Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

The debut LP from Fort Worth metal band Frozen Soul is the merciless application of Old School Death Metal in the creation of a soundtrack for demise.

The band has only been releasing music for a couple years, with two splits, an EP, and a single leading up to Crypt Of Ice. They are OSDM in orientation, and for some reason they remind me a little of Tomb Mold, one of my favorite new(er) bands, except less frenetic and more deliberate. Expect blast beats and heavy rhythm circling the wagons around haunting growls. The band is Chad Green (vocals), Samantha Mobley (bass), Michael Munday (guitar), Matt Dennard (drums), and Chris Bonner (guitar).

The music has a grinding, heavy power to it. There is not a focus of lead breaks and whirling speed. Rather, Doom elements live in the metal here, bringing down the tempo and pushing the relentless riffs into focus. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Merciless,” and it is the perfect example of this, with a plundering, crushing weight towards the end that was set up by fierce first half. The song then leads into “Encased In Ice,” which very much feels like being surrounded by the thick walls of a glacial tomb for almost two minutes before the tempo picks up and stabs an ice pick in your brain. There is a flowing wave here. The wandering musical variegation is not random or haphazard – it is a compositional deliberation on the dark themes brought out in the album. The result is exceptional metal delivered on a frozen silver platter. Recommended.

The new album is out now and available widely from any place that carries Century Media Records products. Also, link below. Lots of versions and merch are out there if you are so inclined. Bandcamp has the earlier EP Encased In Ice if you are interested in that – it is also really good.

Links.

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

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

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=2323

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Dublin Doom trio Dread Sovereign sets a raging fire with their third album, Alchemical Warfare.

The driving force in the band is Nemtheanga, known otherwise as the vocalist for the band Primordial. He started Dread Sovereign some time back, releasing an EP in 2013 followed by two LPs, All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom The Bell Tolls (2017). Joined by JK (Johnny King) on drums and Bones on guitar, there is an urgency to the music on the new album, unmistakably circling the chasm of Doom. The vocals are mostly clear, and the themes walk the Black Metal road. The band’s motto is “the world is doomed,” and the theme is a through-line explained this way: “The subject matter and aesthetic are particular to the three characters on the front cover of each release, the time travelling trio who appear on the debut flaying Saint Bartholemew, on the second album hanging Sarah Wildes Averill in Salem and now as lab assistants to Isaac Newton as he tries to discover the secret of Alchemy.” The songs are sinister odes from dark moments in history.

There are seven tracks (four of them over eight minutes long) with an intro piece and an intermission segue. That intro sounds a little like swirling bells and whispering dark witches casting spells. “She Wolves of the Savage Season” then picks up the doom and slams it back down. The frenzy gets really whipped up on “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” with its pressing riffs and pleading vocals. There are also extended guitar passages here, in this song and well distributed throughout where the narrative concepts are given musical form. “Her Master’s Tomb” is almost a Doom ballad while “Devil’s Bane” rips and roars and finishes with a raging shred. The album wraps on a single-length banger, “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)” – they decided to go out swinging with a heavy punk punch. This is an great album, front to back. Highly recommended.

The full album drops on Friday, January 15th and preorders at Bandcamp will get you two tracks now while you wait for the week to end. Metal Blade Records has CDs and vinyl if you want to go that way.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/dreadsovereign/

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

From Jyväskylä, Finland, John The Baptist forge forth into the masses of heavy music listeners with their first full-length release.

The band has been around since 2015 and has released a demo, a split, and a single. This current self-titled effort is their biggest album so far, and it is loaded to the top edge with loud, heavy doom.

The musicians use stage names, and apart from Facebook do not have a large social media presence. That leaves us without an enormous amount of information to pass on. On their Facebook page, they say this: “Our music is slow and heavy like the rumblings of the earth. Our message is grand and grim.” OK, that does narrow it down some.

There are six massive tracks on the new album, and heavy they are indeed. The short one is nine minutes long, and the long one runs fifteen so there is a lot of listening to be had. The style is straight-forward doom, without any muddling. There is no pretension in the music and they seem to play what  they feel, offloading their interests in patient, thundering riffs. The first track, “Deluge,” is a perfect example. It opens with a solo guitar, laying down the fuzz in slow and deliberate sheets for a minute and a half before being joined with even more heaviness. The vocals are earnest and not distorted. There are tempo shifts and sonic variations; theme turns and compositional confluences and diversions are plentiful. Nevertheless, on every track, there is no mistaking the doom, culminating in the most comprehensive statement with the anchor piece, “John The Baptist.”

John The Baptist is available now on Bandcamp (link below). No word yet on whether there will be a CD or vinyl release, so don’t wait for that. Hear them now. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://jtbdoom.bandcamp.com/album/john-the-baptist

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

Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/johnthebaptist-doom

John The Baptist, self-titled (2021)

Torn Fabriks, Mind Consumption (Firecum Records 2021)

Thrash trio Torn Fabriks breaks through with a fresh EP clocking music for mass consumption.

From Lisbon, Portugal, the band is Jorge Matos (guitar), Ricardo Santos (bass, vocals), and Paulo Soares (drums). They appear to have sprung out of the ether, coming together from the bands Sindicato da Terra, Morbid Death, and Rageful. They play a familiar brand of traditional thrash, in many ways on the edge of what we used to call speed metal. Fast and straight-forward, it is music for the masses.

The EP has six songs and it runs a bit over twenty minutes. There is noticeable filler throughout but there are also healthy portions of tasty shreds which are worth the wait. You can hear social and political commentary in the lyrics, but the bigger draw is the catchy music and that is what fans will be drawn to and remember, I think.

Mind Consumption is out now. The record label has a CD version, and there are a few single tracks available at Bandcamp – the entire EP will probably be up there soon. It is worth a little bit of searching.

Links.

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

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

Firecum Records, https://www.firecum.com/product-page/cum-039-torn-fabriks-torn-fabriks-cd

Torn Fabriks, Mind Consumption (Firecum Records 2021)

Transilvania, Of Sleep And Death (Invictus Productions 2021)

The second full-length album from Transilvania is an epic world shaker, filled with monstrous ideas and otherworldly conclusions.

From Innsbruck, Austria, the Black Metal band Transilvania has been around since 2015. The Metal Archives lists the members as P. Čachtice (bass and vocals), H. Paole Grando (drums), O. von Schwarzenberg (guitar), and D. D. Stumpp (guitar). There is not an enormous amount of free floating information out there about them, apart from their discography that shows The Night Of Nights LP from 2018, and before that an EP and a split. The musical style is fast-paced Black Metal, bearing on the speed and even the thrash side.

“Opus Morbi” leads us down the haunting path with a reassuring (although clearly sinister) opening gambit of distant tones that grow into a fierce attack by the three minute mark. Throughout the album there are plenty of riffs that hang a tight groove, as in the title track, to go along with the eerier elements. Clever syncopation and unusual tempo shifting like we hear on “Lycanthropic Chant” enriches the Black Metal environment and fills in the dark world developing around your ears.

The inventiveness and ingenuity of composition knows no bounds on this album. The music relies on rhythm and a well-paced, expertly situated harmony of the instruments to propel the concepts forward in support of the lyrical narrative. Lead breaks in the traditional sense are used sparingly, like a flashing scene of violence or depravity. More often we hear companion components from the guitars bolstering the vocals and other instruments in the overall experience. The album is powerful – a premier exemplar of the form. Highly recommended.

Of Sleep And Death is out now. Invictus has all manner of formats for this album, plus a variety of merch. Bandcamp offers a digital download at your fingertips. And you can also hear a lot of Transilvania’s music on Spotify.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transilvania.bandcamp.com/album/of-sleep-and-death

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

Invictus Productions, https://invictusproductions.net/

Transilvania, Of Sleep And Death (Invictus Productions 2021)

Blessed By Perversion, Remnants Of Existence (2020)

Remnants Of Existence is the newest album from Blessed By Perversion, following up on their 2016 debut long-player Between Roots And Darkness.

The band entered the vibrant Greek metal scene in 2012 with their Destroy The Image Of God EP. Since then they have been working their way through the caverns of heavy music, making consistent progress and expanding their fan base. The basic style is a crowd-pleasing Death Metal crossover that will appeal to listeners of many different metal subgenres. The musicians are Manolis Kouelo (guitar), Kostas Foutris (guitar), Andreas Moschopoulos (vocals), Vaggelis Nanos (bass), and Vasilis Nanos (drums).

There are five songs on the EP plus a quiet, tense intro piece. “Gallery of Bones” sets the pace with steady rhythm and percussion alongside the gruff, intelligible vocals. The composition is very approachable, being neither dense nor highly complex, and the song includes a tasty lead break. “Atonement Refused” picks up the pace, moving toward the high end of mid-tempo, and including a couple of 80’s metal guitar warble homage moments. “Among The Tombs of Absent Gods” and “Caverns of Torture” establish viable bridges to the closer, “Within Monumental Chaos.” This song is my favorite of the set, and has perhaps the darkest tone and excellent rhythm and percussion elements. The bass line and the lead guitar are the most challenging here too, showing the breadth of expression the band is willing and able to display.

Remnants Of Existence is out now, and the quickest pick-up is at Bandcamp. Get some more metal in your 2021. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blessedbyperversion.bandcamp.com/album/remnants-of-existence

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

Blessed By Perversion, Remnants Of Existence (2020)

Happy New Year’s Eve 2020

I don’t have to tell you about 2020 – you were there, too. Usually, at the end of the year, I spend December choosing some photos to repost for good vibes and great memories, but this year I didn’t take a single photograph of a live show. Yeah. So, I am going to post a few photos from 2019 that did not see that light of day then, just for fun. I am keeping the cameras warm for 2021 because hope springs eternal.

There was a lot of excellent music released this year. We published 188 reviews in 2020, a lot more than we thought we would. There are so many “Best of 2020” lists out there that I decided not to do one for FFMB. Instead, I am throwing up a couple of covers from albums we didn’t review this year that were really good – just couldn’t get to everything. We’ll try to do better in 2021.

Thanks to everybody involved with Flying Fiddlesticks Music Blog and the Shardik Media Cabal. Deep gratitude and thanks to all the bands, record labels, venues, publicists, and promoters keeping music alive for all of us.

We’re still here and we are carrying on in 2021. See you out there.

All live performance photos by Wayne Edwards.

Aftershock

Heavy Montreal

Clubs

Albums

Happy New Year’s Eve 2020

EOS, The Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

The debut album from the mysterious EOS is a brick through the window of mediocrity.

I did not know anything about EOS (or, possibly, Eos) when I first heard about this album so I did what I usually do when I suffer behind a veil of ignorance re: a band – I checked The Metal Archives. Not much there, either. The band might be from Australia, but that could also just be a shadow cast by their record label, Brilliant Emperor Records, which is headquartered in Sydney. The press materials tell us that the album was begun in 2014 and completed in 2018, but that’s about it. Same blurb everywhere. So I just listened to the album to see what I could hear.

There are seven tracks of Black Metal on The Great Ascension. The vocals are dramatic, sounding like the exasperated final push of a long campaign. The singing itself is modulated toward the medium and slow while the rhythm is a customary trilling with occasional eerie gothic breaks. The songs have a tendency to end abruptly.

There are strong Doom elements throughout, which is a good match to the Black Metal basis. The set holds together as a suite, in my hearing, even as the songs can stand alone. The band has even integrated a cover – Lord Belial’s “Black Winter Bloodbath” – seamlessly. There are not a lot of big lead breaks, but when they occur, as in “Draugar,” they are excellent. The music, tone, and themes on this album are deep and dark, dripping with the black blood of the earth and tempered by nightmares. Can we ask more than that? Recommended.

The Great Ascension is available now, through Bandcamp and at Brilliant Emperor’s on-line store, the latter having some great merch, too.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-ascension

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/eos.black.metal

Brilliant Emperor, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

EOS, The Great Ascension (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

This lockdown music from Spaceslug is a dose of acoustic Doom.

From Wrocław, Poland, Spaceslug is a band whose name should live in your brain. Since 2016, they have released three LPs, three EPs, and a split. With that kind of work ethic it is no surprise they were intent on creating new music during the pandemic. The band members are Bartosz Janik (guitars and synths), Jan Rutka (bass and vocals), and Kamil Ziółkowski (drums, guitar, and vocals).

Spaceslug is a Doom band, but the music they create is definitely not what most people would first think of as Doom. I have started to read more frequently the observation that Spaceslug has a Pink Floyd atmosphere in their music, and I am beginning to agree, never more so than with Leftovers. It is largely acoustic music (actual, and acoustic-style, if you know what I mean) that carries a pervasive tone of Doom, composed in complex and thoughtful arrangements.

There are five songs on the new EP, starting with “Wasted Illusion.” It is a trippy and ethereal beginning, with mellow tones and a lot of synth infusion. Next is “Behind The Glass,” which sounds like music for an arid desert if that desert was actually floating in outer space. “The Birds Are Loudest In May” raises melancholy to a mission critical level. “Place To Turn” is positively peppy in the context of the previous songs, but the underlying sense of dread is there, strong enough to make you uneasy. The title track is last, and it is the most ponderous of the set. It is a real whiskey and razor blade situation. If you want a helping of Doom with no fuzz or feedback, this Spaceslug EP is the ticket for you. Recommended.

Leftovers is out now as a download or CD. Go to Bandcamp for the quick pick up. You can also get a t-shirt there, and more of the band’s music.

Band photo grabbed from their Facebook page.

Links.

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

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

Spaceslug, Leftovers (2020)

Exarsis, Sentenced To Life (MDD Records 2020)

With their fifth album Sentenced To Life, Exarsis fulfills your need, your need for speed.

Greek band Exarsis has been flying the flag for Thrash and Speed Metal for ten years. Under Destruction was their first long-player in 2011, and since then they have been they have been lashing the shores with a new guitar tsunami every couple of years. The band is now Nick Tragakis (vocals), Chris Poulos (bass), Chris Tsitsis (guitars), and Panos Meletis (drums)

Sentenced To Life is perhaps a little more approachable to crossover fans than some of their earlier music with more emphasis on melody, but the speed is still there and it rolls you right over. They play an old school brand of Thrash, touched by the nearly forgotten style of Speed Metal. The result is a credible case for whiplash.

First up on the record is “Cen$ored,” an intro bit that starts with a crackling voiceover that is increasingly heavily bleeped and distorted on the way to the first wailing high-octane song, “Another Betrayal.” Tragakis gives us high register vocals matching up with the stunning speed of the guitar riffs and lead blasts that are so wilting your ears are a little behind on getting all the notes in.

The percussion is at pace as well, pummeling like a cavalry at full charge. You can really hear the intense drumming on songs like “The Truth Is No Defense” where it seems to defy physics. Every song has outstanding attributes and they all call out to be heard again. The ones I hit more than a couple times were “Mouthtied” for the amazing passage in the middle of the song and “Interplanetary Extermination” for its sheer blaze. Fantastic. Recommended.

Sentenced To Life could be flowing into your brain right now. It is available to buy from MDD Records through Bandcamp and you can listen on the usual variety of streaming services.

Links.

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

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

MDD Records, https://mdd-records.de/

Exarsis, Sentenced To Life (MDD Records 2020)