Annihilate This Week 5/29/21: “Phenomenal and noumenal parity.”

ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK hits every Weekend (Saturday or Sunday) with the intent of covering important new releases — grouping short reviews for albums, EPs and demos selected from the current week’s best. These albums were overlooked for 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: grizzlybutts@hotmail.com


The twenty-second week of 2021 is highlighted by gloriously melodic and avant-garde black metal records, classic 90’s and 2000’s death metal from every angle, several artsy brutal death records, and a few choice stoner/heavy rock records. The first two weeks of June are fairly light on interest so far. 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 the return of Killing Addiction with ‘Mind of a New God‘, the Florida band have been active with EPs for a while but have not released an album since 1993 and this one is just insanely fucking cool. Boss Keloid‘s ‘Family the Smiling Thrush‘ is not far behind and well, they’re in their own world of proggy sludge on this mission to uplift and encourage sense and purpose within chaotic minds. Inhuman Condition‘s ‘Rat God‘ offers a classic Florida death/thrash metal record that is so fueled by fury and revenge that it really cannot be ignored. Long-standing and well-morphed progressive black metal act Code‘s fifth album ‘Flyblown Prince‘ is beautifully over the top, reaching back to the earlier magick of the band for an impressive prog metal record that leaves behind the post-music influence of the last two records. These will all get full reviews, otherwise I’ll be pushing towards the fourth week of the month as soon as possible.

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:


ARTIST:CRESCENT
TITLE:Carving the Fires of Akhet
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021 [EU],
June 18th, 2021 [US]
LABEL(S):Listenable Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Crescent don’t necessarily play up the fact that they are perhaps one of the first notable death metal acts from Egypt pre-dating the early stages of Scarab (ex-Hate Suffocation) by a year or two because they aren’t, in fact they were one of the first black metal bands from Egypt to start. In their earliest incarnation they were more interested in classic gothic poetry than their eventual embrace of Egyptian mythology and symbolism and this present brutal black/death ideal we discover today didn’t come fully formed for another 15-16 years beyond formation with their self-released debut ‘Pyramid Slaves’ (2014). The quality and momentum of that first release landed them on Listenable Records, who have long tended to pick up more substantial and polished death metal bands, and this’ll be the first note from most listeners when picking up their third album ‘Carving the Fires of Akhet’. Warm, polished and austere sound design that is surely an evolution beyond the most popular achievements of bands like Nile and Behemoth at the mid-2000’s peak of “musical” popular technical brutal death metal.

Though they are based in Germany today Crescent are still intently focused on middle eastern melodic rhythm infused with thunderous black/death brutality. Still invoking the Egyptian cultural thematic, guitarist/vocalist and songwriter Ismaeel Attallah brings a grand vision to life here on his strongest effort to date. The line-up has changed quite a bit these last two years so, I won’t focus on who plays what here and instead more on the fact that they’ve all done a flawless job infusing feeling into a style of music that is largely inhuman, oppressive and god-sized. Crescent puts a fair deal of their energy into nostalgia here in terms of extras, first summing up their career with “As Nu Enshrines Death”, a long and epic journey of a song, and then re-recording an early piece “Dreamland” before breaking into two covers I think most folks will appreciate. ‘Xeper-I-Set” from Dissection‘s last album is a bit stiff-necked to start but they’ve found an interesting way to emphasize the melody via their own slightly more technical approach. ‘Reinkaos’ is a sort of perfection difficult to interpret any way but it’s own. Otherwise the Bolt Thrower cover is far more natural for Crescent‘s sound and man, who doesn’t love “…For Victory”? Pure love for this version and perhaps only because they’ve hardly changed it. Undoubtedly the best and most complete statement from this project to date.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:CASKET
TITLE:Urn [EP]
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021
LABEL(S):Neckbreaker Records
BUY/LISTEN:Nekcbreaker Store

Groove-heavy death metal trio Casket have been an underground fixture in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany since 1990 and you’ve never heard of them. Why not? Fuck if I know, German death metal tended to be hyper-insular in the 90’s for the sake of elitism but that doesn’t seem like Casket‘s attitude then or now. Anyhow, guitarist/vocalist Schorsch is the big deal here up front with his Gorefest/early Barnes vocals and intricately groove-scouring guitar work. Nothing overtly technical nor barbaric, ‘Urn’ is pure death metal chunked out with ease. Simple but effective work. They’ve included what sound like live soundboard recordings which are pretty clear, though I prefer the studio tracks here most.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:OSSAERT
TITLE:Pelgrimsoord
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021
LABEL(S):Argento Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Ossaert is a solo black metal project out of Zwolle, Netherlands whom focuses on extended pieces of atmospherically shaped black metal. ‘Pelgrimsoord’ offers a second set of four dramatic and sentimental works that have the angered force of the second wave in mind but, not necessarily in hand. I’ve found this follow-up even more engrossing and “aching” in movement than his debut, more vocally active and leaning in a less wandering mood, focused and aggressive with plenty of riffs strung together along the way. “De Val en de Beroering” is probably my favorite piece here for the arrangement itself as well as the clean vocal work he’d included on the third track from the last album, this is of course more active and aggressive by comparison and suits the sepia tone atmosphere of Ossaert well with its tragic leads and melodic black metal down-swings unto intensity. Opener “De geest en de vervoering” provides a similar thrill but largely in its second half. Session drummer W. (Laster) does an amazing job here, even when certain pieces call for endlessly droning hits he keeps everything tight in time and space. In terms of black metal coming out this week, this is the most prime selection from the ‘underground’ stuff I’ve come across. Remarkable, profound work.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:WINTER ETERNAL
TITLE:Land of Darkness
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Athens borne and (more recently) Scotland planted melodic black metal act Winter Eternal has long held an obsession with early 90’s melodic black metal of the highest caliber be it Scandinavian or Hellenic craft yet he (Soulreaper) had primarily been involved in the Athens thrash metal scene ’til forming this group in 2011. There is a bit of a trade-off here in approaching his third full-length as we take a moment to look back at ‘Realm of the Bleeding Shadows’ (2019) which was far more ‘loose’ feeling in terms of performances yet slightly more adventurous in direct comparison. Honing in on the fluidity of early Swedish black metal acts and cranking the speed a bit, taming the clunky bass sound of the previous album, all of these modulations yield fine results for an album with a bit of a triumphant “heavy metal” spirit throughout. The vocals are largely flat in terms of passion or conviction, growled and verbose in such a way that the emotive nature of the instrumentals lose some of their lustre to this lower-lunged style. It would be fine for a melodeath band in the early 2000’s but, here the attempts to reach the gothic “romantic” profundity of classic Swedish works become intrusive; If the vocals were mixed a shade more quiet (along with the clean guitar parts) it’d not have been an issue. It all works well enough as a casual listen and I appreciate the homebrewed feeling of this release to some degree but I cannot get on board with the album art, which lacks the sophistication of previous choices. The Gates of Ishtar cover at the end of the album emphasizes these complaints a bit, its jaunty movement bearing more intentional movement than the original pieces on the record and begging for a bit more life in the vocals. Though I sound a bit down on it I do appreciate the aim of ‘Land of Darkness’ quite a bit, it just doesn’t all come together for me.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:CRIMSON DIMENSION
TITLE:Crimson Dimension
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021
LABEL(S):Spread Evil
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

The self-titled debut from Finnish blackened progressive metal quintet Crimson Dimension does everything it can to make sure you haven’t missed the point as they introduce themselves: This is progressive metal first and foremost yet it has been “blackened” via some menacing vocal work and their general exploration of darker-toned pieces. This means they’ve put as much excess as possible into each song without sounding like an awkward imitation of black metal or a campy symphonic black metal record. You’ll get shades of Ajattara, Throes of Dawn and maybe Enochian Crescent in these 12-18 minute works as the band achieves a patient level of sophistication within, an “elegant ugliness” that only occasionally gets a bit lost as each song plods on. If you’ve only heard the preview of “Black Mass” and found it a bit dull, likewise, but I’d suggest that the rest of the album picks up the ball more often and doesn’t fumble with its strokes of black metal nearly as often, “Age of Awakening” particularly gets this right in its last third. Extreme progressive metal is a tricky thing for my own taste and the lean towards elaborations of “traditional” black metal ideas here doesn’t always work, though there are countless points of interest throughout ‘Crimson Dimension’ I’m not sure I’d ever found a spot I’d like to return to within the scenery. As much as I did “get” the style and skill on display here, it is a fine and professionally made record with clear intent, a sort of it factor was missing that’d justify the connections made.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

ARTIST:SHUN
TITLE:Shun
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021
LABEL(S):Small Stone Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Stoner rock/alternative metal band Shun have pulled together as much interest as possible for this self-titled debut, which has been pieced together from home recordings made between various members during quarantine year MMXX. Don’t let that give you the impression that it is rough around the edges, though, this is accessible and easy rocking alternative rock music with a bit of a stoner metal edge. The album itself isn’t all that confrontational beyond the first few songs, bumbling and buzzing over towards mid-paced stuff that curves towards a bit of an adult contemporary but stoney feeling — Think of the most recent Hum record but able to swing into Wo Fat sized doomed rock edge when a song calls for some existential anxiety. This all reads pretty easy listening for my taste but the album holds together pretty well, a good mix of chill 90’s guy gone dad-rockin’ feelings with some heavier riff runs that land well when left on repeat (“Once Again”). I only wish it’d delivered on the attitude of opener “Run” a bit more and cut a few of the mid-album pieces that felt redundant in tone. None of these are real serious gripes I suppose, the only choice I take issue with is the way they’ve placed the logo on the bottom of the album cover with a solid black rectangle behind it, it culls all of the presence of the artwork.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:STARLIGHT RITUAL
TITLE:Sealed in Starlight
RELEASE DATE:June 2nd, 2021
LABEL(S):Temple of Mystery
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Originally conceived as a psychedelic heavy/doom metal project via J-F. Bertrand of Forteresse and fellow guitarist Dan Toupin, Montréal based heavy metal act Starlight Ritual have leaned entirely into traditional 80’s heavy metal with the wind of the late 70’s at their backs for this debut full-length. I’d been all set to sit down and review ‘Sealed in Starlight’ last week and after three runs through it my notes amounted to “Ehh vocals, more riffs” having only lightly connected with the otherwise sharp mid-80’s heavy metal style of the record. I don’t hear the 80’s Black Sabbath tonality that others do on Side A, “Civilization Lost” and some of the later tracks on the running order bring this Dio-esque side to life but most of the album reads almost too cleanly in the realm of North American heavy metal of a certain era. There is a untold requirement within records of this tonality that one must suspend disbelief a bit and understand exactly why we’re travelling back in time, of course from the band’s perspective I assume they’ve looked to the past for the sake of resembling it, aiming for 80’s authenticity via the decade prior. In theory this works but the best parts of ‘Sealed in Starlight’ are the ones that kick into a bit of speed metal yaw (“Lunar Rotation”) and from what I’ve read that’d been a track from their doom-centric years. The middle ground is pretty obvious from my perspective, go more Trouble and less Blackie Lawless circa ’87 but, what the hell do I know. Though I did find their singer Damian Ritual often overwhelmed most songs in terms of verbose and occasionally counter-melodic delivery, the album does eventually sink in. A bit too aqua net metal for my own taste at times but you’ll definitely not mistake it for anything but true heavy metal.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:DEZ DARE
TITLE:Hairline Ego Trip
RELEASE DATE:June 4th, 2021
LABEL(S):Ch!mp Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Psychedelic “soft-punk” but really just garage punk with a quaint load of fuzzy guitar layers behind every hook, ‘Hairline Ego Trip’ tries so hard to pack a neck-punch into each of its 2-3 minute songs that it lands within a nigh ideal space of “trying hard but listening effortless” much of the time. Clean, unobstructed if not a bit campy records like these are rare in the noise and detail obssessed world of independent garage/psych punk, I’d appreciated that this doesn’t just sound like weekender Bandcamp trash in that respect. That said, Dez Dare‘s sound works a bit less when songs push past the three minute mark; I’d found the longer pieces repetitive and far too bluntly stated to hit the psychedelia-obsessed nerve in my head and, additionally, “Goodbye Autonomy” is a bit of extra wasted time on a short record. Otherwise I’d been engaged, interested, and up for more in this style if he can find the connection between all of those Devo blips and the movement of krautrock to give those longer songs some actual push. “Tractor Beam, Shitstorm” kinda gets there but needs a more commanding beat and less of the digital guitar effect bustle. An easy record to pick up, and and easy record to put down.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

ARTIST:CANENS CARCER
TITLE:Canens Carcer
RELEASE DATE:June 2nd, 2021
LABEL(S):Morbid and Miserable Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

A lo-fi doom metal/punk record that begins with ominous organ grinding and a shout of “Satan!” and yep, I am right at home within this fantastic first impression from Portuguese fellowes Canens Carcer. The movement from piece to piece is no less impressive here as the whole presentation of this 48 minute debut album flows easily in its “live in studio” state, cutting through simple organ-kissed horror punk progressions and slow-burning doom metal songs. Abysmal Grief might be too dark a comparison to start, this is a bit more “fun” than that’d suggest as the sound here far more muddled and the songwriting involves a stream of consciousness state, feeling improvised at certain points (“Utter Chaos”) where the momentum collapses a bit. The shambling, zombified essence of ‘Canens Carcer’ is a simple and surrealistic pleasure to become lost within otherwise. It doesn’t necessarily hit as hard as Python did a couple years back, the sort of “lost at sea” moments within a number of songs loses its charm as the album progresses and begins to sound like indecisive fumbling with repeated listens but, the experience is endearing enough that I’d like to hear a lot more from this project.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

CHECK THESE OUT TOO

  • WORM SHEPHERD – In The Wake Ov Sòl [June 4th, Unique Leader]
  • NEPHILIA – Nephilia [June 4th, The Sign Records]
  • TOTALLY SLOW – Casual Drag [June 4th, Refresh Records]
  • CYCLOPS CATARACT – ‘The Bestiary [June 5th, Planet K Records]
  • BIZARREKULT – Vi Overlevde [June 4th, Petrichor]
  • CARIVARI – Reset [June 4th, No Good to Anyone]
  • INTERPOLANT – Arbor [June 4th, Terminarch Records]
  • ADAM – Sun [June 4th, Venerate Industries]
  • LYCANTHRO – Mark of the Wolf [June 4th, Alone Records]
  • FLUIDS – Not Dark Yet [June 4th, Hells Headbangers]
  • KLAMM – Misanthropocene [June 1st, Disharmonia Records]
  • OSLO TAPES – ØR [June 4th, Pelagic Records]
  • SEPUTUS – Phantom Indigo [June 4th, Willowtip Records]
  • BELK – Umpire [June 4th, Glasshouse 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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