It’s stupid how fast this grindcore is, its speedgrind. Overall I’m super impressed with Abu Ghraib as an Australian band, I originally found out about them by scouring the Metal Archives for hours searching by Australia for the Heavypedia project. I encountered Abu Ghraib and their band photo was so funny and endearing I ended up saving it “for later” which I guess is now because they’ve released a massive grind album that surpasses even their sublime memery in ability and entertainment. There was no sign of this beast earlier in the year with just a demo to their name, don’t be sleeping on this one.
As The Kingdom Drowns is a chewy treat that endures multiple listens well. There’s plenty of brutality but there’s also room for more elaborate and melodic guitar work. The vocals also reduce intensity at times to accommodate them without ever tipping into cleans. There’s something to be said about a stalwart mid range vocalist in the current scene where the emphasis is placed on lows and highs. The result is a series of balanced and flexible songs, sometimes creating an anthem and other times dueling with futuristic licks.
The standout track for me is “Beyond The Black”, the feminine guest vocals bring an epic feel to the song with the peak feeling almost like a musical number about to break out between the metal layers. It’s very big. Jason (Psycroptic’s vocalist) get’s a lot higher than usual here as well with similarities to Mastodon and new Cattle Decapitation with their “clean but not clean” style. It follows through to the calmer opening of “Upon These Stones” nicely. Another solid track that reminds me a lot of Opeth which is never a bad thing. It’s high quality stuff and the fact that it can be compared to these titan’s of industry is telling.
ACKOD is a very unique project that somehow exists between the void of minimalism and the bravado of extreme metal – not so surprisingly, out of California (partly), recorded at . It’s complex and brooding. It’s also likely to challenge a lot of people whose idea of music is more neatly packaged and familiar. Personally I find it quite exciting because it’s a part of a sound that doesn’t belong to a time in music but rather one that pops up here and there throughout it’s history like a rare breed. Stuff like Maudlin Of The Well if anyone can remember an underrated project from so long ago. ACKOD have come to 2019 with two releases and two more on the way. All of these releases are following the same story thread started with their first release in 2015, Vol. I: Enculturation and then Vol. II: Organic Emotions in 2016.
These two 2019 albums in particular are quite special, not only as a return for the project but also their collaboration with artist ma-ko (@drivemeawaytroubledheart) on both album covers, really elevating the presentation of the project. ma-ko’s art has been on my feed for some time, I completely adore their style which to me seems very inspired by video game fantasy, I have a feeling these covers had some inspiration from Hyper Light Drifter but their other work on IG speaks to older JRPG’s with a beautiful and traditional aesthetic. The lyrics seem to come from the same place as the art, perhaps there was synergy there. The stories resemble the volatile societies, history and politics of such fictional places. So let’s get into these two albums and keep an eye out for the third.
Advent Sorrow are an Australian black metal band that have been going at it since 2009 to moderate amounts of acclaim. They’ve come back this year with their new album titled “Kali Yuga Crown”.
To get more specific they operate out of the niche genre depressive suicidal black metal, or DSBM for short. It’s not a genre I’ve ever been all that into, but granted it is, as I said, very niche – so not a lot of music comes out of it, and the music that does come out of it rarely makes it’s way to the ears of the uninitiated. That being said, this album is a very good gateway into the genre. It incorporates elements of other genres and sub-genres such as atmospheric black metal, 1st wave black metal, and doom. The atmospheric moments come in the form of occasional keyboard flourishes and melodic guitar riffs, these influences are most present on the closing track “Death In Magic Antagonism.” The doom influences can be found on the track “Caesar” which employs these very slow, sludgy riffs. Then on tracks like “Spearhead” and “Wolf & Weapon” you can see more classic and traditional black metal song structure, especially in the drums. It’s like a black metal layer cake.