…FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a list grouping albums from the current weeks new releases with short 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 grip of new releases from this week [February 15th through 21st, 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 …FROM THE TOMB due to time constraints for processing long-form reviews or because a paragraph or three’s 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 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 have some potential to hold value. I might not always be the target but you could be. 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]||Back From the Grave, Straight in Your Face [EP/2020]|
|Transcending Obscurity Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Rooting their sound in a fairly slick but standard admixture of classic early 90’s death metal, grindcore, and some slugs of brutal death metal Portuguese trio Innards make a solid first impression with their debut EP. Not a brainy or soul-searching act, the roots for this band would stem from member’s involvement in Grog, a lesser known band with some semblance to the Cannibal Corpse school of brutality since the early 90’s. Innards are similarly straight forward while bringing some reasonable dimensional quality to their production sound, think along the lines of ‘Utopia Banished’ but compressed to a NYDM circa ’92 standard of thud. Opener “Night of the Anthropophagous” gives the a strong first impression with some solid deathgrind swerves while the remaining two songs should appeal to fans of Scorched for their bigger brutal grooves and maybe even a hint of Holocausto Canibal in there on parts of “The Fog”. I see the potential here for a full-length, there is a good balance of effective simplicity and inspired twists between death and deathgrind. A solid throwback moment without too much of its own personality applied. ‘Back From the Grave, Straight in Your Face’ isn’t anything to really flip your lid over just yet but, you can feel the energy behind it is real.
|Title [Type/Year]||Top Rock [LP/2020]|
|The Sign Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Imagine the existential crisis I’d felt upon listening to ‘Top Rock’, a throwback to the 90’s throwback to the garage rock of 70’s, in 2020. Either I’ve lived too long or this whole straight forward, kinda stoned heavy rock sound still has some balls left to swing around. Hailing from the lakeside haven of Jönköping, Sweden the boogie rock of Beat City Tubeworks isn’t a plain imitation but c’mon singles like “Fading to Grey” are so late 90’s The Hellacopters they’re practically shaking it in your face. It all jogs out at a similar pace and the result is an album very much in the vein of Gluecifer‘s sleepy ‘Automatic Thrill’ record minus the punkish surge towards the end. It is retro-retro rock so don’t expect a revolution, rather a fun and very professional kick of that sound if you happen to need more of it. I’d like to see what the band could do with a really raw analog setup, something live in studio or stripped back to 4-6 tracks and making a messier go of things since this polished sound is pretty common. Otherwise a solid, catchy and very succinct retro rock record.
|Title [Type/Year]||Holocaust 26:1-46 [LP/2020]|
|Deadlight Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Hailing from the underrated and inventive world of sludge metal in Paris, France today this blackened and dirge prone quartet manage crushing and defiant modernity with the appropriate raw edges on their second full-length. Deliverance could be likened to the barreling death of countrymen Fange as album opener “Saturnine” thunders in at a wrathful mid-pace but it isn’t long until the Lord Mantis-esque black/sludge metal bomb raids begin. The band’s imagery and concept sees the world through an appropriate oculus of fear, death, manipulation, and instead of crying out for an end to the callousness of the future they almost appear to revel in the destruction of mankind’s dignity. I greatly appreciate this sort of nihilistic mood within sludge metal, it is exactly where the sub-genre began and a piece of the puzzle that many forward-thinking bands miss out on. The mix from guitarist Etienne Sarthou and master from Magnus Lindberg may be a bit dark but I love that they’ve accentuated the raw edges of the guitar tone, implying black metal while still emphasizing that this is quite clearly a sludge metal band at heart.
As for the songs themselves, much of ‘Holocaust 26:1-46’ slides between deathly mid-paced sludge metal dirges and breaks into very straightforward punches of black metal riffs. The black metal side of things is only an implication, nothing more deeply applied than a hint of that style. I like this sound and style but I did find it lacking for variation. With each song ranging from 7-9 minutes I’d felt like they needed to start experimenting more around the fourth or so track, it was captivating up until that point but with “Sancte Iohannes” things began to feel redundant, despite it being a great song. This isn’t a huge detractor, I mean I could say the same for Inter Arma or whomever else but this band is capable of more inventive spectacle than this record might suggest. The only think I’m left in the dark about is the theme of the album; The album art is quite plain and I didn’t pull much from the lyrics but, the title’s suggestion of a ‘holocaust psalm’ in relation to their irreligious artistic themes might’ve been more compelling if explained at least thematically.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Distant Infinite [LP/2020]|
|Runescarred on Facebook||Runescarred Website|
The hurdle to nudge over when it comes time to describe Austin, Texas-based metal band Runescarred is that they’ve pulled from 90’s garage crunched alt-groove metal as much as they have high-falutin’ progressive and power metal. It can be a big ask to find the common ground between self-involved catharses and the insistently pretentious and I think early Iced Earth and Nevermore fans know exactly what I’m talking about, it is an acquired gig you don’t exactly know you might like. This’ll be the main reason an altogether pretty sharp modern heavy metal record like ‘The Distant Infinite’ might have some folks squirming their way through the first couple of spins.
Runescarred is more or less a continuation of the path of evolution offered by Dead Earth Politics bringing in members of groove/thrash metal band Southern Front. The one driving the boat here is vocalist Ven Scott, not to undercut the performances here any more than the bass heavy mix already does but Scott‘s vocals are on emphasis at least 85% of the time. His range is ambitious and traditional heavy metal in tone, occasionally verging on what I’d consider AOR tendencies, I appreciate the big and over-the-top nature of these performances. I’m not saying Runescarred are scarf-wearing, frosted tips and eyeliner @ age 60 dad rock here but for sure it’ll be the 90’s traditional heavy metal fans and folks who align with the heavy, power and prog side of things making up the demographic.
Compared to their earlier singles I’d really enjoyed the bass guitar tone and performance here, it really warms things up and allows that sense of progressive metal to come across more naturally. I’d felt like the guitars were fairly thin on the chunkier first half of ‘The Distant Infinite’ but it makes more sense on a more intricate and lead-heavy song like “Poison Oasis”, which has this slight early Watchtower meets ‘This Godless Endeavor’ vibe. To sit well with everyone and not pick a side between the pretentious progressive musos and the kickin’ it aggro rock side of things is a major goal and a tough one, I see it on the horizon for Runescarred and I admire that they’re out there being their damned selves.
|Title [Type/Year]||World Without End [EP/2020]|
|Katoptron IX Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Greek traditional heavy metal band Witchcrawl features a host of musicians from the very best traditions of that sphere of modern Hellas black metal within the Athens’ underground (Akrotheism, Serpent Noir, Primeval Mass) but their debut mini-LP, ‘World Without End’ isn’t a throwback to first wave black metal in style so much as spirit. Hints of epic doom metal, NWOBHM, and maybe even a wide swing towards Italian band Requiem‘s ‘Via Crucis’ land this record deep in the well-hidden mid-80’s underground heavy metal scenes Mediterranean and eastern Europe. Although the record kicks off with some Mercyful Fate-esque melodies it pushes towards doom with each song and vocalist T. M. grows more frantic and wildly expressive as things get darker. The title track pretty much lost me as it just goes off the rails into deranged phrasing and multiple vocal layers that don’t really work. I appreciate the spirited insanity of those moments as much as they’d irked me at first. “Cydonia Rose” is a good balance of everything great about ‘World Without End’ with its dual guitar melody, galloping intro and almost drunken vocal cadence. Strange but altogether well composed and hard to forget for its quirks and darkness.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode [LP/2020]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp! [Feb 21st]|
Necrobode are back as a trio and hitting the right layers of filth with their debut full-length. These anonymous Portuguese black/death aggressors have stayed true to the primitive grinding war metal sound of their first demo (‘Metal Negro De Morte‘, 2017) a blurred as it is straightforward sound with some fairly obvious influences. Classic Finnish mastery alongside US equivalents could be likened to its reeking, slippery brutality but this sort of release really relies on the nuances beyond those points. I’d definitely felt like the band aim for a ’91 sound and style on ‘Sob o Feitiço do Necrobode’ but there are a few thrashier tracks that are slightly less Archgoat and more Morbosidad. If you’re up for war metal but only into the more death metal leaning stuff this’ll be a good score, there are plenty of classic bestial black metal influences within certain songs but the split isn’t entirely evened out. Not a deep release to pull great meaning from, just a solid hit of death metal leaning warfare noise. “Penetração Diabólica” was the big cut on the full listen for my tastes, definitely check that one out first.
|Title [Type/Year]||Terrifiant [LP/2020]|
|Gates of Hell Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Hey no question I’m always upfront when a traditional heavy metal band is so ‘true’ that I’ve got no clue what specific references have influenced their sound but in the case of Brussels based trad-metallers Terrifiant, I at least get a distinct post-‘Virgin Killer’ Euro-metal feeling. Beyond that spirited snort this record does have some interesting finer points beyond its pushy 80’s Riot guitar rush and howling vocalist, who is actually the drummer from Possession and Dikasteron. I’m all for over-the-top vocals and a big classic sound, which the press material suggest pull from 80’s United States power metal, NWOBHM, and Japanese heavy metal of that same era, but this guy is at an 11 from Side A ’til the last shrieks of Side B and ‘Terrifiant’ leaves a relentless impression as a result. A few big hits of speed metal riffs, some Los Angeles early 80’s bar metal dryness, and some wildly anthemic songs all pull it together by the end of the album. In terms of professional sound, on the mark hits, and generally doing their influences some justice this first Terrifiant record is inspired and pretty high quality for a debut. I didn’t personally get a huge rise out of it, “Speedline” was kind of a bummer and the less I hear metal songs about crystal or coke the better. No judgment, just a personal preference to not hear shit like bong rips, snorting, or whatever on a record. Solid album, though, I’m sure they’ve got bigger hooks, more shred, and plenty more classic melodies they could play around with to take that 80’s spirit towards something far more memorable.
|Title [Type/Year]||Mechanic Tyrants [LP/2020]|
|Gates of Hell Records||Torpëdo on Bandcamp!|
The absolute balls hanging off of Nuremburg-founded traditional heavy metal band Torpëdo are stunning on this CD/12″ vinyl LP reissue of their self-produced 2019 demo. ‘Mechanic Tyrants’ sounds like it dropped off of Neat Records‘ shelf circa 1984 in the sense that they’ve got this righteously lo-fi but loud late NWOBHM sound, edging into the speed metal infused athletic rockers of that era a la Atomkraft or Raven. Could be that they’ve captured the naivete of that time period naturally for the sake of having formed in 2018. Beyond that suggestion, they’ve written some head-splitting speed metal rockers here that’ll at least have you inspired by the time “Sons of Evil” chunks in and forces the issue. When they hit on the Tippens/Ramsay guitar runs just slightly on “Wrath of God” and “Victim of Desire” I see the potential for much more than retro kitsch here as these Germans understand 80’s metal was more than just riffs but damned songs that stick. Note that the Bandcamp link is for the original demo, hit up Gates of Hell for the CD/LP issue I’m referring to here with the new artwork pictured.
|Title [Type/Year]||Animal Bouffe Animal [LP/2020]|
|Throatruiner Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Seeking the enlightened ‘against the grain’ core of black metal’s slow abortion into the second wave while accepting the magnetic resonance of their hallowed setting within the avant-garde black metal mecca of southern France, Mourir surfaces with great violence unto their own path on their debut ‘Animal Bouffe Animal’. A doubly nihilistic re-envisioning of Plebian Grandstand bassist Oliver Lolmède‘s solo project Vermine, Mourir is not simply a full band accompaniment for that combination of orthodoxy and avant-dissonance but an original and very inspired production. ‘Animal Bouffe Animal’ manages to extend the ferocity of a blackened sludge metal band like Lord Mantis or Wolvhammer and curb the rhythms away from chunking doom without losing the spittle of harsh noise or the out-of-breath exasperation one might expect from a raw black metal act. It is polished to the point of inspiration and gorgeous fidelity but never so smooth that you’ll think too far outside of esoteric black metal spaces.
While listening to Mourir‘s debut there was initially the sense that it was a ‘steal’, that somehow this unknown band had managed a gigantic world class production job that was beyond their means. Though I admire the glossy noir depths of ‘Animal Bouffe Animal’ it isn’t clear if this amount of sound design and care really matters within a modern rejiggering of classic forms; Ultimately the result is a powerful album that I’d hope a lot of outsider black metal acts consider taking notes on, particularly the possibilities a professional ear towards dynamic sound could bring to a no-frills composition. Or just keep it true cult, whatever. If you’re a curious Plebian Grandstand fan, this isn’t as brutal and doesn’t dive into Ulcerate-esque battery along the way but there is just enough of a spiral into atmospherics and semi-frequent dissonant trills to keep the mind churning along that same path. Get in on this project early, they’re well worth it and the record is a blurry, thumping trip.
|Title [Type/Year]||Eau Rouge [LP/2020]|
|Throatruiner Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
If you’re in the same boat with me and discovered Cocaine Piss just last year and went scouring the internet for all related projects, here’s one that you might’ve missed. No doubt you’ve seen folks attempting post-punk, death rock, and goth rock applications to extreme metal amping up this last decade but what of the inverse? A post-punk project getting heavy n’ dirty, growling their musty breath in your ear while the drum machine’s pulse sends you into a compulsive, ecstatic and regret-filled grind. Deathmaze have you covered and they’re just doing it, kismet finds this duo hitting the cemetery dance floor just six months after aligning freak-punk minds Gregory Mertz (Daggers, Necrodancer) and Julien Diels (Elizabeth, ex-Cocaine Piss). Is this stuff that easy to make or are they making it look effortless?
The boost this record gets from its dips into hardcorish growled vocals works remarkably well alongside warbly n’ warm guitar runs, a bossy slapping drum machine, and the juiced psychedelic-goth vibe of the whole 24 minute record. It actually turns out to be a really good time, variations on a theme for sure but the right kind of warm and cozy elektro-sorrow punk. Hell, I don’t even think they should polish thier gig up, I loved how this felt like some raw mutant Rudimentary Peni deathrock evolution; They could really go all the way, a bit further anyhow, and filth it up with some industrial scuzz (a la Head of David) if the drum machine ever gets a wild hair up its programming. Cover art doesn’t look all that hip but the mix by Tim De Gieter (Much Luv Studio) and master from Magnus Lindberg (Redmont Studios) do some great work to get the mind-body connection going deep and fast.
|Title [Type/Year]||Kuroi Jukai [EP/2020]|
|Sentient Ruin Laboratories||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
You can feel as much passion in descriptions of this enigmatic Edmonton, Alberta noisepunk/powerviolence EP from the mid-2010’s as you can in its delivery — This was a spirited event, not only for its niche crossover appeal but for the concavity it’ll inevitably leave behind for anyone lucky enough to spin it. Kuroi Jukai could give off a slight early Deafkids or Gridlink vibe for a second but they’re much darker and organically crusted out than that’d imply, Knelt Rote strikes some of that harrowing fury and harsh noise but to get the full ‘black sea of trees’ effect you really have to scrape back to early powerviolence and maybe some Italian noisecore; Takes me back to my Bad Acid Trip lovin’ spastic years as much as it feels fresh as hell. However you get there, it’ll only take about ten minutes to plow through every song they ever wrote, which they released after they’d already called it quits. ‘Kuroi Jukai’ is dead music, numbered but not named, a short and murderous spray of hatred and noise barely given a cassette tape tombstone until Sentient Ruin picked it up and gave it their usual high quality reissue/remaster package. Very high recommendation for this one, probably won’t kill you to suck it in for ten minutes. Probably.
|Title [Type/Year]||Blood of Qayin [LP/2020]|
|Spread Evil Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Southern Finnish black metal band Mimorium have returned with a second full-length two years after their debut ‘Incipit Chaos’ and they’ve done a fine job of iterating on their original concept. Although album opener “I Am What We Are” blazes in with a melodic burner of a musical statement they are guided by a much more brutal attack that it might suggest. Think along the lines of Sacrificium Carmen, Behexen, and some distinctly Norwegian leanings within their most aggressive riffing despite how lazy that comparison might sound. ‘Blood of Qayin’ is distinctly more musical than its predecessor without going head-on melodic and this gives their classic sound a ‘modern’ feeling that aligns with the greater hordes of Finnish black metal today, perhaps reaching for the more accessible spectrum of that sphere rather than the esoteric rawness you might find north of Kuopio. I’m impressed with the quality of performances here, these are clean and organized takes that are well produced and generally strike a good balance between true black metal attack and meaningful melodic device. With that said none of it really stuck with me, or stuck out from the already high standards for Finnish black metal today.
|Title [Type/Year]||Spaceflowers [LP/2020]|
|Tonzonen Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Reutlingen, Germany-based psychedelic space rockers The Spacelords have worked their way up to this sixth full-length, and third in a trilogy of albums for Tonzonen Records, by sticking to their guns: Low and slow and stoned to high hell jams. As such, this record doesn’t depart from expectations set by the two records previous with its three extended psychedelic jams that range from 12-25 minutes in length. Their sound is lush, buzzing, and driven by prominent and gently distorted bass guitar mantras that’ll feel natural to folks who enjoy the mystic feel of Zaum but seek the streaking consciousness of the jam band experience. ‘Spaceflowers’ is dominated by the Side B filling “Cosmic Trip”, a three part escalation that is probably not for the uninitiated when it comes to stoner jam meets space rock continuity as it largely features the same bassline for its ~25 minute duration. This didn’t bother me but the track as a whole didn’t live up to the similar “Black Hole” track they did for ‘Liquid Sun’ (2016). It was “Frau Kuhnkes Kosmos” that really did the work on the full listen and that’ll be the major track I’d recommend if you’re curious about the record.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sparta [LP/2020]|
|Psalm Zero on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
The lament of the fine artist will inevitably solidify into a foundation easily crumbled, chipped away by the eager but slow-grind of time and the devaluation of the reflective culture they’d create. Millions of minds microwaved by their previously unassuming tin foil hats cannot keep up, can no longer follow, and with taste decentralized or… self-customized into hyperspecific realities, the artist cannot help but represent the constant state of disrepair around them. For musician Charlie Looker (Extra Life) the mirror and the self aren’t so much at war as they are learning from each other, a vibrant AI for a creeping apocalypse and the answer is well, indie-goth kissed doom rocking art metal. Psalm Zero always carried a sense of gleeful mourning, a relishing in morbidity that hadn’t felt so dark until the elements of industrial would strip away into the buzzing elegies of their third album, ‘Sparta’, which finds Looker the creative chief and a remarkable bummer this time around. In a good way, truly remarkable.
The goth-tinged and collapsing modern doom metal sway of Side A not only showcases Looker‘s unique cadence and tonality but provides a foil for a more narrative voice for the artist; “Open Wound” is as much an emotional tirade as it is a creeping progressive doom concerto for some alien emotional pour I’d not been ready to examine when it hit. Psalm Zero weren’t devoid of emotional resonance on ‘Stranger to Violence‘ (2016) but felt lost in its own sea of mildly clashing ideas, there is a guided linearity to the purposeful gush of ‘Sparta’ that speaks more readily to me and provides a torrent to flow along. Without guitarist Andrew Hock in second station, Keith Abrams and Ron Varod of Kayo Dot humanize the rhythms and dark edges of ‘Sparta’ to great effect while giving Psalm Zero over to Looker‘s central reality, a more ‘organic’ and ambitiously dramatic vision.
“Return to Stone” halts the gushing neck of humanity just long enough that it’d sing in full chorales, including some impressive layering of Looker and Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota) providing a truly dramatic centerpiece heading into Side B. If you’d thought I’d been a dunce to suggest progressive doom metal was anywhere near the right suggestion for the experience the burly, riff-heavy finale of “Animal Outside” and “A Pill” should at least motion towards redemption on my part. ‘Sparta’ deserves more time, a few more months or even a year to mature in the mind and build up its bleakest glowing sensibilities but for now, it deserves a high recommendation for the art-rock wierdo metal crowd and any wide-open mind that’d receive
|Title [Type/Year]||An End to Rumination [LP/2020]|
|Treurwilg on Facebook||PREVIEW “Shallow Pools of Grief” on Bandcamp!|
Treurwilg‘s second full-length ‘An End to Rumination’ offers an unusually complete picture of modern depressive doom metal through a concept much deeper than suggested. So many albums dealing with fear, emptiness and despair posit the unearth from woe and instead simply wallow in the helplessness of a depressive state. Each track on ‘An End to Rumination’ features lyrics penned by one of each four band members detailing anxietous fears and the torpor of existential dread only to find a way out of that hole before completing. Sure, you’ll need a lyric sheet and some experience with prose to pull that much from it and at the end of the day it is an atmospheric death/doom metal album but this concept helps to add value to the experience and creates a greater sense of engagement with the greater feeling expressed. As for the music consider it heavily influence by acts like October Tide and maybe Officium Triste while verging on funeral doom at their most extreme, with elements of atmospheric black metal creeping in just as often.
It really does feel like Treurwilg (“weeping willow”) have learned quite a bit from their first album (‘Departure‘, 2016) having clearly taken a serious ear to its successes and failures, the result is an impressive melodic death/doom record that doesn’t venture beyond the intended emotional impact. I suppose I am a bleak bastard at the end of the day so it would be “Myosotis” that really clobbered me first and then the collaborative finale of “Shallow Pools Of Grief” that floored me in the end. It took some patience to settle into the deeper recesses of this Netherlands based band’s fairly straight forward style but every moment spent with it would prove redeeming in the end.
|Title [Type/Year]||Abominations… [Demo/2020]|
|Burning Coffin Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
‘Abominations…’ is the first demo from Santiago, Chile vile and destructive crypt creeping cult death metal duo Phantasmagore. Self-released digitally back in December of 2019, this cassette edition comes by way of Burning Coffin Records in pretty limited quantities. This demo does a fantastic job of yanking riffless primitive death metal acts off their pedestal and chunks the living hell out of ’em with this blazing storm a la Nihilist, Abhorrence and all the horror-drenched bloody filth that fuels their imagery (Impetigo, Necrophagia). In fact they close the three song tape with an HM-2 crunched cover of Necrophagia‘s “Bloodfreak”. Pure ‘old school’ death metal delivered strong and simple with eons of horror flicks on the brain. Both original songs smoke here but I’d say the riffs on “Assimilation of the Intruder Cell” really go for it and impressed me the most. Check it out if you missed it back in December, I’d definitely grab the tape before they’re gone.
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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