Annihilate This Week 4/17/21: “Serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.”

ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK hits every Saturday (or nearby) covering 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 sixteenth week of 2021 is highlighted by tons of black and death metal traditional fare, some outlandish free improvisational drone-jazz, atmospheric black metal, stoner rock and I’d say no major surprises but plenty of solid genre entry releases. 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 a tough choice to make but it will have to go to Obsolete‘s debut full-length ‘Animate//Isolate‘, a death-thrash metal album that approaches progressive/technical classicism in a fresh way. Otherwise we have a lot of great records to mention starting with Spectral Lore‘s masterful ‘Ετερόφωτος’, which is taking some time to absorb for review. Then Brazilian death metal band Sutura have impressed me with their fantastic second album ‘Dawn of Cursed‘, pure old school death metal class. Malformity‘s long awaited debut full-length ‘Monumental Ruin‘ has a bit of everything for everyone interested in everything death metal. Helslave‘s ‘From the Sulphur Depths’ leans on their buzzsaw sound for an expert study of classic Swedish death metal destruction. German pagan black metal artist Odal impress with their subtle but very heavy metal ‘Welten Mutter‘, an album I find myself not wanting to move past quickly at all. And finally the ‘Skorb‘ EP from Russian death metal band Skorb is a true head-kicker, very simple and straight forward sound which I’ve loved thus far. Some of these mentioned will bleed into the reviews covered for the week ending in April 30th.

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:Solar Drone Ceremony
RELEASE DATE:April 23rd, 2021
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records

Neptunian Maximalism are a nine member dark “anthropocene” experimental music ensemble hailing from Belgium and this is the second release they’ve done for the venerable high-concept stable I, Voidhanger Records. ‘Solar Drone Ceremony’ is either the perfect place to start with the band or the absolute worst depending on how patient and interested in improvisational performance you might be. “Solar Drone Ceremony” is a single ~53 minute drone n’ jazz soundscape that is technically meant to be experienced as an audio-visual performance piece or, singular installation, rather than solely listened to. Although it might seem odd to point towards Mahavishnu Orchestra and even Glenn Branca when there are more obviate kosmische musik and jazz influenced psychedelic rock references to be made, ‘Solar Drone Ceremony’ is not necessarily as dark or as subtle as it first appears, they’re stretching a fifteen minute jam from their first EP, “The Conference of the Stars”, into nearly an hour of slow and steady development, think of it like doom-jazz krautrock at drone speed most of the time. Without the visual component you’ll be missing some key context and audio-visual association that takes a surreal live recording and gives it physical worth but I believe every format comes with a DVD of the performance, which took place in Brussels circa March 2020. If you are primarily familiar with ‘Éons’ this release is perhaps less directly engaging but also more focused on showcasing all of the dark corners of Neptunian Maximalism‘s free-moving performance work, having released a few live performances in the past. I’d chosen not to do a full review because it is an odd thing to do justice without the video portion available. They’ll be featured on the Roadburn Redux online events soon enough and perhaps that will sort of untangle my thoughts into better sense. As a closed-eye listening experience ‘Solar Drone Ceremony’ is entirely haunted, an ever crawling torment that occasionally stops to enjoy the heat of the sun amidst the writhing, scouring pulse it resonates. This doesn’t end up translating to any easily developed personal meaning but the experience is satisfyingly surreal.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

RELEASE DATE:April 15th, 2021
LABEL(S):Kuntshall Produktionen

With over twenty years of visionary “demo” albums under his belt and an undeniably game-changing presence in co-creation of Darkspace, it is safe to say that atmospheric raw black metal would not be what it is today without the dark, sometimes well-hidden hand of Paysage D’Hiver‘s Wintherr. The Schwarzenburg, Switzerland based artist now sports his own well connected label and pool of similarly minded artists nearby, continuing to thrive even as his work becomes easily acquired and professionally recorded. Having chosen the worst possible year (2020) to release his first official and somewhat cleanly presented full-length in ‘Im Wald‘, it seems that momentum was enough to keep the gates open in terms of releases. This meant two compilations, a somewhat cursory EP, and now a second full-length here in the first half of 2021. ‘Geister’ presents us with eleven “ghosts”, songs that seem to embody spirits through an album that is, plainly put, variations on a theme. I am no expert on this band, I own a copy of ‘Das Tor’ (2013) and the 2017 split with Drudkh, so when I’d begin exploring the full discography for an in-depth review I found myself a bit lost for enthusiasm, not only because I found the density of ideas lacking on new material vs. old but, the missing textural elements of past works leave a bit of charmless statement beyond some nice folkish black metal dirge riffing. Now, I do understand atmospheric black metal from both a modern and ‘old school’ point of view, and the idea that this treatment of movements is the core entity doing its thing but, I’d found the most impactful moments of ‘Geister’ left me wanting the central melody made whole. Think of it as one idea borrowed from the first Falkenbach album’s repertoire that is then arranged into dryly repeating variations of that idea eleven times through, with just a slight shift in structure/vocal arrangement. I’m sure I sound like an idiot to longtime fans who have absorbed the greater nuance of past works and see some of that depth reflected here, I’d just felt some conviction was missing from an idea that didn’t necessarily warrant a 70+ minute run through. Good, great at certain points, but nothing that’ll stick for my own taste.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:All Light Swallowed
RELEASE DATE: April 23rd, 2021
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

Although Lithuanian death metal quartet Crypts of Despair are still largely operating within the realm of classic forms their follow-up to the doomed and well-received ‘The Stench of the Earth’ (2017) via Testimony Records constitutes a complete refacing of the project from an ‘old school’ and somewhat death/doom influenced aesthetic to a style that is now aiming for a modern sound influenced by somewhat dissonant black/death metal. The first album found the band doing a good job of fitting in, excused for fairly plain ideas because the aesthetic and style was just right. This second album kind of falls into a quite typical realm of atmospheric black metal influenced extreme metal that doesn’t bear a point of view beyond extravagant, expressive guitar work. Their new drummer, who cut his teeth in black metal act Pime but clearly has some influence from black/death hybridization, does a fine job of setting a sound structure for these often conflicting ideas and odd shifts in tonality. “The Great End” is perhaps the best example of this, a song that starts with a classic 90’s death metal jog and effortlessly slipstreams into modern blackened death metal atmosphere, when Crypts of Despair have a good idea it tends to be quite good but I’d found much of the album lacked a distinctive character beyond those spurts of strength. With some time I am sure this band will refine, just as their fantastic black metal project Luctus has, for now I think the crossing of some fresh ideas, a few old hits, and some blackening might be reserved for folks who loved the idea of these textures slithering together in odd formations. Though I did not find it to be focused enough for my taste, the experience is impressive and professional nonetheless.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:The All Consuming Void
RELEASE DATE:April 23rd, 2021

Aphonic Threnody aren’t necessarily a funeral doom supergroup at this point yet main songwriter Riccardo Veronese (Towards Atlantis Lights) has done a fine job of bringing in talented and well-respected folks from the greater spheres of atmospheric doom metal niche beyond the exit of their former vocalist in 2017. ‘The All Consuming Void’ finds the artist handing over more of the instrumentation to the rest of the freshly reconfigured multi-national quartet after 2020’s ‘The Great Hatred’ primarily featured Juan Escobar C. (FØG, ex-Mar des Grises). The standout performance here comes from the vocal work via Dan Neagoe who is best known for his work in Clouds and Eye of Solitude but also in various roles for countless other bands in this style. Of course the appreciation for this performance does come with a sort of elitist nod on my part as this style of funeral doom here touches upon the very early sound of the sub-genre without sounding amateurish, this means the vocal work is left quite bare and almost guttural at times; This particular register might sound odd to the outsider but entirely classic to the die-hard funeral doom snob. I can extend this positive sentiment towards the entirety of this release as I found ‘The All Consuming Void’ served some serious redemption beyond the somewhat milquetoast aura of the previous album, which I could not get into. Neagoe‘s vocals are the keystone here for my own taste but the loose-moving yet neatly woven ebb of Veronese‘s atmospheric doom compositions offers the major link to their prior discography. ‘Of Loss and Grief’ had defined the band for me when it’d come out, and still does to some degree, though I have begun to prefer this sound with this line-up as it feels both ancient and most refined. The 20+ minute “Chamber of Parasites” is probably the most labored, intensive showpiece here but my favorite song was “Chapel of the Dead” for its exasperated lows and inventive vocal work.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Primordium of Sinister Butchery [EP]
RELEASE DATE:April 23rd, 2021

Paraphilia is a death metal duo out of the Portland, Oregon area featuring folks you’ll recognize from the woefully underrated extreme doom metal band Maestus. The style you’ll find on ‘Primordium of Sinister Butchery’ is what I would consider an expanse shared between early brutal death metal techniques and modern atmospheric death metal’s compositional movement. Their programmed drums (probably) and the kind of early 90’s industrial death metal feeling of certain songs feels very much like an mid-90’s Wild Rags release to me, not as bloody brutal and stark but still stinging quite hard throughout with what I’d consider memorable guitar work. Most of the album takes on a brutal pace but never lands as thoughtless or typical. The major piece amongst the originals here is probably “Catalytic Heaving”, a big groove with a very satisfying riff or two at its heart. Although the drums do feel somewhat artificial the song itself tended to be the point where I’d stop and admire how hard-assed this material felt. The Deicide cover from ‘Once Upon the Cross’ is a really solid touch for this EP, I was already thinking 2000’s Sinister in terms of their sound but this fits into that brutal sphere just as well. Definitely keep an ear out for this band and support ’em so they can stir up some more compelling artwork.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Salvation, If You Need…
RELEASE DATE:April 20th, 2021
LABEL(S):No Profit Recordings

Well, hey, that album art isn’t my gig but this second full-length from Cheshire, England based stoner rock quartet 1968 is yet another fine work for the now fairly seasoned act. ‘Salvation, If You Need…‘ wastes little time developing catchy somewhat affected bustle from the start, sounding like post-’95 Trouble one moment and a drowsier Kyuss the next. Back in 2018 when I reviewed their debut ‘Ballads of the Goddess’, I’d pretty much already said this: “1968 are peddling a dance between huge, sativa-laced 90’s stoner metal riffs and some of the post-millennium indica hybrid feel of desert rock.” and for sure they’ve held up their end of the bargain by putting out another bluesy, shifty and inspired stoner record with a gaseous breath all their own. I’d say this one is more blues driven but, their own version of bent stoner blues that takes a deep breath when needed. Favorite song here is probably “Small Victories” or the true grower of the run, “Guts”.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

  • SPECTRAL LORE – Ετερόφωτος [April 23rd, I, Voidhanger Records]
  • ODAL – Welten Mutter [April 23rd, Eisenwald]
  • SKORB – Skorb [April 23rd, Corrupted Flesh Records]
  • NUCLEAR REVENGE – Dawn of the Primitive Age [April 24th, Awakening Records]
  • THIRSTY DEMON – Unconscious Suicide [April 24th, Awakening Records]
  • SUTURA – Dawn of Cursed [April 24th, Awakening Records]
  • HELSLAVE – From the Sulphur Depths [April 23rd, Pulverised Records] Vinyl 5/14
  • TO THE DOGS – To the Dogs [April 23rd, Edged Circle Productions] !
  • GYNOID – The Hunger Artist [April 24th, Self-Released]
  • EXTINGUISH – Extinguish [April 23rd, Creator-Destructor Records]
  • V/A – Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip [April 20th, RidingEasy Records]
  • THE FLAMING SIDEBURNS – Silver Flames [April 23rd, Svart Records]
  • WHIPSTRIKER / ICE WAR – Whipstriker / Ice War [April 20th, Helldprod Records]
  • VEXILLUM – When Good Men Go To War [April 23rd, Scarlet Records]
  • DESOLATE REALM – Desolate Realm [April 23rd, Self-Released]
  • DEAD WORLD RECLAMATION – Aura of Iniquity [April 23rd, Self-Released]
  • CICADA THE BURROWER – Corpseflower [April 23rd, Blue Bedroom Records]
  • DEHA – Cruel Words [April 24th, Burning Worlds] Reissue
  • HYMNR – Far Beyond Insanity [April 23rd, Saturnal Records]
  • PHANTOM FIRE – Return of the Goat [April 23rd, Edged Circle Productions]
  • MIASMA THEORY – Miasma Theory [April 23rd, Shadowlit Music]
  • MINAS MORGUL – Heimkehr [April 23rd, Trollzorn]
  • NOÊTA – Elm [April 23rd, Prophecy Productions]

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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