Swedish death killers Vanhelgd unleash doom-encrusted, ugly death on new ‘Temple of Phobos’

VanhelgdWrath and disgust and complete lack of anything redeemable all are wrapped into what makes so much death metal feel so right. Missing those elements means you likely are creating hollow art, because there is a heartlessness to so much modern death metal. But when a band gets it right, it makes the juices flow and the anger and fury rage inside.

Swedish death unit Vanhelgd have been making horrifying art for nearly a decade now, and now that they’re four albums in, the latest being “Temple of Phobos,” it’s safe to say we can rely on anything this band commits to wax, for they know the ways of chaos. That might sound like a silly thing to say on the surface, but shit, I get a lot of really bad death metal promos. They’re easy to dismiss with a single listen (or just a few songs), but when something like Vanhelgd comes along, you abandon everything else and immerse yourself in their dark ways. This is one of those bands that, if someone asks me for good modern death metal bands to check out, I’m nearly 100 percent certain to name drop. This new record “Temple of Phobos” just solidifies that thinking as it is furious and smoke filled, choking everything in their path every step of the way.

vanhelgd ToP LP.inddVanhelgd have a firm grasp on the death metal that filled so many lives with morbid joy decades ago, smearing a nice dose of doom into their proceedings and coating your lungs with soot. The group—guitarist/vocalist Matthias “Flesh” Frisk, guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Johansson, bassist Jonas Albrektsson, and drummer Bjorn Andersson—began clawing their way through death metal’s filthy underground with their 2008 debut “Cult of Lazarus,” later unleashing more torment on 2011’s “Church of Death” and 2014’s eye-opening “Relics of Sulfur Salvation,” an album jointly released by Pulverised and U.S.-based label 20 Buck Spin. “Phobos” is another album that’s getting pushed from multiple labels as Pulverised again will handle duties in Europe, while Dark Descent brings it to North American audiences. It’s a devastating, relentless crusher that again proves death metal is virulent when in the right hands.

“Lamentations of the Mortals” is the burly opener, with guttural growls and guitars churning to bring you into the mouth of hell. The track is vicious as it scrapes along, doing horrible damage, leading into tar pits of miserable doom that chugs to the finish. “Religion of the Iniquitous” has leads chewing flesh and then breathing fire, with mean and sooty playing and horrifying growling. The vocals later unleash sprays of venom, with the band hitting the gas pedal and launching speed, with everything coming to an abrupt end. “Den Klentrogenes Klagan” spills doom blood, with eerie choral parts adding an extra dose of haunting misery, and the verses positively scathing. Chants emerge, as if a death cult has arrived and is preparing to haul off the bodies, and the band launches calculating bashing to bring this to a close. The title cut trudges furiously, with leads spiraling, the music boiling, and the growls bruising. The track is animalistic and bloodthirsty, with the band setting up a mechanical, clubbing ending.

“Gravens Lovsna ng” has lead guitar work that burns monstrously, with slow, doomy pounding dropping cement blocks, and a chugging pace raining down black death. Later, the soloing arrives and chars flesh, but then some melody slips its way in, something that isn’t a constant with this band. But hey, they can be mildly accessible from time to time, before they turn on the furnace again and push the devastation into the darkness. “Rejoice in Apathy” unleashes the hammers and enters guttural realms, with the music slicing up arteries and the doom clogging throats, as the wails of, “Rejoice in apathy!” bruise your eyes. Closer “Allt hopp är förbi” starts with guitars buzzing, with a gravelly, heavy assault, and darkly melodic tributaries being carved. A female voice enters the fray, infusing a sense of frightening beauty to the song, and then the slowly mangling tempo crushes your face into the ground and fills your throat with cinders. But don’t turn off the record! Minutes later, a mystery track bubbles up, pushing several more minutes of terror into your face.

Vanhelgd aren’t going to win any awards for polish or beauty. Fuck it, leave that shit to the pretenders blocking up what’s left of big-box CD shelves. This band is here to maim and terrify, and they do that during the entire running time of “Temple of Phobos.” This band only has eyes for shedding blood and eviscerating morals, and they’ll be damned if they stop before they poison every soul.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vanhelgd

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

Or here: http://pulverised.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

And here: http://www.pulverised.net/

Harakiri for the Sky offer dose of furious darkness, crippling depression on bleak ‘III: Trauma’

HarakiriSadness and depression are heavy subject matters. Anyone who suffers from these, one or the other or both, knows the enormous pressure and crushing emotion that goers with these things, and they can’t be topped easily, if at all. It only makes sense that these best can be dealt with in the realms of heavy music, where the weight of the world can be transferred to your art.

Austrian band Harakiri for the Sky have been doing an excellent job embodying these harsh emotions and their consequences for half a decade now, and there’s no way to immerse yourself in their work and not feel every ounce of chaos they smear into it. Their latest record “III: Trauma” is more from that same well, post-black metal mixed with melodic doom that wrenches every last drop of blood from its mangled heart. Obviously just using the term harakiri, a form of ritual suicide based on disembowelment (watch the first season of “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon to get a constant dose of what this entails), pretty much has them setting their cards on the table from the outset. Tough to imagine you’re going to be served uplifting material, you know? But their music also can be consoling in a sense, as people who suffer along with them can find like-minded souls also looking for way to survive. Or just find relief, no matter the source.

Harakiri coverHarakiri, as noted, formed in 2011, and their first, self-titled record would arrive a year later. That record was a mere gash at the veins considering what would follow, namely their 2014 album “Aokigahara” (named after Japan’s noted and haunting suicide forest), and now they’ve followed with another volatile collection, this eight-track, 75-minute behemoth “Trauma” that’s quite a bit to chew on. The duo—vocalist/lyricist J.J. and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter M.S.—have created a piece that might be better digested in halves. The songs run the gamut of emotions, and once you get through a good chunk of this, some breathing space might help you better digest. Or, if you’re a masochist, dive in and take in the entire record at once, as it washes over you with thick, unavoidable darkness.

“Calling the Rain” is the devastating 11:28-long opener, a track that tears apart and spills in the blackness. Harsh vocals pelt at you, while keys drip, giving the track a sense of gothic majesty, and the song keeps gushing as it slithers along slowly. The sentiment of torment and loss is impossible to shake, with J.J. wailing, “This was the year of the great depression,” sending the tidal wave over your head as you’re washed out to sea. “Funeral Dreams” is rich and dank, with J.J. warning, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.” The music crunches and pushes down on you, as sorrow and fury collide and form a dark umbrella over the song, ending the track in cinematic heaviness. “Thanatos” starts with clean guitars before it unleashes its force. Later, a feeling of calm arrives, as clean singing adds a different element, only to ignite into flames and burn toward the furious ending. “This Life Is a Dagger” delivers what its title indicates, with cold, shadowy playing, melody unfurling, and the vocals scarring along the song’s mid-pace. There are a pocket of tempo shifts, with it all ending in dreary darkness.

“The Traces We Leave” has a delicate first few moments, beginning to trickle cleanly and gently before drums open up and launch devastation, and the pace itself hits higher gear. The melodies plink away like a driving ice storm, and then the thing hits full force, with anguish charging from every one of J.J.’s words, and the melodies wrapping around and causing disorienting feelings. “Viaticum” punches bluntly, though some of this feels disarmingly upbeat musically. Energy bursts, with J.J.’s growls scraping as he pokes, “Time means nothing.” Elements cascade, while guitars hit a gazey high, and the final minutes are forceful and emotionally bruising. “Dry the River” is a particularly effective one, with watery guitars arriving before the pounding gets under way. Much of this is slow-driving and menacing, going back and forth between ugly and soothing, with the bottom torn out near the song’s conclusion. There, the drums erupt, the guitars frazzle, and the whole thing ends with a heart-stopping gun shot. Closer “Bury Me” hits a charge at the stop before mixing into atmospheric playing and roared growls. Strong riffs arrive and provide a rush of power, as every other piece of the song comes in punishing pulses, providing more force and sadness as J.J. laments, “I must have passed the point of no return.”

Harakiri for the Sky’s music chews at your essence and makes you confront the dark forces within you that are bringing you to your knees. “III: Trauma” is a record that might make you more aware of these things and even could spark a bit of panic. But in the end, it’s a passionate, emotionally destructive record that can strike the pain within you and perhaps help you see it in a different light.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HarakiriForTheSky

To buy the album, go here: http://www.art-of-propaganda.de/shop/index.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.art-of-propaganda.de/

PICK OF THE WEEK: After five long years, Hammers of Misfortune fire back with ‘Dead Revolution’

hammers-of-misfortuneWe’ve talked a lot this week about the glory of the riff and the power of heavy metal to help you escape from what’s going on around you. That’s part of what sucked me into this style of music to begin with because, as a loser dork kid in a high school around a lot of kids who didn’t understand me, it’s one of the things that helped me push above that.

That’s a major reason I’ve always had a sloppy soft spot in my heart for Bay Area traditionalists Hammers of Misfortune. Their style shoots you way back to the ’70s and ’80s, when heavy metal really was starting to understand what it could be, and the art form was beginning to branch off into different territories. Hammers have that vibe that could make you think of Judas Priest, Cirith Ungol, the Scorpions before the radio hits, Deep Purple, Queen, and bands of that ilk, but they have a very modern touch smeared on top of that. Not that they sound like any of those groups necessarily, but the essence is there. And for someone old enough to remember the latter end of the era of which I speak, it certainly takes me back to my formative years in metal when the riff carved its way into my soul.

Hammer of Misfortune coverHammers are back with their killer sixth record “Dead Revolution,” the band’s first since 2011’s great “17th Street.” So, obviously, it’s been a long wait between albums, and there’s good reason for that. Vocalist Joe Hutton was injured in a serious motorcycle accident, so we’re pretty lucky he and his powerful pipes are here blazing through this record. For the other members, work and life got in the way. Band mastermind John Cobbett and keyboard player Sigrid Sheie welcomed a child into the world and also made some nasty noise with supergroup Vhöl, while Sheie put an album out with Amber Asylum. Guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf unleashed hell with awesome death metal band Vastum and also immersed herself in solo work. Bassist Paul Waller also was busy with the Worship of Silence, and the band added new drummer Will Carroll (Death Angel), so there’s been a lot going on here. But no matter, five years after their last album, they offer “Dead Revolution,” one of their most varied, edgy, and exciting records that will reveal new layers every time you listen.

The record kicks off with “The Velvet Inquisition,” a song that opens with riffs and organs splitting the seal, and each element taking its time to build into a fervor. Hutton eases his way into the song purposely, first delivering his lines smoothly and calmly before eventually building to a crescendo, wailing, “When you find that you’ve been wasting all your time, you’ll run to me!”  The back end has prog fury, strong lead guitar work, and a fiery finish. The title cut feels like it’s driving down the open road with reckless abandon. The singing is strong and gritty, with the keys especially giving this a Deep Purple vibe in spots. “Every tear drop feels like Moses coming down from the mountain,” Hutton howls, as the pace (mostly cowbell driven in the most understated manner) trudges and flashy guitar work punches to the finish. “Sea of Heroes” is charged up, with the singing reaching a little higher, and the guitars and keys in lock with one another. There is some tasty guitar work later that feels like heyday Brian May, and the final moments bleed out into a fog. “The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash…)” is my favorite cut, running a perfectly timed 8:14, with the drums rallying and riffs chewing. The verses punch along, feeling both forceful and fun, with Hutton later soaring, noting, “And all you see is sky!” The chorus is surging, with the keys unloading and the track coming to a smoking end.

“Here Comes the Sky” is both psychedelic and sunburnt, like it hurtled out of space and landed in the Wild West. Acoustics and piano blend together before the tempo kicks into high gear. There is dusty guitar work, especially the doses of slide fire, and everything feels drenched in whiskey, with Hutton leading as your storyteller. Later in the song, trumpets play out like they’re signaling the end of a duel, with the song disappearing into the dirty streets. “Flying Alone” is one of the most aggressive songs on the record, with the guitars landing heavy blows, organs providing an ’80s-style prog feel, and the band dealing metallic punishment that causes a shitload of bruising to wherever it is they landed their punches. Closer “Days of ’49” is one of the most interesting in the band’s entire catalog, a charging, heavy-as-fuck take on the traditional folk song that originated from Joaquin Miller’s poem about the gold rush of 1849 (Bob Dylan also covered the song on his 1970 album “Self Portrait”). Quite a fitting song for a band from San Francisco. Anyway, they knock this thing out of the park, with the folk elements coming through amid the blazing power, and Hutton does an excellent job not only pushing the plot about old Tom Moore but also adding his signature passion to the cut. Great way to end the record, as this is a really fun surprise.

Hammers of Misfortune are a true gift to pure heavy metal fans, and the five-year wait certainly has been satisfied with “Dead Revolution.” The band is still taking chances, continually breathing fire, and offering another scorching chapter in their storied run. Metal always is better off when Hammers of Misfortune are active, and their thunderous, glorious sound is as alive and healthy as it’s even been.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/hammersofmisfortune/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/us/

Dust Moth’s daydream-inducing space doom, psychedelic power lure you away on debut ‘Scale’

Dust MothMost of what we cover here is adorned in decibolic heaviness, music that generally should terrify most of your neighbors if you were to play it out loud with the windows open on a wonderful, serene Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that. But that doesn’t mean that music has to brutalize your hearing in order to make its impact and to have a healthy dose of weightiness.

Seattle’s Dust Moth is a perfect example of that and yet another band we’re covering this year that isn’t exactly metal but certainly can fit itself under the very ends of the umbrella. The band’s music isn’t raucous and brutal by any means. In fact, it often has the opposite effect, feeling atmospheric, psychedelic, and like something you’d want to ride on into the depth of outer space. But their buzzing haze is thick and tangible, while their mind-altering doom-gaze-pop can get inside your bloodstream and infect you upon impact. Given the power and magic behind their full-length debut “Scale,” if this band is given a chance, they should find themselves scraping in waves of followers intoxicated by the band’s sound and their own brand of heavy tidings. You don’t have to walk away with bruises in order to feel the jarring effects.

Dust Moth coverDust Moth, in just a matter of a few years, have carved out small body of work (they released an EP “Dragon Mouth” as a six-piece), but a large personality to go along with it. One of the band’s main powers is singer Irene Barber (XVIII Eyes), whose vocals soothe and soar, scorn and scar, making me think a lot about Nina Persson’s work fronting the Cardigans. It’s a nice counter to the band’s sound, comprised of Barber’s swirling keys, guitar work from Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows), the thick bass of Steve Becker (Giza), and Justin Rodda’s (also of Giza) pointed drumming, all of which form to create a sparking cloud of sound that envelops you and carries you off.

The record opens with the fittingly named “Space Legs,” a track that immediately sinks you into the psychedelic waters. Barber gently navigates you through the verses, with her bursting open on the chorus, and the band leading you into mesmerizing sequences that end in a cosmic vibe. “Corrections” has some weirdness in the front, with guitars beginning to scrape and Barber taunting and floating. The chorus opens up, with Barber calling, “We’re glowing in the dark, showing all our scars,” and every time it returns, it etches its way further into your brain. “Night Wave” pulls back, with cleaner guitars and moody singing, sounding like something that will feel ideal on cool evenings in early Autumn. Another strong chorus, wooshing keys, and the guitars jabbing makes it take on a cool nighttime vibe that completely takes over. “Lift” is the longest track at 7:44, with burly, fuzzy riffs, Barber’s voice hovering, and a numbing chorus. “When I fell hard for you, I fell instead,” Barber admits, as mechanical guitars churn, and the music bleeds out in a heavy haze.

“A Veil in Between” begins amid a roomful of banter, with the song blending in slowly, and icy keys pelting like sleet. There are psyche gashes, countered by Barber’s soothing vocals, with her asking, “Do you love me?” in a place that feels unsettling. From there, the band engages in a long murky jam that stretches all the way to the end. “Up Into Blackness” has blippy keys, guitars engaging, and dream-state singing that provides a sense of haunting wonder that pulls against the tide. Proggy bass spills in, with the music catching fire, the rhythm section throbbing, and the cut melting away. “Shelf Life” has ominous keys, with guitars igniting, and the music hitting a mind-warping high. “I will always chase the sun with nothing to lose,” Barber strikes, with the music swirling around her. “The Shape of Clouds” is a quick instrumental with sounds droning and noise wafting, and that leads into closer “Essex” that opens up like a drizzle from the start. Guitars soak the ground, with a chill setting in right as Barber wonders, “How high can you go?” over the smearing chorus. The final moments of this trip are comprised of guitars agitating, the music bubbling to the surface, and the track heading out into ghostly mist.

I’m really excited Dust Moth swooped into my stratosphere, as their debut “Scale” is a really strong, alluring record that, clichéd as it may sound, gets better with every listen. This band brings a fresh perspective and approach to heavier music, and their buzzing dreamscapes are very rewarding and impossible to shake. I’m curious to hear how the band progresses from here and the black holes they drag us into and out of through whatever music they make next.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dustmothband

To buy the album, go here: http://www.mylenesheath.com/pg/preorders

For more on the label, go here: http://www.mylenesheath.com/

Dark duo Wreck and Reference stab into personal darkness on ‘Indifferent Rivers Romance End’

Wreck and ReferenceLife is hard, man. Seriously, that sounds like I’m being flippant, but it is. You see the news all last week? How can that make you feel one hundred percent great about the future of humanity? It sure doesn’t instill hope in my body and bones, and that’s just dealing with things going on around us. Add personal issues into the mix, and it all can be a gigantic burden to assume.

Wreck and Reference, the California-based duo who always have dabbled in all sorts of darkness, apparently have been under a lot of pressure lately, if their excellent new record “Indifferent Rivers Romance End” is any indication. These 10 cuts, chock full of the band’s trademark electronic-based music, sinks itself into, as the band describes it, “ballads interrogating the endurance of purpose, love, and change against the backdrop of disillusionment draining into nihilism.” I hate to be lazy and copy text from bios, but I honestly could not think of a better way to sum up this record. It’s heart- and soul-crushing, a piece that will challenge and hurt you, maybe even in ways that make you feel more vulnerable. The record also forces the listener, as well as the creators, to face change not only for survival’s sake but to have some sort of control over one’s situation. It’s a deep thinker, but taking on this journey might make you feel stronger on the other end.

Wreck and Reference coverIt’s amazing to think it’s only been five years since Wreck and Reference formed. Its two members Ignat Frege and Felix Skinner first started imposing their macabre will on folks with their eye-opening EP “Black Cassette,” a recording that, while not metal necessarily, took on the same kind of violence and darkness as the heaviest of bands. They followed that with 2012’s “No Youth” that only amplified and further stretched out their visions, and they came back yet again in 2014 with “Want,” a record that indicated their foray into the void had only just begun. “Indifferent Rivers Romance End,” an interesting title to say out loud, expands their universe even further. The songs are richer sonically, the vocals are terrifying but also vulnerable, and their output seems to be coming more defined.

“Powders” tears you apart from the get go, with Skinner’s howls acting out two sides of a volatile break-up conversation gripping you hard. The singing is rap-like in parts, as each voice positions “what about?” questions to the other as the music pushes along. “What about that time we said we’d die hand in hand, and now it’s time? And you laughed and said it’s time to go?” The responding wails of “that’s fine!” don’t indicate acceptance, but psychological rage. “Fight But Not Metaphor” is murky and soupy, with wailed vocals, foggy ambiance, and weird talking that chills, bleeding out with a long sequence of blips. “Ascend” has more crazed shouts, with keys zapping in and out, the song halting and then crashing down as if over a cliff. Keys whir, and maniacal shouts then bleed out and into the shores of “The Clearing.” There, the singing is more understated but still impactful, while the song later passes over into a strange, detached section where synth simmers, and noises scrape away. “Liver” has quivering singing and soft keys, feeling damaged and bruised, and a gust of cold whips in and brings with it forceful screams and disorienting, panic-inducing echoes of sound.

“Modern Asylum” is darkly poppy on the surface, something that seems sort of danceable in a perverse way. Organs set in, and the vocals are more talky, while the song later cools under a bath of keys. Over top, the vocals keep their hold, forcing you to keep your head in the game. “Manifestos” buzzes from the gates, with the vocals again sounding more conversational than anything. But as the song goes on, the tension builds. The track then tears apart, with unhinged cries that border on tortured, and key plinks that add a surreal nature to it all. “Bullwhips” has warped yelps and a damaged melody, pushing out the darkness in spades, especially with the poke of, “Now that you don’t need me, can’t I rest?” The sentiment hits home hard, and it remains with you until the final moments bleed out. “Languish” also delivers massive screams, almost in rant form, while the keys and drums align and heat up the pace. “I sunk the blade into my shadow!” rocks you back and forth, with keys drizzling and the punishment harrowing. Closer “Unwant” has murky post-punk waves, shadowy singing, and misty synth. The music feels like a wilting storm, with noise stretching and sprawling, and the track fading into the distance, finally giving you a modicum of peace.

Wreck and Reference’s music won’t really comfort you or take you to a safe place, but it’s really not designed for those means. “Indifferent Rivers Romance End” is complex and perplexing, an emotional sojourn that pushes you to your emotional and intellectual limits. Are you able to withstand the fires and tyranny of life and crumbling relationships? Can you change your way in order to get stronger and avoid being consumed? This duo forces you to face that, so if you’re not ready for the pressure, you might not be able to endure “Indifferent Rivers Romance End.” Don’t come back until you are.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/wreckandreference

To buy the album, go here: http://nowflensing.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://theflenser.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Pestifere’s rage seeks to crush nature’s threats with furious ‘Hope Misery Death’

Pestifere coverOne would think humankind would have come much further than it has. Sure, we have a ton of technology we use to ignore everything and we can obliterate the planet in a moment’s notice, but you have to admit sense and passion aren’t even in the backseat. They’re in the trunk, suffocating, begging to be released from its confinement.

Along these lines is the way so many people regard the world in which we live and our natural habitat. Green areas are demolished for strip malls, fresh waters are threatened with poisoning for the good of industry, and we have no qualms choking out the environment for the benefit of making money. Hey, shit, we won’t be here when the consequences truly come back to haunt. And science? Proof of the destruction we’re meting out? Some people ignore that because, well, pick an excuse that makes no sense. Having more people stand up against the forces that threaten to wreck nature is needed in larger numbers, and now there’s another massive, mighty force joining the push. Minneapolis-based black/death metal crushers Pestifere aren’t afraid to have their voices heard and might felt when it comes to defending their surroundings. You can feel that in incredible precision on their second record “Hope Misery Death.” If the passion and anger packed into these eight songs don’t move you, perhaps your own heart is black inside, because this is a punishing, ravenous performance.

Having formed in 2012, Pestifere landed with their first record “Liminal” in 2014, an independently released record that was put out in limited number but certainly opened eyes and ears. For “Hope Misery Death,” the band attracted the attention of Eihwaz Recordings (out on CD and cassette), a place where they philosophically and metallically feel right at home. The entire run of this 38-minute record feels vital and in your face, and the band—guitarist/vocalist Lucas Scott (Australis, ex-Enshrined), guitarist/vocalist Aaron Lott (Chaos Frame, and also ex-Enshrined), bassist Dylan Haseltine (Suffering Hour), and drummer David Thames (ex-Bronson)—takes full advantage of their rage and fury to wage their battle for the best of the Earth.

“Don’t Let the Winter Take You” has a crushing open, charging forward heavily, with searing leads burning and harsh growls pounding into your chest. The band trudges hard, and after a dramatic stop/start sequence, strong melodies slip into acoustics, and a final assault smashes to the end. “Cormorant Tree” is an enthralling one, with the lead guitar work jabbing its way into the scene, and creaked growls quaking the Earth. The track heads into spacey/proggy territory, with the vocals turning into wails, soloing bubbling behind it, and guttural thrashing rising up and flattening everything in its way. “Peregrine’s Timbre” has a calculated open, trickling along before the storm opens up. The vocals are gruff and meaty, with stabbing, yet catchy guitar work, and later melodies that take on a nautical ambiance. The song gets moodier as it goes on, pulling over the cover of darkness before lightning strikes and the eruption slams forward and brings the cut to a devastating end. Then “Dispirit” slips in and allows a breather as its acoustics bring a sense of calm that feels rustic and atmospheric.

“Suffer the Day” finds riffs striking, the ground rumbling, and the band heading into a melodic stomp that unleashes a stampede of power. The blistering playing later heads into a post-metal haze, with the final moments crumbling to the ground. “Tomb of Monumental Decay” starts in the fog, with the band navigating its way through the murk. As they come out of the other side, the track bursts apart, with great leads lighting the way and harsh vocals unleashing the gravel. The track then ramps up harder, with the guitars shredding before the pace calms down. From there, a sense of warmth arrives before the guitars reignite and burn off. “Mine Is a Strange Prison” rides in on a strong riff, which then leads to gritty chugging and chunky pounding. The guitars churn and give off steam, with dual leads taking the track to its end. Closer “To Those Who Lost Their Home” wears its heart on its sleeve from the title alone, and it’s a quiet, solemn piece built on folkish acoustic guitars, elegant playing, and woodsy fog that strikes at the heart and soul. That helps remind you the victims of these stories are real, and the struggle is eternal until more people wake up.

Pestifere’s fires blaze brightly and righteously on “Hope Misery Death,” and anyone who stands in their way takes the chance of being ground up in the gears. Their black/death metal and thrash stew is a tasty one, filling you out and sticking to your bones. And the fact that they fight a noble battle against the true evil forces of this country and world should be enough to want to toss a few bucks their way to get your hands on this record and make sure they forge well into the future.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pestiferemn

To buy the album, go here: https://thecollectivedistro.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/

Neofolk dreamers Nebelung dig up early years by re-recording captivating debut ‘Mistelteinn’

There probably are a lot of things in your life you’d like to have a second shot at, right? Maybe a term paper in college? A short story that wasn’t so good? A marriage? Whatever the case, it’s pretty rare getting an opportunity to go back and right a wrong or at least iron out the creases.

As for German neofolk band Nebelung, they got a chance to go back and revisit material from their past and reintroduce it to the present. Their debut album “Mistelteinn” was released a little over a decade ago on Dresden-based label Eislicht, and it introduced this group to the world, albeit on a smaller scale, and led them on the path that would take them to 2008’s “Vigil” and 2014’s mesmerizing “Palingenesis,” a record we embraced with open arms on this site. But that first album still hung over them, as they felt the recording has technical deficiencies, so Nebelung dug back into their debut and re-recorded the piece. There are plenty of advantages to that idea. For one, the band—Stefan Otto (guitars, vocals, accordions, strings, chimes), Thomas List (steel string acoustic guitar), Katharina Hoffman (cell)—have a decade of playing under their belts, and their tighter bond makes for a stronger recording. Also, they have a larger following now that may never have heard the album, so this re-done, slight rearranged piece now brings that music back into people’s hearts and minds.

Nebelung_mistelteinn_LP.inddThe brief “–” begins the record with rich acoustics, setting a nearly autumnal feeling as it opens the doors and paves the way for “Heimsuchung,” which begins delicately enough and infuses the surroundings with atmosphere. Otto’s smooth singing (in German, of course, though the vinyl version also includes English lyrics) flows nicely through the song, injecting a dose of humanity into the track. Hoffmann’s cello is lovely and haunting, allowing for serenity to arrive, and then the song swims through a murky stream that’s thick and compelling. Strings call back again, with the track bleeding out slowly. “Abel und Kain” lets acoustic guitars swirl, with strings driving into the mix, and the folk flourishes feeling like something that would be welcome on a rainy afternoon. The tempo remains boisterous and woodsy, bringing the song to a rousing finish.

“Regen in der Dämmerung” has a solemn opening, with guitars picked lushly and Otto’s singing hitting higher notes. Much of the body of the track seems like it would have jibed with Medieval times while one roasts in the sun, sharpening blades, and enjoying the calm of nature. The title cut has quicker guitar picking, with the strings opening up into a heavy sigh, and elegant playing sprawling all over. The pace begins to ramp up as the song goes along, bouncing as if sitting in a row boat amid waves, with the cello scraping to the end point. Closer “Heimatlos” introduces a new element, with drums marching in gloriously, acoustic breezes arriving, and deep, understated singing pushing forth the messages. The strings shiver, the deep singing hits a croon, and the elements begin to swell before they burst and rush off into separate tributaries. This is a really breathtaking piece of work.

Nebelung’s chemistry has grown and matured over the years, and as neofolk sounds have spilled their way deeper into the black metal and doom worlds, there’s not a better time to revisit these songs found on the reworked “Mistelteinn.” The songs sound richer and fuller with life a decade later, and while the music didn’t necessarily need improvement from 2005, the revisitation is welcome nonetheless. Having this record back in public consciousness is a benefit to all who love this style, and hopefully it’ll whet more appetites for their next new music they create together.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/nebelungofficial

To buy the album, go here: http://templeoftorturous.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.templeoftorturous.com/