Nailed it. On first listen of Equinox Vigil (Gilead Media), I suspected this to be the work of one man, two at most. Wrapped up my first listen and immediately checked online only to confirm that Inexorum is indeed a two-person operation and from the Midwest no less. Those drab icy winters would likely compel a musician or two to abandon polite society and embrace extreme metal whole hog.Continue reading →
Recorded in July 2021 at The Crypt South, Psychic Contortions (I, Voidhanger) is the fourth studio album from Minnesota duo Feral Light, aka Andy Schoengrund (vocals, guitars, bass) and Andrew Reesen (drums), who have previously been involved with bands such as Wolvhammer and Empires and features seven tracks of obscure and experimental crust-infused black metal, with a distinct originality that sets them apart from the pack.
Floridian Black Metal band The Noctambulant is ready to taint any Holiday celebration with the release of the blasphemous lyric video for their track ‘Black Swords of Satan’. This track is part of the reissue of their album Hellrazor released via Non Serviam Records. Watch the lyric video for ‘Blackened Swords of Satan’ below:
Featuring members of Wayfarer and Blood Incantation, Stormkeep plays Melodic Black Metal with a particularly epic flair. Their first full-length album, Tales of Othertime (Van Records), reflects great deal of influence from such groups as Dissection, Emperor, and Old Man’s Child. The production is claustrophobically atmospheric without getting too raw, the guitar sweeps are flamboyantly choppy, the vocals put in the expected rasps with the occasional cleans shining through, and the keyboards reinforce the theatrical aura without completely dominating the proceedings.
The songwriting also plays a fun game of contrasts with the six tracks consisting of four lengthy runs supplemented by a couple Dungeon Synth instrumentals. ‘The Citadel’ is a particularly striking example of the latter at work, putting in the sort of medieval swells and lonely trickles that would do Summoning proud, while ‘A Journey Through Storms’ makes for the most triumphant showing of the more orthodox Black Metal excursions. The album is very of its influences but with Stormkeep executing these tropes with such sincere fervor, the enthusiasm is contagious.
8 / 10
Wraith – Undo The Chains
Indiana’s Wraith has always been an enjoyable addition to the post-Midnight/Toxic Holocaust school of Blackened Thrash bands riding a gritty formula that is often simple but hard to truly screw up. Their third album, Undo The Chains (Redefining Darkness Records), shakes up the formula with some extra dynamics. Though still featuring a familiar mix of grimy riffs and filthy vocals, the band plays around with tempos more than before.
This is most apparent with the slow grind of the midway highlight ‘Time Wins’ though other tracks like ‘Gatemaster’ and ‘Cloaked In Black’ put in more mid-tempo chugs. Of course, there’s still plenty of fast hearty Thrash to go around and they even snuck a bit of Punk into ‘Born To Die’ and ‘Disgusting.’ Wraith albums always make fun listening for fans of the genre, but Undo The Chains is easily their best rounded effort.
8 / 10
Morgul Blade – Fell Sorcery Abounds
Morgul Blade’s first full-length is driven by a sound best described as Blackened Heavy Metal. The guitar leads and riffing patterns are driven by a dark Mercyful Fate-esque overcast with some tinges of Power Metal-inspired triumph while the vocals are in a near constant tug-o-war between baritone bellows and legible screeches. The production maintains a distant yet coherently grandiose haze all the while and there’s even a couple dedicated spots for some Synth layers to shine.
With these varying elements in a state of integrating and pulling apart, this would raise concerns that Fell Sorcery Abounds (No Remorse Records) is an incohesive listen. While ‘The Morgul Blade’ and ‘A Last Waltz of Gevaudan’ open on the album’s grimmest notes, things soon settle into an ominously anthemic air that comes through the most strongly on ‘In The Grip Of The Dark Lord,’ the Grim Reaper-esque ‘Sons Of The Night,’ and ‘The Five Will Ride at Dawn.’ I must admit the album might’ve benefitted from a consistently more upbeat pace, but this is a fun listen that lays down a neat template to develop even further.
8 / 10
The Night Eternal – Moonlit Cross
Coming off their 2019 self-titled EP, The Night Eternal’s first full-length does a lot to conjure the memory of In Solitude. Their Gothic tendencies are somewhat understated in comparison, but the combination of yelping baritone vocals and dark Mercyful Fate-inspired guitar acrobatics results in a similar blend of Doomy Traditional Metal. The first half is solid enough with ‘Son Of Sin’ putting in a particularly nifty Maiden-esque series of gallops.
The second half is where Moonlit Cross (Van Records) really picks up; ‘Shadow’s Servants’ is an enjoyable mid-tempo rocker and the rhythms on ‘Prison Of Flesh’ boast some forward momentum along with some extra conviction in the vocals that carries over nicely into ‘Closeness In Suspension’ and the closing title track. A rearranged track order might’ve made for an even more cohesive listen, but this is ultimately a fun niche effort.
8 / 10
Tower – Shock To The System
It’s been five years since TOWER released their self-titled debut, but their second album picks up where its predecessor left off. Shock To The System (Cruz Del Sur Music) continues to straddle the line between Hard Rock and Classic Metal with gritty rhythms, flailing twin guitars, and unhinged vocals ala Savage Master and Solicitor.
There’s been some solid developments in the songwriting as tracks like ‘Prince of Darkness,’ ‘Lay Down The Law’ and ‘In Dreams’ benefit from more fleshed out structures while ‘On The Line’ and the closing ‘Powder Key’ make for some hard-hitting rough and tumble Speed Metal. It’s a simple but effective execution that should sit well with old school Heavy Metal fans.
West Virginia’s Black Metal legends Nechochwen have returned with their first new song in eight long years, since the release of their acclaimed Heart of Akamon album, besides a split with their local brethren Panopticon. “Kanawha Black” is the title track of the bands’ upcoming new album, due for release worldwide by Bindrune Recordings in the spring of 2022! The tittle references the geology local to West Virginia. The band was also added to Fire In The Mountains Festival 2022 and they will likely add more tour date sand rituals soon. Jam it out now and check out this cool lyric video the band also released.
The season of the witch is upon us!!!! With Halloween just days away, it seemed more than fitting to check out some new Black Metal. Why not listen to some truly “scary movie” music with my favorite holiday just at hand. With that being said, the new cut from Ghost Bath Is a musical force to be reckoned with.
Common wisdom would have you believe that most bands approaching their third decade, and / or seventh album, will have found either a comfortable groove, or a furrow that they like to plough, and that the desire to challenge themselves and their supporters, to expand or revitalise their sound, has probably been dissipated to some degree. The cycle begats the (album) cycle and the artist, conscious of the desired output, sates the audience even if they do make token refinements to keep their own creative beasts content. For while there may be tweaks and tinkerings, there are, deep-down, a forest path of a woodland much explored, not often adventures anew.
It takes a lot of blood, sweat, beers to make it in the music business. A lot of bands form around a good idea, some beers, mutual bands, or a few riffs, heat up, run cold and call it day. Few bands have the temerity to overcome real adversity with all the music industry shit that crushes your soul. If you know, you know. Graveslave has overcome the death of their original vocalist Don “Doombringer” Durkee in 2019, and are still here. Putting out a killer EP during the lockdown Devotion, and now a new album, this is far above what most others could muster. No matter what happens in their career, they have defied the odds for the love of music.
Taking its title from the 1965 Jean-Luc Goddard movie of the same name, and reverberating with echoes of Fritz Lang‘s 1927 silent classic, Metropolis, everything about Alphaville (Century Media), the latest album from New York trio Imperial Triumphant, is costumed heavily in film noir science fiction. Its unique atmosphere furthered byimpressive cover art from Zbigniew M. Bielak, the Polish artist noted for his work with Swedish act, Ghost.Continue reading →
Notorious USBM band UADA has shared their brand new single, ‘Djinn’, the title track from their first new album, due this fall via Eisenwald Records. The single is their first new music since 2018’s Cult of A Dying Sun and their first with new drummer Elijah Losch (Forsaken Eternity, Mortal Plague). Check out ‘Djinn’ now!Continue reading →