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 month [December 14th-31st]. 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]||The Nobility of Pain [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Growing Horns|
Belgium based sludge metal quartet Growing Horns give no quarter while presenting themselves on this plainly presented moshable debut EP. ‘The Nobility of Pain’ explains itself as a mix a mix of hardcorish bursts and heavily downtuned doom riffs that’ll recall Crowbar circa ’95 while hissing n’ spitting up a stoner groove a la the Burning Witch and Goatsnake era of goat-worshiping gloom in the late 90’s. The band do a fine job burning through these relatively plain songs with some seriousness and the whole package is presented with some considerable professionalism but the songwriting is not particularly inspiring. High standards and a well-concieved sound set them above average but I’d felt like the sheer loudness of the production smooths over the nuances needed for effective ‘throwback’ sludge sounds and it all clunked out ‘samey’ throughout the full listen. A good choice for ‘band to watch’ if you’re interested in olden sludge grooves but open to some extreme metal and mosh influences along the way.
|Title [Type/Year]||Dwellers of Apocalypse [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.75/5.0]||BUY from Xtreem Music|
Daemoniac formed as Horrid (Italy) bassist/vocalist Max appeared to have some creative differences with his long-running Swedish death metal worshiping band as they incorporated more primitive black metal elements. As a longtime fan of Swedish death metal and all of the incredible things that the Sunlight Studios sound myself I totally understand what Horrid were doing since the early 90’s and what Daemoniac are doing today and it goes far beyond using an HM-2 effect to churn nostalgia. Now a duo after several line-up shifts, the well established chemistry between these two ex-Horrid bandmates creates the intended atmosphere as they’re invoking a love for the twisted side of Stockholm death metal in the 90’s while cranking their guitar tone to the point of destruction. There are some thrashier Interment style moments, a few riffs that’d fit well on a Revel in Flesh album, and a nice mid-range conscious mix avoids blowing out my speakers with bass as many modern Swedeath albums in the while often do. All of this is pretty average, a good punch of old death metal we’ve all heard but some great excitement comes when “Human Relic” from Gorement hits in the middle of the album and actually features Patrik Fernlund on guitars for this track; ‘The Ending Quest’ is one of my all time favorite albums so, this cover was a great surprise. I’m wouldn’t say the riffs kill on ‘Dwellers of Apocalypse’ front-to-back but Side B is where most of the killer material is, the first half of the record didn’t pull me in at all. “The Last Call” is the most brutal hit on the full listen and it should have been the opener.
|Title [Type/Year]||Lone [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Transcending Obscurity Records|
Oak are an atmospheric death/doom metal side-project between two members of Portuguese black metal band Gaerea that explores post-metal textures and some of the ‘prettier’ side of solemn melodic death/doom as the full album unfolds. Dusk always comes to mind with a band of this type, especially with a slight naturalist bend to the imagery and themes, and I’d suggest that the death metal content here is equally maudlin and not ‘riff’ focused; Not focused on brutality, at least. Everything is far too ‘clean’ on this release and the atmosphere created ends up sounding contrived as a result, the reverb applied to the clean guitar sounds very stock like a plain standard guitar plug-in on a digital setup. The result is an album that only survives on its creation of dynamic, the ‘doom’ inherent to the experience is successfully conveyed but with very plain sound design. The mood created by the lyrics and the pacing is well communicated but doesn’t feel as if it were pulled from an inspired, impassioned moment solely due to the fairly dry and breathy post-metallic production. “Abomination” highlights this issue a bit more as they increase the pace and it isn’t until “Maze” that they slide into some dissonant blackened death riffs a la their other project Gaerea that Oak appears to be a unique conception. The bigger picture of the release is an interesting concept that takes far too much time to express and the result is a set of songs that are only related by implication of the full listen. Now that we’ve seen the pretty ‘face’ of the project and gotten a glimpse of the ugly, dissonant ‘heart’ I’d come away from ‘Lone’ feeling like that ugliness was far more worth my attention.
|Title [Type/Year]||Disciples of War [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from No Remorse Records|
Dreamlord are a thrash metal band formed in the mid-90’s who’d release a long-awaited self-titled debut in 2007 and silence… for 12 years until ‘Disciples of War’ was announced, a second album years removed from anything else they’d done. Thrash fans already know what this sounds like just looking at the cover: Digital graphics created with flat render — That’d either be bad groove metal, or Bay Area worship. Actually yeah, I mean this Greek band aren’t going to surprise you with their sound as their polished and straightforward attack is about up to snuff with Testament circa 2001 when they did that weirdly polished ‘First Strike Still Deadly’ set of re-recordings. Old ways with a digital polish have never done anything for me in terms of thrash metal, but there are some redeeming characteristics here. A lot of Greek thrash is heavily influenced by heavy rock and classic heavy metal and Dreamlord is no exception, so plenty of mid-paced pieces begin to give ‘Disiciples of War’ a later Lääz Rockit or early Iced Earth kind of jog. I want thrash metal to beat the skin off my face and shotgun salt into my brains so I wasn’t all that thrilled by this very safe and moderately paced thrasher. Not a bad album at all, very cleanly presented and well performed with some really nice harmonized leads, but also not really my jam.
|Title [Type/Year]||Viper in Hand [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Translation Loss Records|
In the 90’s the rise of Snapcase and Earth Crisis had me tuned into Victory Records and trying out every band that might be off-center for the tough guy stuff that dominated the hardcore airwaves before metalcore and its melodic variant ‘took over’ in the later edges of the decade. As with the soon to be Roadrunner‘d Earth Crisis, Bloodlet were one of the more ‘metallic’ weirdos of metalcore that always appeared to be on their own path. I mean consider how many bands sounded like Strife when they started kicking around a sound that was maybe moderately comparable to Integrity. Anyhow, Bloodlet have returned after quite a long time and they’ve began their descent towards new material with this ‘toe in the ocean’ of a 7″ single. ‘Viper in Hand’ isn’t the claustrophobic bump n’ groove that the band brought on ‘Three Humid Nights in the Cypress Trees’, with its Vision of Disorder-esque freakery and instead these new songs strip back to ’95 in terms of songwriting while bring a clean and very clear presence. I still have the ‘Shell’ compilation CD and ‘Entheogen’ to compare and as a result I’d found this EP a pretty reasonable reprisal of that core appeal, though I don’t think it needs to sound so polished… The drums need that ‘off’ jazzed-up hardcore surety, and a bigger snare. Nitpicking, sure, a side effect of pinging the nostalgia center of my brain.
|Title [Type/Year]||Rotting Paradise [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Edged Circle Productions|
AngelBlast is a black/death metal project featuring Hempa Brynolfsson (Ordo Inferi, ex-Excruciate) and Gord Olson (Demisery) who’d recently collaborated together in Darkened as well. ‘Rotting Paradise’ is just the first gasp from the project, who’ve suggested a full-length is in the plans for 2020, at around 9 minutes and three songs they give a strong enough glimpse into their influences which revolve around the early Swedish death scene just as some touches of melodic death forbears were inching into that sound. It doesn’t sound like the first At the Gates record, though, aiming for something closer to a crossing of Necrophobic and early Florida death metal. It isn’t as Slayer-ized as expected considering those references but their sound is easily grasped in the short run of this EP. They’re onto something with the title track here, love the dive-bombing solos that exit into blasting black metal chaos… I thought of ‘The Nocturnal Silence’ briefly but this isn’t exactly as refined, or restrained and “Descending of the Immortals” turns things towards something more akin to the death/black/thrash out of Sweden as groups like Deathwitch came into fashion. Approximate observations for now, but a nice dark and very Swedish approach thus far.
|Title [Type/Year]||Nefarious Spirit / Void Prayer [Split LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.5/5.0]||BUY from Goatowarex|
Any initial excitement aimed at this split LP is likely aimed at Bosnia and Herzegovina based black metal act Void Prayer who made some notable waves with their debut in 2017 and demo earlier this year. As it turns out it was Greek project Nefarious Spirit that turned out to be the major focus for my own tastes as they kick things off with some semi-melodic flashes on their opener before “Destructive Impulses” completely flattened me, a powerful display of black metal guitar work that I greatly appreciated. The inclusion of a live track is disappointing, or at least somewhat pointless filler that detracts from the core statement from the artist. Void Prayer absolutely deliver, too, with the ominous hallucinogenic crawl of “Void Seeker” and a cover of Black Cilice in the midst of their side. This is a very fine pairing of inspired underground projects though the inclusion of that live track really clogs up the full listen for my own taste.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sylvain [EP/2019]|
|Rating [2.75/5.0]||BUY from Mas-Kina Recordings | Spotify|
Hmm, well I won’t criticize the cover art or general presentation of this EP from Norwegian instrumental uh, post-rock influenced prog-djent jam Grant the Sun because it appears to be more of a ‘for fun’ release to generally play with rhythm and vibe together. Everything about this EP is not for me, no matter the spin on this sort of time-change driven boppin’ prog-metal there is nothing that speaks to me beyond texture as it machine gun sprays its djent influenced rhythms outward. Well, lets not say ‘djent’ because that’d infer undue laziness in 2019 whereas these are very active participants creating jazzy flits of riff and twinkling hits of post-rock along the way. It sounds like a college art-metal band from 2003 or so when everyone was marveling at Meshuggah‘s experimental steps beyond ‘Nothing’ — Ah, and Fredrik Thordendal even guests on bass here unfortunately without bringing any notable swipes of his unique touch to the moody, spaced out pieces here. Finely performed and surely a thrill for the participants but very little of this translates to the listening experience.
|Title [Type/Year]||Better Dead Than Friends [LP/2019]|
|Rating [3.0/5.0]||BUY from Immortal Souls Productions|
The Bastard Within is an international deathgrind project featuring members of tech-death bands from Italy, Switzerland, and the United States most notably the vocalist from Node and drummer Kevin Talley who is best known for his early involvement in Dying Fetus and offshoot Misery Index. So, no fuckin’ around here this is very plain and very pure grindcore the way it was played from the late 90’s until about 2005 when deathcore pulled a lot of folks away from the grindcore roots of deathgrind. Early Nasum, Phobia and that style of band surely comes to mind but the death metal side of the band is there and it manifests in the realm of frantic anxietous tech-deathgrind. No, it’s not fuckin’ Watchmaker or whatever but it rips and blasts along with some spirited aggression. I’m more than happy to tear into this type of record just… There isn’t shit to say about it. Best songs are the real short and hot ones such as “Aware of Slavery” a killer cut that exemplifies the way this album manages to growl ‘n blast front to back with some reasonable style.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Old Ways [EP/2019]|
|Rating [3.25/5.0]||BUY from Purodium Rekords|
This 7″/cassette EP from Portuguese black metal act Irae is remarkably straightforward in terms of describing the obsessive focus of musician Vulturius a major component of Decayed and Morte Incandescente. As a lo-fi, noisome solo act Irae is somehow even more puritanical in its black metal alignment than many of his exuberant peers in Portugal who’ve developed some impressive circles of destructive and anti-musical acts this last decade or so. ‘The Old Ways’ is very much a product of that ‘scene’ and everlasting mindset that Vulturius has been a proponent of for quite some time but these compositions aren’t just a mindless entry, rather a showcase of the mind-flaying raw black metal skill the artist has at hand any given moment. Side B is where I was most entranced after Side A appeared intent on simply splitting my skull with its noisome clangor. The Portuguese circles are a necessary excursion for the raw black metal enthusiast but this isn’t designed to bring in new folks unless you are sadistically inclined towards this carrion-fed and vomitous sound.
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