ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK hits every Monday (or nearby) mentioning important new releases whilst grouping short reviews for albums, EPs and demos selected from the current week’s new releases. These albums were overlooked for a more detailed review for any number of reasons, I’m either low on time or the music itself doesn’t warrant depth of inquiry or require serious engagement. I do my best to cover as much of everything I receive in some form regardless of genre or representation so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first week of 2021 is highlighted by some decent variety, everything from chillin’ Texas hardcore bustin’ death metal, vampyric black majestic assault, feverish Swedish Satanic devotion, and a spread of various other independent releases. The stuff that’ll really smack the skin off your face is already arriving but there’ll be a notable uptick in quality as we (eventually) reach the last two weeks of January. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with five more new releases from different styles, genres, etc.
Frozen Soul‘s debut album ‘Crypt of Ice‘ [Review] and Transilvania‘s second album ‘Of Sleep and Death‘ [Review] have some instant appeal this week but don’t overlook Portuguese black metal project Mons Veneris‘ self-titled EP [Premiere]. Likewise important this week: Swedish black metal act Malakhim‘s ‘Theion’ and power/heavy metal band Viral‘s self-titled debut ‘Viral’. Though I won’t be covering the following albums (sans advance promos), seek out: Netherlands black metal destructors Funeral Winds ‘Essence‘, Svrm‘s atmospheric black beauty ‘Розпад‘, and traditional heavy metal act Midnight Spell‘s righteous ‘Sky Destroyer‘.
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|RELEASE DATE:||January 2nd, 2021|
The major reason to check this latest compilation CD from this reformed late 80’s/early 90’s Spanish death metal band is its title track, a new melodic death metal song with a simple ear-worming quality to its main lick. Very straightforward appeal and they waste no time getting there. The rest of the EP consists of re-recordings from their underrated 1992 album ‘Nest of Affliction’ as well as a number of live tracks. The re-recordings are effective in the sense that they show us those old songs with a mature hand applied, keeping in mind the hollow and low-budget punch of the original recordings there are some details we get here that feel new until the two versions are compared. I’d found this compilation worthwhile as a fan of the band and I’m glad they’re still active. Guitarist Vicente Payá has been on a roll between new material from Golgotha and Unbounded Terror these last couple of years but make sure you also check out his haunting stoner/doom metal band Bis•nte as well, their record ‘Ancestral Punishment’ from late 2020 should not be missed.
|ARTIST:||Mother of Graves|
|TITLE:||In Somber Dreams|
|RELEASE DATE:||January 8th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Wise Blood Records|
If death metal has ever been an effective emotional outlet it is surely within the realm of October Tide (and early Katatonia) styled melodic death/doom metal which is perhaps doom in mindset more than riffage, tending towards lead guitar driven melodies that express a soured, grief-stricken soul. Though this style has been popular in bursts beyond the mid-to-late 90’s few bands arise capable of the “right” emotional resonance those depressive guitar hooks produce and this is where I’d felt Indianapolis, Indiana melodic death/doom quintet Mother of Graves thrive on their debut EP ‘In Somber Dreams’. Well, does it depress then? Actually, “sour grief” is the exact right balance wherein there is an regretful anger behind some moments and debilitating loss informing others, a very active and complex squirming under the thumb of dread… and in this sense these guys hit the mark without collapsing into mania or overdoing their dual guitar interplay. With some consideration for their tech-death past in Willowtip-backed brutalists Harakiri the two main songwriters/guitarists are restrained and economical with their songcraft here, landing as close to those most potent auld Swedish/British pillars without becoming lost in the vast array of progressive metal tinged melodic death/doom beyond; Sticking to the emotional core they’re generating and pays off in this sense. It also helps that they’ve got maestro Swanö‘s mastering in hand, -the- guy who put this sub-genre to tape best across the board, perhaps amplifying the precision of their self-production efforts quite a bit and ensuring a classics-minded outcome. It doesn’t send me spiraling into dissociation just yet but I’ll hold onto this EP with the hopes that it catches me on a bad day and kicks me in the throat.
|RELEASE DATE:||January 7th, 2021 [CD]|
Arizona-based death metal duo Exsul certainly bleed a sickly atmospheric vibe to start as this self-released 2020 tape now hits its CD version via the indomitable Caligari Records a few months later. The swamped and blasting hulk of their sound eventually reveals its deepest layers beyond initially charismatic lunging, bringing some small points of personality via unusual and occasionally over the top riffs that’d blend brutality and doomed movements into one short but satisfying bludgeon. Filth and aggression are largely on order here as this ~23 minute four song EP is meant to introduce, impress and leave folks wanting more. Impressive conceptual lyrics add a perhaps unnecessary depth to a project that could viably be all about the grooves but I’d appreciated this theme of “suffering the wrath of nature” as timely and well stated. Who knows where this band plan to develop thier path forward, I’d say they could certainly lean towards the death/doomed arena, something like ‘Transcendence Into the Peripheral’ and succeed quite easily.
|RELEASE DATE:||January 8th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Iron Bonehead Productions|
I’d prepared a quite long-winded essay on historical ideological antinomianism, defiance of religious law, and the concept of vamachara (left hand path from the Vedic perspective) that’d neatly aligned with the sense of “orthodoxy in opposition” that pours from Swedish black metal act Malakhim but, it was self-indulgent and typical splatter from a well-beaten horse on my part. Concept, ideology, lyricism, and symbolism are yet important for the impressive quintet’s debut album but ultimately it was the guitar work that’d gotten me to invest in ‘Theion’ as an experience. It’ll be a record birthed fully grown for most, no truly noticeable growing pains as some of these largely Umeå-borne fellows have been around since the start of the second wave of black metal in Sweden, notably A. Nilsson of Naglfar. This whole zeitgeist of “evolved” orthodox Satanic black metal of the Swedish variety is well placed as a jewel upon Malakhim‘s crown but there are hints of death metal in their sound as well, if not even more severely subtle for the full-length sized entrance of the project. ‘Theion’ is a dirge that builds to a point of lucidity, which I’d found sparked its highest flame around the seventh piece (“The Splendour of Stillborn Stars”) and I suppose in this sense it trades in stoic emotional resistance rather than hooks and cathartic catchiness. At very high volume it is not entirely unkind, wrathful and yet there is the sense of a linear presentation, an expanding consciousness that’d speak its doctrine plainly and turn away from any response. A fine Swedish black metal record but certainly not an “easy” or expected piece.
|RELEASE DATE:||January 8th, 2021|
This fledgling Linköping, Sweden based heavy/power metal band have everything going for them on this impressive self-titled debut album. The first impression is electrifying with the gorgeous Mattias Frisk painting on the cover, a brilliant circa ’85 speed metal chromed logo, and perhaps a timely name… Independent in modus and engaged in a bit of passion project mindset to start, one can immediately sense an unpretentious professionalism practiced in presentation as ‘Viral’ approaches, but these guys aren’t at all stuffy when set in motion. As for style, I would say Viral are in the vein of Traveler, some classic early Maiden-shaped pieces that are devoted to NWOBHM and the power/speed metal that arrived nearby yet they aren’t following the soft rocking glam trends of current NWOTHM arena fighters. The tracklist offers a nice balance of somewhat serious topics, some “fun” jogging heavy metal numbers, and plenty of catchy moments to keep things engaging. Some of the songs might seem sorta cheeky (“Going Down”, “Gonna Lose It”, “Viral”) for their choruses and catchiness but in the context of classic early-to-mid 80’s heavy metal they’re spot on. A sharp debut from a band that has the right stuff, and solid taste, backing their classic heavy metal sound.
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