…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 22nd through 28th, 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]||Fungal Warfare Upon All Life [EP/2020]|
|Blood Harvest Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based quartet (trio at the time of recording) Blood Spore riff on a particularly sweet-scented fungoid stream of death and doomed metal for their debut EP ‘Fungal Warfare Upon All Life’ which was self-released in April 2019 and now receives a full suite of physical releases through the venerable Blood Harvest Records. Positing a great mycologic entity, a swollen and horrible sentient earthen hive that’d act as devourer and protist-possessor — The slopping rot of their microbiologically scaled investigative death metal worldview mirrors the tunnel vision created by the pulses of death metal’s primitive rebirth of the last half-decade. The colors of life are not vivid under the microscope, allow Blood Spore to stain them red.
The slippery gunk of the mix might have you thinking of earlier Tomb Mold to begin but, I hear plenty of classic death/doom influence alongside a naturally occuring bout of Krypts-esque crawling roar (“Apex Colony”.) If you’d just listened to “Hostile Fruiting Bodies” I wouldn’t blame you for being somewhat underwhelmed. It is a good song just doesn’t go for the throat like the other two tracks. If you do make it to “Cede to the Saprophyte” you couldn’t possible deny the power of that intro as it fuses with the brilliant filth that follows. When early Carcass influenced bands began to spread across Finland in the late 80’s I’d say very few had this depth of atmospheric intent, in fact most were brutal and belching (see: Carnifex), but I still get a sense of that nastiness listening to this EP. The vibe is there and the riffs are generally hitting a high bar, nothing that’ll completely smoke your brains out if you listen to throwback death on a constant basis but this sort of band evolves quickly when given the chance and Blood Spore are ace right out the gates. Definitely the biggest death metal release of the week.
|Title [Type/Year]||Human Impulse [EP/2020]|
|Human Impulse on Instagram||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Human Impulse are a fairly unique export for a Minneapolis, Minnesota band as they whip up a mixture of different 90’s hardcore punk and metallic hardcore influences for their greater style. Think along the lines of ‘Dedication’-era Raised Fist when the trio are at their grooviest while the pacing hits closer to Merauder‘s slightly shorter songs. Beyond that there are some pretty sharp Swedish crust/hardcore punches along the way, nothing quite as overblown as I’ve suggested but as you re-spin the entirety of this six song, ~15 minute EP the desolate post-apocalyptic energy of European metal-punk has Human Impulse currying great dread for the future of mankind. “The Darkest Hand” is probably the bleakest peak of the venture, reinforcing the mood before swinging into the high energy duo of “Pharmacaust” and “New Wave” to close out the listen. I couldn’t help but think of Kill Your Idols‘ early records while familiarizing myself with this record, it might’ve been the twinge of late 90’s tough-but-melodic hardcore in their sound but either way I’d enjoy my time with this debut.
|Title [Type/Year]||Aeons [LP/2020]|
|The Sign Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Charlotta’s Burnin’ Trio, Charlotta’s Burning Trio, or better yet just CB3 is a Swedish instrumental heavy psychedelic rock trio who’ve shifted gears with each release while keeping it true to their 70’s prog n’ heavy rock spiritus along the way. Coming off of some of their most jammed and jazz-fueled works, ‘Aeons’ finds the band working up a space rocked and bite-sized opera where bits of Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra‘s amplified grandeur shine through more than ever. I’d listened to ‘Aeons’ roughly 3-4 times before I’d start to feel like this is absolutely music I need to see rather than plainly sit with; “Sonic Blaze” just doesn’t seem to go anywhere despite its grand entrance and no doubt watching the musicians work it out might’ve made its resolution feel somewhat less abrupt. Charlotta Andersson‘s guitar work pulls in some major psychedelia as the album progresses, of which I’d say “Acid Haze” is probably my favorite performance but “Apocalypse” the most vivid and memorable composition. The press materials and interviews suggest Earthless is a meaningful reference point and that makes some sense, though most of ‘Aeons’ faded into the background for me quickly by comparison. The full listen didn’t necessarily stick with me but I did enjoy those first several listens and would recommend “Acid Haze” and “Apocalypse” for an introduction to the record.
|Title [Type/Year]||Proselyte Parasite Plague [LP/2020]|
|Hell’s Headbangers Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
What’d been so refreshing about Abhomine‘s debut (‘Larval Offal Swine’) back in 2016 was the sense that it was honest as possible. A pure, plain demo (sounding) tape that was basically all Pete Helmkamp (Order From Chaos, Angelcorpse, Revenge) right there buzzing a few riffs in your ear beneath his unfiltered growl. Pure, primitive, and featuring the guy’s personality and point of view in a very ‘live’ setting there was no spectacle to it beyond some minor layering and this is basically what Abhomine are still up to four years later only this time drums and additional vocals feature Cazz Grant (Crucifier, Grand Belial’s Key). I’m a fan of this type of garage black/death metal and have collected demo tapes from both musician’s bands over the years but even I found ‘Proselyte Parasite Plague’ stripped back to bare bones sound further than expected. Apart from a conscious shoving of the bass guitar towards the middle-back of the room Helmkamp‘s rasp is most prominent and this’ll probably be the gripe out of the gate for most folks. If you’re not into the mix, dude is going to be yelling in your ear for a solid 25 minutes. Didn’t bug me, I appreciated the clarity and it figures that whatever vision of the present or the future Helmkamp is depicting it is at least clear as day and backed by an 80’s death metal sound. “Saracen” is probably my favorite song here, feels like one of those demo only death metal bands from the late 80’s Midwest or, just the sort of stuff these guys have been writing since then.
|Title [Type/Year]||Haunted Graves [EP/2020]|
|Redefining Darkness Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Gainesville, Florida extreme metalpunks Hot Graves signed onto Redefining Darkness Records a while back and this EP is their first new material put out since. As far as I can tell if you buy this you’ll get the reissue of the bands 2015 full-length ‘Magnificent Death’ as well. Great album which I’d put on a death metal/crust punk list back when it released. On that full-length Hot Graves had a sort of blackened death feeling about half the time and developed a black/thrash/crossover hybrid kick the other half. ‘Haunted Graves’ doesn’t stray drastically from the now well established sound of the quartet, think of late 80’s crossover/d-beat delivered by a blackened death/thrash metal band. That might sound kind of all over the place on paper but they’ve done a fine job of working out transitions between Discharge-punched blackened thrash, and some modern hits of crossover-gone-death metal style. Much like Deadhorse back in the day I don’t think they’re particularly effective in just one area but, the sum of Hot Graves‘ influences express in a distinguished fashion by way of reasonably memorable songs. “Sewage Communion” feels like a step beyond the mindset of ‘Magnificent Death’, pushing past the Toxic Holocaust-meets-death metal side of the band into a sound that has its own neon glowing hardcore punk spirit to it. A good mix of new sounds, new ideas and some of their old ways.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Vanishing [LP/2020]|
|Profound Lore Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Having grown a very distinct pair of legs on their second album ‘Marrow Hymns’ (2018) the instrumental psychedelic doom metal of Insect Ark might’ve spawned a second head for ‘The Vanishing’, an album of deeper cinematic quality and less graciously applied textural ripples than previous. The prickling layers afforded by Brooklyn based musician Dana Schecter (Swans, Bee and Flower) find direction beyond imagery, there is a voice yet without a throat leading the way forward by the hand of the artist who is joined once again by Ashley Spungin (Ormus) for these sessions prior to parting ways with the drummer.
Even if instrumental psychedelic post-doom full of slide guitar wrangling and space rock basslines isn’t going to be your jam at face value you’d be belligerent to not admire the work of Colin Marston whose recording/engineer give world class presence to these ornate, introverted pieces as they unfold slowly. A piece like “Danube” could feel so flat in any other rendering, yet the dynamic settling of even the most simple progression feels all the more remarkable when treated well. I’ve actually seen this band live twice now and the mood fit particularly well with the stunning event of seeing Oranssi Pazuzu live, though I have to admit I’m still that guy who wants some vocal element (even if it was some kind of Paul Chain-esque phonetic murmuring) to lift the art to a full body status. In keeping with the spirit of those Finns and the space rock suggestion, the bassline that kicks off and drives opener “Tectonic” should feel very familiar in spirit to the ‘Kosmonument’ days of that band.
Where the listener achieves emotional connection with the music rather than admiration will be a case by case basis. I’d felt like a sense of otherworldly immersion reinforced the spectacle created by the cinematic ‘post-‘ modus of Insect Ark and an emotional connection was difficult; However, admiration was quick and easily achieved. I didn’t connect with the compositions in any certain spiritual or psychedelic kismet state but there is a sense of freedom, of movement without impatience that is perhaps the biggest change since ‘Marrow Hymns’. No bigger but arguably better achieved in most practical aspects, I would give some high recommendation for this third Insect Ark record.
|Title [Type/Year]||Little Chasm of Horrors [EP/2020]|
|Caligari Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
If you’d felt like the fungal depths of Blood Spore were too focused on the microscopic evils of the underworld, consider this droning death/doom a more earthen alternative in a different kingdom of organisms entirely. Named for the Venus flytrap and well, intent on “…the doom of all red blooded life forms” in preparation “…for Carnivorous Vegetation Supremacy!” Muscipula rises from the evil seed of the Earth by way of Nashville, Tennessee landing on Caligari Records’ doorstep for a limited run cassette of their debut EP, ‘Little Chasm of Horrors’. Think of it more like death metal heaviness applied to stoner/sludge metal rhythms it isn’t exactly Worms nor is it Toadsmoker but I’d put ’em on the same bill with both.
“Sphagnum Bog of the Depraved Droseracea” whips into its stoner doom metal swing that really does feel like their own gig. I mean, no doubt there are plenty of underground bands doing something along those lines but that is one hell of a distinctive trip. You can tell that whomever these folks are they’re engaged in some worship of classic death/doom without aiming for the brittleness of tone shared by most of the earliest acts (excepting Cianide). That boosted fidelity kinda makes the d-beat chunks of “Closed Shut (Enzymatic Death by Digestion)” less interesting, landing somewhere along the lines of Bastard Grave with slightly more doom leanings and some McEntee guitar squeals thrown in. I love the plodding pace and deliberate, menacing feeling (see: the last couple Runemagick records) of this EP but I’d admittedly be more interested if they ‘re-branded’ towards a less kitsch theme and just focused on writing more of those killer riffs. Excellent tape either way, I’m on board for this and anything they do next.
|Title [Type/Year]||Das Verderben [EP/2020]|
|Redefining Darkness Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
German atmospheric black metal trio Schattenfall have returned just a little under a year beyond their well-received second album ‘Melancholie des Seins’ with a three song EP once again exported by way of Redefining Darkness and Wolfspell. I could be wrong but these three songs sound like they were either extras from the sessions for the previous album or recorded with much the same setup, tweaking the expanse just slightly. Opener “Totentanz” does feature a very different bass tone, curling inwards with what sounds like a fretless bass. The song itself feels like the classic depressive/avant-garde side of German black metal viewed through a lens attuned to modern atmospheric black metal, complete with synth adornment that I’d found brilliant. Overall I can at least suggest ‘Das Verderben’ is thickened and just ‘bigger’ in tone than what I remember of ‘Melancholie des Seins’ which I did not review.
It is odd to think that some of these guys were in White Ward at some point when considering the harshly serious and less dryly moderne touch of ‘Das Verderben’. I’m very impressed by the depressive black metal touches therein which coexist alongside some subtle dark metal movements without losing the core atmospheric black metal vision. Right, that’d be the main reason I didn’t end up doing a full review as I’ve clearly not much insight to offer. Despite my own incompetent observations, I will say the full listen flows together beautifully and feels like the best points of harmonious vision shared between the members to date, wrathful as it is delirious in dejection but never too glaringly desperate.
|Title [Type/Year]||Nightmarecatcher [LP/2020]|
|Hell’s Headbangers Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Whether it has been intentional or not, the focus on increasingly loosened psychedelic structures within Ævangelist beyond their split release with Blut Aus Nord in 2016 has sifted away much of the initial compulsion that’d made the project interesting starting with ‘Omen Ex Simulacra’ back in 2013. ‘Nightmarecatcher’ follows a string of three releases in 2018 that’d served as an epitaph to the original duo and instead features new vocalist Stéphane Gerbaud who was the original vocalist for French band Anorexia Nervosa before their avant-garde death metal ways became a shit Cradle of Filth type band. I believe this post-‘divorce’ version of Ævangelist is conceptually more viable than a lot of Matron Thorn‘s past works but very little of ‘Nightmarecatcher’ felt doggedly intentional or well, edited into the -best- ideas rather than just ideas.
I do have to commend the application of improvisational psychedelic textures, often clashing with one another, to black metal as an idea but in practice the mid-to-slow pace isn’t served well by the ‘digital’ bedroom render of the album. For an artist with ten albums to this project’s name in less than a decade I see diminishing returns in what time I’ve invested in each of them, finding these three extended tracks brutally repetitive and reeking of rough patchwork. I’m not attempting to drag the record but rather illustrate some disappointment with how uninterested it sounds, that is to say I ‘get it’ in terms of psychedelia, ambiance, discordant movements but none of it bears a point of view.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ingesting Putridity [Remaster/2020]|
|Agonia Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Although I’d pulled out of brutal death fandom almost entirely by 2011 I’d certainly not been able to escape the well-hyped debut from Baltimore, Maryland brutal death metal band Visceral Disgorge, who were generally lumped in with/attributed to the popularity of slamming brutal death at the time. There are some great riffs in this record by way of former guitarist Steve Rosenzweig who’d sadly passed away back in 2014 and all of it gets a pretty solid, not too shined over remaster for this reissue from Agonia Records. I did get the sense that the remaster was a necessity because the previous vinyl issue from Amputated Vein Records sounded pretty bad (in my opinion, at least). Also, I know this is a stupid reason to remember a record but I always liked the use of samples on ‘Ingesting Putridity’ clips from films with quick quotes like “Tonight you’re gonna get your dick ripped off”, “I’ll cut off your tits with a knife you bitch”, and “This is what happens when you fuck stranger in the ass” really spice up the record. Otherwise the lyrics feature about five songs describing different scenarios for the torturous anal rape of a woman, to death. To break up the monotony of that imagery there is some focus on consumption of anal contents, necrophilia, and to really cap things off the last song describes a mother and child uh, being raped and killed one after the other. Hey now, hey, the riffs hold up at least. “Everyone can eat shit! A big bag of shit!“
|Title [Type/Year]||The Great Mountain [LP/2020]|
|Cardinal Fuzz||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
‘The Great Mountain’ is the second record from Andrew Cheetham‘s Waterless Hills a fully improvised project from the drummer who plays with a whole host of psych and folk bands you wouldn’t know. These were direct to ¼” tape recordings featuring Cheetham along with DBH on violin, Gavin Clarke on bass, and folk musician C. Joynes on electric guitar. The violinist sways things as much as the timing of the percussion does, from arabesque to Americana along the way but it’d be “Horns Lit by the Rising Sun” that’d first catch my ear. Seeing as how their only other recording was a lathe cut homespun affair this is a lot more than expected, more lucid and serious in terms of instrumental works while still feeling off the cuff to some degree. Doubt this will interest most of the folks who dig through this column every week but if you’re inclined towards some level of folk rock and improvised post-rock that is devoid of crescendo abuse and any sense of modernism this is a fascinating stream of consciousness to sit with.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Funeral Pyre [LP/2020]|
|Black Lion Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Kvaen is more or less a solo project from Swedish musician Jakob Björnfot who is best known for his time in The Duskfall and folkish melodeath band Autumn Death. ‘The Funeral Pyre’ brings quite a different sound than prior projects featuring a mixture of black/thrash metal sound lead by Swedish melodic black metal and pagan/viking metal rhythms. I know that description is a mess to imagine but think of the earlier stuff from Suidakra or Forefather and apply some more speed metal attuned riffs to kick off a few songs. The main reason I’d mention this release this week is because despite very inconsistent drum recordings Kvaen manage a compelling enough melodic black metal album here with some inspired folkish early 2000’s viking metal whips along the way, it reminds me of that era where bands like Månegarm started out making melodic black metal before the keyboards and helmets took over their sound.
As I’d suggested, the production quality isn’t entirely where it needs to be but the songwriting is focused and expressive enough that it took me to the intended space between the early 90’s and the early 2000’s. The title track really picks things up a bit beyond the just ‘ok’ first couple of tracks and I’d engage the record a bit more as the leads pick up a bit of Windir along the way. The tracklist is more or less all over the place at a glance but most of the songs fit together well enough, excepting the oddly early 90’s black metal shove of “Bestial Winter” near the end. A decent debut but lacks a centralized identity that pulls each piece under the same umbrella.
|Title [Type/Year]||Population II [Remaster/2020]|
|RidingEasy Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Infamous as one of the first true doom metal albums back in 1970, ‘Population II’ came after Holden‘s stint in Blue Cheer for their ‘New! Improved!’ album the year previous. This was a ridiculous highly conceptual greeting by way of an alien to an Earth that wouldn’t listen and it would ruin the poor man into poverty and resignation, he wouldn’t write another record until 1994. So, what is the big deal about ‘Population II’ getting a legal and proper remaster in 2020? Well, shit, I remember Nebula covering one of Randy’s songs back in 1999 and being blown away trying to find this record and Blue Cheer‘s pre-’85 material to find out what I’d been missing beyond my Sabbath and Zeppelin records early in life. You couldn’t find ‘Population II’ until a decade later beyond chancing a shit bootleg from eBay in the 2000’s. Getting a clean remaster from a label I trust matters quite a bit, even better that this is one of the best records you’re gonna buzz between your ears , ever.
Holden was/is a guitarist with a stellarly mind who’d always try the next thing, do something fresh and never forget the early roots of blues rock, surf rock, psychedelia and the early heavy metal beyond. ‘Population II’ was that big, ballsy Atomic Rooster kinda 70’s metal… Dark, earnest and always slashing the guitar up hard enough that it screamed its existential dread beyond the dead wood that it was. The image of sixteen Sunn amps stacked like Queen concert for a rehearsal in an opera house is somewhat haunting, at least considering that idea in Holden‘s head would end up a ghost of great ambition not realized in its time. Big ideas, big sound, and all that are one thing but it is the twisted and experimental guitar work that sells this record beyond its appeal to fans of everything from early Deep Purple to Pentagram. If you’re a heavy psych, doom metal, psych rock, stoner metal, and adjacent fan this is an essential record. One hit of “Blue My Mind” or “Guitar Song” and you’ll get it.
|Title [Type/Year]||That Which Wets the Saccharine Palate [LP/2020]|
|Aesthetic Death||Order from Aesthetic Death|
‘That Which Wets the Saccharine Palate’ is a dissonant and mildly technical black metal record from Alaskan band Yaldabaoth, who are described as “satirical” in the press materials despite sounding generally serious. There is a kinda mid-paced mathcore vibe to this release beyond the usual dissonant black metal associations that comes across stronger than say, Deathspell Omega or Serpent Column comparisons which don’t necessarily fit what Yaldabaoth are doing. “To Neither Rot Nor Decay”, a fairly involved instrumental, served to to pick things up on the second half of this somewhat repetitive and ranting approximation of a certain style. I like the idea of musician generally known for atmospheric black metal (Arria Paetus, They Leapt From Burning Windows) turning the dial towards chaos a bit though you can certainly still hear some shapes that stem from the prettier side of atmoblack music. The only knock I could offer for this record is that these songs are often up to 8-9 minutes in length, and they’re awfully repetitive getting from point A to point B. I definitely think this project is onto something but the variety isn’t fully there yet, for my own taste.
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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