PICK OF THE WEEK: Heavy Temple blast into heart of classic tale on smoking, sultry ‘Lupi Amoris’

Photo by Gene Smirnov

I’m sure we’ve all had times when we have seen a band that we didn’t know much about or maybe never heard of that we see live, and the performance changes everything. It’s the amazing discovery phase of live shows we haven’t had for the past 15 months, though it’s coming back. But having those experiences can etch a band into your DNA forever.

A few years ago, I had circled Heavy Temple as one of the bands I made a point to see at Descendants of Crom fest here in Pittsburgh, mostly based on word of mouth. I had listened to them a little bit before that, but it wasn’t until the three forces that comprised the band at that time took the stage that it really hit me. That were an absolute force, one of the best live performances I’ve seen in the last half decade or so, and from that point, I’ve been a devoted disciple. A lot has changed since then as 2/3 of the band was overhauled, and the goddamn pandemic happened, but Heavy Temple finally have delivered their debut full-length effort “Lupi Amoris” (translates to “wolves of love”). I was skeptical at first because I loved their previous lineup, but vocalist/bassist High Priestess Nighthawk surrounded herself with a smoking new lineup that includes guitarist Lord Paisley and drummer Baron Lycan. They created a five-track, 33-minute bruiser that reeks of doom thunder, bluesy haze, and psychedelic storms as the band is inspired by Angela Carter’s story The Company of Wolves, that takes the Little Red Riding Hood cautionary tale and turns it on its neck, embracing female sexuality and power, and lashing back against what society has deemed proper for a woman to possess and express. And they do it with fire.   

“A Desert Through the Trees” has the bass trampling and heavy blues riffs cutting into you, as the vocals soar. “I feel you like you feel me,” NightHawk wails, blasting you with sultry glory as the guitar work follows suit, blazing into hell. Things really pick up toward the end as psychedelic bubbling comes for you, melting steel, bringing the track to a delirious end. “The Wolf” brings a heavily trippy atmosphere that’s so thick you can practically touch it, and your head is just swimming in smoke. The vocals kick in as the track blasts through your ribcage, atmospheric playing heads into a raging fire, and the guitars punch back, spiraling and twisting, leaving the room spinning.

“The Maiden” has guitars glimmering and the bass rolling hard as the guitars ignite. The track pounds away, psyche madness stretches its black wings, and the soloing rips your face off, blistering and leaving you bruised at the end. “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” is the longest track, running 9:30 and starting with bass plodding and guitars agitating. The track absolutely swaggers as NightHawk howls, “Come to me, my king, let me kneel for you,” exuding power. The guitars melt as the song takes on a solid Sabbath-style blazing, bursting and feeling like you’re going to explode into flames. The playing steams as your flesh is scorched, the bass bubbles, and the track comes to a pummeling end, burying you. “Howling of a Prothalamion” is the closer, opening with eerie synth and rumbling drums as the track comes to life. Sinister riffs carve, the drums power, and the bass sprawls, adding to the madness. The bass and guitar work unite as molten fury spills over, the tempo keeps picking up and knifing away, and the track folds into awesome B-movie-style synth that disappears into the stars.

Heavy Temple had to overcome roster upheaval and the world basically shutting down, and they’ve come out from the other side with “Lupi Amoris,” their rock-solid 33-minute debut full-length record. This album should catapult the band into the conversation as one of the finest bands in doom, as they balance heaviness with mind-bending trippiness that might sound even better if your mind is altered. This is a smoking beast, a record that should put Heavy Temple’s name on more people’s tongues, their music scorching pathways through their brains.   

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

To buy the album, go here: http://lnk.spkr.media/heavy-temple-lupi-amoris

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

English maulers Bossk deliver volatile chaos, spacey sounds on life soundtrack ‘Migration’

We’re all on a journey somewhere, and that doesn’t have to necessarily be physical, though many people constantly are moving spaces as well. We’re also in the midst of existential excursions, our pathway through our lives, our works, our relationships, and ultimately to our demise, and everyone’s is unique to their own psyche.

English crushers Bossk (yeah, named after the bounty hunter) have prepared a soundtrack for you in case you need something to highlight your trip from your origin to where you ultimately end up. “Migration” is their second record, and it’s a mighty, atmospheric, mind-expanding collection that can be volcanic one minute, completely immersed in stardust the next. The band—vocalist Sam Marsh, guitarists Alex Hamilton and Rob Vaughan, bassist Tom Begley, drummer Nick Corney—unloads over these seven tracks and nearly 42 minutes a sonic display that is varied, keeps surprising you, and also delivers thunderous power, even when they’re not destroying your senses.

“White Stork” simmers in sound as noise waves waft, and spacious stretching is dressed with electro zaps, ambient haze, and pulsating bursts. Wood block strikes echo, everything builds into a lather, and then we’re into “Mehir” that has sludgy power breaking out of an eerie glaze. The track pulverizes with monstrous growls pounding, the band creating atmospheric chaos, and lava spilling before things ease into calm. That washes through moody power as the guitars feel like they’re bathing in the cosmos, the shrieks rain down, and the track ends in burly hell. “Iter” is a quick instrumental track that has noise making your spine shiver, a strange aura settles, and the playing stings as “HTV-3” dawns in strange synth and murky haze. The vocals then explode, the chorus feels like it’s going to level worlds, and then we’re back into the clouds as the track feels overcast. A new stormfront arrives, crackling open as clean calls bellow, and the doom coats the ground with tar. The track soars again as the band levels you with sludge, the synth swirls like a dangerous storm, and the drama builds, swallowed whole by a dramatic burst that lets everything bleed out.

“Kibo” is another instrumental cut that helps set the stage as synth waves and alien transmissions take hold. Guitars gently lap, noise trickles, and your head floods, moving toward “Lira” that slowly charges and has a glorious build. The band begins to rip out guts and pile them up on the floor, the music swelters, and the drums come to life, taking apart bone. It feels like a radio transmission working their way in, heaving and destroying, absolutely punishing your psyche. Heavy blows rain down like nails, an electric haze sizzles, and the track zaps into the black. “Unberth” closes the album, letting sounds build up and guitars crackle as the sounds envelope everything. The music jolts, the leads gush with energy, and the moodiness thickens even further, overwhelming you. The synth rises, it feels like your head is being squeezed, and the sounds hurtle into space, leaving you enthralled and exhausted.

Bossk have an intensity and might that a lot of other bands that work in this sound don’t seem to be able to muster. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the band, but “Migration” is a fantastic rekindling of spirits that haven’t been together in a while, and every moment of this just levels you with intensity. This is an awesome display, a reminder that Bossk have some of the best chops in the game and a muscular character that easily can leave you overwhelmed.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://deathwishinc.com/collections/bossk

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

Power legends Helloween unite eras, deliver glorious anthems, metal lore on self-titled album

We all have bands that mean a ton to us, and even with their highs and lows, you stick with them, knowing that there’s a reason you love them, and they feel like important people in your lives, even if you haven’t met them. Unless they they turn into MAGA assholes or nazis. They can go to hell. But you know your favorites wouldn’t do that to you, right?

One of my absolute favorites bands of all time is German power metal warriors Helloween, a group that has one of my most treasured records ever (“Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 2”), and I could do a story alone just on what that music has meant to me. Like so many other long-running bands (they formed in 1983!), they’ve had a lot of upheaval and a run you could divide into three eras. Several years ago, the “Pumpkins United” tour happened that brought together key Helloween members from every era, and that effort landed us their new self-titled album, a release that should just be called “Helloween.” And for all the expectations, they’re more than met. This isn’t a cash in, a lifeless reunion, or anything like that, because Helloween never would do that. Its current members—vocalists Mike Kiske and Andi Deris, guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen, guitarists Michael Weikath (a lifer) and Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf (another lifer), drummer Daniel Loble—bring all their finest elements together and not just coexist, but thrive. This record is 12 tracks and 65 minutes, and to be honest, there are two tracks we could lop off to make this tighter. But fuck it. It’s a great journey, way better than it has a right to be, and this is the feel-good story of this year so far. Fuck. I love it.

“Out for the Glory” is just a killer opener as the track speeds in, and Kiske takes the lead, making it feel like the band’s first glory period again. The chorus is huge and surging, and then Deris blasts in and delivers some harsh screams as the guitar erupts, and the track ends in great glory. “Fear of the Fallen” starts clean and hammers away, as Deris takes the lead and drives. Shock of shocks, it’s another killer chorus, and then the guitars take turns with the soloing, giving everyone a chance to shine, and then everything rips back in, with the calls of, “Listen to your heart,” bursting with positivity. “Best Time” erupts with sounds bubbling and the energy bleeding. The chorus is insanely poppy as the call of, “I will have the best time of my life,” aims to make your heart soar. Synth rains down, the playing is like a sugar rush, and the track is begging to be a single. “Mass Pollution” is another one with Deris leading first, the track raging toward another powerful chorus and the guitars collecting, bringing a classic ’80s beatdown. The chorus draws, the guitars reign, and the track adds a giant exclamation point at the end. “Angels” starts with keys raining, the playing getting punchier, and the drums pummeling as the singing gets into your blood. There are moments that feel sorrowful and even gothy, which is different for Helloween, but the dual vocals show a united front as the track grinds away. “Rise Without Chains” has a gigantic European power vibe (well, duh) as the keys strike, and Deris explodes on the chorus, demanding, “Rise without shame.” Fiery guitar work crushes, the chorus explodes anew, and it all ends in a surge.

“Indestructible” brings chugging guitars and the pumpkins again defying all the odds, calling, “Because we are one,” as all their voices align. The track is anthemic as they battle for freedom, the guitar work bursts from the gates, and Kiske’s and Deris’ voices bring the track to its end. “Robot King” opens and rips everything apart, the faster pace trudges, and a glorious chorus radiates with power. The track does have some inherent silliness woven in, but that’s just an undeniable and wonderful part of Helloween’s DNA, and it’s another thing that makes this record feel like home. “We’ll make a stand together,” grabs you and carries you, filling you with drive to make sure metal never dies. The record hit a bit of a bump on the next two tracks, starting with “Cyanide” that Deris leads. It’s not his fault; it’s just that the track never really finds its footing, though there is some fire-breathing soloing that kills, and the track brings an energetic end. “Down in the Dumps” is fine, feeling darker with Kiske out front. The vocals are the high point of the track, but elsewhere it’s OK but not great. “Orbit” is a quick final breath, an interlude track that sets the stage for the awesome 12-minute closer “Skyfall,” a track about a fallen alien stuck here on earth. This is classic Helloween, the perfect amalgamation of all their eras, bringing their best to the table. Kiske starts the track, sounding like he never went away, and Deris follows him up, adding more grit. It’s a great epic, one of the best tracks in their entire catalog, not hyperbole. It puts an amazing exclamation point at the end of a record a lot of us never thought we’d get.

Helloween may not have gotten to the heights of an Iron Maiden or a Judas Priest, but they’ve spent nearly 40 years making unforgettable epic power metal that has attitude, energy, and humor, and this self-titled reunion record is an absolute gift. It might seem like a lot of cooks in a kitchen trying to get ideas on to this record, but really, this works so perfectly, and it’s such a good time. Helloween had nothing to prove to anyone, but that probably wasn’t their point anyway. They’re clearly having fun, they have a ton of fuel left in the tank, and this record is a triumph for all metal fans.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.helloween.org/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/item/groups/192526.pre-orders.html

For more on the label, go here: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

GraveRipper blast black metal into meaty thrash on storming, punishing EP ‘Radiated Remains’

Thrash metal is a style of music that I approach with heavy skepticism, and that’s because of my love for this sub-genre. I grew up really cutting my teeth on the heavier stuff with thrash, as I remember buying a Testament cassette in my youth, having a tape from a band called Overkill recommended to me, then going back and buying it. The rest is history. I love it. And when bands fuck it up, I hate it.

Luckily today, we have something that added fuel to my thrash metal flame, that being Indianapolis-based maulers GraveRipper. Their new EP “Radiated Remains” is in our grasp, and holy hell is this a smasher. They’re also not coming at this from a traditional thrash perspective as they douse a whole lot of black metal stylings into their work, making this six-track release even more volatile. That’s one of the things that sets apart this band—vocalist/guitarist Corey Parks, guitarist Keegan Hrybyk, bassist Chris Pilotte, drummer Jacob Lett—as they bring a much more dangerous edge to thrash, but they do it in a way that while you might feel at risk at times during this, you always come out of it feeling energized.

“Instinctive Extinction” is a quick start intro cut that is kind of the beast opening its eyes, as the guitars awaken, and then we’re into “Atoms Divide” that just attacks and chugs heavily as the vocals crush, with Parks wailing, “You will die tonight,” over the chorus. The track thrashes and savages as the vocals get grisly, the track storms heavily, and everything comes to a fiery finish. “All Life Decays” trudges in, landing heavy body blows with the vocals scraping off scabs. The chorus kills as the riffs strike, feeling evil and destructive, ripping as hard as humanly possible, leaving you gasping. “Cherenkov Light” has meaty riffs as the vocals slash by, and the chorus is simple by design, howling the title back, as blistering, splattering playing leaves you with heavy bruising. “Complete Blinding Darkness” has a great, punishing pace, knifing its way into your guts, with Parks spitting rage. The band is utterly pulverizing, blasting through on the verses, and aiming to break your bones. “King Killer” is dark and thrashing, with Parks taunting, “You will never grow old!” Black metal-style leads slice through muscle as it spills from your gaping wounds, delivering an infectious, violent assault. The track keeps trucking, accumulating bodies, while everything suddenly burns out. This is the final track on the digital version, but the physical also has the 2020 “Complete Blinding Darkness” tacked on at the end, a nice, raw bonus.

GraveRipper have a stranglehold on black thrash, something they prove over and over on “Radiated Remains,” which is smothering and satisfying as hell. I’m a long-time thrash fan, and not just everything registers with me because of that, but these guys absolutely nail this style. This is fun and frantic as shit, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what they can do with a full length.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://wisebloodrecords.com/store

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Eremit bask in darkness, push doom power on raucous ‘Bearer of Many Names’

We’re just like everyone else when it comes to records we anticipate heavily and count down the days to their arrival. Writing about music every week doesn’t dampen our excitement for new material from bands we like a lot, or from ones that hold a lot of promise, and we’re lucky enough to get to hear them a little bit earlier than most. We have a killer one of those today.

German doom pounders Eremit put out one of our favorite EPs last year, their “Desert of Ghouls” that still gets a lot of play here to this day, but our focus quickly shifted to “Bearer of Many Names,” their second collection of mammoth killers. This record isn’t exactly more of the same from the band, though their guttural doom basement surely remains intact. The band—vocalist/guitarist Moritz Fabian, guitarist Pascal Sommer, drummer Marco Backer—plays a lot more with blackened and sinister sounds as well as loud/soft dynamics. You sometimes have to struggle to hear part of the first six minutes of the album, but that’s by design so that when the power kicks in, it does so with maximum effect, feeling like it’s splattering your guts all over the place all of a sudden.

“Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness” is the beastly epic of an opener, running a monstrous 29:22, and starting like a ghost entering the room. The first six minutes play with softer sounds as the guitars quietly trickle, creating an atmosphere that sets you at ease. And then it ends. The band explodes with speed, going for black metal-style power and ferocity that begin to open wounds as the shrieks pound away. The band seems hellbent to destroy, but then they pull back just a bit, keeping properly heavy but settling more into doom. Melody stretches as the shrieks open graves and prepare bodies, switching the pace to drubbing. Growls bubble as the track remains burly and meaty, landing shots designed to weaken for submission. The pace changes up late as the melody remains, the air thickens, and the bass echoes. Moody sounds simmer in pain, and then the band lands their final vicious, violent shots, spiraling out into time.

“Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” lasts a hefty 18:36, starting with fuzzy guitars and letting harsh shrieks have their way. The playing has glorious moments where light breaks through the murk, and the noises sizzles with power, opening a portal into hell. The track then goes cold before the playing pummels, the riffs smother, and devastation keeps lapping, entering back into the fog and a heavy dose of feedback. Closer “Unmapped Territories of Clans without Names” runs 18:27 and starts with drums tapping and the guitars hanging in a haze. The track then opens the earth’s crust and rumbles hard as the band mauls and goes to battle, with the shrieks leveling whatever is in front of them. The vocals wrench guts, spreading the pain as the drums lay waste, and mournful leads begin to haunt. The leads glimmer, murky doom thickens, and the shrieks wails hard, hammering their creation deep into space to freeze beyond comprehension.

“Bearer of Many Names” is one of the more heavily anticipated records for us this year, and this thing absolutely delivers from front to back. Eremit show an obvious progression from their debut record, adding blackened edges to what they do and finding ways to make things more dangerous and volatile even as they maintain their elegant doom edge. This is a massive statement, a world-toppling record that announces Eremit as your new doom destroyers, a band that’ll take the sub-genre to new heights based on brute strength and punishment.

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

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

Or here (Europe): https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.de/shop-en_1

Mysterious Anti-God Hand apply warped, dream-inducing edge to black metal with debut ‘Wretch’

Doing what we do here a few days each week, we effort to try to find out as much as we can about the bands and artists we cover, as well as what goes into the record thematically, assuming that’s content made available. Obviously, this isn’t always the case as bands sometimes choose to use a shroud of mystery to obscure what we know so that the music is the focus.

We have just that today with “Wretch,” the debut full-length record from black metal miasma Anti-God Hand, whose approach to the sub-genre is jarring and swirling in cosmic chaos. The band, a quintet, hails from British Columbia, and that’s really about all we have other than knowing their seven-track offering runs about 33 minutes, all of which should capture your imagination and even instill you in wonder and terror. From the first time I heard this album, I was sucked into their strange universe and the journeys they set you on, working more to challenge your psyche than to beat you into the earth.

“Forest Outpost” cracks open with eeriness as echoes increase, washing into gross hiss. Smeary fury teams with gazey wonder, dangling into daring guitars that jolt hard, hammering into ugly fury. We move back to a slower tempo that drips, eventually drubbing out. “Zero-Harm Environment” has guitars sweltering as the body is torn apart, and the shrieks utterly melt. Terror lurks as cold tranquility begins to spread, icing over your brain, and then riffs return and knife into your central nervous system. The vocals crush all over, the force envelops you, and the track blasts away. “Threshold Magic” delivers violent riffs that penetrate the earth’s crust, and then we’re onto angular hell that makes it feel like your balance is toppling. Growls lurk as the playing tangles and rockets, and emotion spits sparks into fuel, ending the track engulfed in flames.

“Sacred Cannon” unloads sprawling riffs as the track just goes crazy, with rich melody bubbling to the surface. Shrieks scrape wounds that never healed, psychosis laps with a sickening thickness, and the playing covers everything with gore, soaring out into mystery. “Snowblade” churns as gazey clouds lower to the earth, flooding your senses as the shrieks follow with violent intent. The playing speeds up as spindly chaos ignites, with gurgly growls adding to the nausea. Everything burns melodically from there as the track’s guts are gloriously ripped out. “Moss Golem” begins the trickle in frigidity before jabs are thrown, and then shrieks arrive and spark chaos. Then panic strikes as all the elements are mixed, blistering fury takes a stronghold, and the vocals rain down, writhing in the mud. Burly pounding makes your head spin until quiet reflection suddenly takes hold, and elegant playing coats your face in mist. “The Axe That Splits the Cedar” closes the album, launching with finger tapping and fiery shrieks, smashing your bones into mush. The riffs soar through the air as the playing cascades, increasing the drama as the pace pushes. The playing clobbers while melody gusts, and the final moments blast off into space, immersed in wonder and confusion.

I know next to nothing about Anti-God Hand as far as who they are, what else they’ve done, what their motivations are, but I don’t care at all because “Wretch” is that goddamn good and absolutely hallucinating. Every time I think people can’t further fuck with black metal’s DNA, a band like this comes along and makes me look like an idiot. This is a record and band impossible to truly describe and will haunt you to your core.   

For more on the band, go here: https://antigodhand.com/

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://americandeclinerecords.bandcamp.com/

Mannequin Pussy keep balance of emotional storms, political rage on infectious ‘Perfect’ EP

The bulk of what we do around here is compiled from promo material we get from record labels and publicists, and every now and again we take some band submissions of stuff that really sticks with us. But that’s not a hard and fast rule. We’ve taken on records and music we went after on our own, and we’ve even just written about stuff because, fuck it, we want to.

Just flat out, I’m a big fan of Mannequin Pussy, the Philly punk band that has mixed heartfelt emotion and political powerhouse anthems ever since their formation, so we’re talking their new EP “Perfect.” We’ve gone on ad nauseum about this, but the past 15 months have been awfully hard on people, and this band is no exception, having gone through their own upheavals and endured the societal turmoil that has transformed sections of our country. In fact, one of the standout tracks here addresses the matters of police brutality and race that have become major topics of discussion and rage, rightfully, as well as things that have divided people into groups of those wanting to see social justice and racist assholes who fear losing power. The band for this recording—vocalist/guitarist Marisa “Missy” Dabice, bassist/vocalist Colins “Bear” Regisford, guitarist Thanasi Paul, drummer/percussionist Kaleen Reading—hammer home this EP that hopefully bridges last LP “Patience” with what comes next, and they give their all here, balancing vulnerability with rage, always feeling as human as ever.

“Control” starts with grungy guitar work and the power kicking in as Dabice calls, “You have this way, you repeat all of the words that everyone one else says, and I know no one’s waiting for anyone,” as the energy blasts. The guitar work is melodic and catchy as hell while the track keeps landing body shots before bleeding out. “Perfect” is a blast of punk fury with wild shouts and a punishing stomp as its tempo. The guitars chug, the energy ignites, and the verses punch holes into your psyche. “To Lose You” brings glimmering guitar work and softer vocals as Dabice, after declaring she’s not scared, admits, “Oh, I’m terrified of what happens next, of what’s coming next,” as she puts her vulnerability and pain on display. The chorus is emotional as hell, a place anyone who ever has had their heart shredded can understand, piling melody on top of discomfort, leaving in a cloud of synth sheen.

“Pigs Is Pigs” is the aforementioned barnstormer, one led vocally by Regisford, who wrote the song, as the band taps back into the police brutality and social movements that have taken place ever since George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered, In fact, amid punk blazing, Regisford wails, “Yeah, this is fucked, Breonna needed sleep, no knock no knock, why is that the brightest stars always get ‘got’?” No punches are withheld, the band pours all of themselves into the track, and it all ends in a pocket of crunch. “Darling” closes the album, delivering dreamy haze and vocals that rumble under the surface, bringing a sense of calm even as emotions are high. “Darling, when the sun shines, it shines for you, darling, I will always defend you,” as she admits places where she perhaps didn’t hold up her end. The chorus is strong and punchy, murk settles over everything, and the track comes to a bright finish, at least musically.

Mannequin Pussy always has been a wave of emotion, personal trauma, and political righteousness, and even at a pivotal time for the band, they’ve managed to maintain that on “Perfect.” This is obviously a smaller stop on their way to their next LP, and from the sounds of what we have on these five tracks, that wait definitely is going to be worth it. We’ve always been a big fan of this band, and their future sounds like it’s going to be blissfully volatile and melodically blunt.

For more on the band, go here: https://mannequinpussy.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://mannequinpussy.ffm.to/perfect

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

Coffin Lurker unleash warped, horrifying doom, scrape at your psyche on vile ‘Foul and Defiled’

Sometimes the worst mistake one can make it to see how far something can be pushed, getting an understanding for just how much someone or something can take. That’s not to say there can’t be good conclusions and major breakthroughs that also can take place, but not everyone cares about being careful, no matter what the results may be.

For two deranged musicians such as Maurice De Jong (also known as Mories from Gnaw Their Tongues, Cloak of Altering, etc.), and Rene Aquarius (Cryptae, Dead Neanderthals, Imperial Cult, etc.) they’re not exactly artists who practice safety. Just look at that list of projects above, and you know these two aren’t exactly ones to shy away from risks, and that’s what we get with their new project Coffin Lurker’s debut LP “Foul and Defiled,” their attempt to see just how far doom’s boundaries can be warped. This is terrifying, challenging shit, five tracks that push you to your limit and test your threshold for pain as a listener. If you can relate, this record will feel like the psychotic breakdown you didn’t know you needed, a pummeling killer outside your door, ready to help you understand pain.

“Crypt Within a Crypt” opens the record with doom rumbling like a beast beneath the earth while the growls lurch, and monstrous rustling swishes your stomach contents. Massive hell is unleashed as a maniacal wall of sound crashes down on you, the pressure mounts, and the vocals corrode. The track just drubs from there, raining down hammers upon your unprotected head. “Of Suffering” pummels as the growls mash, and gargantuan heaviness creeps across the land. The playing feels buried in smoke as the shrieks peels back your flesh, the track burns infernally, and then the heaviness increases, smothering with grunts as it disappears into the atmosphere.

“Suspended Animation” trucks right away as animalistic growls sink their teeth into flesh, and the playing splatters. The heat increases as the shrieks begin to maim, and the guitars churn like a mixer working its way into your guts. Things slow as the noises reverberate, the bass mauls, and horrific psychosis has its way with you as minimal piano keys tease a semblance of mercy. “Sacrificial Chalice” feels like the planet is imploding as death growls snarl, and the guitars work gets ramped up, slicing into your muscles. The heaviness hits like it has an extra gravitational pull as mournful guitars begin to weep bloody tears, doom bells chime, and the misery spreads before it finally runs out. “Cadaverous Odor” closes the album and starts trudging and hammering, smashing boundaries. The blood begins to boil as the growls send anxious shivers, the chaos penetrates, and everything blisters with a renewed heaviness before the end comes suddenly.

With two morbid minds such as Mories and Aquarius, one would have to expect a project combining the pair to be morbidly warped and mercilessly punishing. Yet, Coffin Lurker goes even harder for the jugular and your comfort than I expected on “Foul and Defiled,” a title that could not be more apropos. Really hoping this project has legs because this record is an outright killer that leaves anyone who approaches the music permanently defaced.    

For more on the band, go here: http://sentientruin.com/bands#/coffin-luker

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/coffin-lurker-foul-and-defiled

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