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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The twenty-third week of 2021 is highlighted by bluesy sludge, monolithic sludge, impossibly atmospheric black metal, plenty of status quo melodic extreme metal, some spastic noise rock, and perhaps the angriest chivalric black metal ever and I’ll be honest none of it is really catching my ear beyond the expected niches filled. 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 bit out of left-field for me with Colombian atmospheric black metal artist Atrium‘s debut ‘Ancient Spells‘ enrobing me in its incredibly wintry synth weaponry, ethereal blasting magick that I found myself completely and willingly lost within these last few weeks. Not far behind is Russian melodic black metal band Passéisme whom might be from Nizhny Novgorod (and feature members of Wombripper) but their debut album ‘Eminence‘ is prime Fin de siècle black metal which fans Véhémence will adore. And to complete our triad of glorious, affirming black metal hierophany Narbeleth‘s ‘Svmma Cvm Nox Arcana‘ finds the Cuban/Spanish act at peak performance with their austere fifth album. The fourth album from Swedish melodic death metal act This Ending can essentially be considered the seventh A Canorous Quintet album and well, ‘Needles of Rust‘ is surely modern but no less blissful an event. Last but not least we’ve got bluesy, screaming, rough n’ stoned and screaming their heads off sludge metal from bass n’ doom trio Seum with their debut album ‘Winterized‘, pure love for these guys as they’ve always come across like they’re giving their all, passion and pain and uh, weed. That’ll do it, kind of leaning black metal here but I’ll review some death metal, (possibly) the new Red Fang and the new Pharaoh record as well so that’ll balance out.
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:||The Unholy Hordes|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 7th, 2021|
Although my first exposure to their region was Gangrena‘s debut, it is hard to think of Portuguese metal without first thinking of black/thrash metal legends Alastor and associated bands. Few artists have remained so steadfast to the evil thrash metal cause and still managed to deliver albums that mix it up now and then. Formed in 1988 but soon taking a backseat to ringleader Desecrator‘s black metal project Decayed in the early 90’s, this band always stayed true to the witching metal of the mid-to-late 80’s, pushing a few steps beyond Venom and Bathory towards the early German mastery of satanic speed metal but keeping the raw “punk” feeling in tact instead of ever going technical. No matter what release you pick up you’re getting raw and feral stuff, though they had kind of cleaned up a bit on their 30th anniversary record ‘…The Dark Tower…’ in 2018. Maybe they’ve done some introspection towards a new path or decided it was time for something even more ancient and wild but for this seventh album Desecrator has added Toxikull vocalist Lex Thunder to the line-up and to great results. ‘The Unholy Hordes’ is an anthemic mid-80’s speed metal album to my ear, still upholding the “garage metal” roughness Alastor demands but punching along harder than early power/speed metal would have. Some songs have a bit of ‘Thundersteel’ to their roll, others remind me of the best songs from Luzbel‘s ‘Pasaporte al Infierno‘ so, to be clear this is definitely more the true speed/power metal in the mid-80’s sense in style but definitely holding onto the darker side of Alastor as well. Although I think this change will be a lot to take in if you’ve collected their discography so far, I figure if you are into the steadfast ‘old school’ heavy metal spirit of the band in the past then this should make enough sense. Make sure you check out Toxikull and Decayed to, each have recent or upcoming records that will balance well with this one.
|RELEASE DATE:||June 11th, 2021|
Perhaps intentionally on my part, we are back in the throes of a singular black metal force who has been at it longer than most, with Gorgon maestro Christophe Chatelet having formed this band back in 1991 with an original run of four well-received albums ’til ceasing in 2001. The band revived in 2017 and soon released ‘The Veil of Darkness’ (2019) which echoed the earliest second wave mindset that’d borne the band in the first place, it was traditional in essence and a decent enough record but, I think at the time I’d just had very little to say about it. What was missing for me? I want all black metal to reveal some sort of insanity or, personal fire within the artist without consideration for the listener and if we can pivot toward ‘Traditio Satanae’ I would say this is most obviously alight in Gorgon today. From the very first few rushes of tremolo-scraped guitar lines to the fading last there is a passionate rush of the incensed and willful soul within this album, it is yet simple and practical in presentation but exactly the wealth of inspired movements black metal should be. Chatelet has always leaned into hints of classic rock, punk, and all of the elements that’d influenced the first wave of black metal so there are of course a few songs on here that reveal this more than others, such as “My Filth is Worth Your Purity”, and I think this is smartly revealed later in the album as the thrill of Side A warms the listener to the rest of Gorgon‘s oeuvre. The fellow is on fire here across this album and if anything there might be too many ideas here for one record, with later pieces like “The Long Quest” bearing enough strength to insist that I keep spinning the record so that all of it has time to sink in. ‘Traditio Satanae’ might appear a bit no frills but I found it delivered equal depth to the amount of energy I put into it.
|RELEASE DATE:||June 10th, 2021|
Of course there is a bit of a theme still going here as the main actors in Hønefoss, Norway founded Vulture Lord got their start in the earliest of 90’s in a demo-only band named Energumen and settled on this current name around 1995 with various line-up shifts in the interim. The history of this band is by most accounts more interesting than their discography but as I wheeled through their ties to Urgehal, Endezzma, and of course Beastcraft it becomes more obvious why there was a long period of silence in the band. The passing of Trondr Nefas certainly took the wind out of many excellent bands and I think we could consider this one a sort of black/thrash metal side project beyond 2003 and a band where constant recording and songwriting wasn’t their focus. So, guitarist Malphas, who has been involved with Vulture Lord since the Energumen days and is now in Svarttjern and Endezzma, takes main guitar position alongside Enzifer (a founding/key member of Urgehal) for a thrashing black metal album with a very clean yet abrasive Norwegian black metal methodology. Since I have named half of the black metal bands ever out of Hønefoss twice over at this point, I will be just as direct as the music is here: This sounds exactly as you’d expect it to, Norwegian black metal and late 80’s thrash metal movements have blended ideally since the first few folks got it right in the early 90’s. Cold, ruthless, but also buoyant and not entirely predictable when it comes time to mix things up the bulk of ‘Desecration Rite’ is nothing less than classic black/thrash metal with a few rocking moments you’d expect from the guitarists of the aforementioned bands. Definitely recommended for fans of Carpathian Forest and certain Aura Noir records though I don’t think it’ll knock the slime out of most brains, it is a solid listen.
|RELEASE DATE:||June 11th, 2021|
|BUY/LISTEN:||Vic Records Store|
The fine folks over at Vic Records continue to provide an undeserving populace with some of the finest reissues the world over, resurrecting this gem of the late 90’s melodic black metal scene. Blot Mine were essentially a regrouping of certain members of unknown band Egregori after they’d left Setherial beyond the first album (‘Nord…’, 1996) and of course if we take stock of who was involved here it becomes a bit mind-blowing if you’d not known about this band just in the same way discovering Soulreaper after ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’ might be interesting. Melodic black metal certainly doesn’t have any heroic drummers in mind but we can at least admire Anders Löfgren for his style heard on key recordings from Sorhin, Midvinter, Setherial, and of course Blot Mine where he was arguably at his most sophisticated due to the mid-tempo and heavy melodic focus of this first album. “My Soul in Fury Flew” is my favorite example of his work for the rapidly kicked double-bass drumming along with the mournfully slow rock beat of it all otherwise, this is also the sort of magick essence of this recording in a nutshell where chaotic brutality and beauteous melodic ease rest together for a thrillingly unnatural storm of an experience. How else could I pique your interest? Several of the songs are written in Sumerian, the album was produced, engineered and mixed by Andy LaRocque and well — Are there many bands besides Sacramentum who brought this sort of beauty to the original spiritus of melodic black metal in the late 90’s? Emphasis being on melody, I suppose. It’ll be exciting to those who’ve known about this record but haven’t been able to snag a copy that this is getting a reissue, plus it includes their ‘Kill For Inner Peace’ demo recordings from 1997 which actually feature some keyboards and satisfyingly raw, less densely mixed sound that reveals additional layers of the guitar work and their subtle harmonization which makes ‘Porphyrogenesis’ something special under the hood, so to speak. If you are a melodic black metal nerd like I am, this is going to be a mandatory grab.
|TITLE:||Live Laugh Loathe|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 11th, 2021|
Eh, so far I’d say 2021 has been alright for noise rock in general but we’ve not gotten a ton of the mixed-up and overwhelmed anxiety rock/post-hardcore that Muscle Vest specialize in just yet. On their latest EP the London-based band do have a bit of the techy, swinging n’ skronking rabble of USA Nails in hand but also the “fun” side of Pissed Jeans bouncing around here and here too, rough but more angular than either comparison might suggest. “Creepy Crawlie” is an instant hit with me in this sense, spongy grooves and unsteady movement make the rant of it all that much more charming and well, dark. The grind of wake, eat, work, sleeping one’s life away and finding absolutely no meaning in any of it is well expressed here within the chopped out rhythm guitar work and screaming feedback’d halts of “Stray”, they’re doing their best to break loose and ha, the line they focus on the whole “I’m looking through your window” gig of it is unnerving in the best way possible, harmless but also presenting an unhinged and dangerous state of mind that is tough to shake as the album spins on repeat. “A Slow Death” is the message and the feature here and it lands well, and they break up the steady pace with an sort of early Laughing Hyenas style quick hardcore ripper to finish things off. The cover art is a bit eh for my serious ass and the EP is way short but Muscle Vest are always in the pocket here and I’d found myself leaving it on repeat for the sake of cycling through the standout moments on offer. Keep it on your radar if you’re a noise rock head who leans filthy but hard.
|TITLE:||Bearer of Many Names|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 11th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Transcending Obscurity Records|
Eremit definitely present a bit of test up front on this second full-length album, fiddling out a Bell Witch-esque minimal bass intro that lasts for nearly seven minutes before breaking into song. Right, and it is a 29 minute song so what are we listening to? Well, despite a lot of comparisons I’ve seen out there in the wild the best way I could put it is basically if Yob were a death/doom metal band with a bit of a Conan aftertaste. There are hints of ‘Times of Grace’-era Neurosis in their drum sound and lightly “tribal” beats when things speed up and for my taste this is where Eremit have developed their sound best. Though folks who aren’t in tune with stoner/sludge will find the production cavernous and absolute mud I’d say if we take a broad sample this sound suits their multi-purpose crossover between many sub-genres. The aforementioned half hour album opener, “Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness”, features the vocalist from Ahab at his most imposing funeral doom growl here and if we dig through the notes a bit their sound engineer had his hand in ‘Boats of the Glen Carrig’, even. I’d found my thoughts on this song, a slow reveal with plenty of brilliant sections and variety sum up the album well enough, it is the best thing Eremit have done to date and I think they’ve finally found enough interest to justify their ridiculously long song lengths. If they could’ve cut this album back to its strongest ideas it might’ve been a choppy ~45 minutes or so but, maybe less of a visual spectacle in terms of merchandizing. Much as I enjoyed my time with this album, around five and a half full spins, I’d definitely felt the squeeze in terms of demanding a lot of attention for their slow builds and not always getting the payoff. If they could trim off half the intro time for the goods, I think they’d be one of the more engaging developments in this extreme sludge/doom space lately. If you haven’t gotten in on this band yet, this is the one to jump in with and again I’d say their best work.
|TITLE:||Condemned to Suffer|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 11th, 2021|
Though we can expect some manner of skulled brutality from any given death metal crew out of South Holland past-and-present, this Sliedrecht coalesced quintet aren’t so one-dimensional that “brutal” will suffice as description of any one of their three full-lengths since forming in ~2003. The last one might jog your memory if you’ve got an eidetic memory for poor choices since it was self-released and featured a magenta cover with nothing more than a white logo and title back in 2015, definitely a sort of “Bandcamp rabbit hole” find that was probably too good for its aesthetic at the time. Much has changed since ‘Uninvolved’ in terms of Sepiroth‘s line-up with a new vocalist and bassist since but, their approach to modern (as in, the last two decades) death metal styles should still hold the same general appeal. If your taste in death metal spreads evenly between Dutch and Polish death metal circa 2001-2005 you’re probably the right mark for this record; One piece might hit about as hard as Trauma‘s best and the first couple of opening tracks may bring mid-2000’s Aborted to mind but we’ve also got nods to later Death sparking up here and there, too. It isn’t so much eclectic as it is inspired by a decent selection of modern and timeless death metal ideas. It wouldn’t hold up as well as it does if they hadn’t held themselves to a strong (or, very polished) professional standard. Not the most memorable record out this week but one that will click easily with the right listener.
CHECK THESE OUT TOO
- SEUM – Winterized [June 11th, Self-Released]*
- THIS ENDING – Needles of Rust [June 11th, Black Lion Records]*
- PASSEISME – Eminence [June 11th, Antiq]*
- ATRIUM – Ancient Spells [June 11th, Signal Rex]*
- CODEX SERAFINI – Invisible Landscape [June 11th, Halfmeltedbrain Records/Ceremonial Laptop]
- COFFIN LURKER – Foul and Defiled [June 7th, Sentient Ruin Laboratories]
- THRONEUM / KINGDOM – ThronDom des Bosen [June 7th, Godz ov War Productions]
- ORDER OF NOSFERAT – Arrival of the Plague Bearer [June 7th, Purity Through Fire]
- NEFARIOUS DUSK – Nefarious Dusk [June 7th, Purity Through Fire]
- RITUAL SACRIFICE – When Hope is Pain [June 11th, Vic Records]#
- DISTANT – Aeons of Oblivion [June 11th, Unique Leader]
- NARBELETH – Svmma Cvm Nox Arcana [June 11th, Folter Records]*
- WHITE TUNDRA – Honningfella [June 11th, All Good Clean 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.
<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.