Transilvania, Of Sleep And Death (Invictus Productions 2021)

The second full-length album from Transilvania is an epic world shaker, filled with monstrous ideas and otherworldly conclusions.

From Innsbruck, Austria, the Black Metal band Transilvania has been around since 2015. The Metal Archives lists the members as P. Čachtice (bass and vocals), H. Paole Grando (drums), O. von Schwarzenberg (guitar), and D. D. Stumpp (guitar). There is not an enormous amount of free floating information out there about them, apart from their discography that shows The Night Of Nights LP from 2018, and before that an EP and a split. The musical style is fast-paced Black Metal, bearing on the speed and even the thrash side.

“Opus Morbi” leads us down the haunting path with a reassuring (although clearly sinister) opening gambit of distant tones that grow into a fierce attack by the three minute mark. Throughout the album there are plenty of riffs that hang a tight groove, as in the title track, to go along with the eerier elements. Clever syncopation and unusual tempo shifting like we hear on “Lycanthropic Chant” enriches the Black Metal environment and fills in the dark world developing around your ears.

The inventiveness and ingenuity of composition knows no bounds on this album. The music relies on rhythm and a well-paced, expertly situated harmony of the instruments to propel the concepts forward in support of the lyrical narrative. Lead breaks in the traditional sense are used sparingly, like a flashing scene of violence or depravity. More often we hear companion components from the guitars bolstering the vocals and other instruments in the overall experience. The album is powerful – a premier exemplar of the form. Highly recommended.

Of Sleep And Death is out now. Invictus has all manner of formats for this album, plus a variety of merch. Bandcamp offers a digital download at your fingertips. And you can also hear a lot of Transilvania’s music on Spotify.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transilvania.bandcamp.com/album/of-sleep-and-death

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

Invictus Productions, https://invictusproductions.net/

Transilvania, Of Sleep And Death (Invictus Productions 2021)

Blessed By Perversion, Remnants Of Existence (2020)

Remnants Of Existence is the newest album from Blessed By Perversion, following up on their 2016 debut long-player Between Roots And Darkness.

The band entered the vibrant Greek metal scene in 2012 with their Destroy The Image Of God EP. Since then they have been working their way through the caverns of heavy music, making consistent progress and expanding their fan base. The basic style is a crowd-pleasing Death Metal crossover that will appeal to listeners of many different metal subgenres. The musicians are Manolis Kouelo (guitar), Kostas Foutris (guitar), Andreas Moschopoulos (vocals), Vaggelis Nanos (bass), and Vasilis Nanos (drums).

There are five songs on the EP plus a quiet, tense intro piece. “Gallery of Bones” sets the pace with steady rhythm and percussion alongside the gruff, intelligible vocals. The composition is very approachable, being neither dense nor highly complex, and the song includes a tasty lead break. “Atonement Refused” picks up the pace, moving toward the high end of mid-tempo, and including a couple of 80’s metal guitar warble homage moments. “Among The Tombs of Absent Gods” and “Caverns of Torture” establish viable bridges to the closer, “Within Monumental Chaos.” This song is my favorite of the set, and has perhaps the darkest tone and excellent rhythm and percussion elements. The bass line and the lead guitar are the most challenging here too, showing the breadth of expression the band is willing and able to display.

Remnants Of Existence is out now, and the quickest pick-up is at Bandcamp. Get some more metal in your 2021. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blessedbyperversion.bandcamp.com/album/remnants-of-existence

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

Blessed By Perversion, Remnants Of Existence (2020)

Happy New Year’s Eve 2020

I don’t have to tell you about 2020 – you were there, too. Usually, at the end of the year, I spend December choosing some photos to repost for good vibes and great memories, but this year I didn’t take a single photograph of a live show. Yeah. So, I am going to post a few photos from 2019 that did not see that light of day then, just for fun. I am keeping the cameras warm for 2021 because hope springs eternal.

There was a lot of excellent music released this year. We published 188 reviews in 2020, a lot more than we thought we would. There are so many “Best of 2020” lists out there that I decided not to do one for FFMB. Instead, I am throwing up a couple of covers from albums we didn’t review this year that were really good – just couldn’t get to everything. We’ll try to do better in 2021.

Thanks to everybody involved with Flying Fiddlesticks Music Blog and the Shardik Media Cabal. Deep gratitude and thanks to all the bands, record labels, venues, publicists, and promoters keeping music alive for all of us.

We’re still here and we are carrying on in 2021. See you out there.

All live performance photos by Wayne Edwards.

Aftershock

Heavy Montreal

Clubs

Albums

Happy New Year’s Eve 2020

EOS, The Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

The debut album from the mysterious EOS is a brick through the window of mediocrity.

I did not know anything about EOS (or, possibly, Eos) when I first heard about this album so I did what I usually do when I suffer behind a veil of ignorance re: a band – I checked The Metal Archives. Not much there, either. The band might be from Australia, but that could also just be a shadow cast by their record label, Brilliant Emperor Records, which is headquartered in Sydney. The press materials tell us that the album was begun in 2014 and completed in 2018, but that’s about it. Same blurb everywhere. So I just listened to the album to see what I could hear.

There are seven tracks of Black Metal on The Great Ascension. The vocals are dramatic, sounding like the exasperated final push of a long campaign. The singing itself is modulated toward the medium and slow while the rhythm is a customary trilling with occasional eerie gothic breaks. The songs have a tendency to end abruptly.

There are strong Doom elements throughout, which is a good match to the Black Metal basis. The set holds together as a suite, in my hearing, even as the songs can stand alone. The band has even integrated a cover – Lord Belial’s “Black Winter Bloodbath” – seamlessly. There are not a lot of big lead breaks, but when they occur, as in “Draugar,” they are excellent. The music, tone, and themes on this album are deep and dark, dripping with the black blood of the earth and tempered by nightmares. Can we ask more than that? Recommended.

The Great Ascension is available now, through Bandcamp and at Brilliant Emperor’s on-line store, the latter having some great merch, too.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-ascension

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/eos.black.metal

Brilliant Emperor, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

EOS, The Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

This lockdown music from Spaceslug is a dose of acoustic Doom.

From Wrocław, Poland, Spaceslug is a band whose name should live in your brain. Since 2016, they have released three LPs, three EPs, and a split. With that kind of work ethic it is no surprise they were intent on creating new music during the pandemic. The band members are Bartosz Janik (guitars and synths), Jan Rutka (bass and vocals), and Kamil Ziółkowski (drums, guitar, and vocals).

Spaceslug is a Doom band, but the music they create is definitely not what most people would first think of as Doom. I have started to read more frequently the observation that Spaceslug has a Pink Floyd atmosphere in their music, and I am beginning to agree, never more so than with Leftovers. It is largely acoustic music (actual, and acoustic-style, if you know what I mean) that carries a pervasive tone of Doom, composed in complex and thoughtful arrangements.

There are five songs on the new EP, starting with “Wasted Illusion.” It is a trippy and ethereal beginning, with mellow tones and a lot of synth infusion. Next is “Behind The Glass,” which sounds like music for an arid desert if that desert was actually floating in outer space. “The Birds Are Loudest In May” raises melancholy to a mission critical level. “Place To Turn” is positively peppy in the context of the previous songs, but the underlying sense of dread is there, strong enough to make you uneasy. The title track is last, and it is the most ponderous of the set. It is a real whiskey and razor blade situation. If you want a helping of Doom with no fuzz or feedback, this Spaceslug EP is the ticket for you. Recommended.

Leftovers is out now as a download or CD. Go to Bandcamp for the quick pick up. You can also get a t-shirt there, and more of the band’s music.

Band photo grabbed from their Facebook page.

Links.

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

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

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

The Day Of Doom (Magnetic Eye Records 2020)

The tenth anniversary celebration of Magnetic Eye Records was captured live and is available now in a deluxe package.

In November 2019, Magnetic Eye Records held a concert to honor ten years of music with nine of their roster artists performing. The four headliners – Elephant Tree, Summoner, Horsehunter, and Domkraft – were recorded for posterity and that music has now been released. You can get the full sets separately, but I recommend the big hardcover art book version that includes four CDs, one for each set. Here are some tech specs: Elephant Tree, seven songs, 40 minutes; Summoner, seven songs, 38 minutes; Domkraft, six songs, 45 minutes; Horsehunter, four songs, 45 minutes.

It is a colossal amount of Doom and all four performances are exceptional. I have not seen any of these bands live, but I am a big Elephant Tree fan from their studio work so that is what drew me to this set initially. I have listened to all of them twice now and they are going to be spinning again in the office here before too long. Highly recommended.

Bandcamp links are below for each separate band. The art book version is available directly from Magnetic Eye. Some versions might be out of stock or sold out, but you can always get the digital. And these sets are also on streaming services (I know Spotify has them for sure) so you can listen there first if you want to get a better idea of what it is all about before dropping some coin.

Links.

Magnetic Eye, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/artists/various-artists/various-artists-day-of-doom-live-book-4-cd.html

Horsehunter, https://magneticeyerecords.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

Summoner, https://summonerboston.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

Domkraft, https://domkraft.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

Elephant Tree, https://elephanttreeband.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

The Day Of Doom (Magnetic Eye Records 2020)

Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns (Cursed Tongue Records 2020)

Switchblade Jesus lets the aggression run rampant on Death Hymns.

My frame of reference for the Corpus Christi trio Switchblade Jesus is their 2013 self-titled album (later released by Ripple Music in 2015). That music leans heavy into the Stoner and Doom tracks, with an often bluesy and desert lilt. Great album. Death Hymns is much faster in overall pace, and harsher, having a noisier, Death Metal feel to it. The band is Eric Calvert (guitar and vocals), Chris Black (bass), and Jonathon Elizondo (drums, percussion, and synth).

First two tracks leap out at you with open antagonism, breaching any sense of security you might have had going in. “Scorched” has an ambient hum that is threatening enough at its start and, a minute in, the power kicks up. Paired with “Red Plains,” we are served a continuous front of sharp punches and heavy pushes. The next two songs draw from the Doom well, even with “Behind The Monolith” opening on a tear and riding it for the first half of the track. “Death Hymns” is introspective and infused with echoes.

The last three songs find the fuel to keep the rage going. “Forgotten” is heavy and doomy in the riffs, filled with harsh vocals, and mined by narrative captures. “Behemoth” is a roaring banger that holds a dark and sinister whirring lead break for the end. “The Blackened Sun” closes the show, and here the vocalizations reach farther than seems reasonable. This album is very different from the band’s earlier long-player, and all the shifts and moves land perfectly. Highly recommended.

The digital version of Death Hymns is available now, as is the CD. Vinyl starts to flow late in January and can be preordered now from Cursed Tongue Records directly or through Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://switchbladejesus.bandcamp.com/album/death-hymns

Website, https://switchbladejesus.net/

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

Cursed Tongue Records, https://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns (Cursed Tongue Records 2020)

Dira Mortis, Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy (Selfmadegod Records 2020)

Twenty years on, Poland’s Dira Mortis slams a massive slab of fresh metal on the Christmas dinner table.

The band started around the turn of the century and released their first LP, Euphoric Convulsions, in 2012. Psalms Of Morbid Existence appeared in 2015, and the new one now. There have been a few twists and turns in the line-up over the years, naturally. The band for Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy is Leszek Makowiecki (guitar), Mścisław (guitar and bass), Vizun (drums), and Kuba Brewczyński (vocals). The solid tradition of Black and Death Metal that Poland sponsors is not just a rumor. There is a long list of premier bands in this lane (Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated, …), and Dira Mortis could be there, too.

There are five primary tracks on the album plus short intro and outro pieces. These five primaries fit together very much like a suite, changing color, tone, and texture from one movement to the next while holding together on an overarching theme. And the theme is? The title gives us a fairly good idea of where the music is coming from: a hoary tale of hatred toward mankind, resurrected from the swirling darkness.

The separate elements of the songs sometimes seem disconsonant. For example, the opening primary is the epic “Worshipping The Terror Of Madness.” The beginning volley is a steady guitar riff, cymbal percussion, and a straight-forward construction. Then vocals appear like a mad emperor walking in from stage left, sowing chaos. The first lead break would be at home in a Savatage song, and later there is a section that has a very doom orientation before erupting into a precocious slam. And back again. This manner of composition adds complexity and depth to the musical environment, and it is employed throughout the record. The music is challenging but it is also engaging. All it asks of the listener is to come along on the dark journey.

Out today, December 25th, from Selfmadegod Records, there are CD and digital versions of Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy waiting for you at the links below. Recommended.

Band photo by Marcin Studzinski.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diramortis1.bandcamp.com

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

Selfmadegod Records, http://www.selfmadegod.com

Dira Mortis, Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy (Selfmadegod Records 2020)

Exarsis, Sentenced To Life (MDD Records 2020)

With their fifth album Sentenced To Life, Exarsis fulfills your need, your need for speed.

Greek band Exarsis has been flying the flag for Thrash and Speed Metal for ten years. Under Destruction was their first long-player in 2011, and since then they have been they have been lashing the shores with a new guitar tsunami every couple of years. The band is now Nick Tragakis (vocals), Chris Poulos (bass), Chris Tsitsis (guitars), and Panos Meletis (drums)

Sentenced To Life is perhaps a little more approachable to crossover fans than some of their earlier music with more emphasis on melody, but the speed is still there and it rolls you right over. They play an old school brand of Thrash, touched by the nearly forgotten style of Speed Metal. The result is a credible case for whiplash.

First up on the record is “Cen$ored,” an intro bit that starts with a crackling voiceover that is increasingly heavily bleeped and distorted on the way to the first wailing high-octane song, “Another Betrayal.” Tragakis gives us high register vocals matching up with the stunning speed of the guitar riffs and lead blasts that are so wilting your ears are a little behind on getting all the notes in.

The percussion is at pace as well, pummeling like a cavalry at full charge. You can really hear the intense drumming on songs like “The Truth Is No Defense” where it seems to defy physics. Every song has outstanding attributes and they all call out to be heard again. The ones I hit more than a couple times were “Mouthtied” for the amazing passage in the middle of the song and “Interplanetary Extermination” for its sheer blaze. Fantastic. Recommended.

Sentenced To Life could be flowing into your brain right now. It is available to buy from MDD Records through Bandcamp and you can listen on the usual variety of streaming services.

Links.

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

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

MDD Records, https://mdd-records.de/

Exarsis, Sentenced To Life (MDD Records 2020)

Deathblow, Insect Politics (Sewer Mouth Records 2020)

Salt Lake City Thrash Metal atomizers have cooked up a searing slab of crooked speed just in time for the holidays.

The band is Holton Grossl (guitar and vocals), Paul LaChica (bass), Rob Larsen (drums), and Adam Kelly (guitar). In 2014 they released Prognosis Negative, a high speed recantation of the extant world. The following year we got an EP, The Other Side Of Darkness. Now there is Insect Politics, which is a little bit of a divergence from the earliest music, heading down the side streets of heavy music while maintaining a cynical attitude. It is still clearly Thrash. The subjects of the songs have the superficial impression of seriousness, but when the band and the first album are named after made-up movies from a TV sitcom, you have to know that this music is about having a good time while you are complaining about the world.

“Brain Bugs” gets things going, and its opening is very dramatic and theatrical, with a ninety second lead-in that is a misdirection for the chaotic hailing that is to come. The lead inserts are blistering and the vocals are frenetic – just like if your brain was filled with scrambling insects. The next track, “Accelerated Decrepitude,” has an almost military persistence to it, and some fantastic bass lines to go along with the wildfire guitars. Every song has a different take on one thing or another and they are all high energy metal.

There is no slowing down, and the turns come hard and fast. The riffs and leads are cleverly arranged, some sounding like a dramatic insurgence and others more like a fire-snorting dragon with a leg cramp. You can read into these songs as much or as little as you like, experiencing whatever level of satire you suits you. The killer music is there and it straight up rips, no matter what your level of social and political engagement. Recommended.

Insect Politics is out today. Bandcamp is the first call for CDs, vinyl, digital, and cassettes. You can have your Thrash any way you like.

Links.

Deathblow Bandcamp, https://deathblow1.bandcamp.com/music

Deathblow Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/deathblowofficial

Sewer Mouth Records, https://www.facebook.com/sewermouthrecords/

Deathblow, Insect Politics (Sewer Mouth Records 2020)