Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Lykhaeon tells the tale of Persephone’s abduction by Hades in the most appropriate musical form: Black Metal.

Lykhaeon is a Swiss doom-laden black metal duo that began in 2013. It is comprised of “Kerberos – Throat and Doom and Meister T. – Tomb and Summoning.” Their first album came out in 2015, Tanz der Entleibten, followed by an EP in 2018, Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls. The new album has a different feel than the first two entries in their catalogue. It is deeper and more complex.

Opprobrium tells the classic story of Persephone … “When the lust of immortals becomes insatiable, it is frequently the realm of mortals that serves as the spring from which all desire can be quenched and any thirst satiated. Such is the fate of Persephone, who is – according to some tellings – the victim of a cruel ploy, a conspiracy incarnate, whereby her flesh is beset by the desire of the deity Hades. In his arrogance, appearing before her on a gilded chariot, treachery allows Hades to abduct the seed.” There is a lot going on, and this is just the set-up.

The story is linear enough – it is just that there is so much to take in, making the album somewhat overwhelming. There are seven tracks, five of which I would call primary. You want to listen to them all straight through the get the full story, of course. Musically, there is a long intro that is very effective in setting the stage and instilling dread before the opening lyrical salvo of “A Stain Upon Celestial Rule,” presented in a familiar Black Metal motif encased in iron-heavy doom. A good beginning.

There is a familiar pattern to the music that, once established, lends a feeling of surety during the dark journey. When divergent passages break through, they are all the more powerful held against the established path. I especially like the sequence of “Descent Into Ruinous Splendor” and “Scorching the Wings of Destiny” – I admire the compositional ingenuity, the musical execution, and the lyrical commitment. Lykhaeon are all-in on this album, and it shows.

If you are looking for a classic tale set in the Black Metal universe and scaled to epic proportions, this album is for you. Recommended.

Opprobrium is out now. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Repose Records, https://www.reposerecords.com/

Lykhaeon, Opprobrium (Repose Records 2021)

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 9-12, 2021

A relatively new festival that has grown enormously in the past couple of years is the Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Virginia. This year the festival will be held at a new venue, the Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Danville, Virginia.

Headliners are Megadeth, Breaking Benjamin, Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, and Papa Roach.

Other bands I am lining up to see at the festival are Clutch, Black Label Society, Halestorm, Testament, Hatebreed, Anthrax, Lamb of God, Fever 333, Saul, Nonpoint, Beartooth, Corrosion of Conformity, Mastodon, The Hu, Killswitch Engage, and Gojira, plus an enormous number of other great acts. I think there are more bands at this festival than any other in North America this year. It is an incredible lineup.

While the festival is sold out, you can check out the link below for more information. You know how this works – if you want a ticket you can still get one because people will be buying and selling them.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd.

Link.

Festival info: https://blueridgerockfest.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 9-12, 2021

Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, September 23-26, 2021

The big show this year at the Highland Festival Grounds in Louisville is Louder Than Life, returning with a bigger show than ever before.

Stretching over four days this year as a return bonus after missing last year, the big news at Louder Than Life is that Metallica will be playing both on Friday and Sunday nights – and they are playing different sets each night.

Thursday night the headliner is Korn and Nine Inch Nails is the feature on Saturday. Other big hitters taking the stage over the weekend include Judas Priest, Snoop Dogg, Staind, Jane’s Addiction, Killswitch engage, Anthrax, Beartooth, Ghostemane, Sabaton, Cypress Hill, and loads more.

You can still get tickets to Louder Than Life (at this writing). Check out the link below.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd.

Link.

Festival info: https://louderthanlifefestival.com/

Louder Than Life Festival, Louisville, September 23-26, 2021

Psycho Las Vegas, August 19-22, 2021

Festivals are getting going again in the US and the first big stop to make is Psycho Las Vegas.

Missing a year of Psycho Las Vegas is a wound that can be salved by heading to Nevada next month for one the of the best heavy line-ups around. During the 2019 festival, The Mandalay Bay operated three stages – one in the arena, one at the House of Blues in the casino complex, and another in a lounge. All very different vibes and all full-on musical bliss. I am expecting this again in 2021.

The headliners for 2021 are Emperor, Down, and Danzig. Other bands I am excited to see this year are Exodus, Cannibal Corpse, High On Fire, The Sword, Red Fang, Obituary, Pig Destroyer, Eyehatehod, and far too many others to mention. For heavy music fans, Psycho Las Vegas has become an annual pilgrimage.

Don’t forget Thursday night Psycho Swim with music outside at the Daylight Beach Club. True, it is 100 degrees or so in the daytime but when the sun goes down so does the temperature and it is very comfortable. Plus it is a beach and you can get in the water. The bands for this year’s Psycho Swim include Old Man Gloom, Bongzilla, and many others.

There were still some tickets available at this writing. Hit the link below to see what’s up.

Someone (me) from Shardik Media will be at the festival. See you in the crowd. And at the tables.

Link.

Festival info: https://vivapsycho.com/

Psycho Las Vegas, August 19-22, 2021

Snogard, Moral Presence, Corrupt Misdeeds (HPGD 2021)

Dark fantasy black metal shines on the first lap by North Carolina duo Snogard.

On their Bandcamp page, the musicians are listed this way: Froglin (vocals) and Gorf Drakolisk (all instruments). The two released this EP independently last year and now Horror Pain Gore Death is giving it a boost with a fresh incarnation.

There are five tracks, each one set thematically in a dark fantasy realm ranging from Tolkien to The Dark Crystal and to all around the raging seas. The music certainly takes black metal tropes as a starting point – you can hear that lane clearly in the vocals and the rhythm and percussion, particularly.

On some songs there is a nice doom element, and in other places you are treated to what could be the lyrical emanations of a traveling mage. They are all surrounded, one way or another, by the sinister realm of black metal.

The album is described, again on the original Bandcamp page, as “Quarantine bedroom 4-month album.” If that’s how they did this, then it is pretty impressive. These are solid compositions that are effectively executed. Definitely worth a listen.

The new Horror Pain Gore Death release of Moral Presence, Corrupt Misdeeds hits the streets Friday, July 16th and you can get all the varieties at Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/moral-presence-corrupt-misdeeds

HPGD, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Snogard, Moral Presence, Corrupt Misdeeds (HPGD 2021)

Pisswitch ~ St. Barthelemy’s Temple, Split (Babylon Doom Cult Records 2021)

A split that takes the concept literally with bands that operate on opposite ends of the spectrum: Pisswitch and St. Barthelemy’s Temple.

Two bands of mystery come together to release a tantalizing split. Not much is known about either one. St. Barthelemy’s Temple is a black metal band from France that describes its sound as being reminiscent of Eyehategod. Meanwhile, according to the press release, Pisswitch has no web presence whatsoever and is peopled by “leading figures from today’s raw black metal scene.” OK then. Anonymous it is.

Each band contributes three long tracks. The music on each side is very different.

Pisswitch offers up tortured, raw doom with spare, hissing black metal vocals that languish in the abyss and guitars that seem to be sounding a warning at the gates of hell. Slow, immiserating, hopeless. It is beautifully dark music.

The music from St. Barthelemy’s Temple for the split, compared to Pisswitch, might be described as more traditionally black metal. The first track is heavy on the doom side, while the second picks up the speed and sponsors the percussion and vocals that are familiar to dedicated black metal fans in the first half of the song. The finish is an excellent blackened doom enterprise.

While these bands do sound very different, their music works well together on this split. They both create doom and black metal music, each one leaning in an opposite direction. They complement each other. Recommended.

The split is available this Friday, July 9th, from Babylon Doom Cult Records. Try the link below. You can watch/listen to a teaser trailer on YouTube as well by following the St. Barthelemy’s Temple Facebook link.

Links.

St. Barthelemy’s Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/St-Barthelemys-Temple-108916979189279/

Babylon Doom Cult Records, https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/product/pisswitch-st-barthelemys-temple-pisswitch-the-cold-mouth-of-the-earth-lp/

Babylon Doom Cult Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/babylondoomcultrecords

Pisswitch ~ St. Barthelemy’s Temple, Split (Babylon Doom Cult Records 2021)

Darkthrone, Eternal Hails… (Peaceville Records 2021)

Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are back with another bubbling cauldron of metal: Eternal Hails…

Darkthrone has been throwing its weight around the heavy music scene since the mid-1980s. Cracking in with Death Metal at first, they became well known for the seminal Black Metal albums they released in the 1990s – 1993’s Under A Funeral Moon, for example, and its immediate successor the following year, Transylvanian Hunger. New albums came over the years, laying down the history of the band and establishing its legacy.

The new record leans into the Doom Metal side of the Darkthrone universe with five long crushing tracks. When I say doom, I mean heavy doom. “His Master’s Voice” is slow and pulverizing with a tempo change or two but clearly focused on pressing you down with its mass. “Hate Cloak,” my personal favorite of this set, stays in the same lane, with straight-forward riffs that have an overwhelming simplicity that is hypnotizing.

“Wake of the Awakened” breaks the gate with an up-tempo rate and the pace is maintained throughout, like a charging cavalry. “Voyage to a Northpole Adrift” offers a riff of despair in its establishing moments, but turns to a purposefulness later on that gives you a feeling of exploration in a barren place. The anchor song is “Lost Arcane City of Uppåkra.” This song more than any of the others fits perfectly the description Fenriz gave the album, “Five heavy dinosaurs looking in wonder and bewilderment at the stars.” Heavy, monstrous, unstoppable.

I have always liked the music Darkthrone creates no matter what direction they go in. I’d put this new album high on the list of their accomplishments, even given all the great work they have done in the past. Recommended.

Eternal Hails… is out on Friday, June 25th from Peaceville Records in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.

Band photo by Jørn Steen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://peaceville.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-hails

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Darkthrone-101075189934422

Peaceville Records, https://peaceville.com/bands/darkthrone/

Darkthrone, Eternal Hails… (Peaceville Records 2021)

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Intricate Funeral Doom laced with Death Metal is what you can expect from the new Suffer Yourself album, Rip Tide.

Suffer Yourself began in Poland as a one-man operation by Stanislav Govorukha (guitars and vocals). Over the years the roster has expanded and the new album includes contributions by Lars Abrahamsson (guitars), Kateryna Osmuk (drums), and Johan Selleskog (bass). Rip Tide is the third set from the band, following Ectoplasm (2016) and Inner Sanctum (2014).

The music is Funeral Doom, a category most glum. Suffer Yourself takes an expansive perspective on the genre and is not satisfied with ambient morosity. Instead, each song either has many movements that create a variegated aural landscape or has a second (and third) persistent intricacy that elevates the composition.

There are three tracks on Ripe Tide, starting with “Spit In The Chasm,” a twenty minute suite. It is here you find the full spectrum of the band on display, including soaking Funeral Doom, eerily floating vocals and calls, sudden burst of speed and diversions into torrid Death and Black Metal territory. It is a complex affair that unfolds like a darkly absorbing drama laid bare before you.

Next is “Désir de trépas maritime (Au bord de la mer je veux mourir)” which is quiet and somber  and features a beautiful, mournful cello in its first movement. Before the three minute mark, the music changes from sad to threatening with guitars issuing an obvious warning. In the final third of the song, there has an oddly upsetting spoken word passage joined by the cello and other discordant instruments and effects.

The closer is a short ambient drone piece, “Submerging,” which is more of an exhortation regarding things to come than it is a wind-down. Taken together these three pieces coalesce into an unforgettable cortège moving toward oblivion. Recommended.

Rip Tide will be released on Friday, June 25th by Aesthetic Death on CD, vinyl, and digital. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Aesthetic Death Bandcamp, https://aestheticdeath.bandcamp.com/

Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Crypta, Echoes Of The Soul (Napalm Records 2021)

Crypta, a metal band reaching across the globe from Brazil to the Netherlands, release their first full-length album, Echoes Of The Soul.

Composed of former members of Nervosa, Burning Witches, and Hagbard, Crypta brings forth the Death Metal like no other. The band is Fernanda Lira (bass and vocals), Sonia Anubis (guitar), Tainá Bergamaschi (guitar), and Luana Dametto (drums). Together they form a whomping juggernaut fit to crack your bones.

You don’t hear a lot of female vocalists in heavy music, especially ones rolling out coarse deliveries. An obvious example is Butcher Babies, of course, and Dopethrone, but thinking of others requires some reflection. Crypta leans more toward the Black Metal hiss side of Death Metal vocalizations, hailing the dark and menacing.

There are nine songs and an into bit on Echoes Of The Soul. “Starvation” starts off at a full sprint. The percussion is insidious, the riffs contentious, and the vocals are threatening. That is a good combination. The lead break runs the range of steady to hyper in a display of possibilities. “Possessed” follows and is more theatrical in a Phantom of the Opera kind of way. Wicked and eerie, it is, with a sorrowful lead.

“Under The Black Wings” stands out to me for the heaviness and darkness of its composition. You have a real sense of witnessing an inevitable calamity when you hear it. I really like “Dark Night Of The Soul” as well for its incredible lead guitar work and the closer, “From The Ashes” might be the song to either open or end the show on tour because it has a burning energy that can work at both perspectives. This is a different kind of Death Metal and well worth your attention. Recommended.

Echoes Of The Soul is out now and available all around.

Links.

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

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

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

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

Crypta, Echoes Of The Soul (Napalm Records 2021)

Eremit, Bearer Of Many Names (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

German Doom Metal trio Eremit offer their second full-length album, Bearer Of Many Names, to the multitudes.

Eremit’s first album, Carrier of Weight, came out in 2018 and it started something big. It had three songs, the short one being eleven minutes long and the long one covering thirty three minutes. Even for a doom band, this is epic-length work and in conveys a commitment to concept and idea that would become a hallmark of the band’s approach. The line-up is Marco Baecker (drums), Pascal Sommer (guitar), and Moritz Fabian (vocals and guitar).

Desert Of Ghouls is an EP that was released last year – two songs, twenty minutes – and it was a welcome transitional release for the new album. It is not necessary to listen to the earlier releases to become immersed in the latest one, but I do recommended it because there is an arc here from the beginning to the now and beyond. Like Carrier Of Weight, there are three tracks on Bearer Of Many Names.

“Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness” (29:22) opens with six quiet minutes of uneasiness then explodes suddenly with a Black-Metal-esque eruption to show you the trepidation was in order. The doom approach is slow and fatally heavy, punctuated by the tectonic shifts in the percussion, guitar, and voice.

“Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” (18:36) is a bit more funereal to my ear than the first track and “Unmapped Territories of Clans without Names” (18:27) is the eeriest, pressing against the edges of ethereal and ritual music. Everything about the music on this album is absolutely mesmerizing. Listening to any track by itself is a welcome a welcome journey. Even so, listening to all three in order is worthwhile enhancement.

I have been following Eremit through its brief career and I have enjoyed the first two releases. The new one is the best so far and it sets a higher standard for Doom Metal in this vein. Highly recommended.

Bearer Of Many Names is out now from Transcending Obscurity, one of the very best heavy labels around – if you are into variants, bundles, and merch, they always deliver. Look over the links below and dive in.

Links.

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

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

Eremit store, http://eremit.limitedrun.com/

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

Eremit, Bearer Of Many Names (Transcending Obscurity 2021)