Stuck in the Filter – November’s Angry Misses

November had a pretty solid assortment of quality releases, both covered by us truly and unnoticed by the ascendant elite. Luckily, the intellectuals and high-IQ-having filtration team successfully dug out sparkly gems from the gross mesh of the Filter this month. Whether you agree with or support these choices depends on your innate ability to understand music and its intricate nuance. Obviously, we exist on a higher plane than mere mortals, so I for one would be utterly unsurprised to find that the general public might be unable to grasp the moderate genius behind the selections before you. That said, we’ll risk alienating the plebeians by exposing these cherished excavations to the world, because they deserve attention and we worked our brains off to locate them.

TheKenWord’s X-Mas Extravaganzas

Anomalie – Tranceformation

Simply put, Tranceformation is super cool. Straddling the lines that separate occult ritualism, transcendent beauty, and vicious bloodthirst, Anomalie offer something I don’t get to see especially often in black metal: novelty. There’s something innate about this record that feels fresh and untouched by man up to this point, and that sense of intriguing unfamiliarity strikes from the very start of opener “Trance I: The Tree.” Standout track “Trance III: Alive” even manages to dig into my brain as only the sharpest earworms can, and I find myself chanting the main chorus in the shower often. The songwriting here is damn near beyond reproach, if there’s an occasional swath of bloat disrupting the bloodflow here and there (“Trance II: Relics” and “Trance V: Cerulean Sun,” for example). Nevertheless, Anomalie’s newest drop is hot stuff, and you’d be remiss to leave it unappreciated on the altar.

Sion – Sion

Sion was not what I was expecting. First off, it’s a superduo between YouTuber Jared Dines and the inimitable vocalist Howard Jones. Obviously, that was enough to get me interested, mainly since Jones is one of my favorite singers in metal. What really sold this project for me, though, were the songs. The first two are good bits of mid-2000s metalcore, but the longer you stick around, the heavier and better Sion gets, branching out into death and thrash metal ground without breaking a sweat. Howard’s powerful and emotive vocals remain as compelling and unfuckwithable as they’ve ever been, as big choruses in “The Blade,” “More than Myself,” “Skyfall,” and “Great Deceiver” demonstrate. But the riffs flung into existence by Dines are equally invigorating, as evidenced by cuts like “More than Just Myself,” “Buried Alive and Wide Awake,” “Something to Live For,” and “Dying of the Light.” Tight songwriting allows this album to be a joy to revisit, though twelve songs is still a bit daunting for this genre. Regardless, I am excited to hear this style of metal be good again, so I can’t complain too much!

Carcharodon’s Final Festive Flourish

Rinuwat – Dua Naga

I am always interested in metal that brings in elements of traditional music from its place of origin. Even though I very rarely have any sense of how authentic or otherwise it may be, I like metal musicians that try to push boundaries and incorporate different sounds and influences. Which brings us to Australian trio Rinuwat. The name translates as something like “to liberate oneself from a curse” and their debut album, Dua Naga, expertly conveys the tense horror of going through an exorcism. Incorporating a range of Southeast Asian instruments—ceng-ceng, jublag, suling, gongs and tuk—alongside funereally-paced blackened doom, sludgy noise, and mesmerizing percussion Dua Naga is not an easy listen. The vocals are a mix of harsh, gravelly, ritualistic chants (“Sewu”), wailing, shrieking rasps (“Taring Emas”) and ethereal cleans (“Laknat Bumi”). The whole combines to create a haunting, beautifully terrifying package that has been skilfully crafted and will reward those with the patience to give it time to fully unfold.

Dear Hollow’s Decked Hall ov Holly

Dakhma – Blessings of Amurdad


Zoroastrian Death Metal, they call themselves. After the solid but unspectacular debut Hamkar Atonement, Swiss collective Dakhma returns for another trek through forlorn deserts laced with mystical and occult intrigue. More riff-focused than they have ever been, with muscular riffs providing the backbone of the album, highlights like “The Gaze of Ahura (The King)” and “Oath of Purity (Amahraspand)” lumber and blast with moments of fury and contemplation, with husky vocals moving fluidly among them, highlighted by an overlay of ghostly melodies. What Dakhma does right, compared to Hamkar Atonement, is inject a palpable sense of mystery into their sound, as if exploring the subterranean ruins of an ancient civilization rather than simply listening to a collection of blackened death tracks. While featuring hints of the folk dimension of acts like Aeternam or Orphaned Land it ensures the musty cavernousness of Nile’s In Their Darkened Shrines remains intact. Offering an exploratory mystique with ominously meandering brutality, Blessings of Amurdad is escapism at its finest.

Felagund’s Festive Conferral: A Thrashmas Miracle

Mental Devastation – The Delusional Mystery of the Self (Part 1)

2021 has been a backloaded year in the murky world of metal, as all the recent 4.0s can attest. To drive that point home, I overlooked yet another gem residing in the promo sump, and now I’m trying to right that egregious wrong. Mental Devastation’s sophomore album is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday gathering, assuming your guests are all big fans of Coroner and Sadus-inspired tech thrash from Chile. In a year that has also delivered some quality tech death releases, The Delusional Mystery of the Self (Part 1) kicks down your well-wreathed door and demands your attention. The album is a fun, frenetic journey overflowing with old school riffs, technical wizardry (a doff of the cap to bassist/vocalist Alejandro Lagos), engaging songwriting, and plenty of gang-chanted choruses. If you’re a fan of the genre, get ready to start checking for a release date for Part 2.

Steel Druhm’s Season’s Beatings and Boozy Sugar Plums ov Iron

Djiin – Meandering Soul

French psychedelic stoner act, Djiin released their third full-length in November, and it’s a weird and wonderful slab of witchy wonkiness. Meandering Soul prominently features the talents of vocalist and electric harpist, Chloé Panhaleux, who makes the material sound both seductive and threatening in equal measure. On dark, dreamy cuts like the intense “Black Circus,” this balance between charm and unease is the central feature, as Chloé weaves enticing vocal melodies to lure you down the rabbit hole where the knives are. Riffs twist from hazy to crushing, sometimes verging on Sun O))) territory and the electric harp adds a whole other level of hectic strum and clang. On “The Void” soothing, languid 60s hippie rock slowly morphs into suspiciously cult-like chanting before erupting into something like suicidal depressive black metal as Chloé unleashed a series of screams that are quite horrific and jarring. It’s a weird trip, as this is the whole album.

Hollow – Tower

Sweden’s Hollow have been a reliable purveyor of smart, melancholic prog power since 1995, and their 1999 Architect of Mind opus is an underappreciated gem that ranks among my favorite metal albums of all time. Hollow now functions as a one-man project for founder Andreas Stoltz and fourth platter Tower released with little to no hype last month. It’s more or less classic Hollow, blending smart, ear-catching hooks with depressive themes and the same atmosphere Shadow Gallery and Rage for Order era Queensrÿche were known for. Whether heavy or restrained, there’s always a morose, sadboi vibe underpinning the songs, especially on “The Waiting is Over” and “A Home Forgotten” which ripple with heartache. Vague melodeath influences and some djent-adjacent sections give Tower adequate heft and the songs are all memorable and interestingly emotive. A solid and likely to be overlooked piece of prog-power from an act more people should know about.

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