…From the Tomb 8/03/20: “Evil is the gaze that sees evil as a thing apart from me.”

…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 [August 1st through August 10th, 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:Conquering the Infinite Void
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Onism Productions

Spanish dungeon synth, or “fantasy ambient” project Lord Orots has naturally pushed into the realm of atmospheric black metal on this latest full-length ‘Conquering the Void’. The theme is well illustrated on paper, the titular character is guarded by an ancient dragon while he sleeps for intervals of ten-thousand years, divining his own dreams ad infinitum. In practice the album is one third early Summoning, a third high-fantasy themed dungeon synth, and the last third has some interest in lo-fi atmospheric black metal that is slightly more modern in spirit but keeping in the dramatic arena the keyboard work suggests. The narrative of the album comes in four acts wherein the first two remark upon the glorious sleeping death of his kingdom and the final two see the dragon (Nefaxion) and the protagonist (Lord Orots) awakening to survey all they rule over in silence. I appreciate the imagery though I don’t find the ‘black metal’ pieces all that remarkable, the guitar work is yet in service to the dungeon synth style and merely provides texture for the pieces rather than full on atmospheric black metal. This is arguable, of course. “The Black Abyss” ends up being the essential track here, largely for its martial feeling.

TITLE:To the Death
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

With each release the spectral summon of V. KusabsVassafor returns with more to show, more to say and increasingly sharpened attack as it is the artist’s deepest link to the past, his longest surviving thread. As with each of the three releases it is imperative to crank their subterranean register up brutally loud to get the full effect, otherwise it’ll feel muted and you’ll miss a lot of the more immersive details within. At just over a full hour you’d think ‘To the Death’ would amount to a release exclusively for the devoted but indoctrination is fast and effective as the riffs pour in, a crossing of old school death metal attacks and brooding occult black metal stirs. This approach is spiritually tied to nearby releases from Temple Nightside but the riffs are generally more prone to war-blasted flair and spikes of trills, screaming dives rather than doomed plunges. The effect is brutal, dense, and often resembles a storming chaotic mass until the main riff of each song has made its core statement. “Egregore Rising” is probably the most clear example of these elements all working together to produce a grand, dramatic musical statement that is yet inherently punishing more than it is performative. I appreciate this as it never appears the guitar work is engaging in self-love, but an attack for the sake of reaching misanthropic goals and communicating the mystifying horror intended.

The guitar work is especially brilliant on the full listen and that’ll be the main focus for most listeners as the drums, bass, and vocals maintain their ghostly, oppressive presence. At least that is where I’m always prone to focus, in many ways this record sets my mind in the headspace of an old ’92 black/death metal demo not because I’d consider it lo-fi but because the attack is obscure, raw, and has this atmosphere of hunger and violence that most bands trade for overconfidence at the third album mark. The sense that the war-like, knuckle blistering guitar work is fought for, possessed and ultimately serving a shapeless ill-defined master makes the full listen all the more captivating or, exactly as immersive as it needs to be for 66.6 minutes. Would I recommend it to any black/death fan? No way, it’ll most likely drown your ass to start. Folks who stuck around and dug into ‘Malediction’ (2017) know the payoff awaits in cranked, delirious meditation and this one is arguably a magnitude increase in effect. High recommendation.

TITLE:In the Morgue of Angels
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Redefining Darkness Records

Conglomerated between black, death, and extreme doom metal artists from the greater New Hampshire area, most who’ve been active these last 15-20 years in various projects, Angel Morgue bring unsurprisingly professional and well-honed blasphemic death metal attack on their debut. The illustrative side of Wrest‘s artwork does an incredible job of presaging what ‘In the Morgue of Angels’ is all about; You may be drawn in by the name and the pile of impaled holy corpses but the longer you’ve looked at and listened to ’em you’ll realize Angel Morgue are deathly serious. This feels exactly right in terms of mid-to-late 90’s death metal, the headspace that bands went to after records like ‘Domination’ and ‘Here in After’ suggested heavier trudges and technical guile could be even more sublimely evil than sheer athletic brutality. There is a minimum trace of “jogging shorts, bro” dunder on this album (some chuggin’ on “Sacrificial War of Death”, though), otherwise it roars and riffs out maximum blasphemic death with some considerable variation, touching upon dirging death/doom as often as ripping blackened death along the way.

The psychotic grime of “Various Stages of Decomposition” recalls the first time I fired up ‘Mental Funeral’, guts-shaking evil stuff hurled out like a possessed doom metal band having incanted a sizable portal to Hell. This spongy-bone crushing, doomed nightcrawler vibe is Angel Morgue at their best, hitting their most blood-drunk high on “The Sigil and the Key”. The more flippant, scuzzy war-blasts of “Holocaust Perversions” and “Sacrificial War of Death” are not bad at all for the tension and variation they bring but they ultimately serve to drag the record on beyond the ~35 minute sweet spot for a debut in this style. If the best complaint I can manage is ‘too much of a good thing’, you’re doing fine. Another high recommendation. These guys have nailed their sound, found some distinct touches within a well-trodden style, complimented it with memorable aesthetics, and it all meshes into a sharp hit for the first week of August.

TITLE:Revive the Throne
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Unique Leader Records

Long-running German brutal death metal/deathcore band Stillbirth had released four jocular brutal death metal full-lengths between 2003-2015 before they’d really picked up enough steam to find a (slightly) more serious path forward. Signing with Unique Leader in 2018 really upped their production values and they’ve released an album each year since with 2019’s record being re-recordings of earlier songs from their ‘stoned age’ to celebrate their 20th year as a band. I’m not the type to pick up a “fun” metal record but I’m not above something stupidly brutal and that’d be how I’d describe ‘Revive the Throne’, an album so focused on brutality that it reads as a pure, untouchable form of musical retardation. The samples from popular movies help enhance the ultra-dunce thug n’ chug modus of the album with frequent goofs that frankly made me want to throw my headphones across the room. If I were doing a video review of this album, it’d be that old viral video where the kid has his World of Warcraft account canceled, so he shoves a cordless phone up his butt. Its alright — Heavy, polished, and professional stuff with a lot of bounce.

TITLE:Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Century Media Records

Despite being well tuned into the world of progressive death metal a band like Reading, Pennsylvania-based Black Crown Initiate is a blindspot for me simply because they lean towards the more modern, commercial side of the artform. Having released two well-received records for eOne and built a considerable fanbase alongside contemporaries in Riviers of Nihil and Allegaeon the band now prepare their third record, and first for Century Media Records, ‘Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape’. Vocalist/guitarist Andy Thomas and bassist Nick Shaw continue to be the main songwriting force and their sensibilities have not changed in any major way on this third album, though Thomas‘ vocals continue to uphold a ‘modern’ standard; Just one of many key points that suggest Black Crown Initiate aims for the cutting edge of prog-death and avoids the sub-genre’s sentimental past. The album itself is not above sentimentality, though, as an original guitarist from before the first EP was released now returns to the band for this record.

If you’re already familiar with the band and you loved ‘Selves We Cannot Forgive’ (2016) this album may initially feel like a call back to the first album and EP as some djent like robo-chugs chunk out more often and the bass guitar tone is presented with slightly less fluidity compared to that prior record. I am so unfamiliar with bigger label extreme metal that it all sounds like alternative rock to my ears without any major concentration so, “Invitation” was just a melody short of Nothingface until I’d gone and listened to Black Crown Initiate‘s discography for context. The prose and emotion put into the performances on this album are impressive, lots of well-produced melodicism and prog-metal intelligence on display with minimal pretentious attitude, if anything the experience is wrathful and full of raw nerves. The ‘death metal’ side of the band is where I lose the plot as the bigger picture of the heavy guitar riffs boils down to progressive/groove metal riffs rather than anything related to classic death metal forms. I’m not suggesting this is a flaw but I see this band as an extreme progressive band where labeling their music as the suggestion of death metal doesn’t prepare the listener for their sound. Although this isn’t a release I am drawn to musically, I did appreciate the ambition inherent to the experience and the generous level of expression it serves.

RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Basick Records

Misery Signals are a popular metalcore band from the Midwest who were at their most influential in the early 2000’s as they formed beyond the split of 7 Angels 7 Plagues. This was the era of bands like Norma Jean and Shai Hulud and although Misery Signals would change with the times better than many comparable bands their forays into progressive metalcore weren’t necessarily as esteemed as their more ‘classic’ works. The band had split up by 2015 and reformed not long after in 2016, eventually working their way up to ‘Ultraviolet’, an album that is familiar as it reaches back to the “ethereal aggro” style of ‘Of Malice and Magnum Heart’ (2004) yet it is far from a gritty throwback. I’m not a metalcore fan and haven’t been since the late 90’s so this style wasn’t my thing back in the early 2000’s just as it isn’t today. So, what did I get out of this album? Fine production values, tightly written songs with no loose ends, a strong modernization of their sound, sharp album artwork, and the full listen starts to lean a bit post-hardcore before it ends. It is just fine, nothing brutally offensive or in poor taste, and I think it has great potential to offer much more than satisfying nostalgia for old fans.

TITLE:Holocene Extinction
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin

As we see more and more bands crossing death metal tonality with 90’s hardcore and early metalcore songwriting it wears a bit thin on me that most bands aren’t representing either spectrum with any substance. The major point towards Little Rock, Arkansas death/hardcore band Terminal Nation is that they’ve managed to pull that Sheer Terror snarl into slow-to-mid paced mid-90’s death metal sounds with some success on both ends. Their sound leans heavier towards real 90’s hardcore than Creeping Death, but I’d say both projects don’t bring anything all that spirited to death metal itself. ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ is an absolute mushy plod until “Thirst to Burn” kicks in, sounding a bit like an overzealous late 90’s powerviolence band for split second. When the band start to have fun things threaten to go kinda early Blood For Blood and when they go as metal as possible (“Expired Utopia”) it feels a lot like Xibalba‘s moodiness on their most recent works. I’m rooting for these guys, I see the taste level and sensibilities there (look at that cover art!) but ‘Holocene Extinction’ never quite crossed the finish line for me.

RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020
LABEL(S):Brutal Records

Scars are a Brazilian pure thrash metal band who’d formed around 1991, split up in 1998 after releasing a three way split album only to reform in 2004 and things get somewhat complicated from there. By the end of 2007 the only original member remaining was guitarist Alex Zeraib and a debut full length followed in 2008. They reformed once again in 2018 and ‘Predatory’ is the second full-length from the band to date. If you were a fan of the reformation of Attomica when they came back with ‘4’ in 2012 then you will have a general idea of what to expect from Scars today: Loud and screaming straight forward riff-focused thrash metal which I’d compare to New Jersey thrash in the late 80’s and some Slayer influenced bands that came post ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. Since they’ve been steadfast with their love of Bay Area standards for so long a lot of the expression comes from the vocals which are occasionally over the top but never so strange that they muck things up. It isn’t the most thrilling record but it is straight thrash and I’m the type who can sit with even the most mediocre thrasher as long as it represents the pure shit. Spin one song, what you hear is what you get.

ARTIST:Malus Votum
RELEASE DATE:August 6th, 2020
LABEL(S):Lunar Apparitions

Malus Votum is a newer atmospheric black metal project from folks whom you’ll recognize from Portland, Oregon black metal project Panzergod. ‘Tradition’ is an entirely handmade affair connecting two musicians across great distances as the duo are split between New Hampshire and Oregon nowadays. Menacing yet contemplative depending on the moment, this is fine atmospheric black metal that doesn’t appear too focused on trends or overbearing crescendo worship, opting for rolling tides of distortion and somewhat unaffected vocal performances, at least until the monastic chanting begins to fill the air. There are a few major points of appreciation I want to emphasize here, the first is that they’ve the skill and confidence to not use a drum machine or to rely on bland WITR impersonation, expressing within similar realms but with earnest modus as musicians. There is anger, frustration and yet no wanton violence in these compositions despite things nearly turning into a knife fight as “Prince of the Culling Tide” reaches its Urfaust-esque peak. The cassette version of this record came out in March via Red Door but this version comes from Lunar Apparitions in CD format.

TITLE:No Sympathy for a Rat
RELEASE DATE:August 7th, 2020

What a surprise it’d been to get hit by some NOLA sludge influenced doom riffs the moment I fired up this grey, skull-covered grindcore lookin’ EP from Sydney, Australia-based quartet Yanomamo (aka Ya̧nomamö). Pretty standard stuff riff-wise, mid-paced sludge lurking with rasped, shouted, and growled vocals pushing things along nicely. Solid stoney/heavy blues grooves, incessant yelling, miserable attitudes and plenty of scolding make this a pretty fine sludge experience and it feels like they’re all a bit more audible this time around compared to the odd bass-tipped balance of ‘Neither Man Nor Beast’ (2017). Definitely don’t judge this one by its cover, dark as it may be.

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.

<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.