Transcending Obscurity Sampler (2021)

It is a new year so that means a new label sampler from Transcending Obscurity.

This label has released some of the best heavy around. In 2020, FFMB covered several of their albums including the amazing Jupiterian, Heads For The Dead, and Revolting releases. 2021 has just as much promise, and the music that has already been announced will freeze you in your tracks.

The sampler itself has 38 songs on it and it is absolutely massive – some songs are a full album side, like “Reverential Silence” by Arch which runs 15:30 and “Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” by Eremit that goes for more than 18 minutes. The breakdown by genre according to the label is: Tracks 1-22 – death metal/grind/crust, Tracks 23-26 – technical/brutal death metal, Tracks 27-33 – black metal, and Tracks 34-38 – doom/sludge metal. There has to be something here you like. And it is all new music. Check out the full list at the link below.

The sampler is available now and it is FREE – name your price at Bandcamp (link below). How can you pass on this? You can’t. Highly recommended.

Link.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/2021-label-sampler

Transcending Obscurity Sampler (2021)

Kabbalah, The Omen (Rebel Waves Records 2021)

Kabbalah are brewing a psychedelic elixir in their cauldron of dreams and it is called The Omen.

The trio from Pamplona, Spain creates music that is a fascinating amalgam of contemporary fuzzy doom matched to a seventies-era rock passed through a grungy sifting machine where unexpected elements latch on, including beautiful melodic vocals and eerie themes and harmonies. The band has released a few EPs, as well as the full-length album Spectral Ascent (2017), leading up to the new one, The Omen.

The album is described in the band’s press release in part as an “occult rock grimoire where sticky melodies, funerary riffs and haunting vocals come together.” All of these things are true. I can think of a couple of bands from the past that appear to be clear influences on Kabbalah, but I have never heard anything quite like the music they make so let’s set those other names aside.

Some of the songs have a sharper edge, like the opener “Stigmatized” with its gravelly guitars, and “The Ritual,” which comes across more directly serious and dramatic. Much of the music is very laid back and hypnotic, with clearer seventies-inspired guitar tones and lovely, lilting vocals, as in “The Night Comes Near.” The echoing whispers and urging rhythms in “Labyrinth” come back to you at night when you are falling asleep, and the closer, “Liturgy,” is convincingly summative. You can feel the living desert infused in the notes of this music, and you when you close your eyes as the album plays you come to know the spirit of the ceremony.

If you rotate this album into your listening queue your life will be better. Recommended.

The digital for The Omen is at Bandcamp, Rebel Waves Records (an imprint of Ripple Music) has the CD and vinyl, and you can get a cassette from Stoner Witch Records.

Links.

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

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

Ripple Store, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products

Stoner Witch Store, https://stonerwitchrecords.bigcartel.com/products

Kabbalah, The Omen (Rebel Waves Records 2021)

Bloody Hammers, Songs Of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records 2021)

Horror shines bright on the sixth album from the North Carolina duo Bloody Hammers.

I have been listening to Bloody Hammers since the initial self-titled album in 2012. The very first track, “Witch of Endor,” is fuzzy and trippy and it sinks it talons in your neck. Spiritual Relics came out the very next year and it was just as clever and fresh. The occult themes and consistent horror underpinnings dress the reliable and forthright metal that has lead me to keep an eye open for new releases from band ever since.

The catchy musical sensibility of “A Night To Dismember” combined with the obvious tongue-in-cheek lyrics and melodic pop-punk execution makes the song an irresistible fuzzy cotton candy horror treat. What a way to kick off the album. The theatrical influences verily drip from the sleeves of these songs, titled as they are after cult movie classics like “Hands of the Ripper,” “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and “Witchfinder General.” Samples dropped in (as in White/Rob Zombie) are delightful little familiar punches: witness “Not Of This Earth.” The music is all about the riffs, percussion, and the voice, cast in a throwback robe that resurrects the most memorable elements of bands like The Cramps and more obscure gems like The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black [Aside: deep-dive this band some time, and especially seek out the album “A National Healthcare.”]. There is even one creepy pseudo-ballad, “Lucifer’s Light.” This album has everything.

Any fan of Bloody Hammers is going to love this record, I say with confidence. It does not sound exactly like the others, but it is not a wild departure, either. It is an homage that simultaneously remains true to form, and you will definitely want to hit the repeat button. Recommended.

Songs Of Unspeakable Terror is out today from Napalm Records. Grab it with both hands.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodyhammers.bandcamp.com/album/songs-of-unspeakable-terror

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

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

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

Bloody Hammers, Songs Of Unspeakable Terror (Napalm Records 2021)

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

The debut LP from Fort Worth metal band Frozen Soul is the merciless application of Old School Death Metal in the creation of a soundtrack for demise.

The band has only been releasing music for a couple years, with two splits, an EP, and a single leading up to Crypt Of Ice. They are OSDM in orientation, and for some reason they remind me a little of Tomb Mold, one of my favorite new(er) bands, except less frenetic and more deliberate. Expect blast beats and heavy rhythm circling the wagons around haunting growls. The band is Chad Green (vocals), Samantha Mobley (bass), Michael Munday (guitar), Matt Dennard (drums), and Chris Bonner (guitar).

The music has a grinding, heavy power to it. There is not a focus of lead breaks and whirling speed. Rather, Doom elements live in the metal here, bringing down the tempo and pushing the relentless riffs into focus. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Merciless,” and it is the perfect example of this, with a plundering, crushing weight towards the end that was set up by fierce first half. The song then leads into “Encased In Ice,” which very much feels like being surrounded by the thick walls of a glacial tomb for almost two minutes before the tempo picks up and stabs an ice pick in your brain. There is a flowing wave here. The wandering musical variegation is not random or haphazard – it is a compositional deliberation on the dark themes brought out in the album. The result is exceptional metal delivered on a frozen silver platter. Recommended.

The new album is out now and available widely from any place that carries Century Media Records products. Also, link below. Lots of versions and merch are out there if you are so inclined. Bandcamp has the earlier EP Encased In Ice if you are interested in that – it is also really good.

Links.

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

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

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=2323

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Dublin Doom trio Dread Sovereign sets a raging fire with their third album, Alchemical Warfare.

The driving force in the band is Nemtheanga, known otherwise as the vocalist for the band Primordial. He started Dread Sovereign some time back, releasing an EP in 2013 followed by two LPs, All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom The Bell Tolls (2017). Joined by JK (Johnny King) on drums and Bones on guitar, there is an urgency to the music on the new album, unmistakably circling the chasm of Doom. The vocals are mostly clear, and the themes walk the Black Metal road. The band’s motto is “the world is doomed,” and the theme is a through-line explained this way: “The subject matter and aesthetic are particular to the three characters on the front cover of each release, the time travelling trio who appear on the debut flaying Saint Bartholemew, on the second album hanging Sarah Wildes Averill in Salem and now as lab assistants to Isaac Newton as he tries to discover the secret of Alchemy.” The songs are sinister odes from dark moments in history.

There are seven tracks (four of them over eight minutes long) with an intro piece and an intermission segue. That intro sounds a little like swirling bells and whispering dark witches casting spells. “She Wolves of the Savage Season” then picks up the doom and slams it back down. The frenzy gets really whipped up on “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” with its pressing riffs and pleading vocals. There are also extended guitar passages here, in this song and well distributed throughout where the narrative concepts are given musical form. “Her Master’s Tomb” is almost a Doom ballad while “Devil’s Bane” rips and roars and finishes with a raging shred. The album wraps on a single-length banger, “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)” – they decided to go out swinging with a heavy punk punch. This is an great album, front to back. Highly recommended.

The full album drops on Friday, January 15th and preorders at Bandcamp will get you two tracks now while you wait for the week to end. Metal Blade Records has CDs and vinyl if you want to go that way.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/dreadsovereign/

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

From Jyväskylä, Finland, John The Baptist forge forth into the masses of heavy music listeners with their first full-length release.

The band has been around since 2015 and has released a demo, a split, and a single. This current self-titled effort is their biggest album so far, and it is loaded to the top edge with loud, heavy doom.

The musicians use stage names, and apart from Facebook do not have a large social media presence. That leaves us without an enormous amount of information to pass on. On their Facebook page, they say this: “Our music is slow and heavy like the rumblings of the earth. Our message is grand and grim.” OK, that does narrow it down some.

There are six massive tracks on the new album, and heavy they are indeed. The short one is nine minutes long, and the long one runs fifteen so there is a lot of listening to be had. The style is straight-forward doom, without any muddling. There is no pretension in the music and they seem to play what  they feel, offloading their interests in patient, thundering riffs. The first track, “Deluge,” is a perfect example. It opens with a solo guitar, laying down the fuzz in slow and deliberate sheets for a minute and a half before being joined with even more heaviness. The vocals are earnest and not distorted. There are tempo shifts and sonic variations; theme turns and compositional confluences and diversions are plentiful. Nevertheless, on every track, there is no mistaking the doom, culminating in the most comprehensive statement with the anchor piece, “John The Baptist.”

John The Baptist is available now on Bandcamp (link below). No word yet on whether there will be a CD or vinyl release, so don’t wait for that. Hear them now. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://jtbdoom.bandcamp.com/album/john-the-baptist

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

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/johnthebaptist-doom

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

Torn Fabriks, Mind Consumption (Firecum Records 2021)

Thrash trio Torn Fabriks breaks through with a fresh EP clocking music for mass consumption.

From Lisbon, Portugal, the band is Jorge Matos (guitar), Ricardo Santos (bass, vocals), and Paulo Soares (drums). They appear to have sprung out of the ether, coming together from the bands Sindicato da Terra, Morbid Death, and Rageful. They play a familiar brand of traditional thrash, in many ways on the edge of what we used to call speed metal. Fast and straight-forward, it is music for the masses.

The EP has six songs and it runs a bit over twenty minutes. There is noticeable filler throughout but there are also healthy portions of tasty shreds which are worth the wait. You can hear social and political commentary in the lyrics, but the bigger draw is the catchy music and that is what fans will be drawn to and remember, I think.

Mind Consumption is out now. The record label has a CD version, and there are a few single tracks available at Bandcamp – the entire EP will probably be up there soon. It is worth a little bit of searching.

Links.

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

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

Firecum Records, https://www.firecum.com/product-page/cum-039-torn-fabriks-torn-fabriks-cd

Torn Fabriks, Mind Consumption (Firecum Records 2021)

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 3 (Kinda Like Music 2020)

Clouds Taste Satanic releases Volume 3 in The Satanic Singles project.

To recap…This New York instrumental metal band is peopled by these fine persons: Steve Scavuzzo (guitar), Rob Halstead (bass), Greg Acampora (drums), and Brian Bauhs (guitar). For years on end they have been producing their unique brand of vocal-free doom (and doom-adjacent) heavy music, typically in long form. Recently they decided to shift gears a bit a put out a series of shorter cover pieces as singles, leading to a collection early in Spring. The latest installment has just appeared.

Volume 3 has two tracks. On Side A we find the Pixies music “Cecilia Ann / Rock Music” from Bossonova and Side B is “Blew” by Nirvana, from the Bleach album. This sourcing is from 1990/1989 and that was a crazy time, huh? I remember what I was up to then, but you don’t have to in order to get down with the CTS covers. If you have never heard the original songs before then this is just some great new music to you. I do know these songs well and still, just like with the tracks from Volume 2 of The Satanic Singles, I like these new instrumental doom versions better.

I am still very much loving this series. Highly recommended.

Bandcamp has Volume 3 right now so jump on it if you want the physicals.

Links.

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

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/5QidF8yXlvTyGkDy24JImY

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvVu8mcXrE2eVjq_ApcGBmw

Overview Article on Clouds Taste Satanic, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/07/a-quick-look-at-clouds-taste-satanic/

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 3 (Kinda Like Music 2020)

Mother Of Graves, In Somber Dreams (Wise Blood Records 2021)

The new EP from Indianapolis metal band Mother Of Graves is a melancholy shovelful of crossover Doom.

The musicians are Thomas Hunt (bass), Don Curtis (drums), Ben Sandman (guitar), Chris Morrison (guitar), and Brandon Howe (vocals). They are a new band with a lot of experience and a couple of singles under their belt. In Somber Dreams is their first EP. According to their Bandcamp entry, the band is “[n]amed after a mythological Latvian protector of cemeteries (Kapu māte)[.]” Their style is along the Melodic Death metal range, and the vocalizations bring classic Swedish bands to my mind. The music is heavy and serious in tone, relying on rhythm and synchronous constituents to mold a finished product.

There are four tracks on this inaugural release. “In Somber Dreams” is an introduction to the general bleak perspective of the music you are about to hear. It sets the stage and dresses it in funeral attire. “Nameless Burial” adds a voiceover to further the narrative depth of the incantation, ultimately devolving into disorder with a tinkling off-center piano and destabilized sonic surges at the end. “The Urn” is a mood piece with undulating utterances, doleful exertions, and an undeniable gothic tailwind. Finally there is “Deliverance,” lodged into my head as a soft and twinkling, with an insisting bass line and a tempo that picks up nicely three and a half minutes in.

The band says they are working on a full-length album and I am really looking forward to that. I have listened to these four songs a couple times and they are hanging with me, telling stories and making promises. I want to see where this all goes.

In Somber Dreams is out tomorrow in digital, cassette, and CD forms. Grab one for your very own at the Wise Blood Bandcamp page. Recommended.

Photo of the band snagged from their Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wisebloodrecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-somber-dreams

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

Mother Of Graves, In Somber Dreams (Wise Blood Records 2021)

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)

Stellar Death’s debut album is an adventure in instrumental space prog that winds through disparate corners of the universe to coalesce in a fascinating unified semblance.

Matt Kozar and Scott Loose are the duo Stellar Death, playing instrumental music that lands a heavy blow. They have worked together for many years in the band Brave, and decided to branch out with this new project in order to shed any constraints on form. Both are guitarist and play keys, with Loose minding the percussion. There are eight pieces on the album, most in a fairly long design.

The opening song is a seven minute outline titled “The Astronomer.” Throughout its course, many of the elements and atoms that combine in the musical creation of the set are first introduced, including mesmerizing ambient sequences and forceful guitar movements. “Endless” is filled with sadness the way that Frank Zappa’s “Watermelon In Easter Hay” is, and that is meant to be a high compliment. Its companion piece, “Betelgeuse,” moves on from trauma and morning, turning a corner and picking up power. Heavier guitars and more rambunctious percussion returns in “Binary Collapse” to close side one.

On the back four, solitude is a reinforcing theme and a channel for momentous contemplation. “Everywhere and Nowhere” has quite dramatic moments, while “Critical Mass” presents the most tense passages in the eight minute leg. Stellar Death winds it down with “Afterglow,” offering up a spell of reflection and meditation. While this album will appeal perhaps most to the ambient crowd as it is on the less technical side of prog, anyone who likes instrumental rock will find a confrère here. Recommended.

The street date for Fragments Of Light is January 8th. Direct business is at Bandcamp for the download. Three songs are available now and you can listen to them instantly if you preorder the album.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://stellardeath.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-of-light

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

Stellar Death, Fragments Of Light (2021)