We here at Noob Heavquarters were a bit quiet during September—life responsibilities and all that, you know the drill—but not for want of plenty of great music, which the month absolutely delivered. We’re gonna make up for going light on the full reviews by going heavy on the roundup minis. Gird your loins, motherfuckers.
Quick links to our reviews for September albums:
Białywilk – Zmora
Dying Fetus – Make Them Beg for Death
PeelingFlesh – Slamaholics, Vol. 2
Champenoise – Lost
Through Mists – Starkiller / Homicidal Hamsters
Terra Builder – Solar Temple
Woe – Legacies of Frailty
QOHELETH – Contaminants of War
And now on the the roundup!
Tomb Mold – The Enduring Spirit
Progressive death metal from Canada
It’s been a long four years since Planetary Clairvoyance shot Tomb Mold into the spotlight of many a metalhead. While The Enduring Spirit retains the space-y vibe of that record, it largely abandons the swampy tones of the bands prior material. “The Perfect Memory (Phantasm of Aura)” opens the record on what feels like familiar territory, but as the record continues it expands, warps, and evolves in front of you in what feels like witnessing the birth of some indescribable alien entity. Tomb Mold are still capable of heavy aggression and pummeling brutality, but there’s an unprecedented exploration of their capability for beauty and rich texture. This manifestation of the progressive side of the band feels incredibly natural but shocking in its masterfully executed profundity, culminating in the absolutely epic 11-minute closer “The Enduring Spirit of Calamity”. As the record, and that track in particular, underscore, the influence of jazz and 70’s progressive rock are highly visible. Tomb Mold have peaked again, and with it, once again elevated the standards of the genre. I fully expect to see this album on most people’s end of year lists.
Broken Vow – Anthropocene
Metallic hardcore from the US
Hopefully everyone is well aware that Broken Vow are far from the first straight edge metallic hardcore band to sing about the wanton destruction the human race has wrought on this planet, but sadly their message has never been more salient. Their debut full-length Anthropocene is nine tracks and 19 minutes of thrashy riffs, chugging breakdowns and shouty vocals delivered with an urgency worthy of the themes at hand. This is a desperate, exasperated record, one that not only laments the ever more inevitable death of our world but also takes aim at those who bear the most responsibility for bringing us to this point – “This war will end with you dangling from your feet”. It all comes to a head in the fantastic “No More Air”, more of a melodic hardcore track whose closing lyrics are left to reverberate around the listener’s head long after the record has ended (“When there’s no more air to breathe and I’ve screamed my throat dry / I will remember your eager eyes”).
Imperial Crystalline Entombment – Ancient Glacial Resurgence
Black metal from the US
Waldorf, Maryland’s most kvlt mask-wearing pseudonymed cold weather-themed black metal band is back, baby! Now, full disclosure, I wasn’t into black metal back in 2004, so I didn’t check out the debut Apocalyptic End in White—14-year-old me was big into hip hop and Korn instead, which is a shame, because it turns out Apocalyptic End rips. Ancient Glacial Resurgence rips even harder, if you can believe it, packed to the icy gills with a frozen hurricane’s worth of full-bore black metal riffage. It’s like being inside the whirling fury of a violent blizzard for three quarters of an hour, except that every howl of the wind is the sort of riff that sandblasts (snowblasts?) the flesh from your face while simultaneously getting stuck in your head. The record is delightfully heavy, surprisingly melodic, and has ridiculous amounts of replayability. And that opening a cappella scream? “WE ARE STILL FUCKING IIIIIIIIIIIICE” is an all-time badass line.
Gendo Ikari – Rokubungi
Grindcore from Scotland
Do you love the noisy, grindy sound of KEN mode but find their wholesome, cheerful, and uplifting online presence to be a little too…unsettling? If Barbie memes and daily pictures of cute puppies are upsetting to your sensibilities, then allow me to introduce you to Glasgow’s Gendo Ikari, whose sound is about as abrasive as steel wool on an open wound. Founded in 2016, they’ve released two EPs, three splits with bands like Droves, Blight Worms, Retortion Terror, and Deaftrap, and a demo before finally releasing their debut full-length. But, if you’re a firm believer in the old saying, “All good things come to those who wait,” I don’t think you’ll be disappointed; Rokubungi is quite the statement and an excellent way to start the latter third of 2023. You may think 15 songs on a grindcore/noise rock album will be bloated, but we’re talking about roughly 25 minutes of noisy jams here, folks; the longest track is barely over three minutes. CALM DOWN…just kidding, crank it up to 11 and go wild!!
Moonlight Sorcery – Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle
Melodic black metal from Finland
Children of Bodom are regularly described as a death metal band that plays power metal. Moonlight Sorcery exist to answer the question “would this work with black metal?” and the answer is a resounding yes. While Moonlight Sorcery still maintain an aura of spooky magic and haunted castles, there is a level of bombast that carves out a unique sound. Leads by Loitsumestari provide the extremely rare experience of shred in a black metal aesthetic, while the synths sound simultaneously dungeon-synth adjacent and ready to soar. That this band has garnered such a cult following online despite only a year of music is not surprising when they go this hard.
Vermisst – LIVE 002: Until Today
Alternative metal from the internet
Finding out that underground rap legend Dani Kiyoko is in a super-band of other underground artists where they experiment with different alt-metal techniques and sounds was the most unexpected yet expected shit ever. This month, they bring us LIVE 002: Until Today, arguably their most fulfilled work. The project works best when producer/vocalist Sedate is laying down stacked vocals that slip and slide like sexy R&B while Dani’s guttural screams fill the background. Lots of exciting songwriting going on in this one, as well; Sydney’s “Boyfriend Revenge Simulator” tells a captivating story about domestic abuse that’s equally haunting and hypnotizing. A lot is going on in this project, which makes it so much fun – it has the spontaneity of 2020’s Soundcloud releases that come out of nowhere and dissipate just as quickly.
Koyo – Would You Miss It?
Emo/pop-punk/melodic hardcore from the US
When is it not a great day for feeling sad? Perhaps this one’s a bit of an outlier for Noob Heavy but it’s also one of the best releases in its genre of the entire year. Would You Miss It? is a record soaked in melancholy and nostalgia, but in that kind of strangely uplifting way thanks to all the massive sing-alongs and earworm hooks and melodies and of course the sheer energy and vitality of it all. Vocalist Joseph Chiaramonte is super likeable and charismatic, his heart on sleeve lyrics and delivery elevating already hugely anthemic tracks like “You’re on the List (minus one)”, “Anthem” (obviously) and the Daryl Palumbo featuring “Message Like a Bomb” just that little bit further. The Vein.FM feature on “Flatline Afternoon” is another awesome stand-out and comfortably the most savage moment on the record, but it’s all absolutely killer really and ultimately as others have said it just feels so perfectly timed for the change of season that many are really loving at the moment.
Cannibal Corpse – Chaos Horrific
Death metal from the US
Honestly, what more can you even say about Corpsegrinder and co. at this point in time? They never, ever disappoint, and if anything Chaos Horrific, like Violence Unimagined before it, seems like a reinvigoration and proof positive that they haven’t lost a single step here in their fourth decade. This album has some wicked, wicked shit to pair with their trademark sneakily technical meter- and tempo-shifting brutality. The solo on the title track, for example: that is some nefarious, depraved guitar playing right there. Rutan and Barrett could chop down forests with that razor-sharp axework. Webster is a man on a mission from moment one. Corpsegrinder is his usual dominant and gripping self. Mazurkiewicz is cranking out some of his best and trickiest performances here in his mid-fifties. Rutan’s expert hand is as evident in the production as ever (though Violence Unimagined sounds a notch better, in my opinion). Whether you think Chaos Horrific is a bit bitter than Violence Unimagined or not quite as good—I’m in the latter camp—there’s no denying that 2020s-era Cannibal Corpse is every bit as killer as what came before.
Cryptopsy – As Gomorrah Burns
Brutal/technical death metal from Canada
Cryptopsy have had a rocky career; releasing career highlight “None So Vile” all the way back in 1996, an album widely considered one of the best in death metal history, their output since has been inconsistent. Current vocalist Matt McGachy suffering from a case of “not being Lord Worm” pissed off a lot of fans, but the latest record should finally put these complaints to rest. This is Cryptopsy‘s strongest record in years, with the band sounding completely reinvigorated and ready to crush the competition. There is zero filler on the record because there’s zero room to breathe – the album instantly swings into overbearing force and never relents for 33 minutes. McGachy sounds stellar on the record, really showing off the range of his gutturals and screech (I personally love the deranged laugh he lets out near the end of opening track “Lascivious Undivine”). In a scene stuffed to the brim with great death metal, Cryptopsy stand strong and demonstrate they’re still one of the best.
Filth is Eternal – Find Out
Hardcore punk from the US
Filth is Eternal have lost none of the in-your-face savagery that made them so compelling when they used to go by Fucked and Bound, but they’ve also added a fair bit to it for their second full-length under their not-so-new name. There’s a fair bit of grunge and alt-rock in the mix now, particularly in tracks like “Cherish” , “Roll Critical” and “The Gate”, that makes Find Out comfortably their hookiest, and therefore catchiest, output to date. It’s still an absolute rager though, tearing through 14 tracks in less than half an hour all scuzzy and raucous and crusty and chaotic as frontperson Lis Di Angelo continues to rely most of all on a proper vitriolic snarl that makes them the album’s most obvious focal point.
Acausal Intrusion – Panpsychism
Avant-garde technical death metal from the US
Already the third full-length album from this, the most cerebral and avant-garde of the many collaborations between Nicholas Turner and Jared Moran (here known as Nythroth and Cave Ritual), Panpsychism is a remarkable leap forward for what was already a cutting edge project. It’s hideous and lurching and brutal and blasphemous, yes, but it’s also got a surprising amount of breathing room and blessed passages of strangely placid calm. Make no mistake, this is still raw dissonant techdeath of the most ugly and avant-garde sort—and yes, Moran is still proud owner of the world’s most distinctly shitty-but-on-purpose drum tone—but the album feels more cosmic and almost progressive in scope. More strange and interesting song forms, more barbarous bludgeoning rhythms, more terrifying blackened horror, more writhing tendrils of angular guitar, more oppressive gutturals (plus some spooky cleans!): this album has everything I want from my weird death metal.
Fossilization – Leprous Daylight
Death/doom metal from Brazil
Fossilization‘s debut record feels truly deserving of the “cavernous death metal” moniker that became somewhat of a buzzword during the past few years. The riffs, and frontman V‘s vocals in particular, feel like they’re emanating out of a hollow shell in the earth, baked in the mud and murk. The bubbling atmosphere builds like a creeping mist snaking through the jungle, hinting at the monstrous form that lurks in the bowels of the earth. The guitar tone on “Leprous Daylight” is crunchy and full of reverb, giving those notes an impact that feels lasting and physical while P‘s drums ceaselessly hammer beneath.
Mind/Knot – Esigenza
Hardcore punk/math rock from Italy
Okay, I don’t know what’s in the water in Rome (I mean that literally; climate protesters turned the water in Trevi Fountain black by pouring in vegetable charcoal back in May), but whatever it is, it’s made for some incredibly intense music. Noisy mathcore punks Mind/Knot have released their sophomore album, Esigenza, on Time to Kill Records, and it sounds like a flashback to late ‘70s Hermosa Beach, CA and that fierce intensity of early Black Flag. Marco Burrascano’s bark is reminiscent of the Cadena and early Rollins era releases, while Roberto Cadau (guitar), Yari Caramore (bass), and Simone Perna (drums) lay down the sonic groundwork that’s raucous enough to level a whole city block. While 23 minutes doesn’t seem like enough time to fit in 16 songs—that’s an average of less than a minute and a half per song—the band more than make up for it on intensity alone. If you’re a fan of old-school hardcore like me, you don’t want to miss out on this one.
Code Orange – The Above
Industrial/nu-metal/metallic hardcore from the US
It’s stupid really to try to cover any Code Orange record in the space of a mini, but here we are; The Above is – perhaps as expected – the Pittsburgh metallic hardcore outfit’s most sonically diverse yet. It dials up the industrial influences, the nu-metal influences, the grunge influences, and a buttload of other stuff that’s harder to place and somehow manages to do all that without making a huge mess. They’re still largely unparalleled when they get all chaotic and violent, like in “A Drone Opting Out of the Hive” or the perfectly paired early singles “The Game” and “Grooming My Replacement” for example, but they have so many more strings to their bow at this point. The Linkin Park-esque single “Take Shape” works way better in the context of the record, as does the trip-hoppy “Mirror”, and guitarist/vocalist Reba Myers comes even further into her own as she carries many of the band’s most arena-ready singalongs to date in the likes of “Splinter the Soul”, “Circle Through” and “But a Dream…” to name just a few. They’ll still have their detractors, but they’ve obviously never cared about them and when it works this well why should they?
Dismal Aura – Imperium Mortalia
Black metal from Canada
Inspired by the essay “Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe, a piece on the nature of sovereignty being located within the power over the life and death of other humans, this record is a black metal musing on state violence and colonalism. In returning to the raw energy and musical violence of hardcore/crust punk, Dismal Aura find a greater ferocity to bely both the political framework of their art but also the intensity of their sonic elements. This is black metal that carries an atypical haste, and whose shrieks and cold are not rooted in shallow hatred or a reactionary isolationism but rather as a question of grief and suffering and a love of other people, of seeking connections lost to the unnatural and brutal power structures of our world.
Bekor Qilish – The Flesh of a New God
Avant-garde black/death metal from Italy
A double dose of the avant-garde! Not to be outdone by Acausal Intrusion, Italy’s strangest one-man project returned with a sophomore album to kill for. Mastermind Andrea Bruzzone pulled out several more stops here on The Flesh of a New God, and the result is an enormous effort that feels larger and more ambitious than the debut by an order of magnitude. In addition to literally being longer—by two tracks and 13 minutes, to be exact—it just feels bigger, with thicker texture, better production, and generally more shit packed into its 40 minutes. Bruzzone impresses across the album as both composer and performer, flaunting unique and engrossing songwriting and delivering an utterly stellar drum showing in particular. There’s surprising beauty in long ethereal melodies, crunchy and twangy intervals abound, bombastic synth lines soar and then devour themselves in torrents of twisting arpeggios, guitar solos emote and bewilder in equal measure. And the fucking bass! That thick steely tone and those constantly rebounding lines are to die for. At this rate, don’t be surprised when the third album is my AOTY in whatever year it arrives.