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Remember how I said I was going to try and be back to my verbose self this week? Well, a lighter album load prevented me from being as such. It happens. At least there are some killer releases this week (Barghest and Flying Saucer Attack? Pardon the spasms).

—Jon Rosenthal

Is there something missing? Does your band have something new out which I missed? Are you angry? Are you sad? Do you want to talk about it? Come to me, my child. Give me your comments. I eat them like food. Sustain me.

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Barghest - Into Weeping Firmament | Independent | Black Metal | United States
It’s very frustrating when you think you have your finger on the pulse of underground music, only to almost completely miss out on a new release from one of your favorite black metal bands. Barghest’s discography is stellar, demonstrating stylistic prowess powerful melodrama of the unofficial Practice bootleg to the almost Revenge-esque war metal bombast of The Virtuous Purge, and this new addition is no different. Even with a handful of lineup changes within the past year, having lost guitarist Matthew Thudium of Thou, as well as adding a lead vocalist and (for the first time in their decade-long existence) a bassist, we find that Barghest remains steadfast. Moving back toward their initial, much more melodic and guitar oriented sound, Into Weeping Firmament proves itself to be Barghest’s sharpest and most vicious offering to date.

Old Witch/Keeper/ - Old Witch/Keeper | GrimCVLT (Grimoire Cassette Culture x CVLT Nation) | Funeral Doom Metal / Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal | Canada/United States
How perfect a pairing is this? Hot off some very recent debuts, it only makes sense that Canada’s Old Witch would be pitted against California duo Keeper. Though this split might suffer from the "two sides of the same coin" problem, as both bands are on the "romantic, heavy doom" end of the spectrum, Old Witch and Keeper both offer varied statements from within that realm.

Old Witch offers up four tracks of their signature, funereal doom, essentially in the same style as their Come Mourning Come debut. Built upon a molasses crawl of crushing, droning guitar walls and percussion which sounds like the drummer had a running start for each hit, Old Witch’s nuance exists in the delicate layers of keyboards placed atop (and slightly behind in volume). Expertly composed and arranged, we find buried choirs and strings pushing the heavy doom forward and adding a distinctly mournful, despondent atmosphere.

Keeper’s half came as a bit of a surprise. A departure from the grandiose, pristine nature of the The Space Between Your Teeth, the lengthy "Four Walls; A Home" and "With Or Without Pt.1, 2, & 3" show a return, at least in audio fidelity, to their demo, which they self-released last year. Ultimately, this less-polished sound lends itself to Keeper’s emotionally damaged, melodic brand of post-rocky sludge. I guess you could call it "untrodden ground" for the style, and it definitely sets Keeper apart from the pretenders.

Immortal Bird - Empress/Abscess | Broken Limbs/Manatee Rampage | Black Metal/Grindcore/Crust | United States
At just over a half hour long, the debut LP by Chicago’s Immortal Bird feels more like a guerilla raid than a record. It comes out of nowhere, leaving human wreckage in its wake, and then exits. In that skirmish, however, is a fierce, emotional record by turns anarchic and melodic. We’re streaming it in full tomorrow, here’s track one. -Joseph Schafer

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OF NOTE

Moonknight - Valinor | Independent/Digital | Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
Slow, mournful black metal dirges from the mind behind Harassor and the infamous Lord Foul. A sharpening of focus from the scatterbrained and jumpy Death Card, Valinor is a return to the murky, "depressive" sound found on earlier albums Ligeia and Toplov, both of which are regularly spun in the Rosenapartment, albeit resembling the early-2000s Slavonic sound as opposed to Velvet Cacoon this time around. A digital release for now, I am told to expect a tape release in the coming months.

Zebras - The City Of Sun | Secret Records | Punk/Hardcore | United States
Technical, violent thrash metal painted in shades of hardcore punk. Madison, Wisconsin-based Zebras have been on my radar for a while, their self-titled debut a memorable listen, and with The City Of Sun, we see this trio move further into the violent and vile. Boasting a member of legendary horror country troupe Those Poor Bastards in their ranks, expect a heavy dose of fear and loathing.

Ommadon - Empathy For The Wicked | Golden Mantra | Doom Metal | United Kingdom
One song. Forty-five minutes. Ommadon definitely makes the case that "doom" should be a forty-letter word, however, the lack of vocals and any defining high end aside from cymbals transforms any memorable riffs into mud.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Nostalgist - Of Loves And Days Ago | Nostalgium Directive | Post-Punk/Shoegaze | United States
A punchy and immense melding of post-rock and shoegaze the likes of which these ears had never previously heard. Nostalgist’s decidedly "nostalgic" (I’m so sorry) sound definitely tugs at the ol’ heartstrings, recalling memories of sad college-aged Jon sitting alone in his dorm room listening to Hum and Lowlife.

Flying Saucer Attack - Instrumentals 2015 | Drag City Records | Folk/Shoegaze/Space Rock | United Kingdom
The return of Flying Saucer Attack has to be some of the most exciting news of the decade. Though Instrumentals 2015 is just that (instrumentals), David Pearce’s delicate touch has not waned. Here is hoping there will be future releases joined by former vocalist Rachel Brook.

Arvo Pärt - Passio | The Ajna Offensive/Pesanta Urfolk | "Holy Ambiance"/Classical Minimalism/Liturgical Choral Music | Estonia
Buying a piece of liturgical choral music from an occult black metal label feels really strange, friends. Then again, The Ajna Offensive also pissed off the entire internet [More accurately, a handful of very vocal black metal adherents with a lot of free time on their hands. -Ed.] with Reverorum ib Malacht’s amazing De Mysteriis dom Christi. As far as the music goes, this is by far my favorite choral work by Pärt, a minimalist setting of the Passion of St. John. Ajna/Pesanta’s utilization of a performance other than the Hilliard Ensemble’s might be considered, erm, "ambitious" by the studious, but, having heard the recording back in college, I can vouch for a chilling, precise performance by Anthony Pitt and Tonus Peregrinus. Those who damn Pärt for his religious inclinations are missing out on some of the most passionately intense music on the planet.

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OTHER RELEASES

Hellbastard - Feral | PATAC Records | Crust Punk/Crossover/Thrash Metal | United Kingdom
The progenitors of the term "crust punk" (yes, Hellbastard were the origin of the term - Amebix was considered "anarcho punk" back in the day) are still going strong.

Heimskringla - Vikingløypa | Independent/Digital | Epic Funeral Doom Metal | United States
A lengthy, ambitious debut from this mysterious funeral doom band. I’m honestly surprised this isn’t already on Solitude Productions or something.

K.L.L.K. - Between the First Heliocentric Wind and the Great Devourer of Light | Mithra! Infrasound | Black Metal | France
This one actually came from the comments section of last week’s column. Two tracks of long-form, terrifying black metal.

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FROM THE GRAVE

Black Bile - Cloacal Meditation | Dying Sun Records | Black/Funeral Doom Metal | Cyprus
A vestige from my days in high school, Black Bile’s signature brand of torturous funeral doom was excised from the deepest, foulest depths of the dankest latrine. Originally released on an impossibly-limited CDr, Cloacal Meditation rises from the muck once more on cassette.

Reverie - Bliss | Invictus Productions | Black/Death Metal | Denmark
Originally self-released, Reverie’s intriguing, intense brand of blackened death metal finds a new home on the inimitable Invictus Productions.

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