PICK OF THE WEEK: Molassess shed devil’s blood, blaze rousing new routes on ‘Through the Hollow’

Photo by Ryannevan Dorst

Almost all bands when they start are not carrying with them a legacy that went beyond music and had its claws firmly steeped in spiritual and philosophical terrain that was larger than any of the members themselves. The Devil’s Blood may have a relatively small body of work and history, but their pull went beyond all of that, influencing and moving people after they passed.

That end came when leader Selim Lemouchi passed from this earthly terrain in 2014, and the band’s run halted abruptly. But a few years ago, things started to bubble, and its members were asked to perform at 2019’s Roadburn, planting the seeds for Molassess, the second phase of the work started by the Devil’s Blood. Here, the band has arrived with their debut album “Through the Hollow,” a nine-track, 65-minute opus that not only lives up to their original formation’s work but also pushes beyond that into something even more immersive and imaginative. Molassess brings former the Devil’s Blood members entrancing vocalist Farida Lemouchi (she was known as the Mouth of Satan), as well as guitarists Oeds Beydals and Ron van Herpen, and bassist Job van de Zande, and they’re joined by drummer Bob Hogenelst and keyboard player Matthijs Stronks on this new project that continues to carry the spiritual mission started by Selim into whatever chaotic future is ahead of us all.   

The title track starts with strange noises floating in before guitars spiral, and a trippy feel is achieved quickly. Lemouchi’s unmistakable singing unfurls as a sprawling journey spreads out and carries the bulk of this 11:06-long track. Keys haunt as wordless calls soothe, and the music keeps tunneling as Lemouchi calls, “No more bridges left to burn,” amid a psyche haze that fully intoxicates. “Get Out From Under” has guitars trickling and more exceptional singing straight from Lemouchi’s guts. The chorus is tremendous while the vibe is mesmerizing and driving. The stirring playing continues as warm guitars heat up and bring a deep, golden ’70s vibe as prog-fueled playing takes the song to its end. “Formless Hands” runs a healthy 10:54 and blasts alive with keys jolting and a great, lively feel taking over your chest cavity. Leads buzz as the band’s fluid playing reminds of a heavier early era Chicago or Yes, as Lemouchi wonders, “Are you along for the ride?” Synth spits hypnotic patterns as the playing trudges into druggy weirdness, and a long, mind-altering instrumental section rounds back as Lemouchi’s singing returns bellowing, and the track keeps warping your mind even as it bows out. “Corpse of Mind” flows in mystically as melodies spread and the vocals float, with Lemouchi commanding, “Break through the eyes of time.” The singing feels otherworldly while the end of the track disappears into a void.

“The Maze of Stagnant Time” leads in with guitars firing and a burst of emotion as the singing pushes the boundaries. Wordless calls cause the fervor to rise while the riffs get agitated, and cool keys and jazzy guitars bring cold rains to soak the ground. “I Am No Longer” melts in with guitars liquifying and dreamy slowness dictating the pace at first. Drums bustle, joined by keys perfect for nighttime as Lemouchi declares, “I am forever haunting.” The music segues into elegance and seasonal coolness while brains bubble from skulls, slide guitars bring unexpected heat, and the track blisters out. “Death Is” is a great goddamn track, a revelation in a record full of body-tingling stuff, this one acting playful from the start with guitars couch-locking you. There’s such a strange vibe as vintage guitars zap through what feels like a tasty, deadly selection from a nightclub dedicated to total darkness, leaving you lying, gasping in your own juices. Such a good song. “Tunnel” cuts through as sounds rattle and a strange vibe sets up shop. Bass pumps while the drums snap with life, as echoing, nightmarish strangeness attaches onto this instrumental and brings it to chiming end. “The Devil Lives” is the perfect final cut, a 10:33-long anthem that feels like it stitches its path from the last band to this one. “Something’s amiss, and you KNOW it,” Lemouchi stabs with a line that’ll chill your bones while the guitars intoxicate with a mix of blues and psychedelia. The playing feels like it travels across a sea before it rises up again and Lemouchi delivers the most jarring line of the record with, “The devil’s blood is within me,” which should electrify you as guitars echo and moan, soling later brings metallic sparks, and everything ends in a tornadic abyss.

Following up the sound and legacy of the Devil’s Blood had to be a harrowing task, but what Molassess accomplish here keeps intact the veins the original band grew into the earth while branching off to other areas not yet explored. I had been heavily anticipating “Through the Hollow” all year long, to the point of where I feared my expectations were too high, but this band absolutely decimated those. This is one of the most magickal, emotionally moving records of the year, and it’s a fresh beginning for a band whose mission was nowhere near over.

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

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

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

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

Pallbearer deliver powerful emotional glimpse into family, loss on moving ‘Forgotten Days’

Doom metal always has had its hands in things other than pure evil, as it’s often delved into other areas such as depression, sadness, decay, and the fragile human state that feels like it can fall apart at any second. This is a year where these themes hit particularly hard, and music that can find that centerpoint can be a profound way of connecting and growing.

Arkansas doom beasts Pallbearer not only have scratched many of these surfaces but also have traveled deep within them to craft records that have carved out a much-deserved stellar reputation for the band and have helped create three landmark album giants for the sub-genre over the past decade or so. And now comes “Forgotten Days,” another record pushed back to later in the year due to the blessed virus, but this stuff almost hits even heavier now than it may have when weather and moods were getting to their apex. The band—vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell, guitarist Devin Holt, bassist/vocalist Joseph D. Rowland, drummer Mark Lierly—focuses on family and what those ties mean. It’s not a love letter home. Instead it’s a further exploration into loss and pain as Rowland returns to themes of losing his mother a decade ago which helped paint debut “Sorrow and Extinction” while Campbell’s selections deal with passage of time and memory, as his mother is now dealing with her own mother Alzheimer’s disease, a level on which I can relate right now. It’s an incredible, sobering journey both thematically and musically, one that hits a little heavier to the heart and soul than many other doom records right now. 

The title track gets us started as noise bleeds in before the riffs open in earnest. The vibe is ominous and dark as over the chorus Campbell wonders, “Is this insanity? Will they come to take me? Who can I trust with tomorrow? I can barely trust myself.” Warm soloing rushes in, filling your senses, while Campbell notes, “Times have changed and so have I,” before things take off again, and pained echoes add the final nail. “Riverbed” has rich riffs and a chorus that can make your heart grow cold. Spirited crunch dusts up the moodiness as guitars lather you, and some power adds more taste. The singing is heartfelt as usual while a final simmer lets the heat collect and cause sweating. “Stasis” has livelier guitars and a driving force, while Campbell laments unwanted change in one’s life. “This place, so hollow, seems like a prison cell to me,” he drives on the great chorus while synth wells up and adds new textures, while the track ends in echo bath. “Silver Wings” is the longest track on the record, a 12:18-long epic that reminds of the band’s earlier days. The track takes some time to set up the atmosphere, and once it does, solemn vocals are dripping while the emotional pull runs into colder storming. Later, synth zaps while the leads heat up, while the guitars combine and create a force one cannot stand down.  

“The Quicksand of Existing” chugs while delivering smoking doom, following the longest track with the shortest, clocking in at an uncharacteristic 3:59. They make the most of it as the verses are gruffer, the guitar work even heavier, and the pall of doom brings certain darkness. “Vengeance & Ruination” mashes from the start, going to squash guts as Campbell jabs, “Carve away dignity, piece by piece for all of us to see.” The track hulks as the band adds layers of emotion to what’s already a vulnerable scene, and then the tempo punches up as heaviness and warmth combine to bring a chunky finish. “Rite of Passage” begins clean before the guitars push the issue, and spiritual ache is dealt generously. “One question to ask of you, did part of me die while watching you go?” Campbell delivers as pain collects, while the soloing rises, and the track burns off into a reflective pool. “Caledonia” is the closer, and it starts delicately before that trademark Pallbearer crunch drops. There’s a deathrock vibe that carries with it damp winds while keys zap into a hazy ambiance as Campbell calls, “I wasn’t aware that fate would plunge the knife, I watched the color fade out from joys of life.” The soloing has a psychedelic edge to them as a bluesy fog arrives, the chorus bites back again, and the track fades into the cold.

This is likely to be the record that gets the band the most attention simply because they’re firmly ensconced on Nuclear Blast now, but Pallbearer deliver a hearty, emotional reckoning on “Forgotten Days.” There’s a noticeable effort to trim the fat from their songs, for the most part, and it does give the record more urgency and never sacrifices the depth. More ears are bound to absorb Pallbearer’s music this time around, and they’ll be rewarded with a great record that continues to show why they’re so special and highly regarded.     

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.pallbearerdoom.com/forgotten-days

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

Wayfarer combine black metal with Old West, cowboy mythos on fiery ‘A Romance of Violence’

Photo by Elizabeth Marsh

If you grew up in the United States—it matters not what area as the story spread everywhere—then you grew up with the myth of the Old West and the cowboy, something that used to dominate film and television a little more than a half century ago. It’s woven into the fabric of this land’s own folklore (I saw a full fucking magazine about John Wayne at a home improvement store last week), and it’s taken on a life of its own, sometimes to detrimental means.

Denver-based black metal band Wayfarer likely were even more immersed in these tales as they hail from a place that was in a large part of that history’s heart, and they tackle that on their ambitious, spellbinding new record “A Romance With Violence.” This isn’t foreign territory based on the band’s three preceding records, all released within a clean two-year period of each other, but this is where they find their rugged spirit and puts it all together like never before. The band—guitarist/vocalist Shane McCarthy, guitarist Joey Truscelli, bassist/vocalist James Hansen, drummer Isaac Faulk—were joined by guests including Kelly Schilling (Dreadnought), Anthony Limon (Falcon’s Eye), and Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts, who also mastered the record) to create this cinematic, destructive document that fills your heart and mind with drama as we watch blood soak the earth, legend peeled to bare bones.

“The Curtain Pulls Back” starts the record, a true scene setter with old timey piano and echoes swirling, and then it’s into “The Crimson Rider (Gallows Frontier, Act I)” that tears open into spacious melodies and growls filling the air. The vocals turn vile and spread as guitars build a wall, as the fury increases, and the drums cave in walls. “As the platform falls from his feet, his last breath proclaims: I am iron, I am death, I am the setting sun, I am the West,” McCarthy wails as a prog feel arrives, and the synth melts minds. The track then charges all over, agitating storms from hell and ravaging until the track trickles out. “The Iron Horse (Gallows Frontier, Act II)” starts with riffs making the room spin before everything is torn apart, and guitars flex their muscles while kicking up dust. “An inferno, fed of enslavement and starvation, there is always more coal for the flames,” McCarthy jabs as fluid soloing lights up the night sky. The pace then gallops as clouds form over the mountains, setting off thunder that makes the ground shake.

“Fire & Gold” has guitars settling in as the band unfurls a midwestern vibe complete with clean singing. Organs swell as the voices continue to rise, and the track feels like it’s off toward the desert as noises warp and open a portal to a dream state. “Masquerade of the Gunslingers” brings guitars jangling and melody flooding as fierce shrieks deliver pain. The leads warm up as an epic assault is mounted, hammering through with reckless abandon. A period of cold soaks the skin, feeling like you’ve been left shivering before things take a turn and heat up the intensity, with McCarthy howling, “You feel it burning within you, you’re paralyzed, please take my hand and step into the night.” The pace continues to add force before the track comes unglued with devastating roars that turn to shrieks, and the band smashes to the very end. “Intermission” has guitars and keys creating a strange haze, hanging overhead and moving into closer “Vaudeville” that starts with stick taps and riffs creating hypnosis. Acoustics and hand claps echo as hearty singing jolts, feeling rustic and steely until the floor ultimately drops. Shrieks shatter as McCarthy calls, “I wait for the show to come back, holding out, to see that magic once again I wait, while the water comes down, will I ever see the end?” Guitars spiral as the drumming caves, with another heavy blast crushing rock, the playing cascading, and the spirit sinking into the night.

 Wayfarer’s infatuation with the Old West and the cowboy legend comes into sharp, stunning focus on “A Romance With Violence,” easily the best record of their run so far. The band’s combination of rousing black metal, dusty western music, and explosive atmosphere sounds as channeled and focused as it ever has for this band, and this is a compelling journey from front to back.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/?

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

Chilean beasts Invincible Force smear bloody black thrash on vile ‘Decomposed Sacramentum’

If you’re as tired as I am about reading pandemic shit on this site, let me spare you today. There definitely is something to wanting to just have your brain and body thrashed in the name of Satan and just taking it in. Remember good, heathenistic times? Yeah, me neither, but let’s just humor each other while we talk about motherfucking Invincible Force.  

The band has returned with their ridiculously punishing second record “Decomposed Sacramentum,” their first since their debut “Satan Rebellion Metal” five years ago. Funny enough that title actually captures the essence of these nine new tracks that spread over 27 minutes, a raging, fire-breathing display that takes you on right up front and wrestles you to the ground. The band—guitarists Enzodomizer and Deadgoat, bassist Cristian Contreras (I guess he doesn’t get a cool name), and drummer/vocalist Skullfukk—run roughshod as they deliver vile black metal and thrash that feels like it’s going to tear your throat from your neck.

“Doomed by the Vision” begins as noises dawn and then the track is torn to bits as savage ferocity enrages. Raspy hell in pushed out in the vocals as the tempo thrashes, guitars erupt, and raw menace crushes the track closed. “Perpetual Black Mass” stirs as the track gets speedy and gnarly, while the pace flattens. Riffs kick in and bruise while the guitars destroy the senses, and the damage is done thoroughly. “The Covenant” unloads tornadic riffs as the playing mashes the gas pedal, and the growls tear through your chest. Guitars swelter as they stomp through a field of bodies, and the back end is marked by feral terror. “The Shadow Over Canaan” has a driving build up before brute force bludgeons, and the growls smother with blood. The track gets harsh and mean as the playing carves through the madness, as the pace is sweltering and unforgiving.

“Illusion of Truth” delivers riffs with balled fists as the intensity begins to storm, and the pace manages to get even more violent. Guitars smear the senses as the band picks up the trudging designed to destroy bones. “Damned By Noise and Lust” has great riffs and a forceful vibe as the blistering attack feels like it’s coming for your life. The playing hits like a tangled web as the playing totally decimates, and the finish delivers a blinding attack. “Abufihamat” has the guitars churning, matching what’s going on with the acid in your stomach. The power is nasty, as are the growls, then the drums speed up dangerously, and the soloing slices through like a hot knife. The title track continues the pattern of being thrashy and devastating while the vocals aim to rip your face off your skull, and the playing is clobbering. Then the assault turns to a calculated boil as the track gets meatier and edgier before burning away. “Hopeless Mortality” is the closer and blasts to life with the drums taking things apart. Raspy growls massacre as the leads catch fire, the drums explode, and the track ends in a lava pit.

These Chilean beasts in Invincible Force deliver barbaric black thrash on “Decomposed Sacramentum,” which stands as one of the deadlier records of this slowly decaying year. This is an album for getting your brains scrambled as you revel in their dangerous aura and abject heaviness. This record will deface you in no time and laugh as you writhe in pain and humiliation.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Invincible666Force

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Spirit Adrift add positivity into darkness on mighty ‘Enlightened in Eternity’

There certainly is a lot of darkness in our world. Too much if you ask me. And it’s almost impossible to avoid if you pay even an ounce of attention to things that are going on in the news and within our own communities. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of people having mental health issues that likely have been pressed to their breaking point. Times are rough.

Taking that all into account, it’s nice to know there still are forces in our world trying to amplify positivity and refusing the give in to the madness. On their fourth full-length record “Enlightened in Eternity,” Spirit Adrift set out to make their most powerful and uplifting music to date, which they definitely do on this eight-track, nearly 46-minute album that just explodes with emotion. Not that all was well with the band’s world going into recording the album as vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Nate Garrett and drummer Marcus Bryant both lost their beloved dogs (Garrett’s Lizzy can be seen in the gatefold of the “Chained to Oblivion” album), and a friend close to the band also passed, so their positive vibes created when they wrote the music certainly was challenged. But they fought their way through and made one hell of a great album, and Lizzy and Bryant’s Dawkins even gallop gloriously on the album’s cover, a sign that they may be on a different plane, but they’re never forgotten. 

“Ride Into the Light” starts the record with the riffs killing and hugely chugging as everything comes to life. “If we make it through the night, we’ll ride into the light,” Garrett declares over the chorus as the track charges, and the soloing catches fire. “In victory, it’s clear to me, there’s something more that I must be,” Garrett calls triumphantly as synth rises, and everything slams shut. “Astral Levitation” has a nice Dio essence to it (from a musical standpoint) as the verses punch, and the chorus overwhelms. “There is nowhere that can’t be seen if you let yourself be free,” he calls as keys merge, and the bass line pumps. Soloing goes off as the track takes on a Maiden-style gallop, running back through the chorus before bowing out. “Cosmic Conquest” has the bass driving up your blood pressure and more great leads that make your heart surge. Guitars flex before the soloing adds more pressure, hitting glorious highs that’ll have your serotonin levels cruising. “Screaming from Beyond” has a nice classic heavy metal vibe to it, more great singing (this is where I point out just how great Garrett’s voice sounds on this record), and a tight drive that keeps landing blows. Warm soloing melts away walls of ice later on while the energy fades, only for a clean trickling to pick up and take the song to its end.

“Harmony of the Spheres” bursts through the gates, trucking and hammering with Garrett blasting over the chorus, “Harmony showing us the way, every vibration is the same,” with extra emphasis on the last word. The guitars jab away while the energy level is thick as hell, with the track coming to a forceful end. “Battle High” opens with a bass line that reminds of “Black Velvet,” as everything snakes in around that, with Garrett warning, “Save yourself, war is hell.” The chorus gushes through the center of its rigid body while the music is charred and leaves pockets of smoke behind. “Stronger Than Your Pain” has guitars circling and cutting through as meaty bruising is left on your rib cage, and a simple but bustling chorus finds its way to the surface. The playing is raucous and fun, laying in some solid punches on its way out the door. “Reunited in the Void” is the 10:48-long closer that dawns over the horizon as the guitars lather, and a slower pace is achieved. “Pain is just an inner guide, voices from the other side,” Garrett wails as synth rises, and the emotional toll gets heavier. “You and I will be one eternally,” Garrett vows as the song segues into cleaner waters before organs flood, and the soloing kicks in the power. Keys rush as the pace gets faster, a psychedelic edge brushes track, and riffs entangle as the track heads off to its final destiny. 

Spirit Adrift’s power just gets more intense and infectious with every album, to which I’m sure we sound like a broken record since we seem to repeat that every time. But it’s true, and “Enlightened in Eternity” takes things to an even higher level with these eight songs that capture you from moment one and whisk you off on a fantastical journey. This is a really special band putting out totally genuine, moving heavy metal in a time when pessimism is at its apex, and we could all use something to get our energies in a more positive place.

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

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

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

Infera Bruo examine personal inventory, transformation on rushing ‘Rites of the Nameless’

This last year has left us a lot of time to do things perhaps we didn’t before when we were constantly on the go and trying to scrape out time to be around the homestead, much less present in our own emotions. Taking time to sink into that giant chasm that is our own essence can be a gigantic challenge, but if handled responsibly, the other side is brighter.

That’s a bit of a strange segue into “Rites of the Nameless,” the great new record from Infera Bruo that definitely has its corners that revel in total darkness. But for this, their fourth album and second for Prosthetic, the music tackles the ideas of inner turmoil and self-reflection, with the album title referring to an ancient ritual that is used to transform the spirit and the flesh. That makes this record one that sometimes feels like a raging storm hammering your psyche but in others lets the mind clear and take on some of that hard work as the band—vocalist/guitarist Galen Baudhuin, bassist Chris Danecek, synth/keyboard player Robin Amos, drummer Alex Fewell—unfurls atmospheric black metal that jolts your brain’s chemical impulses.

“The Breath of Chaos” starts the record charging hard as vicious shrieks rain down, and the guitar work turns spellbinding. Cleaner singing arrives over the chorus, while the song pulls back just a bit before dipping into power again. Rage later erupts with the drums storming and the riffs stampeding, igniting with chaos as it burrows into the night. “Latent Foe Arcane” awakens in a melodic flurry as riffs whip by and Baudhuin’s furious shrieks are in full assault. Singing mixes in with the harsher vocals as fluid darkness spills in, and power rushes. A quick respite with colder melodies changes the scenery for a minute before the track bursts anew and spits shrapnel. “Frayed” begins with even darker tones before the shrieks rupture any sense of peace, and things then speed up before taking on a tempered pace. Vocals knife in as the drums come to life again, as mind-altering riffs dash toward the finish.

“Cimmerian Shade” is one of the better songs in the band’s catalog, and it dawns with murky synth and a heavy cloud cover. Then the punches land as Baudhuin howls, “No light will reach me!” as black metal majesty unfurls. Melodic passages crush as a new dose of savagery opens previously scabbed wounds, while clean calls gather, growls spindle, and the pace then catches fire and melts inhibitions. “Mining Shadows for Unlight” blasts apart as the shrieks pummel, and a glorious chorus makes your head rush. Things get moody and sinister as singing and shrieks combine and deface sanity, while guitars churn, and that nasty chorus comes back and exacts revenge on you. The title track gets off to a grim, ominous start as the vocals slash in, and speedy black metal rushes the shores. Soloing strikes early and burns through the fields as group vocals mesmerize, and the playing clobbers you amid a trance. Guitars bring dizziness while the band pitches together again as their voices carry, while the guitars stun. Keys then warm up as chants glow, and Baudhuin wails, “Speaking through the veil, rites of the nameless,” as the final moments bend time.

Chaos literally is everywhere. For real, think about your life even a year ago and imagine the events of the past couple weeks. The turmoil and madness are thick and disgusting, and Infera Bruo may not be directly tapping into the events, but on “Rites of the Nameless,” they lay this out in front of you and challenge you to cope. It’s not impossible, but it’s a challenge that we must face, and this music pushes us right in that direction, for our own good.

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

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

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

Aphonic Threnody bring sorrow, slithering doom, death on dour, mood crusher ‘The Great Hatred’

Time is nigh for music that is dreary and depressing as daylight slowly is drained from our days, and the onset of colder temperatures and seasonal disorders begin to manifest themselves. There’s nothing wrong with embracing those darker elements, because ignoring their existence is a work of fiction, so by all means, wallow in the pain.

Helping you along the way is Aphonic Threnody and their strong new record “The Great Hatred,” a title that should clue you in that storms and trouble are coming. Over six monster tracks and about 57 minutes, the band delivers sordid doom, gothic tendencies, and even some death harshness to bring you along the anguished passages laid out before you. The band—vocalist/bassist/guitarist/keyboard player Juan Escobar C and guitarist Riccardo Veronese—takes you on a journey through your mind, your suffering, and whatever frustrations have mounted so you can face them, identify them, and relate to their messages. We’re living in as dark of times as we’ve had in a long time, so let this wash over you and fill up your wounds with salty streams.

“Locura” starts lurching as C’s vocals spread, and the track gets sludgy and edgy. Keys swell as the singing turns clean, as a gothy feel makes the room rather chilly. The playing keeps pounding away as chills fill your bones, and the guitar work floods the scene, working toward melancholic darkness. Drama and sorrow build a thick skin as the track ends rather abruptly. “Interrogation” has cold guitars lowering the temperature even more as the playing gushes, and growls explode. The sorrow spreads on the lead guitar’s wings as they stretch and bring shadowy darkness while the playing starts to mash digits. Heaviness strikes as C’s fierce vocals penetrate, grit builds, and the bruising really sets in. The bass coils, the drums rumble, and funeral bells bring the song to an end. “The Great Hatred” has gruff singing and forceful growls melding together as the pace absolutely crushes. Leads light up and drag over the top while the track unleashes meaty playing that leaves blood behind. The guitar chugs into a dreamy, atmospheric section before the soloing heats up and melts away ice, and then strangeness thickens and casts a morbid, long shadow.

“Drowning” runs 10:36 and immediately sinks you into deep sorrow and heavy crunching as the bass slinks, and misery is close behind. Keys drip as the music keeps stretching out, with growls being soaked by the heavy, cold rains. The gravity continues to increase as pain and punishment unite, synth bleeds, and the track bleeds way. “The Rise of the Phoenix” is a mammoth at 11:38 and opens with foreboding keys and bass driving through the night. Growls rupture and are met by mysterious speaking, while the bass solidifies, and cleaner singing sounds purposely detached. The leads open and surge while the track chugs as C admits, “There’s nothing I can do.” Sadness prevails as the playing wrenches guts, and the final moments trickle out into time. “The Fall” is the closer that brings guitars lighting fires, and the tempo flowing like a slow burn. Piano notes drip as C’s roars crash down, bringing with it heavy and dirty sentiments. The grief collects in your chest as the synth sweeps, and the guitars trigger sparks. The playing soars into the stratosphere, wrenching and bringing with it insane emotions while sounds build, and the track disintegrates into the air.

“The Great Hatred” definitely won’t assist you if you’re in a heavy darkness yourself, that is if you want to find some positivity or hope. But what Aphonic Threnody do so well is give you music than can be a partner while you wallow and try to heal, writhing in the juices of your own pain. This is a dramatic, pummeling record that can only serve to help callous your fragile psyche.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/aphonic.threnody.5

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

Or here (international): https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.de/shop-en

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

Throane’s climactic black metal examines personal suffering on spiraling ‘Une balle dans le pied’

I’ll be super honest: There is no way I could get through what frontline workers in this pandemic have faced ever. Like, ever. It’s complete insanity to me, and part of my utter crippling fear is my being a hypochondriac and not being able to even think about one of my worst fears actually sits in front of me and could be interacting with my body.

If you look at the cover of  “Une balle dans le pied,” the new EP from Throane, you see the band’s creator Dehn Sora’s sister’s peeling, brutalized feet from her time as a nurse, running and pounding floors trying to help patients, with her own physical well being thrown to the side. The album’s title is a French saying for “a bullet in the foot,” and Sora took the saying that means sabotaging oneself to examine those mental and physical wounds that put other people’s needs first and the price that’s paid. The release is a single 13:20-long track that creates misery about paying that price amid spiraling, mind-toppling black metal that’s daring and completely unkempt.   

“Une balle dans le pied” is the 13:20-long sole track on the EP, wrenching open and letting the vocals enter an echo chamber. Muddy guitars choke as the playing warps, leaving you grasping for a place along the wall to maintain your balance. The track is sucked into a cloud, humming until the guitars jar, and a strange ambiance fills the room. Guitars dizzy as the bizarre tones get thicker, crazed howls chip away at granite, and then the sound disappears into a void, only to resurface by rushing back in. The growls pound away, the guitars loosen screws, and melodies bubble, going off into an unsettling atmosphere that’s scary and weird, bludgeoning the final nail.

Much homage has been paid to medical workers since this pandemic started as they’re on the frontlines of the battle and have seen things we cannot imagine. But it’s not like this is news, as you can attest from the photo of Sora’s sister that adorns the cover of “Une balle dans le pied.” Throane have managed to combine different mediums of art to convey this pain and agony that never really ends, a fact that’s punishingly spread over these brutal 13 minutes.

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

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Yatra’s smoking, psychedelic doom powers up on thunderous smasher ‘All Is Lost’

Photo by Shane Gardner

Keeping busy during the scourge that is COVID hasn’t been super smooth for everyone on this planet. It can be easy to find yourself climbing the walls to come up with a distraction or a project if you don’t have regular work you can do from home or if you’re one of the folks who has to go out into the real world. It can be a real energy suck.

Maryland psyche doom band Yatra found something constructive in writing and recording their crushing third full-length album “All Is Lost,” their second release of the year, following January’s eye-opening “Blood of the Night.” On fire after time on the road and feeling the creative juices flowing, the band—vocalist/guitarist Dana Helmuth, bassist Maria Geisbert, drummer Sean Lafferty—got together with Noel Mueller of Grimoire to record this nine-track beast, though they point out it was done with strict social distancing in mind. They might sound like savages on record, but these are responsible musicians in the face of a global pandemic, a lesson to us all. The result is yet another uptick in quality for a band that’s been making powerful stuff since their 2019 debut “Death Ritual” and keep finding new ways to be even deadlier.

The title track kicks off the record with guitars firing up and furious growls as Helmuth wails, ” Die before your flesh has turned creeping from the afterlife!” The song feels like a raid before it switches up and the solo catches fire, growls continue to cave in chests, and fierce drumming knocks holes in the walls. “Winter’s Dawning” delivers doom snarls and the drums hammering as the pace hulks along. ” Foretold the silence has taken back the night, starlight is shining, winter is dawning,” Helmuth calls amid a gallop that threatens safety and an animalistic ambiance that ends in a nasty section of mashing. “Tyrant Throne” slowly gets its juices flowing as the riffs spiral, and the low end crushes spines. There is gritty singing over the chorus as the band achieves Sabbathian symmetry, with the soloing melting and the playing leaving your mind racing into oblivion. “One for the Mountain” begins with burly bass and bluesy smoke mesmerizing before cleaner singing takes the lead. “Death is chanting in the wind, the song that makes the blood flow, I can hear the battle call, we shall crush them one and all,” Helmuth declares as vicious slide guitars slice underneath fingernails, and the pace trudges. The final moments send heat waves as signing mix with guttural grunts, and the end gurgles out.

“Blissful Wizard” begins with sitars massaging your mind as a gargantuan bong hit bubbles into clobbering, and the playing cuts toward the center. Growls tear at flesh as the soloing detonates, leaving ash and blood in its wake. “Talons of Eagles” spills in with bustling drums and sturdy riffs, while the growls scrape at the ground. “Serpents of darkness, death in the night, crushing bones and spirits, bloodshed will fall,” Helmuth forecasts as the earth is scorched, and the song leaves nothing but punishment behind. “Eyes of Light” has speedier drums loosening plaster, guitars smoking, and the pace chugging as it chews its way into your consciousness. Growls crumble and seek to leave bruising while the band does its best to unearth any sense of calm buried at your center. “‘Twas the Night” starts with acoustics feeling like they’re blowing in during a breezy night before electrics take over, and the melodies even have a black metal essence to them. The pace is slower and mournful as ice and snow cripple your bones, and long-lost tales find their way into your dreams. “Northern Lights” caps off the record with noise rustling and the drums opening into swampy slide guitar. Growls offer some hope as Helmuth howls, ” I promise you tomorrow the northern lights will lead you home.” There’s a blues-slathered psyche stomp that gets into your bloodstream, while some final punches are landed, and the track soars off, returning to the night sky.

Yatra have put a pretty nice dent in the doom underground in a really short period of time, and “All Is Lost” continues their upward trajectory to being one of the more reliable bands working at this thing. They’re prolific so far, yes, but they’re always dealing high quality stuff, as both of their 2020 records have shown a serious uptick from their promising debut album. This sounds like a record that’s landing at the right time, when the weather is getting colder, and the adventures we get to take mostly will be in our mind, where this record certainly can dwell.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/all-is-lost

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

Rabid Beast put grim touch on thrash metal madness, deliver hammering, satisfying debut EP

Thrash metal is a little bit of a sensitive subject around here, and if you’ve stopped by this stupid site with any regularity, you’ll notice we don’t touch a lot of it. There’s some bias behind that decision, if we’re being honest. I grew up worshipping at the altar of thrash, and my formative years and my ultimate path toward heavier sounds came directly from this sub-genre.

So, getting a record from a newer thrash band doesn’t really make my excitement level go up because I’ve heard so much stuff that, to me, just doesn’t measure up to what was created by the sound’s progenitors (whereas death, black metal, doom all have had successful movements beyond the roots). One thing that made me dig into Rabid Beast’s five-song debut EP is because it’s being offered up by Unspeakable Axe, a label I trust to mine the good stuff, and sure enough that’s exactly what this is. What the band—vocalist Paul Gillis, multi-instrumentalist Eric Bauer—conjure is something that sounds like it has dined generously as thrash’s table in its glory days but also has a modern touch that isn’t distracting or trying to recreate an already ideal wheel. Also, it’s fun as fuck and will destroy your inhibitions for a good 23 minutes.

“Decline Into Disorder” opens with a meaty assault as Gillis’ yelps, which feel like a classic thrash assault, begin to crush bones. The chorus is cool as hell as the pace chugs along, the vocals get even nastier, and the guitars seem to liquify before the track blasts shut. “Existential Maelstrom” is a smashing serving of thrash with the vocals gnashing and attitude smeared like mud to one’s mouth. The chorus is simple but effective while air is infused in the clobbering guitar work, and then the pace switches. Punches are thrown from an entirely different direction as the leads blaze away, and the track comes to a devastating end. “First Among Equals” ignites as shrieks go off, guitars shred, and the playing turns into a total assault. It has corners that are utterly relentless as crazed wails land blows, bones are turned into school glue, and the end slams shut. “Green Room Is Red” delivers strong riffs as Gillis’ howls hammer through while the bass rallies. Growls rip in as classic thrash metal floods generously, bringing with it power and grit as well as searing soloing. The riffs then ramp back up as the vocals carve you, and the track then explodes for a final burst. “Overlord” (an Infernal Majesty cover) ends the EP with guitars exploding from the gates and speed ruling as the forceful vocals stun. The playing is fast and mean with the leads going for broke, the bass piling up, and the soloing spreading insanity. The display is dizzying as the track reignites, double-kick thunder strikes, and the final moments melt into echo.

Rabid Beast manage what a lot of bands before them have failed to do: actually capture the true essence of thrash metal and provide their own interpretation. This doesn’t try to be some brand-new take nor does it add any technical bells and whistles, and that’s a major positive for this self-titled first EP. This band holds a lot of promise, and I’m really excited to hear where they go from here.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Rabid-Beast-107634810842079/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=66&products_id=601

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