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 constraint 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 albums releasing this week [December 1st-6th]. Consider it my way of making sure I cover as many late year releases before 2019 ends. 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 focus was curated for the sake of not ignoring December releases in favor of ‘list season’. 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.
|Title [Type/Year]||MMXIX [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Egregor Records|
Multi-talented musician Sébastien Besson (Ominous Shrine, Dysylum) is onto something special here with this dissonant, psychedelic black/death metal project Abyssal Vacuum. This third EP more or less continues the thread of prior releases but appears to double down on the leads, occasionally outclassing that latest Blut Aus Nord release in some respects. That said, the entirety of ‘MMXIX’ relies on those watery psychedelic leads quite a bit and this ends up blending the three pieces into three acts of similar nature. The tension of ever-skyward reaching leads and buzzing black and death metal bursts is exciting though I’d be more engaged if these songs weren’t plotted as if they were post-rock/post-black compositions. It isn’t a huge gripe, though. I hear great potential in this work so far.
|Title [Type/Year]||Neuro Siege [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Brilliant Emperor Records|
Australian deathgrinders Mental Cavity pick up where they left off on 2017’s brick-heavy ‘Aneurysm’ with their second full-length ‘Neuro Siege’. Death crust, sludgy 2000’s Napalm Death bursts, raw late 90’s Relapse grind, Tragedy-esque neo-crusted hardcore all feature as part of the whole genetic makeup of these Canberra natives. They’ve done a great job of mixing things up track-by-track that kept me guessing early on as one song might be atmospheric grind weirdness and the next some tough guy 90’s metalcore sounding chugfest (“Artificial Integration”) or an early Crowbar-esque ripper (“Dismantled”). Full of life, angry as all hell and I’d say a pretty good place to coalesce if you’ve a wide range of 90’s and 2000’s punk, metal, and hardcore interests. I fell off of this record after a few weeks and didn’t end up drafting a full review for it because I’d felt it didn’t really bring all of those disparate parts together for a remarkable moment that might’ve further defined their sound.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Collector of Truths [LP/2019]|
|Rating [2.75/5.0]||BUY from Concreto Records|
Cirrhosis would originally form in the early 90’s but it’d be 1999 before this Mexico based progressive melodic death metal band would release their full-length debut ‘Reciclando Desesperación’. Two full decades later they’ve changed their name to CRS and definitely moved in an even more progressive direction with their melodic death metal influenced sound. ‘The Collector of Truths’ is definitely not my kind of thing as it combines elements of groove metal and shred guitar that brings very little in the way of riffs. This all comes for the sake of a progressive rock/groove metal focused sound and a generally ‘easy-listening’ kind of flow. It leaves me unable to find any memorable guiding melodies or death metal traits beyond somewhat harsh vocals. Even if the album doesn’t thrill me personally there is a great big market for this sort of prog-metal, specifically in terms of YouTube‘s shred guitar ecosystem.
|Title [Type/Year]||Absurdum ad Nauseam [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY on Bandcamp!|
A dose of Ethereal Riffian and a bit of 2000’s Cathedral make up the general genetic code that defines British stoner metal/psychedelic rock hybridized trio Cybernetic Witch Cult on this their third full-length. Staunchly DIY and doubly worthy for developing their own niche the real success story to be found on any of their releases is a sense of groove vital to the combination of styles they’re sporting. There are some dips into big-stinkin’ stoner/doom grooves as often Cybernetic Witch Cult seem to prefer their more quiet and stoney moments and the juxtaposition is a key dynamic for the band at this point. 53 minutes is a bit too long to hold my attention and I’d found most of the songs similar enough that the length of ‘Absurdum ad Nauseam’ isn’t justified. Outside of wanting a lot more variation in the vocal style I’ve no major issue with the album; The whole project could benefit from honing in on their strengths with more succinct songwriting and greater melodic variance along the way. It is a good time with plenty of big and easy-going grooves nonetheless.
|Title [Type/Year]||Morbid Cult [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Saturnal Records|
Turkish blackened death/thrashers Hellsodomy might sound a bit scary to the average listener and don’t worry, what you’re hearing is what we used to call “riffs” back in the day. In fact this sophomore full-length from the band, ‘Morbid Cult’, expresses like a chunking late 80’s death/thrash metal record despite a somewhat muted production sound. Beyond the copious riffs, the ‘old school’ thrash punchiness of the guitars and an overall cleaner production compared to their debut ‘Chaostorm’ (2016) it is worth noting how quickly this band has grown without losing their core pure thrash metal feeling along the way. They don’t go full-blast with any of it and some of the compositions become painfully simplistic after many repeat listens but the whole of ‘Morbid Cult’ is a solid listen. You’d think members of bands like Sarinvomit, Nihil Kaos, and Engulfed would be blasting through these songs recklessly but they’ve managed some impressive restraint in focusing on their own uniquely caveman black/death/thrash sound thus far. Definitely pick this up if you’re a fan of Slutvomit and Perversor.
|Title [Type/Year]||Diabolical Flames of the Ascended Plague [Split/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY from Helter Skelter Productions|
Texas death metal veterans Imprecation are a decade deep into their reunion and each release has thus far set a very high standard for their newer, ever increasing brutality. This isn’t as calculated as some of their more recent work as it contains an excellent re-recording of a song written in the early 90’s as well as two new originals and an outro. The recording is somewhat raw but only felt like a demo during certain parts of “Swine Full of Maggots”. “A World Consumed by Fire” is just incredible as an opener and probably my favorite song here overall. None of it outdoes the genius of their record from earlier this year but I was glad to have this all the same. As for Black Blood Invocation, they’re a war metal band that leans towards death metal in general, think of Teitanblood, or even Abysmal Lord. Their riffs aren’t the killing kind and the bass guitar is kinda cranked, but this was a good introduction to what they’re all about. Huge bias towards Imprecation on this split, make sure you didn’t miss their ‘Damnatio ad Bestias’ album earlier this year.
|Title [Type/Year]||Verslonden [LP/2019]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||BUY from Iron Bonehead Productions|
Netherlands Old school black metal group Hellehond sticks to the gigantic grooves and rock beats of the first wave forefathers, filling them with an infinitely expanding nebular guitar tone in service of mid-to-slow paced raw nihilistic black metal. The slightly out of tune and overblown HM-2 (or nearby) distortion doesn’t work when “Rattenmantel” and “Onbegraafbaar” are set next to each other, they’re too similar and this kills some of the early momentum that ‘Verslonden’ builds. I understand that looseness is meant to recall the old classics all the way back to 1984. The whole thing is an unexpectedly groove-ridden trip, a punkish first wave sound taken to a nuclear level of heavy, and it sure as hell stood out as I was digging through December’s black metal best. ‘Verslonden’ feels scornful, dangerous and I’d say ‘unhinged’ but Hellehond are a controlled beast, calculated but foaming at the mouth and on the verge of hitting their instruments so hard that they’ll go out of tune. Definitely one of those records that I wasn’t sure about at first but I’d gone right back to it the next day just to hear it again.
|Title [Type/Year]||L’héritage du monde [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Sepulchral Productions|
Trépas is a relatively new side-project between members of black/death act Morgue, death metal heroes Outre-Tombe, and a member of thrashers Survival Instinct. You might not expect that these talented folks who highlight the Québec extreme metal scene would conjure such a sorrowful blend of atmospheric black metal and melodic death/doom metal. ‘L’héritage du monde’ lands somewhere between Forteresse and early Forgotten Tomb. It’ll really sink in as the slow and morose atmoblack sojourner “L’Aube” plays. The songwriting isn’t massively original or anything ‘new’ but this never hinders the listening experience, a constant forward flowing semi-melodic push really helps keep things from becoming sappy or overtly brooding. Biggest highlight for me was the melodic break in the midst of “Charognes”. Definitely a band to watch and a fine demo that’ll surely take fans of this style by surprise.
|Title [Type/Year]||Murder Van [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from Murder Van|
Atlanta, Georgia brutal thrash metal trio Murder Van take their first plunge into full-length territory with a stripped down, self-titled, self-released LP here at the end of 2019. ‘Murder Van’ is totally in the right gear for the first couple of songs with their garage-punked death noise and that’ll remind folks of bands like Recipients of Death, Abomination, or Dead Horse, that deathly crossover influenced void of the late 80’s when a lot young bands weren’t sure where to go next between the hardcore punk crowds or the death metal doldrums. Then “Death Rider” hits and sucks the air out of the room, focusing on a couple of bland half-speed melodic death riffs re-appropriated by way of modern crossover groups like Municipal Waste… It just reeks of new school throwaway songwriting. Its crazy to get like, Rigor Mortis vibes from a band that would feature a turd riff like that at the heart of the listen right when I’m geared up for it. They pick it back up pretty quickly, “Dead Hookers” is a step back in the right direction with a memorable chorus. I’m all in on the sound and most of the classic aesthetic sensibilities of Murder Van but their compositions are only 75% of the way there in terms of meeting that unique garage thrashed with equally compelling songwriting. Definitely check this out if you’re into the frayed edges of classic thrash ah via Blood Feast and early Paul Speckmann bands. DIY band so you’ll have to hit them up directly for a copy as far as I know.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Seas of Draugen [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Iron Bonehead Productions|
At this point I’m still eyeballing Portland, Oregon black/death musician Vardlokker (Kevin Yearout) and his inspirationally prolific first year of official releases between Nexwomb, Sangre de la Luna, and his main solo project Witchbones. The second full-length from the project this year, ‘The Seas of Draugen’ is plain iteration of his buzzing Demoncy meets Triumvir Foul style of blackened death music that we’d gotten on ‘We Haunt Ourselves’. I like this a bit more than the debut, which was extremely limited at 25 copies through Bloodmoon Productions, and it feels quite a bit like a sequel to that first album in terms of the music. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes this projects sound in the future, I think if he worked away from the war/black metal angle towards full-bore atmospheric death/doom metal there’ll be some gold to mine from that claustrophobic horror he’d so often create. Stick around for the whole album because the last two songs are incredible.
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 consider a small donation to help keep me in front of the computer writing about music. Thanks.
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