Welcome to yet another week of new releases! I’ll tell you right off the bat, this week has been an amazing week for new music. The 25th in particular saw a mass of heavy-hitting releases, from such names as Bölzer, Root and Suffer Yourself, among many other worthy mentions, and re-issues of time-tested classics from bands like Bolt Thrower, Throne of Ahaz and Mütiilation. As a bit of a side track, I was also at an Ulcerate/Zhrine/Phobocosm show that particular night, which means I had an overall great day on the 25th listening to all this music. And now it’s your turn! Being music fans, we all follow new releases to some degree, but hopefully I’ll be able to help introduce people to great new things that may have flown under the radar this week, as often happens when larger names drop new material.
Let us begin.
9. Aenanon- Hypnosophy
Hypnosophy is the third full-length album from Aenanon, a Greek progressive black metal band, and it’s not something I easily made my mind up about. My first impression of this was that I’d somehow heard it before, though that is impossible. Not that an experience like that necessarily takes away from the quality of the album, of course (or augments it, for that matter). This is a decent enough album: a fluctuating landscape dotted with avant-garde inclinations and the anticipated progressive influence. This album’s artwork (a creation of Łukasz Wodyński) unfortunately outshines anything it has to offer musically, though I would be troubled to call the album as a whole anything less than alright. I could take or leave this one–but I suspect my choice will be the latter of the two options. Don’t let my opinion keep you from giving it a try.
8. Drone Hunter- Welcome to the Hole
Alright, so here’s the deal: these guys are technically a rock band. They are also an instrumental group, meaning they have no vocalist. Given the way most people tend to listen to their music, that can be a hard idea to turn into a reality that is interesting for a wide variety of audiences. If that’s not the sort of thing you’re into, you may have a hard time with these guys, and doubly so being that they’re not technically a metal band. Personally I think there’s sometimes a very fine line between rock and doom, and Drone Hunter definitely straddle that line (being that they’re recognized in the Archives, I’m clearly not the only one who thinks that). Semantics aside, this Croatian three-piece undeniably has something great to offer with ‘Welcome to the Hole’. I’m not familiar with their 2013 s/t debut, but as someone who loves the type of stoner doom with sludgy streaks into which these guys often stray during their musical border-hopping, I’ll be checking that out too. Trust me.
7. Ordog- The Grand Wall
‘The Grand Wall’ is Ordog’s 5th full-length in a career spanning just a spot over a decade. Though their releases never seem to come on any sort of schedule, the Finnish death/doomers are finally back with this solid new addition to their discography. The band’s previous releases have carried more withdrawn themes such as sorrow and grief, but this new album is a different shade and has been described as their most aggressive work yet. Doom fans should definitely give this a listen.
6. Bölzer- Hero
If you’re looking for something even remotely similar to Aura or Soma with this release, you will probably be disappointed. Though Bölzer’s latest work is a far cry from terrible, a lot of tracks left me a bit confused at what had happened in the writing process that would have made them think certain elements were a good idea. Experimentation with clean vocals, gregorian textures and other such things runs rampant throughout this album, and while I am completely in favour of artists pushing their boundaries, this is one of those cases that felt like things perhaps did not pan out as well as they potentially could have. Vocals range from a style evocative of their previous work to melodies that would fit in equally as well on a Raveonettes album, were the context a bit different. Not to say, by any stretch of the imagination, that the entire album is some sort of missed opportunity. Certain tracks such as Phosphor and Spiritual Athleticism certainly carry on the torch just as well as Bölzer’s earlier efforts might have. If you can come into this with an open mind, as if it were released into a vacuum not influenced by anything else Bölzer have ever done, and you have a certain level of tolerance for musical audacity, you may enjoy this. For me, it wasn’t so straightforward.
5. Shroud Eater/Dead Hand
If any of you happen to also follow my Global Doom series, you will most likely recognize the name Shroud Eater from my Miami post. I tend to talk these guys up often, as I’ve been a fan for some time. I was anticipating this split quite highly. As usual, Shroud Eater did not disappoint; and neither did Dead Hand. This week has been a real powerhouse in terms of doom metal and this split easily champions the sludge flag this time around.
4. Root- Kärgeräs- Return From Oblivion
Few bands can pull off the dark sound as well as second-wave titans Root. The newest addition to their discography, Kärgeräs- Return From Oblivion is a thematic continuation of their 1996 album, the similarly-titled Kärgeräs. Nevertheless, it is not sonically reminiscent of it in any large way; nor is it tinged with influence from 2011’s Heritage of Satan. This is a new sonic venture for Root that presents a lot of unique new elements, all combining in the form of a tasteful new release that is well worth every minute it takes to listen to it. For more information be sure to check out this post, written by our dear friend Malphas.
3. Heavydeath- In Circles We Die
This is an album that could well make my list of this year’s favourite death/doom releases. This came as a surprise to me because, having only released one prior full-length amidst a slew of demos and EPs, Heavydeath were simply not on my radar. In simpler terms, this is the first I have heard of them. Few bands leave such a good impression on me after first listen. In Circles We Die progresses along a very well-developed and maturely written timeline from start to finish, and, considering it can keep its head above water this week of all weeks, it’s a rewarding listen at the very least. I regrettably cannot speak to their older material at this time, but given the interest I found in this, I expect their discography is well worth exploring.
2. Cokegoat- Drugs and Animals
I couldn’t resist checking this album out (no, not just because it’s doom…). Cokegoat’s Bandcamp page described this as “a tall refreshing Long Island Ice Tea in a craft cocktail world”, and I do believe that description to be quite telling of the music behind it. Drugs and Animals is simply a weird, weird mess of notes. Not that it sounds all that experimental overall–it’s not that kind of album. I suppose this could be called stoner doom, but in reality it touches upon a multitude of influences that at times obscure its genre tags and blur lines together. Regardless, this is just overall a fantastic album.
1. Suffer Yourself- Ectoplasm
Well, this is it. My most re-visited album of the week. This has been a problematic release for me because of the unsuspecting plot twist it influenced in my doom album of the year plans, and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who listened to this and wondered if it might be the best doom release of 2016. I won’t comment on what I ultimately decided–I’ll be saving that for a later post, thank you very much–but I will tell you that this is a funeral doom album to be taken seriously. If you’re even remotely a fan of the genre, this is practically a mandatory listen.
• • • In Summary • • •
This week has been clearly dominated by all these spectacular doom releases. I really don’t believe there’s any significant quality gap between any of these aside from the top three (Heavydeath, Cokegoat and Suffer Yourself). Those, for me, were on another level completely, with Suffer Yourself being the obvious top pick.