Label: F H E D
Blackened death metal, on the face of it, might seem like an intuitive genre, or one that’s easy to write. Throw together some whirlwind riffs; layer it with skull-crushing drums and vocals from somewhere down deep and dark, and voila! One record of soul-destroying darkness. Except, it’s not quit that simple, and a lot of bands lose something when actually recording their songs. That’s not the case for Deus Vermin, whose new EP Monument to Decay takes the promise of their demo tape and really runs with it, conjuring up the kind of world-ending atmospheres that blackened death metal aims for, but so often falls short of. This is up there with the best of them, and is a bright (dark) star of British black metal.
Label: Armageddon Shop
None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is an album every bit as heavy as you’d hope, what with a title like that. The latest record from Churchburn is 45 minutes of aural punishment, filled with tar-drenched sludge riffs, an aura of extreme doom malevolence, and shot through with crust-inspired dirt. It’s the sound of veteran musicians who are masters of their craft, using all their experience to summon up the sounds of hurt and viciousness, with the end results being as impressive as they are crushing.
Label: Lixiviat Records
Can we all agree that Warfuck is a pretty terrible name for a band? With that said, if you can get over the band name, then you’re in for a treat of high-tempo, furious grindcore, with This Was Supposed to be Fun unleashing 22 minutes of grind that races by in a blur of 1 minute songs and 2 minute-long epics. It might not be smart, or clever, but, situated somewhere between Nasum and Magrudergrind, it sure is a lot of fun. This is grind as a righteous expression of energy and rage, filled with riffs that last seconds yet still manage to be catchy, impassioned vocals, and drums that absolutely refuse to ever let the intensity drop.
Label: Transcending Obscurity Asia
With a lot of thrash bands, the tendency is to slow down a bit as they get older – for the wild fires of youthful exuberance to become dulled into something more considered and, if not exactly tame, then more controlled. It’s not always the case, and sometimes it can result in a genuine masterpiece being created (as with, say, Sodom’s Agent Orange). With Korean band Sahon though, latest album Chanting for the Fallen could never be considered slow, or restrained, or tame. It is a full-on thrash onslaught, utterly relentless in its pace and delivery, carrying with it an undeniable energy and sense of enjoyment.
Label: Nailbat Tapes
Even by the standards of extreme music, this split is pretty harrowing. Clawing blend dark ambient soundscapes with Matt Finney’s spoken word contributions, which – if you’re familiar with his work – you know means that you’re in for an emotionally heavy time. Offerbeest is one of the aliases of Maurice de Jong, perhaps best known for his work as Gnaw Their Tongues. His tracks here are no less devastating than those released under that well-known moniker, being filled with harsh noise and industrial oppression, conjured via analog synths. Hardly an enjoyable trip, then – but it’s not meant to be. Instead, it is a split that forces you to confront your demons, to face what is haunting you, throwing yourself into the nightmare and hoping to emerge on the other side.
Skuggorna Kallar, the fifth album from Skogen, is a work of glorious darkness. Pulling together folk and black metal in ways that testify to the experience of the band, the album is like a journey through some forgotten woodland, full of sights and sounds as wondrous as they are terrifyingly captivating. It is a record content to take its time, with front-loaded appeal but keeping its best aspects slightly hidden, that feels as if it is possessed of a spirit that calls to something almost-forgotten in mankind; a sense of connection to the world around us, of respect for nature, and an understanding of our place in it.
Label: Self-released / Bluntface Records
Your Fault doesn’t start in the strongest of ways. The opening track to the new album from Gravehuffer contains plenty of powerful riffs, ugly vocals, and furious drumming; but it never quite comes together, with its combination of crust, death metal, and raw punk energy missing the mark. Thankfully, this is an anomaly on an album that is otherwise full of vicious crusty metalpunk, switching between genres at ease, and with songwriting deft that is surprising for music that is so ugly and hard hitting. The first track aside, this is an invigorating listen, and a fine half hour of underground snarl and spit.