In the past year, foreign bands have started touring across India not only playing one off shows. The first was Australian technical death metal band Psycroptic and this weekend French death metal band Benighted will embark on a tour across the country.
Benighted are one of the well known metal bands from France. The band have released 7 albums over the past 2 decades. Earlier this year, they released a concept album, Necrobreed through Season of Mist. The album continues in the death metal vein of their previous albums and is a ferocious listen.
I spoke to vocalist Julien Truchan about Necrobreed, their tour of India and also their upcoming plans.
Transcending Obscurity (Peter K): It has been 20 years since the band first started out. How does it feel looking back?
Benighted (Julien): It’s a huge pride for me that we went so far with what was just a funny project with friends rehearsing in my father’s garage at the beginning. We have now the opportunity to tour around the whole world, meet always more people and share our music on stage with a bigger mass, which is absolutely awesome! We have recorded 8 albums, toured with so many great bands that I admired so much when I was a teenager and that now became friends… I really live a dream with Benighted and we will continue to go farer in our music to give all people who support us what they deserve and unleash our rage on stage during the tours.
TO: You are performing in India for the first time. How did the tour come about?
Benighted: Yes, and I am so excited about that! Actually our manager got contacted by an Indian booker who appeared to be very motivated to organize this tour, which seemed to be a huge thing to settle because a lot of offers from local bookers when he announced we will tour Asia. He had to make choices and already think about a second tour next time to play in the countries we can’t for this one. That’s how was born the Necrobreed indian:Asian Tour.
TO: You are the only member from the original line up. What has kept you going despite all the lineup changes?
Benighted: Yes, I am. And trust me; it costs a lot of energy to assume all the line-up changes. But Benighted is in my blood and I can’t give up on it just because of fatigue or too many changes in the band. The passion still burns in me and I will give everything I have in my guts to keep this machine going on. Being on stage is such a unique sensation and our first purpose is to share the energy we have with the crowd.
TO: Necrobreed, your 8th full length album is a ferocious listen. Tell us a bit more about the album?
Benighted: Yes, it was out in February this year and it received and amazing welcome from everywhere. This album is actually the most vicious and brutal offering we ever made, it’s exactly like a horror movie that you watch with your ears. I work as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital in “normal life”, and all the lyrics and concepts in our albums come from my professional experience. For Necrobreed, it’s about a schizophrenic man who wants to build his own-family with dead animals he finds on the side of the road. Once at home, he stitches them to his belly to simulate like an “extra-abdominal” pregnancy, and once the infection gets his tissues, he feels like the animal is alive again so he cuts the stitches off and give him birth. The concept fits perfectly with the very insane parts of the music that you will find between very brutal and fast ones and breakdowns which are perfect to break your neck on it! Ah ha!
TO: What have you been listening to lately (metal and non-metal)? Are there any acts that have inspired you of late?
Benighted: I discovered recently the German band Der Weg Einer Freiheit which inspired me a lot of emotions listening to their music, and those guys are amazing musicians and such great dudes, I love them! Concerning my personal influences, the bands that inspire me the most are for sure Napalm Death, Dying Fetus, Aborted, Anaal Nathrakh and Shining.
TO: What are your thoughts on the current state of death metal?
Benighted: You can find now so many good bands from every country, it’s amazing! Each time I play at some festivals, I discover new ones with a very personal and effective way to play death metal! My crush recently would go to the Swedish band Cut Up whose music is so effective with this typical Swedish sound!
TO: Do you have any shows/tour planned next year?
Benighted: Absolutely, we will play the legendary 70 000 Tons of Metal on the big boat in February, then lots of festivals like mighty Obscene Extreme (Czech Rep), Party San (Germany). Also a US tour in July, and a European one in autumn 2018 with one of my favorite bands that will be announced soon…
TO: What has been your favourite city/venue to perform in so far?
Benighted: I always love to play in Paris in France, and also Tilburg in Netherlands. But there are too many I love to play every time to tell them all.
TO: What are you looking forward to at your shows in India?
Benighted: I am very very impatient to see how crazy the crowds can be in India, I only heard great stuff about metal fans here and I can’t wait to be on stage and also meet our fans here, it will be fantastic!
TO: Do you have any pre show rituals?
Benighted: Actually I don’t, we just talk a bit between us and I try every vocal style for fun with one of my guitarists, it’s a joke between us! Ah ah! He counts until five and I try each of my vocal styles.
TO: What can fans expect from your set?
Benighted: They can wait for a huge blast of energy and savagery on stage. Stage is the place where we express ourselves the best, we move a lot and we love to share this with the crowd! For example, I try to make people scream with me the chorus, etc. Our gigs are like a huge party where the crowd reactions are as important as the band on stage!
TO: Thanks for answering all our questions. Do you have any final words?
Benighted: Thank you very much for this interview, we live in 2 days now and I can’t wait to discover your country, culture and what metal is made of in India! It will be unforgettable for sure! Stay sick!
Check out all the dates of Benighted’s India tour below
Ayat’s second full length has been a long time coming. The Lebanese group turned heads with ‘Six Years of Dormant Hatred’ back in 2008, a violent and over the top combination of black metal and punk with an industrial backbone. Their follow-up effort ‘Carry On, Carrion!’ was announced by Moribund Records way back in 2010, resurfacing a few times over the past few years. Like many, I wondered if the album would end up seeing the light of day or if this was the last we had heard from the band. On November 24th ‘Carry On, Carrion!’ will finally see release and today we’re premiering the opening track of the album, Raw War (Beirut unveils her pussy once more).
Dreadnought (USA) – A Wake in Sacred Waves (Progressive Metal/Doom/Black Metal, Sailor Records)
Denver’s Dreadnought has been writing some of the more exciting progressive rock/metal out there for the past five years. They’ve always been hard to pin down, encompassing elements of just about every type of metal while pulling in a considerable amount of outside influences. For their third album ‘A Wake in Sacred Waves’ the group has refined their sound further, delivering material that comes off feeling more focused without losing the experimentation or sudden transitions of their previous material. Dreadnought heads towards a much darker tonality overall, with even the softest moments giving off an introspective and sorrowful feel. Black metal and doom play an even larger role, providing sudden bursts of despair and hostility after prolonged periods of relative calm. For an album that’s going for a water concept, it seems appropriate that listening conjures imagery of the ocean’s vast wonders and the terror of its unknown depths. ~ Chris Dahlberg
Enslaved (Norway)- E (Progressive/Viking/Black Metal, Nuclear Blast Records)
For well over two decades Norway’s very own Enslaved have been delivering their unique blend of Progressive Black Metal to the masses. Returning with their latest release E the band has again brought forth a captivating listen that is both entrancing and engaging. Few have done what Enslaved have managed to do throughout the years and this album is chock full of melodic progressive elements along with that familiar tinge of Black Metal that evens out into quite an epic journey. They have managed to go above and beyond catering to fans of really any genre of metal. Memorable riffs are scattered throughout the sound waves which can be described as both aggressive and heartfelt. After the departure of Keyboardist and Clean Vocalist Herbrand Larsen I was not sure what to expect but luckily their newest member Håkon Vinje has filled his shoes perfectly. Another notable thing to mention is the guest vocals of Einar Selvik of Wardruna on the track Hiindsiight which only adds to the atmosphere. Enslaved have definitely done it again and this album is sure to be on repeat for quite sometime. ~ Ashley Gould
Sicarius (USA)- Serenade of Slitting Throats (Black Metal, M-Theory Audio)
There are plenty of bands out there seeking to push the envelope in the metal world but one in particular has gone to the extreme, spreading their aggressive brew of unforgiving Black Metal to the masses. Sicarius have created one hell of an album that is quite literally the sound of violent bloodshed like a horde of dagger wielding predators. Serenade of Slitting Throats is a tortured ride through all elements of Black Metal but with that extra adrenaline rush. Everything from the extreme vocals, harsh melodies, and fierce drumming this album has it all. I feel that in this scene there are numerous bands trying to set the bar but Sicarius have surpassed that mark.. Do yourselves a favor and delve into the chaos. ~ Ashley Gould
Hvile I Kaos (USA)- Agios O Fotiá (Black Metal / Experimental / Neoclassical, Deathwave Nexion)
It is not everyday that one would associate metal with classical instruments, more specifically the Cello. Do not be deterred by this, the debut album by Hvile I Kaos is one of pure raw emotion that has been channeled in a way that can only be described as a blend of ritualistic Black Metal. Kakophonix the man behind it all has created his own sound using the Cello amongst other instrumental arrangements as his medium to deliver something completely different to the scene yet so engaging. Be prepared to be thrust into twists and turns down a dark path that swirls in complete chaotic harmony. Fans of extreme metal will find familiar elements intertwined within the music, besides its not always about how fast one can play the guitar or pound on drums. At that I find myself going back to the fact that metal is an art form and this is what it is all about. If one thing is clear Hvile I Kaos is sure to provoke the senses and I cannot recommend this enough. ~Ashley Gould
Coma Cluster Void (USA/Canada/Germany) -Thoughts From A Stone (Experimental Death Metal, Translation Loss Records)
Coma Cluster Void burst onto the scene in 2016 with their debut Mind Cemeteries. Melding near-atonal riffing and mercurial time-signature changes with an ultra-aggressive dual vocal attack courtesy of Mike DiSalvo (ex-Cryptopsy) and Austin Taylor (Dimensionless), the album was a unique and challenging listen. Follow-up Thoughts From A Stone is a different beast, taking form as a single, sprawling 23-minute composition. John Strieder’s 10-strong guitar is as crushing, grooving, and agile as ever, Sylvia Hinz’s bubbling bass is much louder in the mix and Chris Burrows’ drumming is octopus-like. And a horde of vocal contributors rant, roar, shriek, and even sing, producing a soundtrack to mental breakdown like nothing I’ve heard before. A truly difficult, but rewarding and memorable experience. ~ Wyeth Holman
Krallice (USA) – Loüm (Technical/Progressive Black Metal, Gilead Media)
Krallice is a band that have forged an entirely unique sound built on unparalleled musicianship and maddeningly complex riff and song structures. In recent years, their album and song lengths have crept down, but the density has only increased. Time signature and tempo have rarely seemed so pliable as they are in the hands of Krallice, creating a churning maelstrom of sound. Loüm’s songs are some of their most dynamic yet, with many new wrinkles. This is their first album to feature any sort of guest performance, and the band went all in, giving Dave Edwardson (Neurosis) the lead vocal duties for the whole album. His bellowing roar is powerful, and he also contributes some nice, textural synth work. A compact album at 32 minutes, Loüm packs a lot of ideas into 5 tracks, and continues Krallice’s consistent run of quality music. ~ Wyeth Holman
Iron Monkey (UK) – 9-13 (Sludge, Relapse Records)
Let’s face it. We metalheads like to be knocked around a bit sometimes. We also like to knock others around. Thus the existence of moshpits. (I think people in general like a little ‘tough fun’ as my wrestling coach used to call it, but that’s a discussion for another day) Iron Monkey really knocks you around on this release, their third full length, following an extended hiatus. 9-13 is angry, aggressive, and a helluva lot of fun. Plain and simple, this album rips. Iron Monkey channels all the best parts of sludge to mix in a toxic brew with riffy thrash and head nod inducing groove elements to make you want to circle pit around your own living room. I may or may not have done just that. Regardless, 9-13 doesn’t break any new musical ground, but it is worth many repeat listens. It’s also worth checking them out live, should you have the chance, preferably with fist-pumping from deep in the pit! ~ Rick Jackson
Barrowlands (USA) – Tyndir (Cascadian Black Metal, Vendetta Records)
Tyndir is a dark and sneakily savage wander through the wilds. As with so many bands who play this style, Barrowlands calls forth images of wilderness wild and free. There is a poignancy to the album as it moves effortlessly and almost unnoticed between harsh black metal aggression and atmospheric mournfulness. I admit that I was underwhelmed on first listen, but I must have been distracted. Repeat listens have shown Tyndir to be a strong addition to a powerful (and personal favorite) genre. The initial impression was of softness, but further listens call forth a danger threading through the sound, like a near invisible serpent moving through the leaves, ready to strike at the appropriate time. Prepare yourself for the man vs nature. Barrowlands has chosen a side. Which side will you choose? ~ Rick Jackson
Amenra (Belgium) – Mass VI (Sludge/Hardcore, Neurot Recordings)
In a world replete with cultural appropriations of suffering, it is hard indeed to identify with any of it, even remotely so. Smouldering steel, charring bodies, drowning wails, dusts never settling… are the images we avoid in the name of self-righteousness and fear. Amenra, I would imagine, channels this by embracing them to cover the full breadth of human suffering. This they do by building an aural equivalent of a bleak landscape, majestic in scope yet fertile for contemplation. Mass VI is yet another liturgy on pain and suffering wrought by man, and evermore a cause for man to brood upon. And in this Mass VI succeeds gloriously. While closely following its predecessors in tone, their new album feels much more nuanced, with each note meticulously drafted into the service of introspection. Colin’s voice still alternates between the torturous and the redemptive, the rest of the band walk the fine line between, shaping the path of each song. Crescendos are built up only to be brought down. And it is this ability of their weighty and morose post metal to make one think as well as connect to the ‘other’ that truly makes this album worth a listen.
P.S. ‘A Solitary Reign’ is possibly the best song that Amenra’s ever penned down ~ Nishanth Ks
Winds of Plague (USA) – Blood of My Enemy (Symphonic Deathcore, SPV/Longbranch)
I’ll refrain from calling this a guilty pleasure, because music is a pretty subjective business. If you like something, then you like something. I will say that on paper, I have no business liking Winds of Plague. Generally speaking, I don’t like deathcore, chugging guitars, harsh/clean combination vocals, serious tough guy attitudes, or over the top symphonics. Blood of My Enemy has all of these. So what gives? Well, Winds of Plague manages to balance all of these elements just right. I find myself wanting to pump my fist and sing along. Each of these component parts is well done, so that there isn’t really a musical weakness to drag the composition down. If this sounds like damning with faint praise, it’s not really meant that way. I’ve been listening to this album a lot. It’s not particularly original in any of the elements, but I’m unaware of other bands who combine them in this way (possibly because this is a typical genre for me). I think they probably take themselves a little too seriously, but that doesn’t affect my enjoyment at all. Truth be told, Blood of My Enemy is a ripper of an album that may get overlooked by a lot of metalheads because of the genre, and that’s too bad. Take the time to check it out. ~ Rick Jackson
Throane (France) – Plus Une Main A Mordre (Black Metal / Post-Metal / Industrial, Debemur Morti Productions)
For some artists, their talents seem to complement each other, leading to the creation of works that seem united by a singular vision and resonate deeply on an emotional level — even if you’ve never felt those emotions before. Case in point: the second full-length from France’s Throane, entitled ‘Plus Une Main A Mordre.’ The multitalented man behind the music, Dehn Sora, has combined black metal, post-metal, and industrial into a diabolical elixir of overwhelming bleakness. Although each track has unique nuances and compelling dynamics, they all serve a larger whole, sucking the listener into its black-hole beauty. ‘Plus Une Main A Mordre’ is music to listen to while sitting huddled in a darkened corner, your knees curling up into your chest. And if that sounds unappealing to you, I urge you to give it a spin. ~ Eric Seal
The Maledict – Imperilled (Self Released,2017)
Australia, Land of The Free, Home of the Very Brave. No really you should see some of the stuff down here that will kill you just by looking at it! Nah all jokes aside it is a lovely place to live, and I should know because I live here and when I am not Outback dodging Kangaroo’s and wrestling Crocodiles Occasionally a band from Down Under grabs be by the larynx and makes me say “ghrgghrghrhhgrh”. Very hard to say anything when your voice box is being strangled.
My Point? This is such a band. Having released a demo and one full length before this, The Maledict bring us a sound not unlike a few bands you may have heard before. I am not going to mention them, but if Doom/Death is your leaning then this will impress the shit out of you.
Coming in at a lean three songs long, Imperilled is to me the perfect introduction to the talent that abounds in this Aussie four piece. What you are essentially getting is like a taster of sorts, with enough variety on it to please anyone who leans towards this side of the vast Metal spectrum.
From the sublime and beautiful to the outright brutal, If this doesn’t make you want to reach back into their older material then I suggest that yes you do pick up that Large Black Hairy Spider in the corner. He won’t hurt you at all. Well, not much anyway. Promise. ~ Andrew Cook
Spectral Voice (USA) – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing (Death/Doom, Dark Descent Records)
Spectral Voice made a strong impression in the underground with a slew of demos that showcased the Denver band’s take on death/doom. This year they’ve put out their first full length and it’s clear that all of the years spent on smaller releases have allowed them to hone their craft to a truly incredible level. ‘Eroded Corridors of Unbeing’ seamlessly flows from one song to the next, with stretched out and unsettling melodies giving way to battering attacks which utilize tonality that’s as bottom heavy as it gets. While cavernous death metal has become prevalent in recent years, Spectral Voice lets their sound open up a bit and this allows the haunting and otherworldly atmosphere to seep into the lumbering base. The vocals also play a large part in making this album have a both a crushing and eerie feel, with guttural growls giving way to nightmarish screams. I doubt I’ll come across another death/doom release that’s this entrancing in 2017. ~ Chris Dahlberg
Some albums take time to sink in, while others you know are special from the very first listen. Malokarpatan’s sophomore effort ‘Nordkarpatenland’ falls into the latter category, with the Slovakian band once again weaving together a mystical, off-kilter blend of early black metal and heavy metal. Each song begins with a sound clip that comes off feeling like the group is letting you peer into their culture and traditions from many years ago, and when each song kicks in there’s a definite sense of nostalgia. There are riffs upon riffs on this album, with quite a few channeling 80’s heavy metal and black metal while also bringing in a warm, almost playful atmosphere. All the while the vocals channel the polar opposite, letting menacing thick screams tower over the instrumentation. Malokarpatan has delivered material that’s simultaneously mystical and intimidating, and it captures the heavy metal spirit in a truly unique way. ~ Chris Dahlberg
Altarage (Spain) – Endinghent (Black Metal / Death Metal / Doom Metal, Season Of Mist)
The endless pit of chaos that is Spain’s Altarage returns after a powerful debut album, Nihil, with even more impressive blackened death meditations via Season of Mist. Prepare thy brain for sonic lobotomy. Anyone remember the cerebral bore weapon from Turok? It occurs to me that this is precisely the experience of listening to an Altarage song; a malicious, mechanical object, devoid of all thought and emotion, slowly burrowing into your brain. Eventually it lodges itself so deep within your skull that one can scarcely tell where organic matter ends and soulless machine begins. The ominous, reptilian guitars coil ever tighter around every fold as black oil seeps into the neuronal connections. Endinghent is everything a fan could hope for in a sophomore effort. With this album, Altarage have brought back everything that made their debut so powerful while expanding and maturing these concepts into something even better. It stands as a unique entity and speaks volumes about the potential for the future. ~ John Man
Haemorrhage (Spain) – We Are The Gore (Goregrind / Deathgrind, Relapse Records)
2017 has been a great year for grindcore so far and a new release from Haemorrhage makes it even better. The gore grind masters are a prolific band and a full length release from them (one every 5 years) is a milestone. We are the gore follows a similar blood-soaked vein as their previous albums with titles like Bath in Bile, Miss Phelebotomy and others. 25 years after they first started out the veteran band prove that they still have some gore left in them. Their sound is bolstered with new drummer Erik Raya. A killer addition their discography, their fans will not be disappointed. ~ Peter Kotikalapudi
Have you ever encountered such crushing, deviant, hate-fuelled doom? Not very often, that’s for sure. Primitive Man have shaped themselves over the years into such a virulent, nasty piece of ugly sludge monstrosity that so far everything they have produced has been just wonderfully hateful and disgustingly heavy. Caustic, only the band’s second album, is truly a monolithic amalgamation of filthy intensity and dark, hopeless wonder. Quite frankly, it’s a great album, and one that you need to hear. ~ Nigel Holloway
Nesseria (France) – Cette Érosion de nous Mêmes (Metal / Post Hardcore, Throatruiner Records)
What do you do when one of the best violent hardcore bands that France has to offer, (one of many, I might add), decides to update their sound with more nuance, subtlety and ferocious texture than ever before? Well, when the results are as good as they are on Cette Érosion de nous Mêmes, you rejoice! Yes, Nesseria are back with another slab of raging anger and savage fury, only this time they have also ramped up the atmospheric and emotive aspects of their music too. These have always been a part of the Nesseria experience, but never as blatantly and as fully-realised as they are here. Far from diluting the band’s essential intensity, this approach focuses it and harnesses it into effective slices of serrated venom, punctuated with moments of engrossing atmospheric immersion. Cette Érosion de nous Mêmes is an album that deserves time, love, and attention expended on it. For those that do, the rewards are many. Get this. ~ Nigel Holloway
Pink Mass (USA) – Necrosexual (Crust/Grind/Black Metal, Independent)
Pink Mass is one of my best finds of the year. Calling forth a nightmarish concoction of crust, grind, and gnarly first wave black metal, the New Jersey quintet is an (almost) anything goes affront to mainstream society. Topics are blasphemous and hedonistic, sure to offend most anybody with sensitive sensibilities. They do have a particular line that they draw though, as they make on the track FOAD NSBM. Basically no tolerance for hateful bigots, a statement and sentiment this writer fully supports. Most anything else is game though. Join the filthy debauchery (or just enjoy some seriously good chaos via five musicians). ~ Rick Jackson
Sacrocurse has been writing some grimy, hellish black/death metal for the past five years, becoming a regular name associated with both Hells Headbangers and Iron Bonehead Productions. The latter recently released the group’s second full length album ‘Gnostic Holocaust’, which takes the warlike attack of last year’s ‘Destroying Chapels’ EP and takes things to the next level. With crushing production values and songs that straddle the line between Canadian and South American black/death metal, Sacrocurse’s latest leaves behind nothing but scorched earth.
Thrash is one of those genres that tend to be dominated by long-running bands, often split between acts that have been around since the 80’s and ones that led to the style going through a resurgence in popularity in the early 2000’s. But there are still promising newcomers coming out on a regular basis from around the world, and Spain’s No Amnesty definitely falls into that category. Compared to some of the others out there that have put out material fairly quickly No Amnesty has had a bit more time to hone their skills, with this year’s ‘Psychopathy’ full length coming nearly four years after the ‘A New Order for Attack’ EP. The band’s lineup has changed a bit since then, with ex-Fuck Off singer Albert now behind the mic, but it’s clear that they’ve delivered a debut that’s full of scorching riffs and soaring vocal lines. With ‘Psychopathy’ due out on November 14th, today we’re premiering the lyric video for the song Among the Blind so you can discover the high flying thrash these guys are capable of delivering.
Chilean death metal has been a dominant force for quite some time but it hasn’t been until the last few years that I’ve seen bands from the country mentioned as frequently as their peers from other parts of the world. Thanks in part to the rise of platforms like Bandcamp and a number of labels that have worked to unearth some of the best material from the South American country, there’s been a ton of great albums to listen to. One of the latest is ‘Supremacy of Chaos’ from Thy Serpent’s Cult, out today on CD and digital formats from Italian label Ordo MCM. It’s the third full length from the group and unfortunately their last as they called it quits earlier this year, but the eleven song effort is a heavy hitter filled with old-school riffs that sends Thy Serpent’s Cult out on a high note. Today we’re streaming the entire album so you can hear for yourself the type of dense, bottom heavy death metal they have to offer.
Continuing from what we attempted to do with our German death metal article, which met with a good response, with several known and unknown bands getting highlighted in the style, this time around we have shifted our focus to Sweden, which was once known as the Mecca of death metal and influenced thousands of bands since the ’90s. After the resurgence of old school death metal largely in the new millennium, several bands came up with excellent albums that are definitely worthy of notice. Some might not be as popular but you could check them out nonetheless. Feel free to post your own recommendations in the comments. – Kunal Choksi (Owner/Editor)
The roots of Interment can be traced back to 1988 when four guys from Avesta formed a death metal band called Beyond. They recorded a demo in 1990 but when some guys left Beyond the remaining members decided to change their name into Interment. Between 1990 and 1994 the band recorded a couple of demos. Other than that not a lot was going on and Interment called it quits. Most guys stayed active in bands such as Uncurbed, Moondark and Dellamorte. In 2002 Interment reformed and they have released quite a few recordings ever since. Six split releases and two full-lengths to be precise. ‘Scent Of The Buried’ is the latest full-length and it’s a prime example of rotten Swedish death metal. Recorded with Tomas Skogsberg in the famous Sunlight Studio in Stockholm this album contains everything you can wish for when it comes to Swedish death metal. – Pim Blankenstein
Doing a special about the current state of affairs in Sweden when it comes to “Svensk Dödsmetall” with that trademark Boss HM-2 buzz-saw guitar tone you can’t leave out Under The Church, can you? Even when they formed relatively recent (in 2012) the band’s key members are Erik Qvick (drums) and Lars Henriksson (bass) who both used to be in Nirvana 2002 in the late 80s/early 90s. That band has a large part in the evolution of that typical Swedish sound together with Nihilist/Entombed, Carnage/Dismember, Grave and the Sunlight Studio. If you haven’t heard Nirvana 2002 I order you to do so now.
Fast forward to 2007, when Nirvana 2002 reunited for the release part of Daniel Ekeroth’s book on Swedish death metal. This event can be seen as a crucial part in the formation of Under The Church. The band wasn’t formed immediately, but in 2012 Qvick and Henriksson got together and started recording. Qvick also took care of the guitars and they recruited Mik Annetts on vocals. They recorded a demo and an EP and in 2015 their debut full-length ‘Rabid Armageddon’ saw the light of day. Compared to Nirvana 2002, Under The Church’s songs are more compact and to the point, but Swedish death metal through and through. Something we can say about their newest recording ‘Supernatural Punishment’ too. When this special is published the album hasn’t been released yet. It is out on November 10th. We have heard it though and this 9-song 30 minute album just knocks you out with an uppercut to the chin. Recordings were done with a revamped line-up. Annetts has left and the new members are Erik Wahlin (Merciless) and Marcus Klack (ex-Morbid) on guitars and Erik Sahlström (General Surgery) on vocals. I’m sure you’ll be able to listen to the first songs of this new album pretty soon. Until then check out the fantastic Razor cover these guys recorded for the split 7” EP with Germany’s Revel In Flesh that was released in April. – Pim Blankenstein
Swe-death is Swe-death right? I mean it all sounds a lot alike really doesn’t it? Is it possible for a band to stand out a little from the pack? Why am I asking so many fucking questions? Good point, best I get on with it.
Feral, funnily enough from Sweden have been a major pick up for Transcending Obscurity Records as far as I am concerned, bringing with them your pretty much given HM-2 soaked madness that you would expect from a band in this post seeing as it is in fact about Swedish death metal, so what is it that set’s them apart from the rest of the crowd?
For starters they are batshit as heavy as fuck. Whoopee you say so are all Swe-death bands, and yes you are correct, but where most bands (excluding the mighty Paganizer of course) have amps that go up to ten, these guys have ones that go up to 11! A well worn cliché you may say so let’s put it another way. Imagine a mammoth, you know, those big hairy fuckers that died out a while back due to a lack of whatever it was that a mammoth can lack, now put a Motorhead T-shirt on the bastard, invite his friends over, supply them liberally with the liquor of their choice, and then see what havoc ensues. This is as close as I can get to describing Feral.
Catchy, crunchy, crushing tunes that will have you and your large hairy beast of a friend (and his mates of course) running rampant around the house, this EP contains six tracks of the finest sort of Swe-death that one could possibly want. Well played Transcending Obscurity Records, well played indeed! – Andrew Cook
You can be as fancy and as hi-tech as you like but after fannying around with the latest fads, in the end you’ll go back to what you know.
In a past life the Remmington 870 was my shotgun of choice. Heavy, made of what appeared to be scaffold poles but ridiculously reliable, simple to clean and able to fire not only our SG & solid slug but also RIP & IMP without missing a beat. You had supreme confidence that this weapon would do what it was supposed to under any conditions. Then someone with some pull on the unit decided we should maybe switch to the more modern and sexy looking Benelli Super 90 (not at all swayed by an all-expenses paid trip to the factory I’m sure). Fancy, a lot lighter and able to go from pump to semi auto with the flick of a switch. It was a piece of shit. Couldn’t handle what we put it through without spontaneously dismantling itself and the barrel was thinner than a coke can, reaching hand blistering temperatures. I had more stoppages on this than all the other weapons we had combined and I even saw one “cook off” a cartridge when no one was even touching it. Utter wank and all the operators hated the thing but the powers that be loved it for whatever reason and we were stuck with it.
Where am I going with this you may ask? Well, most modern metal bands are like that Benelli. All “tits & teeth” but when tested are not only unsatisfying but fall to bits.
Of course, Paganizer is the Remington 870! Nothing remotely fancy or hi-tech but solid as fuck and primo quality! Ten albums in and the Scandinavian Warmachine are at the very peak of their powers on ‘Land Of Weeping Souls’. The main man here as ever, is vocalist / guitarist Rogga Johansson.
Cut this man in half and he has “death metal” running all the way through him like a stick of Brighton rock. Rogga is the very definition of the term “work ethic”. I’ve lost count of all the releases this utter riff machine has played on in the last couple of years. Everything from the Bone Gnawer and The Grotesquery projects (with Kam Lee) to Minotaur Head, Down Among The Dead Men and Echelon (with David Ingram) the bloke is the byword for quality death metal riffage and if he plays on an album you have my cast iron, copper bottomed guarantee that it’s worth buying.
‘Land Of Weeping Souls’ follows on less than a year or so from the superb ‘On The Outskirts Of Hades’ EP and this LP showcases an overall faster and meatier sound. The thrashy as fuck opener Your Suffering Will Be Legendary is a total blast with pounding drums and knicker dampening riffage. This track also reminded me why I believe Rogga is a really underrated DM vocalist. His voice, to me at least has got more powerful over the years and exhibits some nice little nuances over the course of the ten tracks here. He can growl with the best of ‘em that’s for sure as his roar at the opening to Dehumanized shows only too well. This is a super intense three minute bombing raid that will leave your neck feeling like Diane Abbott’s bicycle seat……by that analogy I mean “wrecked” as opposed to “unused”…….obviously. Forlorn Dreams up next and this tune, has a really epic feel to it. More mid-paced and with and awesome intro riff / drum combo. Yes please Sir, may I have another? Yes you fucking may!
Every track is a total vertebrae botherer and you’ll be hitting the “play” button again as soon as Prey To Death has finished ragging you round like a rabid tiger. Credit to Transcending Obscurity Records of India for picking up Paganizer amongst some other top signings. Good job Kunal!
Paganizer have released another killer record. Everything you want as a fan of Swedish death metal is here. Great, memorable song writing, killer riffs, aggressive but intelligible vocals, tasty leads, and megaton drumming. All soaked in lashings of groove. 100% recommended. – Mark Eve
Vanhelgd put out a stunning album in ‘Temple of Phobos’, side-stepping the conventional Entombed/Dismember sound to create something darker, moodier and even haunting. It’s as if Unleashed were taken over by the dark side and created something absolutely vile and grim. There’s an otherworldly vibe that’s unique to them, as though they’re dabbling in an occult-tinged medium that only they are privy to. The album also has its share of dark melodies in addition to the trademark Swedish death metal flair, and on the whole they’re doing something markedly removed from their ancestors which in my opinion makes them not only comparatively refreshing but also one of the strongest bands in the style as of now. – Kunal Choksi
Sorcery can boast of one of the best comebacks in death metal with their album ‘Arrival at Six’ but they’ve taken things up another notch with their latest album ‘Garden of Bones’. No longer remaining under the shadow of their ’90s material, the music of Sorcery is seriously good and right up there even if they were a new band altogether. The music on the album is intense, spiteful and yet they know when to squeeze in those remarkable melodies and hooks. Sorcery have remained underrated right from the start, but if they continue like this, they’ll definitely do something truly significant. – Kunal Choksi
When Entrails formed in 1990 the popularity of Swedish death metal and death metal in general was at its peak. Besides rehearsing Entrails never managed to record anything and they gradually dissolved into obscurity. In 2008 the band was reformed and in 2009 they recorded a couple of demos. They were picked up by FDA. Records whop releasedtwo albums (‘Tales From The Morgue’ in 2010 and ‘The Tomb Awaits’ in 2011). Those albums drew the attention of Metal Blade. That label has released three more albums of which ‘World Inferno’ is the most recent. What Entrails present on their records is Swedish death metal through and through. Probably not the most original band out there, but they simply stick to the basics of the genre and in that sense you can never go wrong. So, classic-styled death metal in the vein of Entombed, Nihilist, Dismember and Grave so to speak. The fact Entrails have always worked with Dan Swanö guarantees their albums sound really great. So, if you look for a band that defines Swedish death metal Entrails is a safe bet. – Pim Blankenstein
Gods Forsaken was formed in 2016 by three guys who have been working together in Just Before Dawn too. Even though drummer Brynjar Helgetun is of Norwegian descent, we can easily state Gods Forsaken is a Swedish force and therefore has to be part of this special. You might know Helgetun from bands such as The Grotesquery, Putrevore or Megascavenger to name just a few. The list is endless. Jonny Pettersson (Ashcloud, Henry Kane, Skineater, Ursinne, Wombbath amongst others) takes care of the vocals and Anders Biazzi is responsible for guitars and bass. The latter is also known for his part in the early recordings of Amon Amarth when they were still cool according to some. When he left that band they became really successful with their easy to digest brand of death metal. Anyway, this trio recorded their debut ‘In A Pitch Black Grave’ , which is released on both CD and vinyl by Holland’s Soulseller Records. Nine tracks in that classic Swedish style with buzz-saw riffs and melodies that tear your soul apart. It’s almost as if Dismember has never left the building. – Pim Blankenstein
Bombs Of Hades was formed by the duo Jonas Stålhammar and Anders Ekman to play crustcore with some other guys just for the fun of it. When Magnus Forsberg and P.O. Söderback joined the band in 2007 things got a bit more serious. Musically the band with a history in acts such as Abhoth, God Macabre/Macabre End and Utumno changed their style to a mixture of death metal and crustcore. Over the years Stålhammar’s love for prog rock has also left its mark on the compositions of Bombs Of Hades, which becomes all clear on their 4th and latest album ‘Death Mask Replica’. All the various influences work really well, because Bombs Of Hades understands that a song has to be a song. In the end it’s just catchy and groovy as hell, but due to the various influences everything sounds interesting and original too. This is just magnificent in both simplicity and complexity. That seems like a contradiction, but Bombs Of Hades show that it works. Stålhammar recently replaced Anders Björler in At The Gates and that’s not without a reason. Let’s hope his activities in that band won’t interfere with Bombs Of Hades’ future, because we need to hear more from them too. – Pim Blankenstein
Well shit the bed folks, these guys come from Sweden! I bet you guessed that already, and what type of music do they play? SWE-DEATH you all yell in unison. You are all so clever. With a ton of releases behind them already, Mordbrand are a recent listen for me, and I must say I pretty much thought it was a little so-so, but I kept this one going in the background while I was doing whatever I was doing (trying to convert the masses into the worship of foul Gods to be honest) and slowly but surely I began to be sucked into their vortex of deathliness. Swe-deathliness it is indeed. If Ikea could package this (along with a few tasty meatballs of course) in their stores they would most certainly be a far more interesting place to visit, although the kids may run away in fear if they played it over the loud speakers.
Brutal and honest Swe-death is what you asked for, and this is as good as it gets. Nine songs of deathly induced deathliness that leave no room for interpretation. You will wilt under their power, and after all that’s why you’re here isn’t it you clever folk. Nuff said. – Andrew Cook
Originally formed in 1991, Wombbath are O.G.’s of the Swedeath scene. Though they only have a couple of full length albums out (including ‘Downfall Rising’, their most recent), they have kept busy with six splits, a couple EPs, a single, and a demo. Yet another Jonny Pettersson project, Wombbath features a full band: Johan Momkvist (Bass), Håkan Stuvemark (guitars, bass), Pettersson (vocals, bass), Henrik Åberg (drums), and Al Riglin (guitars). On ‘Internal Caustic Torments’, the quintet play nasty, sweaty, filthy old school death metal. They keep the production lo-fi, so it has that classic, ‘recorded in a cave’ quality to it. The band remains rooted the sounds of that caustic Swedish scene, though they had twenty years between full lengths. The differing production values from the two decades in between ring clear. ‘Downfall Rising’ still starts and ends with classic death metal via the HM-2 pedal, but the sound is tighter and clearer, without being any cleaner. Any way you look at it, Wombbath make filthy death metal, perfect for spending an evening hanging out with your zombie pals. – Rick Jackson
Thanks to the timing of my graduation from college, which led almost immediately to marriage, the start of family, and the start of my career, I went about a decade and a half of listening to almost nothing now. Though I caught the origins of thrash, and even early groove metal and industrial, I really missed the birth of true extreme metal. It wasn’t until the last several years that I began exploring things such as black metal and death metal. All of that is to say this: Henry Kane was my introduction to the wonderful world of Swedish death metal. I had the (obviously false) impression that all the death metal from Sweden was softer melodic stuff, alright in small doses if I was in the right mood, but overall, just kind of ‘meh’ for me. This solo project by Jonny Pettersson of Wombbath fame (among about a zillion other projects) set me straight. As my students would say, “This album goes hard.”
The theme of the album explores the Reverend Henry Kane from the movie Poltergeist. Horror movies and stories have long been fodder for death metal, and here, it helps make the album outstanding. Musically, ‘Den Förstörda Människans Rike’ claws and shreds its way into your soul with no good intentions. Made up of equal parts HM-2 powered guitar turned to about 13, blasting drums, anguished and unhinged vocals, crusty goodness, and pure unadulterated chaos, the sound of the album took me completely by storm. I had literally heard nothing like it. For this reason, Henry Kane will always be my personal answer to Entombed’s ‘Left Hand Path’, the album that drew me to this particular sound. Everything else will be measured against ‘Den Förstörda Människans Rike’ (including ‘Left Hand Path’). So far, I’ve discovered that Swedeath hits a serious sweet (sour) spot for me, but this is insanity laced, crusty take on it remains my favorite of the bunch. Like a moldy fungus, it continues to grow on me. – Rick Jackson
Strictly speaking, this entry is about the band Ashcloud more than the specific album ‘Kingdom of the Damned’. That particular album is merely the most recent release by the project. Currently a duo featuring Gareth Nash (Body Harvest) and Jonny Pettersson (just about every other band in the world including my previously discussed Henry Kane), the project started with a 2006 demo produced as a solo project by Pettersson. Following a seven year hiatus, Nash (lead guitar, vocals) joined Pettersson (guitar, bass, vocals), releasing another demo in 2013. A couple of years later, the duo put together a three year streak of album with ‘Abandon All Light’ (2015), ‘Children of the Chainsaw’ (2016), and ‘Kingdom of the Damned’ (2017). While Ashcloud is definitely an HM-2 band, with the buzzsaw tones ringing loud and clear, they also add some more melodic and epic flourishes. Don’t get me wrong. This is a dark, punchy, evil-sounding band. We’re talking in contrast to other Swedeath bands here. The pacing is marginally slower. The chord choices and tempo changes are less chaotic. The buzzsaw is more of an ominous presence than a wielded weapon of war for Ashcloud. I say none of this as an insult. It is just a different take on the Stockholm sound, and it is beautiful! (in a monstrous sort of way) – Rick Jackson
Växjö based four-piece Gravestone was formed in 2013 and in regard to this special vocalist/guitarist Penki Samuelsson is their most well-known member as he defiles the six strings in Entrails too. Earlier this year these guys released their first EP through the relatively new Dutch label Raw Skull Recordz, whose goal it is to infest this earth with old school death metal. That is exactly what Gravestone delivers on the three songs that make up this 12-minute recording. Filthy sounding Swedish death metal that brings nothing new to the table but still makes up a tasty dinner. – Pim Blankenstein
Even though Cut Up is a relatively new band (formed in 2014), these guys can be considered as death metal veterans having a past in the great Vomitory. Their debut ‘Forensic Nightmares’ was quickly written and landed them a deal with Metal Blade Records, who released said album in 2015. In March 2017 the sophomore recording ‘Wherever They May Rot’ saw the light of day on which the Karlstad based churn out wicked death metal once again. Opposed to most bands appearing in this special Cut Up can’t be seen as a specific Swedish HM-2 death metal outfit. Of course there are traces to be heard within their sound, but Cut Up adds other influences too. The overall pace of the songs is quite fast, but their brutal sounding songs contain a healthy dose of catchiness. This altogether makes Cut Up a great asset to de Swedish death metal library. – Pim Blankenstein
One of the first times the name Maim popped up was on the 2008 compilation album ‘Resurrected In Festering Slime’ (Soulseller Records) with the track Envy The Dead. That song also appeared on their debut full-length ‘From The Womb To The Tomb’ released in 2009. That album was followed by the album ‘Deceased To Exist’ in 2011. Then things became a bit quiet due to members relocating to different cities and so on. In 2015 the core of Henric Ottoson (drums) and Christian Sandberg (guitars, bass and vocals) remained. As a duo they decided to record a third full-length entitled ‘Ornaments Of Severity’, which was once again released by Soulseller Records. We can add that in 2015 a 7” EP ‘With Dawn Comes Death’ was released as well. ‘Ornaments Of Severity’ shows a band that is heavily influenced by Autopsy. But hey, those Americans left their mark on Swedish death metal when it all started out so nothing new there. Concerning Maim it is a slight change as you could hear they drew influences from bands such as Death and ‘Harmony Corruption’-era Napalm Death next to Autopsy as well. One could say Maim know their death metal history and took the best parts to create the monster ‘Ornaments Of Severity’ is. – Pim Blankenstein
Puteraeon – The Empires of Death (Growls From the Underground, 2017)
Puteraeon has managed to put out three strong albums in rapid succession. If you count their demo releases, which are long enough to be regarded as full length albums as well, the band has put out an staggering amount of songs between 2008 and 2014. However, things went silent for three years after the release of ‘The Crawling Chaos’. In early 2017 they announced that they were going to self-release their new material in the format of a thee-track digital EP, and later announced a physical version of the EP in the form of a 7 inch vinyl edition through the new label, Growls From the Underground. Their love for H.P. Lovecraft shouldn’t have passed under anyone’s radar, this time the man even adorns the cover art. Jonas Lindblood’s well of HPL-lyrics seems to inexhaustible and by now I couldn’t even imagine a version Puteraeon that didn’t worship at the grave of the man at night. Speaking of his grave, “Providence” is the opening track of this EP, tastefully named after the quote “I am providence” which embellishes his headstone. To my surprise the EP has a very strong production, even though they employed the reigning world champion of overly compressed- and ear numbing productions, Dan Swanö, instead of Andy LaRocque who has worked on previous albums. The whole sound has a lot of air and room to breathe even though all instruments are going full throttle basically all the way through. The tracks extremely well put together, and no part lingers for too long before changing it up. It all seems very thought through. This goes to show that you can still write this type of death metal as long as you’re smart about it. Good musicians will still write fantastic songs even if it’s a genre that’s been done several times before. I do somewhat miss Jonas’s deep and guttural voice though. However, the vocals are more articulated here than ever before, and in the end the change is probably for the better. After all, Jonas has lost none of his vigor while bellowing over the epic guitar breaks. The guitars of Jonas and second guitarist Rune Foss harmonize skillfully and without going overboard. While opener Providence is a swirling vortex of madness (in the best possible way), At the Altars is a more catchy affair with parts that get stuck in your head and vocal lines you can anticipate to scream along to at a live show. Closing song Epitaph opens with a blast, in the most literal sense. This is a short track that is over before you know what hit you. A perfect closing number that leaves you hungry for more. Puteraeon seem to have gained a lot from taking some extra time to refine the material before release, and after all three years is not an atrocious time to wait for quality. If you don’t like this, you probably don’t like death metal, and if you’re tired of the genre, you probably weren’t that into it to begin with. Swedish OSDM is obviously here to stay whether you like it or not. – David Nilsson
Creeping Flesh – Scorched (Independent, 2016)
This is the latest demo from underground Swedish crushers Creeping Flesh. Dripping with that certain ugly, filthy, Swedish allure, and pausing only to rev up the chainsaws to full killing capacity, this is 14 minutes of Grade A slaughter music.Well-written, full of catchy riffs, memorable hooks, and sinister atmosphere, Creeping Flesh are a band I’ve been keeping an eye on since their hideously enjoyable 2015 EP ‘Rising Terror’. As a sucker for this style, this is a band that certainly know what they’re doing with it. Check them out. – Nigel Holloway
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave (Century Media Records, 2017)
This crusty death metal outfit features members of At The Gates and Disfear and comes to us via Century Media Records. If you were as disappointed as I was with the At The Gates comeback, know that this is Tomas Lundberg and co’s redemption. The Lurking Fear favor a back-to-basics approach that joins elements of ‘One Kill Wonder’ and ‘The Haunted Made Me Do It’ with groups like Graben or Wolfbrigade. Every single track is a banger filled with relentless vocals, raging D-beats, and old school Gothenburg riffs. ‘Out Of The Voiceless Grave’ is a filthy, stampeding mammoth with no account for you standing in its way. – John Man
Memento Mori’s already had a standout year with killer releases from Ruin, Soulrot, and Ekpyrosis (to name a few), but they’ve still got some more quality death metal to unleash upon listeners as we approach the end of 2017. This includes the debut full length from Greece’s Pile of Excrements, ‘Escatology’. For the type of filthy, sleazy death metal that these guys play I couldn’t think of a better band name, and while you might come in expecting third-rate death metal or low budget goregrind there’s a considerable amount of substance and hooks underneath the grime. ‘Escatology’ is the type of death metal that doesn’t take itself too seriously (as evidenced by song titles like Cult of the Unibrow and Buttfucked by Giant Cockroach) but brings plenty of killer riffs and a ton of energy to the table. With the release date of October 23rd a little under a week away, today we’re pleased to bring you a full stream of the record.
Drouth is red-hot. They bring the kind of heat that US-based black metal bands like Uada and Void Omnia have been stoking recently, that black/death conflagration that you just to jump into and immolate yourself upon. The vocals are scathing, the drums unrelenting, and the guitars wind mesmeric riff-paths that manage to both balance and increase in complexity and intensity (a rare feat, indeed). Devote your aural attentions to this one. ~ Eric Seal
Okay this one may or not have been released in September but hey let’s forget about that and focus on the album. Sound like a deal? Good,
Have you ever had flights of fancy about murder and general mayhem that would more than likely get you locked up? Haven’t we all ha-ha, so if that’s the case then this album is for you. I’m not in any way endorsing that sort of criminal behaviour, live and let live and all that tripe so if you go on a mass killing spree after hearing this then be it on your own head, or lack of after you get caught..
Get past the fact that the album cover may look like your twelve year old brother with an eighties fetish may have drawn it and you will find some seriously fucked up shit going on here. Basically the story of a murderous little bugger and the fun he has whilst self enabling. Not for the faint of heart.
Brutal death metal, probably not befitting this one very much, more like death metal well done, with a story to boot, and an ending that you can only find out about by listening to and/or reading the lyrics, which means you should probably buy the damn thing so I don’t have to explain it to you. Makes my day a little easier.
Disclaimer – In no way shape or form was I forced to write this review or am I being paid to do so, now if the band member behind my back would s l o w l y remove the knife from my spleen I would be very much appreciative. Fucking ouch mate ha-ha. ~ Andrew Cook
Necrophile (Japan) – Awakening Those Oppressed (Death metal, Unholy Prophecies)
Japan, land of the rising sun and all that, people with silly hair and far too many RPGs that involve getting it on with chicks, blokes or a Pidgeon, or a Pokémon. Admittedly they have produced a couple of metal bands over the years of note, not to mention Babymetal (insert groan here) but are we to take this one seriously..
Fuck yes. Necrophile hit all the right notes in an odd sort of circle pit inducing moshfest that is quite brilliant to behold, even if it does sound a little like Napalm Death. Why the bloody hell would you complain when all of your furniture has been ruined because you just couldn’t sit through the album without getting up and going Psycho like Mike Muir on an acid trip! I have no idea what they put in the water over there, but if you want a death grunting, head banging, mosh pit sort of atmosphere in your day, or even at your wedding, invite these blokes. They’ll make it FAR more interesting by far! Crossover, death metal, death by warm not well looked after sushi roll, call it what you may, just get on it mate, it’s good, and if you are feeling a little oppressed, this will WAKE YOU UP! ~ Andrew Cook
LYZZÄRD (Portugal) – Savage (Heavy Metal, Fighter Records)
“Hello LYZZÄRD? Yeah, the 80’s called. They want they’re music back.” I came of age during the 1980’s. My initial musical influences come from the 1980’s. My first concert shirts were purchased in the 1980’s. In short, this particular decade was formative in the development of my musical tastes. Though this band didn’t form until 2013, they are unabashedly stuck in said decade. There are certain bands, such as Dio or Judas Priest, that everybody knows from that decade. Then there was a second tier of bands, like say Angel Witch, that produced quality music on a consistent basis, but never reached the collective consciousness of the public in quite the same way. Savage feels like a record that could have come from one of those bands. They sound so familiar. You bang your head, pump your fist, swig your beer, and can almost sing along with the chorus. In short, this is a quality album by a quality band that fails to fully set itself apart from a long list of other quality bands and records doing essentially the same thing. A fine addition to your collection, but perhaps a more a ruby in the rough than a diamond in the rough. ~ Rick Jackson
It seems like everybody has an opinion on Myrkur these days (obviously including myself), but you know what they same about that. This latest release ‘Mareridt’ can best be described as ‘blackened Enya’ though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. First, a quick mention of current controversy. I would love to hear/read Myrkur explain her comments in a recent interview, but those comments are unclear to me. I will also say emphatically that I am vehemently opposed to xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments. Now, back to the music. There are two ways to view this album, and generally speaking, the collected works of Myrkur. First, if you are a trve cvlt purist, you will hate this. In know way shape or form is this a black metal record (even though that’s the easy, convenient tag). If you are open minded about music and enjoy beauty both soft and harsh, then you may truly enjoy this. She makes excellent use of her truly beautiful voice (disagree that she has a beautiful voice? Fight me!) and also some truly aggressive, vicious harsh singing. Mareridt leans way over towards the ‘Enya’ side of things, but is still her best proper album. The only thing better released under her name is Mausoleum, which is a near spiritual experience. ~ Rick Jackson
Summon (USA) – Dark Descent of Fallen Souls (Black Metal, Werewolf Records)
In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of its release, Dark Descent of Fallen Souls is finally (for the first time ever) receiving the vinyl treatment from Werewolf Records. Originally formed in 1991 and hailing from nearby (for me) Lansing, Michigan, Summon are one of the first American black metal bands. They take the raw style then in formation as the second wave and give it rust belt grit. This particular release, the band’s debut full length, first appeared in 1997 and features tremolo picking, raw distortion, chaotic blasting, and vocals so raw they make my throat hurt just listening. Production is lo-fi and raw, without being uselessly terrible. My one complaint is that percussion sounds a little thin. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to hear an early master of American black metal. Dark Descent of Fallen Souls is relevant today and holds up as superior to much of the glut of black metal currently out there. ~ Rick Jackson
Botanist (USA) – Collective: The Shape of He to Come (Experimental Black Metal, Avantgarde Music)
Botanist is a strange project, no doubt. It’s fair to say that Collective: The Shape of He to Come will appeal to only a select few. It is also fair to say that I am a part of that select few. I actually clued into this project EP 3: Green Metal/Deterministic Chaos. Bizarre black(ish) metal that focusses on ecological themes? Sign me up twice. Usually a one-man project featuring the work of Otrebor, this release takes a more collaborative approach, and includes the work of D. Neal, R. Chiang, Bezaelith, and A. Lindo (aka Golem). The result is a fuller, more cohesive sound to the chaos. Themes remain about the natural world. Music remains black metal at it’s foundation with a plethora of interesting side trips. My advice? Strap on your hiking boots. Allow yourself to be led on this particular journey. Pack out what you pack in. ~ Rick Jackson
Neck Deep in Filth (Kathmandu, Nepal) – Self Titled (Hardcore Punk, Independent)
The political situation in the Indian subcontinent has been volitial in the past few years. One of the upsides of it has been the influence that it has had on the metal and punk bands in the region. Nepali hardcore/crust band Neck deep in Filth featuring member from bands like Jugaa, Squirtguns & Asphyxiate have released an politically driven EP. The cover art for 6 track EP has a member of a minority community surrounded by bullets and the Nepali flag. Over multiple listens, the EP has become one of my favourite grindcore releases from the region. I can’t wait to hear new material from the band in the coming years. ~ Peter Kotikalapudi
Neck of the Woods (British Columbia) – The Passenger (Death Metal, Progressive Metal, Hardcore Punk, Independent)
Neck of the Woods are a modern progressive metal band with more than enough of a death metal influence in their sound to warrant being labelled progressive death metal, if it wasn’t for the fact that they hardly sound like a traditional death metal band at all. Although not unique, they’ve certainly succeeded in crafting a sound for themselves that’s more individual than not, and this, their debut album, capitalises on this quite nicely. With songs that are well-written and well-realised, they band gather together various different influences and use them to create songs that are modern, emotive, and shamelessly aggressive. Bold, powerful, and full of meaty content, this is an album that firmly demonstrates what Neck of the Woods are capable of. It’s very enjoyable and extremely satisfying. ~ Nigel Holloway
Prepare to get crushed, smashed, and mangled. Helpless are feral rage and grinding mayhem incarnate. If you’re unfamiliar with this UK grindcore band, then you’re really missing out; Debt is a 22 minute journey into abrasive insanity and savage chaos. The songs are short and brutally effective in the damage they cause. The band’s style is a hybrid one, taking elements of many harsh styles of music. Punk and powerviolence play out alongside a core of ferocious grindcore. The band also take dark and post-hardcore bands such as Norma Jean and Converge into their embrace too, as well as a bit of grinding dissonance, to add further flavour. Throw in some modern hardcore/grindcore the likes of which bands like Nails, Weekend Nachos, and Unyielding Love do so well, and you have Debt. Helpless have both style and substance, and with this album they have extremely impressed. Get this. ~ Nigel Holloway