The end of 2022 is approaching fast, yet the stream of great extreme music has not slowed down one bit. This month’s 20 releases once again prove that a stunning collection of works across the spectrum of what is considered extreme and experimental. From different approaches to post-metal, to psychedelic takes on black and death metal to experimental electronic applications, noise infusions, post-punk, and screamo offerings. An overall great bunch of records for you to sink your teeth into. – Spyros Stasis
Abduction – Black Blood (Candlelight)
Abduction’s A|V might have signed for a big label, but sell out he did not. Black Blood, the UK-based one-person project’s fourth LP, is another slab of tasty, blacker-than-black metal that veers between rawer, vicious expressions and technically inclined segments. It also manages to find spaces in which to incorporate bits of death metal, melodic licks, and atmospheric folk ruminations à la Appalachian black metal. “A Psylacybic Death” and “In Exaltation of the Supreme Being”, with Revenant Marquis and the Sun’s Journey Through the Night’s None One as guest vocalists on each respective track, are particularly strong and offer perfect closure to a generally excellent album. – Antonio Poscic
Apparitions – Eyes Like Predatory Wealth (The Garrote)
Structurally, the music of Apparitions―the trio of Andrew Dugas on guitar, Grant Martin on drums, and Igor Imbu on modular synthesizers―has more in common with serialism, free improvisation/spontaneous composition, and aleatoric music than metal or similar sonically extreme but fairly by-the-numbers genres. Backed by an intricate conceptual and musical framework, the three cuts on Eyes Like Predatory Wealth―ten, 20, and 30 minutes long, respectively―were formed around a set of self-imposed rules and philosophical narratives, while each of the players followed this abstract score individually and geographically dislocated, only to layer their parts together as a final step.
Then the first waves of Sunn O)))-evoking droning guitar feedback and spastic, fulgurating drum patterns in the style of Paal Nilssen-Love or Balázs Pándi hit the ears, and the theoretical schema suddenly no longer matters. Instead, the music’s intrinsic characteristics start pulling you in. Dynamic revolutions in the vast, dense textures create spaces for fluttery chimes, bristling percussion, and gently expanding synths, while a larger-than-life crescendo of overdriven guitars and paint-stripping sludge swallows everything. As a whole, Eyes is a remarkable piece of music residing in a fairly singular niche occupied by SUMAC’s collaborations with Japanese noise maestro Keiji Haino and Pándi’s works with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow. – Antonio Poscic
Ateiggär – Tyrannemord (Eisenwald)
Historically, Switzerland has been known to produce quality over quantity in the extreme music space. Yet, it looks like their current black metal wave arrives in a higher dose, while still retaining the standard. The latest addition to the country’s black metal circle, the Helvetic Underground Committee, is Ateiggär, whose debut record Tyrannemord thrives in the melodic vein of 1990s black metal. There is a lot of Emperor, circa Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, that has defined Ateiggär’s vision. Melody merges with dissonance in “En Stille Feind”, the grand perspective brought to the surface while a relentless progression ensues. The sheer force of “Die Nacht droht fyschter mir” is elevated through the symphonic underpinnings, while the folk influence in “Chron’ und Tod” adds a haunting perspective.
Ateiggär elegantly explore the surroundings of their majestic foundation. At times they move towards the theatrical, as with “Iserni Plag” taking on subtle Dodheimsgard characteristics and an Aldrahn-like vocal performance spawning through. It is something that finds them reaching towards the experimental, as closer “Din Lyb ziert de Altar” showcases with the over-the-top synths. On the other hand, they relish a fierce and relentless quality, taking on elements of the mighty Kvist in “Us Lychegiftig Schlaf Verwached”, or some of the unearthly, trance-inducing dissonance of Blut Aus Nord. The dedication to the past makes Tyrannemord such an enticing ride, and even though it has not granted Ateiggär a unique voice (at least yet), it has molded a very strong debut. – Spyros Stasis
Blacklist – Afterworld (Profound Lore)
Now, this is a blast from the past. Blacklist made their debut appearance with Midnight of the Century back in 2009, honing their pop sensibility with metallic and post-punk elements. The act featuring members of Vaura and Cult of Youth would then fall silent, only to return today with their sophomore record Afterworld. Although Blacklist have kept many of their intrinsic qualities, the immediacy, and the new wave adoration, they have also smoothed their sound. They now favor an ethereal quality rather than a darker edge, they tilt towards dreaminess instead of taking advantage of the explosive.
Afterworld in many ways feels like an understated work. There is a natural flow that defines the record, something that really shines in the percussion-less “Pathfinder” and “Scarlet Horizon”. The rich tradition of new wave and post-punk then takes over, the darkwave quality enshrining “The Final Resistance” while a dance-infused motif defines “Nightbound”. Blacklist’s morphing quality is capable of altering the perspective, at times appearing in the pre-industrial guise of Killing Joke with “No Good Answers” and then applying Slowdive-like shoegaze with “In Shadow Light”. No matter the case, what makes everything stick together is the immediacy and catchiness of this work, perfectly illustrated in “Lovers In Mourning” and “Behind the Veil of the Living World”. As well as its hauntingly beautiful melodic touch, which brings to life opener “Fires of Black November” and “A Stranger in This Century”. – Spyros Stasis
Blightcaster – Blightcaster (Danse Noire)
In the depths of the electronic underworld, we descend. A mysterious duo, collaborating across the globe from London to Melbourne, has entered the fold. Blightcaster is a force to be reckoned with, and their self-titled debut masterfully conjures the vulgar quality of extreme music. From the ominous introduction with “Hymns From the Slaughterhouse”, this feels like a daunting adventure. The manner in which the duo creates abstract forms from the noise lineage is exquisite, giving an incredible aspect. The slithering drones of “Disgraced Species” loom over a ruined, decaying world. Yet, this minimal application is not Blightcaster’s sole gear. “Mind Unleashed” sees the full force of power electronics deployed with the single purpose of annihilation. It provides a feeling of twisted grandeur, one that shines perfectly in “Incel/Femcel”, a dystopian scenery that might as have sprouted out of the mind of J.G. Ballard.
In the midst of this storm, Blightcaster find a kinship to the punk scene. “Miserable, Mediocre, Nothing” explores this lineage, an unholy spawn between the extremes of two scenes. Spikey noise and the unstable progression come together in perfect unison. Even more strained is the approach with “Devastator Slug”, with the duo mimicking a grind quality. The synthetic percussion reaches towards a blastbeat-like progression while still dropping hints of the hardcore groove. Yet, within the chaos, there are still moments of strange serenity. “A Soldier and a Philosopher” greatly applies pads to craft majestic imagery, the chant-like motifs working towards a dark, introverted meditation. Even further, Blightcaster unleash perfect hooks in the quasi-anthemic “Weaponised Banter”. The manner in which the main theme of the track is exploited, being revisited time and time again, is just astounding. In the end, only one thing is certain; our flesh is unprepared for their gifts. – Spyros Stasis
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