Predatory Light, Death And The Twilight Hours (20 Buck Spin 2022)

The second full-length album from Predatory Light will shatter your expectations about technical blackened doom: Death And The Twilight Hours.

It has been six years since Predatory Light released their self-titled debut long-player. That is a tough wait for fans, but they have truly come through on the new one, which is one of the best albums I have heard so far this year. The musicians in the band seem to prefer going by initials alone, so we don’t know that much about them, except what we can discern by listening to their compositions. When we do we find elements of black metal, doom, and technical expressions that cannot be achieved by just anyone. The alchemy they practice is rare indeed.

“The Three Living And The Three Dead” is like a walk through a deadly carnival. Bright lights and dark delights splash at you at first, but eventually you see deeper in and the doom descends. The metal does not relent despite the nearly fourteen minute running time. This is a decadent suite of sinister wonders. The next track, “Wracked By Sacred Fires,” is very different in tone and execution, even though the first bars seemed like a callback. It is more explicitly in the black metal mold, and still the differences that Predatory Light own are astonishing. The music is aggressively engaging, but not with hooks or even riffs, really. Still, it is the construction of the guitar parts that pushes the songs to the next level.

“Death And The Twilight Hours” rolls out the doom at the front with sweeping, lead-heavy riffs and ponderous percussion. A minute and a half deep, the growling comes in and that indefatigable guitar, asserting and claiming new ground. The doom does return but does not overtake the established reality for long. And then there is the final track, “To Plead Like Angels,” which commits at the jump to pace and ingenuity. This exceptional album surprised me at every turn, on each and every one of its four tracks. Excellent. Highly recommended.

Death And The Twilight Hours is out today, Friday, May 20th through 20 Buck Spin. The quick snap is Bandcamp, and you can also get it at the label’s website. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/death-and-the-twilight-hours

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

© Wayne Edwards

Predatory Light, Death And The Twilight Hours (20 Buck Spin 2022)

Assumption, Hadean Tides (Sentient Ruin 2022)

Death-doom metal band Assumption return with a tale as old as time on Hadean Tides.

Beginning ten years ago in Palermo, Sicily, Assumption is a doom metal band that works with death metal intonations and classic metal influences to produce thought-provoking and sometimes esoteric heavy music. The release of a demo and subsequent EP lead finally to the debut full-length album Absconditus in 2018. Hadean Tides is their second long-player.

The concepts behind the music are indeed hoary and mysterious. The band comments about it on their Bandcamp page as follows. “‘Hadean’ is the informal name given to the first geological era of our planet. It can be seen as a non-time of continual accretion, liquefaction, destruction and dissolution of a barely formed globe. Today only a few, 4+ billion years-old zircons from the Hadean have been found. These represent a silent witness to a mysterious eon that no sentient being would ever endure, in no way, on a physical plane. This ancestral magmatic dimension, intertwined with the symbolic influence of poems by William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Stearns Eliot and Rainer Maria Rilke … informs the ideas, sounds and intentions contained within this new album.” If you are looking for meaning, this is the place to start.

The music is as advertised: doom and death metal. In the slower, doom-oriented moments that dominate the album, the compositions place size and scale in priority positions, ladling drama heavily upon the boiling stew. This is evident from the very beginning with “Oration” and is demonstrated repeatedly throughout. “Submerged By Hadean Tides” is created particularly adeptly, lacing classic metal homages in the layers and building mighty walls with granite riffs. “Daughters Of The Lotus” is set at a funeral doom pace in its first half. At the five minute mark the music breaks loose in an overwhelming flood energetic emotion, then folds back into the doom. Darkly, beautifully done.

“Breath Of The Dedalus” is a mood piece, and what a dreary mood it sets with the effective use of eerie choral. “Triptych” is creepy and bizarre, with spare, clear spoken words that stands in contrast to the usual gruff vocalizations on the record. The final song is the fifteen-minute epic “Black Trees Waving.” It is an unsentimental journey into the abyss of distant time. The expressed ideas cling to you as they roll along, laying claim to your attention and consciousness. It is a wakening experience. Highly recommended.

Hadean Tides is out on Friday, May 20th. Many formats are available from Sentient Ruin Laboratories in the US and Everlasting Spew Records in Europe. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://assumption.bandcamp.com/album/hadean-tides

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

Sentient Ruin Laboratories, http://sentientruin.com/main

Everlasting Spew Records, https://everlastingspew.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Assumption, Hadean Tides (Sentient Ruin 2022)

Bog Body, Cryonic Crevasse Cult (Profound Lore 2022)

Bog Body brings forth their first full-length album, Cryonic Crevasse Cult.

Not your typical death metal band, Bog Body is made up entirely of vocals, bass, and percussion generated from two musicians. Putting out a demo in 2018, Through the Burial Bog, and a split with Primitive Warfare in 2020, The Gate Of Grief, you might wonder if they have anything else to say. It turns out that’s a yes.

Think about it for a minute. Bass and drums and vocals. Is that enough? It is certainly a lane, and the limiting choice of instruments narrows the avenues for expression. Then again, it requires the composers to be especially creative if they are to achieve anything fans want to hear. I think they have done it.

The music is death metal, heavy on the sludge, and it leans toward black metal sentience, metered down a bit. The bass lines are doing some heavy lifting here, as you might expect. Speed comes from the percussion first in the absence of guitar, and the bass line keeps up. The vocals exist in a muted blackened doom metal realm.

There is a welcome variety in the music as we roll through. “Ice Stained Kurgan” has a deep, mysterious formulation to it, while songs like the title track are high velocity poundings. The set opens on “Paralytic Pit of Swallowed Graves” and closes with “The Graveyard Of Dead Cratons,” two songs that, musically, stand well apart. Indeed, while “Paralytic” is a mood-setter and serves to orient expectations for the rest of the album, “Graveyard” is my favorite track for its firm stance on its own identity. The commitment to heavy music is present throughout, and I can say no other band sounds quite like Bog Body. Recommended.

Cryonic Crevasse Cult is out on Friday, May 20th through Profound Lore Records in digital and on CD.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bog-body.bandcamp.com/

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

Profound Lore Records, https://profoundlorerecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Bog Body, Cryonic Crevasse Cult (Profound Lore 2022)

Blasphematory, The Lower Catacombs (Nuclear Winter 2022)

New Jersey death metal band Blasphematory drive up the demons on their second album, The Lower Catacombs.

Blasphematory came together by happenstance, the story goes. After compiling a demo, they released the full-length Depths of the Obscurity as a duo in 2019. Expanding the line-up by fifty percent, the sound honed in to what we hear today on the new album. It is classic death metal with notable doom leanings and an ear for perpetuity. The band includes veteran musicians Joe Aversario (bass, guitar, vocals), Chris Warhead (drums), and Tom Deceiver (guitar).

Seven savage tracks make up the new set. “Cruciform Shadows” begins with what sounds like a warning – a creepy, warbling ramp that peels off to reveal the shaggy darkness behind the veil. “Unclean Eulogies” is transportative, welling up in deliberation and with purpose, and slow-stomping the black earth with massive musical paws. “Key to the Furnace” steps back a touch, lays in on the grind then ramps up the tempo. This opening triad shows clearly the world you have ventured into by dropping the needle.

There is much to admire in every corner of this record. “Perpetual Despair” is heavy doom, sounding very much like it indeed comes from the lower catacombs. It is my favorite track on the album, the crushing hopelessness is what appeals to me. “Flooded Graves” has a feeling of deep mystery to it in the melody and in the rumbling percussion. And then there is the title song. “The Lower Catacombs” is the longest track and the anchor to the set. You feel the weight of the world – and the underworld – descend upon you from the very beginning. New looks and perpetrations roll over you as the music continues, and you want it all to happen. The guitars are mournful and unrepentant. The vocals deep and unwelcoming. The music is murky dank darkness. Recommended.

The Lower Catacombs came out on Friday the 13th through Nuclear Winter Records on digital, CD, and vinyl. You can get it now.

Links.

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

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

Nuclear Winter Records, https://nuclearwinterrecords.com/shop/

© Wayne Edwards

Blasphematory, The Lower Catacombs (Nuclear Winter 2022)

Cauchemar, Rosa Mystica (Temple Of Mystery 2022)

Canadian heavy metal band Cauchemar release their third full-length album, Rosa Mystica.

Cauchemar is from Québec and have been together since 2007. They have a very traditional metal approach to their music that works as a starting point. From there they steep their work in doom and manifest fascinating creations. They released an EP in 2010, La vierge noire, followed by two long-players, Tenebrario (2013) and Chapelle ardente (2016). Each new album is a step toward the vanishing point as the band hones its sound and compositional constitution through comparative gradation. The new album is their best so far. Cauchemar is Annick Giroux (vocals), François Patry (guitar), Andres Arango (bass), and Joël Ladouceur (drums).

There are eight tracks on Rosa Mystica, beginning with “Jour de colère.” The opening bars are menacing, turning toward the mysterious. About one minute in, the guitars kick in, lifting the discourse to pursuit, and now we are on an adventure. Giroux, singing in French, facilitates a dark mood in a misty wood. “Rouge sang” follows and is ambitious at the jump, with immediate accelerant in the tempo and urgency in the vocals. “Notre–Dame–sous–Terre” is ponderous, accentuating the doom aspects and elements Cauchemar does so well. It is a beautiful, dark treatise.

Listening to the first few songs, I had Fates Warning flashbacks, and maybe Omen, from the 1980s. Also Demon. That is good for me because I love that music. What is particularly different about Cauchemar’s music that lifts it beyond homage is the integration of doom and their unique compositional perspective, as in the title track, for example. Juxtapose those ideas with more active and ranging songs such as “Le tombeau de l’aube” and then the album, taken as a whole, has a more profound impact. Recommended.

Rosa Mystica is out today, Monday, May 16th through Temple Of Mystery Records. You can pick it up at Bandcamp or through the label’s website. Links below.

Band photo by Chany Pilote.

Links.

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

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

Temple Of Mystery Records, https://templeofmystery.ca/product-category/cauchemar/

© Wayne Edwards

Cauchemar, Rosa Mystica (Temple Of Mystery 2022)

Wo Fat, The Singularity (Ripple Music 2022)

The seventh album from Texas stoner doom band Wo Fat is a world of its own, The Singularity.

Wo Fat hit the ground running with their first album The Gathering Dark (2006). It is legendary now, and it set the stage for a blistering run of records including Psychedelonaut (2009), Noche del Chupacabra (2011), and The Black Code (2012). The band plays psychedelic stoner doom rock that sounds like it was anointed by the cosmos. The new album is another chapter of astonishing guitar-based music that beguiles the listener and holds them in its sway.

The new album has seven big tracks, with a run time averaging over ten minutes each. You can hear “Orphans of the Singe” in the distance. As the music gets closer, you bend toward it and fall in. Down the rabbit hole. This is desert groove jam music; sounds that way to me. There is magic here, the kind that coalesces from nowhere just as the sun is disappearing beyond the horizon. Incredible jams over inspired rhythm. And then some.

I don’t know how it is possible to be so engaging over such a range with this level of endurance. It just keeps getting better as you listen. Skipping ahead a couple of tracks (about twenty minutes or so), “The Unraveling” claps its sinewy hands on you and gives you a good shaking. It is an up-tempo, high energy push. “The Witching Chamber” follows and you feel enchanted but not inveigled. Riffs bigger than the Mississippi is wide form an encampment where you could live for the rest of your days if you wanted.

How could there be more? Then the title track queues up and you know that you are still in it and the journey is not over yet. “The Oracle” ends the set on a sixteen-minute parable of psychedelic swamp doom that has no peer and faces no rival. The musicians have a breathtaking command of composition, improvisation, instrumentation, and elevation. I feel bad for anyone who has not heard this album yet. Highly recommended.

The Singularity is out now through Ripple Music. Check them out on Bandcamp or the Ripple site. What you should really do is subscribe to Ripple Music on Bandcamp – if you had done that, you would have The Singularity already.

Links.

Website, https://wofat.net/

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

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

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Wo Fat, The Singularity (Ripple Music 2022)

Slowtorch, The Machine Has Failed (Electric Valley Records 2022)

Italian stoner metal band Slowtorch have a new record out this week, The Machine Has Failed.

Slowtorch came together around 2005. They rolled out at a measured pace, releasing a series of EPs leading up to their debut long-player, Serpente (2014). The new album is their first since then, so fans have been waiting awhile. The style of music they play is a kind of heavy stoner, groove-driven affair that has a lot of crossover appeal. The band is Fabio Sforza (drums), Matteo Meloni (vocals), Bruno Bassi (guitars), and Karl Sandner (bass).

The album starts out on a heavy groove with “Hammerhead.” The hook alternates with a bob while Meloni’s voice floats around it all. The shifts sometimes have a GZR feel to them, and I do see where the Clutch comparison might come in. It is a high-energy pop with a heavy riff. “Book Of The Dead” has a darker, slower, heavier weight to sling around, and that makes a lot of sense given the title. Singable repeaters predict this one will be a fan favorite. “Man Vs. Man” comes on and I am thinking this party might never slow down. This track has the first dedicated lead guitar work, too.

“Behold” has melodic moments and the most concentrated doom delivery on the album. “Kraken” brings the big monster energy, and “Sever The Hand” takes the tone toward noir with a hectic chop. “Charger,” then, is a big power push and a relentless riff that will grind you right off the cliff. The title track raises the tension to set up the closer, “World Behind My Eyes.” This final song has an attractive clomp to it – the kind of thing that has enormous jam potential and could be expanded live to go on for ten minutes it the band wanted it to. This is great outdoor festival music. Recommended.

Electric Valley Records has the vinyl, along with digital, out on Friday, April 29th. Pick up your favorite variant while you still can.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://slowtorch.bandcamp.com/album/the-machine-has-failed

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

Electric Valley Records, https://www.electricvalleyrecords.com/products

© Wayne Edwards

Slowtorch, The Machine Has Failed (Electric Valley Records 2022)

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

French progressive doom band Epitaphe head off into new territory with their sophomore long-player, II.

Epitaphe began as far back as 2009. They released a demo in 2018, and their debut full-length album the following year, appropriately titled I. The musical style has elements of progressive death metal and funeral doom, usually rolled out in long movements. The first album had more of the latter, while this new one relies less on funeral doom. There is no mistaking that it is the same band, however, and the fans they have gathered so far will be grandly fulfilled by the new music.

There are three tracks that hover around the nineteen minute mark, plus an introductory movement and an outro. “Sycomore” begins the session sweetly, leaving you completely unprepared for the full-on assault that is “Celestial.” The ravaging brutality of this blistering metal affront is complicated by melodic vocals that materialize only to be devour by course growls. There are reinforced shocks throughout and, eventually, you can sense that disruptions are in the offing but they always still startle you when they hit.

“Melancholia” dives in with percussive creations that are tectonic, elemental. The compositional structure flattens out at times, allowing familiarity to lull you toward the ordinary, but it never stays that way long enough to give a firm footing. You only think you know what is next. This middle portion is my favorite of the set, and I especially appreciate the lead guitar work and, later, the funeral doom.

“Insignificant” recalls the intro piece with its initial gentleness, like a minstrel who has wandered into a dark, sinister forest and only slowly begins to realize what has happened. The metal here has a theatrical feel to it, and a sense of story is strong throughout. “Merging Within Nothingness” is a short cooldown. How you feel about it will depend on how you experienced the rest of the album. For me, I had a moment to realize, at least partially, the significance of what I had just listened to.

There is an arc here. Listening from beginning to end is more important with this album than with many. The full procession is the way to go. Highly recommended.

II is out on April 11th in digital, on CD through Aesthetic Death, and Gurgling Gore has the cassette.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Gurgling Gore, https://www.gurglinggore.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Nonsun, Blood & Spirit (Dunk!records 2022)

Ukrainian band Nonsun release their second full-length doom album, Blood & Spirit.

From Lviv, Ukraine, Nonsun has been creating doom metal for more than ten years. The musicians go by Goatooth (guitar, keys, vocals), Alex (bass), and Alpha (drums), and they have released a couple of EPs plus the full-length album Black Snow Desert (2016/18). Recorded over several months from 2017-2020, the new album, Blood & Spirit, covers fresh ground while maintaining the basic principles the band has established in their earlier work.

Regarding the new music, the band remarks, “The album title refers to spiritual struggles through the bloodiest of times. The five tracks, in a sense, are yearnings, or prayers, thrown into the void. What doesn’t kill you… Does it make you stronger? Or leave you even more crippled? When all magic is gone… Is wisdom worth a thing? It’s about raising questions rather than giving answers. As the rational mind [and] willpower fail, a spiritual quest begins.”

Most tracks are over ten minutes long; the shortest nears eight. Each has its own identity and exists alone. “A Wizard Grieving Over the Loss of Magic” opens the set with beautiful, quiet longing. Even when the guitars drop, the powerful wave of sound is still beautiful. The piece is moody, and reflective, demonstrating musical notions that match perfectly the emotions of the character in the title. In “That Which Does Not Kill” the sounds are dire at the front, dripping dread and fiery warning and signaling a manifest catastrophe. You might see a glimmer of light toward the end, but you would have to be an optimist to make it out.

“Days of Thunder Bring New Wisdom” offers extended moments of mantra-like refrain. Toward the middle there is chaos and confusion, followed by a long march out. “Guilt, Disgust, Disaster” strikes a surprisingly buoyant tone at the start that becomes terribly serious and regretful. Later in the song, the music is positively frightening. There is a sort of serenity that is reached near the end, but it has come at a cost.

The final song is “In Your Eyes I’m a Cripple.” To my ears, this music is the saddest of all. The quietude is no respite and I welcomed the louder, more active passages. It is a fitting end to this excellent set. Doom fans and those who appreciate touches of avant-garde and post-metal will find treasures here. Recommended.

Blood & Spirit is out on Friday, April 15th on digital at Bandcamp and elsewhere. A vinyl version is being released through Dunk!records. On the band’s Bandcamp page, they write: Please consider supporting Ukraine in these dire times: standforukraine.com and linktr.ee/HowToHelpUkraine2022

Links.

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

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

Dunk!records, https://dunkrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Nonsun, Blood & Spirit (Dunk!records 2022)

Mistcavern, Into Twilight (Iron Bonehead 2022)

Dark metal band Mistcavern foist musical menace upon the world with Into Twilight.

Mistcavern is a heavy metal band from Hungary. Formed a few short years ago, their first demo was released in 2019, Winds Of Misery. They are back now with a “mini-album,” which I will call an EP, of four songs. The musicians use stage names and the band is composed of the sturdy arrangement of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, deploying keys liberally as well when the need and desire arises.

“Towards the Eclipse” opts for an eerie opening, quiet and distant; swelling. There is a dank stillness that is fostered, surrounding the action with a thick fog. A slow, weighty base is interrupted by screeches and sudden shatterings, destined to return to solemnity. “The Shielding Twilight” begins with a roar, setting it immediately apart from the opening track. The music is determined and speeding, swollen with ill intent. Upon this realm silence breaks, and reverent music awakens. The feeling turns toward cavernous night and plays there for the duration.

“To the Starless Domain” poses an early question about existence with a short-lived, echoing intro. Familiar fast-paced black metal standards take over and wash you in the threat of terrible violence. With “Dissolving in Infinite Despair” the title is realized immediately and never lets up in the slightest. Throughout the song you feel as if heavy, thick liquid is rising around you with the clear intent of both crushing and drowning. The sensation is all-consuming.

This Mistcavern set is a mystical field of dark wonder. If you let it saturate you, you will receive the full effect. Recommended.

Into Twilight appears on Friday, April 15th through Iron Bonehead Productions in digital, CD, and vinyl. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://mistcavern.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Iron Bonehead Productions, https://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/

© Wayne Edwards.

Mistcavern, Into Twilight (Iron Bonehead 2022)