Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

French Old School Death Metal specialists unleash their first full-length album.

Nervous Decay released a demo in 2019 and single in 2020. The new album includes the songs from those issues newly recorded with a couple of debut tracks. The style is straight-up pummeling Death Metal with a significant nostalgic nod to the past and a critical eye to innovation. The band is Guillaume Pavaillon (vocals and bass), Gregoire Bonin (guitar), Guilhem Lesage (drums), and Nathan Thebault (guitar).

The opener is “Cerberus’ Brace” and it hits the mark with blazing guitar blasts and speedy riffs. The vocals have a delightfully feral quality to them, and the rhythm section makes prominent appearances. “Daily Poison” follows and pushes the metal just as far, taking turns and explorations in technical directions and inserting ear-catching hooks. All seven songs in the set are ones you’ll want to hear again and again.

I especially like “Shield of Delusion” which has an eerie, doom-laden approach. “Lobotomy” is another song that I keep hearing in my head as it positively roars at the front and back while also including a sort of dream sequence within. This album hits hard in all the right places. Recommended.

Nervous Decay is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to gather up the goods.

Photo from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Nervous.Decay.Band

Label, https://www.greatdanerecs.com/eshop/web/?lang=en_US

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

New French musical project Exanimis issue their first long-player, Marionnettiste.

The story is that the band “was created by former students of the Music Academy International, who all shared a passion for extreme and technical musical styles and set out to create a sound that merges the atmosphere of horror and fantasy soundtracks with the heaviness and technical intricacies of metal.” So far so good. Looking over the usual internet resources for info on the musicians in the band, not much comes up, suggesting a glistening newness. The only way to know is to listen.

There are nine tracks on the album, including an on- and off-ramp and one brief transition piece in the middle. After one pass, the target does seem to be Dream Theater, although the themes are more along the horror lines, or at the very least, darkening in that direction. The opening segment is a prelude, and it starts out quietly, as they do, building slowly and theatrically to include a bigger sound and a creepy chorus of voices. The first principal song is “The Wrathful Beast,” and it has a very Danny Elfman-esque structure, but even more elaborate and with rapid blasting percussion and big electrical guitar moments to go along with the orchestration. There are a lot of moving parts here, and the lead vocal is of a toned-down death metal variety (meaning not quite as harsh as you might encounter in a typically death metal band).

If it is complex arrangements you are looking for, this is the place. The sheer number of elements is sometimes overwhelming and can seem excessive. Sorting them all out will take more than one listening. And this is just the first relative short piece running only five minutes. The epic is “Cathedral” at the end, clocking in at over sixteen minutes, and it has rivals. This is beyond prog metal. It pushes into a land of its own creation that at times seems like an endless house of mirrors. The music is full, that’s for sure, and it has a heaping dose of metal and dark, edgy thematic constructions. All these things together lead me to recommend the album for the more adventurous métallurgistes out there.

Marionnettiste drops on Friday, March 5th at the label link or Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Label, https://www.klonosphere.com/

Exanimis, Marionnettiste (Klonosphere Records 2021)

Moop, Ostara (Tonzonen Records 2021)

Dark jazz trio Moop reorganize for a second album that is heavy on the avant-garde and filled with twists and miasms.

Moop is from France and the band for the new album is Erwin Toul (drums), William Brandy (saxophone), and Julien Coupet (guitar). The first album came out in 2017 and kept to a more linear trajectory than Ostara. The free form nature of the new set might be thought of as representing the coming Spring, or maybe something more mutated or forlorn. The experience is in the ears of the listener.

When creating music with three principal instruments – sax, guitar, and drums – the apparent starting point is a jazz mentality. The feeling and themes however come across to me as very dark. I guess that could just be the way I am receiving it. Still, there is an acoustic doom resonance hereabouts, a persistent feeling of dread and calamity that never goes away.

There are four songs on the album, with two long ones on side one and a long and a short track on the flip side. The music never goes for the big heavy, and the saxophone is the most prominent voice throughout. Confusion and forlornity are the guiding lights. There are extended passages of what many would surely call avant-garde, and the chaos is often disorienting.

This album is very different from the music I usually listen to, and I mean that as broadly as possible. Rare is the day indeed that intentionality would bring this to my turntable. Somehow it hit me just right when I listened to it in the dead of winter in New England. If I had been naming this album, I would probably have gone with “Mabon” instead of the more optimistic “Ostara,” but whatever it might be called, it will set you off on a perpendicular path. Recommended.

Ostara becomes fully available on Friday, February 26th. Pre-orderers get one track in advance and the rest on the drop day. Bandcamp is the place to go for the cassette, CD, vinyl, or digital instantiations.

Links.

Bandcamp: https://moopercrew.bandcamp.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moopercrew

Label: https://www.tonzonen.de

Moop, Ostara (Tonzonen Records 2021)

The Scalar Process, Coagulative Matter (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

French death metal band The Scalar Process unleash their first album, Coagulative Matter, and it is full of fine detail and virtuoso flourishes.

According to the Metal Archives the band is Eloi Nicod (guitar), Mathieu Lefevre (vocals), Cédric Mells (drums), and Alix Guéneau (guitars). When you listen to the album you might be surprised that this is their first because it is so complete and polished. The speed is matched by precision and the compositions remain organic in their determinism.

There are eleven tracks on the album, including three short non-vocal interludes. The first principal track is “Cosmic Flow,” and it continues the mystery of the opening element while adding the actual death metal vocals and guitar savagery. The music is usually described as technical death metal and I would say that is accurate. It often lands as a progressive treaty, as here in this get-to-know-you song, and the prog takes many forms even in this one track, ranging from impossible performances on every instrument to spacey moments of exploration.

The stage having now been erected, it is time for the show. “Ink Shadow” is positively rabid in the blurring speed of the presented notes. “Celestial Existence” includes the continued demonstration of ability and notches up the theater noticeably. “Mirror Cognition” is a “Planet Caravan” type track for the first half – almost soft jazz. Then the lead guitar takes a Zappa-esque turn setting up an absolute explosion of rage in the final minute. Very unexpected, and this is my favorite track.

The big set piece is the title track which runs eleven minutes, making it a glaring epic when held up against the other songs. It has several distinct movements and in that way it operates like a suite. It is an incredible accomplishment, this song, holding together the central concept for such a length while exploring the theme’s many avenues and variegations. It is very hard make music like this that is enjoyable for the listener and not just a recitation of technical abilities, and that is exactly what The Scalar Process has done with Coagulative Matter. I find myself listening to it intently, overtaken by the music and genuinely amazed. Write this one on the short list. Highly recommended.

The usual array of amazing products are available now from Transcending Obscurity – take a look at the Bandcamp page or the label’s homepage for details.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://thescalarprocess.bandcamp.com/album/coagulative-matter-technical-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://tometal.com/

The Scalar Process, Coagulative Matter (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Appalooza, The Holy of Holies (Ripple Music 2021)

French heavy stoner trio Appalooza tell stories of distress and decline in their latest long-player.

The band formed only a couple years ago in Brest, France, issuing their first album (self-titled) in 2018. That album has a grungy pulse to it, deterministically joining the informal revival of that bygone time. With many desert-scented colors whirled into the song writing, the album is very listenable.

The new music has a crisper presence. It is not as murky in the mix and has generally sharper edges. There is still strong, sometimes overpowering, grunge reflection throughout, and the desert feel runs deeper this time. According to the Bandcamp page, the band is Sylvain (vocals and guitar), Vincent (drum), and Tony (bass), with additional mystery contributions.

The first song on the album is “Storm,” and it has a muted opening after an initial distant ethereal vocal. I am repeating myself in my head, so let me lay it down here: this is a grunge album. The ghost of Layne Staley can be heard clearly in “Reincarnation,” perhaps the most direct Alice In Chains homage, although there are many. Nearly every track, in fact. The band does tell you this in the descriptive material on their social media pages, mentioning AIC specifically as an enduring influence. They mean it.

Looking back from the end of the set, there is more here than a retreading of popular 1990s genre music. Traditional music influences from the Mediterranean (and Middle East) add depth to the pressing guitars, and the song structures, especially on the second half of the album, stretch out to test and expand the borders of the band’s compositional universe. Living in their own space and telling their own stories, Appalooza brings a new perspective forward in the cloak of the venerable past. Recommended.

The Holy of Holies is out now. CDs, vinyl, and downloads can all be snapped up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://appalooza.bandcamp.com/album/the-holy-of-holies

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Appalooza.OfficialPage/

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

Appalooza, The Holy of Holies (Ripple Music 2021)

Iron Flesh, Summoning The Putrid review (Great Dane Records 2020)

Back for the attack with their second full-length album, Iron Flesh storms the gate with thundering old school Death Metal.

Hailing from France, Iron Flesh has been active in the heavy music scene since 2017. They have released two EPs, Worship The Necrogod (2017) and Scourge Of Demonic Incantations (2018), as well as last year’s LP Forged Faith Bleeding. In May this year they also released a live album, A Necro Dead One, and now there is Summoning The Putrid. You can’t say they are not dedicated to the craft.

Their sound is stone crushing Death Metal, with infused Black Metal influences. No quiet songs, no clean singing. The band sticks to traditional implements of musical creation: guitar, bass, voice, and drums. The new album is nine songs of shattering sonic disturbance.

After a few conciliatory seconds, “Servants of Oblivion” flies off into a rage of straightforward metal aggression, getting the set going with a big push. The compositions overall are riff heavy on this album and light on the lead breaks, putting more pressure on writing creative combinations and tempo shifts. Solo guitar expressions in songs like “Purify Through Blasphemy” occur in unusual places, giving them added emphasis. Longer pieces such as “Death and the Reaper’s Scythe” express fundamental Doom elements with aplomb and execute them with precision. And immediately following this long track, the blistering “Incursion of Evil” resets the pace and energy to overdrive. The closer is “Convicted Faith,” and it establishes an ominous message at its onset, signaling an eldritch threat. It sounds like the speaking of dark incantations over the bodies of the fallen after a tumult. It is an excellent lid to a fine album. Recommended.

Summoning The Putrid is out this Friday, November 27. Look no further than the Bandcamp links below. If you preorder it now you get two tracks immediately – “Relinquished Flesh” and “Demonic Enn” – and the rest when the full album drops in a few days.

Links.

Band Bandcamp, https://ironflesh.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/IronFlesh

Label website, http://www.greatdanerecs.com

Label Bandcamp, http://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GreatDaneRecords

Iron Flesh, Summoning The Putrid review (Great Dane Records 2020)