Druid Lord, Relics Of The Dead (Hells Headbangers 2022)

Druid Lord conjures deep decaying darkness with their third full-length album, Relics Of The Dead.

Druid Lord has been haunting the catacombs for more than ten years. After the initial long-player Hymns For The Wicked in 2010, the band released a string of splits and a couple of EPs before the most recent full-length, Grotesque Offerings (2018). With a focus on the morbid and horror in general, the themes of the compositions are what you might expect from a doom-laden heavy music band so named. The Metal Archives records the band members as Elden Santos (drums), Pete Slate (guitar), Tony Blakk (vocals and bass), and Chris Wicklein (guitar).

There are six long songs and two transition tracks on the new album. The style is doom and death metal played both in alternating passages and as crossover experiences. “Relics Of The Dead” is a delightfully dreary requiem that drags your spirit through the muck. The following track, “Thirteen Days Of Death,” unsurprisingly, offers no sunshine. The song rolls out in a funeral procession, with heavy, hopeless vocals and slow, churning guitars. The pace becomes spritely after a couple minutes, but that does not elevate the mood. An excellent, depressing song.

I really liked “Festering Tombs,” I must say, with its nice lead flourishes and a driving, dooming intentionality. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Mangled As The Hideous Feed” as well – it is a song more well-titled than most. The album wraps up on “Monarch Macabre,” a beautifully rendered cinematic story of unrelenting darkness. The final bow is a short uscita that sounds like a creepy invitation to play the album again. Which I did. This one is a keeper. Recommended.

Relics Of The Dead is out on Friday, January 21st in digital, tape, and CD formats through Hells Headbangers. A vinyl version will follow in the coming months.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://druid-lord.bandcamp.com/

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

Hells Headbangers Records, https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/

Druid Lord, Relics Of The Dead (Hells Headbangers 2022)

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)

Funeral Mist, Deiform (NoEvDia 2021)

Deiform marks the fourth long-player from Swedish black metal stalwart Funeral Mist.

Daniel Rostén is the singularity behind Funeral Mist. Playing all the instruments and vocalizing the performances, Rostén is the master of the creations that result. Working with a black metal foundation, the music on the new album is aptly described in the press release as “… musical pieces contemplating the nature of divinity and mortal existence through the fiery lens of black metal.”

There are seven tracks on the new album, mostly quite long with four hovering around the nine minute mark. “Twilight of the Flesh” offers chants and a solitary guitar as an opening incantation, followed by steady, driving rhythm and an emergent theme. The ritual feel cannot be ignored. Halfway through, the music explodes in rampaging aggression. In the final quarter a dramatic, theatrical pall consumes us as the distant voices come back into orbit. It is a mesmerizing song.

One of the shorter songs comes next, “Apokalyptikon,” and it is delivered at a blistering pace with vocals coming in a manic mechanic voice. It is sharp and biting; industrial. Someone opens a door and the next song is “In Here,” matching the speed of its predecessor. The resolution of the track is very odd and disturbing. The pairing of children’s voices with black metal tropes in “Children of the Urn” destabilizes the ground you stand on, leaving you unprepared for the fury of “Hooks of Hunger.” I needed to sit down after this one.

The final two songs, together running over eighteen minutes, are the title track then “Into Ashes.” The music is at first a doom-soaked journey seeking hoary wisdom, and it is a treacherous path. These two pieces go together in my mind, the earlier one being more discernably narrative and the latter taking on an aura of inevitability. The music on this album is full-strength black metal told in a tongue I have not heard before. Recommended.

Deiform is out now through Norma Evangelium Diaboli. In the US, Bandcamp has the digital, CD, and vinyl versions.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://funeralmist.bandcamp.com/album/deiform

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

NoEvDia, https://www.noevdia.com/

Funeral Mist, Deiform (NoEvDia 2021)

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

The live album from sludge masters Beldam is an historical artifact of doom and despair.

This is one from the archives, recorded live at The Golden Pony in Harrisonburg, Virginia on January 8, 2017. Beldam is a band that started out in Charlottesville, Virginia and has moved around since then. In a mere three years they released two impressive albums, Still the Wretched Linger (2016) and Pasung (2018). The new one was captured in between these releases and completes a menacing triptych.

There are five looming tracks on the album. The first three are from Still the Wretched Linger, “The Foundling,” “From Grave To Cradle,” and “Needles.” From the opening bars that rise over the cheering crowd you get an intimate feeling of being in the room surrounded by the dark energy. The weight of the guitar and impenetrable bass is immense. The warbling, wandering lead guitar and searing vocals press the air from your lungs in the opener, and the music only gets heavier from there. The pace ranges from dead slow and absolutely crushing to pounding and assertive — the latter is particularly notable on “Needles.”

The two final pieces originally appeared on Pasung, so they are being performed here to promote that album. “Vial of Silence” sounds like it was recorded in a torture chamber that never closes.

“That Which Consumes You” identifies the burdens of life that wear on us and tells the story in an eerie, dank kaleidoscope of torment. It is an experience.

I would like to hear more music from this band but if the internet is to be believed, the future is uncertain. We do have the two studio albums and now this live musical artifact. Recommended.

Live At The Golden Pony is out now from Horror Pain Gore Death productions on CD and digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-golden-pony

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

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

Mordom, Cry of The Dying World (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

Doom duo Mordom play for the hopeless and the dead on their new album Cry of The Dying World.

Max Hoffman and Nathan Gonzalez got together a couple years ago to lay down music outside of the band Cessation, calling the project Mordom. They released their first album in 2020, Eternal Solitude – it contains two long tracks, each with multiple movements. The new album has a similar set-up with three long pieces and a surprising fourth.

I was expecting to hear funeral doom given the work of Cessation, and the opening track, “Narcosis,” fulfills that promise at the gate. Slow, somber, heavy music that is quiet at first. The big riff and grating vocals drop to shake the world but the pace does not quicken. About four minutes in there is an explosion, a sort of seizure where the instruments and vocals erupt in a massive thrashing. Then back to the funeral. There are more explosions, an ambient section, and an even creepier element right at the end. Solid crushing doom with landmines and flashbacks.

“Betrayed” is a little more on the traditional funeral doom side in that it begins with the louder heavy. The pace quickens and there is a beautiful acoustic movement in the middle that leads to a melancholy guitar before bringing back the heavy. “Fire” is the shortest song on the album at only five and a half minutes. It is also a ballad with clean, gentle vocals and acoustic guitar. I did not see that one coming. It is an interesting choice and it fits right in with rest of the music in the set.

The final track is “The Mausoleum.” This epic composition runs nearly eighteen minutes and I could have listened longer. The combination of unusual percussion (for funeral doom), acoustic passages, ambient moments, and shrieking black metal interludes all housed in the firmament of the heaviest doom metal speaks to my musical predilections. This is a great album and I am looking forward to more from Mordom. Recommended.

Cry of The Dying World is out now through Transylvanian Recording. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/mordom-cry-of-the-dying-world

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

Mordom, Cry of The Dying World (Transylvanian Recordings 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)

Bog Wizard, Miasmic Purple Smoke (The Dregs Records 2021)

Midwestern heavy doom act Bog Wizard roll the dice on a new record, Miasmic Purple Smoke.

Bog Wizard is a stoner trio from Michigan. And not Detroit but up in hinterlands of Ludington – north, west, and cold. Ben Lombard (vocals, guitar), Harlen Linke (percussion, vocals, synth), and Colby Lowman (bass) channel their own interests in heroic fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons into smoky musical doom. Their Campaign EP came out in 2018, followed two years later by From The Mire and then a split with Dust Lord, Four Tales of the Strange. The new one is the band’s second longplayer.

There are four meaty tracks and two bite-sized ones. “Barbaria” fronts the set with deliciously clodding doom riffs. Slow, heavy, and whimsical, the simplicity of the music allows for quick absorption. “The Rogue” follows like a gliding galley loaded with menace and bad intentions. It has a faster tempo and more of a grinding sense to it, and a long, welcome cool-down. “Grim Dark” is one of the short pieces that puts a nice unsettling bump on side one.

The title track leads the second triplet, kicking off with an Iommi-inspired riff and an excellent vocal pairing. Truly, the voices are the telling remark throughout this song, with a couple of extra-fuzzy divergences. “Stuck in the Muck” is a transitory tantrum that is a lot fun heading toward the closer, “The Void Beckons.” Synths and a funeral doom guitar welcome you in to a mystical world dripping with deep dark dankness. It is the longest trip on the album and it is a thoroughly satisfying journey.

You don’t have to be a D&D fan to enjoy this music. It is great slow, old school doom with some keys mixed in and just the right attitude. Recommended.

Miasmic Purple Smoke is out now. Take a deep drag at Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

The Dregs Records, https://thedregsrecords.bigcartel.com/

Bog Wizard, Miasmic Purple Smoke (The Dregs 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)

Apostle Of Solitude, Until The Darkness Goes (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)

The sixth studio album from Indianapolis doom band Apostle Of Solitude is the their best yet, Until The Darkness Goes.

Since 2004, Apostle Of Solitude has been producing doom in a melodic vein. Clear vocals and heavy, guiding guitar riffs characterize the unmistakable sound they have zeroed in on over the years. The new album is a fitting follow-up to the well-received From Gold To Ash (2018), going even further down the road of solitude. The band is Chuck Brown (vocals, guitar), Steve Janiak (guitar, vocals), Mike Naish (bass), and Corey Webb (drums).

There are six tracks on Until The Darkness Goes, together totaling old school album length. There are many different lanes for doom metal, as any connoisseur knows. In the melodic doom space, Apostle Of Solitude has few rivals. Listening to the first triplet of songs – “When The Darkness Comes,” “The Union,” and “Apathy In Isolation” – there is no way to overlook the soaking despair and loneliness in the beautifully dark and heavy music. The honesty and integrity of the sentiment is infused in every note, and calls out clearly in the vocals. The regularity and reliability of the rhythm is essential in driving home the story and the feeling and message of the music.

“Deeper Than The Oceans” is the most compelling track for me because it includes not only the standard-bearing vocals and rhythm set up but it also houses memorable lead guitar passages. Following it is the instrumental bridge “Beautifully Dark” and then the closer, an epically-framed song of sorrow, “Relive The Day.” It is a downer, this final song, but then this is a doom album and it is exactly the right way to end. Recommended.

Until The Darkness Goes is out now. Gather it up at Bandcamp or through one of the other links below.

Links.

Website, http://apostleofsolitude.com/

Bandcamp, https://apostleofsolitude.bandcamp.com/album/until-the-darkness-goes

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

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/store/

Apostle Of Solitude, Until The Darkness Goes (Cruz Del Sur Music 2021)