Saturday 31 December 2022

ZOS - The Whole Of The Body I Call ZOS

Label: I, Voidhanger Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 22 Apr 2022


1. The Whole Of The Body I Call ZOS

2. Volition

3. Black Albatross

4. On The Announcer Of Great Events

5. Oh, Mighty Rehctaw!

I hope the current holiday season is treating you all well! I'm currently planning my review schedule for early January, but I've still got time for one more review this year. I'm also having an I, Voidhanger Records binge of late, which is where this 2022 release from Polish drone/doom/weird trio ZOS comes in. It was released via I, Voidhanger in April and is the band's third full-length since their formation in 2018. Aside from the above, I know very little about ZOS. Let's allow the music to do the talking.

Starting with the opening track ‘The Whole Of The Body I Call ZOS’, you’re greeted with droning bass and ambient instrumentation centred around guitar and synth. After the initial near two-minute intro you’re thrust into a cacophony of seemingly indecipherable noise coupled with haunting and whispered black metal vocals. After spending the last few days reflecting on music in it’s countless forms and whether it’s virtuous  for an artist/band to follow their own creative path or one laid down for them by fans/trends, it occurs to me that ZOS are merely here to divide and fracture. That’s not to say they’re bad though; far from it. It’s what you make of it that counts.

I, Voidhanger is known for some of the most avant-garde portrayals of extreme music you’re likely to hear in this modern age and in ZOS the label has managed to capture a beast. ‘Volition’ shows off their droning influences to a greater extent, while also making use of anguished depressive/suicidal black metal wails that pierce your very soul. The world’s slowly descending into chaos, so music might as well provide an accompaniment.

Rewards come in the form of many things nowadays and the glorious metallic riffs that open ‘Black Albatross’ await you if you’ve made it to the mid-point of this album. The latter half of that sentence probably sounds a bit harsh on ZOS but please don’t take it the wrong way, because experimental music such as this instrumental proves there’s more than meets the eye here and it’s as gripping as the album artwork is frightening.

The disarming spoken-word sample/verse that sits atop of the minimalistic instrumentation during ‘On The Announcer Of Great Events’ cloaks the album in darker shrouds, before being overtaken by more immersive metallic tones and a further nod towards lowly doom. Sometimes it’s easier to spot the pretenders and to completely overlook those who genuinely mean what they’re doing. ZOS are certainly not pretenders. 

Album closer ‘Oh, Mighty Rehctaw!’ provides one final momentary glimpse into the minds of those behind ZOS. It relies much more heavily on drone as the backbone for something deeply rooted in occultism. The term ‘occult’ is being used a lot nowadays, especially thanks to the likes of Beastmilk and Ghost; however, it does describe the feeling you get from this final song and ZOS are unlike either of those aforementioned bands. 

2022 as a year has been many things and given what it’s followed, bands have a right to produce and release music that draws from the most challenging times. ZOS came through those times and in doing so, provided a body of work that’s both inwardly and outwardly reflective. To truly appreciate is to listen.

You can stream and purchase the album on all formats below:-


I, Voidhanger Records -

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Slimelord - Insurmountable Peril

Labels: Self-Released/Dry Cough Records/Sewer Rot Records

Formats: Digital/Tape/CD

Release Date: 14 Apr 2022


1. Until We Feed Again

2. Death On The Bayou

In August Leeds death/doom band Slimelord announced that they were deservedly joining the 20 Buck Spin roster, which will be the home of their debut album in 2023. A few months prior to that  announcement, they left us with their most recent two-song EP Insurmountable Peril. It was digitally release by the band, as well as on both tape (via Dry Cough Records) and CD (via Sewer Rot Records). This will probably be my last review until after the Christmas weekend, though I'll hopefully have one/two more before the New Year rolls in.

After hearing Moss Contamination I was a little bit taken aback by the direction in which Slimelord was going, as their doom/death had become more eery and improv-like, and on listening to ‘Until We Feed Again’ I get the same feeling, although this song does sound more like an atmospheric opener with the use of sparse instrumentation and ambience. I guess you should come to expect the unexpected with Slimelord.

‘Death On The Bayou’ is where they hit their stride. The striding death metal that was so inspired on The Delta Death Sirens makes it’s comeback alongside lumbering doom and welcome melodic flourishes. In truth, the two songs that make up Insurmountable Peril fit perfectly alongside each other, as there is very much an avant-garde side to Slimelord that’s not immediately obvious. That thought may conjure up images of Cynic and Atheist, and at times that’s not far off, but the darkness protruding from this release is much more noticeable.

Their debut album is going to be highly anticipated and it remains to be seen if it’ll come in this direction for a review. Either way, Slimelord are flying the flag for UK death/doom and their 20 Buck Spin signing is no surprise. If you’re reading this and you aren’t familiar with the band, you have some time to catch up and three releases to get your lugs round in preparation.

You can buy Insurmountable Peril digitally from Slimelord below:-

Slimelord -

Dry Cough Records has sold of it's run of tapes but you can still both cd and tape copies (1 tape left!) from Sewer Rot Records here -

Dry Cough Records -

Sewer Rot Records -

Sunday 18 December 2022

Atra Haeresis - New Single 'The White Book' Out Today

In times of trouble it can be harder to communicate, which has been the case for Russian/Belarussian black metal band Atra Haeresis. Despite the current situation, they've still be able to write and record new music, which is the first since their 2021 debut full-length Pretium. No Clean Singing are already premiering the video for the single here so I'm not going to steal their thunder, but I still want to do my bit to support a band that stood out for me last year.

'The White Book' is streaming now via Souncloud below:-

This new single has been jointly released via Atra Anduin Records and Void Wanderer Productions, and hints at a new album that will surely be highly anticipated by those who discovered Atra Haeresis last year. 'The White Book' is a song filled with both black and death metal influences, changing tempos, progression and also melody. 

Access to the Internet is difficult for Atra Haeresis at the moment, but news is published on their profile here - and also via Instagram, when able via @atrahaeresis.

Thursday 15 December 2022

Det Ar Därför Vi Bygger Stader/Mrtex - Split 7"

Labels: Dingleberry Records/Friendly Otter/Samegrey Records/Through Love Records/Wolf Town DIY/Zegema Beach Records

Foermats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 03 Sep 2017


1. Det Ar Därför Vi Bygger Stader - Jag Ringer Nog Dig Om Allt Gar At Helvete

2. Det Ar Därför Vi Bygger Stader - Nar Du Kom Tillbaka Sa Var All Disk Ren

3. Det Ar Därför Vi Bygger Stader - Akvarell

4. Mrtex - Slapping The General Populace

4. Mrtex - Inhaling Infants

I recently acquired a physical copy of this split, which brings my Zegema Beach Records discography collection to 51 releases (though that is a rough guesstimate). This 7" was released back in late 2017 featuring songs from Sweden's Det Ar Därför Vi Bygger Stader and US/Canadian band Mrtex. 250 copies were pressed in pretty d.i.y fashion, but that's fine as the aesthetic suits it well.

This split is chock full of piercing emoviolence/screamo and Det Ar Därför’s opener ‘Jag Ringer Nog Dig Om Allt Gar At Helvete’ is a rude awakening if you were expecting something more tuneful. The vocals are super high-pitched screams that almost sound a bit comical, but they’re not, as you’ll realise on ‘Nar Du Kom Tillbaka Sa Var All Disk Ren’. I’m sure I’ve said before that I hear a Japanese influence on Det Ar Därför’s music, but I can still hear it in the atmosphere they weave here. Their final song ‘Akvarell’ is more artsy than I remember any of their earlier music to be and it’s fantastic.

Mrtex follow with two songs that sit on the rawer end of the spectrum, while being lengthier and less violent. ’Slapping The General Populace’ makes use of their instrumental ability (as the instrumentation takes most of the slack), while the vocals are more prevalent at both the beginning and the end-ish. ‘Inhaling Infants’ is like a blistering mass of percussive mite and explosive tension. There’s also plenty of beauty in it too.

Recently when I’ve sat down to write these reviews, I’ve been calm and my head’s been somewhat empty, but this evening’s felt a bit different for whatever reason. What it has done is made really appreciate the raw, cathartic energy that went into the songs that appear on this split. I’m a believer in non-violence and pacifism , but I think I could do with laying off higher-tempo releases like this for a little bit.

You can stream and purchase both sides of the split digitally below:-


Det Ar Därför Vi Bygger Stader -

Mrtex -

Physical copies are still available from the below labels:-

Friendly Otter -

Through Love Records -

Zegema Beach Records - CAN/INTL -

Dingleberry Records - Records

Friendly Otter -

Samegrey Records -

Through Love Records -

Wolf Town DIY -

Zegema Beach Records -

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Arkheth - Clarity Came With A Cool Summer's Breeze

Labels: I, Voidhanger Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 30 See 2022


1. In The Cradle Of The Crescent Moon

2. Kundalini

3. Psychonautica

4. Neptune Beaches

5. Patience In The Garden Of Fire

6. Where The Ocean Meets The Sky

I've found myself in a rare spot, where I can pick a random release to talk about. This particular release forms part of the ever growing I, Voidhanger Records stable, which is a label that's known for it's love of progressive and avant-garde metal, with bands who constantly up the cover-art level. One such band is Australia's Arkheth. I previously wrote about their 2018 album 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew. I really enjoyed that album and knowing that they've now found a suitable home for their latest work, I'm excited to hear how they've progressed over the past four years and if that cover is anything to go by, there's gonna be psychedelia aplenty.

I’ve said before that it’s always great to revisit bands that I’ve reviewed before and Arkheth left a really good impression with their previous album. Fast-forward to now and Clarity Came With A Cool Summer’s Breeze promises to be as good, if not better. Album opener ‘In The Cradle Of The Crescent Moon’ is an instrumental that hides Arkheth’s extreme influences behind acoustic guitar, saxophone, clarinet and birdsong. It’s an auspicious start.

‘Kundalini’ follows quickly on with something that’s a little more extreme, but only because it contains guitar riffs. They’re joined by both spoken/whispered and cleanly sung vocals, keyboard tones that sound like a Moog and almost shoegaze-like textures. There’s a lot going on and the creativity levels are very high indeed. Even the electronic flourishes during the song’s mid-section don’t sound out of place. Black metal makes more of an appearance later on, along with some Shining-like black jazz.

There seems to be a growing trend (if you can even call it that!) of bands becoming less extreme, heaviness-wise and Arkheth make their point clearly on ‘Psychoanutica’ (not that they’re following any trends). Part black metal, part cheesy 80’s game show music and part bizarrely beautiful sound collage. If this band ever makes it onto Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, I’ll be bloody happy!

The reason I mentioned Jools Holland is because the brass section of ‘Neptune Beaches’ could easily have come from his rhythm and blues orchestra. It’s that good and underlines just how impressive this album is. I’ve honestly never heard anything like this in the twelve years I’ve been writing about music. Everything flows so well and before you know it you’re listening to the 70’s inspired penultimate song ‘Patience In The Garden Of Fire’. More like a folk, psych, Beatles-esque pop song than anything remotely close to metal, yet it works so well in the context of Arkheth’s music. 

‘Where The Ocean Meets The Sky’ epitomises the musical quality of this album best and it’s the final song of a record that’s over too quickly, It’s very atmospheric and it builds in a gentle way, making full use of every element at Arkheth’s disposal. Led by the band’s sole permanent member Tyrone Kostitch, with additional and no-less significant contributions from Glen Wholohan (alto sax, tenor sax and bass clarinet), Tarquin Halls-Corbett (bass, backing and additional lead vocals, along with added acoustic and electric guitar on track 6), Prophanant (additional lead guitar on track 3) and Hunter McDonald Gerrand Rogers (string orchestration on track 5), it’s unlikely that you’ll find a collective as inspiring as this.

All that’s left now is for you to go on your own journey of musical exploration, starting with this record. It fully justifies why Arkheth should be held in much higher regard and why I, Voidhanger Records should be revered amongst lovers of challenging, stimulating music devoid of traditional labels. Fantastic!

You can stream and purchase Clarity Came With A Cool Summer's Breeze on all formats below:-

Arkheth -

I, Voidhanger Records -

Sunday 11 December 2022

Ocultum - Residue

Labels: Self-Released/Black Bow Records/Interstellar Smoke Records

Formats: Digital/CD/Vinyl

Release Date: 06 Sep 2019


1. The Acid Road

2. Residue

3. Ascending With The Fumes Of The Dead

4. Reflections On Repulsiveness

It's bloody freezing here! It's just turned cold over the last few days and yesterday I had to be out at 5am to work. I started writing this review on Friday evening, as I wanted to jam some slow and heavy tunes from Chilean doom/sludge trio Ocultum. This is a band that came to my attention recently, but that actually formed back in 2009. Since their formation, they've released a single, two full-lengths (including this one) and two live albums. Residue was originally self-released digitally in 2019 before being released a year later on CD via UK label Black Bow Records. Earlier this year, it was reissued on vinyl by Polish label Interstellar Smoke Records.

Heavy, grooving bass/guitar kicks off Residue on opener ‘The Acid Road’ and with it, you’re instantly dragged back to a time when Black Sabbath ruled their airwaves. Ocultum’s take on doom/sludge is more extreme, as is the way in South America. It has a rawness that’s brought alive by the harsh vocals and powerful drumming, but also a heap of warmth due to the trio’s psychedelic edge. 

All four of the songs on Residue are pretty lengthy with the title-track (and the opener before it) almost reaching the ten-minute mark, while the other two songs go even further. Back to the title-track though; ‘Residue’ majors on the trio’s instrumental prowess with the vocals used only when necessary. 

The album’s latter half is where things become the most mesmerising, with even doomier music and knuckle-dragging clean vocals that nestle amongst it all on ‘Ascending With The Fumes Of The Dead’. It’s so easy to get lost and to overlook this form of metal given the sheer amount of releases that give you instant gratification, but if you do you’ll be doing it at your peril as this release is super loud and oppressive in all the right ways.

Album closer ‘Reflections On Repulsiveness’ is by far the gnarliest song on Residue by mere virtue of the vocals being so low tone-wise at first, before launching back into those gargled growls once again. There’s plenty of atmosphere generated via the melodic guitar work. It’s minimalistic appearance is very effective, making this song sound a lot dirtier and more true. 

This is a beast of a record. Experiencing it over three years after it’s original release doesn’t do any harm at all, as Ocultum is very much a band for the ages. If you enjoy your slow, mournful music and like heaviness then you’ll do yourself a favour by giving this album, and this band your time.

You can stream and purchase Residue directly from Ocultum below:-

Vinyl copies can be purchased from Interstellar Smoke Records here -

Ocultum -

Interstellar Smoke Records -

Tuesday 6 December 2022

MASSA NERA - Derramar | Querer | Borrar

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 02 Dec 2022


1. An Endless Cycle // I Was More Than The Weight Of My Work

2. Hipocrita

3. Lost Faces

4. Adrift

5. Shapeshift

6. April 7th

7. A Faint Goodbye

8. Tristeza Consume (Lowering the Blinds)

9. Eyeless Faces

10. Wanting (Ghosts Haunting Ghosts)

11. You Mean So Much More Than Misery To Me

12. Anchored

This evening's post was going to a continuation of my ongoing Zegema Beach Records Roster review series (and I guess it kinda is), as not so long ago US screamo/post-hardcore band MASSA NERA wrote to let me know about their newest record Derramar | Querer | Borrar and asked if I could write about it. It was released a mere four days ago via ZBR and it's already received a huge response, as vinyl and tape copies are quickly selling out. I should have been at a really boring meeting this evening. Thank god I swerved that!

It’s amazing to me that so many bands release new album in December, as the clamour to write end-of-year lists grow too much for bigger publications (because apparently the end of the year starts before the 1st day of the new year!). Thankfully, there are some us who still appreciate those so called latecomers and the brand new album from MASSA NERA is no exception. Album opener ‘An Endless Cycle // I Was More Than The Weight Of My Work’ is a screamo song that leans heavily on instrumentation and progression, with vocals used sparingly throughout it’s seven-and-a-half minute running time. There’s also great use of caustic hardcore towards the end, which really gets things going.

‘Hipocrita’ accentuates MASSA NERA’s musical approach, which here combines post-metal, emo and off-kilter melodics perfectly. It’s early on but there seems to be a real and obvious maturity to the band’s sound. People sometimes mistake maturity for giving up and settling into a formula that works. MASSA NERA are a long way from giving up and if anything, they’re building up to much greater things. ‘Lost Faces’ is an immediate continuation without any pause, which is nice and with that the momentum continues into something that’s altogether heavier and more fraught with dissonance. It’s beautiful.

This isn’t a short album but it needn’t be either. Screamo and emoviolence of late has very much been about shock and awe, but this album could very well be a turning point. ‘Adrift’ is a considered and thoughtful post-hardcore song that plays more on the band’s emotions, translating them into music tells a story and carves a journey. That’s the turning point for me! In fact, things seem to be veering closer and closer to metal as you get further into this record, as demonstrated on ‘Shapeshift’s first ninety-seconds at least, before some chilled electronica hits. Again, another shift (which I guess is the reason for the song-title). I have to say I’m digging it. A bit of drum ’n’ bass/techno/house/whatever (I’m not a dance music expert as you can tell) is good once in a while and it works so well here.

You’re snapped back to reality on ‘April 7th’ with it’s blistering hardcore sensibilities. It may be more familiar given MASSA NERA’a past, but it’s definitely a shock to the system after the previous song. At this point you’ll be past the mid-point in Derramar | Querer | Borrar. ‘A Faint Goodbye’ is an exquisite post-hardcore number filled with truly dramatic crescendos. The latter half of the album is filled with shorter, more urgent songs but that doesn’t stop them from being packed with creativity. ‘Tristeza Consume (Lowering the Blinds) being a case in point.

‘Eyeless Faces’ flows forth straight after with MASSA NERA’s own use of panic chords and mathcore leaning musicianship. This is turning out to be an album of two halves so far but one that’s still a perfect whole. If you like terrifying noise and screamo madness, look no further than this song or ‘Wanting (Ghosts Haunting Ghosts)’ for that matter. It’s percussive tempo is straight-up grinding, while the guitars present a shoegaze-like backdrop underneath the rabid screams. One thing that MASSA NERA has always done well is introspective passages and here they package those passages up alongside black metal influences. 

Penultimate song ‘You Mean So Much More Than Misery To Me’ is hard hitting not just in title but also musically, though the use of strings during it’s mid-section turns it on it’s head a little. So good from beginning to end, it’s atmosphere digs deep into your psyche. Closer ‘Anchored’ is initially so much more laid-back. It’s a song that you can shut your eyes to and allow yourself to be whisked away momentarily. MASSA NERA’s lyrics talk of defeat and failure, which are relatable everyday feelings for many. Stark and harrowing, the album falls into silence.

It’s not often I finish a day at work with a review of this length. Maybe I needed this. I can definitely say that MASSA NERA have created something really special here. Derramar | Querer | Borrar is the soundtrack to 2022. Crushingly heartbreaking yet euphorically deserved. 

Stream the album in full and purchase it on all formats from MASSA NERA below:-


Copies are also available from Zegema Beach Records below (while stocks last):-

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL -

Zegema Beach Records USA -

Zegema Beach Records -

Monday 5 December 2022

Qoya - Stellar Frequencies Sessions #2

Labels: Stellar Frequencies

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 10 Feb 2022


1. Whispers (Live Session)

2. Banshee (Live Session)

After what seems like an age, here's my second Stellar Frequencies Sessions review that features French doom/post-punk trio Qoya. Their two-song session was recorded in December 2021 before being released by Stellar Frequencies on lathe cut vinyl snd digital formats in February. Physical lathe copies are sold out.

I guess live sessions aren’t meant to be long and I’m sure there’s a reason for that. Qoya’s two-song session begins with ‘Whispers’ and it’s post-rock/post-punk atmosphere. In truth, it’s only the vocals that hint at the band’s post-punk influence, as the instrumentation that’s led by lovely melodic guitar work is a lot more majestic and immersive.

Qoya’s second song ‘Banshee’ features a lengthy intro passage that is very easy to get lost in. As the verse kicks in, it’s easy to hear that the trio are still finding their feet musically, having only released their debut album Yokai in October 2021 (where both of these songs are taken from) but nonetheless, their potential is obvious. The rest of the song follows the same pattern as it’s opening few minutes and it’s great to just sit back, taking it all in.

If I had to give advice to my younger self about heavy music, it would be that you can’t just pigeonhole it. There are so many nuances and different takes on it that it’s impossible to generalise. Qoya is another band that shows just how far this form of music can be stretched. A great job from a band that will hopefully grow and grow.

You can stream and purchase the session digitally below:-

Qoya -

Stellar Frequencies -

Friday 2 December 2022

The Bobby Lees - Bellevue

Label: Ipecac Recordings

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Oct 2022


1. Bellevue

2. Hollywood Junkyard

3. Ma Likes A Drink

4. Death Train

5. Strange Days

6. Dig Your Hips

7. Have You Seen a Girl

8. In Low

9. Little Table

10. Monkey Mind

11. Greta Van Fake

12. Be My Enemy

13. Mystery Theme Song

When you're sent a promo of an album that's been released via Ipecac Recordings, you tend to take notice. The label that's called home by some of alternative/heavy music's greats including Fantomas, Melvins, Isis and countless others released the latest album from Woodstock, New York punks The Bobby Lees in October. Bellevue is the quartet's second album and this review is possible thanks to Ipecac Recordings, Speakeasy PR and Haulix, who have just rolled out their new Haulix+ promotional service.

I can see how The Bobby Lees found the home that they did in which to release this album. Their fast and sassy punk screams as if it were born in the 80s on opener ‘Bellevue’. It’s a short sharp shock that sets the tone but it also flatters to deceive as ‘Hollywood Junkyard’ is not as frenetic. They slow things down, but loose none of the attitude while doing so. Sound-wise, punk is very much the main ingredient but it’s also layered with a solid amount of rock, blues and even some of the madcap antics that helped Fantomas back in the day.

There’s a British influence flowing though ‘Ma Likes A Drink’ that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the unapologetic delivery that verges on snotty. Either way, it’s super catchy. Your utterly blindsided by the percussion on ‘Death Train’, which leads with it’s front food, providing a bouncing rhythm that the rest of the band has to catch up with. The bass and bluesy guitar work provides a subtle nod to horror-punk in places (I’m talking T.S.O.L) and the more accented, almost shrieked vocals give out more energy than they take.

It’s great to hear how The Bobby Lees can vary their sound so greatly without actually stepping too far from their original blueprint. Keys are employed on ‘Strange Days’ to provide a stripped down replacement to their full-on drumming and add to a much cleaner sound, yet it’s never too far away from the loud pedal, as the song’s second half shows.

My musical tastes must be evolving for sure because I used to be all about the really heavy and dissonant side of punk, but over the last few years I’ve been reaching for lighter, brighter and more danceable punk. This record is the perfect example of why that latter should not be overlooked and ‘Dig Your Hips’ is perfectly wound, as is the fuzzy, scuzzy quick-fire ‘Have You Seen a Girl”. All leather, brass studs and flipping v’s. 

By now you’re into the latter half of Bellevue and the songs have gotten shorter, and more urgent, especially ‘In Low’. It’s short and oh so catchy. It gives way to ‘Little Table’, which sounds like it’s rhythm and instrumentation was stolen straight from a Parisian blues/jazz cafe. I’m not complaining because it sounds brilliant.

That blues/jazz influence only grows on the amusingly titled ‘Monkey Mind’, with it’s twinkly keys and lyrics that could either be about the animal or human variety. I guess only the band knows which. Spoken word lyrics sound great in the right setting and  ‘Greta Van Fake’ is just that setting. More spoken than sung, they work perfectly up against the rock n roll underneath. 

Up till this point the music contained on Bellevue hasn’t been overly off-kilter, until penultimate song ‘Be My Enemy’ that is. Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t artsy or progressive by any stretch but in the verses it’s certainly got something different going on that’s ear-pricking. Closing with ‘Mystery Theme Song’, The Bobby Lees lay to rest an album that’s infectiously enjoyable. Long enough to get lost in but short enough to keep you hooked. 

You can stream and purchase Bellevue on all formats below:-

The Bobby Lees -

Ipecac Recordings -