Monday, 24 October 2016

Virvum - Illuminance


1. The Cypher Supreme
2. Earthwork
3. Illuminance
4. Ad Rigorem
5. Tentacles Of The Sun
6. Elemental Shift
7. I: A New Journey Awaits
8. II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension and Trespassing

Loud things that are banned in Switzerland, 1) loud sports cars and 2) bazooka’s (Disclaimer: that may not be entirely accurate). One thing that the Swiss can't ban seems to be metal, even though before writing this I couldn't name many bands from the country. Virvum will be new to many people but they've well and truly sprung into life recently with their debut album, "Illuminance". Self-released little over a month ago, they've been getting plenty of press plaudits and picking up new fans left, right and center. Prior to the release of this album, they only had one song in which to draw listeners in and they've been a band for almost decade, so they’ve clearly preferred to take their time and hone their skills.

Virvum plays tech/prog death metal, so are the perfect antidote to the realisation that there’s still four more working days to go this week! What a way to do it as well, with the incomprehensibly good opener The Cypher Supreme, with it’s virtuoso percussion, bass and awesome guitar work. Earthwork is where the real death metal begins to take over. In the midst of off-kilter mayhem and weird twinkly passages, Virvum’s breakdowns and low-growls remind you what they’re about. Just trying to type fast enough to keep up with them is nigh on impossible. The title-track opens with a thoughtfully atmospheric introduction, leading to a song that actually holds a lot of old-school influence and charm. Beneath the modern technical exterior, Virvum hasn’t forgotten who and what brought them here. The latter half of the song takes further advantage of their penchant for atmosphere and sounds mighty. They hit the overdrive button during Ad Rigorem, yet they manage to keep it catchy and that’s no mean feat. The dual-high/low growls in Tentacles Of The Sun hint at a band that aren’t just preoccupied with death metal and the jazz/blues rhythm section and guitar later on only adds to that. This is definitely worth getting lost in. Next up are two shorter numbers, starting with Elemental Shift, which is just pure wizardry while I: A New Journey Awaits acts as a rousing precursor to the mammoth conclusion of “Illuminance”. That conclusion comes in the form of II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension and Trespassing. At 10+ minutes it’s mammoth in more ways than one, but it distills Virvum’s craziness and articulate musicianship into something that prog-freaks and headbangers can all appreciate. Borrowing what sounds like the melody and riffs from album opener The Cypher Supreme, they complete the journey in a quite bewildering way. This is the only song to feature clean singing too and it adds something that’s been missing in my opinion. For a writer who’s had the pleasure of reviewing records by Pyrrhon, Okazaki Fragments and Cerebric Turmoil (to name but a few) within the last year or so, I can now add Virvum to my list of truly exciting death metal bands. The old-school will forever be present but the new-school is leading the way in technical terms and that’s not going to stop anytime soon.

You can stream "Illuminance" below via Virvum's bandcamp page, where it's also available to buy digitally and on cd:-

Virvum Facebook -

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Post-Gloom: Bodies On Everest and Tidings

I wanted to write something that reflects my mood today. I've spent part of my morning searching for new music that follows a certain path. Since the demise of a couple of promising UK bands in the form of Mausoleion and Voe sometime ago and the recent passing of Caina (band not band members), I've been trying to find the time to fill the void. The search is over and despite the hammy reference in the title above, both these bands are more than worthy of carrying the torch for UK post/doom metal.

I actually came across Bodies On Everest while I was trawling through the ever-growing Metal Archives a while ago and have been waiting for a proper excuse to talk about them. They're a trio that   prefers low-end sludge/doom with two bass-players. Their music is heavy and raw, but filled with atmosphere.

Fittingly, they've played alongside bands like Ommadon and Legion Of Andromeda in recent months and so far they've released one full-length (2015's "The Burning"), which is available to stream and download via their bandcamp page below:-

They're playing alongside Bong in Manchester in November. Visit the event page here.

Bodies On Everest Facebook page -

Next up, I wanted to go for something a little more cinematic and spacey. I came Edinburgh based instrumental band Tidings. They've been together for a few years now and released a self-titled EP in 2012 followed by the full-length "Death Leaves A Bright Trail" last year. Their post-metal/rock is the perfect balance after the heaviness of Bodies On Everest.

They're another band that puts in the live miles too, as they've played around the UK this year. They're quiet at the moment but hopefully that just means that they're writing new music. You can stream both the EP and full-length below, as well as purchase both digital and physical copies:-

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Cancerous Womb - It Came To This


1. The Shrieking Of Idiots
2. Formless
3. Isolation Frenzy
4. When All Is Said And Done (Napalm Death cover)

There's nowt more satisfying than good old death/grind. One of the UK's heaviest, Cancerous Womb are back at it again after what seems like an age (two and half years roughly) and they've released a new EP called "It Came To This", via Rising Nemesis Records. It came out in July and since it's release they've been across so Europe for both Obscene Extreme and Deathfest Open Air. They're due to tour around the UK, starting in late October. 

The last time I saw Cancerous Womb live was at ‘Kin Hell Fest in 2014. They were great and I feel bad for not getting out to see them since. Releasing an album and touring abroad seems to have done them no harm at all though, as EP opener The Shrieking Of Idiots is the perfect mix of grinding blasts and death metal riffs, with melody and a nod to the old-school. Formless is an intense, improvisational grind piece that will beat you with off-kilter jazz while perfectly living up to it’s name. It features added screams by Rich Speakman of The Afternoon Gentlemen and Saxophone from Tom Dring of Corrupt Moral Altar. The grind takes over on Isolation Frenzy with some really punishing percussion. The rest ain’t bad either, as the lead work and Bernard’s vocals more than match it. Final song When All Is Said And Done features guest vox from Chris Reese (the busiest extreme vocalist in the UK, probably). Not content with own band Corrupt Moral Altar, as well as providing stand-in duties for Napalm Death and recording the tech-death record of last year with Cerebric Turmoil, he’s back. Needless to say it’s over all too quickly. It’s a groovier number (in death metal terms) with hints of thrash mixed in with the death. Catchy as hell but still not for yer nan’s ears! Four songs are all you get but you’ll be repeating them over and over. Grizzly noise that’ll have you grinning!

You can stream "It Came To This" and grab it digitally and on cd below:-

Cancerous Womb Facebook -
Rising Nemesis Records Facebook -

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Invoking The Abstract - Aural Kaleidoscopes


1. Locus
2. Requiem
3. Sensory Substitution
4. Aural Kaleidoscopes
5. The Summit
6. Voiles
7. Mandatory Metamorphasis
8. Neocropolis
9. Afterglow Eclipse
10. Celestial Born
11. Disharmonic Design

I'm beginning to really get excited about blogging (here) again and have some cool things in the pipeline. I've been planning and hustling this morning and now it's time for me to sit and write about another left field release in the shape of the latest record from US instrumental tech/prog metallers Invoking The Abstract. "Aural Kaleidoscopes" is actually the band's debut album, following on from their 2012 self-titled EP. The record was released via Unique Leader just last month!

I played some of this record to my brother and he said it was too much for him. I must be made of sterner stuff! Opening track Locus is tech death sans vocals and it’s mighty fine indeed. The crazy rhythm section fights it out with the lead guitar and leaves no time for ponderous reflection. I used to be a bit sceptical about instrumental records but as I’ve got deeper into extreme metal I’ve realised that they definitely have their place and provide as much excitement. Invoking The Abstract proves that with the short burst of Requiem. The apt title of Sensory Substitution describes this album perfectly. On any other record this would be an interlude but here it more than deserves it’s place. ITA goes fully all out on the title-track, featuring plenty of fretboard wizardry and virtuoso musicianship. The mid-section of “Aural Kaleidoscopes” sees ITA spreading their collective wings a bit with longer songs. The Summit is head-spinning from start to end, but you won’t be able to stop listening. It’s heaviness is undisputed as well, with drumming so fast you won’t believe it’s played by a human being. You may think that Voiles is laid back to begin with; however, you’d be wrong! The madness just continues and so do the genre defying time-signatures. Even the introspective passages are more technical than your average metal song. There’s something invigorating about listening to this album on a Sunday afternoon when jacked up on coffee yet still unable to stay awake. Mandatory Metamorphasis should really be renamed Mandatory Masterpiece. The sweeping guitar of Neocropolis really brings it to life, while the breakdowns will smash your head in. In fact the whole song will do that! There’s a calmness about Afterglow Eclipse, with the background filled with lapping waves. For some it will be relief. That relief doesn’t last long though as Celestial Born rages as if ITA are trying to make up for lost time or something. Finale Disharmonic Design closes out the album with as much fervour as Locus began with. It went quickly and for the most part I was headbanging like I had the brain cells to lose! This is one hell of an album and you need to hear it.

Stream and download "Aural Kaleidoscopes" via Unique Leader's bandcamp page below:-

You can buy the album on both CD/vinyl here -

Invoking The Abstract Facebook -
Unique Leader Records Facebook -

Friday, 14 October 2016

La Bottega Del Tempo A Vapore - Il Guerriero Errante


1. Overture
2. Fumo D'anime
3. Ordine E Follia
4. Arabeschi Sentieri
5. Mendicanti Luridi
6. Eterea Fusione
7. Urlanti Demoni
8. Vita Sospesa
9. Ombra Di Falce
10. Finale

It seems that Italy and progressive metal go together like tomato and mozzarella. La Bottega Del Tempo A Vapore are a septet from Benevento, forming in 2014/15. "Il Guerriero Errante" was released in April via by US label Minotauro Records. I believe that this is their debut album; however, I'm unable to speak or translate Italian so I could be wrong. Their music is influenced by everything from metal, to folk and classical. 

I’ll be completely honest here and say that I’m not usually a fan of the classical/orchestral strain of progressive metal that seems to have it’s roots in Europe, but I wanted to give this album a shot anyway. Opener Overture starts of as expected, but must sound great at the start of the band’s live shows. It certainly sounds rousing and majestic. La Bottega sing completely in Italian and Fumo D’anime features bombastic instrumentation alongside clean vocals, which thankfully are not overly operatic. The mix of keys and more traditional metal guitar work is well balanced. Ordine E Follia edges more towards La Bottega’s folk influence and is delivered acoustically to begin with. It’s catchy and very listenable before there’s a quiet mid-section that seems to slow momentum a bit. That’s followed by a full electric assault of excellent musicianship. I’m a little perturbed about the lack of harsh vocals but the more I listen to this, the more I’m beginning to enjoy it. Arabeschi Sentieri has a hint of Dream Theater about it, which is no bad thing and many different movements. The drumming at the beginning of Mendicanti Luridi beats like a the drums of a long forgotten tribe and the vocals match the mood. It reminds me a little of Orphaned Land. Being a progressive band, their songs aren’t short but they fully justify there lengths. Eterea Fusione is a classical ballad that might make you challenge what you’re listening to, but you shouldn’t let it. It will make the hairs stand on the back of your neck. The saxophone is a truly ace touch as well! Urlanti Demoni features some truly epic guitar playing that is befitting of La Bottega and their music. They sure know how to write songs that draw you in as well. They follow on in the same vein with Vita Sospesa but this time they take thing is an even grander direction in order to keep the fires burning toward the album’s conclusion. It work too with the mix of metal and pop-like keys. Penultimate number Ombra Di Falce is a bit like going to a bookshop and reading the last page of the novel you want to buy, because it pretty much sums up everything that is good about La Bottega. As Finale plays out I sit wondering about what just happened. I genuinely thought I wouldn’t enjoy this but I did. I’m not about to throw away my love of extreme metal and hardcore just yet but La Bottega have surprised me a lot and I reckon there will be a lot of you who will be surprised too.

You can listen to three tracks (curiously) via Minotauro Records below:-

You can buy it digitally and on cd via the label from their bandcamp page above.

La Bottega Del Tempo A Vapore Facebook -
Minotauro Records Facebook -

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Infamous Gehenna & Bleach Everything - Heavy Metal Suicide Split 7"


1. The Infamous Gehenna - Looking To Score
2. The Infamous Gehenna - Get Fucked Up!
3. Bleach Everything - Witch, Please
4. Bleach Everything - Silk And Scales
5. Bleach Everything - Human Mulligan

The urge to write this today has been pretty tantalising. The thought of these two band's together on one slab of wax, released by Magic Bullet Records (whose first release featured Boysetsfire, who're one of my all time favourite bands) was making me clock watch for a good few hours. It's a split of two opposites because The Infamous Gehenna have been spitting out angry hardcore since 1993 while Bleach Everything are a mere four years old, yet are forming their own fearsome identity. A lot of people say that hardcore-punk is no longer the snotty, arrogant hellraiser it once was (and I'd agree), so maybe this 7" will change that.

“Heavy Metal Suicide” is a really apt title for this split, as The Infamous Gehenna channel their inner Venom into Looking To Score. It ain’t sugary sweet or melodic, it’s chugging heaviness reminds you that you’re no longer in safe hands. Get Fucked Up! begins with the sampled voices of dudes getting just that. What follows is angry hardcore with thrash appeal. I know that labels (in genre terms) don’t mean much to …Gehenna, so I’m going to stop right there. The one thing I can say about them is that they don’t pull any punches and seem to be getting heavier. Watch out for their new album. Bleach Everything are a lot noisier than I remember them from their earlier split with VORS. They flail and spin during their opener Witch, Please and it’s over all too quickly. Silk And Scales is haunting and raw. The semi-whispered vocals are perfect for the atmosphere and when they slam into hardcore territory towards the end, involuntary mosh happens. Their closing song Human Mulligan brings one last slab of old-school punk and it’s glorious. Bleach Everything also has a new record on the way. This split proves that in 2016, proper hardcore-punk still exists and is far from dead. For all that writers like me try to analyse and describe it, the only thing you really need to know is that it’s awesome! 

Stream "Heavy Metal Suicide" and then purchase a download/7" below:-

The Infamous Gehenna Facebook -
Bleach Everything Facebook -
Magic Bullet Records Facebook -

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Al-Namrood/Dakestrah - Akyr Zaman/Tajer Al Punqia


1. Darkestrah - Akyr Zaman
2. Al-Namrood - Tajer Al Punqia I
3. Al-Namrood - Tajer Al Punqia II

I tried to get this written up and published last night but had some connection issues. Thankfully, everything is back to normal this evening. I'm kicking off my latest series of reviews, which I'm splitting into two halves. The first half featuring some releases that are more out of the ordinary than usual and the second, which will feature four death metal reviews. This split release came out earlier this year via Canadian label Shaytan Productions. It features one song by Kyrgyzstani/German black metal band Darkestrah and two from Saudi Arabian black metallers Al-Namrood (one of only twelve extreme meta band's from the country, if Metal Archives is correct). 

Darkestrah promises anti-christian black metal with folk influences. Akyr Zaman begins with plenty of Eastern atmosphere and instrumentation. It’s very cinematic, even when the harsh vocals begin to take hold. Darkestrah’s bombast can be heard clearly in the recording and it’s volume. The mix of extreme metal and traditional instrumentation is nothing new but here the two are used in great harmony, without sounding contrived. The progressive nature of both band and song works well, especially because Akyr Zaman is quite a long song. It’s safe to say that Al-Namrood comes as a bit of shock after that. The Saudi Arabian lyrics delivered in such a harsh semi-clean manner on Tajer Al Punqia I isn’t for the faint of heart. The music underneath is once again filled with traditional instrumentation and I can picture tribesman dancing to this at ancient rituals. Despite my simplistic attempts at painting a picture, this is strangely catchy. By the time Tajer Al Punqia II comes around, you’ll be more comfortable with Al-Namrood. It’s far from unpleasant but the vocals take some getting used too. Musically they are spot on. This is definitely a split of two halves, from the sublime to the bizarre. Neither Darkestrah or Al-Namrood are new names within the wider scene, but I strongly recommend that you give both of them a chance if you haven’t heard them before. 

You can stream the split and purchase it digitally and on cd via Shaytan Productions below:-

Al-Namrood Facebook -
Darkestrah Facebook -
Shaytan Productions Facebook -

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Torrid Husk/End - Swallow Matewan


1. Torrid Husk - Mourning Cloak Spell
2. Torrid Husk - Carminite
3. Torrid Husk - Rhododendron
4. End - Virga
5. End - Existential Litany
6. End - Winter

I'm attracted to a release because of it's artwork as much as the music it contains, especially as the cover is the first thing I see. That's exactly what happened when I came across this recent split by West Virginian black/sludge band Torrid Husk and Greek black metallers End. Torrid Husk are a bit of an enigma it seems and released their first full-length in 2013, following it up with a EP and a split (featuring fellow US band Myopic) prior to this one. End started in 2002, releasing three full-lengths and a split (with local partners in crime Vacantfield and Awe). The members of Torrid Husk prefer to exist in the shadows while End features a familiar face, in Dephosphorus drummer Maelstrom. The split has been released on CD via US label Grimoire Record, who's USP comes in the form of recording all of the music they release themselves and tape via Monotonstudio Records (EU). 

Torrid Husk sits within the current crop of US black metal bands who like to push the boundaries of the genre and carve their own path. Mourning Cloak Spell starts off with the familiar blasts and shrieks, but is bolstered by ambient riffs and chants later on. TH certainly isn’t the sort of band that favours inward-looking, mournful expression. They go at it full-throttle on Carminite, which is exhilarating to say the least. Their final addition to this split, Rhododendron features warming guitar melody in it’s opening bars before TH hits full flow again. The urgency is more noticeable here and it’s unrelenting. When the quieter moments do come, like in the mid-section, they are filled with amazing guitar work that banishes any negative feeling. End promises something all the more extravagant with their 11+ minute opener Virga. I only used the term extravagant in relation to the song’s length and not to do Torrid Husk any disservice! End’s take of black metal is one of mid-paced, foreboding atmosphere and that’s exactly what you get during Virga. It’s hard to follow such an opener and End don’t try to out do themselves. Existential Litany exists as an instrumental piece to help maintain momentum before their closer Winter. Winter sees the band taking on the bleak metal of their split mates, but mixing it up slightly with subtle groove (not surprising as they feature an ex-member of Greek black metal band Dodsferd, who’re known for their grooves). You’d never think that something so catchy could close out a split like this, but it works really well. I love both bands on here. Torrid Husk’s black metal is heavy, sometimes chaotic and other times sensitive. End are kind of all over the place because they don’t stick to one formula and that variation helps them stand out. Great split all round.

You can stream the split and grab a digital copy here:-

Physical copies can be purchased via the links below:-

Grimoire Records (cd/tape - US) -
Monotonstudio Records (tape - EU) -

There is a vinyl release due via Arcane Angels (EU) and you can stay updated here -

Torrid Husk Facebook -
End Facebook -
Grimoire Records Facebook -
Monotonstudio Records Facebook -

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Beldam - Still The Wretched Linger


1. Needles
2. Blackened Violet
3. The Foundling
4. From Grave To Cradle
5. Salamander
6. Her Unbearing Abyss
7. Beauty's Martyr

I couldn't sit back tonight without writing about a fairly-recent release. This is the debut album from US sludge/doom band Beldam and it was release via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions is June. It follows the band's self-titled demo that arrived in 2015. The quartet have been involved with various bands since the early 00's and has a lot of experience. They also like good beer, which is a plus! 

This is filthy and ridiculously heavy. Needles goes from bone-shattering to almost psychedelic thanks to the stop/start opening bars. The presence of blackened growls stops them from getting pigeonholed and the hazy groove keeps things catchy. There’s plenty of heavy metal coursing through “Still The Wretched Linger” and nowhere is it more obvious than during Blackened Violet. The bass-heavy fuzz, traditional metal and off-kilter guitar makes for heady cocktail of textures. It’s killer! The Foundling sounds and feels pensive but the deep-bellowed/shrieked vocals work in perfect harmony to unsettle you and shatter the illusion that it’s going to be an easy ride. I could not think of a more apt song-title than From Grave To Cradle. It kinda feels like being buried alive and by the end you’re reduced to gargling uncontrollably. Salamander feels more like a Komodo Dragon coming up to bite you. It starts off in unsuspecting fashion before lurching forwards, it’s feedback-laden heaviness creeping up as it goes. Her Unbearing Abyss is chock full of black metal hatred and the best riffs this side of Meth Drinker. It’s quiet/loud dynamic is powerfully strong as well. Dual guitar harmonies add some light to the bleakness of album closer Beauty’s Martyr. It’s a great way to end the record and it shows off Beldam’s experience and musicianship in the best light possible. Hats off to HPGD for releasing this and to Beldam for crafting it. Brutal brilliance.

You can stream and purchase "Still The Wretched Linger" digitally and on cd below:-

It's also available directly from Horror Pain Gore Death Prods here -

Beldam Facebook -
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions Facebook -

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Titaan - Kadingir


1. Apsu
2. Nis Ilim Zakaru
3. Anur
4. Titaan
5. Itima
6. Sabitu
7. Sebet Babi
8. Magurumuabzu
9. Kingu
10. Kadingir
11. Utukagaba
12 Azag
13. Peta Babkama Laruba Anaku
14. Erset La Tari
15. Kuan
16. Nibiru

I've concluded that modern-day metal needs more mystery and even danger! When I say "modern-day metal", I mean the metal that lives now. Titaan pretty much embodies my conclusion, as the one-man occult black metal offering gives little away in terms of origin or location, instead allowing the music to speak for them. Even keeping a minimal social media presence shows commitment to artistic integrity. "Kadingir" was released back in January by ATMF.

This feels like a step into the unknown for me as album opener Apsu begins. The rich choral introduction and occult orchestral drone breeds a haunting atmosphere. The song is more deeply rooted in ambient noise that black metal, but the two do go hand in hand so it should come as  no surprise. Nis Ilim Zakaru s the first glimpse you get of Titaan’s unholy sound. Blasting old-school black metal is the offering and the high-pitched/low-growled vocal bring to mind the likes of classic Beherit and at time the industrial majesty of Spektr. Titaan writes and performs a mix of bombastic, lengthy numbers and shorter, calmer pieces. Anur follows on from the opener with it’s eerie instrumental presence. The guitar work, while lowly is certainly impressive. Allowing the album to breath with quieter moments give more impact to songs like Titaan. This one contains seemingly more urgency, before bizarrely fading out not another strings-led instrumental mid-section. It’s certainly not what I was expecting and made me think my speakers were broken, but no sooner had it started that it ended and the volume increased again. It ends abruptly and leads to the peculiar Itima, with it’s repeated, whispered passage. I’d much rather be listening to this album with all of my lights turned off (will do this eventually), but I need to see to type. Sabitu passes by quickly and quietly before Sebet Babi opens up a vortex of utter disdain. Beneath the shrieks lays guitar work that’s seemingly not in any earthly key. It makes it more exciting in my opinion, as it shows the Titaan isn’t just content with standard instrumental patterns. At this point there’s either a problem with the upload or the track is meant to go deathly quiet. Magurumuabzu follows the silence with subtle sounds that are punctuated by jarring instrumental effects. It’s like somebody scratching their nails down a blackboard, but in tune. The Middle Eastern guitar of Kingu is amazing but all too quickly over and the title-track that follows is a shock to the system. That said, it is a powerful and tormenting effort with effortlessly blasting percussion and bestial harmonics. The occult chants again make you believe that voodoo is at play here, but that may just be a lame man’s view of proceedings. It’s followed by the short instrumental passage of Utukagaba, with it’s lowly acoustic guitar meanderings. Azag is similarly ambient and minimal in it’s approach. Those brief moments of apparent calm are shattered by Peta Babkama Laruba Anaku. Titaan’s resolute black metal takes on an almost transcendental form against the backdrop of those quieter songs and it’s impact if felt more obviously. Haunting noise once again envelopes the record on Erset La Tari. Who needs horror films when this is psychologically scarring on it’s own! The closing riff is the precursor to penultimate song Kuan and indeed flows into it. It’s quite an empowering riff and provides the spine for the song itself. It fades out to leave only the 12-minute opus of Nibiru remaining. It’s predecessor had a similar to Caina’s mighty Orphan from “Setter Of Unseen Snares” (minus vocals) and I thought that Nibiru would be too, but for the most part it’s just more noise and atmospherics. It’s a strange but not at all surprising way for ‘Kadingir” to end. This album is a complex glimpse into the mind of Titaan’s and it’s best left as such. If you venture any further in you may not return. Thoroughly enjoyable if you’re brave and alone.

You can stream and purchase "Kadingir" digitally via ATMF below:-

CD copies can be purchased here -

Titaan Facebook -
ATMF Facebook -