The last month of 2021 arrived with an insane combination of experimental and extreme works. Corroded Spiral sees Igor Cavalera and Integrity’s Dwid Hellion venture into the realm of electronica, while New Age Doom call upon the spirit of Lee “Scratch” Perry for a trip through the jazz/drone cosmos. At the same time, Kayo Dot continue to traverse their kaleidoscopic multi-genre crossover vision with Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike.
On the other hand, the darkness of the underground spread even further. Cadaveric Fumes sadly unleash their swansong in the retro death metal scene, while Malignant Altar merge the old-school ethos with excellent technical precision and execution. With their hardcore inclinations, Genocide Pact carry on the old traditions, making the likes of Obituary, Autopsy, and Bolt Thrower proud. Yet, the pinnacle of darkness is reached with the orthodox black metal return of two pivotal forces of the scene in Ofermod and Funeral Mist. That and much more for December, so dig in! – Spyros Stasis
Cadaveric Fumes – Echoing Chambers of Soul (Blood Harvest)
While France’s Cadaveric Fumes have been around since 2011 and released several lauded EPs since Echoing Chambers of Soul is their debut full-length album. It will also be their last. For personal reasons—and the world is a fucked up place in general right now—the four members decided to call it quits ahead of recording this album. In turn, this allowed them the freedom to record whatever they felt like playing.
In comparison to their adventurous sounding EPs that bridged various non-metal influences, it might come as a surprise how typically death metal Echoing Chambers sounds. As it turns out, that’s the whole point of it: an album decidedly traditional yet written and played to perfection. The seven cuts here show that Cadaveric Fumes have succeeded in their mission by cobbling together an awesome monster from bouts of synthetic dissonance, purring tremolos, frizzling solos, and leads bumbling bass and drum lines, with a sprinkling of diabolical growls to tie them all together. The style might be classic, but their sound is fresh and inspired. It teeters on the edge between aggressive death metal and doom-death, trading blow-by-blow slow-moving grooves and blast beats, all of them coalescing into a nigh impeccable swansong. – Antonio Poscic
Corroded Spiral – Ancient Nocturnal Summoning (Phantom Limb)
Corroded Spiral is the latest collaboration of some very forward-thinking individuals from the extreme music scene. There is no denying that original Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera and Integrity frontperson Dwid Hellion are figures that pushed extreme music in new and exciting directions. Here, the two are joined by exciting producer Luis Carban aka Cardopusher, an explorer of the acid and techno scenes, who has collaborated with the likes of iconoclastic producer Arca.
The first specimen from this joining of minds is Ancient Nocturnal Summoning. And here, the trio just roam in the abstracted realm of electronic music. This is where Corroded Spiral shines, merging aspects of industrial music and EBM to punishing effect. The opener sees this form come into view. The precise and poignant drums minimally explore the rhythm while the effects splatter the background with brilliant coloring, and the vocals slowly narrate stories of fear and darkness. It is a state that Corroded Spiral mirror on closer “Forgotten Ether”, this time going for a more infernal approach. It is a tour through purgatory, with the harsh vocals spitting malice amidst the electro backdrops.
But, it is the middle part of Ancient Nocturnal Summoning that holds the most promises. That is where the trio explore additional sonic territory. Minimal rhythmic patterns in “Resulting Fragments Splinter Existence” slowly awaken this hallucinatory state. On the other hand, the minimal bliss of “Through the Eyes of Madness” sees a completely abstracted effort. This is the domain of noise, where digital ghosts roam, their voices screeching behind the walls of the matrix. It’s such moments that make Ancient Nocturnal Summoning so enticing, but then would you expect anything less from such visionaries? – Spyros Stasis
Funeral Mist – Deiform (NoEvDia)
It’s fitting that during the darkest time of the year, both Funeral Mist and Ofermod are making their long-expected returns. In 1998, when Ofermod unleashed Mysterion Tes Anomias, Arioch encapsulated his interpretation of Mayhem’s pivotal De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Atmospheric to the core, cold and menacing with a detached sense of brutality, Devilry introduced Funeral Mist, but it was the follow-up that really put everything together. 2003’s Salvation is arguably the work that set the template for the orthodox black metal scene. From there on, project mastermind Arioch has been making sparse appearances, dropping bombs now and again, with Maranatha and Hekatomb. Now, he returns once more with a surprise release in Deiform.
Arioch once again stays true to the original vision of Funeral Mist. The obsession over the occult and the reversed ecclesiastical presence lead the way through the dim pathways of Deiform. The choirs appearing as if from some unknown depths in “Twilight of the Flesh” and the childrens’ voices in “Children of the Urn” piece together a big piece of the puzzle. From there, Arioch draw the mystical essence, building on top of these his darkened monuments. The opener is a particularly majestic moment, setting this damned tonality before the onslaught begins.
That is where the second pillar comes in, the sharp riffs tearing through space and time with their cacophonous intent in “Apokalyptikon”. It’s a polemic mentality, directed towards all, chaotically deployed in “Hooks of Hunger” with its maniacal progression or through the utter havoc that is closer “Into Ashes”. No matter the case, one thing is sure. The mystical fog that haunts Arioch’s dreams is not going anywhere, anytime soon. And the latest nightmare it has produced in Deiform is exquisite. – Spyros Stasis
Genocide Pact – Genocide Pact (Relapse)
Genocide Pact always displayed an inclination towards the heavier side of the death metal genre. Formed in 2013, the act from Washington DC released a couple of demos that beautifully displayed their love for the death metal groove among some hardcore-esque additions. It is, therefore, no surprise that their debut full-length, Forged Through Domination, would arrive through legendary, sick hardcore label A389 Recordings. That was just the first step for Genocide Pact, and three years later, they returned even stronger with their Relapse debut, Order of Torment. They now go for the trifecta with the release of their self-titled record.
Listening to their new work, the influence of Obituary’s rotting ways is immediately noticeable as soon as “Led to Extinction” arrives. The mid-tempo swagger is an absolute stampede that descends from long-gone times. Still, Genocide Pact travel further back in time, awakening the dark essence of Celtic Frost, shining brightly in closer “Industrial Obedience”. And then, from the disgusting facade of “Mutilated Vision”, the swampy doom-induced death metal turns into a polemic rout. The track’s ending draws from the UK scene, relishing in the glory of Bolt Thrower and their warmonger attitude. It is something that carries over beautifully onto “Barbaric Regression”, with the mid-tempo groove melting onto the dissonant lead work.
There are further variations, with Genocide Pact calling upon the thrash and proto-death metal scenes. Fragments of Slayer’s schizoid lead work and Possessed’s infernal approach are scattered all over this work. Doom twists in “Perverse Dominion” and flirtations with the grindcore narrative in “Deprive Degrade” are just some of these alterations. But, for the most part, Genocide Pact remains a solid, heavy death metal work with a fantastic grasp on the groove. – Spyros Stasis
Kayo Dot – Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike (Prophecy)
The initial impact of maudlin of the Well and the first few albums of the band’s spiritual followers Kayo Dot was great in terms of so-called (progressive) and avant-garde metal that these labels cling onto Kayo Dot even today, a quarter of a century after those fateful first releases. Since then, the group led by Toby Driver underwent significant changes in style and approach, mainly reflecting the composer and multi-instrumentalist’s state of mind and creativity at those specific times, unshackled from any genre signifiers.
As Kayo Dot find themselves using fragments of the metal idiom after a stretch of albums devoid of such elements and original maudlin of the Well members Greg Massi (guitars) and Jason Byron (lyrics) rejoin Driver, it becomes tempting to call Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike a return to some preconceived good old style. Yet to do so would rob one of the band’s best albums to date of all the influences and paths that led to it.
Because Moss Grew is as much Choirs of the Eye as it is Plastic House on Base of Sky: an utterly lyrical and dazzling album woven around an avant core that draws equally from gothic rock, chamber pop, balladry, and post-metal. Byron’s faintly eco-activist lyrics haunt every note, giving the album a mystical, earthy aura as it flows from sections of aggressive prog riffing to blissful clearings of metalized Vangelis. And whether it’s synth stabs flowing through a marching rhythm or unhinged screamo vocals floating in a dissolved blackgaze background, the music remains affecting and gorgeous. – Antonio Poscic