Kamra – Cerebral Alchemy (Avantgarde)
For a band that has been around for just a couple of years, Kamra show a great grasp on their identity. Their path was made clear with their debut EP, Conversing With Ghosts and is now fully formed with Kamra’s first full-length Cerebral Alchemy. On one hand, employing the dense atmospherics of black metal, and on the other hand, leveraging the scene’s avant-garde idealism. The first is illustrated in multiple ways. The grand, majestic manifestation of “It Burns Without a Fire…” sees the synthesizers create a deep narrative. This approach is then stripped down towards an Emperor-esque inspired form, leading to terrifying moments like “Lantern of Ghostly Unlight”. Even more minimal is the bitter manner in which “Oozing the Thirteenth Hour” is presented, bringing to mind the unstable and repetitive mantras of Ved Buens Ende.
On that note, the avant-garde perspective rises. The discordance is palpable with “Death Eternal” evoking the misanthropic qualities of Blut Aus Nord, and the chaotic aspirations of Deathspell Omega, especially with closer “Colossal Blight”. In the midst of it all Kamra add slight tinges of old-school death metal, crafting a strange mix between these two states. Deep guttural vocals rise, the breakdown in “Resurgence of Temporal Malignancy” causing pure dissonance with its rage. Cerebral Alchemy invokes a known and trusted recipe, one that is particularly difficult to get right. Still, Kamra manage to get it done extremely well, and even though they are at the stage where they are not adding much novelty to the scene, it does not feel like that moment is far off. – Spyros Stasis
Lucifericon – The Warlock of Da’ath (Invictus)
The dark allure of proto-death has drawn into its mist many musicians. Lucifericon is such an example, combining the early death metal days, with their extended thrash methodology, and a dark, cabalistic element. Thus the act from the Netherlands has produced a great debut record in 2018’s Al-Khem-Me, and they return now with The Warlock of Da’ath. The approach for the most is straightforward and goes for the jugular, as Lucifericon evokes the great beasts of the past. Their thrash inspirations are clear with the opener “Obscure And Forsaken,” reaching for a purely sinister quality with the schizoid lead work of “The Veils of Negative Existence.” The glorification of the death metal self follows swiftly, the erratic purposeful progression of “The Iconostasis of Blasphemy” arriving with a relentless tone, paving the way to more oppressive moments like the title track.
Still, Lucifericon don’t isolate themselves in the throwback death metal realm. They instead explore the extreme space, as the blackened qualities of “Khidir’s Urn” suggest. The eerie guitars lead to an introspective acoustic passage, revealing the black metal origins. In the same breath, the manner in which Lucifericon combine an epic presence with this blackened quality in “Ancient Leaning” brings to mind the early experiments of Bathory. Still, the most towering form is achieved when Lucifericon bring in their doom influence.
“Obscure and Forgotten” gives the first taste, yet the Sabbath-ian spirit persists in “Sigillum Azoetia: The Map of Possibility”, creating a grand manifestation. It also grants a slithering quality to the final parts of the title track, coupled with some exquisite lead work. The Warlock of Da’ath showcases the depth of old-school death metal and the potency of the genre. It is a recipe that the likes of Necros Christos have greatly shaped in the modern era, and it is now up to the likes of Lucifericon to progress it further. – Spyros Stasis
Lykotonon – Promethean Pathology (Profound Lore)
Lykoton’s debut release, Promethean Pathology, is a deep dive into the depths of experimental extreme metal. For the act from Denver, the brutality of death metal and the eeriness of black metal can be augmented through additional means. For the first part of Promethean Pathology, the focus is more on the black metal side, the traditional riffing shining in “The Apocryphal Self” and enhanced with an industrial backbone. Melodic inclinations still rise, both the ending of the opener and “The Primal Principle” revealing the act’s intrinsic ability to unleash powerful hooks. The latter half of the record sees the death metal ferocity come to the forefront. “Psychosocratic” is thus brutal and unyielding with a very fitting groove and pace. It is something that Lykotonon revisit throughout, the forceful quality of “That Which Stares in Kind” ramping up the pressure.
While these two scenes are the pillars of Lykotonon, there are other fundamental elements. The industrial quality is front and center, from the moment the precise and repetitive patterns of “The Apocryphal Self” come in, only to be further established by the cold machinations of “Wrested of Solace”. The scenery changes from the post-apocalyptic club scene to a hellish lounge ambiance, something further reinforced by the interlude of “Apeiron”. Futuristic elements rise to the surface, aided by the distorted spoken parts, with the approach bringing back memories of Streetcleaner. Further experimentations with the psychedelic complete the hallucinogenic effect of Promethean Pathology. Krautrock notions and electronic additions come together to great effect, putting the final touches on an excellent drive through extreme experimentalism. – Spyros Stasis
Mycelium – Micotism: Disseminating the Propagules (Blood Harvest)
Death metal tailored around a fungi obsession? Sure, why not? That is the subject matter of Greg Edwards’ new solo project Mycelium and one that is very fitting to the genre’s thematology. With a tongue-in-cheek attitude, Edwards released the act’s cheekily titled debut Scream Bloody Spore in 2021 and now returns with the follow-up Micotism: Disseminating the Propagules. The direction here is quite clear, with Mycelium digging into the well of riches that the death metal tradition has to offer.
Everything across both sides of the Atlantic can be found within the dark corridors of Micotism. The relentless quality and havoc-reeking progression of “Emerging From Rotten Faeces” establishes the American heritage. Edwards invokes the characteristics from the country’s various scenes, the New York style shining with the unyielding procession of the opener and the slam approach of “Urban Leprosy”. Then the swampy stench of “Pulmonary Mycosis” moves the aesthetics to the Florida vibe, before making the transatlantic trip. Aspects of Demilich rise through the chaotic facade of “Xanthodermic Colonic Decimation”, while the guitar distortion and groove scream of the Swedish spirit.
To complete it all off, the polemic, brutal nature of the UK legends comes to the forefront with “Cold Grasp of the Dead”. Mycelium covers a lot of the history of the genre, and despite their quasi-humoristic approach do not think that Micotism does not mean business. This is an extremely well-executed record, technically sound and with a deep understanding of the genre’s heritage. It is fitting to think that Mycelium are currently feeding on the past, and they are in the process of sprouting something more novel in the future. – Spyros Stasis
Ofdrykkja – After the Storm (AOP)
Ofdrykkja have never stood still. The Swedish act set out on a journey of dark, introverted investigation, and yet through the years, they have transformed. The initial raw, aggressive qualities of A Life Worth Losing gave way to grand, post-metallic aspirations with Irrfärd and Gryningsvisor. The latter in particular exhibited a leaning towards a more stripped-down narrative, one that verges on the neofolk tradition. That is where Ofdrykkja pick up the story with After the Storm. The soothing acoustic guitar introduction of “The Light” beautifully weaves this tale of old. It is a clear and pristine characteristic that allows the folk spirit to come alive, with moments like “Själavandring” or to take the leap into Nordic folk territory with “Hårgalåten”.
The stripped-down approach makes the sparse instrumentation feel more fragile, and the vocal delivery sits on top with grace. The dual performance in the title track sees this ethereal presence come together, while the spoken word perspective in closer “Beyond the Belt of Orion” hits that much harder with the utterance of some dark truths, such as the fact that “time is relentless to us all”. In the same breath, Ofdrykkja use this atmosphere to dwell in the post-metal realm. It is something that is first introduced with “The Cleansing” balancing between these two worlds, while “The Mære” reveals a slight touch of the black metal lineage and its trademark guitar playing.
The mileage that Ofdrykkja have traversed in such a short time span is impressive, and the result in After the Storm speaks to the power of both experimentation and tradition. It is very fitting that this record came out in the same month that the great Haavard also made his return. – Spyros Stasis
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