…From the Tomb 6/29/20: “La vie nous habitue à la mort par le sommeil.”

…FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a list grouping short reviews for albums selected from the current weeks new releases. 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: grizzlybutts@hotmail.com

Here I present a grip of new releases from this week [June 26th through July 6th, 2020]. 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, lasting value is the major goal in approaching each piece. 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:Life is Bad
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2020

If you kept up with my old prog-and-tech thrash anthology back in the day you’ll remember I’d had high hopes for Canadian blackened prog-thrashers Torrefy out of Victoria, B.C. after discovering their ambitious second album ‘The Infinity Complex‘ (2016). They’ve always been pretty straight up about their influences so think along the lines of what Witchery were doing back in the early 2000’s and where Skeletonwitch, Absu, and Black Fast went in the last decade. A few waves of complex Voivodian riffing, plenty of well overstated black metal rasping, and a full hour of admirably varied style leans all make for an entertaining third record from these guys.

Unfortunately I couldn’t sit through all 65 minutes of that black metal rasp in one take, the approach is very hardcorish in that dude just barks it out at one tone and just never shuts up enough to let the guitars (arguably the main event here) breathe and provide their naturally entertaining twists and turns. I think if you’re big on Necropanther but want none of the melodic death metal elements there will be a lot to like on ‘Life is Bad’ in terms of sheer bombast, relative intricacy, and over the top flair. I really pushed myself to acclimate to the vocals but ultimately it just didn’t work for me, plenty of great songs here though and in terms of a professional, well-balanced render ‘Life is Bad’ is pure class. I’d suggest “Torn Apart by Machinery” and “Eye of the Storm” as tracks to preview with priority.

ARTIST:Eternal Rot
RELEASE DATE:July 6th, 2020
LABEL(S):Godz ov War Productions

The second album from UK/Poland based death/doom metal duo Eternal Rot doesn’t take a ‘commercial’ or pandering approach, instead ‘Putridarium’ slips out as a still-underground death metal album with thick horror atmosphere and tree-sized clobbering riffs that balance traditional/stoner doom metal riffs with the severity of classic death/doom metal. This is what I love to see from an extreme doom metal band, zero fucks given about trendiness or whatever and executing their vision with more precise and purposeful works over time. To be fair guitarist, vocalist, bassist, and main songwriter P. Mayer is still intent on his crossing of modern stoner/doom’s tonal gigantism crossed with the mid-to-slow paced lurch of classic Hooded Menace and this time around I’d say the guitar riffs have loosened up with far more unique and rhythmically vital purpose.

“Serenity Through Maniacal Flagellation With Decomposing Limbs” is not only a great song title but the song itself is a fine example of an approach that should heavily recall what Runemagick was experimenting with starting with ‘Envenom’ and up towards their initial hiatus. Slow and mystic death/doom with a “live in studio” feeling, minimal tracks used, and a stunning grinder of a guitar tone. I still love this band, their macabre doom riff sensibilities and slightly more organic death/doom production values make for a unique atmosphere for the sub-genre, and a truly entrancing record to cruise on through. Pick-scratching, pitch-dropping, and with a self-produced feeling edge this one is a must get for the underground death/doom fanatic, high recommendation.

ARTIST:Northern Crown
TITLE:In a Pallid Shadow
RELEASE DATE:July 3rd, 2020

For their third independently released full-length Fort Lauderdale, Florida based epic heavy/doom metal trio Northern Crown lean a bit heavier on their arena-level prog rock influences. That isn’t to say they’ve lost their Isole-esque ways but in terms of performance, things now shift deeper toward a peak Queensrÿche level of bravado, especially on the dramatic unveil of “A Vivid Monochrome”. Use of Hammond-attuned organ has always been a strong selling point for my taste and on ‘In a Pallid Shadow’ it becomes a vital glue that ties together each piece, subtler as it goes but still using keyboards to fuse the patient but well-paced experience.

Fans of Apostle of Solitude, Monasterium, and such won’t necessarily find the raw traditional heavy metal soul here so much as a sound gently pushed towards a menacing prog rock feel, sans overt complexity or redirection, so the “progressive epic doom metal” tag works but perhaps if ‘No Exit’-era Fates Warning had tried their hand at Solitude Aeternus with a bit of post-RDJ Rainbow thrown into the more stoic pieces. Although I’d gotten an unpleasant AOR feeling from the record upon first listen, I’d soon found myself tamed and entranced by the suspended animation of the full listen, especially the build towards the harrowing end-point of “Observing”. Solid album for the uber-trad metallers on some level but epic doom metal fans should pick up on songs like “Leprosarium” right away. Moderately high recommendation.

TITLE:Tales of the White Eye
RELEASE DATE:July 3rd, 2020
LABEL(S):Inverse Records
BUY/LISTEN:Inverse Webstore

The suggestion of Finnish melodic death metal style most often inspires frightened and uncertain looks, are we getting a bumbling, twirly Children of Bodom-esque flop or something grand and infinite in echo, such as Omnium Gatherum? In the case of Kajaani-based Limos they’re certainly offering something driven by lead guitar melodies and traditional melodeath ambiance but the whole of their ‘Tales of the White Eye’ EP reads a bit more mid-paced and ‘epic’ a la late 90’s/early 2000’s viking metal records with a melodic death twist. Fuck, this stuff can be addictive as I’m a plain sucker for everything from Noumena cheese to Windir‘s high flying heroicism and I’d say Limos are just a bit more on the cheese side, thankfully mitigated by strong enough death growls and very few purely atmospheric sections, they’re ready to punch out riffs and slow-motion shred and I’m all for it. I’ll definitely be watching for a full-length from these guys, check ’em out if you liked the latest Foul Body Autopsy stuff or hell, even some early Kalmah might be the right mood.

TITLE:Shrines to Absurdity
RELEASE DATE:June 26th, 2020
LABEL(S):Maggot Stomp

I know this one released last week but I didn’t know about it until it landed. Thætas are a New York-based technical brutal death metal band who land in the realm of post-‘Psalms of the Moribund’ Defeated Sanity where the technical ‘interruptus’ would be integrated with greater care. I’ve seen folks name-drop Wormed and Dripping too but only because comparing them to (later) Deeds or Malignancy would suggest they’re less off-kilter than they are; Much of the draw with ‘Shrines to Absurdity’ beyond sheer manic heaviness comes by way of sauntering, diabolically brutal pieces that swerve on the edge of collapse. That slippery drunken-style dissonant bash-tunnel is a thrill to ride and no doubt Pat Hawkins (Aberrated) and Terrell Grannum (Buckshot Facelift) work well together, finding a sharp balance of primitive brutal death metal horror and triangularly presented tech-savvy random note generator bursts. I’d definitely recommend this for its enthusiasm alone but even moreso if you’re crawling the walls waiting for ‘The Sanguinary Impetus’ to release.

ARTIST:Black Funeral
TITLE:Scourge of Lamashtu
RELEASE DATE:July 3rd, 2020
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp [7/03]

One of the earliest fellowes to adopt influence from the burgeoning second wave of black metal in northern Europe and certainly one of the longest lasting, oft-experimental USBM acts, Black Funeral‘s music comes with the expectation of great conviction and some bounty of dark ambient atmospheric development. In this sense ‘Scourge of Lamashtu’ is a lovely, nigh erotically charged incantation of expectation, delivering Sumerian daimon and cursed dark spell alike. As has been the larger modus since the early 90’s, the recording is obscured by author, musician, and visionary M. Ford‘s low-fidelity but non-abrasive true black metal sensibilities. A ritualistic presence alongside some reasonably lucid melodic guitar runs make for a captivating spiritual experience that rarely bursts out with any considerable ‘heavy metal’ forcefulness; This is kin to the deeper sects of LLN were they more educated, kind to the exotic riff ideas and lifestyle of prime Judas Iscariot, and of course Black Funeral‘s own well-developed expression, which refuses to be defined start to finish in terms of discography.

‘Scourge of Lamashtu’ feels quite comfortable if you are familiar with their last several releases, due to its lilt leaning toward a calmer, more focused reap since an on-record alliance was forged with Azgorh Drakenhof (Drowning the Light) around their 2012 EP. “Gidim Hul (Bloodthirst of the Demonic Dead)” is the standout piece here, an electric organ lead piece almost in line with an old Black Magick SS tape, easily the most spirited piece on Side B and I appreciated some of that bleeding into album closer “Pazuzu, King of the Lilu-Demons”. Despite feeling like Black Funeral came across somewhat ‘weak’ to start the strength of this album does eventually whip up once its complete statement is most familiar and I’d end up really enjoying it.

RELEASE DATE:July 4th, 2020
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions

Having grown up in far-north Norway in the 70’s catching hard influence from The Stooges and early Motörhead no doubt 666‘s style of evil rock n’ roll crossed punk energy and primitive heavy metal riffing in the absolute right spirit of what would come to be considered first wave black metal. With that said, any fan of Norsk garage rock, early NWOBHM (via Neat Records), or I dunno… The Saints, will find this cross-fading of metal and punk pleasantly well-aligned with the ecstatic evil rock of early Venom. One look at the band’s promotional video from ’83 shows of course Venom is the inspiration for the evil angle and the energy of this performance, but the music itself is arguably more driven by classic punk speed and spirit. I was kinda hoping they’d be a bit more weird, like Flames of Hell were, but 666 are a great time nonetheless.

This collection of three live shows from 1982 captures the best of the band in raw and real fury while making the best of a situation where the band had never actually entered the studio to record anything before disbanding in 1983. The first show is the one you’re after, very clear sound and a quick greatest hits of theirs. I don’t feel like this was the most original band among the earliest of first wave black metal but they’re a great listen if you’re a fan of metalpunk that takes the right stuff from early NWOBHM and this is a fine archive of that presence taking off around the world in the early 80’s.

TITLE:Stand Over Your Grave
RELEASE DATE:July 6th, 2020
LABEL(S):Godz ov War Productions

A vibrant and brutal slap of Polish death metal via young Silesean upstarts Uerberos who aim for their more technical side here on ‘Stand Over Your Grave’, their second album. I wouldn’t say it is overtly technical in terms of a few odd time signatures and some high-speed acrobatics but this is not a lead driven record and instead focuses on the sort of brutal death metal we’d seen a lot more of pre-2010. My own golden standard for this type of record is somewhere between Azarath and maybe Centurian, each but these guys are clearly leaning towards something with more in line with peak Nile or Behemoth. Drums are triggered and constantly blasted, making for a very forceful, thunderous punch of a record that is relentlessly hammered throughout. This felt like a return to my heyday as a teenager, discovered albums like ‘Nihility’ and being blown away. Great sound, lots of brutal speed and intricate but forceful rhythms. I’d recommend it to folks who have great nostalgia for the rise of brutal death throughout the 2000’s.

ARTIST:Blood Stronghold
TITLE:Spectres of Bloodshed
RELEASE DATE:July 2nd, 2020
LABEL(S):Nebular Carcoma, Putrid Cult
BUY/LISTEN:N.C. Store [LP], P.C. Store [CD]

This third full-length from Australian musician Nightwolf alongside prolific musician (and in this case, drummer) Krew (Necrostrigis, Ordo Sanguinis Noctis), makes for a strong but different enough accompaniment to Nightwolf‘s solo project Runespell the way I’d describe ‘Spectres of Bloodshed’ is perhaps the ‘epic’ notions of classic heavy metal applied to uniquely atmospheric and oft highly melodic black metal. I’ve always seen Blood Stronghold as the evolution beyond an earlier Nightwolf project Eternum, where the somber, dreamlike nature of his compositions appeared built from the same thread.

For ‘Spectres of Bloodshed’ I’d suggest some cross appeal for folks who are loving the direction that Runespell has taken, of course this is a bit less Graveland and more in the realm of Woods of Desolation (for lack of a better comparison) where the sullen meandering rhythms and lead guitar-driven voicing of Blood Stronghold‘s current oeuvre is still viably set next to Drowning the Light (who was also in Eternum) and other contemporaries. I see this record as grand accompaniment to Runespell‘s ‘Voice of Opprobrium’ with a different approach to drum patternation. I like what Krew brings, a distant and hollow presence that is subtle, almost quietly violent. As such I found myself completely mystified and in trance anytime I’d put this record on and would highly recommend it to black metal fans looking for something triumphant but never stupidly brutal.

RELEASE DATE:June 19th, 2020
LABEL(S):Prophecy Productions

Balking at musicians working depressive rock and post-punk rhythms into black metal is, to me, akin to the sort of folks who’d never dug into USBM back in the day just because it wasn’t made in the ‘right’ country. Ignorant conformity as a reaction to perceived conformity is exponentially stupid in hindsight. Yet the curious post-Lifelover journey of Stockholm apocalyptic black n’ roll alienation Kall catches some flak from tired, ignorant and perhaps ungracefully aging metal fandom. I only prattle on about this because honestly, ‘Brand’ and their other two albums aren’t so weird or destructive of black metal ideas that they should be offensive. If anything they’ve merely adopted light textural representations of black metal (esoteric vocals, some rhythmic downpour) and applied that to art-house post-metal pacing, dabbling in some truly soured “depressive rock” influences along the way. It’d be considered avant-garde if the pieces didn’t fit together so naturally.

The twilight saxophone of “Fervour”, the desert-flown shoegazing soar of “Eld”, and the ~17 minute noise rock jam of “Fukta din Aska” represent the vexing middle portion of ‘Brand’ — A set of songs that aren’t intensely related in motion yet when presented in succession end up capably communicating who Kall are as an entity, an eclectic but eternally downtrodden soul. The level of emotional expression inherent to these pieces is alien no matter what sub-genre of metal you slap beneath it but, I’d almost say ‘Brand’ ends up being more DSBM n’ post-roll than Lifelover was towards the end. Trouble is that the saxophone is always used to emphasize a point that the instrumentals have built to rather than fusing with the main instrumental progression, this becomes predictable as the album drones on where you can be sure the sax gets louder in the second half of any piece. Anyhow, I know this came out a few weeks ago but I felt it’d been worthy of mention since it didn’t seem many folks connected with it, or just don’t know Kall in general. Might be a band to check out if you like the idea of fusing the ominous plod of atmospheric sludge metal with a voice by way of avant-garde/suicidal black metal.

If I missed your favorite album from 2020, whoa! E-mail me or hit me up on Instagram 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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