Always delivering extremely interesting releases, today we have Germany’s Ancst and their latest effort “Summits of Despondency”. Intricately layering many styles into a very pummeling and yet melancholic sound, this album features nearly 45 minutes of viciously delivered intense music. While genre purists will not enjoy the medley of styles in this release, we are huge fans of the amount of creativity and well crafted intermingling of everything from hardcore to Post-Black Metal.
Opening with the crushing “Kill Your Inner Cop”, the band instantly oozes an Hypocrisy vibe with menacing guitars and relentless intensity. The vocals are quite hectic and probably the singular identifying characteristic of the band’s diverse musical explorations, as this track bleeds into the more melodic “Inferno” and “Final Hour”. Due to the intensity of the band’s musical approach, songs quickly blend into each other, and before you can tell , you have heard 4-5 songs without even noticing.
Crafting one of the richest and most unique musical experiences of 2020, today we have Iceland’s Cult of Lilith with their debut full-length release “Mara”. Surrounding their Death Metal with tons of unique atmospherics, different instruments, and weird thematic elements in some songs, this is one of those Extreme Metal releases that are hard to classify, but very familiar to enjoy. If we had to name a similar band, we could say that this band is a Death Metal version of Fleshgod Apocalypse with some additional folky/baroque elements.
Opening with the brutal “Cosmic Maelstrom”, the listener quickly gets a Brutal Death Metal/Deathcore vibe thanks to the screams/growls combination and the intense riffing, but the atmospheric elements quickly set the band apart. As the album progresses, the Stranger Things-esque opening of “Purple Tide” and dreamy opening to “Atlas”, show the band’s unique ability to craft intricate and aggressive pieces with lush contrasting elements and still deliver their signature brutality.
Unleashing three gargantuan slabs of soul crushing Funeral Doom Metal, today we have Canada’s Atramentus and their epic “Stygian”. Perfect for the coming months of winter, this release delivers killer atmospheric misery paired with demoralizing growls and some crafty experimentation. Highly recommended for fans of bands like Shape of Despair, Mournful Congregation, etc., this release will turn even the brightest day, completely bleak.
Opening with the 16-minute beast “Stygian I: From Tumultuous Heavens… (Descended Forth The Ceaseless Darkness)”, the band does not fuck arround and quickly establishes riff dominance with punishing slow guitars. The mixture of clean and harsh vocals creates a very eerie contrast that works magically with such a lush and depressive backdrop. The interlude is provided by the noise-ish/atmospheric piece “Stygian II - In Ageless Slumber (As I Dream In The Doleful Embrace of The Howling Black Winds)”.
Unleashing a truly unique level of aural abuse, today we have UK’s Lychgate and their new label debut EP “Also sprach Futura”. If you think you have heard weird stuff before, this release will re-define the concept for you. Featuring four tracks of pure madness, this band combines elements from Doom/Jazz/Progressive/Brutal Death Metal, and pretty much everything else into an amalgamation of sonic abusive tracks.
The release opens with the cirquesque “Incarnate”, incorporating brutal guitar riffs with chaotic tempo changes and funky organ/mellotron atmospherics. Taking this track over the top are the throat singing moments that just add more confusion and madness between the Black Metal-ish harshness and funky atmospherics. Things settle down a bit on the interesting “Progeny of the Singularity”, where the band starts with brutal onslaughts and slowly evolves into an eerie sickening atmospheric passage , just as the brutality returns to close this magically weird piece.
Hailing from Italy, Fleshgod Apocalypse has stormed the Symphonic Metal scene with their highly refined orchestral brutality. Perfectly blending dramatic orchestrations with complex Death Metal elements, this band delivers some of the most extreme melodic music ever written. With “Veleno”, the band further expands on their heavier side with brutal passages, and on their more melodic and theatrical side with very dramatic vocal arrangements and mellow interludes.
Opening with the ravaging brutality of “Fury”, the band makes their skills do the talking since the first song. Perfectly delivering crushing Death Metal riffs and growls in between dramatic choral arrangements, this track is quite a way to start the release. Moving on to “Carnivorous Lamb” and “Sugar”, the band showcases their dramatic orchestral layers and vicious guitar leads in yet another brutal piece. The combination of male harsh vocals, mad male clean vocals, and sweet female clean vocals works quite well and adds extra contrast to these tracks.
Luckily for those of us unfortunate to Waste of Space Orchestra at Roadburn, Svart Records releases a perfect quality recording of this event with “Syntheosis”. For the uninitiated, this project is a collaboration between Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising, two of the most exciting genre-bending bands to ever come out of Finland. Clocking in at 65 minutes, this a unique musical exploration that transports the listeners to a bizarre plane of existence.
Slowly building up, “Void Monolith” starts the performance with an introduction to craft psychedelic extravagance thanks to the warm and fuzzy distorted guitars and trippy synths. The madness truly begins with the chaotic “The Shamanic Vision” and its crushing drumming. The deranged vocals make this song even more terrifying thanks to their unique range and style. The underlying melodies of songs like “Seeker’s Reflection” and “Journey to the Center of Mass” are quite intoxicating with a certain jazzy vibe, and perfectly crafted around trippy tempo changes.
As the first review of 2019, we are quite glad that it is Soilwork’s latest opus “Verkligheten”. Featuring a more melodic and catchy edge, this release continues the band’s musical progression into more engaging and innovative territories. Picking up where they left us with “The Ride Majestic”, the band delivers heaps of superbly catchy chorus sections, expertly crafted vocal melodies and lush instrumental arrangements that will have you hitting the repeat button more than a few hundred times on this release.
Immediately after setting the mood with the mysterious album title track, the band hits the gas with a furious combination of blistering drumming and a harsh vocals. This opener is definitely quite heavy and very fitting as the song transforms back and forth between harsh and brutal to more melodic thanks to Björn Strid soaring clean vocals. After catching the listener by surprise with the intensity of the previous song, the band keeps things hectic with the hard rocking riffing of “Bleeder Despoiler”. This track provides an interesting combination of some Heavy Metal-esque influences mixed together with the band’s brand of Melodic Extreme Metal they have refined over the years.
Delicately balancing between Progressive and Extreme Metal, today we have the legendary Ihsahn and his seventh full-length release “Àmr”. For over 43 minutes, the master deliver some very unique and forward thinking music that stills retains the hunger and incisiveness of Ihsahn’s earlier work with Emperor while exploring newer and more complex musical directions.
Unleashing an incisive array of keyboards and harsh screams, the album perfectly kicks off with the hectic “Lend Me the Eyes of the Millennia”. This track follows more of Ihsahn’s early work structures, but with a modern and cutthroat edge that no other band has in Extreme Metal. The album’s first single, “Arcana Imperii” with a perfect blend of funky tempo changes and playful drumming that leads to dramatic vocal arrangements and crafty instrumentation. We highly enjoyed the moody clean vocals that give the song a more accessible (to non-extreme metal fans) side while enjoying Ihsahn’s brilliant song writing skills.
Pushing the limits of what is defined as extreme; today we have Anaal Nathrakh and their latest crushing release: “The Whole of the Law”. Ever since the band moved to Metal Blade Records, they have been on a warpath of destruction and insanity. Delivering over 42 minutes of brutal aural devastation, the band cranks up eleven of the most chaotic and abusive songs we have ever heard.
After the slow atmospheric intro, the band opens their portal to hell with the crushing “Depravity Favours the Bold”. This track is filled with atmospheric arrangements paired with Dave Hunt’s multi-faceted range of vocals. The release continues to punish the listener with the brutal Grindcore onslaughts of “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion”, the eerie Industrial elements of “We Will Fucking Kill You”, and the totally deranged vocals and Death Metal vibe of “So We Can Die Happy”.
Multi-instrumentalist one-man show Ihsahn makes a surprise 2016 return with another unique release titled “Arktis.”. Considerably less experimental and out of whack than his previous release, this album delivers 11 very interesting song that while pushing the envelope, they consolidate the signature Ihsahn sound.
Opening with the Proggy “Disassembled”, Ihsahn crafts a very catchy song with a killer chorus section. With some additional vocals by Einer Solberg (Leprous), this is one very melodic and engaging opening piece. Things turn quickly dark with the sinister “Mass Darkness” and its crafty atmospheric guitar work. This track is quite unique as it features some funky tempo changes and epic vocal arrangements (featuring Matt Heafy), all within the Ihsahn realm.