Yatra arrive at death metal’s vile terrain with expanded stomping approach with ‘Born Into Chaos’

We tend to group bands into specific categories when it comes to heavy metal because we need a way to organize them in our brains and make it easier to explain to someone if they ask what a particular artist’s sound is like. We also kind of expect bands to remain in those buckets and keep making the same type of art they always have, and for the most part, that’s what happens.

Ocean City, MD, trio Yatra have become know for their gnarly, punishing brand of doom metal that they spread over three full-length albums from 2019 through 2020. Yes, they’ve been rather prolific in that short window. But the earth had been shifting under them, and now they’re back with “Born Into Chaos,” their first for Prosthetic and their steep turn toward death metal. If you really had been paying attention to the band’s development musically, this can’t be a huge surprise. Things have been getting uglier as the band—vocalist/guitarist Dana Helmuth, bassist Maria Geisbert, drummer Sean Lafferty—has turned the screws ever so slowly and ratcheted up the power. These eight tracks that spread over more than 38 minutes do optimal damage and deliver a more menacing beast that is lurking over you and getting ready to drive in the blade.  

“Death Cantation” gets started with riffs swirling and vicious growls touching down, immediately and forcefully letting you know things have changed. The playing guts as the power grows, and then the band slowly mauls before the leads light up, and everything comes to a snarling end. The title track lathers with more riffs and a hellish pace with a simple, yet effective chorus tearing through ribcages. The playing turns ugly in a hurry, boiling with heat and pressure with Helmuth wailing, “Baptized in blood!” as you’re trampled underfoot. “Wrath of the Warmaster” pulverizes in a hurry, pounding away as demonic howls rattle the walls. Some black metal elements make the aura scarier, and chaos spreads its wings, darkening skies as the relentless pace robs you of breath. “Terminate By the Sword” delivers a jerky tempo that sludges along, and then things pick up as things grow more volatile. The band goes back and forth from storming to calculating, speed coming in bursts, and Helmuth howling, “Termination! By sword!” as the track slips into the dark.

“Reign of Terror” arrives with splattering guitars and playing that feels like it rams your head off the walls. The approach flattens as the soloing lights up and causes blinding flashes, then things turn sooty and mean, the growls doing ample damage. “Terrorizer” has clawing riffs and playing that smears blood in your mouth, burning and causing your speech to slur. The drums come to life and completely decimate, and then the band grinds you in their gears, enveloping you in a pit of torture. “Omens of Fire” encircles with whipping riffs as things spiral out of control, the heat melting flesh. Terror increases as the growls gain momentum and aim for your throat while the playing gallops with fierce animosity, spindling out into the dirt. Closer “Tormentation” ensures you and your aching body won’t forget this final blast as vile growls and impossibly heavy guitar work look to maim permanently. The pace completely destroys, going off and making dust from your bones, ending in muddy violence.

Yatra’s conversion from doom to death metal wasn’t exactly an overnight thing, as their sound has grown more savage over their previous three full-lengths and has bubbled over on “Born Into Chaos.” That means seeing them live won’t make the old and new material foreign from each other, but the heaviness and intensity of these eight new songs certainly stand out among the pack. This is a bloodier, more vicious version of Yatra, one that could come back on its next record in any metallic form.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/products/yatra-born-into-chaos

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Temple of Void unload dreary death-doom that mauls on ‘Summoning the Slayer’

The whole world feels like one horror after another, which cannot be good for our mental health. We referred to escapism earlier in the week, though, so leaning into terrifying chaos that isn’t stomping and snarling outside our doors still can be something enthralling. There also is the chance to align with darkness so that we can deal with the trauma we’re battling inside our minds.

That leads us to Michigan-based death-doom destroyers Temple of Void who have rampaged back with their excellent new record “Summoning the Slayer,” the band’s first effort for Relapse Records. The band’s fourth record continues their rampaging power and immersive strength, basking in the ugliness of the world but also providing some room to escape into their foggy devastation that is both intimidating and enthralling. The band—vocalist Mike Erdody, guitarists Don Durr and Alex Awn, bassist Brent Satterly, drummer Jason Pearce—makes the most of this seven-track, 40-minute opus, delivering a record that’ll keep the audience they’ve amassed more than satisfied and turning on newcomers to one of the best death-doom bands operating.

“Behind the Eye” gets this record off to a balmy start, trudging through murky waters, the growls crushing your will to live. The snarling pace gets heavier as it heads into steamy terrain, beastly growls attempt to remove your bowels, and the playing bubbles and punishes, everything evaporating. “Deathtouch” is morbid and slowly churns, the leads opening and feeding the flames that are beginning to roar. The pace picks up as the body blows rain down harder, the guitars cause a chill to capture you, and Erdody wails, “Memories turn to dust.” The sadness intensifies as a synth gaze causes the walls to crumble, and the playing smears and bleeds into “Engulfed” that lets the pressure build slowly. The playing is dizzying and makes your head spin, and the growls echo in the background, only adding to the disorientation. The humidity wilts as the guitars create a thick steam, the vocals crush anew, and the anguish floods your senses until you’re left floating in a sea of tears.

“A Sequence of Rot” starts with the bass sprawling and the playing fluttering, deep growls digging into your organs. Guitars bleed as the pace lurches open, punishing and picking up speed before it ends in a slogging horror. “Hex, Curse, & Conjuration” is a fairly short track, something that gets in, does damage, and gets out. The riffs encircle, the drums maul, and ugly growls lean into gloomy waters as the final nails are pounded in hard. “The Transcending Horror” dawns in watery guitars and growls that slither through the muck, eerie and mystical powers thickening the cloud cover. The playing pummels heavily, ripping into a brief silence before the explosive jolts causes seismic bedlam again, slipping away into a space haze. Closer “Dissolution” is a huge departure not only from the rest of the songs on this record but from their entire catalog. It’s largely acoustic with clean singing and a cloudy aura, showing you a more vulnerable side, a different angle to their sadness and despair that leaves you haunted and shaken.

Temple of Void’s jump to Relapse came at a great time as “Summoning the Slayer” is some of their strongest work to date, a great way to introduce themselves to a wider audience. The depth of misery and the explosion of death-laced doom is enough to keep you filled for a long period, the content putting meat on your bones, an aching in your heart. This is a devastating statement, a deep, heavy shot to any hope you had that one day, things are going to be brighter. You’re better off knowing that’s a fantasy you’ll never realize.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/temple-of-void-summoning-the-slayer

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

Grave Infestation put boots into muddy swamps, bring horror on putrid ‘Persecution of the Living’

It’s a strange time to be talking about death in the United States with all of the happenings this past week, but onward we go. Luckily, death metal isn’t here to actually do you harm or maim your children; it’s here as an escape that definitely digs deeply into rotting guts now and again. It’s horror that unites with some of our gnarliest nightmares come to life in music form.

Vancouver-based death metal power Grave Infestation digs back into the sub-genre’s formative years with their vile, disgusting debut offering “Persecution of the Living.” If you like this style more gruesome and drowning in doom, you’re likely to be right at home, your senses being bombarded with forces that slither from their final resting into a different kind of damnation on this earth. The band—vocalist/guitarist GC, guitarist BC, bassist TS, drummer AS—already roused interest off two well-received demos, but those just set the stage for this 10-track destroyer that helps you suspend for disbelief for a bit and immerse yourself in unthinkable terror.  

“Intro” is a brief lid lifter that lets the spirits into the room, washing into “The Conquest of Pestilence” that erupts right away. Guitars wail as harsh growls curdle, and energetic fire opens gooey wounds. The drums pulverize as the energy causes your blood to rush, and then it’s on to “Slaughter, Then Laughter” which starts balmy and in confusion. The playing slowly melts as the trudging pace increases, and nasty growls make your flesh bake as the furious elements get rowdier. The band hammers away as the bruising increases, returning to humid, poisonous terrain. “Persecution of the Living” tears itself apart at the seams, the growls assaulting you as the playing puts you in a vice. The leads spindle as the tempo explodes, the rhythm section doing its best to turn your bones into paste. “Can You See the Pale Horseman in the Distance?” starts in a dust cloud from the drumming, guitars wail, and the speed takes off, threatening your safety. The guitars glimmer and strike, spiraling off into insanity, taking you with it and disappearing into the soil.

“Plague of Crypts” jars hard, bashing your head again the ground, the growls mangling your muscles. Once again things are fast and violent, leaving no room to grasp for safety, and then the guitars slice into flesh, flattening victims and smashing skulls. “Death of the Last Individual” mauls in a nasty fury, letting the guitars come alive with electricity, vicious howls leaving scarred flesh behind. Guitars spiral out of control and make the room spin dangerously, and then it’s on to “Human Jigsaw Puzzle” that lands heavy blows moments into its run. The riffs swim through swamps, the playing melts through rock, and the heat continues to increase, finally allowing mercy once it slips away. “Eternal Oblivion” starts feeling like it’s twisting your muscles, your face engulfed in flames. The band thrashes away with precision, the growls try to cave in your face, and a snarling guitars race leads right into hellish madness, slipping into the brief “Outro” that lets coldness grip your soul one last time.

Grave Infestation leave no meat on the bone with “Persecution of the Living,” as it’s very clear they have consumed every bit, the blood and guts included. This is death metal that gnaws at you, sickens whatever is inside your stomach and has no concern whether their bloodlust is too warped for your mind. This is a crushing dose of death metal that feels like the subgenre never left the swamp and only decay and torture are on the menu.

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

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

Astronoid inject energy, power into gazey metal with dramatic, huge third opus ‘Radiant Bloom’

It’s OK for heavy metal to make you feel good inside, to lift your spirits, to make you forget the bullshit for a little bit. Metal used to be escape music primarily, but that became a little less the case over the years as skepticism and cynicism became more involved, which is fine, because it’s great for this music to test societal expectation. But fuck, it’s OK to smile every now and again.

That takes us to Astronoid, a band that really sits alone in metallic circles because their energy is undeniable, and the power you can feel in your guts might make those who fear fun quiver in a corner. Whatever, man. Put on “Radiant Bloom,” the band’s third long player, and try not to feel your blood rushing through your veins, the adrenaline giving you a good experience and not one where you turn into a dick. It’s not like there’s not darkness here—planetary concerns, selfish humans, doubt—but it’s survivable and it’s something we all must face. The band—vocalist/guitarist/percussionist Brett Boland, guitarist Casey Aylward, bassist/synth player Daniel Schwartz, drummer Matt St. Jean—tease black metal, shoegaze, prog rock, and tons of other terrain that makes this record shake with life and fill every one of your cells with something that makes you feel half decent for once.

“Admin” starts in a synth cloud before the track bursts with life, the riffs pouring effusive emotion. Boland’s singing remains ridiculously helium-high, which is one of my favorite elements of the band. Energy builds higher, every element soars, and the tidal waving is dragged into the clouds. “Eyes” brings a melodic gust and Bolan calling, “I just feel so tired, I don’t feel well at all.” Guitars take off as the momentum hits a sweet spot as Boland wails, “With the lights down low, I don’t need to see the path,” as everything comes to a huge finish. “Sleep Whisper” has a punchy start with guitars crunching and heavy breeziness teasing. “See ya, this world, go away, hurts for me,” Boland blasts as everything comes to life and energy pulsates, lighting up your every cell. “Sedative” is anything but as it’s on a high right away, bringing power and force, feeling catchy and impossible to tie down. As things go on, the pace gets faster as your veins pump, ending in infectious blasts.

“I’ve Forgotten Your Face” brings distortion and synth interference, Boland calling, “Give me a sign that I’ll know, give me a sign I know I’ll recognize.” The track is immersive and emotional, letting things crash down around you and cure any drowsiness you may have. “Orchid” rips open and splashes colors across the sky as the singing swells, and the melodies turn monstrous. The high energy seems impossible to maintain, but they never waver, finally disappearing into a collecting fog. “Drown” delivers a forceful jolt but then pulls back some, Boland singing, “Don’t you so easily forget your reverence.” The tempo then kicks up, beams slash toward you, and the guitars jar some teeth loose, finally washing out in keys. “Human” has static and a mid-tempo push, still sweeping you up before the harder waves crash. There is a sense of sadness here as Boland sees the state of our globe and wails, “Oh my god what we’ve sown, poor world, oh my god what we’ve done to ourselves.” “Decades” closes the album, and it injects a sugary crash, pulsating and pushing, Boland jabbing, “Don’t need you now, it’s all for show, I need no one.” The pace never relents as the band spends its final minutes paving the way for heartfelt immersion, guitar glaze, and synth zaps that soar past planets and moons.

Astronoid really lean into what makes them special on “Radiant Bloom” as they never sounded more confident and sure of themselves, and that just makes these songs stickier. I’m not interested in debating where they belong as far as metal’s structure, because who the fuck cares when this band is making music this good? It fits where it fits, it fills your heart and mind with energy, and even in its darkest moments, you still feel like you can battle through even when hope is at its lowest.

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

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

For more on the label, go here: https://www.3dotrecordings.com/

Blut Aus Nord’s endless creative clip puts them deeper into space on mind-melting ‘Disharmonium…’

The amount of people who inhabit earth who have been to outer space is shockingly small, which probably is for the best. Yeah, OK, because you need years and years of training, and you have to have the proper mentality to go out there. I mean more because we’re such horrible stewards of our own planet, the rest of the galaxy doesn’t need us destroying anything else out there.

While I’m pretty sure no members of Blut Aus Nord are a part of any space program (hey, I could be wrong), I have a strange suspicion its members have visited the deepest reaches of the cosmos and have used their records to report back and deliver that energy. It takes no time at all to dig into their new 14th record “Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses” to think they’ve done some travelling beyond this rock. This seven-track, 46-minute album is one of the strangest yet most immersive of their nearly three-decade run, which is mind blowing considering the creative clip this band has been on from the start. If you’re not prepared, this thing will break you brain as this trio—guitarist/vocalist Vindsval, bassist GhÖst, drummer/keyboard player/electronics master W.D. Feld—rewire your expectations of these black metal wizards who long ago left behind convention and rules. My first listen was after some mind-altering substances, and fuck, was I not ready for this. I’ve had repeated listens in various states, and every one of them has been unique as I’ve uncovered new layers I didn’t before.

“Chants of the Deep Ones” gets the record off to a rapturing start, the melodies swirling through the cosmos, and on my first listen, this was a total adventure. Growls hiss behind the wall of chaos, riffs continue to slip into stardust, and the track slowly dissolves into your blood. “Tales of the Old Dreamer” amplifies the psychosis as it punches into smeary fire, filling your brain with strange tales unfolding before you. The guitars explore and hurdle power jolts, and your dreams spill from your eyes as the magic catapults and swallows you whole. “Into the Woods” enters in a disorienting aura as the playing drips and melts, the guitars moaning out of intergalactic stimulation. Hisses are hidden behind the ghostly presence that continually increases as choral sections infect, and the bizarre final moments snake through your psyche.

“Neptune’s Eye” brings warped riffs and time seemingly consumed in front of your eyes. The drums splatter as the growls emerge, and the numbing presence that gains steam increases the pressure and the imaginative hell that’s unraveling around you. “That Cannot Be Dreamed” starts with guitars gusting and the atmosphere getting more volatile, your brainwaves bending wildly. Growls gurgle as the weather patterns threaten, the pace pulls back, and sounds whir and flow into nightmares. “Keziah Mason” swims in deep space rock oceans at first, moving through shadows and onto alien surfaces that feel inviting. The playing smears as electronics sting, a hypnotic attack spins your brain, and the final strains mix into a sound haze. Closer “The Apotheosis of the Unnamable” is miasmal goo creeping near you, the pummeling working to increase your madness. Guitars work into a thick fog, and the playing slowly chugs until psychotic spirits engulf, alien rubber proves more flexible than guessed, and the last minutes slip into a chemical spill and turn to unrecognizable elements.

Blut Aus Nord don’t seem to have an off button as far as their extraterrestrial creativity that is smeared all over “Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses,” their challenging and haunting 14th record. This creation is following on the same astral pathways as their last couple records but finds new ways to be wonderfully warped and something that makes you feel disoriented for your entire journey. There’s no sign this band is anywhere near slowing down, proof of which is in this stimulating record that’s something only this entity could create.

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Malignant Aura lurch into doom-death’s casket on morbid ‘Abysmal Misfortune …’

Pain and misery are two elements in which we are swimming as there feels like there is an abundance of people suffering and situations that are bleak and dreary. Even as summer is about to burst here in North America, our gloom remains for so many, and just because the heat and sunshine are raging back, that doesn’t heal the blackness that rests in so many hearts.

Australian doom-death crushers Malignant Aura sink their teeth heavily into the seamy side of existence on their massive debut full-length “Abysmal Misfortune Is Draped Upon Me,” an album that actually tells you all you need to know thematically from its name. But there’s even more behind that as the band’s dour and ferocious doom hammers you, piling smothering riffs and cataclysmic growls on top of you, hardly letting you get a glimpse of light. Mastered by the always trustworthy Arthur Rizk, this band (whose identities I had zero luck finding) adds pressure and merciless pain, forcing you to wallow deep in the endless gloom and come face to face with horrors that’ll take apart your psyche.

“Malignant Aura” opens with eerie throat singing before an incredible riff crests, and the playing slowly bludgeons, taking its time to move over you. The guitars pick up as the pace bashes away, the temperatures swelter, and pressure increases on your chest, agitating your panic level. Guitars moan as the growls lurch, a wave of noise adding corrosion. “In a Timeless Place Beneath the Earth” is immediately sorrowful as guitars gain heat, and the growls crush your will to move forward. The playing speeds up and pummels, and that punishment claws away as the guitars catch fire, blinding you with the blazing. Growls hiss, heavy blows are dealt, and the emotion collects as everything comes to a wrenching end. “There Is Blackness in the Water” is the longest song here, running 12:04 and leaning right into double-kick drum ferocity and crushing growls, later melting from the heat. Hypnosis swells as the darkness thickens and threatens, and then the earth implodes, volcanic force becoming an insurmountable factor. From there, the pace clobbers, doomy guitars layer the soot thick, and everything slowly but surely fades into the night.

The title track begins with a clip from the 1981 film “Possession” before hazy riffs drop, and the growls hulk thickly, the growl of, “I am nothing but a remnant,” digging into your mind. The playing delivers sooty doom punishment until things comes apart, and the guitars enter a full hellish assault as the riffs encircle, burning into oblivion. “Soliloquy Beneath the Sepulchure” runs a massive 10:15 with guitars raining down, the growls pouring generous amounts of misery and sorrow. Vicious heaviness leans in and makes the weight unbearable, and then the heat increases, making breathing something of a chore. Elegant guitars spill, the double kick drums pummel, and everything ends in streams of ash. “…And So It Was That I Lay Down Forever” closes the record by melting iron gates and stomping forcefully, delivering a devastating pace. The slowly burning fury is massive as noise rings, and the mouth of doom begins to consume the earth whole, bringing a full serving of physical and mental destruction. The playing chews on muscle as authoritative speaking booms, slowly but surely bleeding away for good.

Malignant Aura’s brand of death-doom goes down perfectly on their debut “Abysmal Misfortune Is Draped Upon Me,” a record that should unite younger fans with those who have been dining at the subgenre’s dank halls ever since the beginning. This is a collection that’ll darken your soul and mind but also move your heart to beat faster with excitement and force. This is a masterful debut record, an album that overdelivers and brings the might of the earth to drive you to your knees.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.bitterlossrecords.com/malignant-aura

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

Nattehimmel revisit woodsy past as they stretch out black metal grasp on ‘The Night Sky Beckons’

I commonly spend time after the sun has gone down staring into the night sky as I have my dog outside for her nightly activities. That goes beyond just looking into the clouds but well beyond into the stars, wondering what’s going on currently on those tiny needlepoints of light and imagining anyone or anything there is looking back. This is the intro for a black metal record in case you’re confused.

For the members of newly formed Nattehimmel, which is Norsk for “night sky,” they’re making that trip not just mentally but musically on their three-track debut demo tape “The Night Sky Beckons.” Those involved with this band are no strangers as the Botteri brothers Christian (guitars) and Christopher (bass), both founding members of legendary In the Woods… and Green Carnation, join with vocalist James Fogarty (also formerly of In the Woods… and Old Forest among countless others) as well as drummer and long-time collaborator Sven Rothe (Strange New Dawn) to plant new seeds into the black metal and pagan metal terrain, hoping to reap a full harvest soon with their upcoming first full-length album. In the meantime, we have this exciting start that definitely has plenty of DNA from their past projects but also soars into new areas and auras that make the future extremely exciting.

“Astrologer” gets off to a spirited start, promising a blast of energy they’re more than willing to deliver. Clean vocals spread and later are consumed by powerful shrieks, the playing trudging and storming before hypnosis takes over. The leads take charge, the playing has a fantastical edge that’s super sticky, and the playing cascades over the final moments, leaving your body heaving. “Mountain of the Northern Kings” enters amid key layers and then a sinister, dramatic push that’s heavy and immersive. Vicious wails punch in as the playing burns hard into a synth cloud, clean guitars give a spacey aura, and then the menace returns and darkens skies, slowly trickling out until everything fades. Closer “Nattehimmel – The Night Sky Beckons” starts with guitars picking up, taking on a forceful black metal spirit, and the drums just erupt, pulling bodies apart violently and without mercy. Guitars rise and glimmer, giving off great energy, the playing spirals and floods, and the track spends its  blistering and last stretch battering and leaving you to wonder what exactly just hit you.

Nattehimmel pay enormous homage to their own roots and paths they’ve blazed in metal and prepare the world for what they have left in them on “The Night Sky Beckons,” their promising debut EP. Everyone here has a resume that’s more than impressive and can match up with just about anyone’s, and this band ripples with promise, warning that this is just the first strike. I’m excited for what Nattehimmel create from this point, and no matter where that is, there will be this crucial first building block sitting in the center of the foundation.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://hammerheartstore.com/collections/all

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

Aussie black metal force Thrall continue mission to warp minds on devastating mauler ‘Schisms’

Black metal is a strangely inhabited forest with plenty of trees, the ground fertile and overflowing with vegetation and bloody soil, and the opportunity to truly separate oneself from everything else something of a struggle to get right. That’s a bizarre way of saying there’s so much dotting the black metal landscape that it’s easy to lose sight of the bands worth your time and attention.

Australia’s Thrall have been going at things for some time, scorching the early for more than 15 years but remaining eerily silent for most of the past nine. That silence is about to end with the arrival of their fourth full-length record “Schisms,” a scathing album that’s packed with the virulent power the subgenre expects but also manages to rise above the flood with creativity and heart. The band—guitarist/vocalist Tøm Vøid, guitarist Ramez Bathish, bassistJonno Cachia, drummer Jared Mawdsley—delivers tyranny and explosive emotion on these hefty eight songs, their spirits as darkened and forlorn as the cloak figure wandering the shadows on the album’s cover art.

The title track opens the record, spilling filthy black metal into your lap, cries rupturing the peace. Sounds boil as vicious vocals lace against your flesh, melodic fury driving hard to the end. “Tyrant” tears into the flesh and charges hard, the vocals chipping away at bone. The aura is blistering and full of energy, and then things go hypnotic and strange, making your head spin and body chill, and then an explosion strikes as the gas pedal is jammed. The leads heat up as the melodies rush with chiming noises echoing and dissolving. “Veils” pounds away as the vocals tear into your ribs and the speed strikes with hammering velocity. Guitars jolt and leave bruising as a mystical force sets in, the fires rage anew, and the furious pace leaves you in the dust. “Hollow” enters amid dark riffs and a blasting force, fast playing punishing and flattening until a brief respite brings temporary calm before the ferocity increases again. Shrieks dice as echoes pull back the terror, numbing the mind before some final fireworks batter your nervous system.

“Nihil” bleeds open into a hazy, hypnotic feel, the vocals crushing while all the other elements disorient. Later, the playing mauls and holds you over the barrel, your brainwaves begin to short circuit, and that lets your senses melt out and into “Abyss” that enters to jangly guitars and the skies lighting up brightly. The guitars chug as the vocals choke on cinders, and then mysterious winds gather and spread, feeling ghostly and weird even as the vocals begin to take it to you again. The final moments attack you like a buzzsaw, preparing you for “Epoch” that punches its way in and swims in the melodies. Scathing howls leave marks as drums crush bones, and the guitars explode and lather, feeling a little bluesy along the way. The vibe gets chunkier and more violent, charging relentlessly into stormy winds that pull you under. Closer “Dust” basks in stormy atmosphere as the guitars heat up, and the playing rumbles. Again, the melodies take over and cause your heart to surge, and the elements get menacing and threatening, the growls wailing on your exposed wounds. The playing envelopes as the pressure increases its chokehold, the final embers disappearing into eerie mystery.

Thrall manage to deliver black metal that is immersed in darkness and also swelling in infectious vibes that make your blood rush harder. “Schisms” is more than a solid effort, it’s a step forward for this Aussie unit that keeps finding new ways to energize and confound listeners who likely will need multiple visits with these eight songs to turn over and find what’s under every rock. This is a record that can scorch and enthrall, leaving wounds that hurt but ultimately leave the body stronger.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://impuresounds.bigcartel.com/

Or here: https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

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

And here: https://www.facebook.com/BrilliantEmperorRecords

Mournful Congregation deliver another hefty dose of torment on EP ‘The Exuviae of Gods Part I’

It probably sounds like a back-handed compliment to say someone has a gift for delivering misery, but try to argue Mournful Congregation don’t possess exactly that. They didn’t invent funeral doom, but I can’t think of a band that’s done it better for a longer period of time than this Australian force, one you should absolutely pursue seeing in a live setting if that fortune finds you. It’s an experience.

Seeking to bridge 2018’s “The Incubus of Karma” (our No. 1 record of that year) with their next full-length effort, the band is putting out two EPs, the first just about to arrive with “The Exuviae of Gods – Part I.” It’s kind of comical referring to this three-track release as an EP as it still runs a beefy 37 minutes, full-length run time in many subgenres, and as expected it’s a thorough serving that leaves you rotting and broken inside once you’ve experienced the whole thing. The band—vocalist/guitarist Damon Good, guitarists Justin Hartwig and Ben Petch, bassist Ben Newsome, drummer Tim Call—locks in with their trademark slow excursion into misery, delivering compelling and psyche-wrenching power that no one creates quite like they do and that feels excruciating but necessary to digest in whole.  

“Mountainous Shadows, Cast Through Time” is the 14:05-long opener, and it starts with organs sprawling and growls lurching, a slow storm brewing and moving across the land. Breezy leads cause your flesh to crawl as the guitars layer heavy emotion, the growls crumbling along with an elegant haze. Leads burst and sprawl, detached speaking echoes in your brain, and the playing clouds and mars. Guitars work back in as whispers grow greater, the music fading into time. The title track is a 7:11-long instrumental that begins with acoustics and warm electrics, changing the pace back and forth. Strange vibes work in and change the atmospheric pressure, the leads glow, and the heat melts the thickened ice. Closer “An Epic Dream of Desire” is the longest track at 15:47 and starts with restrained heat, the speaking coming in lurches. The playing slowly moves as the aura gets darker, the guitars slowly dissolving into acoustics before synth strings stretch their wings. The power begins to gather, the guitars churn, and the speaking sends chills down your spine, haunting and ringing. The mood thickens as the pace picks up, the strings explode, and everything disappears in a dramatic gust.

Even a smaller serving of Mournful Congregation is as meaty and nourishing as other band’s full-length efforts, and “The Exuviae of Gods – Part I” is one hell of an appetizer. This band’s grasp of funeral doom is tight and suffocating as they have turned their sound into something almost entirely theirs. It’s great to have this three-track beast and just as exciting to know there’s another volume coming before we head into their new mammoth full-length crusher.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/mournfulcongregation

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

Polish sect Clairvoyance bring violent, disruptive death metal on ‘Threshold of Nothingness’

Death metal is a ridiculously deep pool with a lot of swimmers, some of them only marginally above water, and to get into that mix takes some guts to be honest. But death metal exists, and as long as it does, bands will try to add their touch to that sub-genre, and we encourage that, even if it means we’re inundated with mundane bands. But not all of them are that way.

Polish death metal squad Clairvoyance just are getting their boots situated into the bloody soil, but if their debut EP “Threshold of Nothingness” can be trusted as a, um, clairvoyant into their future, things are bound to get gory and ugly. Over 5 tracks and about 24 minutes, the band—vocalist Maciej Cesarczyk, guitarists Lukasz Lipski and Denis Didenko, bassist Kacper Pawluk, drummer Adrian Szczepański—absolutely delivers, sounding relentless and snarling, dealing power and menace the way some bands emit glory and elegance. Everything is ugly, with wounds promising to turn into scars, and these first five tracks threaten to be the start of a long-running, physically intimidating campaign.

“Decline Into Oblivion” rips open with death metal rolling hard, the vocals crushing as the emotion bubbles over. The track then switches up as the speed collects and takes off, the band mauls, and the deadly final strains blend into “The Curse” that steamrolls right away. Death chugs unleash violence and unforgiving pressure while the guitars shriek, doing damage to your eardrums. The growls dig into the soil looking for a place to bury you, and the playing is only too happy to load you into the ground as the fires rage toward “Chronicles of Emptiness” that feels doomy and infernal as it starts. The pace increasingly picks up and delivers devastation, and then things turn on a dime, the thrashing changing its approach but not its blood lust. The drums are turn rock to powder, the guitars drive the blade, and everything ends in blood spatter. “A Cairn of Souls” is speedy and relentless, going for a murderous spree that gives you no time to take cover. It feels like the earth is rumbling beneath you, the mud thickens, and nothing is left but blood and bone. “Tarnished Vessel” is the closer, starting hazy and humid before the machine kicks into high gear. Beastly growls combine with a murderous pace, the guitars smearing mud on your face and into your mouth. The playing gets burlier, shedding blood through open wounds, and then the guitars hang dangerously in the air, leaving scorched earth behind.

“Threshold of Nothingness” is a quick glimpse of a band coming into its own, delivering death metal inspired by decades gone past but treating it with a modern bloodthirst that’s impossible to avoid. Clairvoyance already have a stranglehold on their sound, and every moment of this 24-minute EP is spilling over the edges with gore and pain, proving they have the meddle to be a major force going forward. This is a punishing first foray into metal’s shark-infested waters, and they have the tenacity and power not only to survive but to dominate.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.bloodharvest.se/?s=Clairvoyance&post_type=product

For more on the label, go here: https://www.bloodharvest.se/