Bring Out Your Dead: Honorable Mentions – Part II / July ’til December (2018)

BRING OUT YOUR DEAD… is a collection of releases from 2018 that deserve honorable mention and short review. This is simply a collection of albums I wanted to cover in full, but couldn’t find the time or the words. There is no particular theme, no focus on sub-genre (or genre at all), and I’ve still left out all split releases and reissues, remasters, and compilations. This first part focuses on releases that came out in the second half of 2018: July through December. This is it for non-full review coverage of 2018 releases. I will not research these releases as per usual, nor will I guarantee several thoughtful listens. These are first and second impressions, severe final thoughts on things that couldn’t fit into the scope of 2018 coverage. This is not, however, the final word on 2018 releases. There are many full reviews to come in the first few months of 2019. If music ceases to interest you after the first month (or year) of release, consider the comfort of knowing history rather than obsessing over a meaningless future. 

JULY


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Artist Fredag Den 13:e
Title [Type/Year] Dystopisk Utsikt [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Gothenburg, Sweden hardcore/crust punk band Fredag Den 13:e sound exactly as you’d expect, they’re a pushy-but-melodic slap of scandi-crust a bit less raw than some of their contemporaries on Polish grindcore label EveryDayHate who I know best for some Massgrav and Agathocles releases. ‘Dystopisk Utsikt’ doesn’t go full on blackened hardcore but there is a sliver of Kvelertak influence on tracks like “Dodad Ov Tid”. I think the non-punk listeners in metal circles can find some easy induction into the melodic style and guitar techniques of modern crust mutations through bands like this; Primarily because it is exemplar in some sense, but also not inventive. I can’t fault these guys for staying in their lane and they do a great job of keeping their approach full of variety and varying mid-to-fast paced crust hits. If you’re into stuff like Martyrdöd and Parasight but want something equally dire but further from neocrust ideas, this is the shit.


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Artist Woebegone Obscured
Title [Type/Year] The Forestroamer [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’ve done a terrible job of keeping up with releases from British doom label Aesthetic Death and was completely embalmed by the realization that I’d slept on/missed this third full-length from Danish funeral death/doom metal band Woebegone Obscured. They’ve incorporated a heavy progressive/epic doom metal element into their usual focus on blackened funeral death/doom metal. What was already a heavy trip before becomes a chilling fog of grey wonder. ‘The Forestroamer’ is a lure, a small glowing light to follow into the forest until you realize you are alone in the mist. As they’ve come from a melodic black metal past there is some admirable focus on feeling in all of Woebegone Obscured‘s releases and ‘The Forestroamer’ is not only mystic in tone but deeply personal in affect. Completely essential listening for the extreme doom inclined.


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Artist Isdal
Title [Type/Year] Demo [Demo/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although Isdal‘s sound is yet a sperm jailed within seminal vesicle their mixture of hellish sludge influences with hellish modern hardcore influences makes a wet mess of Old Man Gloom and Coalesce. I think “Weight in my Spine” is the real kicker here in terms of visible potential, as much as the clangor of “Reduced Returns” might impress. I could see this band on Holy Roar or The Sludgelord Records depending on where they take their sound.


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Artist Witchgöat
Title [Type/Year] Umbra Regit [Demo/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

El Salvador based Witchgöat impress on their first demo ‘Umbra Regit’, a succinct and powerful blackened thrash metal spin packed with some stunning riffs. I can hear elements of classic South American thrash, and some European first/second wave black metal informed guitar work, along with classic black/thrash influences. It is primarily a work of dark thrash, something like Merciless‘ earliest works but a hint of Mutilator (Brazil), and I really appreciate their riff craft on this demo. An album is coming in February, so it’d make sense to check this out first to get an idea of their sound.

AUGUST


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Artist Transient / Bastard Noise
Title [Type/Year] Sources of Human Satisfaction [Collaboration/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Portland, Oregon powerviolent grindcorized hardcore punks Transient team up with power electronic / noise master Bastard Noise for a mind-stomping trip through carnal ecstasy and debilitating pain. Transient have always delivered an impressive display of grind influenced powerviolence but the input from Bastard Noise almost recalls his split with Brutal Truth back in 2013 but, if they’d meshed into one form. There is some instantaneous appeal in ‘Sources of Human Satisfaction’ as a hardcore record to begin with but I wasn’t sure how well the harsher noise elements would hold up to repeat listens; Ultimately it makes for such a unique record that I have to tip my hat to the incredible way that Bastard Noise‘s contributions feel incorporated, none of it appears as needless ‘mash-up’.


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Artist Jesus Piece
Title [Type/Year] Only Self [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although they are not devoid of modern hardcore elements by any stretch of the imagination Philadelphia based metalcore band Jesus Piece invoke the deepest cuts of mid-to-late 90’s metalcore on their debut ‘Only Self’. With certain Victory Records bands kicking up into majors and reaching death metal levels of intensity back in the day a new breed of hardcore rose before getting gutted by the popularity of At the Gates influenced metalcore; Jesus Piece hark back to that era of bands like Buried Alive, Adamantium, Earth Crisis and they go even harder with it. There are plenty of modern equivalents today between King Nine, Xibalba, and even Harm’s Way but honestly none of them hit that sweet spot has hard as Jesus Piece. I say this as a huge fan of Earth Crisis, so gauge your interest accordingly. Solid mosh music.

SEPTEMBER


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Artist The Primals
Title [Type/Year] All Love is True Love [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

You might have some deep-seated irritability towards the ‘grunge’ phenomenon of the early-to-mid 90’s but there is no deny what the rise of alternative music did in erasing the pompous idiocy of hair metal from the planet, which is only now making a comeback through retro-kids who are impressing dolt millennials by ripping off Dokken records… Anyhow, this is a power-pop/punk rock record from a couple of guys who are best known for terrible melodic metalcore bands back in the early 2000’s. It is extremely good, too. I am so often impressed by Southern Lord‘s curation that I have a sort of loss for words for certain releases, I just wanted to listen to this and enjoy it. This is a fantastic and catchy rock record that is an amplified look at the world beyond the Pixies‘ sugary hell, the garage-punkish self-loathing (and very occasional brilliance) of Ty Segall, and what I’d consider a production job somewhere between the melodic side of Tad‘s ‘8-Way Santa’ (see: “Flame Tavern”) and lesser known band Brad‘s foray into major label stuff (‘Interiors’). There is some soul and some filth in the recesses of ‘All Love is True Love’ and although it does feel like retro-Grunge they’re at least pulling from the remarkable pool of lesser appreciated stuff.


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Artist A Forest of Stars
Title [Type/Year] Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although I wasn’t as enamored with this latest A Forest of Stars record as most of the general avant-black metal fandom was, ‘Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes’ is more or less undeniably interesting. Though their original premise was ‘psychedelic’ atmospheric black metal this bands sound evolved into something more obviously intended as avant-garde. It isn’t a ‘riff’ album but rather a boorish narrative driven tale with the vocalist’s usual rants taking center stage to the point of tedium. “Children of the Night Soil” does a nice job of reminding me why this band was every interesting, but I don’t see the masterpiece that other folks do when considering the entirety of the record.


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Artist Perpetuum Mobile
Title [Type/Year] Paradoxa Emblemata [EP/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

There is a wealth of interesting underground monstrosities on Italian label Xenoglossy Productions and Perpetuum Mobile‘s latest EP is on that caught my ear quickly yet I couldn’t figure out what was going on for a few spins. ‘Paradoxa Emblemata’ is a mixture of raw black metal and punk that verges on grindcore with short compositions and a hardcore attack. What seemed like thoughtless punkish shit ended up having teeth and brains enough to entertain me, it does amount to a short hardcore EP and can be judged as such with or without consideration for the bedroom black metal implementation. I love this kind of inspired underground experimentation and always glad when I do finally give it a chance to shine by its own merits.


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Artist Teksti-TV 666
Title [Type/Year]

Aidattu Tulevaisuus [Full-length/2018]

Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Finnish kraut-punk rock septet Teksti-TV 666 combine the spirit-lifting punch of krautrock and the quaalude & inhalant induced delirium of pre-’77 punk rock into their own inventive-but-familiar sound. ‘Aidattu Tulevaisuus’ is the sort of album you just let play while you stare at the carpet, it is very much a krautrock album that knows exactly when to tear into the elevator rock rhythms of the genre and do something dirty and heavy.


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

I dunno about you but I love ‘outsider’ hardcore, the fucked up stuff from folks who probably know better that typically serves as a  quick and very dark outlet for some mounting personal pressure. Horsewhip embodies this visceral release without the ‘outsider’ edge, these guys were key members of a bunch of bands you’ve never heard of: Reversal Of Man, Early Grace, Combatwoundedveteran, Order of Importance, Sutek Conspiracy. I knew Combatwoundedveteran for sure but the rest flew over my head. Half the fun of picking up a band like this, my own investigative nature willing, comes from checking out their other projects and seeing where they came from and why they’re so damned good at sounding mad. There are hits of sludge and noisecore informing this record that make it all the more interesting, but I’d be interested in hearing the band do more with their sound.

OCTOBER


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Artist Druj
Title [Type/Year] Chants to Irkalla [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Druj are a traditional death/doom metal project from Anchorage, Alaska that should perk up the ears of Ophis, Abythic, and Solothus fans. They’re probably a few releases away from something truly stunning but this is a fantastic example of doomed death metal that leans into their death metal side hard. I like that they toy with dissonance for most of the record though it does become trudging on a few tracks (mostly “He Who Drinks Of Namma”). The big huge jam here for my taste was “Ashes of Immortality”


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Artist Shallow Grave
Title [Type/Year] Threshold Between Worlds [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Sludgelord Records picked up another beauty with Shallow Grave‘s second full-length ‘Threshold Between Worlds’. This New Zealand band strike out into the zone between Earth‘s experimental curses and Dark Buddha Rising‘s darkest ritual sludge jams. Sinister, heavy, and operating with a post-‘Through Silver in Blood’ sense of atmospheric sludge dynamics Shallow Grave are at once a ‘genre entry’ and a brilliant example of extreme doom and dark ambient elements greatly enhancing fairly simple and effective structures. I came to appreciate how massive the sound was without feeling like gimmickry; Although the atmospheric value of the record does essentially ‘make’ the experience, I definitely needed more frequent points of clarity and riff statement.


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Artist Tezcatlipoca
Title [Type/Year] Tlayohualtlapelani [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Guanajuato, Mexico pagan black metal band Tezcatlipoca invoke the god of the nocturnal sky and channel his library of indigenous ancestral lore through aggressive, atmospheric spiritual blasts of mystifying folk tinged black metal. There are hints of olden Kampfar and that early Norwegian pagan attack fused with indigenous Mexican instrumentation that make ‘Tlayohualtlapelani’ both satisfyingly textural but also slightly inconsistent in terms of riffcraft and atmospheric filler. A solid atmo-pagan black metal record but not the most memorable.


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Artist Khandra
Title [Type/Year] There is No Division Outside Existence [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This is one of several records I really enjoyed this year but never found the time to write about. Belarus black metal band Khandra ease their way into an unassuming record that takes some influence from Inquisition and Mgła. This is the best sort of ‘modern’ melodic black metal for my own tastes; I found myself periodically returning to Khandra‘s debut to revisit melodies, heavy metal guitar lines, and the understated post-dark metal sound.

NOVEMBER


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Artist Golden Lampreys
Title [Type/Year] Just Because You Did It Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty [EP/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Pori, Finland duo Golden Lampreys describe themselves a couple of interesting ways: “Electric acid blues hoodoo” does suggest the drugged mania of their sound but not the marriage of post-punk and post-modernist industrial freakery they manage. “Birthday Party meets Pan Sonic” is surprisingly apt in the sense that post-punk revival should come full circle when combined with minimal electro-industrial. I’d personally call it electro-neofolk with a hint of mid-90’s Swans.


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Artist Begravningsentreprenörerna
Title [Type/Year]

Jämna Plågor [Full-length/2018]

Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY from Ektro Records!

If this band were simply called the Undertakers and the album ‘Smooth Pains’ (apologies for the translation) it might not have convinced me to listen at all. Once you’re neck deep in this bastard child of a throwback it’ll prove its worth as a 70’s heavy rock influenced mutant; Aimed somewhere between proto-heavy metal and the most-high of the late 70’s ‘Jämna Plågor’ weirdly dances between NWOBHM and uh, classic Hellacopters styled guitar hooks. There is a sort of anxious, sped-up classic rock feel to the record that is befuddling only because it seems like a throwback to a throwback with a little punkish something of its own.


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Artist Cantique Lépreux
Title [Type/Year] Paysages Polaires [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Québecois black metal begins to further develop with increasingly compelling artists hailing from the region. In league with Délétère and Forteresse but perhaps additionally owning much to Sorcier des Glaces, Cantique Lépreux are a similar blend of atmospheric and melodic black metal tendencies that is distinctly modern while firmly grasping the spirit of black metal rather than post-whatever music. I didn’t find much reason to keep spinning this record over and over but the very first listen was at least captivating and inspiring.


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Artist Bane
Title [Type/Year] Esoteric Formulae [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although there are many, many melodic black/death metal bands doing their best to recreate the space between ‘Storm of the Lights Bane’ and the destruction of the genre by way of cheap Casio keyboards worldwide, Bane do stand out in some ways. Serbian musician Branislav manages to capture that brief blackened flame of ’95-’98 melodic black metal as it collided with melodic death metal’s heavier impact without feeling like an overly modernized parody (see: Necrophobic‘s ‘Mark of the Necrogram’). He manages to do so while smartly fusing Swedish melodic death metal guitar techniques with what I’d consider pre-2000 Rotting Christ influenced melodicism. Beyond this lushly melodic and moderately inventive work comes a drum performance from Honza Kapák, a veteran and legend of the Czech extreme metal scene best known for his work in Avenger but also Krieg, Maniac Butcher and more recently Master’s Hammer. Dark metal fans should have had their ears perked thus far but if you’ve been listening to this sort of record for 20 years as I have, it does often beg for something more memorable and catchy. There are no ‘bad ass’ riffs, so I needed more hooks to sit through the full record.


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Artist Vouna
Title [Type/Year] Vouna [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Impressively performed and realized by Yianna Bekris (Sadhaka, Eigenlicht) with production from Ethan Camp and members of Wolves in the Throne Room, Vouna is an ingenious re-balancing of post-black metal with elements of extreme doom metal and the more cryptic shoegazing side of Eigenlicht. The moment you hear Bekris‘ moaning indie rock vocal and slow-burning compositions you’ll hear the implication of ‘doom metal’ but it only really develops into something closer to a ‘metal’ 40 Watt Sun (which uh, isn’t necessarily Warning…); The point of differentiation is heavy use of synth and keyboard performances that implicate classic funeral doom influences. I found myself struggling with the vocals at times, they’re a bit ‘stoned immaculate’ for my tastes but the music would feel incomplete without Bekris‘ full input. Should appeal to folks who dig Yith and With the End in Mind.


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Artist Valle Crucis
Title [Type/Year] Iron & Blood [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although I was considering including Sjukdom here I found myself gravitating towards this newer and more compelling vision of Scandinavian black metal designs. South Carolina’s Valle Crucis operate with the fumes of semi-melodic second wave Finnish and Norwegian style intoxicating their approach. It is a slightly messy and amateur record in some sense as you’ll hear mistakes on a few drum tracks and a few songs just drop everything as they end. This provides some amount of abandon necessary for invoking the black metal that inspires a band like Valle Crucis, and I came to enjoy the flailing punches they throw throughout ‘Iron & Blood’.


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Artist Sigh
Title [Type/Year] Heir to Despair [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] LISTEN on Spotify!

I had intended to do a full review for this latest Sigh album but after two full listens I was uninspired. If you felt there was a need to continue the thread of ‘In Somniphobia’ and take that blackened avant-garde metal sound unto dark metal territory well, this is that. I enjoy all Sigh on a semi-temporary basis, it makes a deep first impression but repeated listens of the last 4-5 full-lengths yield diminishing returns. ‘Heir to Despair’ is no different in that sense, but entirely different than most things in general. The redeeming value of experiencing these new frontiers for the first time is worthy, at least.

DECEMBER


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Artist Nazrak
Title [Type/Year] Cantiques Funèbres [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’ve only just recently been introduced to Polish label Wolfspell Records and I have really loved their focus on pagan black metal artists with high atmospheric and melodic value. French band Nazrak are a big standout from this exploration with ‘Cantiques Funèbres’ stretching their sound into nearly progressive levels of exploration that fixate on dulcet tones with black metal delivery. Though the standards for French black metal artists climb higher every year, there is no substitute for the developing underground thanks to highly professional curiosities like this. Also just in the collector’s sense I would buy this on vinyl for the album art alone.


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Artist Tombtoker
Title [Type/Year] Coffin Texts [EP/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Baltimore, Maryland’s Tombtoker are a pretty hot grab in terms of a distinct sound and worthwhile compositions. ‘Coffin Texts’ finds the band inhabiting a mossy shell of stoner metal entrenched sludge metal that regularly powers into some serious-assed death/doom metal riffs. These worlds have collided in equal parts before but Tombtoker seem to have enough sense to make those dynamics work well together. Fans of stuff like Grief, Disbelief, and Unearthly Trance should feel pretty comfortable with this EP’s style. I really enjoyed this one though I am sure the band can do far more with this concept, either bigger grooves or go harder with the death metal atmosphere. As is, still pretty shit hot.


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Artist Ferum
Title [Type/Year] Vergence [EP/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I love that Italian old school death/doom metal band Ferum make it crystal clear what they’re doing and what inspired it. Derkéta, Cianide, Temple Of Void and Coffins are fitting points of inspiration though, I would say the occasional blackened guitar run and punkish throttle might be closer to very early Goatlord in spirit, post-’96 Asphyx/Soulburn in sound, and Cruciform‘s ‘Atavism’ in actual approach. The album leaves no memorable impression but I so enjoy the style of death/doom they’re going for that I did end up coming back to it a few times.


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Artist Of Spire & Throne
Title [Type/Year] Penance [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Doom fandom typically comes with patience and a love for the build-and-release of modern extreme doom metal. Edinburgh, Scotland trio Of Spire & Throne are surely die-hard extreme doom metal fans informed both by the vibrant UK sludge metal obsession as well as funeral doom’s constancy. ‘Penance’ is a lurching, heavy beast above all else but the greater value of the experience comes from long pieces that begin to create true instances of absorption. The 13+ minute “In the Wake” only just dunks the listener into the depths and the equally lengthy “Reliquary” is entirely different (think Sumac-esque) but no less trance inducing. The mix of obtuse and impossibly heavy sludge mixed in with what I’d consider funeral doom song structures is pleasant but I’d liked to have had a break from the rhythm guitar tone a bit more often.


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Artist Blood Feast
Title [Type/Year]

Chopped, Sliced and Diced [EP/2018]

Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Nothing against ‘Kill For Pleasure’ (1987) but I’ve always been a ‘Chopping Block Blues’ (1989) kinda guy. It was a bit heavier, catchier songs, and my thoughts don’t go much deeper on Blood Feast outside of really loving ‘Hitler Painted Roses’ without realizing it was an old goth/death rock band’s hit. I liked ‘The Future State of Wicked’ as a return to the band’s sound but I don’t think these old songs truly benefit from the updated re-recording sound. Yeah, sounds great and all but I’m so married to the original version of “Hunted, Stalked, and Slain” that this version kinda pisses me off. Beyond whatever ridiculous nerd gripe I have with that version, these songs still all rule. Whatever nausea you feel when old bands come back and make crap music shouldn’t fire up when listening to ‘Chopped, Sliced and Diced’, if anything this is a short-ass greatest hits that’ll be a great introduction to Blood Feast in general. Definitely seek out the originals, too.


I’m not done reviewing 2018 releases! I still have roughly 20 records from 2018 that I still want to do full, in-depth reviews for. This two part feature was only meant to give record of all the things I missed and provided a way to cut down the backlog significantly. I am largely finished considering 2018 releases moving forward unless it is an undeniably great record, or… If you want a review and send a vinyl/CD copy. Onward to 2019.

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