PICK OF THE WEEK: Obsequiae apply sword-tested metallic touch to great ‘Palms of Sorrowed Kings’

Part of the reason I started listening to metal in the first place is because it was a way for me to get away from the things that bothered me in my younger years. I wasn’t an outcast or anything, but making friends wasn’t automatic for me, and I suffered from anxiety and depression, though I didn’t realize it at the time. But metal was always there, and it was a place I could always go to get away.

Every time we get a visit from Obsequiae, it brings me back to the times when I had to retreat into metal for comfort, which continues on their stirring third record “The Palms of Sorrowed Kings.” Something about their music connects me to that, makes me feel like I’m entering into a spacious world where the negativity of existence isn’t quite a heavy. Their Medieval-style black metal pummels and gallops but also shimmers, making it feel like you’re headed toward a great quest where adventure is at every turn. Like the other Obsequiae albums, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Tanner Anderson and drummer Eoghan McCloskey are joined by harp player Vincente la Camera  Mariño, whose interludes take you back to well bygone eras, almost as if these songs were conjured to the present by time machine. It all makes for a package that this band owns so securely and exclusively, which makes them such a special band.

“L’autrier M’en Aloie” opens the record, the first harp track from La Camera Mariño that lets loose calming fogs and a chilling ambiance that flows toward “Ceres in Emerald Streams” where glorious leads emerge from the mists, while melodic shrieks set the tone, and the intensity is multiplied. Leads burn and sprawl, unleashing a chugging fury that ends in a fiery burst. “In the Garden of Hyacinths” comes out of a smokescreen while cool riffs and busting drums team up and begin the march. The pace is punchy for the most part, while the chorus is swelling and energetic, bleeding into rushing terrain. Shrieks compound while the soling goes off, leaving a trail of ash behind. “Palästinalied” has the harp thawing, letting the music wash over you like a babbling brook, pushing you down downstream to “The Palms of Sorrowed Kings” and its glowing introductory riffs. The leads lap and give off a classic power metal feel, later mixing into goth-style backing that creates steam. The leads break open and lead to an adrenaline surge, meeting up with lathering shrieks, clean calls bellowing, and the track fading out. “Morrígan” begins with birds chirping before the riffs awaken, bringing burly playing and gruff shrieks. The leads feel like they soar over the mountaintops, with savagery cutting in, and a glorious haze putting over the final attack that makes up the snarked finish.

“Per Tropo Fede” brings the harp back in as birds chirp and your mind unravels, heading toward “Lone Isle” that blasts open, as the guitars flow like lava. Shrieks rain down as the molten playing keeps raging forward, as the drums take their turn dealing shots. The playing just surges from there, bringing the track to a smoldering end. “Asleep in the Bracken” reveals gothy synth sheets, intricate leads, and a folkish vibe amid a pool of heaviness. Melody spreads its wings while the song pelts you with cinders, while shrieks pound away, and the mind-altering puts you into a trance. “Quant Voi La Flor Novele” has the harp playing emerging from a frosty peak, as mist coats your face, and a feeling of solemnity pushes into your heart. “Emanations Before the Pythia” slowly dawns as a dialog begins to show itself, feeling dreamlike, before a burly riffs flexes and shrieks scrape your skin. The track is both melodic and aggressive, fiery and combustible as the leads sear, and the voice from beyond seems like a ghost calling you. The track then explodes anew as the guitars pour out, and the essence is charred away. “In Hoc Anni Circulo” closes the record, acting as a harp-infused bookend that brings a last dose of numbness before the track exist into the night.

“The Palms of Sorrowed Kings,” like the other two Obsequiae releases in their respective times of release, sounds absolutely nothing like any other album that’s come out this year, no matter the genre. This is fun, challenging, heart-swelling music that makes you imagine eras gone by when castles were stormed and blood was spilled right in earthen battlegrounds. This makes for a great escape from the monotony and frustrations of everyday life, giving you a chance to feel the power of heavy metal and how it can positively impact your psyche.

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

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

Vesperith’s self-titled first opus fully embraces the abyss, revels in dark energy most people fear

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve referenced darkness and being drawn into an abyss when talking about harrowing, deadly music. It becomes an easy tool to use because it conveys the brutality and hopelessness so much of this music is soaked in, and it likely comes off as an element of negativity. I don’t always mean it that way; sometimes it’s the reason I embrace the music so fully.

Sariina Tani has a similar viewpoint when it comes to reveling in darkness and emptiness, as she doesn’t necessarily see these as bad things. To her, much of the beauty and majesty contained within the void often go unnoticed, but she’s channeling all of that into Vesperith, a project delivering its self-titled debut record. The music on this album is not entirely swallowed by the darkness as her compositions have plenty of light shined on them, which makes for textures battling with each other. Sometimes the songs exist in the fog, allowing reflective waves to crash down, feeling more like they’re trying to soothe than harm. But when she delves headfirst into black metal harshness, her approach provides that ability to connect with things so many people see as negative. There’s power in that, and this album helps makes that connection more tangible.

“The Magi” begins floating through the atmosphere as Tani’s voice floats powerfully, while noise shifts and builds. The sounds pierce and well up while the singing swells, sweeping through ominous terrain before it burns away. “Fractal Flesh” simmers in an industrial haze that hangs over for a while before wooshes rip into the picture, and then the track explodes about three minutes in. Wrenching shrieks rain down, adding monstrous ferocity to what started in the shadows of beauty. The track continues to splatter, washing out with the flesh slightly stinging. “Refractions” reverberates in a sinister fog, while shrieks bask in alien lights. Chimes ring out as the pace disorients, while the vocals remain in echo as the song trickles away.

“Valohämärä” has grinding gears and keys dripping like wax, while wordless calls burst in your chest. The music swells while Tani’s cries ring out, cutting through thick mists while keys emerge and deliver a chill. The drums then break apart and deliver chaos as the world is torn apart and delivered back to serenity. “Quintessence” is the longest track, running 10:31 and starting with sounds swimming and the drums igniting. The singing rings out into the void, bringing measured madness before the drums again tear a hole into any sense of calm. Growls arrives and destroy, disrupting everything, leading the way to a thrashy assault, storming heavily and smashing wills until a soulful finish pummels the senses. “Solar Flood” closes the record, layering noise and heartfelt singing as the volume rises and shakes in your ears. Vocals enrapture as all of the elements combine into one, while the playing heads off into a moonlit sky, leaving you a vulnerable mess.

This first Vesperith record is an awesome, compelling display, one that can ravage you one minute, sink into your bloodstream and bring awareness the next. It’s a healthy reminder that basking in darker powers and the vast ocean of chaos doesn’t have to be something that wears you down and instead can become a part of your DNA. Tani fully realizes this concept, and it’s part of what makes her music so savagely connective.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://svartrecords.com/?s=vesperith

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

Strigoi bring together metallic veterans seeking brutality with killer debut ‘Abandon All Faith’

There are a lot of adjectives used on this site, as you may have noticed. We like them. Anyway, sometimes we use words that seem obvious or silly in context based on our subject matter. For example, it seems kind of stupid to describe a death metal band as brutal, because isn’t that sort of expected? Yet, here we go.

New British death meal band Strigoi make music that is decidedly brutal as hell, and yeah, that might make you roll your eyes at me. That’s OK. Take on these 12 tracks frtom debut “Abandon All Faith” that are the brainchildren of longtime Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh and see if that descriptor isn’t right on the money, because there is violence, misery, and anger all over this thing, smearing you with ash. Mackintosh had tapped into his death metal veins on his now laid-to-rest Vallenfyre, a band that developed after the death of his father, but this is taken to the next level as far as intensity and heaviness are concerned. Along with bassist Chris Casket (formerly of Extreme Noise Terror, as well as Vallenfyre), the guitarist/vocalist unleashes hell here, sometimes with songs that don’t even make two minutes but still lay waste. While others are full beasts that batter and smash you, leaving digits broken, psyches marred.

“The Rising Horde” is a quick intro cut that brings drone and squeals, letting doom infiltrate before “Phantoms” launches with riffs bleeding and the track being torn apart. Growls are buried in rubble while the leads glimmer, leading to a thrashy solo belting you before everything comes to a crushing end. “Nocturnal Vermin” has the bass rolling into sludgy guitars, as the tempo mauls heavily. The vocals are speedy, as the track turns to total demolition before the mud kicks up again. “Seven Crowns” goes off right at the start, galloping over the war field, ushering in devastation. The growls gurgle while the soloing hits a high mark, then the drums crash through walls while the track meets a fiery demise. “Throne of Disgrace” unloads smearing guitars and speed that grind away and leaves rubble behind.  “Carved Into the Skin” opens with a doomy haze that carries over and stings the nerve endings. “We must swallow depravity,” Mackintosh howls as the track goes hypnotic, bleeding out into darkness.

“Parasite” brings noise crashing and slow drumming developing a mood before the band opens a thrashy assault, and the vocals are spat at an alarming clip. The track mashes body parts later as the growls crush, and the track burns away. “Iniquitous Rage” punishes out of the gates as the gravelly growls menace, and the tempo destroys, with the guitars peeling paint off the walls. “Plague Nation” unleashes swirling guitars, monstrous growls, and a gritty pace that rubs cinders into open wounds. Ominous leads cut through the center as Mackintosh wails the title and smokes your brain. “Enemies of God” drubs and feels a little like a Celtic Frost-style storm with vicious howls belting you in the mid-section. The guitars rub your face in mud, leaving you gasping for air that never comes. “Scorn of the Father” punches out of the gates, stomping and lunging for the guts, setting fires. Guttural growls crush inhibitions as a slow-charging attack leads to the end. The title track caps off this adventure with scraping growls, goth-style backing, and a tempo that sits on simmer. There is a solemn, doomy feel while noises rise up, and the track ends in an echo chamber.

Strigoi’s entrance into this world brings two veterans metal definitely needs operating at a high level on “Abandon All Faith.” The ferocity in which the band operates is practically tangible, which is why you might feel utterly brutalized when the record is done. Yeah, sometimes we go a little overboard describing the madness we hear on some records, but when it comes to Strigoi’s debut, maybe we didn’t go far enough.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2019/Strigoi/abandon-all-faith.html

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

Blood Incantation channel odd alien death metal creations on tangled mauler ‘Hidden History…’

There are a ton of conspiracy theories out there about alien DNA being woven into this earth, our origins coming from the stars, and visits from our predecessors having occurred numerous times. The question of us being alone in this universe is a preposterous one because there’s not a chance there isn’t life elsewhere (sorry, religious people!), and our study and concentration of what else is out there is a subject that keeps some people up at night.

Denver death metal alchemists Blood Incantation have had the cosmos in their DNA, and I’m not talking about the physical makeup as humans. Their music is consumed with and powered by what lies in the great unknown beyond our world, and they unravel even more of those mysteries on their mind-tangling second record “Hidden History of the Human Race,” one of the most anticipated albums of this entire year. There’s a lot of sense behind people’s fervor for new Blood Incantation creation. First, their debut “Starspawn” was a high-water mark in forward-thinking death metal, an album that established them as one of the sub-genre’s mightiest acts. Second, that lathering of delirium for a new record is based largely on wondering where they’d go next and how their sound would expand. That next step is achieved for sure in ferocity and experimental weirdness as the band—guitarist/vocalist Paul Riedl, guitarist Morris Kolontyrsky, fretless bassist Jeff Barrett, drummer Isaac Faulk—puts it into intense high gear, ripping and knifing through your consciousness and into your soul.

“Slave Species of the Gods” starts the record by tearing the lid off everything with massive riffs sweeping, the growls setting in, and everything coming to a splatter. The guitars shift and crush as the vocals continue to rage, and delirious leads light everything on fire. The soloing ignites and explores while raspy wails strike, and the track spirals out into echo. “The Giza Power Plant” lathers with loopy guitar squeals and a mauling bass leaving facial bruising. The track then shifts to thrashiness before a Middle Eastern-style melody calms and sweeps, mentally stimulating the darkest regions of your mind, as the drums proceed to powder bones. Growls and detached speaking work together as the track begins to melt rock, as a furious intensity erupts, bringing everything to a complex, brutal finish.

“Inner Paths (to Outer Space)” is mostly an instrumental piece that’s an atmospheric trail blazed, blowing into the stars, with voice transmissions messing with your mind. The music turns hypnotic and then violent, as the band chugs, growls burst through the surface, and the playing dissolves into weirdness. “Awakening From the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is the mammoth closer, an 18:02-long smasher that takes up half the album’s running time. Cymbals crash before the track begins to trudge, the guitars twist and confound, and the growls dice flesh. The guitars go off as the tempo gets more aggressive, spitting speedy trickery that turns into savage chaos. Suddenly synth comes in and floats like an alien cloud, injecting sci-fi mystery, leading into a proggy burst that spreads and infects. The track heads into a calculated burn, thundering heavily before soulful soloing erupts, making strange patterns, and ending in acoustics and galactic winds that deliver alien fogs.

Blood Incantation’s rise to death metal’s supreme overlords came from their furious playing and their refusal to deliver music that’s anything less than mentally warping. “Hidden History of the Human Race” adds to their already growing legend, as it’s bound to be a record dissected and discussed for years to come. It’s terrifying that Blood Incantation really are still in their early form, because who knows what these guys will sound like 5, 10 years from now?

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Krater smash through the Earth’s crust with crushing assault on ‘Venenare’

It’s not out of the question the earth will be pummeled by an object from outer space one day, leaving damage that could alter humanity forever, if not end it completely. Thinking about it is pretty unsettling, even though we’d likely know about it in advance and could possibly do something about it. But the destruction it could cause might be unthinkable.

That might sound like an easy way to introduce a band called Krater, and I guess it is. But that digs deeper under the surface than just a convenient name, as their brand of black metal is such that feels like something that could push the planet off its axis. The German band is delivering “Venenare,” their fourth record and one that keeps pushing the band into explosive terrain. But although the music is monstrously heavy, they also add assorted textures into their sound to provide sonic variety and also to simply scramble your brain. The band—vocalist/bassist Abortio, guitarists Ibbur, 3E.3, and ZK, and drummer Shardik—pour a ton of intensity and pure heaviness into this record, and they smother the hell out of you over these nine tracks and 50 minutes.

“Eruption” begins the album with fires crackling and guitars starting, as a dialog slithers underneath, building toward “Prayer for Demise” that blisters right away with wild howls and a pace that drives a truck through your goddamn life. Guitars burn and rain down ash, while the vicious vocals and a smothering assault lead this thing into hell. “Zwischen den Worten” changes things up by taking on a dizzying pace, going more atmospheric with chant-like vocals getting into your head. The song then swims into a proggy adventure before things speed up quickly, and gnarly growls chew away. The leads explode while group shouts strike, with everything  winding up in darkness. “Stellar Sparks” ruptures and bleeds as bellowing singing digs deep, and the track trudges faster and faster. Group shouts and chants infect while the playing goes all over the map, purposely tangling your brain wiring. The track them stomps as goth-style singing swells, with the track ending in a monstrous blaze.

“When Thousand Hearts” spills melody through the front door as detached singing confounds before the song hits the gas pedal. A relentless assault is forged and driven with commitment while soloing ignites, and Abortio wails the title over and over again. “Atmet Asche” unleashes raw growls and manic riffs as the verses smash your bones, and the leads accompany terrifying wails. The guitars stampede, but there also is a place for your mind to melt over, as gnarly growls smear, and the track forces its way across the land, creating a … um … crater in the earth. “No Place for You” enters with intensity as the song storms with a vengeance as the growls are unleashed, melodies destroy, and a brief respite turns into pandemonium as wild yelps of, “No place for you!” as major heat builds before an abrupt end. “Darvaza Breeds” is the longest track, clocking in at 10:58 and starting as a wordless call before dialog push in, the vocals blast, and the keys open up a storm cloud that spreads itself overhead. Guitars trickle as a fog thickens, and then punches land, as the hypnosis is shredded. The playing boils flesh again, the growls corrode, and gruff speak-singing splits time. Closer “Wasted Carbon” is a quick closing chapter with acoustic haunting, strange voices crawling, and everything dissolving into the ground.

Krater’s utter ferocity and strange machinations on “Venenare” leave waves of devastation behind, the kind that leaves people picking up the pieces and wondering how to rebuild. Their savage black metal is evened out by their dexterity and willingness to experiment and apply new sounds, which makes this such a fascinating experience. Everything about this hurts you all over, and all that is left afterward are the physical scars from this attack.

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

To buy the album North America), go here: https://store.eisenton.com/

Or here (International): https://store.eisenton.de/en/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.eisenton.de/

Caïna’s Curtis-Brignell remains revealing on darkness, mental suffering with ‘Gentle Illness’

Physical injuries are pain are obvious, and no one ever questions them, because you can see someone in a cast or a neck brace or in bandages. People never seem to wonder about those things, likely because it’s something they can see. When it comes to mental wounds, those aren’t as apparent, and there are people in our society who dismiss them and wonder why people can’t toughen up. Would you tell someone with a broken back to get over it and walk?

Andy Curtis-Brignell, the creator behind long-running black metal project Caïna, has been one who let his scars and gaping wounds be displayed by the public. He’s been outspoken about the things that ail him, as anyone who follows him on social media can attest, and he also takes bullshit from assholes, because some people can’t help themselves but be shallow. Nonetheless, Curtis-Brignell never has let that deter him, and his return record under the Caïna banner, “Gentle Illness,” is here and is one of the most explosive in his catalog. It’s also one of the most diverse as this eight-track, nearly 38-minute album still simmers in black metal, but it adds more abrasive noise, jazz, and spacey visions to its palate, which adds interesting textures to a collection that’s steeped in pain.

“Wellness Policy” opens the record with noise stinging as a doctor asks a patient about her suicide attempt and what led to it. The track is dark and weighs down on you, leading to “Your Life Was Probably Pointless” that has guitars spiraling and Curtis-Brignell’s growls devastating. The track goes from heavily pummeling to pulling back and letting cold showers chill your bones, leading into strange shadows. Just then, savage fires erupt, keys plink down like ice daggers, and the track rushes out. “No Princes in Hell” is murderous in its approach while noise assaults, and the vocals hammer the mind. The track unexpectedly turns jazzy and loose, sprawling unexpectedly before the music strikes again, slashing before it bows to a cloud of noise. “Canto IV” is an instrumental cut that has beats crackling, soundwaves spreading, and voices echoing before the track reverberates and freezes out.

The title track has a sci-fi feel as it unfurls, while darkness rolls, and the track is torn from guts to chest. An electronic wave sizzles underneath a hammering salvo, and drums and beats rapidly strike, blistering, as a clip runs about overrun mental health clinics, ways to keep patients calm, and the striking line of, “Don’t think that because they’re mentally ill, they don’t know what’s going on,” soberingly sending a warning. “Contactee Cult” opens with the bass lurking, keys warming, and guitars lathering before knifing into flesh. A path of relentless, storming chaos moves forward, feeding into another jazzy bit with shimmering keys before an industrial haze swallows everything whole. “My Mind Is Completely Disintegrating” is a 7:14-long battle with panic as it slowly crawls while guitars arrive and wander, more jazz-filled pockets open and swallow you, and things spiral into the cosmos, allowing organs to rise before everything slips away. Closer “One Breath Under the Yoke Is a Fate Worse Than Death” jolts with an electronic shock, burning a path toward a sooty death march complete with fierce wails. Curtis-Brignell conjures manic hell that bursts and burns, increasing the intensity before things finally dissipate.

Mental illness and living with such condition are constant battles, something that’s never fully won, a demon that never really goes away. Curtis-Brignell captures the pressure and punishment one goes through when dealing with these deteriorating conditions on “Gentle Illness,” a record that could resonate a little too much and too deeply for those of us who suffer. Caïna’s music always is welcome in our world, and this record is devastating, but this is not music that’s easy to hear or digest.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://apocalypticwitchcraft.co.uk/

Or here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/Caïna-gentle-illness-lp

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

The Deathtrip survive madness, return original voice on black, devastating ‘Demon Solar Totem’

There are some things even darkness, uncertainty, and chaos cannot stop from coming into fruition. That saying “what’s meant to be will be” is something people may pass off as some sort of philosophical gazing, but it also holds a ton of truth. Something that is meant to materialize will do that no matter the forces that are pushing against it.

“Demon Solar Totem,” the second record from black metal beasts The Deathtrip almost didn’t happen. Maybe, in some other warped timelines, it doesn’t make its way into the world, but in this existence, it’s here, and it’s vile and strange. I could write an entire passage about this record’s volatile journey and the starts and stops the band faced creating this seven-track, 55-minute monster. But why regurgitate that entire thing? All you need to know is guitarist Host started to work on the long-awaited response to their debut “Deep Drone Master,” and as things were getting ready to commit to time, vocalist Aldrahn parted ways with the band. That led to the return of original vocalist Kvohst (formerly of Dødheimsgard and currently of Grave Pleasures and Hexvessel), who commands the album and gives it muscle in a way only he can. Bass was completed by Thomas Eriksen of Mork, and now the album has two label homes for Europe and North America, which it deserves because it is scathing.

The title track rips the top off this thing with ominous riffs cutting through the center, and that eruption leads to things turning delirious. Kvohst’s insane shrieks burst while chants ricochet off the chorus, and clean singing comes in and add more darkness. That leads into a vile passage with ritualistic cries and pummeling madness. “Angel Fossils” have riffs spiraling and growls digging into the nerves. Wails over the chorus segue into a vicious, chilling space that brings about a trancey attack and more chants that end the track. “Enter Spectral Realms” starts with leads glimmering, driving slowly until the gears are shredded. An old school black metal spirit spills into the room and sends chills, while delirious guitars scramble, and weird calls disintegrate into a haze.

“Surrender to a Higher Power” lets guitars heat up and hypnotize, and strange, detached singing is smeared over the chorus. A storming pace collides with the earth while the vocals refuse mercy, and cries of, “Surrender,” destroy. “Vintage Telepathy” is hushed at first before it bathes in slow heaviness, with singing mixing in with the perilous guitar work. “What am I becoming?” Kvohst calls before screaming, “Shadows are falling!” over and over as the song ends in echo. “Abraxas Mirrors” has noise bubbling before it’s torn apart, and maniacal wails crush souls. The pace is unforgiving and bizarre, as the title is screamed over the chorus, and savagery mixes with belts with shrieks. “Awaiting a New Maker” is the 10-minute closer that first hovers before chugging and chewing. Howls and singing blend together as the guitars transfix, with the tempo ramping up and mauling. The track steamrolls as higher vocals rise, a fog infects, and the track submits to a cloud of cavernous noise.

The Deathtrip did whatever they had to do to get “Demon Solar Totem” out into the world, and it thrives and destroys based on the strength it gained by volatility. This is a fitting second chapter in the band’s run, and now having a familiar voice back behind the mic gives them what they need to keep burning into the future. This is a terrifying, massive slab of true black metal, and we’re all better off for this music having survived and found its way into our bloodstreams.

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

To buy the album go here: https://svartrecords.com/?s=deathtrip

Or here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/

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

And here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/