Infernal Coil – Within A World Forgotten
Like pretty much all of the quality death metal acts to come out of 2018’s OSDM flurry, ecologically-minded death metal innovators Infernal Coil are all about the fury. From the get-go on Within A World Forgotten, the band’s highly original sound – a masterful melding of a grinding interpretation of the blasting groove and more psychedelic leanings of death metal’s yesteryear, with a polite smattering of melancholic black metal breaks (most in evidence on ‘49 Suns’), all tied up amidst a masterfully blurry production job – blows everything released in the unholy name of OSDM this year out of the fucking park. If there’s one thing to be said of this year’s ‘90s death revival, it’s that the primal fury – which in its heyday transformed the cries of drunken, angst-ridden young people into Lovecraftian emanations from beyond – so essential to death metal’s golden age is lost, but Infernal Coil bring this in spades with their murky, groove-laden death metal assault.
The other, most endearing aspect of Within A World Forgotten is the release’s ecological leanings. Whilst it may just sound “evil” to the untrained ear, the multitude of layers within its sound bounce off of each other, providing an obfuscated whirl of atmospheric noise which evokes the averbal voice of nature within it’s cavernous, earthy depths. If Within A World Forgotten is anything to go by, the old school death metal renaissance of the past twelve months may well have legs – we might still yet find bands willing to transcend simple worship of Autopsy, to bring the blasting fury and meaty groove of death metal’s ‘90s heyday into the 21st century.
Within A World Forgotten is out now on Profound Lore. Purchase here.
Words: Rich Lowe
Madder Mortem – Marrow
Having been heralded by some as one of Norway’s premiere outlets for forward-thinking strains of heavy music, a new album from Madder Mortem always comes alongside promises of intriguing, proggy delights, but Marrow sees the group find a higher level of songwriting than they’ve previously mustered, perhaps finally elevating them to a level where they may receive the acclaim they so thoroughly deserve.
Despite drawing from textures that will be instantly recognisable to many, the band mix up these influences in refreshing ways. Marrow drifts masterfully from eerily soothing folk to moments of white-hot aggression and everything in between, never coming across jarring thanks to the stunning pipes of Agnete M. Kirkevaag, whose celestial croons and expressive roars never miss a chance to bolster the attack. On the prog-infused mayhem of ‘Liberator’ and ‘My Will Be Done’, her tumultuous howls aid in injecting adrenaline into tracks which prove much more direct than the term ‘prog’ connotes. Elsewhere, she shifts effortlessly from whispers to wails on the intricate weavings of ‘Far From Home’ and ‘Until You Return’, the music beneath her cries elevating proceedings to irresistible levels of melodrama.
Setting their sights on success, Marrow sees Madder Mortem defy classification in favour of a sound definable primarily by its distinctness.
Marrow is out now on Dark Essence. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr
Deicide – Overtures Of Blasphemy
Whilst it would be difficult to argue that Deicide‘s back catalogue is in any way consistent, a decade of nearly career-besting form (rekindled by 2006’s remarkable The Stench Of Redemption) has seen the Floridan death metal icons recapture the sort of unhallowed spirit which defined their early ’90s glory days. Yet another admirable addition to the bands recent run of extreme metal excellence, Overtures Of Blasphemy is as belligerently vicious as any of their last few efforts, and even muscles its way close to their immortal three record streak of Deicide, Legion and Once Upon The Cross.
Indeed, we need look no further than the opening hellfire of ‘One With Satan’ to realise that, beyond a simple reworking of the past, Deicide benefit here from a more traditionally straightforward approach which favours flat-out death metal anthems over any Legion-style rhythmic deformity and maze-like tech. And so, between its huge, bellowed hooks and uniformly stunning lead work (just check out the glorious soloing in ‘Crawled From The Shadows’), this is a record which harnesses Glen Benton and co.’s roiling inner hatred through a perfect storm of pristine production (courtesy of Jason Suecof), mercilessly old-school songwriting and that signature Christ-slaughtering brutality, leaving us with the most memorable collection of tunes penned by the band since the turn of century, and perhaps even before.
Overtures Of Blasphemy is out now on Century Media. Purchase here.
Words: Tony Bliss
SUMAC – Love In Shadow
SUMAC unleash their fourth full-length (and second of 2018), bravely lunging themselves further into the realms of free improvisation. Making a fantastic companion piece to their collaborative album with Keiji Haino, Love In Shadow is a complex web of sound, boasting four side-length epics that play with their loosest structures yet. Analysing just 22-minute opening track ‘The Task’ alone sets a blueprint for what to expect from the whole album. This beast moves through four or five movements that are woven together through very abrupt twists and turns, changing in mood and dynamics so suddenly that the listener will struggle to pinpoint how the trio managed to jump from one section to another. Though seemingly disjointed at first, repeat listens reveal greater depths as these compositions become embedded into your psyche.
SUMAC are presenting their most unhinged, abstract and stream-of-consciousness expressions yet, whilst retaining the primal majesty of their previous works. Love In Shadow is a complex, thought-provoking, fierce and ugly Lynchian nightmare sequence of an album that not only challenges the listeners, but the band themselves. Give it time to unfold and watch it climb higher up your album of the year list.
Love In Shadow is out now on Thrill Jockey. Purchase here.
Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Besra – Anhedonia
Perhaps it’s because the subgenre is relatively young by metal’s standards, or because it is so entwined with the rise of iconic boundary-pushers like Neurosis, but the term “post-metal” is often, without forethought, used synonymously with metal that’s progressive and forward-thinking. But, that doesn’t mean all post-metal is inherently innovative, or even interesting. Besra confidently manage the latter whilst doing just enough to set themselves apart from the competition.
The Finnish band are most certainly cut from the same cloth as their forebears – think Cult Of Luna, Isis and Pelican – but their songs are often much more than prolonged build-ups to a predictably cacophonous outburst of extremity. Instead, they divert down their own twisted paths, playing with the quiet/loud dynamic to up the ante with apparent ease.
Sometimes dark and ominous, sometimes oddly unnerving and occasionally hauntingly transcendent, their debut album Anhedonia traverses many plains, and with each flick of the switch, the drama increases. Whether the emotional turmoil builds in waves or crashes out of the speakers at the drop of a hat, Besra will win you over far more than they have any right to.
Anhedonia is out now on Temple of Torturous. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr
Abhorrence – Megalohydrothalassophobic
Finnish death metal is undergoing a renaissance in recent years, and so it’s fitting that one of the old guard and key names return. Abhorrence were a key influence when the style was first spewed into existence, and they return now with new EP Megalohydrothalassophobic (someone fearful of large things in open water – thanks Google). Unsurprisingly, given that it’s almost thirty years since their first recordings and technology has moved on considerably, Megalohydrothalassophobic sounds much cleaner than anything the band has done before, which is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, the riffs and vocals are much more discernable, but there’s less dirt and decay clinging to the music now – though it could hardly be described as “clean”.
Not that you’re likely to care about that when riffs like these are being thrown at you. ‘Anthem For The Anthropocene’ is a fine opening track, filled with hook-filled riffs and a confident energy that makes it feel as if Abhorrence never left. ‘The Four Billion Year Dream’ slows things down with its suffocating, slime-drenched mid-tempo sections that flow into sections of more overt violence; and closer ‘The End Has Already Happened’ sees things out in ominous style, but fourth track ‘Hyperobject Beneath The Waves’ is the best of the bunch. There’s no great shift or reason as to why; it’s simply the track that best encapsulates the appeal of Finnish death metal, filled with vicious and unsettling riffs, slightly jarring shifts in tempo, and disgustingly inhuman vocals. There’s no denying that with Megalohydrothalassophobic, the masters of old are back and they’re looking to reclaim their crown.
Megalohydrothalassophobic is out now on Svart. Purchase here.
Words: Stuart Wain
Bosse-de-Nage – Further Still
Californian experimental black metal unit Bosse-de-Nage return after their fantastic breakthrough record All Fours, and it’s clear that they have pushed for even more intense and raging performances. Bosse-de-Nage focus even harder on angular tremolo riffs and blasting drums this time around, very much fusing a blackened atmosphere with a post-hardcore and screamo-inspired delivery. The entire first half of this album is so hard-hitting and relentless. Blastbeats dominate and it’s just riff after riff after riff, with furious screams. Everything is delivered at 100%, and whilst this approach is certainly admirable, it also leads to a lack of dynamics and variety… something that All Fours really delivered on.
Further Still leaves the calmer more experimental touches for later in the record, with ‘Dolorous Interlude’ being a desperately welcome breather in the running order. But even after this, the heat quickly turns up again until the record closes out. If you want to hear the angriest, most pissed off album of the year, Further Still will definitely have you smashing up your living room. But taken as a whole, this record is exhausting and feels like a step down from the more well rounded and experimental album that preceded it.
Further Still is out now on The Flenser. Purchase here.
Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Aborted – TerrorVision
Steeped in B-movie horror and more gore than early Peter Jackson films, Aborted’s tenth full-length is one of their most focused yet, bolstered by terrific production that expertly straddles the line between a crisp sharpness and grotesque intensity.
The Belgian death metal veterans have brought a veritable smorgasbord of killer riffs with them here, but crucially, TerrorVision is more than a simple onslaught of mayhem. A sinister atmosphere permeates the tracks, maintaining the horror movie aesthetic the band have championed thus far and adding depth to the more direct traits spearheading the brutality. The likes of ‘Squalor Opera’ and ‘Farewell To The Flesh’ are imbued with latent melody whilst maintaining the manic brutality of the surrounding tracks, whilst standout track ‘A Whore D’Oeuvre Macabre’ takes on the whiplash-inducing traits of only the most thrilling thrash metal.
At its heart, this is Aborted as listeners have known them for years, but it’s also one of their most impressive displays of both songwriting and musicianship to date, brimming with high-octane death metal that’s capable of standing above many of its peers despite a lack of true innovation. TerrorVision is a tumultuous blitzkrieg, a fairground ride with loose bolts and rusted brakes. Intensely fun, even if it’s far from the most original thing you’ll hear today.
TerrorVision is out now on Century Media. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr