…From the Tomb 8/24/20: “…and yet the illusion continues to exist.”

…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 21st through August 31st, 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. [NOTE: Some August 28th-31st releases will carry over to next week’s list.]

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.

RELEASE DATE:August 21st, 2020
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records

Ars Magna Umbrae is the solo project of Poland-based black metal artist K.M. who some may recognize for his recent involvement in Cultum Interitum, whom also have a full-length coming out this week. The project’s debut full-length, ‘Lunar Ascension’, left quite a mark back in 2018 for its fluid dissonant black metal style with a healthy use of ambiance. This knack for bending atmospheric tension at will is still quite impressive on the follow-up here a few years later yet I cannot help but take issue with the running order of the tracklist “Through Fields of Asphodel” absolutely does work as thematic narration despite its modern post-rock sensibilities, overlaying what I call ‘airport’ spoken word atop melodramatic soundscape. The trouble is that it is five whole minutes long to start the album and this eliminates the desire to keep the album on full repeat due to the quite long introduction. In the grand scheme of things this is a very minor complaint that becomes maddening over time.

As for the rest of the listening experience, it is exquisitely detailed and thoughtfully arranged, modern and inventive atmospheric black metal for this post-‘Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum’ world. Some piece are quite free form in appearance, such as the dark vibrancy of opener “She Who Splits the Earth”, and others are a bit easier to know and recall such as the crawling madness of “On the Wings of Divine Fires” where Ars Magna Umbrae are at their most regal and fiery stomping pace. ‘Apotheosis’ is an album that speaks for itself, slowly but surely developing a knowable yet often unpredictable stream of ideas built from angular guitar patternation; The guitar work itself is the prime driver and motivation, though the atmosphere that supports its sparkling clangor is just as important in some respects. Technicality and detail are there but they are not presented as pretentious progressive metal so much as the mood and character of the music defines itself with a certain blazing attack that is fearsome, slinking and striking along the length of the album with a strong sense of motion throughout.

Ultimately Ars Magna Umbrae have presented a modern black metal album for the tireless genre-attuned guitarist, representing the atmospheric waft of today while building upon the slippery black chasmic great works of the last twenty years. I believe there is some potential for the project to hold some timeless value though it may require more engaging vocal arrangements, learnable patternation that demands its statement repeat. While this is no sure requirement for success, the full listen does lack some small manner of hook or repetition that might leave a deeper mark. So, it is a difficult book to read but you will learn something new each of the ten or so times you’ll have to run through it to know and love it. I’d intended a full, in-depth review of this record because it’d me such a high standard but as I dug into it the most stubborn part of me could not forgive the sin of the five minute introductory piece.

TITLE:The Blinding Light
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):AOP Records

As often as black metal’s folkish spiritus would love nature to be its muse, the introspection offered by a quieted mind that’d been yet able to hide behind the noise of every day life is often the real muse on offer. The avoided self in imposed isolation erupts and, of course nature is the safest place for the soul’s torment to shred apart the confines of society and flesh. This is essentially the core of what ‘The Blinding Light’ has to offer, a series of four extended vignettes depicting a ‘return to nature’ that is self-healing more than it is natural worship, where echoing screams intend to replicate the wide chasm of the scenic Colombia Gorge’s most dramatic splaying due east of the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area. Aleynmord is assumedly a side project shared between ex-Uada and ex-Sjukdom membership though this project is much more of the Cascadian variety, if we must consider that a sub-genre of its own beyond the Agalloch-influenced widening of black metal’s melodic + atmospheric parameters.

The most curious and stirring point of interest amongst the acoustic passages, crescendo-ridden events, and earthly post-black/folk metal delight is the idiosyncratic vocal work here performed by C. Nihil. Sharp chasm-filling wails, waning psychotic howls, grinding mid-range propelled growls all have this startling head voice to them that suggest sorrow and disbelief a la the best Austere moments. The difference being that ‘The Blinding Light’ is very measured, outrageous in expression but never so self-indulgent that it becomes a screaming tasteless mess… At least by my own standards, I mean if you cannot sit through a Lifelover or Silencer record you’re going to have some difficult with a couple of these ~10 minute songs. It is a fine album worth remembering though I’m not sure I would personally dig back into it very often, it needs something else to truly grip the mind. It is also well worth mentioning that the Wrest artwork is incredibly fine work and helps to elevate the already compelling stature of this album.

TITLE:Accursed Possession
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Debemur Morti Productions

Los Angeles, California-based traditional second wave black metal act Cultus Profano represent what was for many the peak of the sub-genre circa ~’92-’94 where leaders and followers were not yet so obvious and the movement was still demanding and antisocial counter-culture at heart. That isn’t to say this isn’t a commercial product, it is produced and recorded with utmost fidelity in mind, but that the motions within are uncomplicated and driven to convey nihilistic abandon in eerily steadfast motion. If anything this is a loosening of the collar for the band as their first album back in 2018 was a stiff-necked record that was frankly probably pleasing for its uncompromising dullness; This second album allows for something a bit more Bergen than Oslo, if that’d make any sense. It isn’t as keen to its own drum as is Hulder, but folks who’ve naturally gravitated towards bands like Nattverd and Dødsfall these last few years will find something a bit more stoic and polished than expected on Cultus Profano‘s second album.

Each track is adorned with an Opus number indicating, I’d assume, the order of composition for total pieces writ for the project. This ordering suggests that much of Side A is just slightly newer than Side B, yet this only amounts to composing with a bit more pace and attack than the steadfast tumbling that comes later on. This resembles a band like Emperor, Handful of Hate, or even Limbonic Art at their earlier stages (as in, pre-keyboard obsession) and tuned to a mid-paced atmospheric lilt. As it arrives and reveals the sensation of ‘Accursed Possession’ is thrilling, not violent but still menacing for its prophetic presence and confident delivery. After roughly four pieces have passed by the greater guitar language of the album has had its say and pressing on doesn’t amount to any new revelation. As sublimely 90’s black metal as this release can be, a nostalgic-but-modern feeling is not worth much to me without a strong personality guiding the experience and this is the main reason I did not fully warm to ‘Accursed Possession’.

TITLE:The Suns of Perdition – Chapter II: Render Unto Eden
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020

The Suns of Perdition – Chapter I: War, Horrid War‘ might’ve been Mississauga, Ontario-based black metal band Panzerfaust‘s fourth full-length since forming back in 2005 but it was ultimately their first step into a fully matured sound, world-class black metal music developed at the highest standard. This second part of the planned four part themed set of albums from the band bears some heavy resemblance to the orthodox black metal movement of the early 2000’s while also pushing for more ‘mid-paced’ crawls a la more recent Funeral Mist. There are many reasonable general comparisons but the vibe of the album is that of a coming storm, a great sand blast from the desert looming constantly in the mind as each song represents a veritable death march forward without a moment to look back. Rolling forth, bellowing loudly, and musing over odes to tides that weaponize and send men to war it does seem like Panzerfaust achieve a brazen, tank-like atmosphere throughout.

Everything is a bit ‘more’ here and perhaps even more than expected. More varietal pacing, more guitar layers, more melodic drivers, slightly cleaner sound, and ultimately all aspects of ‘…Chapter I: War, Horrid War‘ are built stronger on this second chapter. So, if you’d become a fan based on that album consider this a grand prospect as a bigger, better ideal. Beyond those points the album is actually ten minute longer, now feeling more fully fleshed out but also threatening to overdo a few guitar techniques within these 8-10 minute long pieces, you’ll surely feel slight deja-vu heading into “The Snare of the Fowler” although the song develops its own dramatic voice as it opens up. This sort of song will undoubtedly pull in folks who are equally attracted to bands like Sinmara as well as the more insistent attack of say, Kriegsmaschine. A high recommendation, I would suggest this as their best release to date and an essential listen this week.

TITLE:Stardust Solitude
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

Around since the early 90’s as Garbage (then later Garbage Breed) until deciding upon Poema Arcanvs circa 1997 this Chilean melodic death/doom metal band came created in the image of the early vision of the Peaceville three with particular reverence for My Dying Bride and Anathema. That long-standing inspiration has essentially remained strong ’til today between a six album evolution towards a crossing of epic doom metal and maudlin death/doom. ‘Stardust Solitude’ comes after nearly a full eight years beyond their last album and naturally features their well-established sound with a fairly modern amount of polish applied. Their founding guitarist Igor Leiva was added as epic doom metal band Capilla Ardiente‘s rhythm guitarist around 2014, which I assume accounts for some of the distance between albums this time around. It may also account for the heavier lean towards pure doom metal compositions for some time now, though harsh vocals are featured with some prominence throughout the album’s hour length.

Vocalist Claudio Carrasco‘s clean register lands somewhere between the gutsy belting of CondenadosFernando Vidal and Mael Mórdha‘s differently theatrical patternation. The natural direction to point is Candlemass and early My Dying Bride but this thought holds up better on earlier Poema Arcanvs records, they’ve evolved quite a bit since 1999 and always shaken things up a bit with each record. Each piece is enjoyable as active listening but the production feels weighted towards midrange, giving the drums an oddly distant but dry sound that eats up a lot of the guitar’s impact. This allows the bass guitar work to shine and the vocals to become the major focus but I’d wished the guitar tone was a bit more rounded and less cold.

You’d think this album would be a plain throwback to an old era of death/doom metal but for my own taste it appears to shift the focus of the band more in the direction of epic doom metal where the death metal elements are at their least important and frankly, this is perhaps the best vision for Poema Arcanvs yet. It’ll take the dedicated yet open minded epic doom metal fan to warm up to ‘Stardust Solitude’ and I’d personally found the harsh vocals added quite a bit to the experience (and inherent nostalgia) due to their restrained usage throughout. A moderately high recommendation.

RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Ván Records

Núll arrives this Friday with no real hype attached, no preview songs, no pre-orders, and next to no compelling description beyond its focus upon themes of futility and obsolescence. The band itself is initially hard to recall because their first album (“Null & Void”) was presented with the band name 0 and a line-up consisting of members of Misþyrming, Naðra, and Carpe Noctem. Is it black metal, then? No, I’d classify this as post-metallic doom metal with some atmospheric black metal guitar work fit into certain sections where depressive black metal riffing may be appropriate. The result is a modern form of dark metal without any particular gothic trappings. Think of Sólstafir at their most depressive and Andavald at their most introspective, and you’re somewhere in the ballpark of this albums dire mood and gut-wrenching vocal performances. ‘Entity’ has some great potential to be a sleeper hit with folks who’re open to post-doom metal ideas, atmospheric black metal fandom who’re interested in an ‘epic doom’ pace, as well as anyone looking for something a bit different (and gloriously dramatic) from the black/doom metal spectrum.


RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Nordvis Produktion

Over the Voids… is the solo project of Polish musician The Fall whom is best known for his prominent role in quite different black metal project Medico Peste and impressive black metal/punk duo Owls Woods Graves. A young fellow with the mind and capability to take several instruments in hand and rise to the occasion eventually finds his own voice as long as each (of several) ambitious projects don’t begin to meld together in ineffectual ways. I think this is well-achieved within Over the Voids…‘s second full-length ‘Hadal’ wherein exuberant, folkish and oft melodic streams of nocturnal black metal conjure visions of wide-eyed and shouting furor… A confrontation with the mirrored ‘self’, or nature, with a mind to overcome is the result.

In practical terms this means organic, spongy layers of pagan black metal with alternating bursts of down-trodden aggression and beauteous, ranting melodic climbs. The feel of the full listen, which pushes around ~40 minutes in length, is admittedly ground well-tread in some respects but the polished but wrecking render from Mgła‘s M. is almost geared for aggression no matter how introspective The Fall intends to be within certain sections. Grit is highlighted within performances rather than applied as a tonal coating and this makes for a sublime listening experience that is uncomplicated to unpack. Side B is particularly effective if you’ve the patience to get there, “Prodigal King” and “Corridors Inside a Glacier” might reuse a lot of riff structures and guitar textures but there is the sense that some of the best compositions were saved for last and those’d be my personal favorites for their melodrama and a few unexpected moments. ‘Hadal’ is a fairly unassuming record at first glance but a full listen will likely surprise folks with how immersive it manages to be.

TITLE:Breach Us
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Fysisk Format

Hymn is undoubtedly one of the heaviest sludge/doom metal bands to come out of Norway, sonically speaking as the duo once again manage mammoth tones and hair-raising screams on their second full-length ‘Breach Us’. For my own taste the band’s debut, ‘Perish’, is too much to live up to… Much in the same way Monolord cannot top ‘Vænir’ no matter how much bigger they get. That first album was one of my favorites from 2017 and ‘Breach Us’ was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020. So, they’ve returned a year after getting their atmospheric sludge/post-metal project Sâver off the ground with a debut full-length ready for more Hymn. Right off the bat the first two songs are incredible, even louder than before with tons of rhythmic insight and it sounds like their process is to write and refine songs in studio to keep things spontaneous and never over-wrought. This works quite well for the majority of this four song ~40 minute LP because the grooves are huge and the shouts are crazed, all things are in order of expectations.

The changes throughout “Exit Through Fire” are inspired and the first three songs in general are on fire, a worthy follow-up. Then I guess the 14-minute long “Can I Carry You” kicks in and the vocals just don’t work for me, it sounds a bit like Björk circa “Army of Me” in a wind tunnel and as cool as that sounds it stifled the first 4-5 minutes of the quite substantial song for me. All it takes is one eighth of a record to kill the full rotation in my mind, and I would venture most fans won’t be exactly as reactive, so I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it on repeat and fully dive into a full review. Maybe I’m still stuck on ‘Perish’ or maybe I’ll get over the guest vocal style but for now I’m liking this one slightly less. Solid live-in-studio production sound, incredibly tight and professional performances, lots of room to improvise and scratch out a few cool ideas along the way, and none of ‘Breach Us’ feels like a truly wasteful dirge.

TITLE:Shrapnel Storm
RELEASE DATE:August 21st, 2020
LABEL(S):Great Dane Records

On their second full-length album Finnish death/thrash metal band Shrapnel Storm offer a mix of modern tones, Kreator-esque riff-weaving, and a guitar tone straight outta Immortal‘s ‘Damned in Black’. Sure they’re a bit more mid-paced than those references might suggest but they’re aiming for the spirit of popular death metal in the early-to-mid 90’s with a fair amount of thrash/groove metal muscle memory informing their riff choices. Despite billing themselves as pure ‘old school’ death metal I’d gotten the distinct vibe of mid-2000’s melodeath/thrash metal ideals due to the somewhat plain production values and simplistic thrash-oriented riff style which often resorts to anthemic climbs to build up to “big” moments. This is satisfying enough for a few songs, it is kind of like ‘junk food’ thrash a la Axegressor, maybe not the best riffs ever but still very much representing the right mindset and energy. So, I don’t have any major gripes with the songwriting as it doesn’t intend to be flashy or impressive from a technical point of view.

Where I start to drop off from the full listen comes with the production/sound design choices made. The double-bass drumming is featured heavily yet the sound is so meek and click-like on the full listen that it becomes a matter of trying to ignore it until the focus shifts to a riff or chorus that overshadows that noise. Otherwise I liked the Bolt Thrower-esque tonality of “Battlewraith” and the dramatic unfolding of “Coup de Grâce” into pure thrash riffing were some of my favorite moments along the way. Although I doubt I will be clamoring to listen to Shrapnel Storm again anytime soon, I did appreciate it serving as a bit of ‘thrash camp’ to get me back into gear. Moderate interest on this one, recommended to fans of death metal that crosses into groove metal territory as much as it does Slayer-esque thrash.

TITLE:March of Death
RELEASE DATE:August 31st, 2020
LABEL(S):Helldprod Records

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-based 80’s death/speed metal trio Tyranno are back with another album after three years and I’d say it is their best release to date. Think of their sound as a bit of Celtic Frost, some Barbarian, and their own surreal mid-paced and chunking thrash sound which reminds me of early Hallows Eve for its presence. Compared to their other projects (Cult of Horror, Into the Cave) this is a more straight-forward and punk addled approach to classic extreme metal and much more aligned with my own taste in general. The songs aren’t all brilliant but they’re all heavy and swinging hard towards riffs and a good time. Not much else to say, just a heavy and barbaric club of 80’s extreme metal.

TITLE:Cycle of Disaster
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Brutal Records

Another Brazilian thrash metal band but this one from the northwest part of São Paulo state — Válvera are much more of an accessible, modern take on thrash metal with a strong basis in modern takes on Bay Area thrash, using classic melodic thrash metal ideals as their vaulting point. Wah-pedal solos, groove-heavy rhythms beneath solos, and plenty of vocal layering should gear your mind towards the more recent stuff from Testament and Death Angel. Things shift gears frequently on this album towards increasingly chorus oriented pop-metal numbers, such as “The Damn Colony”. This is where I kind of fall off of the record personally, I’m impressed at how professional and well-crafted the album is but it doesn’t have the ‘old school’ spirit I’m generally looking for, but instead making alternative rock hooks work within thrash influenced metal music. So, don’t go in looking for something ‘true’ but rather a catchy rock-oriented thrash heavy record for fans of stuff like recent The Haunted.

TITLE:The Invisible Prison
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Nefarious Industries

Man, finally. Just some balls-out, big guitar hittin’, riff-heavy pure thrash metal. Psychosomatic have been kicking around the Bay Area since 1988 when Jeff Salgado and a band of friends were inspired by the movement at its ambitious peak. Their first album wouldn’t land until 1999 or so but they’d always stuck with a pure thrash metal sound, leaning towards Testament‘s arena ready sound with some crossover whips naturally making their way in along the way. Despite having put out several records through Thrashcore over the last 20 years you’d have to dig pretty hard to really get your mitts on a Psychosomatic record and the only one I’d ever managed to hear was an 80’s/early 90’s demo compilation from the early 2000’s. ‘Clicking Sound of a Hammer Pulled Back’ (2015) was a new high point for fidelity and tightly performed standards so it is no surprise that ‘The Invisible Prison’ is a worthy follow-up within a similar style of oft punk twisted thrash metal. Fans of Municipal Waste, earlier Havok, and Suicidal Angels will find a lot to chew on here throughout the ~37 minute riff-packed set Psychosomatic have managed. All that is missing is some manner of respite from the constant attack of the whole thing; There are a few mid-paced pieces along the way but ‘The Invisible Prison’ is fully built around social unrest and as a result the reactive brain never takes a break and whips out an instrumental or riff-heavy session to ease the mind-rupturing attack of it all. I’d definitely give the extra push to try this one out if you’re unsure of Psychosomatic‘s comic book cover aesthetic or if you’re afraid it’ll be a modern groove record.

RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Apollon Records

Desert rock just won’t do in the case of Norwegian stoner n’ fuzz-buzzing quartet Slomosa. Break out a new bin at the shop and sharpie “tundra rock” across it in big cartoon letters, there ain’t no deserts in Bergen. Opening single “Horses” caused a bit of a stir in the Scandinavian stoner realm back in 2019 and man, has it been a while leading up to this debut. Folks who follow my taste in stoner music can figure there are ornate hooks, heavy guitar tones, memorable (if not outright catchy) songs and a great deal of variety enough to warrant mention of this record. They push out into indie rock for a few moments here and there but nothing crystalline and manufactured (see: “In My Mind’s Desert”) and this reads more like grunge rock the way they’ve managed it. Think along the lines of Snail but less sullen, a bit of classic late 90’s Swedish stoner metal twang, and though there is little sense of auld tradition here the vibe and the sound is always right. I particularly love the fuzz-ganked shake of “Scavengers” and the doom-ridden exodus of “Psychonaut”.

TITLE:Evil Lady
RELEASE DATE:August 24th, 2020

Danish heavy rock/doom metal quartet Hadron nailed it on their self-titled debut last July so I’d been a bit surprised they were already ready with another set of songs just over a year later via ‘Evil Lady’. Think of (early) Demon Head, Pentagram, or the stripped-down magick of Dunbarrow and you’re on the right path towards Hadron. Simple doom rock structures and an easy 70’s sing-along spirit give the feeling of a true rock band, over-enthused and full of ideas as the horizon of heavy music was just being crossed. The guitarist (Anders Lorentzen) particularly impresses here not only for banging out simple-but-effective riffs but for creating myriad textures with what is essentially the same tone throughout, this knack for the sheer percussion of early heavy rock music is a specialist skill that should be celebrated in every case. Vocalist Martin Pedersen singes a few more songs in Danish this time around and this might be my favorite part of his performance, besides the stunning break of “Under the Sun”, just for the extra push of his diction in his native tongue. Overall I’d say ‘Evil Lady’ is a sort of ‘acquired taste’ style of heavy rock/doom metal, surely the 70’s adjacent sounds will please but the unique vocal style and “live in studio” feeling of the records is truly for the die-hard wanting to engage in something clever but not too dryly ‘throwback’ overall.

TITLE:Mass Extinction
RELEASE DATE:August 28th, 2020
LABEL(S):Redefining Darkness Records

After putting out this two song demo tape back in October of 2019 this Cambridge, England-based death metal quartet went through three cassette issues and a run of CDs for the damn thing before this fourth limited run from Redefining Darkness Records was picked up. Why the hype? These guys have the same general appeal of a band like Ritual Mass where a straight-forward classic death metal sound, roaring hardcore steady vocals and some huge moshable grooves keep things interesting. I mean, for a tape with only two songs on it selling out is one thing but CDs? That is a good sign and a good showing. I discovered this band through their “Koalemos” single from this past May so I’m getting to kind of suss out ‘Mass Extinction’ along with others.

Dubbing their sound part of a ‘new wave of British death metal’ there’d be some reasonable lineage felt between the classic UK bands an Celestial Sanctuary‘s sound within the early Obituary-esque lunge of the title track and its eventual Bolt Thrower unleash. They’ve not exactly brought something on the level of ‘Transcend the Rubicon’ about but I see a lot of potential appeal in the future for folks interested in atmosphere, heavy grooves, and hopefully some additional lead guitar focus will come in time. They’ve already teased a full-length is coming before the end of the year so keep up, might want to grab this before it is gone in case you collect that sort of thing. If the combined efforts of this demo tape and “Koalemos” is a suggestion of the path forward, I’m into it.

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.