Album review: Incantation – “Profane Nexus”

Posted in Reviews on August 19th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Incantation

Profane Nexus is yet another superb offering from one of the most consistent bands in death metal. Rather than seeking to reinvent the wheel, Incantation have been focusing on polishing and refining their genre-defining sound and honing their song-writing chops. Recent years have seen a surge in bands inspired by Incantation‘s cavernous, morbid approach to doom-drenched death metal, but Profane Nexus proves that Incantation are still the reigning kings, as they return with a vengeance. Read more »

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Interview: Cryptic Shift on death metal, worm-holes, and H.P. Lovecraft

Posted in Interviews on June 5th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Cryptic Shift

Cryptic Shift are a technical thrash/death group from Leeds, Yorkshire. After encountering them opening for the legendary Exodus in 2016, I was instantly won over with their aggressive, technical brand of sci-fi metal. They’ve toured and performed with bands such as VektorLost SocietyMithrasIngested, and will soon be opening for the death American metal juggernauts Suffocation in Leeds. After their monstrous 2016 EP ‘Beyond the Celestial Realms’, in April they released their new digital single ‘Cosmic Dreams’ through UKEM Records. Read on for an interview with their guitarist and vocalist Xander on death metal, sci-fi, and touring with Vektor.

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Review: Time Lurker – “Time Lurker”

Posted in Reviews on June 4th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Time Lurker

Time Lurker is a one-man atmospheric black metal project that came to life in Strasbourg, France in 2014. Though it is technically a solo project, a number of other musicians contributed to this record, including members of ParamnesiaPyrecult, and Le Mal des Ardents. Their debut full-length album, the eponymous Time Lurker, channels charts a course that explores the nature of the human condition through the medium of introspective, atmospheric black metal. Stylistically it reminds me of Mare Cognitum, Aureole, or Spectral Lore. The sheer scale and ambition of the compositions contained within is as impressive as it is daunting, the intensity of the emotions and the consequential catharsis exhausting. While it very occasionally bites off more than it can chew, Time Lurker is an exhilarating, emotionally draining record from start to finish. Read more »

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Review and Interview: Nexion

Posted in Features, Interviews, Reviews on May 13th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery

I first came across Nexion at their performance at Oration Festival MMXVII in Reykjavik. A friend of mine knew them, and made me aware that they were well worth seeing. Their blistering show suggested a band with real experience on stage, despite having not yet released any recordings under the name Nexion. As it transpires, vocalist John Rood is also in Fenrismaw, while guitarist Jóhannes Smárason used to perform live with Svartidauði, and fellow guitarist Óskar Rúnarsson plays in Blood Feud. As with many of Iceland’s bands, there is cross-pollination. But Nexion‘s new music differs quite substantially from much of the black metal that has erupted from the little Island in its approach to blackened death metal. Read on for the review, as well as an interview with vocalist Josh Rood. Read more »

Review: Au-Dessus – “End of Chapter”

Posted in Reviews on May 4th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Au-Dessus

Lithuania’s Au-Dessus‘s debut album “End of Chapter” is a haunting, moving piece of post-black metal mastery. Conceptualised as both sequel and conclusion to their 2015 self-titled EP, “End of Chapter” sees Au-Dessus push deeper into the realms of dissonant, unsettling extreme metal. Comparisons with bands such as Blut Aus NordDeathspell Omega, and Schammasch are natural and appropriate, but Au-Dessus more than do enough to carve out their own niche in this flourishing style of black metal. Jarring, dissonant guitar riffs metamorphose into crushing passages of atmospheric sludge metal brutality; inhuman, tortured howls give way to melodic, passionate singing. Make no mistake about it: Despite the sleek visual aesthetic, this is challenging, harsh music that requires patience and careful attention to appreciate and come to grips with. With “End of Chapter”, Au-Dessus have crafted one of the most fascinating and powerful metal records in recent memory.  Read more »

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Live report: Zhrine / Auðn / Hubris (23/04/2017)

Posted in Live reviews on April 25th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Zhrine

The prospect of seeing two of Iceland’s very best black metal bands performing at a free-entry show in a small pub in London was simply too much for me to resist, so I caught a coach down from York in eager anticipation. Since the release of their album Unortheta (probably my favourite album of all time), Zhrine have secured spots at major festivals around Europe and North America, and even toured the US with Ulcerate and Phobocosm last year. Self-described ‘outsiders’ to Iceland’s black metal scene, Auðn are truly one of Iceland’s underrated gems. Atmospheric and evocative, bleak and tortured by melancholy, with throat-shredding shrieks and howls. Their side-project Hubris rounded off the stellar lineup, delivering brutal death metal aggression with malicious black metal influences. The stellar lineup delivered a spectacular show for all present, reaffirming the strength of Iceland’s metal scene. Read more »

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Review: Sarcasm – “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds”

Posted in Reviews on April 24th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Sarcasm

Sweden’s Sarcasm have had a tumultuous history. Formed in Uppsala in 1990, the band released a string of melodic death metal demos, culminating in the 1994 EP  “A Touch of the Burning Red Sunset”. The fascinating fact about the band is that in 1994, before they broke up, they actually recorded a debut full-length album titled “Burial Dimensions”. But the album was never released, lying in a slumber until it finally saw the light of day as part of a vinyl compilation in 2011, and finally given a proper release in 2015 on Dark Descent Records, coinciding with the band’s reformation. Complicated stuff, but here we are in 2017, and Sarcasm have returned with their second full-length album “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds”. This is presumably the band’s first new material since 1994, and yet it feels like the band haven’t missed a beat. Their melodic but aggressive style of death metal is every bit as catchy and intense as ever, harking back to a time when melodic death metal meant something quite different to the kind of streamlined and accessible sound we’ve become accustomed to. Read more »

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Live review: Chelsea Wolfe / True Widow / King Woman (17/04/2017)

Posted in Live reviews on April 19th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Chelsea Wolfe

I’ve wanted to see Chelsea Wolfe live for a long time. I’ve been a fan of her music for a couple of years now, and when she performed in Leeds last year I incomprehensibly decided I wasn’t able to make it. Well, when this fantastic lineup was announced for a short UK tour with a stop in Manchester’s excellent venue Gorilla, I was determined to rectify my mistake. Touring with fellow American acts True Widow and King Woman, the bands all play gripping, dark music that overlaps and diverges in different respects; but as a tour lineup, this is one of the most gripping and cohesive I’ve ever witnessed.  Read more »

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Interview: Sathamel on death metal, touring, and their upcoming album

Posted in Interviews on April 18th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Sathamel

Sathamel are one of the most exciting extreme metal acts to come out of Yorkshire in years. Known for their blackened death metal and blistering live performances, Sathamel have honed their craft touring across the UK for the past several years. Their performance at Northern Extremity XI at the Fulford Arms in York was a ferocious assault and a rousing success, so I sat down with them to talk about their music, the UK’s metal scene and York. Read more »

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Demo Roundup vol. 1 (Hex Morbidity, Dragkhar, Disincarnation)

Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Demo Roundup Vol 1

There are a handful of excellent demos that I’ve stumbled across or been directed towards recently that I want to bring to your attention as worthy of your time and support. Hex Morbidity hark back to earlier times with evocative, old-school black metal on their self-titled EP. Draghkar spew forth cavernous, morbid death-doom metal, and Disincarnation wield aggressive, surprisingly melodic death metal in the vein of At the Gates. Read on for links and more! Read more »

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