Stuck in the Filter – April’s Angry Misses

Another month, another disgusting panel to unhinge, and another tunnel to de-grime. As the resident sponge, I assume the primary responsibility for herding the writing talent into these tight metal corridors, leading the way as we all get covered in thirty day’s worth of dead skin, even deader rodents, and this weird yellow slime that seems to ooze from nearly every seam.1 It’s dirty work, but it’s an honest paycheck of zero dollars and zero cents.

Yet, we soldier on, for you ungrateful goblins who demand MOAR. And MOAR you shall receive!

TheKenWord’s Congealed Carcasses

Pharmacist – Flourishing Extremities On Unspoiled Mental Grounds

Speaking of carcasses, have you heard the new Pharmacist yet? Fuck yeah, you have, you greedy bastards! I have too, as you would assume, and it’s precisely the kind of Carcass-y deathgrind that I wanted. While it’s definitely about ten minutes too long, there isn’t a single minute that isn’t worth its weight in rotting flesh. Nearly as disgusting and massive as Devourment’s Obscene Majesty, but faster and probably meaner, cuts such as “Accelerating Suppuration,” “Necromorph,” “The Great Contractor,” and the title track are all incredibly likely to cause fatal blunt force trauma—but also sing an oddly pleasant tune in the process. In other words, by fearlessly splicing brutal heft with exuberant melody and murderous mirth, Pharmacist created something creatively intriguing and extremely rewarding with Flourishing Extremities on Unspoiled Mental Grounds.

Te Ruki – Marako Te Ruki

We seem to be experiencing a major influx of cultural enrichment this year, brought to our ears in the form of extreme metal fused with the aesthetics and spirit of regions not typically explored in heavy music. Thus far, we’ve heard the Wild West-inspired Vital Spirit, the blossoming of Nechochwen’s native heritage, and the Mexican tribalism embedded within Tzompantli. Joining the party, Te Ruki’s exciting Marako Te Ruki offers the world a vital breath of West Polynesian air to enliven their vicious black metal. Chock full of sick hooks (“Te Aka Tamaki,” “Tohitika,” “Tomo Te Aho”), menacing groove (“Tokerau Rua”), and boundless energy (“Komeri a Kamahi”), Marako Te Ruki earns a well deserved spotlight as a standout black metal release. Despite a mild case of bloat here and there, I anticipate this entry will resonate with anyone looking for a little extra in their black metal.

Xaoc – Proxime Mortis

There’s nothing quite like trying out a death metal record and discovering that the very first song is probably the embiggenedest thing on the planet. Xaoc did just that with their latest chunk of deathly delight, Proxime Mortis. Somewhat of a middle ground between Dormant Ordeal and a coked-up Suffocation, this Virginia supergroup (comprised of members of Hatefuck, Construct of Lethe, and Hideous Divinity) unload a clinic of unhinged hyper-death with their debut. Unfuckable riffs (“Terror Forge,” “Wretch,” “Denouncement Ceremony,” “I, Pilate”) and ridiculous percussive abuse (pick a song, any song) conspire to tear your limbs asunder on a regular basis, although that undeniable awesomeness falls just short of excusing the abysmal mix. To these ears, the low end is basically absent—even the drums have little beneath the midrange to speak of—and everything else is obnoxiously in your face at all times. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to resist this short, sharp shock to the skull and similarly difficult to resist begging for another round.

Maddog’s Feral Finds

OK Wait – Well

Take a gander at that striking cover art. This debut from Hamburg’s instrumental post-rockers OK WAIT is just as evocative. While Well may not be quite as concise or stunning as Novarupta’s fantastic Carrion Movements, it’s beautiful music to close your eyes and lose yourself in. Echoing bands like Caspian, OK WAIT patiently builds uplifting melodies into immersive compositions, aided by a solid rhythm section, graceful guitar leads that remind me of Pink Floyd, and guest violins. Well’s greatest strength is its fluidity; OK WAIT excels at starting with bare-bones ideas, layering them into riveting soundscapes, and stripping them bare again, all without missing a beat (“Wait”). While Well may not be the most br00tal album around, OK WAIT uses post-metal aggression to create punchy climaxes (“Blow,” “Time”), which feel all the more prominent around their softer neighbors. Well is in dire need of editing, and the album feels repetitive as it progresses through its lengthy 54 minutes. Still, that rooster demands your attention. He’s earned it.

Deathcrush – Under Serpents Reign

Deathcrush sounds nothing like Deathcrush. While these Italians do incorporate black metal elements throughout, Under Serpents Reign lies closer to the menacing riffs of Immolation (“Daemonology”) and the brutality of their compatriots Hour of Penance (“From Servant to Warfare”). Like all the kids these days, Deathcrush mixes elements of hardcore into their sound, like the chugging on the title track and “Thy Sovereign”. The resulting blackened death cocktail is straight-up headbangable fun, with highlights like “Beheading Jehovah Prophet” and “Black Thelema” providing an onslaught of irresistible riffs and ample opportunities to sacrifice brain cells. Under Serpents Reign blends its influences expertly, flitting between brutal death metal, blackened riffs, slammy breakdowns, and ideas out of left field (like the bluesy solo on “No Heaven Awaits” and the acoustic break on “From Servant to Warfare”) without sounding forced or abrupt. Like Immolation’s latest album, Under Serpents Reign stretches too long, with bloated runtimes and two unnecessary filler tracks. Still, Deathcrush promises threatening fun, and Under Serpents Reign delivers.

Carcharodon’s Plug Puzzler

Clarent Blade – Return into Forever

Ayloss—the creative mastermind behind Spectral Lore—has in recent times shown himself to be both a workaholic and drawn to numerous different influences in his creations (see Mystras’ two albums). What I did not expect from him, however, was an album of epic, heroic heavy metal tuneage. But that is exactly what Clarent Blade is. Worshipping at the altar of tradition, this feels as old as many of us believe Steel Druhm to be.2 It is metal in the Lordian Guard vein, tinged with something like Helloween. We’ve got cantering, nay galloping, riffs, acoustic passages, light and bouncy drums, even occasionally shimmering synths. The production is rough around the edges, giving a sense of DIY, garage metal, something I suspect is entirely intentional. Unusually pithy for Ayloss, a man renowned for being unable to self edit, Return into Forever clocks in at just under 40 minutes. Where it comes unstuck is the vocals. These prevent this otherwise excellent record from rising to the epic heights of the tales it regales us with. While I like Ayloss’ black metal rasp, his warbling cleans here are flat and lacking both power and impact. I really enjoy Clarent Blade but, if there’s more to come, I’d like to see Ayloss collaborating with a vocalist in the vein of Eternal Champion’s Jason Tarpey.

Thus Spoke ov Septic Secretions

Northlane – Obsidian

Metalcore?! Hear me out. I’ve been a fan of Northlane ever since I got my grubby teenage hands on Discoveries. LP 5 sees them travel further along the electronic and industrial trajectory so explicit on 2019’s Alien. In fact, I’d venture to describe Obsidian as EDM-metal—incredibly, weirdly, danceable, without forgetting to include inevitable -core breakdowns, harsh vocals, and impossibly drop-tuned guitars. From “Echo Chamber”‘s jungle beat, to—my personal favorite—”Cypher”‘s stirring distorted melody; to the waves of spacey synth on “Nova,” and “Dark Solitaire”; to the trance of “Plenty,” the record drips with infectious groove. While there are a few odd compositional choices—such as the decision to approach rap-like delivery on “Carbonised”—the strong is more than capable of carrying the weight. In all, it’s a joy to listen to. If cookie-cutter djent-core bores you, give this a shot.

Devil Master – Ecstasies of Never Ending Night

I’m not normally one for anything heavy metal-adjacent, but Devil Master’s most recent concoction of punky, crusty, heavy black metal sure got me. Featuring band members whose stage names would break my word count, with their tongues wedged firmly in their cheeks, Devil Master play up to the genre’s reputation for blasphemy and devil-worship in 40 riotously fun, raging minutes. It’ll have you swinging gleefully at the nearest puritan (“Enamoured in the Throes of Death,” “The Vigour of Evil”); howling maniacally into the night sky (“Golgotha’s Cruel Song,” “Precious Blood of Christ Rebuked”); and dancing under the full moon ’til dawn (“Acid Black Mass,” “Never Ending Night”). It was recorded on analogue tape too, so it sounds pleasingly grimy, but without losing any of that fabulous keyboard work. Trust me, you won’t regret submitting to this particular evil master.

Dolphin Whisperer’s Moldy Mentions

Eunoia – Psyop of the Year

One part noise rock, one part post-hardcore, one part prolonged paranoia, this Ohio trio has erupted from a hideaway unknown to toss a little more chaos into a growing scene of bugged-out punk. Drenched in enough reverb and feedback to rival a Twitter echo chamber, skronky screechers like “Mozambique Drill” and “My Roommate Got Psyop’d” place drowned diatribes against twangy tangled guitar ramblings. The panic built in songs like these grows stronger against a percussion performance that borders black metal as much as it does math rock. For every ounce of Dead Kennedys that rings through effects-soaked guitar jangles, there’s a equal weight of warm 70s prog resonance (“Introspection: a Different Kind of Weighted Blanket”) or furious metallic hardcore pummeling (“How to Watch Pro Football”) to remind you that this isn’t a punk affair to be taken lightly. Notably, the reliably spacious touch of Colin Marstonat the helm for mix and master hereallows extra depth in Eunoia’s weaving rhythmic backbone, letting drummer Ian MacAdam’s cymbals shine bright and bassist Bryce Aasen’s rumble ride low. I won’t spoil the excellent sample used to close the album eitheryou’ll just have to listen and judge for yourself whether it encapsulates the ethos of Psyop of the Year.

Crossed – Morir

Some people use carefully constructed words to explain their frustrations and fears. Crossed, instead sacrifices throat and finger to claw a purpose from hate and rage. Morir hosts not a single wasted moment from the opening meltdown of “Culpa” to the final lurching bass march of “Duelo.” Though the breakdown-led, bleeding tongue stylings lend themselves toward a definition of blackened hardcore, the intensity of these 10 frightful figures in 20 minutes reminds more more of Full of Hell than a band like Totem Skin. The Full of Hell-isms continue with bass and noise led interludes “Atado” and “Hundido” providing enrapturing, physical sound that will frighten your speakers and shiver your nethers. There is a moment on Morir where vocalist Miguel gives himself a breakthe demented post-punk swagger of “Flores Rotas”but this just serves as a build to the most vicious pit flag the band can wave. Having already grown in punishing leaps and bounds since their debut outing in 2020, Crossed is a band to enjoy now and watch explode later. Hate may he hard to define for some, but it comes worryingly naturally for these pissed off Spaniards.

Dear Hollow’s Heaping Helpings

Zos – The Whole of the Body I Call ZOS

Centering its aesthetics and name around the philosophies and art of occultist Austin Osman Spare, Polish duo Zos creates five tracks of psychedelic abstractness with a foundation of ritualistic plodding with third full-length The Whole of the Body I Call ZOS, hearkening to the mighty Dark Buddha Rising with hints of Neptunian Maximalism and Giles Corey. However, in accordance with its transcendental purpose in unlocking the subconscious through drone-fueled ritual, it plants its own whacky flag in surreal dimensions. From the relatively melodic “Black Albatross” to the blackened noise freakouts of the title track to the quiet climaxes of “Oh, Mighty Rehctaw!”, The Whole of the Body I Call ZOS is an acquired drone taste well worth acquiring.

Feral Lord – Vires In Absoluto

If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t crazy about Los Angeles-based Feral Lord’s debut Purity in Corruption. It felt improvised, dissonance for dissonance’s sake, without a theme to tie it all together. While sophomore effort Vires in Absoluto has many of the same moody acoustic Agalloch-isms and tendrils of sinister anti-melodies a la Skaphe or Svartidauði woven throughout, Feral Lord has decided on a more diabolical and occult tone, recalling the atmospheric world-building of Cultes des Ghoules or Negative Plane. Tastefully dissonant, tantalizingly epic, and heavily steeped in the sinister, Vires in Absoluto offers a left-hand path worth wandering, and an amazing step up from the act’s debut.

Black Death Cult – Diaspora

Contrary to this act’s relatively generic moniker, there is little predictable about Diaspora. Canadian quintet Black Death Cult makes death metal that, on paper, should sound like death metal. Although the focused attack of debut Devil’s Paradise is lost here, Diaspora’s three-car pileup of death, black, and doom takes on many a Hydra’s head, with a lethal dose of psychedelic and occult atmospherics to send your ears to forsaken realms. Taking cues from drug-fueled acts like Oranssi Pazuzu and Ufomammut, while borrowing from members’ history in Antediluvian, Diaspora is a sinister death march laced with lurching rhythms and fried nerves, doped up to high heaven and low hell with enough surrealism to dropkick this breed of death metal into the next dimension.

Crispy Hooligan’s Cacophonous Confectionery

Abstracted – Atma Conflux

Atma Conflux–the long-gestating debut from Brazilian proggers Abstracted–pays homage to the band’s influences with impressive yet accessible prog and tech death compositions that feature a surprising degree of classic prog (“Whisper into the Void”) and heavy metal (“Wither to Dust”). Album highlight “Whisper into the Void” shifts from chugging death riffs to a delicate acoustic interlude that supports bassist Riverton Alves’ killer melodic bridge and classic tone (e.g. Genesis, solo Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd) before launching back into clear Death influences. While the band’s penchant for whiplashing between influences can occasionally be overwhelming, “Whisper” starkly highlights the band’s potential. Unfortunately the band is still finding its footing in some key areas: length and vocals. The last three songs amount to a Senjutsu taxing 34 minutes. Rosano Pedro Matiussi’s ability to shift between several different clean and harsh vocal stylings is impressive, but his pop punk cleans that crop up over the back half of the album are downright jarring. Despite these qualms, Abstracted has enormous potential to marry spacey synthscapes with classic prog and metal influences in the future.


Steel Druhm’s Rancid Rarities

Suppression – The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh

Chilean death metal maniacs Suppression dropped quite a bomb in April with their debut full-length The Sorrow of Soul Through Flesh. Borrowing from the likes of Morbid Angel and Monstrosity, they rip, tear and shred their way through your brain with an album’s worth of high-octane insanity sure to impress fans of the genre. While much of what they deliver is fast and furious, there’s a strong prog sensibility just under the surface, and some moments recall modern Pestilence and late-era Death. This gives The Sorrow of Soul a bit of suspenseful unpredictable as the material blasts and burns along. Songs like “Overfeeding Gaps” heave and lurch between straight-ahead demolition and proggy soundscapes with off-kilter time signatures and tempo shifts. Other cuts like “Monochromatic Chambers” and “Extortion Behaviors” are content to just pulverize the scenery with rabid thrashing. Aside from the insane instrumental piece “Unwinding Harmonies” which verges on something Miles Davis would do, the band keeps the proggy adventurism mostly under control. There is however a great deal of wild, flashy guitar work on display and Pablo Cortés’ bass playing is off the freaking meat hook. This is a highly talented band that can do almost anything musically, and what they do here is craft hard-hitting death metal with a modern and intriguing dynamic. Check this sick beast out.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Ohhhhh, KenWord‘s got friends in CRAWL spaces! – Steel
  2. Hahaha, I’m olde – Steel
« »