Excarnated Entity – Mass Grave Horizon (Nuclear Winter)
Excaranated Entity features veterans of two dearly missed acts in Triumvir Foul and Anhedonist. This information alone can give you a good idea of what to expect with their debut record, Mass Grave Horizon. Without fanfare, Excarnated Entity offer their direct and brutal take on death/doom. The death metal lineage is undeniable, its fingerprints all over “Carcinogen Shroud” and the title track. The flurry of blastbeats, stomping rhythms, and torturous riffs is potent and brings to mind the early days of Morbid Angel. This is also mirrored in the progression, which at times can be martial and meticulous in its ruthlessness, as in “Irradiated Shadows”. Yet, at other times it feels freer, chaotic in its extreme lashings as with “Corridor of Flame”.
This love for the early days of death metal brutality naturally calls upon the guttural visions of Autopsy. Dropping the tempo in moments like “The Butcher’s Puplit” lets in this doom essence, and opens up the palette. Soon enough, the very early UK sound rashes in. The lead work takes a cue from the Towards the Sinister era of My Dying Bride, radiating with fierce emotion and mourning in “Gallery of Defeat”. It is an interesting dichotomy that Excarnated Entity balance. On one hand, the twisted and contorted death metal malformity brings an infernal element. On the other end, the clear melody pierces through the veils of brutality, much like in Paradise Lost’s Lost Paradise. Yet, this is exactly where the true magic of this scene lies, and Excarnated Entity have captured it. – Spyros Stasis
Fabricant – Drudge to the Thicket (Profound Lore)
Sometimes it takes a while to fully form and complete creative ideas. Fabricant started working on Drudge to the Thicket in 2010, ultimately releasing a couple of demos before disbanding around 2014. Luckily, the desire to complete this forgotten work was too strong to resist, and Fabricant eventually returned in 2019. The final form of Drudge to the Thicket shows just how ahead of their time Fabricant was. Sure, technical death metal is going through a rejuvenation, yet the California act really peeked into the future with this one. Fabricant admired the direct, yet virtuosic approach of Demilich, this barbaric but cerebral aspect showing in “Headless”. They dived deep into the dark unknown with the sci-fi inspirations of Timeghoul, their overwhelming approach showing in “Borderland Vigil”. Add a touch of the deadly playfulness of Atheist, with Fabricant showing their jazzy teeth in “Song of Stillness”, and you really have something special.
Balancing between the technical and brutal aspects of death metal, Fabricant produce a work that relishes the off-kilter elements of the scene. The nauseating, dizzying riffs of “Prey to Whom”, the bizarre scales of “Demigod Prototype” and the circling repetitions of the title track produce this awkward result. The groove follows suit, interchanging between the heavy and the erratic in “Eloper’s Revelation”. Technically alone, this is one of the most solid works you will hear this year, something that both the intricate guitar patterns and drumming suggest. The start/stop switches in “Adrift the Sleepless Swarm” and the dizzying changes in “Disjunct” perfectly showcase this. We should all be very pleased that Fabricant did not give and finally delivered this excellent debut. – Spyros Stasis
Filth Is Eternal – Find Out (MNRK Heavy)
Filth Eternal have evolved. Their debut record was a direct and uncompromising punk assault, thriving through aggressive progression, poignant lyrics, and an unstoppable energy. In many ways, Find Out still features these aspects but re-focuses them. At the core, the hardcore punk lineage remains strong driving through skate punk territories with “Crawl Space”, volatile settings in “Last Exit” and the trademark primal progression of the genre in “Curious Thing”. However, instead of the dark and oppressive approach of Suffrage, taking a cue from the likes of Cursed, there is a more traditional quality this time around. It shows with the dropped tempo of “Cherish” and especially “Loveless”, mirroring Black Flag’s approach to My War.
But while aggression has been restrained, the immediacy is still boundless. The grooves are exhilarating, and the melodic hooks are undeniable. The punk ‘n’ roll attitude of “Roll Critical” and “Into the Curse” fits perfectly in this modus operandi, and opens up the way to anthemic moments like “The Gate”. Yet, Filth Is Eternal find places to drop hints of their more extreme past. They channel the grindcore energy in the opening track while showing off their love for old-school Swedish death metal with “Pressure Me”. These inclinations are always controlled, Filth Is Eternal never losing focus of their end goal, but their presence adds a nice twist. It is something that augments the experience of an already thrilling ride. – Spyros Stasis
Final Gasp – Mourning Moon (Relapse)
From their early demos, Final Gasp’s punk gravitated towards new wave. 2019’s Baptism of Fire had a fervent and aggressive approach but was coupled with an otherworldly and melodic sense. Fast forward to 2023, and Final Gasp have mastered this balance, delivering an overarching work with an identity torn between different scenes. “Climax Infinity” showcases this marriage of opposites, structured around a doom weight but with an ethereal goth presence. Post-metallic elements come forth, especially prevalent in “14 Gates”, before the Samhain-derived punk self resumes.
Final Gasp bounce between so many different modes. The soulful yet detached touch of Killing Joke shows up with “Frozen Gate” and “Rows of Heaven”. Then it is a dive into the off-kilter outcasts of punk, with “Homebound” and “The Vanishing” resurrecting the inharmonicity of Die Kruzen. At times it feels like the punk core tries to escape, “Blood And Sulfur” tightly controlled so as to not explode into a D-beat. And then high octane heavy/thrash metallic riffs are tightly held beneath the silky melodies of “Temptation”. Yet, through this excellent control, Final Gasp do not lose their focus in crafting exquisite songs, be it through the no-holds-barred violence of “Unnatural Law”, or the distorted image of Echo & The Bunnymen’s opus “The Killing Moon” that is the title track. – Spyros Stasis
Grails – Anches En Maat (Temporary Residence)
Grails have excelled in taking experimental rock and turning it into an all-immersive experience. It is as true today as it was with the release of the 2003 debut record, The Burden of Hope. What is even more impressive is that in order for them to achieve this end result they rely mostly on fundamentals. Throughout Anches En Maat, there are elements ranging from soft rock to Americana, which Grails contort to meet their goal. The velvet smooth guitar licks of “Sad & Illegal” reveal the rock balladry, while the title track’s repetitive lines create an endless dreamscape. On the other end, the slight twang of “Evening Song” brings the Americana quality into view, while touches of dub and electronica complete the scenery. The latter is particularly impressive through the mechanical aspirations of “Viktor’s Night Map” and the serene progression of “Black Rain”.
Still, when everything is put together, the highlight is the cinematic attribute that Grails bring to life. At times it is a darklit lounge, the jazzy themes of the title track setting a relaxed tone. Yet, there is another side, a more open space, beautiful in its solitude. It feels like something that has come out of Paris, Texas as the slight western scenery appears in “Sisters of Bilities”.” Still, there are more abstract levels that Grails reach for, with “Pool of Gems” diving into the ambient abyss with its minimal applications. No matter the case, the end result is a record you can just repeat infinite times and lose yourself in its magic. As is the case with the entire discography of Grails. – Spyros Stasis
Great Falls – Objects Without Pain (Neurot)
Emotion and feeling are always important in music. Yet, there are certain cases when these can become essential. Great Falls have a particular insight on that relationship, informing their dark hardcore with even darker thematics. Having amassed an excellent discography since the 2010s, the act’s latest work Objects Without Pain finds them at their finest. There are just so many elements that weave this story.
The noise rock presence offers a brutal and harsh medium, building intensity in “Old Words Worn Thin”, and causing confusion and chaos in the Swans-ian approach of “Spill Into the Aisle”. It is something that naturally leads into an off-balanced approach with the mathcore of “Born As an Argument” and “Ceilings Inc Closer”, mirroring the unkind unpredictability of life. It does not stop there for Great Falls, as they allow to be consumed by complete disorder in “Trap Feeding”, a primal self that is devoured in pure noise with “The Starveling”.
Within this mold, the atmosphere is vital, and it is where Great Falls truly succeed. Droning guitars and synthetic percussion adorn the vast space of “Dragged Home Alone”. Yet, Objects Without Pain reaches further depths. Post-metallic notions come together, echoing the spirit of Souls at Zero, letting in the sludge weight for additional impact. But, it is simple ideas that drive the message home. The cyclical quality of the opening track, the repetitive mantra “there is no escape” uttered ad nauseam. It is something that achieves complete hypnosis in moments like the closer, “Thrown Against the Waves”, a tumultuous recital filled with pain and suffering. Objects Without Pain proudly stands among the excellent bleak works that post-hardcore has offered in recent times. – Spyros Stasis