Blood Incantation channel odd alien death metal creations on tangled mauler ‘Hidden History…’

There are a ton of conspiracy theories out there about alien DNA being woven into this earth, our origins coming from the stars, and visits from our predecessors having occurred numerous times. The question of us being alone in this universe is a preposterous one because there’s not a chance there isn’t life elsewhere (sorry, religious people!), and our study and concentration of what else is out there is a subject that keeps some people up at night.

Denver death metal alchemists Blood Incantation have had the cosmos in their DNA, and I’m not talking about the physical makeup as humans. Their music is consumed with and powered by what lies in the great unknown beyond our world, and they unravel even more of those mysteries on their mind-tangling second record “Hidden History of the Human Race,” one of the most anticipated albums of this entire year. There’s a lot of sense behind people’s fervor for new Blood Incantation creation. First, their debut “Starspawn” was a high-water mark in forward-thinking death metal, an album that established them as one of the sub-genre’s mightiest acts. Second, that lathering of delirium for a new record is based largely on wondering where they’d go next and how their sound would expand. That next step is achieved for sure in ferocity and experimental weirdness as the band—guitarist/vocalist Paul Riedl, guitarist Morris Kolontyrsky, fretless bassist Jeff Barrett, drummer Isaac Faulk—puts it into intense high gear, ripping and knifing through your consciousness and into your soul.

“Slave Species of the Gods” starts the record by tearing the lid off everything with massive riffs sweeping, the growls setting in, and everything coming to a splatter. The guitars shift and crush as the vocals continue to rage, and delirious leads light everything on fire. The soloing ignites and explores while raspy wails strike, and the track spirals out into echo. “The Giza Power Plant” lathers with loopy guitar squeals and a mauling bass leaving facial bruising. The track then shifts to thrashiness before a Middle Eastern-style melody calms and sweeps, mentally stimulating the darkest regions of your mind, as the drums proceed to powder bones. Growls and detached speaking work together as the track begins to melt rock, as a furious intensity erupts, bringing everything to a complex, brutal finish.

“Inner Paths (to Outer Space)” is mostly an instrumental piece that’s an atmospheric trail blazed, blowing into the stars, with voice transmissions messing with your mind. The music turns hypnotic and then violent, as the band chugs, growls burst through the surface, and the playing dissolves into weirdness. “Awakening From the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is the mammoth closer, an 18:02-long smasher that takes up half the album’s running time. Cymbals crash before the track begins to trudge, the guitars twist and confound, and the growls dice flesh. The guitars go off as the tempo gets more aggressive, spitting speedy trickery that turns into savage chaos. Suddenly synth comes in and floats like an alien cloud, injecting sci-fi mystery, leading into a proggy burst that spreads and infects. The track heads into a calculated burn, thundering heavily before soulful soloing erupts, making strange patterns, and ending in acoustics and galactic winds that deliver alien fogs.

Blood Incantation’s rise to death metal’s supreme overlords came from their furious playing and their refusal to deliver music that’s anything less than mentally warping. “Hidden History of the Human Race” adds to their already growing legend, as it’s bound to be a record dissected and discussed for years to come. It’s terrifying that Blood Incantation really are still in their early form, because who knows what these guys will sound like 5, 10 years from now?

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Krater smash through the Earth’s crust with crushing assault on ‘Venenare’

It’s not out of the question the earth will be pummeled by an object from outer space one day, leaving damage that could alter humanity forever, if not end it completely. Thinking about it is pretty unsettling, even though we’d likely know about it in advance and could possibly do something about it. But the destruction it could cause might be unthinkable.

That might sound like an easy way to introduce a band called Krater, and I guess it is. But that digs deeper under the surface than just a convenient name, as their brand of black metal is such that feels like something that could push the planet off its axis. The German band is delivering “Venenare,” their fourth record and one that keeps pushing the band into explosive terrain. But although the music is monstrously heavy, they also add assorted textures into their sound to provide sonic variety and also to simply scramble your brain. The band—vocalist/bassist Abortio, guitarists Ibbur, 3E.3, and ZK, and drummer Shardik—pour a ton of intensity and pure heaviness into this record, and they smother the hell out of you over these nine tracks and 50 minutes.

“Eruption” begins the album with fires crackling and guitars starting, as a dialog slithers underneath, building toward “Prayer for Demise” that blisters right away with wild howls and a pace that drives a truck through your goddamn life. Guitars burn and rain down ash, while the vicious vocals and a smothering assault lead this thing into hell. “Zwischen den Worten” changes things up by taking on a dizzying pace, going more atmospheric with chant-like vocals getting into your head. The song then swims into a proggy adventure before things speed up quickly, and gnarly growls chew away. The leads explode while group shouts strike, with everything  winding up in darkness. “Stellar Sparks” ruptures and bleeds as bellowing singing digs deep, and the track trudges faster and faster. Group shouts and chants infect while the playing goes all over the map, purposely tangling your brain wiring. The track them stomps as goth-style singing swells, with the track ending in a monstrous blaze.

“When Thousand Hearts” spills melody through the front door as detached singing confounds before the song hits the gas pedal. A relentless assault is forged and driven with commitment while soloing ignites, and Abortio wails the title over and over again. “Atmet Asche” unleashes raw growls and manic riffs as the verses smash your bones, and the leads accompany terrifying wails. The guitars stampede, but there also is a place for your mind to melt over, as gnarly growls smear, and the track forces its way across the land, creating a … um … crater in the earth. “No Place for You” enters with intensity as the song storms with a vengeance as the growls are unleashed, melodies destroy, and a brief respite turns into pandemonium as wild yelps of, “No place for you!” as major heat builds before an abrupt end. “Darvaza Breeds” is the longest track, clocking in at 10:58 and starting as a wordless call before dialog push in, the vocals blast, and the keys open up a storm cloud that spreads itself overhead. Guitars trickle as a fog thickens, and then punches land, as the hypnosis is shredded. The playing boils flesh again, the growls corrode, and gruff speak-singing splits time. Closer “Wasted Carbon” is a quick closing chapter with acoustic haunting, strange voices crawling, and everything dissolving into the ground.

Krater’s utter ferocity and strange machinations on “Venenare” leave waves of devastation behind, the kind that leaves people picking up the pieces and wondering how to rebuild. Their savage black metal is evened out by their dexterity and willingness to experiment and apply new sounds, which makes this such a fascinating experience. Everything about this hurts you all over, and all that is left afterward are the physical scars from this attack.

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Caïna’s Curtis-Brignell remains revealing on darkness, mental suffering with ‘Gentle Illness’

Physical injuries are pain are obvious, and no one ever questions them, because you can see someone in a cast or a neck brace or in bandages. People never seem to wonder about those things, likely because it’s something they can see. When it comes to mental wounds, those aren’t as apparent, and there are people in our society who dismiss them and wonder why people can’t toughen up. Would you tell someone with a broken back to get over it and walk?

Andy Curtis-Brignell, the creator behind long-running black metal project Caïna, has been one who let his scars and gaping wounds be displayed by the public. He’s been outspoken about the things that ail him, as anyone who follows him on social media can attest, and he also takes bullshit from assholes, because some people can’t help themselves but be shallow. Nonetheless, Curtis-Brignell never has let that deter him, and his return record under the Caïna banner, “Gentle Illness,” is here and is one of the most explosive in his catalog. It’s also one of the most diverse as this eight-track, nearly 38-minute album still simmers in black metal, but it adds more abrasive noise, jazz, and spacey visions to its palate, which adds interesting textures to a collection that’s steeped in pain.

“Wellness Policy” opens the record with noise stinging as a doctor asks a patient about her suicide attempt and what led to it. The track is dark and weighs down on you, leading to “Your Life Was Probably Pointless” that has guitars spiraling and Curtis-Brignell’s growls devastating. The track goes from heavily pummeling to pulling back and letting cold showers chill your bones, leading into strange shadows. Just then, savage fires erupt, keys plink down like ice daggers, and the track rushes out. “No Princes in Hell” is murderous in its approach while noise assaults, and the vocals hammer the mind. The track unexpectedly turns jazzy and loose, sprawling unexpectedly before the music strikes again, slashing before it bows to a cloud of noise. “Canto IV” is an instrumental cut that has beats crackling, soundwaves spreading, and voices echoing before the track reverberates and freezes out.

The title track has a sci-fi feel as it unfurls, while darkness rolls, and the track is torn from guts to chest. An electronic wave sizzles underneath a hammering salvo, and drums and beats rapidly strike, blistering, as a clip runs about overrun mental health clinics, ways to keep patients calm, and the striking line of, “Don’t think that because they’re mentally ill, they don’t know what’s going on,” soberingly sending a warning. “Contactee Cult” opens with the bass lurking, keys warming, and guitars lathering before knifing into flesh. A path of relentless, storming chaos moves forward, feeding into another jazzy bit with shimmering keys before an industrial haze swallows everything whole. “My Mind Is Completely Disintegrating” is a 7:14-long battle with panic as it slowly crawls while guitars arrive and wander, more jazz-filled pockets open and swallow you, and things spiral into the cosmos, allowing organs to rise before everything slips away. Closer “One Breath Under the Yoke Is a Fate Worse Than Death” jolts with an electronic shock, burning a path toward a sooty death march complete with fierce wails. Curtis-Brignell conjures manic hell that bursts and burns, increasing the intensity before things finally dissipate.

Mental illness and living with such condition are constant battles, something that’s never fully won, a demon that never really goes away. Curtis-Brignell captures the pressure and punishment one goes through when dealing with these deteriorating conditions on “Gentle Illness,” a record that could resonate a little too much and too deeply for those of us who suffer. Caïna’s music always is welcome in our world, and this record is devastating, but this is not music that’s easy to hear or digest.

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The Deathtrip survive madness, return original voice on black, devastating ‘Demon Solar Totem’

There are some things even darkness, uncertainty, and chaos cannot stop from coming into fruition. That saying “what’s meant to be will be” is something people may pass off as some sort of philosophical gazing, but it also holds a ton of truth. Something that is meant to materialize will do that no matter the forces that are pushing against it.

“Demon Solar Totem,” the second record from black metal beasts The Deathtrip almost didn’t happen. Maybe, in some other warped timelines, it doesn’t make its way into the world, but in this existence, it’s here, and it’s vile and strange. I could write an entire passage about this record’s volatile journey and the starts and stops the band faced creating this seven-track, 55-minute monster. But why regurgitate that entire thing? All you need to know is guitarist Host started to work on the long-awaited response to their debut “Deep Drone Master,” and as things were getting ready to commit to time, vocalist Aldrahn parted ways with the band. That led to the return of original vocalist Kvohst (formerly of Dødheimsgard and currently of Grave Pleasures and Hexvessel), who commands the album and gives it muscle in a way only he can. Bass was completed by Thomas Eriksen of Mork, and now the album has two label homes for Europe and North America, which it deserves because it is scathing.

The title track rips the top off this thing with ominous riffs cutting through the center, and that eruption leads to things turning delirious. Kvohst’s insane shrieks burst while chants ricochet off the chorus, and clean singing comes in and add more darkness. That leads into a vile passage with ritualistic cries and pummeling madness. “Angel Fossils” have riffs spiraling and growls digging into the nerves. Wails over the chorus segue into a vicious, chilling space that brings about a trancey attack and more chants that end the track. “Enter Spectral Realms” starts with leads glimmering, driving slowly until the gears are shredded. An old school black metal spirit spills into the room and sends chills, while delirious guitars scramble, and weird calls disintegrate into a haze.

“Surrender to a Higher Power” lets guitars heat up and hypnotize, and strange, detached singing is smeared over the chorus. A storming pace collides with the earth while the vocals refuse mercy, and cries of, “Surrender,” destroy. “Vintage Telepathy” is hushed at first before it bathes in slow heaviness, with singing mixing in with the perilous guitar work. “What am I becoming?” Kvohst calls before screaming, “Shadows are falling!” over and over as the song ends in echo. “Abraxas Mirrors” has noise bubbling before it’s torn apart, and maniacal wails crush souls. The pace is unforgiving and bizarre, as the title is screamed over the chorus, and savagery mixes with belts with shrieks. “Awaiting a New Maker” is the 10-minute closer that first hovers before chugging and chewing. Howls and singing blend together as the guitars transfix, with the tempo ramping up and mauling. The track steamrolls as higher vocals rise, a fog infects, and the track submits to a cloud of cavernous noise.

The Deathtrip did whatever they had to do to get “Demon Solar Totem” out into the world, and it thrives and destroys based on the strength it gained by volatility. This is a fitting second chapter in the band’s run, and now having a familiar voice back behind the mic gives them what they need to keep burning into the future. This is a terrifying, massive slab of true black metal, and we’re all better off for this music having survived and found its way into our bloodstreams.

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Warsenal metal thrashing mad as they deliver delirious chaos with eye-raking ‘Feast Your Eyes’

At no point in time have we ever considered this site an expert-level collection of stories about heavy metal bands and the new records they release. Really, no site should declare that because that assumes you know everything, and no one does. But we’d like to think we’re pretty knowledgeable, but to say things never have flow under our radar would be a lie.

So, when I got a release about “Feast Your Eyes,” the latest album from Warsenal, I got immediately confused when I read them referred to as Canadian thrash metal “legends.” I’d like to think most bands who are deemed legends have passed through my brain before, so after doing some quick research, I deemed to issue to be the word choice by whoever wrote the piece. Warsenal have been around since 2012, and “Feast Your Eyes” (can’t confirm whether this record is based on Dominic Dijakovich’s ring skills) happens to be their second album overall. This isn’t to take away from the band that takes that speed tag quite literally as these nine songs are fast as hell, which made notetaking really difficult because things are happening so rapidly. So, the “legendary” tag is lovingly premature, but there’s enough biting material here that in time and with more crushing material like this, the band—guitarist/vocalist Matthew Rondeau, bassist Jeffrey Millaire, drummer Vincent Caron—can earn that lofty title. This record is just scathing.

“Forever Lost” gets the thing started with blinding guitar runs, nasty vocals, and riffs confounding and twisting the brain. It takes some guts to start off a record with a track this weird, though it starts to normalize itself with your psyche as it reaches its melodic, crashing end. “I Am the Blade” has the bass rumbling before the guitars catch fire and blast some killer riffs. The thrashy gang-shouted chorus is fun, and then a bluesy shift breaks in, complete with scraping wails and a very busy finish. “Lords of Rifftown” is a mauler, with more riffs that strike you before you know what’s happening, as well as a punchy chorus that should go over well live. Guitars go all over the map, including a sharp solo that leads to a crushing finish. “Insatiable Hunger” lets the riffs punch back as raspy shouts belt you, with Rondeau howling, “I’m looking for something sweeter!” That leads to the band throwing everything at the wall again, bringing it down with every punch in its arsenal.

“Doomed From Birth” has an acoustic lead in, but don’t be fooled because the hammer is on the other side. The track explodes, with a solid bassline leading the way, and the verses totally overwhelming with speed. The vocals are just spat out, as Rondeau shouts, “Cursed!” three times before the track blasts out. “You Better Run” has riffs shuffling and confusing, as the song tears into your spine, with Rondeau warning, “If you hear me coming, you better run!” Fierce screams and a pace that changes on a dime shake up your guts, while the track ends with huge body blows. “Burning Ships” is fiery as hell when it starts with speedy leads, gruff cries, and a pace that just flattens. The bass actually turns kind of proggy toward the end before the leads blaze brightly again as the song barrels out. The title track again features guitars that just go off, as Rondeau cries, “We’re spilling blood for your delight!” That kicks it into an even higher gear as the guitars go for broke, and Rondeau wonders, “Are you not entertained?” Very much so, yes. “Crystal Whip” brings the record to its end as guitars race, a rapid-fire chorus breaks ribs, and the track ends in a blaze that’ll have you covering your eyes and racing for shelter.

I didn’t mean any insult to the band over questioning the used of “legendary” in their bio, as that’s not their fault at all, and really, they’re a damn good band. “Feast Your Eyes” is one of the rowdiest albums I’ve heard this year, and their thrash chops definitely are not to be questioned. As long as the band keeps compiling killer material like they did here, they’ll be gashing people and spilling blood for years.

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Casket Huffer deliver total war to death darkness with furious second record ‘Filth Ouroboros’

Have you ever heard a record that, silly as it sounds, seemed to have only the worst of intentions for you in mind? How could it? It’s music, and it can’t think for itself. But the people making it surely could, and hearing that type of assault always makes me feel like I need to have my guard up just in case.

The arrival of “Filth Ouroboros,” the second record from Cheyenne, Wo., death metal crushers Casket Huffer, makes me feel insecure each time I visit it. The band uses a war metal-style onslaught as its base, and obviously there’s a great deal of relentless hell when it comes to that approach, but these guys seem to push even that over the top on these eight tracks spread over an economical 40 minutes. This is the follow-up to their 2016 debut “Gospels of Scum,” and it’s an even more ferocious assault as they seem to dump fire on the fuel over all of these songs. The band—Than Wilson (guitar, bass, vocals), Eric Worthington (guitar, bass), Dylan Newbury (drums)—levels you with power and violent tenacity, making the music really seem like it is hoping for the worst for you, and it’s already got you in its grasp.

“Altars of Despondency” starts the record with a savage burst that essentially sets the tone for the record. Melody surges behind the hellish assault laid out before you, as the music works to liquify everything and turn it into lava. The track just keeps mauling from there, with riffs stabbing and suffocation imminent. “Oblivion Serpents” has smothering riffs dicing, growls killing, and a stretch that fries in a noise bath. While your skull is being beaten in, a solo squeezes out, and everything comes to a furious end. “The Antichrist Vessel” is mean and driving, as guitars stampede, and the drums unleash slaughter. The track feels like it’s storming hell, ripping apart faces, with the leads fanning the flames. “Genocide Thralls” grinds hard but also rubs your face in sludge as the band thrashes away and turns you into a blinding assault. The final minute of the track is a dizzying burst that spits shrapnel right at your unprotected throat.

The title track follows and delivers chunky guitar work that spread like a trail of lighter fluid toward an open flame. The guitars later speed and warp while the growls bury you in humiliation, and everything comes to an impossibly destructive end. “Caustic Winds” is complete chaos when it arrives, smashing you with steely riffs, maniacal growls, and drumming that sounds like it’s trying to tear through the earth. The growls churn and bury the senses, while the dizzying pace leaves no place for peace. “Aghast” is mercilessly heavy as the band war stomps all over its unsuspecting victims, while the growls sound like they’re trying to draw up bile. The song continues its murderous strength, hitting thrashy pockets and ending up in massive bursts of chaos. “Harrowing Mysticism” is the closer, and it erupts into a rampage right from the start, doing as much damage as possible. The growls light up and chew through muscle, while a tortuous attack is waged before things thicken up and trudge in a calculated pace. But before you can get comfortable, the playing is sucked into a death spiral, the guitars rumble, and the track ends in a painful pierce of sound.

Casket Huffer’s music is not for the weak-minded or for anyone who can’t handle an outright barrage of decibels and death that can split your face down the middle. “Filth Ouroboros” is a ridiculously heavy and punishing display that sets your life on fire and sits back to laugh. This is pure devastation that will not leave you feeling good mentally or physically once it’s over, and that’s pretty much what the band seems to have in mind.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Swiss mystics Schammasch dream of darkness on swelling ‘Hearts of No Light’

Photo by Ester Segarra

The amount of bands doing interesting things within metal’s confines is at an almost ridiculous rate, with so much imaginative art being passed down to us on a seemingly weekly basis. It’s to the point where sometimes really strong records get lost in the shuffle because of the overflow of quality content, and it’s difficult for even us to keep up, and we get access to nearly all of it.

It’s not that Swiss burners Schammasch haven’t gotten their accolades in the United States, but considering the powerful nature of their catalog strictly based on how great it is, they really should be a bigger deal. Their fourth record “Hearts of No Light” is right on the horizon, and it’s another gigantic leap into the future for this group that keeps shapeshifting with each release. Here, the group has some added guests including Aldrahn (ex of Dødheimsgard  and Thorns) and visionary visual artist/musician Dehn Sora (Treha Sektori, Throane, Ovtrenoir) to help push the borders and expand the template. But most credit goes to the five members of Schammasch—vocalist/guitarist C.S.R., guitarists M.A. and J.B., bassist A.T., drummer B. A. W—who delve into gothic darkness, strange horrorscapes, and even some post-metal fog to color their amalgamation of black and death metal. It’s a chilling, sweeping record that never relents and always pays off with twists and turns that should enthrall you.

“Winds That Pierce the Silence” opens the record with pianos cascading and an emotional pall, as things fade suddenly before cutting back in and increasing the drama, heading toward “Ego Sum Omega” that bursts immediately and spews fire through cracks in the earth. Cavernous growls drive while daring playing sprawls all over, with a thunderous pace setting the tone and making the world fall apart. The track pulls back a bit and crawls for a while before another explosion burns, trampling bodies and causing dizziness, unleashing melodies before fading to black. “A Bridge Ablaze” has keys and beats blending together as pained speaking floods your senses, pastoral chants send chills, and the somber ending leads toward “Qadmon‘s Heir” that feels like it rips right through the universe. Growls strike as riffs maul, with the verses blasting, and C.S.R. wailing, “We are indeed dead but breathing,” before the track goes for broke. “We did come to defile the temple, for our reign is resort,” C.S.R. howls with authority as riffs swirls and chants are embedded into the crazed ending.

“Rays Like Razors” starts with the demand of, “Stab into my heart!” as tricky riffs split skulls, and the forceful push makes their momentum impossible to handle. “Those fires beyond will never rise again,” C.S.R. screams repeatedly as the guitars follow with a wave of madness, the drums destroy, and odd chants dig into your heart and blacken it. “I Burn Within You” is instantly speedy with raw howls that later are overtaken by goth-style clean singing. Carnival-style pianos then crash in, with dramatic speaking over top, and things come to a downward spiral that smashes at the bottom of the stairs. “A Paradigm Of Beauty” has guitars slicing amid strange echoes, while creaking vocals make their way into the picture. A proggy segment comes in and makes things even more adventurous, later ushering in a rock n roll-style rampage that feels jangly and edgy with sharp leads. Singing darkens everything, though it also results in a catchy pocket, while C.S.R. calls, “You gave me everything and more,” as the song ends. “Katabasis” has cold guitars greeting while the song slowly unfurls, setting a mode that finally ignites about three minutes in. The riffs punish as C.S.R. vows, “I will follow you down the path into the fire,” as the chorus smears soot. The track clobbers violently before coming to an enthralling finish. “Innermost, Lowermost Abyss” closes the record, getting started with glimmering guitars, beats mixing in, and a methodical build that lets this 15:05-long track breathe. Clean guitars wash away the charred entrails as classical-style leads enter, and the sounds spread into a trancey haze. The track feels like it’s floating in the stars before the volume builds with crackling static before everything spikes out.

Schammasch have changed themselves with each record, adding twisted new elements and exploring terrain other bands fear to tread. “Hearts of No Light” has no shortage of black heaviness and relentless savagery, but the imagination and fearless experimentation that goes into their music makes them even more dynamic and unpredictable. This is a breath-taking step into the future and even beyond this plane of existence for Schammasch, and their journey is something no one possibly could predict, which makes them a band you have to keep your eye on before they’ve defied human sight.

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