Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined (Metal Blade 2021)

Death Metal icons Cannibal Corpse release their fifteenth studio album, expanding their canon and deepening their legacy.

The first album I heard from the band was their second one, Butchered At Birth (1991). Sure, I was drawn in by the cover art – the butcher on the right staring you straight in the eye is a compelling image – and I was glad I got the record after listening to it a few times. This was some of the earliest Death Metal that I had listened to, being usually drawn more toward thrash at the time. It made an impression. The music in recent years is quite a bit different, but there is no mistaking the importance of Cannibal Corpse to Death Metal and to heavy music in general. The band is now George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (vocals), Erik Rutan (guitar), Rob Barrett (guitar), Alex Webster (bass), and Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums).

There are eleven roaring tracks on the new album. “Murderous Rampage” is the opener and it sets a high bar with its blistering velocity and skull-smashing riffs. Fisher sounds as ferocious as ever and the guitars give a little nostalgic twist here and there. “Necrogenic Resurrection” ratchets up the angst and offers destabilizing tempo shift before a lead break that is delivered at top speed. “Inhumane Harvest” starts with a whirl and by now I know I am getting exactly what I was hoping for with the new album.

The music is heavy and coarse Death Metal all the way through with a surprisingly deep maneuvering of perspective and noticeable tone shifts. “Ritual Annihilation” stands apart for me, if I had to pick a single track, because it delivers my ideal of the music I think of when the name Cannibal Corpse comes up. The entire set is rock solid and will enter the list of the band’s releases in a high slot. Recommended.

Violence Unimagined is out now. There are many variants and enticing merch. Hit any link below and you’ll get there.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont.

Links.

Website, http://cannibalcorpse.net/

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

Metal Blade, https://metalblade.com/cannibalcorpse/

Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined (Metal Blade 2021)

Bewitcher, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media 2021)

The third album from Bewitcher is filled with sinister metal mayhem and headbanging kicks.

After releasing a handful of demos in the mid-twenty-teens, Bewitcher put out their first long-player in 2016, Bewitcher. Three years later there was Under The Witching Cross and the new one is a big step up in distribution and availability. This is a good thing for the metal listening public because the band has a style that will definitely appeal to a broad base of fans.

After a brief acoustic intro piece that transitions into the electric, the first song is “Death Returns…” It is a peppy metal positioning, upbeat in the rhythm and hoisting a roughened vocal presentation to tell a cautionary dark fantasy tale. It is goodtime music for bad times.

“Satanic Magic Attack” is another banger in a similar vein and we are getting the feeling that this is going to be a high-energy roll – and that is what you get, one song after another. Highlights include the title track with its short smash and grab attack and “Metal Burner” for a similar reason but at an even higher burn rate. “Valley of the Ravens” sticks in my head as well because it diverges and is more ponderous and has a weightier kind of power.

The out-song is “Sign Of The Wolf” and I think this one will get a lot of play on tour. I sure hope so. It is a great way to wrap up a good metal set, with catchy hooks and a short whirling lead break. I will be playing this album on the long summer road trips ahead. Recommended.

Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is out on Friday, April 16th in all the places you would expect.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.bewitcher.us/

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

Label, https://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=2019

Bewitcher, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom (Century Media 2021)

Wheel, Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

The third album from Germany’s Wheel is a new epistle in their Epic Doom story.

The band started in 2006 as Eternal Sleep, changing over to the current name three years later. The self-titled album came out in 2010, followed by Icarus in 2013 and a live album the next year. The new record then is the first in eight years and as such it is the culmination of an extended formative process. After a brief lineup shuffle, the band has returned to its early roster: Arkadius Kurek (vocals), Benjamin Homberger (guitar), Marcus Grabowski (bass), and Carsten Jercke (drums).

The music is Doom Metal, leaning toward the Epic Metal thematic arena. The big riff is the primary structure as we might expect, and the speed lurks around mid-tempo (on the doom scale). The tones are heavy and the vocals enlarged creating an expanding sense of scope in the dark landscape of the compositions.

“At Night They Came Upon Us” is the first song and as an introduction to the set it does the job – everything that is to come is signaled from the beginning. There are clever melodies in the guitar lines and vocal harmonies meant to deepen the delivery. There is a reflective slow-down toward the middle and compelling lead guitar instantiations. A charge is mounted near the end before the song finishes as it began. A very satisfying and complete structure.

My favorite tracks are “Aeon of Darkness” and the big closer “Daedalus” because they represent best to my ear the essence of the album. Picking out a couple tracks, however, is not the best way to hear Wheel. The impact is greater if you listen straight through from beginning to end.

Preserved In Time is out now. Gather it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wheeldoom.bandcamp.com/album/preserved-in-time

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

Label, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

Wheel, Preserved In Time (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

Finnish melodic Death Metal band Dark The Suns release their fourth full-length album.

According to the Microsoft translator, the album title Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is “grief raged in the darkness of my heart” in English. That is the perfect theme for the style of music Dark The Suns creates. The band started as a solo project by Mikko Ojala in 2003, evolving into a duo with Inka Tuomaala. After releasing three albums over the years, the band split up in 2013. The new album is their first music together as Dark The Suns since then.

There are ten songs in the set. The music is theatrical and emotive, cascading between quiet, lyrical moments and big metal explosions. You can get a sharp image in your head while listening, created by the fullness of the composition. For example, the opening track can be described as what we might expect if Danny Elfman wrote Death Metal music. Imagine Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King in a tight frontal shot marching up that crazy hill pumping his arms and moving with purpose in The Nightmare Before Christmas. “Spirit in the Dark” is the perfect music for it. Very theatrical, very full, and a complete vision.

There are symphonic elements throughout, and progressive ones as well. Even with this kind of complexity and attention to drama and presentation the metal music is always still there. The songs land at about radio length, tightly formed and design for impact. In this album you will find power and angst in the loud moments as well as the quiet ones. Recommended.

Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä is out now. You can buy it at Bandcamp and listen through the usual streaming outlets.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://www.inverse.fi/site/

Dark The Suns, Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä (Inverse Records 2021)

There Were Wires, Somnambulists (Iodine Recordings 2021)

The long-remembered Somnambulists album gets a remaster and a re-release.

A somnambulist is a sleep walker. Not a label in common usage. Silent horror movie fans (are there any of those left besides me?) will recognize it from Robert Wiene’s classic German expressionist horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Otherwise, it doesn’t come up much. Cool word, though.

The band There Were Wires goes back to 1999 in Boston. Releasing demos and a long-player on their own, they hooked up with Iodine Recordings in early aughts and the result was Somnambulists. The album came out and was well received but the label and the band fragmented just after. Now in a renewal phase, a remastered version of the notable incarnation is coming to life.

Let’s walk through the museum and make a couple of comments.

The music is a movement through a number of genres – metal, hardcore, punk – and it generally has a well-produced feel. I like the doom elements interspersed among the frantic cracks, and the thrumming percussion that appears and disappears in a way that sorts out your arrhythmia.

The opening track is “New Doom” and I spent the most time with it, appreciating its directions and miasms. Instrumental passages like “Walking” give way to songs like “Get Cryptic” where Primus seems to be channeled and then were on to short ruptures and enigmatic sidelines. “Gasp” is a meditation, ten minutes overall and filled with infections and inoculations alike – it is an event all its own. The closer here is “Tunic,” a cover of the Sonic Youth song.

The compositions contained in this set could easily have been created today. The music does not sound at all dated or out of place. If anything it is particularly resonant now. If you are coming back to it today or if you have never heard it before, now is a good time to listen in. Recommended.

Somnambulists is out on Friday, April 16th. Hit the label link below for the recording and merch.

Band photos by Erin McCown.

Links.

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

Label, https://iodinerecords.com/

There Were Wires, Somnambulists (Iodine Recordings 2021)

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

French Old School Death Metal specialists unleash their first full-length album.

Nervous Decay released a demo in 2019 and single in 2020. The new album includes the songs from those issues newly recorded with a couple of debut tracks. The style is straight-up pummeling Death Metal with a significant nostalgic nod to the past and a critical eye to innovation. The band is Guillaume Pavaillon (vocals and bass), Gregoire Bonin (guitar), Guilhem Lesage (drums), and Nathan Thebault (guitar).

The opener is “Cerberus’ Brace” and it hits the mark with blazing guitar blasts and speedy riffs. The vocals have a delightfully feral quality to them, and the rhythm section makes prominent appearances. “Daily Poison” follows and pushes the metal just as far, taking turns and explorations in technical directions and inserting ear-catching hooks. All seven songs in the set are ones you’ll want to hear again and again.

I especially like “Shield of Delusion” which has an eerie, doom-laden approach. “Lobotomy” is another song that I keep hearing in my head as it positively roars at the front and back while also including a sort of dream sequence within. This album hits hard in all the right places. Recommended.

Nervous Decay is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to gather up the goods.

Photo from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Nervous.Decay.Band

Label, https://www.greatdanerecs.com/eshop/web/?lang=en_US

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

Soothsayer, Echoes of the Earth (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The first full-length album from the Irish band Soothsayer is a mystical slab of doom rendered in gargantuan proportion.

As early as 2013 Soothsayer was coming together and forming its identity. They released an EP in 2015, The Soothsayer, and another the following year, At This Great Depth, then a live set last year, Live In Malta. Echoes of the Earth is the first full-length studio album, and while its formation could be seen in the distance and its arrival was predicted, the size and impact of it could not have been fully imagined nor accurately reckoned in advance. The music is doom metal played heavy with attentive disquietude and depth. The musicians are Líam Hughes(vocals and soundscapes), Con Doyle (guitars and vocals), Marc O’Grady (guitar), Pavol Rosa (bass), and Sean Breen (drums).

“Fringe” is a think piece comprised mainly of eerie voices and what sounds like someone swinging an eight-pound hammer in chains. “Outer Fringe” is a continuation of the former and it is where we get the first massive barrage of Doom Metal. “War of the Doves” turns up the direct aggression with a resounding thunderclap. The driving, pounding guitars are relentless, as is the overwhelming vocal assault.

“Cities of Smoke” pries open side 2 with a succinct and nuanced all-in engagement. The quiet moments are surrounded by distant howls of suffering and in the end the calamity has to come. “Six of Nothing” paired at the end with “True North” offer more than twenty minutes of unrivaled imagination. In this space is the heavy doom we have been hearing in other songs beside and between episodes of blistering pace and passages of strange narration accompanied by upsetting collateral drones. The elements are too numerous to delineate and the experience is diminished in description – you must put it to your own ears.

The music is inescapable – while you are listening you cannot tear yourself away. From the subtle effects and captured sounds to huge guitar riffs and the imminently compelling rhythm to the narrative and emotion conveyed by the unique and unforgettable vocals, this album demands your attention and gets it. Highly recommended.

Echoes of the Earth is out now in many forms from Transcending Obscurity.

Links.

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

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

Transcending Obscurity, https://tometal.com/

Soothsayer, Echoes of the Earth (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The Limit, Caveman Logic (Svart Records 2021)

The Limit hands us catchy fast-paced hard rock and roll where guitars and rhythm rule.

Check out this band roster: vocals by Bobby Liebling (Pentagram), Sonny Vincent (Testors) and Hugo Conim (Dawnrider) on guitars, Jimmy Recca (The Stooges) on bass, and the drummer is João Pedro Ventura (Dawnrider). Supergroup territory, and no mistake. And then we cannot escape the fascinating mix of experience in The Limit. The confluence of these musical histories produces music that is punk-influenced hard and heavy rock, along with a number of captivating variations. The songs have catchy hooks and eclectic subjects. The whole set radiates a compulsive listenability.

The album starts out with four bangers in a row, “Kitty Gone,” “Black Sea,” “Human vs. Nature,” and “These Days.” Pulsing riffs in the rhythm and a guitar pacing the vocal is the norm, with snappy lead breaks memorable choruses. The punk sensibility comes through and the sound is bright.

“Over Rover” takes a bit of a turn, with an alternating slowed down moments and hyped up bursts. “Enough’s Enough” is bluesy and soulful, while “Caveman Logic” snarls and barks right in your face. “Death of My Soul” is a short piece with a dark tone, and “Life’s Last Night,” which is even shorter, is a sort of companion rager that resurrects the energy.

“When Life Gets Scorched” wraps things up, and it effectively conveys the idea of the end of the show. Putting it that way makes me think that I’d really like to see this album played straight through live. That would be a great night. Recommended.

Caveman Logic is out on Friday, April 9th from Svart Records. The quick get in the US is Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://the-limit.bandcamp.com/album/caveman-logic

Label, https://svartrecords.com/

The Limit, Caveman Logic (Svart Records 2021)

Wode, Burn In Many Mirrors (20 Buck Spin 2021)

The third album from England’s Wode is a sinister voyage through eldritch knowledge and understanding revived for the twenty-first century.

Wode has been around for a decade, releasing their first full-length album in 2016 and its well-received follow-up, Servants of the Countercosmos, the next year. The music is Black Metal thematically, with a significant nod toward paganism. The musical style has a lot in common with old school metal, with discernable harmonies and progressive riffs contained in a song structure that can support stadium performance.

The new album has six tracks, all of the them solidly plotted and expertly delivered. The vocals are realized largely in a clear, brusk tone, and the noticeable but sparing use of keys and synths complement the straight-forward musicality.

It all starts with “Lunar Madness,” which sounds like an army marching into battle at the beginning. Episodes of chaos punctuate the narrative and the rolling rhythm. “Fire In The Hills” is ominous and filled with dread while “Sulphuric Glow” is more straight-up sinister and pushes the Black Metal buttons hard. “Vanish Beneath” is the track I remember most for its insistent pace especially and for the recurring rambling motif.

The anchor to the album is the nine minute suite, “Streams of Rapture.” It plays like a dark and mysterious mini-musical with a dramatic theatrical lead-in that is broken completely apart by hammering, relentless metal less than two minutes in. The performers are given space to flex here and the result is the perfect finale to the set.

Burn In Many Mirrors is out now. Check out its many parallel instances of tape, download, vinyl, and CD, not to mention merch, at the 20 Buck Spin label link below. Recommended.

Band photo by Phillip James Torriero.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wode.bandcamp.com/music

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

Label, https://www.20buckspin.com/

Wode, Burn In Many Mirrors (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)

Witch Coven is the confluence of two rivers coming together in a symphony of Black Metal and Doom wretchedness.

Rorcal is a well-known Doom Metal band from Switzerland that started around 2006 and has released many long-players and EPs through the years. Earthflesh is Bruno da Encarnação who was the bassist for Rorcal until recently and is collaborating with the band under his new moniker. Other band members include Ron Lahyani (drums), Jean-Philippe Schopfer (guitar), Diogo Almeida (guitar), and Yonni Chapatte (vocals). The new album is quite different from what they have done before. It is at times harsh and dissonant, and overall is a fascinating combination of Doom, Noise, Ambient Metal, and Black Metal.

There are two long songs on the album. “Altars of Nothingness” opens with nearly three minutes of voices, like a small choir, in very creepy harmony. The middle is a ritualistic combination of Doom and Black Metal, with sizzling noise and ambient menace to accompany the vocal suffering, clipped and punched by percussion and crushing riffs. The long song ends with what sounds like the screaming of a mammal being sacrificed on an altar and then those voices again as the last thing the sacrifice hears.

“Happiness Sucks, So Do You” is side 2 and it is savage and confrontational at the gate. It is a relentless battering of percussion and guitar sawing and Black Metal vocalizations for the first third. Then we break through into the abyss, and the mood turns to hopelessness. Passing through then ultimately into a merciless dragging through sharp edges and heavy smashings. By the end you don’t have much left and all you can do is reflect.

The two pieces are very different. Both are challenging and journey-oriented. Taking different paths, they are separate explorations in a dark place that in the end combine into a discernable revelation. Recommended.

Witch Coven is out now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Hummus Records has vinyl and merch bundles.

Links.

Website Rorcal, https://www.rorcal.com/

Bandcamp Rorcal, https://rorcal.bandcamp.com/

Bandcamp Earthflesh, https://earthflesh.bandcamp.com/

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

Facebook Earthflesh, https://www.facebook.com/earthfleshnoise

Label, https://hummus-records.com/

Rorcal & Earthflesh, Witch Coven (Hummus Records 2021)