MetalMatters November 2021

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Albums of November 2021

November really had something for every taste. Khemmis and Black Soul Horde relish their doom ethos through traditional metallic influences and so much more.

Dold Vorde Ens Navn – Mørkere (Prophecy)

Dold Vorde Ens Navn - Morkere

Dold Vorde Ens Navn has the lifeblood of the Scandinavian black metal scene running through its veins. Recently formed by legends of the scene Haavard (previously of Satyricon/Eczema and Ulver) and Cerberus (previously of Dodheimsgard), the act has now found its complete form with the inclusion of Dodheimsgard mainman Vicotnik and Dodheismgard/Nidingr drummer Myrvoll. All the aforementioned names carry a lot of weight, and therefore expectations for Dold Vorde Ens Navn are naturally high. Thankfully, they do deliver an excellent first specimen with Mørkere.

Dold Vorde Ens Navn’s debut record carries the flame of the Scandinavian black metal scene in a revamped manner. The cold tenacity of “Jeg vil ha det mørkere” echoes with the spirit of the early ‘90s. It arrives with a great sense of purpose and movement, fierce and brutal but still not shying away from melodies and hooks. Because, despite the bitter presentation, Dold Vord Ens Navn still freely explore a more immediate and direct approach. From there on, Mørkere takes on a number of forms. At times like “Løgnens abstinenser”, the veterans travel to the early romanticism of acts like Enslaved, calling upon the Bathory forged lineage. This epic perspective also works nicely with the slightly off-kilter softer parts, reminiscent of Ulver circa Bergtatt. Still, not forgetting their own more dissonant works, the spirit of Ved Buens Ende still makes an appearance. The Voivod-ian cacophony ascends amidst the eerie scenery of “Determinismens paradoks”, and then gives a frenetic performance with “Arvesynden”.

It is a fine balance that Dold Vorde Ens Navn retain. They are firmly grounded on the traditional black metal sound, but they roam just a bit further. This is also true when it comes to their atmospheric side. Acoustic passages and strings fill the void in “Det falt et lys i min mørke krok”, the fleeting vocals arriving with an ICS Vortex inspired delivery that hints to the likes of Arcturus. This very subtle classical element they awaken in “Ensomhetens rytter” and “Er det måneskinn” sees them take a more grand and prominent manifestation. Yet, it is all performed with a sense of restraint. But try as it must, the wolf can change its coat but not its character, and the pull of the adventurous and the extravagant is at times what drives Drod Vrode Ens Navn. And we would not want it any other way. – Spyros Stasis

Dream Unending – Tide Turns Eternal (20 Buck Spin)

Dream Unending - Tide Turns Eternal

Dream Unending is the collaborative project of two old-school dudes in Derrick Vela of Tomb Mold and Justin DeTore of Innumerable Forms. Both Vela and DeTore have an inclination towards the old ways of death metal sovereignty. Their bands travel into the guttural core of the genre, going for the jugular every single time. They celebrate the teachings of the great old ones. The scourging attribute of Autopsy, the heavy doom-laden methods of Incantation, and the early polemic tactics of Bolt Thrower. With Dream Unending, this old-school narrative does remain the same, but with one very important difference. Instead of the traditional death metal scene, Dream Unending explore the intimate essence of the doom/death scene. And Tide Turns Eternal is their first etude into the teachings of the Peaceville Three.

So, this is turning the clock to the early ‘90s and the name of the game is atmosphere. Dream Unending structure this work on the surrounding ambiance, and they do so by unleashing a plethora of otherworldly melodies. Tide Turns Eternal reeks with the scent of the gloomy romanticism that My Dying Bride ushered, as “Entrance” introduces the work. From there on, the doom motif calls upon the necessary Sabbath-ian DNA, as the guttural sense of “Adorned In Lies” appears. The slow pace collides with the deep growls, allowing the weaving Paradise Lost circa Gothic melodies to come into full view. 

Yet, if there is one major influence running through Tide Turns Eternal it is the early visions of Anathema. While My Dying Bride have retained much of their style through the years, and Paradise Lost tend to return now and again to their mid-period, the early Anathema sound is kind of lost in history. But, Dream Unending pay excellent tribute, structuring their melodic inclinations in a similar fashion. The psychedelic infused progression and the dreamlike sense shine in “The Needful”, and make for sweet earworms in “Tide Turns Eternal”. And there is still a darker side that delivers a hellish ride.

The trip gone bad in “Dream Unending” sees the bitter melodies awakening this beautiful imbalance. On a more extreme note, they awaken the Celtic Frost-ian fury in “In Cipher I Weep” moving towards a towering death metal manifestation. It is this mentality, this adherence to the old-school ways that really does it for Dream Unending. Tide Turns Eternal captures all the majesty and melancholic ideals of the ‘90s doom/death scene, bringing back from the glory of Serenades and The Silent Enigma. Now, we just need someone to tap into the crimson dreams of The Blood Divine. – Spyros Stasis

Eternity’s End – Embers of War (Prosthetic)

Eternity's End - Embers of War

The third LP by Eternity’s End is an extremely fun record that seduces with its unbridled energy. The German outfit’s fusion of speed metal’s scorching attacks, progressive metal’s technical prowess, and power metal’s joyous soul is often irresistible. It yearns to be listened to loud and accompanied by headbanging. And while they wear influences on their sleeves—bits of Halford, Children of Bodom, and Blind Guardian are sprinkled throughout the record—Embers of War still manages to find a voice of its own thanks to inspired songwriting and splendid performances by a cast of musicians both known and fresh. Here, Iuri Sanson on vocals and Justin Hombach on guitars join a core of experienced musicians (Linus Klausenitzer on bass, Hannes Grossmann on drums, and Christian Münzner on guitars) known, among other things, for their participation in superb tech death metal bands like Obscura and Alkaloid. – Antonio Poscic

Hyperdontia – Hideous Entity (Me Saco un Ojo)

Hyperdontia - Hideous Entity

The death metal played by Danish/Turkish quartet Hyperdontia is a thing of raw, disgusting beauty. Their sound is imbued with gritty layers of old-school death metal but crafted with such devious brio that it grows the music beyond the confines of a million times reused tropes into an awe-inspiring, riff-fueled mass that consumes everything in its path. The eight cuts on Hideous Entity are works of sonic art. Here, pummeling drum lines and sinuous bass lines seem to be made with the sole intent of massaging eardrums and shaking internal organs. Then the occasional groove and progressive break stir things up. The tempo changes and a swirling guitar lead cuts through the muck, leaving a trail of melody behind. Ultimately, unavoidably, everything collapses back into a primordial soup of huge, burrowing doom-laden riffs. The album ends, and you can only think about having another go. – Antonio Poscic

Khemmis – Deceiver (Nuclear Blast)

Khemmis - Deceiver

Part of the current wave of doom metal revival, Khemmis always had something distinct about them. Instead of solely obsessing over the early Sabbath-ian component of their sound, the Colorado act bravely traveled into the traditional heavy metal territory. Calling upon the lineage of Thin Lizzy and all acts that worship the twin guitar attacks, from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden onwards, allowed Khemmis to offer a multifaceted result. Their first two records, Absolution and Hunted relished on the epic doom and heavy metal combination. And still, they found ways to sprinkle small gems of extreme metal brutality. And then their follow-up in Desolation saw them further digging up their melodic core. And now Deceiver carries on with this excavation.

In their fourth album Khemmis deliver some of the finest hooks you will experience this year. From the get-go with “Avernal Gate”, the chorus just radiates with so much emotion and depth. Not that a reminder is necessary, but Phil Pendergast’s vocal delivery is just stunning. Not only is he capable of morphing through various modes, but there is a fine balance that Pendergast always maintains. Solidly planted between subtlety and force, it is this balance that makes his performance in “Obsidian Crown” that much more fantastic. On the other end, there is also the presence of Ben Hatcherson, whose gruff vocals act as the perfect compliment. The vocal dialogue between the two in “Living Pyre” is exquisite. 

As was the case in the past, Hutcherson’s gruff vocals do find a home in the extreme applications of Khemmis. The switch towards black metal in the final part of the opener adds the necessary degree of volatility. Yet, Khemmis can also travel to the other end of the spectrum. “House of Cadmus” and “Shroud of Lethe” see the doom pace drop even lower, entering a doom/death progression filled with darkness and despair. But, other than that Khemmis return to what they do best, and that is their doom metal basis. Stout and grand in “House of Cadmus”, adding some nice psychedelic twists to introduce “Shroud of Lethe”, they navigate this heavy space with finesse. And on top of that of course, they add their allure for the ‘80s traditional metal sound, with closer “The Astral Road” stealing the show in that regard. So, while Deceiver is not a record that diverges from what Khemmis have been doing all along, it is still a very enjoyable and exhilarating ride. – Spyros Stasis