Aphonic Threnody, The Great Hatred review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

Abandon all hope and embrace the infinite with the new album from Aphonic Threnody.

The band is Juan Escobar C. and Riccardo Veronese, and they have released three full-length albums (counting the new one – and four if you count First Funeral) along with several splits since 2013. The music is full fathom five Funeral Doom. Consider the name of the band – “aphonic” means not able to make sound (or only a whisper) and “threnody” is a song for the dead. In the music of Aphonic Threnody, there is a dirge supported by steady vocalizations, sometimes gruff, sometimes quietly melodic, sometimes gently spoken. The non-vocal parts shift from dramatic to stalwart, always conveying an inevitability.

Every song has a different depth of feeling and  perspective. The guitar in “The Great Hatred” is filled with indescribable sorrow that can only be understood in the listening, and the strings just after are a retelling in soaking sadness. The coarse vocals in “Drowning” are filled with frightening menace even as the piano is reassuring (although deterministic). “Locura,” which opens the album, is sheer hopelessness while the closing song, “The Fall,” has a more calculated thread of demise with uplifting moments that are nevertheless firmly set in the incontrovertible certainty of doom.

The compositions are carefully and deeply layered to create an immersive experience. The atmosphere is a preternatural inescapability and if the music does not provide comfort for the terminal subjects in their waning moments it does offer surety that the path is unalterable and that, in the absence of acceptance, there is only suffering. This album is going to be high on my 2020 Funeral Doom list. Recommended.

The Great Hatred is out now from Transcending Obscurity and through Bandcamp. Great bundles are available from the always-reliable Transcending Obscurity. Links below.


Band Bandcamp, https://aphonicthrenodydoom.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/aphonic.threnody.5

Band YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/c/AphonicThrenody

TO website, https://tometal.com/

TO Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

TO US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Aphonic Threnody, The Great Hatred review (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

Kneel, Ailment review (Raging Planet 2020)

Kneel has released a new album after many years of reckoning and introspection. At least, that is what Ailment seems like.

Kneel is Pedro Mau, with vocals by Filipe Correia. Mau handles all the other instruments and composition. The earlier album from Kneel is 2013’s Interstice, and the new one follows a similar Hardcore / Mathcore tranche. The music is a settled, punishing groove that keeps jumping the tracks.

Each song has a single word for a title which encapsulates the idea or feeling or story. Even more precisely (and generally) than that, Pedro Mau comments on the album, in part, this way: “The accumulation of small problems in our lives can lead us, sooner or later, to situations that can get out of our control.” Some of the songs build this into their own microcosm, and you can also see it as an arc throughout the entire set. It is a long run arc in the sense that your anxiety mounts the longer you listen – the only door you can see rattles on it hinges but instead of flying open to allow for escape it is fusing shut a little more with each passing song.

The halfway point, “Raptorial,” is so harsh and upsetting you start wondering if this is the mental equivalent of a cardiac stress test. But that is the hump, and once over it you have become one of the inhabitants of the world. By the time you get to the closer, “Acuity,” you are unshaken by the rage of the tortuous waves. It is no longer a cacophony. It starts to seem merely like the truth. In a fascinating way, it is the exact opposite of the quotation above – instead of the music spinning out of control, it has become more understandable.

Available now from Raging Planet (Portugal) and Planet K Records (Italy), conveniently sourced through Bandcamp, Ailment will not make you feel better, but it might help you get on with it.


Kneel Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/seekinsideyourself

Kneel Bandcamp, https://kneel.bandcamp.com/

Raging Planet, http://www.ragingplanet.pt

Planet K Records, https://planetkrecords.bandcamp.com/

Kneel, Ailment review (Raging Planet 2020)

Furnace, Dark Vistas review (Soulseller Records 2020)

Swedish Death Metal band Furnace release their second album this year, Dark Vistas.

Rogga Johansson (guitars, lead vocals) and Peter Svensson (bass, backing vocals) are joined by drummer Lars Demoké for the concept album Dark Vistas. It is astonishing to have a second album this year from Furnace (according to the Metal Archives), most particularly because it is essentially one big story. That is a lot of music, taken together. Maybe it is just a release timing coincidence. In any case, it is great to have both albums out now. The other album is Black Stone Church, and make sure you give it a listen, too. It is very good.

The primary themes on the new one are in the Cthulhu Mythos H. P. Lovecraft created. The dark, magical world of decadence and suffering is the perfect place for Death Metal, and Furnace make the most of the complementarities.

The music is on the Heavy Metal side of Death Metal – that is, melodic and broad with enough of an edge to know there is a knife. The vocals are coarse and decipherable while the tempo hovers in the midrange. Cinematic I would call it.

If you have read Lovecraft, then you will slide right into the narrative of the album. If not, you can catch up as you go along. The music is riff-heavy, leaning on the vocals and guitar harmony rather than big lead breaks. Some of my favorite tracks include “From The Blackest Void” which manages to be dreary and upbeat at the same time, and “The Calling” (released as a single) for its grand scope and its insistent percussion. There is a through line binding the entire set together and so you will hear recurring elements until it is all resolved in the end.

Dark Vistas is out now and available from Soulseller Records. You can also get it at Bandcamp.


Furnace Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/blackstonechurch666/

Soulseller Records Bandcamp, https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/

Soulseller website, http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

Furnace, Dark Vistas review (Soulseller Records 2020)

Kira, Peccatum et Blasphemia review (Ossuary Records 2020)

Black Metal band Kira release their second album, Peccatum et Blasphemia.

From the Opoczno, Poland, Kira has quickly built a solid reputation in the heavy music world. Their first album, Ancient Lies, was very straight forward hardcore in its approach. Most songs were three minutes or so long (several shorter) so the musical ideas came in fierce bursts. On the new album, the concepts are somewhat larger and more fully developed, with more elements of doom. The songs are generally longer with a couple over the seven and eight minute mark, allowing for more latitude in composition variety and execution.

“The Fearful One” starts the set off with a wall of threat – a massive coordinated push to make way for the distinctive, demonic vocals. “In the Devil’s Embrace” is a grinding wheel that crushes you with its persistence. “Lord of Hallucinations” begins with a shriek and then opens the door to a Doom Metal clarifier. The song resolves in an absolute frenetic explosion. “Lucifer’s Herald” is yet another perspective with its chopping rhythm and tortured guitar lead.

Throughout the album stories are told in a classic Death and Black Metal style augmented by clever appropriations that are far ranging, from theatrical to sweeping orchestral movements to quieter moments. Songs like “One Gram of Your Soul” border on Funeral Doom while “Necroscience” sets a blistering pace. “Temple of Suffering” could have been written by Danny Elfman if he crossed over to the dark side and started composing Black Metal music. The occult and dark fantasy themes are interesting and engaging, complementing the music. This album will be high on my list for 2020 releases. Highly recommended.

Peccatum et Blasphemia is available now. You can get the album at Ossuary Records or Bandcamp (links below).


Band Bandcamp, https://kira666.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/KIRANAMELESS

Label, http://ossuaryrecords.com/en/

Kira, Peccatum et Blasphemia review (Ossuary Records 2020)

The Troops of Doom, The Rise of Heresy review (Blood Blast Distribution 2020)

The debut release from Troops of Doom is a Heavy Metal eruption that will be heard in every corner of the Earth.

The band is from Brazil: Jairo “Tormentor” Guedz (guitar), Alex Kafer (bass and vocals), Marcelo Vasco (guitar), and Alexandre Oliveira (drums). You certainly recognize the first person on that list as an original guitarist for Sepultura. The sound of The Troops of Doom has its starting point in early (classic) Death Metal, and from there it grows into its own beast.

The new EP has four original songs and two covers of well-known Sepultura songs. First the originals. “Whispering Dead Words” has an orchestral opening with big brass horns and the full complement. The strangling starts right past the one minute mark. “Inspired by hate / Existence fades away / Burn those bastards / To Infernal flames.” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is a ripper – fast and furious, with a catchy clomping riff in the middle. “The Confessional” has that steady head banging momentum as well, leading into the title song, which is the track that’s stands out the most for me. “The Rise of Heresy” displays punishing percussion and fierce rhythm riffs standing shoulder to shoulder with the grizzly vocals.

The covers are “Bestial Devastation” from the Bestial Devastation (1985) EP and “Troops of Doom” from Morbid Visions (1986). The new versions certainly sound better given the more recent recording capabilities and the covers are consistent musically with the originals. It is nice to hear them updated and they ring as true in their new incarnations as they did back in the mid-1980s originals.

The Rise of Heresy is available now in the digital and you can get it at Amazon Music and stream it at Spotify. Physical versions are on the horizon and are popping up in various forms around the globe. Think of tracking them down as a quest. Whatever way you consume this music, if you are a fan of Sepultura, you are bound to like The Troops of Doom. Recommended.


Band Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/thetroopsofdoom/

Band YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkmgbCkDR4PohSI89P14pLg

Blood Blast, http://www.bloodblast.com

Blood Blast Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/BloodBlastDistribution

Amazon Music, https://www.amazon.com/music

The Troops of Doom, The Rise of Heresy review (Blood Blast Distribution 2020)

Arcadian Child, Protopsycho review (Ripple Music 2020)

The third album from the Limassol, Cyprus psychedelic rock band Arcadian Child is a wellspring of musical circumstance. It has tendrils that will touch you even when the quiet comes.

I do not know much about the band. According to the internet, it is populated by Panagiotis Georgiou (vocals, guitars), Stathis Hadjicharalambous (guitars), Andreas Kerveros (bass and vocals), and Constantinos Pavlides (drums). Their first album was Afterglow (2017), followed by Superfonica (2018). These two albums have a more grunge-like approach than the new one, and they are a bit more musically linear. The latest is a departure. It is not completely different, but it has a more ethereal quality to it. Listening to Protopsycho muted my cerebral filters so let me just recount what poured out through my keyboard while it was happening.

“Snakecharm” has a definite winding and rectilinear undulation to it, with an exotic echo that becomes the musical pattern. “Wave High” continues the desert warble and magical theme, while “Sour Grapes” has more blatantly psychedelic elements and inward looking conceptualizations. Mysticism lives in “The Well,” from its harmony wave background (as in South Asian music) at the beginning to its ethereal insinuation that becomes the primary companion. The peace is disturbed by heavily distorted guitars on the back end that turn the trip toward a more sinister aspect.

“Bitter Tea” was released as a single. It has a plucky and chatty essence. “Bodies of Men” is a drive down a lonely road at night with only one working headlight and 3/8 of a tank of gas. Very catchy riffing. “Raisin’ Fire” has a long steady chanting set up for the sprint at the end, where things really start to kick in. The closer is the title track. It is the culmination of the ritual that has been going on since the record first started to spin. The music rises and repeats in a rotational confrontation to exterior motion. And then it comes to rest.

Protopsycho is a Rebel Waves Records release from Ripple Music, available at Bandcamp and the other regulars. I am going to have to sit with this music for a while to allow the full impact to land. My first impression is: recommended.


Band Bandcamp, https://arcadianchildband.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/arcadianchildband/

Band YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKI7gQhSPURQglbhd3MMm4g

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Arcadian Child, Protopsycho review (Ripple Music 2020)

Death Angel, Under Pressure review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Metal icons Death Angel release a four track acoustic EP of three covers and one new song.

Fans of Death Angel are used to crushing Thrash riffs and blistering lead breaks. Quiet, slow acoustic melodies barely even waft through the transom of your mind when Death Angel is on. Usually. But these are weird times and all sorts of unusual things are happening.

The set is titled for the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure,” which was a huge pop hit way back when. Death Angel’s version is an acoustic replication that is an homage in a clear show of respect to the artists and composition of the original. The new song is “Faded Remains.” It is a song of hopelessness and plays like a Murder Folk entry with an exceptional lead moment. You can bet this one will be in the live sets when the world comes back.

The other two pieces are acoustic versions of well-known Death Angel songs: “A Room With A View” from Act III and “Revelation Song” from Humanicide. The former song was largely acoustic in its original incarnation but it had a heavy middle. Here there is a nice acoustic lead break in the middle and what sounds to me like a quiet electric guitar, too (and again at the end). For “Revelation Song,” the guitars are very aggressive, pushing the threat level up for an instrument of pacifism. The vocals are also gruffer, pledging a direct line to the original version from last year’s original.

This is most definitely a different take for the band, and that is exactly what it is supposed to be. Recommended.

The digital EP is available right now. Look for it on Amazon and other outlets (link below to streaming sources).


Band website, https://www.deathangel.us/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/deathangel/

Nuclear Blast streaming link, http://nblast.de/DAUnderPressure

YouTube video of “Under Pressure”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hCy1Y5_-k8

Death Angel, Under Pressure review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

The iconic rock band Blue Öyster Cult releases its first full-length studio album in nineteen years.

Here is where I am coming from as far as Blue Öyster Cult goes. The first three albums are unassailable. As far as I am concerned, nothing serious can be said against them. After that, I have unpopular tastes with regard to the catalogue. Agents of Fortune (1976) is a classic, true, but I never really connected with Spectre (1977) or Mirrors (1979). I absolutely love the sequence of albums from the early 1980s: Cultosaurus Erectus (1980), Fire of Unknown Origin (1981), and The Revolution By Night (1983). Also Imaginos (1988) – an excellent reimagining. The other albums are good, and I listen to them still, but not as much as the ones on my list. Blue Öyster Cult has created a large catalogue of amazing music and some song or another of theirs is always in my rotation. They are one of my all-time favorite bands.

I’ve been waiting for The Symbol Remains anxiously, wanting new music I would really like to listen to. With so much great work that had come before, a reasonable person faces new music from a band that hasn’t put anything out in a long while with some trepidation. Like when Black Sabbath released 13 (2013). They had not released a full-length studio album as Black Sabbath for almost twenty years. I sweated that one, but 13 was excellent, and the band supported the album with a great tour. Fingers crossed, then, for the new Blue Öyster Cult. The band is Eric Bloom (vocals, guitar), Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (guitar), Richie Castellano (keys, guitar, vocals), Danny Miranda (bass), and Jules Radino (drums). With the two originals Bloom and Roeser, and the longtime bandmates Castellano, Miranda, and Radino, the lineup is rock solid.

The hour-long album starts with a banger, the single “That Was Me.” It has the kind of sound I was hoping for, from the crisp guitar work to the distinctive vocals. This is Blue Öyster Cult. The next two songs (also released as singles) show a tonally lighter side to the band, demonstrating their musicianship and compositional prowess. Throughout the album, their creativity is on display from the amazing guitar work on “Nightmare Epiphany” to the theatrical Danny Elfman-esque “Edge of the World.” “Florida Man” is a quiet song with a lyrical lead break and rich harmonies. “The Alchemist” is dark and heavy, pushing out heavy threatening riffs and a wicked fantasy narrative. “Secret Road” is a desert driving song that will make you see rattlesnakes in your sleep. The variety is intoxicating.

Having listened to The Symbol Remains three times in a row, I know now that I was wrong before – there was never anything to worry about. This is an excellent album. This is Rock and Roll. Highly recommended.

The new BÖC album is out now. You can listen on Spotify and buy on Amazon and other places. The important thing is to here it.

Band photos snagged from the official website.


Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Scaphoid, Absent Passages review (Shunu Records 2020)

The first full-length album from Scaphoid is a straight-forward exposition of instrumental guitar fervor.

Scaphoid is Matt Hobart, an Austin, Texas musician who is a one man orchestra. In late 2016 he released a 25-minute EP (Dies Mercurii) under the Scaphoid name and since then has been quiet on that front. Absent Passages is a long awaited and very welcome return.

My earliest exposure to instrumental rock/metal guitar music was Frank Zappa and Shut Up ’N Play Your Guitar (1981). What an eye-opener that was. That album (3 LP set) was a collection of individual pieces Zappa had played from many different places, so it didn’t have a cohesiveness that a planned instrumental album would have. I heard that for the first time in Surfing with the Alien (1987) by Joe Satriani. Since then, for more than thirty years now, I have been constantly on the lookout for high quality instrumental rock guitar. I just found another one.

The single off the album is “Marauder,” and it leads off with a “let’s get acquainted” easiness. The Prog starts to pop at about the one minute mark, and the music takes off from there. When the lead appears, we know we are out of the parking lot and on the road. The style is matter-of-fact, the tone is establishing. Throughout the set ideas and emotions emerge and evolve, as with the very next song, “Shores of Ruin,” that moves the needle from the opener, then has some of its themes reëmerge later in songs like “Celestial Ego.” There is a direction, a trajectory that winds past many wonders but keeps heading for the destination. The closing number is “Infrastricken,” a fourteen minute mini-epic that might just be that destination we saw on the horizon or it could also be a launching pad for whatever comes next. The guitar work by this point has gone through many manifestations and takes, yet there is still more. The creativity and exploration of this final element of Absent Passages is an elegant summary and conclusion to the collection of songs, and could also easily be a stand-alone EP. High regards. Recommended.

On Friday, October 9th you can lay your head back and let the music seep in. Shunu Records and Bandcamp have the goods at the links below.


Scaphoid Bandcamp, https://scaphoid.bandcamp.com

Scaphoid Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/scaphoidmusic

Shunu Records, http://www.shunurecords.com

Scaphoid, Absent Passages review (Shunu Records 2020)

Ixion, L’Adieu aux Etoiles review (Finisterian Dead End 2020)

The fourth album from French Doom duo Ixion is a further exploration of sound, feeling, and meaning in the dark corners of existence.

Ixion is Julien Prat and Yannick Dilly. They have been releasing albums since 2011 in the vein of Atmospheric Doom, on the edge of Funeral Doom, really. Their most recent album is from 2017, Return, and it had a lighter feel to it in expression and tone compared to the first two albums. The new one sidles up to the dark side again taking the music on a deep space doom journey.

Ixion is the name of a king in Greek mythology that was condemned to spin on a “fiery wheel” for eternity for recalcitrant un-smiled-upon deeds. Traversing first in space and later in hell (Tartarus), Ixion is an icon of suffering. The firmament of this legend enhances the listening experience of L’Adieu aux Etoiles – I can see the burning wheel spinning in my mind while the music plays.

“Stellar Flight” is a somber traversing through the vacuum of time, and it is here the journey begins. All the primary elements are introduced from the enrichment of the dark forever to the melancholy of elegant doom. Throughout the album vocals both clean and corrupt wander the ethereal landscape of guitar and synthesizer. Occasional Prog sentiments appear but they do not stay long. There is a commitment to gloom and what sounds like either hopelessness or regret. Or both. The sorrow conveyed by the bowed string instruments on “Havoc” is elemental. The choir heard in the background of “The Black Veil” is beautiful, angelic, and sinister. Every texture has a surface feeling and a deeper layer, sometimes many, that bleed through the more you listen to them. The meaning is there if you want to know it. Recommended.

L’Adieu aux Etoiles is out on Friday, October 9th from Finisterian Dead End and available through Bandcamp. The back catalogue is on Bandcamp too for the committed.


Band, https://www.ixiondoom.com/

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

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ixiondoom

Finisterian Dead, https://finisteriandeadend.com/shop/en/29-ixion

Ixion, L’Adieu aux Etoiles review (Finisterian Dead End 2020)