…From the Tomb 9/07/20: “Material heresies in the minds of sycophants.”

…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 [September 4th through September 11th, 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:High Tides-Distant Skies
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020
LABEL(S):The Sign Records

Though the whole “New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal” gig has been waning in terms of fresh sounds and supreme melody makers this year there’s been no certain shortage of NWOBHM induced rock and Thin Lizzy-inspired (or straight up aped) material in 2020. Even if the momentum beyond 2010 is finally easing, the heights achieved both commercially and artistically for 70’s heavy rock and proto-metal minded acts is admirable for the sheer number of hidden gems stuck in the corners of dusty old record stores across Europe. Many would include Linköping action rockers Night in the “gems” category as they’ve evolved into a fairly authentic easy-riding heavy rock band, swinging their pendulum from NWOBHM-spirited feeling towards a very “chill” set of mid-70’s anthemic rock full-lengths. The one that hooked me in was ‘Raft of the World’ (2017) for its intimate and affected tone with a very rich sounding production that was a good measure of classic ‘soil’ and glittery gallops and some instrumental flair. This follow-up comes with a more accessible approach to songwriting, aiming for a bigger venue and bopping rock anthems and catching a bit of their old fire with some dual guitar leads and bigger vocal layering.

Although ‘High Tides – Distant Skies’ is a warmer, more present experience I feel like the characteristics that separates Night from a more popular band like Dead Lord (who’ve jumped the shark for my taste) thin and the “charm” here comes from a less polished reality and more free-wheeling sense of rhythm. The end of opener “Shadow Gold” is the perfect example of this as the guitars sail towards a Cirith Ungol-esque howling vocal at the song’s climax. Right there I’d definitely been reminded of the retro movement these guys came from and how albums like Enforcer‘s ‘Diamonds’ might still hold up in my mind but this sort of retro-rock n’ metal craft has gotten brutally worn for ideas. Setting aside originality in terms of vocal arrangements, which is a non-issue if the effect is right, the biggest gripe I have with this album is the lack of effective vocal harmonization that might’ve elevated its solid and nicely varied presentation towards something remarkable.

This all might sound like a bit of gloom n’ doom on my part but nah, I’d just felt the previous album could’ve been boosted upon and generally speaking this record is a different conversation at the same fairly high standard, a bit more exuberant and less self-serious. In short, if you liked the previous album you’re still going to love Night circa 2020 on this fine album. “Falling in the Black” is exactly the sort of big rock song these guys are best at and “Under the Moonlit Sky” offers some new texture to that apparatus; Those are the big highlights for my taste and the rest is a solid mix of boogie, action, and anthem.

TITLE:The Dark Hymns
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020
LABEL(S):Brutal Records

I know exactly what most folks are thinking “Album art, skip it.” and fair enough it looks a bit like an evil power metal album or an early 2000’s brutal death record from South America. Shake that feeling off, though, because this pan-international melodic death metal trio is actually well worth hearing on this thier third full-length. Although the band haven’t missed a beat Dark Rites have swapped out a key member trading Swedish vocalist Oskar Åsfjäll for Canadian screamer Kole Blooded and this has changed their sound drastically. The previous vocalist was much more aligned with the typical melodeath-thrash sound of the early 2000’s where a bit of groove metal mixed with a light-handed Gothenburg melodeath vibe, the much more expressive and modern voice of Blooded brings in modern groove metal and deathcore ideas into their fairly standard melodic death metal sound.

Distance doesn’t mean anything when you are creating “genre” music, right? With the main actors split between Poland and the United States there is yet no certain miscommunication between ’em and fans of modern stuff like Feared and the crossover between second wave melodeath and groove metal will surely like the style of this record. The tone of the vocals feels very deathcore/tough guy groove metal and none of that Pantera shit has worked for me since 1996, the album kind of follows suit to keep up and this has mixed results. At their best point of collaboration (“Goliath the Coward”) there are some strong melodic ideas and impassioned vocals happening, at their worst (“Serena”) the compositions and performances are really just treading dirty, well-polluted waters. The riffs run a bit dry as the last few pieces play and the full listen lacks major impact as a result, I’m sure the right mark exists for this style but to reach ’em the logo, artwork, etc. all need to signal the “commercial” styled groove, melodeath, and deathcore listener a bit more clearly.

TITLE:Sharpen Your Spikes
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2020
LABEL(S):Xtreem Music

It takes about five minutes to get a solid speed metal riff out of this fourth full-length from Spanish black/thrash metal quintet Körgull the Exterminator and for those five minutes I was sure this band had changed somewhat drastically, moved towards something like Nocturnal Witch. Nah, as soon as “Inquisitor Generalis” kicks in we’re right were this band has always been, and long before this style of music was particularly “cool” or trendy as it has been these last 3-4 years. Beyond that point this time around the Voivodes do switch things up a bit more than usual with some Slough Feg-meets-‘Infernal Overkill’ swings (“Sharpen Your Spikes”), and I’d say generally speaking a bit more black metal riffs beyond the first wave than we’ve heard in the past (“The Black Goat of the Woods”, “Prophecy of Black Blood”, etc.) so a lot of my old criticisms of this project are addressed without losing their grimy, echoing speed metallic pulse n’ pacing. I don’t have much else to really pull from the experience, the album artwork is fantastic and recalls ‘Metal Fist Destroyer’ (2013) which was my introduction to the band. If you’re into stuff like Sabbat, Nifelheim, and Vulcano but want something a touch more ‘epic’ and varied this is the right band to grab onto.

TITLE:Sicknesses Obsessions
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020

Putrid Offal are a Carcass/Pungent Stench influenced death metal/grindcore act from northern France who’d first formed back in 1991. Their original run of two promotional demos and three splits were somewhat infamous beyond their cessation circa 1995 if only for their expensive rarity over time. Their split EP with Agathocles is a small gem among many on the 7″ ridden discography of the short-lived but well-loved Seraphic Decay label, probably the best of their early material (mostly songs from the ‘Unformed’ tape). Main songwriter guitarist/vocalist/programmer Franck Peiffer brought the name back in 2013 with a full line-up featuring friends old and new, ‘Sicknesses Obsessions’ is the second album from this afterlife for the project and without question they’ve upheld the ‘old school’ standards for gory brutal death/grindcore of old.

Uncomplicated hardcore and grindcore influenced death metal with huge grooves and outrageous guitar tones is on order and should excite folks who still have love for Pungent Stench‘s evolution, General Surgery, and the thrashing side of Disastrous Murmur. Of course they’ve got a few new ideas since 2015’s well-received ‘Mature Necropsy’, some odd use of guest vocals for monastic and avant-garde moments as well as a human drummer in Laye Louhenapessy (ex-Vibrion). If you’ve arrived expecting just another gory freak blast, sure they’ve got plenty of big-groovin’ barfbag stuff here but the album gets in some curiously technical and imaginative ideas along the way. My own standard for a band that has ‘comeback’ from the dead is that it sounds like they care and they can still play, beyond that just avoid self-conscious rehash and for sure Putrid Offal meet those requirements just as they did five years ago. A lot of care went into this big dumb record and you can tell via the ease of flow and avoidance of any sluggish or ‘bored’ pieces at a tight ~35 minute run.

TITLE:The Passing
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020
LABEL(S):Caligari Records

Los Angelese death metallic hardcore punk quartet The Passing take heavy influence from classic UK82, crust punk, as well as a heavy dose of simpler D.C. hardcore dirges in crafting this self-titled debut tape. Their taste in kängpunk (Swedish d-beat, more or less) never fully sways into death metal riffing but the vocalist is a roaring beast all the same. Guitar work isn’t mega original but they know how to link together a proper hardcore punk song with strength, flow and zero gimmickry. The one piece I’d say shows the most promise is “Buried and Forgotten / In Its Grip” where a solid ‘old school’ breakdown feels fresh as hell and the dip into the second piece is entirely natural. Pure attitude, grinding guitar tone, and tons of proper crust antics make The Passing worth a spin for sure if you’re a fan of stuff like Disfear. The only thing missing here is that extra something that’ll make this already monstrous sound stick to the listener; They’re one degree of differentiation away from that point where guitar noise, gang-shouts, pick scrapes, etc. any manner of distinctive adornment might inspire fealty with folks who’re tight with this type of aggressive hardcore punk but want something with an extra-sized personality attached; The appreciably dark lyrics almost take it there. As is, a solid tape and a total blast.

TITLE:Larvae Tedeum Teratos
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020 [VINYL]
LABEL(S):Blood Harvest Records

If Cenotafio haven’t been on your radar these last 3-4 years (at least) then you’ve missed on some true master works from these multi-talented Chilean dark-artists. At this point if you’re a fan of album cover art the name Nox Fragor Art should ring a bell as the alias of Daniel Hermosillo, an intensely talented painter with a mile-long list of insane cover art you’ve seen via Fetid, Into Coffin, Cosmic Putrefaction & more. Cenotafio is his black/death metal band alongside Patricio Kusnir who features in a number of other extreme bands as well as his own well-respected zine. I think this is one of the best bands out of Chile today to be honest and there is very tight competition around every corner. So, I’ve already reviewed this album and their last one in recent years. ‘Larvae Tedeum Teratos’ came out on cassette early last year then it received a second successful run, a CD release last November and now finally! It comes to vinyl LP via Blood Harvest Records. I’ve been hoping/waiting for it to come to vinyl as it might mean their equally impressive first album might get a 12″ deluxe print as well. So [Click Here] to read my original review of ‘Larvae Tedeum Teratos’ and make sure you buy this one, just leave a copy for me.

TITLE:Divine Filth
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020
LABEL(S):RidingEasy Records

The obscure film The Death Wheelers (1973) is enough of a spectacle of bikesploitation and cult B-movie horror imagery in its own right but the mysterious Canadian instrumental rock quartet who’ve taken its name to the grave are having maximum fun with it as they prepare their second album ‘Divine Filth‘. The Death Wheelers are the stars, the directors, the writers and the full soundtrack to their own 80’s biker trash rock opera this time around and ‘Divine Filth’ is presented as a fictional bikesploitation film directing their second run at boogie rock, 70’s metal, surf ‘n punk decay. Though they’ve cited everything from Motörhead to The Cramps whilst generally outlining their gig, the gist of it is a treasure trove of olden garage rock grooves and instrumental rock that creates set, setting and maximum vibe to illustrate the diorama presented.

I’d really enjoyed their last album ‘I Tread on Your Grave’ (2018) and though they’ve eased on the watery surf raggin’ stuff a bit the trade-off is a surreal desert rock and ominous sleasy, sludgy set of songs still ultimately falling into the garage rock and bluesy psychedelic arena. They do cover Dick Dale‘s “Nitrus”, though and do a fine job of making it their own experience without losing the vital twang of the piece. I think folks will see this record from two different angles: First as music that evokes visualization of its incredible lore (1982 — Potent hallucinogenic street drugs turn folks into the flesh-hungry living dead!) and the other would be folks who just appreciate the “fun” of ass-shakin’ instrumental rock freak outs. I’d enjoyed it from either angle and though I didn’t get as much nasty bass-gargling sleaze as the previous record ‘Divine Filth’ is a huge step up artistically speaking.

RELEASE DATE:September 4th, 2020
LABEL(S):Dark Photon Studio

With each release I’ve found myself some gained appreciation for the holistic vision of musician/artist Shane E. Semler‘s Harbinger of Storms project which finds the fellow a craftsman working on every bit of each piece, be it the lovely hand painted cover artwork or the self-produced and rendered gothic rock influenced doom metal therein. Slyly melodious but never exactly belted out, the keyboard-gusted melodic death/doom feeling of opener “A Dream of Talos” and single “The Ravishing of Ampitrite” have a bit of the bombast of gothic metal circa 1999 and a touch of that oddball spirit that’d made My Dying Bride something special early on. It isn’t exactly the traditional doom metal we’re so often spoiled by today, but rather the sort of music we were soaked with circa 1995 or so and perhaps without feeling weirdly “retro” for the sort of things Peaceville and Century Media were pushing hard back in the day. As such, the gloriously epic push of “Cruel Tales” with its call-and-response actors feels as much related to ‘Wildhoney’ as it does something a bit more forgotten, such as Cemetery‘s ‘Sundown’.

It is a fine EP and though I think Semler could belt certain vocals with a bit more gut, the full listen of each Harbinger of Storms has improved upon aspects of the last. This time around the render is even more cleanly, no vestigial shocks of fuzz at high volume and plenty of surreal sonic depth despite the drums being programmed. The one piece I’d criticize a bit in terms of composition is “Bacchanal Rite” as it is a clever idea in motion that should’ve linked to something else for the sake of a larger narrative, as such it isn’t the most satisfying endpoint. And of course again, the cover painting is appreciably detailed with movement and eye-catching color choices. More muted than ‘Jupiter’ but appropriately so. It is well worth digging into this mythos and artistry, not just for the do-it-yourself achievements but the well-considered catchiness of the music itself.

TITLE:Det Besegrade Lifvet
RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020
LABEL(S):Shadow Records,
Regain Records

If Ultra Silvam can be considered the old gnarly spirit of classic Swedish black metal resurrected via mutated cells then Lifvsleda is wrist-clad curse upon ye olden riff-focused attack circa 1998 or so as groups like Sorhin, Naglfar and Setherial began to find their own paths beyond the melodious Malmö-to-Stockholm connection. Nonsense? Sure, but calling an album like ‘Det Besegrade Lifvet’ a “throwback” to the earliest days of Swedish black metal is doubly absurd. I see Lifvsleda‘s curse as more a simple, mid-paced anti-spiritual update to the Arckanum school of excellence where a bit of a viking heart drives the semi-melodic ideals expressed therein. It isn’t devoutly pagan or Satanic and doesn’t quite reach for true Norse edges but, still resembles the aurora of sleepier Swedish black metal forms. Songs like “Nedstining” should pull you back to Svederna‘s record last week a bit, that same rock n’ shrieking stomp with a bit of ‘epic’ flair. I see the generalization that folks often make about the distinct nature of classic Swedish black metal sounds but more often than not the sheer attack of the 90’s is lost in translation, this is also where I see Lifvsleda lacking slightly as they’re quite mid-paced and well produced to lump in with the grotesque eldest creatures of Svensk black metal. It is a fine album nonetheless, captivating and slightly insane in the best way possible.

RELEASE DATE:September 11th, 2020
LABEL(S):Svart Records

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this kosmische shoegazing, psychedelia-dripping Finnish post-rock record from members of Domovoyd and Oranssi Pazuzu is perhaps (almost) my favorite release of the week. Guitarist, vocalist and primary arranger Niko Lehdontie is also known as Ikon in his metal projects so you can suss out the impressive decade of releases he’s had from that point of view but Kairon; IRSE! is not at all hard or heavy but just as noveau-avant and richly realized as any other point of reference. Screaming synth runs, vibrant up-scaling guitars, and frequent exciting swells make for perma-stoned washes of sound that are yet anything but sleepy prog rock music in the world of ‘Polysomn’. As with most post-rock influenced music the vocals are far too detached and cursory in tone to resonate with me, but they do at least emphasize the ether-drugged feeling of the full listen.

The best moments on the album are achieved when they’ve snapped out of it (“Altaãr Descends”, “Retrograde”, “White Flies”) and given the drummer the cue to push some air. The synth washed shimmering warp of the title track is similarly effective and less for its rock beat so much as the moment created with quite simple application of guitar effects and synth. Possessed by the intoxicating thrill of open jamming sessions and capitalizing on little breakthroughs that make for bigger moments Kairon; IRSE! present ‘Polysomn’ with a little bit less gusto than some of their past work and I believe this makes for an overall more versatile record that’ll fit more moods beyond stoned, really stoned, and tired. A gorgeously realized album overall and a discography well worth dabbling into if you’re interested in Waste of Space Orchestra/Oranssi Pazuzu-adjacent culture.

RELEASE DATE:September 4th, 2020
LABEL(S):Magnetic Eye Records

1991-1995 was definitely the biggest magazine, fanzine, and music related reading materials boost that’d taken me from casual heavy metal fan to a total junkie for the counter-culture of it all. This meant both Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo artist successes of the early 90’s with musician Zakk Wylde as a major part of this band were entirely unavoidable. I guess I was one of those weird kids who loved ‘Book of Shadows’ at the time but could never warm up to Black Label Society so I’d more or less fallen off his stuff. Look, it wasn’t yesterday… it was 25 years ago. I’m out of the loop with what the dude has been doing since that one music video where they made fun of phone-obsessed millennials but I have caught his Zakk Sabbath band the couple of times they’ve passed through Seattle these last four or so years, the brightest memory being circa 2017 or so. It was a touring-only gig and an excuse to go out and play inspired Black Sabbath covers alongside some others (Soundgarden, etc.) and it was a good time. I don’t know how well I fit into that culture anymore but I grew up obsessed with Black Sabbath, the first time I picked up guitar it was to learn “Embryo” and “Orchid” and man… Do I have all kinds of stories from the late 90’s making friends with kids who could play Sabbath on the guitar and travelling up and down I-5 in the early 2000’s following stoner doom wherever I could find it but… Right, I’m supposed to be talking about ‘Vertigo’, a semi-complete cover of the first Sabbath record feature Wylde doing his thing, Rob “Blasko” Nicholson on bass guitar and Joey Castillo on drums.

Big deal popular heavy rock/metal dudes doing an album like this wouldn’t be a big deal if they’d not done it with a pretty pure attitude, not doing a hundred percent faithful note-for-note covers and treating it as plain and simple as you’d get from a live show. Of course it is a clean and professional treatment of these old songs but this is Wylde‘s guitar style interpreting Iommi, switching up trills, squeals and effects for different parts. I’d tried to write a bit more of a review for this record but it’d either be totally self-indulgent with personal stories or lose the simple reality of ‘Vertigo’, which is just a straight up cover record by folks who have some true appreciation for the bluesy classic they’re whipping out. The recording sessions are described as almost impromptu and easy going and you can feel that ease on “The Wizard” and “Wicked World” especially. You’re not getting the two covers from the original so keep that in mind. I guess this one will be a bigger deal for fans of Zakk Wylde but I’m primarily interested as a huge fan of the first Sabbath album and I’ve enjoyed the time spent with this reinterpretation.

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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