MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Albums of June 2021

Summer is upon us, and we have some heavy tunes to go with it.

Somnuri – Nefarious Wave (Blues Funeral)

Brooklyn’s Somnuri carry the flame of the progressive sludge scene that dominated during the early 2000s. A relatively new entity, Somnuri emerged with their self-titled debut back in 2017. Despite its raw presentation, clinging to the dirty distorted sludge lineage Somnuri displayed some intriguing treats. Sudden outbreaks of fierce pace and aggression, like the almost black metal-esque explosion in “Same Skies” and the grand, atmospheric investigations of “Through the Dead” showed that this could be a diamond in the rough. Now Somnuri return with their sophomore record prepared to fulfill the promises of their debut. 

Nefarious Wave is a more well rounded offering. Production-wise, Somnuri have taken great steps forward, allowing the intricacies of their sound to shine. Diving into Nefarious Wave, it is the aggressive and in-your-face side of progressive sludge that hooks you. “Tied to Stone”, with its high octane progression, brings to mind the fury of Mastodon circa Blood Mountain, while the Baroness melodic touch is always just a step away. From there, Somnuri really put the pedal to the metal here with “Tooth and Nail” seeing brutal vocalizations and the grizzly pace making for one harsh experience, while the drive of “Beyond Your Last Breath” is surreal. Still, the vocal delivery shines in these moments, with the backing clean vocals playing a pivotal role in adding depth to the endeavor.

This is also where the switch up occurs for Somnuri, slightly turning down the speed and elongating the compositions. Prog ideas are further explored in “Watch the Lights Go Out”, the ethereal quality is fully unveiled with “The Grey”, and the title track in grand fashion completes this work. In many ways, Somnuri have paid tribute to a much-beloved scene, and they have made its sound their own. The only question remaining is whether they will be able to extend it and further innovate upon it. But, that is for another day. Now we can enjoy the excellent result of their labors in Nefarious Wave. – Spyros Stasis 

Thy Catafalque – Vadak (Season of Mist)

It is quite astounding to see where Thy Catafalque has arrived. Listening to the raw sound, energy and open-mindedness of the project’s early works in Microcosmos and Tűnő Idő Tárlat next to the pristine and direct approach of 2020’s Naiv and now its successor Vadak, is quite a revelation. Thy Catafalque has shifted and changed forms through the years, be it in a band format or with Tamás Kátai surrounded by an array of guests. Yet, the one thing that remains is the intrinsic sense of wonder that their compositions could bring. In recent years, Kátai is attempting to balance between an extravagant avant-gardism, holding onto multiple genres and influences while still retaining a straightforward message. That was the case with Naiv, and it continues with Vadak.

In large part, the black metal harshness that defined much of Thy Catafalque’s past has evaporated. There are still instances when the beast roars, in the likes of “Móló” and the title track, but most of the metallic influence takes on a more traditional approach. The lead work oozes with this classic presence, reaching for heavy metal grandeur in “Az energiamegmaradá,s törvénye”. At the same time the use of synthesizers and their choice of sound tilts the scale towards the more psychedelic and atmospheric, not unlike what the more adventurous forces of the Finnish and Dutch scenes ushered into extreme music.

From there on, there’s a plethora of injections. Sly industrial implementations emerge in “Móló” with an electronic/rock hybrid take. There are subtle jazz basslines and freestyling in “Gomboc”. A rich folkloric spirit shines in “Kiscsikó (Irénke dala)”. There are with the wonderful red pipes in the hit of the album that is “Köszöntsd a hajnalt”. So, even though the days of old have passed for Thy Catafalque, there is still a lot of ground that Kátai is covering, and it is really worth experiencing these new adventures. – Spyros Stasis 

Trialogos – Stroh Zu Gold (Exile on Mainstream)

Unveiled in Roadburn Redux, Trialogos is the new project from three exciting artistic minds in Conny Ochs, Sicker Man, and Kiki Bohemia. Looking at their discographies and musical roots, it is not obvious how a collaboration between the three would work. Ochs has been exploring a very personal brand of heavy Americana. Sicker Man pursues the extremes of indie rock through electronic and noise means. Bohemia’s 2008 full-length All the Beautiful gleefully hopped across the board combining pop music and trip hop with ambient and neofolk ideas. So, the common denominator is not necessarily something aural but rather something intellectual. A forward-thinking attitude turned into a conversation between the artists in their debut Stroh Zu Gold.

Trialogos feel very much like a discussion between the three collaborators. And like any conversation, it needs to be free-flowing. It all starts in an elusive and ambient manner, the formless quality of “Lavu Santu” applying a dark veil over the scenery before the astral journey commences. It’s through the krautrock motifs that Ochs, Sicker Man, and Bohemia strive for enlightenment as the title track unfolds with its otherworldly form. One track merges into the next, Trialogos keeping the momentum alive as the no-wave flourishes of “Batdance” carry on and are completed by combining folk heritage and avantgarde-isms in the unlikely marriage of traditional acoustic guitars and fierce cello havoc in “Il Terzo Sogno”.

Here, tradition prevails as “Mali:Berlin” sets off in folk pathways, before the resumption of ambient bliss with “Wellenreiter”. A bitter turn with the devastating “Rip Current” plunges the Stroh Zu Gold in a drone/doom abyss, only for the final chapter, “Hikikomori” to close out this work in dreamlike fashion splitting the focus between the folky and the ambient. It is rare to find a work that can retain a focused progression while also spreading its scope to include multiple dimensions. Yet, that is exactly what Trialogos does with Stroh Zu Gold. – Spyros Stasis 

Warmoon Lord – Battlespells (Werewolf)

A relatively new entity, Warmoon Lord is the project of Juuso Peltola (aka Vechi Vrajitor), a prolific musician of the Finnish underground metal scene. Vrajitor’s focus is wide; he has participated in projects across the board, from traditional heavy metal and doom/heavy to synthwave and dungeon synth. In the case of Warmoon Lord, Vrajitor conjures all his love and admiration for Scandinavian black metal. Gathering a storm filled with tinges of bitter black metal riffs, ambient passages, epic outbreaks, and stunning melodies, Warmoon Lord unleash their sophomore work in Battlespells.

On a shallow level, Warmoon Lord perform a tour de force of epic black metal. The introduction of “Virtus Tenebris” oozes with a Bathory-ian perspective as big, open riffs conjure snowy winds in full might. Still, the second black metal wave is the driving force, with Warmoon Lord opting for the darkened majesty of Emperor, shining brightly in the start of “Purging Nefarious Vortex”. The keys here are of particular importance, adding richness and depth to the storytelling of Vrajitor while the brutal assault carries on.

However, where Warmoon Lord offers a pivotal differentiation is incorporating more traditional metallic ideas. Many of the guitar parts, particularly solo work, carry the classic heavy metal DNA showcasing a different gear for Vrajitor. The final couple of minutes of “Empowered With Battlespells” sees this quality truly shine and stands in contrast with the more brutal and unforgiving black metal moments in “Of a Moribund Vision” and “In Perennial Twilight”. A nice dose of dungeon synth, something that probably carries over from Vrajitor’s Old Sorcery project, adds a heavier atmospheric twist in “The Key of The Moonpiercer” with a folk twist. Small augmentations like these do not see Warmoon Lord break new ground per se, but they add to the already excellently executed Battlespells. – Spyros Stasis