PICK OF THE WEEK: Pelican’s rise marked by loss, tumult, rebirth on pounding ‘Nighttime Stories’

Photo by Marfa Capodanno

Lots of times on these pages, when a band returns after a long absence, we talk about finally having new music in our hands, as if that’s something the band owes us all. It’s not like band members are sitting around doing nothing in between records, and often there’s a really great reason why you haven’t heard from an artist over an extended period for myriad reasons from creative processes to tragedies.

Chicago-based instrumental powerhouse Pelican haven’t come around with a new record in six years, with their last one, “Forever Becoming,” landing in 2013. There have been some live albums and smaller releases since then, and the band also has been doing shows (I finally got to see them for the first time last summer at Migration Fest), but now we have their long-awaited sixth full-length “Nighttime Stories,” a record with a lot of tumult, frustration, and heartbreak behind it and one of their heaviest albums ever. The band—guitarists Trevor de Brauw and Dallas Thomas, bassist Bryan Herweg, drummer Larry Herweg—lost close friend Jody Minnoch, vocalist for Tusk, a group that also included de Brauw, Larry Herweg, and former Pelican guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. Minnoch was the one who coined the title “Nighttime Stories” and planned to use it for the next Tusk record, so it is used here in tribute to their lost friend. Add to that, Thomas also lost his father during the writing process for the new album, and he’s paid homage on the record’s opening track (with Thomas playing his dad’s Yamaha acoustic guitar). Add to that the chaos going on in society and other events affecting their lives, and you get a fiery, melodic, emotional record that will have your heart burning inside your chest.

“WST” opens the record, a track set in dark, moody clouds as acoustics settle, electric guitars slide in, and a dusky atmosphere paves the way for “Midnight and Mescaline” that delivers a punchy pace right away. The melodies loop you in as things take a burly turn, chugging and chewing its way, blasting doors, and letting riffs continue to build pillars to the stars before things come to a muscular end. “Abyssal Plain” lands blows as the drums clobber, and a catchy tempo takes you for a ride. The riffs twist and reveal thick layers of sinew, while the back end gets smoky and doomy, smothering to the very end. “Cold Hope” has sinister guitars stretching out as things get dusty and immersive, with things feeling slightly off kilter as it goes. The track is both melodic and crushingly heavy as the riffs blister, the track gets crunchier, and the leads begin to soar while the drums decimate the senses.

“It Stared at Me” unveils colder guitars trickling like a chilling rain, a nighttime vibe setting itself up, and slide guitars adding even more ache to an already bruised song that sinks into the desert and buries itself. The title cut opens with muscular pounding, the track bashing away, and the guitars snaking themselves through the scene. The weight kicks in even harder as the melodies pick up grit, doom hammers drop, and the band thrashes out to the end. “Arteries of Blacktop” smudges faces while the bass bends around corners, and the guitars heat up. Things settle into a cloud and ease before everything ignites again, dark riffs envelop, and the track deals more scarring before trickling away. “Full Moon, Black Water” ends the record and starts gently enough with noises simmering, guitars creeping, and then we’re in full panic, feeling a bit grungy and rough. Riffs gets muddy and more aggressive, ripping away at the earth and letting scraps fly. Halfway through, we’re boiling in lava, guitars shriek, and the mud cakes and spatters. Things ease later and get dreamy, letting you come back to earth and find your footing again.

Pelican’s members have had to deal with a lot in the past six years, and their return on “Nighttime Stories” is triumphant and explosive, the sounds of a band reborn. They’ve dealt with the blows life has had to offer but refused to blink in the face of opposition. Their strength and fire are splattered all over these nine songs, with Pelican emerging from the other side a tested but more formidable band.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://southernlord.com/store/pelican-nighttime-stories/

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

Nocturnus AD finally able to continue ‘The Key’ plots with stunning cosmic opus ‘Paradox’

“Game of Thrones” just ended this week, and people are super pissed. The author of the story didn’t finish his work in time, so the two people who were in charge of directing the show had to tell another person’s tale. The reaction from people all over the place has been less than enthusiastic, and most people can’t help but wonder what could have been had the other two texts been completed.

It’s possible that whole story would make Mike Browning laugh. He’s had to wait nearly 30 years to continue the story he started on Nocturnus’ 1990’s cosmic death metal classic “The Key,” and in the time since that landmark record arrived, Browning lost his spot in the band he founded, and he did what he could to find his own with After Death. Now, 28 years later, Browning has returned with Nocturnus AD and have a massive new album “Paradox” that is viewed to the follow-up to “The Key” and the continuation of the story he initially laid out. On this album, we follow Dr. Magus after his body is ravaged by an alien disease and he is kept intact by use of a bio suit. Browning is joined by his After Death mates—guitarists Demian Heftal and Belial Koblak, bassist Daniel Tucker (formerly of Obituary), and keyboard master Josh Holdren—as they forge a path back into the universe for more tales of horror and chaos, with music that’ll twist your brains inside and out.

“Seizing the Throne” begins with keys whirring and hovering before the song is torn open with thrashy intent and Browning’s growls sounding evil. The playing is goddamn delirious, which easily makes the room spin, while the maniacal storytelling reaches its apex on this song, slowly ramping down to its finish. “The Bandar Sign” begins with more spacey synth with Browning’s vocals raspy but intelligible as he observes as the “soothsayers shed their skin, dressed in black hooded robes.” The guitars mash while the keys send bolts of energy, coming upon a scene where priests are carrying out sacrifices as the track warps out. “Paleolithic” fires up right away, as Browning spits out his words, turning crazed in a hurry. The guitars explore while the keys remain engaged in mania, with daring weirdness welling up, the vocals jabbing the heart, and the song coming to a dramatic close. “Precession of the Equinoxes” is punishing as hell, while the keys achieve an alien carnival feel, and the vocals scrape at the skin. The guitars flutter, giving off cool prog winds, while the words later are barked out, and the song manages to be pretty fucking fun amid all the chaos.

“The Antechamber” bursts open and makes anyone in their way dizzy as hell. Browning’s vocals delivery doesn’t vary much, which is part of the charm, as he wails, “Now I hold the key to the mysteries from beyond,” while he’s surrounded by music that strikes out in fury.  “The Return of the Lost Key” is mystical at first, floating in the air, before the track is torn open, and guts are spilled all over. The guitars are blazing and go off, while Browning howls, “I have the power to change history,” as the doctor holds the magic key that set into motion that time-altering events of this album’s predecessor. “Apotheosis” has a rush of robotic noise before the track punches out and unleashes some bizarre antics followed up by thrashing skullduggery. The track is warp speed and feels not of this earth, as soloing wraps this thing up in a strange, sinewy bow. “Aeon of the Ancient Ones” has, you guessed it, brain-mangling keys, guitars sending charges, and the track later floating into dreamy terrain. The leads sprawl, the synth washes over, and Browning calls, “There are no gods at the gate,” as things come to a weird ending. “Number 9” ends the album in breath-taking fashion with the synth creating a fog, riffs tricking you, and the music in this instrumental cut closing up the story. Energy splatters like stardust, the keys take over and rampage, and record comes to a proggy, adventurous conclusion.

It may have taken nearly three decades and a lot of tumult to get here, by Browning and the rest of Nocturnus AD finally have been able to connect the stories started on “The Key” and put them back together again. The fact the music sounds so much of the era in which “The Key” originated but also has modern flourishes is proof the band has stayed tuned to what’s happened over time but also knew what ancient space dust would make this special. This is a fantastic follow-up to a record that’s been begging for a sequel to tear open those old wounds again.

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

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

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

Finnish pounders Krypts smear death metal with mucky doom on molten ‘Cadaver Circulation’

For some reason I have yet to figure out, music always makes me think of weather and a season in which it belongs. There’s literally no music that I ever hear that doesn’t get mentally cataloged in my brain as being suitable at a certain time of the year. For example, Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere in Time” is a height of the summer album. Agalloch’s “Marrow of the Sprit” is for deep winter.

It’s not that I can’t enjoy the music in other times of the year, it’s just that every time I hear them, they make me think of what I expect to see when I look out my window. That’s why it feels like such a weird time to be taking on Krypt’s thunderous new record “Cadaver Circulation,” because this thing feels like it should be heard during a hopeless, lightless blizzard, where you are cut off from the rest of the world, and no one would be there to hear you cry out for help if you needed it. These Fins have dropped off six beefy slabs of doom trauma-laced death metal that’s delivered slowly and painfully. Each visit with this thing has brought new avenues toward misery. It’ll coat you in inches of soot and leave you in agony on the ground as you gasp for breath. The band—vocalist/bassist Anti, guitarists Vile and Jukka, drummer Otso—unloads this over a compact 37 minutes, making the best of every violent second that contributes to this hell.

“Sinking Transient Waters” gets off to a muddy, bloody start with slow-driving menace and death blows blasting out. Maniacal growls from Anti shake your foundation while the guitars chug and thrash as morbidity sets in like disease. All of that is swallowed by hellish noise that squeezes this track to death. “The Reek of Loss” is sorrowful and furious with the growls lurching like an alien beast and the pace suddenly picking up. The track gets violent and dizzying, pounding away with a calculated pace and coming to a punishing end. “Echoes Emanate Forms” has dark riffs drilling, soot falling, and the growls bruising your mid-section. The track scrapes along as dirt and noise swell and then speeds up dangerously, the drums pummel, the vocals gurgle blood, and the song comes to a suffocating end.

“Mycelium” has doomy trudging before the bottom drops out, and things get properly messy. The track has its guts ripped apart while the heaviness and speed arrive and disfigure what’s going on here, and the track smashes to its devastating end. “Vanishing” bleeds in like a poisonous stream, the growls slither in the earth, and the drums punish. Guitars then unleash mournful melodies before a fire sparks and spreads rapidly, the growls boil, and the song crashes and clobbers before echoing out in pain. “Circling the Between” ends the album with morbid ambiance before it bursts open, growls char, and the guitars roll into the darkness. Harsh growls punish while the guitars encircle and taunt, and then sanity is shredded. The track temporarily gets absorbed by a sound cloud, but then the track re-emerges, bringing with it hypnosis before it disappears for good.

So, it’s warm as hell and the sun is shining and people are having fun, but I’m here getting my mind rewired by Krypts and this mind-erasing new album “Cadaver Circulation.” This album hurts every section of your body when you endure it, and it’ll make all the worst, sinister fears welling up in your mind crawl to the forefront. This is a terrifying display no matter what it’s doing outside, though it’s definitely going to come back out once winter swallows the earth again.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=krypts+cadaver+circulation

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

Mini-release assault! Starring Slaves BC, Barghest, Visigoth

Slaves BC

It’s been such a busy past couple of weeks for metal releases that’s it has been hard to sandwich everything we wanted to cover into this site. If only time wasn’t a scarce resource. Anyway, we have some smaller releases that are boiling to the surface or are already out in the world, and we’re going to take a quick look at three of those today that are more than worth your time.

There’s no question that Slaves BC are one of the heaviest bands in Pittsburgh, and they’d put up a pretty goddamn good fight against any city’s mightiest. They’re also concerned for some of the darkest elements of society that is ruining people, one in particular being the scourge of the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal that has rocked the world for years. That hit close to home for a lot of us in Pittsburgh because last year, much of that focus was on abuse that happened in this area, and one of those cases was very sensitive and enraging to me in particular. No, I was not a victim. Slaves BC didn’t take this shit lying down, and they delivered a single-track release “300 Dead Rapist Priests Floating at the Bottom of the Ocean,” which won’t win any song title awards for subtlety, but fuck that. Go for the throat, which they do on this 15:27-long display of destruction. But they’re not just lashing out; the proceeds from this pay-what-you-want release will go toward RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest Network), a group that’s seen its horrifying fair share of these cases. We’ll also link up below if you want to donate, period.

This track is a battle from front to back, which is the point. Riffs cut in as Josh Thieler’s shrieks rampage in and destroy, coupling with guttural growls later, with despondent guitars taking on a Portal-style drone (the band is rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Sean, bassist Adam, and guitarist/noise artist Brandon). The riffs warp while the tempo kicks into higher gear, blasting you punishingly, as the guitars begin to sicken, and alien strangeness warps your mind. The track returns to a death march as the growls lurch and music bleeds in fury. The savage shrieks mar the crust of the earth, pained noise begins to corrode, and the track pounds hellishly, eventually giving the mercy its subject matter never offered.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://slavesbc.bandcamp.com/track/300-dead-rapist-priests-floating-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean

For more on RAINN or to donate, go here: https://www.rainn.org/

You know, it’s really difficult to find a band that reveals as much in hatred as do Baton Rouge-bred crushers Barghest. Ever since their splattering 2011 self-titled debut, it was pretty clear the band was out for blood, indiscriminately going for the throat of anything that stood in their way. We haven’t gotten a new full-length from the band since 2014’s “The Virtuous Purge,” but they’ve checked in with some smaller releases, their latest being their new EP “The Pious/The Poisoned” that is more tar-blackened death metal that’s as harsh as the title indicates. Over three tracks and a little more than 14 minutes, the band—guitarist/vocalist Dallas Smith, guitarist Jason Thorning, bassist Troy Bennett, drummer Max Kimmons—tear open fresh wounds and dump gallons of salt inside, leaving you writhing in pain and more than just a little bit bruised.

“Endless Empty Shape” gets things going with a dose of grimy, ugly death, with a violent chorus that’ll tear your head off. There is some melody buried beneath the madness as gruff guitars bend and bleed before the storm hits a violent high. The riffs smash and spiral, while gruff growls punish as the song blasts out. The title track follows as the riffs encircle like a tornado, and the delirious pace goes into gravelly growls. An ominous cloud hovers over everything while the guitars twist and turn, the track rampages, and the drums rattle your brains. Guitars tunnel and find a new level of intensity, while the track disintegrates in dust. “Negative Forms” ends the record with sounds scraping and tricky playing causing confusion. The vocals seer flesh as demented riffs arrive, while trauma squashes wills, blistering and powdering bones, with a neck-jerk sudden end causing whiplash.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://barghestsoulless.bandcamp.com/album/the-pious-the-poisoned

Finally, we’ve got something a little less dour and utterly depressing with Visigoth’s new EP “Bells of Awakening,” which just unloads with pure heavy metal glory. This quickly follows last year’s killer “Conqueror’s Oath,” putting this unit as one of the finer power/fantasy metal bands out there, one with an awfully sharpened sword. This music is fun as fuck, but make no mistake: These guys are deadly serious, and that comes to the forefront on these tremendous two new songs. The Utah-based band—vocalist Jake Rogers, guitarists Jamison Palmer and Leeland Campana, bassist Matt Brotherton, drummer Mikey T.—go all out here, mixing in their high-energy, razor-sharp playing with mythological-style tales, the type on which the foundation of heavy metal was built. The band even teases there are elements that tie together both songs and the EP’s artwork, so there’s even more reason to delve into this and devour it whole.

“Fireseeker” is your opener, coming in with fiery riffs, surging singing, and a classic feel that instills nostalgia. The chorus is a killer, with Rogers howling, “Your time has come, your flame is rising,” as soloing lights up and adds more glory. The chorus rounds back for a final go, causing your blood and adrenaline to fire back. “Abysswalker” charges up right away, as Rogers is in command again, calling, “Ancient fire, fill my raging heart.” The track is a pounder, as the soloing fills up the air, with Palmer and Campana going back and forth. “I will not turn back, I know it must be done,” Rogers commands as the song ends with all of its torches blazing. Just killer stuff.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Vale’s sobering nightmare of ransacked society runs over fiery ‘Burden of Sight’

Photo by Sam Caparros

How long can one look at a deteriorating situation without feeling like losing control? This can be physical or mental, by the way, as each situation can be just as stressing. Seeing something you embraced be broken down, often by forces that could make things better if they gave half a shit, can be infuriating and send any sane person into a rage.

That’s a major spark behind “Burden of Sight,” Oakland black metal band Vale’s debut offering, which is utterly, savagely on fire. The music is sparked by what they see in their hometown, the decay, the homelessness, and opportunism by those in control who could do something to curb the issues if they really cared to help. Expand that same idea out across the country, and we can all see it in our own backyards as the lust for power and never-ending greed takes precedence over people’s rights and lives, and holy motherfuck, if we haven’t seen some of that play out before our bloodshot, weary eyes this very week. Over six barn-storming, rage-filled tracks, Vale unleash hell and lash back at those who let things get the way they are. The band—vocalist Kate Coysh, guitarists James Meyer and Daniel Borman, bassist Thaddaeus Perkins, and drummer Justin Ennis—foresees a horrific landscape as a result, where humans consume each other and the scourge of religious power runs roughshod … you know, kind of like how it does right now.

“Final Flesh” rips the lid off the record with noise flooding, the track launching its attack, and the riffs encircling dangerously. Coysh’s wild howls are unleashed and do ample damage, while smashing blasts rip through and destroy walls. Sounds spiral as a slower agony sets in, punching and bruising, while the growls attack again as the song disappears in a cloud. “Guilt Among the Dead” has riffs racing and the vocals crushing, while sinister sentiments are spread generously. Black metal-style guitars bubble with tar as a doomy pit opens and begins swallowing, while the drums destroy, and the song merges with the murk. “The Guilded Path” ignites with fire-breathing guitars and relentless pounding as Coysh’s vocals deliver madness and spite, riding alongside the rowdy punishment. The riffs swelter and smear, while the pace begins to steamroll, and the fires are stoked gloriously. All of that spills into a thick ambiance that brings a curtain of shadows.

“Starvation Eternal” has a thrashy start, as tricky playing causes your mind to panic, and the tempo begins clobbering. The vocals spit fire that can melt bodies, while the guitars hit hyper speed, spiraling into the incinerator where everything is consumed wholly. “Beyond the Pale” brings melody at the front of the track as the vocals smash digits, and an ashen assault leaves practically no room to breathe. The band charges up the engines again, as the playing explodes and strangles, and the final moments of the song are suffocated. Closer “Grief Undone” drizzles doomy blackness, as ominous guitars unleash hell, and the pace flattens and bloodies. The track gets brutal and chaotic, with hints of hardcore woven in for good measure, while Coysh’s insane shrieks are enough to make your skin go pale, as all the elements combust. Double kick drums scramble brains as fierce growls go for the throat, the playing taunts Armageddon, and the track disappears into the dark.

There is no hope on the horizon in Vale’s world, and “Burden of Sight” is a sobering display that stinks of blood and war, and it pulls no punches describing that level of hell. The fact that this album is a little too reality based is nauseating and disgusting, a reality check that some of the worst has come, and too many people are watching it happen. Vale may be reacting to what they see in their own streets, but it’s something that has spread like a disease to every corner of this country.

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

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

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

Doom pioneers Earth swagger back with leaner, dusky spirits on ‘Full Upon Her Burning Lips’

Photo by Holly Carlson

Stripping things back to basics can be a cathartic way to cut out the clutter, expunge anything that’s been building up that needs to be cleared away. Earth’s core duo of guitarist Dylan Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies felt that was something they needed to do when approaching their new record “Full Upon Her Burning Lips,” which is just about in our laps.

We haven’t gotten a new full-length from the legendary Earth since 2014’s “Primitive and Deadly,” and in that time, Carlson and Davies decided to pull back the reins, lift up the layers of sound they’ve applied to their music (quite successfully, obviously), and go back to basics. “Fall Upon Her Burning Lips” definitely sounds leaner and more back-to-roots than records such as the dual “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light” or even “The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull,” though you definitely can hear strains of what went into those pieces of work. But here, there’s more concentration on the slow-dripping riffs that encircle and encompass these songs, and Davies playing is a lot more prominent, as she guides these tracks from start to finish, becoming a great, backbone-like presence. The record almost works like two halves, each started by mammoth songs, and then followed by tracks shorter than what’s we’ve come to expect from Earth the past decade or so but that also given plenty of space to become fuller beings. It’s a hearty record, one that feels familiar pretty much right away.

“Datura’s Crimson Veils” is the 12:16 opener that has guitars jolting and buzzing, with the melody slinking through, meeting up with Davies’ driving beat. The track takes on a dark, yet sunburnt feel, with the main riff rolling back around again and again, cutting through the haze. The track begins to buzz and flutter late, with psyche vibes arriving and the track pulsating out. “Exaltation of Larks” is a quick one, running 3:20, feeling almost like an interlude. Warm trickling wets the dirt, and then guitars seem to surge into the night sky, turning toward “Cats on the Briar” that simmers at the front end. A nice, calming melody expands its presence, as winds blow into the scene, and the track mystifies as it eases along. Feeling psychedelic and dusty, the track bends some, rings out, and then bleeds into the dark. “The Colour Of Poison” has a start-stop pace, with Davies snapping her kit over Carlson’s witchy guitar work. A dirty riff then sinks in its teeth, as the drums steady the pace, and then things seem to end abruptly, only to have the guitars re-emerge, slicing through steel on its way out. “Descending Belladonna” feels trippy right away, with the bass sliding, and a dreamy, nostalgic feel to the music. The playing sends odd jolts, while Davis clangs and wrecks your balance, the body and mind is numbed, and the track quivers into the dark.

“She Rides an Air of Malevolence” pops open the second half, a 11:28-long dirge that reverberates with percussion strikes and the guitars setting an ominous tone. The riffs then heat up and melt stone, while a serenity also is achieved as the heat intensifies. Feedback rises as the riffs float, while noise spits behind the main melody line as the track breathes its last. “Maidens Catafalque” also is interlude-esque, running 2:49 and gently flowing, creating a strange ambiance, as guitars sneak, and the drums and cymbals crash in unison. “An Unnatural Carousel” is moody at first, but then it feels like everything is basking in afternoon sunshine, albeit in the middle of the desert. Cool air finally arrives, while leathery riffs work their way in, leaving rough trails as it backs out of the room. “The Mandrake’s Hymn” has riffs slinking and a cool, calculated stomp through the evening, as the music crawls through the shadows. The drumming pops and keeps everything humming, while the track burns its last exhaust in steely glory. “A Wretched Country Of Dusk” ends the record with sorrow bleeding out and a surreal visionscape unfurling in front of you. The guitars manage to char rubber, as the riffs round through, the sounds smear blood and oil, and everything ends in a trance-like state.

Over three decades, Earth have dipped into thick drone, delved into Americana, and have become a dusty trailblazer telling stories strictly through their instruments. On “Fall Upon Her Burning Lips,” the band delivers one of its most intimate, swaggering records in their catalog, and it doesn’t take long until these songs start growing inside you. It’s great to hear Earth alive, well, and still delivering powerful music that no artists have ever been able to duplicate.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/earth

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

Finnish crushers Mireplaner put aching on body, mind with debut opus ‘Mountain of Saola Hooves’

There are tons of different ways that new music finds us. Lots of it comes from labels and publicists who are cool enough to trust us with new music well in advance so we can be well informed when writing about it. Other times, artists come to us with their work that perhaps isn’t on a major platform yet or hasn’t been released to many people, which always flatters us. We need to do more with that.

We’re doing that today as we discuss “A Mountain of Saola Hooves,” the debut full-length offering from thunderous Finnish post-metal-style band Mireplaner, who dropped us their record a few weeks back. To say we’ve been having our foundations devastated by what’s contained would be a massive understatement, and hopefully we can help a bit into getting this massively heavy band’s music into more people’s ears. Combining doom, sludge, hardcore, and plenty other crushing sounds, the band sets up shop and waylays you with these seven tracks that feel like they can knock the planet off its axis. People into bands such as Neurosis, Amenra, Celeste, and even Oathbreaker could find a ton to like on this record, as the music falls into that same terrain though definitely carves out its own identity. The band is comprised of Eeli Helin (vocals, guitars, noise), Eero Vilppula (bass), and Markus Karppinen (drums), and they already have a stranglehold on their sound and can cave in your head without even thinking about it. That line is not as hyperbolic as you might think. Try them on.

Finnish“Deadweights” starts the record with noise hovering before things erupt into sludgy hell as the growls strike and boil, and a cold, foggy front pushes overhead. The track crushes again before synth mixes in and sickens, the playing smothers, and then again, the storm situates, leading in moody guitars and shadowy melodies. Guitars chug, the teeth of the song smash the earth, and roars amass as things pound away. “The Elkhorn Coral” bludgeons with hardcore-style shouts and then whispery murk. Muddy power flows and meets up with thunderous chaos, growls splatter teeth and skin, and the track ends in a pit of panic. “Parched Throats” hammers savagely before the growls punish, and the playing burns the senses. Suddenly, a calming rain begins to fall, spilling into an electronic haze, guitars gush out, and then monstrous hell returns. The vocals scorch as a new wave of crushing sets foot, a chill briefly hits the air, and noise scrapes before decimating the land.

“Morass” is the longest track, chewing up 9:35 and imposing its will right from the start. Cavernous playing makes the room shake before echoes generate confusion, and then the hammers are dropped. Howls blister as the playing smears, and monstrous growls leave ample bruising before serenity sets in. That calm is only temporary before weird, down-tuned smashing opens veins, howls soar, and sludgy crunching powders stone as clean guitars coat the ground with drizzling rain. “Light Departure” begins with clean tones as sounds lurk in the corner, and a strange cosmic haze bursts through the darkness. Vicious howls begin to destroy as the words come out raspy and nasty, rolling into spacey keys that numb the mind. Noise stretches out of that, screams pick up, and everything ends in echo. “Knees Cicatrised” reverberates as slow buzzing chews, and contemplative tones burst into punishing crashing, as the vocals leave welts, and hardcore-style playing sinks in the blade. The track gets muddy and messy, spewing blood and mud before the song exits into the stars. “Saturation of the Bleeding Maw” closes the record with a moody, slowly unfurling push, and then the track explodes suddenly and violently as the howls tear into flesh, and the ground beneath you quakes. The track feels like it is imploding a city whole, as the walls crash in, holes in pavement devour bodies, and smoke rises from open blazes while funereal chimes help the chaos disappear into a haze.

I’m excited that Mireplaner found their way into our world, as “A Mountain of Saola Hooves” is a thunderous record that I’m certain is going to stick with me all year and beyond. This is an album that’ll devastate your senses but also keep you mentally captivated through its entire run, which is really all you can ask from a band. This is a great chance to get in on the ground floor of a sweltering force that is still lurking in the shadows, waiting to decimate your body and soul.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://mireplaner.bandcamp.com/album/a-mountain-of-saola-hooves