ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK hits every Weekend (Saturday or Sunday) 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: email@example.com
The seventeenth week of 2021 is highlighted by monstrous brutal death, corpse-flinging old school death metal, hyperthrash, evolved hardcore, bestial celtic head-mush, psychedelic satanic rock panic, nuclear metalpunk, paganistic prosperity, foreboding atmospheric black metal epics, necrodoom (!), and some truly cerebellum kicking death/doom. Something terrifying for nearly everyone with a certain fortitude. 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 probably Gargoyle‘s ‘Hail to the Necrodoom‘ for its sort of Root (Czech) influenced hysteria and intensely creative sound which spans a wide swath of traditional and extreme music styles. Not far behind is Mephitic Grave‘s rotten and ridiculous ‘Into the Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity‘, a primitive death metal record that has that garage crushing sort of Wild Rags death metal touch to it. Belgium’s Gateway also have a new EP ‘Flesh Reborn‘ that completely impressed me via a hugely atmospheric death/doom metal sound. In terms of black metal Grey Aura‘s ‘Zwart Vierkant‘ is an obvious highlight with almost too much depth for me to get into in a review. Múspellzheimr‘s self-titled debut likewise impressed with its classic sound dipped into chaos. Albums from Book of Wyrms, Terminalist, Disembodiment, Hecatomb, and In Asymmetry will all likewise receive reviews… there is just too much to talk about this week. Since I’ve been working on my own imprint, redesigning the graphics for GrizzlyButts.com and working on my own projects otherwise I’ll be writing slightly less in-depth reviews for the next couple weeks to catch up. To counter-balance this I’ve decided I will push beyond just 5-6 reviews per Annihilate This Week column, today we will cover 11 new releases. If the new graphics suck go ahead and tell me in the comments, I’ll work on 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:||May 7th, 2021|
Though every moment is unquestionably professional and thoughtful, certainly able to create a distinct mood within a general atmospheric black metal format, this debut full-length from Skåne, Sweden based duo Jordfäst is perhaps too introverted in nature to fully convey the deeper philosophical and conceptual tides that await folks looking to delve into their meaning. More clearly put, ‘Hädanefter’ sounds exactly in place where it stands yet it will be a bit of a nut to crack into, almost specifically in tune with this expectation of the listener’s investigation rather than direct conveyance. This makes good sense as the fellowes involved are scientific professionals, naturalists, and perhaps what we could describe as an unintentional generation: Fans of the strong point of view that Nordvis has long presented who’ve clearly been influenced by this high standard of expression and with a lived philosophy attached. Practically speaking we’re graced with this ancestral folk/viking pulse from a non-exploitative or cartoonish perspective, something like 2000’s Thyrfing‘s raucous melodicism and voice tamed unto the ethereal reap of Stilla and stretched into 15-18 minute epic narrative forms.
Two songs, each quite long and very distinct in theme appear as thick chapters in what could potentially be an extensive tale in conveyance of humanity’s unlikely stretch across wild and harsh Scandinavia, the extreme setting and how the people have shaped themselves around it. Well, I could see it becoming an interesting mix of arcane moods and anthropological perspective to some degree anyhow. “Hädanförd” is perhaps the piece to connect with first for the sake of its relatively simple structure and strong, impassioned voice narrating an ironic, heavily applicable story of those who would do everything to erase evil and perhaps act in evil ways without realizing it. This itself is a sort of classic bit of Swedish storytelling if reduced to its outline, whether we look to the eldest influential literature or classic films. For my own taste “Buren av loppor” is the signature piece and the main reason to pick this album up, its neatly arranged 18+ minute presentation bearing its own microcosm which could easily be expanded into a full-length sized piece. Beyond the structure of its grand movements, the progression of tonal elements is absolutely beautiful as the veil is endlessly lifted for those first five minutes. From there it would be natural for the song to reach a plateau but instead this sensation of momentum continues to rise and fall into different sections; Jordfäst smartly present transitional moments to directly convey these steps taken, think of these as title cards or the view panning out to set up the next scene. I couldn’t help feel this piece had some strong cinematic value, anyhow, and came away from it impressed. There is a fair amount of black metal coming out this week but I’d argue that this is the one that will stick best for its personal touch and thorn-covered, beauteous tonality.
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
As the first few chords rang out on this second EP from Glasgow, Scotland based black metal trio Lunar Mantra my honest reaction was, “Well, I do love Sinmara. Another one of those, eh.” but these twists of the mind are rarely instinct so much as pattern recognition and association, an easy sort of melodic-but-dissonant black metal spectre to which I am attuned. As ‘Psychosomatika’ reveals itself it would still be fair to say that they speak a familiar language at this point, eloquently even, yet for all of the stirring performance value that comes with this style of modern black metal it is the structure and presentation of melody that pulled me back in for additional listens. “Nexicthon” is the best representation of this format, a foreshadowing undercurrent implied that is overshadowed by grand chorale and roar is then later revealed as the central melodic statement of the piece. Disparate as some elements appear from one another all acts in service to the moody rhythmic voice of the song, this has quite a bit in common with chaotic post-hardcore in its more nascent form if reduced to its bones, wherein we are teased of the reveal quite a few times before the payoff moment. “Azotic Pyres” is a bit more of a straight forward piece, thought certainly not subtle and the third song is a ten minute dark ambient. It looks like the physical editions of this one (digital released in March) met with some pandemic related delays so, show some support if this is your kind of thing. Fans of mid-era Blaze of Perdition and recent Svartidauði should definitely keep an ear out for this band.
Charismatic performers and unapologetically accessible songwriters, it is little wonder why small town borne melodic punk/hard rock quartet Kärbholz have been a hit in Germany, having released seven full-lengths to great acclaim since forming in 2003. With ‘Kontra’ the band lean into alternative rock/metal territory just slightly more than the somewhat straight-faced and occasionally bleak ‘Herz Und Verstand’ (2019) had. There may be a small handful of sentimental and poignant pieces on this new record but they are clearly aiming for higher energy and greater variety with ‘Kontra’, showing all of the lessons learned over the course of their career via catchy and emphatically delivered songs. Melodic punk rock, alt-metal riffs, vocally driven ballads, folk punk rides and plenty of songs I’d consider just straight pop rock music (from the deutschrock perspective) showcase great versatility and emphasize exuberant, upfront in the mix vocals from Torben Höffgen. So, the context here is going to be hard to see if the listener is not privy to the evolution of melodic punk/oi! revival in the 90’s and its applications to punk rock/hard rock hybridization in Europe adjacent. Think of Kärbholz as spirited working class heavy rock with an accessible punk background, something like Social Distortion but, radio rock in a different way. One could think of long-standing groups like Broilers and Böhse Onkelz who have crossed over into similarly accessible rock music over the years but of course this comes with the caveat that they’re still almost exclusively delivering these songs in German.
How does all of this translate to the audience outside of Germany? The fun but relatable spirit of the band, the variety of moods and stylized touch of ‘Kontra’ is instantly appealing but the language will be a barrier for most. If you’ve studied just a bit of German and can appreciate the accent and the unique phrasing available to the language this will be a decent ride. I do think the band need a song that can bridge them across the Atlantic a bit, much like Böhse Onkelz‘ “Terpentin” did in the late 90’s, they have that “fun but personal” vibe already but the hooks here are often complicated by verses that are often too verbose and distract from the easy hit that hard rock otherwise brings to their songwriting. A bit outside of my own wheelhouse but from the perspective of a melodic punk enjoyer, a strong and accessible album with a lot to say.
|TITLE:||Eldens Boning [EP]|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
Call it Scandinavian pagan metal, viking metal, or folk metal however you end up in the infectious and enriching world of Swedish quartet Ereb Altor make sure you stride there proudly, they are yet the finest band still active playing this distant relative of Quorthon-ian craft. This latest EP seems to have some relation to ‘Järtecken’ (2019) embracing their strong use of vocal harmonies, avoiding most black metal clichés and delivering a strong progression throughout this release, which arguably peaks with the classic roar of the title track. The vocals are the real power of the first two pieces with “The Twilight Ship” making a particularly strong entrance. The only piece here that I’d found somewhat cursory is “Sacrifice 2.0” which seems to be a reprise of a song from ‘Fire Meets Ice’ (my introduction to the band) which is different than the “Sacrifice” (a live Bathory cover) that’d been a bonus track on their most recent album. I liked the sort of Borknagar-esque feeling to this piece but I’d felt like it should have come before “Eldens Boning” so that song could be the grand finale. Always excellent material from this band and a fine EP.
|TITLE:||Season of the Witch Chapter II|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 4th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Interstellar Smoke Records|
Exactly the right occult laissez-faire vibe exudes from prolific Santiago, Chile-based psychedelic/stoner rock jam Arteaga when faced with adversity, a quartet who’ve actually benefitted a great deal from the ruckus of recording this album in their rehearsal space during the pandemic lockdown. You’d think they were performing at a grassy festival and sweating their asses off as “La Bruja” kicks things off, sounding more late 70’s than the actual late seventies do anymore. Just looking at the tracklist you’ll be able to spot the jams from the more composed, direct songwriting wherein the 4-6 minute pieces offer their “Fuzz retro Satanica” feeling without fail and the 8-10+ minute pieces tend towards jams, experiments and pieces with wild interruptions, such as the riding high exodus of “Viaje No. 1”. I wouldn’t say that this album needs the context of 2020’s ‘Season of the Witch Chapter I’ but you’ve definitely wandered into the deeper underground space of stoner/psychedelic rock that has no qualms with being a word of mouth treasure with an already extensive back catalog. I definitely think they should see how this “live in studio” feeling fits their needs because I’d found it to be their most interesting, atmospheric and texturally satisfying release to date.
|TITLE:||The Imminent Slaughter|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Sentient Ruin Laboratories|
Toronto, Ontario based hardcore punk group Last Agony have readied their first full-length with this motto of “Loud, raw, fast” taken literal as possible offering a raw metallic hardcore sound that is heavily influenced by the convergence of peak late 80’s crust a la Doom and the rising force of early grindcore when it was still falling short of traditional death metal spheres. That is to say that the vocalist has the roar of a young Barney Greenway in some instances and the 80’s hardcore punk force of a band like Dropdead could tangentially apply here too, though we’re nowhere near powerviolence in terms of action and speed. Most of ‘The Imminent Slaughter’ rides a mid-to-fast pace emphasizing their metallic d-beat influenced sound, a grimy Geiger counter crackling crush that is aptly suggested as nuclear, primal and toxic in its attack. The crunch of the album is satisfying and their antics are generally a good time, though I’d felt like “Hacked Pieces” didn’t land with much purpose and this counts for quite a bit when the average hardcore record lands around 20 minutes. The distorted “Tomorrow” (as in Annie, “Tomorrow”) clip as the exit of the final song is just uh, bad for my own taste but I kinda get what they were going for since it wheels back to the strong opening track in a nice loop. A solid record with amazing style and truly corrosive sound design but, tweaking a few small details would’ve gone a long way from my perspective.
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
New York’s Kosmodemonic sound much less like an idea in process and more like a distinct entity on their second full-length ‘Liminal Light’ which comes five years beyond the independently released ‘The Inebriating Darkness’. The pitch here is raw black metal’s mayhemic mindset applied to the elaborate dark doom epics from bands like Yob, which we could equate with Usnea or Burning Witch depending on how far out you’re willing to stretch that idea. Little of this will land to start once immersed in this album, wherein the mixture of artsy doom with only lightly raw black metal is subverted by what is a tendency towards what I’d describe as sludgy blackened noise rock, think of Tombs or Lord Mantis. None of this is a complaint, mind you, but there is an amazing extreme noise rock/post-hardcore band hiding beneath this extreme metal exterior and I’m all for yanking the floorboards up and getting to the weird of it all. “With Majesty” should make it clear what I’m talking about. ‘Liminal Light’ is definitely what I’d consider a frozen-in-motion kind of record, the progressions on offer never push towards other worlds the way black or doom metal records typically do, this ends up feeling like a rock record at heart. A maddening, stuck-down-in-a-well sort of record that brings an uncommon brand of revolting charm yet still offers a highly listenable experience.
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Black Lion Records|
Although the formative years of Wormlight seemed to flit between an indecisive stylistic narrative the main constant has been some heavy influence from melodic black metal, specifically the ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’-era Dissection and perhaps the symphonic inclinations of Dark Fortress and Naglfar. In terms of getting right into a polished and somewhat atmospheric version of this sound for modern audiences ‘Nightmother’ is a fine enough choice, though they still lack some of the updates to songcraft that groups like Thron and Bane benefit greatly from. In this sense we’ve got a traditional melodic black metal record with a modern sound and fairly average performances, melodies that are too subtle to really feel their inspired lineage and atmosphere that is almost too neatly balanced to give Wormlight their own character. When I’d reviewed their prior album in full it’d been with some hope that the attack of their riffs would match the atmospheric value of their slow-growing melodies, instead much of ‘Nightmother’ buries the riffing deeper under layers of ethereal keyboards. “Voidspawn” is the best example of this, a song that would rip were its rhythm guitar tracks louder than everything else. Minor complaints overall, it is a “pretty” melodic black/death metal record that is entirely professional, I am only hesitant to praise this one because I don’t feel it brings a point of view as stunning as its rendering.
|TITLE:||Miracle of the Sun|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
Norwegian hardcore punk/post-hardcore band Shevils offer what we could rightfully consider a revisionist’s ideal of the European hardcore reality beyond the 1990’s, not drowning in nostalgia yet still acknowledging specific sharp tastes along the way such as small hits of Snapcase (“Scandinavian Death Star”) and even glancing smaller twinges of Refused (“Idiot Task Force”) all while winging the easy roll of the first Kvelertak album briefly (“Monsters on TV”). How these standards all coalesce in reflection is appropriately post-apocalyptic for their theme here, a sort of modernist noise punk that is polished yet still organic remembering to hit upon some dissonance and dirt while they zip along with a minimalist attitude. The metallic boost of “Scandinavian Death Star” was more or less enough to sell me on taking a closer look at this album, its ‘End Transmission’-bare but camera-shaking mechanism serving as a righteous introduction to their sound. Even thought the tempo map is often complex Shevils manage to keep things moving without a too convoluted rhythmic language in hand, speaking to the primal motivation of hardcore guitar playing but laying every chord with purpose that has been machined far beyond a garage level of square-shaped chugging; This sharp angled and ‘clean’ sound might be enough to bring in noise rock fans were the basslines a bit more rebellious and ornate but, anything else would be an interruption. “Ride the Flashes” does a lot to keep the momentum going here, even if you might feel like the band have shown their full hand at this point I’d found this piece revived the second half, bringing back the feeling of “Scandinavian Death Star” ensuring there is more of that energy for folks who’d been impatient for another “big” song. For my own taste this Oslo band sidestep all of the embarrassing surface-deep shit that hardcore and post-hardcore does and instead present an inventive, energetic and memorable half hour that is unafraid to go deep into their theme and land with some purpose as it plays out.
|TITLE:||Sheet Metal Sessions|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 1st, 2021|
The 2021 lift upon my usual ban on instrumental only stoner/doom metal continues with this sludgy, shoulder slumping Raleigh, North Carolina doom metal trio who’ve focused intently upon bringing introspective and distraught jams of the rugged, bluesy persuasion. Without a vocalist to frame its larger statement ‘Sheet Metal Sessions’ leaves guitarist Scott Holthausen to do his thing, which is heavy and generally well-voiced doom metal riffs spaced by a wandering eye for leads that do a prime job extending that rhythm guitar statement into (largely) complete sentences. The atmospheric guitar work, such as the ~5:15 moment on “Black Hand of the Emperor”, often drags on too long any major statement and these need much more active modulation to add anything to these pieces. “Orgasm of Death” is probably the song I’d recommend most, nice big riff and a raw recording that hits the right kind of morbid scuzz vibe for the song itself. The band plays tight and these songs are mean, I think a great vocalist could really set ’em off.
|TITLE:||Mesradh Machae [EP]|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 7th, 2021|
Dubliners Coscradh play a bestial, blackened form of death metal loaded with pick-scraping and echoing horrors which I guess sounds a bit rote in terms of war-torn death metal these days but they’ve made sure that this pair of fairly involved 6-7 minute songs find their riffs and hammer them home. Fans of Degial and Vassafor will appreciate the primal sound and aggressive attack which stands out from their nearby Irish fellowes by way of an uncaring, brutally raw death metal spirit. The bones of these pieces are yet classic death metal rhythms and grinding rolls, not quite war metal but bestial and crazed shit nonetheless. I’d say this is an EP band for me ’til I’ve seen what they can do on a full-length, hitting the 15-20 minute mark is just right for their sound to get in and out the window quick for the kill.
CHECK THESE OUT TOO
- HANTERNOZ – Au Fleuve de Loire [May 3rd, Antiq]
- POISONED SPEED – Quick and Dirty [May 7th, Morbid and Miserable Records]
- HUMAN FAILURE – Crown on the Head of a King of Mud [May 7th, Sentient Ruin/Caligari]
- ADUANTEN – Sullen Cadence [May 7th, Self-Released]
- COSMO JONES BEAT MACHINE – Skeleton Elevator [May 7th, Svart Records]
- EMPTY THRONE – Glossolalia [May 7th, Wise Blood Records]
- OSIAH – Loss [May 7th, Unique Leader Records]
- KRYPTIK MUTATION – Pulled From the Pit [May 7th, Redefining Darkness Records]
- BLACK MOON MOTHER – Illusions Under the Sun [May 7th, Petrichor]
- HASUFEL – Exaltation [May 4th, Pacific Threnodies]
- DISILLUSIONIST – Love & Anxiety [May 1st, Over the Under Records]
- ZMIARCVIELY – cornaje polymia [May 6th, Caligari Records]
- NO LIGHT ESCAPES – The Purity of Grief [May 5th, Self-Released]
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