Turkish black metal trio Zifir unleash assault on religious torment with ‘Demoniac Ethics’

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but organized religion kind of sucks and has led to a lot of death, misery, abuse, psychological scars, and pain. Yet, people go to a building each week, give their money, sing their songs, then walk out and are complete assholes to each other and support ideas that strip freedoms from other people. It can’t end soon enough!

When I was growing up locked into my own Catholic mental prison, warming up to bands that set fire to religious dogma always made me fear for my eternal soul. Now, I’m pretty much inviting that shit. So, it is with Istanbul-based black metal band Zifir’s new album “Demoniac Ethics,” their fourth, that I settled in for another assault on organized religion from a band tired of watching its ill effects on humanity. Yeah, I know this doesn’t mean every person who practices their faith is a fool and a miscreant. Hardly. It’s the institution of so many that are under fire, and Zifir unload with some gothically inspired, creatively immersive music that can leaves chills even after your skin is scorched. It’s the first in three years for the band—OnurÖnok (vocals, guitar, bass), Ilgar (bass), Nursuz (drums)—that loads their art with a tidal wave of emotion and turmoil.

“Sûr” is a quick intro piece where the music begins to bubble, and strange voices emerge, leading into “Chants for Execution” that lets loose melody that smooshes you and leaves a blood stain behind. Vicious growls and hypnotic group singing push their way in, grappling in the fog before the track bursts and unleashes death. The track then sends shrapnel flying, ending with a crushing salvo. “Still Reigning” has warbled singing and a thick gothy feel, while strange reverberations float, and you’re led into a mist, where you’re pounded. Coldness then sinks in as the track finds its way to a mind-altering end. “Empire of Worms” churns as the music rains down in sheets, rupturing and going for the lungs. At times, your head can feel locked in the atmosphere while the band starts fires around you, as creaky voices cry out, monstrous growls reign, and the track ends in a furious storm. “Gökyüzü Karanlık” is the first of two interludes back to back, as this passage has garbled words, numbing music, and voices that sound like they’re leading you into the woods.

“An Eerie Moment” is the second as guitars trip, strange speaking emerges, and weirdness takes us right into “Chaos Clouds” where things change back to utter blackness in a hurry. A channeled pace and bizarre voices start you feeling like something isn’t right, and before you can get a grip, the song grabs you in its clutches, building an ominous fire that isn’t extinguished until you’re forced to face it. “Spirit of Goats” has guitars launching into the skies as howled growls do their damage, and the leads splinter. The music gets a few added doses of color, as the band defies convention, leading to a spiraling finish. “A Bleak Portrait” starts with winds blowing and more chants crawling toward you before eerie tones take over, and things swell into a panic. The pace calms itself a bit before echoed calls fire away at you, and the track fades into the horizon. “Ephemeral Idols” gets off to a speedy start with growls hammering away and the track looping boundlessly. The playing sheds more blood as the drumming punishes, then a black path is carved into your soul as the final moments melt steel. “Insects as Messengers” ends the record as guitars rise up, and an eerie blackness moves like a dark cloud full of pestilence. The growls lurch, bringing acid from the stomach, while the pace is torn open, exposing the guts, and the final elements of filth are burned away for good.

Zifir’s anger and disgust with religious superpowers are easy to understand when we see the hell people have gone through at the clutches of these massive entities. “Demoniac Ethics” works to fire back against all of that, offering a torch in the night and war hammer at their side. On top of that, the music is stirring and compelling, a black metal release that manages to create its own spirit and not bow down to whatever everyone else is doing.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://duplicaterecords.bandcamp.com/album/demoniac-ethics

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

Danish death dealers Konvent revel in cold doom on crushing debut album ‘Puritan Masochism’

While it’s a little early in the year to already to start slinging mud at 2020, let’s think of this past weekend with a rock legend dying and two all-time great wrestlers passing away. Then this ridiculous Iran shit. I’m already sick of this year, and we’re barely three weeks into it. So, might as well revel in some music that goes along with it all.

Danish doom-death quartet Konvent are here with their mighty debut record “Puritan Masochism” that basks in the terror and filth that the Peaceville 3 and their many descendants conjured over the ages. It’s a solid nine-track, 48-minute bruiser that punishes you at a steady pace throughout its run and leaves your chest bruised and heaving. There isn’t a ton of variety on the album, as most of this chugs in the same tempo and delivers bone-grinding chugging that addresses all of your needs to feel miserable and sore. But it doesn’t really need to add different colors and textures because that doesn’t seem to be the point. The band—vocalist Rikke Emilie List, guitarist Sara Helena Nørregaard, bassist Heidi Withington Brink, drummer Julie Simonsen—piles it on, delivers it expertly, and smothers any hope you have to feel better about your surroundings.

The title track gets things started as riffs rain down, the growls boil in the song’s guts, and calculated death is set free, mauling and brutalizing. The guitars spiral and penetrate as List wails, “The spirit slowly dies,” as the cut follows suit. “The Eye” unleashes guitars that team with the misery-inducing growls to scrape away at your flesh. The punishment is doled out slowly as melodies surge like waves, the cries split over the top, and the track comes to a sudden end. “Trust” crushes wills while the growls curdle, and the guitars snake through the water. The pace turns hypnotic in spots, as your mind submits to its will, while the guitars work through blood, and heavy growls deal the final blows. “World of Gone” brings punchy guitars and vicious growls churning. The guitars work is strong and pushes the pace, while the body of the song is pulled into a war zone as paths are beaten with might, and the song bleeds out.

“Bridge” begins with mournful guitars spilling before doomy sludging takes over, and the pace causes your mind to spin. Growls chew at guts as the song brings on one of its few examples of speed, causing havoc before the track returns to slower forms of violence that are just as impactful. Thorny, throaty growls lead the way as the track ends in pain. “Waste” features Tue Krebs Roikjer of Morild and introduces sooty bass work and sludgy riffs that begin suffocating you. The guitar work catches you in a whirlwind and creates vertigo, while the assault keeps treading mud, battering you relentlessly until the track fades. “Idle Hands” has an awesome riff that kicks things off before the playing batters, and the growls add to the animosity. The playing aims to break bones, practically doing so before everything goes up in smoke. “Ropes Pt. I” spreads mystical fog, continuing to bloody the path the band has been on for the entire record. Cleaner guitars enter and trick the mind before trancey playing captures you and pushes you into the frost, where closer “Ropes Pt. II” awaits. Shriekier growls grind at the flesh as the tempo shifts from dark to stormy as guitars light the way. The growls smear blood as the brutality is amplified, letting the aggression simmer under the surface as the song slowly turns to ash.

Five years after forming, Konvent have delivered a devastating, strong debut record that helps them make an early dent for themselves and also gives them plenty on which to keep growing. “Puritan Masochism” wallows in death and doom, and you aren’t given a chance to hit the surface for fresh air, because they always pull you back into the muck. It’s dour music for sour times, and Konvent hopefully have years to come to leave us feeling utterly miserable but happy about it.

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/store/

Or here (International): https://napalmrecords.com/konvent

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

RIP Neil Peart, a man whose words meant as much to me as his otherwordly drumming

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images

A friend texted me in the middle of work Friday afternoon. Neil Peart was dead. I went outside and just walked around. How was this possible? I didn’t know there was anything wrong. That’s not a surprise, because Rush was a band that didn’t jam all their personal details into social media. His passing from brain cancer felt like it came out of nowhere, but obviously he and his family and friends had been suffering for a while.

I’m not a drummer. Never was, never will be. Yet I still followed Peart everywhere he went for at least the past quarter century. Not literally or physically. I absorbed every bit of his music with Rush, consumed every word he wrote, was able to bask in his greatness live, and he felt like a noble elder whose words and ways I could follow. Yeah, Geddy Lee sang those words. Alex Lifeson brought more power to these songs. But Rush, as a body and spirit, was Peart. The guy who wasn’t even an original member. He joined after the band’s self-titled debut, a good record that contained all-time classic “Working Man” that helped the Canadian band find favor among working towns such as mine. He replaced John Rutsey right before a U.S. tour, and that first show? Right here in Pittsburgh at the Civic Arena in August of 1974, a month before I was born. Maybe Rush was in my DNA before I knew it.

Peart’s drumming is a thing of legend. His solos were so wonderfully self-indulgent that you never thought he was full of himself. He just loved what he did, and he was a goddamn space wizard at it. I also fell in love with his words and the songs he helped create. Words that came to define who I am. A little background on my fandom, not that it matters. I heard all the Rush hits on local rock radio institution WDVE. Also, being a huge wrestling fan, I knew “Tom Sawyer” from when Kerry Von Erich would come to the ring on World Class Championship Wrestling shows. The first song I remember really being aware of besides that one was “Time Stand Still” because I saw the video at my friend Jason’s house on MTV during a summer barbecue. But they didn’t spill into my blood until my friend Nick in high school kept pushing them on me. So, I bought “Presto.” Then I bought “Roll the Bones.” Then “Dreamline” woke me up. Then I finally saw them live April 20, 1994, at the fallen Civic Arena. They fittingly opened with “Dreamline,” they went into “The Spirit of the Radio,” then into personal favorite “The Analog Kid,” and then I was converted religiously, wholly and fully. Genuflected before their altar. I never left, despite personal crises, existential chaos, what have you.

Back to Peart. People laugh at his sci-fi craziness, but you know, that is also what hooked me. The priests of the Temple of Syrinx. All the planets of the Solar Federation. Dining on honeydew. I loved it all. Still do. But his words went so far beyond that. He seemed to understand the weird shit about who I am and my nerdiness and my issues that no one else did. I was able to escape in their music with an implicit message that you are who you are, and if you’re good and passionate, that’s OK. Don’t hide. Don’t apologize. The song “The Pass” from “Presto” got me through depression, pain, misery, and so much more when I couldn’t find answers. Or friends. These songs and words were what I needed, and it got me through. All the while, I bought every one of their records and attended their live shows, my last two coming at Consol Energy Center (it’s now PPG Paints Arena), the building across the street from the Civic Arena’s old ghost.

The last time I ever saw Rush and shared oxygen with Peart was Sept. 11, 2012, the Clockwork Angels Tour, a show that comprised one set of great deep cuts, the second a front-to-back playing of their latest album. That record is a gem. It was a perfect way to end their career (which no one realized at the time) and conclude my live relationship with one of my favorite bands of all time. It was a night I’ll never forget, them ending with three parts of “2112,” the last live music from Rush I’d ever see. The last time I’d ever see Geddy, Alex, and Neil live. A night to treasure. And I do.

Peart passing was a gut wrencher. The man who lost his wife and daughter within 10 months, who rode the country on motorcycle to mourn, only to come back with “Snakes and Arrows,” a strong record that bled with his passion, mourning, and will to survive, himself passed. It felt like he deserved more from the universe. He should have more time with his wife Carrie (he married her on my birthday in 2000) and daughter Olivia. He should be able to keep improving his ridiculous game that he always tried to level up. He should be able to decide if, after his daughter grew up and moved out, he wanted to ride with the boys again. But life is unfair. And a great man was left to suffer. And die. And now we all hurt. That sounds ridiculous because I cannot image what Carrie, Olivia, Geddy, and Alex are feeling. It has to be indescribable. But it hurts, man. A man who I looked up to as a hero (which flies in the face of “Nobody’s Hero,” a song he wrote that I’m not sure enough people appreciate) is gone. I still can’t explain what this means to me.

With Peart passing, part of me is over. This means Rush has passed. This means a person whose words helped me navigate life is gone. I don’t know that another musician will come along in my lifetime and have the same impact. But I appreciate that Peart had such a pivotal part in my life. He was a mentor and a leader and a torch in the night. Politics aside. He always seemed like a good and generous man. He seemed like he cared for his craft and wanted to be genuine. “All this machinery making modern music, can still be open hearted.” It still resonates. And so does he. We never will have another Neil Peart again in our existence. But if there are people who followed his words and examples, maybe he will have disciples. Hopefully music can be “not so coldly charted, it’s really just a question of your honesty.” And his never will be questioned. Thank you, Neil Peart. You’ll never understand what you gave to me.

PICK OF THE WEEK: Unreqvited look back on past pain, anxiety on cosmic ‘Mosaic II: la déteste…’

Each new year paves the way for us to regenerate and carve new paths in our lives, trying to make good for some of our past misfortunes. It’s silly in a way, because what’s so different about Jan. 1 that sets it apart from Dec. 31? Yet people use that as motivation to put themselves in new situations that stand to improve the 12 months previous to the current one.

The mysterious artist behind Unreqvited (he goes by 鬼 but also answers to “ghost”) looked back at 2018’s “Mosaic I:  l’amour et l’ardeur,” a creation where he reflected on his joy, euphoria, and creative bursts he felt at that time and decided to flip the coin over. That results in “Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse,” an album that reflects on times that were not as positive, rolling in his misery, anxiety, and pain, making this one of his most painful recordings to date. Yet, if you take a close listen, there also are reflective, solemn, and even dreamlike passages that can make you want to float off and simmer in the sensations, almost as if you’re being soothed. But you’re not, and darkness is around each fold, and if you’re lulled into peace, don’t be surprised if you’re jarred by the dagger.

“Nightfall” starts quietly and calmly as a gloomy, proggy sequence opens, flowing into the murk. Cries are buried in the background, spreading as guitars begin chugging, and melodies spill onto the ground. The playing cascades as synth clouds settle overhead, bringing on a frost, while the music trickles into the fog and away. “Wasteland” has sounds hovering as the guitars come to life, and fantastical playing sets the stage and gets inside your head. The music soars and has regality to it as gothy strains rain down, mysteriously slipping into cold waters while glowing leads burn in the night. That leads to a strange bit of calm before waves ignite, with howls barreling behind and chilling keys spilling into a burst of wild winds. “Pale” has similar DNA as keys simmer, slowly hanging in the atmosphere, before melodies yawn and finally bleed. Guitars begin to snake through the terrain as the playing swirls and enraptures, stimulating deep thought, while the back end has liquid keys forming a solid block of ice.

“Disorder” has an elegant opening, feeling cool and jazzy, as if you’re blurring into the dusk sky, while the cries bubble in the haze. Keys awaken and glimmer, trampling over everything, as the mood thickens, and wild howls beckon behind it all. The tempo picks up from there, mixing with folkish dream states, taking you on a cosmic path that charges, splits, and splinters apart. The final three tracks are woven together starting with “Transience I – The Ambivalent” that has strange noise forming a light storm, situating above you and beginning to release light precipitation. The senses are beginning to numb as an alien mist coats your face and brings you into “Transience II – The Gentle Void” where keys plink like ice pellets. The light slowly rises and glows, making you shield your eyes, while it feels like you’ve entered deep slumber, where hidden messages are shifted into your subconsciousness. It feels like a path from which you won’t return, working out of your mind toward closer “Transience III – The Static” that has spacey quivers and synth blankets. The guitars return and lurch, adding an ominous tone to a hypnotic trance, as harshness rears its head here and there. But then, an ambient flood overtakes you, covering you in waves and dragging you out to the middle of the sea.

The music that plays out on “Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse” is both unlike anything Unreqvited ever released and also an obvious part of the project’s overall DNA. It’s a fascinating listen, and I’ll admit I needed a few listens before everything made sense to me, which ultimately it did. It’s a record that challenges your ideas of what you think is heavy music and unquestioned pain, meaning it doesn’t always look and sound the way you expect.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/unreqvited-disquiet-mosaic-sylvaine-split

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

Mortal Incarnation’s lumbering doom assault gets new life with reissue of ‘Lunar Radiant Dawn’

It’s a new year, and we have a lot of new music with which to visit, but not everything last year had to offer got its just due. So, in early January, before things get too out of control (which should be next week), let’s put some focus on a burly motherfucker perhaps you missed like we did.

OK, and truth be told, this isn’t even cheating, because Mortal Incarnation’s EP “Lunar Radiant Dawn” didn’t get a physical release in 2019, though Sentient Ruin is changing that in 2020. The two-track, 16-minute mauler is being given cassette and vinyl (release for this is TBA) treatment so that the Tokyo-based death-doom destroyers can creep into more people’s brains and leave them in worse shape than they found them. I know there’s a lot of death-doom stuff out there, and if you’re at overload, trust me, we understand. But you want to give “Lunar Radiant Dawn” some consideration because it’s a psyche-scarred journey you’ll take, and the band—guitarist/vocalist Septic Necrovoid, guitarist Goatlord, bassist R$Y, drummer Miasma Vortex (all their given names, might I add!)—waste zero time luring you into their vortex and, once you’re there, laying waste to your mental well-being.

We get started with “A Dismal Propagation Into Decay” with its smothering darkness and doomy soul. Vicious growls roll underneath the mire, while weird psychedelic melodies swim below the millions of layers of filth. Blinding pain ignites as burly riffs pummel and draw blood just as dreamy strangeness melts into the DNA just before dark curtains drop again. A solo detached from humanity sits in the clouds as a strange ambiance rises and disappears into the sky. “Infinite Consciousness” deals piledriving black doom that shifts through mucky riffs, though off in the distance, you can hear a bell ringing eerily into the morning sky. The riffs turn their knives on you and carve paths, utterly destroying, while a voice warbles behind the wall of pain. It suddenly feels like your mind is settling into an impenetrable fog, leaving nowhere to move, as strange paths pull you forward right into the heart of an incinerating explosion of insanity that burns everything to the ground.

You’ve got plenty of time to start putting things on that best-of 2020 list, so why not go back and enjoy some time with Mortal Incarnation, who will burn your soul to a crisp? “Lunar Radiant Dawn” might not have gotten the attention it deserved when it surfaced last summer, but the physical versions coming up should help inject new life into these songs that reek of death. It won’t even take you 20 minutes to absorb, and it’ll char your insides in a way that’ll hurt really badly but leave you wanting more.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/mortal-incarnation-lunar-radiant-dawn

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

Odious Mortem crawl back from long layoff, splatter minds with intense assault on ‘Synesthesia’

We try to celebrate and shine a light on many different styles of metal at this site, and I think it’s one of our strengths that you’re not bombarded with the same type of stuff over and over. That said, there are certain styles that don’t quite get us in the guts the way others do, and one of those is technical death metal. This is a tremendous lead in for the record we’re discussing today…

The Bay Area’s Odious Mortem have been making just that style of metal for more than two decades now, and yet despite what we said just a minute ago, their music always has worked just fine for us over here. Yeah, they’re techy for sure, but not at the expense of a heart and soul, as their stuff always sounds written by humans, played by humans. That continues on their great third album “Synesthesia,” their first in 13 years following 2007’s “Cryptic Implosion.” Comprised of three former members of Decrepit Birth, this band pounds you with expertly played stuff that is destructive and imaginative at the same time. The band—vocalist Anthony Trapani, guitarist Dave Eggers, guitarist/drummer KC Howard, bassist Joel Horner—sounds like they haven’t missed a second as they’re tight and ferocious on these 10 cuts that combine for about 38 minutes.

“Dormant Retribution” punches its way open as fierce growls strike while the riffs twist and snake toward its prey. The bass bubbles over as the playing goes into wrecking mode, ending in a smeary death assault. “Condemnation Foretold” lets the riffs go off to the races while the playing twists brains, and gruff growls skin knees. The track heads into a proggy cloud as things work into deep space, complete with sci-fi-led trails. Back on earth, the drums bash away, and the track ends in rubble. “Ruins of the Timeworn” is speedy as hell as growls splatter, and the pace shifts violently, bringing about a new savage pace. This track also sounds hellbent for the stars, with cosmic leads adding unexpected warmth. “Replenish the Earth” pulverizes from the start, eating through walls as the riffs soar. The band thrashes heavily while the vocals are spat out, and the track grinds into hell. “In Abominable Form” unveils contorting leads and monstrous vocals designed to maim. Everything blisters out of control as the music confounds and leaves minds a melting mess.

“Eagle’s Tower” opens with cleaner guitars flowing before the bass sparks an ignition, and the guitars trample all over the place. Growls rupture, and your thinking is pushed into overdrive before the soloing explodes, and the track ends in a blaze of hell. “Cave Dweller” is punchy and menacing as the riffs tangle each other up, and the playing sweeps and deals further damage. The playing builds in calculated manner while the tension splits, bringing everything to a death-defying halt. “Spirit Hole” totally blasts off from the start as the music charges hard, with the guitars travel at dangerous speeds to make their impact. Beastly growls leave bruising, while the fuel is touched off and leaves shrapnel sticking into chests. “Synchronicity” has a classical-style start, as the playing goes in loops, bringing you into a premature sense of ease. Then the hammer drops halfway through, and the beatings commence, twisting everything into a bleeding, painful mess. “Dissonant Theology” closes the book on the record and simmers in popping bass before destruction arrives. The playing is staggering in its violent power, serving growls engorged with blood, leads breaking time, and a dizzying finale that’ll make the room spin out of control.

Odious Mortem’s power and surgical precision remain and splatter all over “Synesthesia,” a very welcome return to the death metal battlefield. Hearing bands that are incredibly capable musicians but who don’t lose themselves while they’re dazzling you aren’t quite plentiful enough in the tech death field, but this band certainly hasn’t let that become a part of their translation. Their music is violent and mind-blowing, as it’s here to outright flatten your senses.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://willowtip.com/bands/details/odious-mortem.aspx

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Lotus Thief put history of violence, revenge on display with dramatic ‘Oresteia’

If there’s a thing we can say definitively about us as humans it’s that we sure as shit like to kill each other. From wars to cold-blooded murders to crimes of passion to pure revenge, we don’t really cower from spilling each other’s guts when we feel the time calls for it. Happy New Year, by the way.

Bay Area metallic sound benders Lotus Thief never have shied away from the violent and tragic, and they sure don’t pull their punches on “Oresteia,” their third overall and second album for Prophecy Productions. Often pulling from Greek tragedies that they apply to modern times (scary how that works, by the way), this time they focused on Aeschylus’ trilogy of the same name, a story that balances dealing with murder, revenge, and justice. In our country alone, we deal with killings in schools, churches, malls, movie theaters, you name it, and when it comes to our foreign policy, bloodshed often jumps from people’s tongues before trying to consider diplomacy. We haven’t changed at all. And we probably never will. The band also examines gender roles based on the story, and they add extra nuance to their music as we have both a female and male perspective vocally to hash all of this out. Bezaelith (lead vocals, bass, synth, guitars) has been in the front of this band from the start, as she has navigated the band through murky but always stimulating waters. She’s joined there by AJL (additional vocals), Romthulus (guitar, vocals), Tal R’eb (guitar, synth, vocals), and Kore (drums, violin) on a record that’s packed with power and surprises, as well as that bloodshed we’ve been kind of hinting toward.

“Agamemnon” begins with Bezaelith reading from The Watchman section of the tale as the track slowly opens and reveals itself. The singing swells, though growls simmer beneath it all, and then the pace explodes. Harsh cries ring out in the fog, while the pace swoons and is shredded again, and then synth creates a fog. “True prophetess, true paramour, Woman, what deadly birth, what venomed essence of the Earth,” Bezaelith calls as the track punches and swirls into smoke. “Banishment” is a quick interlude piece that basks in atmospheric waves as the cloud cover builds, and the sounds blend into “Libation Bearers.” The song lets synth unfurl as the track situates in fluttering singing before the track explodes, and the playing goes back and forth between fire and ice. The track gets heavier, with prog waves pushing in, as Bezaelith calls, “Hear me, O father, child upon thy sepulcher, each, each, where thou art lowly laid, still stands doom invincible.” Growls inject menace, as things get even more vicious before the singing reestablishes itself, overwhelming and bringing about an icy haze that pushes into “Woe” that immediately strikes ominous tones. Murky sounds stretch their wings as light pounding thumps, bringing about a cold front that ices bones.

“The Furies” opens with wordless calls, slow drumming, and the song slowly coming into existence before things starts to chug. Synth breezes blow as the playing snakes, and Bezaelith’s devastating, powerful singing again takes center stage. The track quakes the ground beneath it, and keys and noise unite and create a stormfront, while the singing drives, pushing the plot and bringing alien synth that flows into “Reverence,” a 54-second interlude that is a sorrowful and crumbles your psyche, simmering in fog and echoes that leads the way toward “Sister in Silence.” Strings feels both woodsy and Celtic, welling up with Gothic spirits, as Bezaelith’s singing again swells and lets the emotions caterwaul, taking a neck-jerk turn, crunching the ground beneath it and tearing apart serenity. A sweltering storm settles overhead as Bezaelith calls, “Liars, may ten thousand horses break your name, vile laws of men, half-blinded visionaries all be devoured.” The track returns to calmer waters, though the track remains intense as hell, before the song rolls off into a cosmic shimmer. “The Kindly Ones” closes the album with keys murmuring and a sense of dread, as Bezaelith channels Athena’s judgment, singing, “The thirsty dust shall nevermore suck up the darkly streaming gore, of civic broils, shed out in wrath and vengeance, crying death for death!” as noise jolts, drums pound, and everything rumbles away.

Having a new Lotus Thief record so early in the year surely will help a typically slow January feel a lot more enthralling, as “Oresteia” serves up an experience that you might have to visit a few times before you fully get what’s happening here. And that’s OK, because I often find the music that stays with me the most is that which I have to earn as a participant, though this one nailed me right away. Lotus Thief continue to push the boundaries of heavy music, what we can expect from them as a unit, and the themes that have created who we are as humans, even if that means that we really haven’t changed all that much.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/lotus-thief-oresteia-rervm

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