PICK OF THE WEEK: Esoctrilihum’s doom, black metal swarm over rebirth tale on ‘Dy’th Requiem…’

Remember movies? We used to pack people into theaters to see huge, fantastical stories play out in front of us, distracting us for a few hours and letting our imaginations run amok. It’s not like we don’t have movies anymore, but we’re not going to theaters in anywhere near the clip we did before the pandemic struck, so that aspect of escapism has taken a back seat for now.

It’s still possible to be overcome by big stories, major themes, and the overall hugeness of that style away from a theater, and Esoctrilihum, the project helmed by sole artist Asthâghul (vocals, guitars, bass, drums, synths, violins, piano) is out to prove that. Well, maybe that’s not the sole purpose, but the music, deeply situated in doom, black metal, and plenty of other dark tidings, always has been content you cannot just sample. You have to commit, which Asthâghul proves again on “Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath,” his sixth album in five years and his lengthiest at 12 tracks and nearly 78 minutes. It’s a four-part epic that tells the story of the death, transfiguration, and rebirth of the Serpentine Telepath, a character in the midst of Asthâghul’s universe who gets an entire tale told over this bold, thunderous, highly adventurous album that will keep you riveted the entire time.

The record starts with “Part I – Serpentine Lamentations of Death” and the first track “Ezkikur” is spacious as the growls rustle and carve, and beastly playing mixes with chilling synth. The keys swim in the murk as icy waves lap over, majestic melodies flood, and the chugging fades and heads into “Sahln” where strings stir, and the growls carve flesh. The synth layers in and creates a regal vibe, the playing is wrenching but melodic, and the growls lurch hard. The pace chugs as the drums echo, the intensity bursts, and the growls submit to heavy psychosis. “Tyurh” lets the synth spread as similar melodies settle in, and savagery punishes you. The pace bursts as the keys again establish their stronghold, sounds feel like they blend through time, and guitars charge violently, bleeding into the next section, “Part II – The Secret Doctrines of Transmigration.” The first track of that segment is “Baahl Duthr” where intense riffs explode and drive in daggers, and gruff growls sink in their claws. There’s a thick atmosphere, the drumming crashes through, meaty thrashing takes hold, and the pace storms with quaking vocals and strange chants that sprawl to the end. “Αgakuh” unloads another punishing set of riffs, the growls are gurgly and gnarly, and the playing digs deep into your rib cage. The synth then detonates, the atmosphere swarms, and the vocals come alive again, basking in the nasty ugliness it established. “Eginbaal” has keys storming and the drums smashing, as icy pressure is established and arrests your cells. The riffs come to life and leave ample bruising, the leads are majestic and jolting, and moody strangeness floods and takes you into the next section.

“Part III – The Scarlet Flame of Transfiguration” begins with “Dy’th” and its stab of raw growls and vicious punishment. The playing trudges hard as the drums swallow you whole, and it feels like an utter massacre. It feels like sitting in total hell, strange riffs haunt you, and the horrors hang as the terror slips away. “Craânag” is a quick instrumental piece with pastoral synth and cataclysmic murk. The drums echo as the synth soothes, washing over your brain and into “Zhaïc Daemon” that charges up right from the start. Vicious pounding moves into a thick fog of keys that work toward you, crumbling into hell. The thing then gets spacious, great melodies rush through, and the growls swirl, moving toward the final chapter “Part IV – Methempsychosis of the Grand Telepath” and its opening cut “Nominès Haàr.” A sound cloud hangs over as the playing begins to slash, though clean notes do find their way into the blood. Synth sweeps as the pace continues to maul, growls snake through the creaky punishment, and entrancing melodies trick your mind into thinking it’s safe when it’s really not. “Xuiotg” lets guitars well up as haunting vibes settle over you, and gross growls makes the bile drive into the back of your throat. The track picks up and starts to destroy everything in front of it as anguished cries jolt, keys swoop, and the carnage floods until it slips into instrumental closer “Hjh’at” that already has weird vibes. Synth spreads as the playing takes on a Middle Eastern feel, the spirit grows stranger, and the track slips off into the unknown.

Esoctrilihum’s world is a bizarre one that has unfurled over each album under this banner that continues into “Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath.” The story that unfurls over this album’s 12 tracks is not of this world, and the music that accompanies the tale feels the exact same way. No idea how Asthâghul continues to be so prolific and powerful, coming back in short order with records as involved, imaginative, and punishing as this one that feels half as long as it is and keeps you tied into every ounce of the story until it finally unhands you.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Esoctrilihum-305266723253656

To buy the album, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/

Nadja’s mysterious sound keeps advancing, taking on dark new waves on stormy ‘Luminous Rot’

There is not a single way to play heavy music, and to think there is essentially cuts you off from any  aspect of creativity or experimentation that has served to broaden perspectives from artists hellbent on defying boundaries. That’s been for the better as every single style of heavy music has grown, and diverse artists have been able to flourish and find an audience.

Nadja long has been a band on which it’s been impossible to affix a label. Yeah, they simmer in doom and drone and noise, but their style they’ve developed over a whole slew of recordings has shifted and changed, ensuring they never could be painted into a corner. On their latest LP “Luminous Rot,” they stretch even further, adding vocals and even more approachable touches, delivering songs that are a little shorter than their usual and knocking it the fuck out. The band—multi-instrumentalist Aidan Baker, bassist Leah Buckareff—works into the shadows, pokes through to doomy muscle, post-rock hypnosis, and a slowly drubbing storm that leaves you soaked to the core.   

“Intro” is a quick piece that boils in noise and builds pressure until it penetrates and makes your skull vibrate, leading into the title track where sounds agitate until the power punches in. The vocals swim through the fog, burrowing deep into mystery, and then it gets moody and weird as the playing eats into your psyche. The power stomps through as things gets murky and even take on a New Wave edge, washing out into the horizon. “Cuts on Your Hands” sends seismic waves as the track slowly moves, and the vocals slip into the mix. That trickles into strangeness as the mood gets heavier, as a dark mist moves overhead and blocks out your vision. The noises get more oppressive as the melodies lap, repeat, and cut through the center, heading into space and scraping away at the sky.

“Starres” is ominous as it starts as things get whirry and hypnotic, the growls chew at muscle, and the playing numbs, while the vibe actually starts to feel scary. The singing floats as your head fills with anxiety, and the melodies loop and chill you, droning away until everything fades. “Fruiting Bodies” brings total doom riffs that unload the hammer as the fuzz builds and carries over, while the riffs razor and the vocals swim. Ghostlike transmissions mix in, the guitars buzz, and a quick halt then leads to a burly blast, icing you over as the song fades. “Dark Inclusions” is the closer, and it lurches through dark fury while the music drives into menace. The vocals tease as the playing warps your mind, leading to the drums pummeling. The ambiance gets heavy and strange, dipping into the cosmos, while the playing pounds away, slipping into a psychedelic dream that buries you.

Nadja’s massive catalog contains no two things that sound alike, and “Luminous Rot” fits right in with that idea, as this is unlike anything the band ever released. As much of their music as I’ve heard, and the understanding I’ve developed to expect anything, I still was thrown for a loop by this record, which I mean in a good way. Nadja remain a fairly mysterious entity to many people, and if you’re one of those folks, change that now and dive in here knowing the water is deep and rich.    

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

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

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

Noisy brawlers Yautja tackle shitty politics, personal fury with face-mangling ‘The Lurch’

Photo by Chappy Hull

Living in a suburb of Pittsburgh, a place very much in the north, you don’t have to go too far to find people who are living deep in denial about the last election, who can’t help themselves in supporting a loser former president, his disastrous, uh, I guess policy, and who cling to ideas that largely spout white supremacy. It’s frustrating and sickening, but I also realize enough of where I live is fairly liberal, and finding places and people who don’t embarrass me isn’t that difficult.

For Yautja, a band that claims Nashville, Tenn., as home, they’re in the heart of the south, where they are situated deep in redneck culture and much of the same bullshit listed above. I’m annoyed enough if I try to read a news story on a local news station’s social media when I have to see the absolute assholes spouting their bullshit, but to be living among that cannot be the best thing for a band—bassist/vocalist Kayhan Vaziri, guitarist/vocalist Shibby Poole, drummer/vocalist Tyler Coburn—that doesn’t agree with those views. That anger and frustration is all over their hammering new record “The Lurch,” their second full-length and first since 2014. The record is noisy, punishing, and reckless, directing their stew of metal, noise, punk, hardcore, you name it toward the dumb shits surrounding them who don’t realize the election is actually over.

“A Killing Joke” gets things started with extreme demolition right away as harsh cries smash, and the playing feels like rubbery hell. The punishment mashes, your guts spill out, and then we’re into “The Spectacle” where the bass and drums smear together like a beast. Calculated fury explodes as the track smashes away, the growls slice, and the drums decimate. Your senses are put to the test, as your brains are stretched out, and you’re into “Wired Depths” that delivers proggy bass and a sprawling attack while sinewy guitars wrench into your chest. The guitars get muddy and rotten, the playing feels dexterous, the growls slip into your wounds, and everything grounds and pounds until it finally relents. “Undesirables” runs 7:13, the longest track on the album, and slow-driving guitars and dizzying shrieks begin to have their way. The track is noisy as hell as the bass lurches, guitars pile on and agitate, and the whole thing drives hard until the final moments bludgeon.

“Tethered” launches with a fury as your will is mashed, and massive hell is unleashed all over the place. The drums go off as all signals are jammed up, heavy smashing lays waste, and everything blasts into oblivion. “Clock Cleaner” has guitars chugging, noise simmering, and a tempered pace that aims to rip your face off. The vocals dig into your psyche, the bass clubs, and the track knocks down proverbial houses. “Catastrophic” arrives with noise hanging overhead and a crazed pace that takes hold and jolts your muscles. The growls agitate as the playing gets muddy and vicious, grisly vocals sizzle, and the track is pounded into dirt. “The Weight” is shifty and thrashing, the vocals lay waste, and your flesh comes alive with heat. The melodies are spindly and thrashy, hard yells add salt to the wound, and the drums clobber to the finish. “Before the Foal” is your closer, and it immediately has a weird vibe, and bendy guitars make you tilt your head with confusion. Harsh howls and devastating playing unite as the speed kicks in, and the melodies sprawl. The band pounds away, static swallows you, and the track rips out into deep outer space.

Yautja’s intensity is off the charts on “The Lurch,” a record that is packed with very understandable and righteous rage that assaults you for 45 minutes. It’s not hard to understand where they’re coming from with these songs and their mentality, especially if you’ve paid even an ounce of attention to current events and how our society has struggled. This is an album landing at the right time, and there needs to be more furious documents like this that identify the bullshit and call it out to its face.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/item/98012

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

Jess and the Ancient Ones jolt with vintage horrors, psyche escapism on bewitching ‘Vertigo’

I haven’t harped on this one in a while, but we all realize it’s possible to play metal and heavy music and still maintain a vibe of fun and escapism, right? The whole metal genre used to be that way practically until everyone started taking things too seriously, but it’s definitely doable to inject your music with a spirit that isn’t looking to make you feel down.

Finnish psyche rock band Jess and the Ancient Ones have made a career of jettisoning listeners back decades and decades ago to when horror was mostly black and white and just as fun as it was scary. On their latest album “Vertigo,” their fourth overall and one that maintains some of the dark vibes first encountered on 2017’s “The Horse and Other Weird Tales.” The band—enigmatic vocalist Jess, guitarist Thomas Corpse, bassist Fast Jake, keyboardist/organist Abraham, drummer Yussuf—unleashes eight tracks that lather you occult tales, weird vibes, and magickal strangeness that’s infectious and drives you into the darkest region of your mind and the world itself. Jess is the star of the band, as she’s an alluring force, but Abraham really emerges as a force here as his work is the glue that holds it all together.

“Burning of the Velvet Fires” has a strong 1960s vibe that chills you right to your core, feeling spooky as the keys melt. The playing kicks up as the chorus gets under your skin, the organs swell, and catchy, smoky vibes get bigger and stranger as the track burns off. “World Paranormal” delivers driving keys and a cool tempo, feeling punchy and fun as hell. The tempo swings up and takes over with a simple chorus that’s easy to call back and Jess vowing, “We want to believe,” as the track rushes to an end. “Talking Board” simmers in properly witchy keys and hand claps as the playing mesmerizes. Guitars burn as Jess calls, “Spirit board, I live through you,” channeling otherworldly forces as deranged laughs chill, and strange guitar work cuts through and elevates your temperature. “Love Zombi” basks in murky synth and bluesy smoke that burst right into you. The tempo is exciting, the chorus is direct and infectious, and then the vibe shifts to deep darkness. The playing spirals in the shadows as Jess howls back the title, and the track burns off.

“Summer Tripping Man” is a sugary one and a quick burst as the keys push, and the playing is faster than what preceded it. Guitars drive as the vocals push hard, the keys hypnotize, and the track whips out of the room before you know what happened. “What’s on Your Mind” has breezier vocals that soar and another great chorus, which is no shock at all. The pace picks up the intensity as the synth gets lush, and the playing boils. “Is this the end?” Jess wonders as the keys mar, and the track slips off into the night.  “Born to Kill” is grittier and meaner as Jess jabs, “Swan song, baby, one more fucking time,” leading into a sticky chorus. The whole thing is sinister and dangerous, like a killer is behind you, with everything ending in an electronics surge. “Strange Earth Illusion” is the closer, running 11:35 and swimming in dark keys and plodding guitars. “All alone in this world of vertigo,” Jess calls as the atmosphere opens, and the keys pump. Things get punchier as the playing toys with you using a start/stop attack until everything washes into strange choral sections and trippy trickling. Warm guitars wash over, the singing digs deep and gets soulful, and everything disappears into the nearest void.

Jess and the Ancient Ones long have been a personal favorite, and “Vertigo” continues their run of strong records that feel like they’ve come here from another era and plane of existence. These songs are a blast of fun, full of strange evil and roaming darkness, getting inside you and converting you to their own spirit world. This record will fall right into the hearts of anyone who has followed this band and hopefully find even more converts along the way.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://svartrecords.com/product/jess-and-the-ancient-ones-vertigo-album/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Grave Miasma’s warped death devastates minds with ‘Abyss of Wrathful Deities’

There’s a lot of music out there designed to make you feel good inside, cause you to dance, put a smile on your face so you can tolerate the chaos of this world. Then there’s the opposite, music that darkens your soul, pushes you into nightmare terrain, and rots your insides, making a trip into hell something you might be able to tolerate.

UK death mashers Grave Miasma never will be mistaken as one here to elevate your mood, unless the darkest, strangest stretches of death metal warm your heart. They have returned after a long layoff from their debut record with their sophomore crusher “Abyss of Wrathful Deities,” a beast about to makes its way across the globe, proverbially blotting out the sun and threatening existence as we know it. OK, yeah, that’s obviously over the top, but when you take on the music supplied by this band—multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Y, guitarist/bassist T, drummer/percussionist D—it doesn’t seem all that exaggerated. These nine songs that bleed over 53 minutes are nightmarish, strange to navigate, and impossible to properly classify, which makes what’s going on that much more intense.  

“Guardians of Death” greets you with guitars welling up and crazed growls as the playing smashes your mind. The vocals scrape and the guitars go off, multiplying the anguished hell in which you’re immersed. The vocals keep agitating, the pace pummels, and everything ends in spacious hell. “Rogyapa” unloads bursting guitars and snarling vocals, while the pace is punchy and even a little deranged. The playing catches fire as the growls tear away at your flesh, and everything stomps as your head is left spinning. The guitars wail, the eeriness settles into your nervous system, and the playing finally relents toward the end, still rubbing your face in it. “Ancestral Waters” splatters as the growls mar, and the leads engulf and tangle you in power. Massive growls and shrieks unite and aggravate healing wounds, the guitars flood and swim, and everything ends in pure menace. “Erudite Decomposition” enters with crushing drums and a haunting, heavy vibe that refuses to quit. The growls sound like they originate from hell as the guitar playing is both smoking and airy, the leads rush, and the combination of relentless speed and strange atmosphere finally fold out.

“Under the Megalith” starts as a dizzying assault with the vocals wrenching and the playing penetrating, sending you on the run. The pace keeps gaining strength as the riffs fold, and the darkness thickens and enters your blood. The storm gets gnarlier as the playing explodes and spirals, and furious hell pushes into a violent end. “Demons of the Sand” slowly enters the picture as the growls collect, and the guitar scorches your flesh. Harsh growls only increase the bruising as the music drills its way into the earth, sending rock high into the clouds, choking out everyone within their reach. “Interlude” gives you a quick breather as its acoustics feel rustic and raw, letting the temperature come down a bit before leaning into “Exhumation Rites.” That track rips open with a driving gust and growls that crush, making you a paste stain on the ground. The playing chugs and mixes your brain chemicals, and great soloing emerges to open the lava flow. The drums unload as everything is engulfed in hell, pounding growls smear salt in the wounds, and everything comes to a jarring end. “Kingdoms Beyond Kailash” ends the album with yelled screams and a heavy dose of humidity that thickens the air. The playing hangs overhead as the hypnosis gets more involved, strange strings haunt, and the playing numbs your muscles as the song ends in an acoustic wash.

Eight years was a long wait from their full-length debut, but Grave Miasma reward our patience with “Abyss of Wrathful Deities,” one of the strangest, most destructive death metal albums we’ve encountered so far this year. This feels like it emanates from deep underground, as the forces of death rise and swallow you into hellish caverns. This is a mangling, psychologically warped record that is exciting, morbid, and as suffocatingly dark as you can find.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

Or here: http://www.sepulchralvoice.de/shop/

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

And here: http://www.sepulchralvoice.de/

Sněť’s hellraising death metal leaves mental, physical wounds on mangling ‘Mokvání V Okovech’

Death metal isn’t required to make you feel like you’re being dragged through gross puddles and vats of acid in hell, but it sure goes down better when it does as it gives you the violent bounty you require. No offense intended toward the more technical and polished among death’s sphere, as they certainly play a part. But the ugly stuff is what really gets us and rots our proverbial guts.

Prague destroyers Sněť are insistent on making you feel uncomfortable and bruised after you finish taking on their violent debut record “Mokvání V Okovech,” an eight-track, 28-minute crusher that attacks with no warning. Their filth-based death metal feels disgusting and probably would taste even worse if converted into a consumable, but taking it on as music, the form in which it was intended, makes for an explosive, hammering experience. The band—vocalist Řád Zdechlin, guitarists Hnisatel and Ransolič, bassist Leproduktor, drummer Krütorr—completely unloads on you and delivers death metal that feels rabid and a little trippy amid all the carnage.

“Útes Mrtvol” is an eerie intro cut that sets the stage before noise awakens, the guitars sprawl, and the bloody ferocity slips into “Kůň Kadaver” that unload with terrifying ferocity and mauling drums. Beastly growls strike as the savagery spirals out, hellish riffs crush muscle, and the guitars burn off layers, ending in filth. “Princip Křížení” has drums slashing and total demolition going off, as the vocals turn up the deathly chaos to insane levels. The playing pounds away and lets the bruising spread, the fires suffocate, and the back end delivers feedback that gnaws at your wounds. “Demon” brings cataclysmic hell from the very start as the pace is speedy and mean, and the playing even gets swaggering as they enjoy distributing humiliation. The vocals hammer away as mangling cries explode, the drums unload, and the track chugs its way out.

“Zamrzlý Vrch” has a huge opening as clouds burst and bones are mangled. The playing smears as the drums turn stone to powder, and a huge gust leaves you grasping for the walls, the growls absolutely punish, and bodies are left behind in the track’s wake. “Folivor” delivers churning guitars as the growls sound like they’re choking on soot, and the melodies are burly as hell. The growls are violent and fierce, the force mashes you into the mud, and the track ends with bloody terror. “Sakrofag” digs its claws into your flesh as the power detonates. The band thrashes away as the heat increases tenfold, and the speedy playing rips out of control. The vocals are throaty and hellish, the power multiplies, and the track ends in chaos. “Vesmírná Saliva” is the closer, unloading slow-driving power but remaining heavy as hell. The growls gurgle as the leads take off, and the pace mashes guts. The fires are agitated, the playing keeps unloading, and everything dissolve in disarming, whirring madness.

It’s impossible not to feel physically and mentally affected after taking on Sněť’s debut record “Mokvání V Okovech,” an absolutely wrenching display. There’s nothing pristine or polished about this record, though what you hear is razor sharp and deliriously rowdy, which hits all the right spots. This album is a fire breather, something that should make deviously happy any death metal fan looking for blood.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/snet666

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.bloodharvest.se/

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

Tvær’s atmospheric black metal worships at the altar of nature, pays homage to woods on ‘Uvær’

There’s never a bad time to take an extended period to enjoy nature, because no matter the time of year, there’s always something majestic to see. But right now in the U.S. is a particularly opportune time because life is bursting again, the trees are lush with leaves, and the weather is nice enough that you can spend time out there in relative comfort.

It’s also an ideal time to dig right into the heart of “Uvær,” the debut full-length record from Minnesota-based atmospheric black metal band Tvær. Their sound is huge and punishing, a nice blend of raw and bursting power that can fill you with energy and make you want to embrace our fragile surroundings while they last. The band—guitarist/vocalist AC, guitarist/bassist MH, bassist AA, drummer EC—sound like they’ve taken great inspiration from deep inside the woods, drinking deeply from their rich home state and translating that into their art that should ignite your own fire in your heart.

“I” quietly drips in before things surge, riffs charge, and great energy jolts. The shrieks tear apart any sense of calm as melodies race heavily, and chaos splatters, ripping through your senses. Fluid and mangling, the pace stomps, and the vocals crash through walls as a rush of storms ravage, the fury peaks, and everything bleeds out in cold strains. “II” starts with clean playing before the riffs open, and the shrieks hammer away. Delirious melodies smash away as the drums explode, and wild cries explode, pushing through your rib cage. That cataclysm settles into colder waters that lap over you before the volcanic power as the riffs take off, and it feels tornadic as it approaches. The playing plasters as the walls come crashing down, and that drives to a huge end before spilling out.

“III” picks up and unleashes a long stretch of clean, propulsive playing before the volcano violently bursts, leaning into a riff rampage. The guitars charge hard, smashing away and leaving you in rubble as shrill yells gnaw at your psyche. A vicious deluge strikes as the vocals hammer away, melodies pummel, and the force crushes you right to the end. “IV” begins with the drums lighting up and the riffs lapping, battering through the front gates. Clean calls echo as things turn blinding, letting melodic punishment have its way with you and icing down your mind. Shrill shrieks attack again, clean chants echo, and that leans into a clean pocket that washes over and cools the heat. That playing continues to stream before it heads off into the sea and toward instrumental closer “V.” The track is treated with rustic acoustics, a dark folk vibe, harps igniting, and a calm, solemn ending soothing wounds.

There’s not a place on earth where Tvær would have been more at home than with Bindrune Recordings, where they slip right in among a roster of like-minded creators. “Uvær” is a jarring, atmospheric, splattering first record that feels like it’ll be even more immersive once in the heart of deep nature. This is an exciting first step for a band that’s right up our fucking alley, and I can’t wait to hear where they go from here.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.bindrunerecordings.com/products/tvaer-uvaer-lp-cd-pre-order

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

Synth warriors Zombi enter into nighttime, add strange vibes on steaming new EP ‘Liquid Crystal’

Photo by Matt Dayak

When I was a kid, I used to get seriously freaked out at night, which obviously doesn’t make me special or anything since that happens to so many people. But it instilled with me this weird sense that sticks with me to this day, an unsettling chill that works its way through me that I can’t explain, even having no fear of the night anymore or any apprehensions.

Music very often aggravated those old, glowing nerves, and it’s something I can’t explain. I just know it when I hear it. I really heard it with Zombi’s last album “2020,” and that carries over into that record’s companion EP “Liquid Crystal,” a five-track collection that carries over that vibe but doesn’t regurgitate it. The way the duo of Steve Moore and A.E. Paterra unleash that strangeness on this collection also is something that isn’t easy to put into words, at least as far as vibe is concerned. Basically if you were on the ride for “2020,” expect the sink even deeper into that universe on this collection.  

“Mangler” gets things started with the synth creeping in and the drums cracking as it feels like trouble is brewing. Everything feels eerie and strange with dark clouds hovering and your nerves on edge. The pace picks up, the sci-fi strangeness floods, and the playing fades into time. “Chant” feels light and airy with the bass plodding, and a mid-80s Rush feel moving in. The playing is dreamy and chilling as the pace numbs you, and cool melody snakes through the center point. The title track has keys lurching and the shadows thickening as warm air begins to pump into your face. The track has a total nighttime feel to it, cooling your flesh as guitar work slithers down your spine, leaving your blood standing. “Turning Points” runs a healthy 11:18, and guitars churn, drums echo, and the pace crawls ominously. The dreams begin to increase and get more intense, the cymbals crash, and the playing is deliberate and channeled, pushing on deeper into your mind. It feels like a beast is stalking you as your fight-or-flight tendencies kick in, the strangeness swims, and the droning keys head off into the clouds. “Black Forest” is the closer, bringing hovering synth and guitar licks that sound inspired by steamy old crime shows. All that gets under your skin as the drums hit hard, progressive vibes spit, and everything is swallowed in fog.

Zombi’s progression continues to get darker and more sinister, evidenced by what you heard on this great EP “Liquid Crystal.” The music can be equally mentally stimulating and strangely creepy as the band lurks around, looking for anything the make your nerve endings stand on end. Zombi have made a career out of proving their strange charisma is as effective telling stories musically as any words ever could be.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://relapse.com/zombi-liquid-crystal/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Inferno blast with galactic black metal to invade psyches on ‘Paradeigma…’

For all the chaos that has crawled over this earth the past decade and all the anxiety and pressure so many of us have felt, it’s crucial to have a vessel for simply disappearing into the void and traveling to planes beyond your own. OK, I know you can’t do that physically as of yet, but there are escapes out there, and it’s a matter of finding what works for you.

One potential avenue comes in the form of “Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity),” the latest chapter from Czech black metal ghouls Inferno, yet another document from this band that makes you question reality. It also might help reconfigure the possibilities black metal holds as the band—vocalist Adramelech, guitarist/bassist/sound manipulator Ska-Gul, guitarist Morion, drummer Sheafraidh (Hekte Zaren also provides vocals)—takes a deep jumping off point on this, their eighth full-length effort, as they deliver soundscapes and strange journeys all while they apply coats of intergalactic black metal that will make you feel like you’re locked in a strange dream for 36 minutes.

“Decaying Virtualities Yearn for Asymptopia” is an intro track that’s instrumental, built with a hazy atmosphere and strange keys, and that swims into “The Wailing Horizon” that blasts its way open. Adramelech’s vocals acts like a ghoul in the bloodstream as the track blasts and punches through, and a cloudy fury sits overhead. A weird dream state settles in, a scary sound cloud grows and smothers, and the playing revolts, leaving you wondering where the hell you are. “Descent Into Hell of the Future” enters into trippy strangeness before the fists begin to fly, and a haunting haze gets into your mind. Beastly alien vocals chew through you before they get uglier and meaner, sending chills down your spine. The drums rumble as your spirit freezes, and then the playing ignites, the growls bubble, and everything is sucked into deep outer space.

“Phosphenes” starts with guitars opening and strange, terrifying auras settling overhead. The drums kick through the door as the stratosphere fills with fire, and eerie sounds enter hell’s front gates. Cosmic storming picks up, sending strange vibes through the universe, the drums echo, and your blood freezes in your veins. “Ekstasis of the Continuum” brings rumbling keys, kinetic drumming, and hazy chaos that does battle with the machines swinging. A dizzying synth cloud pushes in, voices call out, and a miasma of terror swirls as the track blasts out. “Stars Within and Stars Without Projected Into the Matrix of Time” ends the record, a clobbering piece that starts with drums caving in your chest and the whole thing coming alive. The guitars open and drizzle insane melodies, and battle roars pummel, pushing things into a nightmarish void. Daring energy blasts through cracks, a huge deluge of sound emerges, and cold blasts head into the stars, letting things fester and rot in the depths of the universe.

The horrors that strike and destroy through the entire body of “Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity)” are impossible to explain to someone, hard as I tried above to give you an idea of what Inferno packed into this horrifying package. It’s true the terrors we know here exist elsewhere, and Inferno spend the entire run of this nearly 36-minute adventure exposing them. It’s an experience that is purely unique to them, and every trip through this chaos changes every single part of you.  

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

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/

Kataan’s spacious death metal stabs back at depressive states, dystopian trauma with debut EP

It’s easy to be overcome with anxiety and tension in these times, and even when it seems like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, there has been so much collateral damage done to many of us, that it could be years before we feel like ourselves again. If we even get to that point. That can give way to mental heaviness and dread, two things that make healing that much more difficult.

Kataan is a new death metal project pairing Nick Thornbury of the sadly defunct Vattnet Viskar on guitars and vocals and Brett Boland of Astronoid on bass and drums, but together that do something that’s not exactly a copy of either one of their other stomping grounds. Instead, we get atmospheric death metal that is immersed in depressive imagery and existential trauma, terrain that’s certainly rich right now with so many people suffering to get by. As dark as the creations they unleash on this four-track EP can be, it’s also the sign of new life for both artists as they open this fresh venture. The EP is heavy and a rush of atmosphere, the seeds planted on what hopefully is a fruitful project.  

“Erase” starts the record with mauling passion and growls pounding away, bringing the track to an early furious rage. “Open your eyes and see, hopes and dreams are just fantasies,” Thornbury wails as the track picks up intensity. “We are nothing, none of this matters,” he stabs as the track gets more punishing, spacious playing unloads, and everything rushes from your lungs. “Abyss” delivers melodic sorrow, and clean howls swelter over the chorus, adding new textures to the picture. An atmospheric gust moves in, the growls unleash anguish, and melodic fires continue to aggravate as everything rushes into the stratosphere. “Processor” begins with the drums turning everything to dust and the playing wailing as Thornbury howls, “The end is coming.” The chorus rushes through you and feels infectious as the demolition increases, and the earth feels like it’s being torn in two. The hammers continue to drop, the fearsome destruction spreads, and everything rushes away. “Vessel” ends the record with an energetic push as washed-out cries haunt, pushing the humidity through the roof. Deadly carnage goes for the guts as an atmospheric gaze takes hold, the shrieks shred, and molten gusting spits power, chugging out and ending the record on a bruising note.

Kataan’s debut EP delivers cataclysmic power and dystopian nightmares as you watch your reality unfold before you and turn to ash. There are mild hints of each man’s other bands, but for the most part, this is a new sonic venture for each, the heaviest stuff they’ve done in a long time. This is a really promising first burst for this band whose penchant for atmospheric death metal makes their music equally enthralling and completely devastating.   

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

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/

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