Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Hate, Rugia (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Blackened death metal band Hate releases their twelfth full-length album, Rugia.

Since the mid-1990s, Polish band Hate has been has been issuing rock solid death metal. Their style has evolved somewhat over the years, moving from a strictly death metal approach toward an amalgam of black and death metal. Their lyrical themes have changed, too, concentrating in more recent years on mysticism and esoteric perambulations. Armed with a new drummer, the latest album is “a refreshing new chapter to our discography, composing nine truly sinister onslaughts of pure rage,” according to the band.

The set opens with the title track, offering an engaging percussion/riff combination before settling in with a thrumming death metal standard. The music is dramatic, even theatrical toward the end, dressing the stage for the deeper shades of dark to come. The question of where to place the title track (when there is one) has always fascinated me. It could be anywhere – the anchor position, sorted in the middle, or right up front. I think starting with “Rugia” is a blatant display of confidence, one that is well deserved.

Most tracks are relatively brief for this type of music, keeping the focus razor-sharp. Watch (listen) for “Exiles of Pantheon” especially, and “Resurgence,” for pummeling rhythm enhanced by unexpected turns in the harmony. “Sun Of Extinction” is a stand-out track for me because of its challenging, almost prog-ish, opening and determined follow-through. And “Awakening The Gods Within” has a cliff dropping shift from the doom laden opening to the savage assault that follows. These are all thrilling for their own reasons.

All the stops are pulled for the final track, “Sacred Dnieper.” It is a consolidated fury that sounds for all the world as if it spewed directly from the blackest void. This album is a roving, unrelenting menace that will dislodge your peace of mind. Recommended.

Rugia is available now through Metal Blade Records. Examine the varieties at the label link below.

Band photo by Daniel Rusilowicz.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hate.bandcamp.com/album/rugia

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/hate/

Hate, Rugia (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Noltem, Illusions In The Wake (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Connecticut metal mystics Noltem release their first full-length album, Illusions In The Wake.

Noltem began in the early 2000s, releasing their first demo in 2005. It was ten years later that their inaugural EP emerged, Mannaz. And now in 2021, the first long-player. They clearly take their time with musical constructions and that care pays off because Illusions In The Wake is exceptional. The band is Max Johnson, John Kerr, and Shalin Shah. Guest soloists for the album include Zach Miller (Pyrithe), Jordan Guerette (Falls of Rauros), and Aaron Carey (Nechochwen).

The primary description of Noltem’s music is Atmospheric Black Metal, and that is not wrong but, as with any shorthand label, it misses the nuance. The compositional clarity and depth of these songs is hard to overstate. There are big, theatrical moments and gorgeous, quiet, acoustic passages. The range of expression is truly impressive.

Illusions In The Wake has five long tracks and one short transition piece. The first song is “Figment,” and in it you can see the future. Big metal riffs, coarse vocals, and complex constructions highlighted by elegant, simply moments. This track places you in Noltem’s world so you can be prepared for the rest of the music.

“Illusions in the Wake” displays a scope almost too large to take in, and then “Beneath the Dreaming Blue” shuffles in very understated, in a casual way that entirely changes the mood. When it drops the boom directly on your head the impact make you see stars. The space for personal imagination is enormous.

“Submerged” is a light, short bridge leading to the grand “Ruse” and the sweeping “On Shores of Glass.” That final song truly serves to inculcate the magnificence of the musical accomplishment of this album. This is a metal album, a metal album painted on a limitless canvas in the finest detail and with the deepest palette. Recommended.

Illusions In The Wake makes its full digital appearance on October 10th with physicals shipping a few days later through Transcending Obscurity.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://noltemband.bandcamp.com/album/illusions-in-the-wake-atmospheric-black-metal

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

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

Noltem, Illusions In The Wake (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)

Veilburner, Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new Veilburner album, Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull, is an all-out assault on your senses.

Pennsylvanian metal duo Veilburner have been haunting studios and stages since 2014. With four previous full-length albums under their collective belt, their fifth shows a confident complexity in technical exploration. Mephisto Deleterio plays all the instruments and lead vocals are provided by Chrisom Infernium.

“In the Tomb of Dreaming Limbo” cracks the capsule open in an absolute rage. Screeching, blast beats, and a howling abyss greet you after a short calm-before-the-storm ramp. This one will shake you fillings loose and explain to you why it had to be done. “Nocturnal Gold” starts out a little calmer but it does not stay that way for very long. The music tracks from a dark and sinister environment to an ethereal pelagic one and back again. It is a soundtrack for savage miners in the netherworld who have high aspirations. Dissonant elements land here too bringing the weird to a more intense level.

“Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull” is a stand-out track, and we should expect that since the album bears the song’s name. It is an explosion of diverse oddities. I could say something similar for “Vault of Haunting Dissolve” and mean it even though the oddities are entirely different compared to the former. The multifariousness of the musical constructions is impressive. The compositional creativity seems boundless, all the while laying in familiar callbacks that remind you where you are in the metal chasm.

The closer is “Dissonance in Bloom,” which could be a subtitle for the band. The attitude of this song is point-of-know-return recklessness even though the creation is fully-formed and executed without a misstep. This music challenges your senses and delivers a therapeutic litany if you are willing to hear it. Recommended.

Transcending Obscurity Records releases Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull on Friday, September 25th. Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://veilburnerband.bandcamp.com/album/lurkers-in-the-capsule-of-skull-dissonant-death-black-metal

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

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

Veilburner, Lurkers in the Capsule of Skull (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)

Lvcifyer, The Broken Seal (Dark Descent Records 2021)

Let the darkness surround you with the new album from Lvcifyre, The Broken Seal.

You might be able to guess from the name of the band that their musical leaning is in the Black and Death Metal direction. Lvcifyer released their first EP in 2009 and two long-players after that, The Calling Depths (2011) and Svn Eater (2014). Another EP, Sacrament, staved off fan cravings in 2019 until The Broken Seal entered the cosmos. Of course the music is heavy and fast and ravaging, and the themes of chaos, darkness, and woe are ever-present. Naturally.

The opening bars of the first track are a dark ramp of emergent noise and growls and then a punishing attack on your senses. This is what I expected. Speed and ferocity in the opening salvo. But in the second song, “Tribes of Khem,” the perspective deepens and branches out in measured and fascinating ways. The tempo moderates and the vocals exude dark power. The riffs are not desensitizing and the blast beats become judicious.

“Black Beneath the Sun” is even weightier in its musical expression, displaying eruptions along with a discernable linearity. Indeed, the music becomes positively theatrical at points. These compositional choices give the album balance and make the tracks individually more memorable and the set overall more powerful.

Other stand-out songs are “The First Archon” with its pushing, enlivening insistence and the closer, “Black Mass,” with its gorgeous Blackened Doom palette. This album is my first serious listen to Lvcifyre but it will not be my last – it has made a big impression on me. Recommended.

The Broken Seal is out today, Friday, September 10th from Dark Descent Records in the US and Norma Evangelium Diaboli in Europe.

Links.

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

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

Dark Descent Records, http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

Lvcifyer, The Broken Seal (Dark Descent Records 2021)

Rotting Christ, Der Perfekte Traum (VinylStore.Gr 2021)

The Perfect Dream of Rotting Christ gets a polish and a rejuvenation with the new limited edition of Der Perfekte Traum.

The Greek metal band Rotting Christ is Sakis and Themis Tolis who, along with Jim Mutilator, saw the origins of the band in the 1980s. I think most people, including me, think of the band’s music as Black Metal, but it has varied considerably over the years. With a discography that includes more than a dozen full-length albums and a plethora of EPs, compilations, splits, and live albums, They have covered a lot of ground.

Der Perfekte Traum, “The Perfect Dream,” was originally released in 1999. The new edition is remastered and includes the two studio tracks and five live cuts. The studio tracks are “Der Perfekte Traum” and “Moonlight.”

“Der Perfekte Traum” is a medium-tempo melodically executed song with extended spoken word elements and shifting moods. Sonically, it is quite beautiful, with subdued but clearly recognizable Black Metal influences and unexpected flairs. “Moonlight” has excellent hooks and a trendy construction that almost puts in a radio-ready category. It is a great song, again on the melodic side but also charged with energy and action.

The live tracks are all songs from the Triarchy of the Lost Lovers (1996) album. I really liked that album, incidentally, and the live performances have a nice doomy quality to them. I particularly appreciate the lead work in “A Dynasty from the Ice” and the dire emotion of “Diastric Alchemy” has a high linger factor. I enjoyed revisiting this album – I had forgotten how much I liked it when I first heard it. Recommended.

The new edition of Der Perfekte Traum is a limited vinyl release with a street date of Friday, September 3rd and it is available through VinylStore.Gr. Snap the link below and scroll down a bit for the three variants.

Links.

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

Rotting Christ website, https://www.rotting-christ.com/en

VinylStore.Gr, https://www.vinylstore.gr/en/our-releases-w-28079.html

Rotting Christ, Der Perfekte Traum (VinylStore.Gr 2021)

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new album from Diskord is another challenging foray into the wilderness of heavy music.

If you are looking for the usual Death Metal band then Diskord is not for you. Their music comes at you from all sorts of angles, many of which you didn’t even know were there. Formed in Norway in 1999, their first full-length album was Doomscapes (2012), followed by Dystopics in 2012 and now the new one, Degenerations. The band is Hans Jørgen (vocals, drums), Dmitry (guitar, vocals), and Eyvind (bass, electric upright bass, cello, theremin, synth, vocals).

The album begins with two short pieces followed by three common-length songs and a sort of exit ramp for side one after that. The first notes are grating. This sound is joined by a drum roll and a bass line. The music starts to form into a Mothers Of Invention kind of arrangement, then darts off into what sounds a little like Black Metal for a few bars. That sounds chaotic, but I do not think it is. There is purpose here in the mind of the composer even if it is not apparent to the receiver.

The second track is rather discordant, while the third, “Abnegations,” follows a more linear path. The percussion is raucous, as are the vocals, and there is a surprisingly straight-forward lead break about a third of the way through that third track … then entropy. And more entropy across the entire set.

You could put a number of different labels on separate parts of this music but it is difficult to describe overall. Avant-garde, sure, but that doesn’t really tell you much. The music is definitely radical. It might make sense to some listeners – maybe there are those who can put the pieces together in their head into some sort of recognizable whole. For me, I think of it more as an experience I had rather than something I can explain. If you are up for a challenge, give Diskord an ear.

Degenerations is out on Friday, August 13th through Transcending Obscurity. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diskordband.bandcamp.com/album/degenerations-dissonant-technical-death-metal

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

Diskord website, https://diskord.net/news

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

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

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)