Act of Impalement rampage back with filthy death, brutal power on mauling ‘Infernal Ordinance’

Sitting down with a 75-minute record spread over 2 or 3 pieces of vinyl certainly is something I love, and spending time with the massive physical manifestation makes the money spent worthwhile. But let’s also pay respect to the shorter blasts that are over before you can finish a workout but that also leave you thoroughly devastated. The world is big enough for both things, and they create variety.

Nashville metallic trio Act of Impalement lean toward the latter with their second record “Infernal Ordinance,” a 9-track, 29-minute brawler that is packed with power and brutality and that follows 2018 debut “Perdition Cult.” The band—vocalist/guitarist Ethan Rock, bassist Jimmy Grogan, drummer Zack Ledbetter—is one of those you can’t quite pinpoint soundwise, but there’s plenty of death metal, blackened fury, and classic metal glory on this album. It’s economically served, but it doesn’t feel short by any means. This is a fully realized, thunderous display that feels beefier than its runtime and keeps your blood flowing throughout.

“Summoning the Final Conflagration” gets things off to a bludgeoning start, thrashing and mashing, the vile howls carving you up. Doomy waters suddenly rush, adding to the muddiness, while grim growls and pulverizing energy saps you of your strength. “Bogbody” lets the bass drive into the soot as the speed and insanity kill, the guitars firing away. The band unleashes a swagger that punishes, the growls huff, and everything massacres right to the end. “In Wolflight” brings sickening guitars and the vocals scorching as the ground quakes, slowing to a swelling horror. Things then speed up immediately, thrashing forcefully until you finally drop. “Specters of Unlight” charges up as the guitars grind, dark ugliness sprawls with force, and ugly, beastly growls trudge all over. The guitars thrash with power, the playing dangles you dangerously over the edge, and the final blasts rock your chest.

“Creeping Barrage” is total demolition, a quick, blink-and-you-miss-it destruction, killing through a quick trip through infernal grounds and into “Atomic Hecatomb” that drubs and rips you apart. Strong mashing causes your blood vessels to burst, the guitar work goes off and slashes at bones, and the final moments bring about a volcanic end. “Blasphemous Rebirth” unloads spiraling guitars and a thrash attack that burns through everything on front of it, the growls digging into you like a wild dog in a frenzy. “Death Hex” arrives amid trampling bass and plastering guitars that spray blood and pull out organs. Throaty howls are pulverizing, the guitars char flesh, and the final moment treat you to calculating trudging. Closer “Erased” is gloomy and gruesome before it begins a tornadic pace that takes you apart. Growls spread as strong guitar work turns up the heat, channeled strikes loosen screws, and the last punches landed make it feel like you’ve been through a war.

“Infernal Ordinance” whips by in a little less than a half hour, and although the serving size is smaller, the punishment it doles out is mammoth in scope. Act of Impalement take elements that many bands have done to death and freshen them up with a sharpened approach and devious blood spill, keeping things exciting and ferocious. Five years after their debut, this band is firing on all cylinders, proving this machine is deadlier than ever and ready to take victims along with them.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/infernal-ordinance

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

Greek black metal destroyers Deviser finally rampage back with blazing ‘Evil Summons Evil’

It might seem super obvious, but 12 years is a long time. Two thirds of my animals were not alive 12 years ago. I was two jobs way from where I am now in that time span. The United States was not in the state of political farce and societal insanity it is now, and we could not even imagine that level of insanity 12 years ago. That’s a much longer span than I ever realized.

It’s been about 12 years since we got a new record from Hellenic black metal force Deviser, but that drought is over with the arrival of “Evil Summons Evil,” their devastating new record. This new 10-track effort is black metal served in a way a lot of bands miss in this era. Speed is not a required element. In fact, most of this treads water in the best way possible, and the heaviness and power is what’s key. The band—vocalist/guitarist Matt Hnaras, bassist/keyboardist Nick Christogiannis, guitarist Vagellis Kastanas—turns on the furnace and sweats you out over this life of this thing. And despite the lack of fuel pedal fetishizing, it’s a massive power that is relentless and energizing, demanding your attention.

“Death Is Life Eternal” stomps its way in with guitars catching fire and the shrieks ripping, letting the torch light slowly illuminate the madness. Synth spreads as a sense of regality emerges, spilling into lush keys and off into the distance. “Cold Comes the Night” is jarring with the guitars muscling and vicious howls stinging in rage. Calculated power mixes with orchestral waves before things tear apart again, gutting with surging riffs and mangling horrors. “Absence of Heaven” lets riffs envelope and the vocals overpower, sweeping through as the sentiment gets morose, melting with channeled savagery. The eruption quakes the earth, guitars sweep through, and synth swells, your veins pushed to pump blood more forcefully. “Tenebrae” is a brief instrumental interlude with synth clouds landing and mystical drama unfolding, moving its way to “Of Magick” that trudges as Androniki Skoula of Chaostar lends her beaming soprano pipes and adds beauty to terror. The shrieks rip and give the bloodier edge, the playing sparks, and things drive with menace into plodding intensity with Skoula pulling you into hypnosis with her siren call.

“Evoking the Moon Goddess” chugs as the shrieks chew at muscle, drama increasing as the pace levels up in excitement. The vocals explode as fierce hell is unleashed, synth sweeps, and powerful leads slice through to the bone. “Where Angels Fear to Tread” begins with acoustics and a haunting dialog, guitars soaring and crushing, shrieks destroying. Melodies rampage as the playing fully engulfs, taking you along with it. “Sky Burial” is rushing and harsh, scorching every step of the way, the humidity getting thicker as it lasts. The playing plasters and grinds your flesh, throaty howls land hard, and vicious power drags you back into the unknown. “Serpent God” churns as eerie synth unwinds, shrieks rip hard, and the playing envelopes, scraping at congealing wounds. Vicious howls punish as the atmosphere increases, blowing down the doors and ushering in closer “When the Lights Went Out.” The guitars are heated and harsh, the shrieks pierce your ears, and the force becomes insurmountable, dragging you under with it. Energetic pulses increase, the leads take off, and a melodic explosion ends in lush acoustics.

“Evil Summons Evil” might have taken us almost a decade and a half to get into our hands since the last Deviser record, and in that time away, they’ve managed to get hungrier and meaner. There are faster, nastier bands on the planet, but what Deviser do so well is keep you in a battering groove, slowly eating away at you and making the punishment feel that much bloodier. This is a much welcomed return for this band and a record that reminds what these vets are capable of committing.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://hammerheartstore.com/collections/vendors?q=Deviser

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

Indy’s Veilcaste spread personal misery, pain within doom waters on mind-melting debut ‘Precipice’

The word doom alone should give you a certain feeling. Nothing about the word on the surface is good. It’s DOOM! Destruction, unrest, a horrible fate, the bitter end all are things we can loop into those four letters, and anytime someone whispers the word, it can’t be good. So, that all being the case, why is doom metal so goddamn satisfying and fulfilling?

Veilcaste hail from Indianapolis, and I guess if we’re talking fate of their hometown football team, doom and hopelessness spring eternal. They’re not really going to hire Jeff Saturday, right? Right? Not that football had anything to do with it, but Veilcaste’s full-length debut “Precipice,” is jammed with sadness, despair, and negativity, elements that make doom what it is. Yes, there are bands that have taken the subgenre beyond that, but wallowing in the worst times and pain is why this exists in the first place, and Veilcaste—vocalist Dustin Mendel, guitarist Brian Wyrick, guitarist/vocalist John Rau, bassist Gabe Whitcomb, drummer Chris Cruz—soak this thing with pessimism in a way where the pain you endure on a regular basis feels like it has a something that relates. Will that make you feel better? It won’t.

“Asunder Skies” starts with guitars bleeding and Mendel’s grunts hitting your midsection, the trudging pace taking over and amplifying the power. The playing gets progressively heavier, sludgy fury slashes, and the final moments float into the stars. “Dust & Bone” punches with Mendel’s Henry Rollins-style hollers making their presence known, the playing sizzling in grimness. “Those days, they pass, just dust and bone will last,” Mendel jabs as scathing force and crushing playing powder bones. “Drag Me Down” is muddy with deeper vocals, the leads drubbing and testing your strength. The guitar work then spindles before the lurching increases, throaty howls land hard, and even some psychedelic dripping changes the shades. The playing lights up as the melodies mystify, pushing the way toward “For Us” opens with Mendel calling, “Twisting, turning, my life is burning for you,” as doomy soot collects, and the hopeless spreads across the earth. The pressure increases and squeezes out air as the pain increases, Mendel wailing, “My heart is bleeding for us,” as the door slams shut.

“Relapse in Reason” starts with jarring howls and doomy pools collecting with filth, the temperature getting more oppressive and unlivable. Things go cold as the guitars spark, and muscles are flexed, driving and sinking in their teeth, Mendel leveling with, “Unholy waters, nourish my mind,” as things end in brutality. “A Gasp of Air” is spacious at first before the bruising sets in, gutting with barked wails and howls stretching, molten chaos making the tension burst. Leads heat up as things get ominous, foreboding crushing squeezes blood from veins, and the final blows make breathing a struggle. Closer “Empty Hell” is mystical when it dawns, and then the gear get to work, bruising as organs haunt, guitars stretching their reach and threatening your sanity. The pace hammers in spots, refusing any sense of safety, mixing into a dreamy haze that makes your nerve endings tingle. Vicious playing gets in some final blows as Mender taunts, “Come join me,” as the pain finally trickles away.

“Precipice” is a record you can tell is stitched from heavy experiences, lived tension, and mental scars that never seem to fade into the background.  Veilcaste’s doom can be cosmic, but it never feels like you should be sky gazing, unless you’re dreaming for a runaway comet to finally do us in for good. This is brutal, bruising, and draining, a record that will sound best when you’re at the end of your rope.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Balan digs out Palace of Worms’ final rest spot with jagged madness on ‘Cabal’

Sensing when to bring something to an end isn’t always an easy decision. It’s safe to cling to past glory and lie to yourself that what you’re doing is still relevant and has juice locked inside. In other cases, perhaps the drive remains but the focus shifts or you find yourself at the bottom of the well with what you used for inspiration drying up in small puddles. Moving on isn’t easy, but it needs to be done.

Nicholas “Balan” Katich has been the sole driving force behind black metal project Palace of Worms ever since the start, and now with “Cabal,” the fourth long player from this force, the time has come for the end. Balan has declared this the final full-length album for Palace of Worms, and if you compare this record to, say, the 2009 debut “The Forgotten,” the growth and expansion is obvious over the entire lifespan. “Cabal” stretches far past the black metal base and incorporates elements of deathrock, electronic music, goth, and death metal, and it makes for an album with so much interesting stuff pouring from the cracks, that it’s a little heartbreaking to see this project end. Another unique aspect of “Cabal” is Balan branched out and invited in myriad noteworthy players to flesh out these songs including Trevor Deschryver (Lycus, Silence in the Snow, Deafheaven), Sammy Fielding (Noctooa), Roberto Martinelli (Botanist), Dylan Neal (Thief), Shelby Lermo (Vastum, Ulthar), Hunter Burgan (AFI), Andy Way (Thoabath, Sutekh Hexen), Elizabeth Gladding (Lotus Thief, Forlesen), and Meghan Wood (Crown of Asteria). These additions help lift this record into something altogether different, a perfect epitaph for a project that’s been making challenging, enthralling music for nearly 15 years.

“Telepathic Crucifixion” opens feeling disorienting with blocks and a theremin floating in your field of vision, giving off a dusty western vibe before the guitars open, and Balan’s howls crush. The playing gets moodier and mystifies before the violence erupts again, chilling melodies strike, and proggy bass loops as the final daggers land. “Bizarre Blood and Exhumations” clobbers as the growls menace, and thrashy playing grows spacious suddenly before the next big rush. Soloing blazes as the keys drip, the leads enthrall, harsh howls twist, and the madness spirals and heads off into the cosmos. “Through the Dark Arches” releases dark powers as the playing both pounds and trickles, and as synth cloud hovers as the pressure mounts. Clean bellowing mesmerizes as the guitars shift through, adding crunch that teams with the icy keys to leave a film over everything. “When the Stones Come Tumbling Down” starts melodic and gazey, clean singing bubbling, the guitars slicing into the dream unfolding before you. Sax enters and makes the scene steamier, the guitars pick up and add to the emotion, and growls wrench. The playing spirals as the vocals curdle, synth streaks illuminating the sky.

The title track brings keys and calculated beats, guitars stinging as the clean singing haunts. Murky strangeness becomes a greater factor as the shrieks push through, bizarre ambiance invades your mind, and industrial chugging leaves soot behind. “Cessation of the Heart” opens with clean singing and gothy heat, growls eventually crushing and adding sonic weight. Organs spill in and make the room seem unsteady, growls return, and metallic leads get the intensity to a level you can’t avoid. “Rebirth of Nihil” dawns with a female voice (I’m pretty sure it’s Gladding), guitars tangling, and growls blistering as the organs make things feel liturgical in the darkest sense. The playing wells and begins to take on water, the body begins a slow fade into space, and the fires reach the heavens and scorch the stars. Closer “Winterbird” is dark and ominous, taking on a heavy Type O vibe, the singing blackening and scarring. “She calls my name,” Balan howls, “She’s me and I am her,” as the guitars add to the intensity, growls turning up and ripping. The playing stirs as trudging stomps guts, a strange aura rises, and everything ends in the mouth of psychosis.

For the final installment in Palace of Worms’ mission, Balan picked the most full-bodied and portentous in “Cabal” to act as the last testament. There’s so much variety here but never to the detriment of the overall record. Instead, it helps enhance and make deadlier the black and death metal parts, giving them a different and more effective edge. The is a great final record, one that will have us mourning Place of Worms’ presence but keeping us morbidly grateful we could experience this power at all.

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

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

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

Mysterious Bad Manor bewitch all over as debut ‘The Haunting’ gets its proper vinyl treatment

The world of heavy metal has been awash in concept albums over its existence, and while it’s not unique to the genre, it seems to be where it has found its righteous home. Almost all of these records tell a story over the life of a series of songs, but very few seem to inhabit your mind and live within your bones as the music and adventure unfurl. Today, we have that very thing.

The mysterious Bad Manor is comprised of players from the Ordo Vampyr Orientis circle (it also includes Bat Magic and Beastial Majesty), and their mesmerizing debut “The Haunting” is a tale of disturbing spirits and curses that inhabit the band’s mansion. The album actually came out last year digitally and on cassette, but the mighty Labyrinth Tower rightfully is giving this spellbinding black metal tale vinyl treatment complete with an illustrated book with the album’s story inside. The words to that story also double as the lyrics, and the book itself looks majestic and fun. I won’t sample from the book’s words because the whole thing should be consumed with full album treatment: reading along with the book as the music unfurls like a phantom. The album truly feels lived in, and the weirdness that washes over you on these five songs can make your nerves tingle and tendency toward anxiety pushed harder than you might expect. We don’t have names you’ll necessarily recognize as the primary players—The Impaler, The Ghastly Vrykolak, The Haunted Strigoi, and Phallus A. Blaze as The Skinner of Cats are listed as creators—with seances conducted by Stephen R.C. Sicreeve (professional spirit medium) and Monsieur Malediction (vessel phantasmique); the tale documented by the late Professor Rada S. Lazarescu; and final dactylomantic rites performed by Lord Elzevir. How much is fiction and how much is reality remains unknown, but that adds to the chilling procession to which you’re treated.

“The Room With Six Hundred and Sixty Six Eyes” starts darkly and fairly unassumingly, organs welling up, and the drums pattering echoes behind before a yelp and a sharp turn into madness. Wild shrieks and a manic pace team up and deliver ferocity, the melodies hiding beneath the chaos, harsh howls clobbering. The playing drills and enraptures, the heavy haze crushes, and the wrenching feel dips into the unconscious with chilling chimes. “The Study, Filled With Books” jolts with a panicked pace and crazed wails, the playing smoking you and twisting into endless nightmares. Strange narration eats into your mind, the keys encircle, and the strings haunt as guitars race into the unknown.

“Through the Garden to the Graves” unleashes hypnotic organs and unmitigated chaos, shrill shrieks working their way down your spine. Tornadic wildness disorients you from reality as a crushing force emerges and chews at nerves, guitars blister and bubble, and a weird dialog ends the cycle. “An Incident in the Nursery at the Witching Hour” lands with psyche-rich leads, barked howls, and hypnotic terror, organs making the haunted rooms spin out of control. The playing ices over your veins, a maniacal dialog recounting the disturbing visions presses your sanity, and final beastly howls ricochet off the inside of your skull. Closer “Hallowed Ground” drubs and spindles, sharp growls making inroads, the whole thing freezing your mind. Guitars well as the strange disorientation of the haunted estate sinks in its hooks, keeping you here forever. Organs steam as the faces in the portraits fixate on you, delivering a ghastly dialog, locking you in a relentless pace, and burying you in a noise implosion.

The tales locked into “The Haunting,” the first record from Bad Manor, are chilling just on the pages of the book accompanying the music, but hearing the artistic manifestation of this adventure absolutely melts your nerves. This is black metal that is beyond strange and might not be the best remedy in your more anxious hours, as it can disturb your mind and paint you into the tapestries. This is a record that needs physical form to truly be appreciated, and once you have that in hand, you might find yourself the next name etched into the manor’s damned guestbook.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.labyrinthtower.com/product/bad-manor-the-haunting

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

Fvnerals use chilling ambiance, doom to reveal sickened world on rainy ‘Let the Earth Be Silent’

Photo by Anja Bergman

I was having a conversation this weekend with someone who was fixing my car about how poorly people treat one another, especially those in the service industry. We are all still battling a pandemic, and people are still getting sick, and you’d think that all the torment and pain would have changed some of our thinking. But it hasn’t. In many ways, society has gotten worse, and the decay is still building.

Abject hopelessness and the lack of optimism are all over “Let the Earth Be Silent,” the third record from ambient-rich doom duo Fvnerals, a band that manages to pull sonic beauty out of total hell. The band—vocalist/bassist Tiffany Ström and guitarist Syd Scarlet (Thomas Vaccargiu handled drums and percussion)—reflects the bleak nature of the world on these seven songs, tracks that slowly unfurl and grow like vines around you before tightening their grip. The heaviness is more in the vibes and atmosphere than the music, though it’s plenty weighty, and the complete hell that still engulfs us all is here in full and depressing glory, waiting to fully consume you.

“Ashen Era” dawns with sounds hovering overhead, Ström’s calls hanging above and luring you into the maze. The playing finally jolts as doom sprawls, the vocals soar, and the emotion floods, noise scraping as the final days appear to signal their arrival. “Descent” brings stinging sounds and heavy cloud cover, Ström’s singing lurking behind the shadows. Calculated strikes rock the foundations as the calls stretch into the atmosphere, the drums clash, and the last rays of light are choked out gracefully. “For Horror Eats the Light” is ominous and apocalyptic, pulling a dark curtain over your vision and choking the light. Murk and fog combine as Ström’s singing floats, the temperature reaching freezing levels, shrill noises scraping walls. Ström’s calls lather as the playing crests, folding out into cold winds.

“Annihilation” lands with sounds enveloping, drums echoing, and the guitars sending electric pulses that ripple. Speaking haunts as the doom hammers drop again, filling the senses as the soundscapes moan and dissolve into the earth. “Rite” is a quick interlude passage with strings and sounds collecting, smearing blood on the walls and fading into the background to make way for “Yearning.” The guitars drip as Ström’s icy voice sends daggers, the doomy darkness dripping and making your footing unsteady. Menacing tones chew into muscle, and a ghostly presence gets more intrusive and enters your psyche, letting the last drops of your dream soak the pillow. Closer “Barren” brings foreboding as spirits rise, the doom pounds, and Ström’s singing captures your imagination and stays present until the mood settles. Things quickly rise again, the playing throbs, and the pressure mounts, folding time and unloading penetrating drone that leaves behind a slick glaze.

The heaviness and menacing feelings that hang over “Let the Earth Be Silent” are purposeful as Fvnerals specifically chose to reveal the bleak, terrible elements of the globe on which we live. The record is both beautiful and mentally turbulent, a place where serenity commonly is uprooted by sinister events and a society that feels more uninviting as time unfurls. This is a record that won’t leave you feeling easy and embraced and instead will push you to your emotional limits as these black waves wash over you.   

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

To buy the album, go here: http://lnk.spkr.media/fvnerals-let-the-earth-be-silent

For more on the label, go here: https://en.prophecy.de/

Death metal dealers Memoriam keep focus on loss, tyrannical chaos on punchy ‘Rise to Power’

People are insane, and for some reason, we have a slate of folks now realizing bands they listened to for a long time—GASP!—have progressive politics! I’d say the lyrics sheet is your friend, but that doesn’t mean comprehension is automatic, so maybe pay attention to what your musicians say about their beliefs and apply that to their art! So, hold on: Memoriam are not here to kowtow to your shit.

Yes, the band that rose from the ashes of the fallen Bolt Thrower (also fans of left-wing politics) have returned with another brutal serving of war-encrusted death metal with the legendary Karl Willetts out front of this powerhouse. “Rise to Power” is their fifth record in six years, a steady clip for this band that not only commonly fights back in defense of the oppressed but also pays homage to those they lost along the way, something that continues on this eight-track, 45-minute record. Willetts is backed by guitarist Scott Fairfax, bassist Frank Healy, and drummer Spikey T. Smith, and they lash back against tyranny, fascism, and injustice but with a message to relish life, as it’s a precious gift worth defending.

“Never Forget, Never Again (6 Million Dead)” is a title that cannot possibly be misinterpreted, though there are people who don’t know Pink Floyd had a rainbow on a legendary album cover. The playing utterly chugs, a body crusher from the gates with Willetts in fine, raspy voice you cannot mistake for anyone else. This is a perfect charger to get this record off the ground. “Total War” thrashes and then gets smeary, the punches landing and opening wounds. Aggressive and jolting, the playing amasses bodies, and even when warmer tones arrive, it still feels like you’re staring into the mouth of battle. “I Am the Enemy” brings steaming guitars and a pounding pace, melodic heat scorching over the chorus. The playing keeps burning as the intensity builds with the chorus slipping back in, and ominous warnings throttling everything on front of it. “The Conflict Is Within” lets the bass slip in and the riffs generate heat, Willett’s howls devastating and peeling back flesh. “I cannot save you, you can only save yourself,” Willetts warns as the tempo gets slower and moodier, ending in total darkness.

“Annihilations Dawn” has strong leads and battering playing, bludgeoning and blistering as it builds. The guitars stretch as Willetts’ howls sink in its teeth, glorious playing unleashing hell and pulling you into the fire. “All Is Lost” lands with rousing drums and menacing playing, Willetts howling the title as brutality swells. The growls are a little deeper, and the guitars trample, the soloing lighting fires and pouring on the madness. More punches are thrown, the guitars increase the intensity, and the final strains burn away. The title track doesn’t land as hard as the other songs on here, raspy howls still registering, but the playing feels like it’s treading water. The group shouts of “Rise!” get things going a little, with the final moments just draining away. Closer “This Pain” picks things up and starts with cleaner guitars, tapped drums, and talk-like howls, crunchy thrash rousing. Start-stop playing ruptures, the leads slash, and the temperature rises, Willetts calling, “This pain will end, my heart shall live again,” ending everything on a rousing, hopeful note.

Memoriam have been on a tear, ripping out five records in six years and continuing the find passion and power with each release. “Rise to Power” doesn’t include any surprises, nor should anyone really have expected any. Instead, the band delivers meat-and-potatoes death metal that has its own, identifiable taste that still whets our appetites. Being reliable is a good thing, and Memoriam are the picture of that as they ramble with force into the future.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Memoriam2016

To buy the album, go here: https://www.reapermusic.de/reaper?fulltext=memoriam

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Malleus blast societal hatred, fear that still haunts us with ‘Fires of Heaven’

So many people in our society are immersed in fear, even if they don’t know or acknowledge that fact. The negative reactions toward immigrants, queer people, trans people, people of color, etc. surely is the result of hatred, but much of that is based in fear. They’ll dress that hatred in bible pages and religious fervor, itself a source of fanning the flames of crippling fear.

I used the word fear numerous times above for a reason because it’s the most direct way to describe the hatred so many hold, and that is the driving subject matter behind “The Fires of Heaven,” the debut full-length from Boston-based black metal power Malleus. Over the course of eight tracks and 44 minutes, the band—vocalist The Channeler, guitarist The Hammer, bassist The Watcher, drummer The Relentless—focuses on European immigrants’ arrival in the New England area centuries ago and the unrest they faced, but those factors remain in place today in what’s long been celebrated as a melting pot society in America against which so many fight. Anger and bigotry grew out of that, bastardized religion having a major hand. The bloodshed in this country and the negative reverberations still present today are very real and harmful, no matter how much Florida’s reprehensible governor and plenty of other members of his party try to strip that from history.

“The Tempest” is an intro cut performed by Kris Force (Amber Asylum, Lux Interna, etc.) and Jackie Perez Gratz (Grayceon, Giant Squid, etc.) as they expertly carve a quivering path to destruction that arrives in full on “A Dark Sun Rises.” Riffs maul as the tempo goes wild, creaky shrieks working their way down your spine, the playing storming along. Speed jolts as the leads reign, thrashy power working to the finish. “Beyond the Pale” is mashing and explosive, the guitars chugging and the verses carrying a muddy ferocity. The playing is blistering as the shrieks mar, and a calculated pace makes the terror come at you ever harder, gutting with wild cries and intense savagery. “Prophetess” brings more fast-paced action and vocals scarring as darkness spreads, and the steam rising coats flesh. Guitars light up and cause you to shield your eyes , and then the drubbing tempo begins to pile bodies. Crazed howls tear into your psyche, the playing gallops, and the madness fades into darkness.

The title track runs 7:34 and crackles at the start, the menace building slowly but surely, vicious drubbing leveling up as the playing advances. Riffs darken as the temperature gets dangerously warm, speed rearing its head and strangling, shrieks tearing at your face. The final portion challenges and charges, increasing the pressure before ending in a molten blaze. “Into the Flesh” brings ripping riffs and devastation, the vocals spat like nails, the simple chorus carrying a punch to the guts. The track explodes and sends shrapnel flying, warm leads tangle with rumbling bass, and the final moments drive the daggers deep. “Awakening” is 8:02 and has an eerie start, taking its time to set up an ambiance. Growls mash as a dark, doomy path is trudged, the diatribes colored with playing that feels aimed at jarring loose dangerous ideals. The playing mangles from there, adding to the fury, and everything begins a slow descent, disappearing into synth fog and into 9:34-long closer “Mourning War” that changes the pace with lush acoustics. The guitars remain moody before the assault gets under way, the shrieks rampaging into synthy confusion and beastly rampaging. The verses plod as the power gains strength, the guitars give some added crunch, and then everything soars. The fires rage to a volatile level, the playing mauls thoroughly, and final blasts hammer in the final nails.

Centuries after the events that inspired the lyrical content on “The Fires of Heaven,” and we still act in similar fashion and force other people to face that fear and wrath. Malleus find a devastating, clobbering fashion to deliver these messages and revisit a history that doesn’t really come off as very flattering and still haunts marginalized people all over. It’s a war we never seem to be able to stop fighting, and at this point, it only feels like the battlefields are lengthening and getting bloodier.

For more on the band, go here: https://malleusheavymetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-fires-of-heaven

To buy the album, go here: https://armageddonlabel.bandcamp.com/album/the-fires-of-heaven

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

Swiss destroyers Anachronism waylay senses with prog, death onslaught on harsh ‘Meanders’

Music can be a means for settling one’s anxiety as sounds that appeal to you can wash over your mind and help you get a grip on reality. At the same time, every person is gifted and/or cursed with an individual brain with unique wiring, so music that might cool your tension won’t necessarily work for everyone else. Your sedative might cause someone else’s amygdala to lose control.

Swiss metal brain crushers Anachronism might not be what ails you if your anxiety is running amok as their elastic, bludgeoning combination of death metal, jazzy bends, and technical proficiency doesn’t exactly scream serenity. Nor did they likely aim for that anyway. But for me as a listener, I found comfort in the psychosis on their warped third record “Meanders,” an eight-track, 33-minute bruiser that is nicely portioned as all these twists and turns could grow exhausting if dumped into a larger bucket. The band—vocalist/guitarist Lisa Voisard, guitarist Manu Le Bé, bassist Julien Waroux, drummer Florent Duployer—makes wise use of their time and leaves you thoroughly torn apart yet not so overwhelmed that you can’t take another trip quickly. Unless they crush your mental comfort, of course.

“Contrasts” displays smeary vision as proggy bass bends around corners, and Voisard’s growls become a factor early, digging underneath your fingernails. The playing is trudgy and tricky, playing games with your mind, and a strange atmosphere clouds your brain before everything melts and drips away.  The title track is punchy and weird, the growls scraping as the playing bludgeons and bruises lungs. Rubbery guitars and violent shrieks combine, icy waters flow and threaten hypothermia, and the final moments disorient as the growls peel back your face. “Prism” chugs and punishes as the growls leave damage to your ribcage, the guitars launching a channeled assault. The playing manages to be muddy and elastic, clubbing as Voisard’s roars smash you, the guitars delving into jazzier territory that adds elegance to the blunt jolts. “Source” is viscous and gutting, wild howls making thunderous impressions, spacious melodies flooding your imagination. Guitars ignite and take progressive turns, the growls crush, and strange waves pull you under the surface.

“Insula” lets the bass out front to flex as the pace mashes and lurches, the violence steadily increasing. The playing then strikes harder, the growls add extra levels of menace, and blistering fury ensures that the pain you sustained lasts a while. “Mirage” begins in a bizarre vibe, your mind floating on water and the spacey guitars taking you to planes beyond this one. The bass tramples as the playing jars and shifts, and your mind snarls without mercy, meandering into cold waters that cause you to tremble violently. “Macrocosm” lets guitars explore the atmosphere, later drilling into your skull as the riffs leave your vision blurry and uncertain. The bass chews as the vibe slurs into madness, growls turn up late and rip into your sides, and the heaviness peaks and explodes into the sky. Closer “Dialogues” crushes as throaty growls attack you, slipping into murky power as you’re mentally forced to deal with the chaos. Screams lace as bloody urgency rises dangerously, fading into eternal psychosis.

Anachronism’s style is all over the map, yet it’s obvious they’re in total, deadly control as they prove on “Meanders,” an album that will twist your brain into a pretzel. One can install the death metal foundation and all of the various descriptors, as we attempted above, but that won’t truly get you to the heart of it. This is music that must be experienced to be absorbed, and while understanding might always exist at arm’s length, it still will indoctrinate you into a world consumed by fire.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.sound-cave.com/en/band/anachronism

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

Ominous Scriptures churn bone with death metal mind crushing on ‘Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition’

Have you ever been punched in the face? If not, it’s not a great experience! If someone out there is trying to tell you that you need to feel that before you can truly enjoy your life, chances are they’re a sociopath that no one likes and deserves every fist to the mouth. No worries, though, as there are death metal bands I’m convinced are only here to help you experience that in art form. Which is amazing.

Belarusian brutal death metal fuckers Ominous Scriptures are here to let you feel that fist to the face without the bruising and mental trauma, and their third record “Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition” is an incredibly safe way to be brutalized without losing blood or being wrecked permanently. The band—vocalist Pawel Nalecki, guitarist/vocalist Siarhei Liakh, guitarist Pavel Lapkouski, bassist Andrey Pilipenko, drummer Alex Navitski—puts on a physical and mental display that’s impossible to shake off, and their approach is menacing and deadly, bulldozing into a record that’s technically proficient but also bleeds heavily from self-inflicted wounds.

“Demonic Totem I Am” rips open, regurgitating brutal death in a pile in front of you, shifty playing and monstrous growls forming an impressive tandem. The leads churn as the growls get nastier, landing some deadly final blows. The title cut blisters as harsh growls knife, and the battering pace causes instantaneous bruising. Guitars encircle as the playing goes off and rattles skulls, the humidity thickens, and a last burst of bludgeoning leaves mental scars. “Enraged” chugs as muddy growls land, and the guitars charge dangerously. The playing manages to be driving and drubbing at the same time, a battering ram striking you in the chest and knocking the wind out of you. “Fanning the Flames” delivers twisting guitars and ugly, warped tempos that are disorienting and gutting. The guitars dice flesh, the soloing floods your senses, and then the ugliness swells, bludgeoning into weirdness.

“Serpentine Wisdom” is tangling as the drums erupt and shake your skeletal structure, the growls wretch, and the guitars glimmer in the murk. Growls scrape as the playing hits hyperdrive, plastering and burying your face in ash. “Mangled Perception” arrives amid surging riffs and raw growls, the muddy and guttural force making sparks fly. Guitars play tricks and feel like they’re bending time, the growls increase the harshness factor, and everything comes to a fiery finish. “Inhabitant of the Lacrimarium” drills right away, the growls making everything feel hostile as a jerky, furious tempo causes confusion. The drums plaster and scramble brains, riffs blast and shift, and the heat melts flesh from the bone. Closer “Codex Rescriptus” is smeary and rubbery at birth, violent growls lurching and helping enhance the razor-sharp riffs. Dark edges lead to a strange field, the intensity rips anew, and tornadic pressure mounts and sends the filth catapulting into space.

“Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition” is a bruising, disorienting trip through death metal that generously serves brutality in a manner that makes it hard to maintain your mental capacities. Ominous Scriptures have proven over time how insanely flexible they are musically as they apply their skills to a compactly served record that makes its point and never overstays its welcome. This is a record that’s not welcoming, greets you with open hostility, and twists your brain into puddle of goo.

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

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

For more on the label, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx