Descent, Order Of Chaos (Brilliant Emperor 2022)

The new album from Descent is step forward in their heavy music campaign.

Order Of Chaos is the second full-length album from Brisbane, Queensland death metal band Descent, following 2018’s Towers of Grandiosity and a demo three years before that. The music they play is a brutal mesh of death metal, black metal, and hardcore. According to the Metal Archives, the band is Jim Dandy (bass), Anthony Oliver (vocals), Kingsley Sugden (drums), Brendan Auld (guitar), and Josh Kane (guitar).

I wrote a book (pseudonymously ) a few years back titled The Sequence Of Random Events so I appreciate the concept of Order Of Chaos. You think about it for a while and there is always a pattern in there somewhere and meaning can be ascribed. Alternately, the chaos itself might be the order, eh – that’s a brain-pulsing notion on its own. Of course it could just be that there is never any order and searching for it is a waste of time so you might as well embrace the chaos. Or … we could just listen to the music.

The punishing begins at the jump with “Tempest” and carries through on all eight tracks. The gravely rawness of the vocals is hammered home by the relentless percussion and rhythm. The riffs carry both a violent menace and a patterning groove. The lead guitar is like close-up knife work that makes an art of the carving. Don’t drop the needle on this one if you are not ready for the rumble.

My favorite tracks are “Fester” and “Safe.” The former has a hook with a wicked barbed that attracted my gaze and then would not let go. The latter track is the shortest of the set and it is just a hard straight shot to the face. The album shook the ice out of my beard and got my blood up. Recommended.

Brilliant Emperor Records releases Order Of Chaos on Friday, January 14th. Redefining Darkness has the CD and Caligari Records offers up the cassette.

Links.

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

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

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

Descent, Order Of Chaos (Brilliant Emperor 2022)

Vahrzaw, The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian death metal band Vahrzaw continues its impressive run of drastic music with The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men.

Formed under a different (and evolving) name in the early 1990s, Vahrzaw released the first full-length album, Defiant, in 2009. That is a long journey and a fascinating tale, I am willing to bet. Once the flag had been unfurled, new LPs rolled out on the regular with Twin Suns and Wolves’ Tongues in 2018, followed by Husk four years later. The music is fundamentally death metal with black metal cross-over features and seeds of thrash and prog. The new album is vibrant and tenacious and not to be ignored.

There are five primary tracks on The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men, plus an acoustic intro and outro. You can hear “Death Of An Unknown Architect” approaching in the distance, pushing nearer with a relentless surety as the volume ramps up. Inescapable. The guitars strike a sour note above the battering percussion then rip into merciless speed and crunch. This is a prog death tune from the land beyond. “Waiting With The Wolves” swings in on a groove that quickly twirls into something more hideous, signaled early with a black metal hiss in the collateral vocal. The changes are too numerous to delineate and they are almost entirely unexpected. It is a stitching of disparate parts, somehow becoming fluid in the collective.

“As Ships Upon Shores” is a plaintive, doom-laden call. It is a beautifully dark song that rises steadily in tempo then drifts off to quietude in the distance at the end. “Vultures” could be a single with its catchy opening riff if only the composers had married the desire to be approachable to the masses. Soon enough the music is off on an absolute black metal rampage. “The Pessimist” is a nine-minute journey into a twilit realm of despair and incontrovertible angst. All the pieces are revisited and renewed, engorged on the endless creativity of the musicians. This is an album clearly marked for greatest in the annals of heavy music. Highly recommended.

The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men is out now. In the US, orders are easy at Bandcamp, or buy directly from Transcending Obscurity Records at their on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://vahrzawband.bandcamp.com/album/the-trembling-voices-of-conquered-men-death-black-metal

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

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

Vahrzaw, The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Norse, Ascetic (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian dissonant Black Metallers Norse release their fourth full-length album, Ascetic.

Norse is a duo that has been haunting the landscape since 2006. Their focus has always been on Black Metal, but the execution of the musical endeavor has changed over the years. The new album works a penetrating brand of dissonance that enhances the chaos of the songs’ narrative themes.

There are eight tracks on the album, most of them tipping over the five minute mark. The title track has what I would call strong doom influences to go along with the more central dissonant black metal orientation and it opens the set with howl. “Parasite Warmongers” is very clanging, noisy, and operates a clearly defined dissonance. I know I am over-using the word, but an intentional grating quality is so much a part of this album that it is difficult to avoid.

Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty of variation. “Fearless Filth Seeker” has a shrill distortion to it gliding along with the melodic vocals. “Radical Depression” sounds like a march played in a cocktail lounge at the beginning, quiet and sultry; insinuating. After a couple of minutes a wall of sound kicks in and pushes you over until toward the end when the snare returns. There are many corners and crannies to explore.

“Useless” is the final mail in the coffin, and it seems to be offering a way through. But to where? The afterlife? Maybe. I hear it as a parable of the ultimate pointlessness of a life of struggle when the end is predetermined: death. That might be too on the nose. Whatever the intent, it is one the most engaging tracks of the set and it is properly fitted at the end. It is also one of the main reasons I am recommending the album.

Ascetic is out through Transcending Obscurity on Friday, October 8th, gatherable at Bandcamp or the label’s US store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://norsebm.bandcamp.com/album/ascetic-dissonant-black-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/norse.official

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

Norse, Ascetic (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

The debut full-length album from Nefariym tears open the fabric of musical reality: Morbid Delusions.

Coming together only two years ago, Melbourne, Australia’s Nefariym was created by veteran metallers Mark Kelson and Richie Poate. The music can generally be thought of as Death Metal with the duo’s own novel twists with plenty of Doom and Sludge in the mix as well. There have been a couple singles released by the band but this album is the first deep journey fans can listen to and assess.

The album contains an intro piece, nine new songs, and a cover of a metal classic. The first full track is “Succubus” and the band comes out blasting with a monstrous adrenaline-fueled assault from every instrument. Black/Death Metal hybrid vocals give the song the perfect tinge. “A Morbid Delusion” follows and it is another ripper – a high speed conundrum for your brain that’ll need a minute to process. The production lays together the rhythm with the vocals with a harmony guitar line that fills the entire available space, while an early lead break sounds like a madman railing against the injustices of existence.

Toward the end of “A Morbid Delusion” the tempo slows a bit and provides a perfect segue to “Tearing Flesh From The Bone” which has an excellent Sludge/Doom essence. This is my favorite track for its sheer heaviness and the unforgettable refrain. Throughout the album the alternating between high-tempo songs and slower doomers is enthralling. I found the entire set captivating, including the cover of Celtic Frost’s “Circle Of The Tyrants,” which both provides an anchor for the album and delivers an homage. Highly recommended.

Morbid Delusions hits the streets on Friday September 24th through Inverse Records.

Links.

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

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

Nefariym website, https://nefariym.com/

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=939

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

Plum Green, Somnambulistic (Nefarious Industries 2021)

Back with a new collection of beautifully dark songs, Plum Green releases Somnambulistic.

Plum Green is from Melbourne, Australia. She has released a string of captivating albums in the last decade that that convey solemnity, almost as a berceuse for the grave. This is especially true on the new album. The music is dark and quiet, and it leaves an impression.

The opening song begins with beautiful, soothing, lyrical passages, but in a way that could be the soundtrack to euthanasia. That first track, “Raspberry Vine,” is very much what I mean when I talk about Acoustic Doom. In the press materials, the music is described as “atmospheric dream folk,” and I like that description, too. It is the emotion that is heavy and that does not require loudness.

There are strong gothic elements here as well. In the second track, “Eyes Shut,” the vocalizations draw a strong eidolon of Johnette Napolitano without really sounding much like her. It is bewitching, this music. It takes you away with its gentleness and at the same time has an emotionally penetrating effect. Like the singing of a wraith that means you no harm – or appears to mean you no harm – you find yourself trusting the music to have a meaningful effect on you.

The strings on “Grave Snuggler” have a hypnotizing effect. And Green’s voice, of course. Every track is enchanting and mysterious. The vocal duet on “Belleza Nocturna” was a surprise and it fit in perfectly with the rest of the set. Eerie, engaging, and unforgettable, Plum Green is an artist you should know about. Start with this new album and work your way backward through the catalogue. What you will find might surprise you. Recommended.

Somnambulistic is available on September 17th through Nefarious Industries. Explore the links below.

Band photo by Zach Salar.

Links.

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

Plum Green website, http://www.plumgreenmusic.com/

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

Nefarious Industries, https://www.nefariousindustries.com/collections/new-releases/products/somnambulistic

Plum Green, Somnambulistic (Nefarious Industries 2021)

The Slow Death, Siege (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian atmospheric doom band The Slow Death return with their mournful fourth album, Siege.

The first album from The Slow Death was their self-titled entry in 2008, followed four years later by the aptly titled II. 2015 brought the charmed album Ark, and now Siege. They write and perform thoughtful, deliberate doom, typically in long form. The band is Mandy Andresen (vocals, keys), Stuart Prickett (guitar, keys), Yonn McLaughlin (drums), Dan Garcia (bass), and Gamaliel (vocals).

I would refer to this music as Funeral Doom, although many would find the Atmospheric Doom label more accurate, or perhaps simply more palatable. Given the subjects of the songs, the pace, and the haunting constructions, I am standing by my FD assessment.

There are four tracks on this album, two that are about twenty minutes long with the other two a bit more than half that. The first song is one of the long ones, “Tyranny.” The opening notes have a feeling of transition to them, like something has been happening for a while but we are just now becoming fully aware of it. The music is beautiful and melancholy. The first heavy guitar drop is fairly early in, about a minute and a half, and it raises the seriousness of the established emotion. There is a tempo change and then the first voice is heard, a lovely, comforting vocal and, later, a gruff one, both of which return. The narrative is fairly linear and the music moves with the story toward the solemn conclusion.

“Famine” follows, a shorter work running only about thirteen minutes. Given the title, you are not going in with hopes for a sunny afternoon. Indeed, the story is grim even as the music is compelling an uplifting – at first. The heavy, trouncing guitars and rhythm press in suddenly, conveying catastrophe and doom. Toward the end the inevitability, the fate, becomes clear, and the song ends dramatically.

“Pestilence” is Funeral Doom at the beginning the way I usually think of it: slow, dead slow; utterly hopeless. This track is the other long piece, and certainly it goes through a range of expressions and movements. The beginning passage is the one that stayed with me longest. The final song is “Ascent of the Flames” and it hit me as a sort of cool down – an opportunity to reflect on what has come before and a memorial wrap-up.

I am a fan of Funeral Doom and this sort of music has long appealed to me. As a result, I am always on the lookout for another band I can rely on to set the kind of tone I want to hear. The Slow Death has become one of my regulars and this new album is among their best. Recommended.

Siege is out from Transcending Obscurity Records on Friday, August 27th. Investigate all the possible variations in presentation at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://theslowdeathband.bandcamp.com/album/siege-atmospheric-death-doom-metal

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

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

The Slow Death, Siege (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Plasmodium, Towers Of Silence (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The caustic ululations from down under can only mean that Plasmodium has released a new album.

Australian chaos cohorts Plasmodium ripped the lid off of reason in 2016 with their first album, Entheognosis. The menace that began with those four songs continues on Towers Of Silence, another loose approximation to coherence.

There are five tracks on the new album. The first two are short, noisy explosions. I am not sure if they are meant to terrify the listener, but they could have that effect. The pace is furious and the direction of the music is more of a flurry than a path.

“Pseudocidal” is a free-form expression that lays an ambient bed and lets the drums run wild. Vocalizations are more subdued than they were in the openers and even become discernable after a few minutes. The percussion seems to be on about something and you find that reassuring in the otherwise worrisome surroundings.

The last two songs on the album a big ones, “Translucinophobia” and “Vertexginous,” having a running time over thirty minutes between them. The former is like an extended Alexandrian campaign in an unknown land and the latter is more like a journey through an extended purgatorial menace that ends badly. This is metal music, heavy music, dark music, but there is nothing to reliably compare it to because of the general lack of core elements. The thought of what Plasmodium might create next is a churning maelstrom of bewildering possibilities.

I have listened to about fifty releases from Transcending Obscurity over the last many months and this one is by far the strangest. If you are up for the challenge, Towers Of Silence is out now. There is no telling what door it might open for you.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://plasmodiumdeath.bandcamp.com/album/towers-of-silence-cosmic-black-death-metal

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

Plasmodium, Towers Of Silence (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Sumeru, Blood Ordinance (Brilliant Emperor 2021)

Australian metal band Sumeru reveal their first new music since 2018 with Blood Ordinance.

For more than ten years Sumeru has been playing metal. They are typically labeled a Doom or Stoner band, but they often play up-tempo, even speedy music, and on the new release high velocity is very much in evidence. They have published two full-length albums so far, Holy Lands (2014) and Summon Destroyer (2018) to complement their self-title demo from 2013. Blood Ordinance features new vocalist Jake Willoughby, and it is an excellent introduction.

There are two songs on the EP. “Cold Chamber” leans way over on the Death Metal side with its up-tempo opening and outwardly challenging vocals and percussion. It is a genuine aural throttling. It does slow down about three and a half minutes in, layering more standard Doom filaments in the channels. The final minute is a beautiful, solemn outro. “Foundry of Dread” also starts out as a banger and never lets up. If you are waiting for the song to turn over to disquiet and foreboding haunts you are out of luck. It is fierce all the way through.

The EP is out now and when you buy it from Brilliant Emperor you get three digital bonus tracks. There is no mention of the bonus tracks on the Bandcamp page, so I’m not sure what happens there. The previously unreleased bonus tracks are reported to be “Blood Ordinance,” “Kingdom,” and “Spines.” Recommended.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

Sumeru, Blood Ordinance (Brilliant Emperor 2021)

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)

Idle Ruin, Idle Ruin (2020)

Australian metal trio Idle Ruin throw out the first volley with their self-title debut get-acquainted EP.

The band is Liam Anthony, Kaleb Doherty, Josh Dawson, started by Anthony as an experimental project to see where it would go. The live music hiatus we’ve all been on was an excellent opportunity to put some new music together and that is exactly what he did. The result is four raging metal songs that will peel the paint off of any venue.

The music is fast, bordering on Thrash, and you could easily hang the Death Metal label on it, too. I read it described as “death metal crossed with blackened thrash.” That sounds right. I hear the elements I like best from Black Metal seasoning the music. The main things: hard, fast, loud.

“Whipped To Death” sets the stage with an ominous opening riff and then launches into accelerating aggression. “Spiritual Contagion” starts out at full speed, whirling like a sandstorm beaten up by an angry djinn. “The Devil’s Trade” was released early for airplay, and hearing it you’ll know why – it is a concentrated ball of metal fury. “Gods Of Glass” is a show closer that seals the deal, with complex percussion and wailing guitars. Treat yourself to this one for a high voltage infusion of adrenaline. Recommended.

You can get the CD or digital right now. The fastest grab is Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Idle Ruin, Idle Ruin (2020)