PICK OF THE WEEK: Sepulcros rip through bleeding earth, cause foundations to quake on ‘Vazio’

I’m sitting here after a particularly stressful day of work where nothing appeared to want to go right, and formulas decided to do their own shit, and I threw my mouse across the goddamn room because there’s only so much stress a person can take before your skull implodes. It’s at these times I want the earth to open up and unleash fire and blood so I can have an excuse not to go back to what I was doing.

Fittingly, “Vazio,” the debut record from Portuguese doom/death powers Sepulcros, was at my disposal, and the music on this six-track beast sounds like what it might if the world combusted, and we were left to try to pick up the choking pieces. This is a supremely heavy record, one that makes you think it’s going to go the funeral doom route at times only to bludgeon you with devastation and speed that sound like they’re coming for your life. The band—vocalist SB, guitarists NZ and RT, bassist AH, and drummer JS—come up for air now and again and infuse atmosphere into the room, but never get comfortable. Know that a bloody, mugging detonation is right around the corner, and there is no room to run and hide.

“Involucro Oco” is an eerie introductory piece that opens the lid and lets the clouds gather, rolling into the title track that unloads thick gloom and wrenching vocals. Morbid ugliness and savage punishment create a formidable team as the walls cave in, and heat rises from the cracks. Cavernous hell and increasing heat make the atmosphere volatile while darkness is smothered, and muscular sinew drags itself to its grave. “Marcha Funebre” shakes the ground as the pace hulks along, with welling growls making your anxiety spike. Then the hammers are unloaded, bringing with them thunderous hell and a funereal reality that makes your insides shake. The pace then rumbles all over, feeling like the earth is coming apart, while the hellish chaos spills further, vaulting the pressure and melting into a relentless sound bath.

“Magno Caos” unveils dark morbidity that slowly steeples its fingers as the playing trudges, and the growls dig into your chest cavity. The pace slurs and the growls boil, feeling like the weight of the universe is upon you, letting lava collect before it explodes from the creases. The drums devastate as the growls blacken eyes, with sounds gurgling as they collect and flood the finish line. “Hecatombe” bleeds somber, haunting guitars as the thing cracks open, and emotional turmoil rushes the surface. Shrieks explode as the cranial pressure builds, spitting ugly fury and thunderous madness, mixing violence and somber emotion into a single pot. The sadness returns and thickens in your veins, making the world quake, a megaton of intensity ruptures, and everything folds into corrosion. “Humana Vacuidade” is an instrumental outro that feels like ghouls lurking in the basement while strange vibes get into your blood and claim your consciousness.

“Vazio” is a record I already was excited to tear into simply based on their promise of vintage doom/death and the comparisons to bands such as disembowelment, Atramentus, and Esoteric, which had me on board immediately. Actually taking on Sepulcros’ debut was something I didn’t expect, even with the anticipation I felt going in, which made for a stunning payoff. This is a record that feels like it’s knifing through the earth’s crust, on its way to permanently change you physically and mentally.

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

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

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

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

Myopic, At the Graves combine forces, create doomy weather on ‘Cold Sweat of Quiet Dread’

Photo by Ben Price

People can’t get together right now, and that’s caused a lot of stress and pressure to be added to everyone’s lives, especially those who live alone. Even the smaller, “safer” gatherings that people are able to pull off still don’t feel right because you know things aren’t normal, and reality still has a dark pall cast over everything.

That hasn’t stopped people from trying to gather and collaborate when they can, and a great example of that is “A Cold Sweat of Quiet Dread,” an album that has the combined forces of progressive doom/black metal-emblazoned Myopic and sludge unit At the Graves creating together. These six tracks have both bands—Myopic features guitarist/vocalist Sean Simmons, bassist/vocalist Nick Leonard, and drummer Michael Brown, while At the Graves is the property of sole creator Ben Price—mashing their worlds together as they started writing in 2019 and recorded everything last summer. The album itself is a nice representation of what each side does so well, melding seamlessly into each other’s creative spaces and transforming their visions into something pulverizing and challenging.  

“Through Veins of Shared Blood” burns open with propulsive playing as things pummel, and the growls push the earth. Moody shrieks then rain down as the playing gets unhinged and even a little proggy, the vocals pierce your sides, and the drums unload as things stir shut. “Gold Sinews” pounds as clean warbling crawls, the doom thickens, and the sun begins to fall. Growls rip in as the fury floods and the playing gets daring and fiery, with the bassline pushing the aggression. Guitars glisten as cleaner vocals wash in, the playing turns slurry and crushing as wild cries mix with devastation over the final moments. “Reeling Between” slowly spills in and establishes a mood while the vocals are violent, and noise calls, melting what’s in front of it. Things turn dreamier, letting your mind float with it, as strange vibes sink in their fingers to smear doomy grime. Shrieks peel back flesh, and the atmosphere becomes volatile, ending everything in a cloud of smoke.

“Oppressive Ruminations” starts bathing in noise as catchy riffs fire up, the shrieks deface, and a tricky pace mixes with rubbery bass lines. Spiraling chaos starts to pull bricks from structures as the vocals smear, and the center is bludgeoned viciously. “Stray Parasite” drips open amid dreamier sequences before things chug as they move toward outer space. The roars then crack open and arrive as strange melodies and energies mix while the intensity begins to build. Bizarre emotions and knifing vocals jab while the playing starts numbing brains, and the back end burns out of time. “Resonating Loss” ends the record, moving slowly as the bass slurs, and then the playing begins to push even harder. Clean vocals and vicious growls smother while a progressive assault and death metal-style skullduggery mash together, making it feel like it’s smothering you. The fires are stoked as the vocals blast rock formations, bringing the album to a rousing finish.

The union that brings together Myopic and At the Graves is a seamless one, as the two bands mix with precision, feeling like they’re creating a greater whole on “A Cold Sweat of Quiet Dread” rather than struggling to maintain their own identities. This is a collection that gets even more immersive the more you visit and get used to the unique terrain these two forces have created. Not sure if this is a one off or something that has legs in the future, but this release is one that begs for a follow up just to see where they can go next.   

For more on Myopic, go here: http://www.facebook.com/MyopicBand

For more on At the Graves, go here: https://www.facebook.com/AtTheGravesBand

To buy the album, go here: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/

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

Thrash demons Demiser smother with brute power, fiery rage on mean ‘Through the Gate Eternal’

Photo by Johnny Guillen

At some point in time, people forgot to have fun with heavy metal. Yeah, there’s a lot of really serious stuff out there and material that’s worth having heated discussions about, but really, if you’re obsessing over details and not enjoying yourself, then what are you really doing? It’s nice every now and again when a band comes along and reminds you not to lose your mind and just get your ass kicked.

South Carolina’s Demiser are just that band, and their debut “Through the Gate Eternal” wastes no time knocking you backward and mocking your wounds as you writhe at their feet. Their raucous black thrash is a blast to behold from moment one, and there is a heaping dose of ridiculousness that makes it feel like when metal was born many decades ago, and heathenism and chaos were served generously. Make no mistake though: This band plays it seriously when it comes to their music as the playing is dark, vicious, and channeled, and the folks involved—vocalist Demiser the Demiser, guitarists Gravepisser and Phallomancer, bassist Defiler, drummer Infestor, which likely are not their birth names—rip you apart with whiskey, blood, and fire, leaving you gasping for fresh air.

“Through the Gate Eternal” rips the bandage off right away, delivering a thrashing attack complete with a rumbling assault, ferocious vocals, and a crushing chorus that keeps coming back for more. Speed and hell unite during the final moments, tearing into “Offering” that delivers cool riffs and a massive attack. The verses destroy and are mean as hell as everything trudges hard, drawing blood it smears in victims’ mouths. “Deathstrike” charges up and punishes, bringing speed and chaos, with a weird cackle jabbing at the end of the first chorus. The soloing explodes, feeling fast and fluid, with the guitars continuing to blaze a path to the end. “Raw Fucking Vomit” is one of the year’s great song titles, and it brings a massive riff and drums looking to crush bones as the roars explode. Bloody intensity and clobbering power create an ideal team, smoking with hostility and ill intent that gets iced down a bit with instrumental “Song of Byleth” and its classic-style acoustic guitars and crackling fires.

“Unholy Sacrifices” hits like an airstrike as the leads pound, and black metal-style melodies open rib cages. The vocals are teeming with rage as the pace offers pure hostility, and weird warbling plays games with you as the leads blaze out. “Hook and Torment” has crunchy guitar work and strong vocals boiling over as the playing brings a vintage metal vibe that eats into your heart. The soloing slices veins as blood thrashes everywhere, the vocals rip, and the ending smashes digits. “Demiser the Demiser,” I guess named after their vocalist, with the guitars opening up the assault. “I am demiser!” Demiser wails as the soloing rampages, and everything comes to a huge, destructive finish. “Warfuck Demonlust,” also one of the great song titles of the year, closes the record by brawling its way in, with Demiser the Demiser insisting he will, in fact, keep his warfuck demonlust. The guitars splatter as the soloing slices through guts, bringing everything to an alcoholic, violent, barbaric end.

Demiser aren’t trying to deliver cerebral passages, they aren’t here to be your intellectual superiors, and style points don’t seem to be a thing they’re after. Instead, on “Through the Gate Eternal,” the band aims to sever your head from your neck, rub your face in the filth, and make you pay the ultimate price. This is war-torn thrash that’ll leave you bruised, battered, and ragingly hungover the next day.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://borisrecords.bandcamp.com/album/through-the-gate-eternal

For more on the label, go here: https://boris-records.com/

Kaskaskia unleash frigid burst of chaos, icy black metal with debut ‘Fleecian Winter Majesty’

As I write this, it’s a balmy 57 degrees here on the final day of February, and I’m even thinking of opening the windows for a bit to release a nice breeze. That makes for not the best of situations for writing about a black metal album that’s buried in a deep freeze, with skin cells turning black and the warmth your body offers slowly dripping out.

“Fleecian Winter Majesty” is the first release from duo Kaskaskia, a three-track effort that encapsulates your body in frigid black metal that demands you find cover or else. What we get here is raw, scraping black metal with a heavy dose of dungeon-style synth that ices the fuck out of whatever part of your brain IDs with that temperature and ambiance. It is strange with the weather finally letting up and making it less necessary to layer that we’re here talking this album, but luckily my first listen was when there was 9 inches of snow on the ground and it was cold as hell. Anyway, the band—vocalist Tony Hicks, multi-instrumentalist Damián Jadësh Yyven—drive you into the center of a frozen tundra as the winds whips, your cheeks and lips leak with blood, and you battle against the ice and snow, knowing that even amid this torture, it provides a surge of energy that’ll serve you well.

“Winter Tresses” begins with hammering and synth storming as the shrieks rampage. Wintry hell spreads it wings as mesmerizing chaos freezes your cells, the playing wreaks havoc, and freezing majesty reaches in as things snarl. The shrieks crush as the icy keys increase, rushing its way toward “The Throne Awaits” that starts with cleaner calls beckoning the frost. Guitars rush as the emotion picks up, with the forceful vocals blistering amid trickling melodies. That leads into a stampede where madness floods and destroys any sense of serenity, with the synth unfolding into time. “The Brunette” closes the album with a synth wall and plinking notes as a strange aura unfolds and takes over the environment. Guts suddenly are torn out as the keys fog the glass before getting breezy and volcanic. The intensity rises and as the melodies clash with it, the playing utterly destroys, and the power gushes into and is swallowed by a synth fog that shrouds everything in darkness.

Kaskaskia’s debut is arriving at a time when winter is breathing its last over much of the United States, but hearing these three tracks on “Fleecian Winter Majesty” is enough to make you feel the chill all over again. These first few bursts are enough to make their future worth salivating over, and the emotional fury that is all over this EP just pummels you in the chest. It’s easy to be really excited to see what else Kaskaskia have up their sleeves, but for now, this is enough to keep you in an existential deep freeze.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://pacificthrenodies.bandcamp.com/album/fleecian-winter-majesty

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Wolvennest put their energies and creativity into immersive, numbing ‘Temple’

It’s not healthy from a physical or mental standpoint to be overcome by stresses and anxieties, and not taking the time to recognize these things and face them can be destructive in the long run. Unfortunately, there are not easy solutions to apply across the board, so everyone has a stake in handling spiraling matters so we don’t go down the drain to hell.

A major part of my own attempts to remain as sane as I can be is to designate times to branch out beyond myself, get centered, and practice meditation, all of which have made a major difference in my life, even though I’m still suffering. I also heavily connected with “Temple,” the new record from Belgian psychedelic doom dreamers Wolvennest, their second effort overall. The music on this eight-track, 77-minute album must be visited in full, requiring a complete immersion in their occult-like creations that also can take you by the hand and help you see a more settling pathway through chaos. The band—vocalist/theremin player Shazzula, vocalist DéHà, guitarists Michel Kirby, Corvus Von Burtle, and Marc De Backer, bassist John Marx, drummer Bram Moerenhout—poured everything they had in this creation that came together as the pandemic was just beginning to get scary, and they left nothing on the floor. Every part of these players is in this music, and that personal and spiritual inclusion is a major part of what makes this album the experience it is.

“Mantra” is the 12:26-long opener and the longest track here, starting with a long, burning intro that finally opens up with wordless calls floating. “My heart is burning,” Shazzula calls as the track gains intensity and grows more hypnotic. “Enter the temple of love,” Shazzula invites as the guitars heat up, sounds corrode, and the humidity thickens, ending in a weighty haze. “Swear to Fire” has sounds swirling and guitars charging, delivering a doomy storm. The vocals mesmerize as a haunting psychosis thickens, feeling like you’re floating in a dream. Dark vocals chill as they travel through time, and then the leads heat up again. Guitars encircle as the trance thickens, spilling out into madness. “Alecto” starts with music chiming and your mind wandering as they set up a vibe and pay that off with spacious excitement. The guitars sprawl as the pace warms up, feeling like it’s taking direct flight into the heart of the sun. Things then ease, trickling slowly as this instrumental cut bows. “Incarnation” unfurls and heads into a disorienting fog as the singing numbs, and melodies wash over your mind. “It’s dark in here, but yet I see,” Shazzula cries, as the tempo stirs and jostles, the guitars agitate, and a flood of group calls sets your mind on a strange adventure.

“All that Black” is the shortest cut as 6:34, bringing steamy playing that wilts your flesh. “I like darkness,” Shazzula calls, “Darkness is beautiful,” as chant-like vocals settle over like a storm. Guitars boil as the psyche sizzling scorches the earth, finally burning into ash. “Succubus” features King Dude on vocals, and it’s a 11:27-long ballad that digs into your brain. It unfurls as slide guitars haunt, the playing quivers, and Dude wonders, “Will she ever let me say goodbye?” The track digs into your heart and eats it alive, the sounds slowly die, and the sun finally sets on hope. “Disappear” has a slow-boiling start as ghostly, almost vampiric vocals slither, and the music continues to pick up intensity. Howled words and bellowed singing unite, dark shadows unfurl and cover the earth, and icy blood begins to flow and take you along with it. “Souffle de Mort” ends the record slowly stirring as the drumming rumbles. Shazzula sings in French, sounding alluring and haunting, while the guitars generate heat. The playing is total entrancement, leaving your mind iced over as the vocals continue to dig in their claws. Speaking then jolts, the sounds burn in your belly, and the track ends owning sections of your mind.

I feel like the best way to indulge in “Temple” is to find a way to calm your nerves and your mind, darken the room, and let the sounds float over you and into your pores. Wolvennest, with uncertainty and fear ruling the world, pushed all of their creative boundaries into these 77 minutes, continually finding ways to capture and recharge your imagination. Finding ways to connect with the universe isn’t easy in the midst of so much chaos, but Wolvennest were able to overcome those hurdles, and their music can help guide you on your own journey.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://van-records.com/Preorder_1

For more on the label, go here: https://www.van-records.com/

Black metal beasts Nixil deliver beating on decaying world with blazing debut ‘All Knots Untied’

Photo by Shane K Gardner

We’ve admittedly gotten a lot of mileage over the mounting frustrations that have marred this earth recently, and even before the last year, it’s not like things were going smoothly for everyone. We’re at a place in time when we’re paying for our transgressions, seeing the results of people buying into a grift, and generally trying to navigate among people who don’t give a fuck.

There are so many ways to deal with all these flooding feelings, and perhaps the best way to alleviate the pressure building up inside our heads is to say fuck it all and try to carve a path that’s our own and free of the things bringing us down. That’s sort of the mission statement that Baltimore-based black metal crushers Nixil deliver on their great full-length debut “All Knots United,” a six track affair that launches itself right for your chest from moment one. There is frustration, anger, and defiance at every corner as the band unleashes their chaos upon the world on a record that’ll feel right for your psyche if you, too, are at the end of a burning rope. Another nice check in the win column is the band steadfastly stands against fascism, something that’s insane we even have to point out these days, but this is the place in which we live, and it’s nice to know where they stand.  

“Black Earth Within” opens slowly, establishing a mood before the riffs cut you down, and vile growls inject the poison. The playing is both punishing and melodic as it savages, even when the pace pulls back before melodies snake their way through the chaos. The fury increases from there, stirring and crushing the earth with deadly stomps. “Deaths of Our Own Design” blasts open as death snarls deliver rage, and the pace gets humid and sticky. The playing fires up as the drums are mashed, cleaner calls warble, and the moodiness thickens and churns. The melody wells up again, the leads explode, and vicious calls deliver the final blows. “Make Me the Voice” has bells chiming, growls collecting, and a hypnotic edge icing your skin over. The vocals get creakier and feel like they’re trying to open your flesh while the playing utterly storms, with the pressure increasing along with it. “Poison my heart, poison my mind, poison my flesh, poison my bones,” is wailed as the track burns to its finish.

“All Knots Untied” has riffs lathering and shrieks scraping wounds, while the melodies float into a thickened haze. Atmospheric guitars take over and turn the air frigid while the vocals warble, the playing trudges, and everything ends with vicious shrieks. “May This Flame Flicker Out” spills open as every element bashes away, and the guitar work floods the surface. The pace storms viciously as the drums crush, and the walls feel like they’re going to collapse. The band thrashes with force, crazed shrieks bruise your eyes, and everything charges into a trickling stream. “Unimpeded By the Weight” is the closer, and it cuts right to the bone with the drumming increasing the pain. Tremolo hell and gazey flooding add a sense of adventure while hell spreads its wings, with the vocals further darkening. The vocals reopen barely congealing wounds, the playing haunts, and the track finally fades into dirt.

Nixil’s brand of black metal isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means, and really, it doesn’t have to do that. Instead, the band delivers melodic, hard-working, punishing sounds on their debut “All Knots United.” They ideally enter a world in chaos unlike any we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes, as their music can act as a violent tearing off a rotting bandage to makes us more weathered to survive the hell in which we’re hopelessly drowning.     

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

To buy the album, go here: https://nixil.bandcamp.com/releases

Terminal Bliss get behind tanker truck of fuel to dump on raging fire with crazed ‘Brute Err/ata’

Photo by Chris Boarts Larson

It’s hard to believe there aren’t tons of people that wake up every morning and just scream and scream into the sky at the whirlwind of shit that surrounds people who aren’t dripping with money. There’s such little concern from so many in power over environmental health and other people’s struggles as long as their bank account swells each year. We all like money. Is it worth hurting others to get even more?!

“Brute Err/ata” is the debut EP from Terminal Bliss, a band that was whipped together in a hurry containing members of noted groups such as Pg. 99, Pygmy Lush, Darkest Hour, City of Caterpillar and more, and it sounds like the very act described in the opening, screaming into the void for some kind of answer. The band—vocalist Chris Taylor, guitarist Mike Taylor, bassist Adam Juresko, drummer Ryan Parrish—also touches on the aforementioned subject matter as they see the suffering and strife marring our well-being, and this record seems like it sets out to attack and destroy those vile issues. These 10 tracks come at you with an intensity and vengeance, lasting almost 12 minutes combined and just destroying from front to back.      

“Clean Bill of Wealth” kicks in with an electro burst, ravaging shrieks, and total disorientation, slamming into “Anthropodmorbid” that lands a million punches and just leaves you gutted after a mere 27 seconds. “Dystopian Buffet” has synth zaps and noises piling up as the drums pound, and a storming punk edge adds thrashy menace to the cut. “The Ominous Hum” launches with hardcore-style intensity and a pace that leaves the room spinning dangerously, bringing sounds that are equally zany and putrid. “Small One Time Fee” jabs with noisy howls echoing and the pace pummeling, ripping through with unhinged energy. Warbled speaking and stretched guitars mangle before punching out with attitude. “8 Billion People Reported Missing” has cartoonishly fast guitar work, scathing shrieks, and damaging aggression, blasting into “Tumoresque” where the bass and drums combine to clobber. The playing drives daggers as things get oddly catchy before they knock you on your ass. “Discarded Wallet” has guitars ripping and speed mixing with rage, mashing suddenly to an end. “March of the Grieving Droid” piles on noise deteriorating and the bass driving, as howls and a punchy pace open lips. Things just come unglued, slaughtering and drenching everything in feedback. Closer “Hidden Handed Artificial Harassment Experimental Run Amok” rushes in with burly bass and a pace that explodes, while vile shrieks continue to increase the violence. Noise interference injects ferocity while the drumming topples, and everything ends in stuttering noise.

Terminal Bliss is the sound of four volatile forces coming together and creating something that feels like it is out of control and impossible to slow down. “Brute Err/ata” is just their first burst, and if this EP is any indication, their first full-length might be enough to continuing pouring gas on the fires in your chest and get rightfully fucking mad at forces trying to ravage us all. This is pure viciousness, and it feels just right considering the state of the world that isn’t changing any time soon.   

For more on the band, go here: https://www.instagram.com/terminalblissband/

To buy the album, go here: http://relapse.com/terminal-bliss/

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

Damaged, altered Culted battle through temptation, pain, death on psychologically blunt ‘Nous’

Photo by J Richard

A lot of people are banking on hope right now that the condition in which the world has been thrust will come to an end, and our lives can go back to normal. There’s the issue: We can’t know that normal again. There has been too much damage, too much loss, too much death to ever live the way we once did, so we’d all be better off abandoning that thought and understanding what’s really at stake here.

The member of internationally spread-out doom beasts Culted (three are in Canada, one is in Norway) also were victims to the same types of issues that have haunted the world, and that informs their nightmarish third record “Nous,” their first full-length since 2014’s “Oblique to All Paths.” The band’s members suffered from wounds both physical and psychological as these songs were forming in their minds, and the result is an album like none of their other creations, something so dark and foreboding that even the first listen is a frightening one. Each subsequent visit gets more jarring as each layer opens itself up to see clearer. The band—vocalist Daniel Jansson, guitarist/bassist/keyboard player/percussionists Matthew Friesen and Michael Klassen, drummer/percussionist Kevin Stevenson—also examine the role of temptation, with the cover depicting Saint Anthony who, according to Biblical text, faced that very thing when he fled to the deserts of Egypt for fasting and prayer. Everything here is dark, unhinged, and corrosive, an ugly, yet warped record that reveals a completely different side of this destructive band.

“Lowest Class” starts the record with hypnotic sludge that fills your veins and wild shrieks that rattle your mental cages. The pace is piledriving, heavy and steady, as flesh is peeled back and salt poured in the yawning wound. The track is impossibly crushing, ending in flattened hell. “Lifers” enters in a shadow of noise as the guitars gut, and the playing gets spacious and filthy. The music stabs as it continues to get heavier, bludgeoning and filling your lungs with soot, bursting away in pained cries. “One Last Smoke” writhes in feedback as the playing clouds your head, and the vocals swim in the ether, feeling otherworldly. Massive riffs land blows again as the sound seemingly melts, the roars punish, and weird keys pulsate. “Ankle Deep” is where the record starts a slow descent to the bottom of the sea, feeling moody and crushing, as the growls are buried beneath the earth. The track gets more ferocious as the vocals scorch, and the low end bruises guts, coming to a smothering, corrosive end. “Black Bird” feels like something out of a dream, with acoustics teasing and the guitars oozing. Speaking mars as the sounds get more penetrative, washing in echo and mechanical hell before bleeding out in damage.

“Opiate the Hounds” chars right away as more acoustics set up and add rustic fury, as voices swirl in the air, seemingly around your head. The strange vibes increase and appear to float toward the cosmos while an eerie bloodletting takes the track into the night. “Maze” gets off to a deliberately slow start as feedback is caked in mud, and swaggering doom begins to take hold. The darkness increases and heads for your nervous system as the leads glisten, the riffs slice and dice, and pulverizing tones do more damage as the track crushes through the earth. “Crown of Lies” dumps abrasive howls and crumbling sounds, with the track taking on the role of the beast. Disarming psyche waves chill your flesh as the track is torn apart all over, and crude oil begin to flow, pulling you under. “The Grid” trickles in as sounds sting, and the tempo hulks right into the center of the picture. Atmosphere thickens while punches are landed, the growls eat through your ribcage, and the leads just scorch. The vocals bounce violently off the walls, shrapnel is spat, and the vibe feels like it has come from the spirit world, haunting your dreams. The record closes with an absolutely deadly cover of Godflesh’s “Crush My Soul” that they somehow manage to make more dangerous and abrasive.

The seven years since Culted’s last full-length have allowed this machine to shape and shift, still resembling their former selves but also having a much different edge that freshens up their approach. “Nous” is a record that feels like what it does when you wake up after a night of half sleep, as your brain aches, and it feels like you’re not operating in reality. This is a much different Culted, one with a more violent and psychologically damaging mind frame that can leave you emotionally devastated.

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

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Vindsval goes back toward the wintry black metal forests on Forhist debut

It’s cold as shit here right now with more snow on the ground than we’ve had in years, especially since the past many winters we’ve had very little actual frigid weather. Anyone who knows anything about black metal knows the best time to go back and revisit that stuff is when it’s frigid and you’re keeping yourself sane in heavily shadowed rooms, with a dark, strong beverage at your side.

Blut Aus Nord mastermind Vindsval has spent the better part of the last decade taking his main project into the cosmos and other strange territories while still maintaining his roots deep in the center. Apparently, he’s been feeling nostalgic for the old days, when wintry forests and chaos were the crucial main ingredients of this sound, and he revisits that on his very first Forhist record, a self-titled affair that’s some of the heaviest stuff he’s done in years. Yet, there still are stretches of imagination and wonder in what he does on these bone-freezing eight tracks, but for the most part, it’s power, riffs, riveting chaos, and infectious melodies, keeping your insides volcanically hot while your body tries to adjust to the sub-freezing temperatures.   

“I” chirps and bursts, pounding away as Vindsval’s wild wails go for your throat, sounding as vicious as he ever has. The melody surges as the atmosphere thickens, kicking into a synth gaze and then a blazing pace that keeps storming to the end. “II” brings destruction raining down from the sky as the growls wrench and jolt, warping as the sweltering pace moves into a heavy fog coverage. The track slips into mid-tempo as the glaze glistens, voices float, and thunderclaps bring you back to reality as rain soaks the ground. “III” continues the storm saturating the ground before the playing unloads and aims to blacken your eyes. Washed-out cries wrench behind the madness as the pace crushes, the vocals rip savagely, and everything ends in a pile of rubble. “IV” begins with a strange vibe before riffs attack, the synth swims, and clean vocals are muffled like a transmission from beyond. The guitars rip anew before a quick acoustic halt lets you breathe, and then the power explodes again, with the melodies warping your mind, leaving the room spinning.

“V” has the ocean roaring before the track wells up and crushes, as the vocals spray fury. The drums clobber without mercy, with the track feeling like it’s dumping thousands of hammers on your head as the shrieks disorient, charging all the way to the end. “VI” explodes right away as a rushing black metal pace gets things to a delirious pace as strong melodies work in and strengthen the formula. Muted vocals and stunning playing destroy as the pace feels like it’s eating away at your guts, swallowing you whole as everything ends in hypnosis. “VII” has riffs dicing your muscles and the playing trudging heavily as the keys blanket. The playing numbs your senses as it moves toward your brain, continually adding pressure and working at your psyche. The melodies then burst into a repetitive whirlpool that entrances and eventually disappears under the water. “VIII” ends the album, starting with a demonstrative burst  and riffs cutting through bone. The drums maul as a strange pocket increases its presence with keys chilling your flesh, guitars jolting, and the intensity hitting a fever pitch before it’s swallowed back into the ocean and dragged into darkness.

Forhist is the heaviest and most violent Vindsval has sounded in quite some time as this self-titled project debut goes for the jugular and never quits with its thirst for blood. The artist here has nothing to prove at all, as his Blut Aus Nord catalog already rewrote a lot of the rules for black metal, yet he sounds channeled like he has something for which to work. This is intense, violent, and massive, a record that might leave you reeling from its outright savagery and frozen to your core.

For more on the band, go here: https://blutausnord.bandcamp.com/album/forhist

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

Or here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/518-forhist-shop

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

Australian dreamers Spire look to time and its infinite power on spellbinding ‘Temple of Khronos’

Passing of time can be foreboding and hold with it many levels of anxiety as we change, get older, and watch society shift around us for better or worse. Humans also don’t seem to change much as we consume everything that’s around us and, as a result, become an enemy to this planet that is bound to be catastrophic for future generations, if not the current one.

Thinking ahead to what the future may hold and what problems those people might face is, in a sense, what Australian black metal chillers Spire have woven into their new record “Temple of Khronos,” their second effort and first since 2016. On it, they envision a future generation that is facing some of the same mortality issues we are now, looking back through time and finding no real answers to their plight. That fantastical but realistic situation is woven in black metal that pushes your mind to its furthest reaches, as the band expands what the sub-genre is capable of accomplishing, which is always refreshing for anyone operating in this sub-genre. Every drop of this record finds the band—M.R. and G.A.—twisting your brain and ability to handle different realities, ensuring your experience will be nothing like what you get from most black metal. This duo isn’t satisfied with conventional thinking.   

“Chronometer” starts with synth beams cutting through as the intensity picks up, and the intro cut bleeds into “Hymn I – Tyrant” that openly trudges and picks up mud and blood. The growls become unhinged as strong melodies and cleaner yells rivet, shrieks meet with chanted lines, with hypnotic patterns sneaking in. Clean lines then bore into your brain as the track burns out. “Hymn II – Tormentor” runs a healthy 10:13 as dissonant guitars melt, and shrieks rip into your ribs. Howls strike as the drums pound away, as weird transmissions enter the fray, feeling both machine like and alien as the drama increases. The vocals stab as the pace rushes ahead, strange dreams sink in their fingers, and the final moments drill through bones before ending suddenly.

“Hymn III – Harbinger” immediately combusts as the shrieks pound away, and the pace keeps stirring as it opens the lid to hell. Strangeness hangs and haunts as the humidity increases, making your head spin, and then the madness returns. The playing is unhinged as it keeps funneling its way into the ground. “Interlude – Antithesis” has guitars lighting up and hovering like a storm about to be pierced, weird chants haunt, and cosmic ghouls lurk, making the way into “Hymn IV – Puissant,” an 8:07-long pounder. Growls barrel in out of weird vibes, and howls simmer in pools of blood as a thick ambiance extends its wings. Guitars agitate as the vocals stretch out as the playing rips through rock, splattering hell and shrapnel as the noise floats, mesmerizing and slipping into time. “Hymn V – Khronos” ends the album by unfurling flesh-crawling vocals and a stinging tempo, seemingly subsiding before hypnosis increases, and your mind feels like it’s at its most vulnerable. Drums punch in, group chants make your thoughts float, and everything fades into the stars.

Despite being away for half decade, Spire have a stranglehold on atmospheric black metal that uses stardust and strange power to make their work even darker. “Temple of Khronos” is a fascinating, thunderous record that feels a little different every time you hear it, new wrinkles expose themselves, and each layer becomes more apparent. This is black metal with imagination and ingenuity, proving it’s still possible to make this style of music that challenges what you know about the art form.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/spire-temple-of-khronos

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