I hope everyone had a good May. Looking back, I think I’ve had a slightly more productive month than I expected. Not the worst thing.
We’re edging ever closer to the end of the decade and I’m getting itchy with anticipation. Looking forward to my Top 100 coming out, even though it’s months off still. Hard choices are having to be made.
Speaking of hard choices, May’s album of the month was a tough one. Mesarthim won out in the end. It’s captivating, different, and brilliant.
Not much else in editorial news. Send me links to your demos. You know I prefer Bandcamp. Hit me up on Facebook.
See everyone next month,
Album of the Month
Mesarthim – Ghost Condensate
(Trance-infused Black Metal – Australia)
Self-released – 2019/04/17
Mesarthim are fast becoming one of my favourite black metal acts. And it’s primarily because they keep evolving towards something that shouldn’t be. The incorporation of trance into their cosmic black metal is seemless. More to the point, it remains distinctly black metal. Nothing is sacrificed to their sound and their talent expands like the galaxy.
The Rest in Alphabetical Order
Daredevil – Youth in Revolt Demo
(Heavy Metal – Russia)
Self-released – 2019/05/01
With equal parts heavy metal, speed metal, and thrash, Daredevil are a band heavy of exuberance. Heavy on talent too. The three tracks on this demo whip by in a flurry of good times that sets its own standard. This isn’t a cheap nostalgia hit; Youth in Revolt pushes itself to be a distinct, powerful voice amongst metals oldest genres.
Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia
(Avant-garde Black Metal – France)
Norma Evangelium Diaboli – 2019/05/24
It’s been a while since Deathspell has got to me like this, but Furnaces went straight to that inky dark spot on the soul where selfish desire meets feral instinct and stirred it all up. Subversive yet bombastic, it warps what you understand black metal to be then delivers it back to you with a leering disdain for your existence.
Electric B.C. – Demo 2019
(Stoner Sludge – Finland)
Self-released – 2019/05/08
I can forgive a small amount of stylistic inconsistency when the end product is still a satisfying racket. It starts out metal, but has shifted to sludge’s rock fringes by the close. But every riff is caked in bong resin; thick and heavy is name of the game. I also love that they haven’t sacrificed pace for tar. It moves as it fumes.
Horsehunter – Horsehunter
(Doom Metal – Australia)
Magnetic Eye – 2019/03/02
Is there a petition going for Horsehunter to reunite? Could we start one? This is some of the most invigorating doom in recent memory. The riff is king, but it’s also distorted in a way that asserts its dominance over the listener. Combine that with a furiously spat vocal delivery and you have an album as heavy on anger as it is talent.
Laster – Het Wassen Oog
(Progressive Black Metal – Netherlands)
Prophecy – 2019/04/05
Laster have found themselves a satisfying vein of metal to mine here. Het Wassen Oog is progressive in an initially similar way to recent Enslaved, but then goes in unexpected directions. There’s a touch of Vaudeville or a ’30s radio drama, as something sinister looms large, present, yet unknowable. It’s ethereal and heavy like a shadow given form.
Latitudes – Part Island
(Post-metal – England)
Debemur Morti – 2019/04/05
Sophisticated album construction doesn’t get enough praise. Part Island requires patience to get into and unravel. That’s not to say it’s dull. It’s not. But the true splendour of the composition builds itself deliberately and doesn’t let its secrets go cheaply. You know a pay-off is coming, but you have to give yourself over to the journey first.
Leather Glove – Perpetual Animation
(Sludgy Death Metal – United States of America)
Sentient Ruin Laboratories – 2019/03/08
I find how likely I am to revisit an album is one of my truest indicators of how good it truly is. And for all the good on display on Perpetual Animation, it falls down on that front. I’ve listened to it, I’ve taken in its well-composed savagery, I’ve nodded along to its carnivorous rhythms, and I’m going to inevitably forget its existence.
夢遊病者 – Ѫ
(Avantgarde Black Metal – Japan)
Sentient Ruin Laboratories – 2019/04/26
Discordant and dissonant, 夢遊病者 have produced an ep that is overwhelming in its auditory assault. It’s a serenade and a lullaby and howl of rage and scream of madness all at once. Schizophrenic in its delivery of a spectrum of emotions, the end result are two tracks of harrowing, terrifying, captivating grandeur.
Savage – No Escape
(Powerviolence – United States of America)
SPHC Records – 2019/02/19
I like my pv when it’s either weird or shouty. Savage is definitely shouty. And by shouty I mean it reminds me of classic hardcore, but with a greater sense of urgency. No Escape gets straight up in your face and stays there, blasting you with spit as it makes its point as clear and venomous as a box jellyfish. Puts the power and the violence into pv.
Solitarian – Contemplations… Where None Dwell
(Black Metal – Canada)
Self-released – 2019/05/01
In the realm of the black metal demo, any band who at least gets the basics right is worth more than outright scorn. Solitarian do black metal exactly as you’ve heard it before; they haven’t found their unique voice yet, so it quickly becomes an exercise in generic tropes. But they don’t fuck it up. Faint praise, but I’ve heard much worse than them.
Split Open – Demo 2019
(Powerviolence – Canada)
Self-released – 2019/05/06
If you asked me when I started listening to pv all those years ago what the defining characteristics of the genre are, I would have said bookending every track with feedback. It’s a more complex genre than that, but Split Open took me back. But I can’t really fault their approach though. Simplicity is a virtue when it’s done this well.
Waldgeflüster – Mondscheinsonaten
(Blackened Folk Metal – Germany)
Nordvis – 2019/04/12
As far as folk driven black metal goes, Mondscheinsonaten is folkier than most. It’s like someone murdered Korpiklaani or Turisas¹ and their shades have returned to tell their tale to those who would listen. Sadder and slower than true folk metal, Waldgeflüster is evocative of a world of shadow, dimly lit by the souls of the living.
¹ I’m aware that Waldgeflüster is German, while Korpiklaani and Turisas are both Finnish.