Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Florida death metal band Massacre roll out the Lovecraftian Resurgence, their fourth big album.

It has been a long road for Massacre. The band formed in 1984 and became well-known for a number of demos they released throughout the rest of that decade. Their first full-length album was From Beyond (1991), followed five years later by Promise. Things got quiet for about fifteen years after that. Back From Beyond was Massacre’s return to form in 2014 and now, seven years later, the latest installment in their history is Resurgence.

The music is straight-forward old school death metal with a strong reliance on H. P. Lovecraft for narrative content. Vocalist Kam Lee describes to new music this way. “lyrically it is basically about body horror of aquatic transmutation. Any deeper meaning than that is just speculative, but could simply be metaphor for our world’s current situation with the pandemic and other threats of the spreading of viral infection. Musically it’s just proper O.S.D.M. the way it’s meant to be played …”

The set begins with mystery and esoteric insinuations on the “Eldritch Prophecy” lead-in before turning to a heavy pounding riff and then taking off at speed. A vocal growl is the sign that death metal is kicking in. Ascending guitars rise above the pummeling percussion and a hiss harmony deepens the vocal attack. It is a great beginning.

Through the course of ten raging tracks, the story unfolds and the music takes a tour through recognizable Old School Death Metal stomping grounds, adding fresh blasts and turns to enhance the delivery. The pace ranges from mid- to up-tempo, spending a lot of time in the fast lane. Lead breaks and guitar pairings are reliably recurrent and the metal is heavy and solid. Could you ask for anything more? Recommended.

Resurgence rises to the surface on Friday, October 22nd through Nuclear Blast Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://massacre3.bandcamp.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/massacre-resurgence

Massacre, Resurgence (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new Carcass album is a raucous affair, filled with sinister chuckles and Torn Arteries.

Carcass is such a well-known band I don’t think much background is needed here. Their history is fascinating, being on the forefront of Death- and Goregrind, and later also being influential in the early days of Melodic Death Metal. The initial run was in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, then they reformed in 2007. Since that renaissance, they have released EPs, splits, and the full-length Surgical Steel in 2013. The new album is the band’s seventh long-player, if I counted right, and it is a rager.

The title track is the opener and it spins directly at you with a vigorous multifaceted attack. The vocals are gruff and full, the riffs and percussion are fireworks set on solid steel poles, and the lead work is aching and familiar. Without a breath, “Dance of Ixtab” whips in with active parallel rhythm that fosters direct and immediate catchiness. And then “Eleanor Rigor Mortis.” Come on. Is there any way you are not going to love a Carcass song with a title like this? No, no way. It is an excellent entry that features a vocal-lead guitar pairing. And we are still on side one.

“Under The Scalpel Blade” has a slower tempo up front, and “The Devil Rides Out” does Dennis Wheatley (and also Hammer Studios) proud. “Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment Limited” is the longest track, landing at ten minutes, and it is a theatrical presentation with a compellingly dramatic arc that manages sorrow and anguish, terror and regret in the fullness of its articulation. The final strokes occur on “The Scythe’s Remorseless Swing,” the fittingest of all possible closers.

It has been eight years since the last big album from Carcass so I expected Torn Arteries to be something special. It turns out I was right – it is instantly one of my favorites in their distinguished and storied catalogue. Highly recommended.

Torn Arteries is out through Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, September 17th. Join the fray.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carcass.bandcamp.com/album/torn-arteries

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/2lp/carcass-torn-arteries-red-.html

Carcass, Torn Arteries (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Carnifex, Graveside Confessions (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Carnifex is back with their eighth long-player, Graveside Confessions.

Hailing from San Diego, Carnifex has built an indelible reputable for creating blackened deathcore music over the past fifteen years. From their first full-length album Dead In My Arms (2007) all the way through to their newest, Graveside Confessions, their unique perspective has given color and life to the unforgettable music they create. Each new album is an adventure, and it is one you can’t wait to take. The band is Scott Lewis (vocals), Shawn Cameron (drums), Cory Arford (guitar), and Fred Calderon (bass).

The music is crushing, punishing deathcore on songs like the opener, the title track. The percussion is killer, absolutely blistering. The vocals are a study in savagery. And then there are other, unusual elements – who could have anticipated the lyrical flourish that blinks in and out? A solemnity enters the discussion at half past, a contemplative reflection, and then the crushing continues. The outcome of this multifaceted musical attack is obliterating.

The show goes on for more than an hour with one explosive emanation after another. “Seven Souls” was a track that stood out for me, and so did “Talk To The Dead.” But then there is the haunting and unusual “January Nights” followed immediately by the rampaging “Cemetery Wanderer.” This album is a wonderland of dark riches.

A pleasant surprise on the new album is the re-recorded versions of three songs from the band’s first album: “Collaborating Like Killers,” “My Heart In Atrophy,” and “Slit Wrist Savior.” The improvements in recording technology that have occurred since the originals were set down are employed in the best possible ways make these early songs gleam. All this comes together to create an irresistible album. Highly recommended.

Graveside Confessions is out now from Nuclear Blast Records. Get the goods at the label link below or by jumping from the band’s website.

Band photo by Jim Louvau.

Links.

Carnifex website, http://www.carnifexmetal.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/7429480.3074076.graveside-confessions.html

Carnifex, Graveside Confessions (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Paradise Lost, At The Mill (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Paradise Lost release their second live album of 2021, At The Mill.

The importance of Paradise Lost to the heavy music community is difficult to overstate. They are pioneers in transformative doom metal and are founders, really, of what became gothic doom. Since forming in 1988 they have released sixteen studio albums, including 2020’s Obsidian. Their place is permanent in the history of metal and they continue to create and innovate with each passing year.

This new album is a recording of the livestream the band did last fall at The Mill Nightclub in Yorkshire, England, their hometown. It follows Gothic – Live at Roadburn 2016 that came out earlier this year. Both are complete sets but there is almost no overlap between them. The set list for At The Mill is “Widow,” “Fall from Grace,” “Blood and Chaos,” “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us,” “Gothic,” “Shadowkings,” “One Second,” “Ghosts,” “The Enemy,” “As I Die,” “Requiem,” “No Hope in Sight,” “Embers Fire,” “Beneath Broken Earth,” “So Much Is Lost,” and “Darker Thoughts.”

If you are a fan you will know all the songs. The melodic metal tinted with dark, gothic themes and enriched by the lyrical lead guitar work is nectar to your ears. Paradise Lost has always been known for its compelling live performances and they are holding nothing back on At The Mill. While the band already has many live albums in their catalogue, I recommend this one as well to hear their current state of excellence.

At The Mill is out this Friday, July 16th, through Nuclear Blast Records. You can get the digital at Bandcamp and the vinyl or CD/Blu Ray combo at the Nuclear Blast shop. The Blu Ray is a good option if you missed the original livestream.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://paradiselostofficial.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-mill

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sonstiges/paradise-lost-at-the-mill-cd-blu-ray-.html

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/paradiselostuk

Paradise Lost, At The Mill (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Earthless, Live In The Mojave Desert (Giant Rock Records 2021)

Volume 1 of the Live In The Mojave Desert albums is the Earthless set and it is a nova.

The Live In The Mojave Desert project gathered five bands in a remote location, recorded live sets and filmed the isolated performances. The model for this was Pink Floyd’s famous Live At Pompeii, which had no audience. In addition to Earthless, the other bands are Nebula, Spirit Mother, Mountain Tamer, and Stoner, all getting video and audio releases.

Earthless is Mario Rubalcaba (drums), Isaiah Mitchell (guitars), and Mike Eginton (bass). I started listening to them for their long-form instrumental rock/metal compositions. More recently they have occasionally included vocals. The music is desert groove, heavy psych mystical guitar-laden jams. It is the kind of thing that can really take you away.

The set includes three songs, “Violence Of The Red Sea” (16:52), “Sonic Prayer” (21:02), and “Lost In The Cold Sun” (39:09). If you are an Earthless fan then you have heard these all before, especially “Sonic Prayer.” You also know, if you’re a fan, that every time the band plays a song you have heard before it is different – the familiarity is there, important segments and melodies and movements, and still it is new and different. Every time. That is one of the main reasons why I listen to Earthless so often. I know the music and it is always new. Highly recommended.

Nuclear Blast Records is in charge of the digital and the physicals come from Giant Rock Records. There are many different versions out there. I suggest watching the video in addition to listening because seeing the performance is in line with the original intention of the project and I believe it enhances your experience. If you want a keeper for the video, a blu-ray edition is being produced.

Band photo by Atiba Jefferson.

Links.

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

Earthless website, https://www.earthlessofficial.com/

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

Giant Rock Records, https://www.liveinthemojavedesert.com/

Streaming links, https://earthless.bfan.link/live-in-the-mojave-desert

Earthless, Live In The Mojave Desert (Giant Rock Records 2021)

Rob Zombie, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Zombie stalks again with a new statement of his musical hurricane philosophy, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy.

Rob Zombie first entered my sensory orbit the way he did for most people, with the formidable band White Zombie. Those last two albums, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One (1992) and Astro-Creep: 2000 (1995), are platinum monsters. The combination of horror movie themes and dialogue clips from films was a pretty new thing at the time, and White Zombie brought them into the mainstream with a sledge hammer.

Zombie went solo after the titanic success of White Zombie, releasing the beefy album Hellbilly Deluxe in 1998, and the big follow-up, The Sinister Urge, three years later. After that, he became more and more interested in making films, and his music shifted a little. He kept releasing albums every few years, and he remained extremely popular for his live performances, I last saw him at Aftershock in 2019 and it was a riot – and incredible show of loud music, flashes and bangs.

The new album has seventeen tracks with six transition segments. The opening insinuation is uncustomarily gentle. Oh, it picks right up, never fear. The music is not far off of what you probably expect: big guitar riffs, sound effects, dialogue captures, and Rob Zombie’s commanding voice.

The themes are from horror movies and situations, along with a number of completely off the wall crossovers, like the delightfully unexpected country-western-metal fusion of “The 18th Century Cannibals, Excitable Morlocks and a One-Way Ticket to the Ghost Train.” There are bangers in there too, as in the single, “The Eternal Struggles of the Howling Man,” a super-creepy whisperer “Boom-Boom-Boom,” and even an instrumental ballad, “The Much Talked of Metamorphosis.” The closer is the longest song, “Crow Killer Blues,” and it is a little horror musical all its own. It has the most serious tone to my ears, and it is the most compositionally fulfilling. There is something in here for everyone.

One thing you know for sure about a Rob Zombie album is that it’s going to be entertaining. Box checked. Recommended.

Get it absolutely everywhere now. Links below.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock 2019.

Links.

Website, https://robzombie.com/

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/rob-zombie-the-lunar-injection-kool-aid-eclipse-conspiracy.html

Rob Zombie, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Korpiklaani, Jylhä (Nuclear Blast Records 2021)

For almost twenty years, Korpiklaani has been a prominent driving force in the Folk Metal music world, and now they are releasing their eleventh full-length studio album, Jylhä.

It all started with Spirit of the Forest in 2003 and there has been a steady creative flow ever since. The band is from Finland and while there are folk fusion amalgams from many musical traditions all over the globe, there is something that makes this particular folk music the perfect building block for a heavy music combination. Or maybe it is just that the musicians in Korpiklaani are among the very best at what they do, which is certainly true as well. The band is Cane (guitar and vocals), Jonne Järvelä (vocals, guitars, multiple folk instruments), Jarkko Aaltonen (bass), Tuomas Rounakari (violin), Sami Perttula (accordion), and Samuli Mikkonen (drums).

The music begins big in guitars with “Verikoira,” laying down a catchy, quick rhythm for the more traditionally folk elements to surround. The accordion takes the lead on the second track, “Niemi,” at the gate, but the guitar is never far away. The blending of metal and traditional instruments and melody is, after all, the point. Each song has its own look and life, casting a vast array of colors and spells throughout the thirteen songs on the album.

The music on the album is very up-tempo and vibrant, and even on quieter pieces with less riffage (like “Leväluhta”) the metal does not completely disappear. There is always an elegant balance across the diversity of musical structure so that neither primary force is lost to the other. You want to hear this music for that balance, to get the rare elements that don’t typically exist in heavy music while maintaining the adrenaline and drive of metal. That is exactly what comes through in every track. Recommended.

You can pick up the CD and digital download of Jylhä on Friday February 5th. The vinyl versions are a little bit delayed because of the pandemic – they will be out in March.

Links.

Website, https://korpiklaani.com/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.de/label/music/band/news/uebersicht/71067.korpiklaani.html

Korpiklaani, Jylhä (Nuclear Blast Records 2021)

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The new Soilwork EP is Long Play in length and grand in stature.

I jumped onto the Soilwork bandwagon with Sworn To A Great Divide in 2007, and that was their seventh full-length album so I started out way behind the curve. Discovering the rest of their music over the years by hearing the subsequent new releases while simultaneously going through the back catalogue was a journey and a quest. Melodic Death Metal segue to Metalcore and Groove, the music was always full bodied and finished with precision.

The new EP is 38 minutes long with an epic opening song that runs nearly half that total length. Soilwork has produced some long songs, but nothing like this. And significantly, there is a lot of story here, which makes sense given the nature of the construction. The band for A Whisp Of The Atlantic is Bjorn Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Sylvain Coudret (guitar), Sven Karlsson (keys, samples), and Bastian Thusgaard (drums).

Andersson tells us that each songs has an underlying core, “From the desire of ‘Feverish,’ the urge of ‘Desperado,’ the determinism of ‘Death Diviner,’ the insights and questions of ‘The Nothingness and the Devil’ and the acceptance and spiritual searching of ‘A Whisp of the Atlantic.’” The centerpiece title song is a complicated composition ranging over a broad spectrum of music and feeling in its seventeen minutes. It does not stand alone on the album, but it could, in my estimation. It is theatrical and cinematic, by which I mean the presentation of the story through the music exists on the large broad scale and also on a close, intimate one. It is hard to imagine that a band with legendary status like Soilwork would continue to innovate to this degree and post such a milestone so far along their path, but here they have done it. Recommended.

December 4th is the drop date for A Whisp Of The Atlantic. It is an essential element in the Soilwork canon.

Band photo by Stephansdotter Photography.

Links.

Soilwork website, https://www.soilwork.org/

Soilwork Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soilwork/

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/label/music/band/discography/details/6963921.70960.a-whisp-of-the-atlantic-ep.html

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

The trilogy is now complete as Scour releases the final EP in the cycle, Black.

The band Scour is the stuff of dark dreams: Philip H. Anselmo (lead vocals), Derek Engemann (guitar, vocals), John Jarvis (bass, vocals), Mark Kloeppel (guitar, vocals), and Adam Jarvis (drums). These musicians came together in 2015 and started a musical project to be released in three parts. First was Grey (2016), and then Red (2017), and now the final installment has arrived, Black.

The music has a ravaging brutality about it, a dedication to Black Metal and Grindcore principles. “Doom” breaks the silence with sirens, fair warning and a sign that the onslaught is underway. The music is a massive, pulverizing force, directed along by the drums and liberated through vocals and a piercing, succinct lead break. “Nail,” “Propaganda,” and “Flames” pile drive new legendary pillars into the heavy landscape as Anselmo’s voice is joined in chorus, flanked by guitar and with underlay of bass and drum. “Microbes” is a beautiful instrumental track with melancholy violins and a disturbing, increasingly destabilizing piano. The menace builds with bigger strokes and added vocals, leading at the end to “Subprime” – the closer and the final hammer down on the shattering granite.

The band brought in guests Pat O’Brien, Erik Rutan, and, improbably, Jason Momoa for the recording of the last piece of the puzzle. Every element came together in synchrony and synergy. Black is the best end to the trilogy I could imagine. Recommended.

The music is available now at the links below in many forms. Listen to the earlier installments first, then dive into Black.

Band photo by Joseph P. Dorignak IV.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://scourhc.bandcamp.com/album/black-ep

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/scourband

Label, http://www.thehousecorerecords.com

Label Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/housecorerecords

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)