…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 [April 11th through April 17th, 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]||Hierophant Violent [LP/2020]|
|Hypnotic Dirge Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
‘Hierophant Violent’ is the debut full-length from San Francisco Bay area atmospheric rock/ambient metal project Forlesen consisting of two extended (~17+ minutes each) pieces that aren’t so much challenging as they are evocative, and demanding of a patient and willingly immersed mind. Their whole gig consists of atypical ambient post-rock with some subtle extreme metal elements that’ll be particularly warming if you’re a fan of some of the related projects of this eclectic group; You’ll likely recognize some key characteristics, such as certain vocal timbre, in relation to Lotus Thief and perhaps by virtue that’ll indicate related projects Botanist and Kayo Dot to some degree. The intention of these pieces is less academic and purely emotional in its communication. “Following Light” and “Nightbridge” are captures of grief in process, emotional lows rising and falling upon self-preservation, and perhaps some cathartic realization as one might steady themselves in the depths where tragedy would place them. They’ve pulled from lo-fi black metal, dark ambient, and more directly from slowcore (and I’d say darkwave to some degree) influence upon the intimate-yet-expansive post-rock movements of ‘Hierophant Violent’.
“Following Light” requires some resignation for the sake of understanding where Forlesen‘s narrative begins, mournful but not tortured, in contemplation. The piece approaches tentatively, barely just arriving 13 minutes in where the ethereal fog of it all quickly turns to snarling under its collective breath as the song ends. “Nightbridge” is the payoff to some degree as a less helplessly droning second half provides some leg lifts out of the molasses. This is where I think Lotus Thief fans will feel warmest before some depressive black metal leaning parts distinguish the piece in its second half. Artful as ‘Hierophant Violent’ is at a glance (especially considering the incredibly fine Benjamin A. Vierling cover art) the shadowy, ephemeral bursts of interest within its heavy atmosphere aren’t massively cerebral, instead driven by a feeling one might feel pressured to recreate if not already in a state of gloaming. The restless leg-tapping spastic in me couldn’t always find the patience for “Following Light” so, I’d not always been able to meet Forlesen on their own terms yet I still had a fine time with this record each time I did put it on.
|Title [Type/Year]||Itima [LP/2020]|
|ATMF||BUY on Bandcamp!|
Presented in one over-sized ~47 minute chunk and divided into roughly 7-8 distinct movements with some callback and several transitional refrains, ‘Itima’ is a nigh masterful work of nightmarish black metal from solo musician Lalartu (Diĝir Gidim). Titaan is once again meticulously constructed and frantically presented between many, many subtle layers of esoteric occult black metal that is presented anonymously and without earthly suggestion. Often dissonant but never for the sake of obstructing fluidity nor abusive of chordal drains, the generally varied and deeply detailed strands of riff and shrieking abyssal black metal that ‘Itima’ becomes is memorable for the sake of the vigor with which it is performed. Lalartu‘s Proscriptor-esque voice paired with certain higher speed sections of ‘Itima’ makes for an exciting and often familiar beast thanks to the focus on ancient Sumerian religion and symbolism. The implied level of performance and the broadly ranged capabilities of the artist becomes the major draw here, no one section is too massive a standout and you won’t likely recall specific riffs or sections without some rapt attention paid to timestamps but the event itself is unforgettably grand and angular in its spastic dips in and out of chaotic mania and lucid atmospheric dread. Without a doubt this is a special record that impatient folks will overlook because of its presentation as one piece, I didn’t find the length at all challenging though I did feel like about 3-4 minutes worth of interludes could have been swapped out for connective transitions for the sake of making the pieces of Titaan‘s opus feel more related.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Final Kill [EP/2020]|
|Hammerheart Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Netherlands thrash-grinders Collision have decided to call it quits after two decades, four full-lengths, and as many splits and EPs under their belts. It is a shame because I’d only just discovered ’em and have been enjoying some of their discography since their two releases from 2019. These guys mix some modern crossover thrash style and higher fidelity with classic grindcore, reminding me of Rumpelstiltskin Grinder and Bad Acid Trip depending on the album. Frantic but tightly struck hardcore punk/crossover thrash riffs bumped up to extreme metal levels of crunch makes ‘The Final Kill’ an easy listen and a positive note for the band to duck out on. Knowing a band has called it quits kinda sets an “If you’re done, I’m done” tone for a release in my mind initially but this EP has been sharp enough that I’d probably listened to it nearly ten times in one sitting at some point. Well, it is only 15 minutes so keep that in mind too! Very driven sound, strong thrash metal guitar tone and a hearty punch of classic hardcore punk influence makes for a solid last goodbye from these underrated grinders.
|Title [Type/Year]||Wisdom of the Grave [LP/2020]|
|ATMF||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
I’m not the biggest fan of Matron Thorn‘s homebrew in general though each of his many projects (Benighted in Sodom, Death Fetishist, Devil Worshipper, Matron Thorn, Obscuring Veil, Præternatura, Ævangelist, Midwinter Storm, Ævangelist, Andacht, Carrion Blues, Cathaaria, Disenchantra, Palindrome) that have enough potential to iterate or catch fans ears tend to find their sweet spot within the first 2-3 releases before the point is belabored. Although ‘Wisdom of the Grave’ is suggested as a funeral doom metal release I’d say melodic doom metal might be more fitting and perhaps an extreme form of gothic metal is the most appropriate suggestion. Programmed drums that chop up the guitar tone, meandering and ‘off’ layers of trailing atmospheric guitars, and vocals that imply melody but appear stuck in loops of verse make for an intimately hellish experience.
I’m conflicted with this one because, texturally speaking, there are some interesting quirks and innards here despite the tuneless and generally aimless nature of Oblivion Gate‘s full album experience, which occasionally resembles an early 2000’s alternative metal album played at the wrong speed — Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “Lesser Key of Solomon” is busted and beautiful if appreciated in an insular state and though I’d consider it a highlight, that same charm and jank is shared amongst each of the six tracks that make up ‘Wisdom of the Grave’. There is something to be said for the proof of concept or, demo level of conceptual thinking applied here. A session drummer and tuneful vocals might better reveal inherently algorithmic movements that generate interest through a stumbling avoidance of focus. The Paul Chain fan in me wants to like this do-it-yourself obscuration of traditional structures but it inspires no passion within despite any forgiving or dispassionate angles taken in receiving Oblivion Gate.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sex With Dead Body [LP/2020]|
|Hell’s Headbangers Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Any band willing to suck dick or stuff a bejeweled crucifix up their ass in a press photo is alright by me. Shitfucker have done a lot worse, both in terms of press photos and on their copiously plopped out 80’s speed metalpunk releases spanning these last fifteen or so years. With that said it has been a while since ‘Suck Cocks in Hell’ (2013) and in these nothing’s shocking-assed times an album like ‘Sex With Dead Body’ doesn’t even make me flinch. Sure, fuck a corpse, at least it isn’t an child-like anime sex doll or a dog fucker on twitter. I digress, anyhow Shitfucker are remarkably good at making unhinged venue-shaking, throat stretching echo-entombed metalpunk with a pretty damned raw mid-80’s evil speed metal vibe. An early Bathory snarl on vocals via Nuke‘s Richie Riot helps to dirty up their sound though it is Shagrat‘s (Acid Witch) dungeon-ready guitar tone that hits the right spot for me. Bonehunter, GISM, Midnight, Syphilitic Vaginas, are all good reference points. I’ll pinch the loaf off here for the sake of appreciating the simple appeal of the music and not having too much fun with the themes.
|Title [Type/Year]||King of the Silent World [LP/2020]|
|Impure Sounds||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Graveir are a black metal quintet out of Brisbane, Australia comprised of folks who’d involved themselves in underrated acts Moon and Defamer, among others, in the past. ‘King of the Silent World’ is their second full-length in the last six years where they’ve hit a natural stride beyond their strong debut ‘Iconostasis’ (2016). This time around instead of working in occult sprays of violence much of ‘King of the Silent World’ looks to atmospheric and post-black metal ideals for interest. There are songs where this works in compelling ways (“Bathed in Acheron”, “Waiting”) and others where their newly sweetened style finds a somewhat generic face (“Immacolata”). A hint of Uada here and there helps things along when Graveir intend some melody and an occasionally taut modern rock beat though little of this builds a particularly unique identity for the band. If the first record had conviction then this second record has an emotional core as its directive and as such the riffs aren’t always stunning as expected, especially if familiar with the previous record. It didn’t end up really sticking with me though I did enjoy ‘King of the Silent World’ in the moment each time I’d listen.
|Title [Type/Year]||Given Light [LP/2020]|
|The Big Oil Recording Company||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Copenhagen, Denmark based post-punk trio Less Win return with their third album ‘Given Light’ having struggled through the collaborative creative process they’d eventually scrap everything and take only a few weeks to write this more spontaneous product. Not much has changed for this band, which I believe has at least one former member of Iceage in their ranks, as classic post-punk informs their style a great deal while incorporating all manner of additional instruments, such as the somewhat expected saxophone as well as some focus on flamenco guitar work. I was on board for “The Hanging” with its ‘Solid God’-era Gang of Four pop yet the completely absurd vocal performances on “I’ve Been Convinced” were revolting enough that I’d almost overlooked this record entirely. This type of vocal resembles a teenager mocking someone who is stupid, and they return on “Passions Puppet”. I won’t ever love this album due to those “duh” moments but “Truths, Like Roses (Leaning Out)” and the Big Boys-esque traipse of “Wild Desires” speaks to me all the same. I don’t give many post-punk records a chance and this one was largely a flop but a few of these songs are remarkable when excised from the missteps nearby.
|Title [Type/Year]||Timaeus [LP/2020]|
|Soulseller Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Khôra is a progressive extreme metal band formed as a solo project by Oleg I. back in 2013, since then he’s aligned with Bill Kranos (Savaoth) and current Dødheimsgard bassist L.E. Måløy. A complex and broadly reaching debut, ‘Timaeus’ is perfectly strange as an introduction to the band due to the countless guest musician contributions to its adornment including contributions from keyboardists in Moonsorrow, Grief of Emerald, …And Oceans, and Quadrivium. Several vocalists guest as well, leaving a sort of ‘kitchen sink’ record behind that is often difficult to follow beyond its meandering symphonic sci-fi black/death sound. It took a good 4-5 full listens of ‘Timaeus’ before I’d felt like I had a reasonable grasp of its entirety but didn’t necessarily find a core purpose for all of the additional involvement of other musicians. As it turns out that’d make perfect sense as the theme of the album is quite clear if you’re familiar with Plato’s Timaeus, a dialogue concerning the creation of the universe and the nature of human beings within it. From purpose and placement of human beings to basic elemental composition and the nature of matter there is some great importance to this subject yet Timaeu‘s account of it was never entirely satisfactory due to the occasionally complex symbolic language used by Plato. As a theme for a celestial progressive extreme metal record it works well enough for the imagination and the stunning cover art from Sergey Shenderovsky does a fine job of compelling me to dig a bit deeper and give this record a fair shake. A bit all over the place but a better avant-garde extreme metal record for it.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Stench of Amalthia [LP/2020]|
|Moribund Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
A black metal ‘opera’ presented as a concept album complete with narrative sidebars between several characters, ‘The Stench of Amalthia’ is fifth album from Lörd Matzigkeitus‘ The Projectionist, originally a side project of his original band Idolatry and now his main artistic focus. Matzigkeitus is joined by members of his war metal band The Black Sorcery as well as members of Unrest and Path to Extinction. As far as the non-vocal compositions go this is a decent black metal performance that often resigns to the background for the sake of the ambitious story being told between spoken word, shrieked vocals, and some heavily processed voices. None of the vocal performances work for me and this is a huge problem when approaching a narrative driven experience, an album detailing a sordid tale of a nurse who is almost certainly an angel of pestilence and murder. I really enjoyed the story and obviously the nods to King Diamond are good fun but the vocals just never landed in the right space for me and the spoken parts tended to leave the songs hanging, not feeling like a musical or an opera but a black metal concert interrupted by sinister amateur prose. Great ideas and an ambitious project though it didn’t quite get there for me.
|Title [Type/Year]||Windseller [LP/2020]|
|Purity Through Fire||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Nôidva are a fairly new entity within Finnish black metal but they arrive from musicians who’ve been active in Sacrificium Carmen, The Watcher, Foedus, and Riivaus suggesting some solid grasp of melodically charged black metal. ‘Windseller’ is a fine debut that focuses its themes upon Sámi shamanism from the far northern reaches of Lappish history. Folkish, melodic, and unexpectedly riotous in their shout-along tirades what initially appeared to be yet another Finnish black metal record actually has a bit of early Moonsorrow and Thyrfing in mind whenever they’re inspired enough, “Followers of the North Star” being a prime example. Ritual invocations and sublimely galloping pagan black metal pieces aren’t going to be an easy sell unless you’re either intrigued by their interpretation of Sámi culture or have some nostalgia for the late 90’s folk/viking black metal days. A bit of both on my part, though I think these guys have a fair amount of refining to do the energy of this record is infectious and I appreciate where they’re coming from musically. I’d highly suggest giving this a chance, it seems relatively straight forward to start but the full listen is actually pretty redeeming if you’ve the requisite nostalgia.
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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