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Blazar – Fatal Cosmic Wound Review

Blazar – Fatal Cosmic Wound Review

“People call funeral doom boring, and I get it. It’s very slow, often very long, not particularly technical, and contains few riffs per minute. Its compositions are not ordinarily gym-friendly, or headbangable. But good funeral doom is good. Crushing, transportive, and at times incredibly beautiful, as the low, slow and leaden is partnered with rising, floaty, ethereal melodies. Think Shape of Despair, Clouds, Esoteric. All this to say, that the best funeral doom is that which balances its punishing heaviness and crawling tempos with clean, graceful melodiousness in order to produce something truly immense. Blazar, Spanish funeral doom/sludge gang have a different philosophy.” Angry burial.

Exhorder – Defectum Omnium Review

Exhorder – Defectum Omnium Review

“With this year’s Defectum Omnium, it’s clear Exhorder aren’t finished proving their relevance and reinventing themselves in the eyes of their dedicated fanbase. But, with such a strong outing five years ago, will Defectum Omnium be a step forward for the band or will it be, well… a defectum?” Omnium Blatherum.

North Sea Echoes – Really Good Terrible Things Review

North Sea Echoes – Really Good Terrible Things Review

“Fewer combos in metal have spurred music in my wheelhouse as that of Ray Alder and Jim Matheos. Their union for Fates Warning’s 1988 release No Exit burst in the budding progressive metal scene with USPM histrionics and Rush-fueled narrative structure. Of course, that was near forty years ago. At sixty vs twenty, your mind (mostly) thinks differently, your voice cracks differently, your hair grays and may even thin. In the case of Alder and Matheos, while immune to the loss of hair, do fall in line to some extent with the other consequences of time. In the sea of time.

Infected Rain – TIME Review

Infected Rain – TIME Review

““Progressive” is one of the most flippantly applied adjectives we have for genres today. “Modern” is equally abused, so one can imagine the clanging of alarm bells when the promo sheet for Moldova’s Infected Rain described the band as “modern progressive metal.” But I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, even if said book devolves into the Buttgate of late January. Plus vocalist Elena Cataraga goes by the stage name Lena Scissorhands, which means I get to write the word scissorhands a lot in this review, a tiny joy I never thought I’d experience.” Touchy slicey.

Zwielicht – The Aphotic Embrace Review

Zwielicht – The Aphotic Embrace Review

“Occasionally, we all gotta go back to our roots. Expanding one’s sonic palette is all fine and good, but when you’ve had a beast of a day, sometimes you just want to close your eyes and lose yourself in the familiar. 2024 has been incredibly hard work so far, which is why the AMG overlords suggested I go back to what Doomy does best: reviewing underground black metal. Zwielicht in the promo sump immediately jumped out. Experienced musicians (the band is nearly 20 years old)? Check. Evil and fast black metal? Check. Unencumbered by petty labels and their weird expectations? Check.” Hello darkness my olde friend.

Olhava – Sacrifice Review

Olhava – Sacrifice Review

“Less black metal than Trna, and more evocative synths a la Unreqvited, there is no rushing Olhava. Shimmering soundscapes are what they do, albeit that, where Unreqvited has (at least since 2018’s Mosaic I: L’Amour et L’Ardeur) hints of light and promise in the sound, Olhava is all shades of loss and a sense of hopeless grey.” 50 shades of sadboi.

Drowned – Procul His Review

Drowned – Procul His Review

“Whether they like it or not, Sulphur Aeon left its mark on the death metal world. While it’s easy to focus on their lyrical themes and reverence for the Great Old Ones as a lyrical monument, their straightforward approach tinged with blackened precision and colossal atmosphere extends to more than the Cthulhu worshipers out there. Take their fellow Germans, the longstanding death metal act Drowned. While the lyrics of Procul His revolve around things like the occult, darkness, and abstract themes, you’ll find that the sound feels straight outta the Antisphere.” Tentacles in the void.

Kontact – Full Contact Review

Kontact – Full Contact Review

“When a band draws so clearly on an aged aesthetic, the results can be hard to parse as pastiche, worship, or otherwise. Even moreso in niche corners like the epic heavy metal crowd, where soaring vocals of varying qualities—all hoping to stick in your mind regardless—triumph alongside thick kicks, thicker riffs, and battle-tested builds, worshippers of the riff conflict with worshippers of the riffers. Enter Kontact, a young Canadian troupe whose 2022 release, the cheeky-titled EP First Contact, played tightly on the ideas set forth by the idiosyncratic but ever-mountainous Manilla Road, but with enough of their space-bound palette to paint a few stripes of their own.” Bad touch.

Iron Front – Hooked Review

Iron Front – Hooked Review

Iron Front are a young band fresh outta the savage wasteland of California. Their sound is a straightforward mix of hardcore, slam and brutal death, with an emphasis on the groove, not on noodly technicality. Their aim, from the outset, is to crush, not dazzle. Their debut, 2022’s Left Out to Rot, was as unpretentious as it was fun: a brutal little appetizer that promised more. That “more” is Hooked, and straightaway the cover will tell you everything you need to know.” Iron deficiency.

Axenstar – Chapter VIII Review

Axenstar – Chapter VIII Review

“”Is it necessary for artists to grow?” A question that haunted me as I listened to Chapter VIII, the eighth album by Swedish power metal act Axenstar. When an artist finds their niche, deviations always run the risk of alienating their audience from what they found appealing in the first place. Power metal in particular carries plenty of clear expectations—soaring choruses, galloping drums, warbly vibrato for days—and it’s easy for a band to fall into a groove. But where is the line drawn between comforting familiarity and stagnation?” Chapter and old verse.