Experimental Metal

Sunless – Ylem Review

Sunless – Ylem Review

“Back in 2016 I stumbled across the promising demo from Minnesota’s Sunless, a fractured example of violent, dense and dissonant death. Urraca, their 2017 debut LP, expanded on the promise of the demo in appealing ways, firmly placing Sunless on the radar. Now they return, fittingly backed by Willowtip Records for their anticipated sophomore album, Ylem, dubbed the second part of a conceptual trilogy.” Dark and dangerous days.

Diskord – Degenerations Review

Diskord – Degenerations Review

“Lovable Norwegian oddballs Diskord make their long awaited return with Degenerations, their third LP and first recorded output since 2014’s mind-bending Oscillations EP. Easily one of my most anticipated albums of 2021, long ago I fell hard for Diskord‘s strange amalgam of old school death metal, experimental flair, and ability to crank out killer death tunes, chopped up with psychedelic and prog experiments. My first exposure was on their monumental 2012 LP Dystopics, an incredible album I consider a modern classic. However, as the years passed I began to wonder whether we would hear more from the band. Well the moment has arrived, Diskord fittingly popping up on the Transcending Obscurity roster to land another mindboggling clusterfuck of weird arse death.” Degenerate to evolve.

Tommy Concrete – Hexenzirkel Review

Tommy Concrete – Hexenzirkel Review

“My first thought as my eyes fell upon Hexenzirkel in the promo bin was ‘the year of dumb band names has yet another contender. But Tommy Concrete is not just an ill-conceived band name, it’s the artist name for Tomas Pattinson, whose diverse portfolio includes about a dozen and a half different bands, including a year-long stint in The Exploited. Some years ago his eye turned towards epic prog, because under this moniker he’s churned out at least an album a year since 2016 with music that’s drawn comparisons to Devin Townsend, according to the promo sheet.” Hevy lifting.

Portal – Avow Review

Portal – Avow Review

“Before Ion, we thought we had Portal figured out. The kings of murk would release another album of slogging dissonance, just like Swarth or Vexovoid. However, taking the path of least resistance or going with ol’ reliable has never been the esoteric Australian collective’s way, and we were greeted with Ion, a big obscure middle finger to the masses in their abruptly clearest and most pristine listen. In spite of the almost complete abandonment of murk, Ion adhered to their signature impenetrability, creating one of the most challenging listens in recent memory and showcasing that they weren’t just some disso-death one-trick pony. Avow reminds us that Portal is still king.” There will be cake.

Les Chants du Hasard – Livre Troisième Review

Les Chants du Hasard – Livre Troisième Review

“Sometimes, you have to try something different. Stagnating into a limited pool of metal quickly leads to burnout, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand… well, it probably wouldn’t be burnout explicitly, but that’s up there for sure. To stave off that awful feeling for as long as possible, I’ve made a conscious effort to be reasonably variable in what kinds of music I review for this site. I tell you this so you’ll understand why it was that when I first scanned through the promotional material for Livre Troisième, the third full-length release from French act Les Chants du Hasard, and saw the line “is it still metal? The question is now irrelevant,” my response was to dive right in, sight unseen.” Les Pretentious.

Mamaleek – Come & See [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Mamaleek – Come & See [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Mamaleek‘s experimental fluidity has been bubbling beneath the surface since 2008. Not a lot is known about the two brothers who have channeled many genres through the Mamaleek moniker. Come & See is their seventh full-length and another chapter in their difficult-to-place story. If you asked me about this record a few months ago I would have huffed, puffed and dismissed it as a work of directionless cross-genre experimentation. After revisiting the record last month, however, I was struck by how coherent and engrossing it was as a whole.” Experiments in sound.

Duma – Duma Review

Duma – Duma Review

“The self-titled debut by Kenyan duo Duma (meaning “darkness” in Kikuyu) is a most peculiar rara avis, carrying the sort of art difficult to distill into words, let alone narrow down to a single genre indicator. So while “grindcore” might be easiest to associate with the often rhythmically driven and dark work of Martin Khanja (aka Lord Spike Heart) and Sam Karugu, any expectations or points of reference go out the window within the first ten seconds of Duma’s opening track.” World metal.

Threadbare – Silver Dollar Review

Threadbare – Silver Dollar Review

Mimic, Guillermo del Toro’s 1997 creature feature, revolves around a mutated, highly evolved sort of insect capable of making itself look like a human being. Embracing a predatory strategy called aggressive mimicry – with people as their prey of choice – the insects’ appearance becomes an interplay of shadows and deception. Their humanoid silhouette is unstable and misleading, made of moving organs and chitin exoskeletons, yet strangely beguiling in its alienness. Silver Dollar, the debut record by Chicago trio Threadbare, is a similar creature in style, with a fluidly metallized, rocking, and faintly dangerous exterior projected from within a free jazz organism.” More than meets the ear.

Pyrrhon – Abscess Time Review

Pyrrhon – Abscess Time Review

“Where do Pyrrhon go next? It’s a question that, to my surprise, I had not truly considered. In pushing the walls as far out as they would go with 2017’s stunning What Passes for Survival, the band became torch-bearers in death metal’s unexplored corridors. The quartet synthesize techniques from technical death metal, noise rock, and free jazz to craft ungainly structures and cut winding new paths through the labyrinth, resulting in two of the most original and contentious records of the 2010s. In Abscess Time, the band have a chance to explode into the new decade with a bold new direction.” Time, tide, and transformation.

Thoren – Gwarth II Review

Thoren – Gwarth II Review

“There’s a menagerie of experimental groups about the borders of the black and death metal scenes, tracing out their own paths without much regard for popular approval or commercial success. On occasion, these groups will sweep into the mainstream, but for the most part, their influence is more subtle, appearing in an adulterated form in the riskier songs of established artists. If your poison is black metal you can choose between the flavors of Krallice (ever bolstered by their lineup’s star power), Jute Gyte, Genevieve, and many others. If your neck is a bit larger in diameter, you might want to choke down Baring Teeth, Coma Cluster Void, or this week’s subject, Thoren.” Buffet of bitters.