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)

Empress, Wait ’Til Night review (Brilliant Emperor 2020)

Following up on their first album, Empress walks even deeper into the darkness.

In 2017, the Australian band Empress released their self-titled exploratory record. Their second, Wait ’Til Night, was recorded in 2018-2019 and is appearing now in the perfect historical setting for the mood the music establishes. The band is Chloe Cox (vocals and keys), Julian Currie (guitar), Jackson Tuchscherer (guitar), Shaun Allen (bass), and Ben Smith (drums and percussion).

There is a long list of tags associated with Empress including doom, shoegaze, alternative, indie, post-rock … and they all fit. The songs on the new album are mostly very quiet and subdued, and entirely infused with darkness. The recurring themes I hear are sadness and regret written into a variety of settings.

“Golden Orb” opens with a single guitar accompanying Chloe Cox’s pleading voice, joined in time by slightly off center rhythm and pace. The most aggressive vocals appear in this song, and here the music lives up to the band’s own description that its work is “a clash of emotional and musical contradictions, soft and harsh, calm and hysterical.” The next two songs – “Wait ’Til Night” and “Scorpio Moon” – share a sourness, a sort of clashing twinge in the composition that ties them together in my head. “Back To The Ground” is eerie, like a slow murder in the mist. “Void Share Void” is a study of emptiness where the sorrow eases quietly along, occasionally interrupted by punctuating bursts. “Curse” feels like a story of fate being imposed on you and “Where No Light Remains” has an ambient soft roar underlying the gentle singing and sympathetic piano that removes all resistance from your mind.

The album ends with “I Let You In,” which is the loudest in the set, beginning as it does with coarse, crossing instruments. Cox’s voice moves from its quietude to straining against the recurring theme of regret. The first song and the last song together create an ethereal border that holds all the music in the set together. I find this album to be solemn and darkly soothing. Recommended.

Wait ’Til Night is available now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Brilliant Emperor has released a vinyl version as well as a merch bundle (shop link below).

Links.

Empress Bandcamp, https://empressempress.bandcamp.com

Empress Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/empress.band.empress

Label Shop, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com

Label Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com

Empress, Wait ’Til Night review (Brilliant Emperor 2020)

Resin Tomb, Resin Tomb review (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

Loud, fast, and terrifying, the debut effort from Resin Tomb marks the earth with blood and bile.

Resin Tomb is an Australian Death/Grind Metal trio. You might think you have an idea of what you are going to hear just from that one-line description, but you have to put it in your ears to really know. That fact is truer with this band than most. They describe their own music as dissonant, and there are no clean vocals (of course). The music might seem at first simply to be howls of rage, but there is more going on than that. Let’s take a quick shuffle through the five songs on the EP.

“Abrogate” is about two minutes of emotional musical projectile spewing, and that’s how the set opens. In “Penance,” the confession is the penance – at least that’s what seems to be going on. The song has a very dungeon feel to it. Imagine a dreary cave-like space with a mad person running around screaming and clearly trying to get something across to you, but you don’t really understand. “Surfacing” has a structural awareness. It sets a scene and you are poised to see it play out. It turns out to be a scene of violence, and toward the end there is a commentary that functions as an explanation but definitely not an apology. “Prostrated” has a straightforward, open kind of construction. Face-up, not face-down. It is the shortest song and leads into the epic-scale “Bestial,” the anchor to the exposition/exhibition. In your face up front, plodding and Germanic in the middle, the song is fierce and spiritually crippling. The experience of listening to this music pins you down in a rare crescendo of realization. Recommended.

Resin Tomb is out July 31 from Brilliant Emperor Records. You can get two tracks digitally from Bandcamp right now, and the rest on Friday. It will shake your teeth loose.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/resintombdeath

https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com

https://www.facebook.com/BrilliantEmperorRecords

https://resintomb.bandcamp.com/releases

Resin Tomb, Resin Tomb review (Brilliant Emperor Records 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)