Label: Rotted Life
Malignant Records have, for a few years now, been one of the leading names in dark ambient, drone, and death industrial; so, it’s exciting to see them branching out in to death metal with new label Rotted Life. Their first offering on the label is the self-titled demo from Coffin Rot, a dirty, filth-encrusted four song onslaught of pure old-school filth. If you’re in to death metal that sounds like a horde of zombies eating the world alive, heavy with the stench of decay and rot, then you’ll want to be all over this like… well, like zombies over guts.
Label: Pagan Records
If anything defines modern Polish black metal, it would be a feeling of melancholy being transmitted by the music, with its distinctive melodies and aura of spiritual darkness. Such bleak sounds can make for a captivating listen, and that’s certainly the case for Path to Ruin, the new EP from Above Aurora. Though only seventeen minutes long, this EP carries a lifetime of sorrow and ill-feeling with it; and yet at no point does it ever sound defeated or self-pitying. This is music that accepts that hardship is part of life, and that there is little point protesting about that basic fact.
Sheffield-based duo Nokturnal Ritual have been around for five years now, and in that time have improved their second-wave inspired black metal attack considerably. Entity of the Unholy was an improvement over debut Ushering a New Era of Agony; and, in turn, new album Out from the Old Earth is an improvement over Entity of the Unholy. Theirs is no grand evolution of black metal, but instead a dark celebration of the genre, paying homage to masters of old without sounding trapped by the restrictions of the genre. It’s relatively straight-forward black metal played with conviction and talent, and sometimes, that’s exactly what you want to hear.
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Before we go far in to this review of Arkheth‘s third album, take a moment to look at that cover. Needless to say, it’s not what you expect from a black metal record – bright, garish colours; psychedelic landscapes; and a sense of conventions being not so much cast down, as utterly ignored in favor of doing whatever the fuck you want. It’s also a good summary of the sounds contained within 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew. Though the album is undeniably black metal, it takes almost everything you know about the genre and flips it on its head. This is black metal as defined by Sigh and psychedelics, rather than Mayhem and misery. It’s a bit of a headfuck, and a definite artistic triumph.
Label: Agromosh Records
Mainstays of the Japanese grind scene, Unholy Grave have a discography as long as most of their songs are short – so, very. Just look at it, in all its glory! Over the years, they’ve never lost their passion for short bursts of FETO-style grinding rage, with lyrics that recall the early days of the genre, all about social issues, politics, and anti-fascism. Of all their records, Revoltage is the one I come back to year after year; it may not be their best (but with 162 or so releases, who can judge?), but it’s a great example of the band’s energy and raw-as-fuck grind assault.
Label: Prophecy Productions
There’s a lot of genre tags that could be applied to Shouldhavebeens, the new album from Swedish band Tengil. Blackgaze, melodic post-hardcore, post-punk, and shimmering post-rock are all part of their sound, and yet no single descriptor feels like an accurate fit. This might suggest a record lacking focus and direction, yet that’s not the case. Instead, Shouldhavebeens is a record full of ambition, using whatever sound it needs to in order to achieve it aims. Throughout, there is a sense of youthful longing and restlessness, making Shouldhavebeens feel like an album fueled by the promise and joy of first (and lasting) love, of a search for belonging, and the knowledge that nothing worthwhile ever came easily.
Label: Nova Recordings / Alone Records
As time fades, labels close, and technology moves on, it’s inevitable that some records will be lost to the sands of time. Such a fate seems to have been suffered by We’ll Make The Roads by Walking, and indeed by The Assistant, whose noisy, emotional hardcore would probably find a bigger audience today than it did upon release. Were it released today, a PR campaign might describe it as combining The Dillinger Escape Plan style technicality with an emotional, cathartic edge that can be found in Holy Roar Records’ recent outcome from Rolo Tomassi and Employed To Serve, all wrapped up in long, progressive song-writing. But alas, The Assistant are no more, but they did leave behind some killer songs.