ENDTYMER is the inevitable weekly “music news blog” series I’ve been working to avoid for some time. It hits at the end of every week with the intent of covering notable new releases, sharing news of new releases, and musing over various personal listening habits. It is a largely informal blog, has opinions, etc. so chill out a bit. I do my best to cover as much of everything I receive in some form regardless of genre or representation, don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
With a fairly light release schedule to start off February black metal bands like Scáth na Déithe and Narrative have a bit more room to get noticed this week and long-standing groups like All Out War and Memoriam shine a bit more in their consistent output. For my own taste the only release from February 3rd that will undoubtedly stick with me is MITHRIDATUM‘s ‘Harrowing‘, a short but ingenious take on dissonant black/death metal:
WRITE A GOOD RIFF, SHITHEEL
At some point over the years I’ve touted Mezzrow‘s ‘Then Came the Killing‘ and various releases from Holy Moses‘ vast catalog (‘Queen of Siam‘ is the general favorite of mine for its arena evil speed metal bluntness) as I do my best to discuss, dissect, and enjoy thrash metal as often as possible yet I’d no idea each band had reformed and prepared full-lengths to be released this year through Fireflash Records. Both bands are still intact at their core with Holy Moses continuing their weird streak with a bit of jumpy riffing and some power metal feeling moments while Mezzrow still have a sort of peak Bay Area boot at their back. Sure, neither seek to recreate the sound of the 80’s entirely but both have managed a decent standard:
…A PURPOSE AND A REASON
Having spent roughly three hours listening to Swedish melodic metal/alternative rock band In Flames‘ latest full-length album ‘Foregone‘ and comparing my own feelings on their legacy versus their “Hey pal, be nice. We do what we like.” proposition since Y2K I’d sought to reconcile my long-term avoidance of their alt-metal post-millennial output. With no compromise to be made, I instead sought to confirm whether or not I still enjoyed their 90’s legacy work. This of course means I will attempt to come up with the hottest take possible as to why In Flames matters at all beyond giving a pop metal face to melodic death metal. This is the band that’d basically eaten Ceremonial Oath and gutted Sacrilege alive when each were at their peaking output (in hindsight, of course) after compounding the best elements of Dark Tranquillity and Eucharist. Positing a record like ‘Lunar Strain‘ as the generalists vore of the zeitgeist created by an underground breakthrough (along with a corpse or two) isn’t the hot take, though. The most outrageous thing I could say about In Flames is that they were and still kind of are better at composing and delivering memorable, easily read heavy metal songs when compared to their peers. Though this was especially true when ‘Lunar Strain‘ was released, it becomes more obvious as their prolific steps through the 90’s continue.
Some of my personal favorite Swedish extreme metal records include ‘With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness‘, ‘A Velvet Creation‘, and especially ‘Skydancer‘ but these were too authentic, uniquely textured original thoughts from exploding minds at the very peak of death metal creativity as the first commercially viable wave of death metal crested under the looming threat of the black metal trend. By comparison ‘Lunar Strain‘ (and especially ‘Subterranean‘) was an average mid-paced, street-level late 80’s/early 90’s power metal record at heart (a poofy looking dog with a loud growl more-or-less) nowhere near the intellectualized and dramatic vision of their peers and it was all the more loved for being accessible, even if -vacant- by comparison to truly great records of the era (‘Unbound‘ by Merciless comes to mind, among others). By virtue of playing to the inspirational value of 80’s heavy metal In Flames reached more people, sold better, and… by approaching alternative rock, nu metal, and metalcore styles in the later phase of their career (their “break” into pop metal legacy by some accounts) this made sense to them as an end by similar means.
The traditional heavy metal and thrash metal that fueled the most successful and influential acts of the early 90’s was certainly commercially juiced, long “dead” in the ears of a new generation by the time In Flames dropped any notion of it from their sound. So, and here’s where I get to the point… We’re hearing a bit more classic In Flames in the periphery of ‘Foregone‘ not because those MMXX ‘Clayman‘ re-recordings were popular (though nostalgia is hot money-printing shit,) not because the core songwriting duo are feeling a bit more “heavy metal” this time, but because heavy metal (read: niche music with built-in fandom) is selling more tickets and stylized physical product than those pandering to the music of the moment since, well, there is nothing new or valuable in mainstream “general: Metal” category so far this decade. [enter Doofus’ Advocate right on cue:] “No, you fool! Jesper Strömblad left, that is why they’d changed.” yet this gives us the perfect opportunity to call upon ex-In Flames/Dark Tranquillity supergroup The Halo Effect who featured that very fellow for the sake of creating a nostalgia-baked, sentimental record just last year to fairly dull results. Why so dull? I’d like to think that outside of perpetually nostalgia drunk escapist folks my age: The fans want these bands to get back to heavy metal business. Where ‘Foregone‘ succeeds in some small increment above and beyond ‘Days of the Lost‘ is giving off more than a vibe, more than the sentiment of ye olde 90’s metal melodicism by tossing a reasonable dose of the actual muscle memory that’d built up in the minds of we legions of dorks in the late 90’s who still have their well-kept ‘Colony‘, ‘Whoracle‘ and ehh, ‘Clayman‘ t-shirts. The obvious irony is of course that they are too “fargone” down the road of Svensk radio alternative metal music, it interests them more and pays better.
‘Foregone‘ cannot be a “return to form” for In Flames specifically because the band are suffering from no such dysmorphia. They continue to reach for the accolades available to mainstream rock music sensibilities even with some pronounced sentimentality for their teenaged ambitions showing up in the actual guitar work. To be sure the loads of self-parody found on this latest record begin to show the cracks in said tunnel vision as we get a bit more of the “melodic metal” version of the band and the quasi-ornate riff driven signature moments which folks have been asking for since ‘Clayman‘ was a bit, eh. Still, if you’re really that interested in a new In Flames album after I’ve picked my way through these thoughts prepare for your soul to shrivel back up into your butt as ‘Foregone‘ plays, since it is in fact a modern alternative metal record with melodic death metal riffs. Though I understand why that will sound completely rad to a lot of people, I cannot recommend it personally. What I can do is slink back to the stinking pits of “where they came from” and sit down with In Flames‘ 1993-1999 releases and enjoy them as the traditional heavy metal influenced relics that they are.
German melodic black/death metal band THRON have announced their much anticipated new album ’Dust’ will release on March 31st once again through French label Listenable Records. I’ve been a big fan of these guys since their second album and it sounds like they’ve put a lot of work into making this fourth record their most dynamic and ‘epic’. The band comments: “With ‘Dust’, we incorporate new elements in their sound by going back to their very roots which lie in the early 80s when bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate ruled the field, and at the same time taking inspiration from the 90s when bands like Tiamat, Edge of Sanity or Sentenced expanded their horizon. This combined with serious dedication to the glorious Progressive Rock dinosaurs of the 70s and the love for the dark extreme muscial arts with blasting fury and agressive vocals, and you get…Dust! . Everything is turning to dust someday…“. So far we’ve got a short teaser to tide over with:
Icelandic black metal band Úlfúð have announced their debut full-length album ‘Of Existential Distortion‘ will be coming on March 17th by way of the good folks over at Dark Descent Records: “We are extremely excited to be releasing our first full-length album with Dark Descent! This album heralds our entity and declares our intent; to immerse you in our ritual of catharsis and cacophony! We cannot wait to share our music with you. The time is nigh!” Definitely make sure you check check out this first single “Where Strange Lights Dance”:
One of the most hotly anticipated records of the year has been announced by way of Me Saco Un Ojo Records and Pulverised Records who have set March 10th as the release date for Costa Rican death metal band ASTRIFEROUS‘ debut full-length album. ‘Pulsations From the Black Orb‘ has already sold itself with just one preview track on my end, eerie ‘old school’ death metal with plenty of riffs flinging around. Me Saco Un Ojo release the 12″ vinyl version while Pulverised release the CD version. Jump right into it with “Teleport Haze”:
Nameless Grave Records have announced they will release ‘Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation‘ the debut full-length from Seattle bestial death metal band, PLAGUE BEARER. You should know these guys for their relation to Seattle-area death metal band Drawn And Quartered and various smaller releases over the years. Definitely a side-project that’d never fully kicked into gear it seems they’ve picked it back up in recent years and lit a fire under. It’ll release this coming March 3rd on CD and 12″ LP.
Icelandic black metal band ALTARI have announced their debut album ‘Kröflueldar‘ is slated for release by way of Svart Records this coming April 14th. The first single is also the title track. The band comments: “the intention was an “overall desire for us to get away from the sound that has been a gateway for others here in the scene” as they’ve imbued ‘Kröflueldar‘ with some unique atmosphere and some darker rock influences to some degree.
The folks behind Obsequiae and Inexorum have started up new blackened melodic death metal band MAJESTIES and of course it is a brilliant release. Do you need a review for it? Really? Well, this isn’t a review but they announced it a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening for about a week straight. In the mood to print more gold and move some serious plastic, ‘Vast Reaches Unclaimed‘ will release through 20 Buck Spin this coming March 3rd on LP, CD, CS, + digitally and it’ll be one of the best things you’ve heard so far this year. Guitarist Carl Skildum comments on the album’s: “‘The World Unseen’ provides a broad representation of the surreal lyrical themes of the record, and specifically depicts an out-of-the-body experience. It tells the tale of a mind untethered to a physical form, flowing through the world free of physical constraints. There are some deep roots to this particular song, with the verse riff having been rescued from one of my riff tapes from 1997.” And for sure the album has a pre-1996 melodic black/death feeling to it. Expect an embarrassingly gushy, long and very positive review outta me for this one.
MAZE OF SOTHOTH are a technical death metal band which features members from Beheaded and Riexhumation who you might remember put out an album way back in 2017. They’re back with a second full-length and they’ve certainly evolved over these last five or six years since the last. ‘Extirpated Light‘ aims for a broadened palette and a more mature sense of composition and seems to hit its mark from what I’ve heard. The first single from the album is “Scorn Of Flesh” and the album will release through Everlasting Spew Records this coming March 24th with vinyl to follow mid-year.
If you’re not sure what “Norwegian stonercore” is, well, consider it something like black n’ roll with a bit of hardcore punk (Kvelertak, Mantar) in there too. HÅNDGEMENG consider themselves as such and I suppose all of that adds up as we listen to “The Astronomer”, the first single from from their upcoming debut album ‘Ultraritual‘, which will be released on March 10th by way of Ripple Music. See if the stonercore idea holds up, check out “The Astronomer”:
“Sludgy noise rock” trio THESE BEASTS have released the first single, “Code Name” from their upcoming full-length set for release this year. ‘Cares, Wills, Wants‘ releases this coming April 21, 2023 on Magnetic Eye Records and features a sound fans of 90’s noise rock and stuff like Unsane will appreciate. The band comments: “The opening track and first single, ‘Code Name’, of our forthcoming album was also the first song that we wrote when we started working on new material. The lyrics deal with the hypocrisy which seems to become increasingly more common all around us.” Name names! But anyhow, glad to hear a bit of noise rock I’m interested in this early in the year:
Purity Through Fire have announced February 27th as the release date for SOLUS GRIEF‘s debut album. ‘With a Last Exhale‘ will arrive on CD format with the vinyl version following later this year. This Norwegian project comes from musician Peregrinus who is also involved in Unholy Craft. Check out the track “Under Choking White Veils” in preview:
Purity Through Fire has announced February 27th as the release date for the second album from Norway’s UNHOLY CRAFT. ‘Naar All Tid er Omme‘ arrives on CD format then and the vinyl version will follow later in the year. Unholy Craft is the work of Peregrinus, who you’ll recognize from his other project Solus Grief. Check out the title track “Naar All Tid er Omme”:
Probably my most listened-to song of the week “Sullen” is the sole single/music video from Australian depressive black metal project AUSTERE‘s new full-length album ‘Corrosion of Hearts‘. Their third album but first in over a decade will arrive by way of Prophecy Productions on April 28th,. Guitarist/vocalist Mitchell Keepin comments: “The first single ‘Sullen’ is also the first track that we wrote for ‘Corrosion of Hearts’ and it has an interesting background. The main riff theme within the track was actually also the first song written for an album that we started working on directly after ‘To Lay Like Old Ashes’ was released, 13 years ago. For various reasons, that album never came to fruition. Yet the main riff, whilst slightly different at the time, survived. Although it carries a different feel to our previous work, it is a good starting point to pick up the pieces that were left behind so long ago when we decided to rebirth the band. ‘Corrosion of Hearts’, as an album, reflects the opportunity to write additional melodies that we didn’t have the time for during the recording of our previous album. This allowed us to deliver a bigger soundscape carried by epic melodies in an atmospheric way. it feels great to be able to expand further and venture into new waters. ‘Sullen’ is an important track for us as it was the catalyst for Austere to reigniting the flames that are burning within us.” The piece is immersive, easy to become lost in and serves as the perfect introduction to the album. From my point of view this is one of few truly great bands to achieve this type of sound and so far can’t get enough of this song:
“Dysangelium” is the latest single in support of Italian Black Metal act AD OMEGA‘s third full-length album, ‘Aphelic Ascent‘ will be released by the French label Drakkar Productions this coming February 10th. You’ll be able to check out a full stream for ‘Aphelic Ascent‘ on the Odium Nostrum YouTube channel on February 11th. For now, the single:
Helter Skelter Productions / Regain Records have announced a May 12th release date for Italian doom metal band WARCOE‘s debut full-length album ‘The Giant’s Dream‘ on CD and vinyl LP formats. Sparks of early Sabbath and some of the ghastly underground Italian scene appear to have influenced their sound. Pretty solid record at a glance but go ahead and decided for yourself since you can listen to the whole thing over on Bandcamp:
German by way of Brazil melodic black metal troupe OUTLAW have announced they will release their latest full-length album ‘Reaching Beyond Assiah‘ through German label AOP Records this coming March 31st. Now reaching for their third full-length album we begin to see these folks mature all around for a sleeker, arguably more modern sound. Cool album art either way. See what you think over on Bandcamp:
Wilmington, North Carolina based traditional heavy metal band CHILDREN OF THE REPTILE will self-release their latest full-length album ‘Heavy Is The Head‘ this coming April 7th. Their sound is an eclectic mix of heavy rock, epic heavy metal, a dab in the prog direction, and some speed metal influences. I was gifted their previous CD a few years back and I’d honestly not given it a serious listen ’til today, seems like a cool band with a hind of Manilla Road in their jazz. The album’s first single “Burner,” is up on Bandcamp:
Apocalypse obsessed Italian death metal band VISION DEPRIVED have announced they will release their debut album ‘Self Elevating, Deep Inside The Void‘ this coming March 28th through Slaughterhouse Records. I don’t like that album art at all but the first single, “Deeper”, is not bad at all:
This coming April 7th Personal Records will release the debut full-length from Swedish band THE GRIFTED. ‘Doomsday & Salvation‘ will arrive on CD and digitally. If you are a fan of early Tiamat and their earlier incarnation Treblinka you might recognize Jörgen Thullberg and Stefan Lagergren who formed those bands as kids back in the day. At some point they put together a band with a terrible name (Mr. Death) and thankfully changed it to The Grifted before going in on a full fledged record. Interesting stuff, can’t wait to dig into it beyond this first single, “Fractured”:
We’ve got a pretty unique release here from U.K. melodic death metal band COUNTLESS SKIES as they’ve recently announced the release of ‘Resonance’ for May 5th, via Willowtip Records, pretty soon after their latest release. This record is a collection of songs from the band’s first two records performed live in studio with cellist Arianna Mahsayeh. The band explains: “Each track has unique parts written specifically for the cello, adding extra melodies and layers that help the songs to reach new heights. After playing several shows and festival slots across the country, and in preparation for our set at MetalDays 2022, we decided to capture the sound we’d created with Arianna by recording a live set at Gusto Studios in Luton, Bedfordshire.” Though I wasn’t a huge fan of their second record I was impressed by this video and how they’d changed “Tempest”:
THIS WEEK’S VIDEOS / REVIEWS
Catch up with the latest YouTube video review/features and written reviews here. New videos post Thursday/Friday of each week for the most part. You can click on the link provided to read the review, each review has the related video embedded in the original post as well. Videos are fairly casual and meant to accompany the written review with some extra context and a few quick notes.
ACT OF IMPALEMENT – Infernal Ordinance (2023) | REVIEW
ANACHRONISM – Meanders (2023) | REVIEW
MEMORIAM – Rise to Power (2023) | REVIEW
MITHRIDATUM – Harrowing (2023) | REVIEW
OMINOUS SCRIPTURES – Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition (2023) | REVIEW
PROFANE ORDER – One Nightmare Unto Another (2023) | REVIEW
SEUM – Double Double (2023) | REVIEW
Short Reviews | February 2nd, 2023
COMING UP NEXT WEEK:
Here is a tentative list of what is coming up next week in terms of reviews. The following records have been listened to extensively, a preliminary review has been drafted (or completed), and I’ve locked them in for coverage. In terms of the “Short Written Reviews + Video” column, these are more tentative, some of them might be cut if I do not have enough time to get around to everything.
LONGFORM WRITTEN REVIEWS / VIDEO REVIEWS:
DEVISER – Evil Summons Evil [February 10th, Hammerheart Records]
AD OMEGA – Aphelic Ascent [February 10th, Drakkar Productions]
HELLRIPPER – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags [February 17th, Peaceville Records]
ULTHAR – Helionomicon [February 17th, 20 Buck Spin]
ULTHAR – Anthronomicon [February 17th, 20 Buck Spin]
TITHE – Inverse Rapture [February 17th, Profound Lore Records]
SUCKLING – Suckling [February 17th, Self-Released]
SHORT WRITTEN REVIEWS + VIDEO:
TRAMALIZER – Fumes of Funeral Pyres [February 17th, Soulseller Records]
LAST LEGION – Metall, Blod & Aska [February 17th, Grind to Death Records]
MAN MUST DIE – The Pain Behind it All [February 17th, Distortion Music Group]
OWL – Geomancy [February 17th, Lummox Records]
MOISCUS – Idiomorphic Practices [February 17th, Gurgling Gore/Headsplit]
COFFINBORN – Cadaveric Retribution [February 23rd, Xtreem Music]
WRETCHED FATE – Carnal Heresy [February 24th, Redefining Darkness Records]
FESTERDECAY – Reality Rotten to the Core [February 24th, Everlasting Spew]
OERHEKS – Landschapsanachronismen [February 22nd, Amor Fati]
SIENA ROOT – Revelation [February 24th, Atomic Fire Records]
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