Ten From the Tomb 5/13/19: Old bones draped in new flesh.

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 albums from early-to-mid 2019. Consider it a glimpse into the most intentional and serious pits of the underground where pain is not celebrated, but pushed through the flesh into violent and bloody art. 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 look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks picks come directly from a poll that PATREON patrons can vote in every two weeks. This time around Ten From the Tomb will be chosen by Patrons two weeks in a row where this first week is Death Metal, and next week will be more stylized permutations (tech-prog, black/death, and other hybrids etc.) Thank you! 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 Hedonihil
Title [Type/Year] I [Full-length/2019]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Spotify!

Hedonihil is a side-project from Juuso Raatikainen who is best known as a drummer for popular melodic death/doom metal band Swallow the Sun since their modern opus ‘Songs from the North I, II & III’. This debut, ‘I’, also features fellow Swallow the Sun members vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Kuolemanlaakso, Verivala, ex-Barren Earth, ex-Alghazanth), and guitarist Juho Räihä (Gloria Morti, Riverside Syndicate) yet it isn’t necessarily performed in a style you’d predict. Hedonihil play an abrupt and violent form of blackened death metal that is self-described as anti-poetic and this sets exactly the right tone for the abrupt and snarling-black sound they’ve managed. ‘I’ isn’t brutish so much as it appears to intend evil combining 90’s black metal guitar phrasing and vocals with the driving force an ambiguous death metal force. The intent is so blackened and focused on nihilism that it might seem absurd starting off a death metal list with Hedonihil but consider bands like Grotesque, Necrowretch, and perhaps Degial for some reference and you’ll understand where it is coming from. Think of it as if the first Necrophobic album were played by a war metal band.


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

As a fan of Northless‘ ‘World Keeps Sinking’ it came as some surprise that founder Erik Stenglein had some major interest in death metal as his tech-death group Ara released the impressive Anata-esque ‘Devourer of Worlds’ in 2014. Here in 2019 we’re presented with ‘Anticosmia’, the debut full-length from his solo death metal project Syrictus. I was sent a set of 1-2 minute track previews for the full album and passed on reviewing it because I didn’t realize they were clips and not full songs. Unfortunately an inconvenience is damning when I have 700 albums to get to at the midpoint of the year. Since it has been up in full on streaming for a while, I decided to jump back on it more recently and really appreciated its ambition and style. There is a nice balance of old and new schools of death metal here but most of the influences seem to come from pre-2005 death metal before high-visibility tech/prog-death had gotten too cartoonish. It is brutal, chunky, and this early Mithras-meets-2000’s Napalm Death feeling to it that I really got into. Stenglein has a real talent for brutal grooves and just working that pocket of brutality. The album is a bit long and shows some rough edges in terms of production but still way above average all the same.


Artist Hypoxia
Title [Type/Year] Abhorrent Disease [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Though they’d gone through several formative line-up chances in their first severalyears by 2015 brutal death metal band Hypoxia would finalize their line-up with the key addition of vocalist Mike Hrubovcak (Monstrosity, Divine Rapture, Vile). His vocal style definitely lends itself to their style, which feeds heavily from the corpses of early-to-mid 2000’s death metal territory where so many North American bands would crank the speed to keep up with popular South American and Polish movements but not lose that core ‘old school’ aspect of their sound. ‘Abhorrent Disease’ sounds like it’d have shot for a label like Unique Leader back in 2002 but ended up on Olympic Recordings instead, consider that a compliment in general I suppose. I enjoyed the record but it really just flew in one ear and out the other with each listen.


Artist Ad Patres
Title [Type/Year] A Brief Introduction to Human Experiments [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Bordeaux, France heavy-hitters Ad Patres return after a long absence with a brutal and demented second full-length that will conjure that golden post-millennium age of brutality and excess most clearly for old fans. ‘A Brief Introduction to Human Experiments’ recalled old Sinister and Iniquity for me most often but primarily that heavily Suffocation influenced age of death metal. This one is probably the most genuine article when fitting this list’s theme of ‘new old school brutality’ and primarily because of the guitar work. The drumming from Alsvid (Seth, ex-Asgard, ex-Enthroned) impresses throughout and it was cool to that he was in a death metal band since I’d always felt ‘To a Golden Age’ was very underrated for mid-90’s death metal. Not the most varied album but I found the guitar-focused sound of the album satisfying.


Artist Archaic Tomb / Cryptworm
Title [Type/Year] Persecution Paraphrenalia / Putrefactive Regurgitation [Split 7″/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Here we have a quick look at two of the more interesting atmospheric death metal bands in the process of bubbling up from the underground. Archaic Tomb are from Portugal and their style verges on cavern-core at times with a thickly layered guitar sound and spacious death/doom-esque feeling. Cryptworm are from Bristol, England and their style is maybe more in the vein of Undergang but also a hit of Mortician on the side with a deep vocal and rotten pus-chugging guitar tone. Two very different bands with similarly heavy and atmospheric approaches to underground death metal. Archaic Tomb steals the show but I probably went back and listened to the Cryptworm track a few extra times overall.


Artist Grimoire de Occulte
Title [Type/Year] Wisdom of the Dead [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

What began as an experimental drone/doom project just under a decade ago would soon become an occult death/doom metal band and on the last day of 2018 German ritualists Grimoire de Occulte quietly released their debut ‘Wisdom of the Dead’. I’ve been wanting to review and champion this release for a while but wasn’t exactly sure how to approach it. What is clear is that the band take influence from ancient underground death/doom beginnings for their style and this debut expresses as if void of soul, a bit like an early Hellenic black metal without the drum machine. ‘Wisdom of the Dead’ moves at the pace of the spiritual sublimity of Necros Christos but the drugged sway of pre-split Runemagick as well. This record comes very highly recommended, especially if you’re missing those yearly Heavydeath records we were getting for a while. I hope this band keeps it up because this is easily one of the finest death/doom records I’d missed the chance to cover last year.


Artist Bloodphemy
Title [Type/Year] In Cold Blood [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Bloodphemy is a Utrecht, Netherlands based death metal project formed among folks who’ve largely been active in local death metal circles since the early 90’s including Pleurisy and some peripheral offshoots like Bodyfarm and KhaoZ. Their second full-length ‘In Cold Blood’ isn’t so straightforward though, as it is both brutally heavy and accessible thanks to phenomenal guitarist Winfred Koster who seems to pull influences from all over heavy music for his riffs. This’ll all seem very standard at first but by the time you hit “A Barbarous Murder” you’ll concede that this isn’t such an average modern death metal album. Do I think all of it is genius stuff? No, there is a healthy amount of groove metal riffs here and several of them are detestable (“Out of the Box”) but at the very least you’re getting something that isn’t just a Decapitated clone. Worth flipping through to see if anything sticks for sure.


Artist Accursed Spawn
Title [Type/Year] The Virulent Host [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Ontario, Canada based semi-technical, semi-brutal, kinda-thrashing and very normal modern death metal band Accursed Spawn appear at a healthy weight as they’re birthed into the full-length world with their debut ‘The Virulent Host’. There is something frustratingly non-specific about the bands approach that feels cautious of a deeper point of view, excepting some of the stronger political lyrics within but I’m speaking more in terms of style. On the plus side there is a bit of everything in the stew of ‘The Virulent Host’ and yet they don’t run in any one direction long enough to develop a deeper connection. The production sound does lean towards a technical/semi-melodic sound but Accursed Spawn more often than go for a big groove rather than any sort of arpeggiated prowess. If you like that non-specific stylistic stasis I think there is a lot to like here, it often has this sort of ‘Heartwork’-but-brutal kind of feeling (see: the title track) that’ll typically fly off the handle towards 2000’s groove metal influenced moments. I’m not saying we’re getting ‘Lamb of God but death metal’ here but I think that sort of fan is where this style is best presented. Excellent bass guitar tone and presence, also.


Artist Death Agony
Title [Type/Year] Desiderata (A Devastation Revelation) [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Want to scare me off from your death metal album forever? Put a picture of a child on the front (see: Phlebotomized), or the sound of giggling children in the intro. I was so not interested in any of that imagery that I put off listening to Death Agony for a long while. My first reaction was honest but, of course a bit unfair because the lyrical themes here focus heavily on the scars of the past, a life brutalized by trauma, and seemingly endless pain surrounding death. Great, but that album cover still doesn’t belong on my shelf! Death Agony are a fine band with a very clean sound and a style that is somewhere between Vader and Bolt Thrower (so… Sinister?) with plenty of fast-paced thrashing and circularly grinding moments. Some interplay between rasped vocals and standard death growls take the style of the album away from the 90’s and more the mid-2000’s but they do a good job of introducing enough variety that it doesn’t all read as generic. The album is fine work but at 53 minutes I felt like I was getting all of Death Agony‘s ideas and not just the very best ones. A solid record all the same and with fine guitar work throughout.


Artist Excruciation
Title [Type/Year] [E]Met [Compilation/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Swiss extreme metal band Excruciation are a sort of lost-and-found side story for the inventive metal scene of the Zurich area in the 80’s and early 90’s as they brought a mixture of thrash metal, doom metal and death metal to their sound that was perhaps unlike that of Celtic Frost and Messiah, something that never stopped being a bit weird. I’m most familiar with their work leading up to their split in 1991 but they did reform in 2005 and have released four full-lengths along with several splits and EPs since. This compilation collects and remasters some of their finer unreleased (or vinyl only) material since 2005 including covers of Kiss, Mercyful Fate and The Undisputed Truth. This won’t be the best introduction to the band if you’re not familiar with them simply because the arrangement of the tracks doesn’t take into account their style and having these groove, gothic doom, death metal songs next to rock covers all begins to sound like several different bands. There is no other band that sounds like these guys, for better or worse!

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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