SYMPOSIUM is a weekly “conversational newsletter” (which I refuse to call a “blog”) focusing on the past week’s new release announcements alongside reviews for 5-10 releases slated for next week. It also serves as a week in review, collecting all of the most recent content on Grizzly Butts in brief. 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/everything my way. The only rule is: If I can’t hear it, I won’t cover it! If you have new releases, show announcements, or important heavy music news that’ll be relevant or interesting to readers send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- I. Intro: Outliers, freaks, latecomers.
- II. New release announcements, new song previews, new signings, opinions.
- III. Next week’s Album of the Week, planned reviews for next week.
- FLUISTERAARS ‘Gegrepen door de Geest der Zielsontluiking‘ (August 27th, Eisenwald)
- Aiming to post reviews for: Devoid of Thought, Irrlycht, Borboropsis, Fucked Up, Nocturnal, Fluisteraars, Solemn Lament, Wormwood, Low Flying Hawks, White Stones, and a few others before the end of the month.
- PREMIERE (Next Week): MOON ORACLE – Muse of the Nightside [Out August 27th, Signal Rex/Bestial Burst]
- IV. Short reviews/ratings for the following albums:
- OXYGEN DESTROYER – Sinister Monstrosities Spawned by the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind [August 27th, Redefining Darkness Records]
- OUR PLACE OF WORSHIP IS SILENCE – Disavowed, and Left Hopeless [August 27th, Translation Loss Records]
- SALLOW MOTH / VMTHANAACHTH – Split [August 27th, Self-Released]
- THYRFING – Vanagandr [August 27th, Despotz Records]
- OBSCURITY – Skogarmaors [August 27th, Trollzorn]
- NUNSLAUGHTER – Red is the Color of Ripping Death [August 27th, Hells Headbangers Records]
- HORTE – Maa antaa yon vaientaa [August 27th, Pelagic Records]
- THIEF – The 16 Deaths of My Master [August 27th, Prophecy Productions]
- TOXIC RUIN – Nightmare Eclipse [August 27th, M-Theory Audio]
I. Intro: Outliers, freaks, latecomers.
So, you’ve submitted your release on release day, on the week of release, or months later and you’d like prompt coverage? Well, if it is good it’ll probably end up here. To be considered for a full-sized, long-form review or a short but thoughtful review otherwise please submit all promos at least two weeks prior to release. Keep in mind that I receive upwards of 200 promotional e-mails per week and that the typical review takes a minimum of three weeks of consideration before I am comfortable giving a scored review. Thanks for any/all consideration. Otherwise this introductory area collects news and other bits that don’t fit anywhere else this week.
UTTER SCORN is one dude (Michael Jones) from Los Osos, California and holy shit does his self-released debut full-length ‘Paroxysmal Endemia‘ smoke fuckin’ skulls. Caustic brutal death metal splattered with slam chugs, all-pro graphic design and pretty impressive debut overall. Released on the 13th of the month digitally, CDs are coming sooner or later from Ballistic Savagery. And if you’re still on a solo death metal musician kick, I recently got a promo for this way, way late to the promo stage release from EBULLISM, the art direction on ‘The Cosmic Web‘ isn’t as fancy as Utter Scorn‘s but the main fellow behind the project Chris Hatfield is likewise extremely talented.
Might end up reviewing this one but here’s a timely link so you can check it out. Davis, California-based death metal trio MOFSED have recently released their ‘Noesis‘ EP upon us and it sounds like they’ve been putting in some serious work since their debut full-length and I really like the new logo.
Sentient Ruin have announced a vinyl specific compilation of CRYPTAE‘s early releases as ‘Decrepit Collection‘, a “glorious 12” vinyl compilation containing their unparalleled 2017 self titled debut demo tape on side A (for the first time ever on vinyl), and 2019’s 20 minute single-track EP “Vestigal” on side B, both remastered.” As always I appreciate the attention to the avant-garde and completionist tendency, definitely a band worthy of it.
II. News & Opinions (8/14-8/21)
!“Black Psych Tormentor”??1! Heard the usual laughter from the crypt in the back of my mind, but I had no idea it was real evil… Norwegian old school black metal cult leadership FURZE returns after the requisite years of silence with a debut video/single and the announcement of a mini-LP slated for October 22nd this year. The 5 song ‘Black Psych Tormentor‘ EP will also have a CD version which includes with the previously ‘vinyl only’ 2018 album ‘The Presence…‘, a fine album. You’re going to want to watch the music video for “Black Psych Tormentor” over on YouTube first! While the pool is still stained black, check out Iron Bonehead Productions‘ latest announcement of October 29th as the release date for CULT OF EIBON‘s debut album, ‘Black Flame Dominion‘, on CD and vinyl LP. The Greek black metal duo have long been heralded as demigods of the old unholy arts, compromising nothing in creation of moldering, garage haunting death worship! Check out the first preview track “Into the Realm of Na-girt-a-lu” [SoundCloud] Sublime possession by malevolent spirits! To the forests with us, away from the crypts for a bit as Eisenwald have recently announced the pacific northwest’s ALDA return with their fourth full-length, ‘A Distant Fire‘, due out on October 8th. If you are a fan of the cerebral entrancement of atmospheric black metal but don’t want the plain fluff of post-black in the mix this one of the better bands going at it. Check out “Stonebreaker” on Bandcamp: On that note I’ll just put this right here:
Spanish Death Metal band DEIMLER, revealed the cover art, tracklist and first single from their debut album ‘A Thousand Suns‘, to be released October 19th through Xtreem Music on CD, 12″LP, Cassette and Digital. You can check out the song “Skull’s Smiling” over on [YouTube]. Solid death metal chainsaw stuff from this trio, no big surprises but a solid song to kick things off. Speaking of traditional death metal, Memento Mori have announced their signing of Scottish death metal crew COFFIN MULCH for the CD version of their debut full-length due out on July 25th, 2022. More details soon. Texas-based death metal/hardcore quintet CREEPING DEATH have announced their latest EP ‘The Edge of Existence’ will release October 8th through Entertainment One (eOne Heavy). Riffs are just alright from my point of view but definitely upping the gloom on this one to great results. Beyond that, I’ve heard they’re pretty insane/energetic as a live band. The opener and title track is now available over on Bandcamp: Continuing on with another impressive band from the new breed: Vancouver B.C.-based technical death metal band ATRÆ BILIS have announced their full-length ‘Apexapien‘ for 20 Buck Spin alongside the first preview song, “Lore Beyond Bone”. I appreciate that they’ve presented this band as unapologetically modern, brutal, dissonant, abrasive and definitely put some serious time/money into the art direction. Their debut EP ‘Divinihility’ didn’t last in my rotation for long, but this new song seems to find direction within the storm of technical enthusiasm they’ve brought in the past. The second album from Italian death metal band ORGANIC, ‘Where Graves Abound‘, will be released on October 22nd by German label Testimony Records on limited limited color LPs (three variants), CD and digitally. Brutal sound, love the drumming, a huge step up without losing their plastic chainsaw grinder guitar tone, check out “Waste Monolith” over on YouTube and Bandcamp Keeping with this theme of younger bands putting out great music, South African death metal band VULVODYNIA have announced ‘Praenuntius Infiniti‘, their fourth full-length, set for release on September 17th thanks to Unique Leader Records. Their ongoing narrative seems to have been centered around ambition and attainment through a sci-fi fantasy setting, but this one sounds like it goes some different places stylistically: “This album really takes the Vulvodynia sound to the next level and incorporates some new genre styles that we grew up on such as tech and melodeath. It was an incredible challenge writing and recording this album during a pandemic, but we put our hearts and souls into this release and we’re honoured to present an album that we’re extremely proud of.” And the week after Unique Leader will also be releasing Pennsylvanian death metal quintet SIGNS OF THE SWARM‘s fourth full-length ‘Absolvere‘ on 24th September. I appreciate how far they’ve been able to push the extremes of their brutal/deathcore sound without losing their brutal edge. They’ve got two songs up on Bandcamp so far:
California based death metal band APPARITION have set the release date for their upcoming Profound Lore Records LP ‘Feel‘ for October 22nd. Since I hadn’t spent much time with their 7″ from last year I’m not yet sure what is unique about these folks just yet, but some mention of jazz curriculum has me more than curious to dig into this one. Check out “Unequalibrium” on Bandcamp: Long Island-borne progressive/brutal death metal godhead AFTERBIRTH have signed to the indomitable Willowtip Records. Formed in ’93, reformed in ’13 the band would hit way high atop my best of 2020 list with their second album. Third album is in the works, so far untitled: “The band has been hard at work crafting their as-yet-untitled third album. A handful of new songs has emerged, further revealing their commitment to being true to their early brutal death origins while continuing to push their songs into uncharted territories. Hints of black metal, grindcore and industrial metal have now also begun to reveal themselves alongside the existing progressive, brutal death metal structures.” Stoked as fuck. Progressive Finnish death metal trio SOLAR CROSS have signed to Transcending Records for their upcoming full-length ‘Echoes of the Eternal World‘ if you don’t recognize the band name they’re a trio of brothers you’ll recognize from the late 90’s-2010’s of Omnium Gatherum as well as industrial metal act Total Devastation, and sludge metal band Demonic Death Judge.
One of my more anticipated releases out of Australia of late, GALAXY‘s debut full-length ‘On the Shore of Life‘ has been announced for November 19th release via Dying Victims Productions on CD and vinyl LP. The duo are notably are joined on this recording by session drummer Simon Phillips, who has stinted with the likes of Judas Priest, the Michael Schenker Group, The Who, and Jeff Beck!
Twenty years after their last album + split up a year later South Bay melodic hardcore band DEVIATES have reformed and announced plans to release ‘Holding Out‘, their third album which’ll be out on September 17th. Vinyl ships in November. Though they were popular as all get-out, even signing for a successful album with Epitaph back in 2001 they just weren’t up for touring non-stop and grinding out albums. This one really hits me in a strange way since one of the first altogether glowing reviews I’d ever written for a magazine back in the day was their debut album ‘My Life‘. Back then I’d actually go to shows, meet bands, etc. huge hit of nostalgia from this one. [YouTube]
III. ALBUM OF THE WEEK (NEXT WEEK)
The Album of the Week (next week) for my own taste is FLUISTERAARS ‘Gegrepen door de Geest der Zielsontluiking‘ or, our latest window into the soulful emergence of this irrepressible Netherlands black metal duo who’d already stood apart with ‘Bloem‘ (2020) and now thrive within the nakedly honest presentation of this fourth album. Single takes, organic instrumentation, solar-burnt atmospheres, everything about this album inspires. How could it possibly beat out some of my favorite bands (Hour of 13) and dazzling newcomers (Devoid of Thought)? By offering sincere, uncalculated artistic growth or at least projecting it in such a personal hand-sewn way that I cannot resist the experimental “art” of the piece beside its obviate beauty. It’ll be officially out August 27th on Eisenwald. Still hoping for a restock of ‘Bloem’ vinyl in the U.S. also, fingers crossed & thumbs twiddling. [Full Review]
IV. OUT THIS WEEK: Short reviews.
The thirty-fourth week of 2021 is upon us. Let’s us consider this section “infopinions” from this point on, a bit of general info and an opinion or two on each release. 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. — Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate friendly and positive interaction. 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 short reviews:
OXYGEN DESTROYER – Sinister Monstrosities Spawned by the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind [August 27th, Redefining Darkness Records]
Seattle’s very own Godzilla-themed blackened death/thrash metal quartet… Er, blackened? Huh, so I guess back when I reviewed the non-remastered version of Oxygen Destroyer‘s 2018 debut I honestly didn’t recall the vocals being so clearly black metal inspired, kinda just taking them as if they were inspired by the style of brutal thrash metal they were playing (see: Morbid Saint, Demolition Hammer) and to be fair that is still part of their gig. You’re still getting that locked in early Vader-esque precision and high speed late 80’s death-thrash attack but yeah, this time around the black metal influences are much more evident. Not only that but we’ve got some sort of substantial iteration on their sound from every angle: Better production, sharper drumming, lots of squirrely whammy-slamming solos and Solstice-esque “thrash” breakdowns. So, we hardly have to shift gears here in terms of appreciating just how killer these guys are, the drummer still smokes and they’ve got like a five mile jog’s worth of riffs on this thing. Think along the lines of Merciless‘ second album ‘Treasures Within’ and yep, this one is an easy pick-up.
OUR PLACE OF WORSHIP IS SILENCE – Disavowed, and Left Hopeless [August 27th, Translation Loss Records]
Los Angeles-based dissonant black/death metal duo Our Place of Worship is Silence comes from two folks involved in atmospheric black metal band Lake of Blood, Xibalba and I believe the early days of Teeth (whom also have a new album coming this year) to some capacity. So, for their third album we have a modern, high-fidelity vision of avant-garde black/death metal guitar techniques applied to an implied atmospheric death metal format. What does that mean exactly? Most of the riffs here rely upon chaotically sweeping dissonance for motion, often presenting rhythms that are erratic in flow before the guitarist punctuates them with heavily down-tuned guitar chugs. Think of it as a more readable form of chaotic black/death with some decent directional focus to start; What ‘Disavowed, and Left Hopeless’ seems to integrate best beyond the last two records are sections of “ethereal” atmospheric guitar work juxtaposed with brutal drumming. This is thrilling to start, I think “Fury Divine” is where all cylinders are firing into focus best, but by the time we’re circling “Mdłości II” the dynamic of the album is still relatively non-existent beyond slamming it out at a ten. Brutal, yes, but lacking in the greater scope of presentation I’d generally want from dissonant extreme metal. That’d just be my own taste, I can see this album appealing to folks who are maybe coming into black/death metal interest from a chaotic hardcore or deathcore-centralized point of view. They have the palette down, I’d just like to see what they could do with broader variety of pace employed for the sake of a more elaborate presentation.
SALLOW MOTH / VMTHANAACHTH – Split [August 27th, Self-Released]
Any release from Garry Brents‘ solo death metal project Sallow Moth is assuredly going to be a quality recording that features fine artwork and (almost always) an unexpected twist in terms of style. This time around we’re getting a small hint of the post-‘Stasis Cocoon’ action within these three pieces, which don’t appear to be cast-offs from the album sessions. I do think Sallow Moth is starting to reach a point of strongest distinction within the last three releases and “Plasm Capture” voices this well, charges in with its nuclear prog-but-not-prog Swedeath sound to start. From there the next couple songs roll out, each mid-paced 3-4 minute death metal pieces with deep-set vocals and unusual rhythms. Unusual but not impossibly conceived, avant-garde Zornesque trio Vmthanaachth deliver something resembling extreme musique concrete, prog-metal, and do a fine job of keeping the mind guessing between each track. Their approach from release to release is approachably, appreciably kinetic though I didn’t find myself blown away by this material beyond the sheer variety of sounds generated. “Black Strivings in a Twilight Civilization” does have a sort of Thantaxifath sort of edge to its initial development, I get the sense that a performance or installation would be even more effective. Overall I’m generally showing up for Sallow Moth material but I do think this is an even more appropriate gateway into what Vmthanaachth are doing, if you can manage to spell that right when you google it later.
THYRFING – Vanagandr [August 27th, Despotz Records]
Normally I’d write a three-thousand word retrospective on Thyrfing because they’ve (perhaps surprisingly) long been one of my most listened to bands (alongside Falkenbach, too) I am such a sucker for keyboard heavy viking/folk metal and pagan metal in general as pure pleasure listening. Starting around 2000 with ‘Urkraft’ I became a more dedicated fan of this style of music and have remained a fan since. After their fifth and perhaps most celebrated album up to that point, ‘Farsotider’ (2005), the original vocalist left and the keyboard/synthesizer work became less prominent so, naturally the fun “theme park” aspect of the band was sort of over as a more “modern” style of dark melodic metal became even more their own creation. So, I wheel through this for the sake of hopefully presaging what an even-keeled compromise ‘Vanagandr’ represents, finding both a fresh angle into their somber melodic black metal side and lightly engaging with some of the nostalgia of their earlier bounding symphonic spirit (see: “Håg och minne”). Of course this sounds a bit self-serious to start if you’d been following the band since the early days but once the running order starts to loosen up a bit (“Rötter”) we at least get some hints of my favorite Thyrfing album ‘Vansinnesvisor’ peeking through the gloom. Nostalgia isn’t the important ingredient here by any shake of the wand and the hooks are often either too elaborate or subtle to feel like an attempt at broader accessibility; In fact, I would say this is the slowest burn from the band since the very patient, groove-heavy atmosphere of ‘Hels Vite’ (2008) but perhaps easier to pick up and roll with by comparison. If we can resolve to view ‘Vanagandr’ as a meaningful follow-up to ‘De ödeslösa’ to some degree this is perhaps where longtime fans who’d stuck with the band all this time will be most comfortable and rewarded by the dark epic presented here. An undeniably respectable and memorable ‘comeback’ record, especially valuable to folks who aren’t forever lost to the camp of nostalgia and see themselves able to grow alongside the artist.
OBSCURITY – Skogarmaors [August 27th, Trollzorn]
It couldn’t be more convenient to have a new Obscurity album set beside a new Thyrfing album since they were essentially born form the same phenomenon but were destined for entirely different artistic direction. Obscurity were arguably birthed more on the traditional melodic black metal spectrum in the late 90’s, holding fast to that sound on albums like ‘Thurisaz‘ (2003) but are since considered one of the most steadfast “viking metal” bands to adopt a sort of melodic death metal influenced approach which is often compared to Amon Amarth but, eh, superficially so. Similar to the previous review, we could say that the departure of the original vocalist in the late 2000’s lead to a shift in focus along the way, soon after Obscurity‘s discography began emphasizing a dual black/death vocal alternation and a steady galloping pace on albums like ‘Vintar’ (2014), which I am not a fan of. After further line-up changes in 2018 the band began modernizing their melodic death metal focus while still incorporating the ‘epic’ striding pace of things. ‘Skogarmaors’ is the result, and album that does not abandon Obscurity‘s signature plod and growl sound in general but brings some due relief from the compositions of the last three records, which were stagnant for my own taste. It is a somewhat average melodic death/viking metal record overall but only for the sake of it being an hour long, if they’d cut this album down to ~38 minutes and kept it looping in a tight circle I think it’d have stuck with me better. As is, we lose the power of a song like “Blot” when there are thirteen somewhat similar tracks to burn through.
NUNSLAUGHTER – Red is the Color of Ripping Death [August 27th, Hells Headbangers Records]
There’ll be no great temptation on my part to try and sum up the friggin’ 35+ year history of Midwest U.S. extreme metal fixture Nunslaughter though I’d definitely show up to express some relief that they’re not only still at it but they haven’t tamed the nutso-smasho blasphemic spirit of the band, and… they still have riffs. This fifth full-length album, and first without longtime drummer Jim Konya (R.I.P.), generally hinges itself on the same classic sound they’re known for, a medium all their own which scrawls out quick and heavy whips of late 80’s ‘extreme thrash’ influenced death metal. Grindcore sized, black/thrash manic, metalpunk declarative, and death metal heavy stuff. What is new then, eh? A couple of big Bolt Thrower chunks in the mix, a real ripping thrasher (“Dead in Ten”) or three, and I dunno I first locked into Nunslaughter‘s worldview on ‘Hex’ (2007) and what stands out to me most here is that ‘Red is the Color of Ripping Death’ is the most professional production value I can recall getting from their discography since. I’ll wait ’til I can sit with the lyric sheet and really soak it in but, thumbs up in general.
HORTE – Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa [August 27th, Pelagic Records]
A receding wave of purple-toned dreamlike psychedelia delivered with post-gaze alienation, this latest album from Finnish quartet Horte may express as sonorous and tentative to start but soon blossoms into buzzing warmth. The best parts of ‘Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa’ nearly boil over into trip-hop tendency (“Ilman Nurkka”, “Kun Joki Haihtuu”) yet keep their wilting spirit throughout. What begins as a dirge weighed down by the severity of existential thought [see also: Gold (Nld)] eventually explodes into kaleidoscopic reveal which arguably comes via the preview track “Väisty Tieltä”, a breakthrough but not a representation of the complete vibe. “Ilman Nurkka” is the song to hitch onto first, I’d felt it expresses something universal (despite being sung in Finnish) by way of a smoothing bit of hindsight. The ease of this song does a fine job indicating the detailed yet slowly sinking movement of the full listen.
TOXIC RUIN – Nightmare Eclipse [August 27th, M-Theory Audio]
Wisconsin-based modern thrash metal quartet Toxic Ruin have been at it for about a decade, first as a not-so-serious cover band and starting around 2014 they made it official with their own brand of extreme metal influenced thrash metal original under this current name. The obvious comparison is just straight up Revocation, and I mean for most thrash metal fans that is enough to indicate a sound that is not necessarily ‘old school’ but instead takes some influence from 2000’s thrash revivalists who’d dabbled in death and black metal variations when seeking distinction. I’m all for the spirit of the music but the riffs just aren’t there across the board here on ‘Nightmare Eclipse’, especially as we reach the middle of the album and plod through 6-7 minute stretches of “It Of The Horrid Storm” and “Voices of Death”. The solo trade-offs and shredding generally misses the mark in alignment with the rhythm guitar work. I appreciate the somewhat unique and prominent bass guitar tone as well as the drum production overall, the rhythm section does provide a solid sense of machine movement and avoids the compressed ‘groove metal’ sensation we get from a lot of international thrash metal acts these days. Of course “I don’t like the riffs” isn’t the most thoughtful feedback on my part and the real criticism I have here is that the spectacle of thrash metal songwriting just isn’t there to make up for the lack of spirited rhythm guitar work.
THIEF – The 16 Deaths of My Master [August 27th, Prophecy Productions]
A dark 90’s industrial rock/trip-hop influenced electronica offscouring from a former Botanist dulcimer hammerer, Thief comes by way of Los Angeles-based musician Dylan Neal whom at the very least conveys an edgy, confrontational point of view within these sixteen pieces. Not as abstract as Front Line Assembly, not as song-driven as Savage Garden, and certainly not as aggressive as peak radio-rock Stabbing Westward, but we are nonetheless in a headspace defined by these sorts of acts whom were able to break through to radio after Nine Inch Nails had breached the underground. Succeeding despite itself, and certainly not as a dated electro rock record, ‘The 16 Deaths of My Master’ makes its way through a few nakedly amateurish moments which don’t personally land with me (“Fuck you…“, “…son of a bitch who owes me money“) in hindsight, especially compared to the beats themselves. The major strength here lies in the arrangements, prime production values, and the sheer variety of sounds Neal whirls into these sixteen pieces. Even if not every piece lands for my own taste each one has its moment, so, I’d normally suggest cutting this thing into two halves and not clobbering the listener with an hourlong variety marathon but somehow songs like “Apple Eaters” and “Wing Clipper” shine a bit brighter because they provide some lucidity amongst the spilled-over toolbox that Thief has to offer.
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