Short Reviews | November 23rd, 2022

SHORT REVIEWS Our (likely) final edition of Short Reviews for 2022 finds us finishing off the year strong with some incredible black metal releases alongside some much needed variety in extreme doom metal and otherwise. Album submissions for 2022 releases will be accepted until December 16th. I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works that I come across while still presenting some decent variety here but choices boil down to what sticks, what inspires or what is worth writing about. These are more easygoing than longform reviews, so relax and think for yourself — If you find something you dig go tell the band on social media and support them with a purchase! If you’d like your music reviewed, read the FAQ and send promos to:

TITLE:Ofermodian Litanies [mLP]
LABEL(S):Shadow Records
RELEASE DATE:November 25th, 2022

The latest release from revived Swedish black metal tyrant Ofermod is essentially a collection of a couple new songs, a handful of old songs from an out of print mLP, and a re-recording of a profound piece from their debut. Without this context most any listener would approach this wall of sinister riff and spiritual terror as signature work from a classic underground black metal artist, at least in the sense that the identity of the project has been consistent on each of their releases whether it was 2008, 2014, or 2022. Belfagor‘s guitar work is distinctly called from the dark, impressive in its attack which ranges from wing-shredding possession to thrashing mastery (see: “Litany of the Lascivious Lucifuga”). The two new pieces here were recorded as a duo featuring current Marduk and Eucharist drummer Simon Schilling in session and they are the main event though, again, I don’t think there is a good argument to be made for past vs. present in terms of this band’s work, all of it reads as timeless Swedish black metal. You’ll find a few extra layers of guitar and a different dynamic from Simon Samuelsson‘s drumming on ‘Serpents’ Dance‘, an important piece of the band’s history especially if you were big on ‘Sol Nox‘ (2017) since it seems that same version of the band recorded this version of “Tiamtü”. Though it is more of a collector’s item from my point of view, having been a fan for some time, I would suggest this mLP will likely serve as a potent first introduction to the profound sphere of darkly spiritual tradition which Ofermod have long been known for if you’re not yet familiar with their work.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Stick En Kniv I Världen
LABEL(S):Svart Records
RELEASE DATE:December 9th, 2022

Doomed, dread willed gothic post-punk artist Shaam Larein returns for her sophomore LP, following up the dreamlike limbo of ‘Sculpture‘ (2020) with a brooding, absorbed-yet-theatrically charged lurker. ‘Stick En Kniv I Världen‘ finds its footing in a nigh lunatic trance, urgent dance-deathrock rhythms in descending progression ’til “I Have no Face” reminds us their work is yet well set next to earlier Chelsea Wolfe and impressive labelmates Messa. Much as I love the energetic tension of those earlier pieces the artist really shines within their most elaborate pieces, such as “Murderer” and “Massacre”, both of which have an almost 70’s bulge to their all-in performances and wide swinging cadence. I am a weirdo for the deeper cuts, though, and it’d been the organ-oozed and delirious “Caress My Thoughts” that’d impressed me most beyond the heavy metal tarantella of “Beware the Duchess”. Fans of Åhman-related work will immediately appreciate the sensibilities indulged here between sound design, presentation and performances.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Aesthetic Death
RELEASE DATE:November 25th, 2022

The general conversation around a record like ‘Disfigurementality‘ won’t likely reach a point of depth beyond elaborate description per its eclectic approach to extreme doom metal. What it is will inevitably supersede what it is saying, and that’ll have to speak to the unique and often unpredictable nature of the work. What exactly is Australian musician J.S.‘s project Estrangement up to? Neoclassic-tinged funeral doom metal with early 70’s progressive rock influences (by way of a well-fleshed ensemble) which manages a few tirades into black metal for effect. Expect grinding cello, throat singing, operatic devotional chorales, frantically flicked flamenco guitar, and plenty of other worldly pursuits in surround of the ghastly theatre of it all. Don’t necessarily expect the funeral doom metal aspect of the album to act as more than basal setting, a deathly grounding for what eventually threatens to become a blackened prog-doom record. The full listen is meandering, indirectly stated, adventurous in tone and accoutrement to the point that I’d figured this is inherently the desired effect, a mournful wonderment which is eternally seeking solace and/or coloration beyond detachment. For my own taste “Womb of Worlds” brings all of their best sensibilities together into one growling doom metal piece and the grand finale of “Doppelganger” brings in that and everything else. This’ll be the sort of record best appreciated by the longtime (as in, pre-2005 or so) funeral doom metal fan who still recognizes the original avant-garde/experimental spirit of the sub-genre when they hear it.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Time Tomb Productions
RELEASE DATE:November 25th, 2022

The ninth full-length album from French melodic death/doom metal sextet Monolithe still finds the eclectic, sometimes progressive and formerly funeral doom metal group with eyes and hearts turned towards the sky, or, in admirable pursuit of the greatest unknowns. As expected ‘Kosmodrom‘ is of course beautifully conceived, richly realized specifically for the audiophile, and continues to evolve along with the interests of the band. From my point of view this album opens a third chapter in their legacy, going beyond their numbered advent of universe, through their cosmological argument for the order of the universe, and now they reach for the human element. Theming this record around the premiere Soviet explorations into space per the first spaceport Kosmodrom Baykonur Monolithe smartly breach historic achievements and the bravery of scientific explorers as practical mettle to characterize their narrative herein. They’ve not escaped their abstract and poetic affect in the process though the reference is braced in concrete acts, reality which adds some weight to their musical treatment herein.

I’ve gotten the Limited Edition of the album which includes an extra CD of cover songs (incl. The Cure, Metallica, Katatonia, etc.) and I’d made the mistake of jumping right to the covers on impulse (“Brave Murder Day” first, no doubt) and getting very well distracted by the longer medley pieces. The long-term takeaway from these cover songs in selection seems to indicate the influence upon their use of synth/keyboards on the album as the approach has changed somewhat for ‘Kosmodrom‘, a spacious and often darkly contorted death/doom metal record with fittingly kosmiche atmosphere. None of this’d really primed me for my time spent listening to the album itself, though. The bold (depending on your point of view, of course) and unexpected choice to feature the voice of London Lawhon, a Houston-based pop vocalist, for the leading track “Sputnik-1” was immediately curious and off-putting. The performance is strong and well-produced thought it ultimately sets an awkward tone per the rest of the record. That said, there is yet another full hour to immerse into beyond that point, the ten minute opener didn’t feel like such an issue by the time the title track had rolled in. If the first impression was odd then let the last impression, the 26 minute “Kosmonavt”, be the most important piece of the full listen as this’d been where I’d been blown away.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Nordvis Produktion
RELEASE DATE:December 2nd, 2022

Hudiksvall, Sweden-based working class folkish black metal fellows Änterbila concern themselves with the folk history of Sweden on this short yet extremely fine debut LP here a couple of years beyond their debut demo. Guitarist/founder Jerff (Marauders) leads with palpable interest and enthusiasm for the subject matter here, concerned with celebrating the human labor and Swedish spirit that’d built the country in visiting the ancient artifacts still left behind in the more rural regions of the land. What does that mean to the listener? In my case the spirited rhythms of the band caught my ear right away, a decisively cut thread of rhythm guitars with some percussive harangue to their tone which’ll quickly gain fealty with fans of 2000’s Taake, Panphage, and pagan black metal classics in general. Though the guitar work dominated my interest in its resonant charge throughout I’d found the slightly chasmic render of vocalist Agg gave the album an ancient yet not entirely cold feeling, we’re enduring the storm here rather than creating it so to speak. Simple means and effective work are key here, they’ve had an idea and executed it in a practical yet evocative result in a very clear and inspiring thread. Whether they’d only had this much of an idea or if they’d practiced restraint the full listen is excellent on repeat and certainly calls for more in the future. Easily one of the best black metal records of December this year.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

LABEL(S):Sentient Ruin
RELEASE DATE:December 2nd, 2022

Released mid-2021 and largely only noticed by underground warriors Red Door Records at the time ‘Concealment‘ now receives the vinyl/cassette treatment from Sentient Ruin. This debut full-length from solo blackened death metal act Antimonument is notably one of the first bestial death metal records to successfully craft meaningful merger with power electronics, at least one of the only good ones per my own taste in harsh electronic music/noise and varietal, riff-obsessed black/death or “war” metal. There is some elements of industrial metal here, too, which certainly has some mid-to-late 90’s Godflesh in mind (see: “Dissipate”) and the strong sense of variety only expands as the album presses on through its tightly packed but hardly flippant half hour scratch. He could go over the top with the power electronics more often and probably crank the riff count to double at some point but as is this record is a wild-ass monstrosity that’d stood out as I was whipping through December’s early releases. Grating if left on repeat but a solid kick through for occasional listening on my part.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

TITLE:Terror Winds
LABEL(S):Dark Essence Records
RELEASE DATE:December 2nd, 2022

Kicking, thrashing, hateful and wrath-induced noise characterizes this latest full-length album from enigmatic long-running band T.O.M.B. who’ve aimed for the truly hideous face of death by way of raw yet voluminous black metal. The style here takes a hit from the late 80’s garage burnt and thrashing side of nigh emergent second wave black metal, tormenting said nascence with unpredictable runs, violent interruptions and an oppressive assault from all musicians at once with only the drummer to reign it all into song. Most of these pieces are gloriously under thought, viscerally chopped away at within fresh off the rehearsal room ranting spark in hand. Eerie keys loom at clouds’ length from the action, threatening doom while the brutal scramble of ‘Terror Winds‘ intensifies over the course of the first 3-4 songs, eventually easing up for the final couple of pieces with “Frost Tyrants” as my personal favorite. “Reincarnation” relents in terms of pacing but not the cacophonic atmospheric hiss the album generates in motion, landing very little statement beyond obnoxious mangle upon first listen. There are a few more directed pieces here, such as “Wraiths”, which feature an unholy uplift in their rhythmic pulse though even this song is incessant in its brutality. The whole of the experience embodies on great reactionary “Fuck you” in the best tradition and what it lacks in defined points of interest it makes up for in chaotic, blustering maul.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TITLE:Colony [mLP]
LABEL(S):Chaos Records,
Pale Magus
RELEASE DATE:December 9th, 2022

Portland, Oregon-based trio Dehiscence have formulated a raw, crusted and maniac ‘old school’ deathgrind style on this quick but furiously slapping debut mLP. Up front I guess it is a shallow note but the album art isn’t going to turn heads up front but fans of Caustic Wound, Internal Rot and pre-‘DiatribesNapalm Death will appreciate the riffs they’ve cracked at on ‘Colony‘. “Divergent” has a sort of Rezahawk-era Terrorizer bark to it and the vocals generally catch in the same way, oppressing a few syllables at a time in full sentences. The rhythm section sold the intensity of this record quick and they’ve got some catchy as hell songs on here otherwise. A great first impression even if the album art didn’t do much for me.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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