Review: Vessel of Iniquity – Self-titled

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Xenoglossy Productions

Despite only lasting for fifteen minutes, the self-titled EP from Vessel of Iniquity feels as if it packs a lifetime of pain and suffering in to its duration. The latest offering from the reclusive A. White is a roiling, monstrous mix of black, death, and noise, delivering an onslaught that truly does justice to the term “extreme”. Finding the threads that connect acts such as Teitanblood, Gnaw Their Tongues, and Impetuous Ritual, Vessel of Iniquity is a difficult listen, but one that offers many rewards for those who can brave its depths.

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Review: Rotting Sky – Sedation

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Dark Horizons / Wooaaargh

Underground extreme music is often a vibrant, exciting place, filled with bands and labels releasing work that pushes boundaries, challenges conventions (musically, socially, or otherwise), and is, by its very nature, often only intended for a small audience. Yet it can also be a place fraught with risk, especially financial. No one with any sense gets in to extreme music for the money, because most of the time, there isn’t any. This means that even if a label is responsible for helping to unleash some superb music upon the world, financial constraints might see that music vanish without a trace. Such was the original fate of Sedation by Rotting Sky, the solo project of Nux Vomica guitarist T. Messing, when the label that originally released it (Grimoire Cassette Culture) closed down around the time of Sedation‘s original release. Eternal praises to the labels involved, then, for giving this record a reissue and helping to save it from complete obscurity, as this mixture of black metal, drone, and noise is excellent.

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2017 Favourites – Part II

Following on from the first ten of my A-Z 2017 favourites, here is the second part. As the title says, this is my favourites – not necessarily the best records of the year, but the ones I enjoy or connected with the most. Feel free to tell me what I missed, why I’m wrong, or whatever else. There’s only so many hours in the day, and not all of them can be spent listening to records, sadly.

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夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) – 5772

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Label: Sentient Ruin ProductionsAnnapurnA Productions

It is a depressing paradox that, for a genre which started off in such incendiary, challenging fashion, black metal is now often one of the most musically conservative of genres, weighed down by insipid songs about Satan full of uninspired tremolo-picking and blasts. It’s this context which makes the emergence of a band like 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) all the more inspiring. The debut album from this multinational band, 5772, is a bewildering, awe-inspiring journey that, whilst owing a considerable debt to both raw and progressive black metal, also draws heavily full sources such as improvisational jazz and krautrock, as well as the violent energy of bands like G.I.S.M. As this might imply, it is a unique listen, and one of the more intriguing black metal releases of 2017.

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Malefic Levitation – The Ancient Plague

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Label: Sentient Ruin Productions / Dawnbreed Records

The Ancient Plague does not fuck about. The debut demo/EP from Malefic Levitation is an unrelenting, skull-crushing twenty minutes of bestial and war metal that takes no prisoners. It taps in to that same sense of barely controlled chaos as the likes of Revenge and Archgoat do, walking a fine line between all-encompassing pandemonium and neck-snapping addictive riffs. Considering that it is a debut release, the mastery that Malefic Levitation display over this most ferocious of genres is all the more impressive.

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Petrification – Summon Horrendous Destruction

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Label: Sentient Ruin Productions 

It can be nice when a record lives up to your expectations. With a band name like Petrification, and a title like Summon Horrendous Destruction, and artwork like that, you’d no doubt be hoping for this 7″ to contain some dirty, old-school death metal. And you’d be exactly right. Summon Horrendous Destruction was originally released (and quickly sold out) on cassette earlier in the year, but is now being released on vinyl by Sentient Ruin, giving this slice of fetid metal another chance to inflict its pestilence upon the world. It’s a good thing, too, as this is no-nonsense death metal done right, sounding like it was dragged out of some moldy cavern, and as crushing as any other purveyor of old-school death you would care to name.

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american – Violate And Control

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Fragile Branch Recordings / Shove Records

In the increasingly populated world of extreme music, it gets harder and harder to stand out. There’s only so many novel ideas out there, and there’s no guarantee that musicians have the requisite talent to properly convey what they have to express. It’s this context which helps make american seem an all the more startling prospect. Their mix of black metal, industrial, and harsh noise already sounds exciting on paper, but what Violate And Control demonstrates is that the duo have both the ideas and talent to take this combination in to strange new places. This results in an album that feels remarkably fresh, even as it indulges in some of the most horrific music committed to tape whilst still remaining listenable.

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