Craneium – Unknown Heights Review

Craneium – Unknown Heights Review

“Finland’s Craneium managed to accrue some low-level buzz on the strength of two albums of entertainingly fuzzy, buzzy pysch/stoner rock mixed with minor sludge and alt-rock influences. While their sound is sure to remind you of other bigger acts like Monster Magnet and Sahg, they’ve managed to do their own thing and create some interesting material with a unique spin. Now comes third album Unknown Heights, which after nearly three years of effort the band thinks is their best product thus far.” Trip to the brain stone.

Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal Review

Crystal Coffin – The Starway Eternal Review

“I’ve often stated that more than any other form of contemporary music, black metal is good at conveying abstract emotion rather than concrete narratives. It’s why, for many of us, the fact that we don’t understand a single word being sung isn’t a problem: the lyrics don’t matter (and are sometimes best left undisturbed, to be frank). This abstraction thrives on allowing personal interpretations of an aesthetic, but can flounder when conveying meaning through traditional story-telling. To put it another way: telling a complex story, when you’ve hobbled yourself by relying upon unintelligible shrieks and howls—and operating in the limited emotional bandwidth of fury and contempt—is like cooking a complex dish without basic ingredients.” When the medium is not the message.

Muertissima – Inquisition Review

Muertissima – Inquisition Review

“I’m a fairly open-minded primate. Ask anyone on the approved asking list and they’ll tell you. This aforementioned open mind inspired me to take a chance on unknown French death metal act Muertissma and their full-length debut Inquisition. The promo bluster promised “dynamic death metal” with thrash and death elements and a willingness to embrace open and adventurous song structures. Some of that is in fact delivered over the nearly 50 minutes of Inquisition, and in some instances, it was a mistake to do so.” No one expects the French Inquisition.

Atræ Bilis – Apexapien Review

Atræ Bilis – Apexapien Review

Atræ Bilis unlocked a whole other level of riff when they dropped Divinihility last year. The Canadian death troupe demolished kingdoms as far as the eye could see, razing the ground with razor-sharp riffs and songwriting tighter than the leather pants of your average hair metal frontman. That EP rocked my entire world for months on end, and I repeatedly return to it more than a year later. Today, I have in my hands the debut full-length by these chaps, entitled Apexapien.” Is MOAR always MOAR?

Rothadás – Kopár hant…az alvilág felé Review

Rothadás – Kopár hant…az alvilág felé Review

“The past week has been magical. Days of heavy rain mixed with days of clear, chilly weather have done wonders to my mood. Cue the magical days of doom and gloom! Death/doom and gloom, that is. My fall of 2019 was filled with releases from quality death/doom acts like Nightfell, Sempiternal Dusk, and Mortiferum, and with the latter poised to release their sophomore platter in November—not to mention 1914‘s imminent invasion—I’m hoping that this debut from Hungary’s Rothadás can kick off another season of pulverizing horror.” Chilled spirits.

Noltem – Illusions in the Wake Review

Noltem – Illusions in the Wake Review

“It’s an uncomfortable moment in a reviewer’s life when you stumble across some promo blurb from a band’s label or PR company that is actually right on the money. While I recognize it must be no easy life if your day job is relentlessly writing promo for bands, these mini-essays are normally so pumped full of hyperbole, so riddled with awkward phraseology and so glowing with praise that this band is the second coming of [insert relevant genre titan], that the write-ups are effectively useless as a guide to the band one is about to sonically ingest. Every now and again, however, the promo hits the nail on the head. Such was the case for Connecticut-based atmospheric black metal trio Noltem and its debut, Illusions in the Wake.” Good PR.

Zetar – Devouring Darkness Review

Zetar – Devouring Darkness Review

“Formed in 2019 as a solo act from Austin, Texas, the now international trio Zetar are so new and obscure that I couldn’t even locate an entry for them on the hallowed Encyclopaedia Metallum database. That might be due to the fact that the group entirely avoided releasing any demos, EPs, singles, or live recordings leading up to their debut record, Devouring Darkness. It could also be that the community running Metallum suddenly decided to act like a bunch of lowlife slackers, but I suppose we’ll never know.” Obscurity and site beefin’.

Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

“I know we’ve been harping about shitty band names a lot this year, but come on. Franklin Zoo? Why? Is your music about 6-year-olds getting their first biology lesson because two bonobos decided to get exhibitionistic? Do you have a tearful ballad saluting Harambe? Apparently not, since The Dandelion Child addresses the philosophic studies of Soren Kierkegaard.” Animal farming.

Siren’s Rain – Rise Forth Review

Siren’s Rain – Rise Forth Review

“Sometimes, the cover of an album is meaningless, you know, just a cliched picture of a skull or zombie or something to adorn the record sleeve. Sometimes, however, the artwork can tell you a lot, both about what to expect from a record and about the band behind it, which presumably signed off—or in a few cases even designed—the artwork in question. In the case of Tacoma, Washington’s Siren’s Rain and their self-released debut album, Rise Forth, the artwork triggered an all too familiar sinking feeling.” Graphic displays.