…From the Tomb 4/20/20: “The Poignancy of the Individual – Part I”

…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 18th through April 24th, 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. NOTE: This is the first of two parts since this week has way, way too many releases to cover at once. Part II will publish this week.

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 AT THE ALTAR OF THE HORNED GOD
Title [Type/Year] Through Doors of Moonlight [LP/2020]
I, Voidhanger Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although this technically released on April 17th I’d felt compelled to not miss the chance to recommend this latest work from Spanish musician Heolstor who’d completely blown my mind with the second album from his alchemical black metal project Mystagos ‘Azoth’ last year. At the Altar of the Horned God is a ritualistic ambient/atmospheric black metal album that serves as devotion to the Horned God, a direct “ode to nature” and an appeal to Him to provide oneness between man and Earth. What does this mean for the music? ‘Through Doors of Moonlight’ is perhaps influenced by the esoteric  devotional projects of 90’s second wave black metal such as Arckanum and Abruptum as well as modern dark ambient, darkwave, paganistic folk and regional ritual worship music. This makes for a fairly balanced spread of snarling yet ethereal atmospheric black metal pieces and incredibly varied ritualistic odes and prayers. Pyreficativm comes to mind in terms of a wide swath of influences and experimental sounds employed for the dark ambient/ritualistic (read: non-metal) pieces but Heolstor‘s quickly developing vocal range and his use of fairly simple-but-effective black metal guitar patterns helps this debut stand out just an inch higher than the dark wave/ambient elements of the project already do. I’d found “Prayer I” especially provocative, inspiring in its lucid battery and impressive use of subtle clean vocals for a psychedelic but not ‘lost’ effect. I will most definitely return to this album anytime my mind is overwhelmed and I highly recommend others do the same.


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Artist XPUS
Title [Type/Year] In Umbra Mortis Sedent [LP/2020]
Transcending Obscurity Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although their odd name, costumed look, and use of glow-in-the-dark green makes a strange first impression Italian blackened death metal trio Xpus offer primal yet polished work on each of their two full-lengths. This second one, ‘In Umbra Mortis Sedent’ surely has better album art than the first though their approach to riff-heavy black/death metal has not drastically changed. Xpus‘ sound continues along the lines of Archgoat, Immolation, and earlier Embrace of Thorns, representing the cavernous intent of northeast United States death metal traditions while pulling from the more feral black, death and war metal of South America and Finland whenever the tempo cranks up to a blast. This record really grew on me over time with its short bursts of ‘Dawn of Possession’-esque riffing spread throughout, I don’t know if it’ll get lost in the barrage of late April releases yet or not but ‘In Umbra Mortis Sedent’ will likely be a solid enough find for folks attuned to 90’s black/death metal mutations.


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Artist UNMERCIFUL
Title [Type/Year] Wrath Encompassed [LP/2020]
Willowtip Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

‘Wrath Encompassed’ is the third full-length from Topeka, Kansas based brutal death metal quintet Unmerciful, a band that’d first gained notoriety on Unique Leader in their golden mid-2000’s era. Originally formed in 2001 or so but picked up with serious intent around 2005, Unmerciful were more or less an offshoot of the original Origin line-up though their sound would develop more along the lines of early Hate Eternal and Deeds of Flesh. Unrelenting but not barbarically stupid, ‘Wrath Encompassed’ relays the rage intended with a straight face and the serious murderous intent of real-assed brutal death that is increasingly hard to find these days. For those of us who’d discovered the merits of brutal death in the way late 90’s and still own a couple hundred terrible tin-can snare blasters from the first decade of millennium this’ll be a bit of nostalgia but with an ear for current production standards. I sure as hell appreciate that there are no nuclear dubstep drops or deathcore fumbling, nothing cheap or cheesily technical that might interrupt the flow of riffs. Other than that I don’t have a ton to say, solid early-to-mid 2000’s style brutality.


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Artist DØDSKVAD
Title [Type/Year] Krønike I [Demo/2020]
Caligari Records BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Dødskvad is a unique mixture of classic death metal traits and heavy metal songwriting, which is perhaps not at all what you’d expect from the viking metal look of their first tape ‘Krønike I’. Knowing the pedigree of these guys (Obliteration, Desolation Realm, Sovereign) no doubt they’ve got an even bigger picture in mind for the future but for now you’ll definitely hear Sacriphyx, Bolt Thrower and maybe even a bit of Armoured Angel as this three song demo kicks off. “Rike I Runer” has an almost Bifrost (Netherlands) vibe to it but my personal favorite moment comes with the second song, “Adelråte”, as it stretches from its spontaneous Floridian garage death metal sound towards an impressive death/thrash transition around 2 minutes in that hooks me in each time I listen. The ‘Leprosy’-era Death intro to “Pakt Med Dypet” eventually circles back to the feeling of the first track, a mix of Death and ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious’-era Carcass riffs that are just on the verge of being sublimely memorable yet a strange brew all the same. It is a cool blend of fantasy metal ideas, death metal riffs, and generally interesting textural guitar ideas although I figure I’ll have to hear more to really put it all together. A big find if you’re into the weird side of classic experimental death metal.


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Artist BEZWERING
Title [Type/Year] Aan de wormen overgeleverd [LP/2020]
Ván Records PREVIEW “Uitgeteerd” on YouTube

Bezwering formed in 2018 between ex-members of esoteric black metal band Wederganger and could rightfully be presumed as a spiritual procession of that sound. Laster, early Lugubrum and definitely a few shades of pre-2014 Urfaust are some fair comparisons though ‘Aan de wormen overgeleverd’ brings a classic early 90’s raw black metal punkishness along the way, getting the intended savage stabbing motion exactly right as they buzz through each of these wild black metal permutations. Vocalist Alfschijn is a huge highlight here and generally speaking he remains one of my personal favorites in this eclectic style going all the way back to his work in Heidevolk. I won’t have time for a full review of this record this month but I would still give a high recommendation for the experience, the riffs, and the unique vocals.


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Artist BONES
Title [Type/Year] Gate of Night [12″ EP/2020]
Blood Harvest Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Belgium based ‘old school’ death metal quartet Bones are back with their first official release since 2014, an incredibly long wait considering how raw and inspired their ‘Awaiting Rebirth‘ EP was at the time. Surprisingly enough they’ve kept that intensity and pure garage death metal spirit up on ‘Gate of Night’ which is more or less a reminder of who these guys are as they begin work on a debut full-length. If anything they’re more intense, more psychedelic, and still grinding out some of the nastiest Autopsy-esque rippers I’ve heard in a while. Each of these songs feature impressive breaks from classic riffing and strike out into lung-bursting atmospheric tirades which I’d loved. Leaving a 12 minute record on repeat for two hours is a good sign that I’m really enjoying everything a band is doing and for sure Bones are way high on my radar after spending time with this 12″ single.


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Artist WHITE NIGHTS
Title [Type/Year] Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother [EP/2020]
Iron Bonehead Productions BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you’re still pining for the dreamlike blackened trance of earlier Black Magick SS before they’d gone fully heavy psych then the deathrock-tinged notions of White Nights should be a warm-but-ominous welcome. ‘Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother’ aims for the surreal somewhere between the buzz of nondescript atmospheric black metal guitars, a Hammond-esque organ for rhythm, watery effects-soaked vocals, and slow-motion psych rock beats. The full listen isn’t too demanding at ~17 minutes and the main event is primarily “Drift From Irminsul” so I’m not entirely convinced a full-length is warranted just yet unless there is more dimension or different sounds possible for this project. Folks who’re enamored by the promise of psychedelia (or, space rock) within the broad umbrella of black metal should add this to their list to check out.


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Artist DARK FOREST
Title [Type/Year] Oak, Ash & Thorn [LP/2020]
Cruz Del Sur Music BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp

It is a rare occasion that I have anything to say about power metal of any sort as I’ve next to no investment in the sub-genre beyond pre-1990 releases with a few epic heavy metal variants being the exception since. Yet I’ve always found British power/heavy metal quartet Dark Forest compelling for their obvious melodic interest and somewhat exaggerated (by journalists) NWOBHM influences. ‘Oak, Ash & Thorn’ is the fifth full-length album from the band and clearly an album bent on upping their instrumental flair alongside some enhanced melodic songwriting. This means brighter lead-driven songs, often heavy on folkish melodies and/or extended epic sword-swingers such as the title track. I’ve always felt like Dark Forest resembled ‘Brave New World’-era Maiden and a bit of classic Helloween while ultimately landing nearby the best of Twisted Tower Dire in terms of guitar arrangements. This time around like they’ve gone a bit more power metal than ever, galloping through a few numbers that’d reminded me of mid-80’s Gary Moore for lack of a better comparison. I figure if you liked the last two records with lead vocalist Josh Winnard (ex-Wytch Hazel) no doubt this third one will be revered as their best yet with this core line-up.


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Artist BLASPHAMAGOATACHRIST
Title [Type/Year] Bastardizing the Purity [LP/2020]
Nuclear War Now! Productions BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp

As the name suggests, Blasphamagoatachrist is a union between key members of Antichrist, Blasphemy, and Goatpenis who collectively represent a more than worthy war metal supergroup. I’d liked their ‘Black Metal Warfare’ demo a fair amount back in mid-2018 because it had a wild early Sarcófago style of bestial rip to it and no doubt they’ve not strayed from that purpose in the slightest. Screaming lead guitars, blistering but distant black metal riffing, and some impressive brutality on the drums accumulate in one great haunt of the mid-sized hall the recording fills. A rare ‘classic’ feeling bestial black metal record without being a compressed pile of hipster shit or intentionally marred listen. “Black Nuclear Shadows” has my favorite riffs on the full listen but album closer “Evil Revelation” is probably the best track overall.


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Artist MØRKETIDA
Title [Type/Year] Traveler of the Untouched Voids [EP/2020]
Werewolf Records BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp

Laitila, Finland based black metal duo Mørketida follow up their 2018 debut, ‘Panphage Mysticism’, with this much more meandering EP. When I say meandering I’m suggesting the narrative delivery of their music within their strongest moments, such as “Upon the Aged Heavens” and its grand point of fixation throughout. Interesting vocal effects are just one element of sound design that helps to push the band just slightly away from comparisons to Blood Red Fog and their ilk towards a unique identity for Mørketida which is more laid back than expected this time around. For my own tastes I would’ve liked to have seen the band approach this records with somewhat more violence. I particularly like the album art for this one, very sharp and psychedelic at the same time.


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Artist HEGEMONY
Title [Type/Year] Enthroned by Persecution [LP/2020]
Hell’s Headbangers Records BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

‘Enthroned by Persecution’ marks the full-length debut from Birmingham, Alabama war metal band Hegemony who’re smart enough to know that this type of bestial black/death metal must contain pulverizing riffs from start to finish if it has any hope of being memorable. Thankfully they’ve delivered a riff-heavy record that’ll stand tall next to contemporaries in Antichrist Siege Machine, Abysmal Lord and Human Agony. A few songs on this record definitely reminded me of Demoncy‘s ‘Joined in Darkness’ when things slowed down a bit thanks to the deeper vocal register and slower sections. There isn’t a whole lot else to really say or think about here as Hegemony operate almost entirely on hatred and brutality, leaving little room for nuance or extraneous interest beyond war metal worship. A very good war metal (or, bestial black/death metal) album but so far not something I’ve had to make room in my head for.


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Artist BÂ’A
Title [Type/Year] Deus Qui Non Mentitur [LP/2020]
Osmose Productions BUY on Bandcamp!

Bâ’a were more or less the unknown outsiders on a three way split with Hyrgal and Verfallen back in 2018 yet two years later it appears they have pieced together a strong and professional atmospheric black metal album in ‘Deus Qui Non Mentitur’. That’d be about as far as I’d go complimenting this otherwise very straight forward atmoblack LP, which manages some effective spoken word pieces as slight refrains. Airy, floaty, and reasonably slick in its delivery most every element is in the right place and the performances are melancholic with a purpose yet I never really warmed to the guitar work on this record overall. “Procession” sums up much of Side A whereas “Des Profondeurs je crie” does the same for Side B within its extensive length.


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Artist WARLUST
Title [Type/Year] Unearthing Shattered Philosophies [LP/2020]
Dying Victims Productions BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

German black/thrash metal band Warlust kicked all kinds of ass when they released their debut full-length ‘Morbid Execution’ back in 2017, crossing a more typical form of black/thrash hybrid that’d truly stand out whenever it’d dip into pure black metal pieces. Think along the lines of Nocturnal Witch and Nifelheim for that debut. On their second full-length Warlust have swapped in a new second guitarist and begun to incorporate their love for Necrophobic (see: ‘Darkside’) and Dissection this time around. The results are more refined and often take large steps away from their earlier witching metal modus towards something bigger and far more blasphemous than before. The changes don’t necessarily stop there as “In the Shadow of the Alchemyst” sounds more along the lines of Witching Hour‘s development within the last few years with strong speed metal currents and a fairly ‘epic’ presentation overall. They’ve got another album or two before they really nail epic black metal melodicism woven into black/thrash metal but the vision is secured on ‘Unearthing Shattered Philosophies’. A fine second album from a promising band.


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Artist LUSTRE
Title [Type/Year] Ashes of Light [LP/2020]
Nordvis Produktion BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp

Ah, the album we’d all thought would never happen after Östersund, Sweden based ambient black metal project Lustre had essentially fulfilled Nachtzeit‘s vision with ‘Still Innocence’ (2017) and, uninspired by the completed writing sessions for this album, called the project to a close. By mid-2019 he’d mulled over it long enough and decided to finally record ‘Ashes of Light’. It appears as if the need to ‘progress’ and meet intensifying expectations had stymied the artist’s outlook on the project, yet I don’t think too many fans of Lustre need such progression after six fantastic records that’ve held up pretty well and been fairly similar otherwise. I’m a fairly new to this project, discovering the fifth Lustre album around the time the first Eldamar record came out while looking for bands similar to earlier Summoning. If you’ve sat with the overworld theme of Final Fantasy IX long enough for a lifetime you’ll understand why the specific type of synth used to illustrate melodies within Lustre resonates with me in an oddly nostalgic, extra-calming way. Beyond that, ‘Ashes of Light’ could be considered one of the most chill releases from the project yet, or at least since ‘Wonder’ (2013), and probably my favorite overall from Lustre besides ‘Blossom’.


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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