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 2019. 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 releases out this January b/w a few stragglers from last year. Consider it a soundtrack for a weekend taking stock of the great variety offered today for the modern mind, opened through death metal’s primal fandom. 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’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.
Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I missed them! 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 weeks picks are arranged with effect, moving from the mania of brutal death metal to progressive and atmospheric extremes beyond. 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.
|Title [Type/Year]||Crypts, Coffins, Corpses [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
With the return of Unmatched Brutality Records in 2017 so came the promise of ultra-violent brutal death metal that helped to define post-millennium extreme metal. If you’d long forgotten how rotten and cranked this style of music can be Arizona band Meathook are a solid reminder of how hard bands like Disavowed, Putrid Pile, and Inveracity all hit back then. ‘Crypts, Coffins, Corpses’ isn’t a memorable listen and this is somewhat by design as the focus is on guttural, vomited death metal that’ll strike a chord with die-hard brutal death fans.
|Title [Type/Year]||Zombie Society [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify!|
I’m sure you, the intrepid death metal dude, are getting ready to flip the table thinking this’ll all be brutal death metal, relax! ‘Zombie Society’ is actually a raw melodic death metal album from German project Bloody Invasion. Their style is actually fairly classic in sound when considering the history of post-At The Gates era melodeath permutations out of Germany. Their influences are fairly obvious as early Amon Amarth (and to some extend The Black Dahlia Murder) fans should warm to this sound quickly. Though I appreciate the DIY approach and the guitar work, the drum sound is very artificial with a flat EQ or studio monitors and it is particularly bad when the band goes full speed. I was able to overlook the programmed sound of the drums and definitely enjoyed ‘Zombies Society’ more than I thought I would.
|Title [Type/Year]||Evil Dead [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
In the great traditions of blackened brutal Polish death metal comes the third full-length from Gliwice based Embrional. Active since 2003 but fully restaffed in 2017 around the same time founding member Skullripper (Marcin Sienkiel) joined Azarath as vocalist and second guitarist. This independent release should have no trouble working its way into your bloodstream if you are already a fan of Supreme Lord, Yattering, early Devilyn, with a hint of the blackened brutality found in bands like Dissenter and Azarath. It hits hard then retracts in coiling fire only to return again and this cycle of infernal rebirth is prime example of the lasting value of Polish death metal as it evolved underground and upstream of big groups like Decapitated, Vader and Behemoth. There is just enough of an Immolation circa 2005 vibe that I found ‘Evil Dead’ tense and menacing throughout.
|Title [Type/Year]||Neonderthal: Nightmare Begins [7″ EP/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||LISTEN on Spotify!|
There are a two paths to take when jumping into a release like ‘Neonderthal: Nightmare Begins’; One way presents a robotic hell where the lack of drummers on ‘Earth’ in the year 2049 forces us underground with nothing but synthwave and cries of existential dread make sense as anthem to humanity anymore. The other path sees Ektro Records handing out synthesizers like candy, forcing evolution’s hand in both directions, smearing the minds of the musicians into a mush of simian frustration and danceable minimalist quasi-retro synthwave. The third and the left hand path would see Neonderthal Death as infectious uplift applied to an absurdist sylistic combination that will appeal to fans of industrial death metal. Hail Morbid and Angel for ushering in the synth wave of Swedish death metal. Even if you don’t take any part of this EP seriously, it is a catchy six minutes of surreal stuff worth hearing whether you’re giggling at it, or not, is immaterial.
|Title [Type/Year]||Deformation of Humanity [Full-length/2018]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Of all of the truly thrilling outsider death/doom to come from the Netherlands in the early 90’s Phlebotomized were always incredible for their distinct avant-garde approach which saw the band discovering greater progressive voice on ‘Immense Intense Suspence’ in 1994. The peak of this type of output from the band in my ears was ‘Skycontact’ (1997) which reached outside of death metal so far that the band became unrecognizable. It would be the death of the band that year and the rebirth in 2013 saw reissues/remasters of key releases from 1990-1997. The reformation of original members left only guitarist Tom Palms by 2017 and I assume the restaffing of the band created many delays. With it out in late December I decided to pick it up and give it the benefit of the doubt despite the truly horrible album artwork and rumored melodic death metal style. Well, I guess this time around the genera consensus was apt as a clear melodic death influence rings true in Palm‘s guitar work but the pieces themselves express more as a mixture of extreme doom metal, melodic death, and with no shortage of very 90’s keyboard arrangements. It compares to the old days well enough but feels a bit ‘off’ as the rebirthing process for Disharmonic Orchestra and Dark Millennium did. It sounds a bit like a Greek or Italian melodic death/doom band from the mid 90’s if they’d been inspired by symphonic black metal’s pomp. It isn’t as otherworldly or fantastic as their 90’s output, but ‘Deformation of Humanity’ does feel like Phlebotomized by the time it is done playing.
|Title [Type/Year]||IV – Mythologiæ [Re-recording/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Though a funeral doom metal band named Slow might seem a bit silly there are actually two; This one hails from Belgium and comes from the mind of musician/producer Déhà (Olmo Lipani) who you’d best know for his work in Yhdarl, the latest Cult of Erinyes, and all of Clouds‘ material up until ‘Dor’. This re-recording of Slow‘s atmospheric opus ‘IV – Mythologiæ’ (2015), which also released in instrumental/ambient only form in 2016, seems to both polish the old works up to the standards of ‘V – Oceans’ (2017) and rearrange a few of the ambient parts. I don’t think the difference is all that noticeable in terms of effect so much as fidelity. What is this doing on a death metal list? An escape route of you’re in the mood for something heavily atmospheric. For my taste I don’t think Slow‘s fourth album deserves quite so much attention or revision as it was good to begin with but the enormity of its atmospherics still pale to that of ‘V – Oceans’ and it would make sense to simply move on from there. That said, I can’t complain about a better version of ‘IV – Mythologiæ’ too much because it is still a solid listen.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos [Full-album/2018]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
The original premise that fans had assumed Sulphur Aeon were cultivating was a mixture of caverncore production values and heavy blackened melodic death metal. Something singed by the fires of epic heavy metal appears in their third iteration ‘The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos’ that is similarly faceless but all the more entertaining. You’ll certainly see and hear the bones of old Nile and Behemoth but clean vocal sections (see: Mithras‘ third album) don’t necessarily work as replacements for interesting riff. I’ve long felt that Sulphur Aeon‘s approach to the riff was sub-par and the focus tuned too far towards artificial atmospherics but where this album wins me over is in its subtle melodic grandeur. I gave this album many listens and ultimately found it forgettable but the fruitless exploration of its compositional nooks and crannies was entertaining nonetheless.
|Title [Type/Year]||Atmospheres of Desolation [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Denver, Colorado dissonant atmospheric death metal duo Noctambulist deliver on the promise of their stylistic sub-genre mixture with an insistent, blasting and moderately challenging debut EP ‘Atmospheres of Desolation’. I felt that placing this EP right after Sulphur Aeon illustrates the menial failings of that other band in the face of darker, more defined aggression found within Noctambulist‘s approach. That isn’t to pompously say ‘Nyeah, this band is better…’ but rather that this type of dissonant chaos must find new points of interest as it plays and few artists really bring comparable brutality to the form. It might be reductive to classify groups as post-Portal in the midst of that bands greater increasing reach but Noctambulist seems to fit that latest generation of dissonant atmospheric mutations. The slower songs are not generally strong and I found the last three tracks on this EP were generally lacking in purpose beyond the strong intro of “Habitual Falsehood”.
|Title [Type/Year]||Lost Paragraphs [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Kuopio, Finland blackened death metal band Lantern celebrate their 12th year of evolution with an EP that builds on their early Deceased-esque death metal ways with first wave black and atmospheric influences. I hear this band reaching for a further distinct sound and they generally are succeeding where similarly functional bands like Crucifyre are slouching a bit. If tracks like “Invocation of the Fathomless” are the future of Lantern then I am hugely optimistic as to what their eventual third album brings.
|Title [Type/Year]||Deviant [Full-length/2019]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Utrecht, Netherlands atmospheric death/occult black metal project Defacement arrive without hype, representation, or really any information beyond the most basic Bandcamp information. This album uses noisome, crackling atmospheric dread the same way a black metal band like Embra does, to overwhelm and hammer the mind while they unleash atmo-death brutality. Modernist in approach but fully invested in the atmospheric blackened death metal movement there is a glorious ‘middle’ to be found within the pits of ‘Deviant’ that will sate and bewilder fans of dissonant death metal, avant-garde black metal, and the crossover between. To be fair and to avoid unreasonable hype, sure, you’ve heard many similar albums; Though I would suggest this is a particularly good one that comes with no baggage and a healthy amount of mystery to make it worth a second glance. What struck me on repeated listens was the drummer’s effortless performance as the driver for Defacement‘s sound, it feels a bit like the rise of groups like Abyssal or The Haunting Presence but removed from the more typical Portal-esque trappings.
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