Mausoleum ~ Anatomia, Split (HPGD Productions 2021)

Two titanic bands have joined together to crack the earth with a double punch of death and doom.

Mausoleum is a Pennsylvania Death Metal band that has been rounding the sun since 2001. Anatomia started in the following year with an eastern locus, pushing more in the Doom direction. Late last year they put together a limited split on vinyl and cassette, and now it is getting wider circulation with a CD version and a digital presentation through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

Side A is four tracks from Mausoleum titled Nyctophilia. This is their first release since 2017’s Cadaveric Displays from the Funeral. “Shadows On the Grave” begins with a driving flurry and a ravaging vocal all right in line with the theme established by the title. “Voices from Beyond” balances chaos with the need to understand and asks the tough questions. There is a great dueling lead guitar segment in there as well. “Shrieks of Fright” winds up from a plod to a rager that kicks you in the throat and then shows you the edge of the end of the world. “The Dark Abysmal” is the final nail and it is set to with a merciless hammer of conquest.

Anatomia has the B Side, putting down three strong tracks. “Mangled Flesh” is the introduction and it opens with a charging assault then rides waves of variegated speed, taking a moment for even a Funeral Doom reflection. “Rotting Innards” starts with stings then rolls out the grinding wheel to turn your bones to dust. The overall feeling is absolutely hopelessness. “In The Crypt” offers spirituality with a ghostly preponderance and a disturbingly quiet approach to disarticulation across eons. Like no other track on the album, this one makes/allows you to confront yourself.

Both bands foster themes of horror in their music and they are the perfect match, making this split a fortuitous culmination. Each has death and doom approaches that interact and crossover in separate and unique ways. Putting them together creates a bigger whole. Highly recommended.

The CD and digital download from HPGD will be available on Friday, March 12th. You can also pick up a t-shirt with the great cover art.

Links.

HPGD Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/split-album-2

Label, http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Anatomia Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ANATOMIA-166448756742258/

Mausoleum Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thezombiecult

Anatomia Bandcamp, https://anatomia.bandcamp.com/

Mausoleum Bandcamp, https://thezombiecult.bandcamp.com/

Mausoleum ~ Anatomia, Split (HPGD Productions 2021)

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Finland’s Wolfheart adds more Death Metal to the universe with two new songs and a couple of rarities on their EP Skull Soldiers.

The band has a long history of powerful metal creation and performance. Since 2013 they have released five full-length albums, the most recent being Wolves of Karelia (2020). Given this history, you have to expect and new long-player before very long, and this four track vehicle is just the thing to hold fans over until the bigger one arrives. The lineup for Skull Soldiers is Tuomas Saukkonen (vocals and guitar), Lauri Silvonen (bass and vocals), Joonas Kauppinen (drums), and Vagelis Karzis (guitar).

There are two new songs on the EP. “Skull Soldiers” has a driving, threatening beat and an eerie surrounding shroud, keeping its distance from the frantic activity while maintaining a menacing posture. The lead guitar foments an elegant and clinical execution. “Hereditary” continues the ideas established in the opener, turning them a bit more buoyant. The speed is cranked up and the lead break on this song is blistering mayhem.

“Aeon Of Cold” is an acoustic presentation of this popular track from Shadow World. It is beautiful and melancholy, conveying deep feeling and bringing out emotions from the listener – either sadness or melancholy or nostalgia, whatever you have inside you. The vocals are smooth and clear on this track, elevating the impact.

And then there is “Reaper” from the Wolves of Karelia album, captured live during a streaming event last year. The band absolutely crushes this one. It rips and roars and leaves you ragged. These four songs are a great item for fans of the band and an nice overview for newcomers to the fold. Recommended.

Skull Soldiers is out now. The download is still available, but the limited vinyl might have left this earthly plane already. Have a look at the Bandcamp link.

Links.

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

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

Store, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/wolfheart

Wolfheart, Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records 2021)

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

New French musical project Exanimis issue their first long-player, Marionnettiste.

The story is that the band “was created by former students of the Music Academy International, who all shared a passion for extreme and technical musical styles and set out to create a sound that merges the atmosphere of horror and fantasy soundtracks with the heaviness and technical intricacies of metal.” So far so good. Looking over the usual internet resources for info on the musicians in the band, not much comes up, suggesting a glistening newness. The only way to know is to listen.

There are nine tracks on the album, including an on- and off-ramp and one brief transition piece in the middle. After one pass, the target does seem to be Dream Theater, although the themes are more along the horror lines, or at the very least, darkening in that direction. The opening segment is a prelude, and it starts out quietly, as they do, building slowly and theatrically to include a bigger sound and a creepy chorus of voices. The first principal song is “The Wrathful Beast,” and it has a very Danny Elfman-esque structure, but even more elaborate and with rapid blasting percussion and big electrical guitar moments to go along with the orchestration. There are a lot of moving parts here, and the lead vocal is of a toned-down death metal variety (meaning not quite as harsh as you might encounter in a typically death metal band).

If it is complex arrangements you are looking for, this is the place. The sheer number of elements is sometimes overwhelming and can seem excessive. Sorting them all out will take more than one listening. And this is just the first relative short piece running only five minutes. The epic is “Cathedral” at the end, clocking in at over sixteen minutes, and it has rivals. This is beyond prog metal. It pushes into a land of its own creation that at times seems like an endless house of mirrors. The music is full, that’s for sure, and it has a heaping dose of metal and dark, edgy thematic constructions. All these things together lead me to recommend the album for the more adventurous métallurgistes out there.

Marionnettiste drops on Friday, March 5th at the label link or Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://weareexanimis.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Label, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Norwegian metal duo Gorr strike back with their second album in as many years.

Gorr is Gjøran Sæther, known as Skuggimaðr, and Evan Barton, known as Hateful Wind. The band is in the earlier stages and is still growing into its emerging identity. The musicians have done a lot of work under different fronts and so the experience the have, even if it is relatively new, is also notably deep.

The opening track has a desert vibe to it, which works in arctic environments, too. A solitary guitar alongside a hissing vocal is all that is utilized for the first minute and a half, and then minimal percussion swings in to finish it off. The very next song opens full blast with the vocals mixed heavy into the forefront, posting very black metal. Side one wraps on the contemplative “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” – distressed, forlorn, hopeless.

Rapid riffs crack open the second triplet, forging an opening for rampaging percussion. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” has a similar opening but a different trajectory, and it is more driving and persistent. The closing song has a droning quality to it at the jump, and an overwhelming, hyper-stimulated essence along with a new raspiness to the vocal. Any intimation of relief is entirely gone by now, and it is no longer simply sadness, it is suffering.

The artists describe the album, in part, this way: “The duality in relying on nature for survival and the very clear sense of doom that follows closely is reflected through this album. Life and death, combat and construction, noble goals and meaningless losses. This is Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket.” Even without the explanation many of these ideas come through very clearly in the music. It makes sense to me. Recommended.

Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket is out now and Bandcamp is the place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gorr.bandcamp.com/album/kvit-som-sn-en-kald-i-blikket

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

Website, https://gorr.no/

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Golgotha, Remembering the Past – Writing the Future (Xtreem Music 2021)

Golgotha – the band from Spain – offers an extended abbreviated album to follow up on the success of the impressive Erasing The Past record from 2019.

This enterprise has had several incarnations. In the mid-1990s, they came together and released two full-length albums, a couple of EPs, and several demos. Taking a break at the end of the century, the band coalesced again for New Life in 2005, then had another hiatus. A couple years ago, resurgent energy was found again, and the musicians are creating new music. The band for Remembering the Past – Writing the Future is Amón López (vocals), Vicente Payá (guitar), Samuel Morales (guitar), Andrew Spinosa (bass), and Tomeu Crespí (drums).

“Don’t Waste Your Life” in some ways functions as the overture, presenting themes that will recur and showing the phases the guitars, vocals, and other instruments will vacillate between. “Helpless” is next, and it plows a neighboring field, establishing the low boundaries and the highs. “I Am Lost” has a forceful opening statement surrounded by sinister whispers and solemn melody. “Elemental Changes” begins softly and sweetly in the piano, strings, and voice, introducing strong, slow guitar riffs to set up the narrative vocal. The song goes toward loudness and never turns fully back.

“Lonely” is a long, dirge-like reminiscence that begins quietly and turns into savage growling in a caustic devolution. From doom to death you might say, and back again. A couple of times, in the manner of a sine wave. It is the longest piece on the album, and the anchor, but really all of the tracks have an insular oneness about them, and any of them could be the beginning or the end. I like the music for its mix of doom and death styles, and for the way beautiful, quiet melodies exist in and among the savagery. Recommended.

Remembering the Past – Writing the Future is out today, March 2nd, and you can get yours at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Website, http://www.golgothaofficial.com/

Golgotha, Remembering the Past – Writing the Future (Xtreem Music 2021)

Melvins, Working With God (Ipecac Recordings 2021)

The new album from the Melvins features the lineup from the early days and thirteen tracks of rarified rock weirdness/goodness.

When you speak aloud the name Melvins the response you get is either instant radical awareness or confusion. There isn’t a lot of middle ground. I saw them at the Louder Than Life festival a couple years ago. They got slotted on the far-flung stage (you know the one I am talking about if you’ve ever been to that festival) fairly early in the day and they tore it up on a short sharp set. Their performance was a highlight for me, clearly surpassing bands that came later in the bill. They play an indie, fuzzy grunge that comes at you from peculiar angles and hits you in unexpected places. There is no other band like them.

The line-up for Working With God is Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover, and Mike Dillard, taking the band back to its event horizon. The creative energy in the music is the whirlwind we have come to expect on Melvins releases, which now number in the uncountable range. The opening song is “I Fuck Around,” a Beach Boys parody. Nice. “Negative No No” comes next, and it is a fuzzy grunge fest. “Bouncing Rick” picks up the pace and franticness, handing the baton off to “Caddy Daddy” for a little drone. The first dose of absolute weirdness is “Brian, The Horse-Faced Goon.” And that is weird as in Mothers of Invention weird. Time for a smoke.

The themes are can be pretty accurately assessed from the song titles, and the sensibility is blowing off steam and not a lot of deep thought. It is pulsing hard-edged rock whipped up in endless variety and with boundless creativity. The back half doesn’t slow down at all, kicking off with “Boy Mike” and clipping into the delightful sentiment of “Fuck You.” There is the spacey “The Great Good Place” and “Hot Fish,” the longest song of the set that can be understood as a litany of frustration or as something else entirely. “Hund” is a B-12 shot to get you ready for the send-off, “Goodnight Sweet Heart,” which is either really funny or a total mindfuck, depending on where you are in your evening. Working With God is another raucous affair, and no mistake. Highly recommended.

The album is out now, so go scoop it up. Limited edition vinyl has sold out (at Bandcamp) but the regular is still available, and so are CDs and downloads.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://melvinsofficial.bandcamp.com/album/working-with-god

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

Website, https://melvins.veeps.com/

Label, http://ipecac.com/

Melvins, Working With God (Ipecac Recordings 2021)

Aeonblack, The Time Will Come (MDD Records 2021)

German power metal band Aeonblack circle back around to deliver another dose of heavy music that is loud and speedy.

The origins of the band go back to the late 1980s when they were known as Groggy Elks, releasing one demo in 1999. With a name change in 2003, the group moved ahead with its brand of straight-forward metal, calibrated to a mid-quick tempo and taking a page from the book of bands like Judas Priest. Under the present moniker, there has been an EP in 2007 to go along with the Metal Bound long-player from 2015. The band for the new album is (according to the Metal Archives) Holger Berger (vocals), Ferdinand Panknin (guitar and bass), Peter Steinbach (drums), Michael Maunze (guitar, Keys, and bass).

The compositions are firmly rooted in an earlier day, and they are extremely solid and loyal to that era. They stretch some into newer forms while always keeping true to the starting point. The musicianship is top-notch and the band is firing on all cylinders. Berger’s voice does sound a bit like Rob Halford, and here again you can think of that as a starting point from which he reaches out in his own directions.

The songs are mostly in the four-to-five minute range, and are typically set at a driving gallop. The title track is a longer adventure, with the obligatory quieter elements to create a space for the sense of epic presentation, and there is even a short instrumental lead-on track to set it up. The riffs are steady and the lead work is crisp and reliable. The drumming has received more of a modern infusion than most of the other moving parts, and that helps the music glisten.

Songs like “Warrior’s Call” are roaring drag race, and “Nightwalker” has a more gothic feel to it. There are enough melodic passages to label the music that way, even going nearly full ballad at one point. Overall the music is more peppy than it is insurgent, but it is clearly a metal album. I liked it all the way through, and the album gets especially high marks for the drumming and lead guitar work. Recommended.

The Time Will Come is out now. Look it over at the Bandcamp page, or at the label’s website. You can get the back catalogue at the former, including the Groggy Elks demo from way back when.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://aeonblack1.bandcamp.com/album/the-time-will-come

Website, https://www.aeonblack.de/?lang=en

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AEONBLACK-140787565995220/

Label, https://mdd-shop.de/en/search/query?desc=on&sdesc=on&keywords=aeonblack

Aeonblack, The Time Will Come (MDD Records 2021)

Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC 2021)

Rock and Roll icon Alice Cooper takes a nostalgic strut through the historic musical verity of Detroit.

I don’t have to tell you who Alice Cooper is, right? I have written many times about how his music, together with Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, and Nazareth, were the first sounds I heard that turned me toward the heavy. He did have a period of metal music, but that is not the way he started out and most of his work is in the hard rock lane with plenty of pop rock/metal orientation. Oh, and Shock Rock. Yeah. He did that first.

Cooper was born in 1943 and so he is now 73 years old. How is that affecting his musical composition and performance? Not in any apparent negative way, I can tell you that. I saw him at the Greek Theater in LA a couple summers ago and the show was amazing. The performance was just as energetic and exciting as it was decades ago. I don’t know how he still does it, but he definitely still does.

If you look at his recent studio albums, they are up to a high standard as well. The most recent one was Paranormal in 2017, and it is filled to the brim with rockers and bangers, crisp and cracking. He continues to cover a lot of the same subjects as he has in the past, and if anything he his music has become less gimmicky, leaning more towards a straight-forward rock approach.

There are fifteen tracks on the new album. Cooper’s voice is strong and familiar. And unique. The music is guitar driven hard rock, running radio length. There are a couple songs that are a little longer, but they are all designed to be digestible. There are a couple of stylistic homages in there, but mainly these songs are bangers that cook and move in all the right ways to get you on your feet and going. Songs that have a slower pace tend toward blues or mysteriousness. No ballads at all. The album is exactly what I was hoping for, and it is the perfect follow-up to Paranormal, showing that the quality of that album was no fluke.

When big live shows come back the first thing I am going to do is buy a ticket for wherever Alice Cooper is playing and go see him live again. I didn’t really need any additional motivation to make this oath, but Detroit Stories is nevertheless an extra push. Highly recommended.

You can get Detroit Stories starting now. There are many bundles and versions. The one I liked best is a basic one – the CD and DVD combo that includes A Paranormal Evening At The Olympia Paris. That was a great concert and if you didn’t pick it up already when it came out then here is a great chance to get the add-on.

Links.

Website, https://alicecooper.com/

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

Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC 2021)

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)

Italian death metal gets an extra horror crank with Tenebro on Liberaci dal Male.

The band appears to be a duo with Il Becchino on vocals and guitar and Il Beccamorto on bass and percussion. Previously, according to the Metal Archives, Il Becchino was the only credited musician on the first music released. It has been reported separately that there were a few issues in the lineup but some solidifying has occurred that allowed a second EP to be issued late last year.

The new CD release of Liberaci dal Male includes the three tracks from the cassette version that was released last year by Dismal Fate Records plus the songs on the Demo cassette released in 2019 by Desert Wasteland Productions (also three tracks), conveniently gathering them all together.

The demo tracks start with “Seppellendo i Morti” which has a great chunky, mid-tempo grinding plod accompanied by low growling vocals. The speed and urgency pick up in the guitars and drums as the song moves along. By the end we have settled into the groove and the energy is pulsing. “Nel Terrore” has even more distortion and deeper vocals with a rhythm progression that puts you a little off balance. “All’interno del Cimitero” offers the plainest expression of cinematic themes of the three tracks with dialogue clips from films that lead into the heavy guitars.

The Liberaci dal Male tracks start with a chainsaw effect on the first track, “Cannibalismo Sanguinario” – I don’t speak Italian but I think I can make out what this one is about. This song leans heavy on the doom and includes sporadic drum blasts and tempo shifts. “Arte Funeraria” positively drips with gloom. It is a feast for the decadent horror fans among us. On the third track, film dialogue returns with much screaming and distress on “Il Lamento dei Malati.” Here again the drear is laid on especially thick, and as a complement there are periodic episodes of blast beats and more horror dialogue.

I like the gloomy nature of the music throughout the compilation. Functionality takes center stage to move the ideas along and the death metal is drenched in a doom sensibility. Recommended.

The CD is out now from Xtreem Music. If you want a digital download, the two original releases can be had for free (Name Your Price) separately on Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://tenebro666.bandcamp.com

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/xtreemmusic666

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)

The third album from Switzerland’s Profond Barathe is an instrumental journey through a dark wonderland without a firm concept of edges.

The band is Joachim Braekman (guitar), Morgan d’Argenteuil (drums), and Julien Floch (bass). The first album they released was Un voile de poussière in 2008, followed the very next year by Snaar. There was a split a few years later with Rorcal and Malvoisie that included the massive passage “Illunis,” but mainly the musicians were occupied in other quarters during this while until recently. Tinnitus, then, has been a long time coming and is therefore eagerly anticipated by fans.

The album was recorded a couple of years ago and seeing release only now. There are five long tracks on it, each conveying a unique aspect. “Stella” is ominous, like the story of a plague creeping in before anybody knows it is there. It carries the hallmarks of doom. “Spiritus” has no delineated boundary in a form I can recognize. I do hear black metal nuances in there, intended or not. The music is more active than in the opening song, more directly penetrating.

“Anima” is the most solemn entry of the set, a harbinger of the future of man. “Corpus” is cold and poignant, a marker for all the music herein perhaps but exemplified partiularly in this incarnation. The final track is “Terra” and the music seems sung by a choir of forlorn entities as they slowly diminish into nonexistence. Listening to it a second time prompted me to start at the beginning and when I did I came away with an even stronger sense of the ethereal. However it all came to be, the music on this record is moving in ways both quiet and thundering. Recommended.

Tinnitus is available in full on Friday, February 26th and can be preordered now. Hummus Records has a couple of vinyl versions in extremely limited supply.

Links.

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

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

Hummus Records, https://hummus-records.com/

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)