New Releases: 29-5/4-5/17

Welcome back to New Releases! This week has been quite an interesting one. We’ve had quite a number of high calibre releases coming at us lately, making for a very interesting end of April and a highly promising beginning to the month of May. While this week hasn’t exactly seen a staggering volume of new albums coming out, the amount of those releases that have been excellent has proven to be very motivating.

This post also marks the beginning of a series of three New Releases posts that I plan on writing over the next few days as I slowly catch up on the weeks I missed during my hiatus.

Without further ado, let’s begin.

6. Façade- Loathe

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Loathe, Façade’s first full-length release and second overall release following 2013’s self-titled EP, is a fascinating death/doom venture into the darker elements of the human experience: despair, betrayal, depression and–naturally–loathing. Featuring gorgeous cover art by the Dutch artist Wietse Treurniet, Loathe presents not only a delightfully crushing feel powered by layered guitar-work and resounding drums, but also a masterful command over the use of melody and dynamics when appropriate, inserted skillfully into the music in places where its emphasis is most needed. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the album is its self-contradiction as an equally powerful and delicate work of art, transitioning fluidly between deep-set death/doom style riffs and the frail, muted passages that define so much of the album’s character.

5. Mudbath- Brine Pool

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Seldom do you hear bands so diverse in sound as France’s Mudbath, who, though technically a sludge/stoner band, do not seem to be afraid of forays into vastly distant corners of the doom arena. Brine Pool, featuring gorgeous artwork by Flobath and Gaël Maitreheuis a pilgrimage through the murky underbelly of the genre with enough unexpected twists and turns to send you spiralling at will–from somber, heavy-handed passages to violent, cranked-volume progressions to wistful oases of sound dense enough to wholeheartedly lose yourself in. A suitably named album, Brine Pool will leave you wanting to drown in its wave-like melodies as they rhythmically wash over you: sometimes gliding gently towards the shore–other times, turbulently crashing over you at full force, revelling in the unpredictability of Mudbath’s unique style.

4. Krolok- Flying Above Ancient Ruins

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Flying Above Ancient Ruins is the first full-length release from Slovakia’s Krolok: an atmospheric black metal trio from Bratislava formed in 2011. Krolok’s brand of atmospheric black metal, however, is more than meets the eye. Self-describing as “atmospheric and intricate black metal in the 90’s tradition with a raw edge”, Flying Above Ancient Ruins is an example of just what occurs when Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism-era Immortal, Deathcrush-era Mayhem, Transylvanian Hunger-era Darkthrone and modern atmospheric black metal converge in a melting pot somewhere in the depths of central Europe. But as much as Krolok sound influenced by Norwegian second-wave classics, their own identity still manages to come across plentifully. Eerie samples, touches of acoustic, ambient, dynamic baselines and experiments with timing are all equally a part of the musical experience Krolok have crafted with their latest release, especially on the album’s later tracks, making for a spectacular end result captivating from beginning to end.

3. Cavemaster- Sob o Abismo do Infinito

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Though Cavemaster are still a relatively new band on the Portuguese scene (having formed just last year prior to the release of their debut EP Negro Culto), this raw black metal trio is wasting no time growing into their style: an ingenious blend of old school black metal harkening back to the glory days of the second wave, ominous ambient, synth and unfiltered Portuguese pride. All of Cavemaster’s venomously hateful lyrics are in fact written in Portuguese and, according to their Bandcamp, express the band’s “visions about anti-humanism, nihilism and hate against religion” in bursts of visceral fury powerful enough to destroy any possible language barriers. In contrast to 2016’s Negro CultoSob o Abismo do Infinito takes on a much darker, more sinister tone, employing a much more refined and mature writing style that will surely be appreciated by fans of the band’s earlier work. With acts such as Candelabrum, Black Cilice and now Cavemaster coming to light in recent years, Portugal’s raw black metal scene is quickly gaining some well-deserved momentum that will hopefully prove to be a breeding ground for some very interesting new developments in the years to come.

2. Havukruunu- Kelle Surut Soi

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Havukruunu, a Finnish pagan black metal duo, are dipping into viking territory this week with Kelle Surut Soi–a stormy 51 minute epic released via Naturmacht Productions, with an appropriate title translating to “for whom the sorrows sing”. With their latest work, Havukruunu will drag you deep down into another world, amidst a sea of rich viking chants evocative of the clash of battle axes on a open field, under a swirling, menacing sky. Keller Surut Soi is a densely layered narrative of an album; more of an experience and a journey than anything else, calling for deep concentration and uninterrupted listening if you really want to maximize your appreciation. Certain albums are destined to become the backdrops to many daydreams. With this release, Havukruunu have proven themselves to be masterminds of such things–so sit back, put your headphones on and let your imagination run wild overtop the crushing black metal and lucid imagery of Kelle Surut Soi.

1. The Ruins of Beverast- Exuvia

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Atmospheric black/doom giant The Ruins of Beverast released its newest LP, Exuvia, just Friday morning. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this full-length is nothing short of another masterpiece. Since the project’s inception in 2003, multi-instrumentalist and project mastermind Alexander von Meilenwald has made it very clear just how capable he is of finding new artistic ground for each of the project’s releases. Every album from The Ruins of Beverast has its own unique texture. Exuvia, naturally, is no different, though it does not exist in a vacuum; rather, it follows a similar path as 2013’s Blood Vaults, all the while expanding on its stylistic trajectory. Exuvia incorporates further touches of atmospheric black metal not found as abundantly on Blood Vaults while at the same time taking its style to new heights, ascending into a realm of its own in an effort that will surely become a staple of many of 2017’s Album of the Year lists.

• • • Summary • • •

This week has been slow but steady, with elevated quality amongst those releases that have been of value. Though black metal has clearly emerged as dominant this week–specifically raw or traditional black metal–there have also been a number of excellent doom metal releases as well. Thanks for reading!

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