Vancouver-based Anciients have been on the sidelines of the extreme progressive heavy metal scene for a number of years, having formed in 2009. They released an EP, Snakebeard (great title), in 2011 and this year finally saw their ideas poured into full-length debut Heart of Oak (via Season of Mist). Their sound incorporates the progressive tendencies of Enslaved whilst leaning towards the bittersweet vocal lines of bands such as Baroness and perhaps Opeth. Shifting between clean lines and gruff growls, Anciients battle the light and the dark and Heart of Oak glistens with revelation, hope and coping with the upheaval of the past, particularly during final track “For Lisa,” which traverses sadness and wonder in one fell instrumental swoop.
Bleak and distant. Two words that more than aptly describe Bible Thumper’s unholy half of their split with Thetan. This New Brunswick, NJ outfit churn out a rough, creature-like bit of D-beat evil. The sound materializes into a claustrophobic chamber wreathed in faraway anguish. Wrath permeates these three tracks, rubbing scaled grime deep into the sheer noise. The pieces at points coalesce to the point of being unrecognizable, while these are often counterbalanced with glorious malevolence.
“Soft Skull” opens with a sheen of discomfort, blasting off into a dirty ride that charges into ever-shifting cascades of accelerating torment. Screams of varying pitch and clarity form a mournful, ghostly chorus that accents the blistering percussion and scum-under-your-fingernails guitars. The bass mean mugs, out-muscling all but the torturous wails, attributing “Soft Skull” as the split’s most menacing track.
Canadian duo Gevurah deal in the kind of filthy, dark and dank death metal that the likes of Mitochondrion, Grave Miasma and Cruciamentum have pushed for in recent times. Both deeply unholy and gloriously dirty, Necheshirion is the band’s debut EP and it follows a demo so well received that it sold out almost immediately. Their route into the darkness is one that treads the path of Satanic majesty and as such the two minds behind this project allow the Dark Lord to work through their music with a savage and sly grace.
SMOHALLA and OMEGA CENTAURI are two bands playing their very own style of avantgardistic Black Metal that has the ability to subvert one’s listening habits very easily. To get the impression, check out the exclusive stream here on CVLT Nation.
SMOHALLA is a project from France, a country that had and has some of the most innovative Black Metal to offer – and SMOHALLA is no exception. Their contribution to this split with OMEGA CENTAURI is exuberant with technical riffs, highly progressive song-structures and an arc of suspense that has more in common with cold, harsh arrangements of new music than Metal. If you’re now thinking of Deathspell Omega you’re not completely wrong, but not completely right either. Although there are similarities, especially when it comes down to the compositional side of things, SMOHALLA add massive, symphonical layers that strongly extend the overly powerful, dramatic feeling of these four songs. But even though SMOHALLA‘s creation is really demanding, it is not exaggeratedly intellectual. The songs have a straight forward drive and in contrary to many other progressive Metal acts, SMOHALLA doesn’t get lost in endless chord progressions and senseless self-adulation. The atmosphere of the songs is in the central focus, resulting in four really outstanding, exciting and absolutely grasping songs.
One of the big surprises of this year is certainly the self titled debut album by Lychgate, a “super group” formed by the most amazing of lineups: Greg Chandler (Esoteric), Aran (Lunar Aurora, Trist), Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri) and Vortigern (The One, Archaicus). With such amazing and skilled musicians behind Lychgate, the result could only be something marvelously arcane. Founded by Vortigern, Lychgate was a natural evolution that occurred over time from his project Archaicus, and despite having a new shape it’s still very audible the influences of the band-root’s sound in Lychgate. But this influence is not only restricted to Archaicus, throughout the album, there are delightful details that bring to my mind similarities from the music from where these mysterious alchemists come from. So what can you expect with this album? “Lychgate” blends the most esoteric side of doom metal mixed with some pieces of progressive death metal with the most melodic side of black metal, that along the album, is constantly showing its agressive facet, resulting in a very avant garde, atmospheric, mystic and almost cinematic kind of black metal.
One interesting aspect in the making of “Lychgate” was that it was created without the aid of programming. All instrumentation was performed and recorded without edits, a factor that gives even more credit to the talented and skilled musicians presented here. In fact that’s the way I like it done: without artifices. Just clean, well performed, honest and brilliant music coming straight from the (dark) soul. Recorded at Eidola Studios and Priory Studios between April and August of last year, “Lychgate” was mixed and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Studios and features an amazing cover artwork by Manuel Tinnemans that truly captures the mystery and the whole essence of this album.
Oxtongue might not be familiar to a lot of my fellow doom-heads, but from here on out they should be. Combining subtle atmospherics with the oft-imitated dirge rumble of Holy Mountain-era Sleep and a crushing, misanthropic fuzz wall is what these Canadian cats are all about. And it works damn well, with “Where The Light Is Mute” winding its way across 31 minutes of acid-dipped grooves and a hollowed, depressing stomp.
The album comes on slowly, with the first five minutes of opener “Humanity: Born In The Way Of Eternal Grief” devoted to a simmering riff backed with subtle whispers and ambient melodic touches. “Humanity…” lurches from one lynchpin groove to the next, the whole mass held together with reverb-drenched shrieks and moans that give a mournful flare to the crushing heaviness. While the riffs at times become a murky edifice of reiteration, they never lose the sense of dynamism that runs like a black vein through this whole album. The tone and timbre of the guitars changes so slowly in spots that, before you’re fully aware, you’ve gone from listening to a chugging bit of repetition to being engulfed in a bongload of atmosphere. And, just as easily, Oxtongue shift into the forceful and infinitely heavy “Anguish: Abide With Suffering,” which sets the same dragging tone as the opening track but follows a much more direct approach. It would have been easy for Oxtongue to take the path that far too many “doom metal” bands have and churn out 15 minute tracks full of bone-dry, Neurosis-aping schlock. Instead, they’ve created something that is at turns groovy, startlingly heavy, and dynamic. Oxtongue manage to strike a near-perfect balance of creativity and nihilism that stretches out into the black edges of emotion that serves as the mark of a truly talented band.
Irish scourge ZOM present us two cosmological atrocities on a wicked 7” EP that lights the altar of Blasphemy, Morbid Angel, and Slayer aflame in it’s worship. While these tracks did appear on their 2012 “Hells Pleasure” demo I unfortunately did not get a hold of that so these are new to me, and also rip really hard.
ZOM’s assault is not new however. Their self-titled demo was certainly promising, making heads turn despite the perceived ordinariness outside of the locale they hail from, largely because the worship they display is flat out enjoyable with subtle additions that the newer revivals are bringing with them that seem to have naturally leeched into their classic sound. Just enough to refresh things at least because they were getting a lot of attention, and I still managed to miss their second demo last year containing these two tracks.
Though, as it was a demo, I assume they were rougher which is either a plus or a minus depending on your attitude. There are two tracks, virtually the same length but with different approaches to their thrash formula, the first “Multiversal Holocaust” dips into the slower realms near the end while “Terror of the Cosmos” really is a relentless and blistering offensive.
Technology is such now, for better or for worse, that the world both physical and virtual is practically overrun with one man bands, in all genres. While this comes with certain disadvantages (who the fuck wants to watch one man and his laptop/mixing desk play “live”?), one of the fantastic things about it is how it allows one person without relying on others to realize the sounds in their own head exactly as they want them. In terms of “extreme” music, whatever the fuck that is in 2013, this has provided ample and exciting fruit in the area where human beings attempt to create utterly inhuman music.
SPERMICIDAL is such a project. Project..pfft..scratch that. “Entity”. Spermicidal is an entity, not a project – it is some of the most spectacularly otherwordly manifestation, and some of the most genuinely frightening music emerging from the underground right now. Debuting with a split tape with the post Wreck of The Hesperus project Ordnance, the first release proper from this disturbing husk (helmed by rennowned Irish experimental musician Cathal Rodgers) arrives in the form of the four track “Vermicide” cassette.
Are you ready to re-enter a psychedelic state of mind? The split record between Huata and Bitcho will be the perfect companion for your trip to places where gravity has no place and time has no meaning. Three songs from the two bands are paying homage to the psychedelic side of doom, filled with great synth sounds that will make your head spin, dreamy voices and heavy riffs.
So to break it down: Huata contribute two songs to this split album, the fifteen-minute long “The Retaliator,” with its majestic heavy sound, the 60s and 70s influenced groove and the vocals buried deep in the mix, completely out of this world sonic manipulation of synths to create an unworldly ambience that will entrap the listener with its mesmerizing quality. The repetitive themes also assist the hypnotic process; an almost Sleep-ish (from the Jerusalem era) feeling overflows from the song. The second offering of Huata is a heavier, more compact track. Still in the same style but maybe focusing a bit more on their heavy guitars and sludge background than on their psychedelic elements, which are still obviously there (and quite noticeable), but they are not the main focus of the track.
And after the devastation of Huata it is time for Bitcho to take charge and take us further into the realms of psychedelia. Suddenly the warm atmosphere that Huata brought to the album is almost instantly transformed into an industrial-like coldness and after the four minute intro into “10050 Cielo Drive”, Bitcho come out in full force, with their repetitive heavy riffs, bringing Godflesh instantly to mind, and their great synth sounds – they pin you to the floor, especially when the ritualistic chants kick in, you will be astonished. The mechanical beat entwined with the huge sounding riffs and the abnormal atmospheres are key to the sound of Bitcho, the end of the track where the sound becomes more aggressive before they almost triumphantly retreat to an even slower pace is truly awe-inspiring, and the effects on the vocals are also unreal to say the least.
Label: Forcefield Records
There’s not much to say about Grime. Hailing from Trieste, Italy, these three dudes (they were four before becoming just three) came back in 2013 with their debut record, Deteriorate, their second in a discography that started with the self-titled EP back in 2011.
A quick search on the web will lead us to their facebook page where we can find, almost instantly, the kind of music the Italian trio plays and their goals for the music itself: “Their only goal is bringing destruction to a town near yours. Their sound is rooted into rotten burial ground and their songs are the sound of a decaying swamp filled with trash.”
Sinking our ears into the great (yeah, it is great) Deteriorate shows us a band that knows exactly what it is doing and that can transport us to a parallel universe. A few minutes in the universe of these guys and you will scream in a high-pitch/growl voice “SLUDGEEEEEE!!!!” Oh my fuckin’ god… This is exactly what we fans of old-school sludge needed.
The eight slabs of pure filth and destruction on this album are fuckin’ awesome. A drummer that pounds in your fuckin’ head like Thor with his hammer, a bass player that grooves all way around, a guitar player that delivers only addicting riffs and a vocalist that gives a very GOOD name to the genre… This is how you “sing” when you’re in a fuckin’ SLUDGE band.
What else can I say? Talk about each track? Fuck no. They’re are all great and they are filled with little details that make them unique and the record NOT boring at all… In fact it’s the other way around.
I LOVE THIS SHIT!!!! SLUDDGGGGEEEE!!!!!