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)

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 2021)

The second Crystal Spiders album, Morieris, is an even bigger deal than the first.

The duo Crystal Spiders released their first long-player just last year, Molt. I listened to that album as recently as two weeks ago. It has been on my mind ever since it came out. There is just something about the music that mesmerizes and lingers in your mind. The phrase “highly anticipated” doesn’t really capture my state of mind leading up to the drop date of the new album, Morieris.

The band is Brenna Leath (bass) and Tradd Yancey (drums). Joining them for the session on guitar is Mike Dean. There is also a guest appearance by High Priestess Nighthawk of Heavy Temple on cello.

The first song of the set starts out spacey and groovy, leaning into the mystery with hypnotic vocals and spell-casting guitar. That’s the title track. “Septix” comes next and lays a commanding bass up front to set the stage, turning into a rambler after ninety seconds or so – the perfect accompaniment for a drive down a dark country road at night alone.

“Harness” brings the doom and then shifts to high-test. The middle section of reflective solo work is a breath before the charge starts again. Indeed there is a lot of up-tempo music on this album, offering an excellent balance to the more ethereal passages. “Pandora,” for example, is a two minute rager that perfectly sets up the epic “En Medias Res,” a song that takes all the time it needs, offering desert overtones and tantalizing strings over eight sumptuous minutes.

“Maelstrom” and “Golden Paw” are the final two songs, the former being a super fuzzy, adrenaline-fueled spectacle and the latter a contemplative cool-down. Having heard Molt we might have been able to anticipate the general form on the new album but we could not have known its breadth and depth. Morieris is excellent in every way – concept, composition, and execution. Highly recommended with no reservations.

Morieris is out now through Ripple Music. Bandcamp and the Ripple store are linked below. You know how this works – the physicals often go fast so if you are a collector you want to jump on it.

Band photo by Marissa Straw.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://crystalspiders.bandcamp.com/album/morieris

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/crystal-spiders-morieris-deluxe-vinyl-editions

FFMB review of Molt, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/09/28/crystal-spiders-molt-review-ripple-music-2020/

Crystal Spiders, Morieris (Ripple Music 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)

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

The debut full-length album from Nefariym tears open the fabric of musical reality: Morbid Delusions.

Coming together only two years ago, Melbourne, Australia’s Nefariym was created by veteran metallers Mark Kelson and Richie Poate. The music can generally be thought of as Death Metal with the duo’s own novel twists with plenty of Doom and Sludge in the mix as well. There have been a couple singles released by the band but this album is the first deep journey fans can listen to and assess.

The album contains an intro piece, nine new songs, and a cover of a metal classic. The first full track is “Succubus” and the band comes out blasting with a monstrous adrenaline-fueled assault from every instrument. Black/Death Metal hybrid vocals give the song the perfect tinge. “A Morbid Delusion” follows and it is another ripper – a high speed conundrum for your brain that’ll need a minute to process. The production lays together the rhythm with the vocals with a harmony guitar line that fills the entire available space, while an early lead break sounds like a madman railing against the injustices of existence.

Toward the end of “A Morbid Delusion” the tempo slows a bit and provides a perfect segue to “Tearing Flesh From The Bone” which has an excellent Sludge/Doom essence. This is my favorite track for its sheer heaviness and the unforgettable refrain. Throughout the album the alternating between high-tempo songs and slower doomers is enthralling. I found the entire set captivating, including the cover of Celtic Frost’s “Circle Of The Tyrants,” which both provides an anchor for the album and delivers an homage. Highly recommended.

Morbid Delusions hits the streets on Friday September 24th through Inverse Records.

Links.

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

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

Nefariym website, https://nefariym.com/

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=939

Nefariym, Morbid Delusions (Inverse Records 2021)

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Austin, Texas heavy metal band Witchcryer offer up a new set of songs filled with beguiling incursions.

Witchcryer has its origins in the upper Midwest with guitarist Jason Muxlow and saw its completion a little farther south with Javi Moctezuma (drums), Marilyn (bass), and Suzy Bravo (vocals). There is a heavy doom in the atmosphere and desert rock in the stylings. But then, see, the vocalizations often come in from another realm entirely, and there are transitions you wouldn’t expect from a doom or desert rock band. So this then is Witchcryer, its own category. Their inaugural album, Cry Witch, set a high bar and the new one, When Their Gods Come For You, sails right over it.

There are eight songs on the album and every one of them has its own way of taking you over. The clomp and wallop of “Hellmouth” is quantitatively mesmerizing. When the vocal enters it seeks your ears like an shaman’s ayahuasca chant. “Nemesis, The Inevitable” is a deadly serious declaration delivered with such surety it is almost matter-of-fact, as if this statement of intent has already happened. It’s right in the title, I guess: inevitable.

“The Devil & The Deep Blue See” lures with a mystic enheartening almost solemn in nature while “I Rise!” is a full-force charge at resistance, ending in conquest and victory. And then there is the title track which anchors the set. It begins gently, patiently. The music builds hypnotically, unnoticed until you start to feel the walls shaking around you. Quiet again, and then another swell. Suzy Bravo makes everything believable, her every word, and Jason Muxlow seals the story with mesmerizing guitar work. When Their Gods Come For You is definitely one of the best desert-doom-heavy-dark-blues-metal-rock albums of the year. Highly recommended.

Out now from Ripple Music, you can catch up at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/when-their-gods-come-for-you

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

Ripple Music, https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/product/witchcryer-when-their-gods-come-for-you-deluxe-vinyl-editions

Witchcryer, When Their Gods Come For You (Ripple Music 2021)

Spirit Adrift, Forge Your Future (Century Media Records 2021)

The new EP from Spirit Adrift stokes the flame of perseverance with the rumble of heavy metal.

Spirit Adrift has made the most of the few years the band has been around, releasing four full-length albums since 2016, most recently 2020’s Enlightened In Eternity. The band has built a reputation for reliability and continues to produce straight-ahead rock and roll for the growing and ever-loyal fan base. I saw their live performance at Aftershock in Sacramento a couple years ago and it is certainly one of the most memorable parts of that festival for me. There is a grit and determination in the stage presence you don’t often see. They were there for the music first and foremost and that commitment came through in every note.

There are three songs on the new EP. “Forge Your Future” has a nice doom feel to it with the gentle intro and the heavy riff framing that set up a powerful vocal performance. There is a steady, unimpeded heavy metal force that propels the music forward to its sonic conclusion. “Wake Up” is more active and openly aggressive in posture while still carrying the heavy weight with a guitar-centered attack.

The third tack is “Invisible Enemy,” and it presents an epic attitude and then delivers on that promise. An old school metal structure is the foundation you could rest a battleship on and they use it to set up a big production. Halfway through there is a quiet bridge leading to a renewed energetic charge to the end. This set is another fine addition to the growing catalogue of Spirit Adrift. Recommended.

Forge Your Future is out now, limited to 1,000 units in the physical. There is a digital release as well.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards from Aftershock 2019.

Links.

Spirit Adrift website, https://www.spiritadrift.com/

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

Century Media Records, https://centurymedia.store/product/Y4CE419COMBO/spirit-adrift-forge-your-future-black-lp-digital-download

Spirit Adrift, Forge Your Future (Century Media Records 2021)

The Slow Death, Siege (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Australian atmospheric doom band The Slow Death return with their mournful fourth album, Siege.

The first album from The Slow Death was their self-titled entry in 2008, followed four years later by the aptly titled II. 2015 brought the charmed album Ark, and now Siege. They write and perform thoughtful, deliberate doom, typically in long form. The band is Mandy Andresen (vocals, keys), Stuart Prickett (guitar, keys), Yonn McLaughlin (drums), Dan Garcia (bass), and Gamaliel (vocals).

I would refer to this music as Funeral Doom, although many would find the Atmospheric Doom label more accurate, or perhaps simply more palatable. Given the subjects of the songs, the pace, and the haunting constructions, I am standing by my FD assessment.

There are four tracks on this album, two that are about twenty minutes long with the other two a bit more than half that. The first song is one of the long ones, “Tyranny.” The opening notes have a feeling of transition to them, like something has been happening for a while but we are just now becoming fully aware of it. The music is beautiful and melancholy. The first heavy guitar drop is fairly early in, about a minute and a half, and it raises the seriousness of the established emotion. There is a tempo change and then the first voice is heard, a lovely, comforting vocal and, later, a gruff one, both of which return. The narrative is fairly linear and the music moves with the story toward the solemn conclusion.

“Famine” follows, a shorter work running only about thirteen minutes. Given the title, you are not going in with hopes for a sunny afternoon. Indeed, the story is grim even as the music is compelling an uplifting – at first. The heavy, trouncing guitars and rhythm press in suddenly, conveying catastrophe and doom. Toward the end the inevitability, the fate, becomes clear, and the song ends dramatically.

“Pestilence” is Funeral Doom at the beginning the way I usually think of it: slow, dead slow; utterly hopeless. This track is the other long piece, and certainly it goes through a range of expressions and movements. The beginning passage is the one that stayed with me longest. The final song is “Ascent of the Flames” and it hit me as a sort of cool down – an opportunity to reflect on what has come before and a memorial wrap-up.

I am a fan of Funeral Doom and this sort of music has long appealed to me. As a result, I am always on the lookout for another band I can rely on to set the kind of tone I want to hear. The Slow Death has become one of my regulars and this new album is among their best. Recommended.

Siege is out from Transcending Obscurity Records on Friday, August 27th. Investigate all the possible variations in presentation at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://theslowdeathband.bandcamp.com/album/siege-atmospheric-death-doom-metal

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

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

The Slow Death, Siege (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Acidemia, Podridão (Acid Swamp Records 2021)

The first full-length album from Brazilian Doom Metal trio Acidemia is Podridão.

Acidemia formed in Lages, Brazil, in 2015. According to the press release, the band member are Henrique Pereira Soares (bass, vocals), Mateus Varela (guitar), and Thiago Granetto (drums). They first put out an EP titled Extinction in 2018 and then a live album two years after that. The band’s inaugural long-player, Podridão, shows off their steady determined sound on the big stage.

The music is an integration of dead slow heavy doom with occasional and alternating dissonant elements that produces a unique sound. The opening track, “Névoas de Ácido,” seems at first to be a straight-forward doom set-up but before long it ambles off in an unexpected direction that preserves the dread while elevating the musical discourse.

The focus of the compositions is the rhythm framework and vocals, casting strong foundations before heading off unpredictably toward jagged cliffs and fields and valleys in the heavy music landscape. On “Mórbido,” for example, there is an extended section some might receive as jazz. On the title track, in between the crushingly heavy guitar riffs, there are some mad diversions. Surprises become the norm.

The closer is the twenty-one-plus minute endurance test, “Caximbo.” It might be my favorite track because there is so much going on in it. If does, after all, run the equivalent of a full album side. It shows off both the most ordinary and reliable aspects of Acidemia as well as the strangest ones. If you hear no other track, listen to “Caximbo,” but I think the better thing to do is take the entire set in at once. It is a rare find off the beaten path. Recommended.

Podridão is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is the easiest way to get it.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://acidemiaoficial.bandcamp.com/album/podrid-o

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

Acidemia website, https://www.acidemia.com.br/

Acidemia, Podridão (Acid Swamp Records 2021)

Turned To Stone Chapter III, Wizzerd vs. Merlin (Ripple Music 2021)

Ripple Music’s battle split series Turned To Stone throws down on Chapter Three with Wizzerd vs. Merlin.

The previous Turned To Stone splits are Chapter 1: Enter Galactic Wasteland by Mr Bison / Spacetrucker and Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa by Howling Giant / Sergeant Thunderhoof. These both came out in 2020 and they are magnificent musical pairings. As with Chapter 2, this new release has each band contributing a single song that runs a full side length.

From Kalispell, Montana, Wizzerd goes toward the fuzzy psychedelic realm with their entry, “We Are.” It starts out with forest creatures in the background and an acoustic guitar on its own. It is a slow build from there. Soon enough the electric fuzz kicks in and we are rolling. There are many movements, expansions, and explorations over the course of nineteen minutes. It is a beautiful and curious thing.

Merlin, from Kansas City, Missouri, has a more epic- and quest-like take on their side, “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure.” I got a Grail lore feeling on the opening notes. The vocals are very mysterious and a little disturbing. This one is a trip, too, but of a whole different kind. There is a peppy jazzy break fairly early in the twenty-two minute run and it is an identity that returns. Toward the end the spooky comes back. Well done.

I love this split series because it either introduces me to bands I didn’t know before or gives me new music from bands I already follow. The synergy of the artistic twinning is icing on the cake. Recommended.

This one is out now. On the digital album, there is also a single edit of each song if you are short on time. Check out Ripple Music’s site or Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/turned-to-stone-chapter-iii-wizzerd-vs-merlin

Wizzerd Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/wizzerddoom

Wizzerd Bandcamp, https://wizzerd.bandcamp.com/

Merlin Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MERLIN666

Merlin Bandcamp, https://merlin666.bandcamp.com/

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

Turned To Stone Chapter III, Wizzerd vs. Merlin (Ripple Music 2021)

Old Grandad, Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP (Hectic Records 2021)

Grooving stoner grunge from Old Grandad gets a re-issue.

San Francisco in 1994 is when the band came together. According to the story, “Will Carroll, Erik Moggridge, and Max Barnett created a thrash/death metal-flavored, Sabbath-inspired, Satanic-Floydian, groove-guzzling giant.” That is quite a confluence of influences and when you listen to the music on this re-issue you definitely hear them all.

In addition to the albums in question, Old Grandad produced The Last Upper in 1999 and Hocus Corpus in 2005. After that they were quiet on the recording front until 2019 when a new self-titled album came out. It is great to look back now with this new version of the early work and have a chance to take it all in.

The two albums included here are the first full-length Hectic Records release from 1995 and the 1997 EP. I hadn’t listened to Old Grandad very closely until I put this one on a couple times. It is a fascinating combination of those aforementioned elements, along with a considerable amount of screaming. The guitars are fuzzy, the rhythm is steady, and psychedelia abounds.

It is hard to take the themes seriously with song titles like “The Highs That Bind,” “Blatant Drug Song,” and “Don’t Call Me A Deadhead,” so instead settle in for a good time. I can’t say first-hand whether this music is an artifact of the time and place it was created in and therefore represents the circles Old Grandad moved in back in the day. I bet it does, though, and anyway we can all listen to it now no matter what. Recommended.

This re-issue of Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP is out now through Hectic Records. Bandcamp is the place to go.

Band photo by Lori Higbey.

Links.

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

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

Hectic Records, https://www.hectic.com/

Old Grandad, Vol. 666 ~ OGD EP (Hectic Records 2021)