PICK OF THE WEEK: California’s Cold Blue Mountain could hit home on wrenching ‘Old Blood’

Cold Blue MountainMost of us wouldn’t take too kindly if someone tried to invade our homes and take over our lives, erasing our past entirely. That can apply to one’s house, one’s company, or one’s homeland, and the end result could be accepting what’s not the status quo in order to get through everyday life.

I used to work for a newspaper, one that was grassroots, family owned forever, but economic woes stripped that away over time. I’ve been gone for many years, but since then they’ve been infiltrated by a parent company that has stripped away every ounce of its identity, almost to the point where I don’t recognize it anymore. It’s gone. Swallowed. That’s a minor example considering entire populations and countries have been invaded over time and forced to adhere to new rules and regulations. The Native Americans here in the United States are an example of that, as what was theirs was wrestled away, with their history and path often pushed aside or paved over by “American history.” That’s a type of subject matter that Cold Blue Mountain tackled on their cataclysmic new record “Old Blood,” as they wrote their own tale about a society being overtaken by a foreign body, forced to adapt, and who have to watch their identity be stripped away over time. The emotional turmoil can be felt in the music on these incredible five tracks, and the band kept the story general enough that, if you want to apply your own (or your ancestors’ own) tale to it, it’ll fit and prove a place to go for some understanding and catharsis.

Cold Blue Mountain coverThe Chico, Ca., band emerged a couple years ago with their debut record, a great amalgamation of post-metal, doom, and sludge, and it was impactful enough that they opened up some eyes (ours included). But this new record is some next-level stuff, the band forming into a truly special machine capable of a record this good and transcending. The musicians responsible for this epic–vocalist Brandon Squyres, guitarists Will McGahan and Sesar Sanchez, bassist Adrian Hammons, and drummer Daniel Taylor–let every ounce of themselves out, from the cascading, crushing music, to the vocals that sound like they had to be torturous and bloodletting to record. If you’re looking for a band to competently slide in with your ISIS and Neurosis records, look no further than this band that definitely should scratch that itch.

“Seed of Dissent” opens up the story with piano gently leading you in, as guitars meet up and begin to unfurl the full colors. A really cool texture is established that’s both cerebral and stimulating, but then the band starts chugging hard and busting into savagery and atmosphere. The music and the vocals drip with emotion, and the band begins plowing, bringing a dramatic end to the first chapter. “New Alliances” has drums bursting from the seams, with burly lead guitar work and piano notes drizzling behind. The track then gets calmer, cooler, with some interesting playing that comes off as … space folk? Is that a thing? It is now. That leads back to another cannon explosion, with the band devastating again, Squyres digging deep for the most guttural shouts in his system, and a finish that’s damn near proggy. “Strongest Will” is built on some cool riffs, and behind it all, the cymbals take an absolute beating at the hands of Taylor. The vocals are monstrous, as usual, and the melodies that hold the thing together are compelling and powerful. The final moments find the band trudging heavily through the mud, and the screams sounding crazed at times.

Speaking of vocals that teeter on the edge of sanity, what Squyres does on the 9:23 “Retreat” sounds overflowing with tumult and passion. He dumps every bit of himself into this song and leaves every ounce of himself out there on this cut. That’s not to slight the rest of the guys, who also empty their souls with a clean, solemn first few minutes that, combined with the vocals, sound downright mournful. There’s a lot of back and forth, with the band pounding you at times, before slipping back behind the clouds and letting the ground get soaked. The final minutes find the band mauling at a deliberate pace, and the vocals completely dominating the picture. Just a gripping song. Closer “Demise” begins calmly, and it takes its time establishing the mood of this 11:07 last section. The song blows open eventually, with the vocals leaving welts, the band hitting a sludgy tempo, and much of what you hear pouring from your headphones or speaker seeming raw and bloody. Fiery guitar leads emerge from the smoke, thick basslines ooze power, and the vocals sound like they’re trying to make sense of everything that’s happened, provide both a place to find solace about the past and express frustrations about what’s come to pass. It’s an impressive last salvo to end one hell of a weighty record.

Cold Blue Mountain remain a bit of a mystery to the rest of the world, but “Old Blood” should get them attention and adulation in no time. It’s a career-making record, one that should win them a mass of devotees who not only relish their current work but wonder what’s possible for them in the future. This album should be heard by those who can relate to the story, those who want to be crushed by their music, and those who can appreciate a budding band at the start of their creative high. We could all look back in a few years and see “Old Blood” as one of those landmark records where an important band really got going.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.coldbluemountain.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/releases/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/

Bizarre Norwegian black metal killers Khold finally resurface with catchy, crushing ‘Til Endes’

KholdThere are absolute truths about Nordic black metal band Khold. First, they’re really strange, which you can tell right away just by looking at their promo photos. Second, they do the black metal/rock n roll thing about as well as anyone ever has, and it’s been a long damn wait to get something new from the band.

But, behold! Khold’s latest opus “Til Endes” is upon us, and as usual, I still can’t understand a damn word they’re saying because I haven’t smartened up enough to learn any other language competently other than English. But sometimes a great album with monster hooks and devastating melodies catapults over that pesky language barrier, and this new eight-cut record does just that. We haven’t heard from this face-painted, strange band in six long years, since they dropped “Hundre ar Gammal” on our heads in 2008, and in that time, their members have kept busy in other places. Most of them have plied their trade with Tulus, though drummer Sarke has made a mark with his self-named band and even invaded Maryland Deathfest this year. OK, back to Khold, who deserve our undivided attention.

Khold cover“Til Endes,” the band’s sixth release ever since forming in 2000 is one of their catchiest. Yeah, that might not sound very cult, right? It’s supposed to be charred, dark, ugly, clearly evil? OK, well, it’s not, and who cares? I’d say these guys rival Entombed and Immortal as finding ways to add accessibility and fun to their music, and every moment of this thing just drips with energy. Go ahead and try to avoid getting caught up in it. You’ll fail. Maybe credit vocalist/guitarist Gard, guitarist Rinn, bassist Crowbel, and Sarke (don’t forget shadowy fifth member Hildr, Gard’s wife who writes the lyrics) with putting out a spirited record that brims with life, even if their sound and look is buried in death and morbidity. I can’t stop listening to this record, and it’s been in my ears regularly since getting the promo several months ago.

The album starts with the awesome “Myr,” as its razor-sharp lead guitar riff burns their way into your skin and the melodies stick to your ribs. The song, like most on here, is catchy as hell, and the guys sell it full bore. Good luck getting the chorus out of your head, by the way, even if that just means the thrashing stays with you. “Skogens uye” pierces from the start, with the guitars chugging and doing their best to do some melodic damage and the group hitting on a killer groove. There’s a Dakthrone-style gallop that rises up toward the end, driving up even more dust, and the tempo is absolutely surging. “Ravnestrupe” grinds up early, with raucous riffs and some thick bass playing. The verses are ugly and nearly infernal, and then they meet up with punishing rhythms and harsh growls that work ideally together. It’s the perfect amount of speed and chewy tastiness. “Dommens Arme” is the big surprise of the record, and an astute listener should catch on pretty easily. It’s the band’s reworking of Sepultura classic “Troops of Doom,” and it’s a great take on the track with their own black metal stylings splashed over this beast. They do some serious trucking here. This is the second great cover of this track this year, as Pittsburgh doom-death institution Derketa also put their bloody fingerprints on the song.

The swirling title cut is up next, with melodies that should cause heads to swing on necks hard and in windmill fashion. These guys really dig into the grime on this one, with the guitars chugging away and Gard’s vocals a gurgly high point, especially driving home the simplistic chorus. “Det Dunkle Dyp” is another one of those tracks so clingy, they stick to you long after the record’s over. The guitars are sweltering, the tempo is a little more restrained in spots, and again, the chorus makes its mark most effectively. It does kick things into higher gear here and there, but the best moments are the more calculating ones. “Avund” has a dissonant beginning, as the guys pound away and achieve a strange atmosphere. The track definitely is more in the rock n roll vein than anything, and there are some interesting progressions that should keep you guessing. Closer “Hengitt” opens with mud-thick bass before giving way to a nasty guitar riff and the band building to a really strong blow up. Once the song ignites, the band knifes full steam ahead, with guitars dripping darkness, the vocals a throaty violent, and the drums beaten to a pulp. They hit on more tremendous grooves that should get your fists moving no matter what you’re doing, and they kick up the intensity even further over the final minutes of the song, making sure you’re both rocked and reeling. I’ve more than once hit repeat as soon as this record ended, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing the same. It’s that good.

Yes, this thing is catchy, thrashy, fun, and pretty well produced. Those are things at which many black metal fans turn their corpse-painted noses, but doing so means you’ll miss out on one of the year’s most pleasurable listens. These guys have a great formula, sound like they had plenty of heathen-like fun making it, and are at no shortage for inspiration. Maybe six years is a long time to wait, but I’ll handle it every time if we keep getting Khold records as damn good as “Til Ended.”

For more on the band, go here: http://www.khold.net/

To buy the album, go here: http://burningshed.com/store/peaceville/

For more on the label, go here: http://peaceville.com/

Mortuus’ dank, dizzying black metal revels in death, begs for its arrival on ‘Grape of the Vine’

MortuusIt’s going to get dark, spooky, ugly, and horrific soon in America. Or at least that’s what a majority of the population thinks. I always find the Halloween season a little bit silly, especially when the religious dorks rise up and protest what is a pretty cartoonish, harmless season. But elsewhere, real terror awaits.

If you want to look into the true face of death and evil, look no further than Mortuus, the long-standing Swedish black metal band that will have no problem causing chills to go up and down your spine. Their freshly released second full-length “Grape of the Vine” has arrived after years of their minions waiting for an answer to 2007’s “De Contemplanda Morte; De Reverencie Laboribus ac Adorationis.” That’s one hell of a mouthful of a title. Anyhow, this seven-track, nearly 50-minute excursion is painted all over with the stench of death. It’s a nightmarish soundtrack of your body expiring and what’s left being sent on a suffocating journey through a darkness full of mysteries and perhaps danger. The record is chilling from front to back, and they establish a dank atmosphere that relies more on psychological punishment than it does overwhelming you with power and speed.

Mortuus coverThe band is made up of two musicians, that being vocalist/guitarist Tehom, and bassist/drummer/backing vocalist M. Hinze. Together, they work to create a dark vortex of hell that might take some getting used to. It might not suck you in right away simply because they eschew convention, with sticky melodies and any hooks completely absent. Instead, the vocals often sound like a running diatribe, designed to provoke the forces of evil, while the music rains down like blood, getting in your eyes and causing your lips to stick together. It’s not a comfortable experience, but it is one that’ll feel a lot different than the ones on which most modern black metal bands take you.

Frosty instrumental “Layil” opens the record with ominous playing, drums throbbing hard, and guitars spilling all over the place, instilling a foreboding atmosphere into the proceedings and leading into the furious title track. There, guitars chugs, maniacal growls sting your senses, and the music drives a dizziness that could leave you trying to regain your footing. Most of the track is a slow burn, with drubbing compositions and driving vocals that sound accusatory. “Torches” has a scintillating lead guitar line that knifes into the beginning of the track, and a calculating pace meets up with monstrous howls to blow fire into your face. Some traces of tangible melodies slip into place, giving the track the slightest hint of accessibility, and the final dose of storming glides into dripping piano that closes the door on the cut. “Sulphur” has fires crackling and a poisonous gust in the air, as the band churns slowly, violently. The song opens up a bit, with Hinze howling, “I hear the devil speak while I lay asleep,” setting imagery from which your worst dreams are made.

“Disobedience” is eerie at first and takes it time setting the scene, but as it goes on, it turnsurh into something cold and prickly. The tracks bleeds slowly, while the darkness sets in thick, and a frozen, deathly melody arrives the make things even more charnel. The song is just ugly, with infernal vocals and vicious mashing dragging you to the finish. “Nemesis” is psychologically damaging and even manages to hit a little harder than what preceded it, with Hinze declaring, “You are prophets of your own demise.” There is a hope for death, if not a worship of it, in the air, and the entire song feels like it’s luring you not just to your grave, but to eternal damnation. The final moments are so destructive that they’re oppressive, and this is the most aggressive track on the whole record. Closer “Tzel Maveth” has a cloudy start, only to have riffs burst from it like lightning. The songs lurches like a slow-moving, deadly lava, and the pace returns to the calculated climb most of these cuts take. The song burns heavily, filling everything with a thick smoke, and mercy is only given in its final moment, when the record meets the demise it promises all along.

When people are reveling in ghouls, ghosts, devils, and skulls next month, remember to give them a break. For they do not know of the true chaos and death that is Mortuus’ music, and most would faint at the first few notes of “Grape of the Vine.” As for you, the hardening of the arteries and exposure to real fright will get you ready for the cold months when everything around you is dead and decaying. Nature is getting ready to take that rotting journey, and everything on this nightmare of a record will have gotten you pretty much prepared.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/mortuusswe

To buy the album, go here: http://www.theajnaoffensive.com/collections/all

For more on the label, go here: http://www.theajnaoffensive.com/

Beak assuming a higher pecking order among best new metal bands with great ‘Let Time Begin’

BeakThe jump from release one to two can be a tricky one. That first record is usually a culmination of songs a band has been working on for some time while plying their trade on the road, finding their feet as musicians and songwriters, and playing those songs repeatedly until they’re practically DNA. The second effort, though, is where we see if the band has any real staying power.

If that above model can be applied safely, for the most part, there’s genuine reason to be excited about Beak, the atmospheric, sludgy maulers out of fertile Chicago whose newest work, and their first full-length “Let Time Begin” is at hand. Their 2012 EP “Eyrie” was enough to get us excited about what this band could do, as they seemed to walk a line between ISIS and Pelican as far as their sound was concerned. Yeah, a lot of bands can say that same thing. It’s a heavily traveled area for sure. But they seemed to have something extra that made them worth giving your attention, and that pays off in dividends on this devastating eight-track new record. Over the past two years, the band certainly has grown and developed their own colors, and this is a great coming-out party for these guys, who have something fresh and vital to add to the post-metal, sludge world.

Beak coverBeak haven’t made gigantic alterations to their sound or anything. They just play better now and have a ton more confidence. When their music explodes, you can feel it in your guts, and they have a conviction and energy that’s infectious and real. The fellows making up the band–vocalist/guitarist Jon Slusher, guitarist Andy Bosnak, bassist/backing vocalist Jason Goldberg, drummer Chris Eichenseer–sound like they’re ready to make a gigantic dent in the metal world, and “Let Time Begin” is a devastating new step that should leave like-minded bands in the dust.

“Souls in Streams” gets things off to a massive start, with noise spilling over, vicious guitar chugging, and brutal vocals that flat-out destroy. In fact, the vocals are an area of vast improvement, not that they were bad on the EP at all. They’re just better here. “Light Outside” lets guitars trickle in lightly before the sludge just rips and everything gets dumped into the lava. Forceful shouts punch holes, a cool synth glaze emerges for an alien feel, and the whole thing punishes hard. “The Breath of Universe” is a really interesting one, with cosmic Vocoder-splashed vocals giving the song a Cynic feel, and the muddy warfare going on elsewhere making like something out of Neurosis’ camp. It’s a track that balances colorful texture and all-out devastation perfectly. The title cut has more of a rock feel to it, though it doesn’t skimp on the heaviness either. There is cleaner singing here that works great with the tones, psychedelic keys behind the crunch, and just a little hint of Pink Floyd for good measure.

“Into the Light” is the longest cut at 7:05, and it makes the most out of its running time, opening with all guns blazing before settling into a little outer space wonder. Key woosh, while the guitars burn over top of them, and furious growls persist through all of this. “Carry a Fire” has a sci-fi bend to it when it begins, but all of a sudden the lid is ripped off, and the band starts mauling harder than anywhere else to this point. The sound is just massive, and their playing can be cathartic if you get lost in all of their tumult, giving you another reason to indulge in this track other than pure heaviness. “Over the Shelter, the Morning Breaks” is a calm before the storm, a short, tranquil bridge that leads to the thunderous closer “Fiery They Rose.” The track begins delivering heavy body blows before it pulls back some and calms down. But it’s a ruse as the band starts an assault that will rip the breath from your lungs and have you running for shelter. They destroy everything in front of them, with the atmosphere smothering you, along with hulking madness and a pace set to kill. Finally, mercy is bestowed, as the song dissolves into watery sequences, the music drizzles, and intergalactic synth sweeps everything into the stars.

Beak sound poised and ready to jump to the next level, and they have a killer new slab in “Let Time Begin” to get them there. From my first listen on, I felt like this record was a pivotal one for them, an album that should wake up people who don’t know about the band yet and cement the affection for those who have been around since the first EP and even before. This record is a smasher, and they should be super proud to unleash this beast on the world.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.beakmusic.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.beakmusic.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.someoddpilotrecords.com/

Newly emerged mystery Myrkur mixes atmosphere, black metal savagery on compelling first EP

MyrkurI’m calling bullshit on Relapse Records. Oh, sure, they’ve brought us incredible records this year from bands including Black Anvil, Mortals, Iron Reagan, and more. But I cannot condone the label tapping into Napalm Records’ e-mail and stealing away a band that very well could have been theirs. How dare you, damn you?

OK, so maybe I have no evidence to support my claim. Maybe I’m just making things up to give me a provocative introduction to this piece. Maybe I’m flat out lying. OK, all three of those things are the case, but damn if the self-titled debut from one-woman Danish black metal band Myrkur doesn’t sound like it should be rolling out alongside those Striker, Audrey Horne, and Lonely Kamel records. If ever there was a band that sounds perfectly created for that label, it’s Myrkur. But Relapse beat them to the punch, subterfuge and shady shenanigans totally imagined by me. This seven-track EP arrived in my inbox during the spring because of magazine duties elsewhere, so I’ve had more than enough time to hear and digest this effort by this mysterious artist who, far as I know, is a newcomer (NOTE: It’s since been revealed Myrkur is Ex Cops’ Amalie Bruun, to the horror of crazy people everywhere. I tend to embrace things that get knee-jerk rejected like this, so I’m buying this on fucking vinyl now). And to be honest, I’m glad I’m doing this piece now instead of in May, because I have a completely different feel for this effort than I did months ago. Now I’m kind of excited about it. This is an interesting, different signing for Relapse, and I’m super curious to hear where this act goes from here.

Myrkur coverThe word Myrkur means darkness in Icelandic, and that’s pretty much what we’re met with when dissecting the woman behind this music. Only recently was there enough info online to cull some biographical notes, but even those are rather sparse. What we do know is she has a knack for mixing light and dark, savagery and beauty, and the comparisons to bands such as Deafheaven and Ulver are pretty close. There are a lot of things going on here, from harsh black metal to woodsy folk music, and while fans of the Napalm label might eat this up, so should those who swear by Relapse’s increasingly daring, diverse roster. Taking a chance on this act was a good idea, and while there still are many ideas on this record that could use more development, it’s a compelling listen that really grows on you.

“Ravnens Banner” begins this collection with angelic choral parts (a staple of Myrkur’s sound) running into strains of elegant black metal that pulverize. The drumming is a little rote (I’m assuming that’s a drum machine on this record, which could explain why), but the vocals gash you, the melodies are stirring and exciting, and there’s darkness all around. “Frosne Vind” changes the pace and delves into lush, Euro-style folk. Acoustics paint the picture, while her swelling vocals rush to the surface. “Må Du Brænde i Helvede” attacks right off the bat, with blistering, dark guitar work emerging, Myrkur unleashing her first growls on the record, the melody jabbing at you, and even some folk coloring in the background. The leads sprawl and burn, only dissipating toward the end when calmer strains bleed in and take the song to its hushed finish.

“Latvian Fegurð” has more heavenly choral sections setting up, and the music makes you feel like you’re walking through a chilly, early morning mist. The lead work bursts with melody, the vocals float over the music like a cloud, and growls eventually emerge from the thick muck. The song has a New Age feel to it at times, and it’s a pretty stellar track. “Dybt i Skoven” has more of a post-punk atmosphere, especially with the guitar work, and while it has its filthy, dingy moments, much of the song feels more atmospheric and gazey. Nice changeup, actually. “Nattens Barn” starts with ghostly a capella vocals before they’re met by stormy passages and sped-up intensity. The vocals sound vicious at times, with the guitars getting raw and the pace trucking forward. The final riffs pierce the flesh, the leads keep charging, and everything is left in a cloud of smoke. Closer “Ulvesangen” is a brief, vocal-led outro that doesn’t last long but sure makes it feel like winter is on its way.

Myrkur’s debut isn’t perfect by any means. Some of these songs seem to end prematurely at times, and the ideas here could use more exploration. But it’s her first EP, and there is plenty to be excited about going forward. I would imagine on future releases, the songs get longer, she gets bolder, and this band really rounds into shape. This is a debut EP worth exploring and savoring, and it’ll be nice to hear where this band stands a year or two down the road.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/myrkurmyrkur

To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html

For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Sons of Crom sharpen swords, tell bloody old stories on ‘Riddle of Steel’

Sons of Crom bandI had a birthday this week, and fairly monumental one, and a thought that kept coming to me was that I outlived Quorthon. Isn’t that a strange thing to think about? But here I was, out at night, staring at the moon, waiting for my dog to answer nature’s call, and pondering existence. Where might metal be if he remained?

That also got me thinking about bands that followed in that man’s gargantuan footsteps, some who did it right and some who lost their way. Maybe in the back of my head I was thinking about how I had the debut record from Sons of Crom ready to discuss in today’s Pick of the Week spot and about how they really remind of me of the spirit Quorthon and Bathory left behind. And that’s not to suggest they’re copiers or don’t have their own unique traits that make them special, because they certainly do. But they give me that sense of primitive wildness, of setting out in the wilderness on my own to find adventure, of building campfires at night while tales of warriors of old are traded to wide-eyed listeners. You also can name check Enslaved, Falkenbach, and Summoning.

Sons of CromThe band’s debut full-length “Riddle of Steel” has plenty of that metal-clashing yarn spinning, as it follows a warrior down his own path, as he battles psychological and physical opponents, fights to find his way, and encounters death and destruction most people can’t imagine. It’s a classic tale in a way, one that fits so snugly deep in metal lore. It’s fantastical, enthralling, and tragic, and it grabs you from the beginning of the record and pulls you through the entire drama. That’s a major tip of the cap to the band members Iiro Sarkki (vocals, drums) and Janne Posti, who put together this fascinating, surging slab of Viking metal that’s played with true heart and the purest of intentions, with blood still dripping from their battle axes.

Our saga begins with “Myrarfar,” which has a cool black metal-style opening, airy guitar work, searing keys, and gritty clean vocals. The song runs into some cleaner playing, chanted group vocals, and then a sweeping chorus that could cause your blood to surge. It’s a great, spirited opening. “Master of Shadows” lets the guitar melodies soar, with the vocals taking command and driving through the verses with glory. The musical progression is really exciting and enthralling, with growls later kicking in, acoustic passages adding texture, and a wintry feel taking hold. The end of the track blows back open with more forceful guitars and massive singing. “Golden Gates” pulls things back a bit, reminding a bit of Opeth’s current mind frame. The acoustic picking leads into the line, “All of my debts are settled,” making you feel like a crucial part of the tale is at hand. The singing gets deeper and more solemn, and when the line, “The mountains have called, and I will answer,” drops, you know you’ve hit pivotal terrain.

“Call of the Black Mountain” naturally follows, with heavy, charged-up guitar riffs, creaky vocals that are met by spirited singing, thick keyboard clouds, and drums that rumble your bones. “Cimmerian Dance” goes the Euro folk route, with strong metallic riffs trading places with a dance shuffle-style melody that makes me think of a night of drinking and dancing following a long day at battle. It’s a really fun track. “Victory” is a 12:12-long epic that acts as a climax of sorts, opening with acoustic strains and earnest vocals before the song twists toward whipping winds and hammering playing. The music takes its time and plods along in its pace telling its tale, with the vocals taking on different personalities, from mournful to violent. Different streams of sounds keep spilling into the song, keeping things fresh and rushing, and a monologue that comes in at the end seems to put a bloody exclamation point at the conclusion of the song, with war and death thick and stinking in the air. Closer “Seven Spells (The Riddle of Steel)” is a quiet, reflective instrumental that sounds like a requiem for what just transpired and lets you close the book gently, as you absorb what just transpired.

Like the character in their album, Sons of Crom still are forging their own path in the metal world and surely will do battle with any forces standing before them. “Riddle of Steel” is a great record that follows their very promising EP “Victory,” and it ensures we still have some great storytellers in our realm. Every adventure with this record is breath-taking, sometimes turbulent, and occasionally beautiful, and it’s going to be a real joy to behold during these upcoming cold autumn nights when only a dark ale can keep me warm inside.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/sonsofcromofficial?ref=ts&fref=ts

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

Ingurgitating Oblivion finally return with mind-warping new masher ‘Continuum of Absence’

IngurgitatingI consider myself lucky that I’ve never had my head, or any other body part for that matter, stuck in a vice. I am one of the clumsiest, most accident-prone people on Earth, so that sense of relief is not preposterous. I did get my head stuck in the metal slats of a swing on my grandmother’s porch when I was a kid. Scared the hell out of me.

My good fortune around a tool bench comes to mind when thinking about “Continuum of Absence,” the gargantuan new record from Germany’s more-than-a-mouthful-named band Ingurgitating Oblivion. We haven’t even heard from these crushers in nearly a decade, but in that time, they’ve managed to well oil and refine their technically baffling, gurgling death metal machine to the point of pure terror. Hearing them makes me think of having a body part locked somewhere against my will, as great forces do both physical and psychological damage, leaving me no choice but to take the beating. That might make it seem like I don’t like this record, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, it makes me imagine those horrible scenarios almost in a way of perverse entertainment. I feel bad for the sorry bastards these guys do catch and wallop over and over again.

Ingurgitating coverThis band started off as Of Trees and Orchids, a rather serene-sounding name, in 1997, and a few years later, they switched over to this moniker. Since that time, they’ve managed one full-length in 2005’s “Voyage Towards Abhorrence” and only a few mini releases otherwise. But they sound like one mighty beast on this new one, and this band–vocalist Ulrich Kreienbrink, guitarists Florian Engelke and Sascha Hermersdorf, bassist Christian Pfeil, and drummer Ingo Neugebauer–sounds ready to take on the task of brutalizing as many people as humanly possible. The accompanying bio suggest those who dig Immolation, Morbid Angel, and the great Gorguts would find favor with these guys, and I’d be hard pressed to disagree or fiddle with that statement.

There’s an eerie first minute or so that greets listeners at the start of “Eternal Quiescence” before it heads into cold outer space and then clobbering pits of violence. The track is dipped in muck, with fierce growls exploding, vicious guitar work unfurling, and sinister darkness spreading its way across this 10:21 animal. “Save us!” Kreienbrink howls in desperation as the music bubbles up and fizzles out. “Antinomian Rites” begins with some weirdness before it blasts open, with crushing growls meeting rubbery bass work and muddy death pits. The drums go off toward the end of the song, with strong soloing adding even more taste. “Burden of Recurrence” runs 8:28 and takes its time to fully form. As the momentum builds, the track leans into devastating growls, tricky guitar work that’ll cause you to tilt your head with intrigue, and an interesting melody line that snakes through the song and leads you from front to back. The track spills ill intent, while the rhythm section keeps it limber and volcanic. “Descent to the Temple” is dusty and cosmic at the start, with guitars whipping up a lather, and further mucky filth adding a nice thick layer of grime. The vocals sound tortured, while the drum kit is absolutely battered, and later an exploratory path runs headlong into an inferno.

“Avatar of Radiating Absence” goes 7:26, and it slips into noise, strange winds, and a mind-altering approach to the music. No surprise there, as the band keeps the pace heavy and their mind frame monstrous. The vocals sound scraped from the guts, and the patterns are totally grisly and sickening, with the body blows being spread all over the place. A giant helping of gloppy death stew is then dropped at the finish. “Offering” is a shorter, more explosive piece, with loopy guitar patterns, some unforgiving clobbering that should cause bruising to the ear drums, and vocals that sound painful to deliver. The nearly eight-minute closer “Stupendous, Featureless, Still” pushes noise screeches into smothering mauling that rumbles along for the song’s entire run. The high points of what we’ve heard before are revisited, from the tar-thick riffs to lurching bass work to hellacious growls. The sounds meet up and begin swirling heavily like a metallic tornado, feeling like four different songs are assaulting you at once. The deranged laughs that drop at the end poke and insult you, like the band is reminding you it was their decision to let you live.

Ingurgitating Oblivion may not be the most prolific band in the world, but at least they’ve given us quality. Hopefully with the arrival of this dark, gut-shaking, violent treat of an album in “Continuum of Absence,” the guys will get on track and report back to us more often with whatever sick creations they conjure. This record will shake you up inside, pummel your nerves, and leave you begging for mercy while your head is locked mercilessly into that basement vice.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ingurgitating-Oblivion/310897791310

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