Ashen Horde, Antimony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Progressive blackened death metal band Ashen Horde summon essences from the beyond for their fourth long-player, Antimony.

Initially, Ashen Horde was a one-man band, but since its beginning the line-up has expanded to Trevor Portz (guitar, clean vocals), Stevie Boiser (harsh vocals), Robin Stone (drums), and Igor Panasewicz (bass). With at least seven EPs and three previous long-players in their catalogue, the band has a lot to offer. The new record expands and deepens the musicians’ legacy, moving them closer to the vanguard of contemporary metal.

After a short intro, “The Throes of Agony” is the ice breaker. At the beginning, the music feels like a battering from a rock hammer – on the pointy end. The weight of the metal accelerated by the swing assists in the deep penetration of the probing end. The lead guitar break is surprisingly lyrical, and the riffs have an underhanded hookiness to them. The vocals are half-hissed. When the elements are brought together this way, the blast beats enter easily and the gruff vocals, when they arrive, are perfectly in place. Excellent. “The Consort” brings its own introduction, which distracts from the cliff you are walking toward. The music reminds me of a dark carnival in many places. But then in the second half, there is a long guitar break that brings on nostalgia for metal from the past. The dueted vocals are a surprise.

Not counting the intro bit and the short “bonus” track at the end, there are eight longish songs on the album. Each is a combination of different genre lanes, assembled carefully for impact and consistency. Listening to the entire album is an unusual experience because, despite the angular differences in the pieces – both within and between – it all fits and flows so nicely together. “The Barrister” is an excellent example of this by itself. There is not much dissonance, although you will find it in places, like on “The Neophyte.” Overall, this is a great metal album that will have a broader appeal than I at first imagined. Recommended.

Antimony is out on Friday, January 27th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Tons of great merch and format variants are available for this release through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ashenhordeband.bandcamp.com/album/antimony-black-death-metal

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Ashen Horde, Antimony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Leper Colony, Leper Colony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

New music for the death metal legions: Leper Colony.

Leper Colony is a new vehicle for Rogga Johansson, best known for … what is he best known for? I mean, after all, he is in a bewildering number of bands. Here is a list of acts he is associated with, according to the Metal Archives: Battle Axis, Bloodgut, Carve, Catacomb, Dead Sun, Disruptor, Down Among the Dead Men, Echelon, Eye of Purgatory, Fondlecorpse, Formaldehydist, Furnace, Gauntlet Rule, Ghoulhouse, God Cries, Grisly, Heir Corpse One, House by the Cemetery, Humanity Delete, Johansson & Speckmann, Lobotomy Dept, Massacre, Megascavenger, Metal Against Coronavirus, Monstrous, Necrogod, Never the Dead, Paganizer, PermaDeath, Pile of Skulls, Putrevore, Reek, Revolting, Ribspreader, Rogga Johansson (solo), Severed Limbs, Stass, Stygian Dark, Svitjod, The Cleaner and Mr. Filth’s Van Murders, The Dead Cold, The Skeletal, Those Who Bring the Torture, To Descend, To the Gallows, Troikadon, and War Magic. Presumably, this is a partial list. I am most familiar with him being in Paganizer. Oh yes, and of course, Leper Colony, a new band that seeks to ensure “that the music has all the undiluted appeal of the classic albums of Death, Massacre, Morgoth and the like.” If experience counts for anything, Leper colony has a leg up. Johansson is joined by Marc Grewe (vocals) and Jon Skäre (drums).

There are nine boisterous tracks on the new record. The egg is cracked with “The Human Paradox,” an up-tempo death-thrasher with an excellent push and angry, gruff vocals. The lead guitar break is hectic and satisfying. So far so good, and, as it turns out, a sign of things to come. “Perdition’s End” keeps the ball rolling and offers an alternate take on the established premise. Like the other tracks on the album, there is a great riff here setting up thoroughly enjoyable metal. I like the speed and agility of the compositions, and the eclectic down- and side-shifts, as on “Tar and Feathers,” especially. “Leper Colony” is perhaps the oddest song in structure, and still it delivers the goods. The is an excellent set.

If you like what you have heard before from these fellows, then chances are you will like Leper Colony as well. I certainly do. It is catchy death metal, solid as granite all the way through. Recommended.

Leper Colony is out on Friday, January 13th through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://lepercolonydm.bandcamp.com/album/leper-colony-death-metal

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Leper Colony, Leper Colony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Arche, Transitions (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Finland’s Arche present their first long-player, Transitions.

Arche is a two-piece funeral doom band comprised of E. Kuismin (guitar, bass, keys, vocals) and V. Raittila (drums, backing vocals). Their first recording was released in 2015, the EP Undercurrents. The earlier music is very memorable and impressive. Even so, the new album is a major step up in terms of composition and delivery. There are three songs on Transitions.

“Reverential Silence” builds anticipation with its gradual, self-assured entry. The music is not cavernous, but it is insular – like walking through a valley with steep cliffs on either side of you while the sky is open above … a dark sky. It is a beautiful lullaby to demise. Reassuringly wan in its final panels, the doom is delivered here with great elegance.

“Transition” is the shortest of the trio at six and a half minutes, and yet it carries nearly as much weight as its fellows. Quiet, almost tentative initially, the acoustic guitar that leads the way is enthralling in its sentiment. It is a virtuous intender but not necessarily a beneficent one. In other words, sometimes doing what must be done has terrible consequences.

“In A Solace Light” begins with a more familiar funeral doom framing. The massive riffs are softened a bit by their extensions, but they are not weakened. The tone is melancholy, deep and absolute. The vocals are disembodied, coming from nowhere and everywhere. Are they seeking or are they merely being? An absolutism could be applied in the cold distance, and that is perhaps where the throbbing truth lies. The dark beauty of this music is overwhelming. Recommended.

Transitions is out now through Transcending Obscurity Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick up the album in its many forms, and the merch that goes along with it.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://archefin.bandcamp.com/album/transitions-atmospheric-funeral-doom-metal

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Arche, Transitions (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Veilburner, VLBRNR (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Veilburner release their sixth album in eight years, VLBRNR.

Veilburner is the duo Mephisto Deleterio (music and production) and Chrisom Infernium (vocals and lyrics), hailing from Pennsylvania. The first album under the Veilburner moniker came out in 2014, The Three Lightbearers, and since then new music from the band has hit the world stage every year or two without fail. The music they make crosses over many landscapes, notably death metal and black metal, and features layer and depth as defining and organizing characteristics.

The album has ten strong tracks, including two instrumentals. The record starts out in a suitably bizarre fashion with “VI (Vulgar Incantations).” Peculiar sounds stab at you, pushing and hooking, followed by a more recognizable structure created by guitar and rhythm elements. The vocals and vocalizations are sung, despite the unusual format of the lyrics themselves, which run in a sort of paragraph arrangement, rather than in stanzas. More fascinating is the impressive variation in vocal approach that pings from death metal to black metal to something else entirely and back again. It seems designed to provoke.

If you make it through the first song, then “Envexomous Hex” assails your senses from the jump and knocks your block off. When you get to “Interim Oblivion,” the illusion of peace is offered initially, but chaos quickly follows. Oddly, as the song progresses, it has nearly linear moments, with exceptional guitar work and a segment that is almost psychedelic. What we know by now is that trying to anticipate what will come next is a fool’s errand. The album is a living thing. Watch for “Burning the Veil,” because it is mesmerizing (and my favorite track of the set), and “None So Hideous” for its sheer musical brutality. I have heard most of Veilburner’s albums (all but one) and this is my favorite so far. Recommended.

VLBRNR is out on Friday, December 2nd through Transcending Obscurity Records. As expected, the label offers many forms, variants, and stunning merch to go along with the album’s release. Check out Bandcamp or Transcending Obscurity’s US store at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://veilburnerband.bandcamp.com/album/vlbrnr-dissonant-death-black-metal

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Veilburner, VLBRNR (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Dysgnostic, Scar Echoes (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Defilementory undergoes a transformation into Dysgnostic on Scar Echoes.

Dysgnostic is a band from Roskilde, Denmark that was known as Defilementory from 2008 until last year. Under the former name, the band released an EP and a well-received long-player, The Dismal Ascension (2014). Under the earlier name, the band had a primary focus on technical death metal, and they delivered it with dedication and sincerity. The transformation into Dysgnostic has led to somewhat different perspective. The musicians now accentuate dissonance in the context of death metal, black metal, and even doom. The band is Thomas Fischer (bass, vocals), Simon Klem Kannegard (guitar, backing vocals), and Richardt Olsen (drums, guitar).

There are eight fierce tracks on Scar Echoes. The opening movement is the band’s namesake, “Dysgnostic,” and it leans heavily into the dissonance architecture. It is the shortest piece on the record and still in it the premise is firmly established. “Silvery Tongues” is frantic and bewildering, by contrast, working in the mystifying elements later in the song. “Beneath Abyssal Plains” takes more of a black metal tone for its initial banner, twisting soon enough to prey on your insecurities and hold a mirror up to your most closely guarded fears. It is a truly disturbing piece of music.

“Oceans of Grey” resonated with me and stands out as one of the most effective instantiations of the form. It is particularly unbalancing. “Nothing’s Embrace” offers a sweet, subtly off-kilter opening that transmogrifies into a beautiful dooming ramp toward oblivion. The journey comes to rest with “Darkest Muse,” a deeply sinister track that is, fittingly, the song most likely to haunt you beyond the initial listening. Recommended.

Scar Echoes is out on Friday, November 11th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Check out the many variants, formats, and merch available at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://dysgnostic.bandcamp.com/album/scar-echoes-dissonant-death-metal

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Dysgnostic, Scar Echoes (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Morbid Evils unleash a quadrangle of doom on their third long-player, Supernaturals.

Doom trio Morbid Evils began in Finland in 2014, and released their first full-length album the very next year, In Hate with the Burning World. Next there was a split and a live album, record number two hit the streets in 2017, Deceases. After this massive flurry of recorded activity, the studio went quiet for a lustrum. The silence is now broken with what might be the band’s most accomplished work to date, Supernaturals. The musicians are Keijo Niinimaa (vocals, guitars, bass), Jarno Virkki (drums), and Tuomas Varila (guitar).

There are four huge tracks on the new album, averaging about ten minutes each. First up: “Fearless.” The song begins with loud, low drones, distortion, and funeral doom riffs. The vocals are titanic howls, and a guitar line follows along with them for added emphasis. Three minutes in, the pace snaps to a heavy groove and the vocals clarify slightly. A dangerous heaviness continues to abide. These movements trade off to the finish. With “Anxious,” there is a similar set-up, but it is not as dreary. Still brutally heavy, the beast has lifted its head and now sways it like a pained metronome. The slowest moments are deeply haunting; the lead work, revelatory.

“Tormented” opens side two. At less than nine minutes, it is the shortest song in the set, and it has a notably different vitality compared to the ones that have come before. More aggressively hopeless, the lead guitar line breaks into chaos alongside the vocals at midway, then the song resets for the long slope toward the finish. The final song is “Supernatural,” and it is oppressively bleak. With a segment of good death metal chops followed by dark tonal passages and a resolution in devolved hopelessness, this track is the one where the deal is sealed. Supernaturals is an exceptional doom album that will live in my queue for the foreseeable future. Recommended.

Supernaturals is out on August 19th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Look to Bandcamp or the label’s website for the usual wide variety of versions and merch – Transcending Obscurity really is one of the absolute best record labels for collectors in terms of the extensive variety of products they offer.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Morbid Evils, Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Abaddon Incarnate, The Wretched Sermon (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Irish grindcore band Abaddon Incarnate release their sixth album, The Wretched Sermon.

Abaddon Incarnate started out in the early nineties, and even before that under a different name. They broke ground with black metal and death metal, evolving over time toward the grindcore side of the field. It has been eight years since their last long-player, Pessimist, and fans are more than ready for new music. The band is Steve Maher (vocals, guitar), Bill Whelan (guitar), Irene Siragusa (bass), and Olan Parkinson (drums).

There are thirteen tracks on the new album, mostly in the short and savage territory. To wit, “Rising Of The Lights,” which opens the show. It is bewilderingly aggressive at the jump, with screeching vocals and positively pummeling percussion. “Veritas,” at seventy-seven seconds, is even more to the point. It is amazing how much the musicians can pack into to such a compact delivery vessel, from the squealing guitar instantiations to the insistent pulsing bass, the music is designed to disrupt.

With so many short, fast, loud songs, you might worry they’ll all run together, but they absolutely don’t. “Gateways,” one of my top picks from the album, has a killer lead break and a dire, eerie atmosphere unique to it – no other track on the album sounds like it at all. “Parasite” breaks sour and twists you up while “Into The Maelstrom” is a slight of hand behind a dark veil that raises a sense of terror throughout. Great song. “Resurrected From A Mass Grave” has a delightfully caustic groove.

The brevity works to advantage, overall – get in, do it, get out. “Isolation And Decay” is a long piece that stands apart because of its size and, more importantly, due to its unique construction. The song contains a few movements and pace shifts, although the intent itself never dissipates even when the sounds move from valley to mountain to sea. The last word is “Silent Indifference,” and it takes the set out on a howl. Killer track.

If you haven’t heard Abaddon Incarnate yet, it is time to get with it. Start here, because this album will shake you up. Recommended.

The Wretched Sermon is out on Friday, August 5th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Touch the links below.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Abaddon Incarnate, The Wretched Sermon (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Ernia, How To Deal With Life And Fail (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Spanish grindcore band Ernia release their second album, How To Deal With Life And Fail.

Formed initially from a couple of the members of Wormed, Ernia is a blasting grindcore band from Logroño, Spain that appears to value variegation, and perhaps chaos, in their musical compositions. Mainlining death metal into the grind framework and then cracking it in every direction has worked out for them. Following up on their self-titled debut (2016/18), How To Deal With Life And Fail might just be the ticket they are looking for because it is a major accomplishment. The band is Omar I. Sanchez (vocals), Gabrial Valcazar (drums, bass), Daniel Espinosa (guitar), and Daniel Valcazar (guitar).

There are thirteen tracks on the new album, all save one running under three minutes. “Farewell Sputnik” begins with a tinkle and a scream before moving on to flat out belligerence. “Q,” up next, has a very punk feel to it, and it goes out on a thrashing ravager ramp. Very nice. “Room Full Of Paper Cranes” is like a car that didn’t pass a state safety inspection going at a high velocity on a rough road until it breaks apart, with a nice little bass romp in the middle.

By now your senses are becoming a little frayed and you are only six minutes in. Suddenly, “Frustration Theory” brings the doom, and then “The Deer Chaser” pops it up for a while, making sure to slip in multiple chops and hacks. “Dharma” is a devastating deathpunk piece. “A Mute Florist” is a chainsaw in a beehive. It is one outlandish expression after another. The final song is the epic “Ikigai,” twice as long as any other on the album. It is surprisingly somber and sad in its first half, then otherwise after.

I am not sure what I expected from this album, but it definitely delivered – which makes little sense because I didn’t know what I was looking for. But there you have it. Recommended.

How To Deal With Life And Fail is out on Friday, July 22nd through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Ernia, How To Deal With Life And Fail (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

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)

Paganizer, Beyond The Macabre (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Beyond The Macabre is the twelfth studio album from the death metal menace that is Paganizer.

From its earliest days, Paganizer has been a welcome presence in the death metal world. The music is always filled with hooks and crushing riffs, dizzying pace and unstoppable percussion. Every new album is an event, and the latest is no exception. Founder Rogga Johansson (vocals, guitar) and long-time regular Matte Fiebig (drums) are joined by Kjetil Lynghaug (guitar) and Martin Klasén (bass) who have played on the last couple of albums.

Beyond The Macabre takes its cues from the band’s history and wraps itself in classic forms of Swedish death metal. As with recent albums, there are many melodic elements but no one would call this music melodic death metal. It is heavy and charging throughout, and the hooks and melodies that are in play make the music memorable while never taking away from its power. The guitar work is exemplary and Rogga sounds great, as always.

There are no low patches to be found on this album, and it gets off to a vigorous start by focusing on the band’s strengths with “Down The Path Of Decay.” Other tracks that stood out for me are “Raving Rhymes Of Rot” for laying on the extra heavy and “You Are What You Devour” for its plain speaking declarations.

I have been a Paganizer fan all along. For me the new album maintains the accessibility of recent work by the band and holds the death metal line fast. I will be spinning this one a lot in the coming weeks. Recommended.

Beyond The Macabre is out on Friday, June 24th through Transcending Obscurity Records. As always, there is a great collection of variants and merch available to go along with the music.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Paganizer, Beyond The Macabre (Transcending Obscurity 2022)