Veldune haunt you on isolated journey down dark highways on immersive, chilly debut offering

I love driving at night. I don’t mean 9 p.m. I mean well after midnight when no one is on the road and you can soak in the darkness, the stars, and the soothing isolation, you left with the gears turning in your brain and reliving emotions and events that have permeated your life. There’s a sense of freedom from reality, a time to sink deep into your psyche and drink in whatever confronts you in the shadows.

The debut record from Veldune isn’t entirely devoted to night travel, but it’s a companion I want by my side next time I get to experience that journey. Comprised of artists who have played in bands as varied as Hammer of Misfortune, Sabbath Assembly, Dysrhythmia, Gorguts and plenty others comes this dark guest, traveling down highways, watching the steam rise, having misadventures in small towns with people you might never see again, and drinking in whatever it takes you put your mind at ease. The band—vocalist Jamie Myers, guitarist/synth player Kevin Hufnagel, bassist Johnny DeBlase, drummer Jeff Eber—has comprised a road record, something to assist you on your travels as you try to reach your destination, your psychological health hopefully intact.

“The Night Is for Dreamers” immediately immerses you in cold darkness as Myers sings about “a tremble as we touch” as the stars swim above your head. “In the pyre, I’m burning for your touch,” Myers calls in a mist of jazzy chill that’s eventually consumed by flame. “Willow Sways” starts with a breath as the bass plods and pushes the narrative to the edge. “The weeping willow sways,” Myers observes as the murk closes in, and moonlit streets make you question your safety and sanity. “This Time Around” opens with guitars slinking and the vibe melting like gold, flowing as Myers sees “madness in your likeness.” The track heats up from there, wood blocks echo in the night, and the guitars bubble, opening an elegant shadow that swallows you whole. “Chasing Down the Sun” is gothy and pulsing before the pace gets a little punchy. “On a trail with no end, a night with no day,” Myers levels as the leads begin to stimulate. Breezy dusk cools your flesh, the playing jolts, and everything fades into mystery.

“The Road Ahead” has guitars chiming as the mood increases and gets darker, feeling like the relaxing, somewhat disorienting nighttime drive that charges your soul. The playing drips coolly as psychedelic notes stretch out, Myers begging, “Lure me from this place,” as the color drains. “A Glimpse of Being” starts gently with Myers scolding, “We lost our way,” as things remain delicate. The pace picks up as the guitars get dreamier, soothing your wounds as all of the respective parts push harder, melting into the clouds. “Yearling Thunder” starts with the drums rousing and the guitars shimmering, making you shield your eyes from the light. Myers’ vocals reach a little higher as the dust settles, the darkness covers, and the vocals spiral, leaving you in a buzz. Closer “The Final Bow” starts in acoustics, the vocals haunting as a ’70s folk vibe is achieved and leaves an amber glow. “Give up the ghost, come take the final bow,” Myers urges as the spirits gather, bells chime, and the dark essence exists the room.

Veldune’s first recording is something that should be consumed exclusively at night, preferably after midnight ticks by and enters the early morning. That’s where these emotions are at their apex and bleed into your soul, which is the perfect time to absorb such impulses. If you’re on the open road, it’s an even better setting as it’s just you and the journey dealing with your own darkness together.

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Danish bruisers Wayward Dawn destroy wills with doomy death assault on ‘All-Consuming Void’

I’ve said it enough times to be annoying, but the best brand of death metal is the most disgusting, brutal kind that makes you feel uneasy inside. I’m not about to abandon that sentiment anytime soon, because it’s just what does it for me when I’m angling for death metal. For some reason, it just gets the blood flowing more than the overly technical stuff.

Digging into “All-Consuming Void,” the third record from Wayward Dawn was an experience from the first time, and it continues to hammer all the right things with what I want from a death metal record. These Danish beasts go at it full bore as the band—vocalist/bassist Kasper Szupienko Petersen, guitarist Jakob Kristensen, guitarist/vocalist Rasmus Johansen, drummer Lukas Nysted—also slather their heinous art with generous amounts of ashen doom to give that old-school effect but in a way that guarantees the rot you encounter isn’t retread material at all. This is total devastation from front to back, and each journey with this bastard has cost me at least a sliver of my sanity.

“Disorienting Verminosity” dawns in static before the drumming decimates, opening up a path to straight-on death that’s picked up by “Cage of Resentment” that punishes right away. The growls intensify as the heat is turned way up, the rhythmic assault bears down, and heavy punches are volleyed and crush bone. “Isolation” has the drums turning everything to dust as gnarly riffs cut through your midsection, the growls paying the bulk of the ache. The leads burn as the vocals wrench, ending the mission in complete chaos. “The Crushing Weight” enters amid infernal growls and vicious riffs that smear blood on the walls. The pace splatters as the riffs get trickier, nastiness multiplies and sickens stomachs, and the final moments drag everything to eternal damnation.

“Bottomless Pit” enters with wailing guitars and churning that twists your insides, the mix of shrieks and growls playing games with your psyche. The playing pummels thoroughly, building to trudging guitars, scarring growls, and a final gasp that maims. “House of Mirrors” brings a rush of guitars that figure into a total demolition, the carnage leaving blisters all over your body. The heaping death metal punishment gets meaner as the guitars cut through flesh and spill guts on the floor. “Pull of the Boulder” is the longest track, running 12:26 and remaining a steady force through its lifespan. The pace is doomier and less relentless, but it’s by design as you’re here to pay the total price. Guitars become devious as the playing shreds your sanity, drums clobber, and a miserable haze hangs overhead feeling noxious. The final segment rampages a little more, the bass leaves oil slicks, and the congealing wounds are reopened as the last growls batter and leave bodies gasping behind.

“All-Consuming Void” is a perfect title for Wayward Dawn’s devastating third record as once you’re done with it, you do feel like a large chunk of your body and mind has been digested. The fury at which the band plays is impressive and deadly, delivering death metal that guts you thoroughly and spills blood on the floor. This is a massive attack, one you might not see coming until you’re inside the belly of the beast.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Trial (swe) hit dramatic new heights, unleash metallic glory on ‘Feed the Fire’

Switching vocalists is a major deal in any form of music. As much as the music part matters, and it truly does, the voice out front also is critical because it can either make or break what you’re trying to do. Look at Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Cannibal Corpse in their formative years. Changing that voice pushed them to new dimensions. Of course, Maiden and Priest made late changes as well that dunked their popularity into the doldrums, so it doesn’t always work.

As for Swedish heavy metal power Trial (swe), they made a change of frontman since their last record, 2017’s “Motherless,” replacing Linus Johansson with Air Raid singer Arthur W. Andersson, and it has made every difference in the world. There was nothing wrong with the band and their former vocalist at all. They made epic, meaty records that definitely had an impact and still sound great today. But the band’s new record “Feed the Fire,” their fourth, is something altogether different. This thing just booms with energy and enthusiasm, a massive record that engulfs you from moment one, takes you on roller coaster rides of emotions, and makes the blood race through your veins. The band—it’s rounded out by guitarists Alexander Ellström and Andreas Johnsson, bassist Andréas Olsson, drummer Martin Svensson—breathe incredible new life and push themselves to a new level, where they have found a special formula that blasts them into the stratosphere. This album is a total fucking blast.

“Tria Prima” is a proper introduction to this record, a quick instrumental that dawns like the morning light hitting your eyes, and then we head into “Sulphery” that ignites and absolutely gallops. Andersson’s impact is felt immediately as he brings a new element to the band, a siren of a voice that is full of emotion and fire, which is no knock on the departed Johansson. The dual guitars are razor sharp, the chorus explodes in your chest, and a huge flurry stabs an exclamation point at the end. “Thrice Great Path” is my personal favorite track here, and it starts a little darker before the fires engulf, the vocals absolutely going off. “Those who see, those who wonder,” Andersson wails, filling you with energy, as incredible dual guitars swallow you whole, ending everything in excitement. “In the Highest” explodes as the leads race breathlessly, and Andersson’s singing manages an even higher octave, which seems hard to fathom. Another huge chorus smokes, the tempo pushes and pulls, and the guitar work causes every drop of blood in your body to electrify. “Snare of the Fowler” is a nice treat as it features At the Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg who adds a nastier side to this one. The track slowly unfurls before things get speedier and infectious, the verses swagger, and then that familiar voice howls, “Go!” Lindberg’s vocals lash out and draw blood, and the fluid soloing adds even more electricity, blasting into the sky.

The deliriously catchy title track starts with a capella group singing the chorus, and then it’s onto rousing power that accelerates your heartbeat, but in a way that’ll make you feel alive. “It takes a lot to feed the fire,” Andersson calls as the guitars glimmer with life, jolting and jostling, delivering metallic crunch that jars your entire body. “The Faustus Hood” operates in the shadows, and the playing is more mid-tempo, as least for Trial (swe). Some of the guitar work feels like it feeds from folkish streams even in its electrified form, and it’s definitely the oddball of the record, which I mean in an affectionate way. The diversity is refreshing, and the final moments soar among the clouds, ending on a spirited note. “Quadrivium” fires up right away, landing punches as the verses explode with passion, the chorus once again blackening eyes. Later, the guitars have a battle of their own, dueling back and forth and giving a performance that’s riveting and flattening, fading into the horizon. Closer “The Crystal Sea” is the longest track, running 9:17 and feeling like an epic storyteller, something at which they prove quite capable. The track takes its time to build an atmosphere, and once it does, the colors dash across the sky, the earth begins to quake. The playing brings excitement but also doesn’t blow itself up, following the pace and letting the wings unfurl. Andersson’s singing digs deep, weaving tales and belting with energy, and that matches the force created by the rest of the band. It’s a satisfying ending to a great collection that has so many high points, it’s impossible to capture them all here.

Trial (swe) wasn’t really a band hurting for forward mobility, but bringing in Andersson as the new vocalist awakened something inside them, and “Feed the Fire” is an excellent record that could not have been more aptly named. This album takes them from a band with a strong grasp of pure heavy metal to something really exceptional that can transcend and swell their audience. This is this band’s finest hour, a record that we all may look back on one day as the first building block to something greater.

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Inventive duo Nadja draft four unique voices to color the guts of reflective opus ‘Labyrinthine’

Artists that have an endless thirst to create music is fascinating to me as I have periods of time where I can’t get motivated to do much of anything. This site is a miracle sometimes that it even exists in a regular cadence that took years to figure out. Please clap. But knowing there are bands that seem to be in constant creation mode blows me away, and that always leave me in a sense of awe.

Toronto-bred duo Nadja now hail from Berlin, and their existence has been a constant barrage of releases, none of them sounding alike. Their latest is “Labyrinthine,” which was created concurrently with their recent Southern Lord release “Luminous Rot,” and one of the main features of this album (other than the brain-stimulating music) is a guest vocalist for each song, who we will cover below. The record was, according to the album’s promotional details, inspired by Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Tombs of Atuan, and Victor Pelevin’s reinterpretation of the story of the minotaur and Ariadne, The Helmet of Horror, and explores themes such as identity, loss, regret, and the distinction between labyrinths and mazes. Each track exists as its own creation, and the singer for each leave their own stamps that are indelible and help make the track what it is. I have a wide array of favorite Nadja releases, but this one is up there, with time and familiarity eventually figuring just where it will land.  

The title track opens and runs 14:10, and it features Alan Dubin, volatile vocalist for bands such as Khanate and Gnaw, and he adds something properly unhinged to what are otherwise thought-massaging passages. His wild shrieks penetrate as the band builds a sound cloud that glimmers with electricity. “Are you beast or are you man?” Dubin howls as the track basks in static, lulling your mind into a false sense of security as the doomy waters build. “Something claws at me!” Dubin levels over and over again as the track hovers, melts, and swirls away. “Rue” is a 12:37-long adventure that has Rachel Davies, vocalist/bassist for the alluring Esben and the Witch, and she immediately helps the song sink into foggy terrain. The playing slowly emerges as Davies taunts, “Watch me burning,” as the playing meanders in and out of shadows, never letting you feel secure. “Looking for the light ahead,” Davies calls as the playing slowly drubs, and then things scorch your flesh, noise grows more dangerous, and the buzzing intensifies and fills your ears like a late summer evening in a cicada symphony.

“Blurred” features Lane Shi Otayanii of the great Elizabeth Colour Wheel, and she adds a sultry, jazzy edge to this 17:14-long excursion. Noise swells as the drone engulfs, and Otayanii’s singing stretches out past the stars, bringing you along with her. Everything thickens as the vocals swirl, floating and haunting, making every cell in your body activate. Otayanii’s rich voice drips like honey, wordless calls move through your bones, and then she unleashes a spine-jarring shriek as the playing succumbs to echoes. Closer “Necroausterity” is the longest track at 18:57, and it features vocalist Dylan Walker from grind beasts Full of Hell, and he brings the proper amount of volatility. Growls swell as the savagery folds, the vocals sound like they’ve entered an acid bath, and you’re absolutely gutted just as the playing gets dreamier, calming your frayed nerve endings. Walker’s vocals reawaken and dig into your bones, strange throat singing haunts, and everything deliberately dismantles your psyche, lurching and bleeding away.

Nadja always have been prolific and generous with their creations, but “Labyrinthine” is one of the most inventive and unique on their massive resume. Every vocalist Nadja chose to work with on these songs brings something completely unique from the rest, and Baker and Buckareff shape-shift their sound around them, forming four completely different experiences. This record is a real treat, something in which longtime Nadja fans are sure to indulge heavily as they experience these new ripples from this imaginative duo.

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Death metal maulers Vrenth hit back with more doomy grime on face-breaker ‘Succumb to Chaos’

Last weekend, I saw Metallica play at the baseball stadium here in Pittsburgh, probably the only event worth anyone’s time at that gorgeous venue that’s been violated by the Nutting family who refuse to do a fucking thing to field a winning team. OK, that’s not why we’re here. It made me wonder after watching these nearly 60-year-old dudes bring it what aging death metal bands will be doing in 10-20 years’ time, and if that challenging form of music still will be playable by the vets.

I didn’t mean to lump death metal punishers Vrenth in with aging artists, as they’re nowhere near that phase, but listening to their bloodthirsty second record “Succumb to Chaos” did make me think if this style of music has a shelf life for those who play it live. Just look at Suffocation! So, maybe we need to relish these guys while we have them, and Vrenth deliver plenty of reasons to bask in your adulation on this eight-track mauler. The band—vocalist Mike Nelson, guitarist/backing vocalist Christian LaRocca, guitarist Bob Babcock, bassist Steve Shrapnelson, drummer Charlie Koryn—bring experience from myriad bands including Gravehill, Ascended Dead, Funebrarum, VoidCeremony, Destroyed in Seconds, Ruin, Dead Conspiracy, and plenty of others, and they apply their wealth of deadly experience to this record that will liquify your guts and leave you writhing in your own mess. Gross, dude.

“Omnipresence (Mors Certa/Hora Incerta)” begins burly and ugly, which is fitting, as Nelson’s growls bury you in filth, and a brief haze turns into a blistering solo. The leads churn and explode, the vocals apply the stranglehold, and infernal chaos ends abruptly. “Demise in Hollow Suffering” is eerie when it starts and then everything is shredded as a thunderous pace gives away to the earth being swallowed whole. The drums absolutely massacre, the growls gurgle, and the final bursts leave major bruising. “Curse of the Living and of the Dead” is doomy and slithers through mud, and then death metal fury unloads, dragging you into an ugly brawl. The guitars take on a classic heavy metal vibe as the tempo thrashes, leaving you a heaving mess. “Integrum Tenebrae” opens amid a strange fever dream before things slowly begin to swelter, and the drums feel like a battering ram. Fluid leads tease your mind before things get ugly again in a hurry, pounding your flesh into ash.

“Succumb to Chaos” opens with the drums coming to life as the pace trudges and the growls add a heavy dose of menace. The murk gets a little thicker, and then guitars explode out of that, adding to the fury and even causing your insides to melt before the final moments destroy again. “An Eternal Impious War” enters into thick cloud cover and then grisly death tightens its grip, choking the life out of you. Speed becomes a factor as the growls punish, the soloing overwhelms with great force, and a final gasp unloads all of the splintered bones in its arsenal. “Contemptus Mundi” dawns in monster noises jarring you, and then the punishment explodes, smearing black soot down your throat. The playing crumbles as the growls deface, the guitars blind, and the drumming leaves everything in cinders. Closer “The End as a Shadow” is burly and doomy, the growls scathing as the pummeling smashes muscle into the ground. The pace trudges as the bile collects, things manage to get even darker, and then a final explosion loosens whatever is left of the foundation, burying everything in rubble.

There’s no sense in annoying you with some word salad trying to sum up “Succumb to Chaos,” because this is just blood-and-guts death metal that boils in doom and is served bone cold. Vrenth aren’t trying to reinvent anything or to impress you with flashy playing, though they’re goddamn solid as hell, as the whole point here is to destroy at death metal’s altar. This is heavy, vicious stuff, and if this doesn’t scratch your death metal itch, likely nothing ever will.

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Silurian deliver devastating mix of death, black metal on thick, punchy debut ‘End of Ordovicia’

Everything has to start somewhere and with something, and welcome to the most obvious thing I’ve ever said in this history of this site. That said, it’s true, and there are so many smaller metal labels that exist because there was a creation that needed a home; therefore, one was formed to get music out into circulation. That’s ambition that I’m not sure I have inside of me.

So, we get to  “End of Ordovicia,” the debut offering from blackened death trio Silurian that just so happens to be the starting point for their in-house label Ordovician Records. Taking its label name from the second period of the Paleozoic Era, it’s the perfect launch for this band and three-track creation formed by members of other notable groups including Suffering Hour, Sunless, and Grand Demise of Civilization. The beast is comprised of vocalist Dylan Haseltine, guitarist/bassist Lucas Scott, and drummer Patrick Ruhland, and they expertly combine the finer elements of death and black metal into an amalgamation that explodes with ferocity and should be the foundation for something greater.

The title track opens with guitars firing up and then the pace chugging and mauling, the growls digging into your guts. The playing has a black metal-style edge to it as the leads spiral and challenge, making your blood rush as a melodic burst leads to a crushing end. “Gondwanian Sacrifice” blazes immediately as the growls snarl and the playing has a technical edge, though not in a way that’s stuffy or rigid. The playing gains warmth as the aggression becomes more pronounced, the vocals batter your senses, and the riffs tangle and tie you to the earth. Closer “Eurypterid Emperors” delivers charging guitars and punishing growls, though things get more spacious as the song develops. Creativity explodes as the playing puts you to the test, hammering your brain, while a violent assault digs in its teeth even further. Atmosphere thickens as the pace gets more delirious, filling your mind and submitting to time.

For a first sampling, Silurian make a dent in your skull on “End of Ordovicia,” one of the most bruising three-track pieces you’re bound to hear this summer. The band’s mix of death and black metal feels rich and volatile, full of melody but also chaos. I’m excited to see where this band goes from here as these mere seeds are bound to yield delicious yet rotting fruit.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Lustre dream of soothing storms on calming opus ‘A Thirst for Summer Rain’

It’s been a weird summer in my end of the United States as long stretches of heat and dry weather gave way to insane storms and precipitation in August, which has led to my lawn uncharacteristically needing constant mowings, which never happens this time of the year. We needed the moisture for so long that now it feels like we’re getting too much, nature’s way of reacting to our whining.

It’s a fitting time for “A Thirst for Summer Rain,” the eighth full-length from ambient black metal project Lustre to land in our laps. While our thirst has mostly been quenched here, that’s not necessarily the case around the world, and whatever inspired sole mastermind Nachtzeit to create this wondrous collection, it resulted one of the dreamiest, most thought provoking of anything else in the Lustre catalog. This is the first record Nachtzeit recorded for this project in a professional studio, but that doesn’t mean the music is polished and unnecessarily clean. It feels like a magical adventure you take in your brain, hoping for the cooling relief of a summer storm cloud bursting over your head.   

“Quiescence” opens the record in a bed of slumber, the synth rolling in your mind and calming your senses, readying you for the deluge you know is coming. When it strikes, Nachtzeit blends the sedate with the crushing exquisitely, the hissed growls simmering beneath the surface, the fog parting momentarily to let light beams in to warm your flesh. The pace continues to flow with emotion, swelling and dripping before disappearing into a mist. “Faith” enters glimmering, the synth creating a glaze you can practically touch. The playing storms in the mind as quiet moments often enter and sweep in a new dose of serenity, and then the melodies carve back in the opposite direction, pushing and cooling, washing into the horizon.

“Thirst” liquifies and streams into your awareness, carrying over similar melodic DNA from what preceded it and building on those ideas. The synth extends its silver wings as a huge torrent increases the atmospheric pressure, feeling like clouds are opening and threatening to soak the land. Growls pick up steam behind the wall of shadows, and the patterns intensify before promising to drain from the sky. Closer “Alleviation” awakens with an energy jolt, unveiling symphonic beauty and dramatic flourishes that make your heart race. The keys glow with renewed energy as the storm front collects above your head, creating a path to fully explore your dreams and finally ending with a soaking shower, the summer rain for which we thirst finally quenching our raw throats.

Lustre’s eighth full-length adventure is one of the most rewarding under this banner created by Nachtzeit, which is an accomplishment considering how rich this project’s music has been from the start. “A Thirst for Summer Rain” can soothe what ails you if you’re at the mercy of your overtaxed nervous system and you just need a breather or a means to let your mind soar elsewhere. This is a tingling, rewarding experience, a record that is unlike most in the extreme music terrain that actively helps you see the beauty and breathtaking, letting you devour every drop.

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Blackbraid jolt emotional gust into atmospheric black metal on nature-laced opus ‘Blackbraid I’

Black metal that celebrates the atmosphere and our lush surroundings has become plentiful, which is not really a complaint as the style of music can be utterly uplifting while it’s breaking your bones. Yet, with so much of it in circulation now, not all of this type of music hits how it should. It embodies nature, but if it doesn’t overwhelm you with power, the point is missed.

That’s not a worry when it comes to “Blackbraid I,” the debut full-length from solo black metal project Blackbraid, as every moment of this thing rushes and blows you over, even when the passages are calmer and more reflective. Helmed by Sgah’gahsowah (pronounced SKA-Gah-SoW-Ah) handles guitars, bass, flute, vocals, and compositions, and he pours fiery inspiration from his home in the Adirondacks and pays homage to indigenous people, whose plight in America is bloody and rooted in oppression. These six tracks storm with passion and should light sparks among those who indulge in bands such as Panopticon, Nechochwen, and Wolves in the Throne Room. This is a great debut album, one that hints at one of black metal’s new great forces.  

“The River of Time Flows Through Me” begins with waters rushing before the guitars soak, and the playing tears open, letting the spirits fly free. Sgah’gahsowah’s howls absolutely crush as the melody hits new heights on the chorus, ravaging with passion and eventually fading back into the waters. New energy jolts out of that, the drums blister, the guitars race, and everything lands where it all started, in the mouth of a stream. “As the Creek Flows Softly By” is a quick instrumental with acoustics and flutes sending cooling breezes into the arms of folk-inflected passages that fade into the night. “Sacandaga” ruptures and rips, the playing wrecking everything in front of it. The force blisters while the vocals wreak havoc, gloriously unfurling heaviness overwhelms, and the shrieks tear into serenity. The pace explodes anew, the flute haunts, and everything blasts to a satisfying finish.

“Barefoot Ghost Dance on Bloodsoaked Soil” has guitars swirling and trudging, ripping up the earth beneath it. Blinding fires are stoked as an emotional gusts carry the smoke long distances, eventually settling into the earth and reconnecting before reengaging with the chaos. From there, the playing rushes dangerously, the growls gurgle and destroy, and the final moment pounds blood into the earth. “Warm Wind Whispering Softly Through Hemlock at Dusk” is an instrumental cut with calming acoustics, distant chirps, and an electric haze creating a fog curtain. Steam heats and rises, jostling your bloodstream as we pull into 10-minute closer “Prying Open the Jaws of Eternity” that begins with a thunderous assault. The growls mangle as the track slowly burns, increasing the intensity as wave after vicious wave pulls you under, making you witness worlds previously unseen. “To walk the sacred path!” Sgah’gahsowah wails as the energy fills your chest, hissed growls bury you in rubble, and the guitars blaze, leaving a river of ashes behind.

Sgah’gahsowah scales the Adirondacks for inspiration and turns that into this incredible full-length debut “Blackbraid I.” His delirious and infectious blend of atmospheric black metal grabs you with force and keeps you tuned in through these six tracks that have so many peaks and valleys, your emotions will feel fully exercised when the record ends. This is a promising and exciting first full chapter for Blackbraid, a project we’ll be incredibly interested in following through each level of its development.  

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Swedes Consumption add grime, nausea back into death metal on mind-eaten opus ‘Necrotic Lust’

When I was a younger human being and first getting into heavier music, every other band seemed to be passed off as a Led Zeppelin clone because, with more educated ears at this point, it was pretty true. But imitation/flattery cliché, it’s to be expected when a band makes you excited to create your own music that some of your primary inspiration would bleed through. How could it not?

Swedish death crew Consumption unquestionably worship at the rotting Carcass pulpit, and could you blame them? The bio that accompanies the media copy of their killer debut record “Necrotic Lust” even calls this album the one Carcass should have made after “Necroticism,” and I get where that line is coming from. But this isn’t just Carcass worship. The band—I cannot find a reliable lineup as there are three humans in the photo and I only can find two people credited with Håkan Stuvemark on vocals, guitars and bass and Jon Skäre handling drums, but who is the third man?!—has its own tools and bloodlust so you’re getting a record that certainly has been inspired by a source material, but this goes way further than that. It’s brutal and grimy and fun, and who could dislike that?

“Suffering Divine” opens, like every song on this record, with a quote from the 1964 film “The Masque of the Red Death,” and then it’s onto melodic death stomping, snarling growls, and a chorus that leaves bruising on your face and limbs. There’s a solid mount of soloing that powers, another run through the chorus, and then onto “The Last Supper” that’s punchy and devastating right away. The track is adventurous and ugly at the same time, delirious guitars surge dangerously, and humid crunch levels you and burns you to the pavement. The title track destroys immediately with a blistering fury and stampeding pace that compromises your safety. Guitars light up and flow as the growls lurch in blood, guts are stomped, and the final bursts splits skulls. “A Secret Coliseum” slowly ramps up, setting the stage before the explosions rise, looping with glimmering guitars and the melodies spiraling. The growls belch as devastation extends its grasp, the band lands even harder blows, and everything boils in ugliness before finally submitting.

“Ground Into Ash and Coal” features the legendary Jeff Walker of, yes, Carcass, a fitting inclusion that feels like a handing off of the blood-soaked baton. The track punishes and leaves blisters, some of the guitar work takes on a classic metal feel, and the vicious chorus lays into you, the growls and shrieks rippling your spine. “Offspring Inhuman Conceived” delivers a heavy Sabbathy riff, the band unloads with weighty pressure, and an ominous chorus gets into your bloodstream and infects. Leads scald as the track explodes with rage, the drumming serves up death blows, and a gritty yet soaring journey brings the track to a smothering end. “Twisted Shaped Reality” starts with gutting drums and monstrous growls that aim to swallow you whole. The leads detonate and aggravate the already consuming flames, the band lands more heavy shots, and the menace finally burns into a pile of ash. “Circle of Pain” crushes with menacing howls and a clobbering pace, feeling warped and unhinged. As the track develops, the barbarian aspect increases, lashing and ripping, leaving you as exposed meat. Closer “Devices for the Sentenced” lets loose and flies off the handle, giving a warning that this final trip is going to be rocky. Start/stop thrashing jars your organs, and a strong chorus blinds and turns rock into cinders. The track saves it best punches for last, waylaying as death explodes and the track relents by fading out into a haze.

Consumption do their best to revive melodic death metal that doesn’t glisten with over-polished production and still has a deadly heart at its core. “Necrotic Lust” definitely adds to the same style of gore as Carcass, but in a way of helping carry that torch, adding their own dashes and personality to the recipe. The album will scratch that itch for anyone looking for death that scars but also excites, and repeated visits with this can leave bruising that won’t go away anytime soon.

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Auriferous Flame allows Ayloss to explore black metal’s frosty origins on ‘The Great Mist Within’

There is plenty that can be said about the origins of the black metal that we know of today, and not all of it is great. A lot of the people responsible for the second wave were morons who did dumb shit and had horrible beliefs, some that led to actual deaths. But that sound is something that lives on its own and can be embraced for the spirit that keeps giving and fueling this music. We can celebrate that at least.

Ayloss, who brought you great black metal with projects including Spectral Lore and Mystras, also embraces that icy sound that birthed a million bands, and with his new project Auriferous Flame, he pays homage to a movement, just without the shitty viewpoints and regressive politics. On “The Great Mist Within,” he spreads his black metal wings and drizzles proper amounts of melody and elegance to these tracks that turn your ribcage to dust. It’s also an instant joy, as the first time I heard the record, it knocked me on my ass, and each subsequent visit has been just as brutal and engaging.

“Voice of the Gleaming Edge” ruptures right away with the playing storming and Ayloss’ vocals scraping fresh wounds amid a melodic surge. Thunderous power and hefty riffs team up and double down on the power as atmospheric pressure builds and blends into calming synth. The pace continues to envelope, the playing shimmers, and everything dissolves into sunset. “Molten Gold” runs 10:39 and opens in lathering guitars and a drubbing that stings the senses. The guitars heat up and spiral into numbing hypnosis, the growls tidal wave, and heat gathers as the drumming unloads. Beastly howls settle heavily into a pocket and fiery melody, the cracks in the foundation tear open and fill with lava, and the heat index gets so intense, it becomes nearly inhabitable.

The title track explodes with power and energy, pummeling as the vocals hammer away, and the drums righteously destroy. The blinding pace gets more raucous as the storming increases dangerously, the vitality multiplies by the thousands, and the final moments are absorbed by a sound cave. “Ancient Corridors” is the longest track, clocking in at 10:45, and it teases in a haze as it dawns, letting your mind wander on an adventure. Clean guitars trickle as the playing grows more haunted, an eruption sends rock flying, and the guitars absolutely blaze as the drums come apart. The jackhammering continues amid anguished wails, the tenson bleeding, and everything flowing into instrumental closer “Mass of Ice” that chimes with guitars and a chilling glaze, ending in a bed of frost.

Ayloss truly creates a new sonic world apart from his great other projects on “The Great Mist Within,” a true callback to black metal’s early glory days at least from a sound standpoint. Auriferous Flame carries that banner proudly but with a more informed viewpoint and path toward personal power you can harness within. This record sounds amazing, it blazes with glory, and even at its most vicious, it never fails to ice you over with pulverizing, wintry madness.

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