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)