Annihilate This Week 1/25/21: “To remember today what was felt yesterday, is to be today’s living corpse.”

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:

The fourth week of 2021 is highlighted by a screaming noise punk/noise rock harangue, bloody medieval ambient black metal, seagazing atmospheric black metal majesty, a merging of screamo and black metal vocal techniques, and first wave black/speed metal in its most primal form. So, a lot of black metal as per usual with the end of the month. I’ve already begun work on early February releases but January is not yet over so, there are yet a few discoveries that loom large. 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 Mefitis‘ second album ‘Offscourings‘ [Review], a detail rich and beautifully ambitious crossing of early 90’s technical death metal and melodic black/death of the same era. British avant-garde black metal project Void have delivered yet another glorious paradigm shift and perhaps the album of their career with ‘The Hollow Man‘ [Review]. Yesterday the crust influenced legacy of Swedish black metal band Regnvm Animale released their first records after expanding beyond the original duo, ‘Ignis Sacer‘ is exceptional work. Cryptid and tribal bloody death-squirters Dipygus‘ second album ‘Bushmeat’ [Review] takes prime late 80’s death to a new level of grimy professionalism for one of the best death metal records of January. Throw in new records from Starer, Speedkiller, plus the December reviewed genius of Demoniac‘s ‘So It Goes’ (which gets its vinyl release this Friday) and we’ve got a pretty fuckin’ massive week if you’re into riffs and ‘sphere that push beyond the typical.

Beyond the five records I’ll shortly review, these were notable this week: Zeahorse‘s ‘Let’s Not (And Say We Did)’ is among the best releases of the month but I’ll have to give it a full-sized review next week since I’ve committed to other reviews in the meantime. If you love a bit of earlier Wobbler and the classic folky prog-pop/Canterbury sound don’t miss out on Norwegian fellowes Needlepoint and their latest album ‘Walking Up That Valley‘, as I’d really appreciated their overall narrative, timely and bold in the spirit of the music that inspired ’em. Finally, Trillionaire‘s heavily melodic alternative rock-tinged progressive ‘modern’ metal sound should appeal to folks chasing the contemplative-yet-performative “rock” side of Mastodon on ‘Romulus‘, straddling the line between anthemic radio rock and Dream Theater-isms for a familiar sound that aims for their own brand of striking harmonies as a central feature.

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. Onto the reviews:

TITLE:“Ripping Metal” (Demo)
RELEASE DATE:January 29th, 2021
LABEL(S):Helldprod Records

Not to be confused with the Finnish death metal band, this black/heavy metal project hails from the morbid halls of Flageladör vocalist/guitarist Armando Exekutor‘s mind, whom strikes out on his own with Gravedäncer, calling on Tyranno/Into the Cave drummer Bitch Hünter for kicks. This first demo is fairly short and always to the point in crafting catchy street metal bangers at a walking d-beaten pace, echoing heavy influence from primeval NWOBHM-era Venom and resembling the earliest releases from Destruction and Iron Angel in the process. Very simple songs that pull into a few UK ’82 riff spikes (see: “Evil Spell”) while otherwise sticking to primitive and catchy metalpunk/speed metal motions. Their cover of “Welcome to Hell” makes it doubly clear where they’re aiming and all of it is good fun. Very traditional aim and all the better for staying focused on purest evil heavy metal.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:1337 (Demo)
RELEASE DATE:January 31st, 2021
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire

The second demo from this solo project of southern California-based musician Spectre (Minenwerfer, ex-Lycus) is essentially his second full-length, bearing another 50+ minute black metal/dark ambient epic split into two considerable sides. Vermineux envisions late medieval Europe circa the 14th century, as evidenced by the naming convention of each tape thus far, in providing a theme for the relatively somber French black metal influenced foray ahead. If I were to sum this tape into one word it’d be “sentimentality” in essence, a search for and clutch of the robust and driven mindset that the middle ages still resonate within folk. This is compounded by the first of two 11 minute epics that characterize the greater listening experience here, “Bloodlines”. Though the sound is raw we can glean more than a suggestion of melody here, a shimmering yet singular guitared statement that climbs several peaks in making its larger point. A few of the songs here are bumbling due to their lo-fi approach yet I’d eventually concede that pouring on ghastly reverb for the sake of the right mood is yet effective. The melodic high of the album is also the first single, “Oriflamme”, but I wouldn’t say it is entirely representative of the greater oeuvre Vermineux have developed between these two tapes so far. An inspired “rock guitar” moment but a particularly memorable hill among greater mountains. Effective as “Origlamme” is, “Crécy” will soon find you forgetting it for the sake of its ~11 minute dirge and the slow, sentimental ballad of “Chevalerie” after it creates even more effective distance. The first Vermineux demo included an transformative cover of The Cure‘s “A Forest”, certainly something that has been done but it generated some effective interest. ‘1377’ includes a less transformative cover of Sol Invictus‘ “A Ship is Burning” and I’m less impressed this time around; The clean vocals aren’t heavily used elsewhere so their appearance here is oddly unprecedented. The concept is album ready, the songs could use a more cohesive relationship or editing for the sake of secured identity but overall I’m impressed. One of the only cassette demos I’ve come across this month that I’d recommend owning.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

RELEASE DATE:January 29th, 2021
LABEL(S):Magnetic Eye Records

This third album from Oakland, California punk quartet Nopes still sees the band pushing the abrasive, shouted limits of their noise punk n’ roll accost with sharper-angled, guitar scrambling noise rock tunes. The swinging noose of inside joker opener “Pocket Square Motherfucker” is probably the least representative song if we are considering the greater dance of the full listen, the rest of the album is a bit more Shellac‘d than expected via their use of repetition and trailing skronked-out leads. The result is an album of fucked earlier Barkmarket grooves, flicked and bending leads that flood with a detailed enough mangling to justify the ensuing The Jesus Lizard comparisons they’ll surely accrue. They’re still a punk rock band at heart and since they’ve chosen to approach the ~40 minute runtime here it helps that they break up the slower, grittier pieces that hang around too long with shorter, faster bursts of energy (“No Doze”); If these’d ever live up to the barking twitch of the opener I’d probably have warmed to the full listen a bit more. There’s no telling what they were trying to develop with “Amber is the Color of Your Alert” and the oddly psychedelic “Hihg”, much less the grating closer “Synonym For Defeat” but the result is a Side B I’d generally lost my patience for after the first listen, none of it feels intentional and the running order just doesn’t flow. Even with a short list of complaints I feel pretty good about ‘Djörk’ in terms of representing where modern noise rock/post-hardcore can lean into its roughest edges and still manage something tunefully, artfully fucked. I’d just wanted something a bit more curated and economical with its time.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:We Are Always Alone
RELEASE DATE:January 29th, 2021
LABEL(S):Closed Casket Activities

Although the best way to broadly describe Austin, Texas quartet Portrayal of Guilt is yet “blackened” screamo, it still reads a bit like an explanation of influences rather than the actual product of their ultra-moody second full-length ‘We Are Always Alone’. The shades of Converge, Lord Mantis, and Ken Mode that haunt their slow creeping post-hardcore janglers, grinding jogs and chest-bursting sludginess certainly steps far beyond the implied influences from formative screamo bands. I’ve definitely struggled with this one, finding certain performative and dynamic aspects of the full listen instantly appealing (“My Immolation”) yet the heaviest portions of the album land like your average post-metallic hardcore band if they’d dialed back the djent guitar tone. The scales tipped a bit back once I’d contextualized this from a slightly more distraught perspective, ‘We Are Always Alone’ seems intent on communicating the damage of isolation and chaos upon its narrative voice and they’ve done so by cranking the implied extremity of their sub-genre exploratory sound. Think of it as a manic depressive cycle if you’d simply written the break into mania out of the narrative, you feel the residue of that moment but are left with the resultant low to carry the profundity of experience. This should appeal to fans of the grittier side of modern blackened sludge/post-metal in particular not only for the post-hardcore song structures but the focus on atmospheric threads of lead guitars which are almost always concurrent with the shifting moods the experience presents. The first half of the experience is perhaps what’ll convince many to grab this record but I would suggest the second half is the “point”, reaching that flatlining low beyond outrage.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:The Arch Holder
RELEASE DATE:January 31st, 2021
LABEL(S):Pacific Threnodies

‘The Arch Holder’ is a single ~30 minute atmospheric black metal song from California-based quintet Aylwin. Relying on one (admittedly three act) musical statement to embody their official full-length debut sounds fairly bold on paper but the result entirely natural within the realm of post-rock influenced black metal. The moderate atmospheric depth available is readable and the recording itself is fairly clear and identifiable to start. A compelling oceanic theme runs throughout the first third of “The Arch Holder” and recalls as the final act of the piece subsides. This greater set of arcs certainly has its fair share of predictable moments, all of which stem from the typified post-black subspecies but I’d say fans of this rollercoaster will surely be sated by the three or four rise-and-fall moments Aylwin‘s crescendos birth. I suppose I don’t cover a lot of this type of black metal because the general rhythmic map is all entirely similar and the “metal” part of the equation is nigh vestigial. That said, the recording is professional and the bigger picture of the experience is eventful enough. Not necessarily my “thing” by default but also entirely inoffensive and listenable.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

If I missed your favorite album from 2020, whoa too late! If you’ve got 2021 digs to whip out E-mail me or hit me up on Instagram if you want me to review it, I’ll consider it.

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