PICK OF THE WEEK: 40 Watt Sun pull back the pressure, deliver heartfelt gaze on ‘Perfect Light’

There is no set way to define heaviness, though typically with the music we cover it means art that is packed with distortion and abrasiveness, along with words that tend to go for the jugular. But that’s not the only means to hit your listeners with weighty material. Cutting through to their hearts and minds and making them feel something that heavily impacts them can be accomplished in more than one way.

That takes us to Patrick Walker and his long-running project 40 Watt Sun, itself a perfect example of a way to deliver art that’s as heavy as a planet, but the sonics won’t damage your hearing. Walker, who also is well regarded for his work in doom metal stalwarts Warning, has been making music under this banner since 2009, and from the start, things went toward the personal and introspective, even delving into romantic and relationship issues often avoided by the metal community since people are afraid of their feelings. Or something. That’s never been an issue for Walker, who always has put all of himself out there, and he does again with new full-length “Perfect Light,” the first 40 Watt Sun record in eight years. On this album, Walker goes more the singer-songwriter route, eschewing the full-band process though including notable contributors including Andrew Prestidge and Roland Scriver (The Osiris Club), Ajit Gill (Vertaal), Lorraine Rath (Amber Asylum/Worm Ouroboros), and pianist/composer Chris Redman. At eight tracks and nearly 68 minutes, this record is a slow burner, one best consumed at night with lights low, a strong drink in your hand as you can reflect along with these songs.

“Reveal” starts heavily acoustic, a folk push that’s just guitar and voice, naked and vulnerable. Walker and a guest vocalist blend perfectly as strings gush over this devotional. “Whatever you want to never reveal, whatever your broken eyes conceal, wherever the shells of lightning lead, wherever you want me, I will be,” he calls and later follows up with, “Oh, Ophelia, I’m strong enough to lift you up,” with the song fading into the horizon. “Behind My Eyes” runs 11:35 and starts with somber guitars and Walker calling, “We are wakening our lives together, we are unmaking everything we’re ashamed of.” The track is hopeful and emotional, dripping into the light, seeking healing and something better. “Meet the measure of my mind, this night won’t define us – it reveals us,” he offers as drums kick in for a jolt, and the track disappears into fog. “Until” is a more full-bodied, full band-style song that buries itself in an electric haze as Walker’s heartfelt singing pushes its way through. The power surges later as chords change and awaken you, sun cracks through the clouds, and an acoustic hum bows and heads into “Colours,” the shortest track at 4:19. It’s a ’70s-brushed, sepia-smeared track with Walker revealing, “You are the last light, you hold the glory, you throw the levels of life before me,” as the guitars delicately fade.

“The Spaces in Between” stretches 9:41 and has keys mixing with guitars and brushed drums, feeling sullen and painfully romantic. “You live in everything I love and everything I’ll never be, you’re traced in everything I touch,” Walker offers as the melodies keep filling you and making your heart challenge your mind. “Tonight, I will not try to harden truth with reasons,” Walker vows as shadows sweep and the guitars trickle, flowing toward the cold night. “Raise Me Up” is 9:47 and is moody and atmospheric, giving off a late summer vibe when the nights are a little cooler. The chorus is somber and will grip you as Walker laments of the flickering lights, “The way they go by reminds me of my pain.” Electrics surge as your cells engorge with warmth and sunbeams, the feelings rapidly increase, and Walker wonders, “Am I strong enough to carry this or too weak to let it go?” as the track burns off. “A Thousand Miles” begin with soft impulses and sympathetic vocals as the guitar work lights the skies. Melodies patter as Walker calls, “And in the sweeping tide of time, with the surging bank of despair, I’d feel the voice of your eyes in the knowing silence.” The guitars continue to trickle as the vibrations pick up, and then the sun sinks into the background, leaving darkness behind. “Closure” fittingly ends the record with acoustic rushes and more hushed singing, feeling like a folk gem from five decades ago. That ghost gets into your bloodstream as Walker sings to his subject, “If you were here to ask me what I now believe, I’d say, ‘Life can never be held but only lived,” a powerful and poignant final stamp.

This is as sensitive and vulnerable as Walker ever has been, though his work through Warning and 40 Watt Sun always consisted of him lying his bleeding heart open for the world to see. But on “Perfect Light,” the music is pulled back and lets Walker’s words and experiences take center stage as he reveals some of his most powerful sentiments in a manner where decibels can’t swallow the impact. This is a gorgeous, moving, human record, something that can find you in any season, in any situation, and live alongside your own life as you experience lights and darks.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/40wattsun

To buy the album, go here: https://40wattsunshop.bigcartel.com/products

Or here: https://svartrecords.com/product/40-watt-sun-perfect-light-album/

Or here: https://cappiorecords.bandcamp.com/

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

Or here: http://www.cappiorecords.com/

Prolific Boris give Wata lead as she weaves tapestries of dreams on psychedelic-rich, numbing ‘W’

Photo by Yoshihiro Mori

I don’t understand how the legendary psyche-doom force Boris does it. I have a hard enough time trying to think of fresh things to say when writing pieces such as these several times a week, and it’s a significantly easier job than writing a record. Not only do Boris remain prolific, they continually make music that challenges them and the listener pretty much every time out.

The Japanese trio is back with their second record during the pandemic, the mind-melting “W,” the follow-up to 2020’s excellent “No.” This marks their 27th album (I’m trusting Wikipedia’s count because that site never has been wrong about anything), and it’s one that exclusively features Wata on vocals, as her voice takes you into a portal into space, letting your imagination run wild. This record features a lot of the sonic hallmarks that have made up other Boris records as the band—rounded out by guitarist/bassist Takeshi and drummer Atsuo—piles doom, drone, space rock, noise, and plenty of other sounds into these nine cuts. Wata’s vocal performance helps these songs advance into the stratosphere, making it one of the band’s most intoxicating records ever.

“I Want to Go to the Side Where You Can Touch…” starts as the first of many dreamscapes, Wata’s vocals swimming amid wonders and sedation, noises rising and teasing. The song swirls in a haze as squalls scrape, the power spirals, and a sudden jazzy intrusion at the end makes you tilt your head in blissful confusion. “Icelina” is gentle as Wata’s hushed singing works its way over you, glimmering over a canopy of starry sky. Rumbling and guitar zaps stab in, keys flutter, and the track drizzles its last, with each drop landing as frozen pellets. “Drowning by Numbers” is the most attitudinal of all the tracks, and it’s a fun one with Wata counting, “1,2,3,4,5,” as the bass slinks dangerously. The tracks gets more sultry later, a sound machine feels like it breaks and warps, and the music melts into time. “Invitation” is a quick one with drums echoing, the singing vibrating, and the whole vibe making you feel like you’re high as fuck, moving toward “The Fallen,” which is an absolute killer. It starts like a quiet torch ballad, Wata delicately using her voice to set the tone, making it feel like your destination will be pillowy, but it’s a trick. About halfway through, the power detonates, the guitars light up and fill your entire heart, and the tidal waves pull back with you left vulnerable and radiating.

“Beyond Good and Evil” has guitars building and the fog collecting and obscuring, scuffing up everything pristine. A moody darkness thickens like a heavy backdrop as the playing heads into noiry terrain, electric drone cuts through your entire soul, and the guitars pick up and gut, leaving you unsure of your whereabouts. “Old Projector” is the longest track, running 9:43 and just hanging in the air before the dreaming intensifies and takes you hostage. The playing pushes through stars and takes on a fuzz film that keeps layering, giving the song a My Bloody Valentine/Smashing Pumpkin sheen. Wata’s singing keeps your mind in the game as much as it wants to wander into the stratosphere. Sounds fold in as galactic wonder increases, encircling and floating off into planes not yet encountered by humankind. “You Will Know (Ohayo Version)” is a mere blip, a washed-out hiccup of slide guitar and echo, and that leads into closer “Jozan” where the weight of the world comes crashing down. Sludge collects and makes your sledding tougher, the playing floods your eardrums, and walls of psychedelic coating treats your mind and ailing body with colors and visions you never imagined before.

It’s been a long, challenging pandemic for all of us, but Boris have put these times to good use, following up their “No” with this otherworldly “W.” Wata’s performance is intense and sweeping as her voice is such a presence, but she isn’t here to steamroll you. Instead, she takes your hand and leads you through blinding sights and unreal experiences as she and the rest of the band deliver something to soothe your mind and help it find its way toward better things.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://geni.us/BorisW

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

Drone warriors Sunn O))) create dreamy fog in John Peel studios with ‘Metta, Benevolence BBC6…’

For as many records as I own, and the multiple digital releases I get and am sent based on this site, there’s so much music that takes up my time and enriches my life. But as great as all of that is, there are some bands, some artists that have to be witnessed live in order for the experience to be fully understood. Without it, even their recorded works are missing something, that being their true essence.

Whether or not you like them or even get them, do yourself a favor and see Sunn 0))) the next chance you get. You’ll never forget it. You might not even make it through the entire thing because your body is put to the test at their shows, and most people in the crowd are standing in awe. If there’s a pit at a Sunn 0))) show, someone fucked up. I say that as I get ready to discuss “Metta, Benevolence BBC6 Music: Live on the Invitation of Mary Anne Hobbs,” the new collection that was recorded after an October 2019 tour in the UK supporting “Life Metal” and “Pyroclast.” They were invited by Hobbs for her show Samhain on BBC6, and the result is something that’ll resonate with any Sunn 0))) fan, but even more so if you’ve ever experienced them live. There’s a spiritual understanding, a connection where you might hear and absorb elements like you were there. The long-standing duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson were joined by Anna von Hausswolff (voice and Nord C2D synthesizer), Tos Nieuwenhuizen (Moog Rogue synthesizer), Stephen Moore (trombone, Roland Junior-106 [mod] & Nord Stage [gaffed black] synthesizers), and Tim Midyett (electric bass guitar, Roland Juno-106 synthesizer) to flesh out three tracks that exist in completely different form on this collection, making these unique takes that only live here, birthed that day. It’s just mind blowing.

“Pyroclasts F” dawns in a full buzz that swallows the room, guitars open, and the power slowly rumbles, shaking everything. Von Hausswolff’s calls echo in the background as the sound beams fold, and the tensions tugs, feeling like the actual sun is blazing through walls. More howls penetrate as fires are agitated, guitars simmer, and the track ducks out into dusk. “Pyroclasts C#” slips in over the horizon, and what feels like a chorus of cicadas swarming settles into your consciousness. Glorious keys cause you to shield your eyes as space wooshes send stardust, while the voices warble, and the wandering souls in the room have a place to hide. The organs give off a pastoral essence as mystical vibes increase, the doom drone begins to tunnel into the earth, and vibrations are so thick that it’ll feel like you’re in the room, your eardrums begging for mercy.

“Troubled Air” is an extended 31:47-long version of the track, starting with guitars scorching, the organs melting, and the sharpened blades working toward your end. The playing suddenly takes on a glow, glistening in the morning air, cosmically rolling into a new version of itself that’s constantly morphing. Moore’s trombone reaches over the blackness, bathing in jazzy weirdness as the sounds fill every molecule in the place, guitars meeting up and ringing vibrantly. Noises reverberate as every element piles on top of each other, scrapes and crashes take chunks from your flesh, and your entire body convulses with the dark energy, leaving you feeling warm and rejuvenated.

Sunn 0))) and their co-conspirators took to John Peel studios and did his legend proud, leaving their mark forever and spreading their drone gospel to a new swath of people. “Metta, Benevolence BBC6 Music: Live on the Invitation of Mary Anne Hobbs” is something every one of the band’s fans should have in their collection, an essential reinterpretation of their own tracks (which every one of their live shows is anyway) as this one captured moments in time that can be relived well into the future. This is a genuflection in front of the majesty of sound that these musicians hold in their palms.

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

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

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

Greek maulers Abyssus destroy in honor of deadly metal roots on smashing, fun ‘Death Revival’

It’s great and all when you can channel your rage and bask in heavy metal to help release that shit so it isn’t welling up inside you like some kind of poison. It’s just as refreshing when the artists themselves can find other outlets and not just pour death and horrific intent on top of you. Heavy metal also can be fun and act as hero worship, which I hope the genre’s creative forces never forget.

Jumping headlong into “Death Revival,” the second record from Greek beasts Abyssus, made me go back in time to when I discovered the heavier sounds in which I indulge and when that love formed. It’s not that these guys don’t get nasty and deliver hellacious fury on these seven tracks, but you never leave the thing feeling miserable. The band—vocalist Konstantinos Analytis, guitarists Panos Gkourmpaliotis and Chris Liakos, bassist Konstantinos Ragiadakos, drummer Jan Westermann—drives back into that metal petri dish in the formative 1980s and ’90s when these sounds were just germs of ideas that hadn’t yet fanned into the unstoppable force they are today. This album honors those who came before Abyssus so this band could even be possible, and the vicious, scathing scars they leave behind stand as a reminder to the listener.

“Metal of Death” delivers a thunderous open and another anthem about the power of metal, this time that of the death variety. I’m not sure if they intended this to be fun, but it is? The playing is bruising and nasty, the track has as much thrash incorporated as it does death, and it comes to a nasty, smashing finish. “The Ten Commandments” unloads and barrels at you with raspy wails and guitars increasing the intensity, later hitting a sweltering groove that will be violent live. The track steamrolls as everything gets uglier, ending by landing windmill punches. “Uncertain Future” has cool riffs and a speedy assault, bringing you into the face of danger. This track has a simple chorus, which most of their songs do, to their benefit. Things ramp up as the track reaches its finish, ending in a solar flare.

“The Beast Within” tears through with strong riffs and corrosive vocals, leading into yet another strong, basic chorus. Some gothy keys melt as playing sharpens and trucks, blasting down walls. “Genocide” starts with Middle Eastern-style strings adding some unexpected ambiance, and then the devastation arrives, thrashing its way toward you. The growls lacerate as the pressure builds, spreading fire and melody that have ill intentions. “The Witch” blisters, as Analytis vows, “Now you are on your way, this is the final day.” The chorus will be easy to howl back, the riffs multiply, and the cut ends with bricks tumbling on you. “When Wolves Are Out to Hunt” closes things, dawning with an ominous intro before things slowly open, mauling and drilling. Fittingly, the chorus is simple, a mere callback of the title, though it certainly jars. Later on, the playing envelopes you with power as jolts charge, leaving you feeling like you’ve had the top layer of your skin scorched.

Abyssus certainly have their hearts set in the late ’80s and early ’90s death and thrash, and “Death Revival” pays violent tribute to that era that was so rich with fresh acts making sounds no one had heard before. This band isn’t just a throwback as they also pack some of their own venom into this album, proving they’ve learned from the best and have taken up the mantle. I got a lot out of this because it took me back to my own formation with Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Death, Possessed, and others, adding more fuel to a flame that’ll never be extinguished.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Abyssus666

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

Or here (Europe): https://transcendingobscurity.8merch.com/

Or here (India): https://tometal.com/store/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Wiegedood put focus on world drowning in its filth on ‘There’s Always Blood…’

It’s become increasingly impossible to look at the world without revolting in complete disgust. Sure, there are countless amazing views and destinations all over the globe that are worth visiting and researching, things that can rob you of your breath. Sadly, there are so many people in this world choking it to death and making a mockery of safety and sensitivity that it makes you forget.

Belgian black metal crushers Wiegedood clearly have had their share of the bullshit, and on their ultra-violent fourth record “There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road,” they make it abundantly clear they’re clean out of fucks. I mean toward society at large. As for the music, they care as much as ever as they unleash something that can be stitched along with their “De Doden Hebben Het Goed” trilogy but also stands far apart from an intensity standpoint. The band—guitarist/vocalist Levy Seynaeve, guitarist Gilles Demolder, drummer Wim Coppers—identify with and spread the filth and loathing humanity has become unstoppable at fostering and reveals it for what it is. It’s a burst of savagery that rarely relents, a record that feels like a preemptive assault on whoever wants to keep stirring the pot and making our existence a miserable experience.

“FN SCAR 16” starts the record and just sucks all the air from the room with a wild howl and as maniacal pace that rambles and punishes, spiraling into the earth. Daring shrieks rain down as the playing dizzies, chaos rampages, and the guitars burst, stabbing the song shut. “And in Old Salamano’s Room, the Dog Whimpered Softly” is blinding and sudden, guitars chugging wildly, crazed howls stirring int the darkness as the attack spreads. There’s blood in your mouth as voices warble, and the guitars melts away and into “Noblesse Oblige/Richesse Oblige” that’s disorienting right from the start. Howls crush as the guitars cause tingling in your extremities, adding scrapes as the song reaches a frenzied scrape. Your mind wanders when the melodies trickle with cold water, the drums turn everything to dust, and the organ-grinding assault captures you and powders your bones. “Until It Is Not” teases before it tears itself open at the chest, babbling blood and guts in your path as the playing absolutely swarms. The burning suddenly halts only to restart on the other side, racing toward exists, situated in its own vibrations and flooding noises.

“Now Will Always Be” is the longest track on the record, an 8:17-long bruiser that slowly dawns before throat-buzzing singing echoes the track’s title, warping your brain. There’s a lot of push and pull with the dynamics, especially the vocals that sink teeth into your limbs, and the music also finds ways to crush and eat into your psyche. All of that finally climaxes in the final moments where the sparks jolt and leave streaks of light in your eyes. “Wade” is a short instrumental piece containing rough acoustics and old timey melodies, and then it’s into “Nuages” that is thunderous from the start, racing toward oblivion. Frenzied shrieks rush you as the playing reaches into the stratosphere, sending your mind soaring as the insanity leaks out as black tears. “Theft and Begging” starts amid a flurry of offense as war-torn blistering makes it impossible to center yourself, angling into black metal tyranny. The playing tears away faces, bustling into temporary quiet that settles in, later reawakening as the final blows add to the bruising. “Carousel” is the closer, heating up and spreading as the throat singing returns, and the heaviness weighs you down. The playing drills into the earth, igniting again and spewing molten rock, ending with a gasp of tornadic drama that draws everything into a hole in the sky.

Wiegedood have taken a violent turn on “There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road,” a record that basks in, rolls over, and redistributes the filth in which we’re all drowning. This is the most violent and uncompromising record this band has released so far, and it takes a few visits just to get your head around this thing, provided you survive each attack. This is black metal that fears no boundaries, takes whatever chances it deems necessary, and rips every part of your sanity and well-being to shreds.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://wiegedood.lnk.to/TheresAlwaysBloodAtTheEndOfTheRoad

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

Australians Descent dump fire, frustration toward crumbling world on ashy ‘Order of Chaos’

Hope typically springs heavily with the dawn of a new year as we wish for our lives to improve and the state of the world to grow healthier. But, who are we kidding? We’re locked in a hell pit, and there’s no reason to think that this year will be better than the one before it. We likely can say that same thing when 2023 arrives and we delude ourselves with the same fruitless optimism.

Australian beasts Descent aren’t fooled, and with the devastation they pack into their Kurt Ballou-mixed second record “Order of Chaos,” a hellish collection of tracks that seethe in the face of reality, they make that abundantly clear. Spread over 29 minutes and eight tracks, the band plies death and black metal as well as a dose of hardcore into their sooty formula that digs its claws into power structures and humanity’s will to continue ignoring its ugly history. The band—vocalist Anthony Oliver, guitarists Brendan Auld and Josh Kane, bassist Jim Dandy, drummer Kingsley Sugden—brings experience from other groups including Skoptsy, Consumed, Resin Tomb, Snorlax, though none of those have quite the scathing, unforgiving tension that Descent create.

“Tempest” starts this crazed assault by trudging and stomping bodies, letting savagery reign as chaos bubbles over. The track comes unglued as destruction waits at every turn, cement-thick playing adds pressure, and the ending is utterly beastly. “Dragged” blazes open, and it’s ferocious from the first seconds, shrieks rampaging and terrifying. Somehow the band finds another gear, completely clobbering everything in front of it, tearing psyches apart and leaving nothing but smoke. “Resolve” is mucky and grimy, coming to a boil as the growls get gruff and mean. The punishment digs into your muscles, letting devastation explode, unloading as the back of the song is buried in thrashy power. “Gathering” is a slaughter from the start as the thunderous pace and chugging guitars do optimal damage. The leads scorch, making you jump back for your own safety before the final moments spit nails.

“Fester” punches open and truck with intensity that’s frightening. The force mashes faces, settling into slow, yet heavy terrain as the vocals deface, and a skull-flattening violence heads right into “Filth.” The riffs greet you with a sneer, cutting and carving into you, splattering with mud. The leads torch and spiral into hell, the punishment increases, and a hardcore-laced attack leaves you gasping for air. “Safe” grinds and basically incinerates flesh, achieving speed and raucous energy. The melodies are thick as tar as the blows rain down, bursting with sharp shards of bone spraying toward your vulnerable eyes. “Despotic” ends the record and tramples massively as riffs angle strangely, and fiery chaos promises decimation. The growls lurch and jab as the frightening pace becomes overwhelming, drilling until an ominous cloud of dust remains.

Australia has been a hotbed for some of the deadliest sounds in all heavy music over the past decade, and Descent adds to that burgeoning legacy with “Order of Chaos.” It revels in its blackness and hopelessness, rubbing your face in the scorched earth left behind. This is a monster with which you cannot reason and only is interested in accumulating a heartless body count.

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

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

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

Mizmor lash out against those who trade sense for faith, defy science on pulverizing ‘Wit’s End’

A few miles from my house on a heavily traveled road, there’s a billboard that claims the COVID vaccine is the dreaded mark of the beast (at least that’s what it is this month) and urges people to believe in god instead of science. Naturally, there is zero attribution as to who created the billboard, no web address, no company name. Just a huge sign spewing dangerous bullshit, unchecked and unfiltered.

Faith in and of itself is fine, but when it turns to fanaticism and starts to replace logic and evidence with a message that can’t be proved and is part of a very dangerous con, and it turns into something that should be eradicated. A.L.N., the sole creator behind atmospheric black doom project Mizmor had a long journey with the Christian faith before that turned into atheism, and his new EP “Wit’s End” is a frustrated lash into people who have left behind all sense for expecting god to protect and heal them. It’s fucking baffling that people think this way, and as we see continue to have death accelerate from a plague that’s being fueled further by humans behaving in this manner. It’s enough to wash your hands of them and care not for what ending they face. This EP contains one track with Mizmor’s traditional sound, one that’s a haunting ambient piece, inspired by A.L.N.’s very real, very understandable anger and disgust with people who are actively contributing to death and misinformation. It’s the sound of being at the end of your rope with no more energy to waste on these people.

The title track runs 14:58 and trickles in as dialog about people refusing to acknowledge evidence, facts, and science, instead waiting for their god to save them, something that should irritate everyone alive as we watch people die needlessly. “Ingrates of truth depend on its utility, you revel in its luxury, and you spit in its face and deny it like I do god. Your stupidity is blatant, your ignorance astounding. Sometimes I wonder if the truth is even worth knowing.” He later follows that with, “I have not words, just feelings, heavy as the earth, hanging around my neck.” It’s sobering this infuriating reality in which some of us must face, and you will feel that when the darkness drops, the shrieks explode, and everything sprawls with the desperation to get away from these fucking people. Doom drones and the playing knifes back as A.L.N. wails, “Annihilation is the law!” leaving you blistered as the playing gets deeper and richer but also more volatile. Shrieks well, all hopes fade, and everything melts into the earth with evaporation as the only thing remaining. “Pareidolia” is 14:05 and mostly is an ambient piece that feels like your body leaving this earth, immersed in angelic haze as your mind numbs you to the imminent reality. The track transcends and settles into mournful valleys, sounds swirling overhead, warbled voices crawling out of your dreams as your temperature drops. Alien transmissions stretch, staring you in the eyes from a plane you never imagined before that’s about to become your home.

Having faith in something celestial isn’t necessarily a destructive thing, but when it gets in the way of people’s health, mental well-being, and ability to live a sensible life, it turns into a demon. A.L.N.’s journey helps inform “Wit’s End” and acts as the fuel to his anger when he sees modern society hellbent to destroy itself over mere stupidity and the lust for false information. This record is cathartic to hear in the face of purposeful misleading data, a torch to its goddamn agenda that should burn and have its ash washed away.

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

To buy the album (vinyl release TBA), go here: https://gileadmedia.net/products/mizmor-wits-end-cd-dvd

For more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/

Apes aim to wreck your new year with noise-laced death metal on vile ‘Lullabies for Eternal Sleep’

It’s a new year, so let’s both ease you into things and put you in the most trauma possible right off the bat. Here’s a fun story: New Year’s Day, a goddamn meteorite is thought to have exploded in the air near where I live, which shook people’s houses and essentially scared the shit out of everyone. Somehow, I slept through this. Easing in amid a terrifying cosmic intruder rattling cages.

The first release we’re covering this year—Apes’ crushing new EP “Lullabies for Eternal Sleep”—kind of has the same idea going. You’re served four tracks that stretch about 12 minutes, so that doesn’t sound like a daunting task. But then you actually dig into this thing, and holy fuck, we’re barreling full speed down a mountain with no body armor and nothing to break our fall. This EP was written and created over the lockdown, and that didn’t stop the band—vocalist Alexandre Goulet, guitarists Patrick Cloutier, Simon Olivier, and Louis Ladouceur, bassist William Lapointe, drummer Gabriel D’Amours—from putting together a volatile, scathing collection that has no mercy to give and no salves for your wounds.

“Cornwall” boils in a noise storm (Full of Hell’s Dylan Walker provides these soundscapes) before it gets going in full, but once it does, look out. The band starts to hammer as the growls feel like they’re aiming to remove your guts from your body, just wrecking you physically. Hell unleashes as the band rips hard, and shrieks storm as the track bows to a haze. “Devour” begins with drums echoing and a slow-driving, heavy menace tunneling its way toward you. Sludgy power combusts as the terror spreads, your flesh gets scorched, and the final moments encapsulate your psyche in fear. “No Will to Live” speeds in with hardcore-style fury while the guitars heat up dangerously. Brutality takes over, leaving mangled flesh and blood behind, pacing a complete bludgeoning that feels like an ax driven through your chest. “Sore” closes things as a sound storm develops, the drums add to the assault slowly, and an eerie spirit aims for your safety. The playing is purposely oppressive, battering dangerously and completely, ending with bellowed roars.

“Lullabies for Eternal Sleep” is a mere 12 minutes, but Apes spend that time perfectly, delivering an attack that feels deranged and emotionally out of control. It’s like a runaway beast with no ability to calm down and no real reason to want to bring chill to your spiraling anxiety. This EP is a menace that hunts you down and isn’t finished with you until you’re changed forever for the worse.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://translationloss.com/products/lullabies-for-eternal-sleep

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

BEST OF 2021: Top 40 Recap

40. GRAVE MIASMA, “Abyss of Wrathful Deities” (Dark Descent/Sepulchral Voice)

39. ESOCTRILIHUM, “Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath” (I’ Voidhanger)

38. WOMAN IS THE EARTH, “Dust of Forever” (Init)

37. FELLED, “The Intimate Earth” (Transcending Obscurity)

36. PRIMEVAL WELL, “Talkin’ in Tongues With Mountain Spirits” (Moonlight Cypress Archetypes)

35. BODY VOID, “Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth” (Prosthetic)

34. SKEPTICISM, “Companion” (Svart)

33. NOLTEM, “Illusions in the Wake” (Transcending Obscurity)

32. KOLDOVSTVO, “Ни царя, ни бога” (Extraconscious/Babylon Doom Cult/Folkvangr)

31. GHASTLY, “Mercurial Passages” (20 Buck Spin)

30. TOWER, “Shock to the System” (Cruz del Sur)

29. GHOROT, “Loss of Light” (self-released)

28. THE SILVER, “Ward of Roses” (Gilead Media)

27. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, “Primordial Arcana” (Relapse)

26. CRYPTA, “Echoes of the Soul” (Napalm)

25. GENGHIS TRON, “Dream Weapon” (Relapse)

24. CHROME WAVES, “The Rain Will Cleanse” (Disorder Recordings)

23. LAMP OF MURMUUR, “Submission and Slavery” (Black Gangrene)

22. STORMKEEP, “Tales of Othertime” (Van)

21. DOODSWENS, “Lichtvrees” (Svart)

20. KRIGSGRAV, “The Sundering” (Wise Blood)

19. MARE COGNITUM, “Solar Paroxysm” (Extraconscious/I, Voidhanger)

18. TRANSILVANIA, “Of Sleep and Death” (Invictus Productions)

17. ANTI-GOD HAND, “Wretch” (American Decline)

16. OUTRE-TOMBE, “Abyss Mortifere” (Temple of Mystery)

15. KHEMMIS, “Deceiver” (Nuclear Blast)

14. BIG | BRAVE, “Vital” (Southern Lord)

13. HEAVY TEMPLE, “Lupi Amoris” (Magnetic Eye)

12. WORM, “Foreverglade” (20 Buck Spin)

11. CONVERGE, “Bloodmoon I” (Epitaph)

10. SPECTRAL LORE, “Ετερόφωτος” (I, Voidhanger)

9. KING WOMAN, “Celestial Blues” (Relapse)

8. HELLOWEEN, self-titled (Nuclear Blast)

7. USTALOST, “Before the Glinting Spell Unvests” (Gilead Media)

6. PANOPTICON, “…and Again Into the Light” (Bindrune Recordings)

5. WODE, “Burn in Many Mirrors” (20 Buck Spin)

4. NOCTULE, “Wretched Abyss” (Translation Loss/Church Road)

3. BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT, “Silence/Motion” (RidingEasy)

2. AMENRA, “De Doorn” (Relapse)

1. SUCCUMB, “XXI” (The Flenser)

1. SUCCUMB, ‘XXI’ (The Flenser)

Trying to determine the most important record for the year is not an easy task, and for us, it has nothing to do with what the best album was over the past 12 months. We have always gone with our favorite, the one that had been in our listening arsenal the longest or most consistently. The one record we always found ourselves immersed inside no matter what was going on. We didn’t need to freshen up anything, because that album was always there, and for us that was “XXI,” the cataclysmic and twisted second record from Succumb. In this case, it also might be the best heavy metal record from a quality standpoint in all of 2021.

The title of the album—“XXI”—comes from the final Major Arcana card in the tarot deck, and it symbolizes the end of a life cycle or pause before the start of the new life cycle. The album takes on themes such as the elements and their natural deities (and they’re likely plotting their revenge on us for how we’re treating this place), Lilith, the Boxer Rebellion, Arthurian literature, and many other fertile, thought-provoking ideas, with vocalist/lyricist Cheri Musrasrik drawing on poets/writers such as William Butler Yeats, Jean Genet, and Émile Zola to fully flourish her gripping words. Her performance is like that of a demon trying to inform the world of the ills that ravage it while the rest of the band—guitarist Derek Webster, bassist/vocalist Kirk Spaseff, drummer Harry Cantwell—launches into terrain that is mind-ripping, destructive, and slaughtering, which will do a number on your sanity.

“Lilim” opens the record with chaotic tension, unloading and snarling with the howls stampeding, the guitars slicing into your muscles, and the track running headlong into “Maenad” that slowly boils in the juices of the nasty growls. “They danced around a phallic stone, giving over to revels and rages,” Musrasrik snarls as pure soot smudges, the guitars soar before touching back down, and abrasive disorientation leaves you gripping for the walls. “Okeanos” stirs the turmoil, clobbering as the vocals aggravated oil fires. “Foam in a revolving whorl touches an unknown and sublime abyss,” Musrasrik sneers as your psyche is stomped into the ground, corroding and delivering a mauling finish. “Graal” scrambles impulses as it starts amid guitars hanging in the air and stinging the senses, with vicious growls swiping at you. “A divine substance held in the bloody relic, illusory phantoms, and secret words spoken to a knave,” Musrasrik digs as parts of the song get muddy and dangerously slow before things fire up again and thrash mightily, stomping out its foe. “8 Trigrams” closes the record, starting with militaristic drums and ominous tones, setting a strange ambiance that soon aims to remove your head. Things get dizzying and odd, with Musrasrik wailing, “Headless fighters and spirit guards are at war with mortals, shadowboxers moving in unison and covered by protective charms.” This record is an absolute mindfuck, a beast that knows no bounds and leaves you a psychological mess. All hail Succumb and their mission to mash death metal in their putrid image. (Sept. 24)

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

To buy the album, go here: https://nowflensing.com/collections/flenser-releases

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