Aphonic Threnody bring sorrow, slithering doom, death on dour, mood crusher ‘The Great Hatred’

Time is nigh for music that is dreary and depressing as daylight slowly is drained from our days, and the onset of colder temperatures and seasonal disorders begin to manifest themselves. There’s nothing wrong with embracing those darker elements, because ignoring their existence is a work of fiction, so by all means, wallow in the pain.

Helping you along the way is Aphonic Threnody and their strong new record “The Great Hatred,” a title that should clue you in that storms and trouble are coming. Over six monster tracks and about 57 minutes, the band delivers sordid doom, gothic tendencies, and even some death harshness to bring you along the anguished passages laid out before you. The band—vocalist/bassist/guitarist/keyboard player Juan Escobar C and guitarist Riccardo Veronese—takes you on a journey through your mind, your suffering, and whatever frustrations have mounted so you can face them, identify them, and relate to their messages. We’re living in as dark of times as we’ve had in a long time, so let this wash over you and fill up your wounds with salty streams.

“Locura” starts lurching as C’s vocals spread, and the track gets sludgy and edgy. Keys swell as the singing turns clean, as a gothy feel makes the room rather chilly. The playing keeps pounding away as chills fill your bones, and the guitar work floods the scene, working toward melancholic darkness. Drama and sorrow build a thick skin as the track ends rather abruptly. “Interrogation” has cold guitars lowering the temperature even more as the playing gushes, and growls explode. The sorrow spreads on the lead guitar’s wings as they stretch and bring shadowy darkness while the playing starts to mash digits. Heaviness strikes as C’s fierce vocals penetrate, grit builds, and the bruising really sets in. The bass coils, the drums rumble, and funeral bells bring the song to an end. “The Great Hatred” has gruff singing and forceful growls melding together as the pace absolutely crushes. Leads light up and drag over the top while the track unleashes meaty playing that leaves blood behind. The guitar chugs into a dreamy, atmospheric section before the soloing heats up and melts away ice, and then strangeness thickens and casts a morbid, long shadow.

“Drowning” runs 10:36 and immediately sinks you into deep sorrow and heavy crunching as the bass slinks, and misery is close behind. Keys drip as the music keeps stretching out, with growls being soaked by the heavy, cold rains. The gravity continues to increase as pain and punishment unite, synth bleeds, and the track bleeds way. “The Rise of the Phoenix” is a mammoth at 11:38 and opens with foreboding keys and bass driving through the night. Growls rupture and are met by mysterious speaking, while the bass solidifies, and cleaner singing sounds purposely detached. The leads open and surge while the track chugs as C admits, “There’s nothing I can do.” Sadness prevails as the playing wrenches guts, and the final moments trickle out into time. “The Fall” is the closer that brings guitars lighting fires, and the tempo flowing like a slow burn. Piano notes drip as C’s roars crash down, bringing with it heavy and dirty sentiments. The grief collects in your chest as the synth sweeps, and the guitars trigger sparks. The playing soars into the stratosphere, wrenching and bringing with it insane emotions while sounds build, and the track disintegrates into the air.

“The Great Hatred” definitely won’t assist you if you’re in a heavy darkness yourself, that is if you want to find some positivity or hope. But what Aphonic Threnody do so well is give you music than can be a partner while you wallow and try to heal, writhing in the juices of your own pain. This is a dramatic, pummeling record that can only serve to help callous your fragile psyche.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/aphonic.threnody.5

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

Or here (international): https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.de/shop-en

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

Throane’s climactic black metal examines personal suffering on spiraling ‘Une balle dans le pied’

I’ll be super honest: There is no way I could get through what frontline workers in this pandemic have faced ever. Like, ever. It’s complete insanity to me, and part of my utter crippling fear is my being a hypochondriac and not being able to even think about one of my worst fears actually sits in front of me and could be interacting with my body.

If you look at the cover of  “Une balle dans le pied,” the new EP from Throane, you see the band’s creator Dehn Sora’s sister’s peeling, brutalized feet from her time as a nurse, running and pounding floors trying to help patients, with her own physical well being thrown to the side. The album’s title is a French saying for “a bullet in the foot,” and Sora took the saying that means sabotaging oneself to examine those mental and physical wounds that put other people’s needs first and the price that’s paid. The release is a single 13:20-long track that creates misery about paying that price amid spiraling, mind-toppling black metal that’s daring and completely unkempt.   

“Une balle dans le pied” is the 13:20-long sole track on the EP, wrenching open and letting the vocals enter an echo chamber. Muddy guitars choke as the playing warps, leaving you grasping for a place along the wall to maintain your balance. The track is sucked into a cloud, humming until the guitars jar, and a strange ambiance fills the room. Guitars dizzy as the bizarre tones get thicker, crazed howls chip away at granite, and then the sound disappears into a void, only to resurface by rushing back in. The growls pound away, the guitars loosen screws, and melodies bubble, going off into an unsettling atmosphere that’s scary and weird, bludgeoning the final nail.

Much homage has been paid to medical workers since this pandemic started as they’re on the frontlines of the battle and have seen things we cannot imagine. But it’s not like this is news, as you can attest from the photo of Sora’s sister that adorns the cover of “Une balle dans le pied.” Throane have managed to combine different mediums of art to convey this pain and agony that never really ends, a fact that’s punishingly spread over these brutal 13 minutes.

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

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Yatra’s smoking, psychedelic doom powers up on thunderous smasher ‘All Is Lost’

Photo by Shane Gardner

Keeping busy during the scourge that is COVID hasn’t been super smooth for everyone on this planet. It can be easy to find yourself climbing the walls to come up with a distraction or a project if you don’t have regular work you can do from home or if you’re one of the folks who has to go out into the real world. It can be a real energy suck.

Maryland psyche doom band Yatra found something constructive in writing and recording their crushing third full-length album “All Is Lost,” their second release of the year, following January’s eye-opening “Blood of the Night.” On fire after time on the road and feeling the creative juices flowing, the band—vocalist/guitarist Dana Helmuth, bassist Maria Geisbert, drummer Sean Lafferty—got together with Noel Mueller of Grimoire to record this nine-track beast, though they point out it was done with strict social distancing in mind. They might sound like savages on record, but these are responsible musicians in the face of a global pandemic, a lesson to us all. The result is yet another uptick in quality for a band that’s been making powerful stuff since their 2019 debut “Death Ritual” and keep finding new ways to be even deadlier.

The title track kicks off the record with guitars firing up and furious growls as Helmuth wails, ” Die before your flesh has turned creeping from the afterlife!” The song feels like a raid before it switches up and the solo catches fire, growls continue to cave in chests, and fierce drumming knocks holes in the walls. “Winter’s Dawning” delivers doom snarls and the drums hammering as the pace hulks along. ” Foretold the silence has taken back the night, starlight is shining, winter is dawning,” Helmuth calls amid a gallop that threatens safety and an animalistic ambiance that ends in a nasty section of mashing. “Tyrant Throne” slowly gets its juices flowing as the riffs spiral, and the low end crushes spines. There is gritty singing over the chorus as the band achieves Sabbathian symmetry, with the soloing melting and the playing leaving your mind racing into oblivion. “One for the Mountain” begins with burly bass and bluesy smoke mesmerizing before cleaner singing takes the lead. “Death is chanting in the wind, the song that makes the blood flow, I can hear the battle call, we shall crush them one and all,” Helmuth declares as vicious slide guitars slice underneath fingernails, and the pace trudges. The final moments send heat waves as signing mix with guttural grunts, and the end gurgles out.

“Blissful Wizard” begins with sitars massaging your mind as a gargantuan bong hit bubbles into clobbering, and the playing cuts toward the center. Growls tear at flesh as the soloing detonates, leaving ash and blood in its wake. “Talons of Eagles” spills in with bustling drums and sturdy riffs, while the growls scrape at the ground. “Serpents of darkness, death in the night, crushing bones and spirits, bloodshed will fall,” Helmuth forecasts as the earth is scorched, and the song leaves nothing but punishment behind. “Eyes of Light” has speedier drums loosening plaster, guitars smoking, and the pace chugging as it chews its way into your consciousness. Growls crumble and seek to leave bruising while the band does its best to unearth any sense of calm buried at your center. “‘Twas the Night” starts with acoustics feeling like they’re blowing in during a breezy night before electrics take over, and the melodies even have a black metal essence to them. The pace is slower and mournful as ice and snow cripple your bones, and long-lost tales find their way into your dreams. “Northern Lights” caps off the record with noise rustling and the drums opening into swampy slide guitar. Growls offer some hope as Helmuth howls, ” I promise you tomorrow the northern lights will lead you home.” There’s a blues-slathered psyche stomp that gets into your bloodstream, while some final punches are landed, and the track soars off, returning to the night sky.

Yatra have put a pretty nice dent in the doom underground in a really short period of time, and “All Is Lost” continues their upward trajectory to being one of the more reliable bands working at this thing. They’re prolific so far, yes, but they’re always dealing high quality stuff, as both of their 2020 records have shown a serious uptick from their promising debut album. This sounds like a record that’s landing at the right time, when the weather is getting colder, and the adventures we get to take mostly will be in our mind, where this record certainly can dwell.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/all-is-lost

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

Rabid Beast put grim touch on thrash metal madness, deliver hammering, satisfying debut EP

Thrash metal is a little bit of a sensitive subject around here, and if you’ve stopped by this stupid site with any regularity, you’ll notice we don’t touch a lot of it. There’s some bias behind that decision, if we’re being honest. I grew up worshipping at the altar of thrash, and my formative years and my ultimate path toward heavier sounds came directly from this sub-genre.

So, getting a record from a newer thrash band doesn’t really make my excitement level go up because I’ve heard so much stuff that, to me, just doesn’t measure up to what was created by the sound’s progenitors (whereas death, black metal, doom all have had successful movements beyond the roots). One thing that made me dig into Rabid Beast’s five-song debut EP is because it’s being offered up by Unspeakable Axe, a label I trust to mine the good stuff, and sure enough that’s exactly what this is. What the band—vocalist Paul Gillis, multi-instrumentalist Eric Bauer—conjure is something that sounds like it has dined generously as thrash’s table in its glory days but also has a modern touch that isn’t distracting or trying to recreate an already ideal wheel. Also, it’s fun as fuck and will destroy your inhibitions for a good 23 minutes.

“Decline Into Disorder” opens with a meaty assault as Gillis’ yelps, which feel like a classic thrash assault, begin to crush bones. The chorus is cool as hell as the pace chugs along, the vocals get even nastier, and the guitars seem to liquify before the track blasts shut. “Existential Maelstrom” is a smashing serving of thrash with the vocals gnashing and attitude smeared like mud to one’s mouth. The chorus is simple but effective while air is infused in the clobbering guitar work, and then the pace switches. Punches are thrown from an entirely different direction as the leads blaze away, and the track comes to a devastating end. “First Among Equals” ignites as shrieks go off, guitars shred, and the playing turns into a total assault. It has corners that are utterly relentless as crazed wails land blows, bones are turned into school glue, and the end slams shut. “Green Room Is Red” delivers strong riffs as Gillis’ howls hammer through while the bass rallies. Growls rip in as classic thrash metal floods generously, bringing with it power and grit as well as searing soloing. The riffs then ramp back up as the vocals carve you, and the track then explodes for a final burst. “Overlord” (an Infernal Majesty cover) ends the EP with guitars exploding from the gates and speed ruling as the forceful vocals stun. The playing is fast and mean with the leads going for broke, the bass piling up, and the soloing spreading insanity. The display is dizzying as the track reignites, double-kick thunder strikes, and the final moments melt into echo.

Rabid Beast manage what a lot of bands before them have failed to do: actually capture the true essence of thrash metal and provide their own interpretation. This doesn’t try to be some brand-new take nor does it add any technical bells and whistles, and that’s a major positive for this self-titled first EP. This band holds a lot of promise, and I’m really excited to hear where they go from here.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Rabid-Beast-107634810842079/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=66&products_id=601

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

Coastlands reflect on trauma, contemplate demise, its effect on life with stumulating ‘Death’

Photo by Paul Mauer

This isn’t a great time to deal with mental illness or stress with all that’s going on in our world, much less the volatile condition in which this country is situated. Not that there’s ever a great time for these things to surface, but it feels like life now can add even more pressure to situations, making it harder than usual to get a grip on things.

Coastlands’ new record “Death” could be a tool to help you get through some of these tumultuous times, with six dramatic, thunderous, and riveting tracks that its members crafted after going through pain, trauma, and suffering themselves. The band—guitarist/synth players Jason Sissoyev and Jordan Householder, bassist Andy Ramirez, drummer Trent McIntyre—decided to tackle death in all of its aspects from its physical manifestation to how we live our lives knowing that we only have a limited time on this planet. They melt those ideas, their own struggles, and what this all can mean to us on these songs (almost entirely instrumental except for some screams), and this is an ideal piece to have with you if you’re on your own rocky journey and need something to help soothe the mind.

“Abandoner” pours in as the drums ramp up, the guitars agitate, and the playing turns doomy and thrusting. The immersive sound soaks into your cells as fluid riffs bubble to the surface, while a thick bassline snakes through the dirt. A heavy whirring emerges as the pace heats up, the playing hammers, and the track comes to a gritty end. “Feverwind” has riffs scaling up before a dreamy haze takes over, and the moodiness peaks early. The music swims into a space cavern before the playing thrashes and leaves welts, glorious melodies spill intensity, and the final moments explode with chaos. “Red Smoke Flare” slowly emerges, trickling until the peace is shattered, and sounds rain down hard. Soothing melodies take over a drive for a spell before the playing kicks in harder, and the storming engulfs the senses again. Doomy hulking rages, even while serenity tries its best to regain an edge.

“Dead Friends” pokes through the walls as it slowly pours into the room, and a moody pace is achieved. Drums are tapped as guitars hang in a mist as a wordless call rises up and brings new fire. The playing feels like it exists with dark echoes before the drumming bursts to life, and wild screams hammer, leaving you disoriented and everything around you burning. “Lay Waste” punches through with doomy melodies and smoky playing that delivers tense moments. The fury is steady as the power bursts light up the horizons of the night sky, while the bass pounds its way through, and the drums explode with life. Guitars continue to gain steam, lapping and charging as the band pounds to the end. “Marrow” closes things out as wordless calls vibrate, the bass fires up, and the guitars lather you in a heavy haze. An emotional path heads into a wall of sound while the guitars plot a path, and then multiple colors explode. The playing continues to flood, rising dangerously to your throat, while the daring dashes bring the record to a fiery, dramatic end.

Coastlands bring an immersive, strangely intoxicating feel to their (mostly) instrumental attack, and “Death” is a very pointed collection that not only leaves you contemplating your journey on this planet but also has you reveling in the band’s power. Each twist and turn, sunrise and sunset on this record are methodically carved out, making your own time with the music quaking yet logical. There’s a lot of think about, plenty to absorb into your veins, and hopefully an open mind in which to do your exploring.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://translationloss.com/collections/vinyl/products/death

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

Venom Prison smear deadly new touch to initial EP cuts, reveal fresh chaos on heavy ‘Primeval’

We seem to be obsessed with origin stories, as we get TV shows, movies, comic books, you name it about how characters and worlds we’ve come to know got their start. It’s super easy fan service, and as long as the thing isn’t butchered, it provides a glimpse into the early germs of ideas and how they came to be in their larger form.

“Primeval” isn’t exactly an origin story for UK death/grind band Venom Prison, but it’s the next best thing. This new release from the band is a re-recording of their first two EPs—January 2015’s “Defy the Tyrant” and September 2015’s “The Primal Chaos”—that may not have been accessible to their now swelling audience. This is chance to hear the songs recreated by the 2020 version of the band—vocalist Larissa Stupar, guitarists Ash Gray and Ben Thomas, bassist Mike Jefferies, and drummer Joe Bills (only Ash and Stupar appeared on both original recordings)—who surely understand their abilities and mission even better than half a decade ago. Add to that, the record ends with two brand new tracks that open a small window into where they’re headed next, which will be no surprise that we’re seeing chaos on the horizon.

“Usurper of the Throne” begins the collection and the “Defy the Tyrant” material with guitars chugging and Stupar’s roars digging deep and delivering hurt. Cool leads head into a hefty breakdown as the pace gets even more vicious, and the back end blasts out. “Life Suffer” erupts with smothering pain and death eruption as the guitars leave you dizzy and disoriented. Death growls burn as the pace delivers hard times, and then song disappears into a clip of the track “In Heaven” from “Eraserland.” “Mortal Abomination” opens into moody, dark corners before the gears begin to grind flesh, and blood-curdling howls dig in the daggers. The track then speeds up dangerously and pounds into “Path of Exile” where guitars light up and deliver some different tones. Primal savagery pushes through as the growls explode guts, a thrashy fury meets up with filthy guitars, and the track comes to a crazed finish. “Defy The Tyrant” delivers a deadly explosion as the playing dig in its teeth, and the vocals just whip by. The guitars bring swagger as the ground is destroyed before a psyche haze brings strange dreams, as the incredible heaviness ends the “Tyrant” material on a bloody note.

“Babylon the Whore” delivers the first of “The Primal Chaos” cuts, obliterating peace as Stupar goes off, and the tempo gets faster and meaner. A mash of hardcore and death rips at muscle as the band completely unloads, burying you in a pile of rubble. “Daemon Vulgaris” has the guitars winding up and hurling heat as Stupar wails, “What’s gone is never to be given back.” The playing twists wiring as the riffs sizzle, and the track comes to a trucking end. “Narcotic” is fast and grisly, bringing total destruction with them while Stupar’s vocals go for the throat. Soloing fires up and rubs faces in the dirt as the final moments mash the track home. “The Primal Chaos” is the final selection from this EP, and it blasts through the gates, thrashing heavily as the floors quake, and the shrieks dismantle the central nervous system. The track is beastly and ugly, melting into total chaos. “Defiant to the Will of God” is the first of the new cuts, stomping with muddy guitars and hardcore power. Death growls snarl as melody snakes into the war zone, while Stupar delivers cleaner singing before hell returns and turns things to ash. “Slayer of Holofernes” is the final cut, bringing sludgy madness that twists and mars senses. Stupar’s voice is a mix of singing and shrieking, and strong melodies cool off the lava just a bit. Power continues raining down as your insides are jolted, and the track comes to a vicious finish.

It’s great to have these early Venom Prison tracks back in circulation, and it shows those who had not been exposed to these songs before how this whole thing got started. Re-recordings tend to be mixed bags, but “Primeval” rises above that and is a really powerful package that levels foundations. Plus, the new tracks hint at the cataclysm that’s to come once Venom Prison follow up their great “Samsara” from last year, which sounds like will be a deadly affair.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Enslaved stomp through land of giants, grapple beasts on mind-melting ‘Utgard’

This has been a year of overcoming incredible obstacles, and we still have a lot of time to go and plenty of strange hurdles ahead. We are dealing with worldwide illnesses, people denying they exist, political turmoil, social upheaval, and who knows what’s lying ahead in wait for us? The fight can’t let up because we’re tired or scared, otherwise we lose.

Long-running Nordic progressive black metal band Enslaved weren’t necessarily thinking of the matters above when crafting their masterful 15th record “Utgard,” but they did have their mind on the idea of entering the land of giants and trying to conquer beasts in order to find one’s true strength. That’s not necessarily literal, though your land of giants could be something tangible, but it also can be mental or spiritual as you climb great heights to face what opposes you. They do this on a record that’s an incredibly fresh slab of ingenuity from a band that’s long twisted the concepts of heavy music and refused to be weighed down by sub-genre rules. The band—vocalist Grutle Kjellson, guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and  Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, keyboard player/clean vocalist Håkon Vinje, drummer Iver Sandøy—also deliver more tracks with song lengths shorter than what we’ve grown used from them, resulting in leaner, sharper sound that absolutely bursts with life. Also, it should be noted this record was supposed to arrive this past spring, but due to the uncertainly surrounding COVID-19, the record now arrives first week of October.

“Fires in the Dark” starts the record with boisterous chants, feeling like an army of Vikings rowing down a river, before the track opens into murkiness and Kjellson’s unmistakable growls leading the charge. “Ancient gods told us where to go,” he cries as Vinje picks up with, “Mountains told us how to be,” existing in great symmetry as the track ends in acoustics and mist. “Jettegryta” is savage from the start, raging alongside sweeping synth while growls gargle. Proggy organs sink their way in as keys zap like cosmic lightning, while the final moments are fiery and daring. “Sequence” punches in as Vinje’s soulful singing fills chests with emotion, and the keys shimmer like a mountainside coated in ice. Once again, the vocal interplay is enthralling before breezes set in and bring some calm. The clean singing pushes through as the intensity builds again, and final jolts with Kjellson’s carving growls finish off the path. “Homebound” lands one of the record’s best, nastiest riffs that barrels its way through the center, while the singing continues to gain life, and the melodies are spellbinding. But it all comes back to that riff that road-races its way through the heart of the track, leaving exhaust behind.

The title track is an instrumental bridge with synth poking through and a booming voice speaking over, like the intro to an apocalyptic video game, and then it’s on to “Urjotun,” where it picks up the pace with keys stabbing and a tempo that’s damn near danceable. The singing comes from deep within Vinje’s chest as the growls wash in behind it, and the heaviness smashes boundaries. Later on, the singing feels properly detached, as if coming from a dream, while the flurry of keys causes dizziness you can’t shake. “Flight of Thought and Memory” charges up and delivers hammers, though melody finds its way into the ugliness as usual, while notes seem to float in the air. The playing suddenly gusts and delivers fierce punishment while Kjellson’s growls tear into flesh, causing your body to burn before a coolness settles in, swimming through the chaos to treat wounds and change the weather. “Storms of Utgard” begins with heavy rains, fittingly, while the band balances heaviness with atmospherics, building the drama along with your blood pressure. The track pokes away while singing fills the air, and guitars soar before crashing to the shore. “Distant Seasons” ends the record and is a slower, softer track that situates more in dreamy prog rock than metal. Vinje takes center here as the track works to numb you over ans salve the wounds you suffered up to this point as the band creates an immersive haze and finally finishes with reflective tones that send you on your way.

Over 15 records and nearly three decades, Enslaved have carved their name into legend already, yet they continue to produce standard-stretching music like we hear on “Utgard.” Perhaps the delay in this music finding us was for the better, as these tracks will sound ideal as the leaves change color and colder airs greet us, reminding of the winter ahead. This band is one of the greats of the genre for good reason, and this record is yet another heaping, astonishing reason why.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2020/Enslaved/utgard.html

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

Von Hausswolff focuses solely on pipe organ, conjures sorrow with haunting ‘All Thoughts Fly’

Photo by Gianluca Grasselli

Being a metal site that’s also a pro wrestling site, we reserve the right to change what we’re doing every now and again just because it’s a fun things to do. But mostly because something comes along that doesn’t necessarily fall into the heavy music category but 1. should have some interest among the readership and 2. just deserves to be discussed.

We arrive at that today with “All Thoughts Fly,” the new album from Anna Von Hausswolff, though something that might take you off guard if you’re already a devoted fan of her work. While past records could have fallen into eerie doom rock territory, this one is entirely different as it contains only one element: a Swedish replica of the Arp Schnitger pipe organ that’s located in Germany. Her voice is not present (though it certainly is in spirit with her playing), and the variety of sounds she manages through a single, albeit massive, instrument is utterly flooring. Von Hausswolff says she was inspired by the Gardens of Bomarzo, also known as Sacro Bosco, or “sacred grove,” a park commissioned by Pierre Francisco Orsini in memory of and in great mourning for his late wife Guilia Farnese. The cover of the record contains a depiction of the Orcus mouth in the park, and the music here revels in pain, love, and loss that come through in waves on these seven tracks.

“Theatre of Nature” begins the record like a ghost floating above a dusty old room long abandoned before the organs pump and bleat out a melody line that repeats while the atmosphere rises further into the clouds. Coldness emerges and brings a deep frost while keys pump blood through your head, leaving you buzzing toward “Dolore Di Orsini” and its ominous, yet pastoral tones. The song emerges slowly but steadily as the organs feel like they’re calling out like a bagpipe, scraping into mournful terrain, stunning and leaving you breathless. “Sacro Bosco” arrives in gentle winds as the keys ring out and bring a claustrophobic vibe that could have you clutching the walls. Sounds reverberate and mess with your balance while sounds swelter and mar the senses, buzzing and shaking nearly uncontrollably.

“Persefone” has melodies aching and a sorrowful pall cast upon the room, feeling like a dirge. The air sizzles with emotion as elements gradually amass, drone rains down with great penetration, and everything is sucked out into a cloud. “Entering” begins with what sounds like a film slipping and thrashing off its reel as organs swell the atmosphere with dread, feeling like the sound is coming in from a great fog. That drips thick mist on your face, coating you as you move toward the title track, at 12:23 the longest track by far. The playing flutters and mesmerizes, chiming in your ears and dizzying, numbing with an angelic haze. The tones then switch, signaling an icy haze that drops, building power and strength. The organ’s presence grows larger and larger, seemingly blotting out the sun before exploding, leaving only pieces of itself behind. “Outside the Gate (For Bruna)” closes the album, feeling like a funereal message being sent to planes beyond. The organ mimics strings and then a wooshing that sounds like airplane propellers overhead, rising in volume before settling down and sinking into the earth.

Von Hausswolff’s artistry and compassion always have bled through heavily in her music, and I can’t say I wasn’t a little hesitant approaching “All Thoughts Fly” at first. But it took just a few listens for the music to sink into my bloodstream and her inspiration to become apparent to mind, body, and spirit. This is music that’ll quake you, even if it’s not dishing out decibels, and anyone who opens their mind to what’s lurking here will take a journey straight to the center of the heart that will leave you devastated.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://southernlord.com/band/anna-von-hausswolff/

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

Amiensus’ rushing black metal stimulates senses, mauls wills on fiery, ambitious ‘Abreaction’

Photo by Josh Shields

In this time of trying to find a distraction that isn’t something damaging to one’s psyche or physical well-being, we can look to nature as well as anything that moves our spirit in the right direction. Having the windows open with a cool early autumn breeze moving into my workspace, it makes for the right mental phase where it can line up with music and permanently imprint that on my brain for years to come.

I have that experience all the time with records that have strayed with me—what was the season when we first came into contact?—and I have a feeling I may have that same relationship with “Abreaction,” the third full-length from black metal chameleons Amiensus. This music struck me really hard right in the chest a couple weeks ago when listening during work, and it happened to be one of those late-summer cool days that hinted at what lies ahead. This is their first full-length since 2015’s “Ascension,” and the band—vocalist/guitarist James Benson, guitarist/keyboard player/vocalist Alec Rozsa, guitarist Kelsey Roe, bassist Todd Farnham, drummer Chris Piette—continue to expand their palette, adding elements of forestal folk and progressive metal into their amalgamation that can be downright arresting if it hits you at the right time.

“Beneath the Waves” opens with clean strumming and Benson’s singing stretching out, with harsh cries hitting over the chorus. “What do you know? What do you feel?” is growled with menace as the drums crush, and then dreamy thunder strikes. Benson sings the same growled lines cleanly, but the shrieks return before the track bows out. “Divinity” has acoustics blending in before the track opens up with a clean singing/shrieking mix and moodier playing that sets the tone. The track eventually bursts with thoughtful chaos as the pace rumbles, the vocals swell, and the track ends in rustic energy. “To the Edge of Life” tears open with shrieks raining down, the keys aching, and the track heading into colder waters that soothe. Gazey playing builds up a lather as harsh cries strike with calls of, “Scrutinize! What did you find?” as things fire up before the gushing spills into gentle acoustics.  “A Convocation of Spirits” rises up with strong singing erupting, shrieks following, with Benson wailing, “Can you still hear me from the other side?” That causes drama to stir as violent tendencies emerge, tearing tendons, but then clean singing returns, acoustics push into the mix, and everything washes away.

“Euphorica” begins with heavy pounding as the riffs flex their muscles, and the shrieks aim to tear down walls. There is smooth singing over the chorus before murk takes over, clean trickling merges with heaviness, and waters rush hard to the shore. “Drowned” blasts in with drums crushing, guitars rinsing you with blood, and the shrieks smash boundaries. Hypnosis nears as the growls stir, while wrenching hell is administered later, while Benson’s singing adds other color streams that wash into the sea. “Cold Viscera” has a trudging pace out front while the growls land blows, and the atmosphere becomes more turbulent. The playing jerks around corners as the guitars charge up, sinister growls create bruising, and a storming fury takes the track to its end. “All That Is Unknown” awakens to growls and shrieks bustling and melodies rushing, making the playing feel dramatic and grim at the same time. The playing cascades as it captures you and takes you on a journey, crashing through calm as it blasts away. “Iconoclasm” has a bit of an Enslaved edge to it, bringing synthy punch and penetrating growls to the foggy atmosphere. Keys plink through like ice daggers as the rage builds musically, spreading great dark wings before disappearing into the night. There’s an acoustic, instrumental take on “A Convocation of Spirits” that ends the record, letting your blood pressure come back to earth.

Amiensus’ cerebral mix of black metal, progressive metal, and folk continues to do wonders on “Abreaction,” their first full-length record in five years. Benson said the record feels truer to what the band sounds like live as they’ve learned to work and play together more efficiently, and you can hear that in these exciting, full-bodied songs. This is a record that hopefully puts the band’s name on more people’s tongues, especially those who can appreciate an ambitious group that can unleash storms right from the center of their hearts.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://transcendingrecords.com/products/amiensus-abreaction-pre-order-only

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

Fins Gorephilia splatter guts, create death metal weirdness on burly ‘In the Eye of Nothing’

We’ve been trashing 2020 for the absolute shit that it’s been pretty much wall to wall (and it! Isn’t! Over! Yet!), but let’s be honest: It hasn’t been all bad. I just found out they’re building a Popeye’s like a block away, Schitt’s Creek won all the Emmy awards, and death metal still is really good, with so many bands contributing vital, bloody documents.

Toss another one on the pile as Finnish beasts Gorephilia have returned with their deadly third record “In the Eye of Nothing,” an album that’ll make any honest fan of the sub-genre downright giddy with bloodlust. Over seven tracks and about 43 minutes, the band digs deep into the morbid stuff and pulls out a record that is vile, brutal, weird, and just a blast to take on from front to back. The band—guitarist/vocalist Jukka Aho (he takes the helm from former singer Nemesis, who passed in 2018), guitarist Pauli Gurko, bassist Tami Luukkonen, drummer Kauko Kuusisalo—definitely do their homeland’s rich death metal history proud with this album, and each meaty chunk they tear off and throw at you lands with weight and precision, leaving nothing but bruises and a hammered psyche.

“Walls of Weeping Eyes” opens the record by tearing through guts and hammering away with great power, while the riffs smear plasma. A mucky chorus adds more crunch before the playing hits a downward spiral, melody bursts from the seams, and the track ends in slow-driving menace. “Perpetual Procession” has riffs churning right away before the playing shifts, and the growls gurgle with disgusting energy. The track turns thrashy and deadly with a guttural chorus that mashes digits before a searing solo. The playing continues to clobber as the growls crush while the song burns to ash. “Ouroboran Labyrinth” begins with a classic-style death riff as the tempo trucks, and the growls are worked into layers. The guitars splinter off before the gas pedal is jammed through the floor, while the guitars light up and blind, and jolting blasts end the track with bruised ribs. “Devotion Upon the Worm” punches its way in as the music slowly wrenches, the growls crawl in filth, and the atmosphere begins to boil off. There’s a ghoulish feel to the ambiance as it chews into your psyche, strange clouds hover, and mournful guitars flood and let darkness cover the land.

“Consensus” is a quick interlude that has guitars that stymie, bass protruding, and strangeness swimming toward “Simplicity of Decay” that tears through flesh and muscle and brings primal devastation. The riffs cause dizziness while the drums decimate, and then the bass liquifies rock before some eerie slide guitar brings chills to your system. The track begins to chug anew as the soloing floods over, and the track ends on a note of sudden morbid mysticism. “Not for the Weak” makes your head spin with tricky riffs and the leads immersed in madness, feeling bizarre but also violent. The soloing sprawls as it tunnels its way into the earth, overwhelming and making you question reality as it rips its way into “Death Dream,” a final interlude piece. The playing numbs your brain wrinkles as warm leads change the temperature zone, making its way to final cut “Ark of the Undecipherable” where guitars meet you with venomous stings. The band outright mauls as the guitars melt faces, and the playing stomps bodies, entering murky streams as the growls flatten your midsection. The playing erupts with dangerous energy as soloing sweeps through, the pace trudges, and the ending is buried in mud.

Gorephilia’s brand of death metal is fierce and creative, making you feel like you accidentally took something mind altering, and you’re trying to figure out how to hang on. “In the Eye of Nothing” has an awesome Finnish edge that’s pretty apparent once you first take it on, and it digs right into the filth and madness and makes you feel rightfully disoriented. This is ideally served death metal hitting at the right time when horror is in the air, and blood is ripe to be shed.

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

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

Or here: https://www.mesacounojo.com/shop/gorephilia-in-the-eye-of-nothing-lp/

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

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