Today's review is brought to us by Erin Palmer, who you may know as the sole member of both raw black metal outfit Dread Maw and black metal/black n' roll entity Rage of Devils. This is Erin's second guest post here at the Village--a fact for which we are eternally grateful. Enjoy! - Ed.
Guest post written by: Erin Palmer
As I've mentioned before, my favorite bands are the ones that make music where I can't quite conceive of actual people creating it. The best metal, to me, is inhuman, music that seems like a force of nature rather than something played with instruments. Enter Febris Manea.
Febris Manea are a raw black metal band from the United States, originally based in California but now residing in Salt Lake City. The artist, known only as D.O., stated in an interview that the project was created to express feelings he couldn't otherwise “without serious social or legal repercussions,” and...yeah, that checks out.
This is not black metal for the uninitiated. This is the pure, uncut form of the genre. Their most recent release, Through Pale Opulence Thy Reign is Doomed, begins with an ominous, horror movie-style intro, and then immediately strikes the listener in the face with a howling, swirling wall of guitars and unhinged screams. Throughout the album, the soundscape D.O. creates with his music is so rough and nasty as to almost verge on harsh noise at points. Everything blends together in a riptide of deranged sound that constantly washes over you, threatening to pull you under.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not far from my stomping grounds, Philadelphia, PA based Daeva somewhat helped my recent growing taste for certain styles of black metal. Though they’re heavily thrash induced, the lone EP entitled Pulsing Dark Absorptions is an evil and crushing spin. Their only release to date, it’s full of breakneck speeds, blistering blackened vocals, and evil lyrics to the max. Very much one of those things that passes by before you even realize it.
Comprised of four tracks and a Mayhem cover, there isn’t a lot of time for any kind of filler or screwing around. For optimal experience, it’s layered nicely to allow the drums to pop really well, displaying advanced fills all over the already crushing riffage. “No Effective Banishings” weaves this in with tremolo picks to really inject that harsher feel, allowing slower passages to come across more menacing. “Clenched Fist Of The Beast” is a rather straightforward track with a noisier effect, backed by chaotic execution.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Rising from Chile, a place where gritty thrash has made a solid mark, Oldeath came out of the woods with a rather impressive dose of black metal. After one demo in 2019, they summoned forth a full-length last year entitled Rise From Majestic Darkness. For folks who prefer the riff-y side of black metal rather than the atmospheric or symphonic side, this is gonna sit well with you. Clearly the thrashy surroundings have rubbed off on our guys here.
Worry not, because these riffs have a rusty and grating coat on them that would infect the wounds of anyone who comes near. There’s a droning sensation pulling forth the aesthetic to very blackened heights. The moments when higher solos peak, it forces them to have a nastier bite. Moreover, mixing in hazy church organs adds layers of darker times, casting haunting chills into the bones.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
For all the hype that surrounded the latest Necrophobic release, I figured it was necessary to visit their albums that went beyond the first couple. Dawn Of The Damned dropped in October of last year, and this was a clear sign from the start that I’d been mistaken to sleep on the later material. For those unfamiliar, they’re a Swedish black/death metal band, widely looked at as pioneers of the style. Despite sticking to this since the early ‘90s, it certainly holds up.
What’s important for a veteran band is to know how to gradually move forward with the style without overdoing it or going the opposite and isolating yourself. Necrophobic have found that nice medium in their latest. Atmosphere plays a big part in this record, casting ferociously fast drum blasts for an entire gradient of noise to get around. This acts as a sturdy barrier to go with the contradicting riffing, as it’s mostly done with tremolos and flattened basslines. All of it together creates a thick and saturated foundation that’s heavier than a train car.
Written by: Izzy
Cut from the same cloth as many similar Obscura-worshipping avant-garde technical death metal outfits, Ad Nauseam got a fair bit of attention for their debut release, Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est, an album I personally enjoyed. It was filled with complex, angular and abrasive melodies mixed with a subtle sense for melody, but I felt it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been and was more indicative of where the band could go. Its not a new or original idea to make dissonant skronky tech metal inspired by classical compositions, and I felt Nihil Quam was held back by falling into many of the microgenres cliches, thereby not doing enough to really make themselves stand out amongst the crowd.
Written by: Izzy
Deathcore as a genre is very prone to stagnation. While I’m entirely in support of moshable bro-core that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but still delivers something fun and full of energy, the genre had been going through a period of staleness. After the golden MySpace years had died out things started going downhill, and suddenly there was a gap to be filled by adventurous deathcore that is willing to experiment and do something new. Many of those deathcore albums that broke out of the mold and made bold new statements are ones I still remember extremely fondly today.
Humanity’s Last Breath are fairly new blood, and while I had briefly enjoyed their music before in the occasions I had listened to them, I could tell Välde was gonna be something special after hearing the singles "Earthless" and "Vittring." Their strange and progressive approach to deathcore songwriting filled with unique guitar effects and off kilter winding passages entranced me and left me excitedly anticipating if the final product would deliver, and it did. Välde is one of the most refreshing pieces of deathcore in recent memory.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Drainbow! No, it's not a psychedelic effect of household cleaning supplies, it’s the eclectic, ambitious project of solo act extraordinaire Nick Sarcophagus, who brings us his debut long player The Tower of Flints. A dark twisting journey of extremities, whether it be the bounds of genre, or the limits of nature's capacity to sustain, viewed through the lens of her most vulnerable inhabitants. “To the victor the spoils," which just so happens to be whoever lays ears on this record.
I love it when an album's cover art perfectly encapsulates the sound found within, and this is a great example. A tip of the cap to Sarah Allen Reed for another work of art, really summing up the beautiful yet harsh reality of the natural world surrounding us. From its most tranquil moments of animal calls and keys, to its most frenetic of wails and galloping progressions, the story is to be found within the walls of said art.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The next guest in line to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Llaves of thrashy blackened outfit Witchurn (a band which we incidentally A. love and B. wrote about here!) Read on:
Written by Llaves:
Back in 2016 I was perusing the vinyl collection at Earwax Records, a record store in Madison, WI dedicated to metal and punk (which has sadly closed its doors). I had been through a few independent record stores with a few token thrash or NWOBHM releases, but this place had all kinds of stuff I’d never heard of.
Flipping through some of the black metal collection I found Portals to a Better, Dead World by Cara Neir. I’d heard the band name before but had never actually sought them out. The cover alone sold me, a grim portrait of a decaying man chained to a wall. Weirdly perfect for my first winters in the Midwest, cold, isolated, frightening. It felt right.
I put the needle down and 40 minutes later came out of a fugue state.
Here I am, quill clenched betwixt my inksplatttered teeth as I clamber into the tub. Advent Varic's Tumulus tumbles, rapidly and raucously, into my earholes. Perfectly on cue, blood pours from my nostrils as the sky burns. In other words: all is not well. Sorry, I mean: all is well. Fuck.
Why the tub? Two reasons. Firstly, as a clear Side A/Side B concept album, this beast offers a duo of twenty minute tracks, constructed and delivered as a single blackened stoner symphony. My attention span lasts about as long as this fragile soap bubble before me, so I'm admittedly out of my comfort zone. Secondly, it's damn comfortable, and if I'm going to witness the world collapse into inferno, I might as well do so from here, where the fires of civilization's demise will prevent this bathwater from going lukewarm. For those of you not privy to the expanded universe of Advent Varic lore, here's the gist: these extraterrestrial marauders were birthed from the muck of the titular far-flung world of Tumulus, and have since wrecked havoc across the universe on a cosmic mission of destruction at the bidding of the Godlike entity known as Varic. Our beloved homeworld is, alas, the next link in their chain of brutalistic annihilation. Concept albums live and die by the strength and flexibility of their narrative, and here, Advent Varic have given themselves ample room to experiment. Let's see where that takes us.
As one embroiled in the everyday drama associated with dwelling in a medieval township, this particular villager has some opinions on Heretical Sects--y’know, in the abstract. Whether mere blasphemers, or divergents intent on shaking the very foundation of spiritual and social order, a group of righteous heretics holds an undeniable appeal to us iconoclasts-at-heart.
That said, heretics these days need to put in some genuine work. Shock value in black metal has, alas, become a bit of a non-starter, from blasphemous lyrical content to the now-cliche aesthetic of asceticism. And let’s face the facts: it’s a little late in the game for Christ-punishing antics to come off as particularly excommunication-worthy. In other words, in the modern era of Way Too Much Black Metal, Heretical Sect’s choice of expression isn’t schismatic per se. But does that mean their EP lacks a certain fringe-treading modus operandi that the Redefining Darkness association suggests? Of course not. Rotting Cosmic Grief is, to put it mildly, an impressively well-conceived debut.
The hooded and anonymous members of Heretical Sect have allegedly seen and contributed to their fair share of the New Mexican metal scene. This, I am willing to believe. Rotting Cosmic Grief comfortably wears a natural cohesion, a well-conceived flow from beginning to end. This is not, in my experience, something that simply occurs. From a compositional standpoint, experience is evident--this EP was built by appropriately battle-scarred hands. Blending harsh doom and formative blackness, Heretical Sect excels at adjusting the tempo to suit the needs of a track at any given point in time. Moving from Sabbathian riffage to strenuous-yet-hefty tremolos with nary a thought, the guitar weaves a delicate and dangerous path. Melodic where melody is required, pulsating when the thick vocals can make ample use of a thick undercurrent...and even, on occasion, galloping at a skeletal NWOBHM-esque frenzy. Dynamic by design, each track rises to glorious crescendo and falls to troubled depths...albeit each at its own unique pace. Simultaneously razor sharp and crudely honed, the best moments herein, of which there are many, remain as unshakable as a moonlit night terror.
At times I’m reminded of Bathory, but realistically, these purely blackened moments are few are far between. Heretical Sect is not defined by genre conventions, and their use of various soundscapes echoes the expansive and conflicted Southwestern landscape--both social and natural--from which they draw inspiration. The doomiest moments on “Punish the Christ” are reflective and far-reaching, while highlight track “Visceral Divination” spits and hacks with violent abandon. As promo material alludes, these sharp contrasts are a prime representation of the inherent disconnect between a nostalgic fascination of the Southwest, and the brutal history it hides and indeed maintains. Both sides of American tradition are laid bare by Heretical Sect. Without getting too philosophical, I’d posit that perhaps this is the future of black metal--not blasphemous speech, but honest illustration of the grief and horror we would rather ignore.
As an EP should, Rotting Cosmic Grief leaves me wanting significantly more. Their approach feels unique enough to merit further exploration, and their sheer ability to write compelling music across a wide genre spectrum gives me hope for the longevity of Heretical Sect’s vision. These four track resonate in more way than one. In sum? Rotting Cosmic Grief comes highly recommended. Play it loud.
Heretical Sect - Rotting Cosmic Grief is out today, and is the product of a triple-threat release from Redefining Darkness Records (CD), Caligari Records (cassette), and Vendetta Records (vinyl).
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!