Russians Cross Bringer target trickery, corruption on raging opus ‘Signs of Spiritual Delusion’

We live in a strange time of delusions. You can sense that just by paying at attention to the current presidential race or, you know, to the guy in the White House and his strange band of followers who have fallen hard for an intense line of bullshit that’s ruining people’s mental states.

Much of what’s led to this has been people having a crisis of faith and falling in with an idea system that appears to promise salvation but really is flimsy fantasy with no one winning expect the people at the top. Cross Bringer hail from a world away from the American political system, as they reside in Russia, but they concentrate on similar ideas, or the theme of a prelest, on their great debut record “The Signs of Spiritual Delusion.” Trying to disassociate from delusion and lies presented to oneself and breaking the chains of dictatorship are things they’d know quite well living where they do, and the band—they are comrpised of members of Euglena and the Homeless Is Dead—channels their anger into their art and also tries to find new hope by spreading kindness, which the world needs in spades.

“Untitled (Prayer)” bleeds into the picture as sounds waft and whispers scurry, while the tide begins to rise. Shrieks rain down as the pounding is meted out slowly, pushing into “The Battle of the Weak” where Aleksandrov’s vocals rage into order, and the guitars rush into a crushing tempo. The playing is relentless and utterly shreds any sense of sanity while the drums pulverize brains, and a quick gear switch keeps things violent and blasting. “Supplication/Sacrament” is the longest track here, running 7:33, letting guitars emerge slowly before the playing it torn apart, the shrieks and guitars combine to maul serenity. Leads swirl and create a strange hell before the guitars divebomb, lighting up the room. The pace continues to pound away as the shrieks stun, the pacing brings humidity, and everything ends in scathing melodies.

“The Sun Ritual” is a quick instrumental that brings cool air and a feeling of basking in beams of light, steering into “Temptation of Naivety (Untamable Black Dog)” that opens up the record’s guts. Aleksandrov’s shrieks smear hell like piles of soot while vicious punishment is dealt, agitating the fires already set. From there, the drums explode, and the track ends in a pit of feedback. “Torture Incantation” is a healthy 6:51 and instantly delivers a burst of rage, bringing raucous fury and an increasingly rising temperature. “I hope you choke on your own choices,” Aleksandrov cries as the drums decimate, and the playing speeds and tangles. Shrieks pound flesh as a hellish fury boils over and bows out in a haze. Closer “Self-Inflicted Martyrdoma” is a massive as it begins, with guitars stabbing and shrieks stunning. “I want to disappear,” Aleksandrov calls as the anger and frustration mount a final offense, and the track smashes away, leaving a morbid blood smear.

Destroying controlling power structures and waking people up from fantasy existences may seem like an impossible mission, and for many, it actually will be a hard awakening the day reality returns. Cross Bringer shine a vicious light on that with “The Signs of Spiritual Delusion,” a great debut record that aligns black metal, hardcore, and post-rock quaking. There remains hope, hard as it may be to unearth, but finding that salvation can mean the difference between living in truth or lies.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Uniform claw out tale of antihero just trying to fucking survive with ‘Shame’

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

We live in a world utterly devoid of superheroes, despite there being thousands of movies about them that rake in a ton of cash. Oh, remember movies? Anyway, there’s something alluring about a character that isn’t a shining beacon of hope, that has flaws, that won’t always end up doing the right things. It’s the classic tweener in pro wrestling, someone neither heroic nor villainous.

That concept of antihero is what fuels “Shame,” the fourth record from Uniform, which is one of their most interesting pieces to date. Still immersed in noise-infested power (the band is ridiculously hard to pinpoint from a sound standpoint), though now with a live drummer, Uniform took a look at a character that’s just trying to get by, living through tumultuous times battling demons and issues just like any one of us would. There’s no big bad to defeat, no mountains to climb, no test to pass. There’s just the passage of time that the band—vocalist Michael Berdan, guitarist/production wizard Ben Greenberg, drummer Mike Sharp—weaves into these eight tracks that twist metal, electronics, hardcore, and punk that hammer home the monotony and droning of everyday life and endless tasks that never can be completed, all the while still giving into temptations.

“Delco” erupts right away with Berdan wailing, “You are what’s been done to you,” which is actually as perfect summation of the album’s title for a lot of people (your writer included). The song’s title is short for Delaware County, were Berdan grew up, and the track scuffs you up with noise-infested guitars, drums that bruise, and the end simmering in anguish. “The Shadow of God’s Hand” has gnarly riffs and a slow-driving pace that grinds its gears and smokes heavily before the track suddenly speeds up and goes for broke, with Berdan lightning the torches. The drums destroy and the pace is manic, finally burning out in madness. “Life in Remission” has a blinding tempo when it starts, spraying shrapnel and grease as the playing thrashes heavily while the vocals mar your psyche. Static fills your head before panic ensues and causes an uncomfortable head rush before the back end is blown out. The title cut feels like it’s being beamed off a humming generator as synth waves crash, and the beats carve a path. “No one can save me tonight,” Berdan calls matter of factly as he later admits, “I am everything they say I am,” also an incredibly heavy statement. The emotional pall is thick and weighty, with the track ends in a jolt of unsettling power.

“All We’ve Ever Wanted” spills feedback as Berdan wonders, “How far will I have to go to feel anything at all?” as noise just pierces the ears. The playing blasts heavily as the menace spreads slowly, utterly punishing right to the end. “Dispatches from the Gutter” deals deadly blows as it’s fast and destructive, ripping screws from metal sheets as the guitars chugs and blast away at the earth. The vocals feel like they’ve been processed through a blender while noise explodes and draws to an abrupt end. “This Won’t End Well” has the drums destroying everything in front of it, leading a death march without mercy, with Berdan’s vocals mauling you in its clutches. It feels like a storm blown apart as a heavy sludge beating emerges, while everything is swallowed into a halo of noise. Closer “I Am the Cancer” draws inspiration from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridien, with Berdan singing as the character the judge. The 7:51-long track rips from the gates as the playing curves toward hell, and death-like riffs bring heavy pain. Synth strangeness mixes with a hornet swarm of an assault, as your head fills with war, the guitars work catches fire, and Berdan howls, “God will not love you forever,” repeatedly as the track convulses in an ocean of reverberations.

Uniform dig deep into the machination and psychological DNA of a person with both redeeming and damning qualities who is not concerned with saving the day or burning it down, simply looking to find a way to survive. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are parts of “Shame” where we can find many hints of our makeup, and there’s really no reason to let that defeat us. Sometimes just living to the next day unscathed is triumph alone, and those people can find their stories right in these songs.

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Shut it Down compilation raises vital funds so Black Americans finally can experience freedom

We generally don’t do this type of thing, but today and this effort are completely different. Today is the first Friday of the month, which means Bandcamp is waiving its fees for all artists so the people who made the music can benefit. But this one is even bigger than that.

At 10 a.m. EST, or in an hour, there is a 46-track compilation going up called “Shut It Down – Benefit for the Movement for Black Lives” that’s going to cost you just $10 (you can preorder this right now). The money raised for this Bandcamp-issued release will go toward Movement for Black Lives, which I linked up below so you can learn more about them. The compilation is the brainchild of Mani Mostofi of Racetraitor and features metal, hardcore, punk, and many other types of heavy music from bands united on the cause that has truly rushed to the surface with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake (my hometown of Pittsburgh is hardly unscathed with the deaths of Jonny Gammage and Antwon Rose Jr.), and all the other people of color who have died at the hands of those allegedly hired to protect.

On this collection, there are tracks from bands as wide ranging as Sunn 0))), Thou, Rwake (first new music in nine years!), Cloud Rat, Primitive Man, Amygdala, Minority Threat, Modern Life Is War, Jesus Piece, Xibalba, Dawn Ray’d, Redbait, Neckbeard Deathcamp, the aforementioned Racetraitor,  and so many more. The organization this benefits strives to end the criminalization and dehumanization of Black people in the United States, an effort that we here at Meat Mead Metal support completely and to the end.

Check the links below for more and to buy this great collection. I’ve already pre-purchased this record, and while this won’t solve all the problems, it is a further declaration that Black lives do matter, and we cannot stop saying it until they all truly do. Black Lives Matter.

To buy the album, go here:

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Allfather unleash live assault in safest manner possible with punchy ‘Century Sessions Vol. 1’

I think we all miss live shows. For me, I had a huge year of shows planned from going to Maryland Deathfest basically just to see Dismember, to the 2020 installment of Migration Fest, to seeing bands such as Sheer Mag and Borknagar in my hometown, to finally getting to witness Faith No More in the flesh again. This virus ruined everything from that aspect.

So, all that taken into account, it probably sounds really strange and irresponsible as fuck to say there’s a live record coming out that was recorded during the pandemic, but there’s more to it than that. UK-based doom/sludge/hardcore mashers Allfather hardly seem the type to defy science and medical experts and produce a live recording in front of a packed audience, so they did the next best thing. The band—vocalist Tom Ballard, guitarist Alan Cordner, bassist Andrew Day, drummer Guy Smith—headed to Century Audio recording studio and blasted out a live EP “Century Sessions Vol. 1” that put no one in any danger, except for the psyche of those hammered by these songs. Included are three Allfather favorites, as well as two new cuts you get to hear for the first time, and it’s a raucous, satisfying collection that sort of ices over those wounds from not being able to see our favorite bands in the flesh.

We start with a rousing raw version of “Citadels” as everything feels lively when Ballard’s voice rushes in and leaves bruising. Growls and shrieks shatter glass while the soloing lights up, with Ballard declaring, “Once more we ride,” burning hopeful, determined torches when he ends with the familiar call, “We should be burning flags and raising hell.” “Raskolnikov” has drums rupturing as the track crushes open with gnarly wails and scorched guitar work, as the tempo boils. Ballard’s vicious, repeated shrieks of, “I, the murderer!” smashes senses, with the chaos bleeding into “Black Lungs,” a new track that feels like a riot approaching, with Ballard’s screams quaking the earth. The track is thrashy and aggressive, something that’ll fit alongside their other work very well but also entice appetites for what’s ahead. Soot is smeared as retribution is sought, with Ballard howling, “Put yourself in the ground,” as the song kicks up mud. “By Sword, By Famine, By Plague” is another crusher from their back catalog, namely 2018’s “And All Will Be Desolation.” This take is a little longer than the album version, erupting with vicious shrieks and some awesome bluesy swagger later on, as the track batters the senses, ending in a pit of smothering doom and violent sludge. We end with another new cut “Poison Soil” that lands punches early and opens the gates to domination. “Behold your extinction!” Ballard warns as heavy strikes rain down, the drums decimate, and the band opens a thrash clinic. From there, the doom center is punctured, guitars bubble up, and the band mashes bodies to the end.

It’s not easy to produce a live documented actually performed during the quarantine era without being an irresponsible asshole not caring about other people’s well-being. Allfather are not those assholes, as they found a safe, yet effective way to rip out some old favorites and give a quick taste of what’s to come. “Century Sessions Vol. 1” is that live recording you didn’t realize would make you desperate to experience live music again and satisfied to get this close.

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As injustice continues mauling, Oceans of Slumber address the struggle, provide beams of hope

There aren’t very many good things you can say about the quarantine era we’re in, which pretty much goes without saying. In fact, one silver lining we can talk about is the country and the world have been able to pay more attention to injustices that have been plaguing the United States since so many have the time and fewer distractions.

That, of course, still means that many are hurting, and the fact that people of color in this country remain targets of the police, keep getting killed, continually are criticized for how they protest has reached a boil-over point. Progressive metal juggernaut Oceans of Slumber have their attention squarely on these issues on their excellent fourth record, a self-titled affair, and the fact they have singer Cammie Gilbert fronting the band hammers home these issues more. Gilbert says she took her position as a Black woman living in the south as well as what she sees people of color going through all over again and applied all of this to her words and stunning performance. Racism is a major topic of this 12-track, 77-minute beast, but there also are themes of loss and emotional turmoil that she and the band—guitarists/backing vocalists Jessie Santos and Alexander Lucian, bassist/guitarist Semir Ozerkan, drummer/piano player Dobber Beverly, synth player Mat Aleman—tackle. But it’s not all total darkness as hope and an injection of strength are woven deeply into this album.

“Soundtrack to My Last Day” is the 7:35 opener, and it immediately sets the stage for the entire record, blasting fully on fire, with Gilbert’s incredible voice leading the way. “I’m so far away, I’m so far from home,” she calls, as acoustics wash into the scene, and elegant darkness spreads before growls crush the mood. The journey remains incredibly compelling as the singing pours in, and the track has a calming end. “Pray for Fire” starts calmly in lush waters, leading in with acoustics as Gilbert levels, “Dying alone, and my roots are buried deep.” Synth washes in as the track opens harder, with Gilbert commanding, “No room for peaceful resolution,” while the soloing rips apart, and we’re trading off between crushing hell and angelic haze before the track comes to a vengeful end. “A Return to the Earth Below” is a tremendous cut with Gilbert’s soulful voice leading the way and a great chorus, where she sings, “When darkness gathers, we are falling.” Whirry synth settles in as the track bursts again, and the vocals soar as the song bows out. “Imperfect Divinity” is a quick instrumental cut with swelling organs and guitars swimming through dark waters toward “The Adorned Fathomless Creation” that starts with what sounds like backward growls. The insanity mixes with Gilbert’s singing, moving toward bruising as an emotional dark cloud crawls menacingly, while Gilbert calls, “They’re coming for you now … coming to collect what you’ve taken.” Guitars surge as doomy waters collect, and everything comes to a muddy end. “To the Sea” begins with bells chiming and synth chewing, as the deluge of emotion digs into your heart, with Gilbert demanding, “Say no more, let me go into the sea,” as the track rushes closed.

“The Colors of Grace” is a powerful ballad where Gilbert is joined by Mike Moss from Antimatter, as they trade lines amid a rising tide. “You saved me from myself,” Gilbert declares from deep within her, as the song keeps sweeping and collecting followers along the way, as the strive to be OK and just find some balance make their waves. “I Mourn These Yellow Leaves” starts with a synth gush as Gilbert’s vocals soar again, simmering in slow, collecting waters before the walls come down. Ugliness tears through as growls pound away, the drums are smashed, and the song heads back into full force. “Into the flames to be consumed,” Gilbert commands as the track sifts into a strange fog, moody guitars cut the tension, and the track comes to a heart-wrenching end. “September (Those Who Come Before)” is an instrumental with sifting keys and the melodies overwhelming, feeling like the perfect musical segue into “Total Failure Apparatus” that boils in synth strings before the bottom drops out hard. There is tidal-waving singing and blistering growls as Gilbert calls, “I know the road is treacherous … but it’s the only road I know,” acknowledging the danger ahead but knowing the rough terrain must be confronted. Creaky growls work through, which is honestly kind of too strange, but the song recovers and has a rousing finish. “The Red Flower” greets with striking synth and dramatic playing rolling in, as somber piano notes drip, and the heart quivers. “Unwanted seedlings, the soil takes your sins,” Gilbert bursts with reassuring, open arms as the blood surges, and the track ends pushes back into the ground. The final cut is a cover of Type O Negative’s “Wolf Moon” which they smartly given their own touch and they don’t try to do a faithful reading, which makes this even better. It’s both progressively alluring and gothy just enough to pay homage but also give their own DNA so it can have a boost of new life.

It goes without saying we live in times that are unkind to so many people, where justice only serves a select few, and where people are starting to wake up to what’s going on and refusing to accept these terms. Not that Oceans of Slumber are exclusively going at that on this record, but the strife and struggle is there, and the way they battle through musically, and especially with Gilbert’s vocals, should help be a beam of light to those in the midst of the fight. We need more records and bands like this in heavy music that can acknowledge the pain but also light a path toward righteousness.

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Brazilian doom beasts Jupiterian make the earth quake hard from within on crushing ‘Protosapien’

I’ve been fairly lucky in my life when it comes to earthquakes. I’ve only been in a few of them so far, and none of them were devastating in the least, so I have no idea the trauma people who live in areas of great seismic waves have to deal with. I make references to them a lot when I write about particularly punishing music because I imagine these records making plates shift to rumble the earth.

Brazilian doom/sludge pounders Jupiterian more than live up to that billing on their crushing third record “Protosapien,” an album that feels like it pours on the trauma in such dangerous fashion, you want to start taking valuables down from the walls and lamps from their tables. Six tracks wrap over about 36 minutes, which is a nice-sized serving and just enough to leave bruising all over your body. The band—guitarist/vocalist/synth player V, guitarist A, bassist R, drummer G—has been creating forceful, clubbing art for the past seven years, but this record and this moment are where they are at their finest, and it also appears to hint that things are just getting started with this band.

“Homecoming” starts the record as an instrumental intro, feeling a little like a horror soundtrack as insects buzz and horns ache, trudging through the mud to “Mere Humans” that mashes open and powders bones. Guitars swirl into pockets of mucky doom while the growls collect, and the mind swims through psychosis. Noise wails as an ugly fury lands, then chants rattle while a humid pall drapes over everything, as the staggering heat burns away. “Voidborn” has guitars welling up and stomping before brighter tones emerge, and sludge brings on a hypnotic fog. Growls menace as the song weighs down as holes are torn into flesh, and then we’re back to sweltering temperatures when the sounds crumble, and everything turns to dust.

“Capricorn” has sounds spreading like a threatening storm as the riffs pile up, and things get strangely spacious before thick basslines coil, and vile growls bubble to the surface. Shrieks rain down as the playing swaggers, churning in place while the grinding gives off smoke like a mountain of tires on fire, and a hypnotic bend drives to the end. “Starless” punches open as guitars swirl, unleashing a gazey atmosphere that swallows you whole. Growls bubble as a cosmic vibe makes its way through, making everything go numb before the noise nest is struck again. Jolts of energy add to the power, while the leads spread, and the ending dissipates. “Earthling Bloodline” closes the record, starting with slow-driving doom as the pace lurches, and gargantuan growls penetrate worlds. The playing lumbers as the tempo hisses violently, cavernous hell erupts, and the track melts into the fog.

Jupiterian’s muddy, spacey doom feels like it’s intoxicating you with alien strains of DNA, making your brain go to liquid, your body spill into the ground. “Protosapien” is a massive collection that’s like a monster from whatever far-off planet they’re conjuring wrapping their tentacles and squeezing you to death. It’s muddy, violent, and warped, a great slab of doom that crushes the earth from within.

For more on the band, go here:

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Void Rot smear more darkness to grim times on ashen debut ‘Descending Pillars’

We live in miserable times, a thing I’m so tired of writing about, but what do you do when everything is the same? The walls don’t change, nor do the circumstances, and the only thing that feels genuine is the pain, rage, and fear that now drink deeply from our daily lives. The pain in our bones and veins is real, and having an outlet that won’t harm us further is a necessity.

Almost as if on cue slither in Void Rot, the Minnesota-based death/doom beast rising with their debut full-length record “Descending Pillars.” It’s a menacing, yet atmospheric album, yet beneath all of that there is dread and anguish that’s hard to even put a name on, which is likely why it matches our current way of life so perfectly. Not even together three years yet, the band has an EP and split offering to their name before this seven-track, nearly 38-minute record that digs its teeth into your bones deep enough but never overstays its welcome. The band—vocalist/guitarist John Hancock, guitarist Kent Sklarow, bassist Craig Clemons, drummer Will Bell—has a way of letting the darkness expand its horrible wings and dig in their claws to the point of copious bloodshed.

The title track opens the proceedings by slowly building as noise spreads, with the guitars then creaking open the gates. Growls slowly rot as the pace gets dizzying, the music freezes in time, and then the drums unload, as agony melts into blood. Guitars rush while the growls boil, burning to a stirring end. “Upheaval” has drums crushing as if the world is toppling down while the guitars charge up, unloading deadly doom that laps over you like black waves. Guitars glimmer while the acid pours aggressively as everything fades. “Liminal Forms” has guitars lighting up and going moody and churning, while vicious growls make their way in and open up guts. Riffs create a fury that encircles your psyche, unleashing guttural, grimy hell, heading into slow and ominous territory. Drums hammer as the pace picks up steam, and the track fades off into hell.

“Delusions of Flesh” begins as a slow burn before the playing bursts through the surface, while the guitar work boils hellishly. The growls slither as the music smears soot on the ground, mashing riffs into your face as dark, plodding playing lathers into a hypnotic slide that pushes to the end. “Inversion” has riffs encircling like a tornado as the growls deliver grim tidings, while melodies pour down hard and saturate the earth. The track trudges while the growls scrape against the earth, picking up sediment, before the final moments melt back into the ground. “The Weight of a Thousand Suns” is a quick instrumental track that revels in mystery as clean guitars gleam, sending off strange shimmers that flow right into closer “Monolith (Descending Pillars Pt. II)” that works right into nauseous punishment. The playing crushes slowly as the leads spiral down, and the growls gurgle violently. That pace merges into psychosis while the guitars take on a gazey outpouring, setting the stage for the end. The tempo blisters, wills are beaten into submission, and a noise pocket overtakes everything and washes the track away.

Void Rot’s calculated approach and devastating tendencies are on full display on “Descending Pillars,” a record that was on my personal list of most anticipated releases of the summer. It has weight and tenacity that should excite anyone with a hunger for death-smeared doom metal as they deliver in spades. This album is arriving at a time when things have never seemed more bleak, as it shines a light on the grime and the disgust that haunt us all.

For more on the band, go here:

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Or here:

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Persekutor’s raw, frozen metal brings violence, burly chaos on rowdy debut ‘Permanent Winter’

It’s like 90 degrees as I write this, but winter apparently is on its way at some point, though with 2020 being what it is, I’m not expecting any guarantees. Yet, in a few months, these hot days will subside, the sun will stick around for far less time, and we’ll be thrown back into colder temperatures and icy woe, that is if winter makes it to the East Coast this year. It’s been a while.

All of this sloppily sets the stage for “Permanent Winter,” the debut full-length record from Persekutor, a band that has its roots in Romania but is operating out of Los Angeles at the moment. The band is led by Vladislav Bârladeanu (or Vlad the Inhaler, as he’s known here) and creates what he calls Romanian ice metal, which is a romanticized term for gruff, blood-and-guts black metal like what was being churned out in the years before the Second Wave. On this nine-track, 29-minute offering, Vlad and his mates—guitarist Inverted Chris Velez (Lightning Swords of Death), bassist Adam Murray (Deth Crux/Ides of Gemini), and drummer Scott Batiste (Saviours/Ides of Gemini)—rip through the ice and deliver a violent, rousing assault that smashes you and leaves you to fend for yourself in the frigid terrain.

“Babylon of the Snows” opens with a surge as the drums begin to pound as Vlad’s vocals creak along, feeling raw and bloody. Visions of storming city walls with violence spews as Vlad wails, “We fought them all!” as their victory rages into hell. “Can You Feel the Frost of Dawn” is an energetic gush at the front, with Vlad wailing about “40,000 years buried in the fucking snow.” Fuck and all its forms are used quite liberally in the lyrics, which does add to the charm of the album. The pace gallops hard, getting meaty and catchy as guitars fire up and burn away. “Winter’s Meat” is over before you know it as the riffs swagger, primitive howls blast, and Vlad’s choked-out “oohs” drive the course, feeling gravelly and drunkenly violent. “Chained to the Tundra” starts with a flurry of leads and Vlad’s cryptic storytelling, as the chorus reminds, “Hell on earth is here alright.” Guitars ramp up over the verses while the soloing basks in heat and leaves ash behind.

“Arctic Cross” has the guitars leading with the vocals erupting as Vlad insists on the chorus, “Arctic frost is here to stay.” I mean, science says otherwise, but hopefully he’s right… Anyway, the leads smother as the chorus rounds back, coming to a gnarly end. “Ice Wars” has punchy riffs, and there’s more bloodshed in the snow with Vlad warning about the dire consequences as he wails, “It’s a long way down.” The playing gets even more aggressive, with Vlad warning the enemies will “drag your fucking corpse away.” Grim. The title cut brings another helping of catchy riffs while the verses speed along, and the chorus is simply structured but effective. Soloing tears holes in the ice as the whispers of “winter, winter” pummel to the end. “Frostquake” bring lathering guitars as the pace chugs heavily, as Vlad warns the weather phenomenon is “slicing and dicing the earth.” Things get dizzy and weird from there as the track comes to a grisly end. Closer “Black Death Punk Skins” is the only track that isn’t locked into a frozen tundra, as the band celebrates death and black metal, punk, and … people not wearing shirts. It’s a fun song but pretty fucking silly, as Vlad insists, “It’s just rock n roll,” over the chorus.

Winter is a spotty proposition around here anymore, what with climates shifting the way they have, and a good heavy snow in when you’re locked away with nothing but alcohol and heathenism (even if only in your head) definitely is a welcome prospect. Persekutor have a stranglehold on those visions with “Permanent Winter,” a record that’s an old-style slab of metallic punishment with a side of fun just for the hell of it. Granted, the record sounds pretty good here in the summer, but it’ll go down even better in a few months when we’re buried in ice and snow.

For more on the band, go here:

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Sumokem spark enlightenment, explode with charging energy on exhilarating ‘Prajnaparadha’

Photo by Grayson Shelton

There are tons of things we should and should not do every day of our lives, and likely most of our track records are not terribly stellar when it comes to making the right call. I’m definitely not alone on this one as I often decide to stay up longer than my body wants, thus robbing myself or rest, or indulging in that extra beer (or some would say any beer at all) when it might not be great for me.

The idea of working against what we understand is right is known in Sanskrit as “Prajnaparadha,” which means a crime against wisdom, something that prevents us from achieving enlightenment. It also happens to be the name of imminently arriving album three from Sumokem, which is their best work to date. Over this collection, most of which bathes in sprawling doom, stoner gaze, and progressive ambition, the band—vocalist/guitarist Jacob Sawrie, guitarist Tyler Weaver, bassist Dustin Weddle, drummer Drew Skarda—examines that path toward making decisions that are fruitful to one’s journey on a concept record that’s immersive, exciting, and really goddamn fiery as we travel six tracks in about 53 minutes, with every bit grabbing your attention in a stranglehold.

“Prologue” is an opening piece that feels eerie and in the midst of fog when it starts before the music and the drama increase, giving off a gothy vibe and working into the mist toward “Nihang” that absolutely soars open. Guitars beam as a psychedelic edge is achieved, and Sawrie’s powerful vocals, which deserve recognition for how strong they are, lead the way. The mood then darkens and gruff growls arrive, hammers are dropped, and guitars go ablaze into a churning pace, with metal slowly liquifying. Twin guitars meld as the vocals take off, and the body of the song burns off into the night. “Parak-Dar” runs a healthy 11:06 and emerges with awakening guitars and vocals taking off. Humidity is thick as sun-scorched playing works into a thick psychedelic cloud that warps your mind, surging just as the vocals begin pelting your chest. Syrupy slide guitars mesmerize as the growls scrape along before utterly crushing souls as punchy sludge chokes the pipes, trudging to the end.

“Sadhu” is the longest track, running 12:11 and opening the curtain into mysticism, with Sawrie noting, “The planets align with the earth.” Vicious growls and smothering riffs bring on savagery that pokes through the surface, while leads bleed into sludgy earth before cool breezes reign, reawakening as the vocals push toward the sky. Mud gets into the gears and drives the track into filth while psychosis melts into the waters, as bluesy playing stretches, keys glimmer, and the darkness swallows everything whole.
“Fakir” slowly drips in and delivers strangeness that spreads, while the melodies hit hard, and the vocals punish. The growls twist bones only for Sawrie’s clean singing to return and branch out, simmering in richness. The pace then starts to bash away as the growls return and menace, slipping into a cosmic void that slips into the darkness. “Khizer” ends the record and immediately makes your head swim before the thorns are unleashed. That makes your mind dissolve and drip through your consciousness before riffs tear at the wall again, and the whole thing spirals. Singing bellows and reverberates in your chest as the final moments are torched and left to dissolve into madness.

This is Sumokem’s finest hour, a record that truly pays off the promise this band has held all along in a majestic way. “Prajnaparadha” is exhilarating and soul-scorching from moment one, a record that knocks you for a loop without you even realizing it, and suddenly you’re sitting there later not knowing what happened. This is tremendous work, and hopefully this record gets into enough ears to make a major difference for this band.

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Eave’s emotion-rich black metal rushes with energy, rustic jolts on ‘Phantoms Made Permanent’

It’s not terribly far off now, the autumn, and I’m looking forward to long walks in slightly colder weather with music that helps match that environment. Look, I have a nice backlog of records and bands that make the grade when it comes to this type of thing, but it’s always nice to add new and exciting things to the mix.

Bindrune Recordings has a knack for finding records that match their aesthetic, and they’ve nailed that again with Eave, whose new record “Phantoms Made Permanent” comes your way at the start of next month, and it’s definitely something you want to grab if atmospheric black metal with a side of rawness is your thing. In a weird way, Eave fill the gap left by Falls of Rauros, and what’s great is the band is good now, but they also have room to grow into their world. It feels like nature is front and center, the music flows with chaos and energy, and it just impactful rolling over you. The band—vocalist/bassist Brian Tenison, guitarist Gabe Shara, guitarist/keyboard player Ian Stoller, drummer Caleb Porter—makes me excited just based on their music alone, but the vibe here grabs you and owns you, and if you’re into this path, you’ll be infected too.

“A Godless Frame” starts the record by gushing open as the vocals rush, and melodic leads explode. Black metal waves flood the grounds while a raw atmosphere is established, and that settles into a brief calm. That corner stretches into a reignition, hammering away as riffs splatter the ground, while wild roars and the final assault bleed away. “Funereal Burn” opens with guitars jarring hard as wild howls pierce, and fiercely melodic playing dominates the attack. The track wrenches guts and rambles heartily, flush with emotion and fire, rambling toward the gates as it comes to a blinding end. The title track starts with shrieks scraping and spacey guitars glazing, while the washed-out feel gives off the sense of being blissfully detached from your body. As the pace picks up, shrieks peel pain from the walls while melodies continue to amplify, with the pace bruising your ribcage. The shrieks bring another battery of punishment, filling the senses as the back end crushes.

“Gait of the Ghost” starts in a bath of acoustics before the powder keg blows, and the playing mangles the senses. The track travels into a cold echo before the sparks fly again and rip into flesh, blasting back up through the surface. The music cascades and catapults, bashing you over the head as the shrieks return to do damage, the leads smear, and an energetic underbelly gives the song a sweeping end. “Mana Descending” rans down with force, bringing an incredible quaking as the guitars wash down, later melting into serenity. Drums tap as the waters trickle while the playing explodes again, and the end is absolutely pummeling. “Ablaze and Unyielding” lets guitars light up and blind your eyes with its majesty as things turn ugly in a hurry, with the vocals chewing into flesh. Death growls churn as black metal-rich leads destroy as the trail is torched, with smoke rising and choking, stirring with intensity. “Visage” closes the album and leads in with guitars washing the scenery, dizzying and leaving you susceptible to punishment. The track speeds and echoes in spots, slips into calm streams, while acoustic winds gust before the playing erupts a last time. The leads glisten, the thick bass folds in, and everything comes to a raucous, shimmering conclusion.

Eave is another great find for Bindrune, one that seems custom made for their roster and musical and philosophical atmosphere. “Phantoms Made Permanent” is a rich, rewarding listen that shows the band fitting into their authentic and emotional undercurrent, hinting at great promise ahead while building a sturdy foundation with records like these. This is a really strong album that would make for a great companion while taking a long sojourn outdoors in any weather.

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