Transilvania, Of Sleep And Death (Invictus Productions 2021)

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.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transilvania.bandcamp.com/album/of-sleep-and-death

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

Invictus Productions, https://invictusproductions.net/

Transilvania, Of Sleep And Death (Invictus Productions 2021)

EOS, The Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

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.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-ascension

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/eos.black.metal

Brilliant Emperor, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

EOS, The Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

Dira Mortis, Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy (Selfmadegod Records 2020)

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.

Band photo by Marcin Studzinski.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diramortis1.bandcamp.com

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

Selfmadegod Records, http://www.selfmadegod.com

Dira Mortis, Ancient Breath Of Forgotten Misanthropy (Selfmadegod Records 2020)

Idle Ruin, Idle Ruin (2020)

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.

Links.

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

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

Idle Ruin, Idle Ruin (2020)

Three Eyes Left, Legione (Delomelanicon Records 2020)

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.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/3eyesleft

Delomelanicon Records, https://www.facebook.com/delorec/

Three Eyes Left, Legione (Delomelanicon Records 2020)

Mortiferum ~ Hyperdontia, Split 7 (Carbonized Records 2020)

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.

Mortiferum

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.

Hyperdontia

Available now at the links below, this seven inch will definitely get you into the appropriate headspace for the holidays. Recommended.

Mortiferum band photo by Carter Murdoch.

Links.

Mortiferum, http://mortiferum.bandcamp.com

Hyperdontia Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/hyperdontia

Hyperdontia Bandcamp, http://hyperdontiaofficial.bandcamp.com

Carbonized Bandcamp, http://www.carbonizedrecords.bandcamp.com

Me Saco Un Ojo, http://www.mesacounojo.com

Me Saco Un Ojo Bandcamp, http://www.mesacounojo.bandcamp.com

Mortiferum ~ Hyperdontia, Split 7 (Carbonized Records 2020)

Heads for the Dead, Into The Red (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

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.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://tometal.com/

US label shop, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Heads for the Dead, Into The Red (Transcending Obscurity 2020)

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

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.

Band photo by Joseph P. Dorignak IV.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://scourhc.bandcamp.com/album/black-ep

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/scourband

Label, http://www.thehousecorerecords.com

Label Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/housecorerecords

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

Obscurae, To Walk The Path Of Sorrows review (American Decline 2020)

Obscurae returns with a heavy blanket of atmospheric Black Metal: To Walk The Path Of Sorrows.

Chad Davis is the mastermind behind Obscurae. He is the composer, singer, and he plays all of the musical instruments in the production (Matt Davis plays bass on some tracks). The music is a saturating assault that aims to find a way to stay with you, haunting you long after the external sound has subsided. It is Black Metal that incorporates symphonic and hyper-ambient synergies to inculcate a destabilizing paradigm of tenebrosity in the psyche of the listener.

“Upon The Shadowthrone Of Night” separates you from the silence with a gentle urging invocation for the first two minutes as it opens the album. Then the onslaught begins. A barrage of sound bowls you over, pinning you down while the ghostly shrieking vocals penetrate you with their dark spell. Discerning the individual elements of the music takes concentration as it rushes together in an aural tsunami.

Each subsequent piece is an alternate take on gloom and sorrow, another story on the path to sinister ends. The choral sections are most noticeable to me in “Into Fullmoon Descent” and “Eerie Freezing Winds,” but they are with you much of the time. The cumulative effect of the oppressive sound is overwhelming. The curtain closes with “Stillheten,” four minutes of funereal keys that match the opening of the set. Hearing it at the end feels like a coffin being lowered into the ground.

Available on November 27th at the American Dreams shop link below and on Bandcamp (where two bonus tracks are included), To Walk The Path Of Sorrows is a long stare into darkness.

Photo from the Metal Archives website.

Links.

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

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

Shop, https://american-dreams.zone/product-category/american-decline-release/

Obscurae, To Walk The Path Of Sorrows review (American Decline 2020)

Iron Flesh, Summoning The Putrid review (Great Dane Records 2020)

Back for the attack with their second full-length album, Iron Flesh storms the gate with thundering old school Death Metal.

Hailing from France, Iron Flesh has been active in the heavy music scene since 2017. They have released two EPs, Worship The Necrogod (2017) and Scourge Of Demonic Incantations (2018), as well as last year’s LP Forged Faith Bleeding. In May this year they also released a live album, A Necro Dead One, and now there is Summoning The Putrid. You can’t say they are not dedicated to the craft.

Their sound is stone crushing Death Metal, with infused Black Metal influences. No quiet songs, no clean singing. The band sticks to traditional implements of musical creation: guitar, bass, voice, and drums. The new album is nine songs of shattering sonic disturbance.

After a few conciliatory seconds, “Servants of Oblivion” flies off into a rage of straightforward metal aggression, getting the set going with a big push. The compositions overall are riff heavy on this album and light on the lead breaks, putting more pressure on writing creative combinations and tempo shifts. Solo guitar expressions in songs like “Purify Through Blasphemy” occur in unusual places, giving them added emphasis. Longer pieces such as “Death and the Reaper’s Scythe” express fundamental Doom elements with aplomb and execute them with precision. And immediately following this long track, the blistering “Incursion of Evil” resets the pace and energy to overdrive. The closer is “Convicted Faith,” and it establishes an ominous message at its onset, signaling an eldritch threat. It sounds like the speaking of dark incantations over the bodies of the fallen after a tumult. It is an excellent lid to a fine album. Recommended.

Summoning The Putrid is out this Friday, November 27. Look no further than the Bandcamp links below. If you preorder it now you get two tracks immediately – “Relinquished Flesh” and “Demonic Enn” – and the rest when the full album drops in a few days.

Links.

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

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

Label website, http://www.greatdanerecs.com

Label Bandcamp, http://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GreatDaneRecords

Iron Flesh, Summoning The Putrid review (Great Dane Records 2020)