TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a list devoted to grouping albums from the current weeks new releases with mini-reviews for each. Dig for the dirt around the edges of the known. These albums were overlooked for full review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraint of time. I try to cover as much 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 spread of new releases from this week [January 1st through 10th, 2020] with no specific genre focus or theme. Consider it my way of making sure I cover as many releases from 2020 in a timely fashion so that I’m not bottle-necked at the end of the year. 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 didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. January is full of great black and death metal records but thrash and doom metal fans won’t feel left behind by the end of the month, keep an ear out! 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, etc. Themed lists will be replaced by one large quarterly feature.
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. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all. 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]||Itch [LP/2020]|
|Mammock on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
The first thought, first release, and first noise rock related jam of the year comes from Mammock who boldly released their debut album ‘Itch’ digitally on the first of January. Hailing from Athens, Greece and well in tune with their feelings on the widespread division and mania of 2019, ‘Itch’ is both a serious reflection upon the past year and an ingratiating mirror upon the chaotic sort of strange we’d all hope to embody. The intention is to create a work that comes together as one and is bigger for it and where I think they’ve succeeded is in characterization of existential dread here at the end of the world. Mammock don’t intend to shoot for ‘weird for the sake of weird’ and do appear earnest, wherever they go; Informed by modern noise rock, math rock, post-punk with a hint of late 90’s weirdos like -16- and Clutch, ‘Itch’ itself is eclectic and succinct at six songs and ~31 minutes. This debut isn’t a far cry from groups like Ils or Child Bite in sound and spiritus but Mammock go a little overboard here and there, dropping into some real cornball vocals at the end of “Shark Attack” and pushing the attention span a bit with the floaty ending of ~10 minute finale “This Letter”.
|Title [Type/Year]||Cascading Fluids [EP/2020]|
|Redefining Darkness Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Aseptic are a death metal band from San Jose, California who’ve vacillated between duo and trio status since forming in 2014. They’re ‘new old school’ but not entirely primitive in motion, heavily influenced by the diction of riff by way of early Celtic Frost and the brutal side of nascent death metal. Raw as Pentacle and ripping as early Autopsy there is good reason to check out this latest EP release, which serves as an appetizer to an upcoming full-length. The version I’ve received is the cassette issue from Redefining Darkness Records and no doubt this band is exactly right for the format as aberration of sound helps to characterize their predictably structured doom n’ thrash modus. Pretty standard stuff in terms of Aseptic but they’ve moved away from some of their rawness for the sake of depth and as a result this is easily their best sounding recording to date if you don’t lean towards fully raw demo anti-production. Killer EP, love the sound of it, some good riffs here and there but man… I can’t handle the wet squishing noises anymore. I grabbed a lot of death metal tapes in 2019 that were just centered around guts-fucking, squishy, skin-slapping, nasty noises used for intros and a full listen to this 12 minute tape means at least 90 seconds of those same sampled sloppy gut noises. No more slurping guts!
|Title [Type/Year]||Vaeok [EP/2020]|
|W.T.C. Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
If you don’t mind the assumption, I’d suggest that this project of US black metal legend VJS (Nightbringer, Demoncy, Sargeist) does appear to reunite his efforts with Tenebrous cohort Armanen. Of course I could be far off but this debut EP shares much of the same attack and intent ‘modernized’. Beyond the distinct woven structures of VJS‘ work a healthy layer of sinister-yet-ethereal keyboard/synth arrangements create much of the atmospheric values that serve to deeper characterize Vaeok‘s sound. This should point towards the true crutch of black metal journalism in 2019, ye olde crutch of generalizing the ‘second wave’ of black metal, and in truth it was my first thought simply because the keyboard work was the first thing to grab my ear. What’d separate the cell from that wrought nucleus? Tore Stjerna/Necromorbus Studio appear to have seen the potential of these compositions as chasmic downpours, and placed them in spacious echoing transit with lead guitars providing the most captive voice for the majority of each heavily layered arrangement. “Souls Void” is where this spaciousness best expresses but also where I’m most reminded of ‘Ego Dominus Tuus’; If not for the wrathful, gasping vocal snarls at the apex of the song I’d not have been so convinced by this overall piece. I’d found myself wanting more of these inhuman feats and I’d end up listening to ‘Vaeok’ at least 3-4 times per sitting to key deeper into the inspired sections of each song. I was never floored by the experience but I have been spurned on by curiosity, the unfolding nature of each progression and the black angelic presence of the keyboard work.
|Title [Type/Year]||Die By My Sword [LP/2020]|
|Fighter Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Southeastern Spanish heavy/speed metal band War Dogs surely worship the grail of 80’s United States power metal and modern ‘throwback’ epic heavy metal in general but, their riffs jog out with very little considerable flair on their debut full-length ‘Die by My Sword’. I don’t think they were necessarily going for New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal tonality but most of War Dogs debut feels exactly that ‘soft’ in that sense. Referencing favorites like Omen creates much too high of expectations to start with and unfortunately their paying tribute to the late Mark Shelton (with “The Shark”, alongside Hellroadie himself) ends up being gloriously sentimental but, not a particularly harmonious moment. I love when a band can conjure the unsure musicianship of early NWOBHM or the lower budget charm and spirit of of US 80’s metal but on ‘Die By My Sword’ it sounds like War Dogs just aren’t up to speed with the records that inspired them.
|Title [Type/Year]||London Orbital [LP/2020]|
|Hypnotic Dirge Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
A post-black/atmospheric black metal convergence aiming for a notably modern narrative set within near-future apocalyptic London, England Kassad‘s second full-length ‘London Orbital’ sees the last light of humanity snuffed out. A miserable vision of claustrophobic interiors, howling wind, and a reliance on still-standing structures for survival provides a similar viewpoint expressed by many popular post-rock bands today yet, Kassad comes without hope to spare… and thankfully doesn’t rely on the growing tropes of cinematic post-music, such as extended speech samples. Immersion is always quite natural with Hypnotic Dirge‘s curation and I greatly appreciate that a truly head-hanging sorrow is channeled on ‘London Orbital’, it slips onto my dried carcass of a mind perfectly. It is cinematic, dour, and substantially post-black in most senses and this comes with some lack of variety that’ll appeal most to the niche intensive. I’ll happily tune into ‘London Orbital’ for one or two of these 6-8 minute tracks at a time but had gotten the sense of the full experience right there upon most listens. If you’re less squirrely than I in that regard no doubt you’ll beg for an encore of this 39 minute record. “The Boundary” is the choice song of the lot and I’d recommend it first.
|Title [Type/Year]||II [LP/2020]|
|Brilliant Emperor Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Yes, this project from Brisbane, Australia based musician Brendan Auld is in fact named after a Pokémon. Do I really have to write about this? Yeah, actually… ‘II’ is the debut full-length from brutal and snarling blackened death metal act Snorlax and as it turns out Auld‘s is a moderately convincing approach to the well-trodden sub-genre tango. The packaging is sharp as ever from Brilliant Emperor, the album art is darker than hell and perfectly suited for the music within and I can’t talk shit about a dumb name by virtue of my own glass house. Anyhow you’ll already know this guy if you follow Redefining Darkness’ catalog and picked up Descent‘s ‘Towers of Grandiosity’ back in 2018. Much of the album is voiced through tremolo riffs that float between atmospheric death and black/death bursts, it isn’t exactly Abyssal but there is an accomplished and righteous seriousness suggested by it. I ended up listening to this one quite a bit and found its general grasp of black metal rhythms captivating. There is a certain and appreciable amount of ‘progress’ made in terms of musicianship since their ‘Splintering’ demo back in 2018 that I am grateful to have witnessed but I haven’t yet found reason to covet Snorlax unto collection.
|Title [Type/Year]||Mind Freeze [LP/2020]|
|Shadow Kingdom Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Prolific ‘retro’ heavy metal band Haunt have turned out records at such a rate I’ve already begun to feel some fatigue for the somewhat maudlin, reserved vocals of Trevor Church. The melodic voicing of each of their three records has been ghostly and actually very well in line with compatriots in Skull Fist, Cauldron, Enforcer and their ilk. The previous album ‘If Icarus Could Fly’ (2019) felt like a confident improvement upon every aspect of Haunt‘s 2018 debut, leaning into the early 80’s shred n’ swagger of classic rock/heavy metal’s prime. ‘Mind Freeze’ uses melodramatic synth rock elements to differentiate from the previous record and it was quite a weird experience to start. The sound is fairly original, sort of like Greg Hawkes guesting on a gothy ’86 Angel Witch record, but none of it feels entirely necessary for these songs which often appear written plainly without the accompaniment, rather than written expressly for the keyboard/synth sound. Of course I could be wrong about this, and it doesn’t particularly matter because the ‘off’ feeling of the record is actually very appealing to a weirdo like me who knows it’ll be the bold freak from Haunt‘s greater discography in the long run. The only complain on my end isn’t a meaningful gripe, I simply haven’t had enough time between releases to revisit the last album nor have I gone back to the final Beastmaker releases since. Plenty of catchy cuts as per usual: “Saviours of Man”, “Have no Fear” and the very familiar “Voyager”.
|Title [Type/Year]||Stimmen im Wind 2020 [LP/2020]|
|Nordvis Produktion||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
‘Stimmen im Wind 2020’ is not a reissue of this legendary 2006 demo from Bavarian naturalist black metal act Waldgeflüster but a full re-recording of it. The original demo was entirely written, recorded, and released on cassette by founder and current vocalist Winterherz at 150 or so copies. This 40+ minute presence is still something to behold, a solitary and personal meditation thanks to the rescinded and distant quality of most tape renders available online. The main concern is that the original version wouldn’t be preserved or might lose its personal touch with a modern higher quality version but I’d use ‘Herbstklagen’ (2009), where a few of these songs were re-written or used, as good reason why a cleaner recording is not at all a detriment to the charm of the original. Some of Winterherz‘ vocals bring variety and a ‘personal’ feeling to the dampened spirit of the original but nothing is lost or ruined by clarity and capability. I’m at a disadvantage in terms of comparing this experience with Waldgeflüster‘s most recent record, ‘Monscheinsonaten’ (2019), since I’d missed out on it this last year but it is safe to say that none of the material here is changed in a major way to resemble the project’s current sound, only fidelity. If anything I’d found myself constantly returning to this LP for its time and place, just as ‘Ashes Against the Grain’ was all anyone could talk about, where black metal had a great door opened for new fandom and inspired, personal works that connected thoughtful musicians with the Earth itself. Instead of suggesting this is a release ‘for fans only’ I’d actually say anyone who’d never heard Waldgeflüster should absolutely start here as if it were a 2006 album remastered.
|Title [Type/Year]||Technontology Vol. I [LP/2019]|
|Arrakis’ Website||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Arrakis is an instrumental psychedelic stoner rock trio from Thessaloniki, Greece who’ve been active since about 2012. This first volume of ‘Technontology’ is presented as a sort of musical journal of the last several years, their conduit to express experiences and thoughts throughout time in a very condensed and jammed out session. Heavy fuzzed out guitars growl over space rock bass and the occasional flurry of electronic adornment but the majority of Arrakis‘ phrasing is bluesy and almost introverted in its reveal. Riffs recede into quiet tangential bents that typically come back strong for effect and this repeats often enough to characterize these arrangements as more than pure improvisational jams, though much of the record sounds improvised or jammed. The more upbeat pieces are where Arrakis engages best but unfortunately a bout of noodling slower and mid-paced guitar work on several songs loses my interest fairly quickly into the full listen. “Misophonia” and particularly “Hypothalamus” pick things back up nicely but I don’t think this release will be accessible or polished enough to grasp anyone but the most supremely stoned by surprise.
|Title [Type/Year]||Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse [LP/2019]|
|Prophecy Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Prolific Canadian blackened post-metal project Unreqvited bring an intentional summation of the year past with this “sequel” to the well-received ‘Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur’ (2018). I’m not at all an expert on this tonally darker spiritus of post-rock and atmospheric black metal ethos but I’ve come to recognize its intent as something quite alien when placed beside black metal. This time around it appears the constant dismissals of ‘not black metal’ might’ve given some edge to ‘Mosaic II…’, which bursts with a bit more aggression than its intended bursts of joy would perpetuate. Well, is joy such an option when your record is named “hate and distress”? “Wasteland” brings these layers of dichotomy to life with an atmospheric almost orchestral haunt. The cinematic black metal experience within is surely of a certain high quality among the growing niche but that darkness is brief as elements of downtempo electronic music and various other experimental ideas seep into the trio of “Transience” songs that close the album. I found these last three tracks unrelated to the opening two thirds of the album and would eventually feel the urge to skip them as I familiarized myself with the full listen. Where I am intrigued is the hardcover book edition of this album which comes with both Mosaic CDs, essays, and photography alas it is long sold out leading up to the release. Generally speaking Unreqvited is not my ‘thing’ due to lack of full vocal performances and some broad chasmic emotional leaps in tone on the full listen but I appreciate and respect the ambitious full-time approach to art a great deal.
If I missed your favorite album from 2020 already, whoa! E-mail me or hit me up on twitter if you want me to review it. 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.
<strong>Help Support GrizzlyButts’ goals:</strong>
If you appreciate what you’ve read, please consider donating directly using PayPal.