Greetings, Angry ones. February was a pretty cool month. (There’s no weather pun there. If you’re from where I’m from, it wasn’t cool. It was frigid to the point were the act of living has become virtually unbearable.) We covered a lot of ground here at AMG–Slough Feg! Behemoth! Iron…Savior?–but some excellent releases slipped through the cracks.
Fear not. I caught ’em.
In the first of what will (hopefully) be a monthly column, Stuck in the Filter will shine a light on a handful of albums that didn’t get proper love upon release date. So, without further chatter, here’s some quick samples and quicker blurbs on some notable releases that didn’t get the full five-hundred:
Woods of Desolation – As The Stars
Some are crying about Shelter’s shimmer-shill sprightliness (as they should, ‘cause it’s crazy weak), while others are nervous about Lantlos ditching the shrieks (don’t worry, ‘cause the new single is colossal). But fear not, mopers: Woods of Desolation are here to bring bootgaze back to the basement. As the Stars is a sweeping, majestic piece of black metal, expertly toeing the line between bold beauty and brittle frailty. Mostly, it plays like the (failed) experiments of Handful of Stars and The Old Silver Key reanimated to brilliant fruition, but it’s not without surprises. (“Anamnesis” is a charging instrumental with tones that throw back to Discouraged Ones, for instance.) As the Stars is far from novel, but it’s excellence in execution, a mastering of a style that has been rarefied practically overnight.
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Kriegsmaschine – Enemy of Man
Did you hear Black Crucifixion’s Coronation of King Darkness from last year? You didn’t? Well, it ruled, despite being art-fucked, obtuse, and bizarrely arrogant. (Maybe that’s why it ruled. Anyway.) If you did hear it—and all that baggage turned you off—Kriegsmaschine wield a similar aesthetic on Enemy of Man, but cut the bullshit and slash for the femoral. This unit’s devastation is mid-paced and deliberate, cloaked in the obsidian sheen for which German practitioners are known (even though they’re Polish). Spartan, stealthy, and deceptively sinuous, this is a menacing, measured shard of blackened art.
Orcultus – Orcultus 7″
Raw black metal. But not presented in rags and tatters or draped in drunken howls of white noise. Orcultus are a clenched fist. Compact. Calcified. Corrosive. This nasty little seven-incher is cagey as hell, pulsing with tension but never really letting go of the chokehold. (Even during that mad-wicked, isolated frostriffing on “Duo.”) This is gnarly stuff, but it’s tightly-composed and backslapped with some legitimate weight, meaning it’s filthy enough for fringe weirdos but cogent enough for dabblers. An act to watch: Quality rawness is tough to mine, so latch on to your prospects.
Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation
Artificial Brain’s debut is notable not only because it’s wondrous on its own merits—it’s a meticulously-crafted death metal ant farm that I’ll shaking the shit out of for years to come—but also it represents a stylistic shift in technical death metal’s presentation. Colin Marston’s mix on Labyrinth Constellation should be hugely influential: The vocals are nestled into the mix ever-so-gently and the drumming doesn’t overwhelm, letting the guitars twist and writhe without their intricacies being compromised by bludgeoning. Weird-ass death metal art for weird-ass death metal people. And they let it breathe.
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Mantar – Death By Burning
After tying your organic brain into knots, tap into Mantar to shake the sinew free. This duo takes the drums + guitar + yelling formula to electrifying heights, rocking balls-out anthems with an ultra-tight focus on riff n’ rhythm that belies their sludgy associations. Whether swinging concrete grooves on “Astral Kannibal” or seething with menace on “White Nights,” they’re stripping extreme rock n’ roll to its barest essence, and as such, Death By Burning might be the young year’s best effort. Less is more, friends.
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