Short Reviews | September 25th, 2022

SHORT REVIEWS Our fifth set of September 2022 releases finds us picking up the best of what is left to release in the final week of the month. One release from the 23rd was intended to be included (Kathaaria) but I was too impressed with it after giving due diligence that I couldn’t leave it at a short review. I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works that I come across while still presenting some decent variety but choices boil down to what sticks, what inspires or what 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 contributions. If you’d like your music reviewed send promos to:

LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

Bay Area extreme crust gone death metal crew Acephalix‘ fourth full-length notably finds the band introducing new guitarist Adam Camara (ex-Fiend, Ensepulcher) and bassist Erika Osterhout (Scolex, Chthonic Deity) and this naturally shifts the major voice of the project without deleting the greater paradigm. We’ve got an ‘old school’ adjacent death metal record nonetheless, still bumping along at a quasi-Scandinavian death metal pulse when put under a rhythmic lens yet delivered in highest fidelity to date, they’ve left a healthy bolt of scuzz on the guitar tone but their sound has otherwise been polished to its finest sheen. I’ve long been a fan of the group, moreso their first two records, but the riffs largely escaped my interest this time around and it’d been hard to see the relation to start. Most all of my interest in this record initially revolved around the vocals from Daniel Butler, wherein his growls are directive and impressive in phrase as always but I’d found the eerie spoken parts layered in emphasis of certain phrases added a unique touch to the experience. The full listen is brutally jogged forth, almost exclusively straightforward in its death/metalpunk feeling and appreciably heavy in motion, so it’ll be easy to pick up and take a ride without offering any major challenge to the average death metal ear — Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is up to you, I’d found it just a bit above average. The riffs aren’t entirely there for my taste outside of “Pristine Scum” and the grinding whip of “Godheads” but I do generally appreciate that the crusted side of the band is still poking through on most songs and that they’ve approached this one with a high standard across the board. Missing that extra bit of weirding I’d expected but all-in-all a strong death metal record.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Morbidity Triumphant
LABEL(S):Peaceville Records
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

Getting to the task at hand is admittedly kinda rough with this one, either we get right to it or we get lost in the woods of the past… I’d rather cut through the unnecessary assiduities. Any death metal fan worth their weight in curing salt has some ingrained fealty to Autopsy‘s early work but I don’t know many who’ve paid any serious attention, or lent an even halfway critical ear, to their work beyond ‘Shitfun‘ and most dolts rarely even go as far as ‘Acts of the Unspeakable‘ in plain conversation. Beyond that original run these folks had never gotten much credit for the Abscess years (granted, different band etc.) and the five “comeback” records since 2011 seem to have been coming at a hot clip for the sake of keeping their gig on the road and fresh in mind more than anything else, right? Not exactly, if you spin through everything since ‘Macabre Eternal‘ with an ear fully pricked-out you’ll find Autopsy‘s success hinging entirely upon Eric Cutler still being able to cut a killer riff and the rest of the crew making morbid horror theater of it, bad wah-pedal abuse abounding. In this sense these folks are not only self-aware but well aware of what their fandom wants — A relic which exists in service to straight up death metal, heinous late 80’s/early 90’s zombie scratch with a doomed and punkish bent written for two guitars. They’ve still got “it” in that sense.

The frothing tributary between fanservice to the eternally dedicated and exploring the infinite possibilities of Autopsy‘s timeless signature sound (a horror death/doom dynamic) is yet a deep and rewarding well worth exploring further, a muscle that needs regular twitch action to stay alive. That is to say, in the third set of similar terms, that the same combination of factors which served ’em well in the past still serve up wild-ass death metal on ‘Morbidity Triumphant‘, just don’t trot into their saloon expecting more than the formula established on ‘Macabre Eternal‘ because it wasn’t broke. This time around they’ve further tightened up the songcraft, loosened up the expressive insanity of performances, bulged-up the doomed side of things, and generally went a shade more nutty in the vocal department. Production is ace, album art is sensational, and the style of the album differentiates from the previous two to some reasonable degree. Sure, there’ll be no gushing over it on my part otherwise but everything you’d want and expect from the group is here at their usual high standard.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Seeping Evocation
LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

Abstract guitar runs invaginating in dissonant anti-phrasing make the first impression this second album from Nythroth‘s Acausal Intrusion puts forth. The brutally skronking technical feats of the duo now reach for progressive intrigue to some degree, leaning towards noise rock-loose guitar ache and fewer improvised sounding threads simultaneously. The experience is yet a largely atmospheric and esoteric set of statements observed, the sort of extreme metal which bleeds of technique with plenty of interesting and varied ideas presented in irregular motion yet very little of it reaches for an unheard-of language. ‘Seeping Evocation‘ is an exciting enough experience thanks to its frantic, anxietous scribbling of guitar technique and its storming ranting off in the distance offers an interesting enough prospect to folks who’d like to see acts like Suffering Hour and Ad Nauseam extended into even more detail though I find myself ready to move on after a few songs, having had my fill of the ride. The experiment continues to improve, though, and folks who get geared up for dissonant death metal should be excited for this one right out the box.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Space? Issue No.001
LABEL(S):Fuzzorama Records
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

Northwestern Montana based stoner rock quartet Wizzerd have all the makings, or, trappings of a jammed-out and fleet on their feet kind of gig with a firm grasp of the heavy psychedelic rock tradition. On this third full-length they continue to impress with emergent guitar tricks, a few bustling build-ups, at least one great jam (“Doom Machine/Smoke Break”) and the occasional memorable song results from their sorta early Monster Magnet-esque delivery. From my point of view they’re more of a hangout, the kind of local band you might go check out because their stuff is always a good time and it goes well with social lubricant. In terms of the listening experience on record they’re pretty average, just an alright spin with a sound that only escapes stock stoner bar band by way of a few out-there melodies and a quick to jam trigger finger. The packaging is righteous stuff and the recording is satisfyingly mild, if not a bit distant, but it didn’t have much of a chance to stick within the mound of horrors that is my mind without a big, bold bravado or any sort of doom and/or detail beyond the norm.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:Drown in Ash
LABEL(S):Naturmacht Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

Hailing from northern Ireland, er, near the border nearby Northern Ireland in Cavan, Eternal Helcaraxe represent themselves well within this third full-length they describe as ‘epic’ black metal in style, a qualifier which owes a bit of its style to the more Cascadian influenced spectrum of across the pond atmospheric black metal influenced pagan metal, though their sound has at times more generally pulled from the matured strains of sophisticated viking, pagan, and even progressive black metal idylls out of Scandinavia. Dull as it is to pick and preen at sub-genre distinctions up front ‘Drown in Ash‘ should appeal to folks who easily float between early Borknagar, Wodensthrone, Wolves in the Throne Room, and I suppose Primordial in terms of earlier scope and melodrama. None of this is lacking in terms of 7-9 minute dramatic arcs and a compelling enough listening experience yet little would ultimately stick in mind for a lack of engaging guitar riffs for my taste, since they’ve avoided a lot of ‘heavy metal’ tropes for the sake of something a bit more modern and semi-melodic. “Cease” pulls together a righteous enough mixture of conviction and guitar noise but I’d found myself in a bit of limbo otherwise, needing something more visceral to match the subject matter. It grew on me somewhat over the course of 3-4 listens but only a few songs ultimately called me back to the portal beyond that point.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:The Weight of Eternity
LABEL(S):Black Lion Records
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

We greet the tired eyes of a soul survivor, one fated with eternal life awakening each day only to face their haunting recall of the slow death of mankind long behind them. With this perspective in mind, of course it makes sense that this Netherlands-based duo, Angmodnes, play a fairly classic mixture of funeral doom and melodic death/doom metal, providing the ideal soundtrack to this listlessly wandering vision, even if I don’t entirely understand what they intended to communicate. The promo text suggests a metaphor for what I’d read as the walking wounded or, as they put it, people who have “lost their attachment with life […] don’t think about anything other than death” which I guess could mean inhumane realists, nihilists, or something more abstract. An interesting target to weaponize funeral doom metal against, hence a bit of confusion on my part.

‘The Weight of Eternity’ is the debut full-length from this side-project formed between two musicians who’d written a few funereal pieces for their death/doom metal group Apotelesma and found they’d be better off set aside for something willing to reach for more extreme pacing. We get a bit of melodic death/doom metal’s melodramatic modernity rather than the cryptic chambers of funeral doom on this one, though, as the duo serve a standard high fidelity render which reads somewhat typical, average. Think of the sort of stuff Solitude Productions would typically put out along the lines of Shape of Despair and you’re on the right track, generally strong musicianship without a distinct face otherwise. The clean vocals are well integrated for effect here, the piano bits tend to work well enough and the full listen is short (by funeral death/doom metal standards) and easier to digest for its brevity.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

TITLE:A Fate Worse Than Death
LABEL(S):Invictus Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 30th, 2022

Roman death metal quartet Thulsa Doom sacrifice all offerings to the altars of 80’s death metal, specifically the pre-‘Blessed are the Sick‘ era mastery of Morbid Angel‘s guitarists to start and a more general ’80-’91 death-thrashing rhythmic logic otherwise, and this should come as no great surprise considering their members’ current and former involvement in groups like Demonomancy and the short-lived Lurking Terror. ‘A Fate Worse Than Death‘ is not an experience entirely reserved for folks who tend to gravitate towards the suggested niche. though, as they do successfully expand upon the general lexicon and eventually begin to bend the old ways around their more violent intent. “Tomb of the Serpent Cult” is where I’d perceived the album beginning to amplify its own voice, ripping and thrashing at a bestial clip and with some strong interplay between the various perpetrators involved. They’ve found a great balance between the tightly wound virtues of Incubus (Georgia) and the rabid punching of Pentagram (Chile), in presenting what’ll read to most as an amped up and brutally kicked edge-up on the hallowed ‘Altars of Madness‘ framework.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

TITLE:Confines de la Cordura
LABEL(S):Nuclear Winter Records
RELEASE DATE:September 26th, 2022

The greater trajectory of Barcelona-based quintet Cruz ain’t exactly unheard of, one of many bands to transition from death/metalpunk origins in the early 2010’s unto full-on exaggeration of classic Swedish death metal tutelage, but it seems they’ve put some serious work into making this second album stand apart from that crowd. Most of that observation focuses on the fineries of the guitar work, the frequent lead guitar action, harmonized riffs, and a general uptick in smaller yet still important details such as the horror synth intros and interludes which crop up to space out or introduce bigger pieces such as the monstrous nine minute centerpiece “Els Murs Errants”. In fact all six of the main grip of songs on ‘Confines de la Cordura‘ manage to entertain, even when leaning into their Swedeath-death/crust haven (see: “Confines de la Cordura”) which I suppose as a huge fan of extreme crust and death-hammered d-beat didn’t at all detract from the experience on my part. A straight forward experience to be sure, but one which shows some proportionate mastery beyond the eight year gap in releases from the band.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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