Microdose: Greytomb, Stormland, Depravity & Northwind Wolves

Four great albums, four small reviews. This week there’s two Australian entries that are currently name your own price thanks to the Transcending Obscurity bandcamp sale. Two kinds of black and two kinds of death.

Greytomb – Monumental Microcosm (2018)

So Transcending Obscurity has a January sale where all albums are name your own price (and even pre-orders for one euro) and naturally I purchased all the good stuff including every Australian release on their roster. I had not heard most of these and went in blindly. This album is some fantastic black metal/post metal/DSBM that has a strong emotional punch via unexpectedly theatrical vocal performances. It swings between abysmal lows and and miserable highs in a satisfying way – the lows have a doom essence that reminds me of another Aussie band Virgin Black. The highs are comparable to newer Cattle Decapitation stylings. It’s one hell of a formidable EP with a whopping 10 minute opener that uses every minute to create something harrowing and engrossing. The other two tracks come with different vocals yet again with more agonised DSBM highs and mids and ethereal doom moans. This is a seriously vibrant and versatile black metal album with a strong backing of guitar and drums that carry the words along sullen and elongated notes.

“Consciousness is our enemy” is a line that sums the album up neatly, you need to hear this album, it’s stirring to say the least. The gorgeous artwork for it was done by Australian artist James McIntosh.

“Process & Self-Medicate” is the longest track with some great jams to pass the time, Stormland has some good long form chops. Referring back to the “fun”, the EP ends with a bonus cover of the 80s pop song “Break My Stride” that is hilariously catchy. I’m pretty bloody ready for an LP (keeps your eyes peeled 2021), great energy here.

Stormland – Incident Report: UC​-​0791227 (2019)

This is a “fun” album in that it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard, it’s very unique. The vocals in particular are a departure from what I typically hear in death metal. There’s imperfections that give it a lot of character and I enjoy the way the lyrics come through. There’s good emphasis placement too. The use of samples drawing on the Gundam themes is a nice touch that makes this EP a cohesive conceptual piece. The whole EP is about future space wars, in specific an incident where a routine patrol goes awry leaving the unit under equipped for a huge fight at a crucial location. You know, big time anime robot stuff. If you are a fan of Gundam and metal then this is a perfect album. To me it sounds somewhere between melodic death metal, grindcore and a jam session. There’s times where the track slows it’s pace a bit to allow for guitar solos and some focus on the bass or drums. I am really into the hardcore-esque double vocal assault on “Not My Day To Die”.

Depravity – Evil Upheaval (2018)

Another one I got from the Transcending Obscurity bandcamp sale. One of Australia’s great death metal bands with an album that will definitely have you doing air guitar and mouth noises along to the rad guitar melodies and solos. They’ve got scales for days son. If you enjoy highly technical death metal but prefer it to pull from old school influence as opposed to current -core tech death trends then you’ve found the right album. I’m really enjoying the drums and kick tone, there’s a big presence from the rhythm section on this album that creates a solid framework for the music. Much like the artwork (By Alex Tartsus) there’s a sense of being trapped in hell listening to this album, there’s a lot of vocals and screaming put in the back of the mix to make it sound more like people being tortured off in the distance, it works really well and is an innovative way to introduce extra vocals without going full dual vocals. They’re equally capable of showing a slower more eloquent side too, with progressive riffs that take you for a long ride through the hellscape. Evil Upheaval is a big album.

The slamming breakdown on “Repugnant” followed up by immediate guitar finger tapping is a highlight of the album – there’s a good structure here, they never feel lost or uncertain. The name your own price sale ends in less than a week so take advantage.

If you went nuts for the cover art and don’t mind a band with a wolf related name then you’re probably in the right genre wheelhouse to enjoy this release. I’ll admit it’s pretty far from being original but I enjoyed it.

Northwind Wolves – Mountains And Darkness (2019)

Right off the bat with the album art and symphonics we’ve got Grand Psychotic Castle by Tartaros vibes and I’m in. This is a lyric centric black metal album which is both interesting and restricting. It very well could have been a run of the mill release but the choices of symphonics and the really good drumming do wonders to set it apart. I know a lot of people hate symphonics but this is one of the cases where it’s used more sensibly, and I know I say that a lot but there’s a reason you don’t see me talking about the bad ones. It’s my duty to sift through the shit pile for my readers. The guitars and vocals do a good job of accompanying the lyrics and their various inflections or tone changes, it has the winding story telling of Cradle Of Filth but with a much deeper vocal register. This album is like taking a trip back to your teens but toning down the cheese a bit and upping the musicianship. Love the guitar opening on “Unholy Forest Of Wolves”, very expressive.

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