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)

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Here it is, the official preview of the upcoming year in heavy music from Transcending Obscurity Records: the 2022 label sampler.

An independent record label headquartered in India, Transcending Obscurity has been quietly growing in catalogue and international reach since its inception in 2005. Now, albums from them routinely hit the top ten annual lists in every heavy music corner of the world. If you are a regular reader of this column then you know a lot about them already because I write about TO all the time as they have been one of my favorite records labels for many years. I reviewed twenty-five of their albums last year for Flying Fiddlesticks – more than any other, nudging out even Ripple Music in the stats.

Hit the links below to see the full contributor list. Bandcamp is the easiest route and that is the place to pick up the collection itself for free. To give you some idea of how it all breaks down, here is the categorization provided by the label for what is included in the sampler: Tracks 1-12 – death metal; Tracks 13-15 – black metal; Tracks 16-30 – dissonant/ brutal/ atmospheric/ experimental death metal; Tracks 30-33 – grindcore; Tracks 34-35 – doom/ sludge metal.

You can tell the music is tilted in the death metal direction, but whatever persuasion of heavy music fan you are, there is a metric ton of music here to enjoy. There are many familiar names on the roster – Wombbath, Lurk, Veilburner, Replicant, Imperlialist – and many more I know less about that I can’t wait to hear. The sampler is massive, and it is free.

You cannot go wrong with Transcending Obscurity. I have been an avid follower of the label for a good long while and I never miss an album they put out because I know the quality is going to be there. Count on reading about many of the records as they come out this year and, meanwhile, grab the sampler and hear what you are in for. And if you like merch, you cannot do better than the product line Transcending Obscurity offers. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/label-sampler-2022

US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Main Website, https://tometal.com/

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

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)

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)

Mordom, Cry of The Dying World (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Doom duo Mordom play for the hopeless and the dead on their new album Cry of The Dying World.

Max Hoffman and Nathan Gonzalez got together a couple years ago to lay down music outside of the band Cessation, calling the project Mordom. They released their first album in 2020, Eternal Solitude – it contains two long tracks, each with multiple movements. The new album has a similar set-up with three long pieces and a surprising fourth.

I was expecting to hear funeral doom given the work of Cessation, and the opening track, “Narcosis,” fulfills that promise at the gate. Slow, somber, heavy music that is quiet at first. The big riff and grating vocals drop to shake the world but the pace does not quicken. About four minutes in there is an explosion, a sort of seizure where the instruments and vocals erupt in a massive thrashing. Then back to the funeral. There are more explosions, an ambient section, and an even creepier element right at the end. Solid crushing doom with landmines and flashbacks.

“Betrayed” is a little more on the traditional funeral doom side in that it begins with the louder heavy. The pace quickens and there is a beautiful acoustic movement in the middle that leads to a melancholy guitar before bringing back the heavy. “Fire” is the shortest song on the album at only five and a half minutes. It is also a ballad with clean, gentle vocals and acoustic guitar. I did not see that one coming. It is an interesting choice and it fits right in with rest of the music in the set.

The final track is “The Mausoleum.” This epic composition runs nearly eighteen minutes and I could have listened longer. The combination of unusual percussion (for funeral doom), acoustic passages, ambient moments, and shrieking black metal interludes all housed in the firmament of the heaviest doom metal speaks to my musical predilections. This is a great album and I am looking forward to more from Mordom. Recommended.

Cry of The Dying World is out now through Transylvanian Recording. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/mordom-cry-of-the-dying-world

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

Mordom, Cry of The Dying World (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Cutterred Flesh, Sharing Is Caring (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new Cutterred Flesh album has a deceptively calm title to go along with the brutally revealing cover art.

From Czechia, Cuttered Flesh is a death metal band that wears dastardly themes on its sleeve. Over twenty years and four previous albums they have made their intentions known so there is no mistake about what is in store for you when you drop the needle on one of their records. The band is Jiri Krs (vocals), Vitali Novak (guitar), David Krombholz (guitar), Zdenek Hnizdil (bass), Frantisek Drazdansky (drums).

“Vibrio Vulnificus” begins loud and fast with a punitive hammering. Shouting, growling vocals overpower any resistance, and the occasional momentary respite in the driving percussion offers no actual rest. This is plowing, punishing death metal. The tempo is in the upper-mid range and the sentiment is savage. The very next song is “Black Aura,” which begins with a lullaby melody concatenated with blast beats and dark dramatic guitars. The vocals are vile and displeased. We’re off and running toward the tortures of the damned.

There is no place to hide in any song from this set. Battering percussion is always in there whether the track begins slow or fast. The veils and distractions are sleights of hand that serve more to enhance the brutality of the music than offer a look away. A good example is “Knife Is Not The Enemy.” The pace at the open does not seem sustainable – it leaves you breathless. The doors you go through while experiencing the music that follows open up to spyglasses and mirrors and so you see different things but you never truly escape the dungeon you started in. Fans of brutal death metal will welcome this new addition to the canon. Recommended.

Sharing Is Caring is out now through Transcending Obscurity Records. Check out the label’s US store below or hit up the always-reliable Bandcamp for the goods.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://cutterredfleshband.bandcamp.com/album/sharing-is-caring-brutal-death-metal

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

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

Cutterred Flesh, Sharing Is Caring (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Anomalie, Tranceformation (AOP Records 2021)

The fourth album from Austrian band Anomalie spins a preternatural web of post-black metal: Tranceformation.

Aomalie is Christian “Marrok” Brauch, joined by Lukas Schlintl on drums and percussion. Operating under this name for just over a decade, Anomalie has released three previous long-players and the EP Integra (2018).

The new album is an induced trance in six movements. The opening track is absolutely mesmerizing. It is not too much to call it hypnotic. The black metal elements are clear but they are not as prominent as the comely vocals and the melodic guitar entreaties. The percussion is held at a subdued level in the mix but the playing wicked indeed. This is “Trance I: The Tree” and if it was the only song on the album I would be satisfied, but it is only the beginning.

“Relics” is next and it lays down a pulsing groove. The track is nine minutes long and by the end you are sorry to see it go because the composition somehow keeps you transfixed the entire time. The movement from melodic to coarser vocals is seamless and occurs in synch with unseen powers that, while unexplained, make perfect sense. “Alive” is quieter overall but has some of the most urgent guitar work in its midst. By this point I was completely absorbed in the music and I had only heard side one.

The back half of the trance-set continues the work of the first part. I don’t know what I expected from this album, but what I heard was fantastic. Calling the music post-black metal isn’t wrong, but it doesn’t cover it, either. Cross-over and fusion music is sometimes disappointing because it ends up with too much of one thing or not enough of the other. But Anomalie has created something that is completely different from its constituent parts where the balance is unassailable.

Set aside some time to be taken away because when this album is on your attention cannot go anywhere else. Highly recommended.

Tranceformation is out now through AOP Records. In the US, Bandcamp is the one-stop shop.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://anomalie-official.bandcamp.com/album/tranceformation

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/The.Anomalie.Experience

AOP Records, http://www.aoprecords.de/

Anomalie, Tranceformation (AOP Records 2021)

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)

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

The Los Angeles blackened metal band Civerous brings forth its first full-length album, Decrepit Flesh Relic.

Beginning only a couple years ago, Civerous has released two demos and a live set, along with a split pairing them with Stygian Obsession. The steady work has paid off, culminating in one of the strongest records in the blackened death/doom arena this year. The band is Daniel Salinas (guitar), Alonso Santana (guitar), Lord Foul (vocals), Drew Horton (bass), and Matt Valencia (drums).

After the creeps-inducing intro piece “Eidolon,” there are six primary tracks on the album. Having set the mood to dark and tense, “From The Crypt To The Cavern” is a functional nightmare. The riff is a heavy clomp that batters you up front in anticipation of the following tenderizing percussion and growling vocals filled with the wisdom of eldritch blackness. “Herodacy” deepens the lines of inquiry as a well-timed lead-in to “Rot Delineated (Decrepit Flesh Relic),” a quieter and creepier rendering of similar sentiments, evolving slowly into beautifully crushing doom.

“Hubiku” is a trip down the sinkhole into the swirling chasm of hell – once you pass the event horizon, there is no escape. “Bone Wreath” is the song that stuck deepest in my brain. The hopelessness conveyed in the opening moments is monumental, and the reckoning of that promise is unforgettable. The final movement is the epic “Spiral OF Eyes,” a tale older than time; maker of destruction. The darkness evoked is sincere and penetrating.

I appreciate especially the commitment to doom throughout the album, and the willingness to explore in directions that could not be easily predicted by the listener in advance. This recording deserves attention and should make year-end “best of” lists far and wide. Highly recommended.

Decrepit Flesh Relic is out now through Transylvanian Records. Hit the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/civerous-decrepit-flesh-relic

Transylvania Recordings, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Imperialist, Zenith (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Sci-Fi Black Metal band Imperialist have crafted an amazing new album, Zenith.

From Monrovia, California, the band is Sergio Soto (guitar, vocals), Bryant Quinones (guitar), Joshua Alvarez (bass), and Rodney Quinones (drums). In 2015 they released an EP, Quantum Annexation, and followed that up with the well-received long-player Cipher (2018). The new album is a big next step, embracing science fiction narratives and infusing them with diabolical Black Metal. The amazing dark chemistry of the creation cannot be denied.

The album begins with extremely creepy tones and murky, ominous music on the intro piece. Talk about setting the stage. The trepidation builds leading into “The Maw,” a savage, hammering track. The howling continues with “Parallax Descends,” a confoundingly catchy track. And that is something about this music that sets it apart – it is hard driving, technical Black Metal that somehow also has enough groove in it to transport you on the surface as well as trigger your deeper menacing central dread with the harsher metal. That is so difficult to do that you almost never hear it, but here it is on Zenith.

The back half of the album delivers just as strongly as the front. “Majesty of the Void” first reminds you of the sinister mystical nature of the creature you face then tramples you with beating rhythm and weight-of-the-universe guitars. The story continues in the galactic perspective and so has an infinite space to mine ideas. “Terminal Odyssey” soars in its sounds and sights and revelations, and the final track, “Beyond the Celestial Veil,” spares no emotion or action. By the time the cooldown comes you know you have been through it – you also know you are ready to go again. Highly recommended.

Zenith will be directly overhead on Friday, November 26th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://imperialistus.bandcamp.com/album/zenith-sci-fi-black-metal

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

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

Imperialist, Zenith (Transcending Obscurity 2021)