Written by Mass
- Artist: Ghost Toast
- Album: Shape Without Form
- Genre: Experimental Progressive rock – Progressive Rock – Progressive Metal – Post Metal – Post Rock – Instrumental
- Release Date: March 3, 2020
- Country: Hungary
- Highlights: W. A. N. T. – Eclipse – Hunt for Life
- Rating: 8.0/10
Verdict: The Hungarian Ghost Toast offers a fine blend of progressive rock/metal technicality and post rock/metal ambience with samples from movies like Apocalypse Now, Space Men or 1984. There is also a cover of an Icelandic folk song (Hunt for Life) which adds flavor to this experimental dish. This experimentation has led to creating a sound which is so innovative that it can pique one’s curiosity and yet so accessible that it certainly entertains the non-fans of instrumental music.
The cover is also a conceptual artwork done by Antal Miklós Tod and captures the essence of the album and reflects in its representation. Shape Without Form refers to T. S. Elliot’s canonical poem The Hollow Men, which happens to be my favorite piece from this leading modernist poet. The scene of figures of melting humanoids in a cold, silvery setting with disconnected, suspending pillars is open to the viewer’s interpretation.
- Artist: Berzerker Legion
- Album: Obliterate the Weak
- Genre: Death Metal
- Release Date: January 29th, 2020
- Country: International (UK – Netherlands – Sweden)
- Highlights: Upon the Throne of Mortem – Of Blood and Ash – A Lurking Evil
- Rating: 8.0/10
Verdict: Berzerker Legion is a band with fierce and sturdy members in every single department. Obliterate the Weak is only the first release of this international super death band (with members of Dark Funeral, Vader, and God Forsaken among others) and they are truly a legion to annihilate all that may fancy hindering them. They offer a death metal which sways here and there towards melodic death, especially Gothenburg style, and that is what I like about this album. I am totally in favor of melodicness as it is more tasteful. Melody is prime in some of their tracks (Of Blood and Ash is an example) but in others sheer brutality of death metal punches you in the face (I Am the Legion). I was totally in favor of this fine blend and was greatly impressed by this album.
- Artist: Grift
- Album: Budet
- Genre: Black Metal
- Release Date: March 20th, 2020
- Country: Sweden
- Highlights: Vita arkiv – Oraklet i Kullabo – Skimmertid
- Rating: 8.5/10
Verdict: Grift’s take on black metal is under heavy sway of atmospheric black and dark folk/neo-folk. It is reflective and insightful, albeit made up of dark materials and pain. And it has never been more so than on Budet. Erik Gärdefors, the band’s mastermind, has single-handedly created an album where said genres meet.
The fabric of each track on the album is woven by these elements, swinging more towards one or another at times. Old school black metal is more prominent on parts of Ödets bortbytingar where drumming is more fast-paced and forceful and the guitar is more direct and power-driven; Vita arkiv and Oraklet i Kullabo drift in the direction of atmospheric black, especially with the violin outro of the former and the melancholic guitar riff and mood of the latter; and Barn av ingenmansland is reminiscent of dark folk music as the first half of the song (which also open the album) is tilted more towards this domain. The 10-minute-long piece Väckelsebygd is an experimental acoustic track with an eerie ambience which, located right in the middle of the album, breaks the flow of music and takes the audience on a short excursion on a boat upon a dead marshland.
For those in search of diverse quality black metal, Budet is an album to take into account.
- Artist: Old Man Gloom
- Album: Seminar: Ix Darkness of Being
- Genre: Sludge Metal, Noise
- Release Date: May 22nd, 2020
- Country: USA
- Label: Profound Lore
- Highlights: Love is Bravery – The Bleeding Sun (only the sludge half)
- Rating: 5.0/10*
Verdict: Formed more than two decades ago, Old Man Gloom gets the edge of sludge and mixes it with the eeriness of atmospheric noise and gives the listener a blend far from perfect. That could partly be the result of the fact that I shy away, exceedingly fast, from anything noise-related. Metal used to be labeled “just noise;” but come on… noise IS “just noise!”
The second leg of a double album, Seminar: Ix Darkness of Being follows Seminar VIII: Light of Meaning. This release can be likened to a tossed coin: one face the kickass sludge, the other pain-in-the-ass noise. And tossed it truly is as they quite frequently replace one another in the mix. As long as the doomier face of their music is up, it is a work worth listening to, but once the noise kicks in, it loses its momentum and becomes skippable. Another thing is that Death Rhymes with its country, rockabilly touch feels kind of out of place in the middle of this album. So, if you don’t mind noise in your sludge, have a sip of this cup.
*The scoring has been reduced by one point according to Noob Heavy’s shithead record label rule, observed here. – Carcassbomb