…From the Tomb 3/09/20: “Haunted by their barking echoes.”

…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 [March 7th through March 13th, 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.


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Artist NECROPHILIAC
Title [Type/Year] No Living Man Is Innocent [LP/2020]
Xtreem Music BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

First up this week is a ‘comeback’ record from a late 80’s death metal band out of Utrera are in southern Spain who’d primarily been active from about 1988 until just after their debut full-length ‘Chaopula – Citadel of Mirrors’ had managed to fully freak out the death metal underground with its feral and completely brutal style. Necrophiliac were the kind of band that only a collector of the most bizarre and nihilistic music could love, plenty of gory hand-drawn imagery and blasting demonic intent made the experience memorable. Hindsight has seen many positing their debut as an example of proto-brutal death metal within a certain regional context though I felt a lot of that could be chalked up to how messy the recording was. They split up in 1993 and reformed with some replacements in the line-up around 2016 and now nearly 30 years removed from the debut we get ‘No Living Man Is Innocent’ a record that shows a lot of the same idiosyncratic gusto of the first album but the songwriters have stuck with a more fundamentalist approach to death metal, crafting a pure but wholly dynamic ‘old school’ death metal record.

If you’ve made it through the first two tracks on ‘No Living Man is Innocent’ you’ll have to emphasize the Death in “death metal record” because this album finds Necrophiliac divorced from a lot of the Scandinavian influences on their first album and now guitar techniques offer about 30% 1991-1998 Evil Chuck while the riffs are closer to Pestilence and the punchier early days of a band like Hypocrisy. The constant threat of including a run pulled straight from “The Philosopher” while in the midst of an early Asphyx style song is actually very effective, and I’d appreciated the mix of old school prog death and pure thrashing death metal, it gives the album much more personality than expected and I’d find myself wanting to be back in the midst of it even after I’d worn out the record.

When we’re talking about a band that hasn’t recorded a thing under this name since ~1991 of course the requisite expectation is that they’ve created a death metal record that sounds like the early 90’s. If that is all you’re expecting, swoosh right? I was blown away by parts of this record but didn’t feel that it did more than fulfill the curse, made good on the promise of a return, and impressed with that ‘old school’ spirit fresh in its stead. The Dan Swanö mix has a trademark amount of force applied to the drums and a very slick emphasis on the low end of the guitars, it’ll appear clinical when cranked initially but once you’re a song or two in the punch it adds to Necrophiliac‘s mixed pacing becomes vital. “Magma of Flesh (Beasts of the Earth)” could’ve lost some of its prog-death atmospheric digs without that elastic treatment. Of all of the Drowned Productions originals to reform and put out a record this last decade I think Necrophiliac might’ve comeback with the most fire on record and I really appreciated my time with it. Cover art is amazing, also.


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Artist FOTOCRIME
Title [Type/Year] South of Heaven [LP/2020]
Profound Lore Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hell, I’ve gotta warm up a lot more darkwave in the ol’ oven before I go writing a full feature review on an album like ‘South of Heaven’… Fotocrime is more than just that, though — This project from R. Patterson (Coliseum, Black Cross, A National Acrobat) offers an oozy-eyed, gothic rocked buzz within its core post-punk spirituality, crossing the line into the deeply sentimental and savagely clever with just enough of a curled lip to win me over. Alienation, distress, and the shuddering slit throat of love’s dependency are presented at the heart of ‘South of Heaven’, each song eases into conflict offering the occasional one-armed hug in resolution. It is a cold world all the same and Fotocrime doesn’t necessarily want to hold hands, there is no lift for the jaw-dropped and the full listen had my eyes drifting around the room, recognizing the intimacy of record long before “Hold Me in the Night” sledgehammered the point.

“Never Fall Out of Love” took me back to my first Front Line Assembly show in the mid-90’s, obviously not coming that hard but recalling the stink of grungy desperation and rarely worn leather pants in a post-NIN club world. The song pushes out slow into brilliantly never-landing drift in its last two minutes, it was enough of a moment that I’d give pause anytime the full spin hit that point. We’re back in the 80’s by the next song, musing over Saturn’s palate and genesis while the realization should’ve arrived by now, this is a further stray from the punk edges of ‘Principle of Pain’ (2018) offering only the most danceable swing Depeche Mode and some hints of springing New Model Army-esque basslines (see: “Blue Smoke”). The album ripens on this second half of the album, building up to some of the very best songs as it ends.

“Chaos & Cosmos” sprawls when it opens into its chorus, resembling nascent industrial rock as much as it does the chiming dread of post-punk and more or less summing up the best traits expressed across ‘South of Heaven’. There is a bit of nihilism in there, I’d say. Closing track “Tough Skin” is the hook-driver, the song you swing back through the whole record for, the big payoff for the full listen, and my favorite track on the record. I doubt you’ll be up for this kind of thing if you’re not already sensitive to gothy post-punk like Wires & Lights and The Foreign Resort and if you are, this’ll offer a bit more vision and variety by way of a very confident voice. There are guest appearances to boost the signal along the way, from Metz‘ drummer to members of Young Widows, Kerosene 454, and some prime production value via producer/engineer J. Robbins (Jawbox) and recording by Steve Albini. High gloss, matte thoughts.


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Artist LYCHGATE
Title [Type/Year] Also Sprach Futura [EP/2020]
Debemur Morti Productions BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

There are yet only a small handful of bands approaching black metal aesthetics with the level of professional and ornate prog-extreme musicianship and doom-sized atmosphere as that of London organ grinders Lychgate who return with their first post-‘The Contagion in Nine Steps’ EP, ‘Also Sprach Futura’ this week. In terms of actual progressive music, the avant-garde taken to a world-class level of performance and conceptual vision, Lychgate are almost entirely in a ‘progressive black metal’ world of their own that is by chance incredibly strange and wildly detailed. There is a chaotic order to recognize within each of these four pieces and I’ve long related it their style to the latter days of Emperor, the progressive and unpredictable nature of (non-industrial metal era) Dødheimsgard and maybe Abigor‘s most electric early days but, these are difficult comparisons to make without some heavy caveat on each part. There is a resounding discordance that arises when Lychgate are wailing full-bore that is unlike anything else and the presence of the organ produces an ominous cathedralesque distortion in unison, as if channeled by some nihilistic ancient cult.

In theme, ‘Also Sprach Futura’ aims clairvoyance upon the future and wrathfully details the horror of the present evolved into nauseating truths. The erasure of corporeal humanity, the distortion available within a ‘shared’ notion of human existence, and ultimately the vision of the EP begins to feel like a wonderfully detailed Philip K. Dick novella where sentience is a matter of perspective and chaotic existence is preserved without flesh. Without this context it’d perhaps just be a complex and wonderfully dark progressive black metal album but the themes go a long way to guide the record’s vision toward present day ripples of a crowded Earth finding a way through a damned neon-lit future. I found this EP horrifying, exciting, and a nice accompaniment to their previous LP, sounding like a meaningful grouping of extra pieces from those 2017 sessions. There hasn’t really been an “onboarding” record for Lychgate up until this point and I felt like ‘Also Sprach Futura’ offers a succinct picture of what their three records have to offer. Highly recommended for folks who were overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of the bands past releases but remain curious, there is yet plenty of depth to relish.


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Artist THE GUILT
Title [Type/Year] New Knives [LP/2020]
Heptown Records The Guilt Official Website

Flicked hard enough to turn red and angry, Swedish elektro-punk duo The Guilt are too much fun to let slip through my tired-ass fingers and I guess that is the point eh? A bit o’ clowning around with catchy-as-hell, danceable and defiant tunes exacting their vengeance upon a hapless and impersonal world, it’ll resonate. Even if I’ve no meaningful reference fresh enough in my mind for what they’re doing, The Guilt offer up a ear-slapper with the opening moments of ‘New Knives’, always kicking at a danceable pace and incessantly smirking through singles “Enemy” and “New Knives”. Once the adrenaline wears off you’ll see the bones of their sound aren’t built with any more depth than your own ass-shaking, room stomping reaction: Big synth basslines, hump-paced beats, and what I’d consider MDMA melodies… Teeth-clenching joy, artificial but loving it. The big song that’d tattoo’d onto my skull early on was actually “At the Office”, a beyond dystopian catharsis set to very catchy music. They forget to drink their water here and there but “You & I”, “Beige and Contagious” and “Spasm” make up for some of the dry spots nearby, keeping the record moving even when the energy dips. Ten songs and about 35 minutes means they get in, get to the hook and get out just fast enough that the record holds up despite being somewhat front-loaded with impact. A very fun record and those singles definitely demand to be on repeat for hours at a time.


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Artist VERBAL RAZORS
Title [Type/Year] By Thunder and Lightning [LP/2020]
Deadlight Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Around since 2008 and now on their third full-length French crossover/thrash metal band Verbal Razors recall the Los Angeles area crossover scene of the late 80’s and early 90’s where hardcore punk bands quickly found themselves touring with big name thrash bands and cranking out well-received records a la Suicidal Tendencies and Nuclear Assault. Of course this band doesn’t go that far back and their style could be seen as a generation beyond the rise of bands like Municipal Waste, not quite party thrashing it but instead putting out some uncomplicated but still solid thrash metal in the process. Think along the lines of Gama Bomb, Short Sharp Shock or Foreseen but a shade of Beowülf and Uncle Slam in there too, just a bit of that early Venice crossover spirit.

‘By Thunder and Lightning’ sticks in the mind by way of rock n’ roll movements set to the precision of thrash metal, it feels like an approximation of thrash just like those old crossover records did but doesn’t whip in a ton of extra energy making for a mid-to-fast paced record. It’ll often feel like the band have taken the essence of classic Megadeth and Exodus riffs and slowed them down to a Cro-Mags pace and expanding the core musical statement into a (usually) fully rounded thrash metal song. These aren’t big late 90’s productions but there are some more elaborate intros and some moments that’ll remind folks of that solid Take Offense record late last year but with a more stripped down approach, lacking the heavily melodic pieces. With all of that said I wasn’t at all disappointed by Verbal Razors third album, it is easily their most balanced production and an all around solid thrash-leaning crossover record that doesn’t aim for technicality so much as hard thrash grooves. Should be a great grab for fans of throwback thrash metal and the guitar work might even hold up for the harder to please old heads.


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Artist DIRT WOMAN
Title [Type/Year] The Glass Cliff [LP/2020]
Grimoire Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Dirt Woman sound a bit more serious and seriously huge on this debut full-length from the Salisbury, Maryland quartet. ‘The Glass Cliff’ has an enormous stoner/doom metal sound akin to earlier Windhand, bearing a massive fuzzed over tone supplemented by an impossibly overdriven bass guitar that both sink beneath the distant, watery vocal performances. As much as I’d like to point towards bands like The Wounded Kings or Acid King for direction, it fits but this is bit more apocalyptic in tone. Downtrodden and downtuned while still managing some heavy psychedelic motions a la Holy Serpent. Vocalist/guitarist Zoe Koch sings much more stoic and heady lyrics this time around, whereas their 2018 EP appears a bit more juvenile with song-titles like “Bongwater Popsicle”, though I realize that is all relative it does bear mention that ‘The Glass Cliff’ has something to say about the world we’re hardly living in anymore.

“Fades to Greed” has a bit of a message that I can get behind, where power and wealth only feed an end of days where there is nothing left to enjoy. You’ll be more focused on the riffs, I assure you as the guitar tone is huge and the whole record is driven by the weight of their bluesy refrains and bulging stoner/doomed riffs. “Creator” is probably the most representative track amidst its droning 13+ minutes over on Side A but I’d found the back half of the record’s two 13+ minute tracks would have been just as effective if pared down to 7-8 like “Lady of the Dunes” and “Fades to Greed” which ended up being the most memorable cuts on my end. Not to downplay the impact of those last two tracks, just they’re massive when paired and given lucid focus.

Dirt Woman have hit the right mark with this debut, finding their rhythms together as a professional unit while pushing beyond the industry standard when it comes to stoner/doom metal with insight beyond big chugging riffs. The big, mercilessly heavy stuff comes just as often as the swaying 90’s doom rock jogs and it all hits hard enough as a first step into view. If you’re a stoner/doom metal fan this is one of the most promising gigs you need to hear this March.


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Artist ARONIUS
Title [Type/Year] Perspicacity [LP/2020]
The Artisan Era BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The trouble with giving a somewhat brief summary of a record like Green Bay, Wisconsin technical/progressive death metal band Aronius‘ ‘Perspicacity’ is that it relies entirely on details for effect. The sense of extremity inherent to a record like this comes from the sheer number of notes it flings out within elaborately machined runs that may or may not serve any notable purpose within each songs structure. That isn’t to say that Aronius‘ arrangements are superfluous or entirely in service to technique but rather that technique this ambitious reads as straight guitar nerd porn for the average death metal fan. Is ‘Perspicacity’ evocative enough for the average being expecting to connect human-to-human within music?

Their complex alien language is not indecipherable if you’re a fan of technical death metal in general. Though there are a few nods to Ulcerate and ‘Incurso’-era Spawn of Possession laced into the greater movements of ‘Perspicacity’ the easiest level of quality to equate with it is probably something with more progressive intent a la recent Obscura records or Beyond Creation. This is an important distinction to make as a fan of tech-death who’d rather jump off a roof than listen to djent, there are a few carefully placed bonk-riffs along the way but nothing so brutally 010101 that you’ll shut it off.

The level of thought and detail put into every moment of this record is overwhelming and it isn’t a surprise at all that they’ve been working on some of these pieces as early as 2014. The effort really shows and you can’t come away from the full hour listen of ‘Perspicacity’ without being impressed by its ambition and inviting sound design. It is a great work and I’d feel like a turd picking at it too much, though I would say dropping the shoulders a bit on the note count and working away from sub-genre norms (rhythm tone, vocal techniques) might read even more impressive. A wealth of prog-tech death excess for folks who are so inclined.


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Artist THE GONERS
Title [Type/Year] Good Mourning [LP/2020]
RidingEasy Records BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you’re a fan of stoner/doom rockers Salem’s Pot you’ll find a cold pair of skeleton arms to hug, and cut, and dissolve you by way of vocalist/guitarist Nate Gone who is now heading up The Goners alongside ex-members of Yvonne. Don’t go thinking this is an Electric Wizard style doom metal act, instead consider the heavy rock revival that has persisted in Sweden since at least the mid-90’s, not quite The Hellacopters but also not that far off either. The occult desperation and wicked gait of ‘Good Morning’ is a brilliant spin and the sort of record throwback rock fans will admire on first listen and likely love by their second. Catchy bouts of hopelessness, a wide-leaning strike of stoned nihilism and a pronounced love for 60’s hip-shaking rock by way of 70’s stone-faced heavy music realism all manages to carry its boogie rock energy throughout. Doubt it’ll be heavy enough for the all but the most devoted 70’s metal and stoner rock listener but I had a good time with ‘Good Morning’.


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Artist OATH OF DAMNATION
Title [Type/Year] Fury and Malevolence [LP/2020]
Gore House Productions BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Oath of Damnation bring a brutal form of blackened death metal to their second full-length, offering a slightly more balanced approach than that of their 2014 debut, ‘The Descent’, while not at all easing up on their dramatic use of keyboards for melodic statement. ‘Fury and Malevolence’ isn’t as over the top as say, recent records from Necronomicon (Canada) or Hate but there is that same sense that they’re aiming for a similar level of austerity and grandeur with those sort of ‘symphonic’ black/death arrangements. I’ve no issue with the style of this record as it feels like a trip back to the late 90’s underground but I felt like the mix was somewhat tame. Perhaps because I’ve come to expect a bit of loudness wars boost given to this sort of record when legacy bands chunk out similar works but in this case the ‘presence’ of the record was a bit muted. Throw a few hours of Eternal Dirge and that latest Nocturnus record my way and I might not have a problem with the sound of ‘Fury and Malevolence’ nearby but taken on its own the render felt a bit flat for my own tastes.


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Artist DOMJORD
Title [Type/Year] Sporer [LP/2020]
Vidfare / The AJNA Offensive BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp

DomJord is an electronic project from D. Rostén (Funeral Mist, Marduk) that’d find the artist searching for a mixture of celestial, tribal, and dark ambient sounds completely divorced from his other projects. This isn’t likely going to be a challenging paradigm shift for folks who enjoy video game soundtracks, dark ambient works, and the modern permutations of dungeon synth that aim for futuristic or celestial spheres of sound. The five tracks that make up ‘Sporer’ don’t fall into any one category though each bears an otherworldly realm which might resonate as ‘occult’, sci-fi (“Sporer”), wintry (“Natt”) or plainly disassociative. Of course the only qualification I’d have to even discuss this type of music stems from listening to video game soundtracks since the late 80’s and having never developed a taste for electronic music otherwise so, I won’t ramble on feebly. “Sporer” is the piece I’d enjoyed most initially for its Norio Hanzawa-esque use of effects and how that’d juxtaposed with the vocal pieces set in the middle and second half of the arrangement. I’d also found “Natt” effective excepting the whispered sections, which’d incited a bit of ASMR reflux.


 

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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