Well, it’s that time of the week again. Since I didn’t post last week’s instalment until Tuesday it feels like it’s not quite posting time yet, and to be honest I was a bit blindsided by how fast this day came up. I guess it has been a short week, so it makes sense–although, speaking of short weeks, since this instalment only covers from Monday to Friday, it may run a bit shorter than usual. Anyways, I’m back (on time!) with another stacked lineup of new albums, so read on if you want to discover another week’s worth of 2017’s best.
6. Manic Scum- Carbonized
In the field of deathgrind, Tennessee’s Manic Scum are laying down the law this week with Carbonized–the band’s third EP and fourth overall release. The EP in question is a bright burst of horror-themed aggression. Unfortunately, it’s a rather short burst–clocking in at just under ten minutes in length–but nonetheless enough time for Manic Scum to assert their dominance by means of a thorough sonic pounding. Best listened to at a high volume, Carbonized is as chaotic as it is compelling and distressingly short. Though Manic Scum have mainly been releasing EPs for the past few years, we can certainly hope for something longer in the future.
5. The Obsessed- Sacred
We’ve been in a bit of a doom metal drought these past few weeks. This week my biggest hope was to find a couple new doom albums to pick up the slack in that area. While I expected to find at least one thing to discuss here today, I never in a million years suspected that the album destined to end the doom drought would be The Obsessed’s first album in over two decades. For those who aren’t aware, The Obsessed date all the way back to 1976 and have released some seminal works in the field of stoner doom since that time, including their eponymous 1990 full-length and 1994’s The Church Within. Fronted by Scott “Wino” Heinrich of most notably Saint Vitus, The Hidden Hand, Spirit Caravan and Shrinebuilder, Sacred is surely a sight for many sore eyes. As compared to where The Obsessed left off with The Church Within, Sacred is very much a higher energy release, denoting their return to the scene with a vigour backed by experienced and fuelled by the long absence. As can be expected from such a band, Sacred is an album very much powered by its fine-tuned and polished guitar work; not least by its highly memorable and intriguing riffs. If you’ve really been feeling the absence of new doom metal in your life these past couple weeks, this should fill the gap nicely.
4. Possession- Exorkizein
Possession’s first full-length, Exorkizein, has finally arrived. Being that the Belgian black/death quartet have been releasing other well-received demos and EPs since their inception in 2012, Exorkizein seems to have attracted considerable attention. Possession’s thematic topics are quite evident right from the first few seconds of the album, opening with a vague intro, in which cryptic, jolting soundscapes combine with the ominous sounds of a pipe organ playing snippets of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata–a beautiful piece on its own, but taking on a severely disquieting tone when introduced to this unsettling context. Far from a disappointment, Possession have risen to the challenge of suitably following up their strong intro track–an area in which many bands tend to struggle. For the duration of the album Possession continue to deliver punishing riffs with a honed expertise, coupled with a particularly chilling sample from an interview with Father Mathieu, exorcist at Besançon. The band may have gone through a recent lineup change, but in spite of the changes (or perhaps precisely because of them), Exorkizein is a solid debut well-worthy of any praise it will receive as it makes its way out into the world.
3. Valborg- Endstrand
Valborg have not released anything new in over nine years… Until today. This very morning we received a brand new Valborg album. From their Bandcamp page comes the following:
“Championed by Celtic Frost / Triptykon architect Tom G. Warrior as “abundantly original and unique” and “a mixture of Bohren und der Club of Gore, early Black Sabbath and Hellhammer”, Valborg creates dense, inventive music that escapes categorization.”
While they do to some degree soar well beyond what is conventional for metal releases of this day and age, Endstrand is a refreshing mixture of both the old and new, bringing to the table a captivating brand of progressive death/doom which manages to channel further influence in the odd moment; subtle reminders of visceral classics of black metal, ranging anywhere from Satanic Rites to Satanic Blood. With this release, Valborg have crafted an album created for those who truly live for the unconventional.
2. Knarkaren- …Put Uninspired Title Here…
This is definitely one of the most interesting releases I’ve heard so far this year, and with every listen, it just seems to keep getting better. Now, not much is actually known about Knarkaren other than their association with the super kvlt gem-of-the-underground Swedish tape label, Cirsium Kollektivet, and the fact that they seem to be from Gothenburg. This also seems to be their debut release, at least as far as I’m aware, being that I couldn’t find anything prior to this that was done under the name Knarkaren. All the same, they’ve definitely done right by …put uninspired title here…, which, though listed as depressive atmospheric black metal/hard rock, actually sounds more like blackened skramz than anything. This release is one that will obviously appeal to fans of skramz and black metal alike; fans of DSBM, however, will likely have an added appreciation for it due to… Well, aside from the sizeable influence DSBM has already taken from skramz, the notably downtrodden and worn out feel of …put uninspired title here. But wait! There’s more. On top of what is already a brilliantly unorthodox album, the later tracks are laced with eerie experiments with synths and other unexpected elements, which make for a unique cherry on top of the strange cake that is everything else the album has to offer. My only complaint, as with most cakes, is that I wish there was more.
1. Fuoco Fatuo- Backwater
Those of you who know me will know that funeral doom is among my favourite genres. However, it is also one of the hardest genres to do well. Because funeral doom is a genre that sometimes slips beyond the seconds of the clock, many bands find themselves enticed by the prospect of its immense slowness and forego musical intelligence for slow tempos. For that reason, there are not usually many funeral doom albums released in a year that I would consider to be exceptional. This is one such rare case. Italy’s Fuoco Fatuo (meaning Will O’ the Wisp in Italian) have truly outdone themselves with Backwater. Of immediate note is the suffocating production. Within the first few seconds of the album, the listener is faced with a dense, oppressive wall of sound–so stifling, in fact, that it is dangerously (yet artistically) close to smothering the underlying music into an expanse of soggy sonic mush. This very finely balanced outer shell contains within it a plethora of entrancing riffs and swirling motifs, all seeming very deliberately set in place as to pull even the most distracted minds into the void of Fuoco Fatuo’s music. Mesmerizing and reality-numbing, Backwater is an indispensable addition to 2017’s doom arsenal.
• • • Summary • • •
This week has been a short week, but that doesn’t seem to have prevented it from experiencing its share of interesting new music. For the first time in quite a long time, black metal is the minority on this list, which, despite the fact that I love it dearly, is a welcome change. The past couple weeks have also been slightly deprived of doom. I think it’s safe to say, after this week, that the shortage is under control for now.
As a side note, Doctor Livingstone, about whom I have written previously, recently premiered a brand new video for the track “Dancing With Horses”, off their recent album Triumphus Haeretici which you can check out right here.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!