Portal

Noctambulist – The Barren Form Review

Noctambulist – The Barren Form Review

Noctambulist is a blackened death metal band from Denver. Their 2019 debut album Atmospheres of Desolation was an interesting and twisty take on the brutal arts, aptly reflecting its name through an onslaught of vicious vocals, shredding riffs, and relentless percussion, through a contemplative dissonant melodic template. According to the illustrious Kronos, it still needed to hone its songwriting and set out on its own non-Ulcerate-ordained path.” Form and friction.

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.

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.

Acausal Intrusion – Nulitas Review

Acausal Intrusion – Nulitas Review

“If I’m being truly honest, I have a difficult time with death metal. It feels unfair, as these acts rear their guttural heads on my AOTY’s yearly, but they’re often adjacent strains: black/death, dissonant tech-death, Lovecraftian, or other pretentiously experimental concoctions. But old school and Swedeath? Gimme somethin’ else, because I overthink the hell out of it: at the risk of sounding like my parents, it all sounds the same to me. However, a new weird death metal release from the label behind groups like Prometheus and ThecodontionAcausal Intrusion, sign me the fuck up.” Ruptured Nulitas.

Altarage – Succumb Review

Altarage – Succumb Review

“I’ll just come out and say it; I have no clue what is going on in this record. As The Guy Who Explains Why Shit Like This Is Good, that really puts me in a bind. As a result, I’ve spent weeks putting off this review. But hey, maybe we can try something new; instead of me telling you what’s the point of Succumb, how about you tell me. For once, I’m going to read your comments and entertain the idea that your opinions are as valid as those of my own self, The Guy Who Explains Why Shit Like This Is Good. Go wild down there.” Late hit.

Plasmodium – Towers of Silence Review

Plasmodium – Towers of Silence Review

Plasmodium is described by Metal Archives as “psychedelic black/death metal,” and that is definitely appropriate. Formed in 2016, the Melbourne, Australia, sextet features veteran blood, particularly drummer Matt “Skitz” Sanders of Damaged fame, and Aretstikapha of Mazikeen. Releasing Entheognosis in 2016 to underground interest, it introduced this highly atmospheric breed that doesn’t quite land in death metal or black metal, but somehow fills the dead air between. Featuring blackened vocals and drumming, sophomore effort Towers of Silence features some of the strangest soundscapes of 2021 thanks to its deranged string attack and cosmic ambiance.” Enjoy for silence.

Thermohaline – Maelström Review

Thermohaline – Maelström Review

“Thanks to that one boozy pirate-themed power metal band whose name rhymes with “Sail Dorm,” it’s difficult to take oceanic themed albums seriously. There are plenty of bands that have torn it up, Ahab showcasing mammoth waves with their breed of crushing funeral doom, Isis displaying the uncaring expanse with shoegaze-y post-metal, and Firtan and Déluge offering some respective symphonic black and post-black to reflect he majesty of the oceans. Scrolling through my black metal collection and each album’s respective themes goes something like this: winter, winter, occult, winter, occult, occult, evil, winter, etc. Oceanic-themed black metal is few and far between, and you’d be hard-pressed to find the good stuff. Will Thermohaline kickstart a new trend or will it end up drowning in its own ambition?” The sea was angry that day, my fiends.

Illkynja – Sæti Sálarinnar Review

Illkynja – Sæti Sálarinnar Review

Illkynja, like many of its country’s blackened offerings, is a project shrouded in mystery. It’s unknown how many members are involved or how prolific to the scene–only that the project is Icelandic in origin. Goathorned Productions debut Sæti Sálarinnar features all the hallmarks of Icelandic style: scathing layers of dissonance, pummeling drums, and punishing roars reminiscent of Almyrkvi or Andavald.” Iceland, man.