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-fourth week of 2021 is highlighted by progressive death metal, power metal, epic heavy metal, sludge metal, black death metal, psychedelic rock, some kind of mathcore grindy stuff, and plenty to wade through in general. 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 *checks notes* alright well I guess it is Pharoah‘s ‘The Powers That Be‘, a long-awaited return from one of the heavier power metal bands out of the United States, ever featuring vocalist Tim Aymar (Control Denied) in impressive form. Otherwise we’ve got the compact disc version of Gnosis‘ ‘Omens From the Dead Realm‘ which strives and succeeds at sounding like a Varathron record from 1995 and even includes guest spots from Necroabyssious and a few others along the way. Very inspired record which I will sing all sorts of praises for and will absolutely grab the vinyl version. Otherwise we’ve got a compilation of Phobia (Norway) demos, ‘Slaughterhouse Tapes‘ which was one of those pre-black metal death metal groups, this one featuring folks from Enslaved and Theatre of Tragedy. Likewise impressive is the first EP from Black Ceremonial Kult titled ‘Crowned in Chaos’ a stunning black/death metal obscurity from Chile with a unique style. That is pretty much it, I’ll do short reviews for a couple of these and generally be quick to move onto the stuff coming out on the 25th. Apologies for getting behind with the usual writing, keeping busy with several other projects.
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:||Endless Halls of Golden Totem|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 16th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Cruz Del Sur Music|
In terms of “adventure metal”-seekers and folks who hound after classic heavy metal that spins a high fantasy narrative yarn there are more and more acts cropping up each year to fill the void who are more-or-less pristine right out of the gates. Late last year Possessed Steel impressed with their impassioned study of epic heavy metal’s 80’s melodic rock infused reaches and now this year we’re served Blazon Rite‘s jaunty spirited version with similar focus upon a continuous narrative. Though it might be the sea of vocal effects swimming across the back half of the mix that add to the anthemic quality of these oft complexly lain and riff-heavy compositions but I’d felt ‘Endless Halls of Golden Totem’ holds steady as a sort of next generation of heavy metal folks likely inspired by groups like Twisted Tower Dire and Slough Feg yet still likely to catch the ear of fans who’re inclined towards Visigoth‘s more recent work. Though the standout, or, most remarkable performance here is clearly the brilliant performance from vocalist Johnny Halladay it must be said that his narrative wouldn’t land so well without the neatly written compositions here, with the guitar arrangements particularly easy to single out as a strong point. This record has the rare appeal of a page-turner, a book that builds such momentum as it unfolds that you’ll hardly take a breath before starting the next chapter and well, Blazon Rite barely takes a breath between stories as they shred from “The Executioner’s Woe” through “The Night Watchmen of Starfall Tower” in an inspired tirade of lore. My favorite piece here, “The Alchemist’s Brute” functions as a fine example of everything these guys do right: Narrative songwriting with lyrics the characterize their subjects, unexpected breaks into various atmosphere generating modes (organ grinding, for example) and guitar work that goes a step beyond the most plain keep it true fare. All of it comes at a striding or running pace save a few stompers so, while I’d probably just call it heavy metal at the end of the day all of the hallmarks are here for epic heavy metal fans to soak up. A must listen for traditional heavy metal folks this month.
|TITLE:||Old Ghosts and Primeval Demons|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 18th, 2021|
Since we had given Alastor some due worship last week it only makes sense to pay more respect to the origins of black metal in Portugal with the latest record from Decayed, a band started in 1990 by S.A. of Alastor who’d also formed Hoth nearby. Though we can take a casual ride through any of his works and say that he was an important part of 90’s black metal in this region the style that we’ve long gotten from most of these projects capitalizes upon an authentic capture of 80’s extreme metal, in this case Decayed is the closest to the 90’s one can get from a fellow who has never strayed. Considering his compatriots back in 1990 were Bactherion (soon Filii Nigrantium Infernalium), Morbid God (soon Moonspell) and maybe the more death metal oriented folks a bit later in Sacred Sin and we see all changing with the times to some degree whereas we can put on ‘Old Ghosts and Primeval Demons’ today and still be reminded of the brilliant slashing of ‘The Conjuration of the Southern Circle’ back in 1993. That said, this is the fourteenth album from the band beyond that point and is only for folks who aren’t seeking trendy shit or some false sense of progress or experimentation. I own reissues of their 90’s records and a few up to about 2007 (Drakkar releases, mostly) but I have had a lot of catching up to do in the meantime so, nothing very deep to say beyond the keyboards being just right for the mix here and the guitar performances are very inspired compared to the last two records, though it may just be that I prefer this mix/production. I will have to return to a feature on Portugal’s black metal evolution in the 90’s soon. Favorite songs: “Dead Choir Hails the Birth” and “Cold and Dark”.
|TITLE:||Mortal Angels Descent|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 14th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Godz ov War Productions|
Necrochaos is a dissonant blackened death metal project from prolific German musician Eugene Kohl who spearheads a host of fairly interesting projects (Donarhall, Hexengrab, Sinister Downfall, et al.) which generally involve some form of extreme metal. For a solo death metal project this is a solid rhythm guitar performance and little else of great impact for a ~35 minute record, lots of chugging refrains and tremolo picked reprises without any solos or notable songwriting to make any of it stand out. For me the sound is of fine quality, nice and murky with a huge guitar tone but the ideas on offer here are only developed on the level of a demo without any statements to punctuate and hit the listener with. Quite close to something special but this sound needs something of its own beyond a few atmospheric twists.
|TITLE:||Liberation From a Brutalist Existence|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 18th, 2021|
When I’d gone to link this band’s Bandcamp page here the description said “Remedial mathcore / metallic false grind” and hey, yeah, more-or-less. This sort of meshing of mathy “dark hardcore” and spastic deathgrind elements sounds much more wild than it actually is on paper as most of ‘Liberation From a Brutalist Existence’ cuts through its brief 25 minutes a moderate pace. Largely comprised of angular pieces that rarely push past three minutes, this album presents Wanderer as folks who are their best selves when playing fast so, the slower pieces definitely hit the whole “post-Converge” milestone worldview but aren’t too eager to push that sort of metalcore sound any further. The result is steady but dry and blunt for my own taste. Deep growled vocals, simple post-core songwriting, and lots of sludgy death metal fidelity in hand make for a charming enough listen but I didn’t find the hard-chugging down-stroked riffs to be more than hardcore muscle memory here, getting in the way of the last few tracks’ landing, especially marring “Contented” as an exit wound. I figure time and impact is at a premium at twelve minutes a side but that doesn’t mean these guys don’t land a few good pieces, I’m just not deep enough into this type of stuff to really get their angle on it. “Bloom” and “Hellhole” are the best sample of their range or, my favorite tracks at least.
|RELEASE DATE:||June 18th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Magnetic Eye Records|
Philadelphia psychedelic doom metal trio Heavy Temple make a solid enough first impression with this debut full-length, an album focused upon liberation from determinism in the tradition of the best heavy blues/psychedelic doom acts. ‘Lupi Amoris’ is a middle-ground sort of experience but in a good way, they’ve found a sweet enough balance between the shimmering long-wave spill of psychedelic rock and the bounding ‘n bluesy stoner rock we’ve seen in solid increments beyond the mid-90’s. It starts off a but too well mixed and in full swing by by the time “The Maiden” is doing its sort of “Emerald”-esque riff swinging with a thousand gallons of soapy guitar effects in hand we’re in a good place. In fact the more the momentum built the more beautiful the trail they’d leave behind but, this only lasts for just over 32 minutes and I’d really felt like this is a ~40 minute album kind of band who need more room to breathe. Heavy Temple‘s strengths are all within excess even if they are a laid back heavy blues band under all of the fuzz and wobble going on, this means their most chill and expressive vocal moments lose a bit of steam next to the wild psychedelia in hand with the middle section of “Isabella” being the prime example of the trip steering the ship and the jam taking it too far off subject as we push through the second half of the song. The best way I’ve found to approach ‘Lupi Amoris’ is to think of it like an untested extended live set, and I mean to disrespect by that but it does feel like a lot of the performative bits on the album eat up an large chunk of a brief listen and the stuff you’ll remember at a show are different that what’ll land on album. Armchair nonsense on my end but, if they’d hit a hook or two right on the bat on a few songs that’d be all most folks would need to start digging in.
|RELEASE DATE:||June 18th, 2021|
We are definitely lost in the good, good space between kosmische rhythm and the echo chamber of garage-bound psychedelic/space rock with Saarbrücken, Germany-based trio Yagow as this lux neo-psych dribbling sophomore full-length kicks off with “The Mess”. Fans of The Black Angels and certain Motorpsycho records will find lots to like here but I’d say ‘The Mess’ feels even more bubbly and ancient for its distant echoing vocal effects too effortless guitar work. Though the pace is easy and the resonance expanding far off in the distance within the mix this isn’t such a dark record, much as “Doomed to Fail” is the right sort of jam on my end, their strongest pieces aren’t so pessimistic in tone with “Rise & Shine” or the bristling sunrise of “Eclectic Electric” as the real leaders in hand. Catchy stuff, lots of layers to peel on repeat listens, and a perfect vibe if you’re not feeling dissociative in readying yourself for plague summer part deux.
|TITLE:||A Monument to Silence|
|RELEASE DATE:||June 18th, 2021|
|LABEL(S):||Unique Leader Records|
As I do my best to avoid becoming a cave troll who’d writhe in disgust at any bit of modern death metal that lands on my plate I’ve hit upon a pretty remarkable band here in picking up ‘A Monument to Silence’, the third and long in development album from Philadelphia-based progressive/technical death metal project Alustrium. If you’ve got an ear firmly pressed against the likes of The Artisan Era and Unique Leader as often as I do this will sort of sate the need for each impulse, something outrageously packed with compositional complexity but still relenting to what I’d consider mildly hammering brutality as to keep the pieces gracefully strewn rather than nuclear smashed-out. That is all well and good but I’d insist that this album in particular lands much closer to the quality of big label tech/prog-death a la Allegaeon and Black Crown Initiate once they’ve warmed up beyond an exposition of genre exemplar gymnastics. “The Accuser” will particularly check the ears of any listener who’d felt like they were in for the expected ride as it veers off wildly on a three stage tangent that is nigh operatic as it begins growling from ear to ear. I’d read ‘A Monument to Silence’ as prog-death for the ‘10,000 Days’ generation (well, technically BTBAM bros) from my point of view and thankfully this means Alustrium generally avoid too many nods to deathcore or djent, much like Rivers of Nihil there is a taste for classic technical and progressive death there beyond the current stuff and when they do go “alt metal” on sections of “The Plea” they’re not resorting to embarrassing metalcore kid-catharsis or nu metal nostalgia. So, yes, I can continue to be a hating-ass snob and still feel open-minded thanks to this one. The full hour and the general concept is a lot to take in and I would say don’t put this one off for its first impression, like any well-written and frankly overthought progressive metal album this one benefits from letting it roll and taking stock of the parts that stick. Me being me I’d love the hard reprisal of “Deliverance for the Damned” late in the record, the surreal twists through out “The Accuser” and the grand finale of the nearly 11 minute title track which I honestly don’t think most people will get to in a single sitting due to the hour length of the record. The really big stuff is worth it, though, and I understand that for the concept album to feel complete it all needed to roll together. Solid progressive/technical death metal record with still plenty to pull from each listen after several spins.
CHECK THESE OUT TOO
- DEIVOS – Emanations From Below [June 18th, Selfmadegod Records] Reissue
- HYPNOSIA – Extreme Hatred [June 18th, Petrichor]* Reissue/Remaster
- REINFORCER – Prince of the Tribes [June 18th, Scarlet Records]
- ARCHAEOPTERIS – Vision Chaotiques D´un Songe Halluciné [June 18th, Personal/Void Wanderer]
- INSISTENT – Disease [June 13th, L’inphantile Collective]
- THUN – Thun [June 16th, Eat Lead and Die Music]
- MALGÖTH – Primordial Dawn [June 18th, Iron Bonehead Productions]
- OXBLOOD FORGE – Decimator [June 18th, Self-Released]
- ENTIERRO – El Camazotz [June 18th, Self-Released]
- MACABRE DECAY – Into Oblivion [June 18th, Grind to Death Records]
- DEMON INCARNATE – Leaves of Zaqqum [June 18th, Metalville]
- BLOODBEAT – Process of Extinction [June 18th, Inverse Records]
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