Stuck in the Filter – February’s Angry Misses

Tireless toiling in the massive metal trench that is our now thoroughly embiggened Filter caused us to forget entirely what month it is.1 However, we have not yet forgotten what month we speak of in this grimy gutter we call home. As we emerge, filthy and caked in nothing but the finest gunk, we carry with us those lost souls who would otherwise have faded into obscurity.

Share in the putrid glory of their reintroduction to the light, the light which we hath brought unto thee! It may be a blinding, evil light, but when you’ve been Stuck in the Filter for so long, you can’t be choosy.

Angry Metal Guy‘s Grody Grabs

Tryglav // The Ritual [February 16th, 2023 – Extreme Metal Music]

Has 2023 brought us a bumper crop of older school, more direct melodic black metal that I have been suggesting was around the corner for a couple years now? Well, it appears to be trying to. Tryglav’s sophomore platter, entitled The Ritual, adheres to all the best rules of making memorable, driven metal that keeps the listener circling back around. It’s intense, it’s well-composed, it’s loaded with riffs, and drops in at an almost-too-short 32 minutes. Rather, however, than being straight up a retro second wave, trem-picking extravaganza, The Ritual has a tendency to fall into mid-paced groove that reminds me more of Amon Amarth than Trelldom. Tracks like “The Redemption” and “The Evocation” remind me of a time when bands like Diabolical were releasing albums that blended the Swedish melodeath sound with a blackened vibe. Still, Tryglav doesn’t fit in that box, either. Instead, they walk their own path, while evoking the kind of pleasure in a listener that can only be derived from hearing the familiar done in unexpected ways. The Ritual may actually be too good for a Filter post. But I’ll leave that up to you to decide. And while you’re doing that, I’ll just be over here headbanging.

Flub // Dream Worlds EP [February 10th, 2023 – The Artisan Era]

Flub’s Dream Worlds is an actual EP that clocks in at 26 minutes and features four new songs: once with vocals and once without. Dream Worlds is also the best neoclassical metal that I’ve heard since Gloire éternelle and is significantly better than Flub’s self-titled debut in terms of both writing and production. The very best neo-classical extreme metal lets the guitars do the heavy lifting, rather than outsourcing to orchestral samples, and Dream Worlds does exactly that. Eloy Montes’ guitars harmonize, arpeggiate and grind and the bass (played by Inferi’s Andrew Kim)—not fretless, unfortunately, but still excellent—bubbles countermelodies and harmonies while Nekrogoblikon’s Erik Brown blasts away on the kit. When listening to the instrumental tracks you can more clearly hear the use of ‘harpsichord’ and other keys mixed down pretty far, giving it that Baroque vibe we dorks crave, but never dominating. The material here reminds me a lot of First Fragment, with its busy guitars and acoustic breakdowns, it has a very similar instrumental execution. But with Michael Alvarez’s vocals, Dream Worlds bears a strong resemblance to one of the most unheralded records I’ve ever reviewed, The Human Abstract’s Digital Veil. With comps like that, it’s worth 25 minutes of your time to check out Flub’s Dream Worlds. I’m hoping this means that there’s a coming LP that’s going to blow my mind.

Vvilderness // Path [February 10th, 2023 – Self-Released]

The path that Ulver began treading as edgy teenagers has created one of the longest tails in the history of black metal. While the band may be less important for telling the story of the infamous Norwegian scene, observers cannot avoid Ulver’s influence when listening to Cascadian black metal and anything that has followed. Hungary’s Vvilderness features all the hallmarks of the bands who truly follow in these paw prints. In fact with bands like October Falls, Vvilderness’s black metal is a powerful combination of atmospheric blackened riffing and harmonized acoustic guitars. This is largely accomplished by one man—Vvildr, who is credited with guitars, bass, talharpa, hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, lyrics, vocals, songwriting, production, and cover art—with a haunting guest appearance from 和美 on “Ashes Remain.” Path stands out from the herd of atmospheric black metal projects by being musically music more interesting and evocative than many of its kin. While clearly “atmospheric,” and suffering from some of the lack of intensity that comes from the genre conventions, Path is fragile and striking, hewing a mournful and unique vision. Vvildr could use an accomplice who plays drums and better production, but songs like “Ashes Remain” and “Nemere,” which combine Lumsk’s overlooked folk sensibilities with fragile dirges and harmonic minor trem-picking, are enrapturing listens.

Kenstrosity‘s Carnal Cretin

Curta’n Wall // Siege Ubsessed! [February 3rd, 2023 – Grime Stone Records]

You probably expected Cherd to be the one to proselytize the merits of Grime Stone Record’s Curta’n Wall. Surprise surprise, it me instead! As the Prime Arbiter of Silly Albums™, your friendly neighborhood sponge was dutifully obligated to apprise the masses of the wondrous cheek of debut full-length Siege Ubsessed! Abysmal Specter, mastermind of the famed Old Nick strikes again with an immensely fun and goofy slab of black metal, this time with a potent medieval flavor. Less raw in execution than anything Old Nick puts to record, Siege Ubsessed! is wonderful to listen to, with clear and warm tones brightening each of the varied instruments and voices included.2 The end result is something of a Grant Kirkhope meets black metal meets Renaissance Fair conglomeration which consistently entertains across its elephantine fifty minutes. Highlights “Siege Ubsessed!” “Elephantry,” “Wiz’rd’s Hat,” “A New Castle is Born,” “The Enemy So Bold,” and “Hounskull” all provide a delightful voice to a thoroughly enjoyable voyage, while interludes “Crossbow’s Dawn,” “Ogre’s Bog,” and “Fae’s Pond” unveil an unexpected beauty and delicacy to the affair that effortlessly immerses me in these be-knighted environs. It’s silly and unserious in the best way, but it’s also magnificently composed and superbly mixed. If you can handle its exuberant spirit, you’ll deeply enjoy Siege Ubsessed!

Maddog‘s Sheepish Suggestion

Lovebites // Judgement Day [February 22nd, 2023 – Victor Entertainment]

If you’re into power metal, you probably didn’t miss the new Lovebites. As someone who often struggles to love that genre, I only started listening to Japan’s Lovebites because of their hilariously godawful album art. Judgement Day demolished my meager expectations. From its electrifying riffs (“Wicked Witch,” “Lost in the Garden”) to its banger choruses (“Victim of Time”), the album is endless fun. Lovebites’ unbridled energy peaks with SoTY contender “Judgement Day,” whose four dueling guitar solos would make Marty Friedman blush. Miraculously, Lovebites never sounds cloying, avoiding the cardinal sin of power metal; I didn’t vomit even once while listening to Judgement Day. What’s even more striking is Lovebites’ skill at branching into other styles without sounding discombobulated. While the thrilling neoclassical Angra flourishes might not be a surprise, Lovebites puts a smile on my face when they mix in Maiden gallops (“Wicked Witch”), speedy Motörhead riffs (“Stand and Deliver”), and even progressive death metal influences (“Dissonance”). Judgement Day’s 53 minutes do feel like too much of a good thing, especially during the album’s weaker middle. But the record redeems itself with the aggressive one-two punch of “Dissonance” and melodeathy bulldozer closer “Soldier Stands Solitarily.” Even if you’re the kvltest soul this side of Oslo, Judgement Day is worth a spin.

Thus Spoke‘s Thrifts

Autrest // Follow the Cold Path [February 18th 2023 – Self-Release]

Every now and then an album comes along that reminds you why you love a genre. After what feels like ages of comparative barrenness, Autrest’s debut Follow the Cold Path came along to reassure me that I do indeed love atmospheric black metal. Channeling the warm soothing expanses of Cân Bard through dizzyingly beautiful soundscapes that remind me of Unreqvited mixed with Рожь, the whole is pretty mesmerizing. And just like anything atmospheric-blackgaze-post-black-approaching should, Follow the Cold Path successfully envelops the listener in shivering tremolos, weeping ambience, and surging, mournful climaxes. While the apexes of ascending refrains (title track, “Time is a River,” “Pale Night”) uplift, the forlorn blackened treading (“Watchtower,” “The Place where I Belong”) ground. Autrest is a project in its infancy—as yet unsigned—and I will await their next release eagerly, as it’s likely to be among the best black metal of its release year.

Dear Hollow’s Dead-End Dross

Scáth Na Déithe // Virulent Providence [February 3rd, 2023 – Vendetta Records]

Irish bruiser Scáth Na Déithe, helmed by Aeternam Vale guitarist Cathal Hughes, offers another ominous ride. Riding the coattails of 2021’s excellent The Dirge of Endless Mourning, Virulent Providence streamlines its sound further. Listeners may notice the density of death metal, utilized for maximum punishment in prior releases, is an agent of filth in this incarnation. Scáth Na Déithe focuses nearly entirely on black metal, blastbeats and scathing leads emphasized by grueling weight. Comprised of two mammoth twenty-minute tracks, Virulent Providence is a precision-crafted dialogue between angelic clarity and devastating distortion, passages of calm plucking and crystalline melody exchanging moments of overwhelming noise and funereal riffs. Scáth Na Déithe proves to set off in another direction with Virulent Providence, focusing much on reveling in the gloom rather than weaponizing it. It wanders through thick desolate woods for three-quarters of its forty-minute runtime before conjuring a death metal riff from the mire halfway through its second act, recalling blasting predecessor Pledge Nothing but Flesh before descending into contemplative destruction again. While Virulent Providence is a small step down from its predecessor, Scáth Na Déithe’s potential for new unexplored vistas hinted throughout is astronomical.

Dolphin Whisperer’s Reef Ravager

7 H. Target // Yantra Creating [February 24th, 2023 – Willowtip Records]

The technical brutal death metal deviants of 7 H. Target have taken nine years between full-length releases to sharpen zigzag riffs and pulse-spiking howls for Yantra Creating—a journey that includes the plonk of mridangam, a guest vocalist (Maria Lutta) layin’ down Sanskrit, and, naturally, plenty of slams. Now, I’ve been bamboozled by many a lofty promise in the slam and brutal death world—everyone has to sell that they’re most gnarled, blood-stained, and poser-stomping act out there. Well, to these roarin’ Russians’ credits, they largely succeed in sewing together their stumbling riffs with murderous squeal punctuation (“Askeza”) and recklessly reverbed layers (“Fire and Places for His Work”), all in the name of Tantric mysticism. In a fitting sense, then, Yantra Creating leans on the band’s technicality in an experimental way, similar to the uncatchy but unmistakable works of bands like Wormed or Mithras. As such, guitarist Alex Menshov plays around with delicate yet intricate artificial harmonic runs (“Askeza”) and unpredictable, alien leads (“Creating Gods Arms”). The experience of his steady hands too allows the excursion into brutalist Bollywood (“Shiva Yajur Mantra”) to escape feeling contrived and tacked-on to fit the theme. Really it’s that rhythmic insistence that drives this whole outing to be as thrilling as it is. From the opening skronky scatter (“Aghori”) to the closing cosmic oscillation (“Meditation”), Yantra Creating will jostle your sense of equilibrium till you too spin as one with the universe that surrounds. Don’t strap in, just let go.

Steel Druhm’s Unwashed Massive

Hail the Void // Memento Mori [February 17th, 2023 – Ripple Music]

I hadn’t the foggiest notion who Hail the Void were when I sampled their sophomore opus, Memento Mori, but it was immediately clear that this Canadian stoner doom act are a serious entity in need of exposure. Taking pages from the books of Windham and Electric Wizard, Hail the Void play a very accessible style of heavy stoner doom with a lot of melody infused into the magic mushroom pie. The big riffs are there, as are the trippy experimental jamming, but damn these songs are tightly written and directed. It’s fairly rare that I buy into a stoner doom platter immediately, but Memento Mori grabbed me on huge opener “Goldwater” and simply refused to let go til the bitter end. The pacing, the dynamics, the moods, and emotions all conspire to lock you into this acid trip through the looking glass. “High and Rising” is like a crazed blend of Uncle Acid, Saint Vitus and Danzig, and the laid-back but rocking vibe on “Serpens South” is vintage Kyuss. The album is a tale of two halves, with the heavier stuff upfront and the weirder, more trippy 60s-influenced stuff on the back end, and it works. “The Void” is super chill and dreamy and keeps you floating along with it, and “100 Pills” is a bleak, ethereal, and emotive piece that sticks. Vocalist/guitarist Kirin Gudmunson impresses in both phases, with a captivating singing style and a collection of 5-ton riffs. There’s simply not much to complain about over the 44 minutes of Memento Mori and you should give this thing a loud trial run. Hail this Void.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Who’s we, Kenny? – AMG
  2. Accordion, bagpipes, tin whistle, violin, banjo, saxophone, shawm, hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, and guest vocals from Tyrant and Elvya Dulcimer.
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