Short Reviews | August 31st, 2022

SHORT REVIEWS Our second set of September 2022 releases finds us focusing almost exclusively on black/death metal, death metal, and some black metal variants though we’ve a few interesting outliers up front from bigger labels. I’ve mostly positive things to say about most of them. 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:Der Alte
LABEL(S):Lupus Lounge,
Prophecy Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

The quick description of German trio Valborg‘s style should be simple enough, something like extreme metal influenced minimalist sludge metal with an emphasis on heavy grooves and considerable industrial metal severity, yet this doesn’t carry the same sort of veracity from album to album wherein we find the band continually rethinking, resetting, or repositioning their sound and style dependent on inspiration at the time. It makes for an eventful discography to revisit yet it also means some of their records might hit far better for certain tastes compared to others. Case in point, some of the early releases from the band were considered “progressive” death/doom metal whereas their more recent few releases have emphasized a more industrial metal/sludge sound akin to Godflesh‘s groovier industrial chug records such as ‘Hymn‘ and ‘Songs of Love and Hate‘, of course Valborg‘s approach is far removed from the 90’s metal spectrum and comes with their own rhythmic ideas in hand. ‘Der Alte‘ stands out for its shorter, rhythmically taut, and harshened approach which reads as an early industrial metal attack in hi-fi moreso than it does a death/sludge record from my point of view.

Screamed, garbled, distorted and executed at a stabbing pace only one or two songs on ‘Der Alte‘ come close to the four minute mark and this seems to be symptom of Valborg‘s emotionally driven hand in terms of not only getting to the point quick within each song but compressing the mood of the album into a potent punkish, aggressive, and nihilistic feeling which steams from all vents. When I’d first encountered the single “Hektor” I was impressed that it’d basically been a deconstructed Discharge song in their own language and beyond that, it’d been a simple and enraged statement which I’d found memorable from the first listen. Much of the album showcases those sort of boot-strapped, motorik beats but if you are looking for something more within their atmospheric sludge mood “Kommando aus der Zukunft”, “Die Glut der ersten Stunde” and the title track are substantial enough to ultimately dominate the landscape beyond the abundance of shorter, frenetic punk-machined pieces.

As abrasive and hammered-at as ‘Der Alte‘ is I’d found it to be at least a song or two too long at ~38 minutes and a bit stretched for (or hyper focused on) rhythmic ideas now and then. It does feel like a record a band of Valborg‘s caliber could write/play in their sleep but perhaps for the sake of its entirely electric and frustrated delivery.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Eternal Steel
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Dallas, Texas-based quintet I Am continue to pursue a death metal influenced derivation of metallic hardcore on this third full-length. In terms of how well they pull it off the sound is right but this ain’t death metal for sure, instead think of late 90’s metalcore beyond ‘Satisfaction is the Death of Desire‘ with some tangential interest in the Power Trip-juiced school of hi-fi crossover core and then draw those riffs out into stretches of simple, slow motion beatdowns, some metal influenced leads and thrash metal inspired riffs. I am definitely not one to snub a metallic hardcore band with a huge production value in hand, much less one that has some interest in decent thrash riffs, and in this sense these guys make their big-label debut with style. The major beef I’ve got with this record is basically what you’d expect on my end, the content of the rhythm guitar work is entirely straightforward and often pretty lax for my taste. I know these songs’ll work live but I wanted a bigger show on the record. The ride is hip and the sound is hot, nothing to really complain about so much as it just doesn’t shock me out of my fuckin’ chair.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Nuclear Blast
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Popular progressive metal band Fallujah had a normal amount of minor blowback from longtime fans when making the transition to a major label for their third full-length and this narrative took an odd turn as the band’s vocalist exited after the well-liked ‘Dreamless‘ (2016), apparently disappointing the herd. As an outsider reviewing the follow up ‘Undying Light‘ in 2019 I’d felt like, well, I mean they were still a very accessible prog-tech metal band with a very light deathcore lean. If anything that album had found a unique atmosphere within its lead guitar driven style, yet we find ‘Empyrean‘ naturally pivoting back to what’d made fans happiest, a very slick form of contemplative modern metal. Perhaps the intent of this band was aligned with progressive deathcore and technical death metal at one point but at this juncture I feel the roots of those sub-genre signifiers are unnecessary dressing which hardly matches the mood of this group, live or on album.

The post-metal influenced atmospheric swells and ethereal calm of ‘Empyrean‘ are its most potent points of interest as an otherwise restrained semi-melodic record without any truly strong definition between statements. Most piece here generally exist as vignettes to present lead guitar skill and that isn’t such a bad thing because Fallujah have long managed their own vibe within the guitar hero tech-deathcore realm with reasonable consistency. Still, the full listen reads to me as a fragmented conversation with someone who is practicing the guitar loudly, restarting the conversation after I’d take a few steps away to think about or do something else, saying less with each step away ’til I’d just as well leave ’em to their needling away at a vibe. Anyhow, I’ve caught this band live a number of times on various tour packages over the years and I’m interested to see how these songs blend in otherwise.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:A Place for Ash
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Raleigh, North Carolina-based dissonant atmospheric black metal quartet Mo’ynoq return a bit scathed a few years beyond their debut full-length and we’re treated to the first of many pained, throat-cracking screams as the band set the tone for ‘A Place for Ash‘. Largely influenced by the peak era of Wolves in the Throne Room as well as Mgła these folks don’t necessarily have any interest in catchy or simplistic pieces but rather the frothy, liquid flows of semi-dissonant post-black metal in meandering extraction. Much like their first record the material here is only occasionally directive yet features a consistently aggressive and involved rhythmic center, leading to a balmy yet unobstructed listen which tasks the ear with focusing on their over the top vocal performances and the occasional leadership moment from the guitars for shapely formation. While most of the songs here strike a solid balance between thoughtfully distraught mulling and emergent bursts of inspiration I’d found this album blazed by without managing a clear and impactful statement, eh, with the exception of the particularly good 11+ minute closer. After returning to this record three or four times I’d found there was no real connection to be had on my part but I do admire the evolution of the band’s style thus far.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:Dies Irae
LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Detroit, Michigan staple and persistent “archaic” death metal advocates Perversion finally return with a second full-length here after over a decade and they’ve not changed drastically, still focused on what I’d consider death/thrash metal from the nascent bestial evolution of black/death metal in the mid-to-late 80’s, something very much in the tradition of Bestial Mockery, Slaughtbbath and to some degree Slutvomit wherein the darker side of South American and German thrash form the basis for a raw and riff-obssessed form of evil and ‘old school’ extreme heavy metal. I’ve absorbed and enjoyed this record with some strong admiration for their pure 80’s death metal intent, their sound is properly hollow and malevolent though I think the blackened thrash metal construction of their riffs has a sort of mild aftertaste to it, a not-so precision focused performance which hasn’t quite delivered the lead guitar interest to their full potential. Solid record and an easy to enjoy full listen otherwise.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:The Experimendead
LABEL(S):Gruesome Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Turkish technical brutal death metal quartet Inhuman Depravity manage a somewhat traditional and therefore largely enjoyable take on the sub-genre on this second full-length record. This’ll ring especially true if you’re attuned to the early 2000’s spectrum of brutal death wherein groups like Cryptopsy and Deeds of Flesh had reached a point of mastery, necessitating uniquely performative stylistic flourishes and texturally rich compositions for the sake of competitive differentiation. ‘The Experimendead‘ lives up to that standard without surpassing it in any sort of interesting way, hammering out pieces which lay serious grooves and feature impressive but not too demanding guitar compositions with strong interplay with generally frantic drumming. The only issue I’d take with the full listen is that the vocalist is so persistently verbose that there isn’t all that much room to breathe and enjoy those bigger moments and appreciate the otherwise cleverly constructed pieces within. The best parts of this record, which largely hit on the second half of the record, give enough room to let the instrumentals thunder about and generate momentum. The full listen didn’t stick with me beyond the third or so listen but I greatly appreciate their style and the strong taste level exhibited herein and liked the layout/artwork of the release quite a bit.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Conduits to the Underworld
LABEL(S):Nuclear Winter Records
RELEASE DATE:September 12th, 2022

Sarcophagum is a newer pandemic-spawned blackened death metal project from current and former members of Golgothan Remains but the material itself, featured here in an entirely satisfying ~20 minute roll of three pieces, takes some strong cues from the moodier side of Ulcerate in forming dreary and introspective death metal experience. The bass guitar tone caught my ear first, unsurprisingly, for its backgrounded yet intense accompaniment with strong definition as the recording proceeds. Clearly these folks are pros and this doesn’t at all sound like it’d been created to simply pass time, but to process it with personalized intensity. “Netherengines” would end up being the song to convince me of the experience, the devastated feeling of ‘Conduits to the Underworld‘ already apparent yet the patternation of this song bringing in its seemingly emergent gusts of event into the hypnotic vortex they seem to be working toward with some strong success. Easily the biggest recommendation on the list this week and one of the better debut EPs that has hit me all year.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

TITLE:The Blasphemous Psalms of Cannibalism
LABEL(S):Werewolf Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Decked out in spikes, reading from a insidious grimoire, chugging from a heinous goblet and vomiting showers of blood onto a nude sacrifice Finnish war-shocked and malicious black/death conjurors Blood Chalice make a Hell of an unholy first impression both visually and in reveal of their second full-length album herein. Need I mention the possessed woman eating her newborn child with the umbilical cord attached? This is the sort of band soccer mom brigades and satanic panic Christian warriors warned us about in the early 90’s and man, we don’t get these often enough. ‘The Blasphemous Psalms of Cannibalism‘ initially seems to take heavy cues from Impaled Nazarene (which should be obvious enough) but this it’s a schizo-blasted porno-goat seizure record in full and in fact some slower Archgoat-infested pure death metal rolls in, too, making for a murderous and dynamic sort of record. The fact that they keep pulling off the nuclear death metal guitar tone and slower riffs beyond “Antichristian War Declaration” and the black/death ratio holds up in solid parity throughout did eventually impress. Maybe I’m just a big Archgoat fan or whatever but I’d put this record on a ridiculous number of times in preview of this month’s releases and continue to enjoy the rotten, shrieking attack of it all. Key tracks: “Celestial Destroyer”, “The Last Supper of Insects” and “Temet Nosce”.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Descended From Vast Dimensions
LABEL(S):Comatose Records
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

Imagine the hubris, kicking off an album with a goofy spoken intro that spoofs the opening music of Entertainment Tonight while introducing the band and then going straight into a sample from a horror movie. Every song on this pure and plain brutal death metal record is stuffed with slams, nukes and way too many clips from movies, video games, and television for the sake of it being a fun multinational project split between folks in Hong Kong, the U.K., Switzerland, and the United States. Shits a fucking dorky clusterfuck of bad ideas, so, while I don’t mind giving them a pass for being a good time I’d rather get to the riffs and the dog-gnawed vocals straight away. At some point the vocalist growls out “What the fuck did you say you worthless shit, you’re just like your mom!” and fair enough, I haven’t laughed that hard at a death metal album in years. These folks also feature in Crepitation, Colpocleisis, Dimensional Decay, Bodysnatch and all have several gigs rolling out otherwise so if you’re familiar with all of that I can see why the big collab here would be worth grabbing on. From my point of view it is kind of a throwback to the bad MySpace brutal death metal CD-r market, the out-gross each other bedroom project days of pornogrind and all that but seen through todays arguably more talented slamming brutal death collective.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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