…From the Tomb 9/21/20: “Time’s finite mortal vantage through death.”

…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 21st through September 30th, 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:Obscurantism Apogee
RELEASE DATE:September 22nd, 2020
LABEL(S):Xtreem Music

Ossuary Anex are a Russian brutal dea… Hey! Where are you going? In terms of what era and consistency ‘Obscurantism Apogee’ represents in the grand scheme of what brutal death metal is, the style is essentially a revision of classic 90’s brutal death traits cleaned up to the sharper-balanced production standards of the mid-2000’s. Think along the lines of Trauma or Kronos at thier cleanest and grooviest but without any of the technical/groove metal influenced touches of either sound. In terms of riffs this is classic stuff for the most part with a few dissonance pieces (“The Great and Celestial Massacre”, “Obscurantism Apogee”, etc.) stirring things up as the guitarists revel in their more mid-paced, sinister momentum. This should appeal to folks who’ve enjoyed Suffocation‘s style beyond ‘Souls to Deny’. Guest spots from ex-Internal Bleeding vocalist Frank Rini and Avulsed‘s Dave Rotten are notable highlights as the album becomes more familiar but most listeners will likely be pulled in by the huge guitar sound, which has been a real thing of beauty starting with their ‘Holy Blasphemition’ EP back in 2018. The major success of this album is its pacing and the strong clarity afforded by its production values, the experience is still surely ‘old school’ but with a very slickly balanced and impactful sound that feel modern without resorting to plain sterility.

TITLE:Par-Delà Noireglaces et Brumes-Sinistres
RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Les Acteurs De L’Ombre

Crépuscule d’Hiver is a solo black metal project from French musician Stuurm who’ve amassed quite an amazing debut album thanks to a successful campaign via European crowdfunding site Ulule which has allowed for collaborations with artists David Thiérrée and Moonroot, as well as some stunning boxed set versions. Why all the fuss? Stuurm has made quite a successful transition from primarily dungeon synth work with a medieval bent (as Gargoylium) and his adventures into what is essentially “medieval” (read: French) austerity applied to symphonic black metal of the atmospheric and often folkish variety. Members of Aorlhac, In Cauda Venenum and Aker contribute additional vocals, guitars, and session drumming here and to be sure the results match the high standard of modern French black metal of this tradition. Who will this appeal to most? Generally speaking, I think there is a certain mid-90’s appeal here that will grab the ears of folks who enjoy Vargrav, Summoning, Falkenbach and surely classic Limbonic Art although if you’ve found yourself dying for more ‘medieval’ French black metal this will likewise sate that need. It is a beautiful album in every sense and with only a very small bit of ‘necro’ anti-spirituality underpinning the vocals and some harrowing choral synths. Absolutely enchanting music that will stick like tar if given the time of day. More or less my highest recommendation for this week.

TITLE:The Desolation Letters
RELEASE DATE:September 29th, 2020
LABEL(S):Pacific Threnodies

If the whole dungeon synth gone atmospheric black metal with its is grand stylistic touch appealed to you in description of Crépuscule d’Hiver then Rhode Island, United States based ambient black/doom metal artist Ardormort is likely going to bring a similarly picturesque vision to life for said fandom. Musician Arde was previously best known for his dungeon synth project Shrouded Gate but with each release this project (which technically existed prior) gains some considerable ground. ‘The Desolation Letters’ is much more in the realm of homebrewed atmospheric black metal, distant and sombre guitar textures, intermittent vocals, lax song structures and prominent use of keyboard/synth to create a wide range of textural feats along the way. The mystic EDM (er, coldwave?) entrance of “Fool’s Prayer” represents just one of several unexpected moments on an album you’ll likely feel like you’ve understood after the first track fades out. There is divergence here, some notable inspiration that isn’t so predictably forced via trending exploration, but the entirety of the album isn’t as focused as its first handful of tracks indicate. Most pieces feature very scarce vocal work or none at all and at least half find a central motif that is repeated 6-8 times before fading out and this leaves some of the best ideas on the record feeling less than nurtured of their potential impact. “As the Smoke Dances” would be the most prominent example where the flute-like movements don’t so much as vary in an affecting way, presenting one idea in repetition that begins to feel vacant upon repeated spins of the tape. In this sense I believe this is much more for the black/ambient and dungeon synth crowd sensibilities, which I am merely a dabbler and no certain expert. A lofty, imaginative and lightly ‘cinematic’ experience nonetheless.

RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Hypnotic Dirge Records,
BadMoodMan Music,
The Vinyl Division

Belgium-based melodic death/doom metal quintet Marche Funèbre have generally stuck to their guns throughout their (so far) twelve year run though it was ‘In the Arms of Darkness’ (2017) that found them meeting the higher standard of the niche without having to experiment too far outside the box. At the time it’d been vocalist Arne Vandenhoeck‘s time to really shine in terms of presenting both harsh and melodic vocals with some considerable skill applied to each. For its follow-up ‘Einderlicht’ that spotlight hasn’t moved with any urgency as the band continue to modernize their melodic interest with post-rock influence without losing the depressive rock edged ‘clean’ sound that’d made the previous record special. The emphasis is more or less doubled therein where Vandenhoeck might flit between Sólstafir-esque cinematics or pull everything back to the epic heavy/doom metal influence of early Peaceville three bands. This also translates into the usual songwriting modus of the group where songs generally range between seven and twelve minutes in length as they develop fairly involved compositions with plenty of breathing room.

There is the sense that Marche Funèbre are on the path of a band like November’s Doom, taking some influence from alternative (or, modern) rock for structure and approachable hooks. They’re not quite there yet in terms of pure magick but ‘Einderlicht’ manages some curious hooks or memorable enough moments within the majority of these extensive songs that they’re each worth returning to, even if a riff or two feels a bit bluntly stated or, pointless in the greater narrative of the song, they will generally resolve in meaningful ways. “The Eye of the End” certainly offers the most challenge in this regard, spiraling out like an early My Dying Bride piece and losing its core lead progression for the sake of a chugging riff. This riff actually circles back around in a very effective way that ends up being one of the few moments where something so simple expresses as movement and sublime harmonization of forms. There are cloying moments, some strange off-kilter vocal moments, and various charming quirks that come with the band’s sensibilities but the full listen is unsurprisingly an easy spin that communicates its dire, dirging spirit with some earnest quality to it.

TITLE:Set Forever On Me
RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

Artist and musician Daniele Lupidi has been active in the greater Italian death metal reality since the late 90’s via Valgrind, Voids of Vomit and Blood of Seklusion but Hateful was perhaps his first professional strike into that void with a sound that has generally evolved along with tasteful applications of technical death metal throughout the last two decades. The more that Lupidi takes on with each release the more gloriously focused the general output of Hateful begins to blossom into its own profound entity and perhaps the same could be said for Valgrind since he’d joined after their first EP. ‘Set Forever On Me’ is the third and most accomplished full-length from Hateful, wearing its mid-to-fast paced and ornate (but not dryly performative) songwriting as a great virtuous medal of weirdness in a landscape dominated by bands who are driven by guitar exercises rather than exciting craft. From Atheist and Gorguts to Anata and Spawn of Possession we’re treated to aspects of classic tech-death that present as timeless (or ahead of their time) inspiration for the twisted path that ‘Set Forever Upon Me’ presents. Think along the lines of Pestifer‘s sophistication and the warped grooves of early Psycroptic at a more easily modulated speed and you’re in the right realm at least. This is one of those records where I would be gushing over it for pages if I’d had enough time to dedicated to its innards, which are considerable. A high recommendation to folks who enjoy the level of technique that tech-death brings but still want classicist death metal songwriting driving the way forward.

RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Dying Victims Records

This week offers some of the best records Dying Victims have released all year so, it has been difficult to choose which to cover in depth and what else to leave on the back burner. ‘Spellbound’ just cannot be ignored here in the last third of September as the traditional doom metal quintet finally get a physical release of thier debut EP that’d been self-released (digitally) back in late April. Though the cover art invokes some kind of black/heavy metal or extreme speed metal group the EP itself is traditional doom metal to the bone, an incredible return to classic sounds reminiscent of Trouble, Pentagram, and the several generations of devout stoner/doom metal offspring that sprang up in their wake. Their performances are solid for stoney garage doom of the early ’84-’92 ilk but I’ve the sense that this is Early Moods early in their formative stages working out their path forward and figuring the appropriate amount of personality they’re going to push out therein. Most of these guys had broken into music via death metal bands and one of the guitarists is an accomplished drummer fresh off a stint with Skeletal Remains and recently taken in by both Rude and Morfin; This doesn’t directly influence their style but most of these rhythms are remarkably dark with a much heavier than necessary guitar tone that works out beautifully on this ~20 minute EP. A must get if you’re a big fan of traditional doom metal with its own sort of underground sensibilities (and quirks) defining the listening experience.

RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Signal Rex

Here we are provided what is perhaps worthy of adding to my end of the month list in the form of a side-project by the duo responsible for Blood Red Fog. The dream-like direction of ‘Fields of Sorrow’ is yet fresh in my mind and juxtaposing it with the triumphant, jagged old soul of Sammas’ Equinox‘ ‘Tulikehrät‘ solidifies the separation of these two projects into distinct notions of Finnish black metal that buck a lot of current norms. The guitar tone is shedding its distortion like flaking skin, screaming treble as if it were diseased as the more atmospheric riffing rings out yet when things aggress it becomes something much more Bathory-esque (er, Graveland-ish?) in nature living up to some of my commentary when their ‘Pilgrimage / Boahjenásti’ compilation released a few years ago. In this sense (early) Ancient Wisdom, Thy Serpent, and perhaps even Themgoroth‘s ‘Gate to the Unknown’ are meaningful sensorial accomplices via vital use of synth for evaporative atmospheric touches without touching upon ‘symphonic’ status. I could just as well liken some of these elements to the sort of records coming out of Werewolf Records lately but these melodic ideas are remarkably different than a group like Förgjord or Faustian Pact, tuned towards something ‘epic’ and a bit more classically Burzum attuned at times (see: “Mustat Vedet”). A high recommendation for this kingly debut, completely engrossing to the point of sickening dread yet ‘epic’ and highly memorable all the same as a complete listening experience.

TITLE:Glorification of the Latin Moon
RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Agonia Records

‘Glorification of the Latin Moon’ represents a first for Varathron here in celebration of their thirty year history as vital nom de plume within the earliest and most impactful spheres of Hellenic black metal as it developed in the late 80’s and throughout the early 90’s. A special edition double LP release of a complete show from the band’s August 4th, 2019 show in São Paulo, Brazil for the bands 30 Years Of Darkness Tour. This came at the end of the extensive tour and finds the band at their most honed and exacting in terms of performance. If you are not familiar with Varathron beyond their second full-length circa 1995 much of this tracklist will be a revelation that they’d never left that old spirit behind but, instead developed something much more accessible and ‘epic’ from it as evidenced by their starting the show with the ~9 minute closing track from their most recent full-length ‘Patriarchs of Evil’ (2018). If that sounds like it might scare you off, relax, the entirety of ‘His Majesty At The Swamp’ is performed within the tracklist alongside key tracks from ‘Walpurgisnacht’ and a handful of their legendary pre-debut full-length songs.

To accomplish this within an 80 minute set they’ve had to leave out any pieces from ‘Untrodden Corridors of Hades’ and essentially every album beyond the first two, excepting the most recent. This is only a bummer because ‘Stygian Forces of Scorn’ (2009) is one of the very best releases from the band any any one of those glorious pieces could’ve made for an even bigger finale. Otherwise I cannot complain about this release in the slightest, it provides the Varathron live experience presented with minimal crowd noise and the chance to hear ‘Her Majesty at the Swamp’ as a live recording is impressive enough to start. Presenting the listener with several pieces from ‘Patriarchy of Evil’ to start offers a succinct ‘pitch’ for returning to that record and soaking it up a bit more, it was one of my favorites back in 2018 but it’d already felt like a lifetime going back and remembering why it was a special event. As a fellow who collects Varathron‘s releases this holds up quite well as a complete package thanks to the Juanjo Castellano cover artwork, which is evocative of the cover for ‘Walpurgisnacht’. Who is this live double LP set for? Of course the die-hard fan first and foremost, it does offer a sort of ‘greatest hits’ for 90’s Varathron via the extra emphasis on the debut album. The crowd does get involved in some interesting ways, such as humming the main keyboard melody on “Son of the Moon”, but this doesn’t generally mar (or enhance) the experience. Minimal stage banter, solid sound recording, and well worth grabbing if you’re a Varathron die-hard like I am.

TITLE:All Thoughts Fly
RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Southern Lord Recordings

Swedish musician Anna Von Hausswolff couldn’t be accused of being a chanteuse, a divulger of popular works, but rather a sombre ‘old soul’, a balladeer moderne and an effective pipe organist. ‘All Thoughts Fly‘ is essentially created via three microphones, mobile recording equipment, and a replica 17th Century North German baroque organ in Örgryte Nya Kyrka, a Gothic style church. The use of a grand church-sized organ itself is nothing new for the artist but I believe this is her first purely instrumental piece and the authenticity of the organ itself lends the album’s seven movements a certain character beyond the more buttoned up use of pipe organs in Hausswolff‘s works prior. Capturing ambiance is vital to set and setting, allowing the acoustic clunks of pitch modulation to provide physical intimacy to the performance as we hear the ‘gears’ grind a bit within their breathy bellowing.

The album itself takes inspiration from the free-flowing hand that’d sculpt and divine the Sacro Bosco gardens a moss-flocked valley of surreal Bosch-worthy beasts and gods entangled in ecstasy and war, all at the foot of a grand castle still bearing the name of its owner and commissioner of the glorious garden. It looks and feels ancient even beyond the profound endurance of Italy in general and Hausswolff‘s interpretation see this as poignant and inspired beyond the norm, a freedom and quite literally where all thoughts were in flight as the creatures and structures were brought to life. This thought is expressed via the naturally stoic, mind-rending ability of the organ to warp highs and lows into the Church music attuned pan European consciousness via the indoctrination of attendance from a young age. Having some extensive experience with particularly music-forward Mormon and Catholic upbringing in tandem the pipe organ is a revelation of what many smaller churches have approximated in the United States for generations still bearing that same effect upon those in view of worship. It offers an innately recognized language for Hausswolff to speak through and modulate to her own rather simple design sensibilities.

The artist offers just enough Paul Chain-esque triplicate psychedelic shimmering on the verge of a freak out that the impending rapturous build of “All Thoughts Fly” feels channeled via the exhausted fingers of some ancient god. Creeping earworms boil ancient springs of water and browning moss within the most lush fantasy worlds (“Theatre of Nature”) and “Sacro Bosco” itself feels warped via its Branca apropos breath-attuned start, a slow rise to sunlight. After depicting the gloaming pain of Orsini, positing the valley of sculpture was a great work intended to deal with (or escape from) the ultimate torment of loss. The pipe organ certainly is what the musician makes of it, if they can even wrangle it with any pronounced skill, and in this sense we’re given the general emotional range expected from Hausswolff alongside what I’d consider deeper spikes of pain and even more ecstatic joyfulness in moments of release. In this same sense these compositions are surely directed towards specific emotions but the listener’s interpretation is personally malleable and because your results may vary you may or may not find this album as stunningly effective as I have. A very high recommendation.

RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2020
LABEL(S):Caligari Records

Most folks attuned to the full extent of the core NWOBHM movement in the late 70’s and early 80’s wouldn’t bat an eye at the suggestion of a punkish, first wave black metal attuned act creating traditional heavy metal sounds yet I’ve no intention of likening Padua, Italy-based quartet Fate to Venom. Instead they’ve laced ‘Cold Lake’-esque frigidity, post-punk psychedelia, and look… Nothing about this is going to really make much sense on paper. We’ve got drugged metalpunk spirit, a gothy ’86 English Dogs piecing together an epic heavy metal progression not unlike label alumnus Sign of Evil but dialing it back to glossy 80’s metal textures for dramatic effect. All of this feels entirely appropriate on a tape from the folks who’d introduced us to bands like Alucarda and Expander yet the feeling that what is being served is more or less the antichrist of 80’s hardcore, the “butt rock” moment presented as the alternative to early acts evolving towards funky grunge-era alt rock or crossover thrash. Was I wrong about ‘Grave New World‘ all along? Well, it does kind of sound like Mercyful Fa… Before this takes a dire existential turn I’ll emphasize that Fate have impressed yet again with this second EP and what ‘II’ brings is a sharp balance of metalpunk elements that harmonize and clash within their effective alchemical whirl. A short but fine additional argument that they’re onto something worthy at this point. It’ll be vital to see how they’d expand this sound into a ~35 minute full-length.

TITLE:Forever Baptized in Eternal Fire
RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Dying Victims Productions

Bavarian evil speed metal warriors BLACKEVIL give the first impression that they’re ultra-traditional speed/thrash metal wild children but their sound is fairly ‘evolved’ in practice and lightly resembles one of my favorite modern blackened thrash/heavy metal bands in that style, Saarland slaughterers Witching Hour. They’ve their own sound and truth be told it has more in common with mid-80’s European speed metal bands like Martyr in terms of instrumentation and songwriting but the black metal element of the guitars manifests as tremolo braced leads which can’t help but feel like a strike at ‘epic’ heavy metal which differs greatly from say, Nocturnal Witch‘s bite of second wave black metallic riffing. The great differentiator for this project is the emphatic vocals of Abyss, which have me figuring he could do a mean version of circa ’86 Cirith Ungol if the enunciation was right, a real heavy metal screamer that grants some extra character to ‘Forever Baptized in Eternal Fire’. Beyond those observations I didn’t find the riffing anything out of the ordinary for black/thrash and the leads were really where the impact was for most performances. The album is a bit long at ~45 minutes but this isn’t such a crime when it is generally consistent in quality. The only real gripe on my part is how the logo clashes with the album artwork, it really does the record’s face no justice with its shocking red. Nothing new for the already initiated (and discerning) black/thrash metal hybridization fandom but Blackevil yet provide a solid example without any major stylistic flaw dragging ’em down.

TITLE:An Army at Dawn
RELEASE DATE:September 25th, 2020
LABEL(S):Raw Skull Recordz

Essentially the Bolt Thrower worshiping side-project of members of Stockholm, Sweden based death metal cult God Forsaken with some additional members incorporated along the way Just Before Dawn have long been one of the more effective bands to replicate the general idea of classic Bolt Thrower and this fourth album is both more of the same and well, something entirely different. To start their sound is generally unchanged, mid-paced early 90’s death metal songs written in the style of ‘War Master’ wherein the lead guitars had become one of the most important aspects of Bolt Thrower‘s distinct sound, and an infamously difficult to effectively reproduce style at that. These guys have the general idea down and they’ve long been effective in that regard. What is distinctly different this time around? All ten songs feature guest vocalists taking the lead and a couple of them find vocalists collaborating on the same piece (“Dance Of Katyusha”, “With Everything We Have”). Vocalists from Revel in Flesh, Decaying, Wombbath, Gods Forsaken, Envig, Abscission, Feral, Blood Mortized, and Creeping Flesh each contribute main vocals and interestingly enough each vocalist has a different-yet-similar take on their diction. None of the performances are particularly good, though, and in some instances it seems like they’ve intentionally tried to sound like Jonny Pettersson and though this is novel it can be somewhat uneven as a listening experience. Granted if you’re grabbing this album you’re just looking for it to sound like Swedish Bolt Thrower and well, they’ve absolutely accomplished that. ‘An Army at Dawn’ didn’t hold up for me across several listens but I appreciated what an undertaking it must’ve been to switch up the vocals for each song and have it all stick together with some sense.

RELEASE DATE:Indisciplinarian
LABEL(S):September 25th, 2020

The Danish post-hardcore reality continues to be one of the most compelling fonts for energetic finesse and chaotic hardcore with some measure of advanced reasoning skills. Though they eventually spin out into Every Time I Die sized swings and more rocking modern Converge-isms the kick-off for the quintet’s second album, ‘Underperformer’, hits with the most spirited edge of later Snapcase and I only wish they’d carry that amount of focus throughout the full listen. I’d felt that downward spiral until the metallic polka slap of “Surf” revitalized the first half. It doesn’t bode well that a half hour hardcore record droops a bit in its first couple of swings but Eyes are far more clever than they’ve let on and the rest of the record cranks the chaos unto abandon whilst sneaking in some noise rock n’ rollers and extreme Knut-like machine-grinding that works for me on a moderate “post-hardcore enjoyer” level. “Victims” more or less sums up Side B whereas “Verge” is Side A and ‘Underperformer’ at its most intentional moment of advance, I’d recommend both in preview if you’re unsure or a mere skronk dabbler. Definitely had a great time with this record and would recommend it to folks who’ve no problem with strong bouts of crossover between mathcore, aggressive post-hardcore and chaotic hardcore.

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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