Agrimonia and more...
Misanthropic Alchemy (Ritual Productions)
Ramesses was formed by former Electric Wizard drummer Mark Greening and guitarist Tim Bagshaw (along with bassist and vocalist Adam Richardson), and the cosmic doom titan was one of the UK’s finest underground metal acts. The band recently split, or at least went into hibernation, but there’s abundant intimidating and hallucinogenic metal to enjoy in its back catalogue.
Case in point: Ramesses’ debut full-length, 2007’s Misanthropic Alchemy, which is seeing a timely rerelease by label Ritual Productions. The double CD set comes with previously unreleased live tracks (including the We Will Lead You to Glorious Times EP and the Tomb demo), and it’s a given you’ll need this is if you’re a fan of psychedelic and occult monstrosities. Ramesses lurked in a vintage vault of horror, incorporating death and black metal, drone and feedbacking noise into its Tyrannosaurus doom. Accordingly, Misanthropic Alchemy is a sledgehammer to the consciousness. It’s a THC and LSD fuzz and buzz overdose, with earth-quaking bass carving gargantuan grooves, and it comes with an astronomical stomp and scatterings of dark film samples to set the miserable mood. Misanthropic Alchemy is amongst Ramesses’ very best work, and with bonus tracks added on it’s all an ultra-grimy and sludgy blues workout you’ll not want to miss. ~ CH
A Fair Dream Gone Mad (Sensory)
If 2013 was missing anything at its half way point it was a progressive metal/rock record to bask in awe of. Or so you would think. No longer obscured by clouds, In the Silence has delivered one of the major surprises of 2013 with the official release of its debut, A Fair Dream Gone, which showcases the kind of song-writing grace, fluidity and prowess usually indicative of a seasoned band with a string of releases under its belt.
Not often are we presented with an unknown band that has music so immaculately constructed; that spans a gamut of emotions and is not without its moments of genuine metallic force. A Fair Dream Gone Mad is rich with the same melancholy that burdens Katatonia, the spritely bursts of Anathema-hopefulness amongst the dour downpours of reality, Opeth’s stately progressive twirls, the song-writing nous of Steve Wilson and a plethora of other progressive influences too protracted to detail. Such lofty comparisons should not be thrown around lightly—these bands are deified in progressive metal/rock circles this century. Yet with songs the magnitude of “Ever Closer”, “Serenity” and “All the Pieces”, In the Silence deserves to rub shoulders with its inspirations. Remarkably this Sacramento four-piece does not sound specifically derivative of any one of the above-mentioned denizens of boundary pushing excellence, and this misdirection is In the Silence’s greatest achievement. It usually takes bands years—decades even—to scale the summits In the Silence has glided to with ease on A Fair Dream Gone Mad.Undoubtedly, a blinding supernova for the future. ~ DB
Anti-Cosmic Tyranny (Profound Lore)
If you’re feeling like black metal has become a little synthetic these days, and doesn’t provide enough polarizing noise or diabolic traditions that are actually acted upon, then look out for the arrival of Anti-Cosmic Tyranny in August. The debut from “black metal terrorist” A.M.S.G. was primarily composed while frontman Angelfukk Witchhammer (Ouroboros, Gloria Diaboli) served time in prison for some notably unwholesome ventures. Accordingly, Anti-Cosmic Tyranny‘s premise of genuinely promoting “the awakened era of Esoteric Luciferion Draconis Supremacy” is more than evident here.
Witchhammer plays all instruments apart from drums on Anti-Cosmic Tyranny, and he provides all the bone-chilling croaks and cackles too. Old-school cyclonic riffing, and overloads of fevered percussion, are swathed in corrosive distortion, making the album’s inhumanity explicitly clear. However, although Anti-Cosmic Tyranny is stacked with lacerating, raw, and evocative devilry, the album’s unconventionality really drives the fiendishness home. Psychopathic songs come with schizophrenic structure, vocals are smothered in black noise, and baroque passages, choral voices, saxophone, punk-rock riffing and mystical eastern melodies are drenched in overt, outré, and subliminal sinisterness. Anti-Cosmic Tyranny is bitterly cold, inhospitable and certainly deranged. But, more importantly, it sounds dangerous. Witchhammer follows his own dimly-lit and ichor bespattered pathway of deviant worship and Satanic ritual here, displaying exactly the kind of individualism and lawlessness black metal was founded on. ~ CH
Blood Moon Rise (I Hate Records)
Since the release of Jex Thoth’s last psychedelic doom offering—2010’s Witness EP—music led by the alluring tones of powerful female vocalists espousing the virtues of all things occult has emanated glaringly across the limitless sprawl that is metal. From the Devil’s Blood to Blood Ceremony to Jess and the Ancients Ones to the recent arrival of Purson, it would seem, then, that 2013 is the perfect time to announce the return of the enigmatic Jex Thoth (ex-Sabbath Assembly) from exile.
With a timbre like liquid gold and a devotion to the occult, not to mention an aura that could shatter a psyche, Jex, like the legendary Jinx Dawson of Coven, has summoned quite a few acolytes in her absence. Blood Moon Rise is the band’s second full-length album (the first since Jex Thoth’s intoxicating self-titled 2008 debut), and with a re-shuffled line-up Jex Thoth has amplified the supernatural psychedelia while entrusting traditional doom to provide its centre. It is a slight shift in approach that suits the band and the music continues to form the vessel for which Jex’s otherworldly melodies waft mesmerically into the listener’s path of consciousness. With “The Places You Walk” being the album’s catchiest and most up-tempo inclusion, the rest of Blood Moon Rise is languorous, but intentionally so. Time is no concern, and each song has its own life-cycle as “Keep Your Weeds” and “Psyar” cast shadows on your soul long into the obsidian night. ~ DB
Rites of Separation (Southern Lord)
Agrimonia hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, the famed home of the melodic death metal style that bears the city’s name. The band includes in its ranks members of At the Gates, Martyrdöd, Skitsystem and Miasmal, and it trades in crust, sludge, and slowly escalating and eclectic tunes imbued with filth, and dripping ichor. Rites of Separation is the band’s third LP, and the five songs within rampage across the post-rock/metal landscape with epic build-ups giving way to visceral churns of metallic crust and other deleterious reverberations—all cut with isolated and frosty guitar lines. If you’re looking for a familiar reference point, Agrimonia could well be Isis or Cult of Luna’s crustier cousin—albeit it twice removed, and banished from family gatherings for indulging in far uglier and injurious misbehaviors.
Lengthy tracks like “Talion”, “While Life Lies” and “Hunted” are all undulating screeds where death metal, doom, and ambient passages squirm through rising melodies. The aggregate result is the raw, emotional discharge of a death-bed confession—where anger, grief, and intolerable realizations are howled at the impeding void. Rites of Separation is powerful, intense, drags the hook of primal fears, but most of all it fights till its very last breath. ~ CH