Written by Kep
Welcome to another Noob Heavy Microdose! Read on to check out four shorter reviews of four short albums: 2 that you might have missed, and 2 that you probably shouldn’t. Let’s dive into the realm of EPs
Skeleton – Ordainment of Divinity (February 12)
Were you like me, and absolutely dug the hell out of last year’s self-titled debut LP by hardcore/black/death metallers Skeleton? Well, this sounds pretty different from that!
Don’t let that turn you off, though, because Ordainment of Divinity is an extremely sweet slab of sonic rage. Made up of four tracks titled only with Roman numerals plus an intro, this little EP packs a fuzzy, heavily distorted punch of breakneck riffs and furiously hoarse vocals. Skeleton doesn’t waste any space here; this is all gas, no brakes, as they deliver a tight package of sounds that remind the listener simultaneously of lo-fi black metal, hardcore punk, and death metal. If what you dug about these guys was their black influences specifically, Ordainment will definitely hit the sweet spot for you, because that raw black metal sound is brought to the forefront for this release, both in the mixing and the overall riff structure. Compared to the aforementioned self-titled record, this is a step backward in time but not in quality, embracing a more medieval, frenzied sound, and it’s glorious. Big bonus points for intro “Opening Rites”, which is about as good of a purely intro track as you’ll ever hear.
Favorite track: I (but also “Opening Rites”!)
Vøidwomb – Altars of Cosmic Devotion (February 19)
Next up we’ve got the debut release by Portuguese newcomers Vøidwomb, a five-piece blackened death metal outfit. Like the Skeleton EP, Altars of Cosmic Devotion consists of an intro followed by four vicious tracks, all adding up to a 17-minute package on the thene of Mesopotamian mythological horror.
Altars is a solid debut, being one of those rare blackened death offerings that actually strikes a convincing balance between the black metal and the death metal sides. M.S.Vøid’s vocals rasp and thunder, and there’s tremolo picking and blast beats aplenty, but don’t worry, riff addicts; Vøidwomb unequivocally makes sure that you don’t forget that there’s plenty of classic death metal in their sound. “Architects of World Demise” in particular offers some guitarwork that is reminiscent of Morbid Angel and other titans of 90s death, chugging and crunching in equal measure.
I do think that this EP feels a bit longer than its short runtime, as some of the tracks outstay their lasting power by just a bit; the whole thing could use a bit more diversity of sound from track to track. That being said, there’s a ton of potential here, and these Portuguese badasses definitely have big things coming in the future.
Favorite track: “Architects of World Demise”
Mudlung – Immaculate Infection (February 26)
Ever feel like what you need is a grimy, no-frills asskicker of a death metal track to knock you in the teeth? Well, have no fear, because Milwaukee-based three-piece Mudlung are here to scratch your old school, lo-fi death metal itch.
Immaculate Infection is the third EP from relative newcomers Mudlung, and these boys are ready to drag you down into the muck with 15 minutes of fuzzed out, repulsive savagery. This isn’t the kind of thing you listen to when you want to drool over multi-layered polyrhythmic complexity; this is the sort of straightforward, balls-to-the-wall ferocity that wants to douse you in gore and shove you in a pit. That being said, there’s a catchy, ripping guitar solo in opening track “Vile Deglution”, and a particularly tremendous doomy moment in closer “Phantasmic Torment”, so the band definitely demonstrates that they know more than just how to pummel. But if pummeling is what you’re looking for, this effort has it in spades.
The lo-fi sound that Mudlung embraces does turn out on the thin side in the mix; the drums sound authentic and dirty, and the vocals grunt and snarl, but in my opinion the guitar and bass would benefit from a much meatier tone. That aside, however, what we have here is a highly enjoyable old school slab of dumpster-diving death, and it’s worth a listen or several.
Favorite track: “Phantasmic Torment”
Wolvencrown – A Shadow of What Once Was (February 26)
Now for a real change in mood, we swing to Nottingham, England, where black metal outfit Wolvencrown’s new EP A Shadow of What Once Was is ready to take us out to the icy forest and intone rites by a fire.
A Shadow is a pretty great example of traditional black metal sound: there’s dual guitars, bass, drums, and prominent synths (more on that in a moment). Wolvencrown lean toward mid-tempo riffs on this offering, allowing space for several evocative melodies to haunt the songs. Vocalist Nick’s harshes are chilling and sorrowful, fitting nicely into the band’s sound as a whole, neither too prominent or too obscured. My ear wants a bit more clarity in the drums, especially on the lower end, but outside of that the mix is well-balanced while still having the characteristic rawness we might expect.
What really marks this release out to me is track three, “Coming to an End”. Track two finishes on 1:45 of lush string synths, and I kept expecting that to transition into another black metal attack as the final song began. That never happened. “Coming to an End” is 7 minutes long, a full minute and a half longer than either of the other two tracks, and it’s 100% a gorgeous, expressive synth arrangment. Devoting over 1/3 of your black metal EP to instrumental synthwork is a move that’s bold as hell, and I found myself loving it even though I didn’t expect to. I just wish they could have shelled out for live strings!
This one’s worth your time. Come for an episode of wintry black metal, stay for the beautiful instrumental postlude.
Favorite track: “A Shadow of What Once Was Pt II”