…From the Tomb 9/14/20: “…géométrie synthétique du céleste.”

…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 18th, 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.

RELEASE DATE:September 4th, 2020

Don’t let the Necrophagist-lookin’ logo and the actual Necrophagist drummer here suggest you’re getting pure early 2000’s technical/neo-classical death metal across the board with this talented Slovenian brutal death metal band. No doubt these guys have been honing their skills long before Mephistophelian formed in 2009 but this first album is quite a big deal as it comes after over a decade of preparation. ‘Anotos‘ is yet very much in the vein of early Spawn of Possession and a bit of that Unique Leader sound as bands shifted towards technical, otherworldly death mutation beyond 2005. This makes it entirely appropriate to include French drummer Romain Goulon who you should know from the last Agressor album, the second Disavowed album, and the fantastic ‘Neural Correlates of Hate’ from Spectral back in 2018. Precision and heaviness are here in spades up to the auld high standards of brutal/technical death metal when bands were focused on making music out of extremity rather than just guitar exercises and endless flourish. So, of course I love this album right off the bat for its corridor of steadfast brutal annihilation, minimal bounce but still plenty of groove. I had a ton of praise for Septimiu Hărşan on the latest Disavowed record recently so, I have to suggest the same truly advanced skills in the hands of Goulon who is maybe trades some finesse for impact when it counts while still commanding each song just as a brutal death drummer should. A must grab for folk who love brutal/technical death metal with some refined grooves and no stupid bullshit attached.

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

As with the last Jupiterian album I sat down with this record for several hours and was not sure exactly what to say about it when it was time to write a review. The São Paulo, Brazil-based quartet conjure a uniquely extreme style of atmospheric sludge metal with appropriate bouts of black/death dissonance and some sweetly adventurous soundscapes underpinning their layered approach. Consider it a shucking of the whole post-metal trend and taking the actual atmosludge spirit of the early 2000’s to a satisfying extreme. It makes sense that you’ll find folks shambling about trying to compare them to everything from Lycus to Unearthly Trance because they’re capable of truly funereal horror as well as mid-paced sludge metal stuff which is a bit more readable on a full listen. Deep death metal growls and avant-garde guitar progressions tend to be a bit aimless but quite dramatically achieved yet I was unsure of the album as “Mere Humans” seemed to take forever to make its ‘point’ and a spoken work sample wasn’t much of a payoff. “Voidborn” opens things up nicely and is more in line with their ‘Terraforming’ record from 2017, but in general I’d say the band have gone for atmosphere above all else and it left me in the dark when it came time to start expecting big riffs and their signature gigantic solid-built sludge moments. The jog of “Capricorn” is brilliant, the blackened dissonance of certain sections of “Starless” are somewhat of a revelation, and yet I didn’t find much to remember or latch onto as ‘Protosapien’ finished. I’d still buy it if I saw it in a record store just for its sharp cover art and interesting extreme sludge sound but I’m not sure they’ve blown me away in hindsight.

TITLE:Circle of Darkness
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):eOne Heavy

The second full-length from Detroit, Michigan’s Plague Years features a slight adjustment towards the 90’s hardcore/metalcore spectrum of metalpunk and away from the crossover death/thrash metal hybridization they’d brought on their debut ‘Unholy Infestation’ back in 2018. I’d actually drafted a review of their first album back when it was originally sent out to promo but it traded hands from label to label and the “ok go” never came after that. It was a solid record and they’ve generally improved in every aspect of their sound and presentation on ‘Circle of Darkness’ with a fine Joe Petagno painting plus a much louder mix/master and overall render. Giant expensive sounding production, 90’s hardcore with crossover thrash influence? Ah well, I’m not sure how else to put this but this sounds like 2000’s Hatebreed with the speed kicked up and circa ’95 Crowbar shouted vocals. I know for some of you folks out there that sounds pretty awesome, actually and frankly it is probably the right mark for these type of compositions which move away from the truly ‘old school’ format and blur into the realm of Power Trip and Creeping Death.

Cursory listens might remind you of Enforced or Iron Age but these compositions are generally much more simplistic, chunked-out, and despite the 90’s death metal attuned production sound the tracklist can be distilled down to the brutal spectrum of metallic hardcore from a decade that hadn’t yet lost sight of late 80’s crossover thrash. Even if you’re shrugging me off so far, get to “Evil One” and see how they work in some melody — You’ll come around to that late 2000’s Hatebreed sound soon enough. No doubt these guys aren’t necessarily aiming for that realm and their influences just kinda end up in that realm but, either way it isn’t the worst place to be when you’re on a big label and trying to get bigger. The songwriting (well, riffing) goes a bit flat and redundant on the second half of ‘Circle of Darkness’ for my own taste yet I can’t help but admire the attention to detail that went into the whole experience of the release from the exact right cover art to the well-rendered, Power Trip-heavy production sound via Arthur Rizk. Moderate recommendation on my end but higher if you’re real big on any band I’ve mentioned in the interim.

TITLE:Caterpillars of Creation
RELEASE DATE:September 4th, 2020
LABEL(S):Svart Records

Finnish heavy psychedelic rock quintet Polymoon are mustache deep in the sunny orange resonance of their summer apropos space rockin’ debut ‘Caterpillars of Creation’, a feat warm enough to entice the enfeebled modern post-rocker to convert to the timeless expanse of psychedelic rock’s twitching, mushroom-fed skies. You’ll find a lot of journalists pointing vaguely towards early 70’s Floyd for references and in some sense the experimental manipulation of photography that introduces Polymoon invokes some of that semblance but the music itself is absolutely not chill, not British, and certainly not so insufferably sleepy as an album like ‘Obscured by Clouds’. I’m out of my depth as far as how this’d stand out in the greater current Finnish psych rock scenes but for my own taste it is oft-soaring, cinematic, and gives smart nods to classic Finnish prog-rock and kosmische musik without being too literal or dully obsessed with retro ideals. This allows for a lot of stunning layers, wordless n’ dreamy space rock operatics and what I’d consider economical but unforgettable use of synth/keyboard work aligned with fuzzy, wet guitar antics. I figure it’ll seem like they’ve not much of a point of view to start but once you’ve swooned at the main progression of “Malamalama” and found yourself knee-deep in “Neitherworld” that magick’ll either arrive, or not at all. High recommendation.

TITLE:Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):Century Media

Though I know this’ll sound more raw than intended, Napalm Death have persisted as more of a ‘business’ than a band beyond 2004 in terms of delivering the exact same full-length whenever they decided to pop into view. I say this as a longtime fan who would not have dug into thrash, grind, hardcore punk, or death metal without their help and someone who’d felt their Jesse Pintado years set a new standard for deathgrind riffing. This decline of vested interest doesn’t come via the loss of a second guitarist, I mean their stuff is still written for two guitars and they perform with Venomous Concept‘s guitarist these days, but rather I’ve long felt their interest in too many side projects has left very little room for Napalm Death to evolve beyond ‘The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code’. As with Sepultura earlier this year, I’ll reiterate: It isn’t that I’m nostalgic but rather that this band were always known for their stunning ability to evolve and now they’re just a canned product we get every few years and ‘Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism’ is merely a return to a fundamental form we’ve not missed out on or hungered for in the five years they took to chunk it out.

Honest first reaction to seeing this record: “I’m not going to buy that.” Yep, Danish artist Frode Sylthe continues to be one of my least favorite choices for cover art excepting the cover for ‘Utilitarian’ and this blue surgical gloved hand bursting a very juicy dove of its blood isn’t compelling, characteristic, impressive, or unique in the slightest. The form and function of the album’s tracklist is essentially an analogue for ‘The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code’ with a series of very straight forward deathgrind bangers that are tough as fuck and sharply rendered with the compressed but brutal sound Napalm Death have gotten out of Russ Russell since they’d dropped from Roadrunner and producer Colin Richardson in the late 90’s. The pretty standard ‘Fire Dances’-esque post-punk touch of “Amoral” is both charming and expected, giving us something fresh but somewhat disingenuous feeling just as the straight-forward nature of the record begins to wear thin. After having spent a couple weeks listening to the latest Dephosphorous and then switching over to this, Napalm Death seem a bit tired with their own shtick compared to bands they’ve likely influenced today. Simpler groove-entangled songs fill out the back half of the album beyond that point allowing vocalist Barney Greenway some room to flex and bringing in some more hardcorish stuff that sounds dumb but probably way more “fun” than the first half of the ~43 minute record.

If there is one song here that’ll slap the smug and bored-ass look off my face it is “Acting in Gouged Faith”, and primarily due to the sublime nod the guitar work takes towards ‘Order of the Leech’. Then uh.. “A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen” ends the album with an circa ’94 Godflesh feeling gritty industrial goth metal song. Because, sure, why not? It ends the album on a solid note that contrasts well with the start of the record (“Fuck the Factoid”) when it is left on repeat. In terms of artistry I’ll be frank, I’ve been bored with Napalm Death as songwriters for well over a decade but, as a guy who loves to pick up a guitar and whip out a simple groove-heavy death metal riff now and then a lot of what they’re doing here is still undeniably good despite being “done” to death. The bass drive into “Backlash Just Because”, the weird post-groove metal hardcore whip of “Contagion”, and the simple brutal bounce of “Fluxing of the Muscle” are exactly what I’m expecting from the project at this point and in that sense they’ve satisfied the itch. Worth a listen and certainly not worthless but, they’ve lost their feeling for the pulse.

TITLE:Persian Pillars of the Gasoline Era
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin

I’d not really known of Dominick Fernow‘s prolific and generally influential career, be it noise metal or rock, until 2011 when ‘Bermuda Drain’ lifted his Prurient alias into more public view. Much as I liked that record everything in the periphery avoided the one aspect I’d enjoyed most, the danceable auld elektro snap and hop of “A Meal Can Be Made“, so I’d fallen off pretty quick. As it turns out two key projects actually cropped up into view that same year beyond my own spheres: The incredible melodic triumph of Departure Chandelier and this merger of electro-ambiance and understated industrial forms, Vatican Shadow. The appeal of this sort of music is almost entirely what you make it but Fernow is not your typical canvasser, his detailed movements almost always have a point of “progress” or a cumulative statement to bestow; However unpredictable the result can be in other projects much of ‘Persian Pillars of the Gasoline Era’ is planned spatial affect and intentional propulsion for heavy themes of shifting world power, blown global resources and dire governmental positioning on all sides.

The mystique of conspiracy is not a subtle suggestion here, these are very intentional themes and revelations via imagery that is effectively illustrated by the lounging, spy-thriller beats and carefully chosen synth phrasing. As a listener you have the choice to keep a distance at a middling volume and ease into what I’d consider an chilling, vaguely anxietous state of rest or alternately, you could crank it far too loud and hear the greater war happening beneath the beats. “Moving Secret Money” is the piece to introduce yourself to this modus where volleys of gunfire and explosives dance off in the distance, intensifying in waves until their din cannot be ignored. It is extremely simple in appeal but surely a far more complex balancing act for the arranger and the leveller (Justin Broadrick) tasked with mastering everything into view without losing the subtle creeping dread of countless elements making those simpler flowing beats possible. There is something inherently thrilling about a relaxed bit of inquiry and investigation, this mystifying sensation of narrative for what lies buried in a desk full of propaganda and conspiracy credo is where I made the strongest connection with ‘Persian Pillars of the Gasoline Era’, without that imaginative investment it could be just as effective as dread-techno for creeps.

TITLE:Bent Benevolence
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):Pulverised Records

Right now the whole approximation of hardcore punk played with death metal production fad is pretty tired out due to a real lack of songwriting talent or any true interest in anything but cursory hardcore punk nuance but there are still a few “death metalpunk” bands out there bringing interesting enough sounds along the way. Offset are based out of Singapore and feature folks who’ve impressed in bands like Marijannah and Abolition A.D. (who are inherently similar to Offset) and all things considered their take on Boss HM-2 driven hardcore punk sounds is somewhat unique thanks to slightly aghast vocals and some exploration of what I’d consider neocrust and street punk riffs. They sounded too impromptu and lifeless on their first demo, ‘Besmirch’ last year but this debut EP ‘Bent Benevolence’ achieves something a bit more interesting and surrealistic as it plays out. It is just alright stuff, but I feel like if you’re going to go for this style of music go full on Martyrdöd or Poison Idea with death vocals, something that really lives for the riff or the epic hook to survive.

TITLE:Dirt [Redux]
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):Magnetic Eye Records

My friend Sam introduced me to Alice in Chains back in sixth grade (early 1993-ish) by showing me some things he’d learned in his first few guitar lessons. This’d been alongside a few less showy techniques from nearby grunge and hard rock bands of the early 90’s. The mood of those songs was conveyed well by an eleven year old playing a beginner’s acoustic guitar in the wrong tuning, they were sad and strangely cinematic pieces, surreal and far more timely… surrealistic beyond even the death and thrash metal my brother was toying with in the garage on his first guitar as he discovered alcohol and marijuana. ‘Dirt’ was the next logical step and the band were impossible to miss between magazines, music stores, show flyers, and whatnot. I’ll be honest, it was a cool record with this intense sludgy guitar tone that was unlike anything I’d heard at the time but I was shoulder deep in Helmet and Sepultura by ’93. It wasn’t until I’d hung out with stoner friends in the early 2000’s that Alice in Chains made a bit more sense to me as Jerry Cantrell‘s use of harmonized vocals continues to be a point of genius that modern stoner rock and metal musicians struggle with endlessly. Why am I rambling on about all of this? I guess I don’t give a shit about nostalgia enough to bow to a band like Alice in Chains the way so many others do, but I totally see their importance and influence by virtue of incredible, unforgettable style and songwriting that’d frankly outshined 99% of the first half of the 1990’s rock music climate.

‘Dirt [Redux]’ is part of Magnetic Eye Records offshoot Redux Records‘ focus on covers albums from heavy rock icons, so far they’ve covered Hendrix‘ ‘Electric Ladyland’, Helmet‘s ‘Meantime’ and plenty of Pink Floyd and both Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains are next. Covers are occasionally life-affirming treatments that elevate aging art into something new and freshly connective for a new generation and well, most of the time they’re just mediocre pandering to a large fanbase via a smaller, often mediocre band. Hit ’em with nostalgia and more often than not, you’ve got instant fans. It works and though I will knock it, it works. Of course a full cover of ‘Dirt’ from thirteen modern artists is going to be a bit patchy no matter what, there is a lot of personality to live up to, harmonization to get exactly right, and drastically changing an Alice in Chains song is notoriously a bad move. For the sake of a shorter review I’m just going to point towards the bands that put in enough effort to really meet the standard of the Seattle icons at their (arguable) peak. Surprising no one, Khemmis absolutely have the chops and feeling enough to interpret “Down in a Hole” well enough, an epic heavy metal version of it that feels a bit emotionally stiff but a gorgeous tribute all the same. When “Hate to Feel” hits on the original album we’re in the downfall of the mind under the influence of heroin post-“Godsmack” (a personal favorite, which is wretchedly handled by Backwoods Payback) and I think -(16)- are totally feelin’ it, changing up the vocal layering to suit their own dual vocal style but not losing the stuttering, jarring beats of the original piece’s phrasing. This is by far the most interesting ‘modern’ take on the original because it retains the core experience by translates it to -(16)-‘s own irreverent, emotionally driven style.

There are some horrible butcher jobs here, particularly Vokonis‘ take on “Angry Chair”, which completely loses all impact and enunciation for a wobbling, mush of a cover. Thou‘s intro of “Them Bones” is robotic and seems more concerned with sounding like Thou than pulling off the major existential conceit of the song. Beyond that I think there are some middling moments, such as Low Flying Hawk‘s total reinterpretation of “Dam that River” which cuts the ball of the piece in an entertaining atmo-wondrous fashion, and I think Howling Giant almost get it right with their oddly happy stoney space-rocker take on “Rooster”, if they’d held onto the dire tone of the verses and gave more power to the choruses it’d have been near golden. Much of what these bands have done with these original, iconic pieces is either uninteresting or too greedily defiant of the mood of ‘Dirt’, an album made by a band of twenty something aliens finding themselves famous as hell and hooked on the wrong shit in the early 90’s. It just doesn’t line up, like laughing a funeral. Khemmis, -(16)-, Low Flying Hawks, and Howling Giant understood the brief and I think they’re the major reason to check this record out. See what you think?

RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):Inverse Records

Hiidenhauta are a folkish, punkish melodic black metal band from Satakunta, Finland who began with some heavy symphonic elements defining the less inspired side of their sound and starting with ‘1695’ (2018) they’d begin to drop some of that to focus on their core juxtaposition of harmonized dual vocals and harsher Kvelertak-level barking. The crossing of raw, screaming music that isn’t quite typical Finnish black metal (maybe the late 90’s?) with extended vocal melodies sung by Emma Keskimäki, whose presence will likely be as polarizing as the oddly enthusiastic and loud howling of Tuomas Keskimäki. They don’t start off finding a way around each other, bumping into one another’s statements in a very jarring guttural Finnish sort of way. I believe that is quite intentional, too, as conveying their identity in a uniquely Suomi way is implanted within each element of Hiidenhauta‘s sound, from the crusty folk-punk guitar skittering to the beauteous beast of the alternating vocal patternation. If they band are aiming for something uniquely surreal, they’ve caught my ear but ‘Riiven’ does not hold it entirely, the guitar work just doesn’t thrill me enough to stick around for more than 3-4 spins. If you’re a bit lost make sure to check out “Leväkkö” first, I think the surreal, wandering beauty of the rhythms and the lighter-cutting harsh vocals of the piece will showcase best in preview therein. If you’re looking for something a bit more (early) Moonsorrow-esque try “Yövilkka”.

TITLE:Chair Liquide
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):Metal is the Law Productions

Usually, when gazing upon an album cover as unabashedly inspired by campy horror movies as the latest album by the French OSDM-band Liquid Flesh, my thoughts unfailingly tumble into despairing remembrance of many a low-stakes side project sacrificing richness of musical material for the immediacy of light-hearted fun. It was a great pleasure, then, to find that the Pavlovian alarm-bell the cover instilled in me rung false in this particular instance. The usual vestments of B-movie worshiping death -samples of snarls, screams, innards plumping impotently to the floor, as well as cinematic, synth-laden interstitials are used sparingly on “Chair Liquide”. What we rather have is a stellar exhibition of Entombed-indebted songcraft executed with a sort of nonchalant ease, an ease belying the difficulty of dredging up something worthwhile from such a well-explored strata of the death metal topography.

The pummeling, bluesy, punky features of Entombed are all integral building blocks in the sound peddled by the French cinephiles, and a lot of the riffs assembled from these blocks on “Chair Liquide” are of such quality that they would hardly be out of place among the riff-royalty on “Left Hand Path”. Liquid Flesh also know how to piece these riffs together, as all the tracks on “Chair Liquide” (barring the short Twin Peaks-homage “Twin Freaks”) are 5-6 minute trains of interlocking material, secretively courting ambition behind their casual countenance. The production work is appropriately vintage, leaving a slight analog buzz, the hi-hats exploding with the refreshing destruction of a bursting skull on a 16mm, the bass-drums pounding like a thick slice of fat hitting the floor. There are strikingly few technical aspects about this record that I might want to change to enhance the impact, and I wouldn’t necessarily want Liquid Flesh to get behind a more classically “worthy” or “serious” subject in a future release. A lot of joy to be found in “Chair Liquide” spring from the impression that the musicians seem to be relaxing into a sound that lies close to their heart and abilities. Where a lot of horror-inspired metal uses the low stakes inherent in the style to spew out stale left-overs and undercooked morsels, Liquid Flesh uses it to let their ideas blaze in simplistic elegance.

Guest review by FREDRIK SCHJERVE

TITLE:Carnivore Carnival
RELEASE DATE:September 18th, 2020
LABEL(S):Deformeathing Productions

As if the album cover of Hostia’s sophomore record “Carnivore Carnival” doesn’t project their stance clearly enough, the opening track on this 24-minute rager of a death/grind battle-tank is a sampled spoken-word dunk on the inherent hypocrisy of Christianity. After having presented this pithy sermon, Hostia decides to punctuate their appeal to the masses by leveling anything even remotely church-shaped for the rest of the run time. Combining the righteous death metal fury of countrymen Vader with the sort of straight forward grind presented by bands like Catheter, Hostia is a more tethered counterweight to their fellow Poles in Antigama. That isn’t to say that they’re rigid in approach or stylistically inflexible though. On “Carnivore Carnival”, the troupe barrel from riff to riff, from tempo to tempo with fearsome grace via with furious passages reminiscent of early Carcass. The median velocity rests firmly in prime d-beat territory though, and there’s really only two opportunities the band takes to drop the floor from underneath the listener and reveal the slow, sickly stream underneath. Pinning down this vortex of riffs, blasts and cannonades are St. Xystus on bass, delightfully present in this loud, burnished and bottom-heavy mix. Hostia have really nailed the balance between relentless aggression and focus, brevity and substance that is necessary for grind to work at peak efficiency on “Carnivore Carnival”. Highly recommended.

Guest review by FREDRIK SCHJERVE

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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