Nihility, Beyond Human Concepts (Vicious Instinct Records 2022)

Portugal’s Nihility bring forth their second self-defining work with Beyond Human Concepts.

From Porto, Nihility is a death/black metal band comprised of four musicians: Mário Ferreira (vocals), Renato Barbosa (guitar, vocals), Miguel Seewald (bass), and Luís Moreira (drums). Having released the impressive Thus Spoke The Antichrist in 2019, the follow-up Beyond Human Concepts walks us further down their path.

From the opening notes of the first song on the album, “Martyrdom For The Herd,” the dramatic and intensely compelling guitar riffs turn your head. It’s like riding in a hotrod on a winding road in the Carpathian Mountains. When the pace curls down for a moment, an insistent bass line won’t let you go, and the next breach is a shattering pace and a rallying lead break. It is worth buying this album on the strength of the opening song alone.

The style is a sort of blackened death metal. The vocalizations are often dualized with a death/black pairing. I am hearing that more and more these days, but rarely do I find it as effectively deployed is it is with Nihility – it is not overdone, and is instead used as a complement and for emphasis. When this approach is combined with the fascinating guitar choices and the driving rhythm the result is startling and memorable.

Along with the opening track, the other top plays for me are “Human Stupidity,” the charging “Conflicting Vanities,” and the astonishing title track. I have been listening to this album all day and I am not finished with it yet. The music just keeps getting better with every spin. Nihility has made my list of bands I must see live. Highly recommended.

Beyond Human Concepts is out on Friday, January 7th through Vicious Instinct Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the place to go.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://nihilityofficial.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-human-concepts

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/nihility.pt

Vicious Instinct Records, https://www.viciousinstinctrecords.com/

Nihility, Beyond Human Concepts (Vicious Instinct Records 2022)

Necrophagous, In Chaos Ascend (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

The debut album from Swedish death metal band Necrophagous tells terrifying tales with blast beats, growls, and tsunamic guitar riffs.

The band is comprised of Visceral Bleeding and Entrails members Tommy Carlsson (vocals, guitar), Jocke Svensson (bass), and Martin Michaelsson (drums). The music they have created for In Chaos Ascend embraces the baseline assumptions of the accepted death metal canon and then bends and folds fresh new ideas into the primordial maavu. The result is consistently impressive and revealing.

There are ten tracks on the new album, plus an intro segment. The seal is broken by “Order Of The Lion,” and the hammers swing meaty on this one. A consistent pattern of heaving hitting, groovy riffs and rambunctious percussion continues as you traverse the shadows and shifting landscape, all the while serenaded by gruff, coarse singing.

The title track is a stand-out for its consciousness-clearing shifts and juts. The rambler steady-on riff is a faithful raft on a raging river. “Blood On The Stone Of Thee Monuments” also captured my imagination. The bass lines are a big part of all the songs on the album and the bass really eats your lunch here. And then there is “The Plague And The Arts” which is a shocking affair that will stand for no nonsense. It shakes your pockets empty.

The closer is “Wreaker Of Pain,” a clandestine apothecary of metal abundance. It bellows and howls in a magnificent statement that declares Necrophagous a band to be reckoned with in any discussion of heavy music in 2022. This album is a great way for death metal fans to kick off the new year. Recommended.

In Chaos Ascend is out through Transcending Obscurity Records on Friday, January 7th. Check out the label’s US on-line store or Bandcamp for the goods.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/necrophagous.sweden/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Necrophagous, In Chaos Ascend (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

The axe swings again with a new four-CD set of the first albums from iconic metal band AXE.

I remember buying those early Axe (often stylized as AXE) albums in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is entirely possible that I bought the first one on the strength of the cover art alone – I was young. What you heard when you listened to the music was something that was very different from other contemporary bands. Melodic vocals and keyboards, which might make you think of bands like Styx or even Kansas, but with surprisingly sharp guitars. That’s what I remember most about Axe, those big guitar riffs that were so prominent in the mix.

The original Axe line-up (emerging after the demise of the band Babyface) was Bobby Barth (guitar, vocals), Edgar Riley, Jr. (keys), Mike Turpin (bass), Teddy Mueller (drums), and Michael Osborne (guitar). At the beginning, many band members traded off on vocals, but eventually the singing focused on Barth. Axe was growing in popularity with each passing year, and sales of their albums were increasing. They were well known as an energetic touring band and it looked like the sky was the limit. Tragedy struck in 1983 when Michael Osbourne died in a car accident that also badly injured Bobby Barth, and the band broke up immediately after. Axe did reform in the 1990s and have released several albums since. It is those first four that are stuck in my head, though, and they are the ones in the new set.

The clamshell box the new CDs are issued in hold individual sleeves with the original album artwork for all four releases: Axe (1979), Living On The Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis (1983). The Offering CD has six bonus live tracks, and there is a 16-page booklet with an essay about the band by Dave Thompson, and liner notes. Lots of photos as well.

The new set is out now on the Dead Line imprint of Cleopatra Records. I am a big Axe fan so it was an easy choice for me. Listen to a few tracks at Bandcamp or Spotify if you want to test the waters before taking the plunge, but it is a solid bet the physical products won’t be available for long. Get them while you can. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://therealrockaxe.bandcamp.com/album/the-albums-1979-1983

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/axeband1979

Cleopatra Records, https://cleorecs.com/store/shop/axe-the-albums-1979-1983-4cd/

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

Funeral Mist, Deiform (NoEvDia 2021)

Deiform marks the fourth long-player from Swedish black metal stalwart Funeral Mist.

Daniel Rostén is the singularity behind Funeral Mist. Playing all the instruments and vocalizing the performances, Rostén is the master of the creations that result. Working with a black metal foundation, the music on the new album is aptly described in the press release as “… musical pieces contemplating the nature of divinity and mortal existence through the fiery lens of black metal.”

There are seven tracks on the new album, mostly quite long with four hovering around the nine minute mark. “Twilight of the Flesh” offers chants and a solitary guitar as an opening incantation, followed by steady, driving rhythm and an emergent theme. The ritual feel cannot be ignored. Halfway through, the music explodes in rampaging aggression. In the final quarter a dramatic, theatrical pall consumes us as the distant voices come back into orbit. It is a mesmerizing song.

One of the shorter songs comes next, “Apokalyptikon,” and it is delivered at a blistering pace with vocals coming in a manic mechanic voice. It is sharp and biting; industrial. Someone opens a door and the next song is “In Here,” matching the speed of its predecessor. The resolution of the track is very odd and disturbing. The pairing of children’s voices with black metal tropes in “Children of the Urn” destabilizes the ground you stand on, leaving you unprepared for the fury of “Hooks of Hunger.” I needed to sit down after this one.

The final two songs, together running over eighteen minutes, are the title track then “Into Ashes.” The music is at first a doom-soaked journey seeking hoary wisdom, and it is a treacherous path. These two pieces go together in my mind, the earlier one being more discernably narrative and the latter taking on an aura of inevitability. The music on this album is full-strength black metal told in a tongue I have not heard before. Recommended.

Deiform is out now through Norma Evangelium Diaboli. In the US, Bandcamp has the digital, CD, and vinyl versions.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://funeralmist.bandcamp.com/album/deiform

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

NoEvDia, https://www.noevdia.com/

Funeral Mist, Deiform (NoEvDia 2021)

News, and a couple of T-shirts, New Year’s Day, 2022

Shardik Media opens a new office in the Midwest and laments the lack of t-shirts this year.

This is a music blog, but I don’t usually write it like one. No news, no trending topics. The entries are typically a new music release review, or sometimes – a lot lately – live music photos and concert reviews. But on this day, the first day of 2022, I actually have some news.

We are opening a new office in the Midwest (at an undisclosed location). For now, Burlington is still running but it will be quiet, and there is a long-term plan to head even further west than Mid in the fullness of time. The only real difference the Midwest shift makes is there will be more coverage of venues thattaway and not so much of the Northeast. I am going to miss the State Theatre in Portland and The Webster Theater in Hartford and of course I will miss Higher Ground in Burlington most of all. But they’ll still be there and tons great places in middle of the country have live music, too. So in 2022 expect more from Indianapolis and Detroit, Columbus and Dayton. Music lives on.

Now, about those t-shirts. I only acquired a couple of new ones in the past two years because of the slow-down of live music due to the pandemic, and half of them are actually old designs I just got around to picking up recently. Hey, they are all new to me. I really need to stop buying these. Anyway, here are a couple snaps to mark the passage of time.

Let’s all have a great 2022. Happy New Year.

News, and a couple of T-shirts, New Year’s Day, 2022

Wombbath, Agma (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Thirty years in, Swedish death metal band Wombbath create an amazing new album that is one of the best they have ever released: Agma.

Wombbath started in 1990 and released the first EP of the band’s canon in 1992, Several Shapes. Having gained experience and popularity in the initial run through 1995, the musicians took a break for a couple of decades. Reforming in 2014, the band has been on a tear ever since, producing four long-players and five splits since, not including the new album. The writing is stronger and more inventive than ever, and Wombbath has positioned itself as a pivotal player in the international heavy music scene. The band includes founding member Håkan Stuvemark (guitar) with Jonny Pettersson (guitar and vocals), Thomas von Wachenfeldt (guitar and violin), Jon Rudin (drums), and Matt Davidson (bass).

Agma is a double album with sixteen tracks. The baseline is old school death metal, and you hear that in every track. In addition, most are augmented with surprising additions and twists that deepen the metal experience. For example, “At The Giant’s Feet” has unexpected high-pitch harmony vocals that drop from the sky and startle you. This song is followed by a string of punishing death metal songs, and then you hear “Blindly They Follow” with its soaring vocal pairing to go along with the blast beats and ravaging guitars. “Breathe In the Flames” rolls out at hyper-speed and also has a beautiful violin segment. The album is a sprawling forest of wonder.

Songs that stand out for me include “Misantropi Och Förakt” for its explosive moments and “The Age Of Death” for the sheer unlikeliness of its construction – elements work together that I would never have thought to join up. “In Decay They All Shall Fester” is another one that achieves unity by combining seemingly disparate constituents. The list of strand-outs could be a lot longer. Indeed, Agma might just be my favorite Wombbath album. Highly recommended.

Agma is out today through Transcending Obscurity Records. Check out the links below to see the stunning variety of merch, variants, and bundles that are available for this release. Transcending Obscurity is unmatched on this front – they always have incredible options for collectors.

Band painting by Benny Moberg.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wombbathdeath.bandcamp.com/album/agma-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

FFMB review of Tales Of Madness, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/12/18/wombbath-tales-of-madness-transcending-obscurity-2020/

Wombbath, Agma (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Clutch, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Clutch is out right now on their usual year end tour. I hope you’re there now. Here are some shots from their State Theatre performance in October. Happy New Year!

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, http://www.pro-rock.com/

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/6tqGMedAtDADU5mJulYhSj

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialClutch

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

Clutch, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Black Label Society, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 09, 2021

If you have never seen Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society in the wild then put that on your 2022 list. Loud metal in a rampaging atmosphere, that’s what you’ll get. Who doesn’t want that?

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, http://blacklabelsociety.net/

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/collections/black-label-society

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazinehttps://www.ryze-up.com/music-2/blue-ridge-rock-festival-2021/

Black Label Society, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 09, 2021

Warzaw, Black Magic Satellite (2021)

Norwegian metalheads Warzaw release their second album of 2021, Black Magic Satellite.

At the beginning of this year, Warzaw unleashed Werewolves On Wheels, a full-length 1980s-metal-inspired album that brought an enormous amount of heavy metal joy. Now they are back to close the year out with an all new long-player, Black Magic Satellite. Points for diligence and hard work. More importantly, the new one branches out a little more than Werewolves did while staying in the broad lane of banging heavy metal. The musicians who make up Warzaw are Daniel Rønning (vocals), Håvard Alvarez (guitar), Trond Jullumstrø (guitar and bass), and Mats Sødahl (drums).

“Santa Mira” gets things going on this eleven track set. It crackles with energy and pace, and offers up an satisfyingly digestible chorus. The melody takes hold of you with hot hands and stands you up for the excellent lead break. This song rips. “Fierce Attitude” comes next, and it is also speedy, plus a little more grizzly. The tempo shifts slightly on the third track, “Send My Regards,” toward the center lane, retaining the heaviness of its predecessors while mixing things up a bit. The lyrics here are rougher, the lead break more raw; a flexing juxtaposition.

Throughout the album, the standard hard rock set-up frames the compositions and deploys that reliable familiarity. The surety of this position allows the band to rub confidently its own scent in every crease and crevice of each song. Other stand-out tracks for me are “Circular Talk” and the closer, “Sabres of Flesh and Blood.” There is not a weak one in the bunch.

This album is every bit as good as Werewolves, and it pledges a bright future for the next one. I really like this band. Recommended.

Black Magic Satellite is out tomorrow, December 31st. Listen to it on Spotify or search the ether for a place to buy the digital album.

Links.

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/2pJZWxMzv2TwO99Y3HIDFb

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZxg45Ijq7UkZQ-37lc0jxQ

FFMB Werewolves On Wheels review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2021/02/11/warzaw-werewolves-on-wheels-2021/

Warzaw, Black Magic Satellite (2021)

Mastodon, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 12, 2021

I have been enamored with the music of Mastodon since Crack the Skye. Somehow, I never saw them live until 2021, and I caught them three times this year. Never miss a chance to see their show – it is incredible.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, https://www.mastodonrocks.com/

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/MastodonMusic

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazinehttps://www.ryze-up.com/music-2/blue-ridge-rock-festival-2021/

Mastodon, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 12, 2021