Every month when we put together this highlights list, I go through the entries and try to sense a discernible pattern. But so far it has always been the case that our scribes cover a wide range of sounds where no commonality can be traced. April 2017, is perhaps a first in our monthly highlights series, where the entries tend to eschew towards two particular styles — Tech death and Crust. Though we do have a smattering of other styles included, it’s hard to miss how every other entry in this list either has a crust or tech death connection here. A random coincidence? Or some deep conspiracy by the scribes of Transcending Obscurity? One thing is for sure – these are all excellent releases that you should pay attention to! ~ Shrivatsan R.
Abomnium (UK) – A Hollow Path (Death Metal, UKEM Records)
There have always been few labels peddling in doom metal dedicatedly and UK based Aesthetic Death label are one among them. In my early years, I used to refer to them as being Esoteric’s label (as they released majority of the band’s catalog) and in the last decade, have unearthed some absolute gems such as Eibon, Murkrat, Fatim Elisum, Wreck of the Hesperus and more. It made sense to throw more light on the overlooked but extremely high quality and seemingly passionate label and write about some of their newer, more relevant releases. Thanks to the contribution of the fine Transcending Obscurity webzine staff, we’re able to to put together a worthy feature highlighting this doom metal label. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)
If it is possible someday, I would make a clone of myself to just keep writing about the music I listen to, without having to pay heed to any of the real world responsibilities. But since that is not possible at the moment, real life does tend to get in the way of writing. This month I had to focus my attention on other things in the real world causing me to overlook most of the releases that came out in March. But looking at this huge list put together by my colleagues, one thing is clear. I have a lot of catching up to do. ~ Shrivatsan R.
Ascended Dead (USA) – Abhorrent Manifestation (Death Metal, Dark Descent Records)
When I put up the post for the February 2017 highlights in the staff group, I honestly did not expect these many entries. My tunnel vision and assumption that February’s tend to have few notable releases, led me to believe that there were only a handful of records worth noticing this month. Good thing I work with a bunch of talented scribes that always turn my attention towards the stuff I overlooked. Here are the albums that we believe you must check out this month ~ Shrivatsan R
Ancst (Germany) – Furnace (Black Metal / Crust Punk, Independent)
Continuing with our features on death metal scenes from around the world, we’ve delved into the underrated but powerful Greek death metal scene. Though not as active as the scene in some other European countries namely United Kingdom, Germany or Poland, the bands here reek of potential, are relatively diverse, and as you already know, some like Rotting Christ, SepticFlesh and Dead Congregation have already left an indelible mark with their music. However, unlike certain countries, the Greek bands don’t have a typical sound to boast of (akin to their contribution to the black metal genre) but I’m not sure whether that’s even needed in these times when it’s more about having an individualistic expression rather than forming a clique to further the objective. Admittedly, one of the bands on the list, Abyssus, have released an album under the label division of Transcending Obscurity, but that’s a compilation and they’ve released a full length on another label which has been documented over here for reasons of fairness. Thanks for reading and please post suggestions in the comments if you have any for this article or others that we should work upon. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)
German label Wooaaargh! have been consistently putting out fantastic releases, especially in the realms of hardcore, crust and grind. Now they’ve brought together two acts from the UK, for an explosive split 12″ release. Though This Ends Here and Conqueror Worm share very little common ground on paper (except for maybe the strong punk influences on both the bands’ sounds), they come together on this split in a way that the variety on the record is maintained while adhering a cohesive theme. There is a sense of hopelessness that dominates the atmosphere on this record and each band express in their own way the harsh realities of the modern world. We have a full stream of the album from Wooaaargh! below for your listening pleasure (the review follows).
The first half of the split features This Ends Here, a four piece that plays an amalgamation of hardcore / crust and post-rock. This half of the split features the longer tracks and this gives the band an opportunity to imbibe the tracks with an emotional edge. This ensures that the tracks from This Ends Here have arrangements that are engaging and is not all pedal to the metal hardcore riffs. In between unleashing compelling hardcore punk riffs, This Ends Here introduce tranquil, atmospheric post rock elements. This combined with the anguished sounding screams from the vocalist makes tracks like All Our Failed Seekers, 1000 Miles to Warsaw and Seeds much more than a straightforward punk attack. With performances on point, the first half of the split is equal parts melodic and aggressive. It accomplishes in setting up a pensive mood of having no hope.
Conqueror Worm’s style contrasts well with the first half in that the tracks are short, focused and to the point. The noisy, feedback drenched start on Screech in Pain, gives a good insight into the abrasive, caustic sound of Conqueror Worm. But it is only when the quick, frantic riffs of Depleting Vital Planetary Resources kick in that the abrasive nature of this band is felt in full force. The fact that this is a drum and bass only duo that plays hard hitting grindcore, ought to give the listener an idea of what they’re getting into. Conqueror Worm’s side of split gets across it’s message of hopelessness by assaulting the listener with a barrage of sludgy riffs and crushing grooves. This is quite effective in that the claustrophobic nature of tracks like Seven Days of Fire, Corroded Existence and Paradise Experiment takes the listener to a dark place where everything is bleak.
On one half, This Ends Here sends the listener into pensive moods in between moshing to the compelling hardcore punk riffs, while on the other half Conqueror Worm assaults the listener with grimy, unrelenting grindcore that is sure to leave one out of breath. The split as whole is an experience that shouldn’t be missed out on by anyone with an interest in the punk side of extreme music.
January is usually that time of the year, where everyone seems to be recovering from the holiday season. The month in terms of metal releases is usually quite dull. But this time around, the momentum of quality releases from 2016 seems to have spilled over into the first month of 2017 as well. So without further ado, here is that thing we do where we tell you what kicked ass this month (according to us atleast). ~ Shrivatsan R
Ashenspire (UK) – Speak not of the Laudanum Quandary (Avant Garde Metal, Code666)
Extreme music today is a global phenomenon. Barring a few remote corners of the world, metal and punk styles have been taken up by bands around the world and in doing so they impart it with a certain style or aesthetic that is native to their land. Having gone through years of globalization, extreme music today can be tracked down to a particular geographic location based on it’s characteristics.
So we decided to focus our spotlights on some of the lesser known scenes from around the world, starting with Spain. People tend to associate Spain with bands like Dark Moor, Mägo de Oz and Avalanch, all of which lean towards the power / progressive end of the metal spectrum. However, Spain happens to be the home for some of the grimiest and most gnarly underground death metal bands active today. So we present to you a list of Spanish death metal bands that you shouldn’t miss out on. ~ Shrivatsan R
If you’re looking to give 2017 a heavy, bombastic start, here is just the split to get the job done. Titled ‘Trisma’, this 7″ vinyl release brings together two sludge grind mammoths in Italian band Lambs ‡ and German entity Ill Neglect. A collaborative release by multiple DIY labels, this split is a bleak, dreary record that contains a monstrous tone overall. Though it clocks under just twelve minutes, the shear abrasiveness and the intensity of the riffs would have you playing this record over and over again. To give you an idea about what this album holds, we have a full early stream of the album, followed by my review below.