…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 20th through June 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.
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]||Wala’at [LP/2020]|
|Shaytan Productions||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Though they have long been associated with black/folk metal the traditional Arabic music influence at the heart of Saudi Arabian artist Al-Namrood‘s music lends itself to non-traditional works. Utilizing psyche-entrancing melody from middle eastern music, which is not some unchanging or archaic font, and bending it in service to ‘middle eastern metal’ innovation is yet an underappreciated bucking of the norms within Arab spheres. To twist greater darkness and defiance into middle eastern music is still fairly uncommon and surely a realm in need of freshly sparked innovation, with that said I’d suggest that the fifth Al-Namrood album, ‘Wala’at’, offers a meaningful balance of lyrical impact, notable style, quality production, and accessible forms.
Speaking of the heart, Al-Namrood‘s ethos has always been focused defiance of oppressive religion and the tyrants that mass ignorance unleashes upon mankind. Anarchic for the sake of inciting real change, there is some wild punk rock spirit beneath the layers of traditional black metal ‘outsider’ spiritus and black/folk melding on hand. If you are able to see this defiance within such an ornate, smartly crafted blackened dark metal experience beyond its exotic oft-traditional instrumentation consider yourself a learned diviner of meaning from varied cultural voices. “Aar Al Estibad” is probably the easiest entry point, familiar melody and a sharp opening riff that feels almost motörpunk in spirit before it fully strikes iron. As the album proceeds well into its second half the most stirring notion that hits my mind is that this record hasn’t concerned itself with being ‘pretty’ or ‘exotic’ so much as it intends to power forward with a strong sense of self; Because of this feeling the whole of ‘Wala’at’ expresses as earnest unrest, scornful tirades against all. That nigh spiritual level of defiance is incredibly important to me as I’d long ago realized no half-measure of strength accomplishes anything.
Have Al-Namrood accomplished anything new this time around? I’d say in terms of traditional instrumentation from Ostron yes, in terms of Humbaba‘s vocal expression improving yes, though I think the rhythms of these compositions tend towards paths already tread or a central melodic theme that begins to beg for different textures or pacing by the time the album ends. The running order isn’t entirely perfected as I really didn’t understand “Alquam” as the closer nor did I understand why “Fasique” and “Al Shareef Al Mulhan” were set next to each other in the middle of the record, dragging it down just a bit. Minor complaints, though, as this is a fine record from perhaps one of the most spirited bands making this type of middle eastern metal today.
|Title [Type/Year]||Hymns of the Gods Before [LP/2020]|
|CDN Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Kicking up dust as early as 1992 in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area Insatanity were a band that many would see as representative of the underground’s ‘next generation’ of amateurs beyond the spark of groups like Deicide, Incantation, (and uh… Mortician?) by way of some brutal death and black metal influences. As it’d turn out it wasn’t Rise or Insatanity to break on through but rather Nile and their ilk. This was probably for good reason, ‘Divine Decomposition’ (1996) was never meant to be a next level affair but a brutal and hypnotic take on classic USDM. Not the best record, not the worst, it ultimately holds up by way of unique personality despite what polished turd-suckin’ snobs might say about it. Insatanity‘s second album, ‘Hymns of the Gods Before’, comes nearly 25 years after the first and no doubt if you didn’t get it back in 1996, or their four EP releases since, you’ll likely still not get it this time around.
Right off the bat it bears mention that Insatanity have had ~15 different drummers over the years and the two tightest choices have been Matt Mazzenga and new guy Ron Parmer who you’ll recognize from the latest Perdition Temple and Brutality releases. Cymbals don’t sound great but this is one of Parmer‘s more nuanced performances to date, serving as strong foundation for the blackened death metal style of ‘Hymns of the Gods Before’. I might be a defender of ‘Divine Decomposition’ and the right to be a bit weird and whatnot but, in no way was I expecting Insatanity to reach beyond the status quo established since then. The expectation of years of experience feeding into distinct style and evolved sound might be misplaced on a band such as this, which has been a revolving door for basisst/vocalist Chris Lyle’s (Inhumanity) direction with some relative stability these last five or so years. With that said this is the most refined and tightly performed record from the band to date with intentional song structures, sharply defined guitar sound, and a strong amount of variation between black metal influences and the last 30 years of United States death metal evolution.
So, is it good? Eh, occasionally thrilling in the moment and pretty standard stuff in reflection. That isn’t to say it is bad, I really like the dual vocal approach and the guitar tone as it always feels in limbo between the mid-90’s and early 2000’s between the brutality of the drumming and the black/death whip of the guitars otherwise. A mild recommendation for those seeking something new, and a higher recommendation for people who see ‘Hymns to the Gods Before’ as a goal and not just a title.
|Title [Type/Year]||Profane Death Exodus [LP/2020]|
|Sentient Ruin||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
As a devout worshiper of Shroud of the Heretic and all related projects for some time now I found Diabolic Oath‘s debut full-length a grand point of excitement upon its announcement though I wasn’t expecting such a ruinous warblast of psychotic, unnerving blackened atmospheric death metal. Pitch black and growling with sky-blazing thunder-tones, a cursory listen to ‘Profane Death Exodus’ shouldn’t necessarily reveal that both the bass and the guitar parts are performed on entirely fretless instruments and… I’m not sure how I feel about that. To be honest the use of fretless bass guitar on extreme metal records is a huge preference of mine since hearing ‘Swallowed in Black’ back in the day and in this case Diabolic Oath have used these instruments to play a dissonant, blasting form of atmospheric death metal akin to Grave Upheaval or early Temple Nightside where the individual notes and grooves are obscured by heaps of powerful distortion and the reverberations resultant. It isn’t until the third song “Morbid Ekstasis” that the suffocating ceases momentarily for the sake of grinding moment. This places the album more in the realm of say, nearby Portlanders on the Vrasubatlat label where orthodoxy, dissonance and and occult blurring manage expectations.
So, if you saw the “fretless” headline before you heard ’em don’t jump in ready to flex your weenie extreme prog muscles but rather look towards Sentient Ruin adjacent void-warpers Consummation, Altarage, and Dearth. With the right mindset in motion it bears mention that Diabolic Oath have crafted an explosion of a record a nuke with the full aftermath droning on heavily throughout its mind-rupturing expansion. If this type of death metal has been truly entropic beyond Mitochondrion‘s second album then ‘Profane Death Exodus’ is the disorder resultant from its radiation. It isn’t until the fifth track on the album “Apocryphal Manifestations” where the guitar tone shifts slightly, the vocals echo downward into great chasm, and some of the bending rays of fretlessness begin to shine through in the composition. No doubt this record won me over slowly but when it did, it was “Apocryphal Manifestations” that was the pivot point — Side B is the main event built towards either way and the bigger swings of the song should suggest the harder direction headed towards on “Opening the Gates to Blasphemic Domination” and the 10+ minute closer after it. Though this is a fine record with some massive riffs in its second half it does feel like they need another swing at it before finding their major purpose (or, voice) as an entity.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ex Cathedra [LP/2020]|
|I, Voidhanger Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Creature is French musician Raphaël Fournier‘s primary point of release, a venue for his brimming enthusiasm for the austerity of progressive metal and the violent darkness of extreme metal acquiesced and amplified into what is unquestionably a great work. An engrossing trip of a blackened prog metal record, ‘Ex Cathedra’ is the artist’s third full-length and no doubt his most professional recording to date, having worked the quality up and kept his creative blend of blackened, 70’s prog-tinged extreme metal akin to that of Thy Catafalque and earlier Hail Spirit Noir. As a guitarist Fournier‘s work has always featured a appreciably varied set of guitar sounds and tones to keep things vibrant throughout records that are typically at least one hour long. ‘Ex Cathedra’ sees Creature‘s expansion as similar in scope to the most recent Esoctrilihum record in the sense that he pushes for less traditional lead instruments, pulls from a more varied set of melodic ideas, and generally doubles all efforts to make stronger musical statements. The use of brass instruments for ‘“zÑ5♦mı’ (Yes, that is the song title…) is a fine example of this ‘bigger’ musical personality in action as well as the focus shifted away from rhythm guitars being the focal point of each piece.
By the time “Note Anticosmique” rolls around we’re in full-on flute infused hyperspace mode where all threatens to collapse under the sheer weight of combative elements: Brass, flutes, blasting extreme metal drums, and chorales all persist with their statements and yet Fournier‘s vision remains coherent and thrillingly exuberant throughout the piece. This is the point on the full listen where I couldn’t help but be impressed, not only are there few artists making this sort of music with any truly original tonal range much less talented any enough to employ instrumentation that is non-traditional for extreme metal. To be fair someone who is more knowledgeable in the realm of progressive metal could certainly disagree, for someone who dabbles here and there ‘Ex Cathedra’ was a blast from start to finish and intricate enough that it’d warranted some repeat listening. “Le Roi Zogue” is my absolute favorite piece here, the composition brings to mind vivid and imaginative strokes evoking classic science fiction soundtracks and classic imperial marches alongside a brutal almost industrial blackened flair. It is just one exceptional piece of many on this impressive record. High recommendation, it is quite long but will prove rewarding for the patient.
|Title [Type/Year]||Man Vs. Earth [LP/2020]|
|Self-Released||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Science fiction themed and intent on mirroring back the dysfunctional follies of mankind upon us all, this first blast of thrash metal-edged hardcore punk from The Third Kind arrives with its own alien personality in hand. Tough as any hardcore band hailing from New York City and featuring members of All Out War, Bastard Clan, and Run Like Hell (among others) no question ‘Man Vs. Earth’ is muscled-out by way of folks who’re used to fighting for it. This ends up charming the full listen with some unique energy, somewhere between classic crossover of the late 80’s and the metallic hardcore of the late 90’s; Think along the lines of ‘Just Can’t Hate Enough’ crossed with ‘Born to Expire’ and you’re just about there, a bit slower and twice as pissed off.
If you already knew the band from their self-titled EP back in 2018 you’ll find the ‘metal’ aspect of the rhythms is generally less sluggish here and better formed into riffs that hold up next to the tighter, most comfortable hardcore punch of it all. I really liked their EP, especially “Freedom” and a couple other songs but I see the strength within the choices made for this record, it is more mature and substantial when putting on the crossover hat. If you’re looking for a fairly short record with hardcore-leaning crossover style this is a fantastic choice. For preview I’d suggest the title track and the Voivod-esque guitar work that kicks off “Silver Painting” as the best foot forward for the record. Fans of Power Trip, Paralysis, and Enforced will likely love it.
|Title [Type/Year]||Logos [LP/2020]|
|Tonzonen Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Hungarian psychedelic rock band Lemurian Folk Songs hail from Budapest with a loose-necked and opened-armed take on mantra-driven ritual psychedelia, extended pieces written with compelling ease that avoids dryly repetitive movements by way of post-rock influences. Drawn together by way of sleepily strummed blues, folkish psychedelia and a warm live-in-studio recording the quartet’s fourth album, ‘Logos’, diverges by way of astrally-projected tangibility a strong presence despite being known for their distant, lush movements. The bass tone feels sharply early 70’s but always snaps tightly in line with the drums despite the floaty nature of Lemurian Folk Songs‘ compositions, which are admittedly going to be a bit free-form for folks who’re not typically engaged with neo-psychedelia, psychedelic rock, and post-music. I felt the jam of the record by the fourth song but tired of some of the guitar work on “Calcination” before it, a bit too much wandering at times for my own taste. “Sierra Tejada” is unforgettable, a true mantra, and the finale of “Firelake” is equally stunning but more of a “ride” than anything else.
|Title [Type/Year]||Heads Have Got to Rock n’ Roll [LP/2020]|
|Edged Circle Productions||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Born in Bergen, Norway about five years ago and now hitting their third full-length Magick Touch are undoubtedly a throw back heavy rock band with an 80’s popular heavy metal heart. If you’re wild about the softer side of modern retro heavy metal a la Cauldron but still want the guitar chops and balls of stuff like Night Demon, these guys land somewhere in between authenticity and pussy-chasing hair metal cheese I don’t — Hey, I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative sense! I mean you’ll recall I own more than one Sacred Leather shirt so, I’m all for the sparkly mullet cheese of it all. When it comes to this style of heavy rock/80’s metal if you’re going soft you’ve got to balance it with either ‘Blackout’-era Scorpions heaviness or something nearly as catchy to keep the interest up. There are more than a few blah songs (“To The Limit”, “Ready For the Quake”) that pad this record throughout. I did kinda love the Lynott-meets-Mustaine snarl of “Love is a Heart Disease” and the nasty swing of “Waiting For the Parasites” but I’d felt this one was missing some of the mystic, occult weirdness of their earlier records. If you preview it, and I’d recommend you do, go for the two aforementioned songs or the clear standout single “Watchman’s Requiem”.
|Title [Type/Year]||Vore [EP/2020]|
|Everlasting Spew Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Back in 2018 the fourth Serocs full-length, ‘The Phobos / Deimos Suite’ (2018), was a general step up for the multi-national brutal technical death metal project from Antonio Freyre who maintains the line-up sans Phil Tougas (Chthe’ilist, Funebrarum) with Sutrah‘s vocalist and Chthe’ilist‘s bassist. Tougas still contributes a few solos to the album so his style is does not leave an entire void and drummer Keven Paradis‘ contributions are invaluable in every project, of which there are many, he graces. Daigneault not only provides bass but also the second rhythm guitar which Serocs attribute to right and left channels, this specificity should indicate most clearly the level of technical death metal we’re dealing with as these guys are high-brained and low-kitsch. So, Serocs have long been compared to classic Cryptopsy and one of my personal favorite tech-death bands Spawn of Possession and this still fits on this EP, which also includes some of their earlier 2011 demos. The band just put out a demo compilation earlier this year so if you’re like me and you love context/provenance check that out, too.
With this new(er) line-up I’ve felt like Serocs have moved beyond a lot of the old comparisons to niche records like Iniquity‘s ‘Grime’ or later Visceral Bleeding but the rush of brutal-tech I’ll get from ‘Cabinet’ is still there and that primes me to enjoy this type of release. “The Temple of Knowledge” is where I see the most spirited mania of the band coming to light, a shift towards brutality and some guttural noise that should perk the ear of folks who love the evolution of Defeated Sanity as much as the slickness of Hate Eternal. Tech-heads will be most drawn to “Building a Shrine Upon Vanishing Sands”, arguably the most aggressively technical song on the record or at least the mos brutal sensory overload on hand. Serocs continue to impress with their antithesis to ridiculous gimmick-death with this fine EP. I’m hoping they put out an LP that expands on the vocal styles and chaotic riffing explored here, a moderately high recommendation.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Deviant [LP/2020]|
|Aftermath Music||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Offering the third revision of their progressive take on mid-paced and mildly gothic melodic death metal Stockholm, Sweden based quintet Descend are at their most profound and professional on ‘The Deviant’. Their previous album ‘Wither’ was fairly popular back in 2014 so for many this was highly anticipated but for my own taste this ends up resembling mid-transition Opeth (which I don’t enjoy) and modern melodic death bands such as In Mourning and Omnium Gatherum (which I do enjoy). The main reason I’m not entirely into this record center around small nitpicks, such as the vocal performances being somewhat ‘bare’ and lacking extremity fit for the emotion on hand in a few cases. The inspiring rhythms that kick off “Lily” fall a bit flat when the vocals kick in, the song does redeem itself and becomes a highlight but I didn’t find myself returning to ‘The Deviant’ as much as I did ‘Wither’ back when it came out. Average stuff overall but if you’ve been following melodic death metal’s progressive side since the late 90’s this’ll feel both comfortable and accomplished, it just isn’t to my own particular taste. Best preview songs would be “The Deviant” and “Lily”.
|Title [Type/Year]||Tome: I [LP/2020]|
|Transcending Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
For their debut full-length Chicago’s Dismalimerence blend elements of post-black metal, blackgaze, and what I’d describe as alternative metal (“My Only Love”, metalcore chugging) for an interesting enough debut in ‘Tome: I’. As a personal outlet for dark times I can see the emotional connection intended with the bulk of this albums dreary, sleepily sorrowful guitar work. The “crescendo-core” of it is nothing new or all that imaginative but the atmosphere created is notable enough and the quality of the recording is unhindered by lo-fi intentions yet I’m not sure they’ve justified nearly an hour of it. This is all well and good, genre standard at the very least, I suppose I am still completely confused by “My Only Love” as it appears as a forceful dark metal song with a chuggy middle portion that I absolutely hated. The nearly 12 minute “Crimson Glow” is a brilliant opener and to be thrown into a weird blackened metalcore chug section a few songs later, then pad the rest of the album with fairly plain post-black metal songs, didn’t add up for me on the full listen. Fine musicianship, strong post-black atmospherics, but the “chug” moment was just too erroneously out of place. Not my thing but, no doubt ‘Tome: I’ is a professional and evocative enough release that it will find a broad audience. Check ’em out of you like Harikiri For the Sky, Numenorean, and Astronoid.
|Title [Type/Year]||Altar of the Goatbaphomet [LP/2020]|
|Helter Skelter/Regain Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
I am fully committing to this insurgency of brutal Proclamation and Archgoat style riff-heavy war metal albums coming out these last several years and this brand new project from members of Caedes Cruenta, Kawir, and Cult of Eibon is pure goddamned blood-drunk mania. ‘Altar of the Goatbaphomet’ is their first demo originally self-released back in April (digital and cassette) and now set to release this week via Helter Skelter on CD and 12″ LP. If you’ve tuned into and been murdered by Antichrist Siege Machine and Abysmal Lord recently you’re going to need this demo, too as they’ve got riffs and psychotic echo-damned vocals throughout. It is a tape of death textures and blackened incantations, pure bloody slime that is undoubtedly aimed at puritanical war metal fans but thankfully it all bursts out at a highly energetic clip that doesn’t hide their riffs behind noise and commotion. Real stuff, and highly recommended if you’re inclined to warfare noise.
|Title [Type/Year]||Cursed Thoughts I & II [LP/2020]|
|Kadabra Records||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Italian avant-black/death metal duo Hornwood Fell have followed-up their overlooked ‘Damno Lumina Nocte’ (2019) with a two part (or double album, more or less) conceptual piece focusing on the dark poetry of Baudelaire (specifically Les Fleurs du Mal) and Edgar Allan Poe with each writer receiving their own full album’s worth of tribute. The duo of brothers who are behind Hornwood Fell are quite talented and have developed a knack for finding uncommon rhythms and adorning them with some moderate interest since getting their start with this project back in 2013. I don’t think these two records are as inventive as their previous album, which I’d seen as a creative high point at the time it released but they’re still no major disappointment musically. Where I am a bit confused is the use of harsh vocals to convey the works of masters, some clear recitation was expected and perhaps naively on my part.
For ‘Cursed Thoughts I’ and its Baudelaire focus the production is glossy, black/death in execution, and generally a warm sound that accentuates a mania-prone set of performances. I don’t get the tone of Les Fleurs du Mal so much as I understand their atmosphere is appropriate when considering the more harried pure black metal focus of ‘Cursed Thoughts II’ in reference to Poe‘s constantly affected state. ‘Cursed Thoughts II’ is the superior work here for my own taste, a raw and emotive black metal harangue with some stunning atmospheric moments wherein I could conceivably interpret a descent into mockery and madness from songs like “The Lake” or “Valley of Unrest”. Though I didn’t feel any certain magic on the first half, the second Poe-focused pieces here are some of my favorite Hornwood Fell work to date. Moderate recommendation for this one.
|Title [Type/Year]||Lurking in the Depths [LP/2020]|
|Signal Rex||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
Portugal’s Black Circle now emits one of its darkest waves yet with Irae‘s fifth full-length, ‘Lurking in the Depths’, a brutally devout work that cannot be described as anything less than raw black metal. Vulturius is an appreciable presence as a vocalist and bassist in underrated long-running hordes Decayed and Morte Incandescente but it is arguably Irae where some of his most powerful and singular guitar work emanates. The slow-motion grind of “Ratazanas” doesn’t just feel appreciably early second wave and ‘raw’ but owes its weight to the earliest forms of black metal and I’d find myself drawn to the slower parts of the album as a result. I figure the sound won’t be too brutally raw for most this time around, at least not compared to their Purodium released EP from last year. If anything this one is dream-like, a wraith pulling demented thoughts from a tormented mind in midst of their most vulnerable state. A simple-but-stunning black metal album that I’ve found myself spinning on repeat often.
|Title [Type/Year]||Laulu kuolemasta [LP/2020]|
|Werewolf Records||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
In choosing between a large number of black metal releases coming out this week Finnish raw melodic black metal band Förgjord stood out for the extremity of their recording and just how drastically different it is (sonically speaking) from the modus of their previous album ‘Ilmestykset’ (2019) which featured more of a symphonic angle with prominent keyboards as the key melodic driver amidst some nostalgic mid-90’s style. I’d initially wanted to compare this to Ildjarn but that admittedly only stems from the guitar tone and the sonic envelope the production amounts to, a crackling mid-range nuked sound that scours and screams in the ear. Musically speaking the compositions are in the melodramatic but austere Finnish style of underground melodicism, a good fit for Werewolf Records‘ vision and perhaps less tightly anxious than anything Förgjord have released to date. It feels like they’ve thought more about the effect of their melodies rather than the attack of their intricacies in terms of guitar work and this leads to an entrancing experience that I’d felt was most electrifying on “Ihtiriekko” to start and reached a different apex on “Kylmyys”. As much as I liked Side A, the second half of the album features too many intros, filler pieces, things that killed the momentum beyond “Kylmyss”. Although I did like the primal early Horna-esque feeling of “Ruotta”, I felt like a lot of the riffs and ambient lead-ins chopped the legs off the full listen. I’d still get it for Side A, though.
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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