Ciminero, Shadows Digging The Grave (Argonauta Records 2022)

The sophomore album from occult doom metal band Ciminero is out now, Shadows Digging The Grave.

From the northern climes of Finland comes Ciminero. Their debut album, Subterranean Awakening, was favorably received in the occult rock and metal community when it was released in 2019. Having now had a few years together, the principals return with a new record that fulfills the promise of its predecessor. Information about the musicians is thin on the ground here in North America, so I will say band might be Jukka Aravirta (guitar), Valentina Vigato (vocals), Paavo Karppinen (bass), and Waltteri Laamanen (drums).

There are nine cuts on the new record, beginning appropriately with “Invoke Me.” It is an up-tempo rock number that has a nice groove and weighty thump. The first blush of Vigato’s voice is enchanting, and her vocals are accentuated by a nice periodic guitar pairing. A pleasant throwback lead guitar break takes us toward the exit. This is a well-executed opener. “Torment” follows. Operating at a slower pace, the doom facets are clearer here, and the more mystical tone fits more closely to my idea of what occult rock might sound like. It is an excellent song with a deceptively simple structure that draws you in and wraps itself around you.

“Ring of Perpetual Insanity” marks a turn toward a journey on a dark path. The molten guitar riffs form an encasing fabric for the vocals to inhabit, move away from, and ultimately return to. The tempo breaks toward the middle and a sense of quest ensues. I am fully committed at this point – the album is solid musically and its themes and temperament are intoxicating. Other stand-out tracks include “The Leaper,” which is a surging wrecker, and “Nettare d’Estasi,” a song that exudes sorrow, at least in my ears. The album is splendid, and Ciminero is a band to watch in the years to come. Recommended.

Shadows Digging The Grave is out now through Agonauta Records. Help yourself at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ciminero.bandcamp.com/album/shadows-digging-the-grave

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

Argonauta Records, https://www.argonautarecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Ciminero, Shadows Digging The Grave (Argonauta Records 2022)

Photo Gallery: Apocalyptica, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Apocalyptica website, https://www.apocalyptica.com/

Blue Ridge Rock Festival, https://blueridgerockfest.com/

FFMB article on Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/06/blue-ridge-rock-festival-alton-virginia-september-8-11-2022/

Ryze-Up Magazine feature, https://www.ryze-up.com/ryze-up-magazine-current-issue/ryze-up-magazine-october-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Apocalyptica, Blue Ridge Rock Festival 2022

Morbific, Squirm Beyond The Mortal Realm (Memento Mori 2022)

Death metal menacers Morbific return with their second long-player, Squirm Beyond The Mortal Realm.

I hear it is dark and cold in Finland, and if that is true then this is the right music for the place. Morbific started only two years ago and is peopled by Jusa Janhonen (bass, vocals), Onni Väkeväinen (drums), and Olli Väkeväinen (guitar). The title of their first album, Ominous Seep of Putridity, is a hint into the sound they produce, but don’t rely on that clue too much. The new record is sludgy and peculiar, layered as it is with both groove and dissonance in musical constructions that seem to delight in their confrontational architecture.

The ten-track set opens on the title song, and it is a lesson in avoiding expectations because there is no way accurately to anticipate what you are about to hear when you drop the needle. The music cracks through hook and groove then into blistering speed and on to peppered crunches with little regard to the disequilibrium that the lack of transition instills. It happens fast, and there is no road map. “Bind, Torture, Snuff” does this too, but you are getting a little balance now having survived the opener. The sour lead break is no surprise when it lands and still it is a delight. The vocals are indecipherable growls. Each and all parts are essential.

The album does require some endurance from its listeners, it’s true, but it rewards them with its originality and verve. Consider “Suicide Sanctum,” which is a low-running rambler and the longest track on the record. Much of it beats at a slower tempo and it is a searching kind of song. It is not an exploration as much as it is a demand for answers, and attitude which foments urgency. Given its extra heaviness, it is one of my favorites. And then there is “Initiation into Oblivion,” the shortest song, which is patient and eerie in the extreme. It is quiet, sweet poison in your ears, leaving completely vulnerable for the next track, “Meth Mansion Murders.” This album is a house of horrors in an unstable dimension. Recommended.

Squirm Beyond The Mortal Realm is out now in digital, and it is on vinyl through Me Saco Un Ojo Records, there is a CD from Memento Mori, plus a cassette version is provided by Headsplit Records. You can have it any way you want it.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://morbific.bandcamp.com/album/squirm-beyond-the-mortal-realm

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

Me Saco Un Ojo Records, https://www.mesacounojo.com/

Headsplit Records, https://headsplitrecords.storenvy.com/

Memento Mori, http://memento-mori.es/store.php

© Wayne Edwards

Morbific, Squirm Beyond The Mortal Realm (Memento Mori 2022)

Black Royal, Earthbound (M-Theory Audio 2022)

The third full-length album from Finland’s Black Royal is heavy enough to flatten the planet: Earthbound.

Black Royal opened their books in Tampere, Finland in 2013. Over the course of several years they released a string of singles and a couple of EPs on the way to their debut long player, Lightbringer, in 2018. Firebride came two years later, and now we have the latest. You could describe the music as death metal or doom, and really it is an enmeshing of these forms with unique other elements that give Black Royal their unrivaled sound. The Metal Archives tells us the band is Jukka (drums), Toni (guitar), Riku (vocals), and Pete (bass).

The opening track is “Earthbound,” a song made of heavy enough metal to smash flat the crustiest obstacle. Huge dooming guitars and coarse growls erect a massive wall of sound that knocks you back. “Ghosts of the Dead” picks up the pace and shakes the dust off with a forceful charge. The song has a sorrowful center surrounded by impenetrable cliffs of metal. “Conjuration” continues the rampage, sounding like a warning we are unlikely to heed. There is a great grooving hook in there that keeps everything moving along at pace.

The entire album has a raging metal pulse. I particularly appreciate “13th Moon” for its solid kicks that just keep coming, and “Bleed Your Soul” as an opposing force for its stark solitude conveyed up front and continuingly even with the chomping rhythm throughout the song. “Queen of the Underworld,” too, is a great doom song. The record ends with “Rite of Passage,” fittingly the longest track of the set. It has a disarming setup and a crushing finish that is satisfying and haunting. Good work all around. Recommended.

Earthbound hits the streets on Friday, October 21st through M-Theory Audio. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blackroyal.bandcamp.com/album/earthbound

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

M-Theory Audio, https://m-theoryaudio.com/home

© Wayne Edwards

Black Royal, Earthbound (M-Theory Audio 2022)

Somehow Jo, Scales And Details (Inverse Records 2022)

The third album from prog rock band Somehow Jo is out this week, Scales And Details.

Formed in 2009 in Tampere, Finland, Somehow Jo is a progressive rock/metal band that brings order from the jam. Their first album, Satans Of Swing, came out in 2015 and Tusk followed in 2018. The band is Christian Sauren (vocals, guitar), Eero Aaltonen (bass), Sakari Karjalainen (guitar, keys), and Lassi Peiponen (drums).

Talking about the process of creating the music for Scales And Details, the press release tells us that the “base material of the album is largely the best ideas selected from the jamming sessions and then worked into ready songs. The lyrical ideas have been written on the basis of images from the song demos.” This certainly sounds like what we might expect from a progressing rock act: music emerging from a process of exploration and refinement.

There are nine tracks on the new album, beginning with “Fata Morgana.” The music is surging and urgent, with melodic arcs that release some of the tension but never lose the sense that you are part of a caravan that is traveling through dangerous country. It reminds me a little of the band Camel on their more energetic songs. “Friend” has a quieter start and a more mysterious posture. Disturbing warbles and straining vocals push the idea of peril to the front of your mind where it sticks. The lead guitar work is compelling; it draws you in. “Cycle” is a demonic hoedown, like if the Squirrel Nut Zippers were a prog band. It is unusual and fascinating, and these first three songs demonstrate an impressive range, building expectations for the rest of the album that are largely fulfilled.

Other tracks that I like especially include “When It Falls,” which is not like anything else in the set, and the final song, “Mirror.” That last piece is particularly encouraging in its tone and construction. I mean, you get a very positive feeling from the music in a way that is quite different from the other songs even though many of the elements are similar. You can think of this album as a journey, or a thoughtful examination, or even a walking mediation. The guitar work is great, and if you are looking for prog metal/rock on the lighter side, this one will do it for you. Recommended.

Scales And Details is out through Inverse Records on Friday, September 16th.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://somehow-jo.bandcamp.com/

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

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/site/

© Wayne Edwards

Somehow Jo, Scales And Details (Inverse Records 2022)

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Morbid Evils unleash a quadrangle of doom on their third long-player, Supernaturals.

Doom trio Morbid Evils began in Finland in 2014, and released their first full-length album the very next year, In Hate with the Burning World. Next there was a split and a live album, record number two hit the streets in 2017, Deceases. After this massive flurry of recorded activity, the studio went quiet for a lustrum. The silence is now broken with what might be the band’s most accomplished work to date, Supernaturals. The musicians are Keijo Niinimaa (vocals, guitars, bass), Jarno Virkki (drums), and Tuomas Varila (guitar).

There are four huge tracks on the new album, averaging about ten minutes each. First up: “Fearless.” The song begins with loud, low drones, distortion, and funeral doom riffs. The vocals are titanic howls, and a guitar line follows along with them for added emphasis. Three minutes in, the pace snaps to a heavy groove and the vocals clarify slightly. A dangerous heaviness continues to abide. These movements trade off to the finish. With “Anxious,” there is a similar set-up, but it is not as dreary. Still brutally heavy, the beast has lifted its head and now sways it like a pained metronome. The slowest moments are deeply haunting; the lead work, revelatory.

“Tormented” opens side two. At less than nine minutes, it is the shortest song in the set, and it has a notably different vitality compared to the ones that have come before. More aggressively hopeless, the lead guitar line breaks into chaos alongside the vocals at midway, then the song resets for the long slope toward the finish. The final song is “Supernatural,” and it is oppressively bleak. With a segment of good death metal chops followed by dark tonal passages and a resolution in devolved hopelessness, this track is the one where the deal is sealed. Supernaturals is an exceptional doom album that will live in my queue for the foreseeable future. Recommended.

Supernaturals is out on August 19th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Look to Bandcamp or the label’s website for the usual wide variety of versions and merch – Transcending Obscurity really is one of the absolute best record labels for collectors in terms of the extensive variety of products they offer.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Corpsessed, Succumb To Rot (Dark Descent 2022)

For their fifteenth anniversary, Finland’s Corpsessed release their fourth full-length album, Succumb To Rot.

Back in 2007, Corpsessed came together in Finland. The Metal Archives tells us that the current lineup is Jussi-Pekka Manner (drums), Jyri Lustig (guitar), Matti Mäkelä (guitar), Niko Matilainen (vocals), and Tuomas Kulmala (bass). Creating death metal along a traditional path in the context of their own interests, the band’s early music had a growling quality to it, as on their EP The Dagger & the Chalice (2011). Later releases like Impetus of Death (2018) are more polished and exploratory, while maintaining the signature sound Corpsessed has been developing all along. There is an apparent trajectory and the new album continues the arc.

There are eight tracks on Succumb To Rot, beginning with the titular song, which serves as a short introduction to the set. “Relentless Entropy” in many ways captures the essence of the album, and, really, the cycle of music that has been in motion for the last few years – an endless, relentless destruction and emergence of something else in its place. You can hear this in the music and you can see it in life and the universe.

There are cavernous passages throughout sponsored by the fabulously dark vocals. Rattling percussion and battering rhythm always return at pace to give you skull a good solid crack. Songs like “Spiritual Malevolence” are sinister in their brooding darkness, measured out carefully and then dispensed with aggression. Tracks like “Sublime Indignation,” on the other hand, have a more upfront ferocity with periodic easing and even the occasional groove in there for a bit.

Closing on “Pneuma Akathartos,” creates a powerful anchor for the album. All the music is heavy, of course, but this track has the most finality to it in my ears. It is grievously dreary, dark and treacherous. Make sure you hear this album now because it is going to be talked about for a long time to come. Recommended.

Succumb To Rot is out on Friday, April 22nd through Dark Descent Records.

Links.

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

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

Dark Descent Records, https://www.darkdescentrecords.com/shop/

© Wayne Edwards.

Corpsessed, Succumb To Rot (Dark Descent 2022)

Muddy Moonshine, Are We There Yet (Secret Entertainment 2022)

Swamp rockers from Finland, Muddy Moonshine, release their sophomore album, Are We There Yet.

You read that right: swamp rockers from Finland. Are there swamps in Finland? Absolutely, but of course that has nothing to do with the actual music. The style appealed to the originators of the band and they decided to go with it. The result is very impressive, bluesy, guitar-driven rock that is uncommonly listenable. The band is Tuomo Varjola (vocals), Jonne Rytkönen (guitar), Saku Manninen (drums), Jarmo Ikala (guitar), and Kim Sandström (bass).

There are thirteen tracks on the new album. “Under The Moon” is the first song, and it verily seeps swamp gas and drips Spanish moss. It has the pleasant, lay-about twang often associated with the declared musical type. The next song is “Crystal Riders” and it is very different, carrying more of a radio mentality, with pushing rhythm and a catchy chorus. It almost puts you in mind of D.A.D. here and there. “Sold Out” made me think of early 70s Nazareth with its brightness and voracity. It is one of my favorites on the album – it has a great hook and drive.

And there is more. “Corn Whiskey A Go” lays on the southern rock harmonies and “Distilled In Bayou” is essentially a power ballad. “Charm Of Drinking Hard” is a rambler with an undeniable bass and a tasty lead break. Songs like “One More Time” are just straight-up party tunes that put you in the mood and keep you going. There is a lot of good music here, put down in familiar rock styles and performed with the consent of genuine earnestness. Recommended.

Are We There Yet drops on Friday, March 18th through Secret Entertainment. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Emma Manninen.

Links.

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

Muddy Moonshine website, http://www.muddymoonshine.com/

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

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Muddy Moonshine, Are We There Yet (Secret Entertainment 2022)

Aegrus, The Carnal Temples (Osmose Productions 2022)

Finland’s black metal veterans Aegrus unleash a new EP onto the world: The Carnal Temples.

Aegrus has three full-length albums in their catalogue, and a host of EPs and demos dating back to 2006. Originating in southern Finland, Aegrus is part of the storied landscape of black metal history. According to the Metal Archives, the band is Praestigiator (guitar), Lux Tenebris (guitar, bass), Inculta (vocals), and Serpentifer (drums).

There are four tracks on the new EP, each running in the six minute range. First up, “The Carnal Temples.” A solitary guitar strums a direct riff and is soon joined by the rhythm section and the hissing, strained vocals we were waiting for. An episode of chaos follows, and then the rampaging riff returns. “In Death Rapture” opens slower, but you know the kick is coming … and it does, fierce and excoriating.

“Moonlit Coffinspirit” dooms up front with a heavy trod and a melancholy melody. The pace does grow throughout and the song ends on a vocal duet and a hammering groove. It is a very different song from the other three on the record and stands out as my favorite of the set. The final flourish is “Flesh And Blood,” a traditionally savage black metal beast. The song does have divergent groovy hooks in a couple of spots that mark it for notoriety.

If you have been following Aegrus all these years then you are in line already for this new one. It is a good place to start for newcomers to their music, too, because it shows a nice array of the variety of music the band produces. Recommended.

The Carnal Temples is out through Osmose Productions on Friday, January 28th. In the US, Bandcamp is the place to go.

Links.

Website, https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/album/the-carnal-temples

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

Osmose Productions, https://www.osmoseproductions.com/

Aegrus, The Carnal Temples (Osmose Productions 2022)

Battle Beast, Circus Of Doom (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The unstoppable Battle Beast launches their sixth session of epic metal mayhem: Circus Of Doom.

I saw Battle Beast at the Worcester Palladium a few years back at what might have been the final New England Metal and Hardcore Festival. They were one of the earlier acts then, opening, in a way, for bands like Kamelot. I have to say Battle Beast gave the best show of that group. They had a positive, high-energy attitude and they did not hold anything back. I have had my eye on them ever since.

Circus Of Doom is Battle Beast’s sixth full-length album, following 2019’s No More Hollywood Endings. There have been a few line-up shifts, including one highly publicized schism. Whatever effect this had on the band, in the years since I have been following them there is only evidence of growth in songwriting and performance. Each album is a notch up from the one before, and the legion of fans for the band from Finland keeps expanding.

The title track opens Pandora’s Box with a calliope of metal. This is dramatic, epic music. In other words, intense, layered production surrounds the clear, powerful vocals of Noora Louhimo, who has one of the best voices for metal performance working today. The heavy guitar and rhythm makes appearances by stepping into the light and then sidles back to the shadows, but it is always there. Epic metal is a clear and particular lane for heavy music, and Battle Beast charges right down the middle of it.

Every song is up-tempo, and each has a combination of smoother and rougher elements, some leaning more on the one and others, the other. Put together, then, the album is a great success in variety and delivers to fans exactly what they are looking for. Recommended.

Nuclear Blast issues Circus Of Doom on Friday, January 21st in a plethora of physical forms and, of course, digital. You can get it anywhere that heavy music lives.

Links.

Website, https://battlebeast.fi/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/7563223.591628.circus-of-doom.html

Battle Beast, Circus Of Doom (Nuclear Blast 2022)