Review: Draugsól – “Volaða Land”

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Draugsól

Volaða Land is the debut record from the recently-formed Icelandic group Draugsól. The band describe themselves as black metal, and by and large that’s accurate, but to my ears there’s a whole lot of death metal influence going on here as well, with a prominent low-end sound, heavy palm-muted guitar riffs, and guttural vocals. In some ways the texture of influences on this album almost reminds me of a way heavier, more death metal-influenced Enslaved. The tremolo-picked guitar passages and aggressive percussion are here as well of course, but Draugsól venture well beyond these conventional genre boundaries. The songs are constructed around powerful melodies, rhythms and motifs, with some incredibly tasteful, understated guitar solos and jazzy, varied percussion. Read more »

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Review: Devouring Star – “Antihedron”

Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Devouring Star

Devouring Star’s new EP ‘Antihedron’ is the sound of worlds collapsing in on themselves, a black hole devouring a solar system. Antihedron describes “negative planes and shapes”, and discusses the three central concepts of birth, existence, and death. Each song serves to highlight a separate facet of the human experience, as beings whose experience extends across each plane of existence. The crushing, abrasive weight of Devouring Star‘s sound serves as the perfect vessel for the cold, malicious Satanic energies they channel through their music. Antihedron is Devouring Star‘s finest moment to date, and a forceful reminder of the power a record can wield when the music is given purpose through its message. Read on for the review.

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Martröð – “Transmutation of Wounds”

Posted in Reviews on March 5th, 2017 by Matthew Lowery
Martröð

Martröð is the collaborative project of an international group of musicians united by their shared musical and ideological goals. Featuring Wrest (of Leviathan), D.G. (of Misþyrming), Alex Poole (of Krieg), and others, their pedigree is impressive, but their music ought to stand by itself, and with such an incredible line-up it’s only natural that expectations are high. Thankfully, those expectations have been met, and Martröð really have crafted a very special release with ‘Transformation of Wounds’.

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Teitanblood release new EP ‘Accursed Skin’

Posted in News on December 13th, 2016 by Matthew Lowery
teitanblood

It’s always a morbid treat when the Spanish black/death metal masters in Teitanblood release new music. And today marks the release of their new EP ‘Accursed Skin’ on vinyl and digital formats through Norma Evangelium Diaboli. Read more »

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Setentia: Interview and Album Review

Posted in Interviews, Reviews on December 12th, 2016 by Matthew Lowery

Some bands take a few releases to mature, hone their technical skills, and refine their sound to a point where they sound confident in their music and carve out a niche for themselves. Other bands, like Setentia, nail it on their first attempt. Their debut full-length album (and, in fact, their very first release of any kind) ‘Darkness Transcend’ was released independently earlier this year, and reissued on the reputable Finnish label Blood Music on November 11. Though the band have been compared with Ulcerate, this does not do justice to the breadth of Setentia’s sound, which incorporates elements of progressive metal and black metal to a far greater extent. Beyond that, they have an uncanny knack for suffocating atmosphere, highly technical, brutal death metal, as well as writing songs with enough variety and unexpected surprises to stave off monotony.

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Review: Bölzer – “Hero”

Posted in Reviews on November 25th, 2016 by Matthew Lowery

Bölzer’s debut full-length album ‘Hero’ is finally here. It’s a testament to the quality of their music that they have succeeded in setting the metal underground on fire with less than an hour’s musical material to their name. Because Bölzer has set such a high standard with their music so far, and the media buzz around the band, there’s an enormous amount of pressure on the band for Hero to live up to everyone’s expectations. And in most respects, Hero delivers the goods.

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Départe: Interview and Album Review

Posted in Interviews, Reviews on November 12th, 2016 by Matthew Lowery

Tasmanian metal band Départe’s expansive sound draws on the most powerful elements of black metal, death metal, and even post-metal. While comparisons with bands like Ulcerate and Zhrine are inevitable because of the band’s penchant for dissonant, unsettling guitarwork, Départe carves out their own sound on their debut album ‘Failure, Subside’.

Stylistically the focus is much more on the atmosphere and flow of the songs than on heaviness or riffs, and the band frequently operate at a bulky, sludgy pace.At the core of their sound is unrelentingly heavy, technical death metal – in this sense, comparisons to Ulcerate are justified. Long sections of atmospheric doom offer some respite from the heaviness of their assault, but frequently simply seem to render the atmosphere even more suffocating.

The opening section ‘Grief Echoes (Golden Scars)’ is one of my favourite on any song this year, the incredibly heavy percussion and eerie melodic guitars working creating a deeply unsettling, brutal sound. And the use of clean vocals throughout the album are a real highlight. They don’t feel like an afterthought, they feel like a really strong tool to provide some release from the utter gloom of much of the music. Used towards the end of the ‘Ashes in Bloom’ they’re a really beautiful touch. The lyrics certainly invoke imagery of despair and grief, suffering and loss, but they also evoke a sense of hope and optimism. It’s in some ways a real treat to read lyrics in such a bleak, poetic style from a musician that has clearly put some real thought into them. It’s a very human, emotionally powerful album, and one very worth experiencing for yourself.

After enjoying the album so much, I reached out to guitarist, vocalist, lyricist, and songwriter Sam Dishington to talk about Départe’s music as well as the experience of being a metal band from Tasmania. Read on for the interview!

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Album review: Ulcerate – “Shrines of Paralysis”

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2016 by Matthew Lowery
Ulcerate

Ulcerate‘s brand of technical death metal is compelling precisely because it challenges so many of the established tropes that have emerged in the genre over the last decade. This New Zealand group are certainly incredibly gifted musicians, and the technicality and complexity of their music more than proves this. But more than this, Ulcerate understand the importance of the raw feeling of an album, and of atmosphere and songwriting. The heaviness has to serve some kind of end: Sheer technicality, speed or brutality can never compensate if an album lacks in these departments.  Shrines of Paralysis is a majestic, haunting record encapsulating vitriolic misanthropy redeemed through violent, decadent beauty.

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Dead Congregation – “Sombre Doom”

Posted in Reviews on November 1st, 2016 by Matthew Lowery

Dead Congregation prove that it’s not necessarily about doing something first, it’s about doing it better than anyone else out there. There’s nothing ground-breaking or innovative about their music, but when a new release by them makes its way into the world, you’d better be paying attention.

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Interview: Zhrine and Svartidauði guitarist Nökkvi Gylfason

Posted in Interviews on September 15th, 2016 by Matthew Lowery

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I think Iceland’s metal scene is absolutely fucking stellar. Probably half of my top 10 favourite bands hail from the tiny northern island, Zhrine among them. Formerly known as Gone Postal, they underwent an incredible metamorphosis, bursting onto the scene earlier this year with their debut album “Unortheta”, a dazzling and entrancing black and death metal concoction that succeeded – in my view – on nearly every level. Having reviewed the album not too long ago, I now bring you an interview with their guitarist Nökkvi Gylfason. He’s a guitarist and one of their key creative forces in ZHRINE, as well as in Svartidauði, arguably Iceland’s breakout extreme metal band. In this interview I wanted to talk about his more recent music with ZHRINE, particularly as their album means a lot to me. I want to thank Nökkvi again for taking the time to speak to me and for giving such thoughtful answers. Read more »

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