…From the Tomb 7/13/20: “…an illusory milieu favorable to every hallucination and every delirium.”

…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 [July 10th through July 17th, 2020] plus some stragglers from the first week of the month. 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. If you are looking for records from this week by Ascendency, Pazuzu, The Funeral Orchestra, Nekus, or Ysengrin they are all planned for review in the coming weeks.

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. Besides, this week everything rules. 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:Ερείπια Ψυχών
RELEASE DATE:July 16th, 2020
LABEL(S):Helter Skelter Productions / Regain Records

Imagine the amount of foaming at the mouth were created when Caedes Cruenta‘s name hit my inbox! Well, even if it is just a vinyl and cassette repress of their second album ‘Ερείπια ψυχών’ from 2014 that is no less reason to be excited if you are not yet familiar with this top tier level Greek black metal band out of Athens. This second full-length from the band is both a cult classic and their sort of ‘breakthrough’ moment where Athens could not ignore them, much less the rest of Europe’s black metal spheres. After this point drummer Niord would move on to other projects (briefly Funeral Storm, who are also great) and kind of mainman (Wrykolas does a lot of songwriting, though) Echetleos would join Kawir and Disharmony — You will hear echoes of his work in those bands, which was frankly inspired by those bands so this ends up being somewhat of a dream record for folks obsessed with classic Greek black metal (especially Varathron, early Rotting Christ). The riffs are pure pillar-crushing bliss and in the absolute best tradition.

If you already own the original what are the major differences here? Repositioned artwork, higher quality render of the image with less contrast applied, allowing for Riddick‘s details to show clearer up close. It sounds as if it were sourced from the same master as the Bestial Burst original run otherwise. More importantly, you won’t have to pick through Discogs to find a used copy, which run from 25-40 USD opened “near mint”. Anyhow if you’re not a weirdo who collects Hellenic black metal like me but you love the stoic melodicism of the region circa ’92-’98 you’re in luck because Caedes Cruenta achieved a truly authentic sound and (more importantly) compositional level of excellence. Listening to ‘Ερείπια ψυχών’ again today reminds me how rare this level of quality is and reinforces my fanaticism for it. If you haven’t heard it, this stuff is essential. If you have but don’t own it, good deal being able to grab a pro repress. NOTE: The physical release might have been delayed to August 10th, I am going by the latest press materials.

TITLE:Desert of Ghouls
RELEASE DATE:July 17th, 2020
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

Eremit are an extreme sludge/doom metal band out of Osnabrück, Germany who tend to focus on long-form songwriting that fuses harsher sludge metal vocals with the ritualistic slow-riffing style of stoner/doom metal. ‘Desert of Ghouls’ is their second release and a ~20 minute EP split between two pieces. The first song is perhaps more typical Eremit in action, a slowly modulated and fairly simple riff driven by distorted bass and rasped vocals. This piece shows a slightly more polished and straightforward step from the material on their debut ‘Carrier of Weight’ (2018) which Transcending Obscurity picked up for release in 2019. I’ve seen this band heavily compared to Sleep for the sake of their sound and particularly the Cisneros-esque desert plunge of the basslines but I would rather steer folks towards Conan, Slabdragger, and maybe even Zaum when considering the strength of “City of Râsh-il-nûm”. This song is one of the strongest pieces from Eremit to date, though it is very straight forward I’d felt their vocalist not only puts out one of his best performances but practices some restraint, allowing the bigger grooves to explode as the song ends. Solid production sound, a bit like Monolord‘s second album but not quite as nuclear. I’d like to see this band go more extreme, kind of find that punkish, extreme metallic kick they’re always on the verge of and let it bleed around the edges a bit more. Otherwise I enjoyed this EP, solid stuff.

TITLE:Endless Sea of Graves
RELEASE DATE:July 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Xtreem Music

Decrepid‘s third full-length is undoubtedly their finest moment, reaching deeper into their wheelhouse of 90’s United States death metal and finding some shockingly solid ground of their own along the way. ‘Endless Sea of Graves’ really impressed me to start, feeling entirely classic and familiar to start and I’d geared up for a full review by giving it a couple of very close listens. That’d been the point where I started taking notes on specific riffs taken quite directly in reference to albums like ‘Gateways to Annihilation’. They’ve not necessarily managed their own sound from these elements, and I’ll admit to being hung up on blatant riff-gnabbing here and there, but it doesn’t matter (I mean… it does) all that much considering how effective the end result is as pure death metal. “Armoured Apocalypse” kinda sells this thing if you’re into a mix of groove, frantic riffing (including one uh… very familiar riff…) and some brutal hits along the way. The effect of pieces like this pull Decrepid‘s sound towards a slightly less refined version of Resurgency or similar but the blatant riff-borrowing kind of kills the overall karmic gains of memorable songs. Anyhow, this conflicted tone I’ve taken is exactly why I scrapped the full review for this record — It rules, just a total ballsy punch of a record, but the most memorable parts are too obviously borrowed and often barely reworked.

TITLE:Those of the Catacombs
RELEASE DATE:July 13th, 2020
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions

Not to be confused with the French modern death/thrash metal band of the same name, Scolopendra hails from Italy and their debut full-length ‘Those of the Catacombs’ is a horror-infused bout of putrid death sorcery via members of Abhor. Of course it isn’t just plain chunking death metal and instead has hints of early Denial of God‘s narrative sense, Mortuary Drape‘s bloody death/thrashing days, and a free-wheeling ghastly skull-knock of a guitar tone that erupts with gnarling static around its edges. I’d ultimately call this blackened death metal but not in the modern sense as the music itself is very much thrashing 80’s death metal and the vocal patternation is akin to the early Immortal when they were still shaking off some of their death metal attributes. Abrupt, blood-curdling, and old school to the bone stuff that is a total blast. They’ve split the recordings between two sessions from the sound of it as the first four songs feature Barbarian‘s original drummer who has more of a brutal thrashing clangor to his style and the last two songs have Lucas Demon of Oltretomba who is prone to more finesse. The album’s tone shifts with drummers going from noisome bone-crunching to focused bash n’ crash stuff that feels more punkish, more witching metallic as the record ends. Slight preference for the first four songs on my end, feels foul and abrupt in the best way. “Crypt of Perversion” rules, though, and probably the most essential part of Side B. High recommendation for this one, not the deepest death metal statement of the month but I’d still found it hard to put down.

TITLE:Kuolleen Maan Omaksi
RELEASE DATE:July 17th, 2020
LABEL(S):Redefining Darkness Records,
Saturnal Records

An album cover can really do a lot to light up my mind in reference to its contents and in the case of Finnish black metal band Väki this Adam Burke painting with its bloody Tolkien-esque (see: Dead Marshes) depiction and ominous title (‘Succumb to the Dead Soil’, more or less) had my imagination running long before I’d previewed the album. On closest inspection ‘Kuolleen Maan Omaksi’ is surely a finely rendered and technique-driven gust of modern black metal not limited by the current popular conventions of their countrymen. Glossy but given a good cough of dust for the sake of aesthetics the production here is oddly vocals-forward despite the rhythm guitars needing a Mayhem-esque boost of prominence for the sake of balancing a very lucid recording. Fine as the sound design is, this debut isn’t the most memorable record.

This Tampere quintet are so often wrapped up in tangential incantation, complex imagery, sharp bursts of tensile rhythms, and the utter majesty of their own death worship that Väki miss a few chances for smaller hooks that’d make the listen stick a bit harder. Surely some nods to Icelandic black metal will be the biggest draw here, nothing purely dissonant, melodic or complex in its abyssic weave but generating the same atmospheric sensation nonetheless. Vocalist Lauri Annala goes for it, bursting forehead veins and bleeding out the eyes when he could very well chill out here and there for the sake of some more prominent riffing. It becomes moderately annoying and overstated to the point where there isn’t much room to feel each moment as it comes. Is it a stylistic choice or a balance issue? Either way I’d end up admiring the potential and ambition of ‘Kuolleen Maan Omaksi’ more than I enjoyed giving it a few spins.

TITLE:Castles Conquered and Reclaimed
RELEASE DATE:July 17th, 2020
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records

Greek musician Ayloss had been fairly quiet with his Spectral Lore solo project until this year’s huge split with Mare Cognitum and looking back I’d say ‘III’ (2014) was a point of satiation for the artist. As a fan I’d felt ‘Gnosis’ (2015) was going to be the new and spirited direction of the project going forward without realizing it’d been one of many experimental releases on his path beyond 2014. Mystras appears to be the natural evolution beyond that point, chaotically noisome yet still alternating between atmospheric black metal pieces and medieval folk/ars nova inspired interludes. This general description paired with the blue ink sketch of a castle on the front had me expecting something Darkenhöld-esque but Mystras is absolutely raw by comparison, though similarly ‘epic’ in nature when the subtle melodicism can be figured easily. I’d guess some manner of interest in Obsequiae spawned some of the stronger highlights, such as the ~13 minute “The Murder of Wat Tyler”, it is a big moment that they don’t quite live up to on the rest of the album beyond the trad metal boosted “Wrath and Glory”. Solid and heroic album, although the lo-fi render clashes with the medieval instrumental pieces at certain points the ‘demo’ feel of the recording is endearing and begs to be listened to at too high volume.

TITLE:Death Fire Darkness
RELEASE DATE:July 14th, 2020
LABEL(S):Helter Skelter Productions, Regain Records

This relatively short (~14 minute) split 10″ EP between two ass-whipping fresh Swedish death metal bands is light on runtime but man is it heavy on the riffs. The main event here diving in is Västerås’ Inisans who put out a brutally underrated record (‘Transition’, 2018) a couple years ago and still deserve a lot of praise for its twisted tower of riff heavy old school death metal. They’ve got two songs here on ‘Death Fire Darkness’ and both are fully balls-out swinging death metal songs in the late 80’s tradition of Swedish death metal. Frantic speed, heavy blasts, plenty of riffs and garage-summoned demonic atmosphere. Classic sound that should give folks a bit of the fix we’re missing without regular Verminous records these days. On the other side we’ve got Sepulchral Frost who started out as a death/doom metal band with grindcore influences and though their first tape was kinda ‘off’ in a cool way it sounds like they’ve managed a crossing of death/thrash and death/doom that generally impressed me. This isn’t a knock to the release but Inisans‘ song was mixed dynamic by quiet, possibly a leftover from the full-length, and by comparison Sepulchral Frost‘s song was just raw-dogged head-shaking loudness after I’d had to crank up Side A. Anyhow both bands show up in a great way on this split and this is where I’d point folks wanting to get a fast and easy sense of what each band is all about.

TITLE:That Which Speaks…
RELEASE DATE:July 10th, 2020

The latest tape from Spokane, Washington-based psychedelic heavy/doom metal quartet Merlock is a maniac dazzler, a green lens to dull the horrendous kaleidoscopic melt of doomed world sparkling out of existence. Er, these guys have gone from idiosyncratic stoner-embossed epic heavy metal to this far-out and away from the sun style of aggressive sludge metal that still bears its pure heavy metal soul throughout. Think of it as on the level with Trouble going stoner rock, but in this case Merlock leave nothing behind and grow even more passionate as they crank up the aggression as part of their ooze’s penchant for gathering oeuvre from worthy places. The transitions between rasps and their wobbly early Paul Chain-esque vocals works quite well because they’ve kept their haunting esoteric traditional heavy/doom metal weirdness nurtured and I love any band that has one foot in the old ways, one in the new who can manage to not get their balls cut off riding the fence. The tape is ultra-limited, pretty good value for a 30 minute run and the Anthony Hurd artwork is stellar. Gotta recommend this one highly if you’re into underground doom metal freakdom, these folks are the absolute best kind of weird.

RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2020
LABEL(S):Impaler Records

Bulletbelt began as a fairly standard black/thrash metal band a little over a decade ago and they’ve leaned towards a more modern thrash sound since, akin to Skeletonwitch and Goatwhore after cycling through various line-ups over the years. They received a fair bit of press when their former bassist/vocalist, who’d been estranged from the scene, killed Backyard Burial vocalist Matt Hall who’d apparently written a song about the guy in 2009. I dunno, it isn’t really relevant to the music but there isn’t much else of interest to really pull from their last ten years. I’m not a huge fan of Bulletbelt‘s discography as it became fairly commercial as things progressed beyond the banal formative years and ‘Warlords’ is perhaps their highest reach towards ‘mainstream’ songwriting to date. “Blade on the Fire” is the one piece I just had to start skipping over, it kinda rides the line where pop-punk and melodeath riffs blur in the worst way. Most of the album features a fairly mid-paced and straight forward take on modern thrash influenced stuff with rasped vocals. If you lean towards melodic non-traditional thrash and enjoy the sort of band that’d open for The Black Dahlia Murder this is probably your jam, just not mine at all.

RELEASE DATE:July 17th, 2020
LABEL(S):Southern Lord Recordings

Entry is a side-project from members of well-known Los Angeles, California post-hardcore band Touché Amoré that focuses on creating straight-up 80’s hardcore punk that basically aims for the peak of that first wave outsider culture circa 1983. Four counts, screaming guitars, d-beats, and in terms of energy, patternation, and attack they’ve got the vibe nailed while doing their own thing with it. At it intermittently since 2013 they’ve released a handful of smaller releases since but ‘Detriment’ is their first official full-length. In hardcore punk terms that means somewhere near 20 minutes worth of songs but Entry scrape by with just about 15 and I suppose they’ve kept things filler devoid enough to justify the leanness of the experience.

“Your Best Interest” smacks of more recent Career Suicide records (‘Machine Response’) and brings some considerable energy before cutting out with a Battalion of Saints style breakdown, complete with those late 80’s harmonic clanks. The record feels like it takes a spin towards gnarlier d-beat for a few songs and the harsh, nigh guttural gunk of the vocals persists as the standout feature. “Selective Empathy” is a big highlight here, maybe pulling me into 90’s Sick of it All with its metallic builds and heavier chunking more than the suggested 80’s steamroller rock’n hardcore but I’m frankly into all of it.

They’ve got kicks, chunks and catchy enough pieces to keep my leg tapping along to the hits and I’m all the way into ‘Detriment’ until that Siege style time-killer “Demons” at the end, a dirge for the sake of it that does nothing for the record on repeat and has zero payoff. I was expecting the de facto anthem, the shout along barn-burner that goes on too long with a broken solo at the end. Outside of that song, I enjoyed ‘Detriment’ as an easy quick spin and if you are inclined to grab a lyric sheet they’re saying a hell of a lot in those fifteen minutes. I’ve heard a fuck-ton of throwback 80’s hardcore feeling records these last few decades and at the very least I appreciate that Entry have gone off-kilter and found their weird, screamy selves a bit.

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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