PICK OF THE WEEK: Earthling set tumultuous fires, cause havoc on punchy ‘Spinning in the Void’

Let’s end the week on a raucous, obliterating note. We’re looking right into the eyes of one of the most drunken holidays of the American calendar year, it’s pretty warm outside, and work, for most of us, has been a fucker. So that release you require can come in many forms, and if you prefer smoke-spilling metal that will mow you down, you’re in a lot of luck today.

We have the return of Virginia-based maulers Earthling, who are dropping their new full-length “Spinning in the Void” into your unsuspecting lap. While the music might be perfect for a late evening out in the yard with some high-gravity beers, you’re not getting content with no value. For those unaware of the band, think a mix of Inter Arma’s twisting metallic brains and Black Tusk’s Southern swagger, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s ahead on these six tracks. “Void” is the follow-up to the band’s well-received 2013 received debut “Dark Path,” and it piles sludge, death, doom, and thrash into a messy bucket that they overturn over your head. The band—Alan Fary (guitar/vocals), Praveen Chhetri (guitar), Sean Weber (bass), Brently Hilliard (drums)—sounds like it’s barreling toward your house in a tank, ready to take you down with force you can’t comprehend. As rough as that sounds, it’s a good time.

“Clay in the Hands of Evil” opens with shifty high-hat taps that lead to guitars boiling over, with a razor-sharp psyche edge. The tempo ruptures as the song stomps open, as gravelly growls from Fary thunder, “Fire in the sky, raining down!” There is a Southern-style drawl to the guitars, as dual lines catch fire, the tempo shifts and gets uglier, and growls maul. The riffs kick back in, dragging this thing to its brawny end. “Howl” slowly unfurls with filthy riff, gruff growls, and the riffs powering everything along. “I hear it every day, it’s the howling of the wolves,” Fary howls, with the guitars taking on a swampy, yet sunburnt feel, turning humid and mean. Then the guitars fire over top at end. “Obedience & Decay” begins with guitars echoing and chugging, as things keep getting faster and punchier, and the vocals start smothering. The guitar work is rubbery and swagger along, while the growls stretch into a pool of psyche weirdness. The song then begins to truck heavily, laying waste to everything, as guitars glimmer with sun power and rage to the end.

“Spinning Void” has cool melodic riffs and raspy growls, as things move at a calculated pace. Soloing explodes and melts faces, but then the fire fades, and the song goes into a trippy psychedelic void. The cut thrashes slowly, as growls lacerate over top, and leads boils again. The pace rips until noises pile and hit a strange vortex before fading. “The Helm” has more of a rock n roll vibe at the start before the pace kicks up and heads into demolition mode. Gruff growls punch away, guitars open up and storm, and then it all goes into a trippy Southern-style reflective area. Guitars trudge, but then the solo takes off, rollicking thrashing dominates, and that leads to a big, punchy finish. Closer “Seed of Anger” crushes and pounds at the start, while growls scrape along, with Fary howling, “Seeds of anger in your mind!” The soloing warms up and spreads oppressive heat, while the intensity throws body blows, and everything starts to crush. All the elements implode and wreak havoc, as the track comes to a slurry, destructive finish.

Earthling’s return could not come at a better time, since a good auditory battering is just what most of us need right now (EDIT NOTE: An astute reader pointed out the release isn’t until 7/7, so maybe you’ll have to wait a week for this release…). “Spinning in the Void” provides that violent outburst, but in a way where you’ll feel energized and not hopeless bruised. While your neighbors are blowing up hundreds of dollars of explosives this weekend, do them one better by indulging in a record that might not light up the night sky but will make you feel like you witnessed, and survived, a nuclear bomb.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.forcefieldrecords.org/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.forcefieldrecords.org/site/

Woman Is the Earth set sights toward sun, warmth on hazy, land-scorching new EP ‘Thaw’

It’s common for people to associate black metal with the freezing, rough months of the winter, probably because so much of the music originated in a very cold place. But what about when ice melts and life begins anew? Is black metal still a part of that time of the year, or it better to hibernate again until the snow falls and nature is stripped of its life?

Perhaps I’m way off on the intent of “Thaw,” the new EP from South Dakota-based black metal band Woman Is the Earth. There is not a lot out there to explain where the new music comes from, and I also kind of like to guess on my own sometimes. These three tracks, that follow their excellent 2016 full-length “Torch of Our Final Night,” feel warmer and slightly sunburnt. A lot of the moods here would not feel out of place now that summer is here in America, most fittingly when dusk falls and the final strains of sunlight are spread across the horizon. It’s not a radical departure for the band—Jarrod Hattervig (guitars, vocals), Andy Martin (guitars, bass effects), and Jon Martin (drums, chants)—as it remains atmospherically charged and burning with power. But the immersion in warmer times, even if that’s just in my own brain, gives this a different ambiance, one that’s a welcome visitor.

“Golden Fog” opens the record with static and noise, as synth waves wash in and tease calm until the whole thing tears apart. Deep growls erupt, while riffs roll, the tempo shifts, and guitars burn savagely. The vocals ramp up in intensity before everything goes foggy and atmospheric for a stretch. The track returns to crushing, while the drums tear holes, guitars chug, and the song bleeds out into murk. “Fear of Light” has synth awakening as strong, melodic riffs arrive, and the music cascades. Passionate howls bring chaos, while the punchy tempo pokes holes, and the track floods open. The song hits a strange fog, as guitars simmer in air before the cut is shredded apart again. Crazed shrieks arrive as the music ripples and creates waves, the pace thrashes, and synth and guitars roll over top. An atmospheric mist is released, as the song slowly burns off and into a synth cloud.

“Dream Collapse” rattles before its melodic eruption, and then guitars thrash and catch fire, as roared growls make their mark. The song is catchy and devastating, with air-infused guitars bringing tornadic winds, sending everything into a massive stormfront. The music changes as it develops, with warmth washing over, and sun-scorched soloing bringing a humidity that feels like summer haze. The track works its way toward the sunset, and once it’s there, the song fades into the woods

Woman Is the Earth remain one of the most gifted, enthralling bands in America, and their pattern of black metal tilts its head toward the sun on this strong new EP “Thaw.” It’s but a small serving between full-length albums, but anytime this band turns up with new creations, it’s worth your attention. It’s a collection you can grab for $5 digitally, and it can turn the rest of your day into a volcanic dreamland that sounds particularly fitting right about now.

For more on the band, go here: http://womanistheearthband.com/

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

Shroud Eater’s massive sludge gets more volcanic, drubbing with punishing ‘Strike the Sun’

I feel like if I include the words “doom sludge” in an opening paragraph on this site, people might go running the other way for fear of being a victim to that sound’s epic flooding. I get that. I often feel that way when I see those words in album promos in my inbox—ugh, another one?—but that also could lead one to miss a really great band and record.

Luckily when it comes to Miami’s Shroud Eater, I have previous experience with the band and, therefore, won’t ignore them when a new record comes my way. That’s going on now with the delivery of “Strike the Sun,” the band’s thunderous second record that hits all the right spots one seeks to have satisfied when it comes to this type of thing. Trudging, melodies, spacious, and guttural all are descriptors that could apply, and while their sound may be one that’s been heavily traveled, this band is expanding the borders and injecting excitement and passion back into the music. This new record is eight tracks of Shroud Eater’s most focused, damaging work to date, and each visit with the thing is massive and hammering. The band—guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine, and drummer Davin Sosa—sound channeled and about to break out, proving their teeth are sharp, and their meddle cannot be questioned.

“Smokeless Fire” is a largely instrumental opener that slowly spreads fire, with humming tones, trancey weirdness, and voices floating above the din, heading into “Iron Mountain” that wastes no time launching into a static-filled stomp. Saiz’s vocals stretch like a dream but also punch hard, especially when wailing, “Storm the iron gates, for they lead to the mountain!” Strong leads take over, as the band launches molten crushing, then everything fades into the cosmos. “Awaken Assassin” has a blues-flavored opening, with powerful singing bursting through the doors, and a simple chorus that is memorable and impactful. The guitars bleed and sizzle, with the song coming to a muddy, blistering end.  “Another Skin” has a burly start, flexing its muscles and blackening eyes. Powerful riffs do the storytelling during this instrumental piece, as the track catches fire and begins bashing in heads. Thick bass sends ripples, guitars continue to agitate the fires, and the song bleeds into the night sky.

“Dream Flesh” has an eerie, chilling start, as the song slowly trickles open and carves its path. Soft singing swirls, playing games with your mind, and then things head toward “It Walks Among” and its humidity that hangs in the air. The track lurches along heavily, with bluesier vocals adding swagger and then things heading into a reflective pool. From out of the that, the tempo kicks in again, doing heavy pummeling, and there’s not an ounce of mercy from there, as the cut comes to a smoldering end. “Unseen Hand” batters at the start, as the song slices viciously, with guitars cutting through bones. The vocals are meaner and more aggressive, with deliberately delivered howls insisting, “To fail is to die!” Closer “Futile Exile” is the longest track at 7:20, and it starts with a slow-driving, scuzzy assault that tracks mud. The song heads into psyche-washed, trippy territory when it’s not bludgeoning, and the shouted threat of, “You can’t hide! It’s futile!” precedes the promise of, “I will always find you!” leading the song to its watery finish that washes away some of the blood but certainly not all of it.

Shroud Eater should start turning more heads with “Strike the Sun,” as it’s the record that really should put them on the map. Yeah, we’ve done a lot of sludge, but don’t let that sway you from indulging in this band’s brand of sooty goodness, because it’s pummeling and really satisfying. Shroud Eater have been doing volcanic things for quite some time now, and it’s definitely time for more people to get on with what they’re serving.

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

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

For more on the label, go here: https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/

Heresiarch’s Apocalyptic visions bleed out, paint deadly scenario on smothering ‘Death Ordinance’

Post-Apocalyptic wastelands are a thing of paperback novels and action movies. They are things that seem so far out there that we can unplug from reality and enjoy some mindless entertainment for a few hours. Here’s hoping things stay that way, because things are looking a little bleak.

That said, New Zealand black/death metal band Heresiarch have their minds tilted toward that devastating scenario, and on their debut full-length “Death Ordinance,” they take a fictional scenario where a nuclear war-ravaged society is falling apart even deeper, as people continue to wage struggles against one another. In this place, following the great battles and electromagnetic pulse attacks on technology, humankind continues to struggle to remain alive and vital in this final phase, as instead of moving ahead, promising signs come from regression. That’s actually going on right now, and if you’re paying attention, you can see it. This scenario powers these nine cuts over nearly 41 minutes as the band—vocalist N.H., guitarist C.S., bassist J.B., and drummer N.O.—puts all their vitriol and morbid visions into a record that feels like worldwide war is being waged as you listen along.

“Consecrating Fire” opens the tale with synth waves and strange sounds before the doomy death hammer drops. Vicious torment is present and reaches across the song, as growls scrape and drag along the ground and militaristic drums set the pace. N.H.’s vocals are shrouded with darkness and mud, while the music is thick and impenetrable, with noise eventually filtering out. “Storming Upon Knaves” is a blinding and burly assault at the start, with riotous and fast pace kicking up dust. The growls are filled with anguish and hell, as soloing goes off and sends massive quaking waves. The whole song feels like a blast furnace, with bodies melting in front of its assault. “Harbinger” has guitars grinding away, and then the pace explodes. Ugly growls join with piledriving playing, as the pace feels dizzying and oppressive. The growls remain terrifying, as the song gets a doomy finish, battering its victims into the night. “Ruination” is an attack out of nowhere, total demolition that floors you from the first seconds. The growls are animalistic, and the tempo is a piledriver. The cut remains burly and punishing, delivering pure carnage. Later, the thrashing overwhelms, as leads cut in and light greater fires, with the final minute hammering and bringing muddy death.

“The Yoke” is trudging and laced with gurgling death. The drums rattle skulls, while the doom-splattered pace stretches and delivers a hellacious pounding. The track keeps chewing its way through, bringing torturous playing that fades in a haze of sound. “Iron Harvest” is a seven-minute smasher that starts with deliberate drumming, guitars mangling, and the bassline unloading soot. The song revels in its own misery, with the riffs staining with blood and the growls choking out your life. Soloing blasts through and increases the sense of rage, as the band unleashes total annihilation that shows no hope of ever relenting. The track keeps spiraling and picking up shrapnel along the way, later blasting with a storming intensity that drones until it finally fades away. “Lupine Epoch” registers a mere two minutes, but its run time is chaotic and frenzied. The band rips a hole in any sense of sanity, blowing down brick walls and leaving death and blood in its wake. “Righteous Upsurgence” boils in its own juices, unfurling slowly but heavily, making life miserable. Thing speed up as the track goes along, with the growls sounding like they emanate from some underground creature, and the guitars mashing bodies. The song breaks down into a doomy din later, as the track takes its time beating you into submission. Closer “Desert of Ash” is a 7:42-long final attack that batters and dominates. The track has more of a black metal bend to it musically, as the song is served in sheets of bloody guitars that are melodic but also dangerous. The soloing brings fog and a funereal sense, as the growls scrape flesh, and the drums smash away. A sorrowful pall then is cast over the song, with the misery bleeding its way over the final stretch, and doomsday keys poured over the finish.

Heresiarch didn’t exactly pack their first record with hope, but who warns that from death metal anyway? “Death Ordinance” might be a fantasy in 2017, but with the way things are breaking down politically across the globe, what might be far-fetched is that this will take 30 years to happen. We could be closer than we all think, and Heresiarch will have painted a doom-infested portrait for us.

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

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

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


PICK OF THE WEEK: Witch Vomit’s disgusting, violent death metal scars minds on ‘Poisoned Blood’

We’ve said many times in the past that we expect death metal to be ugly, disgusting, and violent, something we don’t want to face with our open eyes but do anyway out of morbid fascination. Well, there are few things as gross to me as regurgitation, and though I detest it, I don’t mind when death metal that’s destroying my moral compass is immersed in the stuff. Which makes today such a wonderful, joyous occasion.

There’s not a ton of wondering what the band Witch Vomit brings to the table as far as disgusting death metal goes. The Portland, Ore., crushers have been turning stomachs now for several years, with last year’s “A Scream From the Tomb Below” registering as their first full-length. Now they’re back with a mini-LP “Poisoned Blood” that spreads horrifying sentiment and true death guts and blood over five tracks and about 19 minutes. It’s skull-crushing stuff, truly satisfying death metal that makes no bones about being as ugly and socially unacceptable as possible and just gets down to the blood and innards. The band—guitarist/vocalist T.T. (Dagger Lust, Torture Rack, and a live member of Triumvir Foul), bassist V.V. (Brain Rot, Miserable), and drummer Jason (also of Torture Rack)—rumble and frighten over these nightmarish pieces that have no concern for who they chew up and spit out along their puss-drenched path.

A brief intro signals the start of this thing, with eerie noises and lightning like out of an old horror movie striking the ground. The song then rips open and gets the momentum going, as everything builds up for “Doomed in the Realm of the Dead.” There, crushing death meets you at the gate, as huge growls and maniacal laughs jar and seemingly try to add insult to injury. The band hits a nasty groove, while guitars just go off, and the cut exacts maximum violence. The pace hammers viciously, as massive growls and meaty thrashing drag this thing to its smothering end.

“Circle of Blood” has drums crushing and cavernous growls injecting a deeper sense of horror. Ugly, mucky stomping rages, while death trudging causes deep bruising. The guitars lose control and deliver blinding fury, creating a nasty, brutal display. Things then slow down, as everything drives hard and heavy, with things coming to a brutal finish complete with weird percussion. “Accursed Temple of the Great Deceiver” starts with drums spiraling open, as crushing riffs deliver total demolition, and deep growls rumble and spit blood. Strong playing and nasty wails blow everything to dust, as the pace completely slaughters. Ravaging and malevolent guitars slash flesh before the thing momentarily halts. Aggressive drums kick back in, thrashing all over, bringing the cut to a dashing finish. Closer “Fevers of Torment” serves mauling riffs, as a slow-driving tempo arrives, and guitars run out of control. Wild wailing begins, as the tempo speeds along, gross growls erupt, and the playing lights the track on fire. Soloing lets loose and strangles before spiraling into madness, as the band keeps laying waste. Thick bass spreads tar, driving the track to its bizarre finish that sounds like a monster has been set free in a desert village.

Witch Vomit isn’t something you’d want to step in as you scurry through the woods, but it is a band that will give you a death metal experience that will leave you shattered. “Poisoned Blood” is a strong stop-gap between records that unleashes hell and scars lives in a very short matter of time. Their world may not be terribly inviting for the uninhibited, but for those who want their death metal as stench-filled as possible, you’ll be hard pressed to find any reason to complain.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/front/products/witch-vomit-poisoned-blood-mlp

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

In Human Form’s bizarre form of black metal, prog enthralls on weird opus ‘Opening of the Eye…’

So, I’m an idiot and broke one of my fingers. Don’t worry how. That story is way too stupid for a deadly serious site like the one operating here. Anyway, I am using this method called a “buddy splint,” which basically means I tape the bad finger to a good one and writhe in pain over how uncomfortable that is. It sucks out loud. Out fucking loud. Thus, distraction is key.

This was a good week to truly immerse myself in the hideous wonder that is “Opening of the Eye by the Death of I,” the latest long player from Massachusetts-based black metal manglers In Human Form. OK, you can’t really call them only black metal. That is there, but there’s also a ridiculous amount of mind-warping prog rock and even some weirdly jazzy sections that all blend into a strange concoction. Thematically, the record revolves around “a meditation on abysmal themes and mortality,” so says the words that accompany this record, basically indicating we’re taking a journey through life and death, light and darkness. The music itself is just ridiculous. In a great way. We have three short, interlude-style tracks built around three lengthy epics, and never does the band repeat itself. The folks making up the band for this record—Nicholas Clark (guitar, bass, alto sax, keys, backing vocals), Rich Dixon (drums, percussion, guitars), Patrick Dupras (vocals, lyrics)—take you on an immersive, twisting journey that will make you forget where you are. Pain? What pain? I’m too confused and enthralled.

“Le Délire des Négations” is a brief instrumental that kicks off the record, with drums tapping, weird sounds swarming, and everything bleeding into 14:09-long “All Is Occulted by Swathes of Ego” that starts with trudging power and proggy strangeness. Maniacal growls and bizarre screams twist and crush, as voices later call out over the chaos, with jazzy playing dashing colors. The track gets meaner and heads into space, with the track erupting, a dizzying pace landing, and plenty more shifts in ambiance before the song comes to a mud-caked finish. “Apollyon Synopsis” is the next shorter serving, as trippy guitars and a trembling tempo spin, with music trickling and bubbling, and cymbals crashing.

“Zenith Thesis, Abbadon Hypothesis” runs 15:55 and has an inventive start, pushing into prog fields again, as strange cries well up at the base. From there, the song just goes off, with a fluid, active pace achieved, a chilling dialog spreading, and keys spilling into the picture and bringing a freeze. The synth haze remains and only gets thicker, while guitars take off and create panic, a moody cloud set hangs overhead, and crazed vocals and an equally frenzied burst of playing bring the track to an end. “Ghosts Alike” has elegant guitars stretching their legs, taking on a jazzy, breezy feel before preparing for the 16:11-minute closer “Through an Obstructionist’s Eye” that immediately heads into the cosmos. Melodic guitars and glass-scraped vocals meet, while a slow-driving menace and a path built by inventive playing keep things interesting and ever-changing. Serenity settles in later, but not long afterward, soloing tears out of that, and we’re back at break-neck anxiety. The animalistic growls match the intensity of the music that seemingly is going for broke, while the emotions gush like a swollen river. The playing remains intense and menacing before things go psychedelic and trancey, as the song bleeds out into mystery.

“Opening of the Eye by the Death of I” definitely falls into that “not for everyone” category, and it may scare off more people than it pleases. But for those allured by In Human Form’s indescribable ways, you’ll find a 54-minute adventure that will keep you thinking, guessing, and wondering. It’s a great way to remove yourself from the present, take on ideas larger than you, and get away from any pain–physical or mental– you might be feeling, if only for a little while.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/inhumanformihf555/

To buy the album, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/

Jersey’s Death Fortress unleash furious, filthy death strikes on mauling ‘Triumph of the Undying’

There is this cliché that nasty things come out of New Jersey. I don’t know. I’ve been there a few times and found things not terribly offensive. I even liked parts of it. But that reputation the Garden State has earned isn’t one that can be shaken easily, it seems, and some of the music bubbling out of that place isn’t doing much to make the place seem more habitable.

Take Death Fortress, for instance, a three-headed beast that combines the foulest of black and death metal strains and spews out something horrifying and tough to get comfortable with as you sit alongside. The band has been making devastating, filthy sounds ever since their formation a few years back (we don’t have exact birthdate, but their first demo was released in 2012), and now they’re back with their vicious third record “Triumph of the Undying.” This six-cut effort, that follows up last year’s massive “Deathless March of the Unwielding,” is mighty and gut-wrenching, a record that refuses to revel in style points and only is here to smear faces with broken glass. The band—bassist/vocalist Tom Warrior (um, not that Tom Warrior), guitarist/vocalist Joe Aversario, drummer Shawn Eldridge—spreads it war-torn devastation over 32 minutes, and the result should leave you bruised, bleeding, and suffering.

“Storming Wrath” gets the record started with a splatter of drums that seem to indicate a militaristic assault is near, and that’s not exactly false. Driving riffs and engorged death growls burst, later trading off with shrieks, and the song goes on to exact malicious punishment. Guitars rain down, and the song has a cataclysmic end. “Warrior’s Mantle” has guitars rushing and growls crushing, as the vocals again feel gross and intense. The drums devastate, while melodies cascade into the hell, and animalistic howls join the fray to bring things to an animalistic end. “Battlefield Zenith” is a fury from the start, with smeared growls and bloody guitars going for throats. The song slips into atmospheric territory for a stretch, feeling mystical and dizzy. But out of that, the madness renews, and the tracks pounds away up to the very end.

“Wisdom of the Unspoken” slowly wakes up from its grave, taking its time to develop an ambiance before going apeshit. Growls and shrieks trade off, as the band heads into a fiery assault that practically threatens that no one will come out alive. The horrifying vocals never let up, as the track comes to a smothering end. “Triumph of the Undying” throws a curveball at first, as punk-fueled drums get things going before the floodgates open and we’re off to insanity. The pace absolutely pummels you, as wildness emerges and races across the land, and everything is sucked into a hell cyclone that is driven into a black hole. Closer “Underneath the Epoch’s Crown” has a blistering, nasty start that threatens to burn faces. The tempo pastes everything in its path, hinting at no mercy, but then a slight halt arrives, letting off intensity. Sounds hang in the air and sting the senses, while the storm erupts again, the playing rushes the gates, and the cut comes to a horrific, yet melodic finish.

Death Fortress have done a lot of damage in not a lot of time, and that continues with “Triumph of the Undying,” a disgusting dose of black and death metal violence. This Jersey trio continues to smear soot on the face of the Earth and make their home state a little more dangerous. This is a skull-mashing display that has nothing but ill intent to deliver and an agenda to scar lives.

For more on the band or to buy the album, go here: https://deathfortress.bandcamp.com/

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

Tyrannosorceress stomp black metal with cosmic, fiery chaos on ‘Shattering Light’s Creation’

Photo by Kathleen Kennedy

Growing up, I was a huge fan of dinosaurs, probably to the annoyance of all my friends, family, and classmates. I also happened to love He-Man, who had a major character the Sorceress, who was kind of the lynchpin for the babyface side. And that, friends, is the worst introduction I’ve ever written for a review in this site’s six years.

That shit show of a paragraph aside, it does not take away from “Shattering Light’s Creation,” the intense and bloody debut from Texas-based black metal assault unit Tyrannosorceress. This record is a massive burst of fury, a six track, 45-minute crusher that doesn’t adhere to conventional construct whatsoever. It’s definitely a black metal record, a wicked one at that, but it also is an album that’ll take you out of the brutality-all-the-time mind frame and inject a little imagination and weirdness into the music. The band—vocalist Zac Christian, guitarists Billy Baxter and Daniel Hearne, bassist John Schiller, and drummer Zach Jobin—is made up of 3/5 of the awesome group Cleric, and they deviate into darker, more demented regions than what they do under that banner. This is a killer record, one that should be mentioned in December (or fucking August for some people) when discussing the year’s best black metal releases.

“Haunting Black Infinity” opens the record with strange noises that meet up with gigantic riffs. Gurgly growls and compelling melodies rip through before a vicious, nasty pace takes over and cracks skulls. The guitars shift all over the place, as the vocals become cavernous (and thus, scary as fuck), while the leads glimmer, and the sounds heads into deep space. “In the Light of the Sabbat Moon” has an eerie, clean opening, as moody guitars join the fray, and the track slowly bleeds open. There’s a slow, albeit very heavy, pace, as harsh growls splatter, and the song feels like it’s situated at the heart of a storm. The guitars bend and twist, leaving a sickening feeling, and the guttural growls gnaw at your guts. Then, the drums ignite, the band drives hard, and the song bleeds out with the guitars. “The Call to Chaos” erupts right away, with black metal melting steel, and the tempo bursting and crushing. The leads have a swaggering feel to them, injecting some attitude, while a strange doom curtain drops and changes the setting. The track gets more sinister from there, as riffs cut flesh, and the music sears lives.

The title track is shockingly short at 2:46, but it makes the most of its time as it’s vicious from the start. The track decimates, while the vocals, somewhat washed out, go for death, as the song brings nothing but pain before spilling into “The Angles Nine” that is fluid and massive. The drums start killing, with the vocals sounding gnarly and violent. The song later morphs and feels a little proggy, as things set off steam, and more unsettling melodies settle into the mix. Noises swim in the air, and then everything disappears into time. “Senescent and Supreme” ends the record, an 11:29 cut that takes its time to hit full stride. The music catches fire and starts to glow, but then a ton of lighter fluid is added to the thing. Crushing riffs and clobbering growls strike, as Christian howls, “Chaos fuels the fires!” Well, I kind of just wrote that. Anyway, the music has evil intent, as the music goes on a long boil, adding humidity, before punches and kicks are thrown. The pace kicks, guitars lather (dual playing feels like the classic glory days), as everything burns out and only leaves ash.

Tyrannosorceress have one of the weirdest names in all of metal, but their mission is dead serious. “Shattering Light’s Creation” is a mauling beast that continues to land bloody body blows and doesn’t stop until your life is ready to cease. This album does the first part of its name right, as it feels like a giant monster getting to tear you limb from limb. And they don’t have the disadvantage of those tiny arms!

For more on the band, go here: http://tyrannosorceress.com/

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

For more on the label, go here: https://www.tofucarnage.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Weapönizer’s post-Apocalyptic hell delivers madness on fiery ‘Lawless Age’

Photo by Zeela Aeschliman

Like a million years ago, way before the Internet ruined everyone’s lives, there was a thing called heavy metal that really didn’t go very far beyond that simple designation. Everything heavy was metal, from Maiden to Priest to Motorhead to Metallica to Venom. We didn’t divide everything into little buckets and attempt to separate sounds from each other.

One listen to “Lawless Age,” the second full-length from Denver’s Weapönizer, and I think back to my own formative years with metal and what made me like it in the first place. It was heavy, raucous, sounded dangerous, and filled me with energy. That’s the same sensation I get from the nine songs on this record, as it makes me dream of the summer, destroying my hearing with my Walkman, and experiencing bad sunburns. It also made he happy reading the bio materials that came with the record that called out films such as “Escape From New York” and “The Road Warrior,” as they were movies that burned hours for me as a kid, and that I totally could hear woven through the music. The band—bassist/vocalist Barbarian, guitarists Destroyer and Ale Wülf (Nekrofilth), and drummer Shaggy (also of Nekrofilth)—put all of their energy and apocalyptic vision into this record, making it a brutal, scathing collection that blasts by in under 30 minutes.

“Malefactor” gets things off to a rambling start, with the band thrashing hard, and Barbarian’s vocals lacerating the flesh. Maniacal shouts lead into a section of fluid, fiery soloing, feeling like it’s trying to recapture summers long past, before everything comes to a clobbering end. “Hellbound” has the drums splattering and kicking up mud, while savage vocals and riffing with steel teeth tear into the meat of the thing. The soloing blasts out again, later trading off to a completely different level, keeping things heavily lathered in insanity before it burns off. “Vulture” has a humid opening before it begins to tear muscles from the bone. The pace is crazed, while Barbarian’s vocals go for optimum bruising. The track sends off wave after wave of unmistakable hostility before the cut ends abruptly. “Rattenkrieg” is a mauler, with a simple chorus you can shout back at the horde, and drumming that pulverizes bones. The track remains molten and threatening throughout its run, ending the track with a smothering assault.

The title track has ripping riffs and devastating thrashing, as the band unleashes a heathen spirit that has a heavy “Mad Max” feel to it. The guitars reign heavily, and the tempo is both monstrous and molten. “Gangrene” has guitars mashing and leading the charge, then things get twisted and fierce. The guitar work feels techy, like some Voivod worship, but they never lose a hint of their bloody intensity that floods right to the finish. “Iron Clan Exiles” has noise hanging like a storm cloud before the doors are blown down, and the band comes in to pillage. The chorus is not overdone, with the simple howls of, “Iron clan exiles!” making it a spirited, animated section that should be fun to recreate live. “Temple of the Iron Skull” zaps and pulsates at the start, as the momentum builds, and the threat of assault becomes more apparent. Once things open up, there’s no point in hiding, as the menacing growls from Barbarian put you in your place, and the scorching fire melts your face off. The band shifts the tempo here and there to keep you guessing, and then everything bleeds out. The last cut is a real treat, a cover of English Dogs’ “World War 2” that sounds as nasty and relevant today as it did when it first surfaced in the early 1980s.

Weapönizer are pure metal through and through, and “Lawless Age” goes back to a time when if you were heavy, it didn’t matter what they called your music. It was just fucking metal. These songs will make you think of depravity, violence, and post-Apocalyptic wastelands, and the way things are going in the real world, we might not be far off from that hellscape.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/20bs-vinyl/products/weaponizer-lawless-age-lp

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

Klabautmann’s wondrous spin on black metal dives into new twists on fascinating ‘Smaragd’

Black metal is an area that, despite claiming to be about chaos and disorder, has a hell of a lot of structure built into its DNA. Bands that veer beyond the very rigid boundaries established long ago often meet scorn by those who miserably defend its borders. But that’s a pretty boring act, no? Why not try to do something a little more interesting?

German progressive black metal boundary melters Klabautamann have been disintegrating rules sheets for years now (nearly two decades, if we’re being exact … and we are), and over the course of four mind-bending albums between 2003 and 2011, they made listeners rethink what it even means to play black metal. Folk-tinged passages, interesting vocal patterns, heady prog, and crushing black metal are some of their most visited territories, and that expands even further on their stunning new record “Smaragd.” This 10-cut, 53-minute album wrecks and blows to bits anyone’s notion of what black metal is and what it should sound like. There are moments on this thing where the music is downright dreamy and easygoing. That shouldn’t scare anyone away as there are plenty of obliterating assaults splashed all over this thing, and it can be as heavy as it is intellectually moving. The band—its core members are vocalist/guitarist/bassist Tim Steffens and guitarist/bassist Florian Toyka (Valborg)—is joined by a healthy list of guest players here, who add many other instruments and voices to the mix, helping make this one of the most interesting black metal records of the year so far.

“Into Depression” is a thunderous start to the record, at first sounding like a prog epic before tearing out its guts and spreading them everywhere. Melodies and savagery are ensnared, as the band takes on a tone that reminds a lot of early Enslaved. Clean singing intermingles, as part of the song feels emotional and vulnerable, with things ending with engorged roars and muddy punching. “My Terrifying Mirror” is scary and nasty at the start, with the song thrashing and then heading into speed. The riffs spiral and mangle your brain, as maniacal laughs spread before the song goes into chilling playing. Later, the cut catches fire again, as the playing is compelling before it ends abruptly. “In My Shadow” is really different, as the band pulls things back, and the singing is similar to 1960s-style torch balladry, only with a sinister edge. That element itself makes this stand out, not only among black metal tracks, but among bands that also push the envelope. “Under Feral Skies” is spacious and wondrous at first, but then the flesh is ground off. The track storms hard, as the pace charges, and the playing bounces violently. A sense of calm spreads, as guitars glimmer, but then a monstrous assault rips toward the finish. “As the Snow Melted” has guitars bleeding in and joining up with organs, while the band harmonizes cleanly, jazzy playing bubbles, and a whispered message unleashes ghosts.

“The Murderers” is interesting, beginning with muddy, blinding power, only to allow violent bursts to take hold and shake everything to its core. Windy, contemplative sections blow into the scene, building the drama, but then the explosions do damage. “Everything was taken by the fire!” Steffens wails, as the assault continues, and everything bleeds away. “Enemies’ Blood” eases at the start before the floor drops and destroys bones. Parts of the song float along in gazey atmosphere, though the bass pops and charges through this. Later, the slashing picks up again, leading to a maddening end. “Saturn” is clean and dizzying, taking its time to accumulate momentum and eventually taking off heads. The band rushes into chants and what feel like spiritual messages sent to the stars, as they rhythmically blurt, “Ooo, ahhh!” like they’re paying homage. Then they send things out on a proggy note. The title track has guitars spurting and drizzling textures, while the growls emit ugliness. The guitars spiral and make the room spin before a calm takes over and adds post-thunderstorm cool. That’s a temporary thing as the track explodes anew and takes the song to its fiery end. Closer “Frozen in Time” is clean and wintry, with Anna Murphy taking over the singing, putting an icy, otherworldly final touch on a stunning record.

Every visit with “Smaragd” is a completely different one, as new elements pop up, and other colors become more apparent. Klabautamann never settle into a single territory and always spread their interests wherever they see fit. This band is one of those keeping black metal’s body alive, thriving, and expanding, and everything they do is worth poring over for hours in order to absorb every moment.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://klabautamann.bandcamp.com/album/smaragd

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