Transcending Obscurity Sampler (2021)

It is a new year so that means a new label sampler from Transcending Obscurity.

This label has released some of the best heavy around. In 2020, FFMB covered several of their albums including the amazing Jupiterian, Heads For The Dead, and Revolting releases. 2021 has just as much promise, and the music that has already been announced will freeze you in your tracks.

The sampler itself has 38 songs on it and it is absolutely massive – some songs are a full album side, like “Reverential Silence” by Arch which runs 15:30 and “Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” by Eremit that goes for more than 18 minutes. The breakdown by genre according to the label is: Tracks 1-22 – death metal/grind/crust, Tracks 23-26 – technical/brutal death metal, Tracks 27-33 – black metal, and Tracks 34-38 – doom/sludge metal. There has to be something here you like. And it is all new music. Check out the full list at the link below.

The sampler is available now and it is FREE – name your price at Bandcamp (link below). How can you pass on this? You can’t. Highly recommended.

Link.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/2021-label-sampler

Transcending Obscurity Sampler (2021)

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

The debut LP from Fort Worth metal band Frozen Soul is the merciless application of Old School Death Metal in the creation of a soundtrack for demise.

The band has only been releasing music for a couple years, with two splits, an EP, and a single leading up to Crypt Of Ice. They are OSDM in orientation, and for some reason they remind me a little of Tomb Mold, one of my favorite new(er) bands, except less frenetic and more deliberate. Expect blast beats and heavy rhythm circling the wagons around haunting growls. The band is Chad Green (vocals), Samantha Mobley (bass), Michael Munday (guitar), Matt Dennard (drums), and Chris Bonner (guitar).

The music has a grinding, heavy power to it. There is not a focus of lead breaks and whirling speed. Rather, Doom elements live in the metal here, bringing down the tempo and pushing the relentless riffs into focus. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Merciless,” and it is the perfect example of this, with a plundering, crushing weight towards the end that was set up by fierce first half. The song then leads into “Encased In Ice,” which very much feels like being surrounded by the thick walls of a glacial tomb for almost two minutes before the tempo picks up and stabs an ice pick in your brain. There is a flowing wave here. The wandering musical variegation is not random or haphazard – it is a compositional deliberation on the dark themes brought out in the album. The result is exceptional metal delivered on a frozen silver platter. Recommended.

The new album is out now and available widely from any place that carries Century Media Records products. Also, link below. Lots of versions and merch are out there if you are so inclined. Bandcamp has the earlier EP Encased In Ice if you are interested in that – it is also really good.

Links.

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

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

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=2323

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Dublin Doom trio Dread Sovereign sets a raging fire with their third album, Alchemical Warfare.

The driving force in the band is Nemtheanga, known otherwise as the vocalist for the band Primordial. He started Dread Sovereign some time back, releasing an EP in 2013 followed by two LPs, All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom The Bell Tolls (2017). Joined by JK (Johnny King) on drums and Bones on guitar, there is an urgency to the music on the new album, unmistakably circling the chasm of Doom. The vocals are mostly clear, and the themes walk the Black Metal road. The band’s motto is “the world is doomed,” and the theme is a through-line explained this way: “The subject matter and aesthetic are particular to the three characters on the front cover of each release, the time travelling trio who appear on the debut flaying Saint Bartholemew, on the second album hanging Sarah Wildes Averill in Salem and now as lab assistants to Isaac Newton as he tries to discover the secret of Alchemy.” The songs are sinister odes from dark moments in history.

There are seven tracks (four of them over eight minutes long) with an intro piece and an intermission segue. That intro sounds a little like swirling bells and whispering dark witches casting spells. “She Wolves of the Savage Season” then picks up the doom and slams it back down. The frenzy gets really whipped up on “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” with its pressing riffs and pleading vocals. There are also extended guitar passages here, in this song and well distributed throughout where the narrative concepts are given musical form. “Her Master’s Tomb” is almost a Doom ballad while “Devil’s Bane” rips and roars and finishes with a raging shred. The album wraps on a single-length banger, “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)” – they decided to go out swinging with a heavy punk punch. This is an great album, front to back. Highly recommended.

The full album drops on Friday, January 15th and preorders at Bandcamp will get you two tracks now while you wait for the week to end. Metal Blade Records has CDs and vinyl if you want to go that way.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/dreadsovereign/

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

From Jyväskylä, Finland, John The Baptist forge forth into the masses of heavy music listeners with their first full-length release.

The band has been around since 2015 and has released a demo, a split, and a single. This current self-titled effort is their biggest album so far, and it is loaded to the top edge with loud, heavy doom.

The musicians use stage names, and apart from Facebook do not have a large social media presence. That leaves us without an enormous amount of information to pass on. On their Facebook page, they say this: “Our music is slow and heavy like the rumblings of the earth. Our message is grand and grim.” OK, that does narrow it down some.

There are six massive tracks on the new album, and heavy they are indeed. The short one is nine minutes long, and the long one runs fifteen so there is a lot of listening to be had. The style is straight-forward doom, without any muddling. There is no pretension in the music and they seem to play what  they feel, offloading their interests in patient, thundering riffs. The first track, “Deluge,” is a perfect example. It opens with a solo guitar, laying down the fuzz in slow and deliberate sheets for a minute and a half before being joined with even more heaviness. The vocals are earnest and not distorted. There are tempo shifts and sonic variations; theme turns and compositional confluences and diversions are plentiful. Nevertheless, on every track, there is no mistaking the doom, culminating in the most comprehensive statement with the anchor piece, “John The Baptist.”

John The Baptist is available now on Bandcamp (link below). No word yet on whether there will be a CD or vinyl release, so don’t wait for that. Hear them now. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://jtbdoom.bandcamp.com/album/john-the-baptist

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

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/johnthebaptist-doom

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 3 (Kinda Like Music 2020)

Clouds Taste Satanic releases Volume 3 in The Satanic Singles project.

To recap…This New York instrumental metal band is peopled by these fine persons: Steve Scavuzzo (guitar), Rob Halstead (bass), Greg Acampora (drums), and Brian Bauhs (guitar). For years on end they have been producing their unique brand of vocal-free doom (and doom-adjacent) heavy music, typically in long form. Recently they decided to shift gears a bit a put out a series of shorter cover pieces as singles, leading to a collection early in Spring. The latest installment has just appeared.

Volume 3 has two tracks. On Side A we find the Pixies music “Cecilia Ann / Rock Music” from Bossonova and Side B is “Blew” by Nirvana, from the Bleach album. This sourcing is from 1990/1989 and that was a crazy time, huh? I remember what I was up to then, but you don’t have to in order to get down with the CTS covers. If you have never heard the original songs before then this is just some great new music to you. I do know these songs well and still, just like with the tracks from Volume 2 of The Satanic Singles, I like these new instrumental doom versions better.

I am still very much loving this series. Highly recommended.

Bandcamp has Volume 3 right now so jump on it if you want the physicals.

Links.

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

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/5QidF8yXlvTyGkDy24JImY

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvVu8mcXrE2eVjq_ApcGBmw

Overview Article on Clouds Taste Satanic, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/07/a-quick-look-at-clouds-taste-satanic/

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 3 (Kinda Like Music 2020)

Mother Of Graves, In Somber Dreams (Wise Blood Records 2021)

The new EP from Indianapolis metal band Mother Of Graves is a melancholy shovelful of crossover Doom.

The musicians are Thomas Hunt (bass), Don Curtis (drums), Ben Sandman (guitar), Chris Morrison (guitar), and Brandon Howe (vocals). They are a new band with a lot of experience and a couple of singles under their belt. In Somber Dreams is their first EP. According to their Bandcamp entry, the band is “[n]amed after a mythological Latvian protector of cemeteries (Kapu māte)[.]” Their style is along the Melodic Death metal range, and the vocalizations bring classic Swedish bands to my mind. The music is heavy and serious in tone, relying on rhythm and synchronous constituents to mold a finished product.

There are four tracks on this inaugural release. “In Somber Dreams” is an introduction to the general bleak perspective of the music you are about to hear. It sets the stage and dresses it in funeral attire. “Nameless Burial” adds a voiceover to further the narrative depth of the incantation, ultimately devolving into disorder with a tinkling off-center piano and destabilized sonic surges at the end. “The Urn” is a mood piece with undulating utterances, doleful exertions, and an undeniable gothic tailwind. Finally there is “Deliverance,” lodged into my head as a soft and twinkling, with an insisting bass line and a tempo that picks up nicely three and a half minutes in.

The band says they are working on a full-length album and I am really looking forward to that. I have listened to these four songs a couple times and they are hanging with me, telling stories and making promises. I want to see where this all goes.

In Somber Dreams is out tomorrow in digital, cassette, and CD forms. Grab one for your very own at the Wise Blood Bandcamp page. Recommended.

Photo of the band snagged from their Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://wisebloodrecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-somber-dreams

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

Mother Of Graves, In Somber Dreams (Wise Blood Records 2021)

The Day Of Doom (Magnetic Eye Records 2020)

The tenth anniversary celebration of Magnetic Eye Records was captured live and is available now in a deluxe package.

In November 2019, Magnetic Eye Records held a concert to honor ten years of music with nine of their roster artists performing. The four headliners – Elephant Tree, Summoner, Horsehunter, and Domkraft – were recorded for posterity and that music has now been released. You can get the full sets separately, but I recommend the big hardcover art book version that includes four CDs, one for each set. Here are some tech specs: Elephant Tree, seven songs, 40 minutes; Summoner, seven songs, 38 minutes; Domkraft, six songs, 45 minutes; Horsehunter, four songs, 45 minutes.

It is a colossal amount of Doom and all four performances are exceptional. I have not seen any of these bands live, but I am a big Elephant Tree fan from their studio work so that is what drew me to this set initially. I have listened to all of them twice now and they are going to be spinning again in the office here before too long. Highly recommended.

Bandcamp links are below for each separate band. The art book version is available directly from Magnetic Eye. Some versions might be out of stock or sold out, but you can always get the digital. And these sets are also on streaming services (I know Spotify has them for sure) so you can listen there first if you want to get a better idea of what it is all about before dropping some coin.

Links.

Magnetic Eye, https://us.merhq.spkr.media/artists/various-artists/various-artists-day-of-doom-live-book-4-cd.html

Horsehunter, https://magneticeyerecords.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

Summoner, https://summonerboston.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

Domkraft, https://domkraft.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

Elephant Tree, https://elephanttreeband.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-day-of-doom

The Day Of Doom (Magnetic Eye Records 2020)

Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns (Cursed Tongue Records 2020)

Switchblade Jesus lets the aggression run rampant on Death Hymns.

My frame of reference for the Corpus Christi trio Switchblade Jesus is their 2013 self-titled album (later released by Ripple Music in 2015). That music leans heavy into the Stoner and Doom tracks, with an often bluesy and desert lilt. Great album. Death Hymns is much faster in overall pace, and harsher, having a noisier, Death Metal feel to it. The band is Eric Calvert (guitar and vocals), Chris Black (bass), and Jonathon Elizondo (drums, percussion, and synth).

First two tracks leap out at you with open antagonism, breaching any sense of security you might have had going in. “Scorched” has an ambient hum that is threatening enough at its start and, a minute in, the power kicks up. Paired with “Red Plains,” we are served a continuous front of sharp punches and heavy pushes. The next two songs draw from the Doom well, even with “Behind The Monolith” opening on a tear and riding it for the first half of the track. “Death Hymns” is introspective and infused with echoes.

The last three songs find the fuel to keep the rage going. “Forgotten” is heavy and doomy in the riffs, filled with harsh vocals, and mined by narrative captures. “Behemoth” is a roaring banger that holds a dark and sinister whirring lead break for the end. “The Blackened Sun” closes the show, and here the vocalizations reach farther than seems reasonable. This album is very different from the band’s earlier long-player, and all the shifts and moves land perfectly. Highly recommended.

The digital version of Death Hymns is available now, as is the CD. Vinyl starts to flow late in January and can be preordered now from Cursed Tongue Records directly or through Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://switchbladejesus.bandcamp.com/album/death-hymns

Website, https://switchbladejesus.net/

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

Cursed Tongue Records, https://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns (Cursed Tongue Records 2020)

Draconian, Under A Godless Veil (Napalm Records 2020)

After a five year gap, Draconian gives us a solemn gothic album of sadness and reflection.

From the small town of Säffle, Sweden, the band coalesced from the art and intention of local musicians Johan Ericson, Jesper Stolpe, Andy Hindenäs, and Anders Jacobsson. Modulating a melodic Death Metal sound with a somber Gothicism resulted in a specific land of Doom that Draconian has helmed ever since. The sound has changed somewhat over the years, and so has the lineup, from time to time. The new album is particularly gloomy and less heavy than earlier sets. Following 2015’s Sovran, this is the second album with singer Heike Langhans, and her influence on the music has strengthened.

There are ten tracks on the new album, ranging from radio length to nearly nine minutes. Langhans’ beautiful, haunting voice is the preëminent element in the pieces, surrounded by layers of synth and guitar and juxtaposed with Anders Jacobsson’s gruffer singing. From “Sorrow of Sophia” to “Ascend Into Darkness,” shadows and demise are made alluring and unavoidable by the voluptuous Gothic entrenchment of the compositions. The music is uniformly infused by a dark forest mist of emotional hunger is unrelenting, encompassing, consuming. There are songs that have stronger Doom elements, like “Moon Over Saboath,” where the mood is more sinister and eerie, but they are in the minority. In the main, these songs come across to me as more human than fantastical. If the guitars have diminished somewhat on this album the impact of the music has not. Recommended.

Under A Godless Veil is available now – see the links below for the digital, physical, and merch.

Links.

Draconian website, https://draconianofficial.com/

Draconian Bandcamp, https://draconian.bandcamp.com/

Draconian Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/draconianofficial

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/draconian/

Draconian, Under A Godless Veil (Napalm Records 2020)

Three Eyes Left, Legione (Delomelanicon Records 2020)

Italian Doom veterans offer Legione here at year’s end, the fifth longplayer in their catalogue.

While they might not be as well known in the US as they are in Europe, Three Eyes Left have been on the scene for more than ten years. Want to know a little more about them, like where the band name comes from? Here is a bit from their Facebook page that explains it. “Three dancing eyes chasing the night idol, a sound bending at the magical sphinxes of times ready to explode in millions of vivid and dying butterflies. A needles storm enveloping more distant minds’ sleep to fecundate the first handmaid’s ancient womb. A psychic and interrupted rock, a multitude of words weaved together with a string made of stones and gems. Three eyes left is the dance before the word and the word before del colour, and now waits for the harvest refulgence to gather and offer the livid germ of its roots.” OK?

The music is Doom, certainly. Three Eyes Left do a lot of the same things you see with other bands, but the end result is very different. The vocals alternate between coarse and clean, which is not uncommon, but the gruff singing here is toward the Death Metal end while the more melodic work has a very heavy blues feeling to it. The guitar parts are loaded with heavy riffs, sure, but there are surprising layers cooked in there and the music takes unpredictable directions. It is a different experience from the run-of-the-mill heavy we often encounter.

The album is nine tracks, running more than an hour. There is a Black Metal attitude in there, and a desert wanderlust. This new album rounds out a trilogy – I suggest listening to it backwards, starting here. See how that goes down.

Legione is out now on digital platforms, with hardcopies to follow in due course. Expand your horizons if you have not heard Three Eyes Left before and lend them your ear. Recommended.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/3eyesleft

Delomelanicon Records, https://www.facebook.com/delorec/

Three Eyes Left, Legione (Delomelanicon Records 2020)