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)

Viande, L’abîme dévore les âmes (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

The debut full-length album from Viande is a contentious black metal rendering, L’abîme dévore les âmes.

Viande began in France nearly ten years ago. They have released a demo and an EP in the interval, so the recorded material is not large – making the new long-player an important event for fans. Membership in the band is something of a mystery with the musicians preferring to get by on an initial rather than a full disclosure, preserving a sense of the uncanny. The musical style is, generally speaking, black metal. This category is known for brutal renderings and you can put Viande on the rough side of the room as far as that goes. The songs are savage and loud, fierce and tearing.

L’abîme dévore les âmes (in English, “the abyss devours souls”) holds eight tracks. The first song of an album is usually either a signal or a warning. “Les Dents Du Gouffre” is both. It is a red flag of terror showing clearly that devastation lies ahead. This is monstrous, eerie black metal that lays a blade against your throat while it brings an iron hammer down on your skull.

If, like me, you don’t speak French, pass some of these titles through an on-line translator and you’ll get a quick idea of the themes: “La Tombe Avide,” “Traitre A La Vie,” and “Le Souffle Des Os.” True enough, these notions are not exclusive to Vainde and they are regularly deployed by black metal bands, and other purveyors of extreme music. Here, however, the essence is treated differently, with greater attention to otherworldliness, to eldritch lore, at least in the feeling of the composition. Dramatic ambient and doom-heavy passages allow dread to soak through to your bones and siphon off your breath steadily, deliberately, completely. Each songs is a new terror.

If you like dark metal with a poisonous attitude and no regard for the stability of your state of mind, then this album is for you. Recommended.

L’abîme dévore les âmes is out on Friday, April 15th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Have a look at the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/viande666/

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

© Wayne Edwards.

Viande, L’abîme dévore les âmes (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Qaalm, Resilience & Despair (Hypaethral Records 2022)

Los Angeles doom band Qaalm present their debut full-length album, Resilience & Despair.

Qaalm was formed in 2017 and gelled over the ensuing years. The new album brings together two songs released as singles in the past couple of years along with new music not published before. The musical style is along the line of funeral doom, with expansions and explorations that combine to form a more animated whole. The band is Pete Majors (vocals), Henry Derek Elis (guitar), Brock Elmore (guitar), David Huet (bass), and Dave Ferrara (drums); cello performance by Kakophonix.

There are four long tracks on the album. Each demonstrates incredible depth and spatial awareness, and each is very different. “Reflections Doubt” constructs a beautiful, melancholy soundscape. The croaking vocals at three and a half minutes are a shock, and they take on a distinct life as Pete Majors continues to evolve his vocalizations throughout the song. Melodic singing combines and extends the narrative ideas, and the guitars and rhythm grow larger and become fiercer. Ebb and flow follows, casting you adrift and periodically rippling your serenity.

“Existence Asunder” begins on the wind. A distant menace makes itself known through the cavernous environment. The darkness is dense and beautiful in the classically formed funeral doom passages. In “Cosmic Descent,” the initial tones land more hopefully, while clearly breathing melancholy. The guitars are an active force, and belief in a possible positive outcome fades as the misty cloak thickens toward the inevitable end.

“Lurking Death” is the final composition on the album. Clear vocalizations stand first, signaling demise. The path is replete with sadness and splendor, recollections and horrors. The dark beauty of the music on this album is overwhelming at times, and fans of funeral doom and melodic doom will feel at home here. Recommended.

Resilience & Despair is out on Friday, April 15th through Hypaethral Records digitally and on vinyl. Trepanation Recordings will have CD and cassette editions.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://listen.hypaethralrecords.com/album/resilience-despair

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

Hypaethral Records, https://hypaethralrecords.com/

Trepanation Recordings, https://trepanationrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/resilience-despair

© Wayne Edwards.

Qaalm, Resilience & Despair (Hypaethral Records 2022)

Abhorrent Expanse, Gateways To Resplendence (Amalgam Music /Lurker Bias 2022)

The debut album from Abhorrent Expanse is a heavy music exploration that challenges accurate description: Gateways To Resplendence.

Abhorrent Expanse is an “avant/improvisational metal quartet” that combines a variety of ideas to form unusual heavy music shapes. This manner of musical creation often has hit-or-miss outcomes with listeners and not much middle ground. Essentially, you have to listen yourself and see what you think. Recommendations are of little use. On this set, the band is Luke Polipnick (vocals, guitar), Erik Fratzke (guitar, bass, keys), Brian Courage (bass, organ pedals), and Tim Glenn (drums, percussion).

It has been said in the promo materials that this album “articulates the unspeakable dread which dwells in the sepulchral caverns of the mind. A grotesquely improvised manifesto plumbing from the depths of blackened death, funeral doom, noise, and free jazz, it defies the listener to decipher its riddles and confront its paradoxes.” I was looking out for all this while I listened. My ears were up for funeral doom especially. It is all in there.

Remember the first time you heard Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma and you read the title of the song “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” and then you listened to the music and wondered what the fuck the one thing had to do with the other? Same thing here, except with a mad mash-up of heavy music ideas.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the quite short to the more-than-fourteen-minute variety. Black Metal lives here and emerges on a recurring basis in the longer pieces. The improvisational jazz aspects come up on the regular as well to clap your ears. There are two big pieces – “Annihilation Operators” and “Arcturian Nano Diamonds from the Tranquil Abyss” – along with a considerable collection of interstitial material. The big events are complex and fascinating. They take you through all manner of emotions and experiences. Strap in because they are a ride.

Of the shorter tracks, I especially like “Frost Suffocation” as it feels like the title is happening to you while you listen. It is hectic and frightening at times, and also has long passages most drear. Excellent. Also, “Against the Churning Void, Apparitions of a Lost and Glorious Starscape,” which I found quite lithe with deepening edges.

This is certainly not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and heavy music fans searching for the edges of the genre will like the journey, too. I am always up for an adventure so this one gets a recommendation from me.

The story unfolds on Friday, April 8th through Amalgam Music on CD and digital, and Lurker Bias has the cassette. Check out the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://music.amalgamusic.org/album/gateways-to-resplendence

Lurker Bias, https://lurkerbias.bandcamp.com/

Amalgam Music, https://www.amalgamusic.org/

© Wayne Edwards.

Abhorrent Expanse, Gateways To Resplendence (Amalgam Music /Lurker Bias 2022)

Weedevil, The Return (Abraxas Records 2022)

Weedevil presents dark stories told in doom on their first full-length album, The Return.

From São Paulo, Brazil, Weedevil is Flávio Cavichioli (drums), Lorraine Scar (vocals), Dani Plothow (bass), Paulo Ueno (guitar), and Bodão (guitar). The records show that the band has been releasing material for only a couple of years, with two EPs and a live album already out. The Return is their first long-player, and it is solid through and through.

The new album includes five huge slabs of doom. First up is “Underwater.” It is a steady heavy beat that seems at first slightly softened by Scar’s vocals until you realize what she is singing about. The music matches the desperation of the narrative and complements the turn towards dark power that occurs. “The Void” follows and grinds on you like pyramid stones being dragged up a ramp, forcing down the weight of history and reality on your being.

“The Return” has a deep-seated witching feel to it. To wit, “Offer me green grass and accursed men’s head / I will keep the beast away, if I’m well fed.” The circumlocution reinforces the powerful chant and the spell sinks ever deeper in. On “Isn’t A Love Song” the approach is more melodic but the messaging does not stray far from grim tidings, even with the beautiful piano in the finish.

The final track is “Genocidal.” It has an impressive tall-wall presence in the guitars and a creepy, disturbing whistling at the front. As with every track, Scar’s vocals are a center point, and a place of return. This song is the most determined, grimmest conclusion in a set that has been full-force doom all along. It is a welcome end that has you turning back to start at the beginning and experience it all over again. Recommended.

The Return emerges on Friday, April 8th in digital through Abraxas Records, with vinyl to follow from DHU Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://weedevil.bandcamp.com/album/the-return

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

DHU Records, https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Weedevil, The Return (Abraxas Records 2022)

Misfire, Sympathy For The Ignorant (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Chicago thrash trio Misfire let loose their debut MNRK Heavy long-player on April Fools’ Day, Sympathy For The Ignorant.

Misfire is Jay Johnson (vocals, guitar), Sean Coogan (vocals, bass), and James Nicademus (drums). The band came together just a few years ago, and the musicians have been plying their trade for some time, despite their youth. Two earlier EPs provided source material for the full-length at hand, and signaled concretely the direction the music was going. This is thrash metal infused with rare spices. The compositions have a bald familiarity but when you listen to Misfire’s music you are immediately aware that you’ve never really heard anything much like this before, taken all together.

“Fractured” is the first song, and it has some of the most creative rhythm and guitar work I’ve heard in a long time featured at the beginning. It is enthralling. After the first vocal passages, a cracking bass line sets up a ripping lead guitar break. It is a combination of mysticism, shallowly buried homage, and cutthroat thuggery. Fantastic.

Every song is a battering, one way or another, for your complicit brain pan. I love the aggression in the vocals on “Red Flag” especially, but of course it is always there, track by track. “War Of Mine” steps out on a doom cadence but breaks that rank almost immediate for full-scale charge, lapsing now and then into groove. And those sudden, exposed bass lines are incredible. A punch and a lurch and a steady trajectory all in the same vicinity.

Whether it is the slow burn of “No Offense” or the pulsing haze of the title track, this album holds nothing back. Recommended.

Sympathy For The Ignorant is on the shelf Friday, April 1st through MNRK Heavy.

Band photo by Wombat Fire.

Link.

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

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

MNRK Heavy Records, https://mnrkheavy.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Misfire, Sympathy For The Ignorant (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Mortify, Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow (Chaos Records 2022)

Chilean death metal band Mortify release their second full-length album, Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow.

If you type Mortify into the search bar at The Metal Archives you will get a list of twelve bands. You are looking for the one from Concepción, Chile. Formed in 2013, they have a demo, an EP, and a previous long-player, Mortuary Remains (2017), under their belts. The new album delivers on the notched-up expectations created by their previous work. The band is Alonso Villar (drums), Benjamín Araneda (guitar), Cristian Fuentes (guitar, vocals), and Diego Gonzalez (bass).

There are twelve tracks on the new record, including a couple of filaments. As a concept, “Beneath The Emptiness” has catastrophic implications, and so it is a good way to start off. Actualized as it is in Mortify’s song, the depth and reach of the possibilities are realized. The croaking vocals and syncopated percussion blend in seamlessly with the black magical guitar intertwists. It plays directly into the hands of the following track, “In The Amorphous Path,” which is pure villainy. The dark musical rapture here chokes the life from any tentative pulse that might have hitherto remained. Do not be fooled by the lyrical passages – there is no full and true escape.

Short pieces like “Fragments” can even tip you over. It seems serene but just past halfway through, something goes awry and you start to wonder what you are hearing – or more directly: what does what you’re hearing mean. You can think about it deeply or shallowly and you’ll get a punch either way. Just a different kind of one, depending.

There are many stand-out tracks even among the general excellence of the set. “Mindless” is an instrumental piece and it is also a stone cold killer. “Contaminated Echoes” is one I still think about, with its homages to earlier metal and its rambling roughness. You should put this album in your listening queue immediately. Recommended.

Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow is out through Chaos Records on digital and CD on Friday, March 25th.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/fragments-at-the-edge-of-sorrow

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

Chaos Records, https://www.chaos-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Mortify, Fragments At The Edge Of Sorrow (Chaos Records 2022)

As The World Dies, Agonist (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

UK death metallers release their debut album, Agonist.

As The World Dies came together very recently, formed by members of the bands Memoriam and Pemphigoid. They play a brand of heavy metal that will smash you senseless with its integration of classic elements and contemporaneous existentialism. This new album is riveting. The musicians are Jay Price (vocals), Ash Cotterill (guitars, vocals), Bill Richmond (bass), Chris McGrath (drums), and Scott Fairfax (guitar).

“Annulment” cracks the egg with a splendid swelling approach that warms the engines for the first full-on assault. Second is “Desolate,” and it is a paint peeler that strips your selfness away. The death metal cataclysm pulls back now and then to give you a minute to assess the damage but not long enough to really do anything about it. I don’t know if “Dawn Of Terror” is meant to strike fear in your heart with its opening bars, but it certainly is ominous. The vocals are similar to the previous track but – you can hear the similarity – somehow here they are eerier.

“Red Death” allows an understanding wall of doom explain to you from the start what the situation is going. Melodic in a way, it is also as heavy as the boulders of the Titans and it works an effective tempo shift into the set. Bringing forth “The Tempest” at this juncture is the perfect selection because the groundwork has been laid for fear and drama. This one could be my favorite track, but it does have strong competition.

With this record, you never can fully anticipate what will be next. You get into a place where you are ready for it based on the music you have already heard, but each new track has a critical menace you didn’t know you would hear. The bitter end is the band’s namesake, “As The World Dies.” If you are going to name a song after yourself, you need to step it up a notch. Think about the bands that have done that successfully – it is a harrowing list. This time it definitely works. The growling vocals and crushing guitars on display here will easily stand the test of time.

The debut album from As The World Dies is an exceptional introduction for a band with a promising future. It is death metal with a doom influence and a confident, steady attitude. This album is an early 2022 winner. Highly recommended.

Agonist appears on Friday, March 25th from Transcending Obscurity Records. Check out the label’s US store website or Bandcamp at the links below to see all the variants and merch available.

Links.

As The World Dies website, https://www.astheworlddies.co.uk/

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

As The World Dies, Agonist (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Stricken, From A Well Of Emptiness, A Stygian Serpent Born (HPGD 2022)

Heavy doomers Stricken shake the Seattle mist off to throw out a new long-player, From A Well Of Emptiness, A Stygian Serpent Born.

Stricken materialized in the Pacific Northwest around 2017, releasing a three-song demo the following year. Sometimes described as blackened doom metal, their music sounds more like a death metal / doom metal crossover to me – but what’s in a title anyway? The songs are heavy and grim in the best possible way. The Metal Archives tells us the musicians are Rob Ropkins (bass and vocals), Chris Wozniak (drums), and Nick Charlton (guitar).

Over the course of seven big tracks, Stricken puts suffering, misery, and hopelessness to music. To wit, the aptly titled opener “Consuming Misery” is an avalanche of mourning. Surprisingly peppy percussion channels the heavy riffs into a primordial swirl. “Divine Appointment” follows with shuddering drama. Ropkins’ vocals are strong, and project a soaring quality. You have to admire the consistency and enthusiasm of the pummeling rhythm.

“Sacrifice” is the heaviest song of the first side, and that gives it an elevated position in my mind. I can’t get enough doom, and this one lays down three strong merciless minutes of it then picks up the pace a bit and steamrolls on.

Every track has something particularly notable about it from the great buried hook in “Eon” to echoing tragedy of “Dishonored In Death” to penetrating inevitability of “Sudden Fall.” The closer is the epic “Beyond The Void,” hoisting metal heavy enough to smother any remaining resistance from you. This new Stricken album needs to be in heavy rotation. Recommended.

From A Well Of Emptiness, A Stygian Serpent Born is out on Friday, March 25th through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions on digital and limited-run CD. You can also grab a shirt if the spirit moves you.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/from-a-well-of-emptiness-a-stygian-serpent-born

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/stricken.seattle

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

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Stricken, From A Well Of Emptiness, A Stygian Serpent Born (HPGD 2022)