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May 2016 Highlights – TO Staff

The staff here at Transcending Obscurity are a weird bunch. Sometimes they bombard me with more than 20 records for a highlights article and in times like this, they give me just 7. And this time around, they seem to be obsessed with black and doom metal records, which feels a bit weird considering it is not even winter anymore (unless you’re an Aussie).

Once again, the list eschews some of the bigger releases, opting to focus on the underground instead. So here you go, highlights from May 2016, which we suggest you checkout. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Enoid (Switzerland) – Exilé aux Confins des Tourments (Black Metal | Satanath Records)

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This is the seventh album from this prolific Swiss black metal solo project. Well, this is the stuff! I’m hooked as soon as the play button is pressed. Blasting, icy black metal bursts screaming out of the speakers in a trail of frost and malevolence. The lethality of the music is made all the more pointed due to the abundance of blackened melodies that stir in its dark heart. ‘Exilé aux Confins des Tourments’ is as intense as it as emotive, and it’s impressive how much the brains behind this outfit has mastered both disciplines. ~ Nigel Holloway

Messa (Italy) – Belfry (Doom Metal | Aural Music)

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There are a lot of solid doom bands coming all over the globe, but most just trot on the path made by the old ancestors. Messa is not one of them. Formed in 2014, the band released their debut album ‘Belfry’ on 6 May, via Aural Music. The music at best can only be described as a mad chemical amalgamation of drone and prog into the 80s death-doom metal. It’s unexpected and enchanting with unexpected twists and turns all through its playtime. Simply put, when a band pulls off a jazzy clarinet section in midst of a classic doomy track (a.k.a – Blood) with absolute perfection, you know they deserve your complete unwavering attention. Moreover, Sara’s vocal chords have a raw style to it, that totally gels in with the sound (just like the clean tone of Jennie Ann Smith works perfectly for Avatarium)! Although the album is a long ride of 58 minutes, it feels much smaller as it has the listener completely hooked in till the very end. Overall, this album is one of the most weird yet highly innovative doom albums I have come across this year. A must listen. ~ Vidur Paliwal

Panychida (Czech Republic) – Haereticalia – The Night Battles (Pagan / Black Metal | Cursed Records)

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The fourth album from this Czech band sees them on fine form. Panychida play black metal with a Pagan influence and, on this release, an increase in orchestration and keyboards. The album is full of stirring and emotive melodies that firmly grab the listener, holding attention throughout. More polished than their previous work, ‘Haereticalia – The Night Battles’ is emotive Pagan black metal at the height of its powers. ~ Nigel Holloway

Vainaja (Finland) – Verenvalaja (Doom / Death Metal | Svart Records)

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Ominous, weird and monolithic in it’s heaviness, the enigmatic entity known as Vainaja return with their second full length ‘Verenvalaja’. The music seems to have only intensified after their debut, and the gargantuan riffs pummel on relentlessly. The album has a very primitive tone, like the music is being produced by a race of ancient giants. The crawling music manages to send shivers down one’s spine and the claustrophobic atmosphere can cause uneasiness. The bellowing growls of the vocalist sound like sermons delivered a demonic monk. Easily, this is one of the best doom / death metal records to come out this year. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Weekend Nachos (USA) – Apology (Powerviolence / Grindcore | Relapse Records)

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The swansong of Weekend Nachos is a refined statement of powerviolence meets grindcore. ‘Apology’ sees the band finish things off on a high note with a vicious record that will not think twice before caving your skull in. Unapologetically heavy, the album showcases how the band has evolved over the years as songwriters. The organic flow and spine shattering breakdowns are rarely done this well and it’s a shame that Weekend Nachos have called it quits. It would have been very interesting to see how they evolve after ‘Apology’. But I guess some desires are meant to be unresolved. ~ Shrivatsan R (Deputy Editor)

Wolf King (USA) – Into the Infinite (Blackened Hardcore | Independent)

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This Bay Area blackened hardcore band ripped out of bondage and through the gates with a vengeance, especially upon the release of their music video for lead single Deathless. Where the hell did these guys come from, and why was I not informed? The dark, grim nature of these riffs is certainly in the same realm as other recent top-tier hardcore releases like Great American Ghost, Grieved, and Bastard Feast; but Wolf King also utilize some killer old school death growls into their sound that make for a unique listening experience. Reportedly influenced by bands such as Converge, Circle… Takes The Square, and The Number Twelve Looks Like You (all groups I am a huge fan of), Wolf King is here to claim the throne for the genre. ~ FlightOfIcarus

Zealotry (USA) – The Last Witness (Technical / Progressive Death Metal | Lavadome Productions)

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Zealotry’s ‘The Last Witness’ is another high quality release from the ever reliable Lavadome Productions. The output from the label is nigh on at the level where you could buy all their new releases sight unseen. Or, sounds unheard, rather. Hailing from Boston MA, Zealotry specialize in a particularly challenging brand of technical and progressive death metal, warranting comparisons with Gorguts and Ulcerate. So yes, it’s on the twisted and cerebral end of the sub-genre, as guitar lines interweave, split, go in every direction but always remain coherent, both to the accompaniment and to each song. Labyrinthine song structures of multiple textures abound, with frequent bursts of glorious guitar solos in a relatively more traditional format. It’s an effective combination which belies the lengthiness of many of the tracks (several are in excess of 8 minutes). It’s a grower and there’s much here to get your teeth into, however, a truly killer knockout blow is wanting in place of some of the meander. That said, mentioning Zealotry in the same breath as those aforementioned bands would not be a faux pas, such is the quality of the album. ~ Ewan Gibb

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