Sunday, 24 October 2021

Grabunhold - Heldentod

 

Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions/Urtod Void

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 22 Jan 2021


Tracklist:


1. Wolkenbruch Uber Amon Sul

2. Auf Den Hugelgraberhohen

3. Trommeln In Der Tiefe

4. Flammen Und Schatten

5. Morgenrote Am Pelennor

6. Fangorns Erwachen

7. In Tiefen Verliesen

8. Der Einsamkeit Letzter Streiter


In my recent Black Cilice review I said that I wanted to revisit a couple of earlier Iron Bonehead releases from 2021. The first of which is this, the first full-length from German black metal band Grabunhold. Heldentod was released back in January on vinyl, cd and digital formats via IBP, while Urtod Void released a tape version. Grabunhold formed in 2016 and released a demo and an EP previously. The latter was also released via IBP.


I’ve always found German black metal to be amongst the most austere of the genre, but Grabunhold exhibits something altogether different. Heldentod opener ‘Wolkenbruch Uber Amon Sul’ is filled with glorious melody in it’s intro before the quartet opens up their full arsenal. It’s a cross between speed, war and atmospheric black metal, at least in the instrumentation. The vocals are a mix of rasping growls and clean singing, all in their native tongue. ‘Auf De Hugelgraberhohen’ is hauntingly stirring all the way through. It’s one of the shorter songs on the album and that serves it well. Even though it’s brief in comparison to others on here, the instrumentation it contains is still extremely impressive. That’s one of the elements that stands out when listening to Grabunhold for me.


There are traditional instruments/sounds used within the album as well, as the ambient/droning ‘Trommeln In Der Tiefe’ highlights. It’s spoken word lyrics and minimalistic approach show how much variation the band are willing to display and it helps to create an album that flows really well. The melodic riffs that are employed throughout the album are one of the reasons it is so engaging and on ‘Flammen Und Schatten’ they are delivered with a nod to European melo-death, though that may have not been the original intention. That’s how they sound before the full band kicks in anyway. What follows is a transfixing black metal song with true feeling at it’s core.


The cinematic atmosphere of the album is magnified on ‘Morgenrote Am Pelennor’, which demands that you listen to every subtle nuance, from the layers of instrumentation to the vocals. Heldentod is one of the most diverse and interesting black metal albums I’ve heard in recent times and it makes me want to dive deeper into the modern German scene as well. That can’t be a bad thing for a record to do can it! The upbeat tempos of ‘Fangorns Erwachen’ definitely get the blood flowing. There’s a real sense of urgency to Grabunhold here and it’s great. A purer black metal song this time, but one that doesn’t detract from what makes Heldentod what it is, which is extremely well-written and well delivered.


Going back to my point about Grabunhold sometimes veering towards melo-death, they do seem to have subtle Scandinavian influences within their music and it’s noticeable on penultimate song ‘In Tiefen Verliesen’ at times. Again that’s what I hear, you may hear it differently but that’s the fun of music at the end of the day. Overall, it’s yet another strong, melodic black metal song. Like Heldentod’s opener, the closing song ‘Der Einsamkeit Letzer Streiter’ stands at nearly nine minutes in length and it towers over everything else with it’s majesty and atmosphere. It’s a triumphant way for Grabunhold to round out this record, letting their instrumentation take centre stage one final time. 


This was a real surprise. I wasn’t expecting this release to be as good as it is. Grabunhold are talented in every respect and deserve to be held in the same regard as black metal’s biggest bands, if not higher. That may sound hyperbolic but that’s how much I enjoyed Heldentod. The German black metal rabbit hole awaits!


You can stream and buy Heldentod digitally, as well as on cd and vinyl below:-



Grabunhold - https://www.facebook.com/Grabunhold


Physical copies can also be purchased from the labels below:-


Iron Bonehead Productions - https://shop.ironbonehead.de/

Urtod Void - https://www.urtodrecords.de/product-category/urtod-creations/


Iron Bonehead Productions - https://www.facebook.com/IronBoneheadProductions

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Terry Green/Huge Cosmic - Split Tape

    

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 03 Nov 2015


Tracklist:


1. Terry Green - What The...

2. Terry Green - Instant Relief

3. Huge Cosmic - Danny Bombs The Universe

4. Huge Cosmic - Garmonbonzai


It's time for another Zegema Beach roster review. I think people get the gist of this series of reviews by now, but just in case, I decided to start reviewing ZBR releases in chronological order from earliest to latest according to bandcamp. It's not an easy undertaking as there's a lot of material to get through. This is review number 49 and it features 2015 Terry Green/Huge Cosmic split. Both bands are from Ontario, Canada and are still making music. This tape was limited to 125 copies.


I’m sure at some point during this review I’m going to have a sneezing fit. I might be allergic to something but I have no idea what that something is. Anyway, that’s way too much information for tonight. A warm cup of tea and this split tape should see me right. It’s a short one beginning with two tracks from Terry Green. ‘What The…’ is very anthemic in the musical sense, while the harsh vocals paint a different picture. There are some subtle cleans in there too and it reminds me at times of one of the more widely known Canadian screamo bands (whose name I won’t mention here).


Terry Green’s second song ‘Instant Relief’ is not as instant in it’s delivery as you might think. It builds via lovely guitar melodies and percussive elements, adding a much more sensitive warmth to the split so far. A warmth that doesn’t even dissipate when the screams and off-kilter tempos come into view. There’s real energy here and it’s all very uplifting actually. It matches my mood right now, which is also upbeat. They say that moods dictate music, but sometimes both are in tune.


Huge Cosmic is up next with ‘Danny Bombs The Universe’ and you’re treated to something equally as melodic and musical. There are so many elements here that mean that Huge Cosmic should be way bigger than they are (as with Terry Green). Again, there are comparisons to forefathers of the post-hardcore/screamo scene here but again I’m hesitant to name them, as I don’t want to run the risk of pigeonholing. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick them out when listening.


‘Garmonbonzai’ is slightly darker in terms of the vocal melodies that seem to flit between different scales and tones. The instrumentation follows yet there’s such a cool (and maybe subtle) surf-rock/indie vibe going on until the song’s final third, where thicker riffs take over, offering much more of a Tool-esque rock feel. All in all it’s a great song that rounds out a great split tape. Both bands make their own moulds as opposed to trying to fit into one that’s already there.


Please go and listen to both Terry Green and Huge Cosmic. They’re both great and if you can find a copy of this here tape, damn well snap it up!


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



Terry Green - https://www.facebook.com/terrygreenband

Huge Cosmic - https://www.facebook.com/hugecosmic/


You can buy tape copies from Zegema Beach Records below:-


CAN/INTL Store - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/tg-hcsplit


Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Befell - Solitude EP


Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 25 Jun 2021


Tracklist:


1. Ticks

2. Endless Cycle

3. Innocent Victims


2021 sees the debut EP release from Pennsylvania, US metal band Befell. They are a fairly new trio who have previously released a demo called Uproot and a couple of singles. They released Solitude at the end of June and while the press releases I've received talk about it containing four tracks, the actual EP on bandcamp contains just three, so that's what I'll writing about here. They make some pretty big claims about trying to revive metal but I'm not going to focus on those too much and will let the music do the talking.


It always a good to be able to write about new bands, especially those who are just starting out. Befell is one such band and they’re not short of confidence. I think metal as a genre is all about confidence, but having too much too soon can be a bad thing. This trio is currently crafting their sound, so let’s see how Solitude holds up. Right away, EP opener and lead single ‘Ticks’ is filled with great thrashing riffs and up tempo percussion. The vocals are straight out of the old-school thrash top drawer and bare some resemblance to the likes of Evile and early Bullet For My Valentine. They work in some really good guitar solos as well and they’re clearly talented musicians. Pretty good so far but not groundbreaking yet.


‘Endless Cycle’ brings more melody and off-kilter rhythms that collide head-on with Befell’s thrash metal. For an American band, I have to give them props for not wanting to sound like the obvious American influences. They sound like they could be from Britain thanks to their delivery. There’s groove, energy and everything else you’d expect from a band playing this form of metal. 


As you get to the EP’s third and final track (on bandcamp at least), Befell’s impact starts to become clearer. ‘Innocent Victims’ is filled with twin-guitar melodies in it’s opening bars before their mix of harsh and clean vocals are joined by riffs aplenty, and their precise percussion. There is a lot to like about this EP and if you don’t take genre posturing too seriously then chances are you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 


Okay so they’re not reviving metal but they are well on their way to greater things. With nu-metal beginning to make a comeback with a new wave of bands, it could lead to a resurgence of metalcore bands (just like when Killswitch Engage and Unearth began to gain greater recognition). I wouldn’t pigeonhole Befell into that sub-genre though, but if they can continue to hone their sound with future releases, they could be right up there.


You can stream and purchase Solitude digitally below:-



Befell - https://www.facebook.com/befellmusic

Friday, 15 October 2021

Song Premiere: Past Forms - Realm


On the 22nd of October, Chicago'a Past Forms will be releasing their debut EP CTRL and Canadian label Tomb Tree Tapes will be doing a run of tapes to mark the occasion. This evening sees the release of their debut single 'Realm' and I have the pleasure of being able to bring it to you a week prior to the EP's official launch. 


Past Forms play mathy post-hardcore/rock with a penchant for amazing instrumentation! The artwork for the TTT version was created by Seb from Meth (I think, but please correct if that's wrong), while the band includes a member from fellow Chicago band Cadence Fox.


You can stream 'Realm' via Youtube below (trust me, it's really good!):-


The tape pressing of CTRL is limited to just 76 copies with 30 on grey swirl, 25 on ice, 11 on blue swirl w/swirl cases, 5 on beige and also 5 test dips. You can catch a sneak preview of all tapes (minus the test dips) and the artwork below:-






You can keep up with more news around the release by heading to the Linktree that Past Forms have created here - https://linktr.ee/PastForms. It covers all of their social media pages and also links to streaming, bandcamp and of course the Tomb Tree Tapes webstore.


You can also head straight to the Tomb Tree Tapes webstore here - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/tomb-tree-tapes


Past Forms - https://www.facebook.com/pastformsmusic

Tomb Tree Tapes - https://www.facebook.com/tombtreetapes

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Black Cilice - Tomb Emanations 7"



Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 10 Dec 2021


Tracklist:


1. Returning From Dimensions Below

2. Vigil Of Ruins


I haven't featured anything by Iron Bonehead here for a while now, which is entirely my fault. I was going to write about a couple of early 2021 releases over the next week but before I started to plan that, I saw this new Black Cilice EP drop into my inbox. For those who know or indeed like black metal in any or all of it's forms, Black Cilice is one of the more prominent entities to come out of Portugal over the last decade plus. Since 2009, there have been numerous demos, EPs, albums and splits released and Tomb Emanations is the latest, coming two years after the previous Iron Bonehead full-length release Transfixion Of Spirits. The EP will be released in December.


Black Cilice makes great use of the 7” format here with two songs extending to over thirteen minutes. Side A features ‘Returning From Dimensions Below’, which as a title could aptly describe the band’s silence of late. Black Cilice has always been atmospheric in a harrowing way and it’s no different here. The rawness that embodied earlier releases is still very much there, but with it comes a greater sense of melody and production values. The volume of the instumentation here is ridiculous. It’s both mesmerising and unnerving at the same time, while the screams that reside amongst it all are still as torturous as ever. 


Side B’s ‘Vigil Of Ruins’ appears more transcendent to begin with, which is probably a relief after the onslaught that it follows; however, that feeling is soon banished by yet more intense black metal. Intense is definitely the right descriptor here, as Black Cilice continues along a path of self-destruction that extends to those that listen to it. There are moments of subtle groove and control within the song but those moments are still overridden by constant dissonance and percussive madness. That’s not to say that the EP is unlistenable though, because the latter passages of ‘Vigil Of Ruins’ are amongst the best you’ll hear in the raw black metal sub-genre. 


It’s not often that this form of black metal can be called invigorating but there’s just something about Tomb Emanations that stirs up the blood. On it’s own this EP will garner many repeat listens, but if it’s a sign of things to come from a future full-length, then rest assured that it’s going to very good.


Prior to the EP release you can stream it's opening song via Soundcloud here:-



Further news regarding the release including pre-order info can be found via the links below (as it's released):-


Black Cilice - https://www.facebook.com/Black-cilice

Iron Bonehead Productions - https://www.facebook.com/IronBoneheadProductions

Sunday, 10 October 2021

The Scalar Process - Coagulative Matter


Labels: Transcending Obscurity Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 19 Feb 2021


Tracklist:


1. Elevation

2. Cosmic Flow

3. Ink Shadow

4. Celestial Existence

5. Mirror Cognition

6. Poisoned Fruit

7. Azimuth

8. Beyond The Veil Of Consciousness

9. Ouroboros

10. Coagulative Matter

11. Somnambulation


Coagulative Matter is the debut album from French technical death metal trio The Scalar Process,  made up of guitarist/composer Eloi Nicod, vocalist Mathieu Lefevre and drummer Clement Denys (of Fractal Universe, who provides all session drums on this recording). It was released very early in 2021 by constantly rising Indian extreme metal label Transcending Obscurity Records. The Scalar Process brings technical/progressive death metal brimming with lyrical themes about space, spirituality, psychology and even depression. It comes on both physical CD and digital formats, with the CD pressing comprising of a limited coffin-shaped wooden box set (which was limited to 60 and is now sold out) and an 8-panel digipack edition that is still available.


Over recent years I’ve found myself gravitating to the sludgier, dirtier old-school end of death metal’s spectrum. I do enjoy the more modern progressive sound though. You can’t read too much into what’s coming on the album from opener ‘Elevation’, as it acts as more of an intro. I often think that three-piece bands playing this form of death metal can sound a little thin, but actually that’s not an issue for The Scalar Process, as it helps their progressive/jazz influences come through more in the recording. They flit between fast extreme tempos and musicianship, and more introspective instrumental virtuosity (but not the overtly obtuse kind). The latter instrumental experimentation is definitely a key part of their sound, as demonstrated by ‘Cosmic Flow’. ‘Ink Shadow’ is more of a characteristic tech-death song (if ever there was one) with an excellent guitar-led mid-section and solo (which was provided by guest musician Scott Carstairs of Fallujah). 


For me, most bands of this ilk can be quite formulaic in approach and don’t put enough variation into their albums. I’m really enjoying this one so far though as The Scalar Process have crafted something that’s not just constant blasts and monotone screaming. They vary song-lengths, heaviness, technicality and melody to stop things from becoming stale. They stretch their sound slightly on ‘Celestial Existence’ yet they always keep coming back to that engrossing instrumental closing piece that’s so effective.


Talking engrossing instrumentals, ‘Mirror Cognition’ takes you on a trip through the galaxy without you even needing to leave the ground, through earthy guitar and calming sounds right up to the closing sixty seconds, where things change drastically as black metal-like high pitched vocals (guest vocals here were provided by Mark Garrett of Kardashev/Viraemia) and raging percussion take over. The levels of precision on show throughout Coagulative Matter are obvious, especially on ‘Poisoned Fruit’. It’s a prime example of the skill of the band.


One of the most pleasing aspects of this album (if I haven’t already mentioned it) is the melody. It’s exemplified on ‘Azimuth’ via the guitar work, subtle electronic effects and additional choral vocals from guest vocalist Enlia. Add to that the constantly blasting percussion and low growls, and the song seems much longer that it’s two hundred and fifty five second playing time. The same can be said for the rest of the songs here as well. Things remain very similar on ‘Beyond The Veil Of Consciousness’, though there’s a lot more progression at play. Once again the band nails the atmosphere with the addition of clean vocals that sit  deeper amongst the instumentation.


After the headfirst and technical battering that’s just been delivered, there’s a short piano/orchestral piece called ‘Ouroboros’. It leads into the positively mammoth title-track ‘Coagulative Matter’ that resides over eleven minutes and is the penultimate song. If you’ve ever listened to UK death metal band Cryptic Shift, you might find some similarities when listening to this. It’s the closest comparison I can make without just naming constant names. Joining the main trio on this song is Tommy Bonnevialle (of Virulent Depravity and Deathawaits) who provides a piano solo, adding to the grandeur already on show. It’s quite hard to believe that this is a debut album. Ending with the otherworldly ’Somnambulation’, with cosmic choral harmonies and electronic sounds of the galaxy, it all comes to calming close.


You can stream and purchase the album digitally below, where you can also watch videos or 'Azimuth' and 'Beyond The Veil Of Consciousness':-



You can also purchase the 8-panel digipack cd version of the album above.


The Scalar Process - https://www.facebook.com/TheScalarProcess

Transcending Obscurity Records - https://www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurityrecords

Friday, 1 October 2021

Foxmoulder/Eaglehaslanded - Split LP


Labels: Boslevan Records/Desordre Ordonne/Don't Live Like Me Records/Koepfen/Krimskramz/Mosh Potatoes Records/TRVS Records/Zegema Beach Records/0331 Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 22 Aug 2015


Tracklist:


1. Foxmoulder - Tempered III

2. Foxmoulder - Needless/Anxious

3. Foxmoulder - Antrim

4. Foxmoulder - Shame

5. Foxmoulder - Increments

6. Eaglehaslanded - Intro (Nightmares In Suburbia Pt. III)

7. Eaglehaslanded - Заклятые Враги

8. Eaglehaslanded - Mora Samo Da Se Umre

9. Eaglehaslanded - Got A Flower

10. Eaglehaslanded - Tworatz

11. Eaglehaslanded - Grobljanska

12. Eaglehaslanded - 1000 Palms


Oh my how time is passing. It's 1st October already and it's the last day of my holiday (minus the weekend that's coming up). I've spent time outside, socialising with friends and family, sorting out adult stuff and in between all of those things, I've found time to listen to music too. Not written as much as I'd hoped but the sudden progression to Autumn might give me a kick up the backside in that respect.


As has been my aim lately, after every two scheduled reviews comes one tracking the constantly expanding roster of USA/Canadian label Zegema Beach Records (for those who're new to this series), according to their bandcamp release order. Today I'm writing about the 2015 split 12" that featured Canadian band Foxmoulder and Russian band Eaglehaslanded. It features five songs from Foxmoulder and seven from Eaglehaslanded. It was released with three different screen-printed covers; white print on blue cardboard, black print on red cardboard and red print of siege cardboard. The record was pressed on black vinyl, though I'm unsure of the exact number that were released.


Split 12”s have become increasingly more popular with bands over the last few years, probably due to the fact that pressing 7”s have become more expensive (that’s what I’ve heard from band/label friends anyway). That and because the former allows for more songs. Foxmoulder’s side of this one contains five. As with their previous recordings, their screamo is fast, short yet very expansive at the same time. ‘Tempered III’ starts off at a hell of a pace before the tempo and instrumentation slows, giving you a sludge/hardcore-like sound. ‘Needless/Anxious’ is angular, jangly emo-violence/math and it’s ace. Foxmoulder have always been very expressive musically and it shines through here.


On ‘Antrim’, there’s the realisation that Foxmoulder’s approach/formula to their music is really the element of surprise. There are some proper heavy bass-drop/breakdown-like parts within the song, amongst the off-kilter hardcore that makes up it’s backbone. They’re not full-on breakdowns but nestle deeper in the mix subtly. Good stuff. The aptly named ’Shame’ follows instantly and in doing so, retains so much momentum. It goes from fast to almost crawling pace mid-way through before a solid injection of punk and just utter madness. This is definitely amongst Foxmoulder’s best material to date.


Their closing song ‘Increments’ amalgamates all of their energy and song-writing skill, packaging it into what is (for them) a long song. It’s entirely instrumental and it’s atmosphere is undeniable. Post-hardcore with metal influences this time, yet still unmistakably Foxmoulder.


While those songs could work so well on a standalone release, there’s still the small matter of split mates Eaglehaslanded. They’re somewhat more chaotic yet also more experimental too. Their opener ‘Intro (Nightmares In Suburbia Pt. III)’ is filled with electronic music akin to chiptune. ‘Заклятые Враги’ is very much where the chaos comes in, with abrasive emo-violence and high-pitched screams aplenty. It’s the same on ‘Mora Samo Da Se Umre’, which to be frank is utterly mental and it’s slightly more lo-fi sound does nothing to dampen things. They remind of some of the Japanese bands like Tetola93 and Shuly To 104kz, whom I’m sure they’ve been compared to before.


The flowing nature of ‘Got A Flower’ wrestles away some of the intensity, which isn’t necessarily a band thing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that means it’s easy-listening though, as it still has it’s moments and Eaglehaslanded still want to obliterate through sound. ‘Tworatz’ is another electronic song, except this time it’s also joined by the full band mid-way through. I don’t want to call it shock value, but that’s kind of how it feels and it’s cool!


Their penultimate song ‘Grobljanska’ has a much more serious tone to it. The spoken-word sample at the start is stark and what follows is equal to it. That tone even manages to breakthrough the constant feedback from the guitars, adding to the sense of foreboding that’s not been present up until now. ‘1000 Palms’ closes out the split in very similar fashion to how Foxmoulder closed out their side. The guitar playing and melodies are unexpectedly beautiful and the ambient waves underneath give a totally different perspective to the band’s sound. 


For me this is peak split. Both Foxmoulder and Eaglehaslanded still exist and haven’t gone away. Here they both show their best and bring out all kinds of feelings in you as a listener. Now, as the sun comes out around me I feel energised and happy. 


You can stream and download the split via both bands here:-




Foxmoulder - https://www.facebook.com/foxmouldertoronto

Eaglehaslanded - https://www.facebook.com/eaglehaslandedsuburbians


Physical copies are still available from the labels below:-


Krimskramz - https://krimskramz.com/produkt/005-foxmoulder-eaglehaslanded-split-12/

Mosh Potatoes Records - https://moshpotatoes.bandcamp.com/album/eaglehaslanded-foxmoulder-split

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/foxmoulder-eaglehaslanded-split-12


Boslevan Records - https://www.facebook.com/BoslevanRecords

Don't Live Like Me Records - https://www.facebook.com/dontlivelikeme

Koepfen - https://www.facebook.com/Koepfen

Krimskramz - https://www.facebook.com/krimskramzstuff

Mosh Potatoes Records - https://www.facebook.com/moshpotatoesxvx

TRVS Records - https://www.facebook.com/trvsrecords

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords