So, this week has been pretty amazing, if you weren’t already aware. First of all, there was a bit of a rush of music from well-known bands, as some of you may already know. For example, I bet most, if not all of you, are familiar with Immolation and may have possibly listened to their latest album already. But as is normal on weeks where a widely loved band releases new material, a number of other albums were eclipsed from bands such as Sinister, Ancst, Marche Funèbre, Nordjevel and Unearthly Trance that I’m going to spread awareness of today. Now, I’m not necessarily going to talk about each and every single one of the albums I’ve just mentioned, mostly because I would like to try to have a mix of both underground and more mainstream releases, but also because some of the underground releases were maybe a bit better…
As a side note, I wanted to quickly talk about this album before we get into things:
Nordjevel are basically one big WTF this week because I cannot for the life of me find this album anywhere short of actually ordering it on vinyl. I like to think I’m committed to this series, but I’m not $17+ dedicated plus shipping costs and waiting time for an album I’ve never heard, so even though Nordjevel are one of the more well-known bands on this list, I wasn’t able to actually write about them. That being said, if there is anyone that knows where to listen to this album, it would definitely be nice if you could leave a comment on this post with that information. I’m sure there are plenty of people besides me who would be grateful.
Now that the housekeeping is over with, it’s time for the music talk.
10. Coffinshade- In Darkness I Shall Dwell
-Guest Contribution by Transylvanian Hangover-
If you had of asked me two weeks ago my opinion on Coffinshade I would have called them total shit in a heartbeat. However, when I saw the artwork for this upcoming release I couldn’t help but notice the tremendous visual improvements and that intrigued me. The samples sounded interesting, and I actually got excited for a Coffinshade release, which I never thought would happen. Now that I’ve listened to it in its entirety I have to say that this is not the same band it was a year ago. I’m not sure what the story is behind this massive improvement but it’s quite impressive, everything about this is so much better than what the band has done before and it’s a change that they should certainly be proud of. The ambience is much more tasteful and appropriate to the songwriting, the riffs are immensely both more aggressive and melancholic, the vocals really stand out unlike before, the drums also are much faster and have more variety in them, however this album is still not without its problems. While the songwriting is fairly strong here, the execution is fairly mediocre. A little less than mediocre in all honesty, and there’s not really a lot of innovation anywhere at all. There are even rhythmic problems throughout which is a major turn off. Overall I would have to say my hat is off to you Coffinshade for such a tremendous improvement since last year and you are most definitely going in the right direction with your music, no doubt about it, however, you’ve got to work on your creativity, your placement, and your overall execution before you really are going to grab my attention.
9. Pure Wrath- Ascetic Eventide
‘Ascetic Eventide’ is the debut release of the Indonesian one-man project Pure Wrath. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the cover art here and gather that this just might be an album inspired by nature, and that it’s most likely atmospheric black metal. Both of those statements are true; however, a word of caution: don’t get spooked by the genre tag and assume it will be atmoshit. On my first listen through I was very unsure about this album because I was half expecting it to transform into mediocre flute-driven flake music, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. While there is a bit of that going on here, it’s actually done in a way that contributes to the underlying black metal instead of distracting from it. Examples of this style done well are few and far between in this genre, but ‘Ascetic Eventide’ is a rare gem that is not to be taken lightly.
8. The Committee- Memorandum Occultus
Thanks goes out to The Committee for making this release a huge pain in the ass to find. Well, to be quite honest, by ‘hard to find’ I just meant ‘not on Bandcamp’. I actually listened to this through Deezer and it’s probably also on Spotify, as well as having been uploaded to various file sharing sites, so I’m just melodramatic. The Committee are actually a very interesting entity in themselves. An international project, they’re comprised of four black/doom musicians who are apparently all of different nationalities and don’t seem to spare anything on the theatrics.
I find this endlessly intriguing, especially being that not unlike their previous releases, their lyrical themes are on propaganda/conspiracy theories, history and the occult. Despite all four members of the project being black/doom musicians, The Committee is actually an atmospheric black metal project, although their sound does tend to be a bit heavier than your average atmoblack on the bottom end. ‘Memorandum Occultus’ itself has been described by the band as “a methodological journey through a dark world of intrigues, lies, deceit, outright manipulation, suffering and genocide,” and aside from effortlessly living up to The Committee’s mysterious image, it’s an aggressive and pulverizing release that’s fascinating enough that I’ve already written far too much about it.
TL;DR: It is good
7. Immolation- Atonement
I know this has been a very highly anticipated death metal release this year for a lot of people, myself included, and this definitely wasn’t a simple album to figure out. It took me a few listens to really understand what I though about this release. I’ve heard very widely differing opinions about it, both negative and positive. Being that I’ve actually gone to the effort of including it I think it’s not hard to guess that I did in fact like this album for a variety of reasons. Following in the stylistic footsteps of their previous full-length, ‘Atonement’ has taken the direction of 2013’s ‘Kingdom of Conspiracy’ and refined it. Listening to this release, it’s not hard to see that Immolation have taken their direction a few steps further in the right direction. Compared to Kingdom, it’s less abrasive, but there’s also a bit more headroom to allow for the more dynamic approach they seem to be taking with their music, which is a very positive thing. Granted, it’s no ‘Dawn of Possession’, but it’s been 26 years since 1991–a shade over a quarter-century–and even so, ‘Atonement’ still has that unmistakable, blasphemous Immolation vibe. Overall, this should surely be a pleasant surprise to everyone who was hyped for this album.
6. Sinister- Syncretism
Well, I really didn’t know what to expect before I heard this. Sinister have some breathtaking albums under their belts, but they also have a couple plastic bags full of greasy baby shit tucked under there too. They’re not the most consistent of bands, and after hearing ‘Dark Memorials’ which came out back in 2015, I was left feeling reasonably skeptical that ‘Syncretism’ would turn out. Luckily, my concern turned out to be quite unnecessary simply because it’s not greasy baby shit. Rather, it’s an echo of 2014. In a flashback to ‘The Post-Apocalyptic Servant’, Sinister have delivered some sharp riffing wrapped in adept songwriting, like a sexy death metal burrito. If you were thinking of checking this out but afraid it would be ass, rest assured. This is solid.
5. Ancst- Furnace
Crusty German black metallers Ancst have finally returned from their voyage through the realm of dark ambient, which endured well through 2016 (basically since they released ‘Moloch’). After a string of 2016 EPs, ‘Furnace’ has finally broken the dark ambient spell. Even better, it’s part of “a row of releases to be put out in 2017,” according to Angst’s Bandcamp, that will be a continuation of the aggressive style of their previous material. So, there you have it. Ancst finally are back to releasing their venomous blend of crust/black metal. This release is a bit more melodic than their previous work and is what I’d consider to be a great way to show that they’re back in business. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be watching Ancst quite closely for the remainder of the year, because we will undoubtedly be hearing more from them in the not-so-distant future.
4. Dødsritual- Under Sort Sol
I’ve talked about a lot of well-known bands here so far, but this album is a bit different. It’s actually a debut from a Norwegian black metal duo, Dødsritual (Death Ritual). This is really a very… Interesting start to the band’s career, in a good way. I’ll admit this was not something I immediately liked, but after a few songs, I kind of started to see what they were getting at musically. While on the surface ‘Under Sort Sol’ seems uniform, they seem to be sitting on top of a well of all manner of strange things and broad stylistic capabilities, which occasionally erupt to the surface like a geyser for very short intervals. Now, listening to the album for the fourth or fifth time as I write this, it’s not hard for me to admit that I really liked this.
3. Bathsheba- Servus
Bathsheba are a female fronted, experimental kind of sludge/stoner-y magic, and ‘Servus’ is a dreamscape of an album. Literally–the first time I listened to this I was daydreaming so hard I fell asleep and woke up at the very end, just in time to hear the distant voice of The Final Conflict’s Damien Thorn speak his iconic line:
“Infuse in him the grandeur of melancholy, the divinity of loneliness, the purity of evil, the paradise of pain.”
The album does have a few other samples from that movie, but that is not the only weird element Bathsheba have offered us with this. There are parts of this album that feature saxophone solos, which is not very common given the genre of music Bathsheba actually play. This album has a satin feel and an irresistibly occult vibe. Not many doom albums have come out this week, but ‘Servus’ makes up for all of them. You would probably love this if you’re at all a fan of SubRosa.
2. Unearthly Trance- Stalking the Ghost
We haven’t heard from the sludge/doom powerhouse that is Unearthly Trance since 2014, and that’s a shame, but ‘Stalking the Ghost’ was worth the long wait. Following the occult nature of the album, each of its seven tracks will take you on a dark, authoritative journey down into places where no human should go, with a wall of distortion and massive sound shoving you onwards every step of the way. If you’re the kind of person who lives for heavy riffs and music better felt than examined, you need this in your life.
1. Greywoods- Hellgazer
It took approximately three seconds for ‘Hellgazer’ to win me over. Right from the beginning it’s mysterious, dissonant and very dark–a winning combination in my books. But this isn’t about my books, really. Greywoods have a very odd style: progressive sludge/post black. Listening to this album, it’s not difficult to hear all these different elements at play, weaving themselves together into a genuine work of art, like little balls of light all coming together and suddenly fizzling out. It’s an album with many different facets; it is the sound of an untold secret. Greywoods intended ‘Hellgazer’ to be a portrait of mental illness and internal turmoil, but this is more than just a portrait of mental illness; it’s a candlelit velvet maelstrom. And a highly recommended one, at that.
• • •Summary• • •
This week really needed to be broken into two separate posts, but I didn’t do that, and now this post is 2100 words long, it’s 1:15 AM and I’ve become a sleep deprived zombie creature who doesn’t really feel like writing a summary for this post. I don’t like to neglect the summaries though, so suffice it to say that there was a shit ton of good stuff and you should listen to all of it. The end.