Hadal Maw, Oblique Order (Blighttown Records 2021)

New music from Hadal Maw brings anticipation and trepidation into your orbit – Oblique Order.

The band came together about ten years ago in Melbourne, Australia. Their music is a savage blend of technical death metal with strong dissonant elements. They have released two full-length albums, Senium (2014) and Olm (2017), and most recently the EP Charlatan in 2018. The newest album, Oblique Order, is set to come out on the last gasp of 2021 and delivers four breathtakingly immersive songs.

“Fetishize Consumption” has a discordant, sore opening followed by ravaging vocals and percussion. The soaring eeriness of the quieter harmony lines is disturbing in the context of the other musical elements and serves to set you on edge and start you tipping. The intention of the song couldn’t be clearer.

“Oblique Order” is a ticking bomb with a monstrous bass line and hissing, endangering vocals. Fear is leveraged with certainty and intentional chaos to create an overwhelming aural experience. “Future Eaters” syncopates its way into your brainstem with limber tendrils where it grows into an immovable entity with dubious but undeniable efficaciousness. Jerk your head all you want and still it sticks.

“Vile Veneration” courses the home stretch, and it is the strangest of the lot in my estimation. The imbalance it provokes is formidable. The sound is built in towering sheets and released in waves that surround and penetrate. There is a light repast at one point but it serves to further impress the feeling of inevitability rather than offer any respite. This music is some of the most resounding death metal I have heard this year. Recommended.

Oblique Order is out on New Year’s Eve through Blighttown Records on CD, vinyl, and digital.

Links.

Website, https://www.hadalmaw.com/

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

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

Blighttown Records, https://www.blighttownrecords.com/

Hadal Maw, Oblique Order (Blighttown Records 2021)

Cutterred Flesh, Sharing Is Caring (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new Cutterred Flesh album has a deceptively calm title to go along with the brutally revealing cover art.

From Czechia, Cuttered Flesh is a death metal band that wears dastardly themes on its sleeve. Over twenty years and four previous albums they have made their intentions known so there is no mistake about what is in store for you when you drop the needle on one of their records. The band is Jiri Krs (vocals), Vitali Novak (guitar), David Krombholz (guitar), Zdenek Hnizdil (bass), Frantisek Drazdansky (drums).

“Vibrio Vulnificus” begins loud and fast with a punitive hammering. Shouting, growling vocals overpower any resistance, and the occasional momentary respite in the driving percussion offers no actual rest. This is plowing, punishing death metal. The tempo is in the upper-mid range and the sentiment is savage. The very next song is “Black Aura,” which begins with a lullaby melody concatenated with blast beats and dark dramatic guitars. The vocals are vile and displeased. We’re off and running toward the tortures of the damned.

There is no place to hide in any song from this set. Battering percussion is always in there whether the track begins slow or fast. The veils and distractions are sleights of hand that serve more to enhance the brutality of the music than offer a look away. A good example is “Knife Is Not The Enemy.” The pace at the open does not seem sustainable – it leaves you breathless. The doors you go through while experiencing the music that follows open up to spyglasses and mirrors and so you see different things but you never truly escape the dungeon you started in. Fans of brutal death metal will welcome this new addition to the canon. Recommended.

Sharing Is Caring is out now through Transcending Obscurity Records. Check out the label’s US store below or hit up the always-reliable Bandcamp for the goods.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://cutterredfleshband.bandcamp.com/album/sharing-is-caring-brutal-death-metal

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

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

Cutterred Flesh, Sharing Is Caring (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Vahrzaw, The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian death metal band Vahrzaw continues its impressive run of drastic music with The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men.

Formed under a different (and evolving) name in the early 1990s, Vahrzaw released the first full-length album, Defiant, in 2009. That is a long journey and a fascinating tale, I am willing to bet. Once the flag had been unfurled, new LPs rolled out on the regular with Twin Suns and Wolves’ Tongues in 2018, followed by Husk four years later. The music is fundamentally death metal with black metal cross-over features and seeds of thrash and prog. The new album is vibrant and tenacious and not to be ignored.

There are five primary tracks on The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men, plus an acoustic intro and outro. You can hear “Death Of An Unknown Architect” approaching in the distance, pushing nearer with a relentless surety as the volume ramps up. Inescapable. The guitars strike a sour note above the battering percussion then rip into merciless speed and crunch. This is a prog death tune from the land beyond. “Waiting With The Wolves” swings in on a groove that quickly twirls into something more hideous, signaled early with a black metal hiss in the collateral vocal. The changes are too numerous to delineate and they are almost entirely unexpected. It is a stitching of disparate parts, somehow becoming fluid in the collective.

“As Ships Upon Shores” is a plaintive, doom-laden call. It is a beautifully dark song that rises steadily in tempo then drifts off to quietude in the distance at the end. “Vultures” could be a single with its catchy opening riff if only the composers had married the desire to be approachable to the masses. Soon enough the music is off on an absolute black metal rampage. “The Pessimist” is a nine-minute journey into a twilit realm of despair and incontrovertible angst. All the pieces are revisited and renewed, engorged on the endless creativity of the musicians. This is an album clearly marked for greatest in the annals of heavy music. Highly recommended.

The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men is out now. In the US, orders are easy at Bandcamp, or buy directly from Transcending Obscurity Records at their on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://vahrzawband.bandcamp.com/album/the-trembling-voices-of-conquered-men-death-black-metal

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

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

Vahrzaw, The Trembling Voices Of Conquered Men (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Psilocybe Larvae, Where Silence Dwells (Fono Ltd. / Red Rivet Records 2021)

The new album from Russian metal band Psilocybe Larvae breaks a nine year silence with a clang and a roar.

The music of Psilocybe Larvae has strong progressive elements that frame the visages of death and doom. The band has released four previous albums: Stigmata (2000), Agony (2003), Non-Existence (2008), and The Labyrinth of Penumbra (2012). The line-up has jostled some over the years. The musicians on the new album are Vitaly Belobritsky (guitars, vocals), Alexey Legotin (bass), and Iliya Piyaev (drums), while in the current band Belobritsky and Legotin are joined by Anton Veresov (guitar) and Alexander Yakovlev (drums).

“The Flame Of Dying Life” is the first of ten tracks on the album and it sets a grim tone. It offers a dark frolic and a gentle growl to wave you in then drops the hammer with heavy punches and gravelly shouts. The feel is most gothic. The next song has a similar structure with a somewhat different timbre, followed by a notably different approach in “Ghost In The Room,” my vote for most memorable song on the album. The layers in this one are stretched to the very edge of complement and, even though the track starts out fairly up-tempo, it finds a way to build throughout. Good show.

There are heavier songs like “Dead Dreams,” which is full-on death metal turned at the corners toward a broader appeal. And then you hear “Sorvali Cemetery” which has a dooming sense to it and offers a number of surprises from the strings to the soaring middle ground. The album is sure to be a hit with the newer generation of heavy music fans and it also holds sway over more seasoned listeners like me with it callbacks and essential roots. Recommended.

Where Silence Dwells hits the streets Friday, December 10th in digital. The CD version will be released by Fono Ltd. (Russia) and Red Rivet Records (Japan) on December 15th, and a cassette version comes out that day, too. The vinyl LP is set for a February release.

Links.

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

Website, http://psilocybe-larvae.ru/

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

Psilocybe Larvae, Where Silence Dwells (Fono Ltd. / Red Rivet Records 2021)

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

The Los Angeles blackened metal band Civerous brings forth its first full-length album, Decrepit Flesh Relic.

Beginning only a couple years ago, Civerous has released two demos and a live set, along with a split pairing them with Stygian Obsession. The steady work has paid off, culminating in one of the strongest records in the blackened death/doom arena this year. The band is Daniel Salinas (guitar), Alonso Santana (guitar), Lord Foul (vocals), Drew Horton (bass), and Matt Valencia (drums).

After the creeps-inducing intro piece “Eidolon,” there are six primary tracks on the album. Having set the mood to dark and tense, “From The Crypt To The Cavern” is a functional nightmare. The riff is a heavy clomp that batters you up front in anticipation of the following tenderizing percussion and growling vocals filled with the wisdom of eldritch blackness. “Herodacy” deepens the lines of inquiry as a well-timed lead-in to “Rot Delineated (Decrepit Flesh Relic),” a quieter and creepier rendering of similar sentiments, evolving slowly into beautifully crushing doom.

“Hubiku” is a trip down the sinkhole into the swirling chasm of hell – once you pass the event horizon, there is no escape. “Bone Wreath” is the song that stuck deepest in my brain. The hopelessness conveyed in the opening moments is monumental, and the reckoning of that promise is unforgettable. The final movement is the epic “Spiral OF Eyes,” a tale older than time; maker of destruction. The darkness evoked is sincere and penetrating.

I appreciate especially the commitment to doom throughout the album, and the willingness to explore in directions that could not be easily predicted by the listener in advance. This recording deserves attention and should make year-end “best of” lists far and wide. Highly recommended.

Decrepit Flesh Relic is out now through Transylvanian Records. Hit the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/civerous-decrepit-flesh-relic

Transylvania Recordings, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Imperialist, Zenith (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Sci-Fi Black Metal band Imperialist have crafted an amazing new album, Zenith.

From Monrovia, California, the band is Sergio Soto (guitar, vocals), Bryant Quinones (guitar), Joshua Alvarez (bass), and Rodney Quinones (drums). In 2015 they released an EP, Quantum Annexation, and followed that up with the well-received long-player Cipher (2018). The new album is a big next step, embracing science fiction narratives and infusing them with diabolical Black Metal. The amazing dark chemistry of the creation cannot be denied.

The album begins with extremely creepy tones and murky, ominous music on the intro piece. Talk about setting the stage. The trepidation builds leading into “The Maw,” a savage, hammering track. The howling continues with “Parallax Descends,” a confoundingly catchy track. And that is something about this music that sets it apart – it is hard driving, technical Black Metal that somehow also has enough groove in it to transport you on the surface as well as trigger your deeper menacing central dread with the harsher metal. That is so difficult to do that you almost never hear it, but here it is on Zenith.

The back half of the album delivers just as strongly as the front. “Majesty of the Void” first reminds you of the sinister mystical nature of the creature you face then tramples you with beating rhythm and weight-of-the-universe guitars. The story continues in the galactic perspective and so has an infinite space to mine ideas. “Terminal Odyssey” soars in its sounds and sights and revelations, and the final track, “Beyond the Celestial Veil,” spares no emotion or action. By the time the cooldown comes you know you have been through it – you also know you are ready to go again. Highly recommended.

Zenith will be directly overhead on Friday, November 26th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Website, https://www.imperialistofficial.com/

Bandcamp, https://imperialistus.bandcamp.com/album/zenith-sci-fi-black-metal

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

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

Imperialist, Zenith (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Abscession, Rot Of Ages (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Swedish death metal band Abscession takes another merciless swing with Rot Of Ages.

The demo Death Incarnate was the band’s first issue in 2010. Grave Offerings came five years later, their first full-length album. Right on schedule, Rot Of Ages is ready for fan consumption a little over one lustrum later. There is not a lot to go on when thinking about what to expect on the new record, but as it turns out the music is a rewarding avalanche of heavy metal surety. The band is comprised of Thomas Clifford (vocals), Skaldir (guitar, bass, keys), and Markus Porsklev (drums).

“Rat King Crawl” explodes at the jump in a race to the end of all things. It slams and pounds all the way through, not changing pace as much as it changes expression in the fourth quarter. It’s a killer. “Theater Of Pain” is more frantic and that’s fine because your blood is flowing fast from the opener. “Dead Man’s Hate” is a heavy metal breather with slightly less pace but just as much weight. The structure of the song allows for twists and turns, rushes and halts.

“Rains Of Death” is a blasting frenzy, capping the fairly short songs on Side 1, leading to the longer title track. “Rot Of Ages” rakes you over the coals for two straight minutes then abruptly drops into a beautiful solo piano aside, joined by clean vocals – for about a minute. Then the rampage returns, softened at the end by a piano callback.

The flip side has more delights in store, and the energy does not diminish at all. My favorite tracks on the back half are “When The Guillotine Falls” and “Prometheus Unbound,” both because of the way they deliver on expectations while jangling a couple of surprises in the mix. The music here is solid death metal at high speed, clinically structural rhythm, and a whole lot more. Recommended.

Rot Of Ages is out on Friday November 19th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://abscessiondeath.bandcamp.com/album/rot-of-ages-death-metal

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

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

Abscession, Rot Of Ages (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Heads For The Dead veer off their usual path into straight-up horror with their new EP Slash ‘N’ Roll.

Heads For The Dead is a band with an international cast, hailing from Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. The musicians are veterans of the heavy music scene who have come together for this project and have released two previous records, Serpent’s Curse (2018) and Into The Red (2020). The music they create has always had a strong horror and cinematic angle so this new EP might be seen as inevitable. The players are Jonny Pettersson (guitars, bass, and keys), Ralf Hauber (vocals), and Ed Warby (drums).

Slash ‘N’ Roll has three original songs and two covers, all horror-themed. “Maniac” is a playful punk tune cast for a broad audience. “Halloween” begins with John Carpenter’s classic theme from the movie and takes off from there. There is more death metal content in this song than the first but there is still plenty of punk in the corners here, too, along with the recurrence of the cinematic theme. “The Thing” continues the movie title motif and is suitably otherworldly, not to mention ethereal. It also includes a short dialogue capture from the film.

The covers are “Skulls,” originally by the Misfits, and the Ramones’ horror movie theme song “Pet Sematary.” The main beats are there and the songs are recognizable, but there is a profound Heads For The Dead stamp on these renditions. While it might be tempting to think of this set as a disposable one-off, I believe instead that it will become a much sought-after collector’s item in the physical forms. These tunes are a lot of fun for metalheads and they are hitting the street at the exact right time of year. Recommended.

Slash ‘N’ Roll dropped early, on Halloween, so it is out now. Links are below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com/album/slash-n-roll-horror-death-metal

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

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

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Whitechapel, Kin (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Heavy metal stalwarts Whitechapel have created their eighth full-length album, Kin.

It is no accident that Whitechapel rose to prominence in the heavy music world so quickly. At the jump their music carried a uniqueness in theme and an energetic earnestness in expression. The lyrical themes have changed over the years and the music has expanded to cover new and invigorating ground. The band has released seven previous full-length albums, the most recent being The Valley in 2019. The lineup for Kin is Gabe Crisp (bass), Alex Wade (guitars), Ben Savage(guitar), Phil Bozeman (vocals), Zach Householder (guitar), and Alex Rüdinger (drums).

The first song on the album is “I Will Find You” and it starts off like a theme to a western film before taking a sharp turn less than a minute in toward a punishing landscape. Other tracks have a loud voice right at the first note, like “Lost Boy” and “To The Wolves.” Whether it is a race at the sound of the gun or a slow build, every song takes a journey with unexpected encounters and obstacles to overcome.

Stand-out tracks for me include “The Ones That Made Us” for its dooming nature and mysterious intrigue that soaks the sound throughout, and the title track which closes the set. The clean vocals at the beginning of “Kin” deepen the emotional impact of the song overall and also open the gates for the second movement with its soaring guitar work. It is a bold choice to end the album on this song, one that pays off in welcome closure.

In some ways this new album is reminiscent of the previous one, The Valley. Kin, though, is more than a reflection of the earlier work, and it is more even than a continuation of it – it is an expansion into broader realms, the nature of which can only be understood through time and experience. Recommended.

Kin officially drops on Friday, October 29th through Metal Blade Records. Enjoy a promenade through the many aspects of format versioning and merch at the links below.

Links.

Whitechapel website, https://www.whitechapelband.com/

Bandcamp, https://whitechapelmetal.bandcamp.com/album/kin

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

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

Whitechapel, Kin (Metal Blade Records 2021)

An Unction In Braille, The Wordless Whisper (2021)

New England metal band An Unction In Braille release their inaugural EP, The Wordless Whisper.

The band has been coming together since about 2012. The music is a melodic-esque combination of death metal, metalcore, and grindcore – light on the melodic. While that description does cover a lot of ground, the music itself has a recognizable focus in its combinatorics. The musicians are Robert Meroski (guitar), Josh Veck (vocals), Kieran Beaty (guitar), Wes Welch (bass), and Jacob Lindquist (drums).

There are five tracks on the EP, each weighing in at radio length. The opener, “Catharsis,” is built around a discreet elemental sounds that stand together in order to create a collective front. The tips and ranges make ideal sense in the context of the subject. “Of The Dead” goes next and dashes off in a different direction altogether. There is a coarseness to the syncopation that oversteps the fundaments just enough to keep you guessing. And then “An Inch From Death” has a structure that seems almost linear compared to the first two; a very death metal approach to the ideas.

“Sickening Sweet” shows the most melodic movements on the set, all the while surrounded by pile driving percussion and staccato riffs. The final track is “Dark As Black.” There is a vileness in the vocals that would go nicely in a black metal tune. Here it both competes with and complements the barely contained other-raging pylons of musical construction. These songs do leave you a little unbalanced after listening to them, an effect that is surely deliberate and calculated. When I am listening to An Unction In Braille I am hearing something different from the off-the-shelf music I sometimes come across, and I like it. Recommended.

The Wordless Whisper is out on Friday October 29th on CD and digital. The omnipresent Bandcamp is a good place to pick it up.

Links.

An Unction In Braille website, https://www.anunctioninbraille.com/

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

Bandcamp, https://anunctioninbraille.bandcamp.com/album/the-wordless-whisper

An Unction In Braille, The Wordless Whisper (2021)