Ten From the Tomb 12/30/19: Transgressions amongst the Arhat.

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 covering the realms of death, black, doom, and stoner metal related records. 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.


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Artist Altar Blood
Title [Type/Year] From the Darkest Chasms [LP/2019]
Self-Released BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Here’s that punch in the arm you’ve been needing all month, a ruthless and brutal death metal album from this Hickory, North Carolina based trio featuring ex-members of Set, The Sabbathian, Olde. These guys dig into their riff-heavy and moderately blackened sound as if it were 1998, sledging out the dark Satanic blood rites adjacent to classic New York and Texas death metal while also venturing across some distant, cold waters. Banished, Corpus Rottus, and Torture Rack come to mind initially but I think there are some flashes of style that conjure the resting statues of Auroch along the way. A fine piece of death metal that is indicative of undying love for the sub-genre without any particular use for trends. It’d feel awkward to describe any band as ‘classic USDM’ in spirit but really, this is exactly that. A fine full listen, not a ton of variation but an exciting burst of ragged brutality that leans heavily into percussive guitar riffs launched with evil intent. Listen to “Infernal Heresy Ritual” and no doubt you’ll ‘get’ it quick.


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Artist Demiurgon
Title [Type/Year] The Oblivious Lure [LP/2019]
Everlasting Spew Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Easily one of the most exciting newer extreme metal labels out of Italy in recent years Everlasting Spew Records have consistently conjured visions of the apocalyptic brutality unleashed as bands like Nile, Hate Eternal, and Behemoth changed the landscape of ‘popular’ death metal entirely in the late 90’s/early 00’s, bringing deeper brutal/technical death and black metal currents to the greater loyal fandom. Demiurgon conjure this era and quickly push beyond those limits in presentation of this brutal second album ‘The Oblivious Lure’. I’d actually heard these guys before on a split album with Cenotaph (Turkey) and a few other bands when their name was Hatred and the first note I’d make is that they’ve become a more precise and brutal unit over the eight or so years since. The drum sound is geared a step beyond my earlier observations stepping towards the brutal, non-stop veracity of bands like Origin, Beneath, and Hour of Penance and I figure that’ll be a key piece of information to split the old school die-hards and the post-millennium death fans. I wouldn’t approach ‘The Oblivious Lure’ as an entirely original album but a really fine example of an era that sought to balance the brutal and the technical with outrageous feats of rhythmic intensity.


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Artist Ploughshare
Title [Type/Year] Tellurian Insurgency [EP/2019]
Brilliant Emperor Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Nobody’d blame you for missing Ploughshare‘s debut full-length, ‘In Offal, Salvation’, last year as it’d been presented in an obscure fashion with poor artwork but it was a solid deformation of black/death metal atmospherics akin to Mitochondrian and perhaps earlier Portal to some extent, though not brutal in any sense. ‘Tellurian Insurgency’ is more or less a B-sides EP with some more ‘mature’ compositions along with a remix of the title track from their debut. Discordant, dissonant, etc. however you want to describe this cacophonous phrasal language it all shapes nicely in the hands of the trio who’ve clearly already reflected upon their debut and identified their strengths. Ploughshare appear as a yet self-directed possession by diabolic entity, a moderately experimental downward-surging black/death aggression that is not entirely unique but grows more distinct with each iteration. It is worth mentioning the fine work that Australian label Brilliant Emperor are doing with their vinyl packaging and renders, each of their releases is immaculately presented, ‘Tellurian Insurgency’ included.


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Artist Nimbifer
Title [Type/Year] Demo I [Cassette/2019]
Self-Released BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

It’d be difficult to consider 2019 as a fine year for demo tapes, not because there was any lack of exciting entries but because very few stick as a great bloody pinion within my mind. I would likely place Graves‘ ‘Ascensão do impiedoso’ up there with the best of the year and nearby would be this unassuming set of four melodic black metal songs from Hanover, Germany based trio Nimbifer. Influences most likely stem from current Finnish and Quebecois atmospheric/melodic sensibilities while the circular nature of each main theme suggests some love of the deeper classics in melodic black metal. This sort of black metal is almost entirely hedged upon the emotional leverage of the guitar movements and thankfully ‘Demo I’ creates additional earnest spectacle with shrieked German lyrics that offset the glowering melodicism that drives Nimbifer into a sickly-sweet place. A fine and very easy set of songs to sit with thanks to largely complete melodic statements made within each. Not a particularly original release but a resonant one.


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Artist Windfall
Title [Type/Year] Spiritual Famine [LP/2019]
Sons of Hell Productions PREVIEW on YouTube!

Windfall is a killer black metal band from Buenos Aires, Argentina that’d formed back in 1994 between folks who’d later form Artes Negras and Genuflexión as the decades passed. The band would split in 1998 and reform in 2017 with a compilation of rehearsal demos. Their style is not too far from the old school mystic black metal obscuritas of Genuflexión thanks to the inclusion of key members of that band but ‘Spiritual Famine’ is a darker, even more traditional affair and a woefully overlooked release for 2019. By most fan accounts this was an important underground fixture for Argentinian black metal in terms of mid-90’s scene and that’d make sense when listening to this fine album. Acquiring this album will take some determination as the release is limited and virtually no distros are bringing Sons of Hell tapes to North America, that said this bands work is entirely worth tracking down. Highly recommended.


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Artist Nixa
Title [Type/Year] Opus Tierra [LP/2019]
War Anthem Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

After I’d published my ‘20 Doom Metal Albums You Missed‘ list and Top 50 for the year a few folks were kind enough to send me e-mails with lists of releases I’d definitely needed to take another look at and Nixa were emphasized. For good reason! ‘Opus Tierra’ is a great work of modern doom metal with a beautifully self-rendered statuesque presence, the opening moments of the album are so gorgeous and riveting that I’d certainly agree with any oversight of it on my part. Pallbearer‘s second album is the right comparison in terms of general expression and atmospheric production, soaring guitars and cathartic vocals match each others mach resonance and well, if you’re a fan of black n’ roll act Death Wolf you know Valentin Mellström has a world class range but his talent for harmonization shines brightest here. They’ve sucked in their guts a bit for the sake of accessibility, shortening song lengths to a 4-5 minute average and focusing on pieces that are built upon some hook or memorable progression that is usually vocally centered. I certainly do my best not to let releases like this slip through my fingers but in this case I’d failed ‘Opus Tierra’. A sure thing for fans of modern doom/sludge metal variants with a bit of stoned patience on their side. “The Mound” is a good peak to visit first when previewing this album but the opener should be the most vital point of sale for most.


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Artist Reido
Title [Type/Year] Anātman [LP/2019]
Aesthetic Death BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Yet another brutal oversight on my part, the third album from this Minsk, Belarus based funeral doom n’ death/sludge metal band is among the best in its style for the year. Reido have never made the same album twice and their second album ‘-11’ (2011) had been a grand bout of sub-genre bending for them, maybe a bit too far for my own tastes. In the eight years since some incredible focus upon death/doom atmosphere lends the right sort of morose decay to this record that focuses on the Anatta, the recognition of the impermanent self that is central to morbidity and morality as one of several Buddhist virtues to best round the ‘self’ towards transcendence. Because of this subject matter much of ‘Anātman’ speaks to me as dark hymnals, ruminations on mortality just as bleak and writhing with a fascination for the End, as Reido have always been. The drum production on this album is intense and conjures the spacious dread-halls of ‘Quietus’ as much as it feels modern and warm a la Un. I’m not sure this album is for folks who pick up one or two token funeral doom releases every year, it is just slow-driven enough to demand the listeners attention for its duration and surely requires an entanglement of ‘soul’ to absorb. Pristine in its ornately carved chasmic utterance, very high recommendation.


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Artist Iota
Title [Type/Year] Tales [Reissue/2019]
Small Stone Recordings BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A rare curiosity of forms stretched between the soulful heavy blues of the early 2000’s and the stoner/doom metal epics that it’d inspire, the sole release from this mysteriously lost in time Salt Lake City, Utah band is the sort of record that’ll prove itself in your record collection year over year. About a minute into “The Sleeping Heathen” three guitars wail into bluesy southern rock leads at once, hitting upon the new standards set by groups like High on Fire alongside the ancient-sourced magick of Nebula and their ilk as the song expresses. It is a trance and a vision quest thanks to heavy proto-doom metal riffs twined within bounding and dramatic stoner rock (see: Sasquatch) and intricate progressive rock influenced song structures. The full listen appears to bear the purpose of bestowing sight through its own brand of lucid dementia, granting the listener with a meditation of their own creation pliable enough to experience within any context, dark or light. Beyond whatever LSD addled aneurysm it gives me, ‘Tales’ is an essential record for the stoner/doom metal fan and any stoner metal fan in general. This version is remastered by the same fellow who did the original master back in 2008 and it arrives for the first time as a vinyl LP! Sit with the album at least once and make sure you can make it through “Dimensional Orbiter” before you grab it, it is a huge part of the full listen at 22+ minutes.


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Artist Crepuscle
Title [Type/Year] Heavenly Skies [LP/2019]
Creator-Destructor BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp

This meticulous and gloriously polished melodic death metal album from Redwood City, California quintet Crepuscle is their second full-length and quite a majestic all-in exploration of the shred-heavy melodicism out of greater Scandinavia in the early 2000’s. ‘Heavenly Skies’ feels arm-to-arm with the finer accomplishments of bands like Insomnium, Thyrfing, and Wintersun. They’ve really recalled Eternal Tears of Sorrow for me in particular with some hard leans into symphonic metal arrangements and some of the power metal adjacent quips of that era of Finnish melodic death metal. “Severed” has this rapturous, overblown quality that really does swell into some meaningful resonance as it gears up; As vapid as I find a lot of the keyboard and shred heavy metal of that era which I’d grown up with there are certainly tiers of quality to be remembered. Crepuscle haven’t written the be-all/end-all melodic death metal record but they have made an excellent example with very fine keyboard work.


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Artist Astralborne
Title [Type/Year] Eternity’s End [LP/2019]
Self-Released BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This melodic death metal album from Toledo, Ohio based trio Astralborne may very well have one of my favorite album artworks of the year thanks to Juanjo Castellano. ‘Eternity’s End’ is relatively straightforward melodic death metal that sits separate from member’s other projects Hammer Horde and Blood of the Prophets tending away from the folk and -core influences of those bands in favor of something more ‘traditional’ and driven by the ‘epic’ feeling of early Amon Amarth. This is the sort of record I’ve been listening to for decades now and though I appreciate the focus on lead guitars as the main driver of the majority of these pieces I don’t think the rhythm guitars (the ‘riffs’) necessarily push things over the top. Above average in every respect otherwise and a fine melodic death metal album inside and out.


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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