Annihilate This Week 4/03/21: “A wordless and irrational feeling of ecstasy; or a breath of psychic pain.”

ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK hits every Sunday (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 fourteenth week of 2021 is highlighted by brilliant epic doom metal, dry-rotted bone stomping black metal, blackened death spawned goat-howling horrors, keening n’ existential high-brained art rock vigilance, slick yet soulful heavy blues rock, and a good amount of righteous variety to jump into. If you’re not into the selection this time around, 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 German doom metal band Wheel‘s long-awaited third full-length ‘Preserved in Time‘ [Review], and of course I’m hyped over it as they’ve been a favorite since 2013’s ‘Icarus’ which I do consider a modern classic, or at the very least underrated. Icelandic black metal group Forsmán impress with their high standards of craft on their debut EP ‘Dönsum Í Logans Ljóma‘ [Review] which should not be missed. Otherwise we have a few choices that might not seem so standard for my usual picks, the first being Swedish heavy blues rock band Heavy Feather and their second album ‘Mountain of Sugar‘. They’d been light and airy as you’d expect on their debut back in 2019 but here they’ve brought passion and resilience to heavier songwriting, Scandinavian rock often feels like it is avoiding eye contact yet the level of confrontation and “clever” beauty on this record is stunning. I’ll also be reviewing blackened death metal band Goath‘s latest album ‘III: Shaped by the Unlight‘ and largely because it stands out from the crowd at the moment, thrashing and blasphemic with unusual energy and fairly short uncomplicated songs.

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:Norwegian Gothic
RELEASE DATE:April 9th, 2021
LABEL(S):Pelagic Records

From the repurposed halls of a church left vacant by virtue of its obsolescence Årabrot have crafted their ninth album, ‘Norwegian Gothic‘, as a “relevant” moderne rock opus speaking to and for folks who don’t necessarily give a shit about relevancy. An hourlong ministry oozing in service of the outsider aims to coalesce the sum of their second decade, wherein Spellemannprisen winning results began to flow their way. This is of course no flash in the pan artist prolonging the sheen of old merits, dog attacks and throat cancer scares have found maestro Kjetil Nernes solidifying in resolve over the years and producing music that somehow emboldens and evolves unto fresh realm with each release. Most folks interested in noise rock’s art rock spectrum know the band from ‘Solar Anus’ at the very least and may not recognize the broadened oeuvre of the project since artist Karin Park would be included beyond ~2014 or so. For my own taste ‘Who Do You Love’ (2018) was a bit of a revelation that took some extra digestion, wherein some love of avant-Nick Cave exploits and theatrical surrealism took over their crunchy noise rocking side. Though the production on ‘Norwegian Gothic’ is now an hall-echoing expanse we now receive a fully unfurled scroll, all merits expanded and daring choices made. The best songs for my own taste are still the anthemic electric post-punk tracks where the big and brassy side of Årabrot is up front, each verse revealing a new angle on an energized theme. “Carnival of Love” sets itself as an example up front. The first four pieces more or less follow suit, each offering its own ear worm that’ll inevitably grow into skull-draining bug as the full listen begins to sink in.

At an hour’s length and sixteen pieces it is clear Nernes is putting everything he can into this record as a complete experience, this sort of maximal attention span broadening record should feel very natural to folks who’ve maybe landed in Årabrot Land by some association with Swans. “Kinks of the Heart”, “The Lie”, “Feel It On” will give the impression that ‘Norwegian Gothic’ is going to be a bop, just wall-to-wall accessible mutant rock pieces with the artist’s uniquely nasal register coating everything in a unique shade of pink-and-grey weird but, it seems the quieter Årabrot gets the more distinct the full listen becomes, especially in the second half. The ‘fun yet profound’ side of the band truly begins to eek out around “Hounds of Heaven” and “The Moon is Dead” where we’ve clearly stumbled into a bit of a ditch, envisioning the moon as a corpse hanging in the sky as dead souls and saxophones conjure a fresh breath of a different wilderness just as the album is about to end. Right, ‘Norwegian Gothic’ is basically your first bad acid trip and it ends with the fear of obsolescence unresolved. Of course I lean a bit deranged so “Hounds of Heaven” and the post-punk anthemic “The Crows” hit me hardest to start and the sugary jogging of the first several pieces eventually expanded upon that ideal character. It is an overwhelming record to consider to start but with some serious time it does ultimately fold out into a “bigger/better” version of what ‘Who Do You Love’ was doing unto double album form and colored with pieces of the past. An excellent album but I figured most folks don’t show up to take my word on records like this. For what its worth, this is one of the best records from April and it definitely took 4-5 spins before I’d started to grasp exactly why.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Caveman Logic
RELEASE DATE:April 9th, 2021
LABEL(S):Svart Records

If your head isn’t already swimming with the possibilities as to what The Limit are up to on this debut album you might be missing a good chunk of heavy rock innovation education and well, I found most of the full-sized review I’d drafted was basically teaching folks why Bobby Liebling, Sonny Vincent and the rest of their crew are essential musical royalty who’ve been doin’ rock against the grain since the early 70’s without due respect. Those two fellows in particular kinda missed their window for various reasons, Pentagram‘s early days took decades to get their congrats for game-changing works and no doubt the same could be said for The Testors so, the pairing makes good sense by reputation and well, on record. ‘Caveman Logic‘ is essentially a halfway point between a classic punk rock n’ roll record and a proto-doom heavy rocker, crossing wires between sing-a-long worthy ’79 punk and sharing the fine line between heavy rock and classic heavy metal. Rounded out by folks from The Stooges and Portuguese doom metal band Dawnrider you’d think The Limit would be a bit of a freak beast but Vincent‘s songwriting keeps things reigned in while Liebling‘s distinct and enduring talent for charismatic, blues-twisted melody making is a natural fit. “When Life Gets Scorched” gives us the garage rock that description warrants and “Human vs Nature” has me petting my early 80’s U.K. Subs collection approvingly and I suppose the major thing to convey is that there is a bit of everything on here and none of it shits the bed — This level of songcraft comes with an innate layer of “Hey, don’t write the same song twice” and says something worth a damn when its done.

The first single, “Black Sea” is well chosen in the sense that it showcases Liebling‘s rich and expressive tone which is yet entirely suited for reflections upon a doomed world and encroaching father time. Paired with “These Days” we find The Limit at their point of highest impact, words felt and catchy vocal arrangements that sell their purpose without a moment of coyness. And hey, the lyrics are fuckin’ weird in the best way possible; Smartphones, white knights, tomato soup for brains, missing lovers and for sure plenty of gloom delivered with an almost too-late smirk. If you lean a bit more towards heavy rock and punk rock in particular a lot of this’ll be the right tone but the serous fantasy metalhead might get their tail in a knot over the casual, working man’s prose therein. So, I definitely love this record for its quirks and memorable songwriting and though my own reverence for these artists did guide my ear towards their work I wouldn’t have stuck with countless spins through the whole damn thing if it didn’t land. Why didn’t I get into a full, lengthy review? Again, I love the idea of being folks’ rock n’ roll tutelage but those who know will know and love this record for the classic brains it scrambles up.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Echoes of the Earth
RELEASE DATE:April 9th, 2021
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

At this point most of this album has been premiered on various outlets so, you can get a fairly good idea of the whole from those pieces, especially considering this Irish sludge metal band’s full-length debut begins with a nearly six minute atmospheric introduction (“Fringe”). I have to admit I fell off this album very quickly to start as the nearly eight minutes of patience it takes to fire up into statement just didn’t gel with my preview listening habits nor does it necessarily serve the full listen any particular purpose. ‘Echoes of the Earth’ offers a primal form of atmospheric sludge metal the seasoned fan will associate with early 90’s Neurosis, dual hardcorish vocals and tribally beaten drum patterns that are feeling a moment of pure rage more than they are featuring an ornate riff. Simply lain and dissonant pieces extend themselves slowly, deliberately and with some sense of extreme metal urgency reserved for this classic but foggy sludge realm, it works when the compositions are most engaging. “Cities of Smoke” brings some off-kilter blasting in its later moments and “Six of Nothing” brings just enough doom riff shapes into their work that it holds my attention throughout, especially the grand peak of the song, but most of this record rescinds into terrifying background music.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Pestilent Dawn
RELEASE DATE:April 9th, 2021
LABEL(S):Redefining Darkness Records

Michigan death metal quartet Throne are a blast of fresh volcanic air, ripping militant and blast-hammered death metal like its 2001 on their debut full-length ‘Pestilent Dawn‘. Even if this ain’t ‘old school’ death metal to folks laser-focused on the 90’s in terms of United States spawned extremity, it will be classic as all get-out for those of us who’d enter adulthood just before Hate Eternal, Krisiun and Behemoth (among others…) exploded the post-millennium world of big label death metal. If you kinda fall out of your chair easy for the deep cuts of this realm like Divine Empire‘s ‘Doomed to Inherit’ and Defaced Creation‘s ‘Serenity in Chaos’ there is some fealty to similar forms within ‘Pestilent Dawn’ though the sort of precision-based sterility of the blackened-yet-brutal death of that era is more pronounced within Throne‘s production values and compositions. The major draw of this kind of music is its heavily demanding physical performance so, I figure when these guys can actually put it to pavement the way these songs kick in rehearsal will offer that final dimension of interest to folks who missed out on an admittedly more extreme era. The most direct pieces here land hardest, though I liked the Zyklon-esque guitar work on “Beyond Malice” and the over the top vocals help the song really stand out just as the constant pace of the record starts to drag. Cutting it at just over a half hour is perfect here, just enough depth into their riffing style to showcase some mild variety and plenty of rhythmic interest and brutality to come back for a few listens.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

RELEASE DATE: April 9th, 2021
LABEL(S):Terratur Possessions
BUY:Terratur Possessions Webstore

Another new configurations of classic ideals set ablaze via members of the Trondheim black metal cult, Syning combines the stoic efforts of members of Manes, Whoredom Rife and Knokkelklang the latter of which I’d say is the closest similarity in terms of longer form presentations, chasmic sound design, and guitar work. The sullen distance and cryptic movements of “Atter Igjen Kommer Mørket Krypende” build from simple guitar patterns into bleak organ grinding black metal underneath the threatening skies of the main guitar riffs which carry well enough over the full ~14 minute run of the song. With only three extended pieces here you’ll more or less have to be on board for their patient atmospheric movements to start though there are some signature guitar motions (eh, techniques) that help develop a constant personae as they drone on. The droning mid-pace of “Et Siste Skrik” is a key portion of the whole for my own taste as it ‘sells’ the sinister nature of the being they’ve conjured for this first release, once again using the organ as vital accoutrement for atmospheric development. It takes a bit more than bent chords and haunting keys to stick with me, thankfully the sway of the music itself becomes a valuable connective tissue for immersion. I try not to use hypnotic in description of music too often but in this case it fits better than ‘intentional monotony’ or flatlining spiritual force. “Fortapt” is the third wheel here, an extra ambient limb that presents a rain-soaked cemetery beyond the two greater rituals in hand though its appearance is clearly related and not cursory filler as it might seem. I’d consider it an EP but the distinction doesn’t ultimately matter, it is a fine recording that showcases effective whirling of atmosphere into ear-catching pieces, mysterious in nature but clearly not incanting the light.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

  • WHEEL – Preserved in Time [April 9th, Cruz Del Sur Music]
  • FORSMÁN – Do¨nsum i Logans Ljo´ma [April 9th, Ván Records]
  • HEAVY FEATHER – Mountain of Sugar [April 9th, The Sign Records]
  • MANBRYNE – Heilsweg: O udrece ciala i tulaczce duszy [April 9th, Terratur Possessions]
  • GOATH – III: Shaped by the Unlight [April 9th, Ván Records]
  • SAILLE – V [April 9th, Black Lion Records]
  • NIHT – Arcanum [April 9th, Ván 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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