Back From the Dead… January | 2021

BACK FROM THE DEAD is a monthly set of five to ten short reviews for albums missed, underrated, and received way late. We kick off the feature with January’s leftovers, an eclectic set of records that range from austere majesty to fumbling amateurism. The focus doesn’t rest upon a single genre, it won’t all be metal, and not all of these albums are entirely special but they are all at least above average. 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:Swollen With Rancid Phlegm
RELEASE DATE:January 8th, 2021
LABEL(S):Rotted Life Records

I’d normally cover a record like this with some anticipation since each band represents their own interpretation of jog-paced ‘new old school’ death/doom metal but it wasn’t received until the day prior to release. Not a complaint, mind you, but a note that I’ll often consider an album for up to 2-3 weeks before writing about it or not at all. I’ve known Cryptic Brood quite well since 2017 when their debut ‘Brain Eater’ released and wrote a fairly extensive review of their second album two years later. The gist is that they’re definitely pulling from the core Autopsy experience, keeping it 1989 but expanding their doom pacing into moderate excess. I think I’d compared them to Mourning (Netherlands) and early Cianide back in 2019 and that still largely fits here a few years later. Though they’ve leaned more and more into traditional doom metal riffs over the years they’re still chugging out a satisfyingly raw and bloody sound with a solid bass presence and some faster paced punkish work that fans of Anatomia will likely enjoy. I’d basically showed up for Cryptic Brood in the first place but I definitely stuck around for Night Hag. Though I am not as familiar with the Virginia-based trio they largely impress here with a handful of what I’d consider a sort of Midwest and mid-90’s death/doom metal sound and songwriting that is a mix of fairly simple riffs, chuggy breakdowns, and the post-Hooded Menace school of death/doom riffing that focuses on expanding and contracting a couple of ideas within a simple song structure. Great stuff on both counts.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

RELEASE DATE:January 29th, 2021
LABEL(S):Inferior Planet

Crossing several wires between late 90’s Unwound spaced and Drive Like Jehu jangling post-hardcore and modern alt/indie rock’s atmospheric side. Based on the description I’d though it’d be a bit more sullen but these fairly long and involved pieces are spacious, jammed and out to feel a big summery groove much of the time. So, don’t expect my usual metallic noise rock taste here, something closer to a stoney Antioch Arrow with a light ‘college rock’ touch to the melodies. Though the end result could make a bigger show of its scant hooks ‘So Long’ is an entirely pleasant, if not a bit dizzy post-hardcore record.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

RELEASE DATE:January 31st, 2021
LABEL(S):Drakkar Productions

Japan’s Anguis Dei is a reminder that symphonic black metal was initially an over the top artform that intended to be suffocating and aggressively evil yet an classically influenced homage to Satan. On their debut full-length album they’ve used this medium to channel a freely expressive adaptation of Satanic magick, a goal largely shared between their fellow Ordo AAAA compatriots, of which there are roughly six directly associated projects. In terms of what I’d pull from this beyond its spiritual intent — A very complete understanding of what Norwegian and French symphonic black metal intended in the early 90’s, stopping just short of the realm of cinematic scores and hard rock influenced riffs. There are a few moments that recall Opera IX and others that have the frantic, screaming fits you’d find on certain Sigh or, Cradle of Filth records (see: “Angela Krudeliis Ambitiosa Nokturniis” but (again) without much of the 70’s prog rock perspective until we’re deeper into Side B (“Separation of Æthyr”). This year I am aiming my ears towards truly extreme music and after steeping in ‘Angeist’ I can appreciate that they’re concerned with dealing in excess without focusing too heartily upon nostalgic references.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Inperdition [CD]
RELEASE DATE:January 25th, 2021
LABEL(S):Godz ov War Productions

If you fired up this debut album from Gdansk, Poland-based brutal death/grindcore band Damnable and were immediately impressed with how much it sounds like brutal deathgrind circa 1996 it is because ‘Inperdition’ –is– an obscure full-length from 1996. If you are a fan of early Broken Hope, Depression (Germany), and ‘Depraved Goddess’ sized Blood but you want a bit more Suffo-slammin’ in terms of percussive riffing this album should impress. The guitarist of this band ran a fairly well-documented zine back in the day and after this band kind of faded out circa 2004 or so he joined Squash Bowels for ‘Love Songs’ and the three albums after. So, if you know any of those bands mentioned you’ve gotten the idea that this album is a complete pit slammer, chunky and obtuse riffing that is trying to launch itself as hard as possible while choking dog vocals roar from inside of an old corpse. I love this stuff, I’ve long collected old Polish death metal tapes but haven’t come across this album and I suppose that is just one reason Deformeathing decided to put it to vinyl this last December and now we’ve gotten the CD version from Godz ov War.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:A Dream of Fantasy
RELEASE DATE:January 9th, 2021
LABEL(S):Andromeda Relix

No doubt Italian progressive rock band Blind Golem are a purely nostalgic act focused on the kickin’ mid-70’s style of keyboard heavy high fantasy rock and they’ve delivered a full 70 minute epic for their debut. They’ve referenced some of my all-time favorite heavy rock bands here in terms of Atomic Rooster, Rainbow, and even a touch of Judas Priest to my ears but perhaps the most important influence is Uriah Heep if only for the sake of celebrating the late Ken Hensley‘s (Blackfoot, Weed) contributions to “The Day is Gone”, featuring his slide guitar and Hammond organ skills. If you aren’t familiar with Hensley’s work he is best known for his influential work on Uriah Heep‘s 70’s discography up through 1980’s ‘Conquest’ before joining the underrated Blackfoot and and eventually focusing on his own solo work. Due to their influences of course the style of ‘A Dream of Fantasy’ is as classic Brit-prog as it suggests and doesn’t necessarily venture into an distinctly Italian sound, at least not to my ears. The really theatrical stuff is mostly up front and they spent about 20 minutes too long on sleepier balladry for my own taste. A fine record, excessive and appropriately so.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Patologija Poniznosti
RELEASE DATE:January 31st, 2021
LABEL(S):No Profit Recordings

Ah, it has been a while since I heard from a Croatian band and Muka are a fine example of their unique sense of rhythm and texture as a black/death metal act focused on dissonant musical statements. This is their third EP since forming in 2012 and after going through their past work I would say this drummer, who also plays in death metal band Decomposing Entity, is a good fit for their sound with a good command of the somewhat involved cymbal work here. A lot of dissonant black/death acts aim to sound inhuman but I find this sort of dramatic but still kind of garage death metal approach to riffs makes for the best sort of full listen. Most of ‘Patologija Poniznosti’ (pathology of humility) creeps at a mid-pace, looming at a distance and shouting downward for an effectively alienating experience. I suppose the next step in my mind is to either increase the dramatic tension of these pieces or push the technical side of the band at a faster pace.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Degradation of Human Consciousness
RELEASE DATE:January 29th, 2021
LABEL(S):Blood Harvest Records

Though I am not entirely sure what Astral Tomb‘s angle is just yet, if any, the whole “two guitars chugging different songs at the same time” they’ve managed on opener “Devouring Sorrow” is interesting for the disorienting, slightly off-time spectacle it creates. The main reason I didn’t review this tape is that it is undeniably interesting an idea without the execution to back up those ideas. The issue isn’t entirely the dissociation between the two guitar channels but rather the slow chugging non-riffs that dominate the landscape without anticipating the drums, presenting half-thrash non-progressions that are reminiscent of late 90’s metalcore bands trying to hit upon what Shai Hulud and Adamantium were doing at the time but you know, couldn’t yet play their guitars. In terms of death metal I’ve seen this band compared to Blood Incantation and this is just… indisputable deafness. ‘Degradation of Human Consciousness’ is more than likely a rehearsal based on its sound, if that is true then I can fill in the blanks and the correct time signatures necessary to “get it”. In context of their first demo tape, the intentional miscommunication (or improvisation?) between the guitars still needs additional structure rooted in death metal to warrant the attention the band has gotten for its themes and associations. Pushing this riffless sort of sluggish movement into the realm of practical, in-time recording would basically amount to Candiria without the rapping. I’m not into it personally but I see why the skronky, tuneless and hardcorish wrack of it would appeal to some.

Rating: 5.5 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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