Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Florida death metal band Massacre roll out the Lovecraftian Resurgence, their fourth big album.

It has been a long road for Massacre. The band formed in 1984 and became well-known for a number of demos they released throughout the rest of that decade. Their first full-length album was From Beyond (1991), followed five years later by Promise. Things got quiet for about fifteen years after that. Back From Beyond was Massacre’s return to form in 2014 and now, seven years later, the latest installment in their history is Resurgence.

The music is straight-forward old school death metal with a strong reliance on H. P. Lovecraft for narrative content. Vocalist Kam Lee describes to new music this way. “lyrically it is basically about body horror of aquatic transmutation. Any deeper meaning than that is just speculative, but could simply be metaphor for our world’s current situation with the pandemic and other threats of the spreading of viral infection. Musically it’s just proper O.S.D.M. the way it’s meant to be played …”

The set begins with mystery and esoteric insinuations on the “Eldritch Prophecy” lead-in before turning to a heavy pounding riff and then taking off at speed. A vocal growl is the sign that death metal is kicking in. Ascending guitars rise above the pummeling percussion and a hiss harmony deepens the vocal attack. It is a great beginning.

Through the course of ten raging tracks, the story unfolds and the music takes a tour through recognizable Old School Death Metal stomping grounds, adding fresh blasts and turns to enhance the delivery. The pace ranges from mid- to up-tempo, spending a lot of time in the fast lane. Lead breaks and guitar pairings are reliably recurrent and the metal is heavy and solid. Could you ask for anything more? Recommended.

Resurgence rises to the surface on Friday, October 22nd through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://massacre3.bandcamp.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/massacre-resurgence

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Florida gloom band Worm continues further down the path of deep dark doom on their third album, Foreverglade.

Formed around 2014, Worm’s early music was more oriented toward a straight-forward black metal tint. As they moved along, the doom emerged and quickly intensified into a lead-heavy oppression. Evocation of the Black Marsh came out in 2017, followed two years later by Gloomlord. The driving force behind Worm is an entity known as Phantom Slaughter whose work is enhanced on the new album by Nihilistic Manifesto, L. Dusk, and Equimanthorn. I wonder if those are their real names.

Foreverglade opens with the title track, sure in its stance and determined in its eeriness. It is a creeping combination of funereal guitar riffs, muffled death metal vocals, and ethereal, almost ritualistic sounds. On “Murk Above The Dark Moor” the composition has moments that are choir-like in their dirge and reverence, positioned against passages slightly paced up and massive in their density. And then, unexpectedly, there is a lead guitar break that is transportive. Side one closes with “Cloaked In Nightwinds,” the longest track on the album. It is a churning, clompy excavation of darkness.

“Empire Of The Necromancers” has an active beginning volley that is positively rapid compared to the tracks that came before. Excellent lead work early on in the song is a memorable highlight, as are the lyrical keys. “Subaqueous Funeral” is a single-length dark beauty with a pulse and flow that is engaging and mesmerizing in the guitar. “Centuries Of Ooze” brings the curtain down on the set, returning to the solemnness of the opening but even more mysteriously. I am a funeral doom fan and this music could fit in that category for its sheer heaviness, but it is more active than the typical strain and so creates its own description and enigma. Recommended.

Foreverglade is available on Friday, October 22nd through 20 Buck Spin. Ordering information can be found below at the label’s website and Bandcamp for the digital, CD, and cassette versions. There is a vinyl edition that is due January 28th, coming out later because of the well-known worldwide vinyl backlog.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wormgloom.bandcamp.com

20 Buck Spin, http://www.20buckspin.com

Worm, Foreverglade (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Hate, Rugia (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Blackened death metal band Hate releases their twelfth full-length album, Rugia.

Since the mid-1990s, Polish band Hate has been has been issuing rock solid death metal. Their style has evolved somewhat over the years, moving from a strictly death metal approach toward an amalgam of black and death metal. Their lyrical themes have changed, too, concentrating in more recent years on mysticism and esoteric perambulations. Armed with a new drummer, the latest album is “a refreshing new chapter to our discography, composing nine truly sinister onslaughts of pure rage,” according to the band.

The set opens with the title track, offering an engaging percussion/riff combination before settling in with a thrumming death metal standard. The music is dramatic, even theatrical toward the end, dressing the stage for the deeper shades of dark to come. The question of where to place the title track (when there is one) has always fascinated me. It could be anywhere – the anchor position, sorted in the middle, or right up front. I think starting with “Rugia” is a blatant display of confidence, one that is well deserved.

Most tracks are relatively brief for this type of music, keeping the focus razor-sharp. Watch (listen) for “Exiles of Pantheon” especially, and “Resurgence,” for pummeling rhythm enhanced by unexpected turns in the harmony. “Sun Of Extinction” is a stand-out track for me because of its challenging, almost prog-ish, opening and determined follow-through. And “Awakening The Gods Within” has a cliff dropping shift from the doom laden opening to the savage assault that follows. These are all thrilling for their own reasons.

All the stops are pulled for the final track, “Sacred Dnieper.” It is a consolidated fury that sounds for all the world as if it spewed directly from the blackest void. This album is a roving, unrelenting menace that will dislodge your peace of mind. Recommended.

Rugia is available now through Metal Blade Records. Examine the varieties at the label link below.

Band photo by Daniel Rusilowicz.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hate.bandcamp.com/album/rugia

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

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

Hate, Rugia (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Aeon, God Ends Here (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Aeon’s fifth full-length album is a monumental work that rivals any other heavy album released this year.

Aeon is a band from Sweden peopled by Tommy Dahlström (vocals), Zeb Nilsson (guitars), Daniel Dlimi (guitars), and Tony Östman (bass), with Janne Jaloma on drums for the album. They released their first EP twenty years ago and have produce increasingly solid work thereafter. Their last longplayer was Aeons Black, released in 2012 and it was a highly regarded entry in the band’s canon. The new album, God Ends Here, is even better and will surely make year-end “best of” lists far and wide.

After a dramatic intro piece, the album kicks off with “Liar’s Den,” and it is a heavy hammer swung straight at your head. The song smashes together multiple styles ranging from 80s metal to modern death metal. Vocal depth and blast beats highlight and color the musical explosion. It is a lot to take in, and that is even before the rampaging lead guitar break. “Let It Burn” follows with a groove vibe in the front riff and a commanding vocal assertion. But then there is a lyrical transition piece that is light and eerie and theatrical right before “Church of Horror,” an aggressive, thrashy track that is one of my favorites on the album.

This brings me to the structure of the album, which is unusual. What you typically see is some kind of predictable regularity in the sequencing of tracks on the album. You know, maybe a couple of transition pieces with mainly longer songs, or just epic pieces alone, or all short ones. Maybe one outlier – a blip or a big anchor. God Ends Here is more variegated with a fuller range of expression. And, importantly, the “transition” pieces aren’t merely convenient functional tidbits. Instead they are integral in the overall work.

A good example of this is the triplet of the raging “Forsaker” delivered in a furious two-minute chunk followed by “Into The Void,” which is a one-minute chorale that sets up the title track, a big production with deep, integrated layering. These are three very different songs that work precisely together to create a larger suite that is itself an indispensable part of the even bigger chronicle. It is a fantastic achievement at every level. I hope that this album is a sign of even more music coming in the near future from Aeon. Highly recommended.

God Ends Here is out tomorrow, Friday October 15th through Metal Blade Records. Links below.

Band photo by Tony Östman.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://aeon666.bandcamp.com/album/god-ends-here

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/aeon666

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

Aeon, God Ends Here (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Norse, Ascetic (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian dissonant Black Metallers Norse release their fourth full-length album, Ascetic.

Norse is a duo that has been haunting the landscape since 2006. Their focus has always been on Black Metal, but the execution of the musical endeavor has changed over the years. The new album works a penetrating brand of dissonance that enhances the chaos of the songs’ narrative themes.

There are eight tracks on the album, most of them tipping over the five minute mark. The title track has what I would call strong doom influences to go along with the more central dissonant black metal orientation and it opens the set with howl. “Parasite Warmongers” is very clanging, noisy, and operates a clearly defined dissonance. I know I am over-using the word, but an intentional grating quality is so much a part of this album that it is difficult to avoid.

Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty of variation. “Fearless Filth Seeker” has a shrill distortion to it gliding along with the melodic vocals. “Radical Depression” sounds like a march played in a cocktail lounge at the beginning, quiet and sultry; insinuating. After a couple of minutes a wall of sound kicks in and pushes you over until toward the end when the snare returns. There are many corners and crannies to explore.

“Useless” is the final mail in the coffin, and it seems to be offering a way through. But to where? The afterlife? Maybe. I hear it as a parable of the ultimate pointlessness of a life of struggle when the end is predetermined: death. That might be too on the nose. Whatever the intent, it is one the most engaging tracks of the set and it is properly fitted at the end. It is also one of the main reasons I am recommending the album.

Ascetic is out through Transcending Obscurity on Friday, October 8th, gatherable at Bandcamp or the label’s US store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://norsebm.bandcamp.com/album/ascetic-dissonant-black-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/norse.official

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Norse, Ascetic (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Atræ Bilis, Apexapien (20 Buck Spin 2021)

The first full-length album from Canadian Death Metal venturers Atræ Bilis is a warning shot across the bow of musical mediocrity.

Formed in 2018, Vancouver Death Metal band Atræ Bilis released its first album last year, Divinihility, through Transcending Obscurity. That EP was an earth-shaker that created anticipation for what the band might do next. Apexapien answers that question. The band is Luka Govednik (drums), Jordan Berglund (vocals), Brendan Campbell (bass), and David Stepanavicius (guitar).

The opener is a two minute stabbing attack, “Theta.” Absolutely furious. Death Metal vocals break through in the next rack, “Lore Beyond Bone,” featuring harmonies and frenetic percussion and guitar accompaniment. It is like a flock of birds in rapid flight, undulating and twisting but somehow always retuning to a recognizable form.

The album treads this line throughout, the chaos-in-order brutal technical Death Metal. While the style is present on every track, variations abound. Blackened harmonic vocals interact synergistically, especially on tracks like “Hymn of the Flies.” These are some of my favorite moments on the album, but I am impressed overall by the ability and ingenuity of the musical enterprise.

You can hear all manner of labelable crystals in the music from the discordant to perpendicular angularity to experimental avant-garde. To make these diverse ingredients into a workable whole is an accomplishment in and of itself, but to make them musically sound is nearly impossible because if you make one wrong step then it is just noise. Atræ Bilis never take a wrong a step. Recommended.

Apexapien is out on Friday, October 8th through 20 Buck Spin. The vinyl will be out a little later as all record labels deal with the backlog at the vinyl pressers.

Band photo by Derek Carr.

Links.

Atræ Bilis Linktree, https://linktr.ee/atraebilis

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

20 Buck Spin, https://www.20buckspin.com/

Atræ Bilis, Apexapien (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Creeping Death, The Edge of Existence (MNRK Heavy 2021)

Texas metal mongers Creeping Death pile on the aggression and suffering with their new EP The Edge of Existence.

Releasing their first demo in 2015 and an EP the following year, Creeping Death came out of the gate hot. Even in those early days it was clear that this band from Denton had the potential to make a permanent mark on heavy music. With each new release you can hear subtle differences in the music as it evolved. The style is Death Metal, increasingly in a classic lane, and the latest EP reinforces the propulsion toward this vanishing point. The musicians are Reese Alavi (vocals), Trey Pemberton (guitar), A. J. Ross, III (guitar), Eric “Rico” Mejia (bass), and Lincoln Mullins (drums).

The Edge of Existence has three new songs, “Relics From The Past,” “Humanity Transcends,” and “The Edge of Existence,” plus re-recorded and re-oriented versions of all three songs from Sacrament Of Death (2016): “Sacrament Of Death,” “Doused In Flames,” and “Skinned Alive.”

The three new tracks pulse in the heartland range of a growling Death Metal landscape. Taken together, they are the arc of a nightmare, a punishing treatment of struggle weighed down by the leaden crush of inevitability. Sonically consistent with Wretched Illusions (2019), the sound feels a little deeper on these three, leaning a bit more in the doom direction. Oh, they do rage, especially “Humanity Transcends.” They just do it with a somewhat denser center of gravity.

The re-recorded songs are a nice addition to the set. It is good to hear these songs get a bright shaking. I particularly like “Sacrament Of Death” in this triplet, and “Skinned Alive” buzzes and sparkles like a kicked hornet’s nest. If this doesn’t get fans fired up I don’t know what will. Recommended.

October 8th is the drop date for The Edge of Existence, released through MNRK Heavy. Hook-ups below.

Links.

Creeping Death website, https://www.creepingdeath.net/

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Creeping Death, The Edge of Existence (MNRK Heavy 2021)

Charred, Prayers of Malediction (HPGD Productions 2021)

Florida Thrash~Death Metal band Charred re-release their first long-player, Prayers of Malediction.

There is not an enormous amount of information out there about Charred. The Bandcamp page reports that the band is from Deerfield Beach, Florida. The Metal Archives has about the same amount of detail, adding that Prayers of Malediction was originally released digitally in 2019. The new HPGD release will give wider distribution to this excellent album, so that is a good thing. And, anyway, maybe we don’t need to know much about the musicians and the band if we have their music to listen to.

There are nine ripping tracks on the album. Along with the obvious Thrash and Death Metal content, there is also a strong groove vein running throughout that makes these songs even more memorable. Most of the tracks are short, in the two minute range, with a handful of longer pieces. Growling vocals, battering percussion, and wailing shreds tag team to add force and power to the music.

“The Athame Of The Witchking” has a tasty Doom Metal opening, and that is always a good thing for me to hear. “Entity Of War” has a nice Mercyful Fate callback and “Enthralling The Weak” swings a weighty metal hammer aimed directly at your spine. My favorite track might be “The Means Of Destruction” because of the way it comes at you low and swerving then hooks back to crack you on the skull.

“Kesai Khati (Eater Of The Raw Flesh)” shuts the show down with a story that will keep you up at night. I did not know about Charred until I listened to this album and I am glad I got to hear it. Keep an eye out for anything else they release. Recommended.

CD and digital forms of Prayers of Malediction will be out from Horror Pain Gore Death Productions on Friday, October 1st.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/prayers-of-malediction

HPGD, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Charred, Prayers of Malediction (HPGD Productions 2021)

Wingless, Nonconform (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

Polish metal trio Wingless let loose with their fourth album, Nonconform.

Nearly a decade ago, Wingless came together as a group of seasoned musicians playing heavy metal from a modern angle. As time passed, the music solidified into a more classic death and doom sound, and that is what we hear on Nonconform. The band is comprised of the newest member, Michał “Xaay” Loranc (vocals), founder Grzegorz Luzar (guitar and bass), and Piotr Wójcik (drums), who has been with the group since 2018.

The nine-track album starts with “Imperceptible,” which opens like waking up with the house on fire – heavy and loud from the first note. After the first movement, there is a slowed-down spoken word segment then a return to the bestial pummeling. The pace shifts are a regular feature of the landscape on Nonconform.

The songs are often a negotiated truce between Death Metal elements and Doom Metal presence. And frequently a mixture of the two, like in “Separated From All Life” where we have doom guitars and vocals with a more peppery percussion. Some of the tracks do start out with a slower pace at the gate – “Sadness Filled With Silence” and “Nyctophilia,” for example – and maintain it throughout. Shifting tempo is more common, however.

Standout tracks for me are “Constellations” and the sinister title track, both of which, in their own ways, highlight the strengths of the band. The final track is “When You Are Short Of Tears,” a solemn song with a powerful arc that resolves in quietude. The classic influences from two metal lineages coalesce in a fulfilling heavy music experience. This is the best album I have heard from Wingless. Recommended.

Digital and CD formats are available from Selfmadegod Records on the first Friday in October, the 1st.

Links.

Wingless Bandcamp, https://wingless.bandcamp.com/

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

Selfmadegod Store, https://selfmadegod-store.com/

Wingless, Nonconform (Selfmadegod Records 2021)