We used to do a weekly roundup but it’s so hard to get going in the new year, who wants to pay attention to anything during January? Welcome to the monthly roundup which includes many new mini reviews from the team as well as highlighting some of the full reviews we did this month. The biggest challenge is coming up with a rhyming music related term for the article title each month. February… Favorites? I guess. I will think on this for the next month. Christ there’s a lot of reviews by Kep in here, what a star.
Wiegedood – There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road
Black metal from Belgium. It’s not often I talk about black metal, partly out of disinterest in the genre and partly out of resentment for the genre’s harboring of nazi scum but I do love a spicy black metal album like this one. Members of Wiegedood are all in Oathbreaker and some are in Amenra so that subtle sludge and hardcore influence is here which does wonders to set it apart from the average monotony churned out each week trying to replicate this or that era of black metal. This is an intriguing and dark record that plays with the trappings of black metal while exhibiting a sly menacing grin but also excelling at inspiring atmospheres. Most of it will be super familiar and yet just… slightly… off. Particularly the blast beats and chord progressions. It demands your attention. It’s so well made with impactful production. I love the Oxbow style freak out shit on the track “Nuages”.
FFO: Boss de Nage, Amenra, good black metal
Krallice – Crystalline Exhaustion
Avantgarde Black Metal from New York, US. This is an embarrassing thing for me to admit, but it took a while for me to “get” Krallice. What’s even more embarrassing than that is the reason I finally did: there was a cover that reminded me of a ghost and those are my favorite kinds of album covers so I sat there and listened to it from start to finish (I’m talking about Ygg Hurr if you didn’t catch that). It finally clicked, and now I own most of their records on vinyl/CD. But this latest entry in their catalog is my favorite yet. If this had been the first thing of theirs I ever heard, I no doubt wouldn’t have had any difficulty getting into their sound. This thing is punchy, in your face, and have many others have pointed out: it’s horny. It’s music to fuck to. Synths frequently take center stage, creating an icy, sexy atmosphere that takes the band in a newer, heavier direction. Going to go ahead and say it: favorite album from these guys yet.
FFO: Oranssi Pazuzu, Blut Aus Nord, Botanist
Det Eviga Leendet – Reverence
Black metal from Sweden. anguished black metal from Sweden? That’s probably enough to get most metalheads in, but what if I told you Jacob Buczarski of Mare Cognitum was on vocals? Yeah, it’s absolutely worth your time. We tend to describe black metal as icy or cold, and I guess that’s applicable enough here, but I found a surprising amount of fire in Reverence’s 6 tracks. It’s intense in a way that burns like falling stars, unrelenting pain and anger scorching out of the speakers. There are a few moments of calm—one notably in the last track, “Yield”, which is the best on the album to these ears—but the overarching extremeness of the listen is palpable. Make sure you give it a full go; I found it to be a grower, with each track building on the last in quality and impact until the final aching moment.
FFO: Acathexis, Eos, Ov Shadows
SOM – The Shape Of Everything
Post metal from US. I sense this album will be a comfort album for me this year that gets plenty of play. It’s wistful in elegant in it’s combination of elements from post, shoegaze, dreampop and all sorts of atmospheres from the chill side of rock and metal. It’s name your own price on Bandcamp so get in it. Perfect if you want a break from blackgaze in favor of something more altgaze.
FFO: Deafheaven, Pelican, Breaths
Slowbleed – The Blazing Sun, a Fiery Dawn
Death metal/hardcore from California, US. One month into 2022, what takes the award for best new release I’ve heard? It’s this absolute stunner of a record from Bay Area pummelers Slowbleed. It’s an extremely tightly-composed package of crushing death metal mixed with hardcore in about as perfect a balance as you could ever hope to hear. This is music to mosh. Music to get in a street brawl to. Music to punch deities in the face to. It’s great stuff, is what I’m saying. Don’t let all that talk make you think Slowbleed is all violence, no brain, though. Sure, tracks like “The Law” and “Sangre” are some of the toughest things you’ll hear this year, but “Driven by Fire” is surprisingly meditative and mixes in clean vocals, and there’s more than one thoughtful instrumental atmospheric track. Seriously, this record is special.
FFO: Power Trip, Creeping Death, Fuming Mouth
Worm Shepherd – Ritual Hymns
Blackened death metal from US. Deathcore with blackened elements put out by Unique Leader Records, it’s a no-brainer. It’s good shit. There’s even a symphonic aspect to it that is very good, I would say this is a great album for anyone who felt underwhelmed by the latest Shadow Of Intent and want something that is quite fancy but is also hard as nails. It’s just fucking sick. Right away I knew there was something special here, it just pops out and remains interesting throughout. Morphing between songs that are more black metal and songs that are more deathcore but always intersecting beautifully at some point.
FFO: The Breathing Process, Anna Pest, Lorna Shore, Viscera
Fell Deeds – Fell Deeds
Black metal/crust from British Columbia, CA. Look, when you put artwork like that on the front of your album you’re gonna get me to take a listen ASAP. You’re also setting my expectations at a certain level, because I want the music to rule as hard as the cover. Luckily, Fell Deeds’ self-titled debut measures up. This is an ugly, crusty take on black metal, with rough edges and plenty of turbulent breakneck aggression. Full-throated black metal screams rip through a texture that’s dominated by tremolo-picking and dirty punk beats. It’s tailor made to satisfy listeners who dig crust while leaning a bit more toward the black metal side aesthetically; think something like if Young and in the Way were a bit icier and more raw. It’s a damn fun listen, too; at 36 minutes it’s the kind of album that entices you to jump right back in as soon as it’s done. Don’t miss this one.
FFO: Young and in the Way, Iskra, Dödsrit
Fit For An Autopsy – Oh What the Future Holds
A good album by a reliable band. It doesn’t do anything off the beaten path or stir things up greatly but it is a pleasurable modern deathcore sound made by capable musicians. For me, in terms of metalcore, their clean vocals are in the sweet spot. They aren’t whiney like a lot of progressive metalcore bands and it’s not poppy to the extent of being Sempiternal-core, it’s closer to melodic death metal with catchy hooks. It’s nicely paced album that takes a lot of great stuff from deathcore without going so extreme with it that it’s hard to recognize the band. It’s layered and often pretty. Oh What The Future Holds makes me think of Fit For An Autopsy as the metalcore Rivers Of Nihil.
FFO: Aversions Crown, Rivers Of Nihil, At The Gates
Burned in Effigy – Rex Mortem
“Hailing from Chicago, Burned in Effigy are relatively fresh in the scene; they formed up in 2016 and quietly released a debut EP, Terrestrial, as an instrumental four-piece in 2017. Rex Mortem, their first full-length, is also their first release with a vocalist, and it’ll be the first time their music is heard on the wider plane of the metal scene. And it comes not a moment too soon either, because what this outfit brings to the table—a high-energy, neoclassical take on melody-driven death metal—is quite impressive and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as popular up-and-comers like Vaelmyst and Summoning the Lich. I found that by the time I’d had a little taste of what Rex Mortem had to offer, I was hooked. This album is chock full of leads that earworm their way right into your head and won’t come out, and the moments that will bring you back for more listens are plentiful.” – Full Review
Age Of Apocalypse – “Grim Wisdom
“I think it’s hard to beat the feeling of going into an album totally blind and absolutely loving what you hear. Age Of Apocalypse are a fairly new band out of New York and they’re signed with Closed Casket Activities. Given that, I was expecting an above average hardcore record, but what I got was that and so much more! The record is rooted in hardcore, what with the two-steps, breakdown-esque passages, punky percussion, and pissed off screamed vocals. That stuff could’ve stood just fine on its own, but it’s all the extra bells and whistles they’ve thrown in that really make this one special.” – Full Review
Descent – Order of Chaos
Death metal from QLD, Australia. “The theme of these eight tracks of hardcore-tinged death metal is in-your-face, full-throated ferocity. The riffs alternate between breakneck gallops that snatch your breath away and bludgeoning chugs that mercilessly beat the air right out of you. It’s not the kind of record with lots of melodic material a la Swedish death; rather, this is all about the violence of percussion and filthy headbang-worthy brutality. It’s ugly and nihilistic, an embodiment of its title: every track is an adrenaline-charged whirlwind of outright bedlam, with just the right amount of songwriting prowess to keep it on the near side of the “chaos” line. The mixing by Kurt Ballou and mastering by Brad Boatright (both extreme music veterans and prolific in this department) show that they understood the assignment, too, because the mix and master are likewise aggressive and boisterous.” – Full Review
Tony Martin – Thorns
Heavy metal from England. “I hope we don’t have to wait another 15 years for Tony to put his songwriting mastery back into the music world. Thorns is a treat for young and old fans alike, those who are familiar with Sabbath, and those who came to find Heavy Metal’s early 2022 bangers. With tracks filled with lyrical brilliance, eye-widening riffs, and skin-peeling solos, it’s an album that many Heavy Metal fans will be clawing at to have in their collection as it is not only a display of skill and experience but, creativity and passion in a genre that some say have already sang it all.” – Full Review
Hegeroth – Sacra Doctrina
“There’s definitely an art to taking an old formula and having it sound fresh and exciting, and Hegeroth have certainly delivered on that front with this no frills black metal beatdown. There’s an insane amount of energy on this record, you can really feel that icy, steel guitar tone pulsating through your system. It more or less goes without saying that the riffs are nuts, pretty catchy too. Screeching lead work on here as well, my god. They also got a rock solid low end going, just ruthless performances all the way through. There’s a few interesting structural and melodic elements throughout that really spice up the experience and elevate that ice-cold atmosphere.” – Full Review
Tormentor Tyrant – Tormentor Tyrant
“Tormentor Tyrant looks to be the next in a long line of Finnish death metal bands that are designed to inflict maximum damage on your goddamn face. A mix of excellent tracks and tracks that are just good doesn’t make for a perfect debut, but this self-titled offering is—and forgive me, I’m about to use the “s” word—a sufficiently meaty slab of OSDM. Give it a listen for the pedigree alone; I bet you’ll be satisfied.” – Full Review