Ten From the Tomb 10/27/18: Tormented by the living, Death suffers only fools.

TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraints of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.

Here I present a ten album sampler of some death metal and dark ambient releases I’ve so far overlooked this year. Consider it a soundtrack to your weekend spent drenched in the infuriatingly moderate rain of the Pacific Northwest, while screaming at the sky “Just piss it all down on me already!” and still not amusing anyone around you with your stupid fucking sense of humor. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you don’t like death metal or dark ambient variations, relax! This’ll be back every seven days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit. I always have some quality control in mind and looked for expressive, meaningful or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This week’s inspiration came from listening to a ton of black metal this week and needing to give attention to some really great death metal and obscure experimental noise/ambient works that I’ve ignored. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.


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Artist Death. Void. Terror.
Title [Type/Year] To the Great Monolith [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

To begin this trip with the deepest extremes of the subconscious exposed through deleterious dark ritual ambient improvisation couldn’t be more fitting. You cannot even begin to imagine the waves of blackened and doomed void offered by this Zurich, Switzerland artist and the ‘black/doom’ tag given by the Encyclopedia Metallum couldn’t be less appropriate. The artist nearest in reach is the corpse of old Nortt stripped of all but the crackling dissonance between movements. Death. Void Terror. is so aptly described by its name but the value of the experience also entirely dependent upon your focus, mood, and need for such an induction into a purely dissonant note aiming to drag the mind down into nothingness. There is such desolation felt within the experience that it can be difficult to repeat without accompaniment, hence it serves as one big mind-rending introduction to an exploration of death, dissonance and desperate atmospheric ritual noise.


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Artist Morbid Messiah
Title [Type/Year] Demonic Paroxysm [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY from Memento Mori! | PREVOEW on YouTube!

For about five years now I’ve religiously followed every release from Spanish death metal record label/mail-order Memento Mori and have yet to be disappointed by anything released. Guadalajara, Mexico based old school death metal outfit is the perfect example of a high standard of quality and taste level. ‘Demonic Paroxysm’ is up at the top of the heap when it comes to filth-ridden, crypt-spewing death metal that never stretches beyond 1992 in terms of influence and resemblance. Thrashing riffs and forceful growls will bring to mind the brutality of Sadistic Intent and the raw jagged buzz of Sarcastic. Some of the deathgrind of early Pungent Stench also kicks in as the album progresses and this is where I get most excited for this fairly young band’s trajectory as they are actually talented in terms of writing memorable riffs within a very well-worn style of death metal. I would generally always do a full review for a release of this caliber but this along with the other releases on this week’s Ten From the Tomb are all above-average due to the huge glut of amazing releases in September and October.


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Artist Ossuary Anex
Title [Type/Year] Holy Blasphemition [EP/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you want a clearer idea of the only type of brutal death metal I really get a kick out of anymore look squarely at Russian quartet Ossuary Anex. Violent and eruptive but mind-blowing in terms of precision hammered riffs the band’s first EP after two admirable full-lengths finds them ramping up the already impressive bass presence to a sort of Cryptopsy ‘Whisper Supremacy’ level of throttled virtuosity. The aim is to crush and batter the listener but at no point do Ossuary Anex lose sight of the riff or the song and this helps them stand out a great deal amongst less confident young brutal death metal bands that rely on spectacle and technique beyond song craft. No, you’re not getting dissonance or atmospheric whatever this is pure old school brutal death metal a la 90’s Suffocation and Typhoid. I’ve found myself listening to this EP over and over these past several months and cannot recommend it enough if you are inclined toward its brand of brutality. The good news is that they’ve got a full-length coming in 2019 and I’m damn sure looking forward to it.


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Artist Pyreficativm
Title [Type/Year] संसार का पथ [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

To give a short review of a 76 minute opus that clearly took years to polish and perfect can’t hope to do it justice but the the scope of the release should provide compelling enough to be worthy of interest. Pyreficativm began as Flammis Maledictis in 2009 as the solo project of Valdivia, Chile based black metal artist Melek R. N. (Carlos Andres) who is best known for his work with occult blackened death metal band Abhorior. This is not simply a random gathering of dark or ritual ambient ideas but rather an inspired conception that reminds me of early Equimanthorn or Abruptum when the black metal guitar elements were still fairly abundant, yet the actual ambient pieces dominate the whole of ‘संसार का पथ’ (‘Path of the World’/’The World Path’).

The ratio of beautifully composed dark ritual ambient music versus otherworldly atmospheric black metal absolutely favors the ambient side of things but extensive 10+ minute ‘metal’ rituals are truly impressive standouts, eclipsing the sublime austerity of recent Urfaust releases at times. The only detractor comes with the realization that it is pieced together in a track arrangement that doesn’t completely make sense, and the immersion of it all suffers when gorgeous synth and spoken word meets lo-fi black metal in curious ways. It is nothing short of a masterpiece, and something I really failed to describe effectively in a long-form review. Easily one of the most transcendental blackened ritual experiences of the year.


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Artist Mutilated by Zombies
Title [Type/Year] Scripts of Anguish [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Dubuque, Iowa death metal DIY fiends Mutilated by Zombies find themselves on the fantastically curated Redefining Darkness Records for their third full-length release and goddamn is it a riff-crammed bruiser. How a power trio can pull of such a weighty, complex and satisfyingly guitar-lead experience is beyond me and no part of ‘Scripts of Anguish’ eases up on the riff for a second. That these guys have been at it for a decade now truly shows on this third record as they balance elements of brutal and progressive death metal within a thresher of distinctly North American death metal moshable sensibilities.

The last band to really pull off this type of thing was Anata and while a few bands like Sectu have powered through some of the additional possibilities, Mutilated by Zombies pull back towards the bones of albums like ‘Infernal Depths of Hatred’ and even toss in some Martyr-like guitar riffs for good measure. This is that sweet spot of brutality and capability I’d mentioned when talking about Ossuary Anex and it applies here as well with some additional technical guitar work that becomes ear-worming through successive listens. The mix of deeper death growls and rasping vocals is a really nice touch and helps provide a great deal of variety among a largely riff-based structure. Highly recommended stuff if you lean towards the classics of US death metal but want a fresh, thinking-man’s twist on the old ways.


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Artist Gathering Darkness
Title [Type/Year] The Inexorable End [EP/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Still hot off of the old school brutality of their 2017 album ‘The Heat of a Dying Sun’ Spanish brutal death metal band Gathering Darkness celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band with ‘The Inexorable End’, an EP of all new material even more savage than expected. Another band entirely in service to not just the riff but the riffs, Gathering Darkness hammer out mid-to-fast paced brutal death that is confident enough to slow down, get melodic, speed up, and generally do much more than just hammer out nonsensical barbarity. I was impressed with the band in my review of ‘The Head of a Dying Sun’ earlier this year and my admiration of their classic style and thoughtful balance remains high.


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Artist The Flesh
Title [Type/Year] Dweller [EP/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although there is no shortage of blackened death metal bands that have resorted to hardcore and crust punk drum/riff structures for inspiration throughout the decades there is always room for more variations. Dutch blackened death/crust/hardcore band The Flesh offer a pretty decent kick in the pants that seems to understand the overall launch of hardcore punk yet still relies on some of the ideas that bands like Darkthrone and Mutilation Rites expanded upon. I met this release with some excitement only because The Flesh is also the name of a very underrated Norwegian old school death metal band, but I was still pretty happy with the style of ‘Dweller’. They come, they slap, the grind, and thanks to an avoidance of the HM-2 distortion pedal the hardcore riffing really provides energy rather than sludgy confinement. I’ve largely included this EP on this list to give some contrast with the ultra serious tone and break up the technical needling a bit. If this band wrote 3-4 more songs like “A Knife to the Conformist” I’d have busted a stitch freaking out about how good they are. Otherwise this is highly recommended if you like stuff like Mammoth Grinder, Mutilation Rites, and Hexis.


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Artist Common Eider, King Eider
Title [Type/Year] A Wound of Body [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A true and intentional ritualistic dark ambient recording ‘A Wound of Body’ offers a deeper disturbing venture into moaning timbres and snarls far beyond the most engrossing Lustmord-esque dark ambient I’ve heard in a while. Like a chamber haunted by the irrepressibly manic ghouls, Common Eider, King Eider create the soundtrack to post-traumatic shock and the containment of angered, rueful spirits with seemingly minimal constructs. The louder it is played the more intensely haunting the subtle ambient voicing is; Like the feint whisper of the wind through a post-apocalyptic hall of horror and extinction ‘A Wound of Body’ is torpor and fear apropos for heightening the senses and bristling in anticipation for violence and mayhem. What violence comes is mournful viola, ascending howls and whispers from crypts below. The effect is curious, a soundtrack to ominous mysteries untold. I know next to nothing about this project beyond their station in San Francisco although I am fully invested in hearing a second part of a ‘Wound’ series they’ve hinted at thus far. At the very least you must hear “River of Blood”.


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Artist Prophetic Scourge
Title [Type/Year] Cavalry [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Ending the death metal tract of this list on a weirdly engrossing note was important because a band like Prophetic Scourge have a bit of something to please every death metal fan with but none of it is specific enough to garner fealty from the specificity of any certain fanatic. ‘Cavalry’ is the debut from Biarritz, France progressive death metal band Prophetic Scourge who, upon closer inspection offer a balance between the hyper melodic brutality of Benighted, the technical flair of Soreption, and the modern progressive awkwardness of a group like Gourmand. Too abrasive to please Obscura or Rivers of Nihil fandom but not technically rapid fire enough to twirl the batons of say Archspire, Prophetic Scourge are in a niche that I enjoy a fair amount. They’ve not booted Inanimate Existence out of my favorites slot just yet, and there is a huge amount of improvement to figure out in terms of providing varied vocal performance and not relying so heavily on jogging modern melodic death metal pacing… Yet, I would listen to this a thousand times before jumping back into anything by say, Bloodshot Dawn. You will hear the Benighted and Aborted aspirations immediately, though, and that is generally where I lost the plot with this release.


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Artist Shibalba
Title [Type/Year] Stars Al-Med Hum [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I would not normally cover an album a full month before release but I felt it was fitting for this list and I mention it with great enthusiasm. This album from Greek mastermind Nikolaos Panagopoulos (Acherontas, ex-Stutthof) and Draugr (Nåstrond) is so much more than dark ambient music as each of the five alignments serves a different stylistic influence be it tribal ambient or darkwave and this all culminates into a mind-burrowing meditative state that releases the mind beyond all inhibitions be they sexual or perceptive limitations. It offers nothing less than a spiritual trance and thankfully it is not pure meditation on synth, there is a heavy deployment of percussion and esoteric instrumentation to further add to the feeling of a soundtrack meant for the conjuration of luciferian magicks or rituals. It is pure theurgy and a riveting listen that will, at the very least, take your mind away from whatever tangent it is on. “Alignment II – Tei Re Re Re” is essential for preview, but the desired effect requires a full listen.


Did I miss your favorite 2018 death metal or experimental/dark ambient album? I’d like to know if there are any 2018 releases you loved that didn’t get enough recognition. Drop me a line to tell me! It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

 

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