Thursday, 11 August 2022

Black Wound/Skullsceptre - Deterioration Of Light


Labels: Dry Cough Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Oct 2021


Tracklist:


1. Black Wound - Rusted Teeth

2. Skullsceptre - Inferno From Beyond

3. Skullsceptre - Upon The Cross


I really must stop using the warmest evenings of the year to write about slow and heavy music. I'm pretty sure I did something similar during the July heatwave, but I just can't help myself. This here split features Swedish death/doom trio Black Wound, whom I wrote about in June and fellow Swede's Skullsceptre, with this split featuring their first recorded material. Deterioration Of Light was released on tape (limited to 100 copies) by UK label Dry Cough, who also released Black Wound's previous EP To The Endless Depths, as well as digitally. Tapes are sold out.


The air is so still this evening with barely any breeze, which means having my window open does nothing at all apart from spread this aural filth even further. Black Wound’s up first with their one and only track ‘Rusted Filth’, which proves my description in the previous sentence was correct, but in a good way. Slow, bass-heavy and raw death/doom that’s primed for tape player real-estate. The vocals are equally as low and are used quite sparingly given the song’s playing time. Definitely heavily rooted in the old-school and all the better for it. It’s very atmospheric too though as the second half demonstrates, when Black Wound venture further down the doomy path with slower and darker tempos. 


Skullsceptre fly straight out of the speakers on their first song ‘Inferno From Beyond’, which is made up of a higher tempo version of death metal, though it still takes it’s influences from the genre’s forefathers. It’s no great surprise really given the death metal royalty that came out of Sweden back in the day. The percussion is faster as you’d expect, while the bass and guitar work is more frenetic and punk-filled. The vocals again are deeper in tone, suiting the music perfectly. Split closer ‘Upon The Cross’ is maniacal in it’s delivery, much in the same vein as Skullsceptre’s first song but coupled with a grin-inducing guitar solo and frightening dual-vocals, it really hits the spot.


This split is over all too quickly. Both Black Wound and Skullsceptre shine new light on the Swedish death metal scene, even if it only lights up the gloomier alleys of it’s underground. The torch never burns out but merely passes on to the next. I know there’s been further material from Black Wound (that I’ll be writing about at a later date) but here’s hoping for more from Skullsceptre as well. Until then though, this split is more than worthy.


You can stream and purchase Deterioration Of Light digitally below:-



Black Wound - https://www.facebook.com/blackwound

Skullsceptre - https://www.facebook.com/skullsceptre

Dry Cough Records - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Majorel - Restless In Memory


Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 04 Apr 2017


Tracklist:


1. A Simple Retreat

2. Unversed, A Conscious Abandonment Of Surroundings

3. Attempting Coherence In Form And Intent

4. Until The Well Runs Dry

5. Disrupting Moonwake


This is the 76th Zegema Beach release that's been featured on this blog in total (if my maths serves me correct). Granted, a number of those releases were featured prior to me starting this review series and I know that I've missed one earlier release (which, I'll circle back round to at a later date). Majorel existed for a very short length of time (at least I don't think they're active anymore) and this tape was their first release back on 2017, with their second being the 4-way 10" Desolate Hands Move The Hour with Cady, Agak and Come Regalia, which was also released by ZBR a year later. Majorel featured notable musicians who were/are currently in Karoshi, Apostles Of Eris, In Wolves Clothing and Swan Of Tuonela, plus a whole host of others. 


The screamo/hardcore scene in Richmond, Virginia (USA) has always been very fertile and Majorel more than staked their claim for recognition when they released Restless In Memory. ‘A Simple Retreat’ opens proceedings in truly driving, violent fashion but also with a notable emo layer. You could call it emoviolence or screamo, but in truth it’s got a bit of everything. Precise instrumentation where both the percussion and guitars are clear, while the vocals are heart-wrenching and also utterly piercing. 


Emoviolence might have been an apt descriptor here as ‘Unversed, A Conscious Abandonment Of Surroundings’ flies by in a whirlwind of dramatic heaviness. There isn’t anything blackened about it per se but there is that feeling about it. Maybe it’s the anxious riffs and the orchestral melody that they create.’ Attempting Coherence In Form And Intent’ is the most progressive sounding track on the EP for sure, whether that was intentional or not. Off-kilter musicianship that’s beautifully delivered alongside an undercurrent of dare-I-say early metalcore, maybe?. Either way, it’s killer.


Penultimate song ‘Until The Well Runs Dry’ is a slower building number that keeps the anticipation high with layered volume and switches in tempo that promise to break out but don’t. Controlled songwriting that keeps you hooked until the end. It’s left to ‘Disrupting Moonwake’ to close out the EP in the most suspense-filled way. It’s violent beginning gives way to an introspective mid-section that grows in the same way that Envy’s music does. The final breaths are made up of Majorel’s angular hardcore. 


Another in a long line of great ZBR releases but no label is bigger than the bands they are home to and Majorel count as one of ZBR’s best residents. They may not be active right now but at least there are some things to remember them by. Tapes are still available (which, is crazy) so go grab em!


You can stream Restless In Memory and purchase it both on tape or digitally from Majorel below:-



Copies are long since sold out from Zegema Beach Records.


Majorel - https://www.facebook.com/majorelrva/

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

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

AngelBlast - Throne Of Ashes 7"


Labels: Edged Circle Productions

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 28 Jan 2022


Tracklist:


1. Throne Of Ashes

2. Tartarus


I'm not sure if there's been something in the water over the last fews days but both both my work life and blog life (if that's even a real thing) have been pretty damn good. Obviously, I've just jinxed it all but I'm going to press on regardless. It's time for another 7" review in the form of International death/black metal band AngelBlast and their latest EP Throne Of Ashes, which was released in late January on vinyl and digital formats via Norwegian label Edged Circle Productions. It's only the quartet's second release, following their 2019 7" EP Rotting Paradise, which was also released by Edged Circle. AngelBlast features members of In Aeternum, Necrophobic and Divinity (the Divinity from Calgary, Alberta to avoid confusion) amongst many others. 


There’s nowt like a midweek blast and tonight’s comes with extra spice from AngelBlast. The EP’s title track ‘Throne Of Ashes’ is a perfect slice of modern death/black metal that owes itself to the old-school. Now when I use the term modern, I’m not talking about the breakdown/deathcore style of death metal, but that somehow this sounds fresh without necessarily being so. Obviously, those behind AngelBlast know what they’re doing and are seasoned musicians, so creating something like this is no surprise at all. Percussion, bass, guitars and vocals are all top notch, while the addition of piano for atmosphere and melody does the trick too.


Second and final song ‘Tartarus’ is blistering right from the off. Raging kick-drums, blastbeats and solo work greet you within the first thirty-seconds, before AngelBlast throw themselves back into it. Orchestral/choral melodies sit in the background, while the technical prowess of the band is allowed to shine. There is a subtle murkiness flowing through both songs here, but as I say it’s only subtle and if anything it helps make things that bit dirtier. 


This is a real success of an EP. It’s good value musically at ten minutes in length and it proves that it’s better not to overdo things, in turn leaving listeners wanting more. Let’s hope for an album from AngelBlast soon though, as I can see both of their EPs getting worn out from all the spins!


For fans of: Necrophobic, Malevolent Creation, Divinity, Castrator and Inhuman Condition


You can stream and purchase Throne Of Ashes on both digital and vinyl formats below:-



AngelBlast - https://www.facebook.com/AngelBlast666

Edged Circle Productions - https://www.facebook.com/edgedcircleproductions

Monday, 1 August 2022

Dome Runner - Conflict State Design


Labels: Self-Released/Starving Light Collective

Formats: Digital/CD

Release Date: 12 Aug 2021


Tracklist:


1. Fuji Cracks

2. Imprisoned Existence

3. Unfollow

4. Impure Utility Of Authoritarian Power Structure

5. The Undemonizing Process

6. In Pain

7. Expire

8. Exit Design


Debut album Conflict State Design was digitally released by Finnish industrial sludge band Dome Runner in August 2021. It was joined by a CD pressing from fellow Finnish label Starving Light Collective around the same time too (at least I believe that to be the case, but correct me if not). I was contacted by both the band and SLC separately sometime ago about it and in typical fashion, I'm finally writing about it now (sorry to all parties involved for the severe delay). Dome Runner started life in 2017 and released their debut demo in 2020.


I’ve never really gravitated towards industrial music but I’m aware that as time passes, tastes change and I am a lover of sludge, so Dome Runner gets my approval. Plus, they’re Finnish so that makes me happy. Album opener ‘Fuji Cracks’ is a bizarre mix of both the aforementioned sub-genres and the experimental, hypnotic nature of Dome Runner’s sound is obvious right away. Oppressive percussion sits alongside droning riffs and vocals that slide between truly harsh reverb-filled screams, and spacey clean singing. Plus the colours used on the cover art remind of Fear Factory’s Soul Of A New Machine (in a very round-about way). 


Obviously, there’s no great similarity between the two bands, aside from the Industrial leanings to my ears, but please tell me what you think. ‘Imprisoned Existence’, much like the album’s opener, contains repeating electronics and a barrage of down-tuned instrumentation. The vocals are delivered with the intensity of a powerviolence band in parts, which is definitely in keeping with the rest of the Starving Light Collective roster. That said, the music here is definitely more mind-opening.


‘Unfollow’ gives you elements of thrash and groove metal with it’s simple but very effective riffage. The crashing percussion/samples render you incoherent while Dome Runner aurally attacks from all directions. I forgot how genuinely refreshing it was to listen to something far removed from what’s been on rotation for me recently (death metal, screamo). So far this album is a great listen.


The longest song on the album is ‘Impure Utility Of Authoritarian Power Structure’ and it’s a swirling mix of tempos and heavy textures. I use the term textures loosely though, as the sound that’s achieved throughout this album is anything but gentle in feel. It takes control of all of your senses and thanks to clever song-writing and sludgy tones, it very much stays on the right side of becoming a noisy, incoherent collage of sound. 


I wasn’t doing Dome Runner a disservice with the final sentence of that last paragraph, as I really dig this and ‘The Undermonizing Process’ shows why, as the band comes into their own with an ear-splitting hybrid of fast/slowness. The more you take this in the more you hear of their musicality. It’s extreme but it’s infectious too and if there was a song that truly summed up Conflict State Design it would be ‘In Pain’, purely for it’s constant groove. It may seem like I’ve run out of things to say at this point, but I’m really just taking a moment to soak it all up. 


‘Expire’ breaks me from my trance and in doing so, it quite bizarrely transports me back to when I was watching Turnstile’s Glastonbury 2022 set on TV from earlier this year (must be the clean vocals). Again, I know neither band are similar in any way. It’s just the colours my head paints. Closer ‘Exit Design’ is a gentle, ambient piece that calmly calls time on proceedings in brilliant fashion.


This is another prime example of why you shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to listen to something new, even if it does take you nearly a year to actually do it (as is my case). Dome Runner are another reason why I hold Finnish music in such high regard. Likewise, Starving Light Collective too. Please give this album a listen if you haven’t done so already.


For Fans Of: Godflesh, Napalm Death, Killing Joke, Kurokuma and Fear Factory


You can stream Conflict State Design and grab it as a name-your-price download from Dome Runner below:-



Dome Runner - https://www.facebook.com/iamdomerunner


I can't find any links to CD copies, but you can contact Starving Light Collective via the below link to see if any copies are still available:-


Starving Light Collective - https://www.facebook.com/starvinglight