Ten From the Tomb 11/9/18: Wrought beneath a furrowed brow.

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 technical death metal, melodic death metal and progressive extreme metal releases I’ve so far overlooked this year. Consider it a soundtrack to your continued observation of the absurdity of living things and the detailed mechanisms that it takes for mere existence to sustain. Posit the joy of single celled organisms and their desperate but simplified situation before you fall out of your chair in the lab, fully realizing the pointless terror of the petri dish you’re stuck in. 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 technical, progressive or modern melodic death metal metal combinations, 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 the folks who keep my Patreon campaign going every month. Every 1-2 weeks they all vote for the genre or theme of the list. I tried to come as close to a mix of technical and melodic death metal in terms of the promos I receive. 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.


Artist The Odious Construct
Title [Type/Year] Shrine of the Obscene [EP/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Of the many bands attempting a mixture of technical death metal and melodic death metal The Odious Construct are perhaps doing the most justice to both sides by finding healthy compromise between the two. That isn’t to say they’ve lost anything special but instead amalgamated their influences into a thrilling, performative progressive melodic death metal album with the technical polishing you’d expect from any The Artisan Era singing. They surely touch upon the style of later The Black Dahlia Murder but with the aggressive pincer attack of Arkaik or Alterbeast (minus the core breakdowns and sheer brutality) around the edges they also toy with symphonic elements that add to the neoclassical flair of the leads and ‘melodic’ riffing from Italian symphonic death metal. Worth checking out if you thought Mordant Rapture‘s EP hadn’t fully formed their keyboard integration.


Artist Serocs
Title [Type/Year] The Phobos / Deimos Suite [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Initially concieved as a solo project from Guadalajara, Mexico musician Antonio Freyre in 2009, he would form a full band by 2012 with an international revolving door of musicians from bands like Cryptopsy, Lecherous Nocturne, Sotajumala, Slaughtered Remains etc. for their first three full-lengths. Guitarist/vocalist Phil Tougas (Chthe’ilist, Funebrarum, Zealotry) has been a constant presence in the band since that first album. The style is brutal technical death metal with a fair amount of influence from Death, Cryptopsy and Decrepit Birth. ‘The Phobos / Deimos Suite’ now includes new additions from members of Benighted, Sutrah, and Chthe’ilist. The theme is the hell that selfish, abusive people create on Earth for themselves and others and you will feel the compositions evolve as soon as you acclimate to the ripping late 90’s Cryptopsy meets Spawn of Possession styled death metal on display. One of the better technical death metal records I’ve heard this year, maybe an inch short of Spectral.


Artist Cronaxia
Title [Type/Year] Collapsing the Outer Structure [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

It has been slow going for Portuguese technical brutal death metal band Cronaxia as they formed in 1997 but it’d be 11 years before their first EP and another 10 after that for their full-length to arrive. Polished, professional, and relentless ‘Collapsing the Outer Structure’ is very much an ‘old school’ tech death release in the sense that it would have fit in incredibly well in the burgeoning era of the early 2000’s with its progressive elements and hard-hitting drums. In 2018 it appears competent and should please fans of Trauma, Exmortem, and later 00’s Deeds of Flesh as progressive elements bled into more and more Unique Leader bands that survived the first half of that decade. Great bass performance throughout, I just wish it was a bit louder in the mix.


Artist Hate Eternal
Title [Type/Year] Upon Desolate Sands [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although I have the utmost respect for Erik Rutan’s career in death metal with Ripping Corpse ‘Dreaming with the Dead’ and Morbid Angel‘s ‘Gateways to Annihilation’ among my favorites of all time but I have never connected with Hate Eternal‘s oft-imitated sound despite having kept in the loop with their releases since ‘King of all Kings’ (2002). I have also consistently been unimpressed with most of his production outside of Krisiun‘s ‘Conquerors of Armageddon’, and I particularly dislike what he did with Soilent Green‘s sound after ‘A Deleted Symphony for the Beaten Down’. None of this is particularly relevant to Hate Eternal today but I will say that the addition of Hannes Grossman on drums has loosened up the chugging groove that Rutan was stuck on for the last three albums. Does it kinda sound way too much like ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’ on most of the tracks? Yeah, I mean that’d be hard to escape on some level but with the brutality of Hate Eternal the technique of the project shows the interest and restraint that Rutan was originally known for. The texture, sound, and layering of the rhythm guitars is very pleasant and easy to listen to but I’m not sure I am entirely convinced enough to become a Hate Eternal fan yet.


Artist Thoren
Title [Type/Year] Gwarth I [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

On their second full-length album Michigan instrumental/experimental technical death metal project Thoren explore their sound further with the employ of two strong kickers from New York avant-garde metal collective. Drummer Alex Cohen (ex-Pyrrhon, Epistasis) handles the majority of the tracks while Kenny Grohowski (Imperial Triumphant) handles about a third. I can personally tell the difference between the two drummer’s styles but you’ll find that the guitar and drum work more or less demand to be the point of interest for the entirely of ‘Gwarth I’. Think of it like a brutal blackened death metal band incorporating noise rock movement and transitions into their attack. It all has the effect of both composed pieces that find great unison as well as moments that feel miraculously improvised. I personally won’t keep this around simply because I don’t see any great reason to not include vocals of some kind, but I can still highly recommend a few listens.


Artist Samskaras
Title [Type/Year] Lithification [EP/2018]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Samskaras is a technical/progressive death metal band from Montreal, Québec with a fair amount of deathcore influences. Formed as a duo between members of the Montreal area tech-death scene bands Derelict and Unhuman these guys aren’t as typical as they might seem at first glance. In particular you’ll feel the influence from Neuraxis immediately as some odd vocal tones and bounding riffs appear soon after. This is absolutely not to my taste as I find deathcore the most bland derivative of the first decade of the 2000’s and there is little to add to the dead-end sub-genre. Samskaras do their best to incorporate progressive death metal influences and some Gojira-esque  (sorry for the catch-all generalization!) vocal chorus but the riffs do not seem to come easily nor are they particularly impressive outside of mosh metal decency. Not to my own taste but no doubt a good fit for many others.


Artist Skyglow
Title [Type/Year] Thousand Years of Terror [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The debut full-length from Moscow, Russia based duo Skyglow quickly unveils itself as a gloriously intricate melding of technical and melodic death metal ideas into an ultimately progressive form. If you consider the staggered, bounding tilt of Mekong Delta were it applied to At the Gates‘ penchant for forceful movements and then wrapped in the thoughtfully excessive melodramatic scowling of Dissection you’d be just sort of close to the premise that ‘Thousand Years of Terror’ provides before delving into their intricate technical attack. There is a menacing mid-paced crawl coming from Skyglow that provides a central void for the mind to gaze into, it is something ‘new’ feeling and guitarist/bassist Sergey Stepanenko of tech-thrash band Excruciation of Silence and old-school death metal band Torn Apart provides immaculate performances throughout. Vocalist/songwriter/producer Alexander Mokin, who also worked with Excruciation of Silence in the past has achieved something remarkable within the vision of this record as it boasts the refinement of classic Scandinavian extreme metal without feeling like a facsimile of other’s melodic achievements. Was pretty floored by this once I’d finally sat down with it and would generally recommend it.


Artist Black Coven
Title [Type/Year] Everlost [Demo/2018]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The second demo from this Austrian melodic death metal band finds the band in Astia Studio in Lappeenranta, Finland guided by Anssi Kippo (Children of Bodom, Horna, Norther, etc.) in create an honest analog recorded demo with pretty minimal takes and it sounds like no dubbing. It is a demo, so the solos are loosely played and appear to be done from memory and there is only one guitar track as far as I can tell. This greatly appeals to me if only for the love of old school melodic death metal demo tapes, which tend to vary in quality a great deal between Sweden and Finland’s history. Black Coven are a duo and from the sound of things they could pull off something pretty devastating if they manage a second guitarist. The progressions are fairly simple a bit like demos from A Canorous Quintet or even Excretion but with heavier influence from Finnish melodic death metal in general. The whole thing is very formative and imperfect to really judge beyond its general ideas. I wanted to include this here just as a nice break from the tense and technical sway of this list.


Artist Anisoptera
Title [Type/Year] Spawn of Odonata [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Oakland, California progressive death metal duo Anisoptera aren’t at all afraid to inject melodic alt-metal breaks into their deathcore laced style for a sort of semi-melodic and modern sound that doesn’t at all work for my own tastes. The members suggest their goal was to make a connection between death metal with jazz and melody but you’re really just getting a fairly standard deathcore record that often breaks into djent-esque sections that incorporate melody more often than not. It isn’t a bad idea and the bulk of the album is very listenable, I’m just not really the target audience for any form of deathcore or ‘alternative metal’, which comes pretty close to Chimaira and Crowbar when it pops up. Not my gig at all.


Artist Meadows End
Title [Type/Year] Sojourn [Reissue/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Originally self-released in 2016 this third full-length from Swedish melodic death metal band Meadows End has been reissued along with ‘The Sufferwell’ on CD by Black Lion Records to celebrate their signing with the Sweden based label. Unless you regularly scour bandcamp for bands like this you’ve likely not heard it but chances are you’ve heard similar style. Where Meadows End do manage to separate themselves from comparison to modern day Dark Tranquillity and Insomnium comes from the prominent use of keyboards that are employed in an atmospheric sense and not necessarily as the pure driving force of the music, it is absolutely a melodic device but not in the fiddly early 2000’s Finnish sort of way. Not a ‘riff’ album, but a comfortable and familiar form of melodic death metal to end this list with.

Did I miss your favorite 2018 technical, progressive or melodic death metal 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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