It is a new year so that means a new label sampler from Transcending Obscurity.
This label has released some of the best heavy around. In 2020, FFMB covered several of their albums including the amazing Jupiterian, Heads For The Dead, and Revolting releases. 2021 has just as much promise, and the music that has already been announced will freeze you in your tracks.
The sampler itself has 38 songs on it and it is absolutely massive – some songs are a full album side, like “Reverential Silence” by Arch which runs 15:30 and “Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” by Eremit that goes for more than 18 minutes. The breakdown by genre according to the label is: Tracks 1-22 – death metal/grind/crust, Tracks 23-26 – technical/brutal death metal, Tracks 27-33 – black metal, and Tracks 34-38 – doom/sludge metal. There has to be something here you like. And it is all new music. Check out the full list at the link below.
The sampler is available now and it is FREE – name your price at Bandcamp (link below). How can you pass on this? You can’t. Highly recommended.
Dublin Doom trio Dread Sovereign sets a raging fire with their third album, Alchemical Warfare.
The driving force in the band is Nemtheanga, known otherwise as the vocalist for the band Primordial. He started Dread Sovereign some time back, releasing an EP in 2013 followed by two LPs, All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom The Bell Tolls (2017). Joined by JK (Johnny King) on drums and Bones on guitar, there is an urgency to the music on the new album, unmistakably circling the chasm of Doom. The vocals are mostly clear, and the themes walk the Black Metal road. The band’s motto is “the world is doomed,” and the theme is a through-line explained this way: “The subject matter and aesthetic are particular to the three characters on the front cover of each release, the time travelling trio who appear on the debut flaying Saint Bartholemew, on the second album hanging Sarah Wildes Averill in Salem and now as lab assistants to Isaac Newton as he tries to discover the secret of Alchemy.” The songs are sinister odes from dark moments in history.
There are seven tracks (four of them over eight minutes long) with an intro piece and an intermission segue. That intro sounds a little like swirling bells and whispering dark witches casting spells. “She Wolves of the Savage Season” then picks up the doom and slams it back down. The frenzy gets really whipped up on “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” with its pressing riffs and pleading vocals. There are also extended guitar passages here, in this song and well distributed throughout where the narrative concepts are given musical form. “Her Master’s Tomb” is almost a Doom ballad while “Devil’s Bane” rips and roars and finishes with a raging shred. The album wraps on a single-length banger, “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)” – they decided to go out swinging with a heavy punk punch. This is an great album, front to back. Highly recommended.
The full album drops on Friday, January 15th and preorders at Bandcamp will get you two tracks now while you wait for the week to end. Metal Blade Records has CDs and vinyl if you want to go that way.
The second full-length album from Transilvania is an epic world shaker, filled with monstrous ideas and otherworldly conclusions.
From Innsbruck, Austria, the Black Metal band Transilvania has been around since 2015. The Metal Archives lists the members as P. Čachtice (bass and vocals), H. Paole Grando (drums), O. von Schwarzenberg (guitar), and D. D. Stumpp (guitar). There is not an enormous amount of free floating information out there about them, apart from their discography that shows The Night Of Nights LP from 2018, and before that an EP and a split. The musical style is fast-paced Black Metal, bearing on the speed and even the thrash side.
“Opus Morbi” leads us down the haunting path with a reassuring (although clearly sinister) opening gambit of distant tones that grow into a fierce attack by the three minute mark. Throughout the album there are plenty of riffs that hang a tight groove, as in the title track, to go along with the eerier elements. Clever syncopation and unusual tempo shifting like we hear on “Lycanthropic Chant” enriches the Black Metal environment and fills in the dark world developing around your ears.
The inventiveness and ingenuity of composition knows no bounds on this album. The music relies on rhythm and a well-paced, expertly situated harmony of the instruments to propel the concepts forward in support of the lyrical narrative. Lead breaks in the traditional sense are used sparingly, like a flashing scene of violence or depravity. More often we hear companion components from the guitars bolstering the vocals and other instruments in the overall experience. The album is powerful – a premier exemplar of the form. Highly recommended.
Of Sleep And Death is out now. Invictus has all manner of formats for this album, plus a variety of merch. Bandcamp offers a digital download at your fingertips. And you can also hear a lot of Transilvania’s music on Spotify.
The debut album from the mysterious EOS is a brick through the window of mediocrity.
I did not know anything about EOS (or, possibly, Eos) when I first heard about this album so I did what I usually do when I suffer behind a veil of ignorance re: a band – I checked The Metal Archives. Not much there, either. The band might be from Australia, but that could also just be a shadow cast by their record label, Brilliant Emperor Records, which is headquartered in Sydney. The press materials tell us that the album was begun in 2014 and completed in 2018, but that’s about it. Same blurb everywhere. So I just listened to the album to see what I could hear.
There are seven tracks of Black Metal on The Great Ascension. The vocals are dramatic, sounding like the exasperated final push of a long campaign. The singing itself is modulated toward the medium and slow while the rhythm is a customary trilling with occasional eerie gothic breaks. The songs have a tendency to end abruptly.
There are strong Doom elements throughout, which is a good match to the Black Metal basis. The set holds together as a suite, in my hearing, even as the songs can stand alone. The band has even integrated a cover – Lord Belial’s “Black Winter Bloodbath” – seamlessly. There are not a lot of big lead breaks, but when they occur, as in “Draugar,” they are excellent. The music, tone, and themes on this album are deep and dark, dripping with the black blood of the earth and tempered by nightmares. Can we ask more than that? Recommended.
The Great Ascension is available now, through Bandcamp and at Brilliant Emperor’s on-line store, the latter having some great merch, too.
Twenty years on, Poland’s Dira Mortis slams a massive slab of fresh metal on the Christmas dinner table.
The band started around the turn of the century and released their first LP, Euphoric Convulsions, in 2012. Psalms Of Morbid Existence appeared in 2015, and the new one now. There have been a few twists and turns in the line-up over the years, naturally. The band for Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy is Leszek Makowiecki (guitar), Mścisław (guitar and bass), Vizun (drums), and Kuba Brewczyński (vocals). The solid tradition of Black and Death Metal that Poland sponsors is not just a rumor. There is a long list of premier bands in this lane (Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated, …), and Dira Mortis could be there, too.
There are five primary tracks on the album plus short intro and outro pieces. These five primaries fit together very much like a suite, changing color, tone, and texture from one movement to the next while holding together on an overarching theme. And the theme is? The title gives us a fairly good idea of where the music is coming from: a hoary tale of hatred toward mankind, resurrected from the swirling darkness.
The separate elements of the songs sometimes seem disconsonant. For example, the opening primary is the epic “Worshipping The Terror Of Madness.” The beginning volley is a steady guitar riff, cymbal percussion, and a straight-forward construction. Then vocals appear like a mad emperor walking in from stage left, sowing chaos. The first lead break would be at home in a Savatage song, and later there is a section that has a very doom orientation before erupting into a precocious slam. And back again. This manner of composition adds complexity and depth to the musical environment, and it is employed throughout the record. The music is challenging but it is also engaging. All it asks of the listener is to come along on the dark journey.
Out today, December 25th, from Selfmadegod Records, there are CD and digital versions of Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy waiting for you at the links below. Recommended.
Australian metal trio Idle Ruin throw out the first volley with their self-title debut get-acquainted EP.
The band is Liam Anthony, Kaleb Doherty, Josh Dawson, started by Anthony as an experimental project to see where it would go. The live music hiatus we’ve all been on was an excellent opportunity to put some new music together and that is exactly what he did. The result is four raging metal songs that will peel the paint off of any venue.
The music is fast, bordering on Thrash, and you could easily hang the Death Metal label on it, too. I read it described as “death metal crossed with blackened thrash.” That sounds right. I hear the elements I like best from Black Metal seasoning the music. The main things: hard, fast, loud.
“Whipped To Death” sets the stage with an ominous opening riff and then launches into accelerating aggression. “Spiritual Contagion” starts out at full speed, whirling like a sandstorm beaten up by an angry djinn. “The Devil’s Trade” was released early for airplay, and hearing it you’ll know why – it is a concentrated ball of metal fury. “Gods Of Glass” is a show closer that seals the deal, with complex percussion and wailing guitars. Treat yourself to this one for a high voltage infusion of adrenaline. Recommended.
You can get the CD or digital right now. The fastest grab is Bandcamp.
Italian Doom veterans offer Legione here at year’s end, the fifth longplayer in their catalogue.
While they might not be as well known in the US as they are in Europe, Three Eyes Left have been on the scene for more than ten years. Want to know a little more about them, like where the band name comes from? Here is a bit from their Facebook page that explains it. “Three dancing eyes chasing the night idol, a sound bending at the magical sphinxes of times ready to explode in millions of vivid and dying butterflies. A needles storm enveloping more distant minds’ sleep to fecundate the first handmaid’s ancient womb. A psychic and interrupted rock, a multitude of words weaved together with a string made of stones and gems. Three eyes left is the dance before the word and the word before del colour, and now waits for the harvest refulgence to gather and offer the livid germ of its roots.” OK?
The music is Doom, certainly. Three Eyes Left do a lot of the same things you see with other bands, but the end result is very different. The vocals alternate between coarse and clean, which is not uncommon, but the gruff singing here is toward the Death Metal end while the more melodic work has a very heavy blues feeling to it. The guitar parts are loaded with heavy riffs, sure, but there are surprising layers cooked in there and the music takes unpredictable directions. It is a different experience from the run-of-the-mill heavy we often encounter.
The album is nine tracks, running more than an hour. There is a Black Metal attitude in there, and a desert wanderlust. This new album rounds out a trilogy – I suggest listening to it backwards, starting here. See how that goes down.
Legione is out now on digital platforms, with hardcopies to follow in due course. Expand your horizons if you have not heard Three Eyes Left before and lend them your ear. Recommended.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts with the new Doom split by Mortiferum and Hyperdontia.
This split release was meant to be a companion EP for a tour the two bands were going to do together in 2020. We all know what happened to every tour this year. Still, the split exists and is being released now at the end of the year as a sort of prelude to the tour that will happen as soon as live music rises from its temporary grave.
One side is Mortiferum, a Washington state Death Metal band that made big waves with their album Disgorged From Psychotic Depths last year. Playing to the Doom side of the field, they contribute “Abhorrent Genesis,” a lurker drenched in cemetery fog. The beautiful distortion and foreboding riffs slowly squeeze the life out of you for a minute and a half or so until the tempo lurches forward and escape is clearly no longer possible. The low register vocals are a surrounding force and the noticeable lead guitar work is a defining characteristic of the band.
Another side is Hyperdontia, whose members come from Turkey and Denmark. Their first full-length appeared in 2018, Nexus Of Teeth, and they have issued a bevy of EPs and singles as well in the past few years. The Doom lives in the ever-present background of “Punctured Soul,” encircling the Black and Death Metal centerpieces in a dark cloak. The music is aggressive and understandable; the sentiments and intentions, joinable. Whirring guitar work and determined drumming are interspersing agents in the caustic dankness of the music. It is a whetstone for your imagination.
Available now at the links below, this seven inch will definitely get you into the appropriate headspace for the holidays. Recommended.
The hallowed hand of fate delivers a reckoning through the second album from Heads For The Dead, Into The Red.
The band is Jonny Pettersson (strings and keys), Ed Warbie (drums), and Ralf Hauber (vocals). I am guessing those names ring some bells as Heads For The Dead is a trio of heavy music all-stars. Combined as they are in this form, they are creating some of their best work to date. Lurking in the neighborhood of old school Death Metal, these compositions mind no narrow parameters. Elements of speed and doom work with the black and death principles in symbiotic fealty.
The themes have a solid foundation in horror, laying on the menace to coalesce in constant unease. Songs like the explosive “At The Dead Of Night” give way to the tension of “Horror Injection” then press on to epic constructs such as “The Séance,” which is a swaying ship finding its reckless way through the ether and spiritual chaos. Short, eager pieces live among meatier juggernauts in the harmony of a renaissance port city.
The final two songs of the set are the longest, anchoring the effort with their magnitude and scope. “Transilvanian Hunger” is a bloody affair, opening with a riotous peal – and sustaining it for six minutes with enough mass to create its own weather. “Creatures Of The Monolith” is a doom-ridden happening, with opening riffs like granite cliffs. Halfway through the tempo gets dialed up and the guitar weaves a spell that is a melodious consort to the directive vocals. An excellent finale. This album deserves a spot on anyone’s Best of 2020 list. Highly recommended.
Out now from the indefatigable Transcending Obscurity, the many forms and functions of Into The Red await your pleasure. The excellence of the new album suggests a need for the earlier one, too – Serpent’s Curse can be had.
The trilogy is now complete as Scour releases the final EP in the cycle, Black.
The band Scour is the stuff of dark dreams: Philip H. Anselmo (lead vocals), Derek Engemann (guitar, vocals), John Jarvis (bass, vocals), Mark Kloeppel (guitar, vocals), and Adam Jarvis (drums). These musicians came together in 2015 and started a musical project to be released in three parts. First was Grey (2016), and then Red (2017), and now the final installment has arrived, Black.
The music has a ravaging brutality about it, a dedication to Black Metal and Grindcore principles. “Doom” breaks the silence with sirens, fair warning and a sign that the onslaught is underway. The music is a massive, pulverizing force, directed along by the drums and liberated through vocals and a piercing, succinct lead break. “Nail,” “Propaganda,” and “Flames” pile drive new legendary pillars into the heavy landscape as Anselmo’s voice is joined in chorus, flanked by guitar and with underlay of bass and drum. “Microbes” is a beautiful instrumental track with melancholy violins and a disturbing, increasingly destabilizing piano. The menace builds with bigger strokes and added vocals, leading at the end to “Subprime” – the closer and the final hammer down on the shattering granite.
The band brought in guests Pat O’Brien, Erik Rutan, and, improbably, Jason Momoa for the recording of the last piece of the puzzle. Every element came together in synchrony and synergy. Black is the best end to the trilogy I could imagine. Recommended.
The music is available now at the links below in many forms. Listen to the earlier installments first, then dive into Black.