PICK OF THE WEEK: Politics, greed power Kayo Dot’s futuristic and space-bending opus ‘Blasphemy’

So, other than this site being a quasi-pro wrestling page disguised as a metal blog, there’s also some major dorking out over sci-fi stories over here. Currently, I’m ensconced in James S.A. Corey’s “Expanse” series that has taken up almost all of my reading time this year. When I can find music that sits alongside that, it makes it an even more rewarding experience all around.

Metallic chameleons Kayo Dot once again stepped up to the plate to bring that ideal companion piece with their new record “Blasphemy.” Like all Kayo Dot experiences, this one takes a while to wrap your head around what’s going on both lyrically and especially musically, but once it sinks in, it does so hard. Once again, the band sinks into a story and lyrics written by Jason Byron (formerly of Maudlin of the Well along with multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Toby Driver) about three people going on a quest for treasure, only to be destroyed by the very thing they seek, a mysterious sleeping girl named Blasphemy, hence the title. The tale of politics and greed is as classic as any tale from that perspective, but as you delve into the world itself, it gets more immersive. I pulled out some lyrics below, but really, they won’t provide proper perspective. I just happen to like them. Anyway, along with Driver are guitarist Ron Varod, drummers Leonardo Didkovsky and Phillip Price, as well as Tim Byrnes on trumpet and Timm Mason on addition synth design.

“Ocean Cumulonimbus” opens the record with gentle waves before Driver’s singing unfurls, flowing along and letting intensity build. Suddenly, his singing turns to unnerving shrieks, and then a proggy fog settles in and buries the song in murk. “The wheels of progress grind and spin, crushing bones,” Driver observes, “Our loss their win, breaking backs and pressing onward, the spirit of progress pushing downward,” as the track comes to an alien-like end. “The Something Opal” enters into a mist as keys zap, whispery vocals lead the way, and then things suddenly pick up, and the singing ups its intensity as well. Guitars lap, shouts gnaw, and a sludgy atmosphere is beaten down by the drumming. “An Eye for a Lie” is mind-melting, with the vocals autotuned for effect and a spacey ambiance sending chills. The singing then turns in rap-like delivery before getting higher, as the track slips into a dreamy haze. Sounds pushes back into the clouds before floating out with otherworldly strangeness. “Lost Souls on Lonesome’s Way” drives in with strong singing from Driver and a forceful slip into another world taking hold. Weird tones and vivid storytelling shine a light, as Driver sings, “Drew up like madness, ghoul in its coat, he spoke with a smile that went crooked and broken, but he swallowed his bait to seek out the Lapis.” That chills flesh before everything slips out into bubbling.

“Vanishing Act in Blinding Gray” delves further into worlds beyond our own, and it’s the longest cut here, running 8:09. Softer vocals and sound flushes combine, as Driver utters surreal passages such as, “Pilot daydream wasting hours, no port of call to cast his flowers, with lust he wandered far from shore, adventure to the Lands of Whore.” Things get grittier later, as guitars trudge, and a bizarre fog shrouds all sights, as Driver sings, “The spying warden watches from his tower in secret using an esoteric magnifying glass,” before things come to a muddy end. “Turbine, Hook, and Haul” has impenetrable murk, vocals in higher register, and a frosty sci-fi feel that gets into your blood cells. Sax rings out as the vocals swim through the air, and a chilling night feel passes over, giving your body psychological chills. “Midnight Mystic Rise and Fall” starts with Driver calling, “Curse the girl, the girl is cursed, she dreams in jet, her soul is as black as her body,” as vibrant sounds pump through, giving almost an urban feel to the playing. Later on, he declares, “She needs to die,” as the song revels in its oddness, and the keys give off mesmerizing winds.” Closer “Blasphemy: A Prophecy” brings the story to a close, and the characters are tasting demise. Keys sneak through, the vocals punish, and things surge through the ether. “See the fools and see their lies, the bargaining of lives,” Driver calls, “Remove their hands, put out their eyes, walk away as airship dies,” as the song and story crumble, and the track bleeds out into eternity.

Kayo Dot’s musical imagination, along with Byron’s riveting storytelling and lyrics, power “Blasphemy,” yet another intense step forward for a band that gushes progression. This band always has had a unique trajectory and sound, and none of their records are remotely close to repeats of anything that preceded it. That’s part of what keeps Kayo Dot creating some of heavy music’s most enthralling records, that and their incredible dexterous musicianship.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/kayo-dot-blasphemy

For more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/

Oregon hardcore unit Cliterati blast racism, sexism, bad power structures with ‘Ugly Truths…’

Not to be outright agitating from the start, but it should be clear by now that this site stands in defiance of the current person called the president and his administration’s legacy of horrors that has done and potentially will do irreparable damage to everyone here who isn’t white, male, and in the very upper crust. Everyone else is flesh to be consumed by the gears of the machine.

Sections of metal and hardcore have risen up specifically against these terrible times, one of those being Oregon-based mashers Cliterati. The band is steamrolling back with “Ugly Truths/Beautiful Lies” that encompasses all of their anger and frustration and spreads it thick and mightily over 15 tracks that rage through 32 minutes. The band has professed they are comprised of a mix of queer, straight, white, and people of color, making them a diverse set of individuals and perfect folks to express their level of discontent. The band—vocalist Ami Lawless, guitarist Melissa White, bassist Maika Brummett, drummer Coleman Hamilton—storms the gate and delivers a sound that mixes hardcore, punk, death metal, and grind that absolutely destroys everything in sight and sends a vicious message to anyone who would see that their rights, and those of their people, are trampled. If you dare stand in front of them, you deserve whatever comes your way.

“Slow Burn” is an opening instrumental that’s grounded in metallic hardcore and does a great job getting the heart started, then it’s into “Tribal Politics,” bursting from the gates practically on fire. Lawless’ vocals smother while the band backs them with a slaying that hammers home their points. “Trans Is Beautiful” is an explosive anthem of support for transgender folks, and its speedy, thrashy crunch should have blood surging in veins while fists are pumped. “Unfuck the System” has thick bass and a trudging pace that urges trying to fix a social and political structure that has been dealing unfair blows for too long. Lawless torches the “injustice waged against us all” as the band lands hammer shots. “Silence = Death” rips apart the notion of staying in your lane instead of questioning what everyone knows is wrong. “Nothing said, nothing done,” Lawless wails as the track storms ahead, and hardcore thunder rips a hole in everything. “Breakup Song” has a bit of a rock n roll feel before Lawless throws barbs against shitty partners screaming, “I don’t want you anymore,” as the band tosses buckets of acid. “Scars Are What Hold Me Together” has a volcanic approach, a fast blast of power that has Lawless howling, “My name is nothing, and that is fine.”

“Latinx Taken” is a show of defiance and support for all of the Latino people who have been treated like animals under the current, uh, administration. “They take our hearts, they take our talent, our best ideas,” Lawless stabs, “Break up our families, call us illegals.” The track is just devastating both musically and in the pain in the words. “Footprints on the Moon” has a stunning punk burst with leads scorching, a hardcore assault sprinting toward madness, and a blazing big finish. “GPCL” is fast as fuck, lashing out against those who prevent equality in the workplace and fair wages, with Lawless belting that the system is “lining the pockets of the 1 percent, creating desperation for the rest.” The title track has the bass crushing and the band firing on all cylinders, as Lawless sings angrily about race relations and shitty dudes holding tiki torches, pounding away forcefully and never giving an inch. “Remnants of War” is a fast one with gnarly growls and the band showing its massive might. “Redneck White and Blue” has one of the best lyrics of the year as Lawless shreds, “Fox News, self-abuse,” which should be that channel’s slogan. The scathing punk assault leaves deep brush burns and some personal gashes as well, as Lawless jabs, “Let these colors run.” “In Crust We Trust” is fast and massive as riffs destroy and things boil in total hell. “Shapeshift Away” ends the album with raucous energy and devastating thrash as the track is off to the races, Lawless’ words carve away, and everything is absorbed into a cloud of noise.

This country has a lot for which to atone, which I’m not holding my breath for by any means, so until we sober up, we need forces such as Cliterati to call out the bullshit. “Ugly Truths/Beautiful Lies” is a fire-breathing, directly-in-your-face assault that declares they see the transgressions, and they’re not afraid to call them out at the top of their lungs. As long as we have forces such as these to hammer sense into people, our system of checks and balances that withers away at least has this music to make it know that we fucking see you.

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

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

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

Year of the Goat’s tumultuous genius spreads retribution, fire on ‘Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis’

We’re watching the world burn. Oh, quite literally. The goddamn jungle is on fire. But that charring also is running through our societal systems, our political structure, and our miasmal lives. There’s a stench from the black smoke billowing from this Earth that might be telling the story of how we choked ourselves out with absolute reckless abandon.

Swedish occult soothsayers Year of the Goat are watching on with practical glee on their faces. Not that they’re cheering on the destruction of the world. But the evil the see in others, the diabolical forces that get waved off and blamed on other things creates the rot they’ve written about for many years now. Their latest opus is “Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis,” which translates to new world order, and it’s a nine-track drama that builds form piece to piece and might as well be showing us portraits of our deaths to our faces while they mock us. This dark troops—Thomas Sabbathi (vocals, guitar), Jonas Mattsson (guitar), Linus Lundgren (guitar), Joona Hassinen  (bass), Daniel Melo (drums), Pope (mellotron, vocals—spin webs you cannot escape, and even while you’re enraptured by melody and catchiness, you’re always brought back to the hard truth, that things are, essentially, fucked.

“Subortus” starts the record with guitars ringing to life before twin leads join up and add crunch, and Sabbathi’s powerful, emotive vocals lead the way. The track rushes with fire, as Sabbathi wails, “My name shall be adversary, earth’s powers are mine,” while sinister voices add to the chaos, and the track comes to a spirited end. “Acedia” has a psychedelic feel while the tempo gallops, guitars rise, and the chorus again is a killer. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t waste your time making plans,” Sabbathi warns, while the song comes to a huge finish. “Luxuria” has dual guitars calling out and the pace of the song charging up and going over the top. “My eyes lusted for what I saw, my heart drew me in, a bitter taste on my tongue, left by the sweets I was served,” Sabbathi sings, as the track delves deep in golden-toned 1970s-style rock. Strong soloing flexes its muscles before the track comes to an atmospheric end. “Ira” runs 9:40 and has a bluesy, Pink Floyd-flavored start. The vocals are softer, as the track takes on ballad qualities, as Sabbathi pushes, “For those fallen short of the glory, I’ll be the tempest, I’ll be the storm.” Naturally, the song builds with fury as it goes, as the vocals turn raspier, the emotion threatens, and fiery soloing and a heavy prog feel unite and drive the song over the edge.

“Superbia” has guitars charging from the gates as the band bursts with speed and power, giving off a sort of revival feel, as the blood washes over, choral callbacks quake, and the track comes to a tumultuous end. “Gula” also begins in flames as the band charges the gates, and your insides are left to quiver. “A body to honor god  by making it a holy shrine, and put a knife to your throat if you’re ever given to Gula,” Sabbathi commands as the track bristles with life and then ends in a calming pool. “Artiria” has keys settling in before meeting up with punchy guitars, as the bulk of the track deals heavy body blows to you, unsuspecting of the attack, as you’re left prone and gushing. “Invidia” is metallic when it starts and again gets the heart racing. “All your pain, all your tears, leave them by the cross,” Sabbathi urges, as the track rouses the spirit of rebellion, and the final calls of, “It’s all about me,” punctuate the guitars that leaves the walls crumbling and burning. “Subicio” is the 14-minute closer that starts with psyche wash, vocals at a much higher register, and the tidal wave of anguish and sorrow. This is a tremendous ballad, where Sabbathi wonders, “Is this my kingdom, where the sin outshines the lordly grace?” as the track moves on and paints the surface red. Lucifer’s fall is outlined in gory detail, as the track takes on many faces, later on with Sabbathi painfully wondering, “How can I live if they have to die to live again?” The track promises retribution and dark justice, as group chants emerge, Sabbathi calls, “I can still hear the children cry, though they’ve been blessed by the water,” as the tumult levels, and everything fades into a noise spiral.

Year of the Goat, somehow, haven’t gotten swept up in the recent wave of occult rock bands that have inundated our senses, but underneath all of that, they’ve done nothing but put out strong records that haunt you. “Novis Orbis Terrarum Ordinis” is another penetrating chapter in their creative history, another triumphant work of foreboding shadows you don’t see coming. One day people will wake up to their brilliance, but when that happens, it might be too late for us all.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://napalmrecords.com/deutsch/yearofthegoat/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Endless need for life’s meaning, spirituality darken Mizmor’s stormy ‘Cairn’

It’s easy to struggle with everyday existence, even without in light of political and societal trauma that never, ever seems to slow down. Also consider what we deal with personally, the struggles we face constantly, the striving for meaning in our lives, and the desire to connect with something higher than ourselves that we can use as a guide to live our lives (not to oppress and harm others, as so many do).

Mizmor’s sole creator A.L.N. has confronted and wrestled with these things for years, and the personal toll has come out in his incredible output under this banner including the 2010 self-titled record, and 2016’s heavily lauded “Yodh.” All of that, great as it is, takes a backseat to “Cairn,” the brand-new Mizmor record that feels like it topples the world and brings the heavens down with it. On this four-track, hourlong opus, A.L.N. examines humankind’s futile effort for meaning in life, as well as his own dissolved relationship with God, pounding the listener with challenging, tough-to-face messages that could carve a hole right in your heart. Musically, it’s the most intense, harrowing Mizmor music yet, a titanic display that will overwhelm you on first listen and dig itself into your being on every visit.

“Desert of Absurdity” starts with acoustic waves before the track tears open, and the waves begin to lap violently. A.L.N.’s growls penetrate the surface as melody swims, and elegant doom crashes to the ground in drops of acid. The screams lurch and the sounds echo and sting, meanwhile the surface of the Earth is scorched, guitars well, and then coldness reigns, with the final moments feeling utterly sorrowful. “Cairn to God” runs a mammoth 18:03, the longest track on here, and things unfurl with noise flooding, all elements rising up, and shrieks tearing the walls apart. Doomy stomping is mixed with mystical sounds, while raw growls scrape at open wounds, and the track moves into slow-boiling hell. The track hulks along before blistering madness arrives, overwhelming doom strikes, and the track burns and gives off suffocating smoke. The track moves deliberately and heavily while the growls smear soot, the leads strike an emotional hypnosis, and cries and clean playing make up the emotional end.

“Cairn to Suicide” goes right for the throat with devastating playing and vicious growls bruising bodies. A heavy cloud cover threatens with darkness, and a low rumble makes it feel like you’re being dragged through a dank basement toward whatever that dripping sound is. As the song moves on, acoustics mix into the fray and spread before another explosion that spits ore and bones, causing pain and confusion before the final moments bring crashes and acoustic blur. “The Narrowing Way” closes the record, pushing over 16:40 and opening with an air rush and quiet tricking. The playing builds into a deluge complete with slithering pacing and growls crushing and slowly working to cut off air supplies. The playing pounds away and fills your head with noise, while drone rolls through, and jarring shrieks rob you of any sense of solace. Strange chants pass through ghoulishly, the vocals turn to death growls, and the leads glimmer and scream. All of those elements pile up, echo shatters all illusions, and the track extends itself until it finally stops moving.

No matter what we do and no matter how senseless it seems sometimes, we’re always going to push to figure out what everything means and what our place in the universe is. Through Mizmor, A.L.N. has been examining these ideas, as well as whether spirituality is worth anything, and that comes to a cataclysmic level on “Cairn,” this project’s mightiest, most provoking yet. This isn’t meant to be music that’s easy to make or absorb, and every drop of this album is challenging and rewarding no matter how much physical and emotional pain you’re in when it’s over.

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

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/

Doom annihilators Culted keep bridging land gap, smash minds with noisy ‘Vespertina Synaxis…’

Photos by Jeff Byckal

Amazing what you can accomplish these days without creators even being in the same room as each other. We’ve all read and heard about bands writing entire albums through file sharing, and many of us collaborate on projects with people and resources spread out all over the place. Technology: It’s not always used to making humanity seem like the shit worst!

International doom band Culted have made that model work for more than a decade now, and over two full-lengths and two EPs, they’ve spread their horrifying shadows. Their latest EP is the more-than-a-mouthful-titled “Vespertina Synaxis – A Prayer for Union and Emptiness,” a three-track display that finds the band moving into noisier, grittier terrain washed down by electronic horrors. Its creators—Matthew Friesen (guitar, bass, keyboards, noise and percussion), Michael Klassen (guitar, bass keyboards, noise and percussion), Kevin Stevenson (drums and percussion), Daniel Jansson (vocals and noise)—are not deterred by 3/4 being in Canada and the other member hailing from Sweden, as their darkness unites them and spills terror over these harrowing and unforgiving three tracks.

“A Prayer for Union” starts things off, and it’s a dark, shadowy instrumental that weaves in narration from the show “Rectify,” adding to the warped nuances of the piece. As you delve deeper, your mind grows unsteady, things ramble off the rails, and we’re into “A Black Chalice” that lets the slurry doom collect like molasses. Jansson’s vocals are like whispery growls before things erupt at the center, and his approach turns to guttural wails. Chugging heat takes over and wilts flesh as the tempo drives and gets uglier, and the guitars continue to char. The pace changes a bit with the leads glimmering and offering strange light, but then sooty power reemerges, and a psychedelic edge is applied. That leads to a hellish inferno illuminating the basement-dripping horrors, and then acoustics wash in and provide relief, and the words come in hisses. “A Prayer for Emptiness” ends the EP by leaking strange organs and buzz, and the vocals feel like they sit in the clouds. The riffs trudge as the temperatures rise, and Jansson’s static-filled roars pound away. The tempo repeats and rumbles, drubbing you into psychosis, as mad screeches and noise combine to whip everything into a frenzy. The organs return ever so gently while growls echo, and everything buries itself in a pit of drone.

Culted’s return to making hideous, doom-encrusted sounds is a welcome one, though I guess we can forgive them for their long absences considering the distance between them. “Vespertina Synaxis – A Prayer for Union and Emptiness” is still a pretty beefy offering despite it being an EP, and it’s an ideal tide-over offering until the band comes back with another ashen full-length. It’s a great way to get a small taste of what we missed as we look forward to their surely mind-slicing future.

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

To buy the album, go here (North America): https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Polemicist twist metallic grit on rushing, devastating debut LP ‘Zarathustrian Impressions’

You know how they say you shouldn’t discuss religion and politics with family and friends? Whoever came up with that saying was a very smart person with very little understanding for how humans live to agitate one another. Not that it’s a bad thing. Having healthy debate or arguments over topics that can be controversial helps extend the conversation and sometimes changes minds.

Just hearing the band name Polemicist might make heads turn just at the very idea of what the word means. But again, I don’t think polemic ideals are a bad thing, and if you read any of my Twitter feed (no idea why you would) you’ll know I engage in the very activity from time to … OK, always. But we’re here to talk about the Philly black metal band of the same name, and just labeling them as merely black metal isn’t fair. There is so much more going on here with their debut “Zarathustrian Impressions.” If that title sounds familiar, it likely should as the record is a concept piece based on Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (specifically books II and III), a work created between 1883 and 1885 that is far too complex to dissect here. Just look it up. Anyway, the band—vocalist/guitarist Josiah Domico, guitarist Lydia Giordano, bassist Sam Zettell, drummer Jacob Nunn—turns in a stunning performance that might be black metal at its base but has so many other sounds worked in, that it’s difficult to really put a finger on. That just makes it more enthralling to hear.

“Zarathustra’s Theme” starts the record in a synth fog with orchestral winds, an intro piece that sets the stage for what’s ahead. “Concerning the Rabble” opens with blasts and surging vile growls, utterly destroying the ground. The pace kicks up as weird chants enter the fray, delirious guitars turn the room upside down, and imaginative playing stabs an exclamation point at the end. “Revenge of the Tarantulas” has guitars stymying, blasting power sending cinders flying, and creaky growls flattening its foes. The guitar work goes all over the place in a frenetic pace, while a strange transition settles, bringing eerie heat. From there, crushing blows are dealt, while the track crumbles to the ground. “Life Overcoming Itself” lets guitars crush, drums rumble, and dramatic black metal-style melodies reign. The power increases as things go on, as everything in wholly destroyed, blending into a gazey mire that ends in sizzling trauma.

“On Redemption” punches and lets the tempo rush you as the growls sicken bowels, and the playing ignites. The creaky singing helps push the plot while crazed cries, tornadic playing, and burning soloing take command and bring the song into the blades. “The Vision and the Riddle” tramples with intricate riffs and stern thrashing, while black metal blood is shed and drips all over the ground. The madness unfurls as classic metal melodies burst through the doors, the drumming leaves welts, and the track bleeds out in fire. “The Convalescence” doesn’t pull back on the intensity a bit as the band stomps guts, the growls scrape, and the guitars cause extreme vertigo. The music later has a dark carnival vibe as savage fires explode, and the track punishes to the end. “Return to Solitude” concludes the album by unleashing a thunderous attack, while the band liquifies your mind with their imaginative playing. The bulk of the track feels like a dark storm hanging overhead, saturating the earth and blasting its way past the ramparts to claim your soul forever.

Much like their name indicates, Polemicist present difficult material they translate through their hyper-intensive music, which makes “Zarathustrian Impressions” one of the most interesting black metal-style records to come out this year. I know that sounds hyperbolic, so my suggestion is spend time with this record and see for yourself. My visits have twisted my brains and left me with furrowed brow trying to put everything together.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.folkvangrrecords.com/products/647488-polemicist-zarathustrian-impressions

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

Vile, gross Witch Vomit return with death cauldron of blood on sick ‘… in a Bottomless Grave’

Is it just me, or does it seem we’re exploding at the seams with really good death metal? That’s not a complaint or a problem, because there were times not very long ago where you practically had to mine for this stuff, so having an abundance of great bands playing this style is something to cherish now since it won’t last forever. Right?

Anyway, our latest dose of the quality filth comes from Portland, Ore., maulers Witch Vomit, who have reached back with their second full-length “Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave,” itself a terrifying idea to behold. If you were around for their smashing 2017 mini LP “Poisoned Blood” or their 2016 debut “A Scream From a Tomb Below,” you’re going to find the crops have only grown rottener and more putrid since that time. This record is seven tracks that crawl over nearly 28 minutes, which is an ideal length for this thing. It gets in, destroys your body, and gets out without overstaying its welcome. There’s something to be said for that, as more bands should go this route than do the bloating overstuffed thing. A development for the band is they added a second guitar player C.L. to go along with guitarist/vocalist Tempter, bassist J.G., and drummer Filth to round out this solid, punishing lineup.

“From Rotten Guts” opens the record, which is fitting because it sounds like that’s where this music originated. Weird synth fires up before the track bursts at the seams with vicious growls and a barreling assault. The track rumbles in ugliness, a vile cackle pokes fun at your wounds, and riffs encircle, making your upset tummy even more acidic. “Despoilment” has a crunchy start as the guitars flurry and growls simmer in the muck. There’s a cool, swaggering transition that brings in delirious riffing, rubbery melodies, and everything is swallowed into a weird transmission nailed home by a clip from the movie “Prince of Darkness.” The title track follows by hammering bones and unleashing spidery guitar work that crawls into doomy terrain that chugs and chews. The leads burn while the growls punch in, and the vicious mangling comes to a violent end.

“Dead Veins” has drums blasting and a charging riff pushing face-first into the gravelly growls. The playing is fiery and gross as the body crushes, and the guitars go into a screaming assault that stings the ears. Guitars then well up and drip slowly, coming to a slurry end. “Dripping Tombs” devastates right away, as sludgy guitars thicken things, and there’s a run that reminds me a Black Tusk’s southern nastiness, which might not make sense to anyone but me. The track is fiery as it comes to its end, with massive growls sinking in the final daggers. “Squirming in Misery” is a brain-melting instrumental that bathes in dizzying riffs, surging power, and even some catchiness. The track thrashes hard, strange snarls add venom, and things spin out in a haze of alien keys. “Fumes of Dying Bodies” ends the record by landing heavy blows right off the bat, the growls tidal wave in blood, and everything funnels into pure hell. Later on, the pace gallops as things get more dangerous, the growls reopen congealed wounds, and everything ends in a gurgling pool.

Our cups run over with great death metal this year, and Witch Vomit’s contribution definitely will not go unnoticed. “Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave” is a massive, threatening collection that will make your stomach churn and you dry heave with the nauseous emissions they’ve created. This band has traveled a little under the radar, but this album should solve that problem once it infects more ears.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/witch-vomit-buried-deep-in-a-bottomless-grave

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Eternal Storm deliver ambitious, adventurous death metal with ‘Come the Tide’

It’s nearly impossible to do a site about metal and not fall into clichés or easy descriptors every now and again. Because of that, sometimes the words we use could get misconstrued if a person doesn’t read deeper into a story (read the text beneath the headline, you know?), so we often have to be really careful when using certain terms that won’t give people the wrong idea.

I hesitate to describe Eternal Storm as melodic death metal because, let’s be honest, that’s going to put a certain picture in people’s head. Or, more accurately, a certain sound. In this case, we simply mean death metal that has melody infused in its DNA, and not some commercially slick package that would slot the band on a six-band bill at whatever of your local venue stages all-ages shows. One trip with “Come the Tide” will demonstrate this Spanish band, here on their first record, are so much more than that. They combine skull-dragging power with playing that could make your heart swell, and their overall presentation doesn’t wallow in the darkness, which is a breath of fresh air, to be honest. The band—bassist/vocalist Kheryon, guitarists/keyboard players/backing vocalists Daniel Maganto and Jaime Torres, and drummer/backing vocalist Mateo Novati—are joined by guests from bands including Wormed, Nexusseis, Asgaroth, Kaos Vortex, and others to create an album that is sweeping and full bodied, a far more realized offering than you’d expect on a debut.

The record starts with “Through the Wall of Light Pt. I (The Strand)” that bleeds in from the cold, letting frost build before the song bursts to life. Melodic charges and growled vocals from Kheryon fill heads before a quick breeze arrives, infusing more atmosphere. Then things get heavier, as a prog-fueled section adds excitement, and a quick switch back to calm leads into “Through the Wall of Light Pt.II (Immersion)” that continues the serenity as clean calls remind, “Your inner voice will never be heard.” Sax adds texture, and then the track bursts. The playing surges, while the soloing gets your juices going, and then wrenching growls from Kheryon remind, “We always walk by your side,” before the track melts into nautical waves. “Detachment” erupts from the water with punchy verses, growled lines that scrape, and a tempo that eventually brings chills. Passionate soloing catches fire as heart surge, the growling strikes, and the playing is a tidal wave that soaks deep shores. “The Mountain” is a crusher that explodes from the gates as vicious, throaty growls and hammering playing make a formidable team. The band slips into jazzy currents, bringing new hues before the violence returns. Blazing fires roar in the night, as the track destroys and spits shrapnel to the finish.

“Of Winter and Treason” runs 10:35, starting with fire crackling and acoustic runs making things feel rustic. As the track moves, a power surge ignites that’s both adventurous and punishing, with gruff growls leaving bruising on your ribs. A dreamy haze later settles over, with jazzy playing returning and making head swim in the clouds. Thunder then strikes as the fury thrusts itself, the growls roll, and the tracks ends up in a strange, mystical fog. “Drifters” is a quick interlude that lands just as you need a break, and it’s built by echoes, crashes, and whispers. “The Scarlet Lake” wrenches and begins to lay waste, as the verses smoosh muscles, and the chorus makes blood rush to the head. The track keeps gashing the flesh with daggers, while the guitars spiral, and plenty of twists and turns amplify the drama. The final moments are emblazoned with color as the energy smothers and things disappear into a mist. Closer  “Embracing Waves” is the longest cut, clocking in at 11:17, and like its title suggest, we start immersed in waves. The track rams through the gates as clean singing and harsh growls entangle, elegant guitars drizzle, and the pace pushes back and forth from forceful to tranquil. As the song builds toward its crescendo, all the elements you heard before this team up again and cause a great flood, as clean and grisly vocals appear, the music slams the gas pedal on emotions, and the track retreats back into the waters from where it originated.

While Eternal Storm offer no shortage of heaviness and grisliness, the band also packs a ton of drama and melody into their style of atmospheric death metal. “Come the Tide” is the perfect example of that, a record that’s gnarly enough to turn on harsher death metal listeners but also can fire up people who like a little more variety in their heavy metal. This is an interesting, immersive record that takes a few visits to fully absorb and will make you want to come back often to understand it even better.

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://tometal.com/store/

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

The Howling Wind emerge from darkness, deliver devastating return shot ‘Shadow Tentacles’

Having a Bandcamp account is a strong way to keep up with music that isn’t popping up in your inbox if you’re a writer. There is only so much on which one person can keep up, so either missing new records or not realizing bands are about to drum up new material easily can be solved by Bandcamp sending you weird notifications about it. This isn’t a Bandcamp ad.

Anyway, last week, I got an e-mail explaining there was something new from The Howling Wind, a band I’ve personally followed for years now and who has been awfully silent the past six years. That was 2013’s “Vortex,” which they released on their own, so when I got this notification, having no idea the Howling Wind was working on anything new, I assumed it was cool merch or a reissue. Instead it’s their fifth full-length record “Shadow Tentacles,” the first for Ryan Lypynsky on his own (Tim Call played drums on their previous releases) and a collection packed with 10 compact blasts that makes up the project’s shortest work yet—it clocks in a little over 31 minutes. That makes the music sound more violent than before and far more drastic, giving you barely any room to breathe as you’re pulled through charnel tunnels comprised of death and black metal with some tinges of industrial soot.

“The Psychic Executions” opens the album in pure insanity as the riffs flood everywhere, Lypynsky’s harsh growls crush, and melodic hammering finds its way underneath. The track is a mangler with guitars rising and things coming to a smashing end. “Exiled in Oblivion” has the drums hammering and the riffs driving before things take a weird turn. The playing gets dizzying, robbing you of your breath, before a delirious panic unloads. Cool winds blow in, confounding and strangling before sizzling out. “Invisible Warfare” makes it feel like the song is coming through the ground before a doomy drubbing unloads before the track ups the thrashing ante. Dark riffing penetrates later as Lypynsky howls violently as the track comes to an end. “Fumes Excreted Out of Hell” is a weird one as the pace sneaks around, and whispery growls sound mysterious and eerie. It feels like the nighttime is spreading thick as a strange transmission combines with an industrial fury, and then it slides into “Decline in All Substantial Life” that’s eerie and echoey at the start. Strange cries and sooty playing set the stage before things begin to freeze, and the nightmare is sucked into space.

“Decomposing Future” barrels in with reckless abandon as destructive thrashing sets off explosions as the growls crush, and the heaviness feels like it could split skulls. The track continues to get heavier and scarier, pounding away before the chaos finally subsides. “Exhume” emerges out of noise, as the tempo is mean and nasty, and meaty riffs help add to the bruising. Some strange guitar work makes the hair on your arms rise, while the yells are bathed in echoes, and the song bleeds out in static. “Awaiting the Exterior Beings” has mechanical winds and chilled guitars, while the howled vocals send reverberations and instill fear. Detached speaking spreads over top, while the song expires in a halo of sounds. “Manipulated and Rendered” has a spooky, violent start as the song races dangerously downhill as blows are dealt generously. Rhythmic stomping and wild riffs explode, while the screams open wounds that bleed profusely. Closer “Never Run Towards the Light” is the shortest song, clocking in at 1:56, and an industrial storm arises from the start. Savage screams from Lypynsky and a flood of sounds boil as everything corrodes and slowly slips away.

The return of The Howling Wind after six years is one that caught us a little off guard, but we’re totally not complaining considering how punishing “Shadow Tentacles” is from front to back. Lypynsky on his own is a firebreather, which comes as no shock, and the urgent, punishing songs on this record feel cataclysmic and urgent. This is a record that’s landing at just the right time, when societal hell is at its apex, and we just need something to burn everything down to the ground again.

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

Concrete Winds emanate from Vorum’s ashes, bring raw chaos on fierce debut ‘Primitive Force’

Not all powerful things ultimately succeed. Even the most powerful of forces are put to the test, and just because you have strength and momentum on your side, it doesn’t mean things are going to work out. Perfect example is Finnish black metal band Vorum, who faded into the night after just four releases, only one of them a full-length.

That might have been the end of Vorum’s brief, albeit promising, history, but that wasn’t the end of the story for some of its members, as they went on to form the monster that is Concrete Winds. I don’t know which of Vorum’s members are participating because their online profile is sparse, and there isn’t a lineup that I could find, but that doesn’t really matter. What’s important is their volcanic, violence debut “Primitive Force” wrecks bodies, as these nine tracks blast by on under a half hour, which gives the record an extra sense of urgency. The riffs are insane and plentiful, while the vocals scorch flesh, feeling like something from an older, darker era, though the music sounds fresh and raw.

“Infant Glow” tears the lid off the record with hammering riffs, vile screams, and soloing that catches fire. Smothering hell follows that before the song briefly halts only to explode into a rage before ending. “Sulphuric Upheaval” begins with the title being wailed before the band smears your face into the insanity, dizzying madness bursts all over, and a crunching fury paves the way toward speedy playing that’s downright cartoonish. Savage vocals strike before a fiery final assault tries to take off your head. “White Cut Manifest” is blistering as the guitars begin to punish, and a destructive path is carved. The playing gets fucking zany in spots, splattering blood and guts and ending in a devastating burst. “Primitive Force” is piledriving as the guitars crush bones, animalistic growls shred psyches, and brutal growls meet up with thrashy hell. The riffs burst into sickening fuzz, while everything gets locked into a bloody inferno before everything ends furiously.

“Tyrant Pulse” is melodic but damaged as it tears through into a vortex, the growls squeeze muscles, and the strong riffing blows down the doors. The track gets tornadic and bustling, dumping gas on the fire before everything ends. “Dissident Mutilator” also has its title snarled at the start before a splattering pace ignites, leaving you dizzy and grabbing for support. Gnarly vocals and speedy guitars take things from there, bringing the song to a blistering end. “Volcanic Turmoil” is perfectly named as that’s what it sounds you’re in the middle of as the guitars go racing, and the vocals are spat out. The tempo shreds nerves, later recharging before total insanity takes things to its end point. “Angelic Laceration” has the drums destroying and complete destruction meted out. Things are fast and mangling as beastly growls strike before everything ends in a noise assault. Closer “Death Transmission” has tricky guitars, raw growls, and a flood of strangeness that sickens. That makes the room spin before the chaos comes back for a final burst, weird playing confounds, and the track melts away in a pit of noise.

Vorum may have disintegrated into the earth, but out of that Concrete Winds delivered a completely different devastating supply with their first full-length “Primitive Force.” This 25-minute bruiser feels like a product of the past in a good way, as it feels like it’s digging into the graves of death and black metal’s original graves. This is an enthralling, shit kicker of a record that’ll get your blood surging in no time.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.sepulchralvoice.de/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.sepulchralvoice.de/