Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Here it is, the official preview of the upcoming year in heavy music from Transcending Obscurity Records: the 2022 label sampler.

An independent record label headquartered in India, Transcending Obscurity has been quietly growing in catalogue and international reach since its inception in 2005. Now, albums from them routinely hit the top ten annual lists in every heavy music corner of the world. If you are a regular reader of this column then you know a lot about them already because I write about TO all the time as they have been one of my favorite records labels for many years. I reviewed twenty-five of their albums last year for Flying Fiddlesticks – more than any other, nudging out even Ripple Music in the stats.

Hit the links below to see the full contributor list. Bandcamp is the easiest route and that is the place to pick up the collection itself for free. To give you some idea of how it all breaks down, here is the categorization provided by the label for what is included in the sampler: Tracks 1-12 – death metal; Tracks 13-15 – black metal; Tracks 16-30 – dissonant/ brutal/ atmospheric/ experimental death metal; Tracks 30-33 – grindcore; Tracks 34-35 – doom/ sludge metal.

You can tell the music is tilted in the death metal direction, but whatever persuasion of heavy music fan you are, there is a metric ton of music here to enjoy. There are many familiar names on the roster – Wombbath, Lurk, Veilburner, Replicant, Imperlialist – and many more I know less about that I can’t wait to hear. The sampler is massive, and it is free.

You cannot go wrong with Transcending Obscurity. I have been an avid follower of the label for a good long while and I never miss an album they put out because I know the quality is going to be there. Count on reading about many of the records as they come out this year and, meanwhile, grab the sampler and hear what you are in for. And if you like merch, you cannot do better than the product line Transcending Obscurity offers. Highly recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/label-sampler-2022

US Store, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Main Website, https://tometal.com/

Transcending Obscurity 2022 Label Sampler (2022)

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

The live album from sludge masters Beldam is an historical artifact of doom and despair.

This is one from the archives, recorded live at The Golden Pony in Harrisonburg, Virginia on January 8, 2017. Beldam is a band that started out in Charlottesville, Virginia and has moved around since then. In a mere three years they released two impressive albums, Still the Wretched Linger (2016) and Pasung (2018). The new one was captured in between these releases and completes a menacing triptych.

There are five looming tracks on the album. The first three are from Still the Wretched Linger, “The Foundling,” “From Grave To Cradle,” and “Needles.” From the opening bars that rise over the cheering crowd you get an intimate feeling of being in the room surrounded by the dark energy. The weight of the guitar and impenetrable bass is immense. The warbling, wandering lead guitar and searing vocals press the air from your lungs in the opener, and the music only gets heavier from there. The pace ranges from dead slow and absolutely crushing to pounding and assertive — the latter is particularly notable on “Needles.”

The two final pieces originally appeared on Pasung, so they are being performed here to promote that album. “Vial of Silence” sounds like it was recorded in a torture chamber that never closes.

“That Which Consumes You” identifies the burdens of life that wear on us and tells the story in an eerie, dank kaleidoscope of torment. It is an experience.

I would like to hear more music from this band but if the internet is to be believed, the future is uncertain. We do have the two studio albums and now this live musical artifact. Recommended.

Live At The Golden Pony is out now from Horror Pain Gore Death productions on CD and digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-golden-pony

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

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, https://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Beldam, Live At The Golden Pony (HPGD 2021)

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Mythical sludge metal band All Hail The Yeti go deep on their new album, Within The Hollow Earth.

All Hail The Yeti have been banging out music for fifteen years, including three long-players: All Hail the Yeti (2012), Screams from a Black Wilderness (2016), and Highway Crosses (2018). Their take on the word is that it is full of mystery and that legends hold some valuable information about elemental truths. These ideas are expressed in heavy groove metal with sludgy sensibilities. The musicians are Connor Garritty (vocals), Dave Vanderlinde (guitar), Nicholas Diltz (bass, vocals), Ryan “Junior” Kittlitz (drums).

Within The Hollow Earth has seven tracks at common length opening with the pummeling “Bury Your Memory,” a song stout enough to hammer you thoughts flat. “Headless Valley” gets your blood up with a pursuing, pulsing riff that enjoins a warning and a prediction. This song is a monster slap with terrifying flashes alternating with a misleading periodic calm.

“Funeral Heart” is a ravaging affair in its raking riff and the story is even harsher. “Cold Dead Leaves” is a show-stopper, offering up a deep, dark bitterness and wicked guitar. The melodic vocals that float across the transom of these songs amid what by comparison seems a clambering explanative assault is a creative construction that delivers effectively fresh tellings of hoary themes. Truly, the ideas are infused with a bristling enthusiasm that elevates them, making them new and fascinating.

The chop of “The Cry of the Waheela” and the resolute finality of “The Great Dying” bring the set to a close. The jabs and haymakers just keep coming in this music. It is a wicked walking dream that inflames your senses. Recommended.

Within The Hollow Earth is out on Friday, November 12th. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahty.bandcamp.com/album/within-the-hollow-earth

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

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Mother Iron Horse, Under The Blood Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

The sophomore album from Salem’s own Mother Iron Horse is a sludgy revelation.

Mother Iron Horse is a doom/sludge quartet from New England. They released an EP called The Curse in 2018, followed by the long-player The Lesser Key in 2019. Adam Luca, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, described the approach they took to the new album this way in a recent Metal Injection interview: “Our first album was recorded in a way that we could play live. I remember the mindset being that whatever we did on that record we could do live without missing a beat. Now, facing the notion of not being able to play a live show for the foreseeable future[, o]ur approach was much different. Instead of bringing our world to the listener. Our goal was to transport them from wherever they may be and bring them to ours. For better or worse, this album is escapism in its purest form.”

The music is gritty, with growling vocals and palatably heavy riffs. The set cracks open with “The Devils Work,” a fierce and competitive story. “The Witches” has a penetrating seriousness in its rhythm and a soaking eeriness in the vocals and the accompanying partnered guitar. “Old Man Satan” grabs the reigns next and it is a mid-tempo carriage ride through a leafless forest. We are definitely in the band’s hands by now.

Sometimes the music takes a slower, more grinding approach, as in “Samhain Dawn,” or even an ethereal one, like “Samhain Night.” I hear doom in every corner, and the singing brings strain and a feeling of violent energy. We frequently witness dread and feel the menace but somehow it does not seem like a threat because, even as listeners, we feel like we are part of it. I think that is what the band was going for, and they pulled it off. Recommended.

Under The Blood Moon is out now through Ripple Music. Pick up one of the physical incarnations or groove on the digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-blood-moon

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

Mother Iron Horse, Under The Blood Moon (Ripple Music 2021)

Bones Of The Earth, II (2021)

The story continues on the second concept album from Arkansas metal band Bones of the Earth.

The band is a Doom trio from Arkansas. The musicians are Erik Ebsen (guitar), Raif Box (bass and vocals), and Cody Martin (drums and vocals) Their first album, The Imminent Decline of Human Spirit, came out in 2019 and started the tale. This new one, Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown, continues the story of a cycle of transformation in the universe where organic life eventually becomes artificial life, and then reverts to organic again.

You can see parallels between this concept and all sorts of things around you all the time. Even while there is constant change the same themes and instances seem to come up again and again, like they are on some long-run cycle that cannot be broken. Doom and Sludge Metal surely are the appropriate musical perspective to tell a story like this.

The opening foray is the instrumental “Decline,” voiceless except for some whispering at the end. “Machine Rising” is a syncopated calamity. The vocals are projected to the straining point and the music bends at sharp angles as the steady sound base holds up a platform for the other pieces to excel. There is an ebb and flow to the album with each song adding another piece to the puzzle and presenting it in a different way. The track “Inoperable,” for example, has amazing guitar work and a heavy blues feel that swirls in the eerie menace of the world it inhabits.

There is an unstoppable quality in the music. You feel like you are on a ride that has no exit. Progressive-sounding elements twinkle in the sludge and doom, but they are not reassuring. No, they are the sound of the mechanical overlord, the cadence of inevitability. Trapped in the system, in the cycle, anxiety builds in the music and it gets to you as you listen. The story genuinely is part of the music and it comes through naturally. The album is exceptional. Recommended.

CDs, cassettes, and digital downloads are out on Friday April 2nd. Pick up a copy so you can get the whole story. The first album is also on Bandcamp in case you want to see how this all started.

Links.

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

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

Bones Of The Earth, II (2021)