Cryptworm – Spewing Mephitic Putridity (Me Saco Un Ojo)
Back in the good old days™, the combination of the Bristol-based duo’s Cryptworm name and the gorgeously gruesome cover for their debut LP Spewing Mephitic Putridity would have been more than enough to grab my attention while browsing through a record store’s death metal section. While we have in large part lost this physical and tactile aspect of album discovery, the music contained here more than lives up to its packaging.
Tibor Hanyi on bass, guitars, and vocals and Joe Knight on drums create a slimy, filthy, and utterly malevolent sort of death metal. They mix together the foulest elements of Cannibal Corpse and Carcass, sprinkle them with a bit of Suffocation-like tech dissonance, and splatter this soup from hell all over slabs of grooves and brutal romps. Among this chaos and constant slowing down/speeding up, riffs reign supreme, as Hanyi unleashes some gnarly, super tasty death metal guitar figures. – Antonio Poscic
E-L-R – Vexier (Prophecy)
Intersections between doom and shoegaze are not necessarily novel. This sonic area was heavily examined by many greats in the likes of Jesu, Nadja, and The Angelic Process. Still, through the years the doomgaze scene has flourished. The next generation became more adventurous, it saw the rise of acts like Planning For Burial and Spotlights emerge. And recently, it is through the ranks of Prophecy that some very promising artists have appeared. Just a few months back, Illudium released their sophomore work in Ash of the Womb and it is now E-L-R’s turn with Vexier.
Following their debut full-length, Maenad, E-L-R continue to subscribe to this heavy, atmospheric intersection. Caught between doom and shoegaze, part metallic, part alternative, they bring together the best of both worlds. The elusive shoegaze of course defines most of Vexier, clear as day from the opening strums in “Opiate Sun”. It is something that ties in naturally with this persistent progression. Circular and repetitive it makes for a hazy application. The second part of “Three Winds” greatly reveals that quality, while “Seeds” takes it further. An overwhelming force is greatly enhanced through the beautiful vocal delivery.
What is curious is that E-L-R do not take on the trademark over-the-top distortion of shoegaze. Here they stand on a more metallic ground. It aids with the doom presence, revealing this strangely alternative Sabbath-ian lineage. “Fleurs of Decay” rampages through the doom-laden distortion, but it still becomes absorbed by its own psychedelia. E-L-R still take things further, infusing black metal elements, as with the furious start to “Three Winds”. Once more they bend them to their holistic approach, blurring the lines between shoegaze and heavy music. This approach is capable of awakening an emotive spirit, projected through a heavy, metallic character. Again, this is not necessarily new ground, but E-L-R reveal a great understanding of the intricacies of their sound and influences. – Spyros Stasis
Falls of Rauros – Key to a Vanishing Future (Gilead)
Just like clockwork, every two or three years Falls of Rauros return with their new offering. Now, the black metal band from Portland follows up a very strong release Patterns in Mythology, with Key to a Vanishing Future. And for the most part, many of the usual suspects are still here. The progressive concepts, the melodic inclinations, and subtle experimentation are all present. Yet, they still shine a different light on their atmospheric black metal brew.
There is a constant struggle between melody and dissonance. The cacophonous edge ties nicely with the aggressive outbreaks, boosting the intensity. The bitter parts of “Desert of the Heart” and the abrupt and malicious second half of ‘Known Worlds Narrow” are prime examples of this methodology. It is a primal self that comes forth, but as is the case with “Poverty Hymn”, it does not leave behind the melodic self. It is the lead work here that works wonders. Tying in with the obvious atmospheric tinges, Falls of Rauros bring a nostalgic lyricism to the front. Different modes are visited here. The doom leaning of “Survival Poem” provides more weight, while the weaving melodies of “Daggers in Floodlight” create intricate patterns.
Still, what defines Key to a Vanishing Future is its progressive edge. Falls of Rauros have always displayed a high technical aptitude and an allure towards the progressive rock sound. But here, it is front and center. From the very opening of “Clarity” the precise drumming and articulate lead work set the tone. And on top of that, in an underplayed manner there is a rich abundance of audio effects applications. It tilts the whole endeavor to adventurous pathways, solidifying the progressive tonality with an experimental attitude. And still, it is all about the songwriting and the balance. In any case, Falls of Rauros continue to do what they do best. Key to a Vanishing Future does not disappoint one bit. – Spyros Stasis
Hath – All That Was Promised (Willowtip)
While the sophomore release by Hath doesn’t see the New Jersey group reinvent their sound, there are enough smaller evolutionary steps that make it a distinct release from 2019’s Of Rot and Ruin. It’s something that can be easily detected within the first minute of opener “The Million Violations”—All That Was Promised is a more focused and driven album, with both the “black” and “death” parts of their progressive blackened death metal taking center stage, while sludge and progressive traits take on a supporting role.
Throughout the nine cuts, the band hands out slabs of super heavy and punishing melodic death metal wrapped in groove and aggression reminiscent of Inter Arma. And when they do allow themselves moments of brooding atmospheres and acoustic passages to act as respite like on “All That Was Promised”, it’s only to prepare for the next onslaught of beautifully discordant and grandiose fusion of black and death metal. – Antonio Poscic
Hell Militia – Hollow Void (Season of Mist)
The return of the purists. It has been ten years since Hell Militia unleashed their third full-length, Jacob’s Ladder. In that time, quite a few things have occurred. Original vocalist Meyhnach (famously of Mutiilation) has departed, and also Marianne Séjourné has sadly passed away. So, in what state do we find these French black metal commandos? Well, you should not be surprised to know that they are radiating the same hatred. With the inclusions of RSDX (ex-Bethlehem/Funeral Winds/Goat Torment), Saroth (Temple of Baal, Crucifixion, and live member of Aosoth), Hell Militia return with a vengeance in Hollow Void.
Not being part of the initial French black metal wave, the sound of Hell Militia has been molded in both their native scene’s past and also in the Scandinavian lineage. Fragments of Aosoth’s malicious, cycling dissonance shine in “The Highest Fall”, while the unstoppable Antaeus mentality comes fast and blazing in “Kingdoms Scorched”. And still, much of the methodology is sourced from the likes of Darkthrone and Mayhem. On one hand, this bitter minimalism is constantly pummeling in “Genesis Undone” and the first part of “Within the Maze”. It creates this grey-ish imagery, devoid of any real color. Coupled with some venomous lead work, shining grimly in “Veneration”, it really shows the darkest intents from Hell Militia. Still, what stands out is the cyclothymic aggression of Mayhem, poured through dissonance and eeriness. “Dust of Time ” oozes with this blueprint, while the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas influence further roars in “Corruption Rejoice”.
There really are no surprises from Hell Militia. They continue to relish the core black metal darkness. And to this day, they are as furious as ever. Their sound shines like obsidian steel. And it arrives with conviction, unwavering through the fact that they have stayed dormant for a decade. So, if you are looking for something sinister, to rekindle the original purpose of black metal, you cannot go wrong with Hollow Void. – Spyros Stasis