Fallujah, Empyrean (Nuclear Blast 2022)

San Francisco prog metal heavyweights Fallujah are back with their fifth album, Empyrean.

Fallujah hit the ground running in 2009 by releasing a demo and their first EP, Leper Colony. There was another demo the following year and then the band’s first long-player, The Harvest Wombs, planted the flag firmly in 2011. Their early work has been regularly described as metalcore, and over the years they have moved compositionally toward progressive metal and technical death metal. The band is Scott Carstairs (guitar), Andrew Baird (drums), Kyle Schaefer (vocals), and Evan Brewer (bass).

Discussing the album, Scott Carstairs says, “Empyrean isn’t a concept album, but there are some recurring themes throughout. The first three songs (‘The Bitter Taste of Clarity,’ ‘Radiant Ascension’ and ‘Embrace Oblivion’) all deal with a process of metaphorical rebirth—overcoming personal hardships, finding the right outlook to keep moving forward, and learning to embrace change in a way that makes you stronger for it in the long run. ‘Duality of Intent’ describes the internal conflict between the two sides of your brain, simultaneously craving immediate gratification versus long-term fulfillment and the paradoxical balance that results. ‘Artifacts’ is about the universal human desire to create something that will live on beyond oneself. ‘Mindless Omnipotent Master’ takes a cynical look outward, personifying mankind’s globally-linked networks of societal and technological systems as a giant mechanical beast which has grown beyond our control and now moves of its own accord.”

Clearly, very specific ideas are at work in the writing of this album. The great thing about this kind of depth is that it’ll work for everybody because you can embrace it and attempt to inculcate it, or you can just listen to the songs and not think so much about it. It is up to you. The music is complex. It is loud and aggressive. Perhaps the best example is the opening track, “The Bitter Taste Of Clarity,” which is absolutely savage in the music and the narrative theme. There are shifts to lighter moments, but they are pretty rigorous, too. The lead guitar work is incredible. “Soulbreaker” is another track I’d like to emphasize. The music is brutal, and its execution is unswervingly precise. Languid moments in the background and along the way serve to highlight the deeper, more punishing passages.

This album is excellent from front to back – it is my new favorite from Fallujah. Recommended.

Empyrean is out on Friday, September 9th through Nuclear Blast Records. Touch the links below to check it out and pick it up.

Band photo by Stephanie Cabral.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fallujah.bandcamp.com/album/empyrean-2

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/fallujah-empyrean.html

© Wayne Edwards

Fallujah, Empyrean (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The Eating Cave, Ingurgitate (2022)

Newly minted death metal band The Eating Cave rumbles the underground with Ingurgitate.

From Virginia Beach, The Eating Cave has been releasing singles for a couple years leading up to their first long-player. Their music is a solid reign of death metal terror. The style is on the technical (and tech) side of the field and the sonic images tend toward the disturbing. The band is Thiago Campanhol (vocals), Evan Hope (guitars), Chris Basham (engineering), and Tyler Boylan (guitars).

Ingurgitate gathers four songs previously released as singles and adds four new ones to the bunch. The opening track, “An Aura of Terror,” is upsetting. If you are going to listen to this album you should be ready for more of that. Mad percussion, hissing black metal vocals tag-teaming with devouring death metal vocals, and raking guitar riffs that take you down and kick you on the ground. Don’t worry, though, because the next song, “Sadistic Entanglement,” is even harsher with entirely disorienting lead guitar work.

If you have been following along with the singles as they came out, then you already heard “Aggregate Vanity I – Heretical Hypotheses.” With the new album you get to hear the finish, “Aggregate Vanity II – Periodic Absolution,” in case the initial battering of the first part was not enough for you. My favorite track on the album is “Inherited Extinction” for both its ideas and the execution of them. The guitar work caused my brain to lock up.

This music takes a lot out of you, and it is not the sort of thing I listen to all day every day – I don’t have the stamina. When I need to burn off some excess energy or anger or anxiety, this is exactly what I want to hear, and The Eating Cave may be setting a new standard in this lane. Recommended.

Ingurgitate is out now. Look in on it at Bandcamp or your favorite other portal for music.

Links.

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

The Eating Cave website, https://the-eating-cave.creator-spring.com/

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

© Wayne Edwards

The Eating Cave, Ingurgitate (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)

Allegaeon, Damnum (Metal Blade 2022)

Melodic death metal purveyors Allegaeon release a new album, their sixth long-player, Damnum.

Allegaeon is a band from Colorado that came together under the current name in 2008. I have read their music described as “technical melodic death metal.” That sounds like a lot of ground to cover. It is, and they do it expertly. Damnum is there sixth full-length album, and I think it is their best one so far. The band is Greg Burgess (guitar), Michael Stancel (guitar), Riley McShane (vocals), Brandon Michael (bass), and Jeff Saltzman (drums).

The first song is “Bastards of the Earth.” It begins acoustically but it doesn’t stay that way very long. The metal is technically proficient, superbly so. That is the first defining characteristic of the band and of this album. The second is the vocalizations, which present in singularity and harmony, medium- and most-gruff death metal-like, and lyrically, beautifully melodic. There are other bands that do this as well, but none are as effective at it, and the others do not stretch the edges quite so much. Allegaeon is unique.

“Of Beasts and Worms” is next. It has identifiable recurring elements yet still the song is completely different from any of the others and is one of the stand-out tracks for me on the album. The end points of quiet and of raging are so far apart you can’t see one when you are standing at the other. In the louder moments the passion is undeniable and when the music goes softer there is an earnest yearning that throws an invisible cloak around you. The lead guitar parts are incredible, delivered with stunning speed and unswerving surety. It is a rager with a catchy chorus and monstrous rhythm.

There are no low points on this album. Every song is a new discovery. “Vermin” just kills it. “The Dopamine Void” is presented in two parts and is a showcase for the band’s musical ingenuity. The final song is “Only Loss,” and here the music delivers on the promise of the title – elegant, sorrowful, intense. Excellent on every front. Highly recommended.

Damnum is out this Friday, February 25th, through Metal Blade Records. More info at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://allegaeon.bandcamp.com/album/damnum

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/allegaeon/

Allegaeon, Damnum (Metal Blade 2022)

The Last Of Lucy, Moksha (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

California Death Metal band The Last Of Lucy focus on the core of their music with the new album, Moksha.

The Last Of Lucy has been around for about fifteen years. Centered in Southern California, the band first released two EPs, Euphoric Obsession in 2010 and Exalted Compositions in 2014. Ashvattha came out in 2017, and it was the band’s inaugural full-length record. The earliest music the band produced is reported as mathcore, and more recently it is said to have transitioned toward technical death metal. On Moksha, the sound is even more stripped down and raw, showing off the fundamental inclinations of The Last Of Lucy. The musicians are Josh De La Sol (vocals), Brandon Ian Millan (drums), Gad Gidon (guitar, bass), and Christian Mansfield (guitar).

There are ten songs on the new album, and they are generally on the short side, notably briefer than you often see in death metal music – half the tracks are less than three minutes long. The brevity does not diminish the impact of the music and might even make it more powerful.

The title track gets things started with an excess of the raging aggression of merciless technical death metal in the instantiation of attacking guitar, vocals, and rhythm. The respite in “Agni” lasts mere seconds, and the dual vocals are back with growls and hisses; the guitars stab again. Mild intros and outros become regular throughout the set, bookending sinister emanations.

This music gets all over you fast, and you just have to let it rampage because there is no real respite. “Covenant” had particular resonance with me and I played that track several times. “Parasomnia,” too – but it was the oppressive heaviness of it that appealed to me so much more than the technical acumen. Whatever aspect you might fixate on, you cannot miss the excellence of this metal. Recommended.

Moksha is out on Friday, February 18th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://thelastoflucyband.bandcamp.com/album/moksha-technical-death-metal

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

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

The Last Of Lucy, Moksha (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Enterprise Earth, The Chosen (MNRK Heavy 2022)

The new Enterprise Earth album is big enough to swallow a battleship whole and fierce enough to spit out razor blades.

Enterprise Earth has only been around since 2015. That doesn’t seem possible – feels like they have always been here. The band’s long-player entry into the heavy music scene was the rule bending Patient Ø, and since then they have proven time again to be a fundamentally important inventive force in the genre. They play a technical death metal style that faces few rivals. Their most recent album was the 2020 EP Foundation Of Bones, and now we have The Chosen. The musicians are Dan Watson (vocals), Gabe Mangold (guitar), Brandon Zackey (drums), and Rob Saireh (bass).

The new album is a big one, with fourteen tracks and a running time of over an hour. The opening song is “Where Dreams Are Broken.” How about that for a thematic kickoff? There is a short ramp and then no fucking around with killer bass lines and battering percussion. The guitars slash through the jungle of complacency while the vocals present no alternative to complete attention. A pseudo-melodic chorus does not slow the momentum of the construction. Instead it focuses the grievous message and serves to amplify the awe as the song continues.

The technical precision of the band’s guitar work is well known and amply in evidence here. “Unleash Hell” is the perfect example, and there are many more. Most of the songs have moments and movements that peer into different perspectives, altering tempo and plight, style and substance. The pace is savage and relentless overall, save the two short transition pieces and the closing gambit. The title track is an epic that places the situation of the theme at the center of the fray and explores its many refractions. As an Enterprise Earth fan, I couldn’t have asked for more. Recommended.

The Chosen drops on Friday, January 14th through MNRK Heavy. Investigate the choices at the links below.

Band photo by Chris Klump.

Links.

Band website, https://enterpriseearthband.com/

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

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

MNRK Heavy, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Enterprise Earth, The Chosen (MNRK Heavy 2022)

Hadal Maw, Oblique Order (Blighttown Records 2021)

New music from Hadal Maw brings anticipation and trepidation into your orbit – Oblique Order.

The band came together about ten years ago in Melbourne, Australia. Their music is a savage blend of technical death metal with strong dissonant elements. They have released two full-length albums, Senium (2014) and Olm (2017), and most recently the EP Charlatan in 2018. The newest album, Oblique Order, is set to come out on the last gasp of 2021 and delivers four breathtakingly immersive songs.

“Fetishize Consumption” has a discordant, sore opening followed by ravaging vocals and percussion. The soaring eeriness of the quieter harmony lines is disturbing in the context of the other musical elements and serves to set you on edge and start you tipping. The intention of the song couldn’t be clearer.

“Oblique Order” is a ticking bomb with a monstrous bass line and hissing, endangering vocals. Fear is leveraged with certainty and intentional chaos to create an overwhelming aural experience. “Future Eaters” syncopates its way into your brainstem with limber tendrils where it grows into an immovable entity with dubious but undeniable efficaciousness. Jerk your head all you want and still it sticks.

“Vile Veneration” courses the home stretch, and it is the strangest of the lot in my estimation. The imbalance it provokes is formidable. The sound is built in towering sheets and released in waves that surround and penetrate. There is a light repast at one point but it serves to further impress the feeling of inevitability rather than offer any respite. This music is some of the most resounding death metal I have heard this year. Recommended.

Oblique Order is out on New Year’s Eve through Blighttown Records on CD, vinyl, and digital.

Links.

Website, https://www.hadalmaw.com/

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

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

Blighttown Records, https://www.blighttownrecords.com/

Hadal Maw, Oblique Order (Blighttown Records 2021)

Atræ Bilis, Apexapien (20 Buck Spin 2021)

The first full-length album from Canadian Death Metal venturers Atræ Bilis is a warning shot across the bow of musical mediocrity.

Formed in 2018, Vancouver Death Metal band Atræ Bilis released its first album last year, Divinihility, through Transcending Obscurity. That EP was an earth-shaker that created anticipation for what the band might do next. Apexapien answers that question. The band is Luka Govednik (drums), Jordan Berglund (vocals), Brendan Campbell (bass), and David Stepanavicius (guitar).

The opener is a two minute stabbing attack, “Theta.” Absolutely furious. Death Metal vocals break through in the next rack, “Lore Beyond Bone,” featuring harmonies and frenetic percussion and guitar accompaniment. It is like a flock of birds in rapid flight, undulating and twisting but somehow always retuning to a recognizable form.

The album treads this line throughout, the chaos-in-order brutal technical Death Metal. While the style is present on every track, variations abound. Blackened harmonic vocals interact synergistically, especially on tracks like “Hymn of the Flies.” These are some of my favorite moments on the album, but I am impressed overall by the ability and ingenuity of the musical enterprise.

You can hear all manner of labelable crystals in the music from the discordant to perpendicular angularity to experimental avant-garde. To make these diverse ingredients into a workable whole is an accomplishment in and of itself, but to make them musically sound is nearly impossible because if you make one wrong step then it is just noise. Atræ Bilis never take a wrong a step. Recommended.

Apexapien is out on Friday, October 8th through 20 Buck Spin. The vinyl will be out a little later as all record labels deal with the backlog at the vinyl pressers.

Band photo by Derek Carr.

Links.

Atræ Bilis Linktree, https://linktr.ee/atraebilis

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

20 Buck Spin, https://www.20buckspin.com/

Atræ Bilis, Apexapien (20 Buck Spin 2021)

The Scalar Process, Coagulative Matter (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

French death metal band The Scalar Process unleash their first album, Coagulative Matter, and it is full of fine detail and virtuoso flourishes.

According to the Metal Archives the band is Eloi Nicod (guitar), Mathieu Lefevre (vocals), Cédric Mells (drums), and Alix Guéneau (guitars). When you listen to the album you might be surprised that this is their first because it is so complete and polished. The speed is matched by precision and the compositions remain organic in their determinism.

There are eleven tracks on the album, including three short non-vocal interludes. The first principal track is “Cosmic Flow,” and it continues the mystery of the opening element while adding the actual death metal vocals and guitar savagery. The music is usually described as technical death metal and I would say that is accurate. It often lands as a progressive treaty, as here in this get-to-know-you song, and the prog takes many forms even in this one track, ranging from impossible performances on every instrument to spacey moments of exploration.

The stage having now been erected, it is time for the show. “Ink Shadow” is positively rabid in the blurring speed of the presented notes. “Celestial Existence” includes the continued demonstration of ability and notches up the theater noticeably. “Mirror Cognition” is a “Planet Caravan” type track for the first half – almost soft jazz. Then the lead guitar takes a Zappa-esque turn setting up an absolute explosion of rage in the final minute. Very unexpected, and this is my favorite track.

The big set piece is the title track which runs eleven minutes, making it a glaring epic when held up against the other songs. It has several distinct movements and in that way it operates like a suite. It is an incredible accomplishment, this song, holding together the central concept for such a length while exploring the theme’s many avenues and variegations. It is very hard make music like this that is enjoyable for the listener and not just a recitation of technical abilities, and that is exactly what The Scalar Process has done with Coagulative Matter. I find myself listening to it intently, overtaken by the music and genuinely amazed. Write this one on the short list. Highly recommended.

The usual array of amazing products are available now from Transcending Obscurity – take a look at the Bandcamp page or the label’s homepage for details.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://thescalarprocess.bandcamp.com/album/coagulative-matter-technical-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://tometal.com/

The Scalar Process, Coagulative Matter (Transcending Obscurity 2021)