Stuck in the Filter – September’s Angry Misses

The filters are full once again at the AMG filtration and industrial smoothing facility. And let’s not even mention what was found over at the sludge control depot. That means we’ve been scraping and scouring so long, even the rotting head of a former writer we keep mounted on the wall thinks our minds are gone. Feel free to pick through the gunk and junk and see if anything we recovered speaks to you. If so, recycle it! As we say around these parts, one person’s spam is someone else’s jam. Tip your Filter Techs and thoroughly wash your hands.


Steel’s Selection o’ the Month

Shadecrown – Solitarian

Finland’s Shadecrown swim in the familiar waters of their country’s melodeath/melodoom scene, drawing easy comparisons to Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum and Black Sun Aeon. On third album Solitarian, they showcase a slick blend of the usual along with a dose of gothic metal in the vein of Charon and Poisonblack. Tracks like “The Awakening” could even fit in on a Sentenced album, mixing mopey goth rock and death in interesting ways. Other cuts succeed simply because they do the expected well, like “Dark Heart Replica” and “The Loss,” which are pure Insomnium worship. Other tracks bear a strong Before the Dawn similarity. While none of this smacks of originality, you still get a solid platter of grim, gloomy tidings that will serve you well when the Sun’s warmth fades and winter takes hold. Feel the ennui.

Dear Hollow’s Tasteful Suggestions

DefacementDefacement

At face value, Defacement appear your run-of-the-mill murky dissodeath purveyors, proving exactly that with their 2018 debut Deviant. Channeling acts like Mitochondrion and Abyssal in their pulverizing breed of blackened death, Deviant was solid but ultimately unspectacular. Evident in the Dutchmen’s sophomore self-titled effort, a swirling balance greets the ears: crushing death metal, otherworldly atmosphere, and just enough melody to make things interesting. While this combination has been said about myriad acts, what makes Defacement so intriguing is its dynamic. Consisting of four death metal tracks separated by an equal number of ambient interludes, its main content’s proclivity towards dissonant melody grows and swells with each passing track, from background in “Shattered” to forefront in “Wounded.” While it could forego the interludes, they provide a strangely beautiful dimension of yearning and desperation, further emphasized by placid passages in tracks like “Shattered” or “Disenchanted.” It balances each facet of its attack, equal parts menacing, beautiful, and pulverizing – a face only a mother could love.

Spiritbox – Eternal Blue

For those unaware, Spiritbox is what remains of Iwrestledabearonce. Dropping the novelty everything-but-the-songwriting-kitchen-sink approach in favor of “art metal” (read: djent), two EPs and a vast string of singles have kept their head above water thanks to the absolutely bonkers vocal attack of Courtney LaPlante. A more ethereal version of TesseracT, perhaps, Spiritbox‘s first full-length Eternal Blue capitalizes upon metalcore heaviness, gossamer melody, and cold industrial overtones, always bolstered by LaPlante’s tasteful, nearly Enya-like tone in sky-high hooks, gnarled harsh vocals, and ominous whispers. Eternal Blue is smartly composed, as nearly every moment that has potential for mediocrity or similarity is immediately twisted to avoid it. While tracks like “Yellowjacket” or “Sun Killer” are immediate highlights for their unique twists, more typical metalcore forays like “Hurt You” or “Holy Roller” or catchy clean vocal-centric “The Summit” or “We Live in a Strange World” are benefited from a harsh industrial frigidity that pervades every fiber. While perhaps Eternal Blue‘s hype outweighs its content by a smidge, it’s hard to imagine this solid of a debut with this many oft-maligned influences.

The Lovecraft Sextet – In Memoriam

A project of Renaissance man Jason Köhnen (Mansur, Bong-Ra, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation), The Lovecraft Sextet‘s In Memoriam offers a dark musical soundscape with every nook and cranny explored in three interpretations of two tracks “Funebre Macabre” and “De Mysteriis.” The “Vocalis” focus more on operatic vocals atop neo-classical flavors, “Musicorum” utilizes saxophone melodies to grace its Bohren-esque meanderings, while “Ambientum” focuses on moody synth tones reminiscent of Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast, and God Body Disconnect‘s Miles to Midnight collaboration. The album barely clocks in at over half an hour, yet it feels firmly fleshed and powerfully composed, thanks to its rock-solid blackened De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas-inspired songwriting. In pure dark-jazz fashion, expect a smoky lounge and a classic Manhattan cocktail before you, but don’t be surprised when the veiled femme fatale bursts into the trills of forbidden opera as the crooked tendrils of eldritch madness grip your frail sanity.

Carcharodon’s Crucial Recommendation

Alghol – The Osseous Key

The debut full-length from Portland, Maine’s Alghol is nasty, raw black metal, with lashings of death metal thrown in for good measure, and a surprising amount of melody woven into the mix. Thick, meaty riffs and frenzied work on the drums combine to give the mid-paced fury a sense of weight and heft, as the razor-wire rasp of the vocals crawls over the top. The Osseous Key has a sense of creeping horror about it, teed up by the discordant samples and out-of-tune keys that bounce around in echoes to open the record on “Nocturnal Visions,” resurface on the “The Raven’ Call” and are left hanging in the fetid air by unsettling closer “Blessings of Virulent Wisdom.” In between, Alghol mainman Pete Rodway (who writes, performs and produces everything) leers his way through a subtly changing palette of black metal influences. Where “Tireless Procession” has a sort of Bathory stomp to it, the likes of “The Gala of Gore” and “Fall of the King” channel more of a blackened death vibe, and the title tracks leans into Immortal. The Osseous Key is skilfully written, tightly performed and, despite saying it’s raw black metal, it carries a surprisingly dynamic sound, especially for the debut from a one-man black metal project.

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