Sovereign wreak havoc on fiery new demo; Caïna, Cara Neir split a bittersweet, powerful display


We’ve been a little lax of late getting to some smaller releases that have come out, and for that, we cannot apologize enough. We tend to concentrate a lot on full-length releases around here, but let’s not forget some of the music that’s coming out that might not take up an hour of your life but still deserves to be heard and played repeatedly until you can’t hear a goddamn thing.

First up, we have “Spirit Warfare: Demo MMXVII, ” a new collection of three raw blasters from black metal beasts Sovereign that are sure to rip the muscle from your bones. We haven’t heard from the band since their killer 2014 full-length “Nailing Shut the Sacrosanct Orifice,” a colorfully named, brutally realized effort released by Broken Limbs that still devastates our senses to this day. These three new songs should satiate anyone pining for new stuff from this band, or anyone who wants a raw, black, evil dose of metal that doesn’t sound like it was processed in any way. There is pure terror wrapped into these songs, and the raw, unpolished nature of these tracks make them even more effective and should ramp up anyone’s excitement who gets to catch them on their tour of the Western U.S.

“Hammer of Fevered Light” rips the lid of this thing with static-laden guitars, huge melodies that get battered by noise, and ferocious growls that tear through bone. The leads continue to burn, while the vocals get smothered in the din, and then harsh madness takes over and punishes. The track keeps spiraling to its gruesome end, and then it’s on to “Diadem of Wound” and its blistering, rage-filled start. Creaky, echoey growls land, while the tempo rips away at the flesh, and then the soloing just goes off and demolishes. Static again floods the sense, mixing with the bloodshed, as everything grinds to a moaning halt. Closer “The Well of All Recalcitrance” has noisy, eerie guitars dripping, meeting up with a gazey, foggy flood that causes you to shield your eyes. The playing hangs threateningly in the air, as everything spills out and fades away. This is a crushing display that proves Sovereign are one of the most formidable black metal bands muddying the underground.

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Second, we have a tremendous 7” split that’s kind of bittersweet. This two-song track combines the UK’s Caïna, who are bowing out with their contribution to this release, and Texas-based Cara Neir, one of the more exciting younger bands in extreme music, whose physical make-up remains under development. For Caïna and its main members Andy Curtis-Brignell (multi-instrumentalist, vocalist) and Laurence Taylor (co-vocalist), this has been a long, sprawling adventure for the band that covers seven full-length offerings (their last was the tremendous “Christ Clad in White Phosphorus” that landed last year) and many other smaller releases, and we’re pretty sad to see them go. As for Cara Neir, they’re still riding the wave of their thunderous fourth full-length “Perpetual Despair Is the Human Condition” that landed last year and further cemented their place as one of heavy music’s freshest, most inventive bands.

Caïna’s track “Rhosneigr” is a fucking volcano, which you might not guess right away when you hear the atmospheric start. But then the earth’s crust bursts open, and grimy guitars, militaristic drums, and utterly savage vocals tear out and destroy. The track trudges and crushes, seemingly getting heavier as the minutes tick by, and the vocals have an urgency behind them that don’t just hint they’re the last in the band’s history, but in each members’ lives. As the song goes, the guitars get dirtier and more massive, before everything bleeds into space. Cara Neir’s cut “Stained Grey Bones” has a black metal-style rush at the start that’s not unlike the band’s usual work but still feels awfully bloodthirsty. The vocals have a more hardcore edge to them, as the melodies whip into shape, and the band lays down some tremendous old school-style metallic glory that should get the blood pumping. Fluid leads, wild howls, and cement-thick bass make their presence felt as the cut winds to a close. This is a nice little package that might not be the longest record in the world but will beat your ass nonetheless.

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