May21

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.

The Vicious Head Society – Extinction Level Event Review

The Vicious Head Society – Extinction Level Event Review

“I’ve had a few occasions now where I stumbled upon a promo in the never-ending heap and was beset by a vague sense of recognition. I’ll set out on a search through our vast archives, swearing I’ve read a review of this band or that, until I finally find the record in question, only to discover that the author of the review was, in a twist of truly Shyamalanic proportions, myself. This was not the case, however, for The Vicious Head Society, whom I still remember well as one of the most nonsensical names for a band I’ve had to cast judgement upon.” Extinction level head.

Noctule – Wretched Abyss Review

Noctule – Wretched Abyss Review

Serena Cherry has a knack for melody. In her storied career with Svalbard, the charismatic vocalist and guitarist has co-written and performed a decade of melodic hardcore tinged with post-hardcore, post-metal, and black metal. Now, Cherry tries a little something different in her new solo project Noctule, hoping to “spread her dragon wings and take off in an intriguing musical direction on her own. A labor of love and isolation, Cherry composed and recorded the Noctule debut while in the UK Coronavirus lockdown. Opposed to the melodic hardcore leanings of Svalbard, she now bets it all on black in blackened release Wretched Abyss, an album themed after the popular RPG Skyrim.” Dragon, why do you cry?

Portal – Hagbulbia Review

Portal – Hagbulbia Review

“There are a number of cool things about Hagbulbia, but on my first listen, I figured the coolest was that Portal won’t ever have to make it again. By my fifth, I was convinced that they should. After two decades muddling death metal and noise, the release of thirty-eight minutes heavily skewed towards the latter is not just obvious; it’s almost required. As such, Hagbulbia is a burning distillation of Portal’s less musical humors, but the band have chosen a canny strategy for its release. As an unannounced companion to the more traditional Avow, it can be at worst a novelty rather than nuisance for fans, who may be far more receptive to the cocktail than a shot.” There may be cake.

Hellryder – The Devil Is a Gambler Review

Hellryder – The Devil Is a Gambler Review

“There are castles and dragons, maidens and jesters, kings and queens. But genres have mixed. Instead of shiny armor, the knights are clothed in black leather. The queen serves as a groupie to the local tale spinners. And, the womenfolk have hair bigger than the menfolk’s broadswords. This is a place where stories of love are equally as common as those of war and mythology. It’s a strange time. Conformity and individuality struggle daily. Can members of this society compromise? Evolution is inevitable. Can they combine their best traits and push on to build something greater than their two parts? Lo and behold, this world exists—for better or worse. It’s the world of Hellryder, and according to them, The Devil Is a Gambler.” Gamblor will break you.

Ascète – Calamities et Calamités Review

Ascète – Calamities et Calamités Review

“I’ve been on a bit of an Antiq Records kick lately. Every time I see the word emerge from the mists of the promo pit, my interest is piqued and I grab the promo, often without checking first to see if it’s something I’ll like straightaway. Ever since Véhémence captured my heart back in 2019, I’ve been trying to keep an eye on this label from the lands of France. I’ve received a few heads-ups about Calamites & les Calamités, the debut full-length from the label’s countrymen Ascéte. Sporting black metal of a style that fits right in with their label-mates (Hanternoz comes to mind as a recent example), Ascéte have the sound of a fresh band eager to mark the map.” Fresh blackened meat.

Drift into Black – Patterns of Light Review

Drift into Black – Patterns of Light Review

“We here at AMG know all about the grind of productivity. “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves” is, after all, proudly emblazoned on the office wall. But sometimes, the quest for endless productivity results in work that is rushed, uninspired, and recycled. This same trap can befall musicians. While constant new material is great, and creative bursts are welcome for fans, sometimes you wish bands would hone their existing music more rather than vomiting out new material like a food-poisoned student. Which brings us to Patterns of Light, the fourth album from ex-Grey Skies Fallen keyboardist, Craig Rossi. His solo project, Drift into Black, has deviated significantly from the melo-death of Grey Skies Fallen, focusing on mournful doom and weighty themes of grief and loss.” Black and grey.

Perturbator – Lustful Sacraments Review

Perturbator – Lustful Sacraments Review

“It is an interesting phenomenon how French synthwave musician Perturbator became a common household name among today’s metalhead community. Several years ago, I had an opportunity to see Perturbator live at Seattle’s vegan metal bar The Highline, the same venue where I previously saw AlcestOathbreaker, and Khemmis. Though it slipped my mind why I ultimately was unable to attend the Perturbator show, the point is that Perturbator has somehow become more aligned with the underground metal scene even though it would make far more sense for the band’s music to circulate most comfortably in synthwave circles.” Synthy lust.

Sectlinefor – Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak

Sectlinefor – Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak

“I’ve always appreciated metal bands willing to include a hefty dose of comedy in their work. In a genre known for taking itself too seriously at times, wedding irreverence with heaviness can be an artistic gamble, and I appreciate that commitment. Melted BodiesEnjoy Yourself was a favorite of 2020, Slugdge‘s amazingly ridiculous Slug God mythos has had me sold ever since The Cosmic Cornucopia, and who can forget modern thrash’s obsession with hard-partying zombies? The fact that such bands employ comedic imagery, satirical lyrics or non-traditional instrumentation while addressing real issues (whether personal or public) make their output all the more impressive. It’s why I was quick to jump at the chance to review Kissing Strangers During an Outbreak, the latest from Sectlinefor, a deranged duo who perform, in their own words, “freshly squeezed cinematic rock music you didn’t order, sir.”” Plague tongue.