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 best. 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 too-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: email@example.com
The second week of 2021 is highlighted by just a few strong releases that span death/thrash, technical death metal, and pagan black metal. There are a few small surprises and vital efforts from the stoner rock/metal spectrum but I would not generally consider this any sort of magickal season for heavy music just yet. 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.
The Album of the Week for my own taste is surely Bhleg‘s ‘Ödhin’ [Review Coming Soon]. Abrasive as it is spiritually guided, this intensely meditated folkish black metal experience arrives with a strong push (“Vyss”) before instilling the listener with several waves of its own smoldering pagan ambiance, eventually going as far as incorporating a wintry dungeon synth piece or two in between its epic-proportioned movements. Fractal Generator‘s ‘Macrocosmos’ [Review] is dense, textural technical death metal exploration that allows itself enough room to breathe and, well, matter. Molten‘s ‘Dystopian Syndrome’ [Review] is essentially the roughed-up spirit of classic heavy/speed metal made Bay Area-death/thrash mean and is probably the most easily picked up and jammed record of the week. Each of these three records offer reasonable highlights for early January, though none truly floored me.
Beyond the five records I’ll shortly review, these were important this week: Bacchus‘ ‘Bacchus‘ is a late entry in my hands for review having just released this last Sunday (January 10th) but it is perhaps one of the more instantly appealing records of the week, a “choral” black metal album from members of Ominous Shrine and Dysylumn that brings a strong, directive atmosphere that is worthy of deeper listening. Sagenland‘s ‘Oale Groond’ finds its oaken heart entangled in the memories and magick of ancient lands, drinking deeply from this spiritual core for a brightly lit pagan black metal record that meets the high standards Heidens Hart typically sustains. Portuguese stoner metal/doom rockers Miss Lava return with ‘Doom Machine’, a manic album delivered in recognition of the destructive potential inherent to each of us, perhaps one of the most cathartic records in this style we’ve come across in sometime. Winterage ‘The Inheritance of Beauty’ is, well, a power metal opera that I just didn’t “get” at all personally. A sharp avant-garde dark folk and post-black pairing ties things off with a duo of forward-thinking Australian artists on Burden Man / Othrs ‘Grievance‘ split EP. As for records that I’ve not been sent promos for: Dread Sovereign‘s ‘Alchemical Warfare’ is the first doom metal album I’m anticipating being good this year but I will not likely review it unless it ends up being album of the year/month material.
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|RELEASE DATE:||January 15th [EU],|
January 29th [NA]
The eighth full length album from Polish traditional heavy metal act Crystal Viper continues the thread of catchy 80’s power metal flavored tuneage that’d made their 2019 record ‘Tales of Fire and Ice’ such a satisfyingly exuberant spin. A focus on simple-but-anthemic vocal melodies as a main driver for each piece made for some very clear standouts on their previous record, on this follow-up this feature is fortified and expanded into even catchier pieces. The major focus or, modulation, of ‘The Cult’ seems to have been on pulling in lead harmonies that are either just as directive (or able to match) Marta Gabriel‘s delivery; The finest example of this, for my own taste, was “Sleeping Giants” where the chorus sways as if it were a sea shanty before the song takes some more theatrical turns. Of course this catchy keep-it-true heavy/power sound should speak to fans of post-’88 Running Wild and hey, perhaps that reference will stick a bit more than the usual Leather Leone-era (as in, early) Chastain-meets-Wolf comparisons considering they’ve welcomed Blazon Stone‘s Ced into the fold as their new drummer. Still, that isn’t to suggest Crystal Viper have moved an inch away from the classic double-steeled Maiden shuffle they’ve long been known for.
Much as I’m a Satan fanatic who’d instantly appreciated their cover of “Trial By Fire” (exclusive to the vinyl LP version) I have to say the CD exclusive cover of King Diamond‘s “Welcome Home” is truly something to behold, not only because they’ve had such a good time with the theatrical style of vocal but for the guest solo from Andy LaRocque himself. I’m not such a fan of covers as an incentive to buy any more but eh, these two bonus pieces are undeniably justified even if they’ve only spoken to reverence for classics whilst performing them without any evident skill ceiling in view. Though I have particular favorite songs in Crystal Viper‘s discography this will likely land as my favorite overall full listen; They’ve found the right approach to keep the energy up throughout with catchier, upfront melodic ideas. If I were recommending my favorite songs: The shred n’ shout of “Down in the Crypt” is undeniable, “The Cult” is placed up front for good reason and sets the best tone possible, and “Flaring Madness” has been the deep cut I’ve returned to the most for its ‘Follow the Blind’-esque push.
|ARTIST:||A Stick And A Stone|
|RELEASE DATE:||January 15th, 2021|
Where do we mourn “best” or, without interruption and most completely? The answer would hopefully be in your throat before you’d read the full sentence: Wilderness, of course. There is no more healthy a place to bleed of your thoughts, embrace the vital plasticity of the mind via this complete sensorial experience, and finally relax grief’s clenched jaw away. This path and, eventually, this place you’d landed on your own having shoved through brittle branches and sunk feet-first into rotten logs is a temporary enlightened space created for dire need of perspective on impermanence in full (but not brutal) view. Walking away from the paths we are assigned as a matter of survival, embracing fluidity as essential and “crashing into solitude” is not a unique motivational phenomenon among artists yet I find myself constantly struggling with an appreciation for nostalgia, the “known” tradition of iterative communally influenced forms, and the spectrum of artists aiming for something entirely unique (or, self-representative) within their own sphere of understanding. Is it -versatility- to flit between these seeming ideological opposites or, is parsing superficially conjured binary choices via the illusion of “taste” the sign of a lazing mind no longer interested in nascent creations? Mourning in wake, rebirth atop rot, a sense of place within solitude, deeply sensitive sensorial attunement, and an uncomplicated (read: “natural”) path towards a self-defined spiritual understanding of art blooms in mind as I’d listen to this cathartic, breathy fourth album from Portland-area artist Elliott Miskovicz aka A Stick and A Stone. I suppose it takes a village and there are many notable folks featured here on strings, woodwinds, and the practical side of engineering but it is Miskovicz‘ voice that features as the major emotive driver and performance on this particular record. Note that ‘Versatile’ is something fresh within the artist’s greater canon, a very particular mood apart. Of course this pulls my mind towards Jarboe a bit — Not in timbre but in terms of finding one tonal station to approach from many angles, that which’d sustain the reflection-heavy mindset that drives the artist’s experimentation into their surroundings. The result is a choral, forested, folken and funereal feeling listen which I’d equated with spreading the ashes of a loved one in their favorite place on a particularly nice day. There is resolve to the experience without stepping too quickly over the sensitivity and symbolism of the artist’s message; Their purpose ultimately serves as a respectful celebration, a very personal and cathartic droning on in a well-hidden clearing.
|TITLE:||Stinking Cesspool of Liquefied Human Remnants|
|RELEASE DATE:||January 15th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Unique Leader Records|
Just five months after their fifth album hit us Manchester-based slam/deathcore focused brutal death metal band Ingested are back with something a bit different, in fact it’ll sound like a huge devolution into their slightly more straightforward past ’til you’ve gotten the necessary context. ‘Stinking Cesspool of Liquefied Human Remnants’ is a remixed, remastered EP/demo from the earliest days of the band circa 2006 months after founding members left their former band Age of Suffering and jumped on board with a new rhythm section for a new project. The demo itself had never been released, in fact it appears to have been scrapped despite being finished. Most of these songs were repurposed for their 2009 debut full-length ‘Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering’ which you may or may not recall being a popular hybrid of brutal death metal and deathcore at the time, definitely flinging around a few Dying Fetus-esque mosh heavy pieces and not just straight deathcoring it up. The modern rendering of these old songs isn’t brutally altered beyond applying the live wire of modern production values to the recordings, these are slightly more “alive” than the versions from their debut and I can imagine this is how they’d wanted ’em to sound all along. This one is pretty short and sweet at ~15 minutes and offers a solid blast of their chunk-heavy mosh metallic brutal death style which was less rooted in abstract domination and more concerned with murderous cannibalism, shit puking, brutal abortions, and fairly one-sided uh, deviant eroticism. Honestly nothing too shocking for 2006 but probably a diaper-shitter for sensitive folks today. A solid way to celebrate the band’s fifteenth anniversary and it’ll be keen for longtime fans to hear these unreleased versions juiced up to modern standards. I suppose the selling point is that I’d enjoyed the chugging, thunderous presence of this record before I’d realized it was a remaster. Disgusting stuff, hits pretty hard, chugs harder, and overall a good quick spin.
|RELEASE DATE:||January 15th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Azure Graal Records, |
Snow Wolf Records
Named for the ancient Egyptian city they hail from, Lycopolis (now called Asyut) represent black metal within a region many would consider quite extreme or, extremely unlikely. The city that’d birth Plotinus and many other important men of ancient history has since been a key presence for Coptic Catholicism, where roughly half of the population identifies with this ancient Roman-Egyptian religious juncture; It is also considered the “driest” or most arid of cities bordering the western edge of the Nile River. Maybe I’m too much of a nerd for this type of thing but a modern culture with such a rich and interesting mix of ancient history, domineering religion, geography that demands survival and the intertwining anthropological applications of each is an unlikely place for a raw black metal project to transpire. As it turns out most every aspect of their debut full-length, ‘The Procession’, is uniquely earthen and all the more impressive when it comes time to really press an ear to it all. To start, I am a sucker for a “live in studio” recording and this actually dates back to discovering Salem‘s ‘Millions Slaughtered’ live demo tape on a random CD purchase years ago eh, musically speaking the bands are not related but Lycopolis have recorded this album as if it were reverberating between the ancient city’s walls. This makes for a dissociative and raw black metal experience if only for the sake of their droning flourish-lite compositions, seemingly shared between (as far as I can tell) one guitar, a bassist, and a drummer with perhaps a standalone vocalist. The project is relatively anonymous so, I can only assume. Modus isn’t a major point here though it goes a long way towards making relatively straight forward movements feel entirely special or, engaging throughout.
The style Lycopolis‘ve worked-up on ‘The Procession’ is not ultimately unique beyond their implementation of long strands of middle eastern/Arabic influenced melodies, which are bounding and clangorous to great effect. I wouldn’t fault anyone who’d put on the opening track and get a whiff of ominous surf guitar for at least a second before the full melody is revealed. Although there is very little distortion of the recording, no tape hiss or too-muddied elements beyond the bass drums hitting a bit soft, the tendency to describe this as “raw” rather than minimalist is tempting — If only for the intricacies of their compositions meeting a certain modern (read: disengaged yet moderately ambitious) standard. It is dry enough in timbre to be a bit of a headache to focus on for 40+ minutes. The packaging is elaborate and somewhat unique, as this debut will be releasing as a double 10″ vinyl picture disc LP set. Now, if that sounds awesome you’ll have to chill out because it is already sold out but tape versions are available through… Oh, well those are sold out, too. Well, there is a CD version in stock. For my own taste in the raw and live spectrum of black metal this was a joy to experience but only moderately memorable; The atmosphere is quite distant and slightly flat when they lean into average riffing with oft uneventful transitional parts yet the full listen ends up being a successful entrancement in reflection.
|RELEASE DATE:||January 15th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Sentient Ruin Laboratories|
Aberration is a fairly recent side-project formed between members of Minnesota-based extreme metal bands you know (Void Rot, Suffering Hour) and bands you should know (Nothingness, Tvaer) for the sake of combining their collective interest in what could reasonably (but not completely) be considered dissonant blackened death metal. ‘Aberration’ is their first official recording as far as I can gather and though the style they’re aiming for is well-trodden territory some dips into droning and doomed noise help to keep the experience moving within its three smartly choreographed movements. I figure about ten years ago I could simply compare this approach to the stronger Australian bands in this style but this is a different sort of beast that is far less buried; I believe another publication compared ‘Aberration’ to Impetuous Ritual (and Altarage?) and this does essentially fit, though Aberration aren’t focused on brutality as often as that might suggest. Instead each piece whirls a fair spread of textural variety, simple point-to-point transmissions that seem to invaginate endlessly when left on repeat. A few years back I’d been tentative about whether or not Void Rot were onto something, and since then I’ve bought and loved their debut (#27 on my Best of 2020) so, I trust that this project will develop in the same way seeking out their most meaningful shapes. I’m not falling out of my chair just yet but if we can consider ‘Aberration’ a proof of concept and a showcase for texture then I’m on board for what is next.
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