Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Here it is, the official preview of the upcoming year in heavy music from Transcending Obscurity Records: the 2022 label sampler.

An independent record label headquartered in India, Transcending Obscurity has been quietly growing in catalogue and international reach since its inception in 2005. Now, albums from them routinely hit the top ten annual lists in every heavy music corner of the world. If you are a regular reader of this column then you know a lot about them already because I write about TO all the time as they have been one of my favorite records labels for many years. I reviewed twenty-five of their albums last year for Flying Fiddlesticks – more than any other, nudging out even Ripple Music in the stats.

Hit the links below to see the full contributor list. Bandcamp is the easiest route and that is the place to pick up the collection itself for free. To give you some idea of how it all breaks down, here is the categorization provided by the label for what is included in the sampler: Tracks 1-12 – death metal; Tracks 13-15 – black metal; Tracks 16-30 – dissonant/ brutal/ atmospheric/ experimental death metal; Tracks 30-33 – grindcore; Tracks 34-35 – doom/ sludge metal.

You can tell the music is tilted in the death metal direction, but whatever persuasion of heavy music fan you are, there is a metric ton of music here to enjoy. There are many familiar names on the roster – Wombbath, Lurk, Veilburner, Replicant, Imperlialist – and many more I know less about that I can’t wait to hear. The sampler is massive, and it is free.

You cannot go wrong with Transcending Obscurity. I have been an avid follower of the label for a good long while and I never miss an album they put out because I know the quality is going to be there. Count on reading about many of the records as they come out this year and, meanwhile, grab the sampler and hear what you are in for. And if you like merch, you cannot do better than the product line Transcending Obscurity offers. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/label-sampler-2022

US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Main Website, https://tometal.com/

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

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)

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)

Replicant, Malignant Reality (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

New Jersey Death Metal extremists Replicant hit hard on their second album, Malignant Reality.

Replicant is a trio. They released their first recording in 2016, the EP Worthless Desires, following it up with a long-player two years later, Negative Life. There has been more since then, enough to whet the appetites of fans and wind up their cravings for a longer course. And here it is now: Malignant Reality. The musicians are Mike Gonçalves (vocals, bass, and guitar), Pete Lloyd (guitar), and James Applegate (drums).

Let’s begin at the beginning. In “Caverns of Insipid Reflection” the vocals are often reminiscent of the excruciating emotion of an animal caught in a trap from which it cannot escape. The general dissonance of the compositions and the jarring juxtapositions of the melodic with the noise further the disorientation the listener experiences. “Relinquish The Self” is next and it is a bit more linear but, never fear, it has more than enough crooks and splits to fragment your understanding of what is going on. This song continues directly into “Excess Womb” in a sort of draining extension leading toward a proper stop.

The approach established early in these first three tracks continues, with innovations and explorations cantankerous enough to surprise even the most jaded. Even on the anchor piece, “The Ubiquity Of Time,” unlikely events occur. Quiet at first, like a demented lullaby, the guitars kick you hard in the teeth a couple of minutes in and the vocals grind you up. There is no tactic of evasion that will be successful; there is no escape. Once you start you will be there until the end.

Listening to Malignant Reality is a disturbing and upsetting experience. Recommended.

The new Replicant album is out on Friday, September 10th from Transcending Obscurity.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://replicantband.bandcamp.com/album/malignant-reality-dissonant-death-metal

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

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

Replicant, Malignant Reality (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new album from Diskord is another challenging foray into the wilderness of heavy music.

If you are looking for the usual Death Metal band then Diskord is not for you. Their music comes at you from all sorts of angles, many of which you didn’t even know were there. Formed in Norway in 1999, their first full-length album was Doomscapes (2012), followed by Dystopics in 2012 and now the new one, Degenerations. The band is Hans Jørgen (vocals, drums), Dmitry (guitar, vocals), and Eyvind (bass, electric upright bass, cello, theremin, synth, vocals).

The album begins with two short pieces followed by three common-length songs and a sort of exit ramp for side one after that. The first notes are grating. This sound is joined by a drum roll and a bass line. The music starts to form into a Mothers Of Invention kind of arrangement, then darts off into what sounds a little like Black Metal for a few bars. That sounds chaotic, but I do not think it is. There is purpose here in the mind of the composer even if it is not apparent to the receiver.

The second track is rather discordant, while the third, “Abnegations,” follows a more linear path. The percussion is raucous, as are the vocals, and there is a surprisingly straight-forward lead break about a third of the way through that third track … then entropy. And more entropy across the entire set.

You could put a number of different labels on separate parts of this music but it is difficult to describe overall. Avant-garde, sure, but that doesn’t really tell you much. The music is definitely radical. It might make sense to some listeners – maybe there are those who can put the pieces together in their head into some sort of recognizable whole. For me, I think of it more as an experience I had rather than something I can explain. If you are up for a challenge, give Diskord an ear.

Degenerations is out on Friday, August 13th through Transcending Obscurity. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diskordband.bandcamp.com/album/degenerations-dissonant-technical-death-metal

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

Diskord website, https://diskord.net/news

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

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Muka, Patologija Poniznosti (No Profit Recordings 2021)

Croatian metal band Muka release their third EP for another round of crushing despair.

Formed in Zagreb in 2012, the band is peopled by Ivan Borčić (vocals), Edin Karabašić (guitar), Goran Tatalović (guitar), Stjepan Dianić (bass), and Marin Lelas (drums). Their first album was Svi šute (2014), followed in 2017 by Sveta stoka. The feeling you get when listening to the latest release is that the symptomology continues as before while the execution of the sound has solidified through evolving compositional refinements. Or, more plainly, the praxis is catching up to the theory more and more with each new album.

There are five tracks on Patologija Poniznosti (The Pathology of Humility). The vocals take a moderate death metal posture for the most part, with menacing black metal layers occasionally possessing the spirit of the natural expression. The tempo of songs is variable, with simmering slow, doom-laden moments and recurring eruptions of speed and noise.

The commitment to the form the band has created is admiral. Every song has its own concepts and deliveries, yet they all exist in the maelstrom of the musical environment defined by the constructed ethos of the band’s collective. For example, the straight forward walking riff that pops up in the early middle of the second track seems on the surface to be quite ordinary, but its placement (and existence) is essential in the song, just like the short, naked bass line a minute and a half later in the same piece – it is not repeated, that bass line, not that way by itself elsewhere in the song, but without it there would be a completely different beast to contend with. There is a lot to hear here, so take you time with it. Recommended.

Patologija Poniznosti is available now at the Bandcamp link below. There will be a limited vinyl edition in March as well and it will have a bonus live track, so if you like this music, circle back.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://muka.bandcamp.com/album/patologija-poniznosti

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

Pre-order vinyl, https://noprofitrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/patologija-poniznosti

Muka, Patologija Poniznosti (No Profit Recordings 2021)