Pharaoh, The Powers That Be (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

The Powers That Be is the first Pharaoh album in nine years and it is one of the best the band has ever produced.

One of the early purveyors of melodic metal in the power metal scene, Pharaoh began back in the 1990s and has released a string of memorable albums through years, the newest being their fifth, The Powers That Be. The line-up has consistently been Chris Black (drums), Matt Johnsen (guitar), Tim Aymar (vocals), and Chris Kerns (bass).

When the band got together to work on the new record, they faced the same issues every other band ran up against: the global pandemic. They worked around these challenges by recording some parts separately and had to wait until the situation changed enough that the finishing touches could be put on. These external shocks did not deter Pharaoh from creating an album of blazing originality that breaks new ground while holding the line on the band’s founding principles.

There are nine songs on The Powers That Be starting with the high-energy title track. The vocals are melodic with a rasping touch that catches your attention and holds it. The guitar leads are precise and intricate, and the composition itself is stacked with engaging turns and leaps. There are even prog moments sprinkled in to enrich the musical environment.

Most of the music is up-tempo, except for the short, reflective “Waiting To Drown” and a few movements here and there, so you can expect fast-moving metal to keep you rolling from beginning to end. My favorite songs include “Ride Us To Hell” with its raging lead guitar work, and the closer, “I Can Hear Them,” which I see as a showcase for what the band is about. This new Pharaoh album delivers exactly what their fans are looking for. Recommended.

The Powers That Be is out now. Get the digital at Bandcamp and the physicals at the Cruz Del Sur Music store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://pharaohmetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-powers-that-be

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/PharaohOfficial

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/store/

Pharaoh, The Powers That Be (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Intricate Funeral Doom laced with Death Metal is what you can expect from the new Suffer Yourself album, Rip Tide.

Suffer Yourself began in Poland as a one-man operation by Stanislav Govorukha (guitars and vocals). Over the years the roster has expanded and the new album includes contributions by Lars Abrahamsson (guitars), Kateryna Osmuk (drums), and Johan Selleskog (bass). Rip Tide is the third set from the band, following Ectoplasm (2016) and Inner Sanctum (2014).

The music is Funeral Doom, a category most glum. Suffer Yourself takes an expansive perspective on the genre and is not satisfied with ambient morosity. Instead, each song either has many movements that create a variegated aural landscape or has a second (and third) persistent intricacy that elevates the composition.

There are three tracks on Ripe Tide, starting with “Spit In The Chasm,” a twenty minute suite. It is here you find the full spectrum of the band on display, including soaking Funeral Doom, eerily floating vocals and calls, sudden burst of speed and diversions into torrid Death and Black Metal territory. It is a complex affair that unfolds like a darkly absorbing drama laid bare before you.

Next is “Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)” which is quiet and somber  and features a beautiful, mournful cello in its first movement. Before the three minute mark, the music changes from sad to threatening with guitars issuing an obvious warning. In the final third of the song, there has an oddly upsetting spoken word passage joined by the cello and other discordant instruments and effects.

The closer is a short ambient drone piece, “Submerging,” which is more of an exhortation regarding things to come than it is a wind-down. Taken together these three pieces coalesce into an unforgettable cortège moving toward oblivion. Recommended.

Rip Tide will be released on Friday, June 25th by Aesthetic Death on CD, vinyl, and digital. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sufferyourself.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SufferYourself

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Aesthetic Death Bandcamp, https://aestheticdeath.bandcamp.com/

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Bone Church, Bone Church (Ripple Music 2021)

The self-titled album from Bone Church gets a re-issue with bonus tracks.

One of my favorite albums from 2020 was Bone Church’s Acid Communion. It is as solid a set of blues-infused heavy groove you are likely to come across. Each song is an extension and a complement to the one before. It is fantastic.

When you hear a record like that, you want to go back and listen to everything else the band has released. Ripple Music is making that easy for you with a deluxe re-issue of the first Bone Church album. The new edition has the complete original Bone Church set plus two live tracks.

As soon as you drop the needle on the first album you see where the second came from. The music is heavy metal laid down with the confident ease of musicians channeling primal elements. “Altered States” and “Pale Moon Sacrifice” are my favorite tracks but they all qualify as top picks. These are the two songs that have live versions included on the re-issue so that puts me over the moon.

Bone Church is going to be at Ripplefest Texas on August 7th and I can’t wait to see them play live. At this writing you can still get tickets to that event (link below) so grab them while you can.

Bone Church is out now. Don’t let another day go by without hearing it. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/bone-church-reissue

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/bonexchurch/

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/bone-church-s-t-reissue-limited-digipak-cd

Ripplefest Texas tickets, http://www.outhousetickets.com/Event/17387-Ripplefest_Texas/

Acid Communion review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/06/03/ripple-round-up-2020-round-01/

Bone Church, Bone Church (Ripple Music 2021)

Entierro, El Camazotz (2021)

Connecticut-based metal band Entierro flap in on blackened wings for with their latest EP, El Camazotz.

The band has been active as Entierro since 2013 and have released two prior EPs and the long-player Entierro in 2018. They play a solid, middle-of-the-road heavy metal that lays the attitude plainly out and backs it up with expert performance. The band is Christopher Taylor Beaudette (vocals and bass), Victor Arduini (guitar), Chris Begnal (guitar), and Dave Parmelee (drums).

“Camazotz” refers to a wicked bat creature that shows up in the Popol Vuh and is a deity in Mayan mythology. It is excellent framing for a metal album. The music itself is not quite as dark as the title might imply, but it is heavy and surging.

Here we get five tracks: four originals and a spicy cover. “The Penance,” the opener, is a perfect driving tune with a catchy set-up, melodic chorus, and a great, tight lead break. The pace backs down on the next track, “The Tower,” offering a more serious and dramatic tone as the lead-in before turning into a driving march with a clever hook. The lead breaks are fantastic on this song, too.

“The Past” is reflective and a little melancholy, and then the title track flat out flies. You can really feel the demon bat coming for you on “El Camazotz.” The final song on the set is a cover of the Judas Priest song “Call for the Priest.” It is a faithful rendering and the world can always use more Judas Priest so it is great to hear this song chosen for the EP – one that is not often covered. It fits right in with the new music and is an effective closer.

You can get El Camazotz right now. Check out the Bandcamp link below. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://entierro.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/entierrometal

Entierro, El Camazotz (2021)

Eye Of Purgatory, The Lighthouse (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The sophomore album from Eye Of Purgatory achieves new levels of breadth and captivation.

The band’s first album, The Rotting Enigma, came out in 2018. Helmed by the indefatigable Rogga Johansson, that inaugural issue was a fiery burst of Death Metal remembered especially for the ten minute opus “The Hause on the Edge of Hell.” The new album is more expansive in its compositional idiom while staying true to the old school metal framework. Johansson is joined in the studio by Taylor Nordberg (drums, guitar, keys) and Jeramie Kling (bass).

There are eight tracks on The Lighthouse after the intro instrumental bit, most of them punching in at the four minute interval – they could all be singles. It is mid- and up-tempo work, notable and marked by the generous use of keyboards which, let’s face it, are not a Death Metal standard. On this album the keys fit right in and would be sorely missed if absent.

The roughened voice is a dominant force in every piece, sharing space and prominence on a revolving basis with the other instruments. Clever twiddles abound, always surround and bolstered by solid guitar riffs.

The narrative elements on the new album are more dark fantasy in origin compared to the earlier release which focused narrowly on horror ideas. I think the myth and mysteries fits the music a bit better and that makes me like this set even more. From the opening “The Lighthouse” to the final notes of the closer “Rebirth,” there is a constantly maneuvering maelstrom of metal that blends the wizened old school sensibility with a Melodic Death Metal tincture to produce a literary-lace musical theater. Rogga Johansson strikes again. Recommended.

The Lighthouse is out now from Transcending Obscurity. Bandcamp is the place to get it in all its forms.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://eyeofpurgatory.bandcamp.com/album/the-lighthouse-death-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/eyeofpurgatory/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/band/eye-of-purgatory

Eye Of Purgatory, The Lighthouse (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

The first long-player from Philadelphia Psychedelic Doom band Heavy Temple is a rumbling juggernaut that will roll you flat.

Heavy Temple is a trio that creates memorable and full-bodied music for your mind. Working with guitar, bass, and drum, they are able to establish and pursue complex ideas in a way that soaks into the listener in the most appealing ways. Lupi Amoris is their first full-length album, and they have also released two EPs in the last few years, Heavy Temple (2014) and Chassit (2017), as well as a split with Wolf Blood. The music and performance are languid, and Heavy Temple is a band you will surely be hearing a lot more about in the months and years to come.

The first song is “A Desert Through The Trees” and it starts up with a penetrating pulse that is soon joined into a rollicking jaunt that turns toward heavy burbling psychedelica. “The Wolf” has a way of being spacier while still bringing forth the big, heavy guitar sounds. “The Maiden” closes the half with a rambunctious telling.

Side B is “Isabella (with Unrelenting Fangs)” and “Howling of a Prothalamion.” The first song is the longest, nuzzling up to ten minutes. It unfolds slowly and surely and walks the earth with power and care. The lead guitar parts to me are the most memorable, particular the dual approach. “Howling” has a broad range with some segments that are rolling, rambling riffs and others that are ethereal and quirky. It is an unexpected and very strong closer.

Over the course of these five tracks told in about thirty-three minutes there is an enveloping experience few other bands could create. It’s a trip. Recommended.

Lupi Amoris is out tomorrow, Friday June 18th from Magnetic Eye Records. Explore the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com/album/lupi-amoris

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/magnetic-eye-records/heavy-temple-lupi-amoris.html

Heavy Temple, Lupi Amoris (Magnetic Eye Records 2021)

Bloodbeat, Process of Extinction (Inverse Records 2021)

German Death Metal band Bloodbeat conjure pulverizing musical notions for their second album.

Relatively new to the game, Bloodbeat released their first full-length album in 2016, Murderous Art. The style of heavy music they play is rooted in an old school 1990s approach and they hang the lead and vocal work on a solid frame of bass, rhythm guitar, and drums. The music is up-tempo, straight-forward, and formidable.

On Process of Extinction, Bloodbeat has crafted eight tracks. Generally the music is turned up to brutal, with ravaging guitars and break-neck pace. The vocals are gruff and coarse while still be understandable. Lead breaks lean toward the furious and are bristling complements in the music.

The concepts behind the songs can be quite complex and carefully thought-out. Here is what the band has to say about the story for one of their tracks. “The song ‘Rigor Mortis’ is not only explicitly about the so-called ‘cadaveric rigidity.’ Among other things, the scene is set in the world between life and the afterlife. It is about a psychopath who has already done all the atrocities in his miserable life. However, he did not start the bad acts on his own. His body is controlled by a demon. He tries to chase the demon out of himself by massacring himself. In doing so, the evil within him continues to try to seduce him and take him over. His goal is to get rid of him in some way. Only his death can defeat him and at some point the huge suffering has a dark end.” That’s a lot packed into less than four minutes, but it does all come through.

For Death Metal fans, this album will hit all the right notes. Recommended.

Process of Extinction is out on Friday, June 18th through Inverse Records. The easy way to pick it up in the US is through Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodbeat.bandcamp.com/album/process-of-extinction

Bloodbeat website, https://bloodbeat.de/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BloodbeatBB

Inverse Records, https://bloodbeat.de/

Bloodbeat, Process of Extinction (Inverse Records 2021)

Blazon Rite, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem (Gates Of Hell Records 2021)

Philadelphia metal molders Blazon Rite keep the campaign going with their new long-player, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem.

Last year’s EP Dulce Bellum Inexpertis was filled with portents and promise. It showed an approach to Epic Metal that was solid and expansive, a wall of sound built to the top. The new album not only continues the ideas signaled in the earlier work but also expands on them. Blazon Rite is James Kirn (guitar), Johnny Halladay (vocals), Pierson Roe (bass, synth, and guitar), Kay Hamacher (guitar), and Ryan Haley (drums).

There are eight tracks on the new album, and they display a greater narrative variety compared to the earlier release because Endless Halls Of Golden Totem is not a themed album. “Legends of Time and Eidolon” starts the boulder rolling with a commanding guitar riff that is quickly surrounded by the rhythm section and a synth line. Johnny Halladay’s voice rises, sounding like a traveling mage delivering the harrowing tale from village to village. The lead guitar skips in trippingly with bright colors highlighting the deepening story and completing it.

Every song on the album is constructed with the same thoughtful complexity and earnest roundedness. The styles vary from one to the next offering a rich listening environment. The music has roots in classic metal while pushing grand stories and power metal appreciations. The opening bars of “Put Down Your Steel” reminded me a little of Judas Priest but the rest of the song didn’t. “The Executioner’s Woe” made me instantly – and only for an instant – remember Rainbow’s Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll before moving off in other directions.

The title track alternates between power metal pronouncements and quieter moments while “Alchemist’s Brute” offers a light-hearted eeriness. The final song is “Into Shores Of Blood” and it is somber and sorrowful to begin with but turns up the tension and volume after a couple minutes to deliver a colossal sound. Blazon Rite made a good decision to create this kind of album in all its variety that nevertheless preserves in each song the band’s core principles. Recommended.

Endless Halls Of Golden Totem is out from Gates Of Hell Records this Friday, June 18th, in digital, CD, and vinyl forms.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blazonrite.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/blazonriteofficial

Gates of Hell Records, http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/

Review of Dulce Bellum Inexpertis, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/22/blazon-rite-dulce-bellum-inexpertis-review-gates-of-hell-records-2020/

Blazon Rite, Endless Halls Of Golden Totem (Gates Of Hell Records 2021)

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Norway’s White Tundra is coming out hot with new seven-inch riffery that’ll get you groovin’.

The band is fairly new, having formed into a single unit just a few years ago. Last year, they released the Graveyard Blues EP, and now we have this new single seven. It is a riff-and-groove affair, like riding in a dune buggy in the sun while watching encroaching storm clouds on the horizon.

“Honningfella” sounds like a giant tromping the ground and swinging small trees around. The steady pulsing guitars and single-along moments make this song a heavy rotation necessity.

They get the wood block out for “One More Place,” making me nostalgic for the 70s. This one is more of a sitting down song that the A-side track. Take a load off, imbibe, nod your head. Repeat.

We don’t cover singles much here but this new White Tundra release was just so much fun there was no way to resist. Super fuzzy, extra buzzy. Recommended.

You can pick this up right now – hit the links below. The digital is out and the physicals ship in early July.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://whitetundra.bandcamp.com/album/honningfella

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WhiteTundraBand

All Good Clean Records, https://www.allgoodcleanrecords.com/

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Crypta, Echoes Of The Soul (Napalm Records 2021)

Crypta, a metal band reaching across the globe from Brazil to the Netherlands, release their first full-length album, Echoes Of The Soul.

Composed of former members of Nervosa, Burning Witches, and Hagbard, Crypta brings forth the Death Metal like no other. The band is Fernanda Lira (bass and vocals), Sonia Anubis (guitar), Tainá Bergamaschi (guitar), and Luana Dametto (drums). Together they form a whomping juggernaut fit to crack your bones.

You don’t hear a lot of female vocalists in heavy music, especially ones rolling out coarse deliveries. An obvious example is Butcher Babies, of course, and Dopethrone, but thinking of others requires some reflection. Crypta leans more toward the Black Metal hiss side of Death Metal vocalizations, hailing the dark and menacing.

There are nine songs and an into bit on Echoes Of The Soul. “Starvation” starts off at a full sprint. The percussion is insidious, the riffs contentious, and the vocals are threatening. That is a good combination. The lead break runs the range of steady to hyper in a display of possibilities. “Possessed” follows and is more theatrical in a Phantom of the Opera kind of way. Wicked and eerie, it is, with a sorrowful lead.

“Under The Black Wings” stands out to me for the heaviness and darkness of its composition. You have a real sense of witnessing an inevitable calamity when you hear it. I really like “Dark Night Of The Soul” as well for its incredible lead guitar work and the closer, “From The Ashes” might be the song to either open or end the show on tour because it has a burning energy that can work at both perspectives. This is a different kind of Death Metal and well worth your attention. Recommended.

Echoes Of The Soul is out now and available all around.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://cryptabrazil.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.cryptaofficial.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/cryptadeath

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/crypta

Crypta, Echoes Of The Soul (Napalm Records 2021)