Defect Designer, Neanderthal (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Free-form death metal band Defect Designer hoe their own row on Neanderthal.

Constructed in Norway and endorsed by Diskord, Defect Designer is a death metal band that does not closely monitor is sub-genre status. Elements of grind, punk, and hardcore exist and come and go as the musical river rages by filled with objects both blunt and sharp. The band has two previous long-players, Wax (2009) and Ageing Accelerator (2015), and the new one is a tight EP loaded with accelerant. The musicians are Eyvind W. Axelsen (bass), Simen Kandola (drums), Dmitry Sukhinin (vocals, guitar, bass), and Martin Storm-Olsen (vocals, guitar).

The album begins in chaos with the one-minute title track. Growling, howling, beating, and shoving – savage knuckle-dragging punk. Tasty.

“Wrinkles” is a little more linear, in a way. It maintains the ragged power of the opener but it is followable. There is a compelling guitar line walking alongside the vocals in the second stanza and a taunting bridge that is a pure delight. The warbling stays mostly near the rails, and there is a Misfits-like playfulness that surfaces in the second half. “Trolls” then is a beating taken stretched out on a rack. The tension is relaxed and increased in a cycle that is unpredictable.

“Luddites” goes toward the land of doom and the hollow of prog, but it doesn’t actually wander over those borders. The music at first seems straight-forward but soon it reveals itself not to be. It is my favorite track. “Vlad” and “Pigsty” have a comradery in excess. The former is a dead run of brutal badgering while the latter takes a break to go to a jazz lunge for a pop before heading out into the night at the end.

“Time, Forward” shuts the door with an embedded identity of contained plethora. The press release was right about the “maniacal fervour” of this music. It exists in loosely described borders where “rules” is not a concept that is entertained seriously. It is hard, loud, and fast. Recommended.

Neanderthal is out on Friday, July 8th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Examine the options at the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/defectdesigner1

Defect Designer website, https://www.defect-designer.com/

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

© Wayne Edwards

Defect Designer, Neanderthal (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Hypermass, Empyrean (2022)

Progressive death metal band Hypermass release their debut full-length album, Empyrean.

Formed ten years ago in Norway, Hypermass issued a demo in 2013 called Into Oblivion, then the EP Clouded Visions a couple years later. Since 2015 they have been rather quiet on the recording front, raising expectations for their first long-player, Empyrean. Playing progressive death metal that is loaded with grooves, hooks, and technical proficiency, they exist on their own self-constructed plane. The band is Markus Sundet (vocals), Thomas Pedersen (guitar), Sindre Dagestad (guitar), and Martin Nordvik (bass). Torgeir Aambø did the drum work on the new recording.

There are nine tracks on the album, starting with a short on ramp, “The Constant.” “Hivemind” is the first detailed glimpse into the universe of the set and it walks you around the expansive neighborhood, offering clues to the keys to the coming compositions. The hammer drops and the prog breaks out and it is more like a festival than a chemistry class. That is the hallmark of Hypermass – they confident enough in their own ideas that they do not try to fit in anyone else’s mold.

There is a plethora of looks on the album. The grisly “The Degenerate Strain” has its own approachability despite its sharp edges. Watch out for the ripping lead guitar that springs to life unexpectedly. “Null and Void” has the fully formed heaviness, too, that is somehow carried on a musical anti-gravity mechanism that allows it to move toward wherever you are at the time you hear it. It is almost mystical the way it works.

The title track comes near the end of the record and it is an achievement. Whether the sky is coming down or we are rising to meet it the journey is multifaceted and absolutely fascinating. The guitar on this song shines again, and the coarse vocals remind us that existence is multidimensional. Excellent throughout, and recommended.

Empyrean is out now. Bandcamp is a quick place to hear it – at the link below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hypermass.bandcamp.com/album/empyrean

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHw3woqZYJMR4AN9Yf02jRQ

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

© Wayne Edwards

Hypermass, Empyrean (2022)

Black Void, Antithesis (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The flipped coin lands on the Black Void side with Antithesis.

Norwegian band White Void plays a luxurious sort of heavy music; bright and melodic. Black Void is looking at the world from a different perspective. Not like Janus, not to me anyway. These two forces exist together. I read this description of Black Void: “a musical equivalent of a punk with a Mohawk fighting a dude in corpse paint.” I’ll take that one, too. White Void put out a successful album last year, and now we have this alternate look on the world from Black Void, Antithesis. The band is Jostein Thomassen (guitar), Tobias Øymo Solbakk (drums), and Lars Are Nedland (vocals, bass).

The music is described more formally as a combination of black metal and punk. Whenever I hear those two mentioned together my mind immediately skips to Venom, but that is not where Black Void goes. There is a punk sensibility throughout, and you can hear black metal twinges, but they are much more subdued. There are many hooks and catchy moments, and there are also frequent melodic passages. The perfect example is “Tenebrism Of Life,” which has gruff vocals and an aggressive guitar attack. I also offers singable moments and toys with pop-punk catchiness. It is an excellent hard-edged song that gets right in your head.

Top picks for me on the album are “It’s Not Surgery, It’s A Knife Fight” and “Void.” Both of these have the kind of punkitude that brightened me up and made me want to punch the air. The final two songs on the set are heavy hitters, too: “Nihil” and “Dadaist Disgust.” The band has talked about the nihilist aspects (Nietzsche) and the influence of Dadaism on this set. If you are looking for it, go to the end and work your way back toward the beginning. You will not be disappointed. I don’t know what White Void fans will think of Black Void, but I think this record is great. Recommended.

Antithesis is out on Friday, May 27th through Nuclear Blast Records. More info at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blckvod.bandcamp.com/album/antithesis

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/black-void-antithesis.html

© Wayne Edwards

Black Void, Antithesis (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Warzaw, Black Magic Satellite (2021)

Norwegian metalheads Warzaw release their second album of 2021, Black Magic Satellite.

At the beginning of this year, Warzaw unleashed Werewolves On Wheels, a full-length 1980s-metal-inspired album that brought an enormous amount of heavy metal joy. Now they are back to close the year out with an all new long-player, Black Magic Satellite. Points for diligence and hard work. More importantly, the new one branches out a little more than Werewolves did while staying in the broad lane of banging heavy metal. The musicians who make up Warzaw are Daniel Rønning (vocals), Håvard Alvarez (guitar), Trond Jullumstrø (guitar and bass), and Mats Sødahl (drums).

“Santa Mira” gets things going on this eleven track set. It crackles with energy and pace, and offers up an satisfyingly digestible chorus. The melody takes hold of you with hot hands and stands you up for the excellent lead break. This song rips. “Fierce Attitude” comes next, and it is also speedy, plus a little more grizzly. The tempo shifts slightly on the third track, “Send My Regards,” toward the center lane, retaining the heaviness of its predecessors while mixing things up a bit. The lyrics here are rougher, the lead break more raw; a flexing juxtaposition.

Throughout the album, the standard hard rock set-up frames the compositions and deploys that reliable familiarity. The surety of this position allows the band to rub confidently its own scent in every crease and crevice of each song. Other stand-out tracks for me are “Circular Talk” and the closer, “Sabres of Flesh and Blood.” There is not a weak one in the bunch.

This album is every bit as good as Werewolves, and it pledges a bright future for the next one. I really like this band. Recommended.

Black Magic Satellite is out tomorrow, December 31st. Listen to it on Spotify or search the ether for a place to buy the digital album.

Links.

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/2pJZWxMzv2TwO99Y3HIDFb

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZxg45Ijq7UkZQ-37lc0jxQ

FFMB Werewolves On Wheels review, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2021/02/11/warzaw-werewolves-on-wheels-2021/

Warzaw, Black Magic Satellite (2021)

Gåte, Nord (Indie Recordings 2021)

Heavy folk band Gåte release their fifth album, Nord.

It has been more than twenty years since Gåte first got together in Norway. They have released eight previous recordings – four each of EPs and LPs. The music is what I call acoustic doom. I am also at peace with doom folk as a label. The musicians are Gunnhild Sundli (vocals and violin), Magnus Børmark (guitar, vocals, and percussion), Sveinung Sundli (Hardanger fiddle, organ, vocals, and percussion) Jon Even Schærer (percussion and vocals).

“Solfager og Ormekongen” has the sound of a soft and soulful tale with persistent tamping percussion, organic huffing in the background, strings, and the occasional impression of woodland creatures. The English translation of the title is “Solfager and the Worm King” and there is a detailed description of the story, too, in the press materials. It is nice to read, and certainly interesting, but it also a little like cheating since I will never understand the lyrics when I hear them sung. Whenever I hear songs in a language I do not know, the vocal becomes a pure instrument with only the literal sound and the emotional expression that comes through the presence of the singer’s voice. It is an incomplete experience but it is also an unclouded one.

I love Gunnhild Sundli’s voice and, listening to it without narrative understanding, I am nonetheless transfixed. This is not metal, not even folk metal. And yet, listen to “Rideboll og Gullborg” and tell me it is not heavy in tone and deep in ponderment. Like doom music. The folk setting and the use of traditional instruments, especially the heavy reliance on percussion, changes the perspective and style, but does not disturb the seriousness or the depth of emotion. To me, it is enthralling. Recommended.

Nord is out on Friday, December 3rd through Indie Recordings. Bandcamp is the place to go in the US for an easy acquisition.

Links.

Website, https://gaate-music.com/

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

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

Indie Recordings, https://shop.indierecordings.no/

Gåte, Nord (Indie Recordings 2021)

Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Sarke has created another unstoppable metal music amalgam on their seventh album, Allsighr.

Sarke is an unusual metal band from Oslo, Norway. They have released six previous albums, the most recent one being Gastwerso in 2019, and they have been at this for ony a decade. Widely regarded as seminal players in metal fusion, Sarke’s reputation will be embellished by their newest album with its boundless creativity. The musicians are Nocturno Culto (vocals), Sarke (bass), Steinar Gundersen (guitar), Anders Hunstad (keys), and Cato Bekkevold (drums).

There are ten rugged tracks on Allsighr. The opener is “Bleak Reflections,” and it has groove-laced primary riffs that propel it along its dark path. Sarke is known for an atypical mixology, combining basic rock from the 1970s with curious bursts and – least likely to go with the others – black metal infusions. It is crackle and stomp with a gloomy cloak strolling in the swirling mist. The perfect example is the song “Grim Awakening,” which has a mid-tempo riff and dreamy keys and then a chorus that goes, “I leap into cruelty / I leap into hate / a grim awakening / will seal my fate.” Juxtaposition on parade.

There are many songs to admire on this album. A couple of my favorites include “Funeral Fire” for its inventive creepiness and “Beheading of the Circus Director” for its incredible urgency and unstoppable optimism. This music will completely take you over if you let it. And you should let it. Listen to “Through The Thorns” and tell me I am wrong. I am not getting over this album anytime soon.

The drop date for Allsighr is Friday, November 5th through Soulseller Records. Snap it up on-line or at your favorite local music store. It’s a ripper. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/allsighr

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

Soulseller Records, https://soulsellerrecords.aisamerch.com/

Sarke, Allsighr (Soulseller Records 2021)

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The new album from Diskord is another challenging foray into the wilderness of heavy music.

If you are looking for the usual Death Metal band then Diskord is not for you. Their music comes at you from all sorts of angles, many of which you didn’t even know were there. Formed in Norway in 1999, their first full-length album was Doomscapes (2012), followed by Dystopics in 2012 and now the new one, Degenerations. The band is Hans Jørgen (vocals, drums), Dmitry (guitar, vocals), and Eyvind (bass, electric upright bass, cello, theremin, synth, vocals).

The album begins with two short pieces followed by three common-length songs and a sort of exit ramp for side one after that. The first notes are grating. This sound is joined by a drum roll and a bass line. The music starts to form into a Mothers Of Invention kind of arrangement, then darts off into what sounds a little like Black Metal for a few bars. That sounds chaotic, but I do not think it is. There is purpose here in the mind of the composer even if it is not apparent to the receiver.

The second track is rather discordant, while the third, “Abnegations,” follows a more linear path. The percussion is raucous, as are the vocals, and there is a surprisingly straight-forward lead break about a third of the way through that third track … then entropy. And more entropy across the entire set.

You could put a number of different labels on separate parts of this music but it is difficult to describe overall. Avant-garde, sure, but that doesn’t really tell you much. The music is definitely radical. It might make sense to some listeners – maybe there are those who can put the pieces together in their head into some sort of recognizable whole. For me, I think of it more as an experience I had rather than something I can explain. If you are up for a challenge, give Diskord an ear.

Degenerations is out on Friday, August 13th through Transcending Obscurity. Touch the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://diskordband.bandcamp.com/album/degenerations-dissonant-technical-death-metal

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

Diskord website, https://diskord.net/news

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

Diskord, Degenerations (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Darkthrone, Eternal Hails… (Peaceville Records 2021)

Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are back with another bubbling cauldron of metal: Eternal Hails…

Darkthrone has been throwing its weight around the heavy music scene since the mid-1980s. Cracking in with Death Metal at first, they became well known for the seminal Black Metal albums they released in the 1990s – 1993’s Under A Funeral Moon, for example, and its immediate successor the following year, Transylvanian Hunger. New albums came over the years, laying down the history of the band and establishing its legacy.

The new record leans into the Doom Metal side of the Darkthrone universe with five long crushing tracks. When I say doom, I mean heavy doom. “His Master’s Voice” is slow and pulverizing with a tempo change or two but clearly focused on pressing you down with its mass. “Hate Cloak,” my personal favorite of this set, stays in the same lane, with straight-forward riffs that have an overwhelming simplicity that is hypnotizing.

“Wake of the Awakened” breaks the gate with an up-tempo rate and the pace is maintained throughout, like a charging cavalry. “Voyage to a Northpole Adrift” offers a riff of despair in its establishing moments, but turns to a purposefulness later on that gives you a feeling of exploration in a barren place. The anchor song is “Lost Arcane City of Uppåkra.” This song more than any of the others fits perfectly the description Fenriz gave the album, “Five heavy dinosaurs looking in wonder and bewilderment at the stars.” Heavy, monstrous, unstoppable.

I have always liked the music Darkthrone creates no matter what direction they go in. I’d put this new album high on the list of their accomplishments, even given all the great work they have done in the past. Recommended.

Eternal Hails… is out on Friday, June 25th from Peaceville Records in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.

Band photo by Jørn Steen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://peaceville.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-hails

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Darkthrone-101075189934422

Peaceville Records, https://peaceville.com/bands/darkthrone/

Darkthrone, Eternal Hails… (Peaceville Records 2021)

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Norway’s White Tundra is coming out hot with new seven-inch riffery that’ll get you groovin’.

The band is fairly new, having formed into a single unit just a few years ago. Last year, they released the Graveyard Blues EP, and now we have this new single seven. It is a riff-and-groove affair, like riding in a dune buggy in the sun while watching encroaching storm clouds on the horizon.

“Honningfella” sounds like a giant tromping the ground and swinging small trees around. The steady pulsing guitars and single-along moments make this song a heavy rotation necessity.

They get the wood block out for “One More Place,” making me nostalgic for the 70s. This one is more of a sitting down song that the A-side track. Take a load off, imbibe, nod your head. Repeat.

We don’t cover singles much here but this new White Tundra release was just so much fun there was no way to resist. Super fuzzy, extra buzzy. Recommended.

You can pick this up right now – hit the links below. The digital is out and the physicals ship in early July.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://whitetundra.bandcamp.com/album/honningfella

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

All Good Clean Records, https://www.allgoodcleanrecords.com/

White Tundra, Honningfella (All Good Clean Records 2021)

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)

Norwegian metal duo Gorr strike back with their second album in as many years.

Gorr is Gjøran Sæther, known as Skuggimaðr, and Evan Barton, known as Hateful Wind. The band is in the earlier stages and is still growing into its emerging identity. The musicians have done a lot of work under different fronts and so the experience the have, even if it is relatively new, is also notably deep.

The opening track has a desert vibe to it, which works in arctic environments, too. A solitary guitar alongside a hissing vocal is all that is utilized for the first minute and a half, and then minimal percussion swings in to finish it off. The very next song opens full blast with the vocals mixed heavy into the forefront, posting very black metal. Side one wraps on the contemplative “Mørkt Føre, Mørke Bak” – distressed, forlorn, hopeless.

Rapid riffs crack open the second triplet, forging an opening for rampaging percussion. “Ditt Uendelege Raseri” has a similar opening but a different trajectory, and it is more driving and persistent. The closing song has a droning quality to it at the jump, and an overwhelming, hyper-stimulated essence along with a new raspiness to the vocal. Any intimation of relief is entirely gone by now, and it is no longer simply sadness, it is suffering.

The artists describe the album, in part, this way: “The duality in relying on nature for survival and the very clear sense of doom that follows closely is reflected through this album. Life and death, combat and construction, noble goals and meaningless losses. This is Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket.” Even without the explanation many of these ideas come through very clearly in the music. It makes sense to me. Recommended.

Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket is out now and Bandcamp is the place to pick it up in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://gorr.bandcamp.com/album/kvit-som-sn-en-kald-i-blikket

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

Website, https://gorr.no/

Gorr, Kvit Som Snøen, Kald i Blikket (2021)