Pittsburgh’s Lady Beast rampage with massive, traditional metal assault on captivating EP ‘Omens’

Heavy metal has the power to inject you with more strength and stamina than you even realized you had, which is probably why a lot of people listen to it when lifting weights. I do, because I noticed when I listen to comedy podcasts, I tend to drop weights when I’m laughing because I sometimes can’t handle things. Anyway, that’s where switching to something heavier comes into play.

Pittsburgh’s traditional power metal force Lady Beast is a favorite around here (meaning this site … well, and in the city), and while I was on vacation, they offered up their killer new EP “Omens,” a nice smaller serving of the charging fun we’ve come to expect from the band. This offering contains four new tracks and a great Rainbow cover, which they knock the fuck out of the park, with every second of this thing getting your blood surging. The band—vocalist Deb Levine, guitarists Andy Ramage and Chris Tritschler, bassist Amy Bianco, drummer Adam Ramage—storms through these nearly 20 minutes that conjure the spirits that metal has courted since the very beginning.

“The Poisoned Path” gets us started by the track punching in and charging up, delivering awesome, steely riffs. “Poison in your eyes, in your veins, in your brain,” Levine howls as the track keeps trudging hard, ending with power busting. “Reaper” rips open with the drums launching and the riffs driving, with the chorus swelling in your chest. “Nowhere to turn, nowhere to go, the reaper knows,” Levine warns, as death closes in, causing the temperatures to rise. The soloing soars, increasing your adrenaline level, and wild cackles drive the song to its end. “Blood for Blood” dawns with riffs churning and a defiant pace with might and muscle, with Levine warning of “payback by violent death.” Revenge bursts from every seam as the guitars bubble, with the leads ripping out into the night. The band then delivers a great cover of Rainbow’s “Kill the King,” with Devine expertly delivering her best take on Ronnie James Dio’s performance, but with her own blades dug in. The rest of the band increases the intensity from the original, with the guitars absolutely catching fire and melting away. “The Fool’s Journey” is the closer, with the band delving deeply into NWOBHM terrain and stomping that ground heavily but tastefully. The vocals drive hard and the bass sludges while the guitars explode and rush toward the stars. The soloing kills while the speed picks up, ending the track in trudging glory.

Lady Beast keep the traditional metal fire burning brightly on “Omens,” a great EP that bridges last year’s “The Vulture’s Amulet” with whatever comes next from them. They’re in full command here on these five tracks, and if you’re already fully in the band’s camp, this will just entrench you even further. This is a really fun blast that’s going to enhance their already stellar live show and make you want to sharper your blades for battle.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Mehenet burn with black metal, magical gust on haunting crusher ‘Ng’Ambu’

The strangest shit happens sometimes, and one of those is taking place right now. I’m getting ready to tell you about the new record from black metal wanderers Mehenet, and there’s an old episode of “Murder She Wrote” on where they’re in New Orleans celebrating Mardi Gras. I had planned an intro completely different than this, but sometimes the universe pulls bizarre tricks, and here we are.

That area also has been ravaged by yet another hurricane, and people again are having to scramble to just survive, and we hope for the best for them, and please donate if you can. We’re here to discuss Mehenet, a force that, according to their bio, has a personal connection and dedication to Quimbanda, the Afro-Brazilian diasporic belief system based around magic, rituals, and offerings. It separated from Macumba at some point, taking on the darker, more black magic aspects of the religion. It also rejected the Catholic and Kardecist spiritual elements that penetrated Macumba. On their haunting second record “Ng’Ambu,” Mehenet works in sounds, samples, and music from the French Quarter, bringing you not only into the band’s home but also to their belief system to which its members have committed. Featuring members of members of Thou, though we do not know which ones, the band—vocalist/lyricist Algol, guitarists Nehushtan and Cernunnos, bassist Matr’el, drummer Acheron—inject their fiery passion and cataclysmic personality into this album that it takes a toll on you mentally, but in a refreshing way.

“Dona Sete” starts with percussion awakening souls, chanting enrapturing, and the guitars slowly dawning, like the sun poking over the horizon. Then the burst happens, and the world is engulfed in fire and lust, speeding with manic jolts and clobbering fury, returning again to chants that send fire down the spine. The vocals mangle as the playing increases the fire, maniacal energies sicken, and the flames are choked out, though the embers still crackle. “Horse to the Earth” is spirited, featuring noises from the streets, accordions dancing, and then the world is absolutely devoured. Slow mauling increases the bruising while the growls splatter, and suddenly it feels like the walls are moving. The playing punishes and sends dangerous surges, leaving you grasping for any modicum of safety.

“In the Garden of Suicide” catapults with black metal fury and a mangling pace that leads you into a darkened mash, with clean calls tingling your brain. The guitars increase the heat while the drama builds, smashing and jostling everything until it finally bows out. “Whom God Did Despise” opens with bells chiming, the drums hypnotizing, and the body slowly emerging, rumbling beneath the earth. About three minutes in, the earth is cracked, the lava spills furiously, and the pace jerks you back and forth. The vocals darken as the shouts pummels with cries of, “I am the image of my father who rides on black wings, who pecks at the rib of Adam, hear the echo of my screams!” The track increases the intensity, devastating and flattening until the final venomous stings. “The Mystery of Nations” closes the album with black metal rivers racing, rage splattering, and things somehow taking an even darker turn. The playing smashes as savage growls break through with Algol howling, “Step out! Look in my eyes, see the stolen fire of your life, torn out! Get out!” The guitars send the mind sprawling, and the animalistic finish sends ghouls and spirits drilling into the crust.

For as many times as bands call their regular shows rituals, Mehenet is a band that actually creates music designed to rouse the spirits and deliver magical offerings. The furious sprawl of black metal on “Ng’Ambu” definitely doesn’t feel like just an album as the music can swim and burst in your brain, making you see ghosts move and energies rattle your skeletal structure. This record is one that hasn’t let me go, refuses to let me settle my brain, and only relents once I agree to align spiritually and follow that black path into the night.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Abomination718/

To buy the album (vinyl to come in 2022), go here: https://gileadmedia.net/products/mehenet-ngambu-cd

Or here (cassette): https://stygianblackhand.bandcamp.com/album/ngambu

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

And here: http://www.stygianblackhand.com/

Meat Mead Metal gets excited about AEW All Out, not feeling all insulted buying a PPV show

This Sunday is AEW’s All Out PPV from Chicago’s Sears Center, where you get free thatched belts and tools at the door. Actually, it’s called something else now. But yeah, this is essentially the biggest AEW show of the year since it’s tied to All In, the show that started AEW, which ROH has to be thrilled about. I don’t feel like explaining that. As noted before, we’re a metal site posing as a wrestling site, and this is one of the key shows of the entire year. The card looks pretty good, but the only match that’s really a can’t miss is the return of CM Punk to pro wrestling. That’s huge. The rest of the card looks like a fun time, and there’s no question this will be an awesome show. AEW doesn’t do bad PPVs, and you never walk away feeling like an asshole for giving them your money. So, let’s look at this show.

Women’s Casino Battle Royal: 21 women enter, and whoever survives gets a shot at the Women’s title somewhere down the road. The entire field has yet to be announced, but Nyla Rose, The Bunny, Big Swole, Penelope Ford, Red Velvet, Hikaru Shida, Tay Conti, Julia Hart, and Diamante all have been confirmed, and there’s a good chance the wild card will be the debuting Ruby Soho, who was ridiculously misused in WWE, which is not big shock.  

Paul Wight vs QT Marshall: This is basically a showcase match for Wight, the former Big Show in WWE. Should be kept short with Wight knocking Marshall the fuck out and winning easily. This also is Wight’s first AEW match, and Marshall is underappreciated by a lot of fans.

Jon Moxley vs Satoshi Kojima: This was supposed to be Hiroshi Tanahashi in the Kojima spot, but he’s needed in Japan, so Mox instead gets the long-time veteran and bread enthusiast. This still should be a really good match as Kojima can still go, and Mox is at the top of his game. By the way, Mox looks a little bulkier these days, which actually suits him really well for his role. Plus, this should just be fun as hell.

Chris Jericho vs MJF: OK, this will be all the real complaining I do. AEW is refreshing for not doing 700 rematches. Except this feud. Fuck. Come on. Their last match was perfect. MJF gets the tapout. The end. But no. We get match 4. If Jericho loses, he never wrestles in AEW again. That’s not happening. If it does, I take this all back. I don’t want to see MJF lose. Not now. Not for a long time. Not until he’s the world champion and loses to whoever comes next. In the meantime, Jericho can give more of his stupid money to shitty Donald Trump.

CM Punk vs Darby Allen: This is the real main event, and who knows? Maybe it’ll go on last. This is Punk’s first match in seven years, and Allen is a great opponent for him. Allen is cut from the same cloth as Punk, and even in defeat, he’s going to come out of this looking great. This is a big test for Punk. Obviously. But, apparently he looked strong in training and during filming of “Heels,” so no question he shines here. And Chicago will melt to the ground for him.

AEW TNT TITLE MATCH Miro vs Eddie Kingston: OK, maybe complaint two. I wish this match actually was happening at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, NY, later in the month with Kingston winning. But I’m not the booker, and probably for good reason. This should be two dudes just beating the shit out of each other, and there’s no doubt it’s going to be really fun. I predict I yell the most during this match.

AEW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH Britt Baker vs Kris Statlander: The outcome feels like a foregone conclusion, which is Baker winning. No other finish makes sense. I don’t want to short change them though, because I think this match is going to be really good. Baker is without question one of the most improved wrestlers in all of wrestling in every category. Statlander returned from a serious knee injury and is finally, no pun intended, getting her legs back under her. Statlander’s time will come, but it’s not now. Thunder Rosa up next for Baker?

AEW WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH The Young Bucks vs The Lucha Bros.: This is going to be contested in a steel cage, which makes sense because the Elite keep interfering in Young Bucks matches, so the cage should prevent that. Or it won’t. If this was WWE, like a million people would get in the cage. Then Lilly the fucking doll would scare Don Callis. OK, this is AEW, and the Bucks, Penta, and Fenix are going to do some insane shit in this match. I’m really curious to see how they use the cage to their advantage. Also, since it’s pin or submission, leaving the cage isn’t an issue, though I hope they keep it within the cage. Fuck. If this match is bad, then we have no hope as a society. Oh wait. We don’t anyway. No, this is going to rule. This could be match of the night.

AEW WORLD TITLE MATCH Kenny Omega vs Christian: This also is a foregone conclusion. Kenny Omega is not losing the title to Christian. Period. The end. And that’s OK. Tony Kahn did a nice booking trick of having Christian go over Omega for the Impact title on the debut episode of Rampage to heat up this match, but come on, man. It’s not time for Omega to lose, not until he faces Hangman Page. He and Christian will have a really good match, but this belt isn’t changing. And that’s the right call. Plus, the rumor is Bryan Danielson debuts on this show, so does he show up afterward to challenge Omega?

Jersey’s Replicant tangle brains, pummel senses with devastating death on ace ‘Malignant Reality’

Not everyone wants to be challenged every time they put on a record, and that’s understandable. There’s something comforting about putting on a record and just letting it devastate you or roll right off you, whatever makes you happiest. But there’s still something awesome about a record that feels like it reaches into your skull and squeezes every drop of blood from your brain.

I tend to veer away from technical death metal because so much of it feels robotic and heartless, like they’re just there to show you how well they play their instruments. But not all bands of that ilk are like that, and New Jersey-bred smashers Replicant are among those who are astonishingly proficient as players but also pour a shitload of fire into their creations. “Malignant Reality” is their second record, and it’s a fucking barnburner. The band—vocalist/guitarist/bassist Mike Gonçalves, guitarist, high-frequency transmissions artist Pete Lloyd, drummer James Applegate—squeezes their madness and brilliant skills into 10 tracks and nearly 49 minutes that ravage your mind and spirit. This is vicious and technically sharpened death metal that feels like a living, breathing beast, gnawing its way into your arteries and bones.

“Caverns of Insipid Reflection” gets things going with guitars stabbing and utter destruction laid out before you. The growls mar as gritty death lurks, and the tech-minded mashing plays with your senses, warping and chugging before brief serenity sets in. It’s temporary as punches are thrown and beastly punishment tries to behead, leading you into “Relinquish the Self” that stirs with zany riffs. The growls punish as the playing twists your mind, and the guitars slice holes into your central nervous system. Your psyche is challenged, the playing tangles, and the finish kills wills. “Excess Womb” snakes in as guitars snarl and the vocals crush, pressing on your chest. The playing suddenly gets spacious before things halt, savagely thrashing out on the other side. “Death Curse” crushes and dizzies as it hits the ground as animalistic wails steam, and a strange aura swims into your mind. The brutality then launches death blows, the growls echo, and sludgy playing thickens the blood in your veins, ending with your body abused. “Coerced to Be” is slurry as the bass slinks, and then the track ignites, sending shrapnel. The track splatters hard, bringing ugly chaos and rubbery playing, bathing in raspy cries, and giving off steam as it works into the belly of the machine.

“Rabid Future” has spacey guitars and then it drops its ton of bricks, obliterating the senses. There is some heavy exploration that can make your mind wander, and then the bass sends chills, strange voices warn of psychosis, and the instrumental track fades out. “Chassis of Deceit” just goes off the rails, whipping its limbs about, sending you hurtling toward brutality. The riffs twist as your guts are wrenched, a strange abyss opens and invites you in, and then the song peels off flesh, burning your nerves before sending off into space. “Dressed in Violence” smashes with an insane pace and growling that increases the steam. The track buries you in grisly hell, the pain increases, and the guitars seem to head off into time. “Ektoskull” is bizarre out front as the growls hammer and the playing squeezes your flesh. A brief halt is a gateway into the track getting deadlier, sinewy guitars flex terrifying muscles, and robotic noises scrape metal, having you begging for mercy as closer “The Ubiquity of Time” dawns, floating in before the waters get choppy. Growls and harsh wails mix as a nightmarish pace sets the tone, and a brief fog entrances before the explosions ripple. Things get weird again as noise fusion wrinkles your brain, all the circuits fire, and a dizzying trance pushes the issue, ending in a heavy dose of trancey madness.

Replicant have no qualms about unleashing death metal that’s equally brutal and stunningly technical, but never in a way that feels robotic or programmed. “Malignant Reality” is an album that require your attention, as you can’t just let your mind drift off, because they will jerk you back with violent intent. Everything here is designed to make your body hurt and your mind ache, and they have no restraint when it comes to those psychologically violent goals.

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

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

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

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

Chrome Waves deliver shadowy darkness, lure with gothy vibes on ashen ‘The Rain Will Cleanse’

Photo by Luke Steffens

Album covers are weird, man. Actually, when it comes to heavy music albums, album art is sometimes a little dull, seeing work from the same artists over and over, often regurgitating similar ideas that seem interchangeable and somewhat unchallenging. It’s not often you can see the record’s art and have a really good idea of what the music is going to sound like, which I guess is a minor quibble.

I already feel stupid starting a piece about a record I really like with my obsession over album art, but here we are. First time I saw the cover of Chrome Waves’ new record “The Rain Will Cleanse,” I felt like I was totally prepared for the murky goth-rock-splashed post-black metal misery that is packed into these six songs. The woman looking dead eyed into your soul as she lies over an orange-splashed autumn evening sky perfectly encapsulates what you’ll hear on this album. This band—vocalist/guitarist James Benson, guitarist/vocalist/synth player Jeff Wilson, bassist Zion Meagher, drummer Dustin Boltjes—and its music has shifted a lot over the years, lessening the black metal pressure and really upping the drab majesties that splash their wonderfully moody music, with this album really sticking into your ribs like a deadly sharp knife jammed there by someone you must have wronged at some point.

“When Night Falls” gets off to a murky start as the melodies thicken and pull you under, and a strong chorus, which is their knack on this record, knocks you for a loop. The fog builds as the guitars gain a foothold, swimming into the back of your mind. “Sometimes” is a tremendous song, the best thing on here, and it feels gothy and massive at first, pummeling with moody singing, with the call of, “Looking for a place to sleep eternally,” ringing out in your brain. The track is infectious, bursting through thick clouds, adding a deeper emotional toll that forces you to pay the price. “Tired” trickles in before the blows are landed, and then dreamy vocals that are a little higher register begin to make their way into the scene. The playing washes through your senses, thickening the veins and rushing through storms. Heavy gaze hammers down, slipping into the darkest region of the sky.

“A Future” is the longest cut here, running 9:09 and starting by increasing the already existing haze laid down by what preceded it. There are sections that are sullen and sorrowful, and the chorus is well executed and powerful, with guitars chiming into a psyche wash. Halfway through, things get mid-tempo before the guitars burst a beam to the earth, the feeling of dusk drops, and the final embers are buried in the soil. “Wind Blown” pushes the melodies hard, the singing is strong again, and the chorus nails you right in the center of your chest. In fact, you might find your heart rushing along with this one, increasing your blood flow, and sustaining the heavy impact this song has, swelling with energy before bowing out. “Aspiring Death” is the closer, and it’s dark and shadowy as the song basks under the stars before shrieks rain down. The heavy cloud cover intensifies as the devastation rings out, the vocals get harsh again, and the anguish multiplies tenfold. Wrenching calls burrow into your psyche, noises waft, and the track disappears into the night sky, dissolving into the cosmic dust.

Chrome Waves have changes pretty drastically from their earlier days and their initial EP, and each time out, they get more interesting and somehow darker. “The Rain Will Cleanse” is the best thing they’ve done so far, and it’s something I have not been able to stop visiting lately. This is a record that tells you a lot of what you need to know on its cover, but once you dig into the music, you might find yourself showing that same distant stare, wondering what’s happened to you.  

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://chromewaves.bandcamp.com/album/the-rain-will-cleanse

Or here (Europe): https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://disorder-recordings.com/

And here: https://avantgardemusic.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Nattmaran use filthy, thrashy heat to summon chaos on fiery ‘The Lurking Evil’

Nattmaran illustration by bvllmetalart http://works.bvllart.com/

As we are a quasi-pro wrestling site, I’ve been amused and annoyed lately at how many fans of that art style cannot seem to just have fun with things that are going on and stop being so judgmental. That applies to me, too, because I can’t get on board with a fake doll winking. That can spill over into heavy music as well where obsession over styles and presentation sometimes strips away the good times.

On that note, Nattmaran manage to combine great skills with a penchant for creating songs that make your blood boil, and it took members from three different countries in order to make this happen. The band’s debut full-length “The Lurking Evil” is arriving, and it’s as forceful as and a lot more fun than the hell thunderstorm currently blistering my house. The band’s members—vocalist Yogga Beges and guitarist/bassist Michael Lang, who also played in Unholy Tenebris, and drummer Koji Sawada, who was recruited by the duo—are spread out over Indonesia, Sweden, and Japan, but the way they make so much black thrash ’n roll racket, you’d think they were all in the same room, absolutely lighting up everything on front of them. It’s rowdy, raucous, and a tremendously good time, a record that makes it feel like dangerous forces are slashing at you, waiting to spill your blood.

“Beauty in Chaos” is a barn burner of a starter, ripping in with speed and power, smashing with punk-fueled mashing that gallops hard and right into “Runaway” that maintains that intensity and even manages to turn it up higher. The vocals shred as punches are absorbed on the chorus that is catchy is fuck. Chaotic and impossible to ignore, that track ends in a fiery crash. “Descending Through the Darkness” has guitars chugging as the storm cloud ignites, saturating the ground. Fiery vocals tear with mashing guitars, trampling in chaos as the animal bows out. “Imprisoned” basically is a riffs race when it starts as fiery, shrieky howls incinerate, the playing knocks loose teeth, and the power trudges, rubbing your face in the blood as everything ends in vicious fashion. “Die You Will” isn’t a warning, it’s a promise as melodic leads sweep you up, and then abrasion works to drive blood to the surface. Great soloing takes over and causes your adrenaline to rage, the shrieks peel flesh, and the back end burns off. “Die By My Bullets” is a punk thrash explosion as the band mashes hard and fast, and the simple chorus, where the title is violently recited, should put a dent in your chest. The track boils as the leads keep hammering, melting faces and spraying shrapnel along the way.

“Necromancy” is bustling and heavy, rampaging through with harsh vocals and guitars utterly scorching. Strange evil lurks within your bloodstream as the vocals slash, and the final blows leave you hurting all over. “Hellbound” charges and is purely relentless and rowdy with the vocals slashing through metal. Speedy and energetic, the track is one of those that’ll make you drive faster, so make sure the cops aren’t around. Bastards. Anyway, “Prey For Redemption” feels a little different, though it’s still volatile. This one delves into some NWOBHM lure, adding a cool blast of fire from the past, shredding your mental faculties, and suddenly heating up again as the back end absolutely melts. “There’s Nothing You Can See” unleashes riffs that have nothing but ill intent, insulting you and adding salt to your already weeping wounds. The growls are downright nasty, the guitars hit the gas pedal and never look back, and the final servings of thrash go down quite hard. “When the Night is Mine” ends things with an energetic gust, mangling riffs, and powerful vocals that squeeze the marrow from your bones. The band keeps adding new blasts, the terror thickens, and then everything fades out, taking your sanity with it.

Nattmaran had to find maniacs from all over the globe in order to make this madness work, and it does to ridiculous proportions on “The Lurking Evil.” There are shreds torn from every era of metal’s storied history on this thing, almost as if they’ve set up a stinking, beer-soaked shrine to the sounds that made us all what we are. If you can finish this record and not feel your blood screaming in your veins, perhaps heavy music has finally passed you by.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://nattmaranmetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-lurking-evil-2

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

Modern Rites’ debut recording ‘Monuments’ pairs black metal, industrial, basks in bleak woes

Artists making music or any type of art together typically is driven from a state of respect for one another’s skills, otherwise what’s the point of doing something together? That’s not to suggest every band lives peacefully with everyone getting along, because that’s not the case at all. But you should at least recognize the artists surrounding you are worthy of your presence and the music’s power.

In the case of new industrial-flavored black metal band Modern Rites, the whole reason the project exists in the first place is the two people involved—Jonny Warren of Kuyashii (vocals, bass, rhythm guitar, synth) and Berg of Aara (guitars)—appreciated each other’s skills and wanted to put something together that highlighted what they do so well. That comes with “Monuments,” the duo’s first record, an album that’s heavily moving in the shadows and delivers driving murk and black metal grit. Lyrically, the band delves into bleak aspects of humanity including issues dealing with psychology, isolation, conflict, and the shadow self, so it’s also harrowing from a content standpoint.

“Intro” is a murky, cloudy intro piece, letting beams crack through the sky, leading into “Vigilance Eternal” that unloads heavy black metal riffs and shrieks that rumble the earth. Strong melodies get into your blood, and the chorus just melts, delivering majestic energy, pummeling into oblivion. “Black Wolf” is thrashy and dark as it greets you with the shrieks opening wounds and the pace chugging. The guitars darken and sicken as the drama hits a fevered pitch, leading into playing that is both spacious and sinister, simmering and ripping as the track tears away into the void. “Unburdened” ramps up right away, charging through the gates as the riffs gush melody. The drums pelt as Warren’s growls tear into time, doing ample bodily damage. An atmospheric moan causes your head to soar, the leads crash through clouds, and a heavy echo takes hold, swallowing everything into darkness.

“Self Synthesis” fades in, letting the temperature rise before the walls are torn down. The drums punish as the playing lands shots, and a hypnotic spread spills into your mid-section, tornadic gushing elbows into the shadows, and the growls rush as the track smashes to its end. “Nothing Left To Give” also bleeds in before opening the raging waves, and industrial waves blacken and mix with molten shrieks, leaving your nerves tested. Things stay heavy as noises ring in your ears, the playing punishes, and the vocals hit a weird hiss. The final moments get thrashy and odd, laying waste until it ends abruptly. “Machine Paradox” is the closer, basking in drab chills, picking up in earnest as the guitars tangle. The vocals smash as the melodies make the room spin, washing into the stratosphere and infusing the sounds with air. The pace steamrolls, barreling into a thick synth gaze that lifts you and deposits you into the clouds.

Modern Rites find a fresh and original way to meld black metal might and industrial sootiness, but never at the expense of the competing sounds. “Monuments” is a record that will sneak up from behind and set in its hooks if you’re not careful, and the seven tracks here always find ways to be spellbinding. This is a fun, soot-covered record that makes you feel filthier than you did before you took in on by the horns, and hopefully we’ll hear from these two as a duo again.

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

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/

Grandeur fuel black metal with bleeding, wholly gushing heart on blazing debut EP ‘Aurea Aetas’

Black metal is a wonderfully fluid thing, an art form that has a spine and a center for sure, but over time, it has grown so many different parts, it’s often unrecognizable in its original form. It’s always weird to see its fan cement their ragged boots into the ground and protest any time a band tries to take chances or expand its borders like they have any ownership. Its ability to shapeshift is why it thrives still.

Helmed by lone artist Erech, Grandeur is a black metal experience that maintains many of the tenets of the style but also injects human passion, steaming intensity, and a hemorrhaging heart that makes the project’s first EP “Aurea Aetas” such a stimulating listen. Over four tracks and nearly 18 minutes, Erech (he also plays in other bands including Ancient Mastery, Carathis, and the very weird Golden Blood) unleashes a savage spirit and a destructive force that’s such a great time to experience but that also could grab you and drag you under the surface before you even know what struck you.

“I: Acatalepsia” starts with eerie synth draining before a black metal burst strikes, and wild shrieks swarm and jeopardize your safety. The track pummels while melody collects, riffs swim in heavy storming, and your blood rushes as the playing ends with force. “II: Exordium” has guitars echoing before the levee breaks and the playing rips at your guts, paving the way for a tidal wave of melodies to strike. The guitars continue their ascent before the temperature cools off significantly, and then everything charges again. The shrieks tears through sanity, and the final moments deliver a coffin blow that knocks you out. “III: Ultimum” delivers encircling riffs and a pace that blasts through rock, with the urgency spiking while the vocals hammer. The playing chugs and gives off steam, the fury is wrecking to your intestines, and the melody splatters, getting some of that filth in your mouth. “IV: Aurea Aetas” closes the collection by igniting right away as the shrieks are abrasive, and the riffs sound like they’re boiling in tar. A brief respite for the temperature to drop sets in, but then things soar anew, with the guitars galloping and driving. Somehow Erech finds an avenue for making things even more raucous, passionate playing floods the senses, and the riffs stir one final time, bringing things to an abrupt end.

Grandeur’s promising start with this EP proves that black metal still has urgency and power, as long as it’s in the right hands. “Aurea Aetas” is a mini burst of clobbering madness, a release that doesn’t quite make it to 18 minutes but still manages to leave heavy markings. This is just the beginning for this band, and the future is bound to be nasty.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://haloofflies.bandcamp.com/album/aurea-aetas

Or here: https://absolutecontemptrecords.bandcamp.com/album/aurea-aeta

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

And here: https://absolutecontemptrecords.bandcamp.com/

Woman Is the Earth ravage with spacious black metal chaos on spirit-surging ‘Dust of Forever’

Saying music is personal sounds like the most obvious thing ever, but there are some artists and creations that glimmer with that idea more than others. Hearing a record that feels like it takes you right into the guts of its creator is not something you encounter every day, but when you do, prepare to be knocked backward because you’re walking rarified terrain.

South Dakota black metal band Woman Is the Earth is one of those artists for me, as each time they release new music, I feel like they reveal added layers of their raging spirits. “Dust of Forever,” their new and fifth record, is another great beast unleashed upon the world, this one a little different than the creatures that preceded it.  Here, the band—vocalist/guitarist Jarrod Hattervig, guitarist/bass effects Andy Martin, drummer/backing vocalist Jon Martin—delve deeper into post-black metal storms, letting the ground get saturated, the clouds thicken, and the majesty of nature have its way and ravage your mind. It’s such an immersive experience, a force that is impossible to fight against, so you might as well follow the path it is blazing before you.

“Emerald Ash” opens as a total eruption, feeling like a volcanic spurt from your heart as wild howls hammer you, and incredible energy collects as the guitars gain steam. Synth floods as you notice your pulse in your wrist, while excitement spirals amid harsh shrieks, spiraling riffs, and a final burst that leaves you gasping for air. “Crystal Tomb” wrenches with anguished cries and the drums punching holes in brick walls, with the guitars lathering and helping you bask in serotonin. Great melodies rage like a river, the guitars swell, and the shrieks hammer your skull as everything mounts a final assault, firing out into the night. “Through a Beating Heart” ruptures, feeling like signals being sent from a raw heart as gruff vocals crash right into cascading guitars. Things turn darker and sinister, powering up as the energy slays, the power turns into cold waters, and psychedelic shimmering rises, melting right into the mouth of “Breath of a Dying Star” that just rips right off the bat. Emotional leads rule the way, and beastly carnage flexes its muscles, with the melodies lathering yet continually tearing things apart. The playing rumbles in your guts, the sinew is torn apart, and everything settles into a sound field with ash raining down on your face.

“Spiritual Rot” unleashes guitars that are frying and a pulsating pace that is exhilarating and pure. The growls rush as the track takes on more steam, and then a halt lets you catch your breath before the melodies crush all over again, the power catapults, and the beams make their way into the clouds. “The Rope Gets Tighter” brings stinging guitars and guttural growls that slice into your belly, pulling out your insides. At times, things are disorienting, while at others, there is a moody energy that glazes and intoxicates. The center of the song explodes as shrieks slaughter, raining down blood and bone while jolting shouts leave bruising, and things fire up all over, jamming in the dagger at the end. “Departure” is an instrumental piece with cold, sorrowful melodies creating a fog, pushing into closer “Face of Snakes” that develops like a tornado chewing the ground. The shrieks strike as a stirring assault gets heavier and meaner, eating away at your senses, feeling like it’s burning in your chest. Gut-busting wails hammer home the message, the playing amps up the energy, and the track is sucked out into the cosmos, lurking forever in the dark.

Woman Is the Earth put so much of themselves, such a generous portion of their spirits into their music, that you can’t help but feel galactically aligned with them somehow after their music comes to an end. “Dust of Forever” continues their amazing run of records that are as much mental experiences as they are collections of charging music, though this one has some twists and turns that their other albums do not. This is both ferocious and sensitive, fiery and vulnerable, an album that feels like a living, breathing being taking up residence in your chest.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://initrecords.bandcamp.com/album/dust-of-forever

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Spirit Adrift burst with strength, metallic power on ‘Forge Your Future’

Photo by Valerie Littlejohn

We’ve all seen and been through some shit the last year and a half, and there are very few of us who have not been impacted in some meaningful way. One of the hardest parts of that has been the inability to see people for so long, the limited chances to do the things we love, and just the mystery surrounding safety and whether getting back to something of a normal routine is a good idea.

Building on some of those ideas of living in uncertain times and trying to find strength and perseverance, classic metal warriors Spirit Adrift return just when we need them most with killer three-track EP “Forge Your Future,” their first exclusively for Century Media after years with 20 Buck Spin. These tracks lift you up and make your adrenaline surge in the best way possible as they capture you with the undeniable power of heavy metal and help you find some level of power, even when it’s tough to do so. Nate Garrett’s vocals continue to get even better with each release, and his songwriting chops and fiery guitar work are getting further chiseled, while longtime drummer Marcus Bryant keeps the power humming, driving energy through your bones. Preston Bryant added wizard-like synth work to these songs, supplying a neat spacey texture, and bassist Sonny DeCarlo will join the band on the road to help present these killer songs.      

The title track gets things going with clean lines and then punches open with some great guitar work and the verses driving the emotion. “I think of every choice that I have ever made, and every road that led to them,” Garrett commands on the bridge, before powering on the chorus, wailing, “I saw the future and it set me free, the stars aligned and cleared the way.” It’s impossible to not get this damn thing stuck in your head. Later, searing soloing gets your blood rushing anew, group “oh-oh” calls instill classic metal spirit, and the track trickles out into a stream of energy. “Wake Up” is another great one, starting with riffs chugging and metal’s deep roots surfacing. The verses punch, the melody is overwhelming in a good way, and the chorus is another scorcher that’ll be massive live. “Wake up, who don’t you open your eyes? Wake up, why don’t you open you mind?” Garrett implores, easily sticking to your ribs. The track gets more and more adventurous, digging back into that old Ozzy/Dio terrain, but in a way that honors their legacy and builds it into the future. Just an awesome song. “Invisible Enemy” is the closer, starting with drums blasting and building its tempo with alluring force. The track is big and defiant, with Garrett warning, “The world will see your fate, there will be no escape,” over the brimming chorus. Everything keeps churning until a wave of serenity washes over, with the guitars cooling and coating with ice. Things pick up again with the band charging and the fires blazing, and alien synth joins the mix at the end, slipping out into strange cosmos.

This might just be a steppingstone EP to Spirit Adrift’s next full-length, the title of which obviously will start with a G, but “Forge Your Future” is a vital release with some of the band’s best work. Feel like we say that every time out, but Spirit Adrift is one of those rare bands that manages to improve and refine with each record, growing stronger and solidifying the sinew. This is a great three-track collection, one that’ll stick inside your head long after it ends.   

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

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

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