Eye of Nix’s sonic adventure into storm-infested waters delivers moody, alluring doom on ‘Ligeia’

Photo by Anima Nocturna

The recent heatwave that has clobbered us the first week of summer looks finally to be subsiding after a round of thrashing storms have rocked us and finally seem to be hinting at cooler weather. It’s hardly the worst problem we’ve had in 2020; it probably ranks somewhere near 5 millionth. But the actual wrath of nature weighing down provides relief but also reminds of a power and majesty we can’t battle.

Taking on “Ligeia” the third full-length from mind-warping progressive metal machine Eye of Nix is almost like standing in the eye of the storm, trying to figure out which way you’ll be forced. Named after one of the sirens in Greek mythology that lured sailors to their demise, the record has its moments of dark seduction that pull you into devastating waves that leave you up to your chin and sinking fast. The band visits subject matter such as obsession, addiction, and illusion, and that colors an adventure that runs the gamut of emotion and sounds as the band opens up its borders deeper than ever before. Out front is vocalist/guitarist Joy Von Spain, whose voice is a powerhouse, going from guttural growls and shrieks to atmospheric operatics, often within the same line. She’s joined by guitarist Nicholas Martinez, bassist Zach Wise, sound designer Masaaki Masao, and drummer Luke LaPlante on a record that drives their sound into the deepest, darkest waters, where no one can see or find you.

“Concealing Waters” starts the record with calming trickles as Von Spain’s singing spills into progressive winds. Her vocals sweep before corroding into shrieks as the propulsive pace blends into gothy seas of ink, and then calm mixes in while cold winds close the doors. “Pursued” unloads hammers right away as Von Spain growls menacingly before ripping into fierce shrieks. The guitars churn while Von Spain hits operatic register as the low end mauls hard, the pace mashes, and the track ends in ashes. “Tempest” begins in black metal elegance while the synth stretches and the music smashes. Von Spain’s powerful voices reaches into the stratosphere as a murky gaze covers the ground, the singing fills the senses, and the final moments quake. “Stranded” opens in an acoustic wash as the singing reaches higher before whispers chill. Then the middle rips open and guts are exposed, while Von Spain delivers feral growls, and the music is situated in nasty savagery. The elements crash down to the earth, pounding away while the basslines cut their way right to your heart.

“Keres” is a blinding blast that destroys you before you know what hit you. The drums disrupt, a doomy pall crunches bones, and finally noise rises and drags this instrumental piece into the underworld. The title track follows and opens in a New Wave-style adventure into darkness, as Von Spain’s singing goes breezier and atmospheric. The singing floods before growls chew at your rib cage while terror bubbles underneath it. That leads to fog collecting and thickening before dissolving into static. “Adrift” ushers in melting guitars while waves crash down, and its reaches its tempo slowly. Vocals float into synth waves while coldness takes hold, and that leads into the mystical. The playing ebbs and flows, and it feels like a sea breeze coating your face with a late-afternoon coolness. “Stone & Fury” closes the record, and it’s the longest track, running 9:12. Clean guitars greet you before the punches are thrown, and Von Spain reaches into the stars. That leads to a brief run of serenity, as Von Spain calls out before her cries turn desperate as the pace boils. There’s a burst on the other side as growls lurch, and the pace bleeds and fires dangerously. That intensity never loses its fire as it piledrives into the final moments burning away.

Eye of Nix are one of the most distinctive bands in heavy music, and they’ve been doing interesting, thought-provoking things that peak on “Ligeia.” Von Spain’s astonishing voice remains the center point of this group’s riveting music, and the band surrounds her siren with music that feels like you’re being swallowed into a heavy storm that threatens your well-being. This band continues to grow and excel in ways that make their future almost as exciting as their devastating present state.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/eye-of-nix-ligeia

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

Convocation help push unholy gospel of Finnish funeral doom on smothering ‘Ashes Coalesce’

There are certain expectations that go along with various terms when it comes to heavy metal. Frost-bitten black metal should bring an idea to your heads right away. What about castle-raiding epic metal? Swamp-soaked death metal? These all bring preconceptions to metal fans’ heads no doubt, as there are things you likely anticipate when tackling music of that ilk.

Same goes for Finnish doom, a style that is driven by content created by artists from an entire country. You probably have visions in your head of glacially paced darkness that grinds away at your psyche. Probably name dropping Thergothon, Skepticism, Unholy, and plenty of others. So, that seems like it stacks the deck against Convocation, a band that has been doing their thing for seven years and brings together members from groups such as Dark Buddha Rising, Waste of Space Orchestra, and Desolate Shrine, and that’s just between its two participants—vocalist MN and multi-instrumentalist LL. Their second record “Ashes Coalesce” is here, and damnit if they don’t hold up the banner for their country’s contribution to doom in a destructive manner.

“Martyrise” opens the record and runs a stealthy 12:22, starting with mystical powers before the doom hammers drop. MN’s growls churn amid a hypnotic pace that melts into a psychedelic shelf, where keys add heavy cloud layers. The growls turn into torturous shrieks as the tempo stretches in echoes, and swirling playing leads the way to misery. Shrieks wrench, strings storm, and the track washes out. “The Absence of Grief” is sorrowful and heavy as it spreads its wings and darkens the grounds below over its 13:38. Atmospheric crushing leads to an even more funereal pace as it gushes into hell, while the low end destroys. Clean vocals swarm behind the mix, warbling and crawling as the music haunts. As things split open again, the guts fill the floor, organs swell, and the track trudges back into the mud.

“Misery Form” drips into a dreary haze as it starts, while shrieks wrench and do ample amounts of damage. The calls boil as the pace scrapes along violently, while the brutal slow power continues to add pressure. Thrashy mauling leads into the picture as clean calls bellow behind, and then shrieks return and grasp your throat. Blood flows while angelic calls send chills, putting you through the ringer of punishment. “Portal Closed” is the final piece, and it slowly unravels while organs drain and send off steam, while the borders turn to liquid. Synth fully unfurls its majesty as the night swallows the track whole, and clean guitars trickle. The phantoms slowly dissipate as the music rolls into mystery, and this album’s overwhelming chapter finally closes.

Finnish doom comes with expectations, which is probably unfair to the band continuing its legacy, but Convocation deliver in spades on “Ashes Coalesce,” which is one hell of an undertaking. Their second record also is an economically served bundle at 45 minutes, so you can jump into the darkness and finally escape before it becomes too much. This is a tremendous piece of funeral doom that’ll pull you under and force you to see the darkness in everything.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/convocation-ashes-coalesce

Or here: https://everlastingspew.com/search?controller=search&orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=CONVOCATIONASHESCOALESCE&submit_search=

Or here: https://www.dawnbreed.com/nl/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1945

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

And here: https://everlastingspew.com/

And here: https://www.dawnbreed.com

PICK OF THE WEEK: Inexorum push toward inner strength, bask in energy on ‘Moonlit Navigation’

Photo by Samuel Thomas Claeys

This is an ideal time for us to find some strength within ourselves, a boost upward to help us getting our foundations built underneath us so we can move forward. That struggle is not the same for all of us, and many people face battles a lot of us cannot even imagine, but having something to remind to find the positives of our trials and come out stronger on the other side is the perfect medicine right now.

There’s no way Inexorum planned things like this (how many times have we said something similar about a lot of other music the past few weeks?), but the arrival of their second record “Moonlit Navigation” comes when we need it the most. Darkness has enveloped us, as has evil, dishonesty, and disillusionment, but giving up and throwing in the towel only means those forces win. On this record, Carl Skildum (guitars, vocals) and his musical partner Matthew Kirkwold (bass and backing vocals) strive to find positivity that can come at the end of or in the midst of one’s struggles. Despite their music coming from the origins of death and black metal in the 1990s, they don’t steer toward dark outcomes. Instead, the band hopes that listeners can take the words and music and use it to help overcome their battles—both internal and external—and emerge a little stronger. In fact, it’s impossible to take on their eight tracks and not be filled to the brim with that sentiment.

“Ouroboric State” gets things off to a rousing start as the drums come to life, and the riffs start cutting down their path. Right away you get a sense of what’s to come, that being huge riffs and vocals that wrench at you, as the leads blast through, and a sense of delirium strikes. Later on, clean calls sit behind Skildum’s harsh cries, and the track comes to a burning end. The title track has a glorious dawn before coming to full life as the pace pummels and Skildum howls, “Night, my sanctuary.” The playing rumbles as the feelings about basking in the night’s glow shines down on you, clean singing punches behind the chaos, and the track trails off into darkness, where it’s most at home. “Dream and Memory” is a massive deluge out front, with punishing roars and a mass of energy creating a great force. The drums decimate bones as a charge jolts your chest, making your blood rush, before the tempo calms and melds into the fog. “Chains of Loss” gushes open but it also holds with it the sense of mourning woven into the fabric.  The growls slash and the leads carve their path, and at its heart, you can feel a sadness permeating, one that strikes deeper in the times we’re in. The guitars dig in, and colors burst, while the song comes to a searing end.

“Signal Fires” lands punches as everything lights up, while the playing destroys everything in sight. The growls have an added conviction as they jar your ribcage, while the drumming once again rocks your insides. The chorus is powerful as hell, while the back ends trudges before becoming breezy, and all the elements blend into dusk. “The Breaking Point” rips open and mashes right away, bringing savage intent but also a mystical edge that emerges as the song develops. Guitars call out in a steam bath, coating your face with humidity, before the playing catches fire again, with clean calls echoing behind the snarls. Things begin to pull back from there as smoke rises and envelops the place, while Sarah Roddy’s ghostly wails lure you into mystery. “Wild Magic” is a brief instrumental piece that sits beneath the deep clouds, making it feel like a cool summer afternoon before a heatwave, and then it’s on to closer “In Desperate Times” that inflicts damage with a rage of riffs. Melodic growls and razor-sharp guitars work their magic as Skildum laments “when all is lost and nothing’s left to save.” That isn’t a sign of submission as the battle continues, and a blistering chorus does its best to get you going. The leads glimmer as Skildum howls, “Only we can save ourselves,” while the guitars well up, and the track ends on a tidal wave of emotion.

In just a few years, Inexorum have become a well-oiled machine that bring the finest points of atmospheric, melodic death and black metal that first popped through the soil in the mid-1990s, but in a way that adds modern flourishes and their own vocabulary to the mix. “Moonlit Navigation” is a tremendous record, one that pays off every bit of promise that was hinted at on “Lore of the Lakes” in a gigantic way. It’s a time when all of us could use a boost and reminder that strength within ourselves remains one of our best tools, and this music helps hammer that home over and over again.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/collections/pre-orders

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

Bell Witch, Aerial Ruin combine morbid tendencies, captivate on stunning ‘Stygian Bough Vol. 1’

Photo by Lauren Lamp

Things being as they are, it’s been really hard to get truly lost in art when there are so many other things going on to eat away at one’s time and instigate bouts of psychosis. That’s started to change for me a little bit as I’ve basically been forced to find ways to cope and to let my mind branch beyond whatever devastating and/or aggravating event is going on at the moment.

I guess it should not have really surprised me that “Stygian Bough Volume 1,” the first collaboration between doom duo Bell Witch and dark folk force Aerial Ruin would be one of the pieces of music that actually made me stop what I was doing and absorb every drop. We already knew the magic these two forces could conjure together, evidenced by their work together on portions of Bell Witch’s last full-length “Mirror Reaper.” But what Bell Witch’s Dylan Desmond and Jesse Schreibman created with Aerial Ruin’s Erik Moggridge there was a mere precursor to these five tracks that stretch over 64 mind-tingling minutes on this document. Having Moggridge a part of the entire proceedings, adding his guitar work and haunting singing, perfectly complements Bell Witch’s slow-bleeding style of doom and creates something that feels like it was always meant to be. It’s even better than I expected when scratching the record’s surface.

“The Bastard Wind” is the opener, a 19:09-long epic that runs the gamut of emotion. Acoustics wash in as Moggridge’s singing floats in and feels like a dark folk tributary as the track descends to the earth, and piano drips delicately. The pall is sorrowful and thick as the lead lines cut through and paves the way for the soloing quivering, setting your heart ticking as Schreibman’s growls unload and powder bones. The growls trade off with the clean singing as doom blasts and caves in walls, the leads twist, and the vocals fold into a funereal presence. Feedback flows as melodies gush and pour into final darkness. “Heaven Torn Low I (the passage)” is a healthy 12:55 with acoustics leading and solemn singing from Moggridge noting, “Heaven torn low and thrown in the fire,” repeatedly. Guitars flicker as the noise shakes, and the thick waves of synth send cosmic vibes and liquify your mind before fading into silence. Quiet notes echo and bleed back in while lush singing both soothes and entrances as Moggridge calls, “I  wouldn’t know your name unless you were the blackest of souls,” as the ceremony melds into the second part.

“Heaven Torn Low II (the toll)” brings volume back into play as it picks up where the first section left off, as the doom is delivered slowly but ominously. Clean singing rushes as the track moves into crushing darkness that bleeds pain, bringing mauling that forces you to lower your head. The trio continues the crunch as keys pour, the leads pierce, and the song blends into the void. “Prelude” is a beefier instrumental cut designed to set the stage for the final movement as winds and acoustics lead the way, organs glow, and gentle playing mixes into a fog as the volume builds to 19:21-long closer “The Unbodied Air” that drops heaviness right from the start. Clean singing and a rising prog front emerge before the melodies scream out, growls churn, and lasers penetrate borders. Mean shrieks pummel and loosen bricks, mashing its way toward dark buzzing and the more folkish elements taking hold again. The playing shakes at its core before the earth ruptures again, singing reaches out and envelops the heaving emotion, and immersive melodies burn their path to ash as organs squall before the music bows out.

Bell Witch and Aerial Ruin already proved their merit mixing their worlds together, but noting can quite prepare you for what they unfurl on “Stygian Bough Volume 1.” The playing and the expressions get inside your body and carve their way toward the darkest, most vulnerable sections of your being and leave them forever changed. This is a union that deserves more journeys—and the album title seems to hint this isn’t over—excursions with scopes we cannot even imagine right now.

For more on Bell Witch, go here: https://www.facebook.com/BellWitchDoom/

For more on Aerial Ruin, go here: https://www.facebook.com/aerialruin/

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

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

Pyrrhon find ways to amplify death psychosis as they mirror tense society on ‘Abscess Time’

Photo by Caroline Harrison

If your entire body is riddled with anxiety right now, and you’re having a hard time getting through the day without having to sit down and take deep breaths to avoid freaking out, definitely know that you’re not alone. It feels like 2020 has been a relentless assault of one bad thing after another, and it seems that way because that’s exactly what it has been.

If you’re interested in a record that sounds like 2020 feels, NYC death dealers Pyrrhon have something for you with their fourth album “Abscess Time,” a collection that’s going to be really hard to top from a manic explosion standpoint. Simply tagging the band as a death metal group is a gigantic limitation as they pour in elements of noise, free jazz, and hardcore, and so many other sounds that create this insane display that comes for you from the start. And this music was put together before the current COVID situation! Yet, they observe the crumbling American experience from race relations (no way they realized just how timely this would be), continuing gentrification, climate issues, the tyrannical government, and other matters that have done their worst on most out our psyches. The band—vocalist Doug Moore, guitarist Dylan DiLella, bassist/vocalist Erik Malave, drummer Steve Schwegler—spreads this fury and madness over 12 songs and just about an hour that absolutely tangles you and reminds you of the harsh reality that’s right outside your door. Also, Caroline Harrison adds her immense artistic talents to a cover that might make you feel corroded and disgusting inside. Nice touch.

The title track gets started with guitars boiling and Moore’s cries already digging under your fingernails. The noise builds as the guitars have a strange Southern vibe while voices crackle, and digital corrosive floods as things come to a warped windmill of a finish. “Down at Liberty Ashes” starts and ends with a clip from “Taxi Driver” and in between is engorged death and incomprehensible chaos. The shrieks catch fire as they work amid the tumult, and odd shifts give way to rubbery playing and a scraping abrasion. “Teuchnikskreis” is a quick burst that lasts just over a minute as it grinds and splatters, serving of a horrific bite of hell. “The Lean Years” stabs wildly as the guitars slurp and the vocals are unhinged. Sinewy leads cut deep to the bone as the atmosphere is rich for a panic attack, bursting thunderously as the vocals pick you apart. Guitars then sting as Moore eats at your psyche before the track ends in sweat and tears. “Another Day in Paradise” starts with a clip from “Network” before things get off to a guttural lurch. The guitars are unleashed and bring violent zaniness while the vocals contort dangerously. Harsh shrieks split lips as the pace stabs away as things shapeshift into undiscovered terrain. The guitars sweep, the shrieks rain down, and the track finally melts into hell. “The Cost of Living” lets slurry guitars sprawl as gurgling growls menace and a warped trail boils. A dizzying assault is launched as the guitar work staggers, and your central nervous system trucks hard. Gross growls well up as the soloing drunkenly brawls, and things speed up and come to a mauling end.

“Overwinding” is another fast one that runs under two minutes and delivers wacky playing and a general mind fuck that wrestles you into the mud. “Human Capital” brings sludgy guitars and a weird journey that eventually goes off. Guitars try to leave you in the dust as it challenges your psyche before it turns unexpectedly straightforward (well, for them) before ending in snarls. “Cornered Animal” punches wildly as crazed howls let loose, and the guitars jab you in the chest. The track turns thrashy and edgier as Moore’s words seethe coming from his mouth, and the playing slices to the spine. “Solastalgia” is a bizarre instrumental that is a like walking into total darkness, knowing the knife is coming, and still being surprised when it opens you up. “State of Nature” lets guitars loose while the vocals burn with acid, and the bassline wraps its tentacles around your neck. The playing changes up with no warning, teasing your mind as noise glazes and the band smashes into you with reckless abandon. “Rat King Lifecycle” brings this madness to an end by letting strange noises encircle and roars crush. Crazed shrieks melt the earth while the playing breathes fire and burns off your facial hair. Strange chants entrance as horrifying shouts work on injured nerves, bending the edges, dicing flesh, and ending as things shift into space.

Nothing in Pyrrhon’s world ever can be described as conventional, as they bring the challenge with every release and make you wonder what the hell you just witnessed. If anything, “Abscess Time” ups the ante in every way conceivable, bending this band well past death metal’s boundaries into something that is entirely their own thing. This record is manic, anxious, charmingly irritating, bludgeoning, and a completely different monster than any you’re encountered. It crushes each and every time.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/bands/details/pyrrhon.aspx

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

Voidceremony drop harrowing alien death metal on hypnotic offering ‘Entropic Reflections…’

Photo by Ian Mann

Aliens exist. I have absolutely zero evidence to back that up except for logic and realizing the universe is a massive place, and we cannot be the only people or beings here. Oh man, imagine if we really are all alone? What a cataclysmically disappointing and frustrating reality that would be. We’re really the best the universe can do?

Anyway, there are aliens, and some of them may inhabit mind-bending death metal machine VoidCeremony and their aggressively named debut record “Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel.” While this is the band’s first full-length, they have been developing this machine since 2013, and they have three EPs to their name before this initial full platter. Death metal has been moving beyond this terrain for quite some time now, and VoidCeremony do their best to travel further into the universe than anyone before them with these six tracks that feel like they keep changing forms as they develop. That’s what keeps things interesting and scientifically baffling as the band—guitarist/vocalist Garrett Johnson, guitarist Jon Reider, fretless bassist Damon Good (of Mournful Congregation, who did duties for this album), and drummer Charlie Koryn—drills into as wormhole and drive into psychosis for a little more than 32 minutes.

“Desiccated Whispers” tears a hole right into this thing, letting prog-infested waters flow and Johnson’s lurching growls take hold. Good’s rubbery basslines slink as they do through this entire beast, while the rest of the music plays its bag of tricks as well. The track stomps its way through the rubble before ending abruptly. “Sacrosanct Delusions” smashes its way in and smears while the bass remains puzzling as hell. The guitars sprawl and tangle you up while creative weirdness flows. Fluid leads work with the contorted bass as the drums spill bones and take the track to its end. “Empty, Grand Majesty (Cyclical Descent of Causality)” runs a healthy 8:56, and it unleashes bizarre tidings and guitars rushing through alien wastelands. The playing slinks through mystery as the music slips and burns before there’s an eruption. The growls hammer as the pace ramps up, driving into an aggressive assault before running into yet another concussive jar as the track spirals out into hell.

“Binded to Unusual Existence” is an instrumental piece that starts with a hypnotic bend and the room spinning a million different directions. Leads cut through and increase the violence while it feels like the playing is twisting at your guts. Things then get exploratory as the guitar work swims through complicated channels before coming to a spirited finish. “Abandoned Reality” has guitars scraping and working their way into a strange miasma as the clobbering mashes your digits in a door. The track is both trudging and atmospheric while it keeps adding new haymakers to its arsenal, chewing your muscles into submission. “Solemn Reflections of the Void” closes the record with cataclysmic jolts and the bass continuing to be a hard beast to pin down as you grapple with your balance. The playing coils and strikes, sending sharp bits of metal flying, combining the vicious with the insane. That works into a path that challenges your brainwaves, reveling in cosmic majesty as the track shifts away.

VoidCeremony’s warped ways flourish on “Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel,” their senses-defying first full-length record. For a band to sound this strange and channeled on their first record is a testament to the time and effort they put into this thing, as it feels like an extended stay on a plane far off in the cosmos. This is an exciting first step for this band, and where things take them in the future is anyone’s guess.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Vile Creature’s doom expands, bursts hearts on glorious ‘… Apathy Took the Helm’

Photo by Danika Zandboer

If there’s one positive result about the tragic and horrifying events of the past month it’s that people suddenly give a shit again. A lot of people had all along, but it feels like others are awakening, finding their pilot light within them raging, and pouring themselves into causes they perhaps didn’t pay much as much mind as they should have in the past. The passion is palpable.

The heart of “Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!” the amazing third record from Hamilton, Ontario-based doom duo Vile Creature, rips the lid off indifference that may have bogged one down in the past. The duo of Vic (drums, vocals) and KW (guitars, vocals, drums percussion) stood to fight back against the tendency to slip into apathetic behavior and the feeling of uselessness and used the music to break out of that pattern and hammer forward. The darkness remains in these songs, but there also are sounds that go beyond that and match the lyrical ideas that hope is possible, even in what seems like a permanently broken world. On top of that, this is the band’s most realized music to date as they explode beyond their boundaries—they always were flexible before—and rocket into the stratosphere.

“Harbinger of Nothing” opens the record in the midst of a crushing storm as doom lands, and burly riffs flex their muscles. The track then settles into a mid-tempo bashing that hints at calm but quivers on its edges as Vic wails, “Tell me who I am, if you’re all knowing, the arbiter of moral purity,” as the vicious calls combine with noise before the pace eases, and the whispers of, “Tell me who I am,” crawl under flesh as the track enters choppy waters. The playing eventually buzzes back in as both Vic and KW combine their voices as one monstrous force, unloading devastation until chimes takes it out. “When the Path Is Unclear” has guitars awakening as things slip into a trippy vibe, and melodies drip into space buzz. Vic speaks the words, “The champions of your past conquered nothing, and neither will you,” as things punch open even harder, and the vocals turn to outright savagery. Dual vocals crush again as the guitars melt into psychedelic lava, and the drums turn your skull into paste. “No longer plagued by the grinding of your spirit, all you have doubted, your future clouded, you cannot act with conviction when the path is unclear,” lashes into you as the finality lands final blows before fading away.

“You Who Has Never Slept” starts a second half that is unlike anything else in Vile Creature’s catalog, not that the first part was conventional. The drums rumble while the vocals crush, as the clutches of indifference are destroyed as emotions boil over. “Bow and open yourself to what is to come, for I have lost my youth and joy,” Vic belts, while the track breathes fire yet does so with an entirely different atmosphere. The track trudges as guitars burn off, while the band hits a strange groove as the spoken lines, “We will not stand for this, we will not be bystanders, we will not stand idly by,” let things boil over and come to a fiery end. “Glory! Glory!” features Laurel Minnes’ vocals (she also was on “A Pessimistic Doomsayer”) with her band and choir Miniscule, and they make this track feel like the world is beginning again, like drops of sky are falling. The guitar work twangs in spots as the singing floats, later churning and letting off smoke while organs (courtesy of Bismuth’s Tanya Byrne) join in, and we’re off to the devastating finale “Apathy Took Helm!” that should send chills down your spine the entire run time. Guitars merge into an eruption, leading to dual vocals twisting spines and the choral parts painting majesty over the whole piece. Vic’s vicious shrieks rain down as they also mutilate behind the kit, thickening the doom waters with blood. Angelic hell rises to the surface and seems to quell the fires before everything kicks back in again as the cries of, “When we are dead and elsewhere, when we are dead,” rattles and wrenches before the track finally rests in the dust.

Vile Creature have been building an impressive body of work for just six years now, and “Glory, Glory! Apathy Took the Helm!” elevates them on a musical and creative level that should enthrall anyone who’s been following them along the way. We’re not quite halfway through the year, but this is one of the finest, most imaginative records we’ve heard so far in 2020, a year of absolute hell where there hasn’t been much to enjoy. Luckily, apathy has not been an issue for many of us with so much to fight for right now, and this record can serve as a reminder to harness those emotions and burn the energies until they run out.

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

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

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

Cavernlight offer homage to Molina; OMG bring more noise; Mr. Bungle rampage over ‘USA’

Cavernlight by Scott Burns

Bandcamp has stepped up in the last few months ever since COVID-19 to waive their fees the first Friday of each month, which has resulted in millions more money going to the bands and artists. That’s led to a lot of surprise releases and special things that might not otherwise be in our hands as early as they are, and it’s been a cool way to offer support and fill up on new music.

Last Friday, was no different, and there were a ton of great things that surfaced that filled up the app on my phone and I’m sure on many others’ as well. Last week, some of the artists also turned their own proceeds toward causes bigger than themselves and help people struggling right now, be that socially, health-wise, or just financially. Here are three things I grabbed last week that I’d highly recommend to anyone reading this, and all are fairly brief so won’t demand a gigantic chunk of your time.

I think I’ve made it clear in the past how much I love Jason Molina’s music, and I only have my entire right forearm tattooed with artwork inspired by his lyrics. Cavernlight share that love for Molina, who passed March 16, 2013, and they poured themselves into covering “The Black Crow,” the opening track on Songs: Ohia’s classic 2000 album “The Lioness.” The track is complete with artwork from William Schaff, who also provided art for Molina (most notably the “Magnolia Electric Co.” album, recorded in the same room as this cover), and the band offered the song as a free download as to not detract from fundraisers elsewhere, especially since multiple artists on Gilead Media (Couch Slut, Inexorum, Wailin Storms among others) were donating their proceeds elsewhere.

Before we even get into the song itself, it’s important and cool as fuck to note Dan Macadam, who played with Songs: Ohia, performs on this track. The band goes on a sorrowful dirge as the singing is solemn and understated, not trying to mimic Molina’s higher-register croon. It works perfectly as things melt together, and by the time we get to, “I’m getting weaker, I’m getting thin,” the tension begins to rise musically, and the playing begins to pull you under. “And I look down and see the whole world,” stays in that register before howls pound out, “And it’s fading,” as that line is repeated over and over again while the low-end buzzes and the guitars catch fire. Doom smear blackens the song’s eyes, while the track slowly dissolves into ash, proving an arresting tribute to the song’s fallen writer.

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

To buy the music, go here: https://cavernlight.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-crow

Old Man Gloom just released two beastly albums last month in the form of “Seminar VIII” and “Seminar IX,” yet they had a few other gems left over that they put out on a two-track collection that raises money for Minnesota Freedom Fund, National Bail Out, Navaho Nation COVID-19 Fund, Communities United Against Police Brutality, and several others. If you’re into the noise-emblazoned records they just put out, get ready to experience that mind melt all over again on this devastating little burst.

“Willing Vessel” carries on the suffocating noise elements as it pulsates over the first few minutes before the bass sizzles with life. Brodsky sings and Newton counters with vicious howls, as both voices are vital toward carrying the track. The song rumbles and bustles before it fades back into a haze of deranged noises. “Storms in Our Eyes” runs 7:28, and noise hovers over and stings the senses, which isn’t a surprise. The track then opens up and gets its legs under it as turmoil erupts, and the calls of, “Upwards! Onwards!” gets the blood moving. The track trucks as Newton howls, “Death awakening, storms in our eyes,” as the playing wallows in the muck before noise returns and pulsates over the last few minutes.

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

To buy the music, go here: https://sigerecords.bandcamp.com/album/willing-vessel-b-w-storms-in-our-eyes

The very wonderfully strange Mr. Bungle seemed like a band that had given us their final shot. Their last full-length “California” landed back in 1999, and vocalist Mike Patton seemed to have moved onto to his multiple other ventures (including Faith No More’s reunion and their great comeback record). Revamped with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo in the fold, joining Patton, Trey Spruance, and Trevor Dunn, the band played a series of shows together, announced plans to record together again, and finally spit out their first music, a cover of Scottish punks The Exploited’s 1982 burner “USA” from their “Troops of Tomorrow” record. The proceeds from this and an accompanying T-shirt go to benefit MusiCare’s COVID-19 Relief Fund to help those within the recording industry impacted by the disease.

Weirdly, Mr. Bungle’s cover of “USA” might be the most conventional sounding songs in the band’s catalog, but they fittingly add a thrashy edge to their version of the song. Patton’s crazed wails are on display as usual while the rest of the band buzz saws behind him. The rousing, yell-back chorus of, “Fuck the USA!” even has Patton putting a bit of a Scottish edge to it with his delivery, and the group shout backs are righteous and chaotic. The final verse, Patton uses a weird alien effect on his voice to add an element of strangeness before the track comes to a pulverizing end.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/ou818/

To buy the music, go here: https://mrbungle.bandcamp.com/releases

Serment make pact with devil in wintry Quebec forest on debut ‘“Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté’

It’s early June, and it’s currently 92 degrees as I write this, with more intense heat on the way. Not typical in the northeast United States this time of the year, and the dog is pissed as hell she can’t have two walks because she never has done well in the heat. I’m not saying I’m dreaming of an avalanche or anything, but some cooler weather would be nice.

Or we could drop right into “Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté,” the debut from Serment, and be locked right into the claws of winter. This is a solo project for Moribond (also of Forteresse and Ephemer) where he conjures a tale about a pact made with the devil in the freezing Quebecois forests and the journey that takes place from there. Over these stampeding six tracks, Moribond creates a symphonic mindscape, one that reaches back to black metal’s ’90s flourishes when melody and majesty no longer were filthy terms and gets inside your imagination. Not saying it’ll alleviate you of oppressive heat if you happen to be pinned down with that weather right now, but it could help you escape into the ice and snow for a little bit while you tackle this record.

“Ouverture” is a brief opener complete with whipping winds and birds hooting as synth rises, and sounds bleed in leading to “Sonne, le Glas Funèbre” that tears right open. Wild, maniacal howls spread as the playing gets huge and majestic. The vocals then get blurred in the mix as the track feels like it’s swimming through icy waters as black metal melodies rupture. The pace then pummels as it’s swallowed up by synth winds and horses galloping. “Par-Delà Collines et Rivières” has a massive start with a rush of sounds and vicious growls raining down. There’s an absolute deluge as wails spill in and mix with the playing, and the outpouring gains speed and heads into a steady stream. A huge melodic fury destroys and eventually fades into campfires crackling and the spirit fading into the night.

“Flamme Hivernale” opens in a synth fog as the playing unloads and pounds way. Atmospheric pressure picks up and pushes into a wintry hellscape as wild cries and blistering chaos meet. Speed picks up as the song mashes away, stampeding to a dramatic finish that’s taken away by the wind. “Avant que ne Meure la Gloire” erupts and drives heavily as the playing smothers and it feels like heavy snows are falling and coating the earth. The track keeps adding intensity to the mix, blasting away and smoking hard, and then the vicious vocals works into a synth sheet. Graceful violence disrupts, burying everything in soot, while the track works toward a cinematic ending that robs you of your breath. “Hymne à la Patrie” closes the album and is a lengthy instrumental track build with icy keys and freezing ambiance. The playing is both regal and chilling, ending the record by retreating deep into the forest, failing to find a place for warmth.

Moribond certainly achieves the atmosphere he set out to create with “Chante, Ô Flamme de la Liberté,” as this album definitely feels like you’re locked in the Great White North, encapsulated in an unforgiving freezing world. Serment is a much different vessel for Moribond, though one that’s not totally foreign from his other projects. This music is rawer and more aggressive, which is fitting when you’re pacting with the devil and you need pure violence to survive.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Serment-2218821681488288/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.sepulchralproductions.com/collections/preorders

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

Uprising swing torches against fascism, power structures, spill blood on ferocious monster ‘II’

It’s been a heartbreaking, infuriating, gut-wrenching, yet in some ways galvanizing last couple weeks here in the United States and now across the globe. The most important election in this nation’s history is on its way, and there aren’t a lot of great choices, but there sure as shit is one nightmarish option. People are trying to take a modicum of power to protect those who continually suffer at authority’s hands, a battle that has made its way all over the world.

There could be no better time for “II,” the second record from Uprising, to land, as it feels like it was written specifically for this time. The solo project of Winterherz (though he goes by just W for this project) who you already know from the mighty Waldgeflüster, he lashes out again fascism, capitalism,  lop-sided power structures, and religion in as direct and unflinching a manner possible. The words, some of which we quote below, are going to resonate with those who have taken to the streets, who are driving efforts to get more people to the polls, who are battling back against poisonous misinformation campaigns that prey on people with lesser income and lower educations because they know they can. This is black metal to fight that war, one that can’t end until the words “liberty and justice for all” are actually true for everyone on this planet. This record isn’t going to be able to solve those problems, but it’s a ferocious partner in the fight to help keeping our blood boiling.

“Introduction” churns with fuzzy voices calling for uprising before that sizzles out and works into “There’s No Such Thing as Hope” that blasts and surges with melody. Dark tidings arrive quickly while the melodies flood and blaze down, which they do all over this record. W’s vocals are righteous and furious as the playing is fluid and violent, with him ending the track with, “What is left to believe in?
Let ashes rain from the heavens like death reigns all being, there’s no such thing as hope.” “Uprise Part II” has riffs gushing and gruff clean singing charging as the pace feels like glorious burning. Vicious howls and a pace that mashes away combine and rupture the earth as W calls, “Uprise above the skies,
strike off your puppet strings with a rebellious song to sing, uprise above all kings.” Utter vitriol is served as the song reaches into rousing madness and then fades to black. “A Lesson in Basic Human Empathy” has the bass recoiling and complete savagery arriving, while W goes on the attack again vocally. “Stand up against injustice, indifference is unacceptable, defend those who cannot,” which are amazing words to live by, as the song clobbers away and unites with fuck-you sentiment to those who cannot show a single strain of compassion for others.

“Monuments” begins with acoustic strains before the bottom is ripped out, and the playing crushes cowards. Scathing howls rip away as the playing trudges without mercy, and even the atmospheric sections feel like they’re holding thunder. The song maintains a devastating pace as the vocals scrape at skin, rousing cleanly sung parts get your heart pumping, and the track then returns to its acoustic origins. “The Iron Eagles Still Fly” focuses on the Lion Air Flight 610 crash that killed 189 people in 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash that claimed 157 lives in 2019 that both were determined to have the same mechanical cause. The song is smothering but also angering and heartbreaking as W wails, “You set the world afire for 346 innocent, all for money and power, thought this would be your end.” The playing has frantic corners and releases raucous energy as W rails against those who failed to adhere to basic rules, bringing the song to a stunning finish. “Radical Decency” ends the record and begins with a disruptive thrashiness that cuts to the core. W hammers on societal inequality and purposeful division of classes as his vocals shred, and the leads burn with glory. Shrieks rain down as the thunderous playing works to solidify forces seeking social justice. “Burn down every fortress of the forever yesterdays, they denied you justice time and time and time again,” W wails as the playing drives with force and the promise to never stop the fight until true equality is achieved.

W could not have known just how vital “II” would be on a worldwide scale when he wrote the music, but this is a cosmically ideal time for Uprising’s return to our world. People are fighting for justice all over right now, and despite a cause that should be so obvious, there still are those who refuse to get rid of their hatred and still want to lick the boots. Uprising have no time for that, and if you’re going to continue to add to a problem that have hurt so many people, you’ll be trampled under entirely different sets of boots as your views continue to lose relevance.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/ii

Or here: https://wolfsgrimmrecords.bigcartel.com/

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

And here: https://www.facebook.com/WolfsgrimmRecords/