International Metal

Calligram – The Eye Is The First Circle Review

Calligram – The Eye Is The First Circle Review

“How can music communicate the feeling of dread? While all styles are able, metal’s inherent darkness fits like a glove. While it’s easy to provide aural bludgeoning or emphasize excess, the discipline of restraint takes time and effort. From the post-metal dirges of Neurosis, the avant-garde buildups of Eryn Non Dae., the spiraling doom of Swallowed, the blackened payoffs of Cultes des Ghoules, and the death metal environs of Desolate Shrine, it revels in darkness, plays with menace, but most notably, waits patiently.” Waiting in the darkness.

Azusa – Loop of Yesterdays Review

Azusa – Loop of Yesterdays Review

Loop of Yesterdays enters with a burly thrash riff that gives way in seconds to a lull of shady jazz chords. Two minutes later, Azusa are playing both at once. The record’s dichotomous approach spawns many such treasures, oddities that are hardly surprising considering the source. An Extol/The Dillinger Escape Plan supergroup could hardly produce a pedestrian sound.” The future is fleeting.

Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum – Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine Review

Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum – Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine Review

“I am not a particularly patient individual. In fact, it seems that the “older” I get the less patient I become. With this in mind, I asked myself, “Why. The fuck. Did you decide to pick up the two-hour split between Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum as your next promo?” It’s atmospheric black metal for heaven’s sake! For two hours! Little did the voice inside my head know that this epic love letter to the planets (and planetoid) of our solar system would be so compelling.” Put a ring on Saturn.

Last Call at Nightowls – Ask the Dust Review

Last Call at Nightowls – Ask the Dust Review

“There is something special about music created by artists who must collaborate with each other from afar rather than together in person. Take the short-lived yet beloved synth-pop duo, The Postal Service. Two artists, electronic musician and DJ Jimmy Tamborello of Los Angeles and Ben Gibbard, singer of the indie band Death Cab for Cutie, of Seattle decided to collaborate with each other undeterred by the distance between them. Jimmy and Ben overcame said distance by sending recordings back and forth via, no joke, the United States Postal Service. I find this mode of collaboration endearing, and I still hold The Postal Service‘s one album Give Up near and dear to my heart. Dark ambient doom-jazz band Last Call at Nightowls followed the same formula The Postal Service employed to create their debut album Ask the Dust.” Suspicious package.

Beast of Revelation – The Ancient Ritual of Death Review

Beast of Revelation – The Ancient Ritual of Death Review

Beast of Revelation involves Bob Bagchus, one of my favorite metal drummers and a foundational member of Asphyx. Bagchus knows what he likes, and conveniently I tend to like that stuff too. Also included are AJ van Drenth who handles guitar and bass, and Incantation’s John McEntee on vocals. Unsurprisingly, I’m reminded of Asphyx and its related side project Grand Supreme Blood Court, mixed with Incantation’s “comeback” era.” Death in the family.

Demons & Wizards – III Review

Demons & Wizards – III Review

Blind Guardian has always fed my fantastical appetite through the years—providing me with stories and full concept records at a pace and with a passion that is pure fun. Then, there’s Iced Earth. A band that has given me plenty of headbangable moments and vivid imagery through their own concepts—even crushing my spirit at times with heartbreaking ballads and war/lost-love themes. When I first heard Demons & Wizards, I realized it was no different. In a single band, I could experience the storytelling nature of Blind Guardian and the crushing, yet crippling character of Iced Earth. For two—now three—records, this has been the goal of this power-metal duo. But, fifteen years is a long time to go without your partner-in-crime. Even identical twins can lose a connection after a decade-and-a-half of separation. So, what’s that mean for Kürsch and Schaffer and their precious III?” Two Demons, one Triwizard Cup.

Serious Black – Suite 226 Review

Serious Black – Suite 226 Review

“It’s no secret that Serious Black has fallen out of favor with me since 2016’s Mirrorworld. I mean, how do you fuck up a recipe as simple as As Daylight Breaks? Furthermore, how do you go from a Grier top-ten pick to a disappointment of the year? Well, it happened. Which found me almost missing out on 2017’s Magic and completely missing out on that same year’s acoustic release, First Light. And, when this year’s anticipated new record landed, I almost missed out again. For better or worse, Suite 226 is here with another concept story. This time a deranged lunatic rather than a top-hot magician. All I can say is buckle-up, kiddos. If I have to be here, then so do you.” Why so Serious?

Satan Worship – Teufelssprache Review

Satan Worship – Teufelssprache Review

“A good blackened thrash album is like coming home to your favorite armchair. You’ve had it for years, the material is soft and has long ago conformed to the exact contours of your buttocks, ensuring maximum comfort when you sit your ass down after a hard day’s work to watch whatever bullshit you can find on Netflix. Yet occasionally, an album will feel more like a chair you’ve owned too long. There’s potato chip crumbles stuck in the crevices. Stuffing is coming out of the edges. The recliner no longer works. It’s still a good reliable chair, but it doesn’t quite warm the heart as much as it once did.” Sofa worship.

Hwwauoch – Into the Labyrinth of Consciousness [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

Hwwauoch – Into the Labyrinth of Consciousness [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

“I’m beginning to see a trend as 2019 draws to a close: I like me some weird-ass black metal. And, boy howdy, has 2019 has been a weird-ass year for it. Prolifically, having released a new album from each of its equally weird-ass projects by means of several record labels, the Prava Kollektiv has released quality atmospheric black metal en masse: the frostbitten cosmic stylings of stalwart Arkhtinn, the dark ambient maws of the appropriately named Voidsphere, the eerie and empty musings of Mahr, and the hellish and malevolent tones of newcomer Pharmakeia. But the subject of today’s tragically overlooked album is the latest thing your cat typed walking across the keyboard: Hwwauoch.” Say again?