…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 13th through June 25th, 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: Ritual Mass & Dearth records are out soon & will get full reviews in the future.
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]||Live in Seattle 5.28.18 [Live LP/2020]|
|Dark Operative||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Make a list of the ten best thrash metal bands that’ve left any sort of dent in heavy metal this last decade and you’ve fucked up hard if Dallas, Texas quartet Power Trip wasn’t at the top. They’re heavy, they’ve got riffs, and their appeal transcends crossover/thrash, extreme thrash, and sub-genre puritan snobbery. Hey and they’ve put out a live album from a gig at Neumo’s back in 2018 when their latest full-length ‘Nightmare Logic’ (2017) was still riding high the wave of much deserved hype beyond release. I’ve been following this band since the end of 2013 when I discovered ‘Manifest Decimation’ (2013) from a friend’s end of the year list. I was actually at this show but it wasn’t the first time I’d seen the band, big deal about this time around was they’d just sounded tighter and more practiced than ever. I’ve seen so many hardcore punk bands go metal on record but they fumble their chugs live, not Power Trip! Pure class performance and this recording sounds straight off the soundboard giving plenty of room to the guitars with some sharp clarity, plenty of nasty distortion on ’em which is remarkably accurate to the live experience.
It isn’t he first time we’ve gotten a live record from the band since ‘Nightmare Logic’ became one of the most influential thrash records of the last several years, but it is thus far the most complete and sharpest sounding one. Even if you don’t give a shit about live records I’d still throw the cost of a ticket at ’em, gotta support these guys and ensure album three hits sooner than later. “Soul Sacrifice” and “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” are the crowd pleasers to look out for but for my taste the real killers on here are “Suffer No Fool” and “Conditioned to Death”, really fine captures of each that stood out to me.
|Title [Type/Year]||Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! [LP/2020]|
|Prosthetic Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Ontario, Canada-based sludge metal duo Vile Creature are at their most atmospheric on this third full-length, that isn’t to say that ‘Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!’ is sleepy or disengaged but the two 11 minute pieces that open the record give the impression of a brooding recoil, a cornered animal deciding how much damage is necessary to escape. For my own taste I’d actually enjoyed these slower, rumbling moments as they heavily recall Thou‘s ‘Heathen’ era of long, slow build-ups and brief jogging attacks. “When the Path Unclear” does eventually open up into a hissing, screaming frenzied vortex at its climax and there I’d begin to appreciate Vile Creature‘s much improved sense of pace and impact. The strongest piece on the album, “You Who Has Never Slept” offers a free-wheeling yet somber sludge/doom metal groove that feels like a proper mutation of classic sludge that seethes and sways with appreciable tumult. Some hardcorish shouts and oddly placed keyboards add to the moderate ‘kitchen sink’ atmospherics on the piece which I’d found endearing and well, appropriately miserable. The nigh constant screaming of these extended pieces finds me begging for respite just as the chorales of “Glory! Glory!” set in to segue towards the final piece. Though I have not spent a tone of time with it beyond the requisite listens, I’d suggest this is one of the finer modern sludge metal records I’ve heard in the first half of the year. Although I’d have liked to see their oeuvre expand much more in the performance and vocal arrangement department by the third full-length, the doom-paced and always seething stature of Vile Creature makes its point well enough.
|Title [Type/Year]||Liturgy of the Black [LP/2020]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
The Rite is a fantastic ‘old school’ Satanic black/doom metal band featuring Ustumallagam of Danish black metal legends Denial of God and A.Th of Italian occult doom metal band Black Oath. The style of this debut is a fair crossing of early Samael (or, Alastis if they’d been in tune) and the diction of early Celtic Frost interpreted by the horror obsessed mind of Denial of God. It’d be fair to compare this debut full-length, which comes after a stellar 2018 EP and 2019 demo, with the member’s other bands on some level yet the tendrils are far too intertwined to parse out separate details in such a plain manner. A.Th is a fine composer with a solid grasp of pure doom metal riffing with a darker-than-thou edge and despite loving Ustumallgam‘s performance it is the riffs that ultimately rule over the experience here. There were a few gripes that are of course small considering the ancient focus of the render, the drums feel very thin or artificial anytime the pace picks up or whenever certain fills are employed. I was somewhat conflicted on this because it does lend a very mid-80’s feeling to The Rite‘s overall sound but it also causes some of the album’s wallop to rescind at certain points. “Famadihana” is an example of the song itself overcoming the drum sound and standing out with a fantastic guitar performance and nigh Acid Witch-esque build to start. “Sinister Minister” has some of my favorite riffs on the record, recalling old Necromantia (or, the stuff that influenced them) a bit. Side B in general is where my head was at whenever I put this album on and found the songs really loosen up and find a solid groove around halfway through the record. Fantastic record overall, easy recommendation to fans of Denial of God and ‘old school’ black/doom in general.
|Title [Type/Year]||Keepers of the Flame [LP/2020]|
|Fighter Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Greyhawk are a heavy/power metal band from Seattle, Washington and no doubt you are going to have any number of these catchy, high-spirited and inspirational 80’s US power metal attuned tunes stuck in your head for months. ‘Keepers of the Flame’ is yet a bit of an outlier in the pacific northwest, no doubt there are enough bands to fill a solid bill at any given summer weekend out ‘ere but stellar full-length releases are few and far between. As was the case with Sölicitör a few months back, I’ve just got next to nothing to say about the well-trodden world of pure traditional heavy metal. Greyhawk certainly have the charisma of peak 90’s European power metal set to the powerful grittiness of 80’s Maiden ‘n Priest worship in the states. They shred, write catchy-as-Hell songs, and vocalist Rev Taylor is fantastic spectacle live and on record. There are countless highlights here for my taste, such as the early 80’s Budgie-meets-Maiden shred of “R.X.R.O.”, the undeniable hooks of “Don’t Call For the Wizard” and Helloween-esque leads from melodic opener “Frozen Star”. The ballads (“The Rising Sign”, “Black Peak”) are a stretch but I’d still keep spinning this record over and over for the ultimate jams of “Ophidian Throne” and “Drop the Hammer”, which are the two songs I’d recommend most.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sisters of Darkness [EP/2020]|
|Caligari Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Ack! Creepy kid voices always send me tossing my headphones off fast. It’d take me a few days to recover but I’d eventually pick up this self-recorded solo epic doom/speed metal tape from Italian musician Marzia under the name Marthe. ‘Sisters of Darkness’ begins as a sort of call from beyond, a very distant and atmospheric dirge that feels both live in studio but cast through another dimension nonetheless as the title track surges to its apex. “Married to the Grave” clarifies exactly what this tape is with its raw-presented traditional heavy metal beats and straightforward anthemic melody, the movements tend towards easier-swinging stoner-doom metal at times rather than clangorous Pentagram-isms and such but you’ll get the right heavy/doom metal vibe nonetheless, what I’d pick up on with a few more closer listens was a sort of gothic, flat-lining edge to the vocals which I’d hope would stick around on further releases. Each of the four songs here feels somewhat special, very detailed in their expression but also not entirely sure of how they’ll land in motion and this slight sense of naivete keeps each song from being as huge as they are intended. “Awake Arise Silence” is probably the most ‘epic’ of the bunch and the one I’d come back to most often for its extended intro and burst into heavier sections. The vocals pick up great power by the end of the song despite not being belted out so much as spoken. Great potential across the board and I’m hoping this tape does well enough that we get bigger and better things from Marthe soon enough.
|Title [Type/Year]||Pentagrammaton [LP/2020]|
|Shadow Records/Regain||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Although I am still planning on doing a full review of this remarkable long-held unreleased album from Swedish orthodox black metal act Ofermod I wanted to at least mention it before release date. The story of ‘Pentagrammaton’ hails back to what would have been a remarkable event back in 2005 as Ofermod‘s line-up would include members of Funeral Mist, Teitanblood, etc. and listening to it now it might’ve been a strong new standard-bearer for Satanic black metal pending what Deathspell Omega were developing nearby. Though I tend to lean towards the melodic spectrum of early Swedish black metal most often, I cannot deny the power of an album such as ‘Pentagrammaton’, it is a dark and undeniably vicious attack, the sort of album you should show someone who’d asked “What is a black metal riff?” and though the picture wouldn’t be entirely complete, the spirit of the genre is expressed righteously. Why wasn’t it released? Ofermod‘s founding member Belfagor went to prison before release and began working on new music once he was out (~2008) and the momentum for the band picked up naturally from there. Interestingly enough it seems even the release of this was delayed for similar reasons, no doubt the man is a menace and his music lives up to it. The version to get if you are intrigued thus far is absolutely the special edition 2CD (or double LP) which has two versions of the album. The first has Teloch (Teitanblood) on vocals and the second version has Belfagor on vocals, without a doubt I prefer the former but both versions are exceptional. Very high recommendation for this finally revived lost gem.
|Title [Type/Year]||Buried Incarnation [LP/2020]|
|Xtreem Music||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Although I believe most folks would expect me to put together a full feature review for a new Purtenance album I have to say I’ve yet to really get my ass kicked by anything they’ve done since reforming in 2012. Of course I say that with great reverence for what they mean for the legacy of Finnish death metal as Purtenance Avulsion were one of the originals back in 1989 and their output as Purtenance from 1991-1992 left a mark of influence upon many a basement crawling death metal band beyond. Their debut full-length ‘Member of Immortal Damnation’ (1992) is particularly important to death/doom metal bands not because it was exemplar for the sub-genre but because it created a certain atmosphere that influenced many underground bands beyond. The trouble with many of the post-2012 releases has been that they’re certainly heavy garage death metal albums full of punkish beats and no-frills, no fake shit death metal but neither the riffs nor the atmosphere has lived up to their ‘defining moment’ back in 1992.
‘Buried Incarnation’ does a fine job of doing that, actually, from the first song (“Shrouded Vision of Afterlife”) you can feel the old ways creeping in by way of heavier atmosphere. Still, the riffs aren’t anything special. On one hand I’d really enjoyed the off-the-cuff jammed feeling of the guitar work but when I’d spend any amount of time with ‘Buried Incarnation’ none of it it’d really stick to me. Shades of Abhorrence on “The Malicious Moon” and the Incantation-esque “Wrapped in Lamentation” did eventually win me over enough to want to talk about Purtenance in 2020, and this is just a fine and very straight forward slow-to-mid paced ‘old school’-minded death metal album. I can resist the urge to be a snob and want something darker or more convincing riff-wise long enough to find myself enjoying the burly slow-rolling death worship that it is. If you were put off by the sloppiness of ‘Awaken from Slumber’ back in the day I think this one will be much more up to par in terms of keeping in time and not relying on punkish stabs for transitional riffs. Likewise if you’ve been yearning for the doomed edge of classic Finnish death metal, they’ve still got it.
|Title [Type/Year]||Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté [LP/2020]|
|Sepulchral Productions||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Serment is a newly conceived solo project from Québecois musician Moribond, who is best known as one of the founding members of Forteresse. There is still a chance that I will produce a full feature review for this album but for now I did not want to miss its mention before the release date (June 24th) since the final week of this month has too many releases to cover. Anyhow, Serment is atmospheric/symphonic black metal that employs synth/keyboard work quite prominently alongside the rushes of atmospheric guitar work. Think along the lines of Faustian Pact, Vargrav, and perhaps more appropriately the more atmospherically inclined releases from Limbonic Art where the keyboards serve a more celestial purpose rather than a circus act. I am such a fan of Forteresse that I’d fully recognized Moribond‘s hand in the songwriting here before I’d even read the literature on the album, he has an epic grace that is perhaps beyond the typical dreamy landscapes of modern atmospheric black metal. The drumming is quite urgent on most pieces (see: “Flamme Hivernale”) and this acts as fuel for where the imagination might waft during a full listen, at least I found it fully immersive and inspirational in movement. The theme of the album narrates through prose a legend of “a pact with the Devil and the quest for a lost heritage” and my ear for French is far too rusty to pick up his lyrics without a sheet, but at the very least the sensation is that of a protagonist on a journey that is nothing short of ‘epic’. A very high recommendation for anything Forteresse related, always very inspired work with a strong point of view. The only thing I’d ding this release for is that I’d like to have the bass drums eased a bit so that the cymbals could breathe in iciness more often.
|Title [Type/Year]||Hell is Other People [LP/2020]|
|Iron Bonehead Productions||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Although the mystere of a deathrock/gothic rock project from an extreme metal musician is often a very rewarding novelty or, perhaps even a more viable career path for some I’m not sure that Swiss solo artist The Path of Memory is as infectious as it needs to be to pull it off. This project comes from prolific and notable black metal musician Bornyhake (Ancient Moon, Borgne, Enoid) and if you suspect my research on that is off, it should be more than obvious with a closer look. The cold, dreadful honesty of ‘Hell is Other People’ is successfully rooted in classic goth rock, proto-darkwave, even a bit of gothic country ache stirs up by association along the way; Yet without the kitsch of post-punk or the (actual) dry-throated groove or wry psychedelia of deathrock it all mumbles out without any strong conviction. I take no issue with supplying endless pools of atmoblack reverb and draping it with flat, straight-faced gothic prose, it might feel a bit like a 80’s cheese to me but I can dig that well enough. No, the main issue comes with pacing and the lacking vocal performance. Without a quirk or memorable diction it all sounds dryly amateurish and barren for convincing interest. Slow-rocking (“Let Me Write a Song”, for example) beats end up truly killing my own enjoyment of this record. Frankly speaking, I’ve nothing but respect for folks making modern deathrock (or whatever approximation of depressive 80’s rock) today but I do think it too easily becomes a cynical, damning parody. Perhaps it isn’t fair to compare a nascent project like this with the mastery of say, Rope Sect or Grave Pleasures and I don’t doubt the stark emptiness of The Path of Memory will have its audience nonetheless.
|Title [Type/Year]||A Day at the Beach [LP/2020]|
|Karisma Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Now on their fifth album and reaching far beyond their nerdy progressive rock roots towards more accessible, ‘epic’ and sonically lush shores Oslo, Norway-based trio Airbag present ‘A Day at the Beach’ with a central theme aiming to juxtapose two experiences: An individual, hitting the ‘reset’ button on his deeply entrenched life who is struggling to survive in contrast with people in power (an ex, a boss, government, etc.) observing at a distance unaffected and surely not intervening. “Into the Unknown” is most clearly narrating this, a song that I’d felt strikingly conveyed the feeling placed upon possessions (and their inherent meaninglessness) after a long separation. Perhaps something reserved for folks affected by divorce or a break-up involving more than “us and them”. But I don’t mean to read too deeply into the piece as some of this meaning perhaps comes from the five piece now whittled down to three, and within the entirety of ‘A Day at the Beach’ it seems they’re realizing that severance can be an incredible new opportunity. Either way it leads to a stronger, very modern progressive rock record compared to their previous release, ‘Disconnected’ (2016).
Fans of Steven Wilson, Blackfield, and I suppose The Pineapple Thief will appreciate the post-rock, retro-electro, woozy new-agey insistence of ‘A Day at the Beach’ but I’d soon found I couldn’t stand the two part title track as interludes, they’d felt superfluous considering the impact of the four main tracks. No distraction needed, in my opinion. With that said “Machines and Men” paired with “Into the Unknown” held the bulk of impact for me and while I appreciated the narrative resolution that “Megalomaniac” provides, where the narrator has his say (at least) the song itself feels anti-climactic upon repeat listens. And this to the point where I’d find myself itching to get back to the opener long before “Megalomaniac” was finished. It hasn’t converted me into the biggest fan of modern prog rock but I did greatly appreciate the conveyance of theme and the successfully emotional undertaking that a full spin of ‘A Day at the Beach’ provided.
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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