Buñuel – Killers Like Us (Profound Lore)
On paper, Buñuel are a trio of Italian musicians—Afterhours guitarist Xabier Iriondo and Il Teatro Degli Orrori drummer Franz Valente and bassist Andrea Lombardini—joined by none other than Oxbow’s Eugene S. Robinson. On paper, they play caustic, experimental noise rock and industrial blues, not far removed from Chicago’s ONO or Virginia’s Buck Gooter. In reality, their music cannot be condensed so easily. Rather, it’s a living, breathing amalgam of influences, from crushing found sounds and NoMeansNo’s type of noisy punk to sludge in the vein of Eyehategod and power electronics. But beyond the ever-changing and exciting instrumental backdrop, it’s Robinson’s concrete, slam poetry in motion that takes center stage.
The American vocalist and lyricist delivers his lines as if existing in a liminal space between dimensions of anguish and anger, injecting venom in each word as he narrates about the downfall of humanity in all its facets. Yet another album appropriate for our current social and global context, it would seem, with all of the oppression and tragedy encapsulated on the blistering, falling-down-stairs progression of “Roll Call”. “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he roars, “too much of this goddamn muck!” Word. – Antonio Poscic
Cult of Luna – The Long Road North (Metal Blade)
During the 2000s, ISIS were setting the blueprint for the post-metal scene in the States. At the same time, Cult of Luna were slowly setting the foundations for the same sound in the European continent. From early on in their sonic endeavors, Cult of Luna defined their identity. The sludge weight, hardcore lineage, and post-metallic inclinations were clear from their self-titled debut record. And one work after the other, they never deviated much from that identity. Instead, they honed their skills, with each new release surpassing themselves. And this process has now led to their eighth full-length, The Long Road North.
Here, Cult of Luna are as precise and relentless as they have ever been. They are at their best from the get-go with “Cold Burn” as the heavy guitar riffs sparsely accompany the mechanical progression. The grand processional has begun, making it even more imposing through their perfectly placed hooks. Cult of Luna don’t shy away from offering some exquisite melodies despite their weight and hardcore ethos. Cutting through the heavy structures in “Cold Burn”, they awaken a robust emotive response. Similar is the case with “An Offering to the Wild”, with Cult of Luna delivering some excellent lead work, combining the melancholic perspective with a grand manifestation.
Still, as has always been the case for Cult of Luna, where The Long Road North excels is in its dynamics. Since their inception, the Swedish act displayed an intrinsic ability for structuring their music. And sure, post-metal acts have been very good at doing, but Cult of Luna are simply in a league of their own. Everything has its place and purpose in “The Silver Arc”, as the ebbs and flows create a cinematic vision. It is an impeccable way to tell this long-form story, and it makes the process of listening to songs like the title track feel more like journeys through unknown lands. Moments of introverted meditation swap for brutal outbreaks. Subtle atmospherics lead to hardcore inspired breakdowns.
“Blood Upon Stone” sees this methodology to perfection, the riffs morphing throughout its duration to construct this terrifying monument. This mentality leads to a boundless investigation. Suddenly everything is stripped down to the minimal with “Beyond I”, as Mariam Wallentin’s vocals take over to create a moment of transcendental beauty. The initial dynamic touch of “Into The Night” leads to its contradiction as the noise-rock fury comes forth like a raging storm. The psychedelic touch of “The Long Road North” steps outside of the post-metal splendor, diving into bitter hallucinations.
Cult of Luna have not really changed their sound when it comes to progress. Sure, some of the rawness of the past has subsided, and some new elements have been introduced. But, for the most part, the post-metal legends improve their recipe. They know what their identity is, and they just keep working on it with every new step. Not changing it, just making it better. In the process, they have become sages of their sound. So, is The Long Road North different from their previous works? Not really. But is it a necessary listen? Absolutely. – Spyros Stasis
Deathhammer – Electric Warfare (Hells Headbangers)
The loveliest thing about Deathhammer’s vein of blackened thrash metal is how instantly recognizable and utterly consistent it has been over the past decade. So, much like 2018’s Chained to Hell, Electric Warfare is another speed run through the best that both thrash and black metal have to offer distilled to its essential core. As if you took early Sodom and Slayer, sprinkled a bit of Bathory and Venom on top, then froze it all in time. Because of this approach, the album is as good as any from their discography. Blazing, typically grooving thrash riffs find themselves on a rollercoaster looping around blast beats and tremolos with complete abandon. But above all, this is a stupidly fun, epic romp that somehow manages to tastefully blend King Diamond-like falsettos and twirling guitar solos with raw aggression and a filthy bite. – Antonio Poscic
Det Eviga Leendet – Reverence (Amor Fati / Mystiskaos / Extraconscious)
In true black metal fashion, Det Eviga Leendet veiled themselves in an air of mystery before ascending to their native black metal scene. The Swedish act immediately attacked with their debut record, Lenience. Released through the now-defunct Fallen Empire label, Det Eviga Leendet subscribed to the oppressive, modern sound of the genre. Walls of sound were erected, the eeriness of their Norwegian forefathers mutating through a venomous input. Lenience was an excellent introduction to Det Eviga Leendet, and they now return with a more pungent work in Reverence.
With Reverence, Det Eviga Leendet double down on their cataclysmic black metal style. Joined by Mare Cognitum’s Jacob Buczarski on vocals, they are taking their sound to the next level. Walls of guitar set the tone in “Bloom”, building immense sonic structures as the dissonance mercilessly roars. Still, they keep on pushing, with “Retch” seeing them at their most sadistic, as the venomous lead work takes form. While in a different flavor, they use discordance to build this disorienting facade in “Regret” with an utterly chaotic procedure.
All these applications have one result: making Reverence a work of unyielding prowess. Lenience also had that characteristic, but Det Eviga Leendet augmented it further in their sophomore work. “Visage” is an unstable force, the black metal riffology and the cutthroat vocal echoes delivering a killer punch. The martial progression and the snare sound in “Estrange” set the stampede to this unnatural progression. Even when Det Eviga Leendet strip down to ambient interludes, as with parts of “Visage” and “Yield”, they still lose none of their meanness. It ends up making Reverence feel more like a force of nature, a work of pure intensity.
Yet, even though Det Eviga Leendet have a death grip on their dynamics and are as relentless as ever, they still find the time to surprise. Beneath the blastbeats and cacophony of “Yield” lie an astounding depth of sentimentality. Epic and overwhelming, it marches through majestic pathways, reaching a melancholic peak. It is the much-deserved ending to a work of pure catharsis. – Spyros Stasis