Akercocke

Headshrinker – Callous Indifference Review

Headshrinker – Callous Indifference Review

“Every now and then an unheralded act comes out of left field to whack you in the melon with a baseball bat forged of creativity and intensity. Colorado-based progressive death metal act Headshrinker just did that to me with their Callous Indifference debut. Combining rancid old school death with doom, suicidal-depressive black metal, and prog elements, this talented crew featuring members of Polyptych along with Havok‘s Pete Webber on drums, created a deep dive into the complex and painful issue of mental illness and the soul-killing isolation and anguish it inflicts on those suffering from it. Feel good music this is not as the listener is plunged into a musical simulation of mental affliction with all its disorientation and unease.” Insanity and genius.

Moon Reaper – Descent Review

Moon Reaper – Descent Review

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a genre stickler at heart. I find a lot of comfort knowing where to fit every release that comes across my doorstep, so when acts swoop in to challenge that, I’m simultaneously uneasy and intrigued. There are plenty of folks that fall into this category but perhaps the most intriguing has been the UK act Conjurer. I’ve seen these lads described as everything from Swallow the Sun-esque death/doom, Cult of Luna-worshiping post-metal/sludge, to the blackened doom of Thou. 2018’s Mire is a landmark in its own right, and as we anxiously await its followup, we find newcomers Moon Reaper, definitely fans of Conjurer.” Genre reaping.

Alkerdeel – Slonk Review

Alkerdeel – Slonk Review

“As you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Alkerdeel. Why does that sound so familiar?” You ask yourself if it’s a similarity to the British Akercocke – maybe? Well, perhaps a similarity to the illustrious Akerblogger, and you question if in fact the good lad was named thusly – nah, that’s not it either. You give a brief overview of their discography, noting that 2012 album Morinde features a somewhat abstract but violent portrayal of, what, a wolf beating a rabbit to death? That seems excessive for a predator with, y’know, teeth. Oh look, they were involved with Hypertension Records’ The Abyss Stares Back split series that’s fucking impossible to find.” Rabbit don’t come sleazy.

Azarath – Saint Desecration Review

Azarath – Saint Desecration Review

“I want to do my best to respect the awe-inspiring Grymm. I inherited Azarath as he was too busy with other things to tackle it. I want to do him justice, to approach the Polish blackened death metal collective with the respect and professionalism due. I would mention that the act began as a side-project of Behemoth drummer Inferno and Armagedon guitarist Bart, currently featuring Embrional vocalist Skullripper and former Lost Soul guitarist Peter on bass. So, given the formidability of the members and the solid catalog ,b>Azarath has amassed, I want to treat 2020’s Saint Desecration with the privilege and honor it is owed.” Honor and desecration.

Venomous Skeleton – Drowning in Circles Review

Venomous Skeleton – Drowning in Circles Review

“Having been raised in church, I found my religious experience carried over into my vast expeditions into metal’s colorful multiverse: I find myself reaching more and more for the stuff that incorporates a unique tone of reverence, a sound of standing beneath the colossal or infinite. For bands like Batushka, Ancient Moon, and Behemoth, this liturgical and hieratic atmosphere is proposed through its ritualistic songwriting and uses of common religious musical elements (Gregorian chants, choirs, etc.) contrasting with blasphemy’s twisted dagger in an aural representation of madness. Sonne Adam‘s death/doom solo LP Transformation did this for me.” Worship music.

Schammasch – Hearts of No Light Review

Schammasch – Hearts of No Light Review

“There are two kinds of metal albums that tickle my fancy. The first kind takes a band’s trademark sound, alters it just enough to keep things fresh, but also retains everything that makes that artist or band unique, enjoyable, and otherwise impossible to do without. The other has mere glimpses of what made that band who they are, but throws so many curveballs, surprise left hooks, and a kitchen sink or twelve your way, and demands that you catch it all. Swiss avant garde spiritualists Schammasch most certainly fit into the latter with relative ease. Even after releasing a three-disc, exactly-100-minute monstrosity in the form of Triangle back in 2016, it still didn’t fully prepare me for what Hearts of No Light had in store for me.” That’s a big Schammasch!

Messora – The Door Review

Messora – The Door Review

“I don’t know what makes something “avant-garde.” I remember going to an avant-garde art museum in Santa Fe, NM, where there was a movie exhibit of a haircut. Literally, two men and one woman get an identical buzzed haircut in the shade of a gazebo in the mountains of China. There’s new age music plucking around back there, walls are lined with identical shots of their new haircuts, and shadow boxes of locks of hair covered the floor. It was weird and challenging and difficult to understand, but I think about it a lot. So, if that’s what’s avant-garde, Messora ain’t it.” Hammer, don’t hurt ’em.

Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest Review

Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest Review

“"Behemoth‘s star has been on the rise for nearly 15 years. Following the release of 2004’s Demigod and 2007’s The Apostasy, these Poles toured frenetically in the USA and Europe, building a huge fanbase based on their dominant live presence and hooky blackened death sound. Their hard work paid dividends when they were picked up by Nuclear Blast, resulting in 2009’s Evangelion. But while neither The Apostasy nor Evangelion were a tour de force equal to Demigod, Behemoth delivered on 2014’s The Satanist, which showcased the darkest, most mature writing of Nergal’s career. But great records are tough to follow, and the rounds of snickering that ensued following the release of the title I Loved You at Your Darkest and the album’s first single—”God=Dog”—hinted at skepticism among fans." Maybe The Satanist was an exception, not the establishment of a new rule?” Loving the evil sinner.

Voices – Frightened Review

Voices – Frightened Review

“When Akercocke dissolved in 2012, a few of its members regrouped as Voices, releasing a respectable debut in the form of Voices from the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain, revealing that there was some life left from the ashes of everyone’s favorite hedonistic prog-death merchants. However, absolutely no one was prepared for the relentless headfuck that came out the following year.” Voices carry… expectations.

Wild Hunt – Afterdream of the Reveller Review

Wild Hunt – Afterdream of the Reveller Review

“Welcome to the wild hunt. We’ll be venturing deep into the twisted, intestinal forests of the Afterdream: a withered, multi-dimensional landscape suffused with snarling spirits that froth forth a vitriolic seed. If we survive, we’ll venture into the blackened bowels and through to the death-grip of the Afterdream’s thumping heart.” Tally ho!