This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Acid King, Crimson Moon, Entombed A.D., Illusions Of Grandeur, Imperium Dekadenz, Necronautical, Northern Genocide, Orm, Pandemonium, Sons Of Apollo, Tenebrae In Perpetuum, Warcrab, Witch Vomit and Wizard Rifle.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Acid King – Busse Woods (Riding Easy)
San Francisco’s Acid King are releasing the long out of print Busse Woods, a relic of the Man’s Ruin days of yore. For fans of the band it represents a transition to more drawn out and fuzzed out passages that reflect the back end of the band’s long career.
This is stoner metal with experiential themes key to the band, one of note this entire trip is the idea of self harm (“Drive Fast, Take Chances, “Carve the 5”) and in the form of general punishment “39 Lashes”). So if you are a fan of the band and want to hear a definitive version of the album, go give it a spin.
Crimson Moon – Mors Vincit Omnia (Debemur Morti)
Crimson Moon’s fourth full-length, Mors Vincit Omnia is the culmination of 25 years. The album pays tribute to Azrael. A sonic realization of the Angel of Death, Destruction and Renewal is bound to be spooky and morbid. The German band (by way of America) conjures the Reaper with mid-pace, second-wave string work, ritualistic chorus lines and gothic organs.
The choruses seem best suited to hauntingly echo high ceilings of shadowy, ancient castles covered in spider webs. Batushka fans will certainly cling to this aspect of the album. Mors Vincit Omnia is one of those albums where the cover art does not disappoint.Crimson Moon found the right mix to balance the icy treble of tremolo-picked guitars with the bass’ churning lows. Also of note are guest musicians Proscriptor (Absu), Lord Angelslayer (Archgoat), Ixithra (Demoncy), and Phaesphoros (Kawir). Crimson Moon created an album in Mors Vincit Omnia that would make the Angel of Death proud.
Entombed A.D. – Bowels Of Earth (Century Media)
Bowels Of Earth is the third album from Entombed A.D., formed in 2014 by former Entombed members LG Petrov (vocals), Victor Brandt (bass), Nico Elgstrand (guitar) and Olle Dahlstedt (drums). Longtime live guitarist Guilherme Miranda is now an official member of the group.
Like their first two releases, this is death metal mixed with death ‘n roll. Tracks like “Elimination” and “Hell Is My Home” move at a rollicking pace, while the devastation of songs like “Fit For A King” and “Torment Remains” mix in a more deliberate pace alongside quicker sections. In addition to the original material, there a cover of Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive,” a unique and effective choice of songs. It’s a straightforward album of Swedish death metal delivered by a veteran group whose songwriting and musicianship are razor sharp.
Illusions Of Grandeur – The Songs Of The Siren (Pavement)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Illusions Of Grandeur describe themselves as a theatrical hard rock/fantasy metal band. Their debut album The Song Of The Siren tells the tale of the siren, incorporating everything from Greek and Norse mythology to archangels.
The songs are theatrical, but very guitar driven with ample heaviness. Tracks like “Mayhem” and “Lullabies” are uptempo, while the pace slows down on songs such as “Three Two Three” and “Breathe.” The faster and heavier songs are more effective. The frontwoman known as The Siren is a versatile vocalist, able to smoothly croon or sing with a rougher edge. This is a dynamic album with a lot of ebbs and flows. In addition to the ten original tracks, there are several bonus tracks with alternate versions of songs.
Imperium Dekadenz – When We Are Forgotten (Napalm)
It didn’t take long for Imperium Dekadenz to become one of the important and influential names of the world’s underground metal scene. By releasing two acclaimed albums (Meadows of Nostalgia and Dis Manibvs<.em>), Imperium Dekadenz’s status as a band who try to discover new gateways to atmospheric black metal was consolidated. And now they are here with When We Are Forgotten, an hour long sorrowful, emotional opus that extends the boundaries of their music.
Atmosphere on When We Are Forgotten is massive and epic. The songs don’t follow complex structures, but are lengthy and that is why the band had enough time to explore countless ideas and arrange extremely dynamic musical pieces. The melancholic melodies weep over the layers of the songs, while simultaneously narrating human suffering and dark moments. Brilliant songwriting and impressive performances by both Vespasian and Horaz help make When We Are Forgotten one of the most breathtaking albums of this year.
Necronautical – Apotheosis (Candlelight)
Apotheosis, the third album from the British black metal band Necronautical, was produced by Chris Fielding (Winterfylleth, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard). It takes its lyrical inspiration from authors such as Nietzsche, Gaiman and Palanuik.
The songs are cinematic and dynamic. Things like an organ intro on “Nihil Sub Sole Novum” add uniqueness and variety. Catchy grooves on “Lure Of The Abyss” evolve into more traditional black metal stylings. Songs are lengthy, most in the seven minute range, but Necronautical have no problem maintaining interest throughout, shifting tempos and intensities regularly. Plus there are only seven songs, so they don’t overstay their welcome. Sometimes grandiose, other times brutal, and always engaging, this is a well-rounded black metal album.
Northern Genocide – Genesis Vol. 666 (Inverse)
Northern Genocide put an industrial spin on melodic death metal on their debut album, Genesis Vol. 666. With an album title that explicit, and songs with names like “Soul Dystopia” and “Neon Antichrist,” it appears there’s an evil intent behind Northern Genocide’s music. However, this evil is not some maleficent spirit or haunting witchery, but based out of society’s darkest corners.
These corners hide great horrors, which the band expresses with help from ever-present electronics/keyboards. These give the melodic death metal an atmospheric boost, usually in the form of heightened orchestration or clanking beats, as well as standout among the otherwise minor deviations to their music. Genesis Vol. 666 doesn’t maintain a level consistency throughout, but it remains enjoyable enough for a timid recommendation.
Orm – Ir (Indisciplinarian)
Denmark’s black metal quartet Orm had some lengthy songs on their 2017 self-titled debut, but have taken it to a new level with Ir. The two songs (which are 23 and 24 minutes long) have a harsh yet melodic feel that recalls the band Drudkh and other similar acts. However, Orm go through a number of shifts and changes in their songs and it is not afraid to incorporate other elements like acoustic ones to the mix. The music is often grand, but isn’t afraid to bring things back down to earth as well.
The variety on the album makes it almost always interesting and compelling to listen to, yet the music is not perfect. The songs can be meandering and this leads to some conflict in what parts are to be emphasized. The long tracks are almost always fun to listen to, but can become overly drawn out and weigh down the listener. Furthermore, the vocals take a back seat to the instrumental portions of the disc, which are far superior. So, this is a very strong, yet somewhat flawed black metal release that will appeal to fans of the genre. There are so many cool moments that this gets a moderate recommendation.
Pandemonium – Monuments Of Tragedy (Black Lodge)
The Swedish death metal band Pandemonium have been around since the late ’90s, but hadn’t released a new album in more than a decade. Monuments Of Tragedy is their fourth record, and first for vocalist Johan Bergstrom (Deranged) and bassist Johan Aldgard (Faithful Darkness).
The band’s bludgeoning death metal is augmented by blackened moments and symphonic sections. Those keyboard elements add depth and atmosphere to dense and heavy songs. Tracks like “In Search For Euthanasia” go from groovy melodies to galloping riffs to a peaceful interlude to a heavy ending. “The Code” is a change of pace, incorporating industrial vibes while “Severance Of Unity” is perhaps the record’s heaviest song. Being away from the scene for more than a decade means they won’t be familiar to a lot of people, but Pandemonium make a strong return with Monuments Of Tragedy.
Sons of Apollo – Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony (InsideOut)
The players that make up Sons of Apollo (Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Billy Sheehan, and Jeff Scott Soto) do not disappoint with this strikingly potent live concert from The Roman Amphitheater in Bulgaria. This supergroup offers us wonderful energy and bold performance technique, delivering awesome mixed meter progressive songs from their recent debut album Psychotic Symphony that are at times spellbinding and at others, downright funky. They additionally unload a barrage of awesome covers, such as “Kashmir,” “Dream On,” “Diary of a Madman,” “Comfortably Numb,” “The Show Must Go On,” “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Coming Home” as well as entertaining renditions of theme songs from That Metal Show and The Pink Panther.
Each player in this project shines. Portnoy is superior on drums. Sherinian solos with a superlative technical prowess. Soto does a solid job fronting the band and pulls off a surprise tribute to Freddie Mercury. Thal has a remarkable solo demonstrating left to right hand independence as well as something I’ve never seen: one hand used as a reach-over capo. That gives the crowd outstanding guitar work and spectacular backing vocals. The release is available in numerous configurations of Blu-ray, DVD, CD, vinyl and digital.
Tenebrae In Perpetuum – Anorexia Obscura (Debemur Morti)
After disbanding in 2010, the Italian black metal band Tenebrae In Perpetuum reformed last year, going from a trio to a duo. Founding member Atratus handles vocal duties in addition to bass, vocals and electronics. Chimsicrin (Lorn) is a new addition of drums. Anorexia Obscura is their first album since 2009.
The album can be dissonant and chaotic with icy riffs, blast beats and tortured vocals, and then ease back into a quiet instrumental section, exemplified on the title track. The harsh vocals are contrasted by compelling melodies on songs such as “Oscillazione ipnotica profonda.” Even though the approach is raw, the production is not lo-fi, giving it a richer sound than you may expect. Black metal fans will be pleased with TIP’s return.
Warcrab – Damned In Endless Night (Transcending Obscurity)
Combining doom with sludge is very common, but blending death and sludge less so. That’s what the British six-piece Warcrab do on Damned In The Endless Night.
Downtuned riffs and ample groove intensify to bludgeoning death metal with growling vocals from Martyn Grant. There is never a shortage of riffs, as Warcrab utilize a triple guitar attack. There’s also never a shortage of heaviness, as songs like “In The Arms Of Armageddon” and “Magnetic Fields Collapse” bring the brutality along with the melody. They tread in doom territory on slower tracks such as “Unfurling Wings Of Damnation.” Bookended by instrumentals, in between are eight songs of first-class sludgey death metal.
Witch Vomit – Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave (20 Buck Spin)
The 20 Buck Spin death metal train is on a track with seemingly no end, massive albums from Cerebral Rot, Superstition and Tomb Mold already under their belt and with Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave now the mighty Witch Vomit have a thing or two to say about this death metal thing, too.
Their approach is a visceral one as this thing flies out of the gate with “From Rotten Guts” recalling the bile filled albums from Swedish bands, especially Grave and American icons Autopsy. If you want a more bare-bones and gross death metal album when compared to others and a bite sized 28 minute album that just constantly delivers, look no further than this powerful record that will have fans talking for the rest of the year.
Wizard Rifle – Wizard Rifle (Svart)
Wizard Rifle’s self-titled third album is a further elaboration of their boundary-jumping music, this time with the focus being on five songs that go at least seven minutes each. They’ve had long songs in the past, but never this many back-to-back. There’s a greater progressive/psychedelic influence in the instrumental work, a characteristic Wizard Rifle has slightly played around with in the past.
The core of their sound, however, remains a manic fusion of noise, sludge metal, and thrash metal. Most of the vocals are done harmonically by the two members who make up Wizard Rifle, cutting through the whirlwind of mayhem that doesn’t seem possible to come from only two people. What it lacks in immediate gratification is countered by an appealing sense of impulsive sonic freedom that gives the music an air of unpredictability.