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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The eighth week of 2021 is highlighted by some legit tech-thrash, some legit tech-death, tons of atmospheric black metal, countless reissues (or, previously self-released pro-issues), stoner doom, blackened punk, and the first wave of truly experimental heavy music releases of the year. Since it was too much to reasonably cover in one week, I’ve included a list of releases at the end of this week’s reviews. 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 a tough call, I’d say Five the Hierophant‘s ‘Through Aureate Void‘ is the record that continues to hold its own wondrous quality that I’ve not been able to exhaust and this admittedly boils down to style points. They are a London-based post-black influenced atmospheric doom band informed by lounging jazz. This album is the first I’ve heard of them so there is some considerably repeatable novelty to behold on my part. If I were to stick to the sturdiest ‘known’ vessels of heavy music this week it’d be a tie between Swedish technical/progressive thrash metal band Paranorm‘s ‘Empyrean‘ [Review] and Bay Area technical/brutal death metal band Ominous Ruin‘s ‘Amidst Voices That Echo in Stone‘ [Review], each record reaches for the highest standard of performance, demonstrates a distinct point of view and serves to build-up the greater canon of their respective niches. Spelljammer‘s ‘Abyssal Trip‘ [Review] took me back to the prime era of post-Electric Wizard sonic excess but hey, they’re doing their own thing in terms of sludgy psychedelic doom. Also in the realm of psychedelic doom but arisen from classic psychedelic rock territory newcomers Amon Acid are getting their late 2020 self-released ‘Paradigm Shift‘ record on vinyl via Regain Records, more on that album mid-week. Finally, the Bolt Thrower lovin’ riff addicted old school death metal heads out there need to go grab Polish quintet Chainsword‘s debut album ‘Blightmarch‘, these guys have an enormous sound and a ‘…For Victory’ vibe with a big, burly production attached. Again I’ll have more to say about the album later this week, and hopefully a review up before it releases on the 27th. There are several more records I could detail but I believe those six are going to stick in my mind palace best.
Beyond the five records I’ll shortly review, these were notable this week: In the realm of brutal/slamming death metal with some serious groove attached Korpse are a familiar name but this one is from North Holland and not associated with the Scottish group who were a force back in the late 90’s, ‘Insufferable Violence‘ is a fuckin’ beating I couldn’t take. Enormous record just not one I wanted to really dig into in an elaborate way. Hungarian atmospheric post-black metal band Hænesy are a fantastic example of the luminous realm of this sensitive and subtle crescendo craft on ‘Garabontzia‘, and while I liked the album quite a bit I ended up trading its review out for a record that was more challenging to analyze. Melbourne, Australia’s Sow Discord the handiwork of David R. Coen who has kept this solo project focused on quality rather than quantity all things considered. ‘Quiet Earth‘ is his first full-length and it’s organic electro-noise/ambient force comes after some notable remixes for The Body, whom not only guest on the album but serve as a good reference for where and for whom the project might generate interest. Scroll down beyond the reviews to see a larger list of February 25th-28th releases.
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|TITLE:||Über den Sternen|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 26th, 2021|
Bavarian stargazing dark metal/neofolk duo Empyrium return after a seven year quiet with a sixth full-length album, this time they seem to be intent on material that is holistic in representation of their history yet pushing beyond what pillars were previously established. In this sense the longtime fan could set themselves with this lovely 3-sided double LP (plus an etched side, in semblance of album art from Fursy Teyssier of Les Discrets/Amesoeurs) and muse over nods through the black/folk metal beginnings of the group up through the world music/neofolk all presented with regal doom-paced movements and a neatly arranged blend of harsh vocals and their signature classical vocal arrangements. At face value there is certainly enough here for extreme metal fans who are nostalgic for the electrified black/folk and melodic doom tinged early works of the band yet most of the album aims to curate its own dynamically set pace which does not seek to push aside the “acoustic” dark folk rock heart of their 2010’s material. The balance of past, present and future sensation is as thoughtful and meticulously set as expected and thankfully each period of growth for the band still lines up with this general ode to German Romanticism. If I must paint the broadest stroke of criticism possible, I’ve always felt they’ve captured the beauty and the high artistic standards of that ‘intellectual era’ but my sense of German wit and humor has never really picked up that part of the movement; In the case of ‘Über den Sternen’ these pieces are dour and lovely high-drama acts, hopeful yet crestfallen atmospheric/doom folk songs which are probably going to be most keen for fans of the gothic rock spectrum of neofolk artistry. All of these are things I enjoy, mind you, and I’ve found this record to be entirely engrossing, perfectly moody and dramatic in serious reflection.
How many albums have I bought in my lifetime simply because one song “made” the experience? Too many, at least when compact discs were at an all time cheap and plentiful supply. An addiction to “A Lucid Tower Beckons on the Hills Afar” probably indicates which Empyrium records I preferred most in the past yet within this piece we can experience the full effect of ‘Über den Sternen’ aiming for the everyfan with its unforgettable opening hook and the simple reprise to exit that it goads on repeat listening with. I love this song and yes, it was all I listened to for at least a two consecutive weekends as I unwound. Overplaying the song certainly hampered my ability to review the whole thing, especially track by track because I’d ultimately suggest that the rest of the album couldn’t live up to “A Lucid Tower Beckons on the Hills Afar” until I’d calmed down a bit. This should ultimately speak to the power of Empyrium‘s greater concept and sound design when they strike upon a golden standard. In truth the full listen is immaculately set in place, it speaks indirectly to the early Opeth and Agalloch dabbler I’d been in the mid-to-late 90’s in some sense but ultimately lands without the naïveté of those works, surely these German fellowes can be considered their own innovators at this point. I’d say if you are excited about a new Empyrium album there is no way a you’ll be disappointed with this record, it is a complete statement of identity that feels inspired and accomplished throughout. Other highlights: “Über den Sternen”, “The Oaken Throne”.
|ARTIST:||DRUADAN FOREST / OLD SORCERY|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 26th, 2021|
As excited as I am for the next Vargrav album, which will feature Graf Werwolf on vocals, it is Finnish musician V-Khaoz‘ dungeon synth/black ambient project Druadan Forest which I’ve become most obsessed with since the release of ‘Dismal Spells from the Dragonrealm’ in 2019. I’m not even sure what dungeon synth specific journalism looks like these days, we used to trade short stories based on their atmosphere/imagery, but I will say it is a sort of music that illustrates worlds, carves darkest caverns and lights castles with the fires of coming war. That is to suggest that any personal/non-fiction writing I touch is usually accompanied by mood setting synth music, video game soundtracks, or records like this one featuring Druadan Forest and Old Sorcery providing two ~10 minute pieces each. If you aren’t familiar with Old Sorcery it is the work of Finnish musician Vechi Vrăjitor (a pseudonym) who doom metal fans will recognize as the guitarist from Musta Risti. When it comes to a split dungeon synth/fantasy synth pairing it really does matter that each project is rendered nearby the same quality, else the result might feel like castaway tracks slapped together for the sake of artistic fealty. Thankfully these two fellowes are pretty much on the same level even when crafting distinct approaches to the artform, each heavily atmospheric but in line with their most recent works. The flow of the full listen is an important first observation as it all works quite well together. Druadan Forest’s work is nearby their previous record and though I am less familiar with Old Sorcery it would be fair to say their work here has the soul of auld Summoning were the march of the drums lightened for the sake of easing into ethereal fantasy synth movements. I’ve absolutely loved sitting with this record and will likely have to dig around for more music in this style each month. Excellent cover art, too.
|TITLE:||Ad Numen Satanae|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 26th, 2021|
As I was picking through the flood of late February releases I just couldn’t overlook Xeper‘s fourth full-length for the sake of its riveting late 90’s Norwegian black metal attack. A multi-national project Featuring Italian expat Guh.lu (ex-Impiety, ex-Setherial) as the maestro alongside V. Einride (Whoredom Rife) on drums and Maelstrom (from Wardaemonic, I believe) on vocals the first impression that this album will give off is that late second wave feeling where many guitarists had pushed the riff values forward into black/death metal territory while easing away from the cursory use of keyboards. This was the era when I’d first heard black metal so, many elements of this release are directly nostalgic. That said, the intro to the album and its idiosyncratic vocal approach suggests we’re in for some of Xeper‘s own unique twist upon this brand of guitar-driven mania. “Riding the Spiral of Lilith” is probably the piece that first breaks the mold, leaning into a melodic twist I might’ve expected from Necromass or a similarly restless artist from the mid-90’s, loving the flow of classic black metal form but pushing the technical aptitude to suit a higher skill level. These are subtleties I suppose, there is screaming and riffs with a brutally fast beat throughout the album and in that sense you’re getting a satisfyingly timeless bent upon classic Norwegian sub-genre formalities. A high energy record that brings some satisfying ode to Satan throughout, my favorite piece being “The Snake That Brough Flame” and its Swedish black metal feeling transition nearing the halfway point.
|RELEASE DATE:||February 26th, 2021|
Minneapolis, Minnesota-based black metal duo Feral Light have been fearlessly treading upon tradition these last several years as their post-black metal oeuvre appears to simply point where it’ll go next and manages to spark into something fresh with each release. Their latest EP ‘Ceremonial Tower’ sets its sights on subtle thrusts of mathcore/metalcore and few healthy bursts of post-metal they’ve explored in the past. The result is far too brutal to simply sweep under the rug as atmospheric/post-black metal yet the whole of this ~18 minute EP lands far from any form of black metal classicism. The three songs that feature here are expressive in nature, occasionally claustrophobia inducing, and meticulously packed with rumbling, multi-directional feats that all ultimately aim for atmosphere that speaks to differently sized spaces. The sensation that the title track begins in a smaller room after opener “Conjoint Lightlessness” finishes exploding amongst the stars creates a sense of movement from place to place as the EP plays. Fine work from these guys as always and I appreciate the increasingly do-it-yourself methods they’re incorporating as they press on.
|ARTIST:||SLOUGH OF DESPAIR|
|TITLE:||Catacombs of Terror|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 26th, 2021|
Self-released digitally back in April of 2020 and out on cassette through Read My Feast July of that same year this Athens, Greece-based death/doom metal band’s debut full-length finally receives the compact disc and vinyl treatment via Personal Records. Death/doom metal certainly has its major threads be it the Incantation-esque side of the fence, the melodic early Katatonia influenced spectrum, and certainly the slower death metal from various major scenes in the United States, Finland and the Netherlands (to name a few) yet no doubt Greece’s equally long history with death/doom is far more obscure and takes some real research to figure through. A number of these influences factor into Slough of Despair‘s sound but I’d personally point towards the modern ‘new old school’ Finnish ideal to start. On some level we can assume the fellow from Majestic Downfall hand-picked this one for his label so, it fits in with his own worldview of death/doom which takes a funereal yet always sharply melodic approach to classic death/doom, keeping it heavy and slow yet emotionally driven. This is how I’d describe some of the arabesque lead guitar work and major riffs that characterize ‘Catacombs of Terror’ as a record with a purposeful drive but also an ever squirming sense of melody. The grind keeps moving, much like Sonne Adam‘s earlier work, but I’d found Solothus‘ second album is a most reasonable comparison; From there we could fully pull back into the 90’s with bands like Mystic Charm and Beyond Belief but you get the general idea that we’re dealing with modern production values, mystic melodic movements, and big riffs. ‘Catacombs of Terror’ is quite simply achieved via a very large-looming guitar tone sharing the driver’s seat with the lead guitar’s narrative/melodic qualities and while I love this style of music most of Side B was fairly average compared to the first few pieces. The lack of deep cuts or paradigm shifts, any further development of their sound is a bit disappointing but I’d not shy from putting this record on and enjoying it anytime. A strong debut that definitely deserves this broader release.
- PARANORM – Empyrean [February 26th, Redefining Darkness]
- SPELLJAMMER – Abyssal Trip [February 26th, RidingEasy Records]
- SUNNATA – Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth [February 26th, Self-Released]
- OMINOUS RUIN – Amidst Voices that Echo in Stone [February 26th, Willowtip Records]
- MISTWEAVER – Swansong [February 25th, Necromance Records]
- KORPSE – Insufferable Violence [February 26th, Unique Leader Records]
- HÆNESY – Garabontzia [February 28th, Purity Through Fire]
- SULLEN GUEST – Chapter III [February 25th, Self-Released]
- CHAINSWORD – Blightmarch [February 27th, Godz ov War Productions] !
- FIVE THE HEIROPHANT – Through Aureate Void [February 26th, Dark Essence Records] *
- SIGNIFICANT POINT – Into the Storm [February 26th, Dying Victims Productions]
- WOLVES OF PERDITION – Ferocious Blasphemic Warfare [February 26th, Folter Records]
- SANDSTORM – Desert Warrior [February 26th, Dying Victims Productions]
- CANCERVO – 1 [February 26th, Electric Valley Records] #
- AMON ACID – Paradigm Shift [February 26th, Helter Skelter/Regain Records] !
- VLADIMIR PAVELKA – Spomienky (Memories) [February 26th, Beyond Eyes]
- LOVE MACHINE – Dusseldorf-Tokuo [February 26th, Unique Records]
- TENEBRO – Liberaci dal Male [February 23rd, Xtreem Music]
- INNERSPHERE – Omfalos [February 25th, Slovak Metal Army]
- PERFORMED – Moronia [February 25th, Slovak Metal Army]
- THE SPLIT – Reminiscences [February 25th, Slovak Metal Army]
- MEPHISTOFELES – A Path of Black [February 26th, Helter Skelter/Regain Records]
- BLACK TOTEM – II: Shapeshifting [February 26th, Svart Records]
- LOS MALES DEL MUNDO – Descent Towards Death [February 26th, Northern Silence Productions]
- NIGHT PROWLER – No Escape [February 26th, Dying Victims Productions]
- INFLABITAN – Intrinsic [February 26th, Soulseller Records]
- VALDAUDR – Drapsdalen [February 26th, Soulseller Records]
- TERMINAL BLISS – Brute Err/ata [February 26th, Relapse Records]
- COFFIN MULCH – Septic Funeral [February 26th, Redefining Darkness Records]
- JARHEAD FERTILIZER – Product of My Environment [February 26th, Closed Casket Activities]
- SOW DISCORD – Quiet Earth [February 26th, Tartarus Records]
- SHADOWS – Shadows [February 26th, Agonia Records]
- EVULSE – Pustulant Spawn [February 27th, Godz ov War Productions]
- CULT GRAVES – Strange Customs [February 27th, Godz ov War Productions]
- ORDER OF NOSFERAT – Necuratul [February 28th, Purity Through Fire]
- MEUCHELMORD – Mordmelodien [February 28th, Purity Through Fire]
- XIBALBA (Mexico) – Reissues [February 28th, Nuclear War Now! Productions] !
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