Masters of surprise Krallice return with warped, prog-fed EP ‘Wolf’ that’ll finish you off

I woke up New Year’s Day morning, and I went straight to the Bandcamp app to see if there were any surprise releases that day. It all stems from when I arose Jan. 1, 2016, to find a new Krallice EP “Hyperion” had dropped suddenly, with no prior warning, so I’m trying very hard not to get fooled again.

Lo and behold, the NYC black metal experimentalists waited nine days longer than I anticipated to deliver another surprise EP, as this time the band dropped “Wolf,” a five-track, 15-minute offering that finds the band as their most compact yet when it comes to compositions, as well as at their weirdest, which is saying something. You’ll definitely recognize the band as Krallice when you tackle these songs, but they are playing with your mind here, sometimes slowing things down, at other places cutting you off at the pass just when you think the adventure is starting. They still deliver mind-bending black metal that has become their calling card, and they do that better than anyone else, but the added wrinkles add another element of mystery from the guys—bassist/vocalist Nick McMaster, guitarist/vocalist Colin Marston, guitarist Mick Barr, and drummer Lev Weinstein—as they insist on remaining cosmically unpredictable and volatile.

The title track gets things started, and at 5:26, it’s the longest song on the record. Things begin spaciously, as sounds float on clouds before barked growls rip at the skin and start the bleeding. The pace is doomier than usual and moves slowly at times before the leads light up, and the song blends into the ether. The track is strange and hypnotic before unleashing a proggy burst that goes all over before the song ends. “The Mound” crushes and thrashes right away, as the vocals are roared, and the playing is tricky as hell. The song sends spew flying, as the playing bashes and corrodes, eventually dissolving into strange noise. “.:.” is a brief 15-second crush of prog fury, almost like you’re dipping in and out of a dream, before going into instrumental cut “Church” that has the bass slinking and the guitars slurring and spreading pain. The music spirals and expands, as guitars swirl in the air, and different melodies are poured into a blender and melded into one liquid. From there, ghostly winds arrive, giving an eerie feel that eventually folds into space “Time Rendered Omni” ends the exercise with a killer riff rising and killing, the song heading to the races, and your psyche being challenged. Death growls strike and gurgle, fueling the final minute of savagery that is dragged behind once the gas pedal is struck, with everything ending abruptly.

“Wolf” currently is a digital-only release found on Krallice’s Bandcamp, though Gilead Media announced a physical version will follow. This is yet another strange turn for the band, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise as they always seem to come back with something a little different. Krallice remain one of the most creative, ambitious bands on the planet, and as long as that trait remains, we’re always bound to get something captivating with each release.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Noctambulist’s furious death explores space on fiery ‘Atmosphere of Desolation’

What better way to go into a weekend than with a bludgeoning serving of death metal served up by a fairly mysterious new band from one of the hot beds of this style of music in the United States? This isn’t really telling you a lot, I know, and once you’re done reading this, you won’t know much more about the band than what their punishing first record sounds like.

Before the arrival of Noctambulist’s debut record “Atmosphere of Desolation” arrived in my email, the only thing I or most people knew about them was the one song they had released on their own Bandcamp page. That’s about it. Hard to get too worked up about what was to come on this six-track effort, but it didn’t take long after ripping into this music to discover the Rocky Mountain area is rife with this mind-altering, devastating death metal that makes you feel like you’re being chewed by a combine while your mind wanders outer space. Released by Blood Harvest Records along with Helter Skelter Productions, this blood-soaked, artistically aggressive collection comes your way in just a couple weeks’ time, so you have opportunity to adjust yourself for another death metal band that wants to push this style even further as far as ferocity and creativity are concerned. The initialed band members—vocalist S.M., guitarist A.T., bassist R.H., drummer M.N—deliver this album with earth-quaking intensity, and each visit with the music is another round in the fighting pit as you try to keep your head above the fray.

“Dimming Lights Illuminate” is a quick opener that dwells in doomy chaos as vicious wails are unleashed, sounds hang in the air, and the madness is swallowed by the dark. “Abnegation” starts in grinding death, as the fury builds its intensity, growls gurgle, and the playing smears soot and blood. The growls get more monstrous while the playing swelters, giving off thick humidity before fading into mystery. The cut is mucky and punishing, getting tricky and making your mind work overtime, while the band even digs into some hardcore-style lashing. The growls penetrate before the song goes clean and cold, conjuring fog before ramping back up, with shrieky vocals inducing fear. The noise sizzles, the growls pummel you, and the track dissolves into a noise bath.

“Jubilant Cataclisym” has gurgling growls bubbling under the surface before savagery erupts in whole, and heavy storming begins to chew up the surface. Guitars jar while layers of filth are laid down, only to have atmosphere emerge from behind the blazes before washing out in a dark haze. “Denial of Autonomy” is an immediate burst as it lurches and crushes like a beast, with smothering chaos slicing through bone, and wild screams piercing your hearing. The track melts into calm for a stretch before cymbals crash, riffs crawl, and the track ends in a devastating blast. “Habitual Falsehood” ends the record by bleeding in and launching grisly growls as the tempo blisters the body, guitars spiral, and the drums utterly destroy. The guitars slash away, while the ground rumbles underneath you, the pace thickens dangerously, and the song loosens its stranglehold as it disappears into the night.

2018 was a banner year for great death metal, and Noctambulist are making sure that momentum kicks into the new year on the strength of “Atmosphere of Desolation.” This is a record that wastes little time putting the boots to you, and throughout the meaty six songs, you’re in for a clash from which you won’t soon recover. Yet, there’s something more, elements buried deeper in the music that go beyond mere skullduggery, and it’ll take multiple visits for you to unearth each layer buried beneath the surface.

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Moondweller, Hænesy combine to take black metal into cosmos on gazey split ‘Earth and Space’

This isn’t a terribly easy time of the year for a site that tries to fill its pages with discussion about new music ready to hit the, um, shelves. Those shelves can be digital, you know. Anyway, it’s been tough sledding trying to find stuff these early days of January, so that took us to do some hunting for some things that were swimming underneath the surface.

Truth be told, I was at the gym last week between sets, scrolling through new metal releases on my Bandcamp app when I came across “Earth and Space,” a stunning split effort combining Russian atmospheric black metal band Moondweller with Hungarian black metal entity Hænesy. I decided to give it a go, dropped a few bucks for the music, and holy hell, was I ever happy I did that. Here I found four tracks, two by each band (I knew of neither before this), that are packed with power, emotion, and unquestionable melody, but smeared into a primitive black metal delivery that made the songs feel raw, yet energetic. There is precious little available about each band online, which also is kind of refreshing. It’s like falling into a universe you didn’t expect to visit, yet here you are, forced to find your way around. Hænesy formed in 2017 and have a demo from that year and last year’s full-length debut “Katruzsa,” that I have since visited and love. Moondweller’s history only can be tracked to last year, delivering their debut full-length “The Search” almost 12 months ago.

Hænesy’s portion begins with “Eternal Rest” that has a clean introduction that soars through atmospheric gaze before the thunder strikes. Right away, you can feel the emotion in the song as well as in the guttural screams, as the track gushes and then crashes into an ethereal fog, with a synth haze rising out of that. The song then bursts anew, with a speedier tempo, cries piercing the sky, and riffs taking over, leading the track on a daring, punchy collision before bleeding out into serenity. “An Onthology of Void” wraps their section as it spills open, blistering your senses before bringing on a penetrating chill. The track has gothic undertones, with wrenching wails and guitars firing up and cutting through its center. Growls build with intensity while the music hammers your mind, the vocals later reveal anguish, and the song flows out into calm.

Moondweller arrive with “World Entwined,” where they usher in dark menace countered by lush and atmospheric guitars. Sounds crash while melodies rain down, and cavernous growls jar you into the current. The pace later toughens as guitars chug away, and a spoken section slides underneath stormy synth before the track revamps with life. There’s a hugeness to the sound, which finally crests and washes away in waves. “Unknown Signals” is their finale, and right away the feel is heavier, as drums pound away, the vocals splatter, and a stormfront hangs overhead. Guitars swelter while the drums devastate, punching holes in any sense of calm, eventually working into slow-driving trudging. All along the way, the band’s playing leaves welts and bruising as they up the ante over the final moments before the chaos gives way and rests finally in a bed of plinking keys.

Now is a great time to go exploring for new music and bands that haven’t come to you yet, which is what led me to Moondweller and Hænesy. “Earth and Space” is an excellent, ridiculously affordable split putting together two bands with like-minded approaches but who translate their art much differently. This music is ideal for late-night sky-gazing, enjoying a dark ale during self-introspection, or simply for indulging in black metal that’s hungry to go beyond modern expectations.

For more on Moondweller, go here:

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Meat Mead Metal: Best of December

Holy hell, YOU try to go on Spotify and put together a Best of December list. Not easy. OK, so there are bands I could not put on this list that put out awesome music in December. Looking at you Zealotry, Dødsferd, and Serpent Column. I tried! Oh, and Horehound’s record came out one day before December, but their album didn’t hit Spotify until December, so I included them here because their new one is great. And “The Kind” will kill you. Also, we didn’t get the promo for the Jarboe album, but she’s amazing, so here’s song from it. Anyway, enjoy this one.

Great Falls deliver driving kick to the face, force you to seek motivation with ‘A Sense of Rest’

This year’s already off to a weird start. “Mean” Gene Okerlund died. If that wasn’t a big enough kick to the nether regions, the first week of 2019 has been challenging mentally and physically, and the shit we thought we buried in the center of 2018’s corpse have risen again, only more putrid. I need a swift shot to the jaw to get things moving in the right direction, otherwise I’m sleeping this one off.

Luckily, that stiff punch may actually have arrived late last year in the form of Great Falls’ latest LP “A Sense of Rest.” OK, I know it sounds strange that I’m calling a record titled “A Sense of Rest” as one to act as a boost but hear me out. These veteran post-hardcore noise purveyors aren’t exactly lulling you to sleep with these muscular eight new tracks and, if anything, they’re here knocking on your back door to ensure you’re not resting peacefully and instead are on your feet doing something about your shit. We’re getting to this a little late because almost all of December is devoted to a year recap, so new music kind of fell by the wayside for a bit. But we were well aware of Great Falls and always had plans to get to this one, so here we are. The band—guitarist/vocalist Demian Johnson, bassist Shane Mehling, and drummer Phil Petrocelli—plied their trades with notable other bands such as Undertow, Playing Enemy, Kiss It Goodbye, and Jesu, and released their first album “Accidents Grotesque” in 2013, followed by “The Fever Shed” in 2015. Now on “A Sense of Rest,” they continue to up the ante on their frustration and aggravation, giving you, the listener, a partner with whom to have a bloodletting.

“The Accelerationist” kicks off the record with tricky, punchy playing before Johnson’s harsh yelps come into the picture. The track bludgeons you, slicing through bone, as screams land behind the wall of punishment, halting briefly before static-filled drums bring us back in. Everything spills back in, with jerky playing, wild howls, and a spiral out into madness. “Not-for-Sale Bodies” opens clean before sludgy mashing is upon us, and wild shouts uncoil and push into battle. The track hits hard, slowing its pace to ensure maximum force per blow, before things are torn apart by a noise pit, boiling and scraping flesh before finishing out. “Kettle Logic” starts faster, with drums killing and speedy riffs barreling into your chest. The vocals are unhinged, as you’re smothered beneath the song’s weight, while chaos is afoot, and the track comes to a mangling end. “We Speak in Lowercase” is the longest track, running 14:30 and starting with alien soundscapes before the track fully blossoms. “With my head straight, let’s start again!” Johnson calls, as the track builds toward choppier waters and a doomier presence. Noise spirals, the riffs kick up, and Johnson cries, “Go on, say it! Apologize!” That takes us into a cataclysmic fury, dropping heaviness that continues until the track bleeds into silence.

“Thousands Every Hour” has noise aggravating, rising into squalls, and then the body of the song kicking in and bloodying lips. “Let’s talk this through!” Johnson pleads, while shrieks and pummeling sounds surround you and deliver damage, bringing the track to a bloody end. “Baldessari Height” has dark, wooly riffs that crawl in the dark, while Johnson’s vocals blow holes in walls, and then the track trickles with colder waters. This goes into slowly delivered hell, as the song chunks away, vocals screech, and everything soaks in a horrifying noise bath. “I Go to Glory” delivers kicks to the jaw, thrashing wildly before pulling back and letting the guitar work pulsate. The intensity then picks back up, and Johnson howls, “Run!” giving off steam and flowing right into closer “Scratched Off the Canvas” and its slurry front end. The pace is numbing as noise unfurls, the bass trudges, and Johnson belts, “Wake up! It doesn’t matter to me!” The song corrodes, gushing and shedding metal shards, as melodies dizzy before the song spins out in a hypnotic wave.

If you’re not too aware of Great Falls yet but dig bands such as Buildings or Kowloon Walled City, definitely try “A Sense of Rest” on for size. These are meaty, punishing diatribes that don’t relent on the audio violence and will make you feel all purple and sore when it’s all over. This isn’t music for someone who wants to relax, despite its title. This is for confronting demons head on and making them submit to your unrelenting will.

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Or here:

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Yatra’s journey blazes open with numbing doom, psychedelic fire on ‘Death Ritual’

Photo by Alyssa Maloof

I often wonder where the darkness and shadows come from when hearing doom metal. I imagine the answer is limitless, as artists pull from so many dank corners when creating their art. Often times, the answer is that it’s culled from personal chaos or the disorder they see in the world, but other times, it’s from something quite different.

Dana Helmuth, long of Maryland doom pounders Blood Raven, got to work in his new project Yatra while living a fairly primitive life, at least as most people would consider it. Moving into a cottage in the woods with no plumbing amenities and relegated to using outhouses and outdoor showers, Helmuth was able to find solace in the peace and lack of technological intrusion and come up with the eight tracks for the band’s debut album “Death Ritual” in about a month’s time. Joined by a rhythm section of bassist Maria Geisbert and drummer Mike Tull, the band started to push into a psychological, smoke-filled excursion (the band’s name is taken from the word used to symbolize a journey that Helmuth learned while motorcycling through Nepal and the Himalayas), and from first moment to last, you’ll feel like you’re journeying through strange clouds with them, mind altered no doubt. As for their sound, imagine a gnarlier, more prehistoric version of Sleep, and you’ll be headed down the right path, one you should take for sure.

“Hour of the Dragon” kicks off the record as it bleeds into a psychedelic haze before riffs kick in a deliver swagger. Helmuth’s vocals bark and sound, fittingly, as primitive as their surroundings, while the soloing chars, giving off a stoner vibe. The final moments are druggy and ugly before heading off into the darkness. “Black Moon” follows, as it has an eerie beginning before riffs slither and deliver a bluesy punch. Fuzzy doom emerges amid gruff singing that scrapes raw skin, situated in a fog before soloing bubbles to the surface, taking on Matt Pike-style muscle. Growls crawl back in before the song heads out in a blues-filled vapor. “Sacred Flower” kicks off with a simmering bong hit before the riffs burst, the vocals rip off faster, and the track makes you feel high AF, which is likely the intent. The track slams harder as it goes, with the leads rising, Helmuth wailing, “Rise up higher!” and the track dissolving into dust. “Snakes in the Temple” emerges slowly, with the vocals rolling in, and the vibe giving off a nasty feel. Soloing injects pain, as psyche blazes are set, torching a trail in front of it. Geisbert’s bass entrances, while the chorus returns, and everything comes to a volcanic end.

“Smoke Is Rising” is trippy as hell, with Helmuth’s voice coming off in yelps, later declaring, “Kingdoms, they fall into the sea.” The riffs slowly batter, while fuzzy guitar work forms clouds around your brain, paving the way for the growls to come in and clobber you, leading toward a slow descent to hell. “Four Directions” simmers in sitar drone before riffs begin to crunch, grimy vox are smeared over the chorus, and the guitars light up and surge, causing you to shield your eyes as you’re led toward the exit. “Mighty Arrows” sets up camp deliberately, as burly riffs flex their arms, and Helmuth barks, “Strike down the serpents!” Soloing gives off noxious fumes, crushing bodies slowly in its wake, adding layers of murk, with the track coming to a stomping end. “Sailing On” ends the record with agitating riffs and savage growls storming the gates. An acidic tempo swells, as the song drubs slowly, with the swagger pushing back into the picture. The leads catch fire anew, bringing the track to a filthy finish.

Yatra’s journey is just beginning with “Death Ritual,” and these first steps are spellbinding and spacious, a means to helping you reach out from a psychedelic watch into something entirely different. There will be comfort for those in the stoner doom realms as to what they’ll find here, but even if that’s not your thing primarily, you’ll likely be lulled in by the riffs and the filth. This is a promising first burst for this band that, while just offering their debut, feel like they come at you with ages of wisdom to impart.

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Meat Mead Metal Top 40 revisited

We’ll get back to regular programming tomorrow with our first Pick of the Week of 2019. But for now, here is 2018’s Top 40 in list form. In case you’re new here, you also can read in-depth stories on the top 5, as well as a more comprehensive look at numbers 6-40 below. You’re welcome.

40. WINDHAND, “Eternal Return” (Relapse)

39. PIG DESTROYER, “Head Cage” (Relapse)

38. RUNEMAGICK, “Evoked From Abyssal Sleep” (Aftermath/Parasitic)

37. SLAVES BC, “Lo, and I Am Burning” (Fear and the Void Recordings)

36. WITCH MOUNTAIN, self-titled (Svart)

35. KHEMMIS, “Desolation” (20 Buck Spin)

34. HISSING, “Permanent Destitution” (Profound Lore)

33. SVALBARD, “It’s Hard to Have Hope” (Holy Roar/Translation Loss)

32. ICARUS WITCH, “Goodbye Cruel World” (Cleopatra)

31. ÆVANGELIST, “Matricide in the Temple of Omega” (I, Voidhanger)

30. PORTAL, “Ion” (Profound Lore)

29. INSECT ARK, “Marrow Hymns” (Profound Lore)

28. AGRIMONIA, “Awaken” (Southern Lord)

27. MARSH DWELLER, “Wanderer” (Eihwaz Recordings)

26. GLACIAL TOMB, self-titled (Gilead Media)

25. UN, “Sentiment” (Black Bow/Translation Loss)

24. WAYFARER, “World’s Blood” (Profound Lore)

23. HOREHOUND, “Holocene” (Doom Stew)

22. FÓRN, “Rites of Despair” (Gilead Media)

21. DEVOURING STAR, “The Arteries of Heresy” (Dark Descent/Terratur Possessions)

20. CLOSET WITCH, self-titled (Halo of Flies/Sass Bologna/Circus of the Macabre/Don’t Care/React With Protest)

19. ULTHAR, “Cosmovore” (20 Buck Spin)

18. BODY VOID, “I Live Inside a Burning House” (Crown and Throne Ltd./Dry Cough/Seeing Red)

17.AILS, self-titled (The Flenser)

16. TO END IT ALL, “Scourge of Woman” (Scry Recordings)

15. SLEEP, “The Sciences” (Third Man)

14. CHAPEL OF DISEASE, “…And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye” (Van)

13. YOB, “Our Raw Heart” (Relapse)

12. BURIAL INVOCATION, “Abiogenesis” (Dark Descent)

11. TOMB MOLD, “Manor of Infinite Forms” (20 Buck Spin)

10. MESSA, “Feast for Water” (Aural Music)

9. PANOPTICON, “The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness Pt. 1 and 2” (Bindrune Recordings)

8. CHRCH, “Light Will Consume Us All” (Neurot Recordings)

7. EVOKEN, “Hypnagogia” (Profound Lore)

6. VILE CREATURE, “Cast of Static and Smoke” (Halo of Flies/Dry Cough)

5. KHôRADA, “Salt” (Prophecy Productions)

4. DEADBIRD, ‘III: The Forest Within the Tree’ (20 Buck Spin)

3. INEXORUM, “Lore of the Lakes” (Gilead Media)

2. THOU, “Magus” (Sacred Bones)

1. MOURNFUL CONGREGATION, ‘The Incubus of Karma’ (20 Buck Spin/Osmose Productions)