Microdose: Cryptic Shift, Drainbow, Firelink & Bog Wizard

Written by Carcassbomb

Four new albums, four short reviews. Did you like all four of these? Then let me know in the comments!

  • Cryptic Shift
  • Visitations from Enceladus
  • Technical Thrash/Death
  • Leeds, England
  • Blood Harvest Records
  • May 4, 2020
  • Highlights: (Petrified in the) Hypogean Gaol – The Arctic Chasm

Incredible stuff. I love tech death and the love tech thrash, so the combination is a winner. This is music made by well learned musicians who incorporate a lot of improvisation into their work, particularly on the whopping 25 minute opening track, ‘Moonbelt Immolator’. The flow swells in and out of playfully stimulating instruments to bring moments of hard hitting, concentrated heavy song writing but it still feels all tied together and progresses naturally. Each new guitar pattern or bass line introduced is easily noticed as it’s always distinct and AWESOME.

It’s essential listening for 2020. The reason it’s here in Microdoses where I don’t do scoring is because I don’t feel musically smart enough to provide an accurate scoring. I find this album bewildering and amazing but I don’t have a familiarity with the band nor do I have much to compare it to. They write about a lot of original concepts and have their own sound, we’re dealing with a highly creative unit. This is something new for me to process over many listens. I’m keen as tits to grab the cassette from Blood Harvest Records.

  • Drainbow
  • The Tower Of Flints
  • Avant Garde/Black/Prog
  • Texas, USA
  • August 7, 2020
  • Highlights: The Inevitable Tautology of Defeat / The Death Owl in The Tower of Flints

Drainbow is a unique project, and as such it won’t be palatable to everyone. Fortunately I have an appreciation of the solo project and the eccentricities that often come with that. Yes the song lengths are wildly different, often sounding different and using a lot of extra sounds in the compositions – but that’s a part of the charm. That’s what makes this sort of true underground project more intriguing and enjoyable to me than the all too predictable releases of the typical metal veterans. There’s soul here.

There’s prog, there’s black metal and there’s strong influence from 90’s avante garde acts. This release is clearly the result of someone who loves the music that influenced them, I can hear that in the performance. There’s a lot of different kinds of vocals styles – the core of them being Mr Bungle cleans and black metal growls, but there are so many other variations on clean or unclean used as a one off. I find that a rewarding approach for the listener as your expectations are never concrete. Sick guitar work too, again, with soul. Personally I didn’t have any issues with the DIY production outside of one or two short sounds that were a bit too loud for my setup. Hardly enough to mar what is a solid achievement for this multi-instrumentalist.



Melodic Black Metal

June 16, 2020

Georgia, USA

Highlights: Where Demons Bore / King Seeker

Artwork by Luke Oram

Firelink made a big impression on me with their 2019 debut album The Inveterate Fire, a concept album about Dark Souls – it was perfect for me. It’s exciting to see there’s some new output from this duo so soon, and again using the artwork of Luke Oram, one of my favorite underground cover artists (I interviewed him last year). This self-titled is not so different from the first LP but does appropriately bring some new layers to it that cement the bigger picture of the Firelink style. While vocals may change or other elements may change, the core song writing and melodic nature of it still strikes true.

The guitars feel fresher and hotter, with a lot more technicality link artificial and pinch harmonics that bring a lot of nuance to all the necessary tremolo picking and gloom chords. The record has also benefited from presence of a session drummer which allows the duo to focus more strongly on their strengths (vocals and guitar). The vocals have developed too, they sound heavier and dance across the black metal style spectrum. A consistent band that experiments within their own framework, solid.

  • Bog Wizard
  • From The Mire
  • Stoner Doom
  • Michigan, USA
  • July 3, 2020
  • Highlights: City In The Mountain / The Wizard In The Bog
Artwork by Al Seamer

From The Mire is a chunky boy, a few too many edibles and munchies went into this one and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The pacing is solid with a variety of competent vocals which allows for the 62 minute run time to run out without becoming restless. It’s been the background for my night of gaming which is very fitting considering the Dungeons & Dragons themes throughout the record, tied in closely with some satanic panic. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to any stoner doom and Bog Wizard has provided me with a very relaxed listen that still holds a good amount of grit.

The guitar tones are dynamic, often creating juxtapositions of fuzz and post metal style clean segments that add a certain wistfulness. This is where the bass really gets to shine as it becomes more prominent beneath the relaxed atmospheres. There’s still plenty of harshness on offer as well with darker more growled vocals and despondent licks that ooze a dreadful psychedelia.

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