Lustmord – The Others [Lustmord Deconstructed] (Pelagic)
There is much to be skeptical about when albums devoted purely to reworked material of an individual artist or band are considered. Throw one or two bigger names on it and slap it together as a bonus disc for a reissue. Yet assuming the same about The Others [Lustmord Deconstructed] —released by Pelagic as part of a box set in celebration of Lustmord’s seminal 2008 album [ O T H E R ]—would be a grave mistake.
Instead of phoning it in, the sixteen musicians and bands that were asked to reinterpret material from [ O T H E R ] and related sessions all managed to create stunning new versions of Brian Williams’s haunting ambient originals. From Enslaved’s muted explosions lost amidst a glacial landscape on the opening “Eon” over The Ocean’s epic post-metal version of “Primal [State of Being]” to Årabrot’s twisted nordic rock take on “The Last Days [See the Light]”, there is not a minute wasted here. Each of the artists keeps true to Lustmord’s atmosphere and authentic intentions, expanding his thick ambient vision by ingraining their own voices, a feat requiring great talent and respect for the music.
This is an album that is best listened from start to finish with songs sequenced so as to weave an invisible thread between its parts. Take, for example, how MONO’s signature post-rock crescendo on “Er Eb Os” explodes into a wave of distortion before submerging into Ihsahn’s thrilling electronic vistas and deep booms on “Dark Awakening.” Or “Primer,” which drones with Jo Quail’s resonating cello that Bohren & der Club of Gore turn into a “Plateau” of seductive doom jazz and smokey saxophone licks. Elsewhere, Jay Jayle sees “Er Eb Es” as a morose, Nick Cave-like dark ballad, while Godflesh provide a counterpoint with the industrial riffs and grating beats of “Ashen.” A stupendous album and perhaps one of the best of its kind out there. – Antonio Poscic
Purgatory – Apotheosis of Anti Light (War Anthem)
Challenging Undeath for the title of best (traditional) death metal album of the month we have Germany’s Purgatory. While the band has been around for about three decades now, they have remained largely under the radar, unassumingly releasing (apparently excellent) LPs every few years. It’s a shame because judging by their ninth full-length Apotheosis of Anti Light, they deserve much more exposure and praise.
Led by founding members Lutz Göhzold (drums) and René Kögel (vocals, guitars), Apotheosis sees the five-piece dish out nine cuts of absolutely blazing death metal enveloped by a filthy yet warm sound. Their style lives somewhere between old school and more contemporary understandings of the genre as if you mixed Autopsy, Cannibal Corpse, and mid-era Behemoth. Throughout, the riffing is immense and supported by a sublime sense of pacing, then completed with a plethora of breaks that allow the band to change tempos and rhythms, from brutal blasts on tracks like “Ropes in November (Samhain’s Curse Part III)” to slower, nigh doom-death dirges and grooves on “The Moaning of Dismal Halls.” – Antonio Poscic
Pyrithe – Monuments to Impermanence (Gilead Media)
The seeds sowed by the early proponents of the progressive sludge scene have led to a blossoming new wave of artists. What has been interesting about this new crop is their ability to encompass more modes than their predecessors. Instead of balancing between the doom weight and hardcore beatdowns, adding slight off-kilter flourishes, they go further. A prime example of this approach has been Inter Arma, who display a boundless perspective. And now, a new addition comes to the fold with Pyrithe, who are about to unleash their debut record Monuments to Impermanence.
The foundation still lies in the sludge sound. The second half of opener “Asurviance” makes that very clear, the heavy riffs rushing down and the hardcore groove building a monumental procession. On the more destructive side, Pyrithe relish in the dissonant despair of “Luminous”, while further descent into the abyss sees a drone perspective come to light, with the second half of “Glioblastoma”. But, this foundation is not rigid, it is merely a suggestion. Pyrithe instinctively move onto adjacent areas, their love for post-hardcore showing. Drawing from a Converge-inspired ethos, they approach in a grim and angry fashion. Complexity emerges with hostility and the push/pull narrative of “Glioblastoma” rises, while the very early Mastodon take passionately appears in “Ekphrastik I”. And still, Pyrithe carry on with their post-metallic treatments. The rhythm section of “Earthen Anchors” mirrors the majesty of Tool, albeit heavier, while the otherworldly and atmospheric approach of “Ekphrastik II – Gifts of Impermanence” takes a queue from ISIS.
And yet, this only begins to scratch the surface. What Pyrithe relish is chaos and psychedelia. They make this abundantly clear from the start of “Asurviance”, where noise rock discordance and post-hardcore progressions merge into this strange improvisational take. This actually takes a page from Sumac’s latter days, with the free-spirited approach erratically moving through different sceneries. At the same time, “In Praise of the Enochian Trickster” sees a krautrock perspective, flooding the sonic field with a psychedelic intuition. It is easily one of the highlights of the record, showcasing a very unique take. And it is exactly that type of approach that makes Monuments to Impermanence an astounding debut. – Spyros Stasis
QAALM – Resilience & Despair (Hypaethral)
There’s a line, an often-used adage that appears in promo blurbs describing bands as “arriving fully formed” when releasing their debuts. Most often it seems a roundabout way of saying that while the album might be the particular group’s first, amateurs they are not. But in the case of LA-based QAALM, this remark rings with a deeper truth.
Resilience & Despair is not only an excellent first showing but also a work that takes the motionless doctrines of funeral doom and warps them into something new, something that only a seasoned group should be capable of doing. Adding elements of sludge, noise, dark ambient, black metal, and post-metal, the quintet creates a moving and often empowering work that visits both the lowest lows and soaring highs of humanity. The four tracks build off from one another and unleash a sea of dissonant roars and screams, only to find an unexpected, beautifully ugly melody within it. Building and destroying throughout, there are moments of staggering beauty sprinkled along the way, like the amazing groove and undulating melodies of “Existence Asunder.” Elsewhere, on “Lurking Death” things become harder and forceful as grooves become accentuated by shrieking guitar leads and the lush growl of cellos to give an affecting ending to an utterly affecting album. – Antonio Poscic
Satan – Earth Infernal (Metal Blade)
Listening to their new LP Earth Infernal, I can’t help but wonder what sort of deal with the devil members of English heavy metal band Satan had to make. Originally a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the two albums they released during their first run in the 1980s were solid efforts that didn’t stray too far from the scene that surrounded them at the time. But contrary to most comeback stories, it’s their second coming in the 2010s—two decades after their 1987 record Suspended Sentence!—that fully realized the band’s potential with what is, even more surprisingly, basically their original lineup. So you see, it has to be some sort of magic.
Earth Infernal, their sixth (!) full length, fits right into the narrative started with 2013 Life Sentence and delivers heavy metal which blends classic NWoBHM straight from the eighties and a more contemporary style. Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins’ galloping rhythms and twin-guitar attacks are woven around a mischievous, almost progressive sense of flow, reminiscent of acts such as (The Lord Weird) Slough Feg, Hammers of Misfortune, and even the techno dystopian sci-fi thrash of Voivod.
At times they sound menacing as lower tuned grumbling riffs open up spaces for screaming leads and solos. At others, they trade leather for spandex and find themselves in upbeat call-and-response exchanges, as Sean Taylor’s rolling drums and Graeme English’s pumping bass lines create the perfect trampoline for Brian Ross’s sky-reaching vocal escapades and occasional Ghost-like harmonized choruses. Retro, yes, but never old-fashioned, Earth Infernal is a near-perfect modern heavy metal record. – Antonio Poscic
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