Ten From the Tomb 3/3/19: Neon adipocere slicking treacherous chasms.

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 of the best ‘old school’ heavy metal and death metal from February 2019. Consider it a soundtrack to alleviate the fear of missing out frantically firing throughout your smartphone addicted brain as useless information pours over you like salt on a festering prolapse. 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 am not doing full reviews for these releases! 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 come from a mounting ‘to do’ list that became unmanageable as February 22nd approached. There were simply too many releases that week. I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. 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 Candlemass
Title [Type/Year] The Door to Doom [Full-length/2019]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you care little about the history, and full discography, of Candlemass much of what I have to say about it admittedly won’t resonate. This band influenced countless musicians with their first four albums in the 80’s, you can’t give them all credit for the ‘epic doom’ metal tag but they are the archetype nonetheless. They’ve been expanded upon, bested, roasted, and all the while reinvented in many bland forms since. It is fitting that Candlemass would plug in our god Tony Iommi for a guest spot on ‘The Door to Doom’ simply because his own compositional past is a checkered as Leif Edling‘s. The 90’s were a slow and awkward death for the band just as the late 70’s were a gradual drift into obscurity for Sabbath, but Candlemass would ‘comeback’ in 2005 with a fine set of records with Messiah Marcolin returning for their inspired 2005 self-titled and Rob Lowe of Solitude Aeternus for three very mediocre records. I’m not saying that ‘King of the Grey Islands’ was bad, it just didn’t sound very much like Candlemass and the one positive note that carries ‘The Door to Doom’ in 2019 is that is sounds like Candlemass (with a bit of Krux in there, too).

The return of Johan Längquist distracts a bit from Edling‘s exit from Avatarium, and this informs this latest form of Candlemass more in my opinion. ‘The Door to Doom’ is uninspired, especially compared to the level of epic doom metal coming from all corners of the world and Längquist appears to do his best atop stock-standard, forgettable pieces but he is a different sort of vocalist today (compared to his 1986 session work) who’d fare better in an act like Grand Magus. Other folks have said it better elsewhere but it rang well and true for me, even as a long time fan, I won’t remember this record nor will I return to it as the years pass by. No legacy should get a pass on mediocre songwriting just because they’ve changed the shape of things generations past. The rest of this list will be way more positive, at least!


Artist Electrocution
Title [Type/Year] Psychonolatry [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Electrocution‘s ‘Inside the Unreal’ was this unexpected punch of brutality for the Italian death metal scene in 1993 and though it had a raw production sound the hard-thrashing style was notable for its relevance to then peaking groups like Monstrosity, Mercyless, and Sinister. The band would take a confusing turn from that point with a few obscure releases that’d attempt jazzy progressive death metal then uh… man, go look up their ‘Acid But Suckable’ EP from the late 90’s for some IDM/industrial rock garbage. The return of the band in 2012 brought everything back to a relatable level where guitarist/vocalist Mick Montaguti would focus on tightly wound semi-technical death metal with a reasonable amount of groove to push things along. ‘Metaphysincarnation’ (2014) was not a perfect album but looking back today it was very tasteful and much like Mercyless‘ return to form around that time, the riffs were still there. I am partial to the bands first record as I feel it is the ‘Breeding the Spawn’ of Italian death metal, a rough sounding classic that hasn’t been given enough appreciation, but with this third album I felt the quality was there that I could leave behind my nostalgia hat and just enjoy it. ‘Psychonolatry’ is a small change from the previous record in that it is more immediate and technical with a mostly new line-up featuring Lehmann and Neurasthenia members. You should immediately hear hits of ‘Symbolic’-era Death (“Divine Retribution”) as well as a vibe that brings to mind modern ‘brutal’ updates to groups like Deicide, Monstrosity, and Morbid Angel. I really appreciate the revival and intense update to the legacy of this Italian group and definitely think they’re doing a better job handling their modern discography than most any ancient Floridian band they’d been compared to back in the early 90’s.


Artist Pounder
Title [Type/Year] Uncivilized [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Pounder are a Los Angeles, California 80’s heavy metal project consisting of Matt Harvey (Exhumed, Gruesome, Dekapitator), Alejandro Corredor (Nausea) and recent Carcass joinee Tom Draper. For their debut full-length the guys include drummer Gus Rios (Create A Kill, Gruesome, ex-Malevolent Creation) for the session and the style hasn’t changed drastically since their ‘Faster Than Fire’ (2018) EP; I’d previously compared them to Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, and maybe Raven when things speed up and that still stands though I kinda feel like ‘Uncivilized’ is headed in a softer direction (a la Cauldron, Haunt, Sacred Leather) with this record. The goal is NWOBHM ’82 here by my own measure and that comes with some ambitious melodic vocal work that never quite lands but Harvey and crew still nail the guitar performances. ‘Uncivilized’ starts with a flop and I think that’ll kill a lot of folks first impressions, it isn’t a bad album but the lifeless performances of “Fuck Off and Die” are so unimposing that you’ll think you’re listening to a different band when “Red Hot Leather”, “The Evil One” and “The Mists of Time” play. Those three songs really ‘make’ the album along with the title track, but it just isn’t enough to really rile me up. I couldn’t drag myself in for a full review because I’d have ended up talking shit about the ballads that soak up about half of the length of Pounder‘s debut; It all fits into their gig but I don’t really sit through 80’s style ballads anymore. I feel like it’d be too easy to write off this debut as kinda weak but these guys have done their homework and every aspect of the record resembles that early-to-mid NWOBHM wave, shit wasn’t necessarily that heavy either especially if you consider the Tygers side of things.


Artist Evulse
Title [Type/Year] Call of the Void [EP/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Released on Transylvanian Tapes and Bandcamp last year this first demo from Oakland, California old school death metal quintet Evulse sees physical release early this year through Godz ov War Productions and goddamn if it isn’t some of the heaviest Finnish death metal inspired brutality I’ve heard in a while. The line-up is impressive enough between members of Augurs, Limbs, MortuousColin Tarvin, and Swamp Witch vocalist Jimmy and these guys have cranked out a very professional and serious-assed demo with ‘Call of the Void’. It isn’t as thrashed out as (early) Crematory nor it is as doomed as Purtenance but if you beat those two sounds into a mush and replaced the burped vocals of Adramelech‘s ‘Spring of Recovery’ with it… Hmm, that’d be Convulse‘s debut but, anyhow ‘Call of the Void’ is a righteous stab at that dark, infested Finn-leaning Scandinavian sound. The lead guitar work really sets this one off into an authentic direction that caught my ear immediately but those deep friggin’ Demilichian grooves are where things get hairy in a good way, reminds me of early Nerlich demos but way filthier.


Artist Gatekeeper
Title [Type/Year] Grey Maiden [EP/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

In pairing his talents with Matt Ries in heavy/speed metal band Traveler and Jeff Black in epic heavy metal project Gatekeeper Jean-Pierre Abboud has smartly placed himself within two of the most promising and professional heavy metal acts in recent memory. Each act becomes more ambitious as they approach each release as a sort of ‘next level’ performance and ‘East of Sun’ (2018) seems almost too daunting a mountain to overtake as it was one of the finest epic heavy metal releases of the last year. Expanding his performative and tonal range Abboud is equally impressive on this EP, though the full listen feels more like a novel placeholder rather than an expansion of the projects debut. The title track and “Tale of Twins” are up to par in that sense and feel a bit like B-sides or extras from the ‘East of Sun’ songwriting sessions so the points of interest here come with “Moss” which has a nice early 80’s Virgin Steele feeling of excess and a cover of Tredegar‘s “Richard III”. Trede-who? A traditional heavy metal band that formed between ex-Budgie members who’d played on most of their 70’s records and the self-titled album would feature Cloven Hoof‘s vocalist for their late 80’s fare ‘Dominator’ and ‘A Sultan’s Ransom’. It is a deep cut and doesn’t necessarily receive a full on reworking but they’ve added enough dramatic flair to the faithful rendition that it feels like a Gatekeeper song. If anything this cover had me wanting some of that swagger to make its way into the bands usual seriousness beyond the cover. A fine EP that has me just about ready for more from this band.


Artist Crematory Stench
Title [Type/Year] Grotesque Deformities [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Costa Mesa, California death metallers Crematory Stench have been stomping the dried bones of early Asphyx, Death and the Morgoth in between to dust since 2014. With their self-titled 2016 EP landing on the venerable FDA Records to some modest acclaim they’ve since expanded with the addition of guitarist Jake Himelfarb (Calcemia) who has also joined the fine gentlemen in Zealotry. These guys aren’t all that interested in precision emulation, though, and their second EP isn’t some ultra-polished mutant like Skeletal Remains or Gruesome and man is it nice to get some real filthy, painful grime on my speakers firing up ‘Grotesque Deformities’. Some of this comes thanks to the sensibilities of the blurring force of The Haunting Presence (of The Haunting Presence) providing his messy spin on their otherwise throwback 80’s death metal sound. I’d say go find the ‘Crust the Cenotaph’ demo (the ’89 Theo Loomans version) from Asphyx and then ‘Mutilating Process’ to get a clear idea where this EP is coming from. There is more to it than a pre-‘The Rack’ sort of sound but that reference really hit hard for me as a big fan of that time and place for death metal. Just about nobody does this sound better at the moment. I’d say “Hypothermic Expiry” is the best cut here for preview.


Artist Chainbreaker
Title [Type/Year] Lethal Desire [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Because I hadn’t set aside time for Chainbreaker I found the reviews and mentions of it across the internet a bit lazy once I’d actually sat down and given it a few serious listens. Even if taken at pure face value ‘Lethal Desire’ is anything but your standard Toronto speed metal album and I figure a lot of the folks who’d reviewed it were too hung up on the previous work of Chainbreaker‘s line-up, which features Cauldron, Rammer, Vanik and Toxic Holocaust members/ex-members. They’re not phoning this one in despite how unimpressive “Atomica” is as an introduction and the push right into the d-beaten death charge of “Born Loud” finds these guys standing out immediately. This sort of song is where Chainbreaker are at their best, pushing that raw, deadly guitar tone as heavy as possible (see: “Post Mortem Dreams”, “Constant Graving”) within an otherwise Razor-meets-Midnight approach to speed metal (pre-’86 Running Wild?). If these guys cranked that guitar tone up to full on Boss HM-2 levels they might turn more heads, just a thought. I really picked up on the Hallow’s Eve vibe of “Methalina” as they sorta put a cock-rockin’ mid-80’s Lääz Rockit spin on things. Say what you will about reinventing the wheel, I mean who gives a shit if the album is a solid spin, but everything Chainbreaker does on ‘Lethal Desire’ makes oldies like Venom (and Inc.) look like fuckin’ dorks anymore side by side.


Artist Pernicion
Title [Type/Year] Seek What They Sought [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Musician Anil Carrier has long been an impressive force beyond his gigs drumming for fantastic bands like Binah and Anaal Nathrakh in the sense that he has many death metal records under his belt that’ve been fully performed (guitar, bass, drums) by his own hand. Adding to his list of projects featuring different vocalists (No More Room in Hell, The Solemn Curse, Throes) Pernicion is equally experimental with modern forms of composition. Carrier is a technical drummer (always tightly consistent with rudiments) who has opted for increasingly ‘organic’ feeling forms within the last several years and while Binah‘s ‘Phobiate’ was a new high in 2018 this self-directed project Pernicion brings something adventurously dark that eases into dissonant and Immolation-esque pulses. Former Kataleptic vocalist Dan Benton brings a brutal depth to the experience, a bit more nail-coughing than his previous band that really suits the style of Pernicion well. I get hints of Disma, Krypts, and even Swallowed as the EP kicks off but things become increasingly complex, brutal, and it all reminds me of underrated Swedes Insision but from a more serious angle such as Auroch‘s ‘Taman Shud’. As others have said, there is both old and new melding within Pernicion‘s sound and it is all the more appealing for this act of subtle fusion. Definitely check out “Tome” if you are up for previewing this one, great build up towards the end.


Artist Frenzy
Title [Type/Year] Blind Justice [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although I love the Spanish traditional heavy metal scene past and present there is no way you’re gonna get me to jump into a comic book themed anything, much less something with a Daredevil theme. I’ve owned three graphic novels despite more or less growing up in hobby shops and still being a fuckin’ nerd, so I don’t really care about the subject matter on ‘Blind Justice’ as much as I admire this bands total embrace of their passions. Combining their love of comics (From Hell, Daredevil, The Killing Joke, X-Men, etc. are covered here) and traditional heavy metal (Racer-X, Loudness, Dokken, are cited) Frenzy are exuberance personified in their tribute to those passions and there is no denying it makes for good late 80’s/early 90’s influenced heavy metal music. The guitar work here is clearly built upon a love for Scorpions but also has this early 90’s Vicious Rumors feeling to it that will probably appeal more to the hard rock crowd than the power metal fan. That ‘Blind Justice’ stays in that Loudness ‘Soldier of Fortune’ bubble so easily is impressive but I should note that the guitar work never really reaches the shred level of Racer-X or Dokken that’d been suggested and that is what kept me from really sticking with Frenzy‘s debut or more listens.


Artist Putrid Coffin
Title [Type/Year] Under the Cemetery [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Chilean death/thrashers Putrid Coffin get a second chance with this official CD release of their originally self-released 2016 album ‘Under the Cemetery’. I don’t think they’ve touched the sound of the original, which should make Sadism, Massacra, Mortem, and early Thanatos fans very happy. Australis have added some touches to the cover art and finally someone fixed it so cemetery is spelled correctly. It is a fine thrash influenced death metal record that I’d say a great many people missed outside of Chile and secular death/thrash communities have not heard. This one is sorely overlooked so I can’t recommend it enough.

Did I miss your favorite 2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. 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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