TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a list grouping albums from the current weeks new releases with mini-reviews for each. 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 25th through 31st, 2020] with no specific genre focus or theme. This ends up being the most effective way to cover as many releases from 2020 in a timely fashion so things don’t bottleneck at the end of the year. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb due to time constraints for processing long-form reviews or because a paragraph or two worth of insight was all that was necessary. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more new releases from different styles, genres, etc.
Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because these records aren’t getting full reviews. Quality control is an important part of this process and the focus of each entry places emphasis on expressive, meaningful, and ‘heavy’ releases that hold value without trendy gimmickry or bland, thoughtless worship. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate friendly and positive interactions. 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.
|Title [Type/Year]||Obliterate the Weak [LP/2020]|
|Listenable Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
One of many modern death metal projects to spin-off from the opportunities afforded to musicians joining the later years of European death metal legacy bands, Berzerker Legion was originally concieved by Alwin Zuur (Escutcheon, Grand Supreme Blood Court) who is best known as Asphyx current bassist and Tomas Elofsson (Sanctification, God Among Insects) who is best known as Hypocrisy‘s current live guitarist. I could list off the other members and their respective projects but the gist of it is that each has served a prominent seat in the revitalization of classic bands such as Vader, Wombbath, and Grave over the years; The full five piece assembly of Berzerker Legion collectively share a long and pretty decent resume within death metal’s scope but all of that begins to get in the way of why their debut full-length ‘Obliterate the Weak’ is interesting.
Instead of pummeling out an approximation of ‘old school’ death metal set to plainly boosted production values Berzerker Legion instead focus on an accessible form of semi-melodic death metal that resembles mid-career Amon Amarth and later Thyrfing. The jogging viking rock pace and plentiful melodic riffing initially feels resonant and interesting but the mosh parts that chug into gear soon reveal a blunt and fairly dry full listen. British drummer James Stewart has spent the last decade rising to the occasion for Vader and his style almost feels too ‘brutal’ and interactive for the songwriting, lending a mechanical punch (see: “The Falling Dawn”) music that is otherwise emotionally driven. It is sure to please the average popular death metal fan on some level but never felt earnest enough to really connect with me as a listener.
Berzerker Legion‘s mixture of melodious movements and moshable brutality is effective as a dynamic experience throughout ‘Obliterate the Weak’ but things begin to fall apart (for my taste) when the chunky mosh metal parts become too indulgent. If you’re a fan of the melodic side of bands like Obscenity, Bodyfarm, and Revolting this should fit right into that void.
|Title [Type/Year]||666 Goats Carry My Chariot [LP/2020]|
|Osmose Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Antwerp, Belgium based retro speed metal act Bütcher do a fine job invoking the spirit of speed circa ’85 with this second full-length. The guitar tone is sharp, the vocalist can shriek bloody hell and the riffs are generally on point but it is the songwriting that ends up scrambling for ideas before the ~37 minutes are up. NWOBHM influenced speed metal songs amped up to the blackened thrasher-paced feel is common enough a modus that I’m not too thrilled by ‘666 Goats Carry My Chariot’ for most of Side A. The title track hits around that part of the album and its slight nods to Dissection and Megadeth within end up landing kinda flatly. The album had really needed a second anchor beyond ” Metallström/Face the Bütcher” to kick off Side B and this would’ve been it if the composition wasn’t so unfocused.
“Viking Funeral” sets itself up to redeem the album somewhat, eventually pulling in some ‘Infernal Overkill’-worthy riffs before a couple of effects pedals and some kind of psychotic trance distracts from the apex of the track. What’d kicked me in the head as a spirited and ‘fun’ speed metal album to start eventually manifested as a very average work that is clearly having a good time, but the tone of the full listen is generally all over the place. Metal for metal’s sake isn’t a shameful thing in my book and the entirety of ‘666 Goats Carry My Chariot’ adds up to a pretty decent hit of ‘classic’ German speed metal sound, some first wave ‘black metal’ antics, and some more typical modern swings. Somewhere in between Vulture and Whipstriker on the satanic speed metal scale.
|Title [Type/Year]||I [EP/2020]|
|Lavadome Productions||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Mære are a German ‘dissonant’ death metal quintet formed in 2017 between ex-members of technical death metal band Ingurgitating Oblivion after that band had imploded and rebirthed in 2015. If looking for modernist brutal and blasting skronk-death based on that association alone you’d be far off tonally speaking but wouldn’t be too far off in terms of dissonant phrasing; Rewind back to ‘Obscura’ or early Ulcerate with a late 90’s Morbid Angel lilt for a clearer vision of their debut EP, ‘I’. They’ve cited Phobocosm and Altars as meaningful comparisons or, seeds for some of the expressions within and I’d say that is as apt as possible, they’ve likely named themselves after the opening track on ‘Paramnesia’. All brilliant places to start and the result is generally quite different from member’s past projects in various technical death metal bands.
The apex combination of “I Descend” and “I Ascend” is probably the most complete example of what unique vision Mære bring to this debut EP and why I am excited to hear how their sound develops over time. ‘I’ may appear nightmarish by way of its discordant pulses and harrowing death metal sounds but the theme of this introductory release aims to devour ego and reach a unified transcendental headspace. I could infer that the artists were so driven by these new ideas and concept that it’d possibly been the impetus for their exodus from their previous band. More importantly the results are certainly worth the path from then ’til now.
|Title [Type/Year]||Tie on Hänen Omilleen [LP/2020]|
|Purity Through Fire||PREVIEW on Bandcamp|
Finnish melodic black metal band Goats of Doom formed in 2008 conjuring a fairly typical sound for their first decade of life with some increasingly ambitious songwriting spanning their first three full-lengths. The band would largely reset for ‘Rukous‘ (2018) as vocalist/guitarist Scaregod (Sarastus) would take full control of the band and restaff with a full quintet. At that juncture Goats of Doom were instantly more unique, almost sickeningly melodic in a sweetly over-the-top sense without sounding insincere or like a Noumena cover band on a Moonblood budget; ‘Rukous’ was a fine album and a meaningful next step beyond the original direction of the band. ‘Tie on Hänen Omilleen’ could be taken to mean “The path forward is his own” or, close enough and I won’t run with the perceived concept since I have gravely misinterpreted Finnish before. The album is yet another step forward for Goats of Doom, pulling back from some of the softer aspects of ‘Rukous’ and finding strong melodic hooks of various types at every turn.
Purity Through Fire do a fine job working with some of the most compelling Finnish bands and I particularly go for this melodic-leaning side of their curation. When approaching this sort of Finnish black metal it is important to not get too lost within comparisons to the very densely populated history of raw-yet-melodic black metal of the region. The goal on my end is to soak in the effect of each arrangement and enjoy the moment each band creates. With that said, at some point the guitar arrangements do feel like a mix of 90’s indie rock and melodic black metal but I’d say the same for certain eras of many bands; This serves up quite emotionally driven performances for a band with upright Satanic (er, Thelemic I believe) themes. Even more important a point to make is that ‘Tie on Hänen Omilleen’ is memorable throughout with the epic title track serving as a majestic peak for the experience while “Kuolonkorjaaja” and “Vakaumus ja Kuolema” hit the hardest for my taste. An excellent full spin with some great pockets of prime melodic resonance.
|Title [Type/Year]||Unveilance of Dark Matter [LP/2020]|
|The Sign Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Eastern Swedish post-metal band Moloken have reached a virtuosic peak within their exploration of ornate post-hardcore instrumentation applied to atmospheric sludge metal forms with their fourth album ‘Unveilance of Dark Matter’. The result is curious, a progressive form of music that is yet still related to the congealed modernist spectrum of modern hardcore. They thankfully avoid the cheap bonking tonality of djent-core and instead opt for a slightly compressed atmosludge sound. This manifests a bit like the heavier side of Abraham or Cult of Luna and fits in nicely with the Pelagic Records spectrum of sounds minus the ‘cleanliness’ of that realm, edging towards the raw-ringing escalation of bands like Callisto and Black Sheep Wall.
Greater hints of extreme metal influences creep into Moloken‘s sound as the mood of the album turns just a shade deeper in the second half. Even a song as lightly achieved as “Lingering Demise” carries some great weight when grasping its compositional intent. This part of the album is a sort of ‘third act’ where I’d found “Unbearable” the most effective track of the lot whereas the first two acts (punctuated by short interludes) were forceful and room-filling. As the title track sends this record unto the spiraling abyss I can’t help but feel some internal conflict when reflecting upon each full listen. The most compelling first glance at Moloken comes with their resemblance of atmospheric sludge/post-metal classicism but it is an illusion created by modulations between harsh and quiet extremes that define the bands sound. This is certainly the most evolved form of the band’s sound and the post-hardcore elements are now expressing at an exciting standard whereas the sludge effect appears harsh for the sake of it. The only issue I’d had with the full spin was that I’d wanted more variation of vocal styles or tone, the croaked shouting is too constant to match the greater dynamic of Moloken‘s darkly evolving sound.
|Title [Type/Year]||Iterations of Time [LP/2020]|
|Init Records||Former Worlds’ Facebook|
Minneapolis, Minnesota based sludge metal trio Former Worlds make a hell of a first impression with the slow-chugging and distorted bass-driven dirge of “Spectre”. At just under 8 minutes it kicks things off sharply as the shortest and most direct composition from their four part debut full-length ‘Iterations of Time’. Snarling and thunderous as Thou but much more straightforward, I’d get the impression that the trio have yet to completely envision their path forward and this debut is somewhat of a formative shaping of a greater vision ‘in the moment’. Hints of this uneasy path forward creep in with the atmospheric blackened thrust in the first third of “Palimpsest”, which is stunning in reprisal but unrelated to the other pieces of ‘Iterations of Time’.
Things circle back to the initiating doom/sludge modus with the 14+ minute “Widow Moon”. The riffs act as a built-in foundation for the rest of the instruments to hang onto for the ride forward and my mind’d glazed over just enough on earlier listens to start to focus on the keyboards/atmospheric effects and the drum performances. This is where I’d found the record held my interest best. I’d lose touch with the feeling of the record when the ‘clean’ vocals enter on “Variations on a Cave” and “Widow Moon” where they cut into the snarling menace of it all with a more sensitive exasperation. The style of vocal works but it’d be slightly less off-putting for my taste if it was as powerfully (or emotionally) projected as the harsh vocals. A solid debut overall, can’t argue with that bass tone.
|Title [Type/Year]||Uninvited Savior [LP/2020]|
|Nefarious Industries||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Snort an expired yellowjacket or two and settle into this collaboration between Gridfailure (David Brenner) and Those Darn Gnomes‘ Christian Molenaar in celebration of facial pain and nearby mucosal torment. I’m familiar with most Gridfailure material since ‘Irritum’ (2018) though I’ve only heard ‘Calling Whitetails to a Tuned Bow’ (2019) from Those Darn Gnomes but that provenance only communicates the open-source vision of each artist and won’t indicate any certain style beyond ‘experimental’ when approaching ‘Uninvited Savior’. “Burial Delirium” is the coming of acid rain upon a distended power plant, complete with a flit of jazz guitar phrasing over police sirens as it comes pouring heaviest. “Transfixed” is the ambiance of an alien craft in automated environmental stasis after crash landing on a volcanic wasteland, humming at just the right frequency to attract curious insectoid scavengers. “Hallelujah (27 Years)” is the true ear-splatterer of the trio at nearly 36 minutes, from floaty cathedralesque space towards screaming harsh noise and voice samples detailing the fears and the fathomless arrogance of witchfinders and murderous zealots. I enjoy the harshest side of Gridfailure quite a bit so, that third piece felt most connected to my expectations upon first listen but as I spun the record a few more times it was “Burial Delirium” that I’d come back to most often. Imaginative atmospheres and brutally harsh ambiance for a rainy day.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sarkofagi nocnych zjaw [EP/2020]|
|Signal Rex||LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Reasonably prolific and yet underrated thus far in their short lifespan, Polish black metal duo Krypta Nicestwa bring a raw and cavernous bout of movement to their harrowing echoes of keyboard adorned darkness on their first official EP release. Give ‘Sarkofagi nocnych zjaw’ 2 minutes and 45 seconds to get to the point as the ornate beauty of the opening riff finally lands — The grand splaying darkness afforded by “Spojrzenia świątyni nocy” is ancient and mythic in its rumbling horror as its aggress presses on, grotesquely atmospheric and sinister in tone. “W sferze pzoagrobowego trwania” is a bit of a standout, resembling the energetic pulse of the first Falkenbach record to some slight degree while also providing the most ‘symphonic’ black portion of the EP.
Classic underground Polish black metal is clearly indicated in the style of this mini album but the performances don’t feel as amateurish as some of the more infamous early works from Krypta Nicestwa‘s countrymen. Otherwise I’d point towards Vrolok, Moenen Of Xezbeth, or Taranis‘ ‘Obscurity’ demo tape for some general reference. An excellent introduction to the band on my part, and I am intrigued to see if they can pull off more songs like “Spojrzenia świątyni nocy” on a full album.
|Title [Type/Year]||Darkest Rise [EP/2020]|
|Into Pandemonium on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Despite some insistence on paper that they are a unique combination of black and death metal sub-genres the combination of niche that persists across Ohio black/death metal band Into Pandemonium‘s debut EP is not only rampant today but has been common within the states for decades. The Midwest in particular was more or less the original breeding ground for the combined inspiration of melodic Scandinavian black/death metal and the more puritanical sort of ‘melting pot’ death metal from the region. It wouldn’t become popular until bands like The Black Dahlia Murder would catch on with the mosh metal crowds. If anything I’d say every small town has this sort of ‘extreme metal’ band that combine modern aesthetics with some more classic (read: ‘basic’) renders of black and death metal styles, up here in these parts we have a perhaps much more accomplished and sincere visionary in Xoth.
‘Darkest Rise’ leads with the implication of melodic black/death metal style and soon begins to incorporate dual vocals, often performed in unison, between a somewhat uncontrolled black metal rasp and plain ‘brutal’ death metal vocals. The tendency to perform both vocals in unison for verses quickly takes the tone of the album away from classic extreme metal and towards the more pretentious side of modern meme metal. The mosh riffs are certain to follow nearby. What is implied as a technical death metal influence expresses more in the vein of proggy deathcore, this is compounded by recent tours with Born of Osiris, Carnifex, and Between the Buried and Me. For the generalist looking for above-the-underground aiming variety, I don’t doubt there will be some aesthetic choices made by Into Pandemonium that are instantly appealing but the yearning soul of underground music isn’t there. I found the full listen painfully overwrought and generic but as I’d alluded earlier, there is certainly a huge market for this sort of music and with some revised art direction and emphasis on the technical side of things they’ll likely do well.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Sixth Hour [LP/2020]|
|Candlelight Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
This one came out last Friday but I’d felt it was worth mentioning if only for the sake of including something vibrant and modern but still rock-solid death metal in motion. ‘The Sixth Hour’ comes as Italian technical/brutal death metal band Blasphemer‘s third album since forming in 1998. The earliest records from these guys were much more in the vein of Defeated Sanity and Malignancy, just hammering brutal death that’d fit well on Comatose Music‘s roster back in the day. For this third record Blasphemer are no less brutal but they’ve slipped in some blackened death metal style, adding a much greater sense of flow. Beyond that the biggest change comes from drummer The Ripper now taking over vocals as his style is much closer to a band like Behemoth than original vocalist Paolo Maniezzo.
On one hand they sound like a new band, totally re-energized and ruthless but on the other hand they definitely sound like a new band… as in, much less like their past material. Guitarist Simone Brigo has brought a lot of power to Beheaded since joining for their last two albums so, it sounds like he’s taken some of that insight back into his own band and the results are stunning. This is also the first full-length with guitarist Nicolò Brambilla performing and if you know his band Ekpyrosis you’ll hear some of his hand in the detailed arrangements of these songs, especially compared to the last Blasphemer record (‘Ritual Theophagy‘, 2016). Definitely check this out of you’re a fan of Centurian, Azarath, and Lecherous Nocturne.
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.
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