PICK OF THE WEEK: Wode demolish senses, challenge expectations on sinewy ‘Burn in Many Mirrors’

Photo by Phillip James Torriero

There are those records that, from the first time you hear them, you know they’re going to be with you for the long haul and not just absorbed and forgotten about a few weeks later. Those are the ones that keep coming back, sticking in your side, forcing you to go back repeatedly to either experience it again or to explore the terrain all over for things you missed before.

UK-based black metal/death metal hybrid Wode always has created music that destroys and refuses to let go, but it’s not just a heap of brutality. The band always has woven in melody, imagination, and fury into their formula, making it a more well-rounded attack than many other bands in their stratosphere. Wode have returned with their third full-length “Burn in Many Mirrors,” their first since 2017 and initial offering through 20 Buck Spin. This record already is one of the most noteworthy of young 2021, an album you should go out of your way to hear, especially if you bask in the dark arts and need some serious stimulation. The band—vocalist/guitarist/synth player M. Czerwoniuk, guitarist/backing vocalist D. Shaw, bassist E. Troup, drummer/guitarist/synth player T. Horrocks—delivers a mammoth display over 6 tracks and 39 minutes on an album that should push other black and death metal bands to up their game and listeners something in which they truly can sink their teeth.

“Lunar Madness” kicks off with a burst of violence and melody as the riffs race, and the playing explodes. The guitars just hammer away as Czerwoniuk’s growls get under your skin and ravage you, with the leads welling and swimming. The growls pummel as the song speeds up, rage pours out of every seam, and the track comes to a smothering end. “Serpent’s Coil” delivers strong riffs designed to clobber as the vocals scorch, and great leads drive the way. Again, the band jerks you around with relentless dips and meaty muscle, thrashing hard as the vocals feel corrosive, the leads shoot fire, and your veins are filled with poison and pain. “Fire in the Hills” has blazes crackling as the song starts while guitars dive into the scene, and then the open charging feels like it blasts right over you. Warbled vocals mix with the fiery growls, engulfing you in flames you try to battle through. The tempo continues to destroy as Czerwoniuk cries, “We are everything and nothing at all,” and the madness ends in a pile of smoldering cinders.

“Sulphuric Glow” crushes from the start as the guitars begin to stir, and the leads dare you to unleash yourself and take the journey with them. Classic metallic riffs act as a spine while a thrashing assault takes over your body, mashing you all over before coming to a merciful, albeit mangling, end. “Vanish Beneath” rumbles as the guitars stretch, and riffs chew into muscle. Throaty growls and dark visions clash as the playing opens its massive jaws and tries to swallow you whole as melody builds up and clouds your vision. The guitars then go off, speeding recklessly as wild howls punish, and the track comes to a spine-torching finish. “Streams of Rapture (I,II,III)” ends the album, a 9:54-long triptych that starts with eerie keys floating and the drumming awakening before the track explodes. Everything is vicious and unforgiving as trudging power leaves bruises, and the growls gurgle. The intensity rounds back as a fiery, yet channeled attack is mounted, and the leads just take over. The soloing expands and bursts, every element works to land their final strikes, and everything comes to a cataclysmic end.

It’s been a good while since we heard from Wode, but “Burn in Many Mirrors” made that wait worth it as it’s another stellar display of their black and death metal stew that’s always thick and hearty. This long has been a band that has been unsatisfied with status quo when it comes to their chosen sound, and they absolutely take you apart with these six tracks. More people are going to be smartened up to Wode simply through their association with 20 Buck Spin, and that’s an introduction that’s going to absolutely pummel some people who had been lulled to sleep the past few years who are about to wake up violently.    

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

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

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

Genghis Tron back in new form, deliver psychedelic numbness on mesmerizing ‘Dream Weapon’

Trying to remember what I was doing 13 years ago is nearly impossible for me to do, because I was practically a different person then. I was still working at my second job out of college, I don’t think I had even started thinking about collecting vinyl records, and my taste in beer was practically nonexistent and completely immature.

That also happened to be the last time we got a record from Genghis Tron, the electronic-grind band that delivered two of the most chaotic and way-before-their-time records, the last of which was 2008’s “Board Up the House.” It seemed like a dead issue, and had the world only been treated to their two albums and trio of EPs, likely no one would have complained. Yet, in 2021, we have a new record from Genghis Tron, and like their first two, they’re rewriting their role within heavy music. If you’re here to get a carbon copy of “Dead Mountain Mouth” or “Board Up,” you won’t find what you’re seeking. Instead, on “Dream Weapon,” we find a brand-new band, figuratively and literally. Keyboardist/programmer Michael Sochynsky and guitarist Hamilton Jordan are now joined by new vocalist Tony Wolski (he replaces Mookie Singerman, who chose not to return) and real-life drummer Nick Yacyshyn (replacing programmed drums) on a record that feels like a psychedelic journey beyond yourself and into some other realm you couldn’t imagine before. The synth pockets are deep and entrancing, the drumming complements the ambiance, and the vocals are smooth and like they’re gently falling from the clouds, leaving you numb and chilled.      

“Exit Perfect Mind” is a quick intro cut built with warm synth and bubbling emotion, feeling like the sky is opening as it moves toward “Pyrocene” that hits with beats clashing and frosty keys before Wolski’s wonderfully ghostly singing starts to move. Strange ambiance doubles as your head is immersed with sounds and ideas, and a mechanical dream unravels. The synth glimmers as the track feels like it’s eating into the heart of the ’80s with fog and rain collecting, drums cracking, and the shadows bowing to the night. The title track follows with drums pummeling and smooth vocals collecting, rumbling but also dissipating. The pace feels relentless and anxiety inducing as the haze pulls over like a cloud. The pace then punches as a psyche trail sprawls, continually adding to the madness until everything comes to a toppling finish. “Desert Stairs” is a quick instrumental cut that has synth stinging and a storm front gathering as alien lightning is collected before the track settles into mystery.

“Alone in the Heart of the Light” delivers jabbing keys and echo as your brain ices over. The music is cosmic at heart as your body is numbed delightfully while the drums rustle. Sci-fi-style melodies send chills through you as the playing drives, and an immersive dream state is achieved, making your cells tingle as the music drains, and the vocals soothe your mind. “Ritual Circle” is the longest track, running 10:22, and it sits in a key surge and floating vocals, bringing a heavy cold front. Energy spits as the pressure increases, picking up the pace and melting continents of ice. The aggression picks up as the synth glimmers, the pace loops, and the fog envelopes you, ending with the drums picking at your psychosis. “Single Black Point” trudges and brings a new force, one that’s kinetic and agitating, causing your body to jolt. The synth rises as the drums eat away at you, sounds bounce from the walls, and the force disappears into mist. Closer “Great Mother” runs 8:59, allowing the synth to loom and roam before things power up. Sounds rain down as Wolski’s singing pelts away from you, feeling like a transmission from the spirit world. Chemical keys drip, the playing whirs, and the drums kick a hole in your side, opening strange portals. The guitars charge, the sounds clobber, and the track disappears down a drain into the netherworld.

Genghis Tron’s mammoth sleep ended in such a strange way on “Dream Weapon,” an album I’m surprised is even here and probably more rattled by how it sounds. This is such an extreme turn for this band, but a really goddamn invigorating one. This is not the Genghis Tron you used to know, as that body has long since decayed. This is a new beast slinking from the cosmos, into your ear while you’re in slumber, and forever changing your reality in a way you couldn’t comprehend until now.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/item/96762

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

Spellforger chew metal roots, bring devastating black thrash burst with EP ‘Upholders of Evil’

Truly there is nothing new under the sun, which might sound a little discouraging for anyone making art because just about everything has been done to this point. That doesn’t mean you can’t put your own stamp on something or figure out new ways to interpret sounds that have been around for a while, which is probably why we have so goddamn many bands. Not a complaint.

Digging back into the Celtic Frost/Venom/Bathory early primordial ooze of metal isn’t exactly unvisited terrain. In fact, they’d like fewer visitors, please. That said, Indonesian power Spellforger (I love that name, by the way) is digging up those old tombs, but it’s for a great reason. The Indonesian scene is kind of devoid of this thing, or so says the press materials because I wouldn’t know personally, and there is so much death metal and slam (please, someone explain this subgenre’s appeal to me), that Spellforger felt the need to remind their countryfolk where this shit came from to begin with. Their debut EP “Upholders of Evil” is six tracks, 22 minutes of pure black thrash bliss that hammers. And that’s the other key point: This band—vocalist Middernacht, guitarist Invoker, bassist Horrifier, drummer Lord Tchort—plays this stuff incredibly well with a precision and exuberance that is absolutely necessary for making this style work. This EP is a total blast, and it makes me think of my own metal formation.

“Upholders of Evil” is a quick intro cut that has noise dawning and cool riffs cutting in, and then we’re into “Lord of Possession” that explodes into vicious punishment. There is great intensity as raw fires rage, and the track gets thrashy as hell with Middernacht’s shrieks piercing your side. The vocals continue to tear apart your veins before things come to a speedy, destructive end. “Metal Crusaders” has leads igniting and fury spat back in your face as the shrieks mix with barked cries. The group chants back over the chorus as the playing mashes, and all the fire leads to a punishing end. “Curse of the Lycans” opens with drums rumbling and Middernacht’s howls blowing through your chest, with speedy guitars looping and making you dizzy. Wild cackles poke at open wounds while the playing pummels, and everything ends in ash. “Black Spellcrafters” delivers delirious riffs as fast, venomous vocals crash down on top of you. The drums detonate and seemingly try to bash skulls in while shrieked howls rain down, and the blinding, ferocious pace has your stomach juices begging for calm. “Pestilentia” ends things and does so in a total eruption with riffs rocketing and a crunchy tempo leaving you bruised. Rage explodes as the guitars race, wild shrieks leave welting, and everything comes to a classic huge metal finish, blowing down your goddamn doors.

Spellforger’s campaign to revitalize the roots of raw, heathenistic metal is on full display on “Upholders of Evil,” a release that’s furious but also one hell of a good time. These six songs show just a glimpse into what the band is capable of doing, and there’s not a stitch of fat on this thing. Everything about this EP is violent and crazed, leaving you exhausted but satisfied when this thing reaches its end.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.personal-records.com/product/spellforger-upholders-of-evil/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.personal-records.com/

Death metal veterans Memoriam blast back with battle-ravaged chaos on hammering ‘To the End’

Photo by Timm Sonnenschein

You sometimes hear people say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” when it comes to sacrificing rest in order to get work done. It’s an admirable trait showing a person with determination and grit who doesn’t care about their own strength and mental wherewithal in order to get something done that’s on their plate. Plus, yeah, there will be plenty of time to sleep past expiration.

One band definitely buying into that thinking is UK death squadron Memoriam, a group of warriors who have seen and done it all and really have nothing left to prove. We know better. That’s not how they operate, and they’ve barely taken a draw of breath since their formation in 2016 from the ashes of Bolt Thrower, and in five years, they’ve already drummed up four full-length releases, their latest coming on “To the End,” another burst of grizzled power and strength. The band—vocalist Karl Willetts (longtime Bolt Thrower vocalist), guitarist Scott Fairfax (Massacre, Benediction), bassist Frank Healy (Sacrilege), drummer Spikey T. Smith (also of Sacrilege and formerly of English Dogs, among others)—delivers nine tracks in about 45 minutes, all of it solid as a rock and teeming with the ills of war, mourning who we’ve lost, and refusing to lie down, fighting into the future.  

“Onwards Into Battle” kicks off with warplanes soaring over and voices giving commands before the track opens into the pit of hell, with Willetts in gruff command. The playing is thick and thrashy as it gets uglier before the leads warm up and melt away, and the growls punch to the end. “This War Is Won” starts with a blurring riff as the growls menace, and the playing blisters. The guitars bleed color as the tempo is battering, spreading fire as the land is destroyed, the chorus rouses, and everything ends in power. “No Effect” rustles with grimy madness as the melodies spread. There is strong start-stop thrashing over the chorus while Willetts commands, “Go!” before the solo as the death stomp powders bones, and the track blasts to a finish. “Failure to Comply” starts with a warning from the Oregon police, and the track follows the plight of those fighting for social justice, with the speedy, guttural playing throwing haymakers. The track is nasty and punishing, pulling no punches as Willett blasts, “We question/how many people have to die?”

“Each Step (One Closer to the Grave)” is moody and gravelly, as Willetts’ vocals grind, and the track even veers into doom territory. “Live every moment like it’s your last,” Willetts warns, as he’s grown quite reflective in spots on these Memoriam records. Sadness and heaviness unite and bring heavy clouds with the track ending in penetrating power. The title track trudges and feels like it’s trying to loosen bricks in buildings as the growls rip at flesh, and the tempo makes the earth quake. The leads glimmer even as we enter into nastier terrain, Willetts unleashes some vicious growls, and everything bleeds out into oblivion. “Vacant Stare” brings glowing guitars and then a violent menace as the riffs begin to smother and power. The senses are absolutely battered as Willetts wails, “No one hears a sound!” as the final moments twist your muscles. “Mass Psychosis” is a weird one, but it’s pretty fun. The drums smash and take lead while there’s a near industrial bend to the song as Willetts continually chants, “Mass psychosis!” The guitars dissolve and form a thick tributary while the underbelly exposes its iron-thick muscle that bashes you.  “As My Heart Grows Cold” closes the album and starts with swelling guitars swimming as noise hangs in the air. As the song goes on it gets more vicious and unforgiving, though some sorrowful leads add a different texture. The playing rounds back to heaviness and surging your blood with Willetts rising to deliver his rousing final words, and the band adds fuel to the flames, giving one last massive gasp before the track burns out.

Memoriam’s battles continue, and they are mauling on “To the End,” another massive artillery shot from these death metal legends. There’s a bit of a comfort food feel to hearing Willetts’ monstrous growl and the war-torn death in front of us, but this is hardly empty calories. These guys remain huge, heavy, and hungry, and I’ll take as many Memoriam albums as these boys can put together.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.reapermusic.de/memoriam-end/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Putrescine’s virulent power, deadly energy hammer into ‘The Fading Flame’

It’s the end of another challenging week, and once again we are faced with needing something to incinerate our insides and let us feel a different kind of relentless pain. But that’s nothing new, so we have to go back into the pool and generate another thing to get us through the existential dread and into some productive form of ourselves.

That’s a wordy way of saying thank fuck for Putrescine, whose debut full-length record “The Fading Flame” nearly is in our laps, and it could not come at a better time. Luckily, I’ve been able to indulge in this 10-track beast for the past month or so, leaving me with the proper fuel to help combat the utterly depressing times. It’s not that the music you find here will be a sugar shot to your bloodstream from a lyrical standpoint, as the tracks lean on the person side of things which often examine pain the members of the band—the core trio is vocalist/drum programmer Marie McAuliffe, guitarist/vocalist Trevor Van Hook, and guitarist/bassist Zac Sanders, with Calin Kim and Shane Bogdan joining in the live setting—have experienced themselves. There is darkness, suffering, and anger bursting out of every seam as the band puts together a devastating and mentally enthralling package that keeps this thing stimulating from front to back.

“Age of Fire” bleeds in, guitars slash, and power bubbles as this intro instrumental works into “The Abyss” that punishes and confounds right away. Growls and shrieks hammer as the melodies smear, and the pace utterly splatters. The soloing catches fire as it violently expands your mind while the shrieks maul, and your will is bent by their sound. “Devourer of Gods” is a track released as a single last year, and it’s punchy as hell as the guitar work begins to strangle. Shrieks scrape your psyche as the pace increases, and the soloing absolutely goes off, crunching into sound zaps. “Profaned Failure” has guitars exploding out of the gates as vicious shrieks gnaw away while the riffs dare you to fight back. The vocals pummel as the guitars spread their evil intent, death flourishes, and everything comes to a massive end. The title track unloads leads angling in and the bass trudging through mud, as vicious death lands heavy blows. Guitars tease and then jolt, the drums murder, and guttural madness floods over, burying you.

“Age of Dark” is an instrumental interlude with strange ambiance and hazy keys blending in, pushing toward heavily emotional “That Mountain” that has tricky leads and scrambles your brain inside your skull. Anxious shrieks lead the way, as McAuliffe howls, “The world smirks with its whip, lashing at blistered scars, drawing that blood again, reliving that blood again.” Dizzying heaviness and profound heaviness combine, casting a dark pall and ending with gut-wrenching weirdness. “Outsider” mashes bones as the rubbery bass work causes your head to tilt violently, and the vocals sound like razor blades inside McAuliffe’s throat. Strange leads feel like a fever dream while everything blisters, and the final explosive push leads toward “Reek of Putrescine,” also previously released in 2020. The track has a blinding start before the bass bludgeons, and vicious growls destroy the senses. Crazed shrieks, alien bass, and a warm solo add to the intensity before everything comes to a raw, nasty end. “In a Setting Sun” is your closer, bringing moody glow and a prog-fueled push that rewires your mind. Beastly wails dig into your ribs while strange leads penetrate, and the drums kill. Voices call out as violins slice their way in, feeling elegant and damaged as the track fades into dust.

I’ve been kind of champing at the bit over here for Putrescine’s full-length debut after devouring their other releases the past couple years, and “The Fading Flame” absolutely delivers. It’s pummeling, furious, often really strange death metal that keeps you awake and alert pretty much by force. This is an awesome first official burst by a band that’s always fought for what they believe in, have done it with unabashed power, and are willing and ready to bleed in front of you.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Putrescine-464280534319064/

To buy the album, go here: https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/the-fading-flame

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

Swiss black metal power Aara dig into classic damnation tale with trilogy opener ‘Triad I: Eos’

Heavy metal has had a long and storied history of taking classic pieces of literature and winding it into their music in a way that brings the tale to life and maybe even exposes listeners to texts they hadn’t considered before. And that’s just Iron Maiden’s catalog! It’s a way for bands to move past the expected when it comes to what drives the music, and maybe it’ll encourage someone to read.

For their new record “Triad I: Eos,” Swiss black metal force Aara decided to dig into 1820 novel Memloth the Wanderer by Irish Protestant clergyman and playwright Charles Robert Maturin, and it tells the story of a man who sold his soul to the devil for another 150 years of existence on earth. Good thing is you have time to absorb the text because this album is the first in a trilogy for the band—vocalist Fluss, guitarist/bassist Berg, drummer J—that we assume will continue over their fourth and fifth albums, if they stay on a straight path with the story. The music is another dose of their sharp, fully atmospheric black metal that surges and causes your blood to rush along with them. Fluss’ shrieks manage to get inside of you and swim in your head, bringing you to your own brink of damnation.

“Fathum” starts with synth slowly spreading its wings, creating an ambiance that detonates two minutes in. The riffs flood as shrieks rain down, letting huge melodies surge before a brief moment of calm. Acoustics wash in and recharge the scene before the shrieks crush, and the guitars rise and burst. The leads take over, emotions jolt, and the finish is massive. “Tantalusqual” has strong riffs and shrieks raining hammers while everything twists into a knot. The playing rushes hard as sweeping, surging playing tries to pull you under, and the drums clobber while the intensity increases. Glorious leads ride as everything explodes anew, twisting your heart and burning out. “Naufragus” has sounds crashing to earth, blasting open cuts, and the leads tangling your mental wires. The vocals breathe fire as a choral burst chills flesh, and the pressure suddenly spikes. Glorious melodies power up, the chorals spread, and the final gusts are nasty and violent.

“Nimmermehr” blisters right away as the guitars stir hard, and the shrieks meet up with a choral haze. A frenzy is whipped up as the leads chew, pushing and making the melodies more resurgent. The vocal parts feel pastoral and chilling, the leads take hold, and the final moments are bustling and razor sharp. “Das Wunder” unleashes gusting guitars and hammering shrieks, pushing the tempo and ripping hard. A slight chill comes on as the blood pressure increases, and a fog surrounds your psyche with mystery. Curdling shrieks smash down again, increasing the temperature until everything explodes. “Effugium” finishes off the record by plastering you with violence as the vocals spit nails. The guitars get more aggressive as the tempo strangles, the speed floods, and the fire increases and takes land with them. Serenity swims for a moment, bringing the heat back down as faint chants work their way up your spine. The storming breaks, an angelic haze makes your skin flushed, and everything bleeds out into a mysterious gaze.

There’s plenty in which to dig your teeth on “Triad I: Eos,” Aara’s exciting third record. Their enthralling and flooding black metal easily can sweep you under, and if you’re also tied into the subject matter, it’ll add another level of chaos for you. There’s a lot in the story in which I identify, and Aara’s music has been fueling plenty of what I’ve been feeling the last year or so. This band is doing some amazing things, and if you’re not yet familiar, change that immediately and get lost in their fire.  

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Aara-941630312665011

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (Europe): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

Czechian raiders Mura pummel with dank death, grime on ‘Doom Invocations & Narcotic Rituals’

We’ve likely all had our share of misery and punishment to last us as lifetime, and surely there are a lot of people looking for something to make things feel brighter and more positive. If you’ve come here hoping for that today, I’m afraid I’ve got bad news. Actually, if you did think that, what the hell was going through your mind? When was the last time we said anything positive?

Today we make a visit with Mura, a new death and doom-emblazoned band from the Czech Republic whose first EP “Doom Invocations and Narcotic Rituals” is getting a cassette release from Caligari Records. The offering is but two tracks, but each of them are epic beasts, battering you for about 20 minutes and raking you over the hot coals of misery. From the moment you open the creaky gate doors on this record, you’re overwhelmed by the stench and the abject heaviness contained within. The band—we don’t have a lineup, but its members play in other groups including the Tower and Sekeromlat—puts you in a stranglehold, weighing you down with their might, cruelly teasing your fragile psyche, and putting you through furnace heat that burns your face.   

“Chambers of Decay” slowly unfurls itself as noise builds, and doomy punches are thrown with cement fists. Growls scrape as the filth thickens, and the riffs cut through the center, adding to the misery. The drums come to life as the rhythmic low end batters as the growls get ever deeper. The track slowly boils in blood as your psyche is massacred, warping your brain, while the back end of the track corrodes and returns to dust. “Pest Possession” ends the proceedings by delivering strong riffs and doom madness, clobbering every step of the way. The pain spreads as the growls gnaw on open wounds, continuing to punish and thrash. The leads give off a toxic glimmer as everything comes unglued, punishing blindly, burning in noise, and sizzling out.

Mura’s horrific death and doom feels like it eats away at your chest and aims to infect your blood on “Doom Invocations and Narcotic Rituals,” their pummeling first EP. While only two tracks, it’s still nearly 20 minutes of mangling violence that tests your limits of how much punishment you can handle. These Czechs have a penchant for strangling you with your own misery, and I can only imagine how devastating this band will be once they tackle a full-length attack.

For more on the band, go here: https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/doom-invocations-and-narcotic-rituals

To buy the album, go here: https://caligarirecords.storenvy.com/

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

UK’s Celestial Sanctuary unload death metal assault that leaves bloodstains on ‘Soul Diminished’

England has had its share of relentless death metal bands that not only have grown fervent fanbases but also have changed the DNA of heavy music as we know it. It’s a lot to live up to, not only by the bands that formed the movement, but also for the ones who have followed in the path. There’s a lot to live up to, and right or wrong, plenty of lofty expectations waiting.

Luckily for Celestial Sanctuary, they have great chops and brutal intensity to answer that bell, which they prove over and over on their debut offering “Soul Diminished.” At nine tracks and a little more than 37 minutes, this is a well portioned and punishing album that immerses them right into the bustling death metal picture with an axe right to the art form’s torso. The band—vocalist/guitarist Thomas Cronin, guitarist Matt Adnett, bassist Jay Rutterford, drummer James Burke—spills intensity, violence, and bloody haymakers into this record that crushes from the first minute to the last. It’s a smashing, guttural collection of tracks that don’t try to rewire the subgenre or anything but just sound really goddamn good coming out of your speakers or headphones. It’s a ripper.

“Rid the Gormless” opens the record with crushing riffs and vicious growls as everything is shredded. The vibe gets nastier as the leads stretch and burn, absolutely smothering you to near unconsciousness. “Soul Diminished” feels ominous as it chugs hard as the growls leave bruising. The bottom end is utterly ugly while the filth is layered on thick, the guitar work grinds, and the track comes to a punishing end.  “Relentless Savagery” trudges hard while the growls mash, and the helping of death is staggering. Guitars well as the growls bore through the ground, bringing bloody hell to the surface and stomping out through the mud. “Wretched Habits” is punchy as well with mangling snarls and vicious growls that later are sliced in half by blunt shrieks, and then speed takes over. A doom haze begins to burn brightly as mean howls flatten, and the track smears insult in your face and mouth.

“Suffer Your Sentience” bleeds in, slowly unfurling as the vocals apply the chokehold. The track is slow driving and brutal, meting out a calculated assault that punishes and adds ample pressure. “Mass Extinction” has a slower pace, but it’s also relentlessly heavy. The drums destroy while the slaughter is served generously, obliterating and bringing on a merciless fury. “Yearn for the Rot” has guitars awakening as the power surges, letting the heat spread liberally. Growls and shrieks mix as the thrashing intensifies, the humidity lingers, and the playing keeps racing until it bleeds out. “Endless Chasm” tears open as the growls rumble, and the guitars show some swagger. The guts are ripped from the song’s belly while the playing mashes and chews, the guitars cut hard, and the thrashing bloodies noses. “Formless Entity” ends the record with chemical noises bubbling and the drums picking up. Weirdness swells as the drumming has a tribal effect, strangeness floods, and the instrumental track dissolves.

Celestial Sanctuary have a rousing and punishing debut with “Soul Diminished,” a record that inserts them into the conversation of new modern death metal bands that should keep the genre blossoming into the future. The record is nicely portioned and furious from front to back, showing their bloodthirsty intensity. This is a great first blast from a band that should be shedding blood for years to come.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.churchroadrecords.com/products/search?q=celestial+sanctuary

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Mare Cognitum turn rage toward planet earth on cataclysmic ‘Solar Paroxysm’

It baffles me when I meet someone who tells me they don’t pay attention to news or politics and just kind of live their lives without all of that stuff. Part of me is incredibly envious of being able to live in a state of oblivion when it comes to these things. The larger part of me is appalled that someone could just be completely disconnected from what is happening around them and everyone else.

Under the Mare Cognitum banner, Jacob Buczarski often has concentrated on matters of the great beyond through the solar system and the universe. But on “Solar Paroxysm,” the fifth Mare Cognitum full-length and first in five years, the focus is turned inward, meaning on issues plaguing planet earth that aren’t necessarily virus related. There is plenty of unrest, political upheaval and chicanery, as well as social matters that remain problems to overcome, even though seemingly half the people alive don’t recognize or care about these matters. As a result, this is one of the most ferocious records for this project to date as well as disruptive as this 5-track, 64-minute record throttles with very little space for you to take a breath. So, if you’re one of the people who is completely tuned in and living and dying based on what’s transpiring on this earth, the chaos will an easy thing with which to unite.

“Αntaresian” kicks off deep into a sound woosh before things tear open, and for 11:16, the energy is just relentless. Shrieks strike as stirring melodies keep your brain working, and the tempo just unloads and never quits. Atmospheric savagery and gazey fire unite as things keep stomping guts, and glorious leads light blinding fires that blaze the trail forward. “Frozen Star Divinization” runs a healthy 10:58 as riffs explode and blow things apart, while the drums pummel, and the emotion floods to the surface. Daring punishment and channeled melodies lead toward a renewal of destruction, with Buczarski’s shrieks digging into your ribs. Fury is whipped up again as shrieks and growls mix, giving savagery and brutality a new face, while the guitar work explodes, driving guttural thrills and a rush of power.

“Terra Requiem” runs 10:34, and it pulls back from the pace already achieved earlier, injecting a sense of sorrow and darkness into the mix. Shrieks and a storming pace add heaviness to the playing while a great cosmic swell immerses in alien intensity. The playing aims for the heart while forces head toward the sky, the vocals wrench, and the menace gets deadlier as everything swirls and comes to a punishing end. “Luminous Accretion” starts with the drums loosening teeth, feeling plastering and hazy, delivering punishing strikes. The playing takes on some classic metal tenets as it grows, with smoking soloing coming to life, and then Buczarski’s vocals getting even meaner. The vocals rip, the melodies hit a deluge, and a lapping lather covers you in metallic bubbles as it works into the void. Closer “Ataraxia Tunnels” is the longest track at 12:31, and it starts in space clouds that intoxicate. The vocals are vicious as the playing gets into the zone in a hurry as the drums rumble, and the leads flex their muscles. Like elsewhere on the record, the journey captures you and races through space and time as the drama increases, and a slight pause is merely a gasp before the floods return with no mercy. Your heart might be racing like mine was as we head into dizzying chaos, a hellish assault that knows no bounds, and a final rush that leaves sweat dripping from your body.

Anyone with a heart or empathy or sense easily could relate to what Buczarski is feeling and what inspired the music on “Solar Paroxysm,” one of his most intense and destructive to date under the Mare Cognitum banner. It’s been a frustrating time to be alive watching this country devolve into something out of a parody movie, only this time it’s real, and lives are at stake. This record contains all that volcanic frustration and anger, and all 64 minutes feel like a ball of rage ready to strike.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://music.extraconscious.com/music

Or here: http://i-voidhanger.com/shop/

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

And here: http://i-voidhanger.com/

Caïna’s metamorphosis endures as darkness expands, shakes on cold ‘…Away From All This Death’

It’s always exciting getting new music from a band you like and have followed for some time, and when that group makes tweaks and changes things around, it can get a little nerve wracking. But when those alterations enhance the music and add an intriguing entry into the band’s body of work, it can make that new music even more exciting.

We say that as Caïna have returned with a new record “Take Me Away From All This Death” that, if you compare it to the project’s earlier records, you’ll wonder where you made a weird turn. But if you’ve been following along lately and know a few things about sole creator Andrew Curtis-Brignell’s tastes and inspirations (he’s a pretty open book on these things on his Twitter feed), the music you’ll find on this enthralling eight-track collection will make all the sense in the world. There are only a few hidden traces of black metal here and a whole lot of gothy, dingy post-punk, synth-scuffed power, and a feeling like you’re going down the drain of a nightmare that never seems to let you wake up. It’s a record I keep going back to, and it rewards and terrifies every time I jump back into its guts.  

“Bleeding Light” has a chilling open and Curtis-Brignell’s voice sounds properly mechanical as clean calls mix with industrial heat. Strange warbling creeps as the music pounds harder, eventually melting into nighttime fog. Things then glisten in the dawn, roars explode anew, and a chilly, feverish wind causes your flesh to crawl. “Castlevanian Hunger” plinks as synth works its way in, shrieks batter, and noises scrape flesh. The formula fires up as hell is unleashed, sounds sting ears, and everything crumbles into static. “Powder Blood” brings forceful howls and a mashing pace as Curtis-Brignell coldly observes, “Life circling around the drain,” a feeling I’m sure we’ve all had in the past year. The back end of the track smears with power, repeating that hopeless mantra as everything ends in flames. “In Rivulets, In Torrents” delivers cosmic noises swimming as the synth begins attacking, and sounds hurtle through the cosmos as this instrumental cut dissolves.

The title track slips in with keys icing over and beats pounding as Curtis-Brignell digs deeply as he sings, feeling very New Wave in its approach. Guitars well up as deep sorrow swamps, building to a morbid chorus that feels like it’s operating in mystery, unsure where to grip the walls. As your disorientation increases, the chorus keeps rounding back and chewing at you, anxiety spikes, and the synth stirs before bowing out. “Oceans of Time (Hail to Robert Smith)” has frigid synth and cool beats rushing into a warming pattern that makes it easy for your head to go swimming. Gazey fires and breezy winds increase the emotion as the playing rushes through the clouds, surging into driving rains. “Low Moon Over Carpathia” begins ominously as it creeps through, making cold tributaries snake through your body as the night takes hold again, making you feel claustrophobic as the instrumental heads toward closer “Circle of Flames” where the singing bellows, and the keys dare you to open your eyes. Danger floats as the vocals get stronger and more alluring, shadowy pulsating blasts your guts, and sounds sting and swell. Guitars jar, bringing a heavy post-rock vibe, then everything is swallowed up by strange keys that coldly wakes you up from your dream.

Caïna’s path never has been a straightforward one, and that’s kept the music Curtis-Brignell creates each time out leaving you guessing where he’s going. “Take Me Away From All This Death” is a further push away from black metal and into gothy madness and post-rock frigidity, and it’s a really exciting new chapter. Who knows what state Caïna will be in next time around, but if this record is any indication, there’s absolutely no way to properly predict that journey.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://cainaband.bandcamp.com/album/take-me-away-from-all-this-death