Annihilate This Week 3/08/21: “…a great desire to live and a great dissatisfaction with living.”

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 tenth week of 2021 is highlighted by agonizing death/doom metal, progressive/melodic death metal, progressive alt-rock/metal, mutant blackgaze, experimental sludge metal, classic sludge metal, and just a hint of what flood of black metal is yet to hit this month. 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 probably Portuguese atmospheric death/doom metal act Sepulcros‘ debut full-length ‘Vazio‘ [Review] as a stunning shower of blast and gloom-ridden death. Not far behind is Swiss melodic death metal band Stortregn‘s fifth album ‘Impermanence‘, a good blend of classic melodeath ideas translated to fully modern atmospheric melodic death metal standards, including some progressive and technical style that is pronounced. Beyond the anticipation for the new Eyehategod record ‘A History of Nomadic Behavior‘, that is about it. I’ll be reviewing ‘Holy Terror/The Saga of Nemesis‘ a very high quality remaster, compilation, and vinyl release which collects the early demos from German thrash metal band Assassin so if you’re a classic thrash head like I am make sure you get up to speed with their ’87 and ’88 records in the meantime.

Beyond the six records I’ll shortly review, these were notable this week: Hammerheart Records are reissuing both Wehrmacht records this Friday, they rule! My favorite is still ‘Shark Attack‘. Necropanther‘s first EP since their well received second album in 2019, ‘In Depths We Sleep‘ is pretty slick, though I didn’t have much to say about it.

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:

RELEASE DATE:March 12th, 2021
LABEL(S):Repose Records

In creation of their own black metal head voice it appears Franco-Siberian avant-garde metal trio Isgherurd Morth have whirled together an idiosyncratic language of their own which could be likened to a particularly progressive expression of post-black metal which’d rather sun-gaze than get lost in a tired fog of crescendo core. To strip the technical/progressive precision and note-heavy force of their performance would reveal what is essentially an ultra modernist post-hardcore songwriting shell, which goes so hard with its colorful stretches that it begins to beam with progressive rock virtuosity. ‘Hellrduk‘ actually aims for a sort of spiritus of the 1990’s black metal advance yet there isn’t a single bone in their collective bodies that is as naïve or (musically) as cynical as that might suggest. The connective tissue of this experience is post-black metal yet not predictably so, patternation persists with anything but traditional compositions that aren’t afraid of shoegazing post-rock, Cynic-esque reveals, grinding nihilistic despair and the meandering angular deconstruction upheld within the last two decades of avant-garde black metal. They keep it all in the realm of extreme metal by way of precision and speed, and this appreciable trio of tension-based expurse seems to have stemmed from their sessions as Stench Price, wherein these fellows were the backbone for a showcase of grind/death legendry back in 2016. This is probably the general basis for my “post-hardcore influenced” suggestion, as the composition of modern grindcore is generally willing to be loosened to accommodate the frantic dizziness and heavy groove inherent to each form. Anyhow, I’d parse this out a bit in mind for the sake of appreciating this esoteric grey area achieved between skronk metal and lucid musical reverence, it reads as a complete unassailable form more often than it does the usual “beautiful ugliness” a lot of avant-garde extreme metal provides. However you’d define the surrealism they’ve provided, Isgherurd Morth have clearly focused on retaining readable musical values throughout this debut, sometimes going as far as entirely stripping back to a shimmering indie rock jangle or two for the sake of connecting with the listener via every layer possible. I’ve generally found it memorable and oddly savory as a listening experience, a trip that is just vexing enough that each newly angled pour through its innards reveals a freshly redeeming trait or tumble.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Embracing Hatred and Beckoning Darkness
RELEASE DATE:March 10th, 2021
LABEL(S):Amor Fati Productions
BUY:Amor Fati Store

I’d have to admit to some general frustration with the dissociated, “set aback” self-production of modern atmospheric black metal these last few years, not as a complaint of fidelity but in defiance of this need to veil the dynamic of music behind a shroud without serving a truly anti-music philosophy. If anything this interpolation serves to mute the compositional strengths of the artist unto an artificial droning, and this is the only real complaint I would lodge against the otherwise supreme craft of Sulpur on this debut full-length. Granted the programmed (?) drums leave a bit to be desired at a high volume but the guitar work that gallantly leads us across this likely Teutonic black metal solo project soon embarks upon its considerably austere journey through foreboding forests and all manner of knolls with eyes in the night. Imaginative, anti-cosmic, paganistic, melodious and stern with disgust, there are all manner of attitudes I’d glean from the black radiance of ‘Embracing Hatred and Beckoning Darkness’ yet its imprint upon me is ultimately cold, performing without solidarity beyond nihil. In plainest terms this debut clearly shows some appreciation for the non-maudlin spectrum of melodic black metal, atmospheric black metal, and persists with extended 8-10 minute compositions that labor those melodic standards into grand-yet-unassuming anthems which all make it quite a strong fit on both Ancient Records and Amor Fati. Certain pieces show an interest in avant-black metal guitar techniques (“A Temple Draped in Shadow”) never a weird for the sake of it moment, rather a hallucinatory staggering to maintain a muted but unhinged black metal experience. I’ve found myself leaving this album on repeat quite a lot these last several weeks, perhaps because it never fully pulls free of its pit of proudest despair and wallows in an entirely satisfying, tormented listen.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Blood Libel [EP]
RELEASE DATE:March 12th, 2021
LABEL(S):Necromantic Press Records

Sleepless are a traditional heavy metal band from Portland, Oregon who appear to be heavily influenced by progressive thrash metal, power metal and some measure of doom in creation of this surprisingly spirited debut EP. Formed between original members of late 80’s cum 2010’s Portland-area death metal act Dead Conspiracy and vocalist/producer Kevin Hahn the first impression I’d gotten in preview is that these guys have their wires crossed in the same way a lot of early 90’s heavy metal bands had, the adoption of technical late 80’s thrash metal guitar attack, funky progressive metal, and some heavier death metal hits on the drums all lend a lot of power and diversity to an album with a semi-traditional ‘power metal’ vocal approach. This might sound like early Psychotic Waltz or Thought Industry one moment and Pariah (or Forbidden) the next but when it hits my brains the effect is closest to classic Confessor uh, if the vocals were somewhat toned down from a strangulation. The inventive and intense movements here are at once staggered by technique and melody and this makes the experience reek of the off-kilter age of metal after the popularity of thrash had largely run its course and thinking man’s metal bands were leaning into personality rich and intimate records. If they leaned into the intuitive prog-thrash side of things while incorporating the early Solitude Aeternus ‘power-thrashing doom’ aura this record gives off for a full length I’d be all over it. Excellent EP either way.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

RELEASE DATE:March 12th, 2021
LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast

White Void is a contemporary hard rock band featuring Norwegian musician Lars Are Nedland who is best known for his band Solefald and as co-vocalist for Borknagar for these last twenty years. Dark, harmony rich songcraft stretches throughout ‘Anti‘ echoes an obviate love for classic progressive rock and this new wave of sleek and emotionally driven Norwegian vocal pop-prog rock. Although their approach is yet essentially in the ‘guitar music’ sector of popular rock in the same way Katatonia is, the affect of the vocals and the anthemic nature of the arrangements are curiously at odds. Although there are a few Maiden-esque moments and bluesy refrains the experience to enhance the haunting side of Nedland‘s register no matter how dark and Norsk he goes the bright guitar tone and fizzling Hammond-esque keyboards ensure the experience is that of denial, the brain is spiraling through its haunting thoughts while the body runs a heavy marathon in a spangled jumpsuit. To be fair I’d probably said the same of Muse back in the day and honestly that wouldn’t be the worst overall comparison to make, a sad sort of bop that ends up being entirely ear catching whilst slightly mind-boggling. Of course none of this is a real complaint at all, the surrealistic quality of ‘Anti’ is its greatest virtue beyond the skill of the vocalist himself; What does end up being small detriment to the experience is a lack of a greater journey, the whole of the album more or less bops in place for nearly 50 minutes and I’m not sure they’ve taken advantage of their greater strengths in creating an exciting Point B to reach beyond Point A. Bold as a few of the album’s early wiles are the lack of a central breakthrough moment finds White Void losing steam after a handful of listens. Don’t miss “Do. Not. Sleep”, “There is No Freedom but the End” and “The Shovel and the Cross”.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:A Cold Sweat of Quiet Dread
RELEASE DATE:March 12st, 2021
LABEL(S):Grimoire Records

You might recall the notable debut from Washington D.C.-based trio Myopic back in 2018 where their prog-sludge and extreme metal influenced doom found its voice, and likewise you’ll recall I’ve covered a few releases from Baltimore, Maryland-based solo post-metal/sludge project At The Graves here and there over the last few years but I doubt anyone would’ve expected them to collaborate on a full-length. ‘A Cold Sweat of Quiet Dread‘ finds a grotesque sort of harmony between depressive doom metal, post-black metal informed atmospheric sludge, and even some hints of gothy post-hardcore. The result is dissociative and progressive at once, scatterbrained when the dissonance of certain pieces peaks but entirely lucid when things decide to take direction, or fully calm. “Oppressive Ruminations” finds the most direct channel to hone the collective vision of the four folks involved yet I’d found the most memorable pieces on the album were the ones that took the sharpest, most daring turns such as the unexpected brilliance of “Gold Sinews” in its first several minutes or the haunting middle section of “Stray Parasite”. Sometimes this cluttered approach to songwriting finds all pieces falling together beautifully whereas others reach a sort of post-metal/post-hardcore mushiness that balances away any sense of ease with heavily anxietous moments. I find my own taste becoming increasingly distant from post-metal in the last ten years but I do still appreciate the hardcorish, high-shouldered ruthlessness that realm brings to this collaboration.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:Through the Gate Eternal
RELEASE DATE:March 12th, 2021
LABEL(S):Boris Records

I know, man, you saw the album cover and immediately thought “black/thrash for dinner, again!?” but hey, these South Carolina fellowes can legitimately thrash without resorting to the most rote-ass tropes the sub-genre entanglement is now known for. Demiser is comprised of folks who’ve made a few waves in grind and war metal operations over the last decade or so but ‘Through the Gate Eternal’ is the first record from the lot of ’em that seems to be pushing out some serious heavy metal inspiration. Well, in essence we’ve got a black/thrash metal band of today in close quarters with the black/thrash metal of the 2000’s and I don’t mean to be reductive in that assessment; Records like ‘Cold Steel… For an Iron Age’ and ‘At One With the Shadows’ still generally hold up and they tended to focus on both modern thrash influences and classic heavy metal sidebars, which Demiser could likewise be accused of. The Motörthrash n’ black n’ roll side of things does spark up here and there but a tendency to lean towards aughts-era riffing (see: “Hook and Torment”) cuts the head of the intended swagger in most cases. A fundamental understanding of what an effective thrash riff is beyond generic formulae is literally all it takes to stand out in the realm of black/thrash metal today and for the most part ‘Through the Gate Eternal’ has this part of the gig squared away alongside an appreciably solid guitar sound. Is this enough to hold your attention for years on end? Nah, perhaps if you’re a black/thrash metal die-hard who’ll appreciate the punchy heavy metal throttle of songs like “Deathstrike” but there isn’t a big enough hook here for the general metal population.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

  • NECROPANTHER – In Depths We Sleep [March 12th, Self-Released]
  • VARMIA – Bal Lada [March 12th, M-Theory Audio]
  • SEPULCROS – Vazio [March 12th, Transcending Obscurity Records]
  • STORTREGN – Impermanence [March 12th, The Artisan Era]
  • UTBYRD – Varskrik [March 12th, Petrichor]
  • TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE – Beset by False Prophets [March 12th, Comatose Music]
  • BOUND IN FEAR – Eternal [March 12th, Unique Leader]
  • A NOEND OF MINE – Sanctuaires [March 12th, Hypnotic Dirge Records]

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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