Extravasation | 2021

EXTRAVASATION This tradition of “bleeding out the good stuff” in an effort to catch up with the year’s releases goes back about ten years between a small group of acquaintances, encouraging exploration and discussion pertaining to overlooked music releases. It’d began as “nothing but black metal November” but sub-genre limitation becomes dull year over year. This time instead of doing a series of genre specific blog posts with thoughts on albums released throughout the year I’ve chosen to set it all in one large post with future entries left as an open possibility. Take a hike, get lost. These selections were chosen the same way I would in a record store, eye-catching album covers and known quantities. Out of necessity, I have read the press releases for and previewed every single release before making said selections. Each release is vetted for analysis after 2-3 full listens. Manage your expectations accordingly.

LABEL(S):Beyond Eyes

“Whether you’ve decided to call this post-black/blackgaze or just instrumental melodic rock music there’ll be no mistaking the nostalgic, personalized touch of this record. If you know Pavelka‘s work from Cult of Fire don’t at all expect the spirit of black metal in these recordings, in fact there isn’t a moment of malice or violence to be had. ‘Spomienky‘ specifically aims to revisit memories of his childhood in the village of Kostolné in western Slovakia. The first song heavily features the sound of purring cats, just to get you in the right mindset. Visiting ancient castles, watermills, collecting honey, mid-day napping, etc. we are tasked with envisioning the happiness of this fellow’s youth and feeling it along with the protagonist. Although I found some of the guitar work either cliché or a bit sorrowful compared to the theme, the whole album considered ends up being a lovely thing to be set within.”

LABEL(S):Buh Records

“It won’t necessarily pay great dividends to know that this joint full-length is a collaboration between solo projects from Paula Rebellato of Rakta and Douglas Leal of Deafkids without understanding what those projects are separately first. Rebellato‘s Acavernus generally modulates vocal performances and Leal‘s Yantra aims to create ambiance fit for yogic practice or meditation, these have evolved separately yet they join together beautifully via Leal‘s current high-brained explorations of folk percussive instrumentation and their collective talent for music with arguably dark spiritual presence, this later leads to a series of awakenings or… I suppose introduction of new lead instrumentation that precedes various shifts in tone. The piece to test your immersion and concentration will be the 11 minute “Lamento & Cólera” as it raises its dragon-headed noise beyond the ~nine minutes of mystic immersion that’d preceded it. Why does this stick in mind so well? The unknown is always around the corner waiting to be explored on this recording, it isn’t so much that it keeps me guessing but each instrument and idea picked up eventually bears some surrealistic fruiting moment that makes ‘Gnose’ a joy to return to.”

TITLE:Delete. Repeat.

Band of Bastards is a sort of swinging throwback hardcore punk band out of Austin, Texas. Their style is more early 2000’s revival than it is straight early 80’s minimalism, this comes with a bit of melodic hardcore edge to most of these pieces. Not exactly Kill Your Idols but also not that far off. The main difference is urgency versus tension, ‘Delete. Repeat.’ thrives within the tension of its rhythms and gives every movement a sort of playfully brutal touch. The best pieces are the ones that go off the rails, such as “Dying in the Streets”, and if you’ll whip out a lyric sheet along with it seems like they’ve put a lot into most all of the messaging. I’m not sure if dropping names like …And You Will Know Us From the Trail of Dead and Markov will draw any cache among folks interested in hardcore punk but, these guys are class musicians who’ve some great talent in crafting memorable 2-3 minute punk rock songs.”


LABEL(S):Iodine Records

“I’m not sure a 20-year-old mathy post-hardcore/noise rock record from the knee-deep emocore age should be a priority here but thanks to a keenly balanced remaster for vinyl, and the slow-rate evolution of this type of music since, a reissue/remaster of ‘Presents‘ makes a pretty strong case to me. Same deal as back then, no nostalgia included, these guys were annoying when angular and bliss when jamming out. Their theatre of war between stiff-necked banging about versus the slithering post-hardcore breeze still holds up.”

TITLE:Menhirs… Affres

“Although Quebec-based musician Caleb Simard is yet only seventeen years old his enthusiastic body of work thus far shows some intelligent study of brutal neoclassical tech-death as well as a few murkier atmospheric death metal projects such as Perihelion Gnosis and this brilliant funeral death/doom metal Memorandum whom debut with this album ‘Menhirs… Affres‘. Though I’d initially figured this would be a throwaway sort of side-project for the artist the music suggests otherwise, droning on with its exploration of downtrodden leads, harmonized and droning on atop cavernous growls and plodding pace. I see more than just incredible potential here, ‘Menhirs…Affres’ has proven a consistent listen throughout the year.”

TITLE:‘Effin Gnarly
LABEL(S):Master Kontrol Audio

“At some point I read a review that’d suggested Wenches were “no nonsense rock” music but isn’t the opposite true? Aren’t they -all- of that stinking nonsense attitude heavy rock music has emphasized these last couple of decades? Sputtered out ancient heavy rock spirit with a punkish rawk, but not entirely self-conscious, fever a la Eagles of Death Metal; This stuff is a mess of guitar swatting yawl and such, but they’ve got the sound and the style to pull it off alright. There are a handful of cover songs here that help drive that point home via The Pretty Things, AC/DC etc. Not mind-blowing but a solid effort.”

TITLE:Vala Comum
LABEL(S):Signal Rex

“An important touchstone for the Portuguese black metal abysm for a couple of decades Morte Incandescente has long been one of the more respected projects of their arena for the sake of bringing a LLN sort of sound to the next generation but also representing the old school via some members featuring in Decayed. I only know of them because Vulturius has been vocalist/bassist in Decayed for a decade now and his many projects all seem to have the right feeling, including Concilium which I will also get to on this list eventually. Since I don’t have the context of their discography in mind at face value this is a tuneful raw black metal album with the classics in mind. They have their own sort of crawling tonality achieved by way of a fuzzier guitar tone which is crisped over but not ear-ruining. This really works wonders on the groovier Celtic Frost-esque pieces like “Cerra os Dentes”. Definitely an album I am glad I revisited before the end of the year.”

LABEL(S):Pelagic Records

“Bright and easy-jammed kosmische music at heart, this record from Italian quartet Oslo Tapes quite intentionally brings subtle merger between darker modern Scandinavian space rock and German retro modus. Hazy upon approach, meandering in nature, and always about to burst into something the weirding tension of ‘ØR‘ is nearly disturbing in the same way La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio‘s latest record was, though these guys are less extreme when it comes to pacing. I don’t think this album needs to go anywhere to be enjoyable, though their sound is nice enough that dipping into some more composed pieces might’ve broken up the experience more meaningfully.”

LABEL(S):Hassle Records

“Portuguese trio Madmess are on a serious tear here on this latest album ‘Rebirth’, they’ve long had their chops readied in spiraling motion between psychedelic rock timbre, stoner metal heaviness, and progressive rock intricacy but this is the album where it all falls sweetly into a singular direction: Upwards, and into space. Don’t mind my corny ass, anyhow, this album features five enormous jams that are largely centered around elaborate strings of blues-breaking and wailing odes to an imagined next chapter, a new beginning, a way off this planet. I don’t have a great frame of reference to draw here but if you’re up for an All Them Witches record, you should be down for this one.”

TITLE:Where Silence Dwells
LABEL(S):Fono Ltd.,
Red Rivet Records

“This fifth full-length from long-active Russian progressive/melodic death/doom metal band Psilocybe Larvae finds them experimenting outside of expectation, leaning into some gothic metal territories while reprising some of their early-Opeth influenced sound unto cleaner and more confident render. As you might imagine this prog-brained yet gothic metal feeling marries well enough with their introspective and often quite personal lyrics. If you are a fan of both the old and new eras of bands like Katatonia and Anathema there’ll likely be a deep well to be discovered here on ‘Where Silence Dwells’.”

LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

“This latest EP from Rope Sect offers not only its titular three part opus to drift towards the netherworld within but a collection of previously digital only singles released over the last few years. “Proskynesis” parts I through III are the main event here, offering some inspired experimentation with both melody and a few extreme kicks along the way. Besides their lushly sepia-tonal feeling and sweetest hooks these three pieces, less movements and more fully realized songs at ~4.5 minutes each, can’t help but feel related in purpose. I particularly liked the riffing in the last third of Part III. Of the three collected singles beyond, “Lava” now feels decidedly experimental, “Handsome Youth” almost like an outtake from the ‘The Great Flood’ and “Odisseia” somewhere to venture in the future. This will be on my ‘Best of December’ list but I figured I’d at least mention it here since I won’t have time for a full review.”

TITLE:Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records

“Feverish dreams of ancient Greece and a deepest culmination of a five-album occult conceptual undertaking merge into an grand, darkest neoclassical piano-driven instrumental album for this final full-length release from Goatcraft. In terms of creating fitting ambiance for theme and performing emotive movements in an entranced, connected state there is a dark resonant core to ‘Sic Transit Gloria Mundi’ that is profound in evolution beyond the earlier beginnings of the project, which date back to 2011 in terms of recordings. The entrance of “Nous Aflame” and the tragedian stairway of “Inhibitory Gnosis” offer guiding peaks for their surrounding movements, though I found myself more interested in the notes and less in the foamy atmospheric whirling of most pieces, leading me to favor Side B in general. Their arrangement of Richard Brunelle‘s “Desolate Ways” near the end of the album took a moment to register and well, only because when I was a kid listening to ‘Blessed Are the Sick‘ I would always skip back around to before the CD could finish and the instrumental had never imprinted. Anyhow, the balance of ambiance and statement is uniquely set here as is the technique, all of this registers in mind quickly but learning the phrasal language of Goatcraft might take a few listens or the context of the rest of their discography.”

TITLE:Apocalyptic Metamorphosis
LABEL(S):Comatose Music

Intricated hail from Bangkok, Thailand and play an intensely belched and mountain-kickingly brutal form of death metal. These guys remind me of why I was a brutal death metal fanatic for a decade, they don’t go straight for the obvious crowd-pleasing chug-a-holic mosh dancer riffs and instead build their own warped version of prime early 2000’s brutal death metal all over this record. Although it definitely sounds like they grew up listening to a certain shade of brutal death the production is clean, all levels are primed for guttural sledging with some technical movement, but man… Crank “The Manifest of Apocalyptic Variation” up as loud as you can and listen for the snare ping, certain rolls he hits along the way make the drum production/sound a thing of beauty on this record and this is probably why I favored some of the slower pieces on the full listen.”

LABEL(S):Vicious Instinct Records

“I don’t generally like the fiddly smooth-brained technicolor world of deathcore (!) but I do like how Inhuman Architects shape that world into something cruel, fearsome and focused on ‘Paradoxus‘, their debut full-length album. Brain blender brutality and otherworldly rhythms engage in fairly plodding attacks throughout, eventually hitting cinematic values on songs like “Nephilim”; Though the experience is occasionally mechanical in movement this is nothing out of the ordinary. The over the top nature of the music smooths the experience into one very loud, violent spectacle. Love the album art, too.”

TITLE:Yanomamö / Slomatics
LABEL(S): Iommium Records

“This split 7” from Sydney, Australia based label Iommium Records offers an ideal point of entry for each of the bands featured, the first being Yanomamo whom you’ll remember from their ‘No Sympathy for the Rat’ EP last year and Slomatics, whom should be a household name if you’re big on sludge fuzzed doom metal congregation. So, instead of doing two track reviews the major criteria for buying a 7″ record are pretty straight forward on my end: Do the bands rule? Mostly. Do these two songs rule? Yes. Is the album cover cool? Sure, evocative and memorable. Right then, buy this one if you like stoner sludge/doom metal.”

TITLE:Oh Death

“An easy stride by way of an ominous planting of the foot, the tension this Norwegian stoner/sludge rock band achieves on their second record, ‘Oh Death‘, is an easy commitment for the ear. Bad-times grooves land like slow-motioned punches, it all seems a bit tame until the first few hits have sunk in and the skull becomes tender and bruised. So, from my point of view these guys must’ve hit upon stoner rock around the time I did, ’97-’01 or so wherein heavy blues and extreme production values thickened considerably in tone and moved away from 70’s garage rock ruckus towards mid-90’s alt-metal warmth; Much of this album is delivered at a doom metal pace, straining forward and mostly sticking the landing when veering off the steady motion of it all and this helps sustain a cold tonality while still being fuzzed and doomed. Not all of the pieces land here, some are a bit simple in terms of riffs or lack a central hook, but the full listen flows nicely from piece to piece. There are a couple of notable guest spots here for what its worth, the first being some lead guitar work from Kjetil Nernes of Årabrot on the title track “Oh Death” and the second a guest vocal from Thomas Eriksen of Mork on “Ave Satani”. These aren’t small touches, adding some much needed coloration to quite steadfast performances otherwise. In this sense you’d not mistake Messerschmitt‘s style for Dozer or something similar, as the rhythms aren’t improvisational or necessarily easygoing at all. A fine record, though I’d like to hear ’em drop the shoulders a bit and let it flow out easier.”

TITLE:Hash Negro en las Misas Funebres
TYPE:EP / Reissue
LABEL(S):Helter Skelter Productions

“Hailing from Argentina, Fulanno are a stoner/doom metal trio who’d formed in 2010 and released this debut EP circa 2016. Solid record, if you liked the sound of deliberate pacing of Messerschmitt in the previous review the slow-motion stoner doom rumbling of this band should impress. Fans of relatively stripped down psychedelic doom who’re still in touch with 2000’s fuzz-dripping sound design will appreciate this one, minimal and punishing but not droning to the point of sleep. Helter Skelter have reissued this on CD, cassette and vinyl LP with what sounds like the same mix/master but new artwork and layout design. Here’s hoping this is a sign they’ll have some major backing for the next full-length. “

TITLE:From Hell
LABEL(S):Nuclear Winter Records

“With a history stretching back to the early 90’s there’ll be no surprise that Beyond Mortal Dreams‘ 2008 debut album ‘From Hell‘ is unholier than thou stuff, in fact this it is arguably one of the best death metal albums out of Australia in the 2000’s. You’ve never heard of it, eh? Well, no surprise as it was self-released on CD back in the day and the album cover wasn’t much to look at. Thanks to good folks at Nuclear Winter this album is now presented in prime, archival form and format. First off, the album cover is perfection. Since I’ve only ever heard this on bootleg CDr or shitty decade old blog rips I can’t tell if this is just the album proper or if the album was given a vinyl specific master but it sounds excellent. What are we in for? Semi-technical riffing death metal most often compared to late 90’s Exmortem and Dead Congregation, a perfect balance of brilliant rhythm guitar talent and atmospheric movements. Back in the day I’d referred to this album as a prime post-‘Closer to a World Below’ death metal album and I think that still more-or-less holds up, although I’d add that Rutan-era Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, and Suffocation‘s early revival might be appropriate mention as well. The depths and we death metal gravediggers are honored by this offering.”

Old Gravestone with grass in a graveyard
TITLE:Nekrognosis – Avain Varjoihin
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire

“We’ve got a December packed with Purity Through Fire releases and if you’re in the know that means some of the best melodic black metal in the Finnish and German elite spheres. Sacrificium Carmen represent the new vision of the old ways with an attack that will test the black metal attuned ear’s recognition of the lines drawn between Scandinavian upstarts in the mid-90’s. Parts of this album might have you thinking of ‘The Priest of Satan‘ and others of Sargeist and Azaghal, among others, yet readable likeness isn’t such an achievement. Sacrificium Carmen‘s own distinct style is still that they are fairly broad spectrum in mind and classicist in motion, this makes for thrillingly dark and complex black metal pieces that make no rush toward their melodic release. In terms of analysis and criticism, Finnish black metal often presents as a known quantity in mind but when listened to for pleasure, in daimonian congress, there is nothing so average about an album like ‘Nekrognosis…‘, especially as we connect their songwriting with lyrics that take an occult shamanistic approach to death’s realization and the ruin society often wracks upon the self. Also the album cover is perfectly set. Finest death worship.”

TITLE:Non Omnis Moriar
LABEL(S):Purity Through Fire

“Bavarian black metal artist Baptist continues to excel beyond the transformative step of ‘Axis Mundi’ (2020) emphasizing subtly coerced shadow-unions of folk, punk and primally sourced yet sophisticated black metal style. The usual adjectives apply here in terms of austere and triumphal black metal guitar arrangements, given to feeling/effect first and then to narrative next, but the goal seems to be a distinctly German affect. I’m not sure if blissfully forward striding, chest-puffing spirit is the intended result but this album is animating, anthemic in such an infectious way that I found myself coming back to it frequently throughout November.”

LABEL(S):Casus Belli Musica,

Seltar is a New Jersey-based atmospheric/post-black metal solo project from a musician going by the name Invierno whom seems to have some ties to Windfaerer. As far as I can tell this project was reactivated after about 4-5 years hiatus likely due to the pandemic since we’ve seen an EP, a split release and a second full-length from the project since the start of 2020. Instead of the usual crescendo-core Seltar gives us ten minute bursts of ethereal tremolo-core with a bit of a DSBM-ish edge to its darker bouts, though they are brief. Much of the album is uplifting, gallivanting and rasping unto a high fantasy infused wonderment meant to transcend and/or escape from this reality. The undertaking is impressive, quite a feat of constancy to manage these outsized and expressive pieces yet very little of it shapes into actual cinema or movement, trundling along within a fairly predictable set of post-music shapes that meander in a satisfying enough way.”

TITLE:Mortuus Decadence
LABEL(S):Seance Records,
Iron Bonehead Productions

“I’d first heard Australian doomed black metal act Tyrannic when their ‘Exterminating Angel‘ EP released in 2019 and though I wouldn’t consent to the multitudes of direct Mortuary Drape comparisons since, the vibe is certainly there and the actual doom metal riffs do eventually creep into these morbid, tragedian black metal pieces. ‘Mortuus Decadence‘ has a sense of ruin about it, a collapsing soul or a psychotic break in a dimly lit graveyard wherein the mania only increases as the candles slowly burn out. “Singe of Orgiastic Waste” takes us there quickest but this irreverent gloominess is the thread that holds the album together, this effect has more in common with the first Alastis album or, perhaps more precisely Denial of God and Negative Plane when considering the full listen. Don’t be impatient with this one, there is quite a lot of personality infused into these 7-9 minute songs. Finding Tyrannic‘s wavelength is well worth it.”

LABEL(S):Sepulchral Productions

“After releasing two full-lengths in 2019 there was no expectation for Québécois black metal prophets Ossuaire to release anything new anytime soon yet they’ve managed this fine EP release here at the end of 2021 with some great vigor. The theme here is described as the journey of the Chantre Ardent an idol who “guided a hundred chosen ones to the gates of the Great Rome so they could purge the holy land of its Christianity” and of course I support this theme with a bloody sword raised in each hand, these are honorable efforts against the armies of the Christ. Beyond the inspirational theme we’ve got pieces much in the style of ‘Derniers chants‘ (2019) but slightly more succinct in averaging 5-7 minutes instead of 9-10 and this makes this half hour EP potent in reveal of its venomous ways. Triumphal black metal? In the sense that salvation comes through cultivation of the underworld, yes, the battle isn’t over ’til the Earth is razed of monotheism.”

Ossuaire – Triumvirat MCD

TITLE:A Valediction
LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast

“Since 2002 German musician Steffen Kummerer has been diligently at work on two main pursuits, the frostbitten melodic black metal of Thulcandra and the technical/progressive death metal of Obscura, both of which we’ve heard fin work from this year. For the first two records Obscura were certainly showcasing above average musicianship and decent enough songcraft, especially considering there weren’t a ton of proper technical death metal bands capably incorporating Cynic-isms into the industry standard at the time. ‘Cosmogenesis’ was a high point for a lot of fans and from that point it seemed the band’s focus was upon performative arrangement and shred for a number of albums before some positive critical reception of ‘Akróasis’ edged things in a progressive direction. These are all generalized subtleties for the sake of illustrating a band that’d ultimately lost and found its identity. Now this sixth album from the band finds them focusing on slightly more melodic-technical death metal influenced ideas and increasingly personal lyrics, basically pulling an Arsis-type move and leaning into it. Well, what is special about the band at this point without any real signature intact? The bassist’s work is the sum of my interest in this album. What might seem innovative in terms of what Obscura have/haven’t done in the past are the prog-metal breaks in songs like “When Stars Collide” but I’d found these ineffectual throughout.”

LABEL(S):New Era Productions

“This recording marks the sixth full-length album from Netherlands-born and Czechia-based musician Hellchrist Xul in the name of long standing black metal fixture Funeral Winds. Active since 1991 and holding fast to a traditional early second wave sound there is no questioning this fellow’s commitment to prime black metal tradition. The title track is the big draw here for my taste thanks to a few bigger riffs; Most of the album just blazes by between six tracks and a half hour but I’d felt ‘Gruzelementen’ was most engaging whenever things slowed down.”

LABEL(S):Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Concilium is a Portuguese atmospheric black metal trio featuring members of Morte Icandescente, Sepulcros, and Occelensbrigg. The best way to describe the sound here is probably drowned, structurally mechanistic and heavily obscured. Thickly hissing layers of black smoke and tremolo whirring forms irregular rhythmic shapes which rarely convey statement so much as creeped out, bedroom black metal vibes. In my experience this was generally background music which didn’t reward rapt listening or analysis, the vibe is sinister and that’ll be enough for whomever this sound aims for.”

LABEL(S):Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Labored Breath is an atmospheric solo black metal project from Oakland area musician Jamison Kester whom you’ll recognize from Wild Hunt and Void Omnia. The style here has a hint of 2010’s USBM ease as well as the angular sections you’d expect from post-‘Paracletus’ black metal of that era, think of Fallen Empire Records and you’ll have gotten the idea. The rhythms appear fairly scrambled throughout and this makes ‘Dyspnea’ a less memorable experience than expected beyond a few strong opening moments. The atmospheric values of the album leave it fairly one dimensional in resonance and this’d droned past me several times before I began to identify strong pieces here and there.”

LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

“Monrovia, California-based quartet Imperialist are back with a second full-length and their Immortal-esque take on science fiction/video game lore themed thrashing black metal once again impresses. These guys have a great aesthetic, a distinct enough sound, professional recording and seem to have found their groove on this second album. ‘Zenith’ nonetheless lands a little bit flat in terms of extending that core personality into impressive or memorable songcraft and as a result the album often feels like they’re hesitating on some bigger ideas and staying in line with the previous release. By all means if you liked the first album this one is somewhat of an improvement in terms of more succinct songs and even more refined drum performances. During the consideration process I’d quickly found myself moving on from this album, not finding any big and notable guitar work to keep me going after 4-5 spins.”

TITLE:Death Revival
LABEL(S):Transcending Obscurity Records

“Greek old school death metal quintet Abyssus focus on a straightforward late 80’s Florida death metal sound for their second full-length since forming in 2011. Direct semblance of ‘Slowly We Rot’ and ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ has been their thing for quite some time. You might recall their 2015 Memento Mori-released debut ‘Into the Abyss’ and if you do then you’ll know what to expect from their stylistic focus and riffcraft. This time around the production is clearer, the classic late 80’s extreme metal touches are there (backwards-echoing vocal approach, whammy scrambling, etc.) and the full listen is completely effective in terms of riff obsessed immersion. I love that ‘Death Revival’ doesn’t have anything to prove in terms of straying from classic death metal formulae and this security of identity makes for stronger statements. My favorite piece is probably “Uncertain Future” for its ‘Extreme Aggression’-esque progressions.”

LABEL(S):Selfmadegod Records

“This sludged-out yet dramatically presented progressive death metal record gives us a most modern vision of Polish death metal accuracy and groove, sounding a bit more like early Gojira or Ulcerate rather than Hate or Decapitated. I was so impressed with the compositionally adept ‘Arthaneum’ back in 2017 that I’d been anticipating ‘Agonia’ and they’ve surprised me for the most part with this one; I hadn’t expected this record to be so patient in delivery, much more rooted in basal rhythmic grooves and skimming away the sludge-groove atmospherics a bit. “Further From Ordeal” more or less expresses the major differences proposed, easing on tech so that the songcraft might expand and “Excursus Ignis” is the full expansion of forms in action.”

TITLE:Count the Days

Fading Trail are a classic grindcore and deathcrust hybrid trio of Helsinki since at least 2019 and ‘Count the Days’ is their debut full-length. Do we have any more information on them otherwise? Nah. Does the album rule? Yes, if you are a fan of the Nasum school of late 90’s grindcore were it crossed over with the chunky grooves of Rotten Sound, er, more than usual. My only complaint here is that ‘Count the Days’ is so straightforward in its approach that there isn’t only particularly moment that convinces me to take a closer look, maybe a crust bump here and a blast there but nothing so earth-shattering that I found myself coming back to it.”

TITLE:Grave New World
LABEL(S):Monsterbilly Records

Dickless Tracy are a Slovenian death metal/grindcore band whom are somewhat in the tradition of classic eastern European deathgrind minus the pitch shifted vocals and goreporn, some of this authenticity comes from arising in the late 90’s when deathgrind was arguably reaching a high point of tuneful death metal integration (see: ‘Of Light and Darkness’, 2001). With that said ‘Grave New World’ is one of their most death metal leaning records to date sidestepping their punchier Terrorizer-isms more often while flexing their interest in filthiest early 90’s death metal riffing. Does this style warrant a 43 minute album? I dunno if they needed to stretch it out that long in this case, a half hour would’ve manage just as effective a statement.”

TITLE:Gravitas Maximus
LABEL(S):Unique Leader Records

“After four comeback-era albums under their belt folks are still having to educate away this idea that Pyrexia were an also-ran hanging on the coattails of Suffocation when they released ‘Sermon of Mockery’ in 1993. Chris Basile was a member of a pre-Suffo band named Mortuary and the crew had written scores of songs together so, those were his chugs too. I’m writing about ancient history here because I find it a bit more interesting than this latest record from the band, a stripped back 22-minute chunker that refuses to fuck around in the slightest, all class no no nutso smash. Only big change here since 2018 is new drummer John Glassbrenner whom brings a modern hit of slam-tension to Pyrexia‘s sound, or at least more than I recall noting on ‘Unholy Requiem’. Huge sound, tons of riffs, all moshable stuff so I doubt existing fans will be disappointed.”

TITLE:Necrocemetery Vomitorum
LABEL(S):Awakening Records

“I definitely don’t get enough Brazilian metal for review so, it was a nice surprise to dig on this northeastern (Bahia) Brazil based old school death metal trio’s debut. Rottenbroth‘s drumming isn’t on point just yet, the riffs are somewhat weak in terms of conveying basic progressions, and none of this is a major issue since they are playing a fairly raw, expressive form of pure death metal. The experience is part garage death and another part bedroom project and I’d found this charming enough, something that is exactly the opposite of manufactured and templated OSDM which I come across so often. Not a great album in terms of composition but an honest release either way.”

TITLE:Portals to Oblivion
LABEL(S):Neckbreaker Records

“Deutsche/Bangladeshi death metal trio Khnvm return for their second full-length album and it is a remarkable step forward for the development of their already somewhat unique sound. Still inherently classicist in their attack these folks now reach for atmospheric breaks more often, meandering just long enough to create a point of interest as they transition back into their sort of default mid-paced brutality. This reads a bit like early 90’s progressive death metal at first but overall fans of mid-90’s death metal sophistication and mid-2000’s atmospheric death are still the right target for this sound. Think along the lines of Serpens Aeon and Domain while in the clutches of the title track. It took some patience to sit with this album to start as there isn’t a direct hook to latch onto here beyond close study of these guitar driven death metal pieces. With a bit of familiarity I’d gotten a sort of arcane/occult feeling from a few songs (“Heretic Ascension”) and this’d warm the experience in mind considerably once I’d committed to the experience. It might’ve gone a long ways to kick things off with a bang but I eventually found ‘Portals to Oblivion’ to be quite memorable and an admirable follow-up to ‘Foretold Monuments to Flesh’.”

TITLE:In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow
LABEL(S):Raw Skull Recordz

“Stockholm-based death metal crew Just Before Dawn have long been exploring the possibilities beyond key albums from Bolt Thrower and Asphyx, eventually incorporating Dismember-esque melodic ideas as a major feature alongside the tank and war obsessed side of things. They continue to do so with this latest EP, I’d say it is their finest work yet but their 2020 full-length was also generally along these lines and just as good. If you haven’t checked this band out I’d say ‘In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow’ is the best possible point of entry.”

TITLE:Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike
LABEL(S):Prophecy Productions

“Approaching Toby Driver‘s impressive body of work alongside Kayo Dot‘s own celebrated discography included would be a daunting task if I wasn’t already well indoctrinated with maudlin of the well and this ‘spiritual successor’ band already. The last Kayo Dot album I loved and spent this much time with is ‘Coffins on Io’ and in some ways this album strikes at the proggy gloom of that album but I’d say some of the material kicks back to the early 2000’s era of the band. Although I did not end up reviewing this album it will likely be somewhere nearby the top ~20 of my Best of the Year list this year, I like it and I don’t have anything intelligent to say about it. The mid-paced sinister ethereal atmosphere generated on this record is distinct but the tonal range expressed within is what impresses me most between effects-heavy atmospheric guitar reaches and wildly expressive vocal performances. At some point it appears the artist is performing tone specific characterizations, wearing multiple masks as he does the work of ten and this is nothing short of mastery.”

TITLE:Luciferian Age
LABEL(S):Edged Circle Productions

“This debut EP from In Aphelion features two tracks from an upcoming full-length (‘Moribund’), a Kreator cover and what seems to be a leftover track from the album sessions. The style is essentially a revision of the raw and melodic nature of early Swedish black metal set and with some of the edges smoothed by quite professional production values. The obvious comparison is probably nowadays Necrophobic, this is especially true when focused on the melodic phrasing of the guitars in their elaborate presentation; Of course this makes sense as founder Sebastian Ramstedt has been a key songwriter in Necrophobic since replacing David Parland in the mid-to-late 90’s and his ‘Envoy of Lucifer’-era Nifelheim bandmate joins on this recording as far as I know. Otherwise I’d gotten a strong hint of early Marduk here, something a bit more sophisticated than all of the Swedish black/thrash comparisons floated about in reference to this band, or, if we are going to look in that direction point towards the lost realm of Satanic Slaughter and Deathwitch for a stronger approximation. I’m not blown away just yet but I am looking forward to the full-length based on this material.”

TITLE:Invoking the Spirit of Doom
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

“There aren’t many bands I’d cover a 7” record from these days, especially when the music itself amounts to roughly ten minutes, but Katavasia are among my favorites of the last several years’ boon of Hellenic black metal releases and well worth collecting. Not only is that album cover one of the most memorable this year, both sides are pure class here between the arabesque curvature of “Descending to Acheron” and the sort of nuclear event here “Premonition of Doom”, where I’d say this union between members of Varathron, Melan Selas and Agnes Vein really shines as esoteric heavy metal music, traditional regional black metal with its own refinements in hand. Essential stuff if you are a fan of this band already or if you want a quick first impression.”

TITLE:Decrepit Flesh Relic
LABEL(S):Transylvanian Records

Civerous offer up slow-burning, cavernous and somewhat bestial atmospheric death metal on this debut full-length. The black metal influenced side of the band eases as ‘Decrepit Flesh Relic’ leans into doom and disarray between bouts of Finnish death, funereal death/doom, and caverncore adjacent riffing. Though this album has a sort of trendy death metal side-project vibe to start with a few shorter boppin’ songs the deeper Civerous lean into various doom metal sub-genre ideas the sooner the album begins to deliver its most effective ideas, starting with the duo of “Rot Delineated (Decrepit Flesh Relic)” and “Hubiku”. In fact if the band focused entirely on the more elaborately doomed style of Side B here I figure ‘Decrepit Flesh Relic’ might’ve been one of my favorite records of the year. This’ll be one to return to over the next few months to see if it sticks more. Highly recommended.”

TITLE:Worship the Eternal Darkness
LABEL(S):Debemur Morti Productions

“The last Archgoat record I purchased was ‘The Light Devouring Darkness’ back in 2009 and not because they aren’t fantastic at what they do but because “war”-level bestial black/death metal has vastly expanded since then and they, along with Morbosidad and Proclamation, were the gateway drug beyond the late 80’s stuff I’d obsessed over first. Their gut muttered vocals are still distinct and the riff-intensive guitar work is ever the main reason to key into Archgoat but I’d particularly enjoyed the drummer’s contributions here since this was my introduction to the band’s post-Sinisterror works. The slower pieces like “All Christianity Ends” were a lot to take in to start but overall I’d definitely left this album feeling like I needed to catch up with their last two records since the style here expands far from expected war metal limitations. I don’t know that this will be my go to Archgoat album going forward but I was impressed with the album as a listening experience, conveying blasphemic ideation without relying on dry stock brutality for effect.”

TITLE:Meandering Soul
LABEL(S):Klonosphere Records

“French heavy rock quartet Djiin create a psychedelic doom-attuned stoner rock concept album here for their sophomore long player and it certainly kicks off with a theatric, Crimsonian introduction as “Black Circus” saunters in with hanging limbs and unease before the warm nature of their mid-70’s prog/psych rock influenced sound reveals itself in full. The themes are essentially inner torment, congress with one’s own demons and the music is fittingly introspective as a result, never losing its sultry touch yet touching upon far darker subjects than their debut album ‘The Freak’ (2019). In my experience it was “Warmth of Death” that’d impressed most and despite it being one of the most chilled pieces on a chill-ass album, Side B strikes into some heavier rocking pieces (“Waxdoll” in particular”) but the album is largely served in trance, outside of physicality and within the mind. I’d love to see the band work those harder-edged pieces in with the introspective prog/mental havoc more often but as is, and with a patient mindset, ‘Meandering Soul’ makes for a fine full listen. Try it out if you liked the last Kadavar album.”

TITLE:Genocide Pact
LABEL(S):Relapse Records

“Do I like Genocide Pact? I definitely liked the attack of their second album ‘Order of Torment’ but none of it has held up well since, nor did it energize my approach of this third album. I figure a self-titled album is a statement at this point, either cementing a certain identity or shifting gears. The reality is probably a bit of each as the first two tracks here fire off with main riffs echoing the best of early Celtic Frost (by way of Obituary) and ‘Seasons in the Abyss’-era Slayer. On paper this probably reads pretty generic but I’d found it to be the right sort of classicist signaling, reaching for olden extreme metal grooves and making straight forward death metal with them. This breaks ‘Genocide Pact’ into a class of ‘new old school’ death metal separate from the cheap cannibalism of caveman death and metallic hardcore influenced stuff but it doesn’t necessarily sell the album to me. As for the sound and the general clunk of ‘Genocide Pact’, much of this record aims for mid-paced 3-4 minute death metal songs which fire off a few riffs each via traditional arrangements. This makes for an easy full listen but doesn’t necessarily land any memorable hits, relying on low key mid-paced death/doom metal movements to keep things moving. It is a fine record but not an inspiring one for my own taste, it seems like they’re holding back for the sake of conveying a dark mood but without actually landing the punches they need to get there.”

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