Upcoming Metal Releases 8/16/2015-8/22/2015
Where does the time go? It’s already Saturday again? Oh god, I only have this half done. I better get finished.
Here are a ton of awesome things which are being released (or were sneakily uploaded to Bandcamp without warning before) the week of 8/16 through 8/22. I did omit a few things due to time constraints and general conflict of interest, so sorry to Ævangelist and the pairing of Urfaust and Lugubrum, as well as countless others. Want to tell me about what I missed? Maybe I said something wrong or incredibly stupid? Did you want to add an addendum to one of my reviews? Do you have any questions? Please hold all questions until the end.
Lychgate - An Antidote for the Glass Pill | Blood Music | Avant-Garde Extreme Metal/Modern Classical | United Kingdom
I can’t really say a metal album has piqued my musician’s interest quite like Lychgate’s An Antidote for The Glass Pill. I often approach metal which touts modern classical music as a primary influence with hesitance, the two often clashing in a circus of distasteful discordance and sounds reminiscent of John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, the frightening "Pogo the Clown," and yet Lychgate’s powerful, intricate sound proves that i should behave otherwise. Like a metal counterpart to Olivier Messiaen’s "La Nativeté du Seigneur", Lychgate’s pipe organ-centric (an ambitious addition to any band), carefully composed approach to metal engulfs the listener with a constant barrage of simultaneous beauty and fear, extreme polytonality, and bizarre, jarring rhythmic twists and turns in an undoubtedly overwhelming, hard to digest experience. I would have written An Antidote for the Glass Pill off as masturbatory drivel had I not been so completely enamored with compositional mastermind Vortigern’s tasteful arrangement of sound. Don’t get me wrong, Lychgate’s is a difficult listen, especially to those who preferred the much tamer, organum-based sound of their self-titled album, however, once it "clicks"—and it might take time for this to happen—An Antidote… will become a regular listen in most libraries. This is a true turning point in new extreme music.
Legion of Andromeda - Iron Scorn | Crucial Blast | Industrial Death Metal | Japan
In a bit of a contrast with the above album, Japanese industrial death metal duo Legion of Andromeda focus entirely on knuckle dragging brutality as a means of inflicting a great amount of pain upon you, the listener. Iron Scorn refuses to let up, slowly pounding its fists with a machine’s precision into the steadily cracking earth. It will swallow you. Commit.
Creeping - Revenant | Iron Bonehead Productions/Daemon Worship | Black/Doom Metal | New Zealand
The last time I heard Creeping was shortly after the release of their debut, 2007’s Funeral Crawl, which was a strange, but oddly fun mix of Darkthrone’s slower moments and, dare I say, remnants of late 90s grunge’s shadowy grip. It was enjoyable, but, as every seventeen year old with the entire internet’s library at its fingertips is wont to do, I quickly forgot and moved on. Apparently Creeping—featuring M. Pavlovic and S. Blomfield also of The House of Capricorn—have remained busy in my years of complete oblivion. As evidenced by Revenant, their latest work, I need to make up for lost time. Creeping’s refreshing take on black/doom, a genre oft relegated to bedrooms and limited CDr releases (at least nowadays), tastefully straddles the line of melodicism and dissonance, often weaving between the two within a single riff. Opting for a stripped down, power trio sound, Creeping avoids the overwrought, heavily multi-tracked studio sound in favor of powerful, minimally-driven horror. Creeping’s latest is the sound embodiment of its title.
Adversarial - Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism | Dark Descent Records | Black/Death Metal | Canada
Canada has always been a strong center for absolutely barbaric death metal. Yes, you have the frequently mimicked Ross Bay Cult scene, which most might consider black metal (but let’s get real, here), the bestial Antediluvian, the intricate Mitochondrion, and, lest we not forget, Gorguts. However, lost in the thrall is the equally talented, though nowhere near as sonically pointed Adversarial. I must admit to sort of glossing over All Idols Fall Before The Hammer and Prophetic Plane of Abyssal Revelation, which, in retrospect, turned out to be a horrible mistake. In short (for such a long title), Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism is a maelstrom. No artistic noodling, no self-indulgence, just pure, unadulterated death metal filth. There really isn’t room for much else, and why would you want to punctuate such a vicious beating?
My only issue is that the title needs another comma, but death metal isn’t known for its pristine grammar, anyway.
Atrament - Demo MMXV | Sentient Ruin Laboratories | Black/Death Metal/Crust | United States
I don’t get nearly as many D-beat releases as I’d like. Most of you might not know this, and that is okay, but I love a good D-beat. Atrament’s debut demo is a strong duo of fist-raising, circle pit-worthy, D-beat inflicted death metal. I’ve covered quite a bit of serious, big-and-frowny death metal this week, but it is important to remember that you can actually, I don’t know, have fun while listening to the genre. Don’t tell me you can keep a smile from your face as soon as that drum beat kicks in. It doesn’t even matter what riff is playing. Okay, maybe a little bit, and Black September alumnus James Meyer’s guitar work is especially potent.
Coffins - Craving to Eternal Slumber | Hammerheart America | Death/Doom Metal | Japan
The Japanese masters of crusty, angry death/doom metal are at it again. It’s been longer than usual between standalone Coffins releases, though this year’s split with Unholy Grave (because everyone has to do a split with them at some point) was particularly memorable, so it is nice to see Uchino and crew back in the slow saddle once more.
Potmos Hetoimos - The Paragon Trisagion | Independent/Digital | Progressive Sludge/Doom Metal | United States
A massive, tripartite undertaking - three albums of ambitiously progressive, jazz-tinged sludge to represent the Holy Trinity of Christendom. Sole member Matt Matheson’s complex approach hearkens back to Hydra Head’s final, metallic breaths back in 2009 - spidery guitar polyphony braiding itself with traditional progressive rock keyboards and… saxophone? Yes, saxophone. Unfortunately, with all these elements, The Paragon Trisagion’s more melodious, passionate moments briefly glance the realm of the melodramatic and overwrought. Maybe not a bad thing, considering Mattheson’s brand of doom borders on the funereal and mournful, but it definitely takes me out of what could be a very engulfing listen. Concerning subject matter, I can hear it now: "Oh no, who got Christianity in my metal?" It’s 2015. Get over it.
Myrkur - M | Relapse Records | Folk/Black Metal | United States (not Denmark)
I suppose if there is one word which could adequately define Myrkur, it would be polarizing. Be it Amalie Bruun’s past work, her other bands, Relapse Records’s rather, uh, interesting press approach to Myrkur’s self-titled EP (by the way, guys, shame on you for tricking people like that), or even Bruun’s gender, Myrkur is lost in a sea of faultless praise or extreme hatred. I definitely admit to being part of the latter, but I was definitely interested in hearing Myrkur in a full-length, properly treated setting… and it’s okay. Bruun is definitely a talented singer and has a great ear for vocal harmony, but, in the end, M is just emulation, going as far as to have Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg—the first time Rygg has even used the Garm moniker in eons—record and master the album. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine and inoffensive, but I’d rather listen to the albums which defined and essentially perfected the "Nordic folkish black metal" sound than a new pretender.
The Sword - High Country | Razor & Tie | Stoner/Doom/Heavy Metal | United States
I didn’t even know The Sword was still around. I definitely liked driving around, celebrating my freshly obtained driver’s license while bumping Age of Winters, but, as Robert Frost so eloquently put it, "nothing gold can stay." The Sword never really carried the magic of that first album in subsequent releases [I’ll defend them throughWarp Riders but after that, not so much—Ed.], and now, with High Country, they come off more like a caricature of throwback rock than anything else. I think there was about two full minutes of continuous cowbell use in the title track alone. What’s the point?
Sea Witch/Ecferus - Of Water & Wood | Small Doses | Sludge/Doom Metal / Atmospheric Black Metal | Canada/United States
What a neat split. I can’t say I was ever super impressed with either band’s previous works, Sea Witch occupying the "instrumental doom metal" end of the spectrum (about which I’ve made my opinions clear in the past), and Ecferus’s debut Prehistory a clumsy, off-kilter attempt at majestic, astral black metal. However, it seems that stars and sea have aligned in perfect union with this collaboration/split, Ecferus’s now-polished and majestic black metal the perfect complement to Sea Witch’s suddenly much more oceanic doom metal sound. The track listing for this one is a bit of a hodge podge, with each band contributing a song of their own, then each band has a song featuring the other (Sea Witch feat. Ecferus/Ecferus feat. Sea Witch), and, at the centerpiece, a true collaboration, Of Water & Wood proves itself to be an ID3 tag perfectionist’s nightmare, but the content is what is important, and this is a big step up for both bands. Boutique label Small Doses handled the physical format for this split, and, as always, Joe Beres put an incredible amount of work into it. I’m always a sucker for neat packaging - check out a photo here.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
that means things which aren’t metal
Blood of the Black Owl - WARmth | Glass Throat Recordings | Neofolk | United States
Nothing beats getting an e-mail saying one of your all-time favorites just happened to upload a new album to Bandcamp without warning. Of course, nothing is worse than having to go to work and wait nine hours before you can give that album a proper listen. Thus began my stressful wait to listen to WARmth, the latest album by multi-instrumentalist Chet W. Scott’s solo project Blood of the Black Owl. Though previous releases straddled tribal neofolk and heavy, meditative black/doom metal in a ritualistic setting, WARmth is almost exclusively neofolk. This is a pretty welcome and honestly foreseen change; Light the Fires! featured only two metal-oriented tracks to begin with. Scott’s intense, introspective, pastoral music has been a direct line to my heart for a long time, and the return of Blood of the Black Owl in such a fashion hits me right where it hurts. Unfortunately, this is supposedly a "raw mix" (though it sounds absolutely pristine), and Chet Scott is unsure as to who would be able to release it, so please consider purchasing a digital copy so he might be able to release this double album under his own Glass Throat Recordings imprint. You will not be disappointed.
Publicist UK - Forgive Yourself | Relapse Records | Post-Punk | United States
This is oddly disappointing, but I was already pretty wary when Publicist UK’s one-sheet essentially read as "Members of Municipal Waste and Revocation playing post-punk." I suppose Forgive Yourself has its moments, but, in the end, you can’t pull off being Killing Joke unless 1) your frontman is actually Jaz Coleman and 2) you aren’t afraid to be devastatingly loud. Yes, I get it, it is nice to get outside of your respective genre box and make something different, but the shammy-polished sleepytime songs brought to us by Publicist UK, which might be top contender for worst band name of 2015, just don’t cut it. I know the members in Publicist UK’s ranks aren’t afraid of being loud and abrasive - you don’t have to shed your influences when stepping into foreign territory, guys. Maybe next time.
Scythian - Hubris in Excelsis | Hells Headbangers Records | Death/Thrash Metal | United Kingdom
Do you like your death metal thrashy and powerful? Look no further, as Scythian have done it once more. Paying hommage to those who came before: the great Sarcofago, Desaster, and even as far as Zemial’s epic scope, Scythian’s healthy balance of speedy brutality and thoughtfully executed, mountainous melody truly sets them apart from those whose edges are still rough from the cookie cutter.
Ghost (B.C.?) - Meliora | Loma Vista Recordings | Heavy Metal/Rock | Sweden
At this point I really don’t even need to write anything about Ghost - you either already love them or hate them. For those of you who are interested in learning more, Ghost is still Ghost and no longer Ghost B.C. The good songs are good, maybe even great, because these guys can really make a Blue Oyster Cult-tinged pop song fly, but there is a lot of mediocrity to wade through before you can see Ghost’s true talent. In the end, we all know there will never be another Opus Eponymous, and I know I will probably lovingly revisit it every once in a while… much more often than I would plan on revisiting Meliora.
FROM THE GRAVE
Black Tribe - Black Metal Is A Rotting Corpse 2000-2002 & 2006-2007 | Independent/Digital | Raw Black Metal | Germany
You guys remember "John Gill" from the Metal Archives forums, right? I always had a lot of fun listening to Black Tribe’s impossibly raw weirdo industrial black metal, and it’s nice to see "Gill" has finally hopped on board and made a Bandcamp page. He was nice enough to compile a whole lot of rarities in these two compilations for your perusal, so try your hardest to enjoy.
What We Missed
Dreadnought - Bridging Realms | Sailor Records | Progressive Black/Doom Metal/Folk Rock/New Age? | United States
I’m not even sure what the hell to call this. Dreadnought is...unique. In a good way. Somehow melding the ethereal feeling of New Age (foregoing the whole "crystal healing" aspect) and metal’s brawn, Dreadnought is somehow both calming and brutal. Get lost in this - Bridging Realms will surprise you, and Kelly Schilling’s vocal performance is nothing short of legendary. Wow.