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October 2017 Highlights – Transcending Obscurity Webzine Staff

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


Malokarpatan (Slovakia) – Nordkarpatenland (Black/Heavy Metal, Invictus Productions)

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


Primitive Man (USA) – Caustic (Black Metal, / Sludge / Noise, Relapse Records)

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


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