Monday, March 11, 2019

Cara Neir - III / IV (2019)

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This album has quickly worked its hooks into me; Discordant jangly guitars bounce around a cavern of technical drumming, weaving out odd time signatures with prickly rhythms against a barrage of shrieky growls. The combined method is bizarre, throwing everything in the blender from post-rock and math-rock to black-metal and D-beat. Something to that effect. It as a whole is actually really difficult to nail down, and it's brazen attempts to meld everything together is confusing, but it's refreshing, and I'm enjoying the experience of listening to its entirety. Which is the whole point, right?

Name your price on bandcamp. Enjoy, or don't.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Sinmara - Hvísi Stjarnanna (2019)

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Icelandic metal has garnered the attention and reverence of many, predominantly in the underground bestial arenas–most likely, I would imagine, due to the intellectually impetuous execution of the sound and the brazen Icelandic ethos when it comes to writing music (I've had my ear to the ground with Icelandic music since my visit in 2010 and have attended multiple Iceland Airwaves festival since) and their unmatched ability to amalgamate between sounds and influences in a way that remains true to its purist form while pushing boundaries in a way that fails to be contrived.

Let's quickly pay heed to all of Iceland's impressive successes within the last few years;

Sinmara, Svartidauði, Misþyrming, Kaleikr, Wormlust, Ljáin, Carpe Noctem, Naðra, Zhrine, Mannveira, Örmagna, Almyrkvi, Skáphe (partially)

Notable company for a windswept country of only 300, 000.

•  Ω  •

Sinmara's latest Hvísi Stjarnanna is proving to be another Icelandic release worth paying attention to this year. As I write this I have only listened though it's entirety once so far, and I'm liking everything I hear… Though I questioned if I would prefer a slightly murkier production (a la maybe Misþyrming) for this ilk but It's quite in line with their previous releases which proved to be on the money. I digress, nit-picking aside, Hvísi Stjarnanna is a formidable beast in the realm of forward-thinking black metal among the upper echelon of Icelandic metal.

Hvísi Stjarnanna features whirring guitars that pirouette through a curtain of dissonant riffs that often bloom into these bright flourishes which lend a melodic atmosphere amidst the bludgeoning backdrop of drums and fills–I like the use of the cymbals to bolster rhythm beyond the skins, something that metal cut from this cloth underutilizes in my opinion… The vocals are what you'd expect, but that's not to undersell them, it's well met and mixed in in a way that doesn't overbear and snuff out the brooding atmosphere that dips and swells throughout.

I found myself notably impressed with the bridge at 04:07 on the track 'Crimson Stars', is there a whiff of Bel'akor like melody to be heard? Maybe. Probably not, but I find myself impressed to find it on here nonetheless.

I will be posting more new Icelandic metal in the days to follow. Enjoy it, or don't.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Death Fortress - Reign of the Unending (2018)

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Death Fortress were heinously late to the end of the year release bukake party in 2018 putting out Reign of the Unending December 26, 2018 but I still squeezed them into my top 30 year-end list because Death Fortress sounds like a stadium of troglodyte brutes scrapping over mating rites to a gurgling harem of virgins.

it's a dense wall of churning bass and guitars, both dizzying and ferocious, weaving in and out of cannon-fire like drumming in an arena where the orator is a gargantuan ancient beast, snarling proclamations of cosmic war and  misrule. J. Aversario's vocal belch is what drives the sound beyond its predecessors (in terms of heft) and what makes it almost a grinding chore to get through its entirety… and yes, I do mean that as a good thing.

•  Ω  •

I have yet to buy this album on bandcamp, but as per usual with Fallen Empire Records, this album is set to a 'name your price' option which is more than generous considering labels have to pay for; Production/mastering, studio, artwork/layout, pressing/distibution, website, on top of other miscellaneous costs… 'name your price' download is essentially free if you input $0, but at the very least input a $1 to show a modicum of appreciation for the DIY, and then take it further and browse through the rest of the venerable Fallen Empire catalog and buy those as well. Give what you can, and you'll be richly rewarded by Belial. I'm going to be buying this album as soon as I post this (among others).

Death Fortress - Reign of the Unending (bandcamp)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Best albums of the Year in MMXVIII (2018) 1/15

It’s been far too long since I’ve submitted my own year-end list, due to many varying reasons, none of which I accept and none of which are viable excuses. But it happened. And almost every year I would go through the arduous process of compiling (and frivolously rearranging) an accurate account of albums I think surpassed and exceeded its musical cohorts, and every year I would fall short of posting them here on SHOM… Reasons varying from; Anxiety, frustration, complacency and something that looks like total Nihilism.

2018 was a weird year in my existence; Ear-marked with things good and bad, but mostly bad. I’ve never enjoyed pity parties so I’ll spare you the invite into what was mostly a year of loss, tough-lessons and vacuum like suckiness and isolation. 

I don’t mention the above as a sympathy piece (self-pity has never suited me) I mention it because my choices for the best albums of 2018 are almost directly indicative to these experiences and the flux of my state, suspended animation. My tastes have always favoured the fetid and suffocatingly angry, but now it’s become an ichor, something to turn to when theres nothing else to turn to. It all sounds very serious when reading it over, it’s not, all I mean to suggest is my picks are very much conducive to that.

I know you’re not here to read a block of text, so here’s the first fifteen releases to my top 30 of MMXVIII (2018)

•    •

15) Erdve - Vaitojimas

A brooding amalgam of dissonant hardcore against a gnashing punk backbone with a stout mixing of noise-ladened sludge and doom. Vaitojimas is instantly likeable, from the dark and foreboding dissonant guitars and the expansive atmosphere it creates down to the satisfying snap of the snare drum. You’re not listening to this why?

14) Mahr - Antelux

I posted this album up on Severed Heads Open Minds when it came out, and haven’t looked back since. Again, to repeat what I’ve been saying, is nobody listening to this? Forward thinking Black metal that won’t disturb purists. It’s overwhelming, bleak and crafted with a total understanding of what makes this genre so appealing.

13) Primal Rite - Dirge of Escapism

Wasn’t everyone creaming over the Power Trip release last year? I’m scratching my head, has nobody heard Dirge of Escapism? An album that nails down 80’s crossover with zeal and an approach that is quasi-unconventional; Utilizing the raw ferocity of Japanese and Scandinavian hardcore punk as influences and the filth of old-school death metal for an encompassing sound that is in its nature, primal, almost sounding like a cavernous neanderthal stomp. It’s hard as nails, heavy as a sledgehammer to the nose, and I’m into its core sound much more than the Power Trip release. So there.

12) Serocs - The Phobos / Deimos Suite

I’m super into this, and I don’t think I have been this into a brutal technical death metal album since Defeated Sanity released ‘Chapters of Repugnance’ back in 2012. That’s the bonafide litmus test for me. I normally just feel bored and unmoved by the sheer prowess, intricacies, speed and wankery from the bulk of this ilk but not with The Phobos / Deimos Suite though, not for one second, I’m dialled in, feeling putrid and fowl and wanting a giant meteor to ride into the earths crust through the cacophony of gravity blasts, frenetic growls, galloping riffs and a rich bass sound sturdy enough to hang your pukey leather jacket on. I’m still reeling at the closing minutes of this album, it’s pure, unmitigated sonic assault.

11) Daughters - You Won’t Get What You Want

You won’t get what you want, if what you want is Daughters of the past; This isn’t Hell songs, it’s definitely not Canada Songs and it’s certainly no cousin to the self-titled. A monumental shift in sound, a total rebirth and shedding of the skin for Daughters and the directional result is a potent piece of art. Something entirely bleaker, heavier and more self-aware than anything Daughters has created before.

10) Mizmor - Mishlei 

Another release so many have neglected in lieu of missing out on one more play through of Yob’s ‘Our Raw Heart’ was Mizmor’s Mishlei. Mercilessly slithering through one-hour and fifteen minutes of labyrinth woven doom/black metal with a strong grip on a raw production and a uniquely harrowing atmospheric curtain. Mizmor as a sound is the sonic embodiment of isolation, depression, anxiety and all things black, dreary and sucky.

09) Ilsa - Corpse Fortress

I’m thinking Ilsa might be the best example of a band that can claim filth on all fronts of their framework; Their production has always been bloated and grimy without sacrificing detail to a wall of noise, the vocals of Orion are of a desperate primordial howl and something that seems to have no exact duplicate within its ilk. I can go on and on about what makes Ilsa great, which is why their so high up on my list and why I feel rocks in my chest at the lack of appreciation circulating this band… Ilsa’s feedback-laden antediluvian doom, occult soaked, bile encrusted crust walked all over so many of those highly touted albums you guys have been complacently drooling over.

08) Hissing - Permanent Destitution

Hissing’s take on death metal is that of a churning, spiralling plunge into the bestial ether with a heinously swampy production and frenetic song structure, a downward (almost whirring) plunge into the fetid abyss of cavernous bloated vocal belch and dizzying hypnotic guitars… I’m reminded of Mitochondrion’s Parasignosis, which is something of a blanket statement, I’ll admit, but the comparison comes to mind. Severely overlooked and mangy death metal for you to start listening to, you’re welcome.

07) Akitsa - Credo

I don’t know what’s in the well water of Quebec but its vast and bleak soil has produced another trumpeting success in executing black metal of the 90’s with a refreshing take on second wave black metal. The riffs are frigid and hypnotizing and the tone is spot on, the vocal shrill is that which raises the hair on the back of your neck and push a wave of desperation into you and this is some of the best sounding drums I’ve heard on any recent black metal album. The underlying punk quality is unequivocally present, not in a Raspberry Bulbs type of approach, but in its simplicity and cadence. This one was obvious for me, raw shit.

06) LLNN - Deads

Another obvious placement in this list is Deads… Denmark’s LLNN are as impressive sonically as they are tenacious, releasing a new full-length every year since their inception in 2016 with ‘Loss’, and everything they touch is right on the money. Weaving a musical fabric of dark and brooding hardcore with flourishes of doom, sludge and post-metal into a masterfully paced album that at times is devastatingly heavy and visceral while at times floating through sections of beautifully sci-fi-esque ambient passages that let LLNN’s tonal assault breathe and gestate into a crude force. 

05) Convocation - Scars Across

The very first time I played through the entirety of Scars Across I was as sure as shit isn’t always brown that this album would linger somewhere high up on my albums of the year list. Monolithic doom with a gargantuan atmosphere that is both crushingly isolating and expansive. Listening to this in its entirety is the only way to be suffocated by its sheer heft, and yes, you want that. Or something.

04) Cult Leader - A Patient Man

I initially had A Patient Man sitting at 7th on the list - and honestly, most of the albums in this top 15 are nearly interchangeable - but just recently as I was revisiting it, something resonated and forced my attention on how good everything is; There is a magisterial pacing under its weight and the contrast between the ferociously heavy and fast balance well under the tracks that lean into a more gothic, grunge tinged doom, which still yields a crushingly heavy and bleak sound. The dance between these two sonic realms is seamless and the marriage between them is something I’m really into and it’s for this reason this album is one of the most devastating and impressive albums of the year.

03) Craft - White Noise and Black Metal

Probably the best example this year of moving Black metal in a direction that doesn’t point towards uncreative sterility, puritan boredom, silly pageantry of gimmicks and overcomplicating things for the sake of doing it. White Noise and Black Metal is cold as hell. Endless riffs poured over Craft’s revered take on a sound that many fall so very short of.

02) Obliteration - Cenotaph Obscure

What a fucking beauty Cenotaph Obscure is… It’s perfectly executed winding and mirky death metal with a festering old-school black metal carapace. I can’t find a single flaw with this album, all the way down to how the kick drum is used. There is a definite heir of punk ethos woven throughout it’s crude framework and moments of simplicity, and this amalgam of good taste speaks for itself. Cenotaph Obscure is impetuous…Listen to Detestation Rite, and give thanks to the gods of Obliteration.

01) Thou - Magus

2018 was the year of Thou, just as 2017 was the year of Amenra (Nothing was even close). Thou chewed, clawed, spat, pummelled and worked with an unmatched fervour this year (like most years); Releasing 3 Ep’s, one split with Ragana and this monolith of a full-length, all of which are acutely executed and brilliant in their own right. Magus was the album I needed to be hearing most this year, and I did, I listened to it a lot. I stewed and marinated in in the palpable vitriol, I basked and banged through its churning heft and I grit my teeth and coughed up phlegm under its unearthly weight and felt my blood turn thick with sludge. Magus was basically uncontested. Thank you 2018 for Magus and Mandy.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Fearing - Black Sand EP (2018)

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I'm easily swayed into these dark ethereal soundscapes; it's a warm place to rest my weary head and mope around feeling optimistically nihilistic and existential and Faustian and drenched in ennui and all that drab bullshit. But really, Black Sand is calm and forlorn guitar driven melodies, The simplistic bombast of drums ala Sonic Youth, thee sexual tension between each bass-line and the downright lackadaisical vocal delivery do it for me sometimes. And I'm hoping the lyrical content reads like an overly pedantic Sartre. Get into it, or don't, life is meaningless anyways.

Fearing - Black Sand (bandcamp)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Erdve - Vaitojimas (2018)

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Lithuania's main export definitely isn't metal - It's probably something more ambiguous and niche, like silk worm tea - nor is it hardcore for that matter, or sludge, crust, and anything else tonally devastating. Erdve are the exception to my wholly ignorant musing; Vaitojimas isn't something that is reinventing the wheel, but it sure as shit doesn't sound like a copycat to anything else, and that counts for something in a era of; heard that before, sounds good, let's replicate that. This album weaves and gestates elements from many pots; Crust, sludge, punk, hardcore, doom, post-metal, etc, etc.

•  Ω  •

I'm in the arduous, mind-numbing process of distilling my favourite albums from 2018 right now, and the list will be something around 30 albums, and I've listened to a disgusting amount of metal (among everything else) this year, so I'm revisiting and sifting through a lot right now. And so far, Erdve are definitely somewhere up there.

Erdve - Vaitojimas (bandcamp)

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cult Leader - A Patient Man (2018)

 †  •

Cult Leader have released something completely foul in way of A Patient Man; A stand out album in an ocean of louder and angrier than thou records released this year, punching way above its weight class with 50 minutes of untamed, mammalian minded sludge with its cruddy mitts in the vats of doom, grind, death, Crust, D-Beat and sadism. Cult Leader being formed from the husk of Gaza  carry the same overwhelming heft and dizzying structure and tone that Gaza were known and revered for. A Patient Man is crude in its blunt force attack, swinging back and forth from down-tempo glacial riffs and war drum like fodder to moments of frenetic, barbaric sounding crust, but that’s not to say its entirety is mammalian pound fit for Troglodytes hitting the barbells, nay, A Patient Man is intelligent and melodic when it needs to be and does well to counterweight and accent those extremely long bouts of ferocity through moments of plodding drone like doom and foaming atmosphere.

•  Ω  

I’ve said enough, A Patient Man is what most heavy albums aspire to be, and for this reason among others, don’t be surprised to see this album on many high-nosed, chin to the sky year end lists of 2018 from creeps like me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Esoctrilihum - Inhüma (2018)

•  †  •

has been trimming the fat around his sleep schedule this year, or forfeited the irrelevant process of sleep altogether - it's the only conceivable way he has been able to release two full-length albums in ten months - Two albums that are gargantuan in scope and the magnitude of its attack; a sheer deluge of blistering black metal in a death metal carapace, a downward spiral that pays homage to the void, chaos realm, Eden and prays at the altar of something entirely malign, through a torrent of disorientating riffs, suffocated shrieks and the war drums of Azithoth.

Inhüma (bandcamp)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Portrayal of Guilt - Let Pain Be Your Guide (2018)

•  †  •

This one has my attention for some reason, which I find mild interesting because it feels like something ripped out of my past, a bygone era of halcyon days and unsure moments in time… And it has all the markings of something I don't find myself indulging in much these days, sonically speaking. I know very little about Portrayal of Guilt, but I like Gilead Media (mostly) so I'm hoping this plays out similarly to Full of Hell's Trumpeting Ecstasy.

Let Pain Be Your Guide (bandcamp)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Primitive Man / Unearthly Trance - 2018 [Split]

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I'm not feeling particularly loquacious today so I'll do things like this; Here's another split for you lechers to sink thy chops into, Unearthly Trance and Primitive Man. Done.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ragana / Thou - Let Our Names Be Forgotten (2018) [Split]

•  †  •

I'm about as familiar of Thou as I am with the irrelevant process of taking in oxygen, it's a warm type of familiarity that seems to have been omni-present for half of my life… Unlike breathing, which I have only been cognizant of doing for the last couple years, before that it was just drawn' in shallow breath after shallow breath, without giving life any real thought. I digress, Thou have been around a while, prolific you might say. Hard working, you may even add. Consistent too. They also released 'Magus' this year too, a full-length that is making a strong case for album of the year to me.

Ragana, not so much. At least in the sense of being omnipotent and prolific… That's not to stomp on their parade and call it a rainy day or nuthin', Ragana have put out a few great records… You just can't win that kind of number game against Thou.

I'll keep this short now. Ragana and Thou combine for 35 minutes of barbarism in sonic form. Happy Hallow's eve kiddos. †


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bestia Arcana - Holókauston (2017)

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Holókauston is an album I have been chewing through since it came out; Slowly wading through its musical fat and gristle, letting the innocuous flavours and the potent decadent flourishes rest on my pallet before swallowing. You would be remiss (and wrong) to chalk this album up as black/death metal and just walk away as if this simple categorical summation is adequate. It's not.

It's a raging torrent of death metal at its foundation. A deluge of war-like drums poke and pound nefariously while the whirr of guitars waft around a cavernous atmosphere in a dizzying haze, gaining in traction, increasing in heft, bubbling, frothing, foaming over, spilling over its iron cusp and pouring out onto the earth. Its core tethered to the lilt of black metal, cold and unrelenting. It sounds like communicating beasts, invoking spells and inciting incantations; summoning tremors, hale, lighting, fire and the 17 plagues of babel. Your hope and whimsy left in desiccated heaps of dust and your wellbeing not so well. Malign in your bones and total ennui in your veins.

•  Ω  •

The paragraph above is seemingly hyperbolic and self-masturbatory. A lot of words, with little meaning… Yeah maybe, but one thing is certain, Bestia Arcana released one of the better metal albums last year and it went way under everyones radar. Everyone fucked up.

One of the best albums released in 2017, period.

Bestia Arcana - Holókauston (bandcamp)