Written by: The Administrator
Splits. You gotta love 'em--particularly when they succeed at A. delivering high quality tunes, and B. serving as a solid introduction to participating parties. It's an odd (yet glorious) occasion when a split features two tracks that compliment each other's strengths without outshining the other's performance. Lucky for you and I, The Plague Split nails that fine balance with a delicacy at odds with the sheer sonic decimation wrought within it's short-yet-mighty runtime.
The split before ye marks a certain uncharacteristic brevity for both parties involved, and so, keeping in spirit, this review shall be uncharacteristically brief as well. That isn't to say, I hasten to add, that it isn't worth every second of yer while--because it is. Without further ado: let's get destroyed, shall we?
Written by: Lord Hsrah
This year has brought us doom metal in bunches and numbers so far, and there's much more to come. Different people feel things in different ways, and this impacts their way of translating it into art--music, more specifically. We associate doom metal with a variety of feelings and emotions, which are invoked by the myriad of different forms they are offered by different bands. But with Poema Arcanvs, it's a different ball game altogether, as they bring forth a slamming, crushing and heavy slab of doom that's an abstraction of its own. Ladies and gents, I present to you: Stardust Solitude!
Long standing flagbearers of Chilean doom metal, Poema Arcanvs (pronounced 'arcanus') have acquired a legendary status over the years, having churned out impressive albums, one after the other since their inception in the early 90s. Their sixth offering, Stardust Solitude, is the next in line to be branded with the Poema Arcanvs stamp, and let me tell you, it's an absolute juggernaut! Drawing inspiration from the early works of the famous Peaceville Three (that's My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Paradise Lost for those who don't know) among others, and blending in their own style to create a monstrous fusion of exquisite doom, Stardust Solitude is tailor-made to be this sonic powerhouse whose sole purpose is to beat down on your ears as your brain ejaculates litres of serotonin and adrenaline in your body!
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Barbarity, menace, misanthropy. These three words alone could very well describe the sound of Primitive Man, a noisy and fucking terrifying 3-piece band from Denver, Colorado--but you probably already know who they are. These guys are really rising in the underground, and for good reason. They make excruciatingly slow, noisy, and painful death/sludge. So with Immersion being their third album, and second with Relapse Records, do they finally give in and start making more accessible songs? The answer is absolutely fucking not: they increased the barbarity ten-fold and created an even noisier, more punishing, and twisted album, and it's great!
Immediately you are greeted to feedback in opening track "The Lifer." Just like that, Primitive Man begin this journey. First I have to point out the unhinged, tortured, and agonizing vocals of Ethan McCarthy. His vocals are so fucking visceral and hateful. He really sounds like he is using all of the energy he has to do these vocals. A vicious way to begin this new opus.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Being born into a bible bashing religious cult/family is a traumatizing experience for a curious child. Something I've only started to fully grasp after countless hours and thousands of dollars in therapy. So when I saw the press release for a Bible Basher record featuring Tich of Temple of Coke, Joe E. Allen of Kurokuma and the doom doc featuring the UK underground, plus members of Archelon and Spaztik Munke, I knew I had to have it. I purchased a cassette copy instantly, I don't even own a tape player but I guess I'm on the lookout for one now.
Scathing, sacrilegious, supergroup sludge from Sheffield, UK, is exactly what the doctor ordered for this 2020 hellscape. “Words from the bible, riffs from hell.”
Here’s a factoid our eagle-eyed archivist doesn’t expect anyone to recall: back in the primordial days of this site, we published a track review of the delightfully entitled “Obstrinxerit,” from a Albuquerque-dwelling sludge duo named Sword Horse. It made an impression on me then--to quote: “‘Obstrinxerit’ maintains a free-flowing ambiance, an irresistible pull into a cave that is too small. In this case, Death doesn’t beckon, so much as leave you with no other option.” Chilling stuff.
Given a certain enamorment with this track, as well as a healthy appreciation for their prior work, I was suitably intrigued by the release of a self-titled EP way back in August of last year. I listened to the damn thing quite frequently, a little sludge-me-up between other releases. Despite an intent to put pen to paper and scratch out a review, I simply...didn’t. And so the apology tour continues. I arise today from an apparent Rip Van Winkle situation to inform you that, unlike yours truly, you really shouldn’t look this gift Sword Horse in the mouth.
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!