REQUESTS – Part V (October, November) | 2020

A PILE OF BODIES part five of a year-long feature in the form of a list devoted to grouping together requested reviews for recordings of interest that were submitted (not necessarily released) between October 1st – November 15th in the year 2020. These albums were volunteered by the bands/labels directly with request for coverage/review. All releases are given equal time and consideration unless the art demands more attention, some releases were excluded for crimes outside of already very forgiving taste! All releases are presented in a loose order of receipt. If you’d like to send an independent release for review: please see FAQ for details on submitting releases. Please hold all requests between November 15th, 2020 through January 1st, 2021.

RELEASE DATE:October 30th, 2020

The Crypt are a death/thrash metal band from way out on the peninsula in eastern Wisconsin who’d gone under the name Cryptic for a few years in the late 90’s, landing two demo tapes before changing their name and going on a very extended hiatus until 2016 or so. Upon return their brand of thrash influenced death metal had certainly evolved and suggested that they’d kept up with heavy music in general since the late 90’s, still fostering the high standards of classic thrash and death metal. Their second album after this return is a major point of interest in the sense that it is an epic heavy metal album, an experiment that was fruitfully developed enough that it’d become an important release for the band. ‘Crystalline’ is a thirteen minute epic of its own, a follow-up in the spirit of ‘Odal’ (2019) that swerves back to their death/thrash sound and makes a mountain of some additional heavy metal influences.

Think of Mi’gauss, The Chasm, and Dragkhar and expand that idea to an elaborate three act opus with additional influence from progressive thrash around the edges. The first half of the song particularly reminded me of the first Bifrost record ‘Pagan Reality’ for some of its movements before some tech thrash chords hit and wheel into more of a bulldozer. I personally love this piece as an experience, the constantly shifting movements within develop in meaningful ways and touch upon very broad but sharp taste in sub-genre and classic artists. The Crypt have a new record in the works for next year and if they continue to represent every element of this impressive piece, it’ll be a huge winner with me as well. Very high recommendation.

TITLE:Reverse Engineering

After these guys had sent out a promo in the mail I’d definitely spaced on it until it’d arrived and in the meantime I’d been digging around YouTube trying to learn to play the drums, stumbling upon one of my personal favorites Kévin Paradis‘ (Agressor, Drastus, Sutrah, Benighted, et al) channel, recognizing the Inhumanity Vortex name and getting my first listen through a demonstration video. Of course this means this MCD is in the style which it looks, technical death metal, and more specifically tech-death of the Polish variety with some heavy groove influenced parts and all manner of modern touches. Think along the lines of Deivos, In-Quest, and with some influences from I’d say either Scarve or Gojira along the way while generally achieving a result that is perhaps slightly more overtly technical than those groups.

Of course for this type of music technique and a sense of unique progression is vital and Inhumanity Vortex find a strong balance between propulsive movements and dystopic elektro-nuanced sections, often placing watery cosmic synth where vocals might’ve normally been set, my favorite example being “Through the Infinite”. As it turns out this group has been around since 2008 (as Inhumanity) or so as a solo project from Polish musician Tomasz Dziekoński who arrives upon something intelligent and uniquely realized with this EP after having expanded the band to a quartet around 2017. I’m a little bit early with talking about this record as the release date is indefinite but new songs will reveal themselves soon enough.

RELEASE DATE:October 8th, 2020
LABEL(S):Deathhammer Records

Entering the world of Greek black metal project Channeler initially means you’ve awakened in the murk, suffocating in smoke and blind. The start of a triumphant ode rests in waiting as you writhe, tremolo’d leads imply the breakthrough before you’ve exited the cave as “Evocation I” builds the core intensity of the four part experience. This is choice is bold as Hell for the sake of the patience the listener will need for those first seven minutes, it all builds upwards to alarm and intensity that “Evocation II” delivers. When listening to this record for the first time I’d gotten the sense that Nimerius (Diablery) had taken some considerable time to posit the architecture of the greater piece on display here and as I’d suggested you might need an equal measure of patience to grasp it. ‘Conscience’ is primarily atmospheric black metal, a hint of Nocternity‘s ‘Crucify Him’, and about ~25 minutes of upward scaling subtlety via some modern melodic intent. The sensation I’d gained from the whole is the exit from the cave where brighter lights and shimmering reality blinds us when the majesty of “Evocation IV” arrives. What felt like a slow build now reveals itself as tonal foreshadowing, a record drenched in its own sound with some manner of triumph waiting for the listener to crank the stereo loudest and deafen themselves with the wash of its gateway. I’ve really enjoyed this one, with just a little bit more clarity and with upkeep of this solemn-but-grand tone I think there is a ton of promise for this project and I’d really loved the album art.

TITLE:Deus Mortis
RELEASE DATE:October 30th, 2020

I’d discovered this Las Vegas/Los Angeles based trio back in 2019 when their first demo released on Bandcamp that Halloween. At the time they were exploring a death/doom metal sound comparable to Yatra where stoner doom sensibilities met with harsher vocals. Each release built upon this idea of mixing heavy as nails death metal guitar work with psychedelic doom metal motions. I’d not really followed up on the band until some hype sparked up surrounding ‘Deus Mortis’, their latest EP, which takes up slightly different arms. In fact I wasn’t sure that this was the same band when the tribal 90’s hardcore thrusting kicked in on “Spiritual Degradation”, immediately calling to mind Xibalba and Terminal Nation records from this year. I don’t think brocore is anywhere near their intent but for that minute they do kinda drop straight into the pit. The rest of the EP develops this idea slowly, still centered around their crawling and sprawling ultra-downtuned sludgy death/doom but with a more pronounced HM-2 driven tone and what I’d consider dark hardcore vocal arrangements. The apex of this is probably their ten-ton cover of Entombed‘s “Wolverine Blues”, sluggish but an appropriate arena to lean into for this shift in style.

TITLE:Sous l’Oeil Fermé des Paradis
RELEASE DATE:November 23rd, 2020
LABEL(S):France d’Oïl Productions,
Nebular Carcoma Records 

After twelve years, three demos, a split and a compilation the debut album from French black metal act Oes Galliath is also their last. Presented as a “hallucinated testament of escapism from the industrial streets of Paris” this record is a birth for the sake of death, a memento mori to clutch and embrace finality within. The style of the record is fairly vast, crossing between melodramatic depressive rants and what I’d consider classic Parisian black metal ideals, strong stomping kicks and long melodic arcs atop. With that said the production is quite clean, fed by a glossy clean bass tone and an accomplished drum performance. The render is clean but the album’s tone and mood is yet dark matching some of the destitution and playfully diverse movements of say, Sale Freux but without any of the folkish rawness one might derive from that comparison. It’d be fair to mention earlier Ungfell and Sacrificia Mortuorum to some degree as well, but perhaps even less directly and moreso on Side B. “Des meurtrissures pour héritage” and “Gosse de Vide” are the major standouts beyond the opener, I’d recommend those first.

TITLE:A Necromancy Lore
RELEASE DATE:August 31st, 2020
LABEL(S):Drakkar Productions

Although we’ve become surrounded by all manner of symphonic and atmospheric black metal with some nostalgia for mid-to-late second wave these last several years little of it strikes a chord beyond average imitation more consistently than this latest Drama Noir album, a symphonic black/death metal album with a focus on classic Hellenic and Norse forms for their major inspiration. There isn’t that fine of a line to draw between Lunar Shadow‘s ‘Seelenfeuer’ and Deviser‘s classic ‘Transmission to Chaos’ but I think that’d be where I’d start in description of the balance ‘A Necromancy Lore’ achieves. This type of record isn’t entirely common in terms of modern Greek black metal outside of maybe Empire of the Moon but it is yet a comfortable circumstance thanks to the highly professional capability of its membership, especially considering the performers here have held station in Gungnir, Synteleia, Acherontas, and even the old gods Flames.

If you are plucking from the deeper corners of symphonic black metal in Greece bands like Diablery and The Order of the Ebon Hand might be natural assumptions but turn your head towards the old ways a bit more… Away from soft, floaty synth driven side of things towards harrowing, hall-shaking classic Greek sound made huge and generally quite polished. Choral synths or, perhaps some actual chorales, introduce the stoic dramatic flair of the record with some great prominence on Side A, generally echoing the late 90’s vision of symphonic black metal from the Greek perspective until “Devolution in the Curve of Time” shows increasing hints of death metal influence, much in the same way Naglfar might’ve on earlier records. “The Last Incantation” certainly draws directly from the classic Rotting Christ ‘Non Serviam’ modus but, this song speaks more to the world of Katavasia alongside their own older points of worship. This thread continues into “Relics of My Enemies” before Drama Noir swings back into their more symphonic and atmospheric modus for the grand exit of “Witched Curse”, a great peak for the full listen.

Even if the flamboyant thrills of ‘A Necromancy Lore’ might feel a bit lofty to start the core of this experience is classic Greek black metal from a bombastic, high-soaring perspective which is ultimately very appropriate. In this sense I would offer this record as a good compliment to balance the catchiness of ‘Magnus Venator’ with the grandiosity of Drama Noir‘s own perspective. I’d honestly expected to just can this record quickly but it actually kicks considerable ass.

TITLE:Summer of Seum
RELEASE DATE:September 16th, 2020

Doom, hard-stomping drums, and a gnarly low-slung n’ slugging bass driving it along the absolute jam of Montreal, Québec-based trio Seum isn’t all fun and games and hell, it definitely doesn’t feel lacking despite the total avoidance of guitars. Stomach rasped, pissed and growling on the cave ceiling vocalist Gaspard brings sludge keyed frustration and psychedelic doom cadence to this bluesy leg-stomping EP, a live recorded bumble. Brisk and physical jam session movement with heavy blues at the back of their mind makes for a listen that is catchy for its predictive patterns but unsettling for the existential dread echoed from its core. If you’re not catching my drift, their high tension bass-driven clank, snarl and kicking energy rules.

Apparently ‘Summer of Seum’ literally refers to their spending the entire summer releasing one track from the album each week and employing an artist to illustrate them as they came. I’d missed out on that whole process and have jammed the full spin in the meantime. Of course I can recommend this album whole-heartedly, this is the sort of band I’ve been wanting to see most during quarantine, the sort of stoner/doom metal band that doesn’t just “get” the blues but uses them to communicate chaos and pain in a non-literal sense. I hope these guys never pick up a guitar and only dig deeper into dread from here.

RELEASE DATE:September 24th, 2020
LABEL(S):Under a Serpent Sun Records

We’re on a bit of a roll for this last set of requested reviews this year and the quality is high as we press on towards Helsinki to witness stoner doom/heavy metal quartet Desert Lord‘s second full-length ‘Symbols’, another heavy blues infused stoner appropriate record with at least some of its gruff innards in view. Psychedelic stoner metal at heart, these guys surely aren’t afraid of a mountain climbing jogger, a swinging n’ screaming rocker, nor an LSD-drooling ballad, reminding me of Demonic Death Judge more than Domovoyd the bulk of the time. Songs are a bit shorter and more focused compared to their 2014 debut and though they’re getting more and more Dozer‘d up over time this is a much more effective record overall. I’d really liked the clean vocals on “The Funeral” and I definitely think they should focus on that 70’s feeling tone in juxtaposition to the more gravely push the vocalist employs most of the time. Likewise I’d almost have lead with “Close the Curtains”, despite how counterintuitive that sounds, because it sets such a tone when I’d leave the album on repeat. Lots of places to go from here, I only wish they’d experimented with those vestigial ideas way more.

TITLE:Milli Annos
RELEASE DATE:October 9th, 2020
LABEL(S):Rafchild Records

Sardinian blackened epic heavy metal quartet Shardana offer up a truly impassioned second album with ‘Milli Annos’ a tale of pagan revolt against Roman oppression, I believe intended before the Vandal period. From the description, and if you are familiar with their first album, you might think they’re something like Suidakra in spirit but I’d instead point much closer to Primordial thanks to the talented vocalist Aaron Tolu (The Blacktones) who personifies the album with impressive range and strong characterization, meeting the galloping and thrashing riffs (see: Coma) with his own muscular presence. All of this said, there are more atmospheric and folkish moments which can read as power metal balladry or pagan metal heraldry depending on the moment and these are just as vital to the full experience.

“A World With No Gods” runs the gamut of these suggested styles to great effect and as the album pushes on I could see fans of Forefather also enjoying the more aggressive pieces as they spike up. Although the style of band is quite different I found some of the sentiment of unity and reclaimed identity central to Heidevolk‘s ‘Batavi’, another record defined by defiance of Roman supremacy, also applies here. Though this might seem like trivia I would say the spirit of that record fits right alongside the bigger picture of ‘Milli Annos’, both feature thrashing takes on blackened folk metal as well. Although there is some potential for exhaustion as the band always performs “at a ten” without pushing slower, sentimental or ballad-focused pieces to provide variation, it didn’t hit me until I’d spent a few too many hours with the record. A very strong second album from this inspired band.

RELEASE DATE:October 20th, 2020

Bangladeshi death metal quintet Chronicles summon their dark master to this “place of bones” on this raw, bloody demo which follows their ‘WarMachine’ EP from last year. Yes it is exactly as “bestial” as it looks, just don’t call it war metal because this may be a work channeling spiritual warfare via occult Zoroastrianism but their irreverent and thrilling blasphemies seem to pull from the classic 80’s death metal as well as the early doomed death metal of the early 90’s additionally. The artwork featuring Angra-Mainyu rising from the center of a dakhma is the perfect visualization as their cover of Hellhammer‘s “Messiah” hits the spirit of 80’s death metal out of the park. Simple riffs, ear-scraping loud vocals, punkish drumming, all of the primitive force of this era is on display. Fans of Derkéta, Shambles, and all manner of bestial death metal will find a persistently foul and extreme example here.

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