Short Reviews | August 24th, 2022

SHORT REVIEWS Our first set of September 2022 releases finds us striking a bit of obscure gold between some solid avant-garde metal, heavy rock, and a few true outliers. I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works I come across while still presenting some decent variety here, but it boils down to what sticks or is worth writing about. If you find something you dig in the lot of ’em, go tell the band on social media and support them with a purchase. The arts require your support and/or own contributions. If you’d like your music reviewed send promos to:

TITLE:End of Ordovicia
LABEL(S):Ordovician Records
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Minneapolis, Minnesota-borne blackened death metal trio Silurian is yet another stellar project from musician Lucas Scott (Sunless, Obsolete) this time in collaboration with DgS (Suffering Hour) on vocals and drummer Pat Ruhland (Grand Demise of Civilization). This debut mLP is the first banner for their own imprint, Ordovician Records, and though it is a brief 7″ worth of material these three songs make a brilliant first impression. The title track and “Gondwanian Sacrifice” deal in a lavish brand of circular phrasing which should spark some interest in folks who appreciate the heavier side of The Chasm, a pensive progressivity which manages transcendent enough spectacle while retaining aggressive, thrashing character. Those first two pieces relate directly from my point of view and begin to compound a distinct style of uninterrupted, often primarily instrumentally focused death metal which I enjoyed quite a bit from the first spin. It’d been enough of an idea right then and there, Silurian serve a well-formed idea worth iterating and expanding upon within just six or so minutes, yet the third song on the record “Eurypterid Emperors” offers some additional coloration, giving us their heavier blackened aspect within expressive rushes of tremolo picked riff. ‘End of Ordovicia‘ arrives well-prepared from folks who certainly know what they are doing and its presentation greatly benefits from their experience, communicating an intricately stated and neatly formed idea which sells the idea of the project within just a few minutes of imposing detail and high-level expressivity.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:An Eternity of Misery
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Of course this’ll have to be a moment where nostalgia grips my throat and gives little option beyond submission to the sorrowful yet heavy-as-nails type of melodic, romanticist death/doom metal wrought in the early-to-mid 90’s. There’ll be no fighting and fending ‘An Eternity of Misery‘ off as its early Katatonia, Tiamat, and My Dying Bride adjacent style ladles on lid-drooping torpor with an ‘Dance of December Souls‘ meets ‘The Astral Sleep‘ blend of sentimentally simmering gothic metal wrenching blended agreeably with actual death/doom metal riffing. When I’d given short review of their excellent ‘Echoes of Doom‘ EP back in 2020 I’d enjoyed this Italian band’s approach but wasn’t sure it’d go anywhere beyond referential kitsch but they’ve quite easily rolled me with this one, sparking up the ole depressed teenage years with little more than a few catchy guitar runs. If you don’t have nostalgia for this brand of death/doom, I suppose that is a shame and there’ll be some redeeming value in exploring the pre-’95 peaking of this style before the developed fandom migrated to Opeth and such. The score would be a bit higher if “Demons” was a bit more polished and the instrumentals hadn’t bloated the length ’til nearby a full hour. Imposing yet enjoyable melodic death/doom.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Eldritch Anatomy
LABEL(S):Emanzipation Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Hailing from Ljubljana, Slovenia death metal quartet Ensanguinate feature former/current members of well-known modern thrash metal groups Panikk and Eruption and as you might’ve guessed this high taste level indicates their proficiency in the ‘old school’ death metal trade. ‘Eldritch Anatomy‘ presents a fine and fully formed classicist death metal ideal which appears to pull from the primary drivers of romanticist and eldritch European death metal of the ’90-’93 era, expanding upon their Swedeath influenced demo ‘Entranced by Decay‘ (2020) with a sinister melodic edge, a tempered guitar tone and a knack for death metal songs which present tension and maniac aggression rather than blindered, phoned-in momentum. This of course eventually resorts to thrashing about when a shock of energy is called for, with “Ghoul Presence” being the right moment to gear up into the bulkier threshing menace of the full listen. The short of it is that this album has riffs but it takes a while to warm up to their approach, which is somewhat technical and arranged in a deliberate sometimes too restrained mode. The album should really begin to crack open in the mind around “Gaping Maws of Cerberus” and “Lowermost Baptisms” where that early Swedish death sound (as in, the Morbid Angel influenced side of things) begins to really catch its most fiery semblances, and just wait until the fucking creep of “Sublimation” sinks in beyond. Catch that middle section of the album for the easy sell, I’d say. Due to the sheer number of quality releases this month these guys’ll likely get lost in the crowd but their debut is inarguably a gem which will be waiting to reward those who look beyond the most obvious spaces of underground death metal. The album art is insane too, exceptional record all things considered.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

TITLE:Send For a Warning, The Future’s Calling
LABEL(S):Grand Hand Records
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Calgary, Alberta-based psychedelic blues rock quartet Gone Cosmic features members of several bands I’m not all that familiar with (Chron Goblin, Witchstone, The Torchettes) yet their music is recognizable enough as an undertaking concerned with bridging the face value notions of heavy psychedelic rock with modern interpretation, a ‘old meets new’ directive which generally succeeds in escaping the drying yuppification of retro heavy rock with some appreciable progressive (and somewhat aggressive) flailing applied. At the heart of ‘Send For a Warning, The Future’s Calling‘ is the quick-to-trigger belting of vocalist Abbie Thurgood who tends to dominate the recording, setting the tone and mood to distraught but biting back in most cases. These folks are at their peak compositional aptitude when it comes time to merge their Elder-esque sleepier, prog-rocking side with bigger rock hooks (“Causeways”, “For Sabotage”, “Taste For Tragic”) but these moments contrast with the quicker three minute rock burners they’ve whipped across the full listen, leading to a somewhat tumultuous full listen which ends up mood-swingin’ a bit too often. Though I enjoyed this aspect to start, I’d found myself seeking those more intimate, introspective pieces out most often.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Hate Monolith
LABEL(S):Unique Leader Records
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Here we’ve got an interstitial release from Western Australian technical death metal/deathcore act Xenobiotic as they continue to lean into their progressive deathcore-edged sound with each recording. In terms of new material these recording sessions yielded four new songs which are very much a continuation of their Fallujah-esque ‘Mordrake‘ LP from 2020 as well as a cover of a song from member’s past life in deathcore band I Am Eternal circa 2011 with “Sever the Ties”. Although I am conscious of modern deathcore in the tech-death and prog-death context it really has to stand out to stick with me and in that sense most of ‘Hate Monolith‘ reads a bit average. I don’t have the live in-studio tracks included with the mLP so I can’t remark on ’em but I’d generally suggest that if you liked ‘Mordrake‘ you’ll not be disappointed by their tweaking of that style in a slightly more accessible direction. Beyond that I’ve always found the art direction of this group solid and enjoyed the album cover from Giannis Nakos here in particular.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:Soulless I Remain
LABEL(S):Redefining Darkness Records
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Florida-based death metal quartet Carnal Ruin are ready for their big debut LP after a few years of kicking simple riff ideas around within a somewhat generic Boss HM-2 distortion boosted Swedish death metal influenced sound. What they’ve done to stand out here, emerging with a sorrowful melodic tonality on roughly half of these songs, ends up being the best aspect of this debut and keeps it from landing entirely forgettable. Sitting down with the mid-paced buzzing of ‘Soulless I Remain‘ at about 75% volume after work definitely put me to sleep, and I say that not to be a dick but that it was literally my first impression. I think if they went all-in with the melodramatic side of things, laid thick the melodic aspect of their sound it’d have stood out and caught my attention more. There are some excellent pieces here and the sound design is well-balanced but I’d like to see what it’d sound like if the band kinda went in for the kill with their core idea rather than kinda ate around the more standardized death metal rub of it all. Definitely check out “Immortalis” and “Barren Lands” at the very least.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:Binary Enigma
RELEASE DATE:September 2nd, 2022

Zeta is an ‘old school’ melodic black metal influenced science fiction themed death metal project based out of Cleveland, Ohio though it is largely a studio project with membership spread out within the Midwest and southwest states. The elevator pitch on my end is a recombinant splicer with its laser-saw sights set on the austere, emotionally driven gusting of peak Swedish melodic black metal such as Sacramentum and the more dissonant edge of Immolation, making for a very unique combination of classic USBM traits and eruptive, off-center death metal voicing. Alright, it was a long elevator eh. Of course they are combining three or four of my favorite things here (if we include surreal synth and mentions of video games) so it is hard to fault the admixture of those elements when they’re all pulled from prime tastes. The striking ‘heavy metal’ assail of melodic black/death tends to be their sweet spot within otherwise somewhat frantic, urgent death metal pieces and though this leads to some rhythmic congestion here and there it only adds to the alien sound they’ve conjured. There are a few distinctive synth nods on the full listen which must take some influence from the eerie, airy soldiery of the Metroid Prime soundtrack (or nearby) and I’d appreciated that they add to the flow of things rather than detract or clash. Everything lands most perfectly in terms of those major elemental beacons suggested on “Weight of Disclosure” though I’d found myself drawn to the insane aggression that kicks off “Organic Corridor” most. Experimental, brutal, introspective and always presented in an somewhat unique way — this is the perfect sort of weirdo sci-fi black/death metal which I’d like to see further developed and given some proper support.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Odes to the Radiant One
LABEL(S):Wicker Man Recordings
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Goatchrist is an experimental black metal project from West Yorkshire, England that’ve taken a trip from occult black metal fumbling to a few years of metaphysical renaissance which produced their first LP in 2019 and, eh, then they’d gotten to work on a series of four Gnosticism centered concept albums which all released in 2020. The 2021 released ‘Odes to the Radiant One‘ capped this phase of the band off with what seems to be a stopping point for at least some of the members, I mention it today because it will receive a CD release in a few weeks. This one takes me back to the era of GuitarPro infused and unmixed black metal CD-r releases on MySpace and such, if only for how hairy the recording gets. We’ve essentially got an kitchen sink prog handle upon black metal here and an artist whom shines most in generating memorable piano roll’d pieces and the keyboard/synth realm in general. The black metal aspect of the music is plainly rhythmic and doesn’t do much for me once the sort of bonkers noisome aspect of it finds some adaptation in ear. I’d hate to be an old square and suggest these ideas were tempered and reigned for impact rather than maximal force but I’d like to hear what they’d do with the emphasis set upon communicating the lyrical themes rather than gusting through myriad mania-induced musical ideas. Entertaining to say the least.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Svart Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Here is the next big thing, forget about what you have seen, forget about what you have been.” As we are introduced to the particularly violent second chamber of this eighteen piece collaboration between this unusual pairing of Finnish artists (Reverend Bizarre and Ronskibiitti alum) their subversive intent is worn like a “battle jacket”, covered in years and years worth of patches or symbols gathered into a variety of experimental pieces with very separate outlines and mannerisms. Some of these pieces arrive with something to say but most of it delivers nihilistic prose, big beats, obscure sequencing, a deranged (but appropriately so) reaction to the human race. Exciting as it is to hear this level of experimentation and expression it did end up feeling like a beat poet and literal beats-centered album which I’ve historically never gone back to more than once on either side of the spectrum. Consider it a flaw of my own uncontrollable nature.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Willowtip Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Is it actually complex, or, merely continuously entertaining well beyond the average attention span? Is it progressive, or, simply performative within a certain accepted and decided upon standard for modern music? Is it death metal? Well, we could whittle it down to progressive metal at the very least. A work like ‘Woe‘ doesn’t intend the listener be complacent and stare blankly into the gorgeous vistae presented but instead encourages some manner of stirring, anxietous pooling of introspective thought into realization. I figure if it were meant to be pretty entertainment there might be a bit more overtly campy melody attached to the experience, instead it is presented as cinematically charged modern extreme metal. Anyhow, random thoughts while lost in mountain scaling prog-metal landscapes.

This northern Swedish trio create an entirely safe, encapsulated modern sphere for the sake of the pondering, overstimulated and affected listener much in the same way groups like Disillusion (and to some degree recent Be’lakor) might, rarely forcing the issue with direct confrontation or interruptive majesty. This avoids the clashing, sometimes less than personal aptitudes of groups like Ne Obliviscaris and Black Crown Initiate for the sake of generating an effect which appears pulled from the more progressive side of modern melodic death metal, keeping up with the nowadays need for readable syncopation rather than the ‘riff’ while generating an decidedly muted atmospheric affectation entirely their own.

Naturally the longest, most performative and involved pieces are the hot spots within the full hour presented and though I believe they could shine with a more personalized render/sound design beyond the cloud-set loft of it all it is the longform songwriting which impresses me away from that point as I consider its greater outline. I’m still on the fence with this one despite several listens, if only because I find myself nonplussed in the face of their fairly typical sound and the moment-to-moment dirge of it all yet when I consider the effect of the full listen it does ultimately convince and read with some greater value. Something to think about in more depth while wrapped up in it.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.