the finest compliments I can really give a newer band. Nuclear War Now! just listed the lavishly packaged (even more so than usual) vinyl copies this past week, and renowned experimental label Utech Records (see above) will be releasing a double-cassette edition later this year.

Funeste - Demo MMXV | Self-Released | Black Metal | Canada
Strange Canadian black metal which straddles the line between complete indifference and bleak despondency. Thanks to regular commenter Aildrek for turning me on to this band in last week’s comment section. See what happens when you guys contribute?

Taphos Nomos - West of Everything Lies Death | Caligari Records | Death/Doom Metal | United States
Brutal death/doom in the old way, with enough intrigue to keep the momentum and my interest. Caligari Records is really on a roll.

Hadit - Introspective Contemplation of the Microcosmus | Caligari Records | Death/Black Metal | Italy
War metal-esque murk but with a cosmic/astrological gait. I have to admit to at least chuckling at the name, normally thinking "up to here!" after reading it. Sorry, Hansel, I know people who said that on the Nuclear War Now! forums made you mad.

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