A lot of music came out on January 26th; some shitty, others not so shitty, and some great. Let’s dive head first into the necrotic depths of desolation and explore some underground metal, shall we?
“Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” – Hooded Menace
I never actually checked out Hooded Menace, despite the rampant discussions about them throughout the metal scene. I gave this new album Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed a shot and very impressed! This has to be some of the best doom/death metal I’ve ever heard.
Great riffs, a crushing atmosphere, crushing drums, and putrid vocals all performed in a sometimes melodic, sometimes brutal style makes his record a stand out for me. It has a specific atmosphere that pulls you in if you let it, and the two genres of doom and death metal are fused together very well. This is why the new Belphegor album was so great; it wasn’t a black metal album or a death metal album, but a blend of the two. Hooded Menace earns a spot in the best of the month for sure; check out their new record released via Season of Mist.
“Down Below” – Tribulation
The Swedish progressive black metal assault known as Tribulation really impressed me in 2015 with their album Children of the Night, and even more afterwards when I checked out The Horror from 2009. They changed their sound from a catchy yet horrifying death and black metal mixture to a more progressive take on the two genres; infusing colorful dynamics throughout the mix as it weaves through dark and gothic soundscapes.
Since signing to Century Media Records…I will admit that Tribulation has watered down. The music is not nearly as aggressive as in 2009, and Down Below exemplifies this. I’m not exactly bashing this album for being soft, because “soft” metal can be amazing if done right, but this is a repetitive album as each track sound the same. This doesn’t even feel like a metal album to me; it’s a fusion of symphonic goth rock and weird orchestral pieces accompanied by very average sounding growls from Johannes Andresson. Maybe you’ll like this album, but for for me, it was just boring.
“Catharsis” – Machine Head
After enjoying the hell out of Bloodstone and Diamonds, I was anxious to hear what Machine Head had in store for us on Catharsis. Hearing the title track and Kaleidoscope made me worry…but my God, was I not expecting this.
There’s so much wrong with this album: Rob Flynn’s awful rapping and “melodic” raspy cleans, terrible and preachy lyrics, songs that never fucking end, nu-metal breakdowns accompanied later by melodic riffs in the same song that don’t match at all, and a run time of over 70 minutes! My biggest gripe aren’t the corny lyrics or Rob’s pathetic attempts of sounding rebellious, but the fact that just when you start enjoying a part of a song, it immediately becomes awful. I’m just so disappointed with this album and I hope they never do something like this again. I dare you to listen to Catharsis from start to finish; Nuclear Blast really put a huge shit-stain on their brand for releasing this.
“ION” – Portal
Portal’s new album ION, released through Profound Lore Records, is worth another mention (first article here). The sound from this Australian experimental death metal horde will challenge every notion you have about music. The only thing that kept me from running away and crying while listening to this record is knowing that I could turn it off and that it couldn’t hurt me. This is one of the most ferocious, dismal, terrifying, and utterly depraved albums I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if I can say I like this album…this isn’t music that’s meant to be enjoyed. The way Portal immerses you in an atmosphere of pure horror is admirable, which is why they’re as unique as they are.
This is the musical equivalent of an H.P. Lovecraft story; I imagine a chest opening and flies vociferously engulfing the room. The horrible noise is accompanied by your frantic screams as you bear witness to a shadow rising out of the chest; resembling the most disgusting and illogically formed creature you could think of. It does not attack, but simply takes up more of the room as you stand paralyzed in terror and stares right into your mind. THAT is ION.
“Cosmic Crypt” – Mammoth Grinder
It’s easy to recognize genre’s like brutal death metal or thrash metal, but with Mammoth Grinder, it’s hard to pinpoint. That’s honestly a great thing; whether they’re playing grind, power-violence, death metal, or hardcore music, they know how to entertain. They have an energy that exemplifies what this kind of extreme metal is all about; raw strength and thrilling excitement surrounded by abysmal overtones.
The appeal of Mammoth Grinder has always been their cosmic sound. I got a similar vibe from the black/trash band Inculcator, as they both have this abrasive “spacey” atmosphere while playing music that you wouldn’t expect to work with that kind of production. However, that vibe isn’t as present on Cosmic Crypt; it still sounds obscure, but the music is more or less straightforward death metal. If you’re a fan of these guys or death metal, I’d give this shot. Check it out via Relapse Records.
“Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiah’s” – Orphaned Land
Orphaned Land has to be one of the most positive bands in metal today. They focus on religious themes, especially regarding Abrahamic religions, but never come across as preachy and indoctrinating. The overall message on this album is that people should be treated equally no matter what religion they follow, and that the metal community has a place for everybody. I think that’s a great message, especially these days when there’s a million fucking genres and standards for what’s “true”. Can’t we all just get along and be metalheads together?
The music itself is very grand in scale and over the top. I’m impressed by the progressive and folk elements, and the symphonic keys that bind it all together. The music goes from slow and powerful to heavy with tons of groove. Chen Balbus does a great job on guitars, and both him and Koby Farhi deliver beautiful signing as well as brutal mid-growls on songs like We Do Not Resist. Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiah’s left me in a great mood afterwards, and I’d recommended this album to anyone. Check it out via Century Media Records!
“Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue” – Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals
Going into this, I had completely different expectations than what I heard. Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue, released thorough Seasons of Mist, is an extreme metal album that incorporates genres of black, sludge, and groove metal in an aggressive cacophony. This album is actually very chaotic, and the theme of mental illness fits very well with the music as it expresses itself as a manic rage that’s trying to tear through your skin.
My only issue with the album is that it’s too chaotic for its own good. Bands like Revenge or Tetragrammacide know how to make tumultuous extreme metal, but even their sound has some kind of structure and groove to it. Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals creates no framework for this recod and each song sounds like a seizure. I can appreciate the effort and the fact that the band is trying to make extreme music, but this one didn’t work for me. If you like metal that’s just completely nuts, maybe you’ll dig this one!
“Decade ov Desacralization” – Relics of Humanity (Compilation)
If you love brutal death metal, you’ve probably encountered Relics of Humanity. These Belorussian maniacs are similar to acts like Devangelic and Logic of Denial; an assault on your ears using intense speeds, tempo changes, and chaotic riffs to create an overwhelmingly brutal sound. They make their themes of chaos, cataclysmic events, and destruction fit their music perfectly, and when they’re not melting your flesh, Relics of Humanity break it up with some juicy slams on songs like “Habitual Devourment”.
This compilation is great and worthy of being in anyone’s BDM fans collection, because releases like this demonstrate how far a band has come. I already talked about the tracks in another article, but it’s basically a collection of various Relics of Humanity material from demo’s and some albums. It really shows how much they’ve progressed over the years, and this compilation makes for one hell of a headbanging experience. Pick this up from Gorehouse Productions; you won’t regret it!
Going through these albums one after the other was an endurance round and an emotional rollercoaster. I fluctuated between baffled, astonished, amazed, and disappointed during one entire day in hour long increments, but at least I had an opportunity to discover new music from a variety of genres. I hope you enjoyed my mini-review of each album, and that it made you at least curious about the release. Now go fuck yourself.
I encourage you to support the music you love! A LOT of links below:
Hooded Menace Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Bandcamp
Tribulation Website, Facebook, and Instagram
Machine Head Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
Mammoth Grinder Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bandcamp
Orphaned Land Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube
Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals Facebook and Instagram
Relics of Humanity Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, BigCartel, and YouTube
Seasons of Mist Website, Facebook, Bandcamp, Instagram and YouTube
Century Media Records Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Bandacmp
Relapse Records Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp, and YouTube
Nuclear Blast Records Website, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram
Profound Lore Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bandcamp
Gorehouse Productions Website, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, and YouTube