Aphotic, Abyssgazer (Sentient Ruin 2023)

The debut album from Italian blackened death-doom band Aphotic is a mesmerizing trip into the unexplored, Abyssgazer.

Aphotic is a new band, coming together in 2020 when like-minded musicians from existing heavy groups decided they wanted to do something a bit different. To wit, they had the “intent of constructing world-building, deeply atmospheric death metal soundtracking a philosophical and eschatological concept revolving around the expansion and ultimate fate, and death, of our universe.” That is a tall order, but after listening to the album a couple of times, I think they might have done it.

“Endzeit I” is a short lead-in piece that sets up the first main song, “Spectral Degradation,” which begins with a barrage of battering percussion meant to knock you down, followed by a midtempo death metal assault that is dark, murky, and entirely satisfying. The sound of calling disembodied voices will live in your mind ever after. “Cosmivore” is tentative at first, but not for long. Interdimensional suffering can be heard and felt as the growling vocals carry the story forward. This is a heavy, monstrous song. “Deathward And Beyond” has a tilted doom framing. It is a completely different beast.

After another interlude, the second triplet begins with the title track, “Abyssgazer,” a mystical entreaty. The swirling, swarming voices are in full force, and they menace the trudging doom. Excellent. “Horizonless” is a high-energy assault with masterful layers and sagacity, while “Depths Call Depths” is more of a soldiering rumbler, getting the job done with force and dread resolve. After a final interlude (which is the most disturbing of the three by far), the ending appears: “Chasmous.” Enchantingly gloomy, this one resonated most with me, although the entire set is excellent. This album is my first time listening to Aphotic – it is their debut, after all – and now they have my attention. Recommended.

Abyssgazer is out in all the usual formats on Friday, March 24th through Sentient Ruin Laboratories in the US, and Nuclear Winter Records in Europe. You can order your preferred format at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/album/abyssgazer

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

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

Nuclear Winter Records, https://nuclearwinterrecords.com/shop/

© Wayne Edwards

Aphotic, Abyssgazer (Sentient Ruin 2023)

Cancervo, II (Electric Valley 2023)

Psychedelic stoner doom metal band Cancervo release their second full-length album, the humbly titled II.

Named after a mountain, Cancervo began in Lombardy, Italy in 2020. They have one previous long-player to their account, the equally unassuming I. This doom trio creates understated and darkly insinuating doom that is heavy by doom standards. There is not a ton of background info floating around about the band, so let’s get right into the music.

“Arera” is minimalistic doom metal with steady percussion and rhythm, haunting vocals, and deliberate lead guitar work in the second half. The musicians are putting it out there and letting the sonic vibrations mow you over. “Herdsman of Grem” has a funeral doom intonation to it. Thinking back, so did the opening song. Indeed, funeral doom is not a bad way to conceptualize the slow, titanic riff construction. The repetition of the primary bars sets the feeling in your bones so that you are better prepared for the forlorn guitar departure in the back half. “The Cult of Armentarga” continues the dirge, while “Devil’s Coffin” is almost speed metal by comparison, with its hop-along bass line. You cannot ignore the ritual elements to this music – it works on you in that chant-like way, a characteristic that sets this music apart from otherwise similar contemporary doom.

Side two has a pair of long songs, “Zambla” and “Zambel’s Goat.” The question of whether they are more closely related to each other than to the other songs in the set is perhaps moot. It is amazing how different an eight- or nine-minute songs can be compared to a five- or six-minute song – the extra couple minutes have a dramatic impact on compositional pacing. Even more than side one, the ritual nature of this music finds its way into more than your ears. The music soaks into you and, particularly on the closing track, entrances. After you hear this second album, listen to the first one … then come back and hear the new one again. You will be hooked. Recommended.

Cancervo’s second album is out now through Electric Valley Records. Check it out at the Bandcamp link below.

Band photo by Beatrice V. Gotti.


Bandcamp, https://cancervo.bandcamp.com/album/ii

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Cancervo, II (Electric Valley 2023)

Demonio, Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn (Regain 2022)

Italian stoner metal band Demonio puts it all together on Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn.

Demonio is a power trio that plays doom stoner heavy psych metal music that will open your mind, whether or not you are chemically prepared for the journey. Peopled by Matteo (bass), Paolo (drums), and Anthony (guitar, vocals), Demonio have put out a long-player and an EP in the past couple of years, titled, respectively, Electric Voodoo (2021) and Black Dawn (2022). The new record collects these two in one place and makes them available in new physical editions to go along with the digital that already exists.

The spirit awakens with “From the Grave,” a trippy, groovy, guitar-driven delight. If anything is coming out of the grave, it is just popping up to light the bong, so never fear. “Lust for the Dark” takes a step back to consider the impetus of carnality and its association with dim lighting. Heh-heh. Not really. It is a slower cook, and that just makes the notes all the more tender to the touch. The lead guitar is either the charmer or the snake, and, whichever is true, the effect is hypnotizing. “Acid’s Dream” is fuzzier and grungier and every bit as potent. The established range is challenged throughout, enriching the musical environment.

The title tracks have a special place in the set. “Electric Voodoo” is a warbly enabler, encouraging deeper explorations than have so far come to pass. “Black Dawn” is one of the longer songs in the compilation, and it makes expert use of all the afforded space. The long, languid middle keeps your mind from exploding, and the punching ending is an excellent send-off. Recommended.

Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn is out now in digital and CD through Regain Records, with a vinyl version to follow in 2023 from DHU Records.


Demonio Bandcamp, https://demonio666.bandcamp.com/album/electric-voodoo

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

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

Shadow Records, https://www.shadowrecords.se/

Helter Skelter Productions, https://www.facebook.com/helterskelterproductions/

Regain Records, https://regainrecords.bandcamp.com/album/electric-voodoo-of-the-black-dawn

© Wayne Edwards

Demonio, Electric Voodoo Of The Black Dawn (Regain 2022)

Godwatt, Vol. III (Time To Kill 2022)

Italian heavy metal band Godwatt release their third (and seventh) album, Vol. III.

The band was originally named Godwatt Redemption when it was formed in 2006, and they released a few albums under that moniker. In 2013, they switched to singing in Italian on their recordings and shortened their name to Godwatt. The new record is Vol. III, and the math still eludes me on that one (because they have released seven LPs, an EP, and a demo), but however we count, the musicians are veterans who have been plying their trade for a great long while. The music grows from solid classic metal and doom, reaching in unique directions from that firm grounding. The band is Moris Fosco (guitar, vocals, effects), Mauro Birdman (bass), and Jacopo Granieri (drums).

The gates open with “Signora Morte.” It is not what I expected. There is a strong Deep Purple vibe here, with an enduring “Space Truckin’” momentum, seemingly at odds with the title. But then, as I often point out, my knowledge of romance languages is scant, so whatever the lyrics might mean is lost on me in any case. It has a charging sound and great rambler riff. “Sepolta” comes next and is paced at a more moderated tempo, bringing out a stronger sense of doom. Heavy and grim, this song has a challenging lead guitar line that starts out in the vein of Thin Lizzy before breaking toward Candlemass. It gives you something to think about. “Croce” bends your head down even farther, dripping as it does with dark atmosphere. The album is off to an excellent start with these three very different looks.

“Delirio” has a great chop, and “Oscura” offers fear-inducing thunder-riffs. The heaviness is coming through unfiltered on these two. The final remarks are “Non Ritornerai” and “Lamenti.” The former has my favorite lead work of the set, and the latter draws out the ending with titillating luxuriousness. This album is a tight doom jam that leaves you wanting more. Recommended.

Vol. III is out now through Time To Kill Records. Explore the options at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://godwatt.bandcamp.com/album/vol-iii

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Godwatt, Vol. III (Time To Kill 2022)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Bandcamp, https://tenebro666.bandcamp.com

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

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)