Black Royal, Earthbound (M-Theory Audio 2022)

The third full-length album from Finland’s Black Royal is heavy enough to flatten the planet: Earthbound.

Black Royal opened their books in Tampere, Finland in 2013. Over the course of several years they released a string of singles and a couple of EPs on the way to their debut long player, Lightbringer, in 2018. Firebride came two years later, and now we have the latest. You could describe the music as death metal or doom, and really it is an enmeshing of these forms with unique other elements that give Black Royal their unrivaled sound. The Metal Archives tells us the band is Jukka (drums), Toni (guitar), Riku (vocals), and Pete (bass).

The opening track is “Earthbound,” a song made of heavy enough metal to smash flat the crustiest obstacle. Huge dooming guitars and coarse growls erect a massive wall of sound that knocks you back. “Ghosts of the Dead” picks up the pace and shakes the dust off with a forceful charge. The song has a sorrowful center surrounded by impenetrable cliffs of metal. “Conjuration” continues the rampage, sounding like a warning we are unlikely to heed. There is a great grooving hook in there that keeps everything moving along at pace.

The entire album has a raging metal pulse. I particularly appreciate “13th Moon” for its solid kicks that just keep coming, and “Bleed Your Soul” as an opposing force for its stark solitude conveyed up front and continuingly even with the chomping rhythm throughout the song. “Queen of the Underworld,” too, is a great doom song. The record ends with “Rite of Passage,” fittingly the longest track of the set. It has a disarming setup and a crushing finish that is satisfying and haunting. Good work all around. Recommended.

Earthbound hits the streets on Friday, October 21st through M-Theory Audio. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blackroyal.bandcamp.com/album/earthbound

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

M-Theory Audio, https://m-theoryaudio.com/home

© Wayne Edwards

Black Royal, Earthbound (M-Theory Audio 2022)

Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman (Profound Lore 2022)

Regathering after more than a decade, Black Math Horseman release a new album.

Black Math Horseman is a band from LA comprised of the musicians Sera Timms (bass, vocals), Ian Barry (guitar), Bryan Tulao (guitar), and Sasha Popovic (drums). They originally got together in 2007 and released a demo. More importantly, their debut album, Wyllt, came out in 2009 and cast an entirely different light on the heavy music scene with the way it created hypnotic expressions in such a chaotic space. A few years later, they parted.

In 2020 the group came back together. Sera Timms says about the re-meeting, “At first, the conversation was about how we were all in different places now, and could we even go back to being that band that we were? … Maybe we’d write completely different music now—and we were all open to that.” Instead, “When we started jamming again, we didn’t sound any different. We discovered that the music that comes from us four together is something that we have no control over. It just happens. It’s a recipe that’s beyond us.”

Fans know what to expect from this new album. It is composed as a single musical piece. Although it is split into four parts, it is meant to be heard all at once. It does work best that way. “The essence of the album is overcoming a great enemy, a great adversarial force, and reaching a place of harmony that has never been found before,” Timms says. “You go to a dark place and destroy relationships that you love, all based on ego. Eventually, you have nothing. And when you have nothing, you have to find a new way of doing things. That’s where we’re at now as a band and family, and that’s also the theme of the record.”

The four movements are “Black Math Horseman,” “Boar Domane,” “The Bough,” and “Cypher.” As described by Timms, this is indeed a journey. The music is trance-inducing post-rock, and it has a clear ritual feel to it at times. I hear elements of black metal come through, especially in the lead guitar passages, while the vocals are beautifully lyrical. The coexistence of these near-opposites is an important aspect of the music and its achievements.

The entire cycle runs about twenty-five minutes, and while the separate movements do have their own feel and structure, you are missing something if you do not listen to it all straight through from the beginning. Let the music envelope you and get lost in the story and emotion. Recommended.

Black Math Horsman is out on Friday, October 21st through Profound Lore Records.

Band photo by Travis Shinn.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blackmathhorseman.bandcamp.com/album/black-math-horseman

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063492333782

Profound Lore Records, http://profoundlorerecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman (Profound Lore 2022)

Summoner’s Circle Photo Gallery, Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Summoner’s Circle website, https://www.summonerscircle.com/

Tennessee Metal Devastation, https://metaldevastationradio.com/Metal-Devastation-Music-Fest

FFMB article on Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/11/tennessee-metal-devastation-lexington-tennessee-october-8-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Summoner’s Circle Photo Gallery, Tennessee Metal Devastation 2022

Languish, Feeding The Flames Of Annihilation (Prosthetic 2022)

Arizona deathgrind band Languish see the future in the now on their third album, Feeding The Flames Of Annihilation.

Tucson, Arizona’s Languish having been plowing the musical fields of destruction since 2014. After an early demo, they opened the gates of the end times on Extinction (2015). Pausing for a split with Oryx, they then handed the waiting the world Unworthy three years later. Their music is a blackened death metal brand of grindcore that is a short blade to your kidney and another to your throat. The music is fast, load, and hard, and it keeps on coming. The band is Sean Mears (vocals), Zack Hansen (drums), Ryan Bram (bass), and Matthew Mutterperl (guitar).

There are eleven exterminating tracks on the new album. “Manifesto” is the first egg cracked, and it is an all-out high-speed assault on your self. It is a defining pummeling, a kind of outline for the rest of the set with its growling and grinding. The song starts fast and stays that way. “Last Legs” has a more oppressive ideology at the beginning but just as much heavy throughout. Then “Ripped Remains,” in a way, is the objective combination of the two. The rhythm and percussion coalesce to form the heart of the songs, establishing the baseline devastation while the vocals and careening features color in the darkness.

You can hear doom lines now and then, like at the front of “Parasite.” You always know the speed is not far away. Slower moments create drama and depth and are a significant part of the whole. The eeriness of “Failed State” is a fine setup for “Feeding The Flames,” a song which could be the banner anthem for the album. This is a great set, and I am hoping to see tour dates for Languish pop up soon because I can’t wait witness them on stage. Recommended.

Feeding The Flames Of Annihilation is out now through Prosthetic Records. Listen to it at all the usual places and examine the physical possibilities at the links below.

Band photo by Pablo Vigueras.

Links.

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

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

Prosthetic Records, https://www.prostheticrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Languish, Feeding The Flames Of Annihilation (Prosthetic 2022)

Incantation, Tricennial Of Blasphemy (Relapse 2022)

Incantation releases a massive album of rarities to celebrate more than thirty years of menacing metal, Tricennial Of Blasphemy.

Incantation came together in 1989, formed by John McEntee and Paul Ledney. McEntee has stayed with the band throughout its entire history, seeing a dozen full-length albums come to fruition, along with a rugged smattering of splits and EPs. Along the way, some of the tracks have become rather obscure and hard for fans to find. Tricennial Of Blasphemy solves that problem. It is a three-record / two-CD set that houses thirty-one songs, including a couple that have never been published before.

The unreleased first. “Pest Savagery” is grinding, punishing death metal. Unhallowed growls and charging rhythms reign. “Ordained by Night’s Will” has a good cook and a nice groove. It breaks out periodically into a blitz, and there are downshifted tempo moments, too. There is a lot infused in these four minutes. Either song would have fared well on an Incantation album, so it is a shame they never made it on one – until now.

After these two openers, there is a long list of songs from disparate places, like long gone compilations and the Decibel Magazine flexi-released song “Degeneration,” that would take some time to run down and, without this new album, could easily have been lost in the shuffle. Instead of me just repeating it all here, check out the link below to the Incantation website and there is a complete list there. There are many songs I have never heard, like “Emaciated Holy Figure” from the Corporate Death compilation, for example, and on and on. It is a genuine treasure trove for fans.

The set ends with a few live cuts recorded in Switzerland, France, and Cleveland a decade or so ago. I hadn’t heard these, either, but I have seen Incantation live several times and hearing these recordings takes me back to those experiences. Sometimes rarities records fall short and have a lot of fluff in them. Not this one. This one is the real deal. Recommended.

Tricennial Of Blasphemy is streaming now, with physicals and merch out on Friday, October 7th through Relapse records.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Incantation website, https://www.incantation.com/

Bandcamp, https://incantation666.bandcamp.com/album/tricennial-of-blasphemy

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

Relapse Records, https://store.relapse.com/incantation-tricennial-of-blasphemy

© Wayne Edwards

Incantation, Tricennial Of Blasphemy (Relapse 2022)

Goatwhore, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven (Metal Blade 2022)

New Orleans metal band Goatwhore reach a new plane on their eighth album, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven.

Goatwhore came to life in New Orleans a couple of years before the turn of the last century. After a demo and a split, the first full-length album they released was the raw The Eclipse of Ages into Black (2000). A few years later came Funeral Dirge for the Rotting Sun (2003) and then, the first one I heard when it came out, A Haunting Curse (2006). The next couple of albums were break-outs for the band in many ways. My favorite of them all, looking back, has become Constricting Rage of the Merciless (2014), but the new album has given it a run for its money. It is the intensity combined with the relentlessness that gets to me when I listen to Goatwhore. The band is Louis B. Falgoust II (vocals), Sammy Duet (guitar, vocals), Zack Simmons (drums), and Robert “TA” Coleman (bass).

After the eerie invocation there are eleven blazing tracks on Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven, beginning with the bestial “Born Of Satan’s Flesh.” It is a rampage of savage metal. Speed and wickedness are the guiding principles, and they are executed to the extreme. The growling and howling vocals are an active threat; the guitars an attack. The lead guitar break is surprisingly lyrical, luring your attention away before a counterattack. “The Bestowal Of Abomination” follows and falls in line. Here the guitars soar at the beginning and the opening percussion is even more in your face. And, here too, the lead guitar at first gives a look that stands in contrast to what is happening around you. When it returns, however, it is a craven menace.

The title track, “Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven,” comes third. It is dark and dramatic. The opening bars set up a story from which you cannot turn away. A superior depth is plumbed here. The odyssey you are on with the album comes into sharp focus, as the does the realization of the magnitude of the band’s achievement. I am impressed with every song, and I have a special attachment to the sequence of “Voracious Blood Fixation” and “The Devil’s Warlords.” In both, and for different reasons, the guitars are especially vivid to me.

The set ends with “And I Was Delivered From The Wound Of Perdition.” This last piece has its own set-up and culminates in a voracious consumption of doom. It is my favorite track on the album for the way it brings together and connects all the thriving elements employed in Goatwhore’s music into an overwhelming compelling amalgamation. This record will live on in your mind and will haunt you for as long as time exists. Highly recommended.

Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven is out on Friday, October 7th through Metal Blade Records in all kinds of vinyl and the usual other formats.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Goatwhore website, http://www.goatwhore.net/

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thegoat666

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

© Wayne Edwards

Goatwhore, Angels Hung From The Arches Of Heaven (Metal Blade 2022)

Behemoth, Opvs Contra Natvram (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The twelfth album from Behemoth is a milestone in the band’s historic career: Opvs Contra Natvram.

For more than thirty years, Polish black metal band Behemoth has been one the leading bands in heavy music. They are known for black metal, but their music is more of a combination of black and death metal, and traditional metal as well, in combination with dramatic and complex arrangements. Often imitated but never equaled, Behemoth does truly stand apart from its contemporaries. The band is Nergal, Inferno, and Orion.

It took me a long time to finally catch up with Behemoth live. I saw them on Slayer’s final tour a few years back, and I remember thinking at the time that they were the best act on the card. I have been looking forward to this new album for a while.

Talking about the album, Nergal has this to say … “The album title means going against the current. It’s the negative of the values and morals and ethics that I stand against. I’ve seriously been wrestling with destructive tendencies in pop culture – cancel culture, social media, and tools which I feel are very dangerous weapons in the hands of people who are not competent to judge others. That’s something which I find very destructive and disturbing and extremely limiting coming from an artists’ perspective. This is my middle finger to that.” That’s a fairly positive message for such a villainized band, huh.

“Post-God Nirvana” is the first of ten tracks on the album, and it functions as an effective introduction to the experience. Loaded with effects and production, the vocals dig deep in your psyche and the growing guitar punches land harder and harder as the song progresses. “Malaria Vulgata” is a more contained song. In its brief two-minute run, the well-defined boundaries are filled to breaking. “The Deathless Sun” is more of a campaign by comparison. The guitar breaks are the sound of a charging weapon, and Nergal’s vocals are commands. The meshed death and black metal is a towering monument that cannot be ignored once it comes into your life, and that ideal is epitomized in this song.

The music continues the story and depth of expression in variety and in encouraged reinforcement throughout the entire set. “Neo-Spartacus” uses dissonance melodically, if you can imagine that. “Once Upon A Pale Horse” is among the most dramatic songs, and its theatrical nature is extremely engaging. The closer, “Versus Christus,” begins melodically, with growing urgency. The music is quite dramatic, and in a way gathers and restates the thesis of the entire work in a new package. Excellent. I recommend this album for Behemoth fans and newcomers alike.

Opvs Contra Natvram is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Behemoth. website, https://www.behemoth.pl/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

© Wayne Edwards

Behemoth, Opvs Contra Natvram (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Venom, Inc., There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The sophomore full-length album from Venom, Inc. is an unwavering menace: There’s Only Black.

Venom is the iconic band that brought us Welcome To Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982), essentially creating Black Metal from punk and speed metal. Since then, black metal itself has evolved in a particular direction while Venom had other ideas. At War With Satan (1984) was on brand but it was clear that things were changing, and then Possessed (1985) was a noticeable, clear shift. The seas calmed a bit with Prime Evil (1987), but chaos was coming. The band paused, considered reforming, then split in twain.

Venom, Inc. emerged from the schism of the original band. Their debut album was Avé (2017), and I found it enthralling. That one will be hard to follow, but if any band can do it, Venom, Inc. is the one. The musicians are Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, Jeffrey “Mantas” Dunn, and Jeramie “War Machine” Kling.

You can hear the music coming from far away on the first track, “How Many Can Die.” It is a stylized punk attack with a hardcore head and intermittent hooks. The song works, and still this is a chancy approach for an opener – you have to really depend on the fans being in to what you are putting down. And I was. “Infinitum” is a stone cold killer with a battering mission. The lead guitar break will really wind you up. “Come To Me” is a chopper. I love the straight-forward, no nonsense musical construction. An excellent metal song where the vocals take the forefront while the riff and rhythm provide an indelible platform and the dark lead guitar work intoxicates.

I am having a hard time finding anything to complain about on this record. The title track is a stunningly superbly sinister metal song. “Don’t Feed Me Your Lies” begins on a contemplative foot and then turns into a ravager. “Rampant” is a race straight toward a sharp cliff. Every song has a unique appeal, and they all come together to create a solid set you will want to listen to over and again. Recommended.

There’s Only Black is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Links below.

Links.

Venom, Inc. website, https://www.venom-inc.co.uk/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

© Wayne Edwards

Venom, Inc., There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Deconsecration, Crypt Lurker (Chaos Records 2022)

Crypt Lurker is the new album from Seattle death metal band Deconsecration, their first full-length studio release.

Deconsecration is a new band, having its origins in the Pacific Northwest in 2019. They have been revving up the whole time with a demo, a live album, and a split with Re-Buried. Their music will spark OSDM nostalgia now and then, combined with fluid and caustic innovations that make it undeniably from our time. The band is Moises Pimentel (bass), H. Murder (drums), Dylan Benedict (guitar), Jordan Garcia (guitar), and Zach Raphael (vocals).

It all begins on a doom stroke with the title track. Weird noises and rattlings lead into deadly heavy riffs and ominously croaking vocals. The screws get turned and the tempo picks up soon enough. Instead of the feeling that you are wandering through a mist-shrouded forest after dark that you had when the song began, you now have the piercing sensation of being in an active torture chamber. If you survive and make it outside, “Cephalic Fermentation” is the next tombstone you trip over. It is a chaotic, panic-inducing thrashing from the very beginning. By the time “Putrescent Birth” rolls around, you start to believe you are in a dark, damp corner of an abandoned Cannibal Corpse castle.

The album is solid throughout. The interconnectedness of the old school death metal elements, the doom, and the periodic splash of blackened thrash is excellent. My favorite tracks come at the end. “Plague Cadaver” is beautifully cinematic with relentless percussion and “Bells Upon the Graves” is an enduring testament to hopelessness. Recommended.

Crypt Lurker is out now through Chaos Records in digital, CD, and vinyl. Stump Grinder Records will be issuing a cassette. Check it out at the links below.

Links.

Deconsecration website, https://deconsecration.com/

Bandcamp, https://deconsecration.bandcamp.com/album/crypt-lurker

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

Stump Grinder Records, https://stumpgrinderrecords.bigcartel.com/

Chaos Records, https://www.chaos-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Deconsecration, Crypt Lurker (Chaos Records 2022)

Wraith / Black Knife / Graveripper / Unholy Night, Faster Than the Fucking Devil (Wise Blood 2022)

If you are looking for speed, Wise Blood Records has a 4-way split for you featuring Wraith, Black Knife, Graveripper, and Unholy Night.

The label describes the record as “a compilation of black thrash and evil punk motored by hellfire. In the spirit of historic compilations like Warfare Noise and Speed Kills, this album assembles a murderer’s row of black thrash blasphemers: Wraith and Graveripper (both from Indiana) team up with Kentucky killers Black Knife, and Russian riff-demons Unholy Night.”

Each band contributes three songs, except Unholy Night who offers a pair. Wraith is up first. Their music is straight ahead blackened thrash – speeding guitars and ravaging percussion with gruff, threatening vocals. The tracks included are “Demons of Doubt,” “(Call Me) The Destroyer,” and “Seven Serpents.” Black Knife throws in a little more groove up front but that doesn’t slow down the riffs or the vile intent. They contribute “Land of the Dead,” “Gouge the Eyes Out, Steal the Soul,” and “Satanic Commander.”

Graveripper is a band I have been listening to a lot lately. I am currently enamored with their Radiated Remains EP. The music is sharp and precise thrash, and it is great. Graveripper’s songs are “Mind Filled With Dread,” “Night Frozen Black,” and “Tomb of the Oppressor.” Unholy Night closes the door on the four-way split with “Louder, Angrier” and “Ancient Rites.” It is an absolutely whirling menace, and it has the strongest black metal influence of the bunch. This is a killer record and a treasure trove for thrash fans. Recommended.

Faster Than the Fucking Devil is out on Friday, September 2nd through Wise Blood Records. Check out their website and go directly to the album at the Bandcamp link. Limited Edition vinyl is available from Wise Blood, Bonepick Records, and Husk Records. You can also get CDs, digital, and cassettes from Wise Blood. The digital will always be there, but the cassette and vinyl editions will probably sellout fast – get on it if you want one of those.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wisebloodrecords.bandcamp.com/album/faster-than-the-fucking-devil

Wraith, https://www.wraithofficial.com/

Black Knife, https://www.facebook.com/blackknifeband/

Graveripper, https://www.facebook.com/graveripperofficial/

Unholy Night, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063770212145

Wise Blood Records, https://wisebloodrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Wraith / Black Knife / Graveripper / Unholy Night, Faster Than the Fucking Devil (Wise Blood 2022)