Griefbringer, The Horrible Wilting (Church of Crow 2022)

Italian doom veterans combine to form Griefbringer and unleash The Horrible Wilting.

Luca Frazzoni (guitars, vocals), Andrea Zanetti (bass, vocals), and Dario Casabona (drums) have worked in the Italian heavy music scene for some time, and now they have come together to create a new band, Griefbringer. The title suits the music, that’s for sure. What you will hear on this record is on the funeral doom side of doom – it is music with a steady grinding momentum told at an imperturbable pace.

There are eight tracks on the new album. The slumbering beast is wakened with “Blind Harbinger.” The riff and melody give off a feeling of determined execution. That is, you get the impression that something terrible is being related that cannot be refuted and, further, cannot be stopped either. You can see it coming but you cannot get out of the way. “Disfigurement” is more actively threatening in the vocals in a kind of looking-you-in-the-eyes sort of way. You can see the weapon and you can feel what it will do to you. The unforgiving guitar and tromping rhythm reinforce the menace. In “A Warlock,” the vibrations are more mystical, while “Ghosts of the Desert” duets the vocals in a way that deepens the dark effect, taking an unexpected turn.

Side two holds more horrors. “Grimace of Madness” cranks up the tempo to its most accelerated so far, sending our imagination on a journey. The title track is a sinister rumination, like a spoken black mantra. “Obeying the Owl” is the longest track, and it is a contender for my favorite of the set with its melodious singing walking through the ravaged lands the guitars describe. Exceptional. The final story is “The Creeper,” a well-placed doom standard setup turned around by the vocals that sound at times like the ravings of a deranged monk. It is a nuanced finish. Recommended.

The Horrible Wilting is out on Friday, November 18th through Church of Crow Records. Look to Bandcamp for the quick pick-up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://griefbringer.bandcamp.com/album/the-horrible-wilting

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

Church of Crow Records, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083225595772

© Wayne Edwards

Griefbringer, The Horrible Wilting (Church of Crow 2022)

Assumption, Hadean Tides (Sentient Ruin 2022)

Death-doom metal band Assumption return with a tale as old as time on Hadean Tides.

Beginning ten years ago in Palermo, Sicily, Assumption is a doom metal band that works with death metal intonations and classic metal influences to produce thought-provoking and sometimes esoteric heavy music. The release of a demo and subsequent EP lead finally to the debut full-length album Absconditus in 2018. Hadean Tides is their second long-player.

The concepts behind the music are indeed hoary and mysterious. The band comments about it on their Bandcamp page as follows. “‘Hadean’ is the informal name given to the first geological era of our planet. It can be seen as a non-time of continual accretion, liquefaction, destruction and dissolution of a barely formed globe. Today only a few, 4+ billion years-old zircons from the Hadean have been found. These represent a silent witness to a mysterious eon that no sentient being would ever endure, in no way, on a physical plane. This ancestral magmatic dimension, intertwined with the symbolic influence of poems by William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Stearns Eliot and Rainer Maria Rilke … informs the ideas, sounds and intentions contained within this new album.” If you are looking for meaning, this is the place to start.

The music is as advertised: doom and death metal. In the slower, doom-oriented moments that dominate the album, the compositions place size and scale in priority positions, ladling drama heavily upon the boiling stew. This is evident from the very beginning with “Oration” and is demonstrated repeatedly throughout. “Submerged By Hadean Tides” is created particularly adeptly, lacing classic metal homages in the layers and building mighty walls with granite riffs. “Daughters Of The Lotus” is set at a funeral doom pace in its first half. At the five minute mark the music breaks loose in an overwhelming flood energetic emotion, then folds back into the doom. Darkly, beautifully done.

“Breath Of The Dedalus” is a mood piece, and what a dreary mood it sets with the effective use of eerie choral. “Triptych” is creepy and bizarre, with spare, clear spoken words that stands in contrast to the usual gruff vocalizations on the record. The final song is the fifteen-minute epic “Black Trees Waving.” It is an unsentimental journey into the abyss of distant time. The expressed ideas cling to you as they roll along, laying claim to your attention and consciousness. It is a wakening experience. Highly recommended.

Hadean Tides is out on Friday, May 20th. Many formats are available from Sentient Ruin Laboratories in the US and Everlasting Spew Records in Europe. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://assumption.bandcamp.com/album/hadean-tides

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

Sentient Ruin Laboratories, http://sentientruin.com/main

Everlasting Spew Records, https://everlastingspew.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Assumption, Hadean Tides (Sentient Ruin 2022)

Slowtorch, The Machine Has Failed (Electric Valley Records 2022)

Italian stoner metal band Slowtorch have a new record out this week, The Machine Has Failed.

Slowtorch came together around 2005. They rolled out at a measured pace, releasing a series of EPs leading up to their debut long-player, Serpente (2014). The new album is their first since then, so fans have been waiting awhile. The style of music they play is a kind of heavy stoner, groove-driven affair that has a lot of crossover appeal. The band is Fabio Sforza (drums), Matteo Meloni (vocals), Bruno Bassi (guitars), and Karl Sandner (bass).

The album starts out on a heavy groove with “Hammerhead.” The hook alternates with a bob while Meloni’s voice floats around it all. The shifts sometimes have a GZR feel to them, and I do see where the Clutch comparison might come in. It is a high-energy pop with a heavy riff. “Book Of The Dead” has a darker, slower, heavier weight to sling around, and that makes a lot of sense given the title. Singable repeaters predict this one will be a fan favorite. “Man Vs. Man” comes on and I am thinking this party might never slow down. This track has the first dedicated lead guitar work, too.

“Behold” has melodic moments and the most concentrated doom delivery on the album. “Kraken” brings the big monster energy, and “Sever The Hand” takes the tone toward noir with a hectic chop. “Charger,” then, is a big power push and a relentless riff that will grind you right off the cliff. The title track raises the tension to set up the closer, “World Behind My Eyes.” This final song has an attractive clomp to it – the kind of thing that has enormous jam potential and could be expanded live to go on for ten minutes it the band wanted it to. This is great outdoor festival music. Recommended.

Electric Valley Records has the vinyl, along with digital, out on Friday, April 29th. Pick up your favorite variant while you still can.

Links.

Website, https://www.slowtorch.com/

Bandcamp, https://slowtorch.bandcamp.com/album/the-machine-has-failed

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

Electric Valley Records, https://www.electricvalleyrecords.com/products

© Wayne Edwards

Slowtorch, The Machine Has Failed (Electric Valley Records 2022)

Towards Atlantis Lights, When The Ashes Devoured The Sun (Melancholic Realm Productions 2021)

The musicians in Towards Atlantis Lights are Ivan Zara (guitar), Kostas Panagiotou (vocals, keys), Riccardo Veronese (bass), and Ivano Olivieri (drums). Their music is often described as funeral doom, and they label it this way: Arcane Doom Metal. The band’s first album, Dust of Aeons, was released in 2018 by Transcending Obscurity. This follow-up album is both a continuation and expansion of the ideas and sound from their inaugural record, this new one being more active and aggressive.

There are six tracks on the album including a fairly short intro piece, “Alpha & Omega,” that wanders the listener in. The narrative themes concern civilizations in the distant past, and that is an excellent framework for the music of the band. “The Minoan Tragedy” is the first full song, and it is a fifteen-minute heavy doom rumination with mostly clean vocals punctuated by coarse growls and rapid guitar cataracts, most memorable near the end.

“The Forgotten Tribes” is even eerie and heavier – it is my personal favorite for the way the vocals and guitars work together. “The Bull and the Serpent” starts off at a high-tempo sprint while “Mad Prophetess” soaks you with heaviness up front before lashing out in sudden bursts. “Pelasgian Tales” features ethereal guitars and voiceover to tell the tale.

If you liked the first album, this one will appeal to you as well. It is full-throated doom that surrounds you completely and takes you away. Recommended.

When the Ashes Devoured the Sun has a street date of Friday, July 16th. You can pick up the digital or CD through Bandcamp.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://pantheistuk.bandcamp.com/album/when-the-ashes-devoured-the-sun

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

Towards Atlantis Lights, When The Ashes Devoured The Sun (Melancholic Realm Productions 2021)

Tundra, The Mirror Of Elizabeth (Corrupted Flesh Records 2021)

Tundra’s concept EP The Mirror Of Elizabeth gets a limited edition stand-alone release.

The story goes that this EP was originally recorded in 2013 but never released on its own as intended. It was, however, released in its entirety on the Dreams of a Gone Existence split with Korium in 2015.

Why get it now? There are a couple of fascinating iterations in this release to choose from, including a fairly plain cassette version and one bundle that has a necklace with a bit of blood in it. Your interest all depends on your level of fandom here.

The music itself is a themed cycle concerning Elizabeth Bathory, remembered in history for bathing in human blood to maintain her youth, along with other assorted purported activities. There is an intro piece and then four songs. The main tracks are a raw brand of Black Metal with a caustic edge in the guitars and vocals. It is grim and gritty music – just exactly right for the subject matter. But it is more than that, too. I like this EP a lot. It isn’t run-of-the-mill Black Metal at all as it has strong doom and gothic elements to it. There are even sorrowful moments, especially in the title track and the closing song, “Triumphant March Of Death.”

If you had heard about this musical sequence and always wanted it in its own presentation then this is a good week for you. Definitely grab it up if you want a hard copy, and if you have never heard it before find a way to listen. All Black Metal fans should definitely hear The Mirror Of Elizabeth. Recommended.

The limited edition cassette can be pre-ordered now for a May 14th shipment and the digital has been available ready to go. Links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://corruptedfleshrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-mirror-of-elizabeth

Corrupted Flesh Records, https://www.corrupted-flesh.com/product/tundra-the-mirror-of-elizabeth-limited-edition-tape-incl-digital-download

Tundra website, https://www.totalhumancollapse.net/tundra.html

Tundra Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/tundrablackmetal/

Tundra, The Mirror Of Elizabeth (Corrupted Flesh Records 2021)

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)

Italian death metal gets an extra horror crank with Tenebro on Liberaci dal Male.

The band appears to be a duo with Il Becchino on vocals and guitar and Il Beccamorto on bass and percussion. Previously, according to the Metal Archives, Il Becchino was the only credited musician on the first music released. It has been reported separately that there were a few issues in the lineup but some solidifying has occurred that allowed a second EP to be issued late last year.

The new CD release of Liberaci dal Male includes the three tracks from the cassette version that was released last year by Dismal Fate Records plus the songs on the Demo cassette released in 2019 by Desert Wasteland Productions (also three tracks), conveniently gathering them all together.

The demo tracks start with “Seppellendo i Morti” which has a great chunky, mid-tempo grinding plod accompanied by low growling vocals. The speed and urgency pick up in the guitars and drums as the song moves along. By the end we have settled into the groove and the energy is pulsing. “Nel Terrore” has even more distortion and deeper vocals with a rhythm progression that puts you a little off balance. “All’interno del Cimitero” offers the plainest expression of cinematic themes of the three tracks with dialogue clips from films that lead into the heavy guitars.

The Liberaci dal Male tracks start with a chainsaw effect on the first track, “Cannibalismo Sanguinario” – I don’t speak Italian but I think I can make out what this one is about. This song leans heavy on the doom and includes sporadic drum blasts and tempo shifts. “Arte Funeraria” positively drips with gloom. It is a feast for the decadent horror fans among us. On the third track, film dialogue returns with much screaming and distress on “Il Lamento dei Malati.” Here again the drear is laid on especially thick, and as a complement there are periodic episodes of blast beats and more horror dialogue.

I like the gloomy nature of the music throughout the compilation. Functionality takes center stage to move the ideas along and the death metal is drenched in a doom sensibility. Recommended.

The CD is out now from Xtreem Music. If you want a digital download, the two original releases can be had for free (Name Your Price) separately on Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://tenebro666.bandcamp.com

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/xtreemmusic666

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)

Oceana, The Pattern (Time To Kill Records 2021)

Italian progressive death metal trio Ocean release their first full-length album twenty five years after their inaugural EP.

In 1994 the band began to come together with the thought of creating melodic death metal music. They issued a demo and an EP in 1996, then went silent on the recording front for a couple of decades. They are back now, realizing the original intention. The band is Massimiliano Pagliuso (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Gianpaolo Caprino (guitar), and Alessandro “Sancho” Marconcini (drums).

The sound of waves and a crying baby are the opening bars of the first song, followed by a short melodic voice interrupted by coarse croaking. Acoustic guitars dance around swelling electric ones. The percussion becomes increasingly persistent, urgent, and menacing, and the guitar turns stabbing. Then voice is back, bigger than before. This is “Hiding Lies,” and it is a flag for the entire set.

The band’s music is described as melodic death metal sometimes. I think progressive elements are stronger here, but there is a large and abiding melodic element so I see where the recurring handle comes from. The appealing factors for me throughout the album are the recurring juxtaposition of light and dark, harsh and quiet, and the unfiltered emotional expressions. The longer you listen to the album the more it grows on you.

I especially appreciate the lead guitar moments were technical ability shines through. The epic fourteen-minute “Atlantidea Suite Part 1” is a stand-out track in this regard and as a summary and emblem of the intent for the overall set. This album will appeal more to the prog crowd than the death metallers out there.

The Pattern is out now. You can pick it up from Time To Kill Records at their on-line store, or the ever-ready Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Time To Kill Records, https://timetokillrecords.bigcartel.com/category/oceana

Oceana, The Pattern (Time To Kill Records 2021)

Nervosa, Perpetual Chaos (Napalm Records 2021)

The thrash is verily raging from the new metal set by Nervosa.

Nervosa began in São Paulo, Brazil just over ten years ago. Brandishing a rugged version of classic Thrash, the band released three albums over the years, the new one making four. Founder and guitarist Prika Amaral is joined by three new musicians for Perpetual Chaos: Diva Satanica (aka, Rocío Vázquez, on vocals), Mia Wallace (bass), and Eleni Nota (drums). It is a truly international band, with the three new members hailing from Spain, Italy, and Greece.

The new set is made up of thirteen songs – that’s a good number. Brevity is the call sign with these three minute furies, speeding as they do to bowl you over before you can tell what hit you.

“Venomous” is the no-nonsense opener that cracks and zips with fist punching riffs, blast beats, and a rollicking lead break. The vocals snarl into the Death Metal range, adding a sinister touch to the sound that matches well with the wicked themes – witness the next song, “”Guided By Evil.” Apart from the ever-present up-tempo, there are a lot of approachable hooks and fan-pleasing choruses that’ll be great live when the crowd sings along. The pressure is on all the way to the final track, “Under Ruins,” which, itself, is one my favorites.

There are a few guest appearances to add to the variety and season the mix, including by Guilherme Miranda (Revolta), Schmier (Destruction), and Erik A. K. Knutson (Flotsam and Jetsam). The album is imminently listenable and bears re-spinning at its end. The newest incarnation of Nervosa has definitely thrown down the gauntlet with this one. Recommended.

Perpetual Chaos is out now. All sorts of versions and merchandise are available at the Napalm Records site. The band has its own store, too, and there is always Bandcamp. Consider yourself hooked up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://nervosa-brazil.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://nervosaofficial.com/website/english-home/

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

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/nervosa.html

Nervosa, Perpetual Chaos (Napalm Records 2021)

Three Eyes Left, Legione (Delomelanicon Records 2020)

Italian Doom veterans offer Legione here at year’s end, the fifth longplayer in their catalogue.

While they might not be as well known in the US as they are in Europe, Three Eyes Left have been on the scene for more than ten years. Want to know a little more about them, like where the band name comes from? Here is a bit from their Facebook page that explains it. “Three dancing eyes chasing the night idol, a sound bending at the magical sphinxes of times ready to explode in millions of vivid and dying butterflies. A needles storm enveloping more distant minds’ sleep to fecundate the first handmaid’s ancient womb. A psychic and interrupted rock, a multitude of words weaved together with a string made of stones and gems. Three eyes left is the dance before the word and the word before del colour, and now waits for the harvest refulgence to gather and offer the livid germ of its roots.” OK?

The music is Doom, certainly. Three Eyes Left do a lot of the same things you see with other bands, but the end result is very different. The vocals alternate between coarse and clean, which is not uncommon, but the gruff singing here is toward the Death Metal end while the more melodic work has a very heavy blues feeling to it. The guitar parts are loaded with heavy riffs, sure, but there are surprising layers cooked in there and the music takes unpredictable directions. It is a different experience from the run-of-the-mill heavy we often encounter.

The album is nine tracks, running more than an hour. There is a Black Metal attitude in there, and a desert wanderlust. This new album rounds out a trilogy – I suggest listening to it backwards, starting here. See how that goes down.

Legione is out now on digital platforms, with hardcopies to follow in due course. Expand your horizons if you have not heard Three Eyes Left before and lend them your ear. Recommended.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/3eyesleft

Delomelanicon Records, https://www.facebook.com/delorec/

Three Eyes Left, Legione (Delomelanicon Records 2020)

Hadal, December review (Planet K Records 2020)

Returning for a second round of depression and grief, Italian doom band Hadal leads listeners down the path of sorrow and shows them surprising sights.

In 2017, Hadal released their debut album , Painful Shadow. They established in that work their musical fashion of a baseline quietude disturbed by external forces, leading to the alternating clean-to-coarse vocals that also seem to demonstrate the internal struggles of people in modern society. The new album continues those principles and furthers them in a deeper exploration.

After a drear four minutes, speed is amplified in the opener “December” and the clean vocals burn away in a growl. As the title song ends, it bleeds directly into “River,” a song of weeping sadness at the beginning where the guitar partners the melancholy vocal on its path to the underworld. The bass line is a settling force in the middle of the song and abruptly the guitar is the solo voice trembling us forward. By now the essence of the album is firmly in hand and we have but to float along with it.

The compositions extract the fullest measure of the weariness of dark month of December that is, after all, just the doorway to winter, leaving the worst ahead. Echoes of the first album appear and infuse the new music while fresh ideas and approaches emerge and prosper. Some songs, like “Red Again,” step away from passive observation and become directive. Others have an almost ballad quality, as in “The Obscure I.” “Nothing Here” boasts an up-tempo beginning that turns meditative, and the closer, “Stormcrow,” offers an epic metal tone with nearly frantic bookends. Taken together, the album is a diverse expedition housed in an environment of doom that contains many vibrant aspects. Recommended.

December 5th is the day the album becomes fully available from Planet K Records and through Bandcamp. Investigate the options at the links below.

Links.

Hadal website, http://www.intothehadal.com/

Hadal Bandcamp, https://intothehadal.bandcamp.com/releases

Hadal Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/HadalOfficial

Planet K Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/planetkrecords

Planet K Bandcamp, https://planetkrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hadal-december

Hadal, December review (Planet K Records 2020)