Floating, The Waves Have Teeth (Spirit Coffin 2022)

Sweden’s Floating debuts with a remarkably layered progressive death metal album, The Waves Have Teeth.

Floating is the duo Arvid Sjödin and Andreas Hörmark, both known for their work in the band Morbid Illusion. They decided to branch off with this new project after the former band split in order to “explore the possibilities of merging deformed and dissonant death metal the old-school way with their newly bolstered post-punk sensibilities.” The result is impressive and innovative.

There are six collateral songs on the new album. “The Seep” begins as a doom metal rumination then transforms smoothly into death metal that courses back and forth between melodic, traditional, somber, and groove. It is an intriguing combination in all of the instruments. You notice the shifts in the percussion, sure, but also in the guitars, rhythm, and vocals. It is captivating and entangling. “Gag” is a bit more linear, straight-forward horror metal song with a nice, twisted riff and periodic screeching and blast beats. “Pile of Birds” is practically a rambler, generating a great rolling guitar alongside sensational growling vocals. Feisty.

“No Eyes” lays down a prominent bass line and follows it through. The movement toward the middle is quiet almost to silence, and its reflective depth is the strength of the song. The gentle ending leads directly into “The Hill Will Know Him” where the music turns toward the esoteric and peculiarly frightening. There is no mistaking the unease that is introduced in advance of the harsher passages. It is a diabolical precursor for the final nine-minute movement, “The Floating Horror.” One song bleeds into the next throughout the album, and that transitional technique is most effective here. There are short and extended builds, as well as vast plateaus. The final flourish is muted and eccentric, delivering a final touch of uncertainty and one last shiver. Recommended.

The Waves Have Teeth is out now through Spirit Coffin Publishing on CD and digital. A tape version will follow in December.

Links.

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

Spirit Coffin Publishing, https://spiritcoffinpublishing.bigcartel.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Floating, The Waves Have Teeth (Spirit Coffin 2022)

Rivers Of Nihil at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, October 15, 2022

Rivers of Nihil finished off their fall tour with an unusual show in Indianapolis.

Rivers of Nihil finished their Fall tour with The Contortionist last Saturday at the Old National Centre in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a concept tour in a way. Not only did The Contortionist play two of their albums in their entirety, but Rivers of Nihil also played an album straight through. That is something I had never seen before.

The Old National Centre was known to me for most of my life as the Murat Theatre, the oldest (extant) stage house in Indianapolis. It is a beautiful place with many performance areas including the main theater, The Egyptian Room, and a number of other halls and lobbies. The Rivers of Nihil show was in one of the lower levels in a small hall at the back. It is nicer than I am making it sound – imagine a decent-sized room where a wedding reception might be held with a stage on one side.

The evening got off to a peculiar start when Rivers of Nihil took the stage. The bassist, Adam Biggs, announced that the lead singer, Jake Dieffenbach, would not be performing due to “personal issues.” However, if it was OK with the crowd, the rest of the band would play anyway. The crowd agreed (what else could they do?) and the show went on with Biggs handling the vocal duties. At one point someone did jump on stage to sing for part of a song and I am pretty sure it was Dieffenbach, but in the darkness it was hard to tell.

Rivers of Nihil played their most recent album, The Work (Metal Blade Records 2021) straight through. This album has received a lot of good press (including from me) for its depth of expression. In many ways, Rivers of Nihil have a strong Pink Floyd component going with these songs, particularly in their exploratory nature. There is an extended lyrical presence in the work, and the generous use of saxophones during the live performance greatly enhanced the experience. The lighting was particularly dim and deeply colored, with the liberal use of strobe effects to drive the etherealness home. Even without their usual lead singer, the show they put on ran for an hour and was fantastic.

That’s it for the Fall tour, but Rivers of Nihil are back out on the road in Europe starting in November on the Faces of Death Tour. They will be in the northeast in December for three shows with Killswitch Engage as well, so there are a lot of opportunities remaining to see them this year. Get out there and do it.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

This post is condensed / rewritten from the Ghost Cult Magazine article which is linked below.

Links.

Ghost Cult Magazine article on the show, https://www.ghostcultmag.com/concert-review-the-contortionist-rivers-of-nihil-live-at-old-national-centre-indianapolis/

Rivers Of Nihil, https://www.riversofnihil.com/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/artists/rivers-of-nihil/

The Contortionist, https://www.thecontortionist.net/

© Wayne Edwards

Rivers Of Nihil at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, October 15, 2022

Revocation, Netherheaven (Metal Blade 2022)

Boston prog death metal band Revocation take you down a dark path on their new album, Netherheaven.

David Davidson (guitar, vocals), Brett Bamberger (bass, vocals), and Ash Pearson (drums) are Revocation. Since 2006 (and even before that as Cryptic Warning), this Boston metal band has been playing technical death metal to the escalating delight of their fans. They have released seven previous full-length albums, most recently The Outer Ones (2018). With what they have accomplished so far, they could have gone in any direction on their new record. They chose the dark, seething mythology of hell itself.

Talking about the new album, Davidson says, “We’re definitely in more of a death metal mindset than on earlier albums in our catalog. We’re focusing on how we can write the best death metal-centric album that we possibly can while still pushing our boundaries. The new songs on Netherheaven are evil and sinister but also have a progressive element to them to keep things interesting. It’s got our stamp on it, no question.”

There are nine crucial tracks on the new album. “Diabolical Majesty” sets the tone, and the tone is bewilderment. The music is almost overwhelming in its density. If you stand back a little you can catch the wave, and when the vocals kick in you will find your legs. The riff shifts are stabbing, the vocal changes are threatening. Prog elements add depth but also have a lifting quality to them that enormously enhances the music.

“Lessons In Occult Theft” is next. The percussion is a brutalizing affair, and the big guitar break is a fleeing spirit wandering the dark regions of a menaced space. It will make your head spin. Immediately following is “Nihilistic Violence,” which is every bit as trance-worthy as its predecessors.

The album does not let up at all. I particularly like the lyrical elegance of “Galleries of Morbid Artistry” and the extended guitar work of “The 9th Chasm.” Don’t miss “Re-Crucified,” either, because it features guest vocals by the late Trevor Strnad and George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – it is a buzzsaw. Revocation has done it again. Recommended.

Netherheaven is out on Friday, September 9th through Metal Blade Records. Touch the links below to get the details.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://revocationband.bandcamp.com/album/netherheaven

Revocation website, https://www.revocationband.com/

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

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/revocation/

© Wayne Edwards

Revocation, Netherheaven (Metal Blade 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)

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

French progressive doom band Epitaphe head off into new territory with their sophomore long-player, II.

Epitaphe began as far back as 2009. They released a demo in 2018, and their debut full-length album the following year, appropriately titled I. The musical style has elements of progressive death metal and funeral doom, usually rolled out in long movements. The first album had more of the latter, while this new one relies less on funeral doom. There is no mistaking that it is the same band, however, and the fans they have gathered so far will be grandly fulfilled by the new music.

There are three tracks that hover around the nineteen minute mark, plus an introductory movement and an outro. “Sycomore” begins the session sweetly, leaving you completely unprepared for the full-on assault that is “Celestial.” The ravaging brutality of this blistering metal affront is complicated by melodic vocals that materialize only to be devour by course growls. There are reinforced shocks throughout and, eventually, you can sense that disruptions are in the offing but they always still startle you when they hit.

“Melancholia” dives in with percussive creations that are tectonic, elemental. The compositional structure flattens out at times, allowing familiarity to lull you toward the ordinary, but it never stays that way long enough to give a firm footing. You only think you know what is next. This middle portion is my favorite of the set, and I especially appreciate the lead guitar work and, later, the funeral doom.

“Insignificant” recalls the intro piece with its initial gentleness, like a minstrel who has wandered into a dark, sinister forest and only slowly begins to realize what has happened. The metal here has a theatrical feel to it, and a sense of story is strong throughout. “Merging Within Nothingness” is a short cooldown. How you feel about it will depend on how you experienced the rest of the album. For me, I had a moment to realize, at least partially, the significance of what I had just listened to.

There is an arc here. Listening from beginning to end is more important with this album than with many. The full procession is the way to go. Highly recommended.

II is out on April 11th in digital, on CD through Aesthetic Death, and Gurgling Gore has the cassette.

Links.

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

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

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Gurgling Gore, https://www.gurglinggore.com/

© Wayne Edwards.

Epitaphe, II (Aesthetic Death 2022)

Godless Truth, Godless Truth (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Godless Truth hits back hard after an extended hiatus with a new, self-titled album.

The five-piece death metal band from Czechia is the latest incarnation of a group that has a long history. With roots in the mid-nineties, and through schisms and a pause here and there, the band has produced four previous albums, an EP, and several splits. The music is a stunning form of death metal that stands well apart from the pack. The band is Petr Švancara (guitar), Ondřej Černobila (guitar), Jakub Grunt (bass), Petr Mikeš (drums), and Adam B. Sychrow (vocals). There are many notable guest musicians as well, including Rafael Trujillo, Joe Haley, Petr Angelo Čuka, Peter Gábor, and Matt Delirious.

The record contains two short, connective tissue pieces and eight primary tracks. “The Decision” is surrounded on both sides by the short tracks, and it is bestial. The signs do point toward technical death metal, but, more specifically, the guitar work in the second half is a crushing sort of prog. It is the kind of thing you might expect from, say, Vai, if he were to write death metal music. It zips you right up.

“Scissors” continues the slanted view and the ground does indeed tilt beneath you while you listen. Alternating vocal styles swirl depth into the landscape and menace your understanding of the reality that surrounds you. The speed of the percussion is difficult to comprehend. This song gets all over you, and so does the next one, “Breathe Fire,” and the one after that, and so on. Don’t expect to have any adrenaline left in the tank when the music stops.

“Bred In Greed” is one of my favorite tracks – the opening rhythm kills. And the closer, too, “Wake Up To Obey,” has staying power. I could listen to these guitars all day, and the songwriting keeps fresh images rolling over your ears for the duration. High marks all around. Recommended.

Godless Truth comes out on Friday, March 4th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://godlesstruth.bandcamp.com/album/godless-truth

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

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

Godless Truth, Godless Truth (Transcending Obscurity 2022)