PICK OF THE WEEK: Cruciamentum unleash hellish dose of classic death with ‘Charnel Passages’

CruciamentumAfter spending a decade engulfing the underground with their classic-tinged, churning death metal, Cruciamentum finally have a full-length record for you to hold in your hands. All that time, all the praise heaped upon them, and they are putting their decrepit money where their rotting mouths are with their debut long player “Charnel Passages.”

With all of the talk this band has generated, and the promise of one of the year’s most vital death metal releases from their label Profound Lore, there is a lot on the line. And holy hell, do Cruciamentum ever deliver the goods on this seven-track, nearly 45-minute album. Due to writing for a national magazine, where lead times are much shorter, I’ve had the luxury of immersing myself on this album for the past couple months, and from the first listen on, it has blistered my senses. Boatloads of riffs, furious growls, and sounds that basically echo the record’s title are what await, and sure enough, this is one of the year’s finest death releases. Much of that is in execution, where these guys are furious reapers, with a stranglehold on their style and approach to the music. Not only is it a brutal listen, it’s also dangerously infectious, with many of these parts etching their way into your head and carving their DNA in your brain.

Cruciamentum coverThe UK-based band planted their roots back in 2005 (though the lineup wasn’t solidified for several years), delivered a couple of well-received demos in 2008 and 2009, as well as teaming up with Vasaeleth for a split release in 2011. That same year, they put out their first EP “Engulfed in Desolation,” and then the band went into creative hibernation. But now four years later, the band—vocalist/guitarist D.L., guitarist R.C., bassist B.C., drummer D. B-H.—have put together a focused, fiery, massive release that was worth the wait. Drinking deep from the bloody streams created by bands such as Incantation, Cruciamentum continue mauling in the same repulsive way as the genre’s pioneers and should light the fires of anyone who pines for the true tenets of death metal.

The album opens with “The Conquered Sun (The Dying Light Beyond Morpheus Realms)” that has a frosty start before guitars tears open the sky and the riffs begin raining down. In fact, these are some of the stickiest, most memorable riffs on the record (they constantly run through my head), and provide a skull-crushing element to the song. The vocals are gruff and mean, while the drums are obliterated, and as melodies roil, murky synth arises, soloing blazes, and the raucous pace eventually fades away. “Necrophagous Communion” stomps heavily, with hellish growls terrifying and strong leads blinding. Parts of the song trudge in the mud, while other have a mystical glow to them all while boiling in blood. The final moments strike suddenly, with the tempo racing hard, and then the thing ends abruptly. “Tongues of Nightshade” has guitar squeals and squalls, with the pace again bringing thunder and the growls conveying rage. The band thrashes viciously, with the vocals getting screamier, and the guitars tearing out your guts. “Rites to the Abduction of Essence” has a foggy, doomy introduction before the band starts chugging and the vocals take a turn for the nasty. Dark shadowy keys lurk beneath the terror, while mystical gasps and punishing bursts fade into the mist.

“Piety Carved From Flesh” tears open immediately, while guitars rampage massively and humid melodies take over. The pace is just relentless, with the growls destroying and the lead guitars hitting a spiral. The band mashes over and over before the track grinds to a sudden halt. “Dissolution of the Moral Perception” has chilling synth spilling over, and then riffs blast out of that to a tempered pace that leads into a dizzying assault. The entire scene is carnage, as the drums are demolished and the guitar work splatters over top. The track turns gut wrenching, but later the lead work becomes exploratory and cosmic, the path gets muddy, and crazed wails lead you out. Closer “Collapse” takes its time to build, but when it hits its peak, it starts to grind and churn. The song continually gets wilder, incinerating what’s in front of it but then getting weirdly playful and adventurous. But then the track catches fire again, the growls and howls sound almost spoken, a bizarre cloud hangs overhead, and all elements slowly trickle away, leaving you thoroughly punished.

Cruciamentum’s true arrival may have taken some time, but now that they’re here, it’s time for skulls to be crushed and the hellish put that is classic death metal to swallow up the pretenders. All of the praise showered on this band was well worth it and were not wasted words. They may not be rewriting death metal on “Charnel Passages,” but they are reminding people of the way this music is played, which is deadly, massively, and with razor-sharp precision.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cruciamentum/285239791946

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

Ancient Altar envision the end of humanity at hands of greed, religion on charred ‘Dead Earth’

Ancient AltarThe world seems to be at a weird point. Look at the way people treat others with differing views than theirs. In our country, people looking to run the place even have taken stands against people whose lifestyles differ from theirs, and people have taken a backseat to weaponry when it comes to pecking order of people’s concerns. It feels like the beginning of the end, and maybe it is.

Maybe it’s a bit over the top to say it feels like the world is crumbling apart. A lot of what I listed above only affects one country, so maybe that’s being a little narrow-sighted, but it seems like tensions are building. That brings us to Ancient Altar’s new record “Dead Earth,” a loose concept record that envisions a world torn apart by corruption, greedy leaders, war, and the oppression of religion. Funny, but all of the things they tackle on this massive four-track mammoth are hot topics right now, and they are things that are dividing us against one another. Ancient Altar’s vision eventually has a degree of positivity to it, but it’s not until damaging, disastrous events take place in order to give the world a new start. It’s scary to think about because it just might be what it takes.

Ancient Altar coverAncient Altar only have been a band for two years now, but they’re already got two full-length records to their credit. Their self-titled first record dropped last July, and already they’re back with a whole new collection. The band—bassist/vocalist Scott Carlson, guitarist/vocalist Barry Kavener, guitarist Jesse Boldt, and drummer Etay Levy—have a nasty, punishing blend of doom that is unquestionably heavy and can be abrasive. At times, their stampeding can remind on High on Fire, but they also have some mind-numbing and scorched-earth elements that keep you awake, alert, and looking for the next burst.

“Leader, Liar” has a pretty pointed title, and it shouldn’t be too hard to read into who’s being ground into the coals here. Whirs and drone wash in and create a fury, while the guitars rampage everywhere, with the doom hammers dropping hard. The vocal delivery is thick and gruff, as the band trudges forward like they’re coming to challenge the forces of evil, and the screaming really starts to stretch out just as the guitars heat up and burn anew. There are some clean vocal callouts that deliver desperation, while the back end of the song speeds up and rages to a finish. “Albion” starts soaring, with the guitars taking on a sun-caked feel and the growls wrenching forcefully. Some classic metal moments slip in, injecting glory before the carnage returns. Organs then flood the scene, as a psychedelic trip takes hold, and as the song winds down, the wails churn and the track ends in a smothering cloud of smoke.

The title cut opens gurgling and wailing away, with the growling reaching deep inside for its venom and doomy thrashing leading the way. The track then reaches hyperdrive, pouring devastation in blinding order and the tempo creating mental grease fires. The riffs are meaty and noxious, and this awesome track never relents with its fiery intensity. Crushing 12:49 closer “Void” opens with buzzing riffs dive bombing you and the vocals delivering blistering thunder. Clean singing emerges, snaking over desert-dry melodies that eventually writhe in the scorching sun, but then the pace changes and the terrain gets dusty and gritty. Acoustic guitars slip in, giving the track a rustic bend, yet out of that the guitars blow down the doors and quiver with the melodies. The vocals crush bodies, slow-driving madness eats away at your psyche, and the track comes to a bludgeoning, punishing conclusion.

Hopefully people get their shit together and don’t bring about the end of the world, but if they do, perhaps Ancient Altar’s tales will give us some kind of idea of what we’d face. Doomsday scenarios have been a part of metal for years, but “Dead Earth” is a tale that’s far more tangible because it really could happen. It’s a mucky, drubbing, savage portrait, and despite its morbid imagery, it’s a hellish tale that will provide a burning rush with every visit.

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

To buy the album (vinyl), go here: http://blackvoodoorecords.myminto.com/product/ancient-altar.aspx

Or here (cassette, coming soon): http://midniteclv.storenvy.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/midnitecollective

And here: https://www.facebook.com/midnitecollective

The Spirit Cabinet conjure doom to make old gods darkly proud on ‘Hystero Epileptic Possessed’

The_Spirit_CabinetI unabashedly love doom metal. You have to do a hell of a lot wrong for me to not at least give you a fighting chance. Not that there isn’t a lot of sub-par doom out there because, whoa boy, there is a ton of that. My inbox is swelling with the stuff. But when you stumble upon something extra tasty? Yeah, that’s a damn good day indeed.

That just happened recently when I tore into a record from a new force out of the Netherlands called The Spirit Cabinet. This is the stuff that pays honor to the old gods, something that should light the heart fires of those who worship at the altar of Sabbath, Candlemass, Solitude Aeternus, St. Vitus, you name it. From the opening salvo of their debut record “Hystero Epileptic Possessed” I could feel it. There was a special quality to this band, as it was clear these guys were tapping into something genuine and dark. Over the course of the six songs, that essence only grew stronger. The album is perfectly dosed, played quite well but with a raw energy, and is a damn good find for anyone who wants something that drinks from doom’s original roots.

TSC-CoverThe members of this band have a history together in other places (three of the member are former or current parts of Zwartketterij) and have forged a new pact here as The Spirit Cabinet. This group—vocalist Snake McRuffkin, guitarist Johnny Hällström, bassist Erich Vilsmeier, drummer Cromwell Fleedwood—have a command on riffs, as they are plentiful on this record, and the vocals mostly are a bellowing clean, with some grimy growls thrown in for good measure. It’s a damn satisfying record, and it’s another rock-solid entry from Van, who are knocking the hell out of us this year.

The album gets off to a raucous start on “The Black Lodge,” as the song rips wide open with riffs piling up in mountainous supply and the vocals just commanding. There’s a bit of grit to the singing, which makes this feel nasty, and the traditional doom waves rise up and knock you backward, with no choice to submit to nature. The power keeps smearing through the body of the song, with the guitars spilling forth every ounce of magic they can muster. “Credulity” has a slow-burning pace, with the singing coming in strong and confident, and the assault taking its damn time. But then things kick up, some screams enter the fray, and we hit more aggressive, mud-filled waters that dominate until the cool, mid-paced conclusion. The band even has a song named after themselves, and that one opens with a catchy waves of “ah-ah-ahhhhhhs” that are fun, and later a strong burst of guitars start chewing. Shrieks are mixed into the singing, as a riveting chorus gives the track another dose of energy, and the final minutes go back and forth from Maiden-style gallop to filthy thrashing.

“Hexenhaus” have guitars rumbling hard, with the music changing paces and faces over the first stretch. Here is really where those Candlemass comparisons can be felt, and I mean that in a really positive way, as the song charges and then heads into mystical waters. The vocals again mix between violent and majestic, as the guitars light the torches and burn their way to the end. “Ramakrishna” is immediately rougher and gruffer, especially vocally, with the music balancing fury and fantasy ideally. The singing takes on a storyteller feel, as McRuffkin later repeats the title over and over, proving easy fodder for audience sing-back in a live setting. Great track. Closer “Convulsions” bursts at the seams, with more riffs being delivered by the truckload. The vocals actually pull back a little bit, which lets the music have more of the spotlight, though later some shrieks tear a hole in everything. The track does a great job killing and maiming, as melodies rip forth and the song has a fitting fade out, leaving you gasping for air.

The Spirit Cabinet certainly do old-school doom metal great honors, and this new union is one that does a fine job standing out as special on their debut “Hystero Epileptic Possessed.” Any time a new band can come along and capture the true spirit and essence of this sound on record one is a bonus, and where they go from here is entirely up to them. No doubt darkness is ahead, as well as a great amount of killer riffs, and if anyone can complain about that, I’m sure you can find your way out.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.van-records.de/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs

Icelandic terrors Abominor treat you to terrifying journey to hell on debut ‘Opus: Decay’

AbominorIt isn’t every day that you see album art that totally conveys what’s contained on the record you’re holding. I’m not saying a crazed painting or wild beast on a cover doesn’t properly get across the band’s point. That idea works, too. But I mean an image that you see it and go, “Yeah. That’s exactly how I felt listening to the music.”

Take a quick look at Abominor’s debut mini-album “Opus: Decay” and know for sure that tackling their music is going to feel the same way. It’s like looking down into a long voided tunnel, with winds whipping back at you, and your destination totally unknown. The journey feels claustrophobic, dizzying, and something over which you have no control. That long tunnel you see on the cover perfectly encapsulated these two lengthy epics, and it probably will make you feel like you never, ever will claw your way out. I’m not sure if this was what the Reykjavík, Iceland-based band—Alfreð Þór on bass and vocals, Óskar Þór on guitars and vocals, Kristinn Rafn on guitars, Þórir Hólm on drums—had in mind when they chose the artwork, but well done nonetheless. It’s also a perfect portrait into this stunning, churning release, the first official document (they also have a demo) from a band that’s been kicking around since 2008 obviously perfecting their craft and getting you read for madness.

Abominor coverWe begin with the 12:36-long “474,” an eerie burst of noise filled with mean gasps, mysteriousness, and eventually some pointed riffs that really get the soup boiling. The track breaks out into full launch, as immersive melodies surround you and batter your senses, and monstrous vocals tear their way through your soul. A cloud cover later sets in, making it tough to see through the thickness, and cold air arrives that leaves your vulnerable body in a chill. That later passes as the song gets smothering again, with fires raging anew, and that spills into a calculated pace, where the frost returns. But alas, there are even more convulsions ahead, as the band starts demolishing again, with animalistic vocals throwing up blood, the band pounding heavily, and a trance-inducing final bend mixing with abject horror.

The title cut finishes off the record, an 8:54-long piece that’s introduced with crazed guitars, drums being mauled, and a delirious pace causing your head to spin. That halts quickly, as the song heads into the fog and melodies bring the ice back to your blood stream. The band goes tornadic out of that, causing dust and mud to fly, and then they begin mauling harder than ever, with the vocals adding the extra damage needed. Everything crashes down savagely, leaving you no room to run and at the point in the tunnel where it’s far too late to turn around. The growls remain creaky and agitating, while the band delivers pain on all cylinders, bringing the track to a devastating end.

Despite being together for seven years now, this really is just the beginning for Abominor. And what a start it is. This two-track journey is dangerous and exciting, despite the fact you might not survive, and it provides even more hope for the future of black metal. I’m excited to hear this band tackle a full-length release, and here’s betting that thing is even more suffocating than this killer EP.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abominor/275583995793045

To buy the album, go here: http://www.invictusproductions.net/shop/

For more on the label go here: http://invictusproductions.net/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Nechochwen unearth historical roots on enthralling ‘Heart of Akamon’

NechochwenThere are myriad bands that explore the folklore and history of their native homeland, most notably groups that hail from the Scandinavian region and England. Not that America doesn’t have these types of bands—Panopticon certainly come to mind—but we don’t seem to boast the multitude of artists looking to shed light on American ancestry.

West Virginia natives Nechochwen are another who have delved into their and the country’s past and found inspiration for their work. Ideally nestled on the Bindrune Recordings roster (where they thoroughly, completely belong), the band has carved out a rustic style and following built as organically as their music. Their mix of American folk, Native American sounds, black metal, and classic heavy metal might not sound wholly unique, but the way Nechochwen blend these sounds is. They’ve been a favorite of mine for many years now (I came in right around the “Azimuths to the Underworld” record, and we rightfully praised their eclectic “Oto” in 2012), and their amazing fourth record “Heart of Akamon” was a high priority for us once we heard rumblings of its existence.

Nechochwen coverThis entity has two primary members in the band’s namesake Nechochwen, who handles vocals, nylon and string guitars, hand drums, flute, and lalawas, and Pohonasin, who is on drums and bass. Live, the band has expanded even further as of late, as they took on Pandel Collaros and Amanda McCoy, and as “Akamon” has come into greater focus, the band tightened its grip on their mission. This record explores the band’s Ohio Valley homeland (before the arrival of European settlers), its rich history, spiritual elements, and even the violence that helped shape it, and it is unquestionably the best thing they’ve ever done. It’s a journey to find one’s place, while struggling to hold together the traditions and customs they hold dear. The record is easy to get lost inside of and have you revisit again and again on loop.

“The Serpent Tradition”—I’ll go ahead and say it, arguably the best song in the band’s history—attacks a few paces out of the gates. There is an acoustic opening that sets the stage, and then everything charges forward. Heavily. The vocals are monstrous, the melodies are gigantic, and all elements build toward a brief calm that dips back into chaos and premonitions of war. Some great dual guitar lines meet up and gallop power metal style, and then the song morphs again, chugging, unleashing killer solos, and winding up in a thrashy end. Holy shit, what a song! “The Impending Winter” made me feel the presence of just that, and it’s a quiet instrumental that has drum beats built in to add some kick. “Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun” starts with the horrors of battle, but the type fought with muskets and face-to-face bloodshed. The song begins to burst, with creaky growls pushing and a dynamic riff blowing out. There are desperate cries, as the tempo hits hard and the line, “War is our burden, as we must survive,” hammers home the struggle. “Oct. 6, 1813” starts with strong acoustic progressions and clean singing, with Nechochwen solemnly observing “the sadness almost too great as they left his grave.” Woodwinds rise up, the playing rows even stronger, and the vow, “We will rise again,” gives the track its inspirational power.

“Traversing the Shades of Death” plods along with might, with a cold, dark ambience sweeping in and a strong, folk-style composition taking hold. Acoustics sweep in in waves, as guitars singe, the vocals come out as a mix of roars and growls, and the track sinks into murk. The fog slips over the more rustic parts, yet another assault of howls takes the song out. “Skimota” begins like an acoustic jam session that you almost can imagine emanating in front of a roaring, crackling fire. Later the guitars take on a sunburnt feel, with singing going from croon to yowl, and chimes and echoes standing as the last thing you hear. “Skyhook” is heavy and clubbing, yet it has an atmospheric backing as well. The guitars explore all over the place, delving into classic metal terrain that’s later visit by acoustic flourishes. Winds gust, the energy charges up again, and powerful, thunderous melodies bring the song to its end. Closer “Kiselamakong” feels like sheets of winter quietly blanketing the ground, but the guitars later warm up, causing a glow. Woodsy sounds emerge, leaving the air all smoky, and then the doom drops hard. The guitars stream over top everything, though the bottom end is both muddy and dreamy, and as dialog turns into full vocal expression, the track reaches its natural conclusion, and this incredible journey comes to an enthralling finish.

Once again, Nechochwen have knocked us over with their power, intensity, and passion, as “Heart of Akamon” sounds like a history lesson they actually lived through themselves. These eight songs are a reach back to the past, to a simpler time technologically, yet a place where the struggles were possibly greater than they are today. That fire and journey are alive in this record, and these are songs that feel like they’ll settle even closer to the heart once colder winds come and we try to find places to stay safe and warm.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nechochwen-Official/110325015754751

To buy the album, go here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/distro/

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

Wederganger imagine the dead returning to walk the earth on violent ‘Halfvergaan ontwaakt’

Wederganger-2015People are super into zombies right now. Like, really, really excited about them. I’m not really complaining about it, as I’ve been a big fan of George Romero’s work (the “Living Dead” movies essentially were made in Meat Mead Metal’s backyard), but it’s just interesting to see the fervor that has overtaken pop culture.

I don’t know if that’s what Wederganger had in mind when adopting that name for their band (you know, zombies and all), but the moniker means “one who walks again.” Well, that kind of would mean a zombie, but I guess there are many different ways of looking at it. One way or another, their music is chilling and terrifying, if trying to tell the story of a world inhabited by both the living and the dead. They have a strange way of going about things, and they sing in their Dutch native tongue, so there’s no way for me to really understand what’s going on. But I know what I feel when I hear the music on their ferocious debut “Halfvergaan ontwaakt,” and their strange, oppressive form of black metal is heavy, bewildering, an unlike most of what else is out there.

WedergangerCoverThis odd band that hails from the Netherlands has an interesting structure. There are three core members in Botmuyl (he does the growling and screaming), Alfschin (who handles the ghostly, warbling singing), and MJWW (he takes care of guitars). But when this band expands to the stage, they take on added members including Bezetene (guitars), Quaetslagher and Gluyperd (both play bass), and Onmens (who sits behind the drums). It’s an interesting arrangement that I assume lets the primary members create their visions in the studio, and their added members allow them to translate these terrors live. The band’s music is inspired by Germanic eschatology and Gueldrian folklore, with an emphasis on spirits, the undead, and overall horror. I’ll be damned if the music’s aura doesn’t pay that off rather perfectly.

“Dwaallichtbezwering” begins the record with disarming guitars, sobs that turn into screams, and monotone singing that sounds detached from the earth. The track hammers forward, punishing and causing bruising along the way, while the final moments are mesmerizing and violent. “Gelderse Drek” opens with black metal-style guitars cascading, while vicious, gurgly growls spill over and the pace just goes off. The overall sense of the song turns to haunting, while throaty, talk-like singing takes over as the horrors bleed out. “Dodendans” is the longest cut at 7:49, and it steers into buzzing, yet reflective winds, burly clean singing, and disorienting guitars the sweep into the picture. The track takes on a hazy, overcast feel, like a warm summer afternoon devoid of sun, and a psychedelic wave comes lapping in before the track returns to full, relentless boil. “Wera Wulfa” has dizzying riffs that meet up with deep, gut-wrenching growls and bouts of severe hypnosis. The playing draws to a trickle, eating away ever so slowly at you before the eruption returns and leaves everything in the dust.

“Vlammenvonnis” brings back reminders of that dreary summer afternoon, only now the rains have come and fall just enough to soak you slowly. Clean crooning starts you on your path, but then you meet up with devastating growls, dramatic section of melodies, and an explosive burst into full speed, leaving you absolutely flattened. Toward the end, calm arrives, the singing returns, and then it’s off to “Schimmenspel,” which is a strange, mind-altering instrumental cut. Here, pianos drip, strange noises smear the scene, and weird echoes drive home the sense of vertigo. “Walmend Graf” picks up the intensity again with chunky riffs, guitars catching fire, and harsh vocals rushing back again. There are odd, clean calls over what feels like the chorus, and after a dose of manic assaults, the song rounds itself back to the beginning. Closer “Zwarte Gedachten” has guitars charging up right away, deep growls that almost sound like monstrous dialog, and eventually the grip loosens so the music can shimmer a bit. Melodies and violence intertwine down the stretch, each taking the advantage from time to time, and the song ends with a grim vocal display and every death-teasing element fading into your nightmares.

Maybe one day the dead really will walk the earth, and we’ll look at bands such as Wederganger as one of those visionaries that tried to warn us of what’s ahead. “Halfvergaan ontwaakt” is an interesting collection, one that really stands out from a lot of the swollen black metal pack for its unique strangeness. This band is one you’ll want to spend a dark evening alongside, preferably with a room-temperature stout as your mental guide, and slip into the terrifying world Wederganger celebrates.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.van-records.de/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs

Creeping’s combination of doom, death are the stuff from which horrors are made on ‘Revenant’

CreepingI don’t often have nightmares that include music. If I have, I don’t remember having them, so the experience pretty much was lost on me. But now and again I’ll hear something and think that it would be ideal to hear while unconscious, exploring the weird caverns of my brain.

Doom/death beasts Creeping always seemed to be a band that could fit the bill. Loud and grimy, punishing and disturbing, they’ve spent the past decade making music that sounds ominous and foreboding. They don’t waste their time trying to make things more horrific than they are. They’re not attempting to make a horror film here. Instead, they tap into the darkness and terror of existence with aplomb and give you something a little more tangible to freeze you in your tracks. Or in other words, they splash their records with audio nightmares. Their latest album “Revenant” keeps delivering that morbidity, twisting and turning your anxiety over the course of five tracks and 31 minutes of hell. The record’s so massive, in fact, it can’t be contained on a single label. Iron Bonehead is handling the vinyl edition, while Daemon Worship is putting out the CD. Each version will have different artwork as well.

Creeping coverThe New Zealand-based band is comprised of members of The House of Capricorn and Abystic Ritual with Marko Pavlovic on bass and vocals; Scott Blomfield on guitars; and James Wallace on drums. After a debut EP in 2005, the band released their first proper full-length “Funeral Crawl” in 2007, with “Order of Snakes” arriving in 2011. The only other new music from the band came on a 2011 split with Glorior Belli, making “Revenant” the first fresh material from the band in the past four years. Things sound just as bleak and vicious as ever for Creeping, so hopefully their new label affiliations will help pique interest in the band. Certainly anyone with a death and doom appetite are going to find themselves fulfilled.

The record begins with the seven-minute “Death Knell Offering,” opening with funeral bells, doom riffs, and mournful melodies. The vocals are a guttural growl, and as guitars begin raining down, the pace gets into uneasy dream territory, and the waters grow murkier as the song builds. In fact, it starts to feel like a chilled, relentless rain storm is moving in, with the music creating thick, impenetrable fog where you barely can see five feet in front of you. That continues right up to the end, when the track slowly fades away. “Scythes Over My Grave” is the longest cut at 9:07 and ignites right away, with the track taking on a black metal feel. The bulk of the song does a fantastic job doing bodily harm and smothering you, with melodies intertwined into the chaos, raw-sounding howls emanating from Pavlovic’s throat, and later the track going cold. But that doesn’t last as the fires start burning again, the growls churn, and the song rises to a blinding glimmer before fading away.

“Cold Soil” is a quick one, a slow-moving, whisper-filled track that feels like it’s taking you into a weird patch of serenity before the death vibe returns and the brute force leads into “Drear.” This one opens in the midst of choppy waters, driving hard and standing as one of the most punishing cuts on the record. The vocals once again come across as harsh and unforgiving, and out of yet another misleading dose of serenity, the band comes out on the other side dealing vicious body blows. The song smears and pounds, with doom-infested sentiments returning before it disappears into the night. The closing title cut has guitars lighting up right away, with some cool, spindly riffs leading the way, a strong melody sneaking up from behind, and an epic sense injected into the song’s DNA. There’s a nice, gray texture behind the mix here, with the final minute really coming to life with heaviness, guitars splashing down in sheets, and a dizzying, grisly conclusion that caps off this awesome trip.

Creeping are in good hands as far as labels are concerned, and they delivered a damn strong record after being away for the past four years. “Revenant” hits hard, makes you feel spooky inside, and definitely could be a welcome addition to any nightmare. Certainly Creeping are not alone in making dark death and doom concoctions; they just happen to do it as well as any other group currently trying to do the same thing.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/creeping666

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/

Or here: http://daemonworship.org/distribution.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

Or here: http://www.daemonworship.org/