Monday 29 January 2024

Unsouling - Vampiric Spiritual Drain

Labels: I, Voidhanger Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 26 Jan 2024


1. The Wolf And Survival

2. Ladder Of Broken Backs

3. Taileater

4. Floating Key

5. Weightless Immovable Anchor

6. Endless Plateau

7. The Wolf And Ascension

I never intended for my first 2024 release review to come a mere three/four days before the end of January, but that's just how things have fallen. Vampiric Spiritual Drain is the debut album from US solo US black/death metal band Unsouling. It was officially digitally by Unsouling and physically via I, Voidhanger Records just two days ago. Unsouling draws it's inspiration from the likes of Feral Light and Manetheren amongst others, so expect something forward-thinking.

I’ve spent the last forty-eight hours or so with family and a four-legged friend. The reason I mention that is because the album opener ‘The Wolf And Survival’ reminds me of how energised I feel after another long-awaited encounter with my favourite canine. The song in question is a melodic yet raw affair, providing loving warmth alongside typical black metal intensity and experimental joy.  ‘Ladder Of Broken Backs’ is a more straightforward black/death metal song with Unsouling’s sole musician providing an extremely coherent and complete barrage of percussion, bass, guitar and vocals. At times it’s almost bombastic though it never crosses into symphonic territory.

After two full-on opening songs, ’Taileater’ is an electronic-laden instrumental number that’s perhaps inspired by cosmic elements. Maybe not in the same way as Blood Incantation but hopefully you’ll understand where I’m going with that comparison. ‘Floating Key’ is a superlative example of orchestral black/death metal and it works because Unsouling’s approach here is one of utter bewilderment and avant-garde experimentalism. The lengthier songs on Vampiric Spiritual Drain are the best in my opinion and ‘Weightless Immovable Anchor’ is a song that moves in many different circles, from true heaviness to melodic pomposity without compromising on overall musical quality.

There’s also a none-so-subtle industrial element to the sound on this album, as demonstrated by penultimate song ‘Endless Plateau’ and it’s percussion-lead tone. Much like Nailbomb/Sepultura without being a clone. Album closer ‘The Wolf And Ascension’ takes Unsouling’s experimental blueprint and stretches it to an almost ten-minute epic. When I say epic, I really mean it to as Unsouling’s lead-guitar work really comes to the fore during the song’s mid-section. It gives way to a synth-laden passage that lasts just long enough to add some light to the recording. Spacier tones wrap themselves around you during the closing few minutes, adding to the cosmic vibe generated earlier on while banishing any sense of extremity.

This has been an earthy yet really engrossing debut album from a solo project that will hopefully go on and produce more great black/death metal. Another great find by I, Voidhanger Records too.

You can stream and purchase Vampiric Spiritual Drain directly from Unsouling below:-

Unsouling -

You can order physical CD copies from I, Voidhanger Records below:-

UK/EU Store -

US Store -

I, Voidhanger Records -

Friday 26 January 2024

People's Temple Project/Sleeper Wave - Split 12"

Labels: Akashita Corp/Dingleberry Records/IFB Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 01 Feb 2019


1. People's Temple Project - Intro

2. People's Temple Project - Seminar 1

3. People's Temple Project - Seminar 2

4. People's Temple Project - Interlude

5. People's Temple Project - Seminar 3

6. People's Temple Project - Seminar 4

7. People's Temple Project - Outro

8. Sleeper Wave - Shelf Life

9. Sleeper Wave - Coward

10. Sleeper Wave - Atrophy Through The Aperture

I'm going through a strange time right now. Things seem to be going really well in my day job and while I'm making the most of it, the blog has been slipping a bit. Press on I must though and it's time to jump back into the Zegema Beach Records roster, where I take time to look at the myriad of releases from the label. This evening's all about the 2019 split LP featuring People's Temple Project and Sleeper Wave. Both are from the US and have featured here before. Fun fact: aside from the Eight Feet Under comp LP that Sleeper Wave were on, this is the only other LP appearance by either band (please correct me if I'm wrong though!).

Ten songs in total, seven from People’s Temple Project and three from Sleeper Wave. PTP’s side begins with ‘Intro’, which is hypnotically suggestive, especially if you’ve paid close attention to the album’s cover art. ‘Seminar 1” follows instantly with raw yet melodic screamo that straddles the invisible line to emoviolence line but doesn’t completely cross it. 

‘Seminar 2” is slightly more stripped back to begin with, before it builds into a chaotic beast that gives no clue as to it’s near five-minute song length. It’s much more introspective in so much as it is quieter for larger passages. The guitar work is striking too but not in an immediate way, if that makes sense. The ‘Interlude’ just like the ‘Intro’ features a sample that’s (this time) heavily religious in tone. PTP took their name from the religious movement created by Jim Jones (if my memory is correct) and as somebody who is both fascinated by/opposed to organised religion, I find the aesthetic really interesting. 

Obviously I use the term “aesthetic’ loosely, as PTP are merely just being themsevles on this release. ‘Seminar 3’ takes on an exhilarating form straight away, reminding me of Refused at times throughout the song’s heavier more punk-influenced opening sixty seconds. What follows is a much gentler mid-section that morphs into something more chaotic as it reaches it’s close, only to lead you straight into ‘Seminar 4’ as if there was no break in the music. This time, there’s more math-rock going on alongside greater volume.

PTP’s overall sound seems to have evolved on this release and as the post-metal vibes of ‘Seminar 4’ guide you to their ‘Outro’, the final menacing sample plays out. There’s no time to dwell on it though as Sleeper Wave crashes straight over your wall with their opener ‘Shelf Life’. Sleeper Wave’s approach here is much more bluesy and jazz-like, with bursts of post-hardcore nestling perfectly alongside. 

Sleeper Wave are less about the instant hit, preferring to go longer but on ‘Coward’ they break out the hardcore to greater effect. It’s the most straight-to-your-face song on this entire LP, even when they retreat into experimental art-rock mid-way through. Their final and most grandiose song ‘Atrophy Through The Aperture’ blends upbeat punk/hardcore percussion with harsh vocals and off-kilter riffs, meaning that the listening experience is a bit all over the place (but in a good way). 

This split messes with my OCD a bit because I’m used to bands having an equal amount of songs per side; however, my personal opinion on that subject pales in comparison to the music that both People’s Temple Project and Sleeper Wave commit to this release. Both bands are equal yet individual and that makes this whole thing a much greater experience. Good luck finding a copy of this in the wild!

You can stream and purchase the full split LP digitally from People's Temple Project below:-

People's Temple Project -

Sleeper Wave -

I know that I wished you luck with finding a copy of this split for sale but as luck would have it, there are a couple of copies still available from the links below:-

Dingleberry Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Zegema Beach Records USA Store -

Akashita Corp -

Dingleberry Records -

IFB Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Cerulean - Carrion Angel

Labels: I, Voidhanger Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 27 Oct 2023


1. Tower Of Silence

2. Sky Burial

3. Carrion Angel

4. Gnashing Of Teeth

5. Shroud Of Locusts

I had this down as my first "2024" release review until I realised that Cerulean had already self-released their newest EP digitally in October of last year. I decided to stick with it though, as I had so much fun listening to the blackened death/doom of Ethir Anduin on Sunday just gone. Cerulean, haling from the US, play a more progressive form of blackened death metal and it's that style that no doubt drew the attention of Italy's I, Voidhanger Records. A CD version of this EP is due to drop via the label on 26th of January. 

This EP is the first of a two-part EP release, which is due to conclude later this year. Carrion Angel opens with ‘Tower Of Silence’, which is an ambient intro piece that doesn’t give too much away in terms of Cerulean’s sound immediately. ‘Sky Burial’ gives the first proper glimpse into the musical mind of Cerulean and it’s one of extreme black/death metal tempered with experimental/progressive musicianship. I personally really enjoy the marriage between primal extremity and modern experimentation, so this suits me down to the ground.

This EP’s longest song is sandwiched in the middle here and benefits from greater musical expression, as there’s more playing time to fill. ‘Carrion Angel’ stretches for over six minutes and it’s where the comparisons to Deathspell Omega begin to truly seep through. It’s filled with avant-garde, jazz-like time signatures and instrumentation while not straying too far from more traditional metal elements, especially thanks to the vocals. It’s a truly spellbinding song.

What follows seems a lot more primitive initially (mainly due to it’s faster tempo) but ‘Gnashing Of Teeth’ is just Cerulean dialled up to the max in all departments. Their song-writing is what makes this entire EP sound as (dare I say it) catchy as it does. EP closer ‘Shroud Of Locusts’ follows where it’s predecessor left off, focusing more on utter intensity and jilted melody. The percussion here is off the charts while the rest of the band battles to keep up. At times chaotic but also groove-laden too.

Cerulean are ones to watch in 2024. They make the case for musical discovery and why it’s so important to embrace musical evolution. Joining forces with I, Voidhanger Records will only be a good thing. I just hope that more people are drawn in by what they hear. Excellent stuff!

You can stream and purchase Carrion Angel digitally from Cerulean below:-

Cerulean -

You can pre-order CD copies from I, Voidhanger Records via their stores below:-

EU -


I, Voidhanger Records -

Sunday 14 January 2024

Ethir Anduin - Холод

Labels: Atra Anduin Records

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 17 Feb 2023


1. Вепсский лес

2. Север

3. Холод внутри

4. Залив чудовищ

5. Пространство

The temperatures are due to drop below freezing in the UK next week, so to prepare myself I'm sitting down to a lovely barrel-aged imperial stout and the newest album from Russian black/doom metal band Ethir Anduin. I first found out about them thanks to Alexander (of both Atra Haeresis and Atra Anduin Records). Contact between the two of us was initially made via Telegram (due to more conventional means of communication being unavailable) and then by e-mail. Ethir Anduin has been active since 2006 and up to now, they've notched up many releases including a demo, 6 EPs, 2 splits, 9 full-length albums (including this one) and countless singles. 

Холод contains five songs that stretch to over fifty minutes and is entirely in Russian. Opener ‘Вепсский лес’ is a sprawling, melodic doom song that seems to be very much influenced by Scandinavia’s own death/doom explosion. Even the vocals, while delivered with the coldness of black metal, nestle perfectly amongst the instrumentation. This is surprising as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first. It could have been super raw and lo-fi but on listening it’s anything but those things. It’s really well performed, produced and so enjoyable.

‘Север’ is a grand mix of atmospheric doom and more straightforward black metal, except for a couple of surprises. Firstly, more folk-like clean chants are used as they were in the album’s opener and secondly, the mid-section is filled with glorious woodwind/brass tones that add real warmth to the music. Used in more of a traditional way as opposed to being avant-garde, Ethir Anduin craft something really impressive and euphoric.

On ‘Холод внутри’ (apologies, I can’t translate Russian and refuse to use Google Translate as it’s not always accurate), you’re treated to a song that’s on a more traditional black metal trajectory, albeit one that’s never too far away from Ethir Anduin’s sensitive atmospheric/melodic guitar work. Another thing that you’ll be familiar with if you listen to extreme Russian bands is the use of midi/synths within their music and the band uses said accompaniments sparingly so as not to affect their organic sound. 

The album’s folk-influences peaks during ‘Залив чудовищ’, which is very much a folk-black metal song. It’s very rhythmic and engrossing, giving an insight into the band’s roots and the traditions of the people that reside in their region. I really appreciate bands that stay true to their nationalities, instead of trying to sound too much like other nations when it comes to musical styles. For example, if you’re trying to sound like an American band and you’re not from America.

This is exactly what I needed today and listening to this album feels almost meditative, especially with a potentially difficult working week to come. Album closer ‘Пространство’ is a thing of instrumental beauty, showing that there’s much more to Ethir Anduin than first meets the eye and ear. Overall, I’ve been blown away by this album. After not knowing what to expect, the individuals that make up Ethir Anduin have put on a fantastic musical display that is worth your time and then some. 

You can stream and download this album (name-your-price) from Ethir Anduin below:-

You can connect with the band via Bandcamp above or via below (if you're on that platform):-

Atra Anduin Records -

Friday 12 January 2024

Inosuke - Rage/Ruin

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 11 Dec 2023


1. Perennial

2. Woven

3. Reflect

4. Deadfall

5. Garsecg

6. Remain

One of the great things about this hobby is getting e-mails from people who are/or have been in bands you've written about in the past, especially when they've released new music or formed new bands. That's just how this review came about as I received an e-mail from Jason Kallicragas on guitar/vocals (of Locktender/Men As Tress fame) telling me about his new band Inosuke, which also features Erik Anderson (of Lord Snow/Stormlight) on drums. The duo's first album Rage/Ruin was released in December 2023 via Zegema Beach Records.

Immediately, as I hit play on Inosuke’s debut release, I’m struck by the meticulous drumming delivered by Erik Anderson. The vocals and guitar work of Jason Kallicragas soon follow, offering up more than you’d think from a duo on opener ‘Perennial’. Screamo but with a huge heap of blackened crust/metal influence too, kind of like Lightbearer and Protestant. It sounds a lot more retro than I was expecting, in a good way. The latter half of the song is filled with post-metal instrumentation and melody, which sees itself woven (sorry!) into the following song ‘Woven’. Like the opener, it breaks past the six minute mark but song length is really just an arbitrary number when the music’s this good.

This is definitely one of the darker releases to come from ZBR in recent years, though musically it sits really well amongst the label’s mix of screamo, emoviolence and myriad adjacent sub-genres. One thing’s for sure, it rages like no other in a time when nostalgic represses of albums gone by are ever popular. There’s room for them for sure, but new bands breath new life into communities and scenes. ‘Woven’ is a perfect example of how that can happen. 

From the majestic peaks of Rage/Ruin’s opening duo comes the gorgeous instrumental song ‘Reflect’, which conjures images of clouds clearing atop of a mountain, giving way to the perfect view that stretches for many miles. It gives but a brief moment of reflection before Inosuke once again hit the loud pedal on ‘Deadfall’. Less grand and cinematic this time, it dials up the technicality and heaviness, condensed into a much shorter yet more succinct package.

I had to double check the spelling of ‘Garsecg’ before I started this review as I thought it was a misspelling. It isn’t and I’m still none the wiser about it’s meaning but that doesn’t matter because the music it contains is fantastic. The instrumental section that hits after 02:40 is everything I love and more, especially after gravitating towards improv/virtuoso instrumental/post metal over the last six months. Inosuke could easily sit alongside The Ocean, Rosetta and Infant Island such is their quality. 

Album closer ‘Remain’ is gentle, bringing forth subtle similarities to Sleep Token’s ability to build atmosphere (apologies, they ended up being my most listened to band of 2023). It’s another instrumental song that’s beautiful in it’s delivery but that also begs the question; what would an Inosuke album sound like if they went hell for leather from start to finish. 

Given the musical pedigree of both Jason and Erik, there’s plenty of reasons to play Rage/Ruin constantly. This is a great release, one that deserves plenty of exposure and praise in 2024 and beyond. I’m hoping for more music from Inosuke in the future.

You can stream and purchase Rage/Ruin digitally from Inosuke below:-

Inosuke -

Physical vinyl copies can be purchased from Zegema Beach Records below:-


ZBR USA Store -

Zegema Beach Records -

Friday 5 January 2024

Unaligned - Inner Dimensions

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 22 Apr 2022


1. Inner Dimensions

2. Transient Gate

3. Of Chaos

4. Kenopsia

5. Occhiolism

6. Void Wraith

I'm wrapping up the last few reviews that were already part of my schedule before 2024 rolled into town. I've got a good few new releases due a write-up but I'm not putting pressure on myself to jump straight in just yet. That's why tonight I'm giving the 2022 debut EP from US prog/tech death metallers Unaligned a proper spin. Unaligned is a duo made up of guitarist/bassist Taylor Tidwell (of Visitant and  Withered Throne) and Andrew Guia (of Withered Throne and Masticator (live)). For the recording of Inner Dimensions, they were joined by guest drummer Jack Blackburn (of Entheogen, Ringare and Skaphe amongst others). 

Five days into the new year and already it feels like it’s been five weeks. That’s probably why I don’t yet have it together and I why I’m still focusing on bands I’ve been meaning to write about for ages, like Florida’s Unaligned. Given the names of the suggested bands adorning the bottom of their Bandcamp page, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re awesomely brutal from the get go on title-track ‘Inner Dimensions’. Their death metal approach is made up of off-kilter progression and technical grandeur, all held together with percussive intelligence (even when the kicks are at warp-speed).

In keeping with their tech-death peers, Unaligned adorn their music with plenty of guitar melody. ‘Transient Gate’ makes use of that melody and instrumental prowess to match up to both the drums, and the gnarly vocals. The bass-guitar work also adds a jazz/blues element to the EP’s low end, which is pretty epic too. At this point in Inner Dimensions, I’m competing with my neighbour’s banal pop music volume-wise. ‘Of Chaos’ wins out though thanks to it’s ferocity and subtle slam, which persists alongside the full-bodied old-school tenacity of all band members here. It shows that experience counts for a lot, even if it’s a debut release.

‘Kenopsia’ is where the lower-register growls take hold, blending in some modern deathcore sensibilities without ever crossing that line for real. I do hear similarities to early Abigail Williams at times but I think that’s down to the orchestral keys added by Dale Urban (of Mortem Obscuram, Salem Burning and Dragoncorpse), as well as synth work from both Taylor Tidwell and Justin Curtis (of Worthy Of The Crown), whose work can be heard throughout.

Penultimate song ‘Occhiolism’ takes Unaligned’s sound back in a heavier direction again, with less orchestral flourishes. The pace of the percussion alongside the high-tempos delivered make it a standout on the EP as a whole, though it’s unfair to pick out just one on such a strong showing.  EP closer ‘Void Wraith’ provides one last rip-roaring blast of death metal from Unaligned, who have put together one hell of a debut release. Mature vocal/instrumental song-writing coupled with an assured delivery show Unaligned in the best light. For anybody who missed this release first time round (or the 2023 CD reissue), please allow yourself some time to indulge. You definitely won’t regret it.

You can purchase Inner Dimensions on CD and digitally from Unaligned below:-

Unaligned -

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Massa Nera - D//Q//B[2.0]

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 02 Dec 2023


1. An Endless Cycle // I Was More Than The Weight Of My Work (Amy Christine Remix)

2. Hipocrita (Seaphoamm Remix)

3. Lost Faces (Yearswallower Remix)

4. Adrift (Uninerve Remix)

5. Shapeshift (Kuuma Remix)

6. April 7th (Fainting Couch Remix)

7. A Faint Goodbye (Andrew Noseworthy Remix)

8. Tristeza Consume (Lowering The Blinds) (Afk Remix)

9. Eyeless Faces (Clwdrobe remix) (Prod. by Yajirobe & Clwdwlkr)

10. Wanting (Ghosts Haunting Ghosts) (Planning For Burial Remix)

11. You Mean So Much More Than Misery To Me (Phong Tran Remix)

12. Anchored (Manikineter Remix)

A calendar year to the month since the release of their most recent album Derramar | Querer | Borrar, Massa Nera went and released a remix album. An album full of collaborations with artists from different corners of the musical landscape. The last remix album I paid attention to was Linking Park's Reanimation (I think I'm showing my age there a bit). This is a little outside of my wheelhouse in terms of the blog but I do love Massa Nera and this is all in preparation for 2024, which is already promising to be their year.

I literally don’t know where to start with this (musically). Opener ‘An Endless Cycle // I Was More Than The Weight Of My Work’ (remixed by Amy Christine) is shortened compared to the original. It’s also very haunting in parts, much like the computer game Silent Hill was back in the day. The song’s mid-section is filled with noise, eschewing the earlier ambience before that same noise fades later on, allowing for a retreat into calmer pastures albeit briefly.

‘Hipocrita’ sees Massa Nera joined by Seaphoamm, providing a mix of keys and techno/drum n bass that helps to reimagine a screamo song in a very different way. It’s upbeat in a way I hadn’t thought possible and given that I find screamo to be upbeat and cathartic, it hits the spot during it’s short playing time. ‘Lost Faces’ is equally as short but the freakishly harsh take delivered by Yearswallower work’s on many levels, pushing Massa Nera’s vocal approach to greater heights.

Allowing more space and time, Uninerve’s remix of ‘Adrift’ is an instrumental masterpiece coupling both Massa Nera’s guitar work and percussion with subtle beats. So chilled. Here’s hoping this album gets a vinyl pressing in the future. Going from spaced-out chill to the intense dance/break-beat of Kuuma’s ‘Shapeshift’ remix jump starts the heart. Seven+ minutes is a long time to sustain such intensity so the addition of more harsh vocals and rhythmic changes work really well. I’m loving this so far!

Fainting Couch goes a step further with a trap/hip-hop laden take on ‘April 7th’. It’s not your traditional take on trip/hip-hop but it works perfectly when set against Massa Nera’s heavier edge. It’s pretty damn infectious to be honest. ‘A Faint Goodbye’ benefits from a remix curated by Andrew Noseworthy and while you might be expecting a song filled with electronic beats and such, you’re actually greeted with ambience and subtlety, coupled with Massa Nera’s harsh vocals. It’s re-imagined in such a way that it’s impossible lo skip.

Afk’s remix of ’Tristeza Consume (Lowering the Blinds)’ is another drum n bass piece coupled with what could be described as dub-step with techno woven into it. I’ll be honest here and say that my descriptors are probably a little off. Either way, this song is still worth diving in to. I’m not the biggest fan of mumble-rap, which is the vibe I get when listening to ‘Eyeless Faces’ (remixed and produced by clwdrobe, yajirobe and clwdwlkr). With that being said, I do appreciate well-produced music snd this is exactly that. The gentle ambience of ‘Wanting (Ghosts Haunting Ghosts)’ featuring Planning For Burial was not what I expected given the pedigree of both bands but allowing the song to take hold at a higher volume makes it a joy to listen to.

Phong Tran’s electronic remodelling of ‘You Mean So Much More Than Misery To Me’ is at the other end of the spectrum initially before Massa Nera’s heavy screamo takes over. It provides the perfect backdrop to the album’s closer ‘Anchored’, remixed this time by Manikineter, whose electronic/break-beat/hp-hop style works really well alongside Massa Nera’s harsher delivery.

I thought (and already eluded to the fact) that this album would be outside of my wheelhouse before I listened to it, but I’m open enough to say that it surprised me more than I expected. Massa Nera has been more than an inspiration for me of late and their willingness to experiment on this release shows how much they’re willing to push themselves as a band. I know there’s more to come, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

You can stream and download this album (name-your-price) below:

Massa Nera -