…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 (and last) [May 9th through May 15th, 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]||On Ghastly Shores Lays The Wreckage Of Our Lore [LP/2020]|
|BUY from Old Corpse Road [Bandcamp]||BUY from Trollzorn Records|
Hailing from Northeast England in the Darlington area black/folk metal band Old Corpse Road maintain some meaningful ties to the classic era of late 90’s/early 2000’s evolutionary stage where symphonic black metal would open doors to innovations in viking and folk metal throughout the 2000’s. That isn’t to say they’re a folkish Cradle of Filth style band but rather a blend of symphonic, folk, and late second wave black metal ideals. I am a general fan of that era’s over the top orchestration and/or emphatic melodicism be it Old Man’s Child (“Sea Fire”) or Falkenbach (“Black Ship”) so the far more atmospheric and spacious take from Old Corpse Road on this third full-length is satisfying for its bombast and generally eclectic movements, providing inspired focus and wistfully performative sub-genre grazing.
The main reason I didn’t end up doing a full review for this album came with my general lack of insight into British black metal beyond 2010 or so, maybe a few expats and big names but nothing that’d really shine any meaningful light upon their ecosystem. Beyond that, the 68 minute length and oft-meandering nature of the release would prove difficult to focus on at times. It is an immersive and grand experience nonethless, and deserving of a recommendation to anyone even remotely interested in black/folk metal hybrid with strong keyboard work that is capable of being a prominent melodic presence and/or an atmospheric accent. I don’t doubt that it’ll be worth investing more time into ‘On Ghastly Shores Lays the Wreckage of Our Lore’ so I’ll plug away at it with some reserved interest.
|Title [Type/Year]||Lux [EP/2020]|
|Self-Released||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
On their fourth full-length since forming in 2011 Denver’s In the Company of Serpents grow a third wing and deepen their already profoundly expressive, eclectic and atmospherically dense take on sludge metal. Founder and constant creative force Grant Netzorg has restaffed the project with members of Nightwraith and Vermin Womb for the first album from the band as a trio and ‘Lux’ is appreciably 30% more fleshed into outer space or, perhaps just staring up at the stars on a cool desert night. Huh? What I mean is that stargazing cowboys might enjoy some of the ‘southern gothic’ and neofolkish influences that’ve become increasingly prominent within the projects sound. Acoustic interludes (“Daybreak”, “Nightfall”) help to introduce scenic changes and ease the transition from rough sludge hulking into easier-going, narrative desert folk and Americana influenced pieces (“The Chasm at the Mouth of All”, “Prima Materia”). Otherwise we’re treated to a blend of modern sludge’s less aggro side with some 2000’s Crowbar roared melodious, doom-heavy pieces (“Light Child”, “Scales of Maat”) akin to maybe Slabdragger or even Coltsblood. Ten minute opener “The Fool’s Journey” is the major piece to set the tone for theme and mountainous sludge/doom presence but the bigger picture won’t fully arrive until you’ve heard the entirety of Side A.
Transitions between aggression, stargazing ease, and existentialist contemplation can be a bit jarring on the first listen, especially when “The Chasm at the Mouth of All” chimes in, but with some familiarity ‘Lux’ began to feel like a very modern and sharp take on atmospheric sludge metal of old. It isn’t exactly ‘The Eye of Every Storm’ but no doubt folks who’d never quite settled into post-metal beyond atmospheric sludge innovations might like this in-betweener vibe with its own profoundly mystic take. Throw in an incredibly sharp render from Flatline Audio, guest spots from members of Primitive Man and Khemmis, and the experience rounds out into something memorable and forward-thinking but not wearing sludge metal like a pelt with a preserved face. A very high recommendation to sludge/post-metal fans.
|Title [Type/Year]||Time Immemorial [LP/2020]|
|The Sludgelord Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
One of the better live bands from Vancouver, British Columbia’s greater sludge metal spheres Heron have returned with a second full-length, this one a shade more bleak and with a slightly more professional render. They’re still of the hissing n’ roaring early Thou-esque variety of modern but post-whatever kissed sludge metal groups yet their sparing use of inspiration from extreme metal continues to elevate toward feats of gutting sludge noise beyond the norm. ‘Time Immemorial’ is certainly a follow-up and general boost of their modus on ‘A Low Winter’s Sun’ (2018) but it is clear they were either more comfortable or just more tightened and ready for the studio experience this time around because the recording lacks any unnecessary roughness and the sleepier post-metal drift now feels like a meaningful stylistic choice rather than a time killer reserved for a light second half.
“Endless” is a prime example of all elements coming together for a sweet finale of mind-shattering dread and lucid dreaming escapism, it could be a fine introduction to most all of the places Heron go with the record. “Boiling Ancient Light” mixes in some Feral Light-esque blackened touches, “Death on the Malahat” has this insanely satisfying chunked out riffing that bruises my psyche every time I hear it, and their cover of Entombed‘s “Wolverine Blues” is fashioned to fit beautifully within with the gig of the whole album you might not even notice those big swings were from the death n’ roll classic. Another very high recommendation for sludge fans this week, at the very least give the closer and the cover a spin to see what is up.
|Title [Type/Year]||La Ilden Lyse [LP/2020]|
|Southern Lord Recordings||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Left hand path-driven atmospheric post-crust? Blackened post-punk n’ roll? Whatever you’d choose to call Oslo, Norway-based quintet Okkultokrati they are entirely their own jam, a dream-like drugged harangue against norms that critically blasts the ‘self’ with truly nihilistic regard. ‘La Ilden Lyse’ is an album of enduring persistence that’d carve its place deep in darkness without succumbing to nothingness — That is to say it is both droning and wildly inebriated by occult bliss as per usual, but also that this one in particular dreams up a true Norwegian void, where utter oblivion spreads like frostbite beyond a set of dead toes throughout it’s spin. Are they the watchfire to run towards or a callous reminder of the hopeless, trudging morass faced by anyone daring to be obscure?
Well, they’re dark but not about to stab you into oblivion. In fact, Okkultokrati have been the light at the end of the tunnel for some time now; I’d first discovered their staggered d-beaten rock hits back when ‘Night Jerks’ (2014) originally released and like so many others I was stunned out of my seat by the swing of ‘Raspberry Dawn’ (2016). This fifth record from the band is one of their more stripped down efforts to date, no longer featuring the Wire-esque buzz of the prior record and now arriving with the presence of an early 90’s black metal record, minus the blown mics and tin can drums. It feels like an occult d-beat band from Norway circa ’93 and there are fewer of those sludge-driven heavy rock moments along the way (excepting maybe “Freezing Vortex Death Dreamer”). By the time “Mother Superior” rolls around you’ll no doubt feel like you’ve already listened to ~15 minutes of that same beat and that repetitive drive is both immersive and dryly daunting when first approaching the album.
After four albums and countless tours these guys know what they’re doing and their smartly concocted hopeful-yet-nightmarish post-crust blast will ultimately win over anyone in the market for hissing black metal spirit and gnarled punk rhythms. “Grimoire Luciferian Dream” and “Kiss of Death” are the major jams here, I’d definitely recommend both of those tracks in preview to start.
|Title [Type/Year]||Satan is King [LP/2020]|
|Prosthetic Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Each time Southern California grindcore/powerviolence band ACxDC (aka Antichrist Demoncore) take an extended break (such as ’06-’10 when they split) they come back even more insane than before so, no doubt their second full-length arrives hotly anticipated. Although it wasn’t preceded by a split-up this time, ‘Satan is King’ still delivers upon expectations as if these guys were reborn. Not only is the record on point with its grinding n’ frantic performances but they’re back to spewing fiery bilge all over today’s self-branding, greed-killing, group-thinking, scatterbrained corporation subservient majority. The spirit of defiance echoes beyond metal and punk worlds just as the most classic grindcore did and that’d be where I’d suggest their influences are still at, primarily extreme metal and ultra-militant hardcore punk swings, though this time around they’re sounding more in tune with modern forms of powerviolence.
I really appreciate the hyper-violent rushes of pure grindcore pushing air on ‘Satan is King’, an album that is as irreverent and destructive as it looks, though I didn’t find it really stuck beyond face value this time around. I suppose that’d explain why I didn’t attempt a full review of this tone, I don’t have much to say about it beyond appreciating its bigger style notes. Production is perfect, solid boom in the mix with each instrument punching hard but, not without dynamic interplay. The listening experience is solid as fuck for a 24 minute grindviolence record and it was always an easy listen, nothing annoying or pointless, no wasted time (samples, speeches, goofs, indulgent breakdowns, etc.) just pure ripping front to back. I’d most definitely recommend it, just don’t have much else to add to the conversation on it. This record, Escuela Grind‘s LP, and Internal Rot are probably up there with my top grinders for the year thus far.
|Title [Type/Year]||Kaikuja [LP/2020]|
|Eisenwald||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Ashtar brings together two standout shards from the Basel, Switzerland area extreme doom (Shever) and psychedelic doom metal (Phased) acts in creation of an inspired blackened doom metal outing which now arrives upon their second full-length ‘Kaikuja’. The duo are not only both multi-instrumentalists but also husband and wife and Ashtar is perhaps a means of taking control of their own collective vision while exploring the possibilities of extreme doom metal. Meandering, psychotropic riffs stagger forth alongside the severity of black metal rasps, mournful and méchant as the crawl forward within pieces that range from just over five minutes to 13+ minute dirges. It does feel like they’re leaning into a mix of classic black/doom metal ideals beyond Hellhammer (see: Samael‘s debut) and remaining cognizant of the eerie simplicity of modern stoner/sludge metal without touching anything too bong-loaded.
The drift of ‘Kaikuja’ is much more barren and hateful than ‘Ilmasaari’ was back in 2015, droning and stricken with a decidedly singular guitar sound that feels ‘live’ for the sake of not bearing a thousand layers atop everything else. The minimalism inherent to its otherwise lush and brooding experience makes ‘Kaikuja’ all the more ominous, slithering, and bearing a unique brand of satisfying malaise. This feeling peaks just as the record finishes off with “(She Is) Awakening” as vocalist N. Lehtinen‘s violins sourly rake out the last few moments of the album. I loved the whole experience of this album and the perfect mood it creates for black/doom metal with simplicity and scorn in equal amounts without ever sounding naive or ‘plain’ and the more I consider it the only real issue I have is that I don’t care for the album art. This record has great potential for re-listening as the year progresses and certainly deserves a recommendation for folks enticed by black/doom variations that aren’t strictly grim or under-produced.
|Title [Type/Year]||Wandering Forlorn [Split LP/2020]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp! [May 15th]|
‘Wandering Forlorn’ is easily one of the more remarkable pairings for a split LP I’ve stumbled up these last couple of years as the inspiring tireless momentum of Runespell‘s Nightwolf (Blood Stronghold) and the ancient wisdom of Forest Mysticism‘s D. (Remete, Woods of Desolation) make for a glorious and fitting pairing. Though both are from the same part of the world each embodies an personally developed austerity, and an intimate relationship with their guitar work and arrangements, that smothers the dry malevolence of black metals most ancient origins long enough to usurp by virtue of their regalia alone. The combined experience of sitting with their (assumed) most recent works is remarkable and though I will always pick favorites on split releases an undeniably high standard is held between each artist in this case.
Runespell were founded with some distinction ingrained but the impact of the project landed with ‘Order of Vengeance’ (2018) and a mastery of that thread evolved over the course of ‘Voice of Opprobrium’ (2019); That third album had ultimately made me a devout fan so, I was eager to hear this split material the moment it was announced. His three song and ~20 minute side of the split is very much along the lines of that most recent work in the sense that it is driven by lead guitar melodies that are epic in their scored approach, the riffs aren’t necessarily the full focus of each piece but they do help to separate his work from say, early Summoning. “Wolfwoods” is incredible, a ten minute piece that finds Runespell positively swimming in the regal aura he’d create, it is the sort of song that is perhaps quite long but it could be 30 minutes without so much as a key change and it’d still be my jam. With that said, “Fated in Blood” might be one of my favorite Runespell songs to date. For those unfamiliar with the project it is ultimately an epic bout of pagan black metal that features melodies that are grand and ever-expanding.
Connecting that auld pagan spirit to a project that’d been notable in the late 2000’s and through ~2011 as a solo artist, Forest Mysticism would hold while Woods of Desolation had a successful run of albums until 2018 when the project would reawaken. D.‘s work in this band is better known through compilations so no doubt only the most die-hard Australian black metal supporters would likely know where this project is coming from before ‘Hearken’ (2018), I’d say there is a big of depressive black metal (a la Austere) in his guitar work, subtle in presenting melodies but always emotionally conjured beyond the feeling of an exercise or trope. “Summon” is rousing in that sense, if you can excuse the unintended pun, where it stirs movement (be it metaphysical energy or chemical divulgence) in my mind that creates a thread that could’ve been extended another 3-5 minutes if needed. “Ancient Tides” is equal showpiece to that of Runespell‘s “Wolfwoods”, an exemplar piece of the artists blustering, genius. A remarkable end to an exquisitely paired split.
|Title [Type/Year]||Pakana [LP/2020]|
|Wolfspell Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
For their second full-length paganistic second-wave worshipers Iku-Turso‘s line-up is no longer split between three worlds, now featuring members from Finland and the Netherlands exclusively, yet this hasn’t changed their greater vision for ‘Pakana’, an exuberant classic black metal record that is notably inspired. No doubt they’re aiming for something along the lines of early Norwegian black metal where symphonic elements were more often than not sparingly applied and some folkish ideas were notions rather than full-blown obsessions. I would not compare this style of composition and performance with early career classics from Satyricon, Windir, Moonsorrow, or even Myrkraverk but the inspiration is certainly there. Though they’ve hit a certain mark for feeling the music itself is somewhat mediocre beyond a few cursory spins in appreciation for their recreation of auld and bombastic commercial black metal spiritus. I don’t believe a band in this style need be entirely melodic or ‘catchy’ but a more dogged approach to songwriting might yield something less rote.
|Title [Type/Year]||Dead World Order [LP/2020]|
|G.U.C.||BUY it from the band [email@example.com]|
Bitterness are a modern thrash metal band from the far-south Waldshut-Tiengen area who have evolved from a melodeath/thrash metal band into what I’d consider a more straight-forward form of ‘festival thrash’ where you’ll be drawn to their classic riffs from any distance but it’ll sound a bit like a ‘comeback’-era Kreator revival with the wrong vocalist. Their previous album ‘Ressurexodus’ (2015) felt like a true re-skinning of the project, updating a bit and doubling down on classic influences to great effect as they no longer just sounded like Dew-Scented. This time around they’ve written sharper songs, performed a bit cleaner, and generally improved upon the previous record’s style. Some of the lyrics are a bit strange and I’m not sure they’ve done a great job of replacing their Gothenburg melodeath influences with strong enough riffs to make up the difference but ‘Dead World Order’ is a decent thrasher all the same. It kinda sounds like one of those ‘comeback’ thrasher records from an 80’s band where it misses the mark of classic thrash but I still understand where the artist is coming from. If you’re less of a thrash-obsessed apologist you probably won’t hook onto this latest Bitterness record but it was a pretty solid few listens on my end. For the old heads who’d know, it’ll be cool to know that Harris Johns provides the mix/master for this record.
|Title [Type/Year]||Usurper [LP/2020]|
|Self-Released||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
I don’t blame you but in this one case, don’t judge -this- book (er, album) by its cover. I know that folks will take one look at River of Souls‘ band logo and dewy ‘at sea’ painting in a record store and assume it is some low-budget power metal nonsense but in fact ‘Usurper’ is a strong blend of melodic death/doom metal and some epic heavy metal pieces that often intertwine. Think along the lines of the most recent Grey Skies Fallen album with a bit more of a mid-90’s Solitude Aeternus vibe. If you’re always pining for a death metal records with some true alignment to righteous heavy metal, a band that understands songwriting beyond plainly borrowed structures or guitar tone, ‘Usurper’ will be a treat to experience.
The way I’d sell this thing is more along the lines of Procession if they went death/doom, as there is that powerful Candlemass-esque spirit guiding their hand but also an exacting notion of when to insert the harder death metal traits for emphasis. The title track does this to stunning results on its jogging 10 minute trip but there isn’t a song here that misses a beat. If they’d get a more fitting logo designed (see: Temple of Void, Rotting Kingdom) they’d hit their mark with folks like me faster and easier; I found this band a real joy to discover both as a death metal nut and a doom metal die-hard. A moderately high recommendation.
|Title [Type/Year]||Pacified/Conjuring [LP/2020]|
|Sentient Ruin Labs||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Hearkening back to the heyday of Vancouver B.C.’s widespread electro-industrial/ebm phenomena in the late 80’s/early 90’s this Columbus, Ohio based solo project from Matt Auxier dusts the listener’s wrists free of shackles n’ vile grip-weakening sanctity in our promised land, this post-Christian apocalypse. Collecting two cassette only EPs from 2018 (‘Pacified’, ‘Conjuring’) that’d serve as body-snapping Satanic electro-sovereignty in preparation for his debut (‘The Third Estate‘, 2019) Sentient Ruin has immortalized those formative incantations in 12″ vinyl on ‘Pacified/Conjuring’. Anarchist, satanist, electronic dance music that’ll fray the edges of sanity and (if you’re like me) push the already eagerly irreligious mind into thoughts (just thoughts, I assure you) of blazing churches, impaling priests, and exploding stained-glass monstrosities to ash by way of screaming hordes of molotov-bearers. Or I dunno, it’ll make you want to hump if you’re into that whole bondage geared up electro-defiance. I personally love Front 242 and most Front Line Assembly up to ’98 or so, this stuff at least warms up to that level of fervor while pushing the aggro-guitar driven angle above the hip-shaking, drug-taking melodicism otherwise. A fine place to start with the project though I’d definitely jump over to ‘The Third Estate’ afterwards to see where he went next.
|Title [Type/Year]||What Will Be Lost [LP/2020]|
|Tartarus Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Heavily influenced by post-hardcore, post-metal and blackened forms of sludge metal Utrecht, Netherlands-based quintet Throwing Bricks underwent a wild transformation from raucous modern hardcore band towards full on modern post-metal band in the space of about a decade. This is their first official, big-deal release and perhaps will call for a more serious, artful issue of their previous record ‘Self-Distancing’ (2016), which had an interesting piece dedicated to Slowdive. Although I wasn’t sure if I should take this band seriously to start ‘What Will Be Lost’ ends up being a solid and dramatic post-hardcore shoved sludgy post-metal album. Sure they’re not exactly Cult of Luna just yet but (they could open for ’em, and) there is some major potential realized within the exuberant sound collages and ringing tonality of this record. Think of them as a bit less refined Rise and Fall with some atmospheric black metal traits and even a bit of feedback-sourced drone in between heavier pieces. Definitely worth a few listens if you’re into this style of music. Add ’em to your ‘bands to watch’ list if you’re into atmospherically driven post-metal like Amenra but also enjoy the cinematic and overblown edges of experimental European post-hardcore.
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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