Atrament spill D-beat fury, black, death metal into dark future on ‘Eternal Downfall’

AtramentWatching this current presidential campaign, it’s not inconceivable we’ll all be dead in a few years. If not dead, at least living in ruin and wondering what the hell went on the past decade or so. How did we get here? How will we climb out? WILL we climb out?

All of those morbid visions hit home on “Eternal Downfall,” the debut record from Oakland, Ca., D-beat/crust/black/death amalgamation Atrament who waste no time getting their Apocalyptic visions out front on these quaking, smothering 11 tracks. Here, the band imagines a world in which humanity is a hindrance and not a primary commodity, and that fallout from radioactive annihilation chokes out whatever is left and breathing. Really, how does that seem too far fetched considering what people are doing in these primary elections? Holy fuck, this could happen. Will Atrament bask in the fact that they were right all along? Not likely as it doesn’t appear many would survive such an onslaught. So they’d be more prophets of death rather than gloating soothsayers, and with that in mind, it’s not too late to avoid making some really, really bad decisions, right?

12inch_3mm_v92012.inddAs for Atrament, they’re just at the beginning as far as this unit goes, having formed in 2014 and only having a demo to their credit up to this point. The group is comprised of vocalist Mattia Alagna (Abstracter), guitarist James Meyer (also of Abstracter, as well as Black September), bassist Sam Carr-Prindle, and drummer Chad Gailey (Caffa, Necrot), and they blast and bruise their way through this record, with most songs clocking in at under three minutes. Their urgency and savagery are obvious and tangible, and they rip through this record, painting a picture of the void they imagine in our bleak futures. Kind of depressing, eh?

“No Beyond” begins the trauma, stomping hard, with gruff vocals bruising, the assault rollicking hard, and mucky, brutal pounding setting the pace for “Sunken Reign.” There, gurgly growls team up with muddy smothering, sinking thrash madness and outright vitriol into the mire. “Aberration” is mean and delivered deep from inside the intestines, with black metal-style guitars raining down, and a nasty storm cloud opening up and threatening to drown everyone. “Consumed” has vocals that sound based in blood, while the D-beat-style chaos ruptures veins, and the vocals take on more of a death metal style. Once that song thunders out, we’re right into “Hericide” that stampedes over everything, into sludgy terrain, grimy growls, and a flurry of fists. “Wretched Apparition” also sinks its teeth into death metal, with the song hammering, the tempo chewing bones, and after a brief injection of calm, rips into a black metal-tinged stretch.

“Rotting Twilight” is full of slowly meted-out misery drubbing punishment, and wild howls of, “Cursed to see the future!” that put you into the mentality of our tale’s unfortunate survivors. The final moments charge up the ferocity and spill into “Aeon of Suffering” that is fast, intense, and hellbent on bringing total destruction. The track absolutely obliterates, and then it’s into “World of Ash” that sets up its premise in its title and pays off the promise with speedy, crunchy playing, a strong dose of thrash, and a black, ugly sentiment. “Circle of Wolves” is punchy and threatening, with more black metal-style melodies, and a sense of total devastation so true, you practically can taste soot in your mouth. Closer “Dusk Abuse” finds a strong groove as its front end, and then it launches itself forward violently. The drums smear everything, while the guitar work goes off, infusing some classic metal glory into the mix, and letting every element burn off permanently, leaving the record in a toxic cloud of smoke.      

Atrament show a lot of promise and power on “Eternal Downfall,” and here’s hoping humanity will not have eaten itself before these guys have a chance to complete another record. The band has a great sound, hunger, and tenacity, and that shines through again and again on these 11 cuts. Shit may be getting ready to get really ugly really soon, and we’ll have Atrament here to lead us into the gutters forever.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.brokenlimbsrecordings.net/#!store/azhdm/collections/new-releases/1

Or here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/atrament-eternal-downfall

For more on the label, go here: http://www.brokenlimbsrecordings.net/

And here: http://sentientruin.com/

Edmonton’s Dire Omen unleash warped, infernal death metal on ‘Wresting the Revelation…’

Dire OmenYou’re stuck underground. You’re in the bowels of a dark, damp, rotting cave with no way out, oxygen becoming scarce, and your panic level grabbing you by your guts. You can hear a sound in the distance, muffled but building, and it sounds like anything but your rescuers. No, what’s approaching you has its sights set on your blood and flesh, and what can you even do to survive?

While that might sound like an unsettling dream from which you wake up screaming and covered in sweat, or even that scene from “Fellowship of the Ring” when the orc army was about to attack in the Mines of Moria, it’s instead the vibe I get from Edmonton’s Dire Omen, a filthy, nasty death metal band that sounds as primitive and disorienting as they come. This is another strong signing for Dark Descent (who will be represented again on these pages later this week), who have given us a steady feed of the best and burliest of underground death metal bands. This one follows down the path of last year’s Paroxsihzem album, and also could serve to enlighten those whose music rotation involves heavy assaults from Mitochondrion, Portal, Antediluvian, and Incantation.

Dire Omen coverFor “Wresting the Revelation of Futility” being the band’s first full-length effort, they already have a vicious grasp on what makes their band tick and stomp over the thousands of pretenders in the death metal hive. Their sound is buried and scuffed up by noise, distortion, and purposely low-grade production, and everything they do feels utterly brutal, easily making you miss just how interesting and inventive the band is as well. Guitarist/vocalist Rolando Rodas, bassist Connor Thompson, and drummer Kevin Trueblood sound like a thick shadow coming at you at your most vulnerable, looking to inflict damage over the long term and caring not for your cries. Rodas’ vocals are an equal part of the din, never dominating or even leading the proceedings and always acting as an intimidating element of the band’s sound delivering the actual threats.

“Here and Hereafter (Overture)” might sound like it’s going to ease you into the record like some fabulously unfurling introduction, but that’s not the case. The track is mucky and grimy, with the drums mauling and chants being exhausted like poison. Then it’s into “Onwards With Wounds of Disillusion” that begins with a slower but incredibly heavy pace, dizzying melodies, and the churning vocals underneath all the madness that you practically have to concentrate on solely in order to fully absorb. The band grinds away hard, with the music feeling smothering at times, and the sense of blanket-thick darkness in unavoidable. “Ossuary” begins with heavy chugging and bass work that is spastic and bouncy, which you might not expect from a band of this ilk. The riffs are strong and meaty, and the music swirls all around you like a swarm of insects. “Hemotically Possessed” is bled into, with blurry guitars leading the way, a weird pocket of playing that sounds deranged, and hellish maiming from the vocals, as Rodas lurches his way through the track. The sound pokes and prods at you, testing your anxiety, and chant-like howls and noise sprawl right into “Servus Sevorum Dei,” a smoldering track that could choke you with its smoke. The drums clobber without relent, the growls sound oppressive and buried, and the guitars twist and smear into your bloodstream.

“Foretold Untethering from Existence” is messy and horrific from the start, with the band playing heavier and faster than they have on the record to this point. They keep pushing the gas pedal, with raw fury boiling over, the music building like a terrible storm, and the drums once again destroying. “Beyond Stillness” instantly instills dread, with the band completely annihilating everything in front of them, including your senses, and the vocals sound like they’re emanating in steam form from a demon. The leads do a fine job doing massive amounts of damage, and the pace finds that extra push into speed again, leaving you in the dust. “Convulsing Before the Vacuous Altar” sounds exactly like its title. There is a strange, bone-chilling vocal recitation that starts, feeling pastoral in the darkest sense, before the song blows apart, spraying shrapnel everywhere. Along with all of the aggression come some very interesting melodies and ideas, practically standing as the world’s most violent form of prog. The leads are intelligent, the vocals gruff, and the song achieves maximum carnage. “Inversion of Samadhi” is smothering but also satisfyingly thrashy, giving you the chance to bash your bloody fists against the wall. There’s a sickening, nauseous feel to what’s going on here, making you want to dump your stomach while the band is flaying you, and the music spills itself all over the map, never letting you in on where it’s going next. Finale “Closing the Portal” also sparks thoughts of prog metal, but it lies beneath a million tons of burning earth. The track is calculating in sections, like the band is picking its spots to strike, and it’s the one song where outright brutality is not the goal. OK, the vocals still sound like they have only death in mind, but musically things soar, float, boil, and rain down, proving a breath of atmosphere in the middle of a liquid tar pit. It’s not an easy journey, and you’ll feel the toll of the adventure once the album fades.

Dire Omen are that force in the dark coming to pull you away into the unknown and, most likely, to your final resting place. I feel that with every visit with “Wresting the Revelation of Futility” and love the infernal, sooty sound this band embraces and uses as an engulfing mechanism. Nothing here is pretty and easy, and everything is full of hellacious madness designed to deface. They’re here to drag you under, never to see the sunlight again.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Ævangelist’s chaos, infernal flames smeared all over ‘Writhes in the Murk’

Photo by Alyssa L. Paulsen

Photo by Alyssa L. Paulsen

Chaos and torment are elements that make up a great deal of metal in this day and age, and sometimes they can serve to undo works of art. Too much of either can feel overbearing or even annoying. But the right amounts, presented the correct way, can enthrall and even cause you to teeter on the edge of your own breakdown.

They haven’t been clubbing souls for long, but Ævangelist have, in a little under five years, shown the word what true panic is all about. Their music is suffocating and terror inducing, like you’re trapped underneath a great weight or lodged in a deep tunnel, with only your throbbing anxiety there to keep you company. Their sounds are pummeling and punishing, but also oddly intoxicating, like you’re being overcome by a great cloud of mind-altering smoke. It’s such a strange experience, and with each of their first two albums–2012’s “De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis” and last year’s great “Omen Ex Simulacra”–this Illinois/Oregon-based band has created an audio journey that equals strange nightmares from which you feel you’ll never wake. Sound perversely pleasing? Good, because it is.

Aevangelist coverNow comes the band’s third record, the massive and swelling “Writhes in the Murk,” and the title is appropriate because that’s what you’ll feel like you’re doing listening to this many-tentacled beast. Death and black metal are there ripping apart foundations with their tornadic approach, while heavy and gusty industrial elements also make their presence known and give the record the feeling like it was formed in great steam-filled factories. After all, how else would these strange figures in vocalist Ascaris (he also handles sax and cello) and multi-instrumentalist Matron Thorn come up with such menacing, steely creations. Shit, I often forget they’re based in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, they’re so bizarre. It feels like they should hail from a rogue, burning planet or underground. Oh, and when they play live, the lineup swells further, including musicians Æryn, ][, The Auditor, and S.

“Hosanna” starts off the filth hymnals, and you can bet they’re not being sent on high, as noisy industrial pounding and murky, churning guitars open up this madness. The vocals go from warped growls to pained moans, and the whole environment is eerie and strange. Everything explodes anew toward the end, with drums splattering, the vocals being spat crazily, and everything disappearing into a hiss. “The Only Grave” is built on doom-heavy riffs, slurry melodies, and gurgling vocals, like Ascaris has a pool of blood welling in the back of his throat. The song sounds like it would be appropriate material for a dank dungeon, where some poor bastard is hanging upside waiting to be tortured. “Præternigma” has black metal powering it forward, and along the way it meets up with more harsh growls, a thick haze of violence, and then some eerie, almost prog-style playing that trickles all over. Odd bellowing emerges like a crazed prisoner being held somewhere, potentially hallucinating, and the final grinding moments ensure the proper amount of damage was done. “Disquiet” brings things back to calm temporarily, acting as a weird, blip-filled bridge into the second half of the record.

“Ælixir” has a neurotic, twisted sense, with vocals and guitars swirling about and a mashing sensibility that smears you. Creepy dialogue emerges, noise whinnies and pierces, and horns cry out, meeting up with bone-dusting drums. The song takes a foggy, jazzy curve, the music sustains serious artistic damage, and the song bleeds out into the night. “Harken the Flesh” has a slow, weird start that also heads toward black metal terrain, but the kind that also is inhabited by bands such as Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord. The song is mucky and muddy, there are zaps of noise, and some old-style guitar soloing hits toward the end. That’s the weirdest part of the song, the section that feels the most straight-forward. “Halo of Lamented Glory” blasts open with a rock-solid riff, abrasive growls, and more nauseating melodies that might make you think the room is spinning. The second half of the song straightens out a bit, headed slightly toward accessibility, and the track fizzles out in static. The closing title cut has a clean, creative bend, and some classical-style guitar playing emerges to add a sense of infernal class into the proceedings. The song charges up, of course, as guitars chug, the vocals belch tar, and the hell is allowed to spread all over. As the track goes on, it gets stranger and stranger, with a female voice providing icy commentary that borders on inviting death, and the final moments offer room for both hammering violence and alien transmissions that leave your head swimming and you confused as to what you just heard. It’s a hell of an unsettling album, and I know it took me several listens just to digest everything that was going on here. I’m still not sure I have a complete handle on it.

There’s no way to put Ævangelist into a corner or to hold them to some kind of standard, other than experimental excellence. They put their own spin in black and death metal, and everything they do is interesting and compelling. “Writhes in the Murk” continues the band on their path of infernal chaos and proves that they’re only scratching the surface of what they can do creatively. It’s weird, it’s warped, and it doesn’t go down easily, which are high compliments. This band will burn a hole into your gut and your psyche at the same time. Holy shit, what could possibly be next?

For more on the band, go here: http://www.newobliviongospelmusic.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

Or here (North America): https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/

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

Or here: http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/