…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 30th, 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 second of two parts since this last half of the month (especially 4/18-4/24) has way, way too many releases to cover at once. Part I published on 4/20/20.
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]||…Of Deceit and Utter Madness [LP/2020]|
|Memento Mori||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
The first thing you’ll notice about Lenzburg, Switzerland based quartet Funeralopolis beyond the fact that they’ve named their classic death/doom ways after a song off of Electric Wizard‘s ‘Dopethrone’ is that goddamned stunning, mind-melting surrealistic cover art from Mark Cooper on this their debut full-length. No doubt you’ve already figured what you -think- this band sounds like, something like Hooded Menace or Runemagick, eh? Well, I think certain slower Asphyx influenced parts will ring that bell a bit but these guys are far more prone to ‘old school’ brutality a la Pentacle or Divine Eve with some Serpentine Path thrown in for good measure. That is to say that there is actual death metal in the mix that goes full range with tempo, has plenty of big riffs in each song, and although it isn’t a particularly memorable record at any given point you’ll always feel like Funeralopolis aren’t just messing around trying to sound like everyone else in death/doom today.
The guitar tone is a huge feature here, gnarly and disgusting enough to thrash but heavy enough to pull off deeper hits of death/doom when things slow down. Just a few songs into the record I’d found myself jumping over to one of my personal favorite records from Netherlands death/doom, ‘The Spooky Gloom’ from Sempiternal Deathreign because they had a similar balance of pace without going plainly Celtic Frost across the board in terms of riffs, the guitar sound kinda helps with that association but as if it were cleaned up to modern-but-primal standards. The switches flipped between the barreling cough of “Devouring Crypts of Darkness” and thrashing rip of “Downfall” exemplify both Funeralopolis‘ grasp of dynamic and their lack of distinctive pieces that might’ve made the album somewhat more memorable. My favorite track by far is “The Envenomed King” not only for the huge doom riff that kicks things off but for the brutal way they resolve it back and forth between ripping death metal and stoney death/doom bursts — This is the best showcase for where Funeralopolis are indulging thier strongest and most effective forms. High recommendation for this one, a fine debut that makes good on their earlier work while pushing forward a bit conceptually.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Womb of Zero [LP/2020]|
|Terratur Possessions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Bythos‘ debut album has been about five years in the making as a sort of side-project among key members of Behexen, Horna, Ajattara, and Trollheims Grott and the time they’ve spent composing ‘The Womb of Zero’ is surely evident. A memorable mixture of dark metal hooks and modern unorthodox black metal musicianship doesn’t sound entirely ‘out of the box’ yet in motion these Finnish black metal fellowes bring pull in a meaningfully applied Luciferian narrative that enhances the grandeur of the full listen. While the dawn of Lucifer’s enlightenment won’t strike a chord with everyone, fans of mid-paced black metal, non-gothic dark/black metal hybridization, and/or epic black metal tenets should find ‘The Womb of Zero’ satisfyingly arranged and largely memorable.
The song that’ll sell most folks on digging into the rest of the album is most definitely “When Gold Turns to Lead” thanks to its inspiring lead guitar hooks yet that feeling doesn’t return until Side B with “Hymn to Lucifer” so, don’t expect a full-on late 90’s style dark metal record but rather a mid-paced and fairly unique black metal record that doesn’t rely on obvious catchier melodies for interest. Although I think the album needed at least one more lead-driven ‘epic’ piece, “Call of the Burning Blood” and my favorite piece “Destroyer of Illusions” come close enough to rounding out the expectations set by the first couple of tracks that kick off the album. I wanted slightly more variety of pace when giving Bythos‘ debut repeated listens but this didn’t detract from its intended purpose nor the quality of the intricate and inspired rhythms within. Another high recommendation on my end, though it’ll likely be too laid back for folks looking for aggressive murderous intent.
|Title [Type/Year]||Death is Something There Between [LP/2020]|
|Testimony Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Reek‘s debut is yet another collaborative record from Sweden’s resident death metal factory workers and this time around they’re focused on a general resemblance of death n’ roll circa ’96 or so — Just a few years beyond the main sub-genre innovation (’91-’94) and no longer particularly aligned with any meaningful heavy rock influences. I’m not at all an elitist about death n’ roll as I first dove into death metal during its most popular phase but I don’t think they’ll make any new converts with such average, up to par material. Think along the lines of Furbowl‘s first record, pretty straight forward rollers with a weird edge now and then, nothing as satisfying as say Xysma or Convulse‘s ‘Reflections’ and nowhere near as refined as Entombed circa ’97 or so.
The line-up here features Håkan Stuvemark (Wombbath) along with most of the line-up from his Edge of Sanity-alike band PermaDeath, including Rogga Johannson and folks you’ll know from thrashers Defiatory and black/viking metal band Fimbultyr. They’ve put together at least an EP’s worth of solid ideas and stretched them somewhat thin, filling in the edges in an uninspired way. In most cases the core death n’ roll idea was there but they didn’t bother to smooth over the execution, this is most obvious on “Horror Waltz” where strange volume spikes and stumbling beats make for an awkward, haphazard lead into the chorus which had real potential to be a major standout moment. I get the impression that the guys didn’t really care enough about the songs, or there was a budget/time constraint preventing ‘Death is Something There Between’ from sounding important enough to perfect or, refine at all. This isn’t such a big deal until several transitional stretches resort to simpler d-beat/HM-2 buzz riffs to fill in gaps in ideas. Reek‘s debut isn’t a bad album and it does get some of the essence of death n’ roll right but I dunno if I can recommend this one considering how many bargain bin late 90’s death n’ roll records are still sitting in major label dead stock or landfills today.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sacred Color of the Source of Light [LP/2020]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
A collaboration between M. Wood (Crown of Asteria) and E. Henderson (Njiqahdda) that brings their shared expertise in ambient and experimental forms of atmospheric black metal and pushes things to a point of celestial conflict, Golden Light‘s debut is unarguably a lushly immersive experience but also a bit of a ‘one and done’ experience on my end. ‘Sacred Color of the Source of Light’ thankfully avoids a lot of the post-rock appropriation abound in modern atmospheric black metal applications and instead roots in a nigh cascadian spiritus of old. Insistently blasted and very plain drumming maintains a steady pace for 7-10 minute stretches with only slight refrains, drying out the senses and allowing a showcase for dreary, seemingly riffless guitar runs. Vocal patternation is sometimes erratic, or seemingly inserted after the fact, and this leads to an occasionally thrilling sense of delirium, washes of psychotropic disarray that remove the mind from any strained presence. It is a double-edged experience in that I appreciate the droning hammer and the lucid harp behind it, there is a grotesque internal conflict (a sense of the romantic?) that arises when barbarism and beauty unite in such insistent ways. There I see the appeal but attempting to listen to this album twice in a row had me snapping off my cans, revolted at the thought of listening to another ten minute span of the same unflinching drum performance. In its quartered form and taken in moderation I’d say Golden Light have managed an interesting idea in motion at the very least.
|Title [Type/Year]||Absentia [LP/2020]|
|Eisenwald||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Although Italian atmospheric black/folk metal project Blaze of Sorrow has been around since 2007 it was undoubtedly a solo project until 2011 where the drummer’s throne was appropriately filled beyond Peter‘s (Vollmond) second solo full-length, ‘Eterno tramonto’ (2011). From that point on the capabilities of the project have expanded with each of the four albums released since. ‘Absentia’ marks their second for Eisenwald and first to feature a full four person line-up with a dedicated second guitarist and bassist. This sort of triumphant and ethereal black metal always benefits from an extra human touch though I assume the additions made are more for the sake of a touring capable line-up. Why is any of this significant? ‘Astri’ (2017) was a major high point in Blaze of Sorrow‘s career, an inspiring and boldly presented refinement of what’d come before it so, there is the sense that ‘Absentia’ aims to create something similar in sentiment but entirely different in tone.
Contemplative, stoic, woven between folkish riffs and less balls-out loud declarative musical statements there is no denying this is a successful dynamic shift towards a more measured and mature Blaze of Sorrow. “Sonno d’eterno” is a fine example of this change as well as some indication that the core voice of the project hasn’t shifted so drastically beyond some evolved sound design and more tactfully loosed songwriting. This isn’t enough to make me a devoted fan just yet as I found much of ‘Absentia’ a bit too “easy listening” where the search for cleanliness and modern standards took all of the burl out of their sound. The trade-off between spiky interest and dynamic sound design makes good sense though it’d not pull me back in after 4-5 listens.
|Title [Type/Year]||Divide and Devour [LP/2020]|
|DIS on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Getting the full body-slammed effect from a metallic hardcore band as they drop into gear with a few well-placed chugs is a rarity in my world any more but when it hits just right on ‘Divide and Devour’, the third album from Los Angeles area hardcore punks Destroyed in Seconds, they’ve definitely got my ear for at least a half hour or so. On each of their three albums Phobia guitarist/bassist Bruce Reeves pairs up with a different second guitarist who adds their own style to D.I.S.‘ thrash and d-beat influenced metallic hardcore punk sound. This time around Christian La Rocca (ex-Gravehill, Ruin) provides lead guitars and takes ‘Divide and Devour’ into the realm of slightly more modern d-beat when the occasion arrives, leaning into some Tragedy-esque moments. Each of their records are pretty sharp, well produced, succinct, impactful and tasteful enough to avoid bad metalcore riffs and shit like that so, no doubt they’ve delivered up to their own pretty high standards here. There aren’t a ton of bands crossing the greater spheres of d-beat with 90’s hardcore and making any sense of it so I appreciated the balance of worlds within this slick hardcore record.
|Title [Type/Year]||Orsök [LP/2020]|
|Dark Essence Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Active since 2013 and gloriously well-formed here on their debut seven years later Reykjavík, Iceland-based quintet Nyrst bear the austere trademark of their countrymen and compatriots on ‘Orsök’ while allowing no quarter for warmth beyond the fires of devastation. If you’d told me these guys were from Bergen and wrote these songs around 1997 I wouldn’t bat an eye as some remnants of second wave Scandinavian black metal’s most underground affect guides their otherwise modern Icelandic scaffolding. Too much of a sinister regalia to compare directly to Misþyrming and perhaps far too blustering in their spacious render to draw too close to early Taake, there is yet some appreciable traits of both within the cosmically-sourced dark fury of ‘Orsök’.
Vocalist Snæbjörn is initially the standout performance and surely a force throughout the album, ranging from Urfaust-esque tirades to snarling black metal eminence early on; Soon the layered guitar performances, which were almost certainly written for two guitars from the start, take over the main voice of the album as the great chasms reaped open within “Hvísl hinna holdlausu” and “Nástirni” quickly make for standout performances. For what its worth I’d say Nyrst excel most within their most succinct movements and the ~6 minute songs tend to ‘stick’ far easier than the 9-10 minute pieces. That said it was the more extended pieces on ‘Orsök’ that brought me back in for several additional listens even if I couldn’t remember every moment along the way. A high recommendation for this debut as I see great potential in both concept and expression from Nyrst alongside a strong level of taste applied to ambitious pieces.
|Title [Type/Year]||Purging Sacred Soils [LP/2020]|
|Purity Through Fire||PREVIEW on YouTube|
‘Purging Sacred Soils’ is the debut full-length from German black metal duo Slagmark who’ve certainly taken cues from their shared membership with Finnish emigrants Sakrista and the highly melodic Totenwache. Beyond the sense that there is no mistaking the melody-driven and classic approach of Slagmark‘s guitar work this also means at least 3-4 songs all line up in a row and express in almost identical fashion before “As Cathedrals Drowned in Flames” breaks through the syrupy sickness of it all. As powerful as ‘Purging Sacred Soils’ was when approached piecemeal the full listen treads water for far too long before moving on towards some divergence. It all works as a fine black metal record but the range of their work is just slightly too near-sighted for my own tastes.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Pleasure to Kill and Grind [LP/2020]|
|Raw Skull Recordz||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Steenwijk, Netherlands based death metal band Abrupt Demise offers a gory, rapturous grinder of malevolent brutal death metal as their debut full-length ‘The Pleasure to Kill and Grind’. When they fully kick into gear these guys appear at their best and this makes sense considering their histories in bands like Burning Hatred and Anarchos yet this is clearly more on the deathgrind side of things with splatter lyrics and a straightforward, no frills approach to death metal brutality. I like this kind of stuff in moderation, especially the early Cannibal Corpse leaning moments above all else and in that sense Abrupt Demise‘s debut is satisfying in the same way Cadaver Putrefacto‘s was a couple of years ago. Savage and insane stuff that doesn’t really warrant a deep dive on my part.
|Title [Type/Year]||Amnesia [LP/2020]|
|Electric Valley Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Time to chill out? Reach for a torch and burn some extra psychedelic heavy rock from Santa Cruz, California based instrumental quartet Marmalade Knives. The construction of ‘Amnesia’ appears to be part of its otherworldly mystique as basic rhythm tracks were lain down raw and then adorned with additional ideas and expansion over time, across many places. This makes for a easy-driven presence that still finds time to meander on the way from point A to point B. What a relief it is how listenable and exploration heavy these jams are as none of it feels so dryly impromptu that it lacks feeling or confident movement. It’ll most definitely inspired a bit of jazz’d existential ache like a good psychedelic rock record should but while you’re searching through the dark for reason don’t miss out on the moment Marmalade Knives‘ guitarists Wilkins and Spivey create — A remarkably considered and decompressed heavy psych freakout awaits those patient enough to give it multiple spins. Throw all kinds of mind-bending descriptions at it if you must but the most important aspect of ‘Amnesia’ is the very real presence of its render, the oaken bass tone and squirreling heavy blues guitar narrative that make it worth returning to and basking within. A rare high recommendation for an instrumental record on my end.
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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