Kira, Peccatum et Blasphemia review (Ossuary Records 2020)

Black Metal band Kira release their second album, Peccatum et Blasphemia.

From the Opoczno, Poland, Kira has quickly built a solid reputation in the heavy music world. Their first album, Ancient Lies, was very straight forward hardcore in its approach. Most songs were three minutes or so long (several shorter) so the musical ideas came in fierce bursts. On the new album, the concepts are somewhat larger and more fully developed, with more elements of doom. The songs are generally longer with a couple over the seven and eight minute mark, allowing for more latitude in composition variety and execution.

“The Fearful One” starts the set off with a wall of threat – a massive coordinated push to make way for the distinctive, demonic vocals. “In the Devil’s Embrace” is a grinding wheel that crushes you with its persistence. “Lord of Hallucinations” begins with a shriek and then opens the door to a Doom Metal clarifier. The song resolves in an absolute frenetic explosion. “Lucifer’s Herald” is yet another perspective with its chopping rhythm and tortured guitar lead.

Throughout the album stories are told in a classic Death and Black Metal style augmented by clever appropriations that are far ranging, from theatrical to sweeping orchestral movements to quieter moments. Songs like “One Gram of Your Soul” border on Funeral Doom while “Necroscience” sets a blistering pace. “Temple of Suffering” could have been written by Danny Elfman if he crossed over to the dark side and started composing Black Metal music. The occult and dark fantasy themes are interesting and engaging, complementing the music. This album will be high on my list for 2020 releases. Highly recommended.

Peccatum et Blasphemia is available now. You can get the album at Ossuary Records or Bandcamp (links below).

Links.

Band Bandcamp, https://kira666.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/KIRANAMELESS

Label, http://ossuaryrecords.com/en/

Kira, Peccatum et Blasphemia review (Ossuary Records 2020)

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The incredible 15th album from the Bergen, Norway metal band Enslaved is Utgard, another impressive achievement in their long career.

The most recent previous studio album was E in 2017, and the songs on that album were generally long (most around eight minutes or longer), which is the usual way Enslaved creates music. On Utgard, the band’s compositions are tighter and yet every bit as creative as earlier releases. The band is now made up of long-time members Grutle Kjellson (vocals and bass), Ivar Bjørnson (guitars and effects), and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), along with newer recruits Håkon Vinje (keyboards and vocals) and Iver Sandøy (drums). The confluence of these musical elements is an alchemy all its own.

“Fires In The Dark” opens with an acapella treatment (in Norwegian), followed by an acoustic guitar moment, sudden heavy riffs, wispy atmospheric sounds, then a narrative element. Sort of a heavy version of Andrew Lloyd Weber in that it is a big production and a complex construction. The melodies in the guitars have a very magic carpet, djinn feel to them in the second half – a mystical desert vibe. The integration of diverse elements is the mainstay throughout. “Jettegryta,” the next song, does this too, in a very different way. It is not simply the variation of coarse and clean vocals but also shifts in musical cadence and style, sometimes perpendicularly, that throw you off cliff after cliff then lift you up on hurricane winds. We hear Epic Metal then Prog then a classic metal riff, here and there and all around.

On side two, “Urjotun” is a peppy straight-up prog rock song that is taken over by darkness as it progresses. “Flight of Thought and Memory” wells up feelings of sorrow and regret, while “Storms of Utgard” is more confrontational with amazing lead guitar work. The closing song is “Distant Seasons.” You can feel the curtain falling when it begins in its quiet and gentle way, but the power wells up soon enough. The relatively brief nature of the songs is a departure in a way for the band, but all the elements we have come to expect from Enslaved are nevertheless here in full force. Recommended.

Out now from Nuclear Blast, you can get Utgard on CD and vinyl and of course as a download – Bandcamp is best place for the digital.

Links.

Band: http://enslaved.no/

Band Bandcamp: https://enslaved.bandcamp.com/album/utgard

Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/enslaved

Nuclear Blast Shop: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/enslaved-utgard-black-vinyl-.html

Enslaved, Utgard review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Anaal Nathrakh, Endarkenment review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

The rejection of “Enlightenment” would be, logically, Endarkenment – exactly what you get from the new Anaal Nathrakh album.

Mick Kenney and Dave Hunt are the Birmingham duo who together make Anaal Nathrakh, a Black Metal band that has been on the prowl for two decades now. Over the years the music has become increasingly harsh, landing the band a label of Industrial Black Metal and even Grindcore. They always sound like Black Metal to me, from The Codex Necro (2001) to Passion (2010) to A New Kind Of Horror (2018). Whatever we might call the music, know that loud fast savagery is what you are going to hear. In a written introduction meant to get listeners ready for hearing Endarkenment, the band alerted us that “A musical bath in sulphuric acid awaits.” Take heed.

The title track opens the set with blistering guitars riffs, blast beat drumming, and screaming. The vocals are thereafter variegated, with more screams, coarse, Death Metal-like croaking, and what can only be described as beautiful, melodic singing. “Thus, Always, To Tyrants” is next and it is an emblazoned rush of musical chaos. The lead guitar can barely be understood. The entire album is a ravaging affair.

Two tracks stand out for me, although I think it is best to listen to this album from front to back in its entirety. “Singularity” has a menacing, discordant opening then presents a fairly formal musical ordering and represents in many ways the clearest presentation of the recurring themes in the album. And then the closer, “Requiem,” with a melody that sounds like a twisted, evil carnival, is coming with me on road trips from now on. Combine the music with the direct lines of the Requiem Mass and the dark beauty is almost overwhelming. A sorrowful lead guitar tells a simple and profound story in the second half, and the lasting impact of the composition is set in stone. Highly recommended.

Metal Blade Records lets Endarkenment loose on the world Friday, October 2nd through the usual outlets. It is harsh and that is just what fans are looking for.

Links.

http://www.anaal-nathrakh.com

https://www.facebook.com/Anaalnathrakhofficial

https://anaalnathrakh.bandcamp.com/

https://www.metalblade.com/anaalnathrakh/

Anaal Nathrakh, Endarkenment review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Oxalate, Infatuating Sickness review (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions 2020)

Oxalate’s latest is an EP that’s a flash of dark conjuring that will close your eyes and poison your mind.

Oxalate is a New York / New Jersey Metal band – The Metal Archives lists them as Death Metal and the occult angle they have makes you think about the darker end of that musical spectrum. The band is (again, from The Metal Archives) Devon Ray (bass, vocals), Jackeline Betancourt (drums, vocals), Chris Albertsen (guitar), and Zakk Mild (guitar). They released the single Dank Sepulchrum in 2018, and independently pushed out Infatuating Sickness in 2019. This year they are on a split with Perpetuated, Blood Spore, and Vivisect, and Infatuating Sickness is getting a new release.

Infatuating Sickness is trudging Black Metal that delivers a consistent eleven minutes and eleven seconds of dire hopelessness. The music relies heavily on the rhythm section and compelling vocals. The guitars get to shine in short lead flurries in “Unwholesome Revelation” and “Dark Ritual,” while they are more prominent parts of “Blood and Sulphur” and right at the end of the title track. I have only heard five songs from this band and I like all of them. I am aching for more. Recommended.

The download for Infatuating Sickness has been out for a while at the band’s Bandcamp page, and the CD, a new download, and merch will be available Friday, September 4 from Horror Pain Gore Death (second link below). The band was also selling a tape and t-shirt bundle through their Facebook page (third link below) earlier this week – check in there and see if any remain.

Links.

https://oxalate.bandcamp.com/

https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/infatuating-sickness

https://www.facebook.com/Oxalateband

http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Oxalate, Infatuating Sickness review (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions 2020)

Serpent Omega, II review (Icons Creating Evil Art 2020)

The drought is over – Serpent Omega returns after seven years with the sequel to their praised debut.

Centered in Stockholm, Serpent Omega describe themselves as a “sludge/doom/black/death/war metal” band. That covers a lot of ground, but then so do their compositions. Doom, certainly, and between Death and Black, I would say they lean toward Black Metal. There is enough crossover here to catch fans lingering along many edges. The guitars land heavy riffs, the bass is on overdrive, and the vocals are earnest and aggressive. Thematically, the message is despair and darkening, hopelessness even. There are moments of more active assessment and description sprinkled among the scenes of ruin and in general there is always an air of menace, sometimes understated and sometimes not. The darkness is always – it hangs in every corner of this album.

There are a couple of pieces that stood out on my first listen among the seven included in II. In “Rivers of Reversed” a warbling, distorted bass line takes over in the middle and is joined by melodic vocals. As the song progresses toward the end, the vocals become strained, increasingly agitated like a deteriorating mental state. “Through The Gates” is a radio-length up tempo howler about moving past a landmark with focused intentions. The last track is “Av Aska,” which means “of ashes” in English if Google is correct. It is a solemn whispering song, a kind of funereal meditation in a way, and an excellent choice to wrap up the many threads of this eclectic album.

Available Friday, September 4, Bandcamp is perhaps the best bet now. There are rumors that physical versions will be available soon. “Land of Darkness” and “Orog Nuur” are available as singles on Spotify right now if you want to get a listen in before the full set drops.

Band photo by Jonas Husbom.

Links.

http://www.facebook.com/serpentomega

http://serpentomega.bandcamp.com

http://icea.se

https://www.facebook.com/iceaofficial/

Serpent Omega, II review (Icons Creating Evil Art 2020)

SVNTH, Spring In Blue review (Transcending Records 2020)

Seventh Genocide returns with a sweeping new album that wraps a shroud around the twitching world and draws out both instance and meaning from the complex non-ness of our contemporaneous existence.

SVNTH, the shorthand for Seventh Genocide, is an Italian band that blends many musical styles into their compositions. Most often referred to as Atmospheric Metal or Post-Black Metal, you must expect to have a variegated listening experience when you drop the needle.

Spring In Blue is the third full-length album from Seventh Genocide, and the current line-up includes founder Rodolfo Ciuffo (bass, vocals, acoustic guitar), Valerio Primo (drums), Stefano Allegretti (guitar), and Jacopo Gianmaria Pepe (guitar). There have been many musicians who have played in the band over the years, but the arc of the musical evolution has been consistence since its formation in 2006 due to the constant presence and direction of Rodolfo Ciuffo. If you want to know more about where the band is coming from spiritually and thematically, check out their Facebook page.

“Who Is The Dreamer” is the overture, and as such it is theatrical, segue to mystical then dramatic. Over the course of the next four long pieces, the purpose of the music is made clear, and the center of the conflict is transparently demonstrated. Apparitions, hallucinations, and frightening visions manifest in the building and bursting aural landscapes. The show closes with “Sons of Melancholia,” a song that has four minutes of light, pop-oriented instrumental to calm your nerves before the bolt gun is placed firmly against your forehead for a sudden blast of deathness. Eight minutes in there is a 70s-style guitar jam – very BÖC. And then there is a doom trudge to the captive end where you hear the siren call for the last time. This song encompasses, encapsulates, really, my experience with the entire album as a witness to events that mean more in truth than they seem to mean on the surface. You will not come away from even a single listening of this music without having seen or understood something differently than you did before. Recommended.

Spring In Blue is out now and ready for the taking at Bandcamp, Transcending Records, and all the other places you are used to for your musical needs.

Band photo by Void Revelations.

Links.

http://seventhgenocide.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/pg/seventhgenocide

http://www.youtube.com/user/SeventhGenocide

http://transcendingrecords.com

http://www.facebook.com/transcendingrecords

SVNTH, Spring In Blue review (Transcending Records 2020)

Concrete, Free Us From Existence review (Black Voodoo Records 2020)

Concrete, the hardcore band from Albany, returns with devastating aggression on Free Us From Existence.

The first music I heard from Concrete was the 2014 split they did with Hammerfist. The song “Born Lost” made a big impression on me especially, but all four of them smoked. Deadlock was before the split and Everything Ends Now came after in 2017. Over the years the band has been accumulating an impressive catalogue and gaining attention and respect from fans and the heavy music community at large. Free Us From Existence casts a sharp eye on the dismal situation that exists now and condenses it into loud bursts of disapprobation and condemnation in the form of ravaging hardcore music.

The new album opens with “Executing Vengeance” which sounds like climbing a ladder that is airborne and swirling in a tornado. “Starving Serpent” starts with heavy thumps and reveals twisting urgency in the tempo, cadence, and voice: “Fed to snakes / In the abyss / Left to rot / Starving serpent, oceans black / Take my eyes, take my eyes.” The menace and threat in the guitar line that runs along beside the vocals in one of the choruses tightens in your throat when you hear. “Path of Fire” has big doom riffs at the front with rolling rapid percussion, then a shift to thrash-speed before going back to heavy thumps like a stomping sauropod.

The landscape is broad and differentiated with Black Metal, Death Metal, and hardcore throughout. It is notable how much ground the band covers in just under thirty minutes, all the while keeping their own brand of menace intact and the thematic focus narrow. This overarching dispatch is demonstrated perfectly by the back-to-back entries “Psychological Crucifixion” and “World Tomb.” Listen to it all the way through and then hit it again because you don’t want to miss anything.

Available now for download at Bandcamp, with physical versions on the way from Black Voodoo Records. This album is going to be on a lot of Best Of 2020 lists. Recommended.

Band photo by Chantel Roberts.

Links.

http://concretehc.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/concretehc

http://www.bloodblast.com

http://blackvoodoorecords.com/

https://merchnow.com/catalogs/concrete-hc

Concrete, Free Us From Existence review (Black Voodoo Records 2020)

Brotthogg, The Die Is Cast review (2020)

With an EP in 2017, The Last Traveler, and a succinct full-length album in 2019, Echoes of the Past, Brotthogg was poised to make a leap forward with their new release, The Die Is Cast.

Brotthogg is from Norway. The musicians are Kristian Larsen Moen, who is credited with playing all the instruments as well as writing the music and lyrics (clearly the creative force behind the production), Jonas Moen and Craig Furunes who both contribute vocals, and Stephen Carlson handling all guitar solos. It is an unusual arrangement compared to other bands, but you cannot argue with the outcome. The music is basically a melodic death metal casting with a strong vein of thrash running through it.

Are you wondering what the name of the band means? According to the band (via the press release), “The name Brotthogg is derived from an old forgotten Norwegian word in dialect meaning ‘The one who has to take care of the job, the unpleasant one.’” Interesting. The music does not have any sense of hesitance or slog to it, and is in fact powerful and robust. You often feel heroic elements in the narrative impulse of the songs, but the most memorable parts of the delivered music are the rapid staccato rhythms, the drumming, and the confident vocals. The sweltering impertinence of the speed and unbalancing progressions of songs like “Resurrection” complement well more straight-forward death/thrash enterprises like “Behind the Gateways” – but even in the more familiar framings, there is always some twist, epic or subtle, that marks the music as plainly Brotthogg. The resilience of the climbing scales and the technical risks of the lead breaks add even more depth the set. I am definitely on board. Recommended.

You can listen to two tracks now on Bandcamp, and the full album drops August 1. Bandcamp also has the back-catalogue (as does Spotify) if you find you like what you hear.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/Brotthogg/

https://brotthogg.bandcamp.com/

Brotthogg, The Die Is Cast review (2020)

Graveir, King of the Silent World review (Impure Sounds Records 2020)

Australian black metal revelers release their second full-length album, King of the Silent World, a meditation on darkness.

The approachable style of Graveir is bound to rake in new fans to the black metal realm. The vocals are not clean – they are harsh and poisonous, filled with despair. And yet the lyrics are understandable. The guitars are melodic in their rhythm, often, and the drums are not a constant blast beat. Songs like “Scaphism” on King of the Silent World have riffs that could almost be called hooks. Likewise, “The Fetch of Crooked.” Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely black metal and it is heavy and grim. It just has an unusual turn to it that opens the door on a wider view.

“Bathed in Acheron” is another good example of a unique approach. It has an almost anthem quality at times, and clangs like down-toned cast iron bells. “Immacolata” is the very essence of sorrow in its sound, and wanders the land of doom stanzas. “Fodder In The Gears” is practically the opposite of this: aggressive, hateful even. It is a campaign of violence and the dissonance in the music shows you that very clearly.

The final fifteen minutes of the album are shared by two songs, “Phantasms in Daguerre” and “Father, Devourer.” The former is an oil painting of a dark magician’s nightmare and the latter is a schematic for a sinister revolution of bleak reality. I really like how Graveir walk the boundaries of the genre and push down the fences whenever they need to in order to release the music that is within them. This is one I will be saving. Recommended.

You can get the download at Bandcamp. Impure Sounds Records is selling a vinyl version and Brilliant Emperor Records has a cassette. Breadcrumbs below.

Links.

https://www.graveircult.com

https://www.facebook.com/Graveirbm

https://graveircult.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/impuresoundsofficial

https://www.facebook.com/BrilliantEmperorRecords

Graveir, King of the Silent World review (Impure Sounds Records 2020)

Ulthar, Providence review (20 Buck Spin, 2020)

Oakland’s own Ulthar release their second album, the Lovecraftian enterprise Providence, and by doing so demonstrate their commitment to shattering your nerves.

Ulthar is a trio peopled by Shelby Lermo, Steve Peacock, and Justin Ennis; guitar, bass, and drums. The name of the band is a reference to some of the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, and you can easily imagine this music being created along the mythical Miskatonic River in a cellar off the beaten path in the dodgy part of Arkham. The Great Old Ones would definitely approve.

The band’s first album, Cosmovore, was released in 2018 and established a viable energy and engaged aggression that was legitimate and intense. This new album is even harsher than the first one, less melodious. It is more overall along the lines of “Entropy-Atrophy” from Cosmovore than, say, “Dunwich Whore” from that same album, which had significant doom metal elements to it, especially up front and at the end. There is more chaos in Providence, more mayhem and musical violence. There is still the occasional thundering doom pause here and there, but the black and death metal characteristics are fully brilliant throughout.

“Churn” opens the album with a two minute punch in the throat. It reminds me of “Denial of Life” from Death’s Scream Bloody Gore for its ferocity, but the vocals on “Churn” are harsher. This short song is a Welcome To Providence announcement, an invitation, a menu, maybe, of what lies ahead. Let’s see, what are some highlights: “Undying Spear,” “Through Downward Dynasties,” and “Cudgel.” As you listen your way through the shattering musical landscape Ulthar has created, the message of suffering is increasingly clear. By the time you take the last two steps, “Narcissus Drowning” and “Humanoid Knot,” there is no apparatus of denial left to grasp. The music is intriguing, engaging, and punishing all at once. With two superior albums in a row, I have growing admiration for this band. Recommended.

20 Buck Spin has many formats of Providence available, and you can also get a download at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Melissa Petisa.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/Ulthar-386850314846106/

http://ulthar666.bandcamp.com

http://www.20buckspin.com

Ulthar, Providence review (20 Buck Spin, 2020)