Infinity Shred – EP002 [Recovery] (3DOT)
During peak post-rock days, it was the adventurous spirit of both underground pioneers and subsequent mainstream acts that saw an expansion of the style. Drawing the spacey attributes of krautrock and the melodic sensibilities of progressive rock, added a hazy flavour to the grand essence of the genre. But some moved forwards, in the likes of God Is An Astronaut and 65daysofstatic, configuring the ambient side of electronica to enrich their sonic journeys. It is this latest invocation that has inspired the trio of Infinity Shred.
Infinity Shred always held a fine balance between rock and electronica, weaving together heavy guitars with bombastic beats in their debut Sanctuary and further exploring their capabilities in Long Distance. Without drastically changing their style, they found a new equilibrium in the fantastic Forever, A Fast Life. It was at this moment that Infinity Shred left behind the post-metallic essence of their early days in favour of a more straightforward rock essence and embracing a synthwave methodology. This is exactly where they pick things up with EP002 (Recovery). The chilling effect of the sound waves in “Monitor A” wash over in tremendous fashion, as Infinity Shred reconfigure and modernize space rock themes to add the necessary grandeur.
Complete dives to the abstract, ambient realm ensue with “Monitor B” and “Is”, but it is their progressive rock addition that really elevate this work. “Recovery” brilliantly moves through exquisite guitar licks and sweet EDM notions, while the post-rock core creates a monumental build-up. More controlled is the case with closer “Was”, as the heavy riffs once again wash over the synthetic instrumentation, constructing a pristine dreamlike scenery, making EP002 (Recovery) an excellent addendum in Infinity Shred’s exploratory flight. – Spyros Stasis
Kurushimi – Chaos Remains (Art As Catharsis)
Have you ever listened to John Zorn’s Naked City or Painkiller and thought that it needed more grit, unburdened freedom, and menace? Well, then, Aussie free-jazz-punk-noise-grindcore-industrial-what-the-hell-is-this sextet Kurushimi might just be what you need. Over the course of its eight improvised vignettes – some as short as a blink of a madman’s eye, others muttering meanderings down the halls of an insane asylum – the music often assumes hard and dense forms, punishing both sonically and emotionally.
A baritone saxophone drones and gurgles a slow, brooding industrial giallo soundtrack on “The Omen.” Between “Black,” “Relentless Beating,” and “The Mysteries of Chaos,” saxophones flutter and scream, inviting us to a guided tour of hell. Once there, Cephalic Carnage-like grindcore turns into maniacal lounge music and monumental industrial stomps. On the way back, “Funeral Moon” ventures into Orthrelm territories, “Ambulance Run” shows us glimpses of Zu’s jazzy punk noise, and “Chaos Dub” lives up to its name with a slab of dub dragged through sludge. Mind-melting in all the best and worst possible ways. – Antonio Poscic
Paranorm – Empyrean (Redefining Darkness)
Listening to the eight lean and mean pieces on Empyrean, you might come to suspect that Paranorm is a supergroup. Perhaps a reconfiguration of ex-members from dead-to-me Vektor or some other collective of rugged veterans. But in reality, they are a bunch of fairly young and fresh musicians from Uppsala, Sweden and Empyrean is their first full-length. And what a debut it is.
Paranorm’s take on progressive thrash is first and foremost doused with energy and exquisite musicianship, then lit ablaze with twisting, crunching riffs, spastic drums rolls, flowing bass lines, and a deceptively straightforward stream of Mikael Stanne-like growls. As if following an alchemical recipe for the perfect thrash album, Empyrean layers all these familiar idioms elegantly, never overindulging and finding an impressive balance. Aggressive thrash elements and bumbling tremolos drown in flamboyant flickers of melodic leads and solos. Technically-dazzling segments and their sharp turns reminiscent of Spiral Architect make way for simply pretty harmonized guitar lines. Blitzkrieg, near death metal attacks grow into intricate buildups and forge what will probably be the best hour of thrash metal we’ll hear this year. – Antonio Poscic
The Ruins of Beverast – The Thule Grimoires (Ván Records)
In terms of doom metal augmented with black, death and sludge elements, Alexander von Meilenwald stands in a class of his own. While it was always going to be hard for him to top 2017’s majestic Exuvia, with The Thule Grimoires he does the smart thing by not even really attempting to do so. Instead, he builds upon and ventures outwards from the swallowing atmospheres of the previous album. He retains the august, roaring palette and sense of grandeur, but refocuses his approach closer to the material world. If Exuvia was a spirit inhabiting higher dimensions, then The Thule Grimoires is its flesh.
Through this transformation, Meilenwald creates songs that feel comfortable in their own skin, whether channeling angelic or demonic sentiments and regardless of their aural robes. Ambient intermezzos hide fluttering, fleeting noises and sighing voices within themselves, only to slowly deliver them unto a cauldron of post-death/doom. Later, they transform once more, blossoming into towering, marching, and emphatic progressive passages reminiscent of Giant Squid and Vintersorg. Throughout, the music feels cohesive and purposeful, as if its ebb and flow were following a long-lost narrative. Simply put, The Thule Grimoires is another triumph in both atmosphere and sound for The Ruins of Beverast. – Antonio Poscic