Ten From the Tomb 5/20/19: To grow as hungry for light as for food.

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 (prog, tech, black, viking, grind)-death metal albums from early-to-mid 2019. Consider it a glimpse into just a few of the evolved permutations of style that fall under the huge umbrella of death metal. 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 second week is Death Metal hybrids or stylized forms of it.  Next week will be focusing on stoner rock/stoner metal variations. 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.


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Artist Defecal of Gerbe
Title [Type/Year] Mothershit [Full-length/2019]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Montargis, France based Defecal of Gerbe bring an old school grindcore touch to their jocular and over the top brutal deathgrind sound on this debut. You can tell they’re influenced by the nuttiest of fudge grind like Cock and Ball Torture and Torsofuck but they have a hardcore/grindcore side that breaks up the pig squealing crunch of it all. ‘Mothershit’ is about as serious as you’d expect it to be and their sound is as abrasive as possible, I dunno if most folks will get through the full listen unless you’re a big fan of stuff like Regurgitate or Gore Beyond Necropsy, slamming and ugly deathgrind that still has a bit of hardcore punk fun along the way. The sort of band that’d open for those early days Relapse grindcore bands.


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Artist Humanity Delete
Title [Type/Year] Werewolves in the Iron Sky [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

With just about twenty active projects releasing about one album every year or two Rogga Johansson more or less begins to define generic as he stretches thin the tropes of death metal, deathgrind, and what I’d consider semi-melodic death metal. As dickish as that’ll sound I will say that it is impressive the amount of work he puts into all of these projects in terms of composing, coordinating collaborations, and differentiating them between several labels. Also, of those 20+ projects Revolting, Putrevore, Paganizer, and his self-titled solo project are above average projects with some staying power. Where I fall off the Rogga boat is when he pushes for the deathgrind sound and ends up sounding like Lock-Up‘s kid brother. That’d been the case with most of Humanity Delete‘s discography but with Down Among the Dead Men and Those Who Bring the Torture already going for that style on two albums last year this solo project from Johansson leans towards no frills mid-paced death metal. ‘Werewolves in the Iron Sky’ reads like a bad 90’s graphic novel where the Werwolf of the SS were actually turned into werewolves and I guess run amok on the battlefield… Uh, hey anyhow a few of these songs are good. “Prototype Metal Claw” is a banger mid-paced death track with some strong Swedish death flair and, well honestly nothing else stood out.


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Artist Norsemen
Title [Type/Year] Bloodlust [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp! | Time to Kill Records

Viking themed Italian death metal band Norsemen might look a bit like an Amon Amarth clone at face value but their sound is heavily influenced by popular black metal as well with hints of modern day Immortal adding a bit of value. Relatively mid-paced and moderately accessible there isn’t a lot that makes ‘Bloodlust’ stand out beyond the smart mix of sub-genre influences they’ve come with. It is however, better than anything Amon Amarth has released in at least a decade.


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Artist Marianas Rest
Title [Type/Year] Ruins [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Spotify!

Marianas Rest are a modern melodic death/doom metal band that features Omnium Gatherum keyboardist Aapo Koivisto, as well as some of that same post-rock influenced guitar technique applied to melodic death metal. ‘Ruins’ is their second full-length and because they’ve opted for a deeper melancholic sound that is largely driven by atmospheric moments it’ll take a bit of patience if you’re looking for ‘riffs’ or big death metal moments. I’d compare it to October Tide circa 2010 or Swallow the Sun before they’d begun to depend on clean vocals for expression. I’m not sure if the appeal is that it is so typical or if that should be the main detractor for ‘Ruins’ but I didn’t personally connect with it nor was I repulsed by it. A decent and professional album that appears sincere if not typical.


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

Chicago, Illinois based technical death metal band Wounds have been at it since 2006 albeit under the name Wounds of Ruin until 2012. I’m one of those idiots who felt like tech-death peaked in creativity somewhere between early Psycroptic and Spawn of Possession so, the style of ‘Light Eater’ is pretty thrilling for how brutal and no-nonsense it is. Maybe I’m nostalgic for that pre-2005 brutal/tech explosion but Wounds hit that spot between complexity and actual heaviness here that shows that big ass groove lineage has a place in 2019. I dunno if they’re up to a mind-blowing standard here but I appreciate tech-death that brings riffs and anything to grab onto beyond fiddly bullshit. If they cranked the production sound up to like ‘Nihility’ levels of ridiculous I think a lot of folks would flip their shit for this style.


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

Blasphemous blackened death metal band Appalling hail from Richmond, Virginia and come bearing the raw spirit of early Angelcorpse in their attack. ‘Inverted Realm’ is often a high-speed conqueror that leads with a death metal kick but there are as many moments where they show some meaningful personality through inspired black metal moments that allow for changes of pace and key that read a bit like early Abominant. There was this sense that I was listening to a ’96 era death metal band covering Celtic Frost songs at times, a bit like Soulburn, when Appalling would slow down and those slower moments more or less kept me engaged as I listened.


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Artist Chalice of Suffering
Title [Type/Year] Lost Eternally [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The second album from Minneapolis, Minnesota based atmospheric funeral doom metal band Chalice of Suffering is a bit more laid back than its 2016 predecessor. Think of the bare and spacious ‘From the Shadows’ by Unholy and then apply a coat of Shape of Despair and limit the riffs to subtle atmospheric movements. I’m all for this type of funeral death/doom though I found some of the tracks would start with quick fades in and it always felt like I’d accidentally skipped a track or scrubbed ahead on music player. A few of the songs end quite abruptly (“Emancipation of Pain”) and this took me out of the mood consistently. With Transcending Obscurity putting out a few big funereal/extreme doom metal albums (Eremit, Illimitable Dolor) already this year ‘Lost Eternally’ doesn’t hold up to that same standard. The vocalist has a fantastic range and impressively deep register but I couldn’t help but feel like the guitar/keyboard work just wasn’t up to par this time around.


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Artist A Novelist
Title [Type/Year] Folie [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hmm, a progressive metal album with intermittent death metal vocals (well, Revocation-esque…) that’d been championed earlier in the year by a lot of mid-tier online sites as it released. A Novelist sound a bit like a non-djentified math metal band if they’d been listening to Scandinavian progressive metal. To suggest that ‘Folie’ is a progressive death metal album I’d have to buy into the aspects of death metal that define it and there are surprisingly few of those elements to soak in beyond harsh vocals. This’ll appeal to the folks who invest heavily in progressive metal, those who’d prefer the concerts they attend to have assigned seating. Its a bit like Ne Obliviscaris and The Black Dahlia Murder finding some common ground in appreciation of, Porcupine Tree? The leads often create a melodic overlay that has a normalizing, musical effect that doesn’t seem performative as much as it resembles emotive rock music on some level. I found that A Novelist were highly listenable but that their need to be so many things at once blurred the focus of the album.


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

It took a village of folks to put together this massive reconstruction of old and new progressive-technical death metal compositions from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania collective Equipoise. ‘Demiurgus’ is incredible just for the fact that it sounds like there are seven (or more) musicians performing at once throughout its 68+ minute length. If you want to win me over on a prog-death experience (or just in general) give me a damned fretless bass every time. Hugo Doyon-Karout‘s bass growls and plucks its brains out across the length of ‘Demiurgus’ and you’d probably recognize his sound if you were a fan of Beyond Creation‘s ‘Algorythm’ from last year. He isn’t the only recognizable face in the seven piece line-up, though as Phil Tougas (Chthe’ilist, Cosmic Atrophy, D.D.T., Eternity’s End, First Fragment, Funebrarum, Serocs), Chason Westmoreland (Evade the Swarm, ex-Abigail Williams, ex-Hate Eternal, ex-The Faceless), Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Eynomia, NYN, The Fractured Dimension), and Steve Boisier (Ashen Horde, Dissonance in Design, Inferi, Tethys) all round out the experience with high falutin exuberance in bringing to life the vision of guitarist Nick Padovani (Kossuth, Virulent Depravity). Those compositions read somewhere in between the mania of Serocs and the ecstatic movements of Necrophagist but without such a limited scope of mood and modes. I’m not enough of a guitarist to really pick through an album like this and really add anything meaningful to the conversation but I did appreciate the variety of moods, the singular tension that most of the tracks achieve, and the flamenco/classical guitar moments that provide a sort of fusion feeling without becoming oddball cheese.


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Artist Stellar Master Elite
Title [Type/Year] Hologram Temple [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Argue with this one as much as Necromutilator if you like but, what I’ve heard within several deep listens to ‘Hologram Temple’, the fourth full-length from German band Stellar Master Elite is forward-thinking and highly stylized blackened death/doom metal. Their focus has been split between their black metal project Der Rote Milan since about 2015 and as such I think each band loses a bit of ‘edge’ while also resembling modern black metal more with each release. The music is luminous, heavy, and aggressive blackened death that dips into slower ‘doom’ sections that are quite powerful at times. Though I do think ‘Hologram Temple’ is too polished the themes within are compelling enough to enhance the atmosphere of the piece which deals with the illusory reality of mankind as technology begins to fully remove us from the physical world and place us indoors, staring at screens. They reference Philip K. Dick in the presser and it fits beautifully with the violent, bleak and subversive mood of the album. Again, not a death metal release by any real definition but a hybrid that evokes it and fits into the variety intended on this list.


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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