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 fine releases missed in 2019, mostly black and death metal related. Consider it my way of making sure I cover as many releases from 2019 before it 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 transitioning into 2020 releases as soon as possible, January is full of great things. 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]||Les Grandes Compagnies [LP/2019]|
|Antiq Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
This deluxe double LP version of Grylle‘s debut from April this year features about 10 extra minutes of content to fill out its impressive package. A couple of Antiq Records‘ releases will feature on this list as they’ve an impressive roster of French bands with relevance to black metal, most notably Véhémence‘s debut this year. This band haven’t yet been considered a metal band so much as a trip through medieval French courtesan music from a dark angle, adjacent to dark folk and black/folk metal lineages at the very least. The additional songs here are actually black metal (“Les Gendarmeaux de Dyablerie”) but I would say this band could be compared to early Fejd, a Swedish folk band that slowly moved from dark indigenous folk rock towards a black metal influenced sound. Grylle are a bit darker from the outset, though. The full 75 minute listen is captivating but not entirely golden, some of the material is presented in a very plain and harsh way when the nobility of the moment could demand more nuance, a ‘softness’ could bolster the placidity of the album’s presence or potentially disturb its percussive presence. Not the highest recommendation on my end but a release that I went back to a handful of times.
|Title [Type/Year]||Cthulhu Riseth – The Complete Works of Darkified [Compilation/2019]|
|NWN! Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
This version of the compilation comes as a limited 12″ vinyl reissue from Nuclear War Now! Productions, they’ve been killing it with fine reissues lately so keep an ear out for Nomenclature Diablerie, Vassago, among others. One of the more rabid and entertaining short bursts of early 90’s blackened ‘melodic’ death metal from Sweden, Darkified hailed from Söderköping, south of Stockholm. Actually that’d be a good way to describe their sound, a slight inversion of what many of their neighbors were doing up north. I’d always assumed this band was the precursor to Dispatched but it was not a direct lineage and I’d rather align this music with Liers in Wait and Grotesque in terms of manic attack, despite the heavy use of keyboards. The barking aggression is what holds my attention here but most folks found this band notable at the time for their extension of Lovecraftian ambiance, think of them as a ‘brutal’ version of Internal Decay. The full spin is about 18 minutes between their demo and EP, the demo is my personal preference. If you already know this stuff and you’re looking for something similar in tone, Demolish (Mexico) was a bit more early Peaceville death/doom with more keyboards in the late 90’s but shared similar guitar sound/mood on their first demo.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ancient Premonitions of the Gods [LP/2019]|
|Tanatofobia Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
If you’re not keeping up with the heavy metal coming out of Chile this last decade you’re missing out on a bit of a renaissance for the artform as a whole. Sure, a lot of the bands are pretty derivative but if we’re going to be that reductive about 90% of metal is bunk. Storm Death call themselves “Sumerian death metal” and that should implicate some Nile influence but their sound is closer to a blackened death band like Lecherous Nocturne. The drumming keeps things ‘old school’ throughout ‘Ancient Premonitions of the Gods’, at least in the 90’s without focusing on frequent blasts or todays dissonant nonsense. I was really excited about this record when it came out in November but after a couple of months it waned in my mind and ends up being a solid ‘middling’ record, not something for the ages but maybe an exciting band for fans of late 90’s/early 00’s The Chasm as well as modern blackened death bands that aren’t typical, plastic sounding when it comes to production. There are plenty of extended atmospheric guitar runs, some interesting sound design in terms of extraneous elements, and plenty of riffs on this thing. Some filler but nothing too erroneous for a 45 minute death metal album.
|Title [Type/Year]||Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness [LP/2019]|
|Terratur Possessions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Norwegian label Terratur Possessions continues their reign with one of the finest rosters and discographies feeding our modern day black metal obsession and the signing of Umbra Conscienta is a massive addition. ‘Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness’ hails from the minds of members of Costa Rican bands Astriferous and Corpse Garden as well as drummer A.N.L. from Dysangelium. ‘Death Leading’ was one of the more notable German black metal records from 2019 so I was excited to hear the drumming on this, expecting it to be plain atmospheric black metal or something. Whoa, no! Brutal and celestial mania channels throughout this obsidian feat of riffing black metal terror. The precision rhythms here help to reign in the more creative and psychotropic side of Umbra Conscienta making for an album I’d place alongside Imperialist on the Inquisition and earlier Immortal spectrum of influence in terms of brutality and mind-bending occultic vision. Very high recommendation for this release.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Brocken Fires [12″ EP/2019]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Released as a limited 100 tape run back in October of 2018 ‘The Brocken Fires’ was released on a wider scale by Iron Bonehead Productions earlier this year with the definitive edition being the 12″ LP version. The Rite are a blackened doom metal band in the style of early Samael and Goatlord with more of a traditional doom metal twist, a side-effect of its creators including E.A. Zorath of Italian doom metal act Black Oath as well as Ustumallagam (Denial of God) who’d collaborated with Black Oath on lyrics before. I appreciated the Faust inspired theme of the EP and the very straightforward ‘old school’ black/doom sound of it. I think the trouble with covering Goatlord is that the progression on “Acid Orgy” might’ve outclassed the songwriting on the rest of the EP, but that might be my own fandom for a much older band getting in the way.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Spearwound Salvation [LP/2019]|
|Shadow Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
This debut from Swedish black metal trio Ultra Silvam has just about everything going for it between its avant-punkish true production grit (a la Wulkanaz) and plenty of Malmö-worthy clangorous aggression to fit that ‘old and raw’ classics-minded sound. Nifelheim, early Watain, and the early days of Shamaatae-era Sorhin and Arckanum come to mind first but Ultra Silvam‘s phrasing is their own thing, modern and stoic in its exploration of atmosphere and physical force. It is a short album at 28 minutes and I think succinct was the right way to go. There is the sensation that all of the air has left the room as ‘The Spearwound Salvation’ ends and if it had gone on for even a few more minutes it’d become labored rather than ruthless in tone.
|Title [Type/Year]||Iluntasuna besarkatu nuen betiko [LP/2019]|
|Les Acteurs de L’Ombre||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Numen are a Basque pagan black metal band that’ve cut back on their folk metal elements over time, honing in on what I’d consider a Franco-Nordic late 90’s semi-melodic black metal sound with lyrics sung in the lovely, ornate Basque language. I’ve seen this band compared to Heol Telwen and even Cruachan but overall I’d point towards earlier Belenos for a sound less encumbered by outright folk metal tirades. The ‘single’ and perhaps most memorable and inspiring song here is clearly the ~9 minute “Lautada izoztuetan” which should recall prime Inquisition as it unfurls from buzzing chords unto a big heavy metal riff. A fine album that is more or less ‘made’ by the song I’ve mentioned. I’d tried to review this in full several times but all of my thoughts really kept returning to that song outshining much of the record.
|Title [Type/Year]||VI: Dantalion [LP/2019]|
|Aural Music||BUY & LISTEN on Aural Music’s Bandcamp!|
In better realizing his grand vision for several musical projects and production/engineering efforts Brussels, Belgium based musician Déhà has essentially consolidated his dark ambient-turned-funeral doom metal band Slow to replace Ter Ziele, a blackened depressive/atmospheric doom project featuring input from artist Lore who provides arrangements, lyrics, concepts and some bass guitar performances on their post-2017 releases. This hasn’t made for a great deal of change since the notable shift that came on ‘IV – Mythologiæ’ (2015) but has made for steady improvements to fidelity and general expression. ‘V – Oceans’ (2017) was vast but self-same throughout, a set of five ~10 minute songs that reveled in their fluid concept; This latest record rants more freely in every direction, always leaning forward with a growling funeral death/doom pace. I wouldn’t say this is the most distinct piece of funeral doom metal I’ve ever heard, falling into a space somewhere between the heavy funeral death/doom of Adversvm and the transcendent atmospherics of Shapes of Despair. Less of an exciting trip, more of a lasting monolith.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sisters in Blooming Flesh [12″ EP/2019]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Blooming Carrions is the solo project of Finnish musician EvM who is best known for his time in Joensuu based death/doom project Fervent and as a recent member of lesser known black metal act Ruho. ‘Sisters in Blooming Flesh’ is a combination of the two mysteries, conjuring a dissonant and esoteric form of death metal heavily entranced by the shaking fury of black metal. Albeit somewhat unfocused in its reaches, this “twisted and cavernous blackened death metal” ends up landing on its feet despite the myriad unpredictable shifts encountered within the 25 minutes of this 12″ EP/ digipak and no doubt early Bölzer, The Ruins of Beverast and Cosmic Void Ritual are good general ballparks to consider while listening. “Enchantment of Slaughtering” is the song that’ll win folks over quickly, with its galloping melodic black metal strides and intense death/doom gnarls.
|Title [Type/Year]||As We Forget Our Past [LP/2019]|
|Dunkelheit Produktionen||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Italian death metal trio Horrid represent one of their nation’s longest standing pure death metal acts who’d surfaced amidst a grand insurgence of the sub-genre in 1989 Italy. Their sole original member, guitarist Belfagor, takes great influence from the ancient Swedish death metal underground and seems most directly influenced by Dismember as this re-recorded greatest hits for the band brings back that raunchy HM-2 overdriven guitar tone and riff style. Horrid have always had an incredibly interesting history even if we’re only considering their style and place in the world but the gist of it is that the original conception for the band was ‘for die-hards by die-hards’ and it thankfully continues as such over 30 years later.
Unfortunately I’ve just done what every other writer who’d ever heard them has since at least 1998, comparing them to Dismember. Ha, well first off, fuck… it is a huge compliment and secondly there is more to Horrid than their guitar tone and if you’re familiar with their masterpieces in the post-millennium you’ll perk up in hearing songs from ‘Reborn in Sin’ (2002) and ‘Rising From the Hidden Spheres (2006). If you don’t know the band I would normally suggest getting the ‘Evil’s Birth 1989-2002’ compilation because it was my own introduction to the band. Also of note is that their first with this particular line-up (‘Beyond the Dark Border’, 2017) was slightly more ‘blackened’ to my ears, at least more than prior, and stretched beyond their past works in some fantastic ways. This compilation is re-recording that is fitting both as a blast from a past from a band that most folks won’t recognize, but I figure if you’ve ever gotten into post’-94 Fleshcrawl or Revel in Flesh this will be yet another one of the lucifer’s gifts.
The trio’s performances are fantastic and most notably Dagon‘s vocal tone is more imposing than ever before as he delivers an ancient voice unheard of that can verily compete with the elastic nigh overkill guitar sound. There are several essential tracks here but you have to hear “Reborn in Sin”, the thrashing end of “Blasphemic Creatures”, and the death n’ rolled doom of “As We Forget Our Past”. Very high recommendation for this still essential band for Italian death metal.
If I missed your favorite album from 2019, oh well! I’ve got a list of about 50 releases from 2019 that I will continue to cover and that is all I’m covering for the sake of moving onto 2020. E-mail me or hit me up on twitter if you want me to review your favorite album. If you’re in a band and you want a review of your latest, hit the Contact page and send me a copy, I’ll consider it.
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