Annihilate This Week 7/19/21: “An ugliness unfurled in the moonlight and soft shadow and suffused the whole world.”

ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK hits every Weekend (Saturday or Sunday) with the intent of covering important new releases for the upcoming week — a curated grouping of short reviews for albums, EPs and demos. 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-ninth week of 2021 is highlighted by a surprising amount of traditional thrash metal, some off-kilter stoner metal, the usual late-in-the-month black metal dump, and a few surprisingly feral death/thrash influenced records in between. I’ve been asked to cover more genres outside of underground metal for this column and well, we will have to wait until next week. If you’re not into the selection this time around, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with more new releases from different styles, genres, etc.

The Album of the Week for my own taste is Craven Idol‘s ‘Forked Tongues’, probably their most readable world-eater of a black/thrash metal album thus far. Spain’s Krossfyre likewise have a scalding take on black/thrash but theirs has a bit of ‘The Nocturnal Silence’ in its blood, I personally love ‘Rites of Extermination‘ and yep, definitely hate the album cover. Otherwise we’ve got a third full-length from German death metal band Temple of Dread and this one breaks into Greek mythos for inspiration while also hitting some early Pestilence (and late 80’s thrash in general) influences that make for a brilliant time on ‘Hades Unleashed‘. Not enough Greek themes yet? How about Lykhaeon‘s ‘Opprobrium’, a tale of Persephone stolen away by Hades in choir via the Helvetic Underground Committee, how could I not review 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:


ARTIST:COGNITIVE
TITLE:Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction
RELEASE DATE:July 16th, 2021
LABEL(S):Unique Leader Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Cognitive are a modern technical death metal quintet from Jobbstown, New Jersey whom have slowly shied away from a mosh-heavy, Dying Fetus influenced sound beyond their self-titled debut in 2014 for Pathologically Explicit. ‘Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction’ is their third full-length for Unique Leader and they’ve more or less held up this high fidelity, industry standard bearing sound via plenty of groove-infested pieces and what I’d considered chug-metal hooks. This isn’t what makes ’em stand out, in fact I’d say other than the sheer spectacle and force of their production values and impossibly chunky guitars what sticks with me after listening to Cognitive is the depraved and cold atmosphere laced throughout either via interludes or slower, groove-focused pieces. There are a few songs on here that kinda hit my heyday circa the mid-2000’s such as “Ouroboros”, beyond the nigh breeing chug break the stretch towards the big solo in the second half of the song pulls it off for the most part. The other outlier here is “Destitute” a slower almost alt-metal influenced prog death song that seems like too little, too late in terms of showing up right at the end. No question that these guys are talented and ripping shit up here, if you like a solid balance of chug n’ grind with frantic tech-brutality there is a lot to like here. I’d lost interest due to the big and brassy production here, it just never breathes and the rhythm guitar tone feels fresh out of the box for my own taste. I’ll definitely go back to their last two records and see what I’ve missed.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:ERADICATOR
TITLE:Influence Denied
RELEASE DATE:July 23rd, 2021
LABEL(S):Metalville
LISTEN:Website

German traditional thrash metal quartet Eradicator bring a cleanest-yet touch to their Bay Area influenced craft on this fifth full-length from the band since 2004. I’ve somewhat mixed feelings on this one since it is generally their best release but doesn’t necessarily hold up as a full listen; The first half of ‘Influence Denied’ has a righteous enough Death Angel feeling to it, not blazing fast but keeping the momentum up and ripping into plenty of inspired leads, their approach to riffs is far more modern than an 1988 thrash metal band but the spirit is still there as they carve out songs like “Hate Preach”, a sort of Testament by way of Outrage (Japan) piece with some brutal downstroked moments that blaze by almost too fast to notice. Yet somehow we end up with songs like “5-0-1”, somewhere between power metal and early 90’s Lȧȧz Rockit that lands especially flat smack dab in the middle of the album. It took just a few listens to hone in on the issue, which is simply the mix on the (doubled?) vocals being too severe as his shouting becomes fairly monotonous. It is a shame ‘Influence Denied’ eventually became sandpaper for my brain because there are some seriously heavy “classic” feeling songs here, such as the simple-yet-effective builds of “Hypocrite”.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

ARTIST:PLANET OF THE DEAD
TITLE:Pilgrims
RELEASE DATE:July 23rd, 2021
LABEL(S):Self-Released
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

There is a distinctive and undeniable fan-fiction element to our work. We actively seek out cultural references, and weave them into our tapestries.” Though this gives many listeners a good enough reason to duck out I’d say that is the exact right vibe and mindset for Planet of the Dead‘s brand of burly, dope-stinking stoner rock infused sludge-heavy doom metal. The New Zealand-based quartet give the impression of a drugged and dragging-on-the-floor blunt instrument to start, the vocalist’s dull-bladed growl being the kicker. That first impression was nothing short of intriguing on my end, their movement has its own “on the edge of a breakthrough” feeling to its progression something like late 90’s Crowbar but drinking less and smoking more. It takes a while for these guys to build back up to the catchiness of the ‘Bustle in Your Hedgerow’-sized stomp of the title track, a bit too deep into Side B for my taste, around “Directive IV” they re-engage a bit but the vocal cadence has worn out and they’re almost all bark ’til the end, “The Great Wave” being my personal favorite piece. ‘Pilgrims’ definitely kept me engaged during the “What’ll they do next?” phase of listening but when it came time to return to the album and enjoy it for its lax nature and tunefulness it’d just been a lot of jogging in place beyond a few big swings. I’d say they’ve at least one-upped themselves beyond simple iteration here but, I’d like to see what these guys can do overthinking their hooks or, portraying those references in a more emphatic, over the top way. A solid listen either way.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:MORDRED
TITLE:The Dark Parade
RELEASE DATE:July 23rd, 2021
LABEL(S):M-Theory Audio
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

San Francisco’s Mordred have an interesting enough lineage as a ‘technically progressive but not “progressive” thrash metal’ bands to form beyond 1983 often mentioned somewhere between Faith No More and Infectious Grooves for the sake of what we were all calling “funk metal” as crossover bands began making free-thinking, genre busting art music and quickly outgrowing metal for the sake of alternative rock’s big-deal freaks breaking in the late 80’s and early 90’s. If you love the bass guitar and aren’t familiar with this convergence of mid-to-late 80’s thrash metal with hip-hop, funk, “alternative rock” and such there are at least a few unexpected treasures out there which are far more impactfully musical than hindsight spit-shined prog-thrash classics. Mordred put out a couple of them, actually starting with a more expected dose of Bay Area sound on their Noise Records debut ‘Fool’s Game’ (1989) and the eye-raising ‘In This Life’ (1991) which is arguably their masterpiece in terms of an original, impossible to replicate outside of time contribution to the era.

Long story short, the line-up for that album would reassemble around 2014 and after a long wait an 2020 EP followed before this fourth full-length, ‘The Dark Parade’, began to loom. Thought it is almost tragically reductive to say so after 30 years, we can consider this album a reasonable follow-up to ‘In This Life’. Yes, it sounds like Mordred though they’re definitely not throwing back too hard to any ‘retro’ Bay Area thrash sensibility beyond the first couple of songs and instead providing a very bright and insistently dynamic recording as they wikkity-wik-wik scratch, rap, croon, funk and politico-balladeer their way through a seriously smooth listen. I was frankly prepared to hate this record, I hate clowns and don’t remember Mordred quite as well as mid-90’s Suicidal Tendencies tours and such but hey, by the time the title track rolled around it kinda clicked that this was a good time. They’ve changed a lot but, they haven’t changed too much and I respect that.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:FLAME, DEAR FLAME
TITLE:Aegis
RELEASE DATE:July 23rd, 2021
LABEL(S):Eisenwald
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Although it’ll be a challenge to divine an epic, folken form of theatric doom metal from what appears to be some sort of neofolk troupe to start, the patient multi-part movements that Flame, Dear Flame present eventually reveal themselves as slow-oozing “post”-music sized epic doom metal songs. The mind says “singer songwriter” and yet the face behind the mask is that of traditional heavy metal just, very slow and certainly understated in terms of guitar tone and overall bombast. Many of the same dilemma plagued me when the last Atlantean Kodex album released, I’d had to ask myself if I’ve the patience to see an album like this through or simply bungle my way through its lovely waltzing pace. The vocal work of Maren Lemke is the intentional focus of the experience, storytelling via what I’d consider a “plain” but professional voice, breathy but always willing to showcase her excellent control. We’ve only her carefully honed vibrato to pull feeling and signature from and for my own taste this is neither here nor there. There are advantages to this approach, though, as we are set beside the hearth and taken aback by the accomplished, occasionally strident folk ballads within, occasionally gearing up for a horseback trot through the battle ruins (see: “The Wolves and the Prioress IV”). I’ll always be the unpopular “Where’s the riffs?” guy at pub so, that’d be my main takeaway in general — I’d love for this sound to rise up into the lovely thunderous realm we only spend a few minutes within on the final piece. The end of “The Wolves and the Prioress” definitely stuck with me but the rest of the album felt a bit like a waiting room chair when I’d returned to the album. Almost there for my own taste but no doubt likely to blow (more patient) minds otherwise.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:SERPENTRANCE
TITLE:Akra Tapeinosis
RELEASE DATE:July 27th, 2021
LABEL(S):Godz ov War Productions
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

The names associated with the bestial black/death and doomed order of Serpentrance read as a list of some of the most notably subterranean fiends out of Russia these last couple of decades via former Pseudogod guitarist Spīritō Destitutus, and A.S. (Abyssfire) whom is revered as a visual artist going by Morkh. The chaotic, always boiling pit that is ‘Akra Tapeinosis’ is best compared to Witchrist or Hellvetron but showered in a hail of crackling overdrive and echoing growls. The clangor of ancient bestial black metal is the leader here but the pace is generally doom-worthy despite constant fits of blasts. For the deeper initiated fan there are some lines we could draw between S.D.‘s project Ill Omened here but the two bands are only similarly textured and not paced. Chaotic, unpleasant, a ritual of vomit and misery, there is a lot to soak into here for those inclined to suffering. It won’t last on my shelf in the long run but I enjoyed the greater turmoil that Serpentrance have presented here.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:CULTUM INTERITUM
TITLE:Veneration of the New Dawn
RELEASE DATE:July 27th, 2021
LABEL(S):Godz ov War Productions
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

Although I believe this project’s line-up has restructured since the recordings finished in 2020 this second album from Polish black/death metal curse Cultum Interitum features K.M. on all instruments besides the vocals, which are performed by E., whom I believe is the main songwriter. Surrealistic atmosphere, chaotic movement, and splashy ‘live in studio’ sounding drums provide an impossibly large cavern for ‘Veneration of the New Dawn’ to reverberate within and without the open spray of the drumfire it’d all likely have been insufferably claustrophobic as all echoed down the central chasm of this particular type of sound design. Ritualistic, ringing in spirals, and atmospheric in its lurking guidance the compositions that Cultum Interitum present don’t always lead anywhere but the sensation of following the growling turbulence of it all is effective all the same. Fans of Summon, Darvaza, and Hic Iacet should appreciate the ranting but non-directional “float” of these incantations. Though I found a few of these songs fairly monotonous (in a bad way) I definitely enjoyed this record more as a full listen than I did ‘Poison of Being’ last year.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:LUNAR FUNERAL
TITLE:Road to Siberia
RELEASE DATE:July 24th, 2021
LABEL(S):Regain Records
BUY/LISTEN:Bandcamp

The second full-length from St. Petersburg, Russia based duo Lunar Funeral presents a dark bridge between menacing doom rock, psychedelic garage rock and heavy blues, think of an Iron Curtain stained Wailin’ Storms without the alt/post-punk register jamming some serious head-nodding weight, enough to fill a warehouse at least. Slithering and affected but never so broken that they can’t land a few bars of their desert-spiked blues advance, ‘Road to Siberia’ begins to shudder in and out of phase like a phantasm as it becomes more familiar with each listen. The experience is linear and there are no mazes to get lost in but the dissociation becomes so thick that the heady psych-jam movement of the duo itself carries its own eerily out of place feeling. That said, these performances are no so distractingly blurred that their finesse is unavailable, or too buried in dizzying effects. “The Thrill” is the mountain to climb before you make any certain judgements, much as it is a showpiece it is more profound as an example of the focus and follow-through that Lunar Funeral bring to their wall-gazing craft. “Black Bones” or, alternately “Your Fear is Giving Me Fear” are the pieces to best litmus test the vibe of the full listen. The reverb shocked reality of it is over the top to be sure and the songs aren’t hardly catchy for a moment but there is enough of a steady jam going throughout the album to keep it all captivating.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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 a review, 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.

$1.00