I was out of town all last week, so I’m writing this literally the night before I leave. Hopefully there weren’t any last-second premieres or anything so I can retain a semblance of communication with my fellow staff writers. Maybe. The business trip I’ve been on for the past week has been extended, so...someone else will be writing next week’s UMR. Sorry, friends! Will see you in a couple weeks.

Here are a bunch of releases I’ve compiled which are being released during the calendar week between September 13th and 19th. There are a lot of things, but I tend to skim over things so you don’t have to read a million different iterations of my opinion on a Monday morning. Do you want to tell me about something I’ve missed? Do you want to say it nicely? Do you have a differing opinion? Do you want to present it like a contributing member to society? See the comment box below.

—Jon Rosenthal



Skepticism - Ordeal | Svart Records | Funeral Doom Metal | Finland
Be still, my beating heart. Skepticism is back. In the past fifteen years, Skepticism’s existence has been a bit of a duality. Are they still a band? Are they no longer active? Even with their extremely infrequent bursts of live performances, these long-standing Finnish funeral doom masters arguably the founders of the genre with fellow countrymen Thergothon and Unburied, lurk in the shadows, dead but dreaming. The concept behind Ordeal, Skepticism’s first full-length release since 2008’s masterful Alloy is a unique one, at least for metal: a live performance. One take, no overdubs, and with audience sound. For a band as lush, slow, and sonically dense as Skepticism, this must have been an immense undertaking. I mean, it sounds perfect. Most live albums sound like hot garbage, and yet Skepticism, set in their perfectionist’s ways, managed to release a studio-quality album recorded in concert...and it is quite possibly their finest hour since their defining Stormcrowfleet. Those familiar with Skepticism’s sound should essentially know what to expect, as they rarely stray from their signature sound. Slow, felt-mallet drums, frontman Matti’s deep, sorrowful bellow, and the smooth union of heavy-handed guitar crunch and the ever-present, enveloping layers of organ. Each song in this mammoth, near 78-minute is an ode to despondency, a march to our end with the four-headed hydra of Skepticism acting as our pallbearers. No mistakes, nothing out of place, Skepticism yet again cements their position at the pinnacle of funeral doom.

Phobonoid - Phobinoid | Dusktone Recordings/Rising Beast Recordings | Industrial Black Metal | Italy
Extremely intense, but oddly ethereal industrial black metal from Italy. A few full-lengths have kind of flown by my radar but for some odd reason I never took the time to check them out. Maybe it was my prejudice against most industrial music, maybe I just didn’t want to hear yet another black metal band with a drum machine call themselves "industrial" to mask the fact that they couldn’t find a reliable drummer. Either way, it was all just me being a gigantically massive idiot. It happens a lot. Phobonoid is good, finding that perfect marriage between mid-era Godflesh’s industrial metal conservatism, brilliantly executed, chilling black metal, and a sense of reckless creative abandon, and his self-titled album is a shining example of success in experimenting. Expect breakbeats to happen between riffs, strangely synthesized drones, and other not-so-generally "widely used" black metal ephemera.

Tyranny - Aeons in Tectonic Interment | Dark Descent Records | Funeral Doom Metal | Finland
Okay, so I suppose referring to Skepticism up above as the pinnacle of funeral doom was a bit unfair to the recently-unearthed Tyranny. This Finnish funeral doom duo (yes, another Finnish funeral doom band) quietly released an EP, Bleak Vistae, and a full-length, Tides of Awakening, a decade ago, and both were met with immense favor in the underground. I certainly remember excitedly listening through both releases back to back again and again, along with Lindqvist and Mäkelä’s then-current project Wormphlegm (more on them later), and being left absolutely mystified. Tyranny was heavy, majestic, harrowing music which carried itself like the ancient God it was. Tyranny was a giant, and, like the giants in each mythos, Tyranny fell into a deep slumber. Honestly, I thought Tyranny had made its sole exhalation and merely vanished. It was sad, but bands, no matter how good they might be, just kind of disappear sometimes. With their return, which came as an excited surprise to me via a brief Facebook post on their new home, Dark Descent Records, Tyranny slowly shakes off the decade of rust, and it is a massive quake. As the layers of age peel away, Aeons in Tectonic Interment reveals a different, much more terrifying band. Gone are the mystical, near-Eastern sounding long-form melodies, instead opting for Earth-shattering, amorphous low-end and a pummeling rhythmic approach. There is a great deal of passion found in Tyranny’s music, as there always has been, especially in the album’s more traditionally melodic moments, but the terrifying atmosphere overall brings me back to Mäkelä and Lindqvist’s previous work under the Wormphlegm banner, complete auditory torture and closed-chambers claustrophobia. As far as funeral doom goes, and especially with Aeons in Tectonic Interment, Tyranny very quickly went from an accessible jumping off point to the murkiest depths. It’s like they grew up with me over this past decade. This is not beginner’s music. You really have to prepare yourself for this one.

Stream the oppressive "Sunless Deluge" via Noisey here.

My Dying Bride - Feel The Misery | Peaceville Records | Gothic/Doom Metal | United Kingdom
To call oneself a fan of doom metal and deny My Dying Bride is… it’s just wrong. Though there is a large faction of those who would rather listen to their earlier death/doom works, a style My Dying Bride helped modernize with a touch of gothic rock, the vast majority of this band’s output as a heavy gothic/doom metal band is just as quality as their "defining" moments. Frontman Aaron Stainthorpe is as melodramatic and weepy as ever, which is par for the course and, to be honest, very comforting, and the album features guitar duo Andrew Craighan and recently-rejoined founding member Calvin Robertshaw’s chunkiest guitar work in years. A big miss? The violin is definitely electric and run through a weak MIDI processor, which makes it sound like a Casio keyboard. Though the violin sections are few and far between, that element definitely takes me out of the music.





Grift - Syner | Nordvis | Atmospheric Folk/Black Metal | Sweden
The ethereal sound of slowly swaying pine trees in a dense, snow-dusted Swedish forest. Following in the footsteps of his previous EP and split with fellow Swedes Saiva, Erik Gärdefor’s solo endeavor Grift gifts the world with forty minutes of lush, romantic black metal. Though sounding cold in that undeniable, special Scandinavian way, Syner retains a certain warmth and comfort to it, like a secluded, well-lit cabin hidden deep beyond the treeline. As lovely as it is bleak.

Windhand - Grief’s Infernal Flower | Relapse Records | Stoner/Doom Metal | United States
Windhand always had a ton of potential in my book. They definitely pulled out some fun riffs from time to time and frontperson Dorthia Cottrell’s calming, near folky voice was always a nice departure from the Jinx Dawson worship which generally plagues doom metal. However, they never quite got it. There was always something missing which made them great, at least for me, and unfortunately Grief’s Infernal Flower ended up being a massive step back. With this album, Windhand abandons their riffier approach to ride on single grooves for most of a rather lengthy song before getting bored and moving rather sloppily into a "doom metal" section. Literally every song flows like that. It’s a shame.

Faal/Eye of Solitude - Eye of Solitude / Faal | Kaotoxin Records | Funeral Doom Metal / Death/Doom Metal | Denmark/United Kingdom
More funeral doom this week, you say? Might as well slow my readership down in my now inevitable absence. In a complete hammerblow of a split, Danish Faal and English Eye of Solitude do their best to crush their listeners’ bodies and spirits with their lengthy union. Taking a more conservative, if a "spooky" approach to funeral doom, Faal’s "Shattered Hope" trudges through thirteen and a half minutes of immense, monolithic slowness and completely immersed despondency. Eye of Solitude’s much more romantic take on doom shows a distinctly English, gothic-tinged approach (see My Dying Bride above). I rather enjoy Eye of Solitude’s side.

Ritual Killer - Exterminance | Season of Mist | Black Metal | United States
Whoa, new Ritual Killer? But it’s been fifteen years! I really, really like it when Sammy Duett makes black metal. Of course, I really, really liked it when he made sludge/doom metal with Acid Bath way back in the day, but Ritual Killer sets Duett’s talents in a different setting. A ripping, stomping affair of Darkthrone riffs, punky abandon, and some completely unhinged vocals, Exterminance shows that he’s so much more than Goatwhore. Make more stuff like this, Sammy.



Odraza - Kir | Arachnophobia Records | Black Metal | Poland
A lengthy instrumental meant to accompany a film debuted at Oskar Schindler’s Factory. Odraza’s debut, Esperalem tkane, was an almost "rocking" album of desperate, near Shining-esque black metal, so hearing them in a thoughtful, instrumental setting is interesting. You can listen to and watch Kir in its entirety here.

Necroblaspheme - Belleville | Independent | Death Metal | France
Previous reviews of Necroblaspheme’s work which had initially piqued my interest in them had touted them as "death metal’s answer to Deathspell Omega," and that brief descriptor was actually… pretty on point. Though most of this album sounds more like black metal with low growls vocals atop (because vocal style apparently denotes style), there is some really creative musicianship found within.

Christian Mistress - To Your Death | Relapse Records | Heavy Metal | United States
I never liked Christian Mistress, and this is more of the same, so I might not be the best person to review this. Most of their songs sound like wearing lots of leather and riding a motorcycle, which is pretty neat, I guess.

Ares Kingdom - The Unburiable Dead | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Death/Thrash Metal | United States
I was left kind of disappointed by Ares Kingdom’s return. The riffs are all there, as Chuck Keller is more than an accomplished guitarist, but Ares Kingdom as a band seems to have slowed down. Death/thrash metal? Hardly. And don’t get me started on the hilariously inept drumming...sad.



Moon - Render of the Veils | Moribund Records | Atmospheric Black Metal | Australia
At first, I was pretty excited for a new Moon album. Miasmyr’s conservative, icy, detached black metal hits a cold spot in my heart which is too tender to ignore. However, it looks like this is just a re-release of the Clavicula Nox album, released last year on Schattenkult Produktionen, but under a different name. Oh well, this is still worth a listen if you are unfamiliar.

Septic Flesh - 1991-2003 | Floga Records | Atmospheric Death Metal | Greece
This is the kind of box set I need in my life. The "first era" of the masters of Hellenic death metal - you know, the really good stuff before their post-Sumerian Daemons breakup and subsequent reunion four years later. Floga Records has been releasing lots of really quality box sets this past year...I don’t know how they do it!



Manii - Skuggeheimen | Debemur Morti Productions | Ambient Black Metal | Norway
Did it just get 1994 in here? Or is it just me? I always vastly preferred Manes when they were a black metal band, so this new band of Cernunnus and Sargatanas’s which is essentially dedicated to the continuation of the Under Eine Blodraud Mane sound is the best thing to happen in years.


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