PICK OF THE WEEK: Lantern chew into death metal’s gross corpse on career highlight ‘Dimensions’

Obviously, this is also a pro wrestling site, and with the global pandemic and matches taking place with mostly no fans, there haven’t been a lot of great battles and huge moments to embrace and etch into 2020’s history. Luckily, this also happens to be a metal site, and we haven’t had that issue as there have been plenty of great records in the first half of the year to distract us.

Finnish death metal squadron Lantern has been building their resume for the past 12 years and their first two full-lengths, and they’ve left us with some devastating shit. But all of that has led to their thunderous third record “Dimensions” that’s coming our way physically next Friday (you can hear it digitally today, and that link’s below), and it’s their crowning achievement so far. I say so far because I’m not capping their potential whatsoever, but this album is the measuring stick at the moment for them, and this record is a rushing, strange, pulverizing document that’s one of the best death metal records of the year so far. The band—vocalist Necrophilos, guitarist St. Belial, guitarist/bassist Cruciatus, drummer J. Poussu—unearths all they have on this six-track, nearly 39-minute album that’s ideally portioned and never stops being utterly compelling.

“Strange Nebula” begins trucking right away, piling into crunchy, thrashy playing while Necrophilos’ trademark throaty growls begins to pool blood. “Unleashed from the source, the origin of chaos and death!” he howls while the chorus swoops in where he warns,” Beware the sky!” Finger-tapped guitars usher in a new darkness as the soloing explodes, bones are turned to dust, and the back-end trudges right into the mouth of hell. “Beings” has guitars hanging like a storm as gruff shouts and wrenching guitars team up. A humid heaviness makes its presence felt while  Necrophilos declares, “You are one with them!” as the track drains into hellish waters and right into “Portraits” where the tone grows eerier, and  Necrophilos gruffly sings, “Three candles light the way down these damp and stone-clad stairs.” Beyond are portraits that rob you of your sanity as you try to deny what you’ve seen as your trip succumbs to noise.

“Cauldron of Souls” lights up and goes into a furious pace right away while growls are spat out, and the riffs entangle you. A flurry of playing turns the room in a million directions while the growls pelt down on your flesh, and the track ends in decimation. “Shrine of Revelation” starts in a destructive manner while vicious howls lash at you, and the pace continually adds more fire to its repertoire. Solid soloing emerges and rides through the dark, bringing with it violence and melody that continue unloading until finally subsides. Closer “Monolith Abyssal Dimensions” is a beast at 14:17, yet it doesn’t feel half that long. Dark tunneling gets us into the body of the track where ungodly growls and carving playing brings you deeper into the abyss, while a thrashy assault leads to a blast of weirdness. That works with the wilting temperatures as things slowly work back into punishing order, as warm guitars add a level of steaminess. Drums blast and rattle the walls while delirious playing and Necrophilos’ warning that, “Kingdoms, mountains, and times succumb to the dark,” ushers this into a psychedelic, mind-warping finish.

Lantern still feel like an unheralded band in modern death metal, and that should change with “Dimensions,” a record that takes the logical steps forward and never relents on the punishment. At the same time, there is imagination and risk taking combined, making their sound even fresher than before and one that necessitates repeat listens just to absorb it all. This should go down as one of the year’s best-remembered death metal records in a field of strong contenders.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/lantern666

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

To hear the album, go here: https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/dimensions

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

Death destroyers Diabolic Oath unload infernal blackness on massive ‘Profane Death Exodus’

Having a ton of things piled up on you at one time can be a madness accelerator, making your head feel like it weighs a ton and keeping your anxiety running on high. There has been a lot of that this year, and for me, work is running a million miles per hour with hardly a breath to take, so it can seem like there’s an all-out assault on your brain.

Taking on “Profane Death Exodus,” the debut full-length from Pacific Northwest-based doom/death machine Diabolic Oath, can feel demanding and overwhelming during its annihilating run time. There is so much going on, such massive bludgeoning, that it can give you a touch of panic as you try to keep pace with everything that’s going on. This seven-track, nearly 39-minute destroyer has the band—(and this is what they list on their Bandcamp page, so fucking buckle in) The Temple – Six Pillars of Profane Pestilence (likely guitars), Ominous Void – Abysmal Lows of Unknown Origin (has to be bass), and Chthonian Conqueror – Exalted Purveyor of Unholy Thunder (going with drums here)—all applying their hellish voices to the mix, piling on for a record and experience that’s unrelenting and may need a few visits for you to peel back each layer.

“Towards Exalted Coronation” opens the record with guitars churning and growls lurching across the floor, leaving oil streaks. Menacing death reaches vile levels as the guitars catch fire and ignite, wild howls charge, and the track ends in chaos, running into “Immaculate Conjuration of Infernal Recrudescence” where the stomps and coarse wails greet you with fists swinging. The track slithers along as the growls sicken, while dark guitars collect and swirl, growls engorge, and everything comes to a bloody end. “Morbid Ekstasis” explodes as the guitars well up, leading to a massive assault that aims to suffocate. Death growls collect as the guitars splatter, while death clouds hang overhead and threaten your lung capacity as the track practically tears out its guts.

“Emundationem Flammae” is an infernal blast furnace as growls and shrieks unite, and grossness clobbers you wholly. The center crumbles as a stampede rushes through, while the fury turns into a thrashy assault that boils in its own juices. From there, the bass clobbers, creating death spirals that end up in mystical oblivion. “Apocryphal Manifestations” moves slowly through blunt, yet weird terrains, as death snarls curl around the corners, and calculated playing aims to make you absorb each blow. The tempo gets faster as terrifying shrieks rain down, leaving the bottom end to hammer the earth. “Opening the Gates to Blasphemic Domination” simmers in strange riffs while nightmarish growls emerge from molten pools, and bones are crunched and left for dead. The playing mashes as the shrieks peel back cuticles, finally retreating back into the furnace for good. Closer “Chalice of Conquering Blood” is the longest track, running a healthy 10:23 and beginning with waters trickling and doom ghouls crawling out of the mess. Growls level you as thunderous death and brutal punishment are handed out generously, and disease rots in the song’s belly. Bloody clashing meets pulverizing drums as gothy synth washes in, and the track disappears into alien clouds.

There’s a lot to like but also fear with Diabolic Oath’s debut from the outright soul-tarnishing death to the sooty doom in which it steps liberally. “Profane Death Exodus” is a deadly first full salvo for a band that’s still early in their development but have their weapons sharpened quite bluntly to take the longest possible time to open flesh. This is terrifying, unforgiving blackness that will leave your body bruised inside and out.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/diabolic-oath-profane-death-exodus

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

Japanese doom legends Boris blast daggers into convention with thrashing, pummeling ‘NO’

No one can go to live shows right now, unless you’re an asshole and go to country music shows with no mask on and mass together like nothing’s happening. Really feels like that whole thing set us back a while. Traveling the world is not a thing we can do right now, and we are forced inside our borders, which can be maddening depending on how the population is acting (in the U.S, it’s not good).

Japanese doom noise legends Boris have made the most of this time as they considered the social constructs we’ve come to accept and the machination built around our lives without our opinions being regarded. That same can happen in music as artists get trapped into corners, but not Boris. They’ve lashed back with a new album “NO” that arrives as a self-release and is available digitally Friday, and it’s the sound of this band destroying their boundaries and digging back into what makes them who they are. These 11 tracks spread over 40 minutes are a shock to the system, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to their more melodic sound the past decade. These tracks are as heavy and molten as anything in their massive catalog, and it sounds like cutting free the chains and just churning out what moves them. It’s a pleasantly surprising, jarring listen by Boris—Takeshi (vocals, bass, guitars), Wata (vocals, guitars, echo effects), and Atsuo (vocals, drums, electronics)—a band that sounds like they’re here to blaze a new path and follow that into the future.

“Genesis” starts the record with sludgy pounding and an ominous tone as the music wallows in the grime. Strange noises accompany the menace as the pace mashes away, and the surprising heaviness clobbers you. The guitars light up, the drums hammer, and a calculated piece ends this muddy instrumental. “Anti-Gone” smashes open with doomy hell as it spits and punishes. Wailed singing and slashing playing open wounds as feral screams sit behind, and the track aims headlong into a noise storm. “Non Blood Lore” rips apart as strong vocals pound away, and a jolt of punk speed arrives. There are group calls over the chorus while the singing soars, and wailed howls mix with the thrashy ending. “Temple of Hatred” revels in drone before a speedy, frantic pace explodes, and madness overtakes everything. Shrieks gasp as a furious cloud lowers and brings with it agitated static. “鏡 -Zerkalo-” is a doomy storm with screamed vocals and a lurching underbelly. The track is mauling and vitriolic as damaged guitars chew away, while shrieks rain down, growls simmer, and the track ends in a blaze.

“HxCxHxC -Parforation Line-” glimmers before a burst of rays lights up the sky, and the vocals call out. A shimmery cascade sends sparks into the air as gas is poured onto the fire, and the track bleeds into oblivion. “キキノウエ -Kiki no Ue-” opens with thunderous drums that feel like they’re decimating the earth, while lives are just crushed. Sooty bass pummels as the vocals get sickening, while the cries of, “Can’t get away,” spiral out. “Lust” has an electric storm hammering as the track trucks and thrashes, landing noise-infested gut punches. The song goes right for the jugular, feeling impossibly heavy before fading into oblivion. “Fundamental Error” is a cover of Japanese hardcore legends Gudon, and it features guitarist Katsumi who played in bands including Outo and City Indian and now is in Solmania. It’s a pummeling take where the vocals spit nails, the group calls jolt, and the volcanic pace absolutely wrecks shit. “Loveless” starts as an icy one, a change of pace where leads ignite before everything is swallowed into insanity. Wild howls super charge as the guitars work practically blinds you, and the pace blisters. Muddy chaos cakes your veins before the track comes to a crashing end. “Interlude” ends things by acting as a cool down as noises mixes with the atmosphere, Wata’s chilling calls float, and magical energy fills each cell in your body.

Boris sound like a band totally recharged, not that they really needed it, on this stunning record “NO.” I was blown away from my first listen because the band absolutely lets everything they have hang out there and boil in their own juices. Boris always find a way to change things up with each record, but this is one of the most surprising, satisfying albums of their storied run.

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

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

Austin metal maulers Skeleton inject your brain with chaotic energy with devastating debut

Photo by Danieal DiDomenico

Fun. Hey, remember that stuff? We used to have that shit all the time before 2020 struck and turned our lives into the utter pit of misery. But it’s still kind of out there in places if you look really hard, and once you find it, it turns out it’s still kind of magical and powerful.

Well, I say all of that with the arrival of Skeleton’s self-titled debut record, an 11-track, 28-minute smasher that’s just a blast from wall to wall. The Austin-based band actually have based a lot of their music in bleak, scorched-earth madness that reaps the blood, but holy shit if their stew of black metal, punk, and thrash isn’t an absolute blast to hear. Yeah, it’s downright serious and skull mashing, and you’ll feel like you’ve been through a war once it’s over. But your blood will rush the entire time the band—drummer/vocalist Victor Skeleton, guitarists David Skeleton and Alex Guzman, bassist Cody Combs—has you in its clutches, sending you into a pit of black chaos.

The title track, and band theme, kicks off the album and just rushes by as raw crushing rips out of the seams and the black howls land punches. Then we’re in to “Mark of Death” that has drums rustling and strong riffs galloping heavily while the raspy growls grab you around the throat. The chorus is menacing, and the back ends send fiery jolts. “The Sword” has the drums rushing the gates as thrashy darkness throttles you while we dash into the intimidating shadows. The riffs then wrap around as the burning punishment leaves ugly scars. “T.O.A.D.” has electrifying riffs that spill the blood as things get even nastier. The playing is melodic and bustling, stomping everywhere and leaving squashed guts behind. “Ring of Fire” is not the Johnny Cash song as it’s deadlier. Riffs crunch as the growls scrape along, while a humid classic metal vibe rolls in as Victor howls about “my ring of fire, burn!” as the track blasts out.

“At War” has riffs that tear the lid off the thing while Victor vows, “I’m not afraid to die,” as the track hits a flurry of speed. The pace chugs while the playing splatters, with the drums opening up wounds toward the end. “Taste of Blood” smothers you and drives right into the heart of battle while Victor demands, “Taste the blood of victory!” The playing mashes bones as cool leads burn over top and come to a maniacal finish. “Victory” is a quick 44-second interlude that glazes over, and that leads into “A Far Away Land” that opens in the throes of adventure. The coarse vocals send shockwaves as the playing takes on a devastating punk rock vibe. “Turned to Stone” has a huge start that heads into blazing riffs and wild cries. The track burns the hair off your arms as the guitar work delivers anguish, and the noise finally erodes. “Catacombs” is the longest track of the bunch at 4:45, and it closes the record, starting with eerie guitars and chilling air. Suddenly, a blinding display roars hard, turning everything to dust with the drums punching your ribs. The power dissolves into echoes before reopening with colorful chaos and everything burning its final drops of fuel.

Skeleton’s debut is one hell of a fun burst of black metal, thrash, and punk that flies by so fast, you won’t know what the hell hit you. It’s 28 minutes of madness that get your juices flowing, blacken your eyes, and make you appreciate the punishment. This is as fitting a time as any for music that just kicks your ass and lets you have a violent good time, and Skeleton more than delivers.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Skeleton-1425382974369527

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Adzes address environmental, human issues on ‘No One Wants to Speak About It’

There’s a lot of music out there right now that’s lashing back against the greater globe of tyrannical authority, which makes a lot of sense since social uprisings of late finally seem to have woken up to what’s going on and how we’re under the wheels. But truth is, these themes always have been out there, especially in heavy music circles, so what we’re seeing is a timely resurgence.

Musician Forest Bohrer is fighting the good battle against issues such as human and environmental issues as well as the thrust of capitalism that has crushed so many, and he’s doing so with his project Adzes, whose debut full-length “No One Wants to Speak About It” is arriving on the physical plane. His music combines elements of black metal, punk, noise, doom, hardcore, and plenty of other heavy flavors, and the eight tracks that stretch over about 50 minutes might be aligned thematically, but musically it’s a different story. Bohrer smashes through boundaries as he puts together these songs, splashing in every influence at his disposal, which makes for a rich, diverse listen. That also makes this music ripe for finding wide-ranging audiences, as there really is something for most ears, but at the heart are the messages, which stand rigid and firm, refusing to waver.

“Divide” opens the record and is the longest track here by a second. Dark guitars pour in before sludgy pounding loosens bricks, and Bohrer’s deep clean singing glazes over. Then that turns to guttural growls while the leads burn to life, and the ferocity brings thicker shadows. Roars punish as the pace clobbers, loading fuel on to the fire as the song reaches its climax. “Jesus Built My Death Squads” (obviously a nod toward Ministry from the title) has noise hanging in the air and the drumming opening up, while the pace remains calculated throughout. Guitars slosh while the growls slither, and a heavy low end brings added grime. Guitars haunt over an agitated burn while the track rings out. The title track has tricky guitars and drums blasting, erupting into a rage. Parts of this have a hardcore bend to them, as the bass recoils and strikes, and everything races hard again. The playing hammers ribs as the blazes return, bringing a churning conclusion. “415” has noise fluttering and the bass landing blows while a slow-driving hell is achieved. Into the furnace we go as shrieks crush, and a monstrous trail is carved, ending in noise-infested brutality.

“Demon-Haunted” has a feedback wave before sludgy doom races through the doors, and an animalistic pace lands blows. The ground is thick with tar as madness spreads its wings, and the guitars open up and sizzle. Raspy wails accompany the heaviness while the guitar work is like lemon juice in a wound, leaving you wincing as static spits jolts, and the track ends with a slowly increasing volume shock. “Overcome” is an instrumental piece woven together with clips about the melting Arctic and the disastrous climate situation too many have ignored for too long. The playing proves a murky, somber backing to this reality that’s teetering way too close to too late. “Loss” sits apart from the rest of the tracks as it simmers more in 90s college rock territory, which warms my heart. Clean vocals warble as synth warms the waters, and later on, guitar squall collects and sends energy shots that wrap around the lower-end vocals. The final moments charge up, with the guitars stabbing out in the end. Closer “I Won’t Last Forever” begins as warm air hangs overhead as the playing slowly mashes as guitars create heat lightning. The music maintains a punchy feel while the bass simmers and gets pretty proggy, while pace winds down and bleeds out into the ground.

Bohrer’s first full-length record under the Adzes banner achieves a lot of things from creating a diverse collection of heaviness to delivering pertinent messages that are vital and ever so timely. “No One Wants to Speak About It” also is a pretty spot-on title, though perhaps some of those messages are starting to sink into more people as we experience an astonishing awakening. Music like Adzes’ provides the perfect fuel for our torches as we try to battle back against generations of bullshit and work to achieve some personal catharsis along the way.

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

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

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

Fellwarden deliver black metal visions with vast, huge wonders on icy ‘Wreathed in Mourncloud’

Despite how many metal fans view underground music, some of it is designed for the big screen, a place where it can take advantage of its hugeness and be able to spread its reach as far as it can go. Yeah, it’s also fun to dwell in the basement amid dripping pipes where ugliness reigns, and I love that ambiance as well. But that just doesn’t work for every band.

Fellwarden is the type of band whose music deserves to be heard in surround sound, in a fucking theater if you can, with every sonic advantage as its beck and call. Their second record “Wreathed in Mourncloud” certainly falls in that category as it is utterly massive sounding, packed with emotion, melody, and diverse sounds that up the ante from their debut “Oathbearer.” What started as a studio-only project for Fen frontman The Watcher has turned into a cinematic treasure, as he and drummer Havenless (also of Fen) travel through six massive songs in about an hour, each of which grips you from the start and doesn’t let go until that individual journey has ended. If you’re here because you’re a Fen fan, you’ll certainly feel right at home, but there’s so much more going on that it can be overwhelming. We recommend a dedicated sitting to absorb this thing with your attention undivided.

“Pathmaker” starts the record with clean guitars trickling before the song bursts, and rousing singing from the Watcher commands the scene. The rushing essence and mystical strangeness gets inside of you, letting the playing churn and fill your chest with wonder. The pace then charges while the synth provides orchestral instrumentation, and the track crumbles to its end. “Scafell’s Blight” is a gigantic gust as the track spits nails, and the shrieks bring total harshness. The pace surges forward and floods the scene with emotion before respite arrives with a serene section complete with strummed guitars and eerie whispers. Later on, the walls break down and the growls scrape anew while foggy moodiness fills the skies, the playing cascades hard, and clean calls lead the song to its finish. “A Premonition” is a transitional instrumental track to bridge to the record’s second half, and a synth haze and choral calls make it feel like a dewy morning at the castle grounds with regality at its highest point.

The title track has a dark, mournful start before growls rush, and the playing lands haymakers. That violence eventually leads way to some calmer waters and hearty singing you practically can sink your teeth into. That keeps spilling into devastation as the growls wail away, and the drums crumble the earth. Synth sheets coat faces while the vocals trade off from vile shrieks and airy singing. “An Elder Reckoning” runs a healthy 11:42 and has a massive start with slow mauling and smothering growls. Clean singing swells on the chorus, while a tidal wave of riffs arrives, and then things speed up suddenly. Shrieks pummel through this burst before synth rolls in and delivers a second downpour, and the track trudges over prone bodies. Heartfelt singing and giant crescendo signal the end and cause your heart to pump heavily while everything disappears into mist. “Upon Stone” is the 12:38 closer, and it lets piano drip as the ambiance slowly develops, while clean calls bellow. The track then rips itself apart as the guitar work carves a path, and the growls leave heavy wounds. The playing glimmers as dark tidings are near, and the path continues to build massive new worlds. Things halt as pianos emerge again, and emotional singing pumps, leading to the final section of the song, where a deep gaze unfurls. That fires up and drives stakes, bursting into violent and salty waves, ending the record on a delirious high.

Everything on Fellwarden’s second record is bigger, more emotional, and doing whatever is in its power to reach into the majesty of the stars. “Wreathed in Mourncloud” sounds like something that would scratch at sadness and misery, and there certainly is darkness here, but the bulk of this record just makes your blood surge through your veins. This in a huge, great-sounding record that captures the beauty and glory of the band’s surroundings translated into music.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://store.eisenton.de/en/

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

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/