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Can’t believe that half of this year is gone already. With an every increasing writing staff here at Transcending Obscurity, our tastes have become much more diverse as evidenced by this month end list here. As always, we have tried to keep things a bit obscure, so as to cover ground not often tread by metal blogs in general. Here’s what’s been keeping the TO scribes occupied over the past month. ~Shrivatsan R

Aether Realm (USA) – Tarot (Melodic Death / Folk Metal, Self Released)

Aether Realm

‘Tarot’ is familiar in the best way. It’s folk/melodic death metal comfort food, a hearty casserole with a Wintersun base, a drizzle of Finsterforst, and a pinch (harmonic?) of Children of Bodom. Aether Realm has cooked up a sensorial feast filled with mouth-watering leads, stick-to-your-stomach melodic hooks, and just general zesty metal goodness. It tastes like a homecoming that has been long overdue (especially from two out of three of the aforementioned bands), but at the risk of buttering up these boys too much, Aether Realm seem to be doing it better than those bands ever could. Like any good casserole, there’s a layer of cheesiness (I’m lookin’ at you, King of Cups) that some might find unpalatable, but here I am already going back for seconds. If it’s been a while since you’ve indulged in these genres, then return home and have yourself a hearty helping of ‘Tarot’. ~Eric Seal

A Trust Unclean (UK) – Parturition (Technical Death Metal, Basick Records)

A Trust Unclean

Take a quick look at the cover of this EP – how could you see that and not immediately want to play it at full volume? The loudness thing is important too, as this is so utterly crushing to listen to that if you’re gonna get flattened then you may as well do it at full volume. This is technical death metal that has a lot of modern groove and brutal deathcore influences, making ‘Parturition’ the type of thoroughly enjoyable listen that you put on when you’re down the gym and want to get an insane pump on. Or something. It’s not all about the brutality either, as there are a few interesting touches dotted around the EP here and there, including orchestral enhancements, synths, and electronic aspects. Make no mistake though – this is one heavy sunovabitch. A Trust Unclean have made a lasting impression on me with this release, especially as they’re more inventive and creative than most that play anything similar to this. Check this out. ~ Nigel Holloway

Bison (Canada) – You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient (Stoner / Sludge Metal, Pelagic Records)

Bison

Bison, are back after 5 years with a change in lineup in addition to name. Their sound however remains unchanged, don’t be fooled by the album title. This is 7 tracks of Canadian sludge. ‘You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient’ has been complementing the recent gloomy weather in Mumbai and I have given it multiple spins. It is a favourite among the writers here, expect it on many best of lists at the end of this year. ~ Peter Kotikalapudi

Cavernlight (USA) – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink from the Stream of Our Ache (Sludge / Doom Metal, Gilead Media)

Cavernlight

On their debut full length ‘As We Cup Our Hands and Drink from the Stream of Our Ache’ Cavernlight has delivered one of the bleakest sludge/doom records you’ll hear in 2017. With haunting guitar leads that pull you underneath layers of darkness and despair, the five songs push outside of the usual genre confines to incorporate elements of post metal, drone, and even black metal. Compared to some of the others out there Cavernlight also utilizes a more dynamic approach to songwriting, letting softer moments build to intense climaxes rather than bludgeoning you with brute force the entire time. There’s just as emotion coming from the harsh screams as the instrumentation, and one of the highlights is the closing track A Shell of One’s Former Self which intertwines somber clean singing with the abrasive screams. This is an album that will leave you drained by the end, but it’s worth it and is one of the year’s best. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Chaos (India) – All Against All (Thrash Metal, Transcending Obscurity)

Chaos

Listening to the first few seconds of the second album of the Indian thrash metal quartet, I had a strong feeling that it is going to be a special one. Chaos go straight for the jugular right from the first track The Great Divide, only easing for some killer guitar solos. Wearing their influences on their sleeve, they have produced an album that would make them proud.

I have been looking forward to the release of ‘All Against All’ for some time and it has exceeded my expectations in all aspects. The band gained a strong following in India after the release of their first album ‘Violent Redemption’ and I am sure this album will attract fans from around the world. ~ Peter Kotikalapudi

Dark Matter Secret (Russia) – Perfect World Creation (Technical Death Metal, The Artisan Era)

Dark Matter Secret

Instrumental technical death metal can be hard to pull off. Without the human element provided by a vocalist, it can sound like music made by a computer: cold, mechanistic, and soulless. Consider Dark Matter Secret’s full-length debut a complete refutation of that principle. Sure, it’s hard to believe that real humans are in the driver’s seat on the absurdly fluid instrumental performances; but this album is quite simply overflowing with gorgeous, hummable melodies, emotive and razor-sharp soloing, and a refreshing tendency to trade the lead role between the fireball guitar work and the thrum and buzz of the fretless bass. Every song (after the obligatory intro) is its own unique and memorable journey, unfolding progressive structures that never devolve into chaos. Perhaps the most notable aspect of this album is restraint. Implied within the madness of the performances is the idea that this album COULD have been twice as fast, twice as dense, twice as noodly; instead, every note is in its proper place to evoke the sensations it was meant to evoke. A spectacular triumph of substance over style, and it’s still got style to burn. ~ Wyeth Holman

Elder (USA) – Reflections of a Floating World (Stoner / Doom Metal, Stickman Records)

Elder

Elder’s ability to create a unique mix of stoner doom metal and psychedelic rock has seen them rise quickly to the top of doom metal charts worldwide. With ‘Reflections of a Floating World’, Elder once again wield their power to deliver some of the most ‘artistic’ music one will come across in 2017. With influences ranging from Pink Floyd to Baroness, to legends like Sleep and King Crimson, the music deserves an attentive listen. Songs like Blind and The Falling Veil hold the ability to completely transport the listener into a completely different world altogether. In short, ‘Reflections of A Floating World’ sees Elder bring their best game to the fore front. They are definitely one of the best stoner-prog band around and in ‘Reflections of A Floating World’ they have once again delivered a true masterpiece. ~ Vidur Paliwal

Igorrr (France) – Savage Sinusoid (<I’m not even going to try>, Metal Blade Records)

Igorrr

“Music with no bounds” returns with Igorrr, a project that is influenced by equal parts metal, electronic music, and baroque. Four years in the making, this is one of the strangest records you will ever hear. Nightmarish fever dreams of dark electronica? Check. Frenetic gypsy folk aesthetic? Check. Schizophrenic, avant-garde song structures and Patton-esque screeches? Check. This album makes Sigh look like a generic rock group in comparison. And Gautierre Serre may be the mastermind behind the precise details of each composition, but I dare say that the contributions of the opera singers often steal the show. You’ll never know what to expect, and that’s what makes this such a rewarding record. Accordian, 8bit, sitar, harpsichord, dub-steppy skipping effects…you’d have better luck predicting the next episode of Twin Peaks. ~ FlightOfIcarus

Nistikko (Finland) – Väsy (Crust Punk, Self Released)

Nistikko

Digging through bandcamp to satisfy my appetite for good music this month, I stumbled across this little gem. Nistikko is a five piece from Finland and ‘Väsy’ is their third full length release in 6 years. While the title there says Nistikko is a crust punk band, their music stands out amongst the traditional crust bands. This band has a way of making this album a very mesmerizing and trance inducing affair. The way Nistikko constructs a song shows a lot of influence from krautrock bands in the early 70’s, with the crust punk tone giving a sinister twist to the overall sound. As a result, a lot of the tracks here are carefully constructed pieces with measured paces as opposed to full on crust / grind attacks (but there’s quite a bit of that too). The dual vocal work is justified here in the way the band uses the dynamics to up the emotional weight of the music. ‘Väsy’ is quite a change in direction from the grind heavy sound of Nistikko’s previous outings, but it is a direction that is emotionally heavy, hypnotic and alluring. ~ Shrivatsan R

Onryō (Italy) – Mūto (Deathgrind, Everlasting Spew Records)

Onryo

An atomic fireball of molten deathgrind in a tidy 13-minute package, Mūto is the definition of an album that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Instead, these Italians come in through the back door, pulverize the furniture, blow out all the windows, and burn the house to the ground. Packed with hairpin swerves in tempo and devastating grooves, Onryō also have surprises like skronky saxophone up their sleeves. Each song is just a bit longer and more demented than the last, with spastic mathcore smashing headlong into thundering death metal on a bed of rhythmic madness laid down by Giulio Galati (Hideous Divinity). And if you want more, you’ve probably got time to blast it again. ~ Wyeth Holman

Rekah (Indonesia) – Berbagi Kamar (Screamo / Post Hardcore, Royal Yawns)
Rekah

I spend a lot of time on Bandcamp, which lets me find plenty of talented acts that would otherwise remain undiscovered. One of the best discoveries this month was ‘Berbagi Kamar’, the debut EP from Indonesian band Rekah. While it’s hard to pin this group into one specific genre, the styles they’re pulling from are some of my favorites and they execute it with precision. At the core of ‘Berbagi Kamar’ is late 90’s/early 2000s screamo and post hardcore, but you’ll find bursts of sound that pull in a darker black metal influence and even some shimmering melodies that bring shoegaze to mind. Rekah does a great job of moving between these soft, emotional passages and abrasive blasting, keeping the energy level at a high. The vocals move between chaotic screams and soft clean singing that sounds to me like it’s pulling in a bit of emo influence. It’s a great mix that has strong songwriting behind it, and if Rekah is already delivering music this engaging on their first EP I can’t wait to see where they go next. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Saccage (Canada) – Recidive (Black / Thrash Metal / Crust Punk, PRC Music)

Saccage

Over the past year, I’d become somewhat disenchanted with thrash metal. Then Quebecois band Saccage came along and reminded me how fun thrash could really be. The fact that Saccage add a lot of black, death metal and crust punk to the mix is besides the point. ‘Recidive’ the band’s third full length release has one thing at it’s core : sleazy, drunken debauchery. The Satanic twist to the sound only adds to the mindless fun propagated by the tracks on this record. There is also the slightly eccentric touches to the riffs as often heard from Canadian thrash bands. Saccage proudly wear their influences on their sleeve and I mean that quite literally too. Check out the album cover and see how many bands you can spot. If you like those bands, chances are you’ll love Saccage’s new release. So grab your battle-vests and bullet belts, and bang your head to some killer Satanic thrash. ~ Shrivatsan R

The Summoned (USA) – Sessions (Technical Death Metal, Self Released)

The summoned

This is an album I’ve been waiting to be unleashed for quite some time. ‘Sessions’ is a monstrous amalgamation of various modern metal sub-genres, loosely falling under the technical death metal umbrella, with a particular emphasis on the technical side of the equation. Yep, these songs don’t hold back. With an insane intensity and controlled quasi-chaotic delivery, The Summoned shred, burn, rip, and blast through this album like nobody’s business. It’s an impressive noise, that’s for sure. Despite how complex and technical it is though, the songs still shine due to the band’s innate ability to steer this maniacal ship with skill, talent, and verve. Hideously impressive and the best work that the band have produced to date, Sessions is a must-listen for modern/technical extreme metal fans. ~ Nigel Holloway

Undergang (Denmark) – Misanthropi (Death Metal, Dark Descent Records)

Undergang

A brief search online reveals that the Danish word undergang means something like ruin, destruction, or total downfall. What a deliciously apt description of what this Copenhagen project brings to the table! In the roughly thirty minutes of listening available on ‘Misantropologi’, the band’s fourth full length album, the trio provide a sonic ruin not found in many other places. Undergang crawls forth from the gutters like an otherworld creature bent on violence for its own sake. Through an assault rooted in dynamic and destructive percussive annihilation (provided by Anders Pedersen), the creature lurches steadily forward. The guitar is downtuned so far that it reaches into the furthest levels of hell. David Mikkelsen then uses this untamed creation to provide filthy, belligerent riffs while Sam Osborne hammers the listener into near senselessness with his bass assault. Vocally, Mikkelsen sounds like he is spewing forth venom through mouthfuls of flesh. This style can lend itself to monotony, but Undergang has completely avoided that misstep by providing rhythmic dynamics and earworm melodies that stay with the listener. Prepare to be ruined! ~ Rick Jackson

Vinterbris (Norway) – Ad Absurdum (Melodic Black Metal, Hellthrasher Productions)

Vinterbris

Black metal has an almost inescapable association with the cold. So you’d be forgiven for being taken by surprise by the series of warm rock-like riffs that open up ‘Ad Absurdum’, the latest two-song offering from Norway’s Vinterbris. A sense of melancholy pervades the two tracks, but it’s carried swiftly, like red-hot cells in a rushing bloodstream, by means of energetic musicianship and concise song composition. There’s a lot of meat in these two songs, despite their relatively short length — you’d be hard-pressed to find something so short that’s so well worth your time this month. ~ Eric Seal

Wildspeaker (USA) – Spreading Adder (Blackened Crust / Sludge Metal, Prosthetic Records)

Wildspeaker

The collision between crust punk and black metal is going on ever so strongly and here in Wildspeaker’s second full length ‘Spreading Adder’ we get to see why it’s such a glorious idea. This Fortworth, Texas based collective never really had one default setting to begin with. The music writhes and crawls with unpredictable paces, much like a snake alluded to in this album’s title. As the riffs go through moments of rampaging blackened punk runs and crushingly slow sludge crawls, the bleak joy-sucking atmosphere of it all is what defines the Wildspeaker sound. The flow of the album has an engaging quality in the way it tends to shift rhythms at startling frequencies, always keeping the listener on his / her toes.  Equal parts fun and immersive, ‘Spreading Adder’ is a 38 minute fall into a dark, never ending albeit addictive abyss. ~ Shrivatsan R.

 

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Shrivatsan R Dreamer with an appetite for extreme music who probably doesn’t like you already (unless you’re a dog). Obsessed with grindcore, death metal and all things experimental. Head honcho at Metal Gallows (http://www.metalgallows.com)