…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 [June 1st through June 5th, 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]||The Fates [LP/2020]|
|Mighty Spells Records||BUY & LISTEN on Witches Website|
It’d be entirely fair to consider Antibes-born and now Paris-based thrashers Witches the “French Holy Moses” because no doubt the bands are friends and the development of Witches‘ sound back in the late 80’s was surely influenced both by Holy Moses‘ aggressive style and the emergence of death metal across France at the time. Sibylle Colin-Tocquaine can be considered a pioneer within French extreme metal history for being undoubtedly the first notable female vocalist to use an ‘extreme metal’ vocal style, a deeper rasp that has clearer diction a la Thanatos‘ vocalist Stefan Gebedi. ‘The Fates’ might only be Witches’ third album in 34 years, as there have been long breaks and false starts with intermittent demos yet its style nonetheless speaks the veteran thrash metal heart of this band. A plain and severe 2000’s death/thrash metal sound with some lighter ‘Violent Revolution’-era Kreator swerves into melodicism make for a satisfying and frankly uncomplicated listen. A for thrasher, by thrashers kind of album that punches out every note as if it were one of a thousand impassioned stabs of a serrated knife.
Sibylle and her brother of Alex Colin-Tocquaine of Agressor, who was a big part of the early years of the band as their drummer, put out some very inspired tapes early on that drive my own interest in the band today. Unless you’ve leaned deep into French thrash and death/thrash metal history, as I have, no doubt you’ve not heard of Witches and if anything the energy and riffing of this album might have you thinking of bands like Deathchain or Legion of the Damned without the context of their development going back to their late 80’s demo days. Of course ‘The Fates’ is a modern thrash album delivered with extreme metal leanings, it’ll provide a great soundtrack to catching up with the history of Witches. Best tracks: “Let Stones Fall”, “Black From Sorrow” and the Torture Squad-esque rip of opener “We Are”.
|Title [Type/Year]||Necrotic Verses [LP/2020]|
|Transcending Obscurity Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Death Courier were formed in the late 80’s as a death/thrash metal band with a some hardcore punk influenced leanings early on and their initial run would last until 1993 after several intense demos, an EP and a classic full-length ‘Demise‘ (1992). If you haven’t heard ‘Demise’, you’ve fucked up! It has the dry, cemeterial production sound of those old Greek black metal tapes yet it is a brain-splattering death/thrasher with riffs front to back. They’d eventually reform in 2009 and like so many others the original line-up wasn’t there in full and their sound would crank up to fairly modern standards. ‘Perimortem‘ (2013) was an alright return, not a particularly memorable record but a hard fought set of songs that they’d been trying to get together between the old line-up since the mid-90’s. If you’re familiar with that album you’ll know they definitely went for a cranked up and brutal approach and that’d translate to the pretty straight forward battery of ‘Necrotic Verses’.
Original bassist/vocalist Bill Soulas hasn’t written this album as a throwback to ‘Demise’ as the style of Death Courier today is ‘old school’ brutal in the sense that it punches out like an early Sinister album (‘Hate’, especially) while leaning into a more brutal pace only occasionally swerving into thrashing parts. The rest of the band is rounded out by the guitarist and drummer of Vermingod and I think altogether the combination of generations and the brutal kicking of this record ends up reminding me of early Resurgency a bit. ‘Necrotic Verses’ blows by fast at 34 minutes with each song averaging about 3-4 minutes at most, I’d say most of the riffing is heavy and interesting enough but nothing that really indicates an evolution of the Death Courier style so much as it is just a solid damned death metal record. “Pillars” brings in some sharp riff ideas and “Heaven Blends With Rot” is a blissful brutal death-thrash metal hammer but it is the grand finale of “Remnants” that I’d see as the major highlight of the album. If you’re looking for a follow-up to ‘Demise’, this doesn’t have that sound or style, but if you’re curious what that dude is doing with death metal today ‘Necrotic Verses’ should prove a righteous enough head-hammerer.
|Title [Type/Year]||Vernal [LP/2020]|
|Self-Released||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
‘Vernal’ is undoubtedly a breakthrough for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based sludge metal quintet Witching who bring otherwordly menace by way of extreme metallic regalia on thier stoically spewing debut full-length. An admixture of post-metal and modern sludge metal (see: Body Void, Thou) with black metal influences (Lord Mantis, Cough), the melodrama is thick and nigh theatrical within the span of ‘Vernal’. It is an experience of brooding release where the band’s ability to angle off into different modes and sub-genre tirades is undeniably impressive; From the stoney catharsis of “This is What You Deserve” to the impassioned raconteur of “Roses” I hear a band packing tons of inspired ideas into a full-ranged concept. It does overflow here and there but the ambition on hand is inspired all the same.
When all manner of influences and intentions blur, Witching begins to remind me of later Kylesa a bit, especially when pushing for bigger sludge/doom grooves and subversive post-metal weirdness at once. “Witness” and “Eschaton” have some blackened/melodic guitar work that works quite well in terms of bringing a refined feeling to otherwise raw-edged craft; This creates expectations removed from the post-sludge/doom extremism on hand otherwise and has me imagining their sound growing even more distinct over time. The title track (“Vernal”) is the peak of this conflict and perhaps a good enough argument that their turmoil of forms is actually beauteous in its collapsing extreme sludge mesh. The only point where I’d ding ‘Vernal’ comes with the vocals, where I’d find certain songs were absolutely a joy for the vocal patterns (“Eschaton”) and others where the performances just didn’t get there a hundred percent (“Lividity”) needing a bigger take on the cleaner/spoken parts or some more intense layering to accentuate the emotional outburst that the piece becomes. A stellar debut, Witching have found a stirring and swinging sound of their own that is certainly worth several albums of exploration.
|Title [Type/Year]||Temple of Wounds [LP/2020]|
|Svart Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Montréal, Quebec black/dark metal band Blight comes from ex-members of blackened deathcore Insect and former Ion Dissonance vocalist G. McCaughry. I’m not one to shy away from a catchy dark metal album here and there though I found little in the way of memorable songwriting during my time with ‘Temple of Wounds’. In terms of style I’d say this album aims for an accessible approximation of black metal, a nice amount of Norwegian swing and some well-placed gothic affect make for a recognizable if not fairly average full listen. The implementation of keyboards is adept and often the most compelling part of the stronger pieces (“The Aurious Nescience”). The spiritual extremes and lyric intent are there but a mixture of bulbous, ‘digital’ and warm guitar tone with “core” vocal timbre pull me away from any embrace of Blight. I really loved some of the vocal experimentation otherwise and I think pushing for more moments like the throat singing on “Scrying the Iosis” would’ve been incredible. This one didn’t sink in for me but I see the potential is entirely there if they ever rethink that sludgy guitar sound.
|Title [Type/Year]||Zornvlouch [LP/2020]|
|Into Endless Chaos Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Youna is a solo black metal project from Mts (Evil Warriors, ex-Devil Lee Rot) where he has channeled this private portal to the ear where an entire void, ‘Zornvlouch’, is revealed by way of shuddering, roaring and coffin-blasted black metal. Described as a ‘manifest’ in conjuration of plague and wrath, this debut is perhaps an atypical piece of the craft in some respects but fairly usual in most aspects. To start I’d really loved the artwork Mts has put together for the cover, not only is it perfectly evocative of the contents of the record but it speaks to the soul-crushing dark the rhythms of ‘Zornvlouch’ express; Downward echoing nihilistic menace and coldly beaten drum send spirals of muscular-yet-despondent riffs out as if curses to some personal throat-gripping daimon of unrest. I hear shades of early Urfaust in the experimental edges of Youna‘s sound yet as a whole there is no deny that this is the pure mania and bone-scraped sinew of German black metal. The drums need some balance, the bass drums hits can be artificially loud during fast parts in particular, but otherwise the guitar tone is fantastic and the vocals placement just above the middle-center of the mix is perfect. High recommendation if you’re inclined towards underground black metal. I’d recommend “Tievelsühtic” and “Vreveler” (in that order) when previewing the album.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ormskrik [LP/2020]|
|Fysisk Format||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Hailing far south of Bergen, this Norwegian blackened thrash metal band comes heavily influenced by modern metalpunk groups such as Toxic Holocaust and Skeletonwitch in their fusion of modern revivalist thrash with light touches of popular Scandinavian black metal. Once you’ve sat with songs like “Destroyer of Worlds” I think the intention of the band becomes a bit more clear as they’re influenced by the bombast and high-drama of classic Bay Area thrash as well as some crossover leaning thrashers adjacent yet, their implementation of black metal influences is definitely a tertiary trait where hardcore punk-amped thrash is the major point of expression on ‘Ormskrik’. “Descend to Madness” does a fine job of blending those traits to a fine ratio but this is not yet enough of a point of view that I was thrilled by the standard chugging n’ barking modus of the band. It feels quite safe and not as extreme and unruly as the black/thrash tag implies in 2020. Hell, I think this sound would be more compelling if they leaned more into Gothenburg melodicism far more often, “Deathwind” in particular has a little bit of that ’95 power in its big chugging verse riffs and refrain and this ends up being the most remarkable pillar or, standout moment, observed on my part. Not quite there with the riffs, for my taste, just yet but a fine debut nonetheless.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Sixth Mass-Extinction Skullduggery II [LP/2020]|
|Nefarious Industries||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
The pathetic writhing of humanity beneath the anthropocene epochs final suffocating weight manifests before us as increasingly selfish, despondent, and desperately cruel acts become commonplace. No clairvoyance necessary, today the species itself lacks purpose beyond proliferation and bears no empathy for the struggling deaths of those living without sustenance and shelter. Ever the apocalypse-renderer, dark ambient and harsh noise artist Gridfailure seeks to illustrate through shouting, scraping, blistering and boiling collages the intensifying brutality between men as increasingly barren, nutrient-void fruits of the Earth dry up beneath their feet. With this second part of a five album conceptual undertaking there is a sense of drying, of those chasing down increasingly toxic pools of water that lose there potability with each passing week. If you’ve ever visited the Salton Sea you’ll understand the atmosphere implied, of rust and cheap human constructs whose remnants are little more than toxins and crumbling sun-bleached plastic. Acoustic guitar pieces often bookend these pieces (“Stoking the Embers”, “Sabotaging Panacea”) with short meditations, tonal guidance to avoid full on musique concrète.
I had to go back and listen to ‘The Sixth Mass Extinction Skullduggery I’ (2019) to appreciate the thematic connections between the two, including the use of percussion loops and certain layered techniques that line up in a distinctly Gridfailure way. This time around I’d felt there was an increase in naturally sourced atmospheric sounds, and by listening to the two full albums back-to-back I could see the descent growing darker, at least enough to wonder how bleak Part III will be along with the two themed pieces after dealing with life at the very end of days. Despite the desolation at hand I didn’t find the full ~2.5 hour spin of both albums as spiritually damning as I’d expected, in fact there is some great meditative quality to this second part, especially the gently hellish “Proven Finite” a 10+ minute rain-soaked demonic lullaby. The tone shifts considerably as the album advances, starting around “Farmer Suicide” as the rain dries up and the muffled voices of protest and defilement out of desperation bring a set of harsher, bleaker pieces.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ignis Aeternum [LP/2020]|
|Black Lion Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Re-Armed are a Finnish modern melodic death metal band who’d gotten their start back in the early 2000’s as a melodeath/thrash band that’d evolve with the times until beginning their current four album run starting back in 2012. With ‘Ignis Aeternum’ they move fully away from their melodic death/thrash roots and fully into the realm of modern melodic death metal a la Insomnium and Noumena. Where I’d say Re-Armed are a bit different comes with their penchant for modern power metal touches and symphonic edges resultant. So, as a fan of over the top extreme metal melodrama I am both drawn-to and disgusted by these sorts of albums and all that I really need from a band like this is catchy melodic songwriting. I’m not sure ‘Ignis Aeternum’ ever fully takes a turn towards the overtly catchy melody and instead it feels like they’ve focused on weirdly moshable pieces such as “Resistance”, which I’d felt went entirely nowhere. No doubt Re-Armed are fantastic musicians with a real flair for the dramatic yet it never felt like they pushed things beyond the norm with this fourth record. Good, but perhaps not really my thing at the moment.
|Title [Type/Year]||Liber Secondus – Exégèse [LP/2020]|
|Malpermesita Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
The second part of an ongoing black metal saga aimed at the enlightenment of men to their coming extinction, the blood in hand and the knife held in the other are ours alike as Azziard‘s wisened eyes see it. Certainly a modern band with some depressive and dark metal elements shouldered into their distinctly French black metal style the bulk of what this Paris-based band do is now disturbed by some poignantly quiet sections, funereal strokes that indicate the bleak reality of their tirades with some meaningful lucidity. For this fourth album the band have enlisted Deliverance‘s guitarist/producer Etienne Sarthou for the capture and I believe this has done wonders for the actual render and perhaps the greater dynamic of ‘Liber Secondus – Exégèse’. The double-bass drumming still sounds a little bit “basket-like” when things really go flying at full speed but otherwise the spacious and resonant sound of this album is very sharp. Subtle dissonance, trailing tremolo bursts, and a generally punchy sound remind me a bit of Moonreich at times and perhaps the newer era of Merrimack to some small degree when things really go off the hook. If you are prone to the more mid-paced black metal style but still want bursts of excitement along the way the overall dynamic of this record should be pleasantly effective.
|Title [Type/Year]||Wide Awake But Still Asleep [LP/2020]|
|Dark Essence/Karisma Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
The progressive and psychedelic mind slowly unfurling its joyously spilling transcendental thoughts, fleeting as often as they are impactful aphorisms, is a daunting capture when the heart loves a bit of everything. Forced to focus to a laser point for the sake of communicating something impactful Bergen, Norway-based psych-rockers commit to refracting all manner of coloration upon psychedelic movements within classic progressive rock structures. Prone to a bit of a sea breeze in seeming celebration of the ever-bending nature of the mind’s perception Shaman Elephant are a jam-built entity making intimate pieces that are in-the-moment gushes rather than elaborate, stiff-necked arthouse rock epics and this despite their clear love for 70’s US & UK prog rock excess. When they’re “on” and pushing out an upbeat number Shaman Elephant are a notable point of bliss yet when things slow down on “Ease of Mind” it feels like a crater in the middle of the full listen. Big, keyboard slinging rockers like “H.M.S Death, Rattle and Roll”, “Traveller” and the slow to rise awakening of the title track are where I’d found this quartet were at their most exuberant and essential. A fine psychedelic/progressive rock album that’ll appeal to fans looking for classic sensibilities that never sound dryly retro or needlessly excessive.
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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