Tardigrada create black metal with shadowy, heavy storming on crushing ‘Emotionale Ödnis’

tardigradaTrue human emotion is something that gets kind of a bad name when it comes to metal. Every record that’s meant anything to anyone must be dashed with some kind of human feelings, otherwise, what is it that lights a fire inside? Even if it’s raw Satanic heathenism. Sure, those people might laugh at those who wear their bleeding hearts on their sleeves, but it’s all coming from the same center point inside.

All those words are there to set up talking about “Emotionale Ödnis,” the debut record from Swiss black metal band Tardigrada, and from the album title alone, which translates to “emotional wasteland,” you can tell they’re smearing what they feel inside into their music. It’s pretty easy to tell from the first few minutes of this record that the band isn’t holding back when pushing out their inner turmoil, and that results in songs that are thunderous from a volume standpoint, but also from that of the human experience. Bands such as Alcest and the stupidly maligned Deafheaven come from the same spots as Tardigrada (though don’t really sound like them) and paint with the same colors. If anything, Tardigrada’s threads are heavier and more savage, but make no mistake, you’re going to feel something.

tardigrasa-coverEnglish speakers may be kept at a bit of an arm’s length as the lyrics are in the band’s native tongue, but you can’t miss the musical expression and the way the words are driven home. The band itself has been together a little over a half decade now, with live shows a rarity, as they have been working to perfect their sound. The group—guitarist/vocalist Kryptos, guitarist Threnos, and drummer H.A.T.T.— only had a 2012 demo before this, but clearly they caught the attention of Eisenwald and Fallen Empire, who are putting out this record, and this debut is sure to gnaw on way more hearts than just mine. The album is just a barnburner of gut-scraped expression, and it kills. Ignore the heart-wrenching stuff if you must. I ignore all the silly Satanism in records from bands I love. You can do the same for this scorcher.

The record is constructed with five interludes and five full tracks, and we get started with “I,” as chilling guitars and moody melodies set the tone and stream toward “E Sturm Zieht Uf” and its shadowy presence. The beginning of the cut is bleak and drizzling, but then it opens to fierce shrieks and the drama pounding on the gas pedal. The intensity builds with the track, with shrill howls bruising, gazey playing gushing, and a sudden burst of power toward the end of the track coupling with crazed howls that sweep you away. “II” floats on clean guitars and haunting echoes, making its way toward the gates of “Die Wand,” which impacts with a surge of sound. The song speeds up, as the fierce shrieks intensify and claw under your fingernails. The atmosphere gets stormier and more threatening, with melodies cascading like sheets of heavy rain. As the assault subsides, a thick fog and cold winds greet you, making you think you’re in the clear, only to drag you back to the eye of the storm. That paves the way for the song’s fiery finish, which fittingly resolves in a driving rain. “III” continues the precipitation and thunder, soaking the ground beneath your feet, which threatens to swallow you whole.

“Erschöpft” swims in glorious melodies that spray sunlight, leading into a heavy, crushing section and another charge of animalistic fury. The vocals grind into your bones, while the song spirals and causes the room to move, and the drums hammer away without mercy. The shrieks wrench, the music floods, and the final moments make their final impact before fading away. “IV” brings your temperature down for a moment, with quiet, reflective guitars glazing, only to fade into the mist. The title track then strikes, ripping open and letting out flushing melodies that fill the senses. A short stretch of calm allows temporary breathing space, only to be crumbled by the next attack and the vocals that sound like they’re going off the rails. Drums splatter while gazey guitar melodies unfurl, and the whole thing comes to a rushing end. “V” is the final interlude, a solemn, dark passageway toward closer “Verfall,” which wakes you with a thunder crack. Huge riffs prevail, while the song begins punishing heavily, driving you to run for cover. The track is the band’s terrifying last gasp on the back end of a record that, suddenly, has your guts tied in loops and your chest in full heave over what you just experienced.

Tardigrada’s bloodletting is on full display on “Emotionale Ödnis,” and that wasteland is filled with torment, scorn, and hurt. This record will bruise and scar you, whether you expect that or not, and their music will march into your heart and pull the chains that bind it. This band is one hell of a revelation so late in the year, and their darkness is far thicker than anyone’s forced evil.

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

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

Or here: http://www.eisenton.de/shop/index.php

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

And here: http://www.eisenton.de/

Planes Mistaken for Stars roar back with agitated, bloody pain and aggression on raspy ‘Prey’

planesI don’t tend to be a huge festival goer, mainly because I have very little patience and don’t like being around a lot of people I don’t know for very long. But festivals have been good for me when it comes to discovering bands I didn’t know previously—novel concept, eh? —and a little more than a decade ago, I had one of those experiences.

I was at a fest that I really only attended because a friend wanted to go, but it was there that I came across the thunderous post-hardcore band Planes Mistaken for Stars for the first time. My initial impression is they were heavy and kind of scuzzy, and they stood apart from most of the other groups at this event, because the bulk of the lineup was poppier and skewed much younger. I went on to buy “Up in Them Guts” not long afterward, and from that point, I followed the band pretty closely. Things seemed to be looking up for the band at the time, as well, as they signed to Abacus and put out 2006’s great “Mercy,” but not long afterward, the lights went out for the band, and they folded up their tent. But then in 2010, Planes were reactivated, as the guys started doing shows and getting their energy going again. Now, a decade after their last record, the band has returned with their fourth album “Prey” that sounds like these guys never went anywhere.

planes-coverPlanes Mistaken for Stars now call Deathwish Inc. home, as ideal a place for them as any, and they sound as unbalanced, heavy, and scarred as ever before. The unmistakable, gravelly croon of Gared O’Donnell remains there, smearing blood and emotion over everything, and with him are guitarist Chuck French, bassist Neil Keener, and drummer Mike Rickets (it’s notable that longtime guitarist/vocalist Matt Bellinger is not part of the band anymore). This album, like many of the Planes’ past work, is a grower. It sounds great on initial listen, no doubt, but more visits reveal other layers and colors that emerge over time. My feelings and understanding of this record are far different on listen 20 or so than one, and it’s as good as anything else in their catalog. It’s also colored by O’Donnell’s trek into Middle America, where he took up residence only to find a crumbling wasteland seemingly in midst of delusion.

The record opens with the stabbing, pissed off “Dementia Americana,” where O’Donnell delivers his rage pointedly with howls marking “you faking motherfucker, who the fuck are you?!” It’s a song that doesn’t even reach two minutes, but it sheds the blood, with the frustrated shouts of, “Wake up!” looking to thrash clueless ears. “Till It Clicks” is whirry and weird, with O’Donnell’s trademark raspy singing pushing, with the band backing him with atmospheric punch, slide guitars crying under the din, and a noisy punchout. “Riot Season” charges up, with wild howls mixing with air-filled playing, as O’Donnell warns, “It’s riot season again!” “Fucking Tenderness” has a nice, strong riff that powers the tempo, and the verses are bursting with energy as they lead to a grounded chorus. The melody is infectious, and the impact is bruising. “She Who Steps” has jangling guitars that lead to a fierce charge. The playing goes to loosen teeth, with the back end calming down, with static rising, and piano dripping like a clogged gutter.

“Clean Up Mean” is a really strong one, beginning with drubbing and guitars soaring, while the chorus has O’Donnell admitting, “Don’t want to love you no more,” in a moment that will stick in your head all day. “Black Rabbit” is a soul cutter, as raw acoustics strike, with “O’Donnell darkly warbling, “Here are your keys,” before noting, “What a fucking mess.” It’s a sad, heartbroken song that’ll jab you and let you bleed out before the door slams closed at the end. “Pan in Flames” eases into the fire before it tears open and lets the guitars scorch. The music pulls back a bit on the chorus, though the vocals hit hard, and later the soloing completely goes off and leaves torched flesh. As the track goes on, the singing scars, and heavy bass work takes us out. “Enemy Blind” has quiet guitars and coarse singing, with psychedelic keys washing in, and O’Donnell urging, “Stop killing love.” It’s another pained, stinging track that pushes the thorns in deep. Closer “Alabaster Cello” bleeds into grime and breeze, with a post-punk fog warping the guitars and the music simmering. O’Donnell’s voice isn’t heard until halfway through the song, as the track gives off heat, and the insistence of, “Now we wake,” sends the record off on a hopeful note that things are just beginning again.

Having Planes Mistaken for Stars contributing new music to our world is a very welcome thing, and “Prey” is a really strong effort that keeps giving with every listen. It also helps that no other band sounds remotely like Planes, and no one should even try. This is raspy, testy, catchy stuff that sounds pretty great anytime, but especially when you’re in a foul mood.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/planes666/

To buy the album, go here: http://store.deathwishinc.com/category/new.html

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Urfaust push blackened hypnosis into stars on airy ‘Empty Space Meditation’

urfaust-013Bands that truly stand out in metal are kind of tough to come by. That’s not really the artists’ fault necessarily, because there are so many bands out there and so much music, that doing something that truly sets you on your own cloud isn’t easy to accomplish. When you’re able to achieve that, it’s an accomplishment that should not be underestimated.

One of the bands that has been on their own path ever since their formation is Dutch duo Urfaust, who have become one of those bands you either grasp or don’t. Those who do get it immerse themselves in their sounds, and their epic fourth record “Empty Space Meditation” is another strange chapter in their existence. It’s hard to pin down exactly what you hear on this six-track album. Surely there is much black metal terrain stomped over these mind-altering tracks, and some of the ambient elements we’ve come to expect from Urfaust also are woven into the picture. There also is doom, drone, and, as the album title declares, meditative passages, making for a record that could have you staring miles off into the distance while the music encapsulates your brain. You won’t be crushed and stomped by them on this album, though there are many heavy sections. Instead, you’ll take a raucous and often serene trip that’s unlike anything else in metal and only capable by Urfaust.

urfaust-coverWhile the band has been in operation since 2003, this is only the fourth full-length record in Urfaust’s existence. Not that they haven’t been plenty busy, as they’ve offered up split releases and smaller efforts over their 13 years as a group. The band—guitarist/vocalist IX, drummer VRDRBR—never shows the same face or personality twice. At times, they’ve been fully metallic, while other releases have been floating in the atmosphere, feeling like the soundtrack to a non-linear dream. Never knowing what to expect every time Urfaust come back at us is one of the things that makes them so interesting and, thus, has helped them create that unique personality that is theirs alone and unlike any other metal bands in their environment.

All the songs are called “Meditatum” and numbered I through VI, and everything blends together, beginning with “I” that has noise unfurling and weird chants swirling. A dreamy haze melody awakens, and it weaves its way through the entire record, and after wooshing through the outer reaches of space, we’re into “II” that begins with wild howls that switch to horrifying screams. That synth melody slides in here, as the harsh vocals turn into bellowing singing that sometimes reminds of Mike Patton without the psychopathic derangement. The chaos later spills again, as the wails go wild, the music rumbles into a cosmic glaze, and the track swims into lucid dreams, making its way for “III.” Damaged sounds whirl and dizzy, driving slowly and pouring more singing into the mix, feeling like it is exorcising demons. Creepy and bizarre sounds smear its blood, while terrifying wails and spacey organs mix and trance out.

“Meditatum IV” simmers in throat chants as it starts, and then it drives massively, with evil laughs and spooky organs chilling your flesh. The heart-swelling singing punches at your chest, making your heart race, with the hypnosis sinking into your brain. “V” starts with unsettling clanging before the guitars begin to breathe fire, and strange singing causes your temperature to go up. As the track reaches its finish, it brings out the weaponry, as the song is punching, crunching, and willing to do heavy bruising. The closing cut “Meditatum VI” has an Indian flavor to it, as sitars join up with a soundscape and team up with wordless calls. The track then unleashes its power, causing your head to spin, and then we enter a chamber of total hypnosis, with the synth line swimming back into the mix, resurfacing as the record’s spine. That pathway continually loops and, along with the record, floats off into the distance.

“Empty Space Meditation” is another incredible journey through Urfaust’s mind-set and creative galaxy, and they embrace a path that is only theirs and that no one should dare tread. This is an incredible album that could transport you somewhere else and have you feeling like you’re traveling outside your body, which is an exhilarating experience. This band might not shower us with full-length records, but when they do return with one, it’s always a journey like no others.

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

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://www.van-records.de/

Black metal collective Urzeit mix up words, put self-hatred into focus on ashen ‘Anmoksha’

urzeit-coverI never trust people who seem permanently, unflappably happy. It’s not that I reject people feeling good about themselves or expressing joy, but when there’s only one mode, I’m perpetually annoyed. I don’t know why that is. I never feel this sense of everlasting happiness, and I don’t think I ever want to.

I’ve always wondered if I hate parts of myself and am permanently annoyed with my shortcomings, which is why therapy is such a great tool. I don’t know where I stand yet on this matter, but I hold that it could be true. So never mind if I detest you for being happy. It’s not you, it’s me. That idea of self-hatred is what initially intrigued me when I got the promo and background material for “Anmoksha,” the debut record from Urzeit. The music examines these dark, internally festering ideas of self-hatred and unrest, that quivering feeling where you think you could claw your way out of your own body. But the record also balances that with the knowledge that we have positive aspects about ourselves, leading to a great internal struggle between dual characters. That probably sounds insane to people who walk around with smiles pasted on their faces. For the rest of us, it makes sense.

Urzeit, which is based in Portland, Oregon, has been around for the past three years, releasing a couple demos, a compilation release, and a split with Akatharsia. “Anmoksha” is the first full effort for the band—drummer/vocalist A.L.N. (Mizmor), guitarist R.F. (Ash Borer, Triumvir Foul), bassist M (also of Ash Borer and Triumvir Foul)—who are members of the Vrasubatlat circle and have used reconstructed words to create the album name and the song titles contained within. For example, the title of the record “Anmoksha” is made from English an (without) and Hindu term Moksha (release from the cycle of rebirth, leading to ultimate peace) to create a word that means no rest/no peace. The music pays that off, as it is feral, fiery, and often primitive sounding, with vocals that feel like they’re paying the price for all humankind’s wrong deeds and bad turns.

urzeitlogo1“Imnagas” is a blood-curdling instrumental opener, where thick basslines suffocate, wordless shrieks lacerate the senses, and savage chaos bleeds its way into the title cut, where guitars start in a blaze. Pained shrieks and engorged growls mix, mashing together over lines such as, “The fool, marked and sentenced, tossed about as their toy,” as the pace settles into purposely repetitious guitars that drub your mind. Horrible wails and infernal playing that melts brains pushes and stretches into “Exeris,” which blows up from the start into a passage of heavy-as-fuck punishment. The growls and shrieks thicken, sounding like they’re being delivered during the exact moment of existential crisis. The howl of, “I tear at my skin … would that I ripped it off! My reddened eyes beg to be scratched out,” conveys the physical aspect of that torment, as the song ends in feedback and screams. “Nascphanin” unloads the pain right off the bat, as the drums rumble, the bass clobbers, and shouts of, “My self-hatred is unmistakably clear, but why I even give a fuck, why I seek out standards I conceive of, leaves me crawling on the ground,” that has the essence of grinding one’s knuckles into the cement just to divert the source of the pain. The melodies during this one are confounding and swirling, with the tempo grinding violently before finally giving way to silence. “Bellisunya” has riffs tearing out of control before the drums unload a ton of bricks. The vocals scrape, tearing at its own psyche by lamenting, “An empty hide bag represents me,” while the flow turns hypnotic, sickening your stomach and making your eyes turn before a final punk-infused blast is buried in noise.

“Illartha” is massive and thrashy from the start, as crazed madness spreads itself over everything, and deep growls and manic shrieks deliver the bloodied message. This track pelts your temples relentlessly before giving way to “Autmomus” and its huge riffs and feeling that the earth is imploding. Spindling guitars, a speedier pace, and gurgled growls are part of this recipe that warps any sense of reality you have left and buries you even deeper into the machine. “Migrakama” launches with a startling cry, with the pace breathing fire, and the riffs making themselves an indefensible force. Hellish horrors bleeds into the picture, and the tempo never lets up, beating you and removing submission as an option. “Gravivek” toys with the notion of trying to do the same thing over and over and getting nowhere. “To bash one’s head against a wall without end, and hope to see less than total gore,” hammers that part home amid slow-driving misery and added horrible cries. After a calculated drubbing, the song tears open in earnest, devastating with speed, grim growls, and a menacing disposition, bringing the hammer down repeatedly, leaving bits of flesh and blood speckled everywhere. Closer “Entitiksha” is filled with noise and grimness before turning into a complete decimation. The playing loops, playing games with your mind, while the smoke builds and slowly chokes you. Cries of, “All is selfishness and woe! I’m found a coward, nursing myself, unable to cope and be alive,” as the song builds toward the desire to crush this cycle and find freedom. As it goes, noises crackle, the assault slows but doesn’t relent, and the psychological wasteland that’s behind blows up ash and sparks from the battle that took place.

Urzeit play with the notion of seeking betterment in a world that has no purpose, and that’s another feeling that’s all too prominent right now. “Anmoksha” is the ideal vessel for absorbing one’s negative opinions about oneself and either understanding them or letting them fester. This record feels like it’s paying its debt to the idea of lack of peace and rest in every ounce of the music, making for an experience that isn’t just another metal album, but also a sobering examination of life and purpose.

For more on the band or for a digital version, go here: https://urzeit.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://vrasubatlat.bigcartel.com/

Or here: http://mizmor.bigcartel.com/

Legendary Darkthrone smash giant serving of riffs, classic metal fire into ‘Arctic Thunder’

Photo by Ester Segarra

Photo by Ester Segarra

There are those characters, be it people in your lives, figures from television shows or movies, or folks you read about in books that, no matter what, you cannot help but like them. I’m a big wrestling fan, and every time the New Day comes out, I have a great time. I don’t care if people think their act is tired.

When it comes to metal, we have many of those figures as well, including that beloved Darkthrone duo Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. I know there are a division of fans who can’t get beyond “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” and want them to be heathen black metal warriors forever. But long ago it was clear the two fellows who make up this band don’t feel that way, and shouldn’t that be the bottom line? So, over time, the band has served us black metal, death metal, thrash, and their latest amalgamation that mixes all those things together, with a nice, crusty 80s flavor. That spills over again on the band’s 14th record “Arctic Thunder,” another dose of good stuff for those of us who followed this band’s insane ride, no matter what sounds they threw at us from album to album.

darkthrone-coverOne thing that’s supplied in major portions on this record is the riff. They are smooshed all over these songs, which, again, sounds like the band letting loose in their basement and playing whatever comes to their metallic heart. Unlike usual, Culto handles just all the vocals, save for a yell here or there from Fenriz, your friendly neighborhood politician against his will, while the drumming is skull bashing and frenetic. Part of the reason for that raw sound is the band recorded the album in their old rehearsal space The Bomb Shelter, where they worked to scuff up and dirty these songs as much as possible.

“Tundra Leech” sounds dirty and raspy from the start, with killer riffs, a pace that chugs along, and Culto’s grim growls. There’s a really old-style feel here, which obviously permeates the entire record, and later there’s a nice change of tempo that shifts. The guys thrash away, with Fenriz’s calculated drumming, only to mash fingers again at the end. “Burial Bliss” is fast and punchy at the start, with the growls scraping and cries of, “The circle will not be broken!” sounding more like an oath. The track is punishing and catchy, fading out at the end. “Boreal Fiends” starts with Culto howling, “Against the wind!” as you pretty much can envision battling against an icy assault. An outright killer riff wraps itself around this song like a snake, with clean calls blurting out, and eventually the pace hitting a sludgy skid. From there, slow-driving fury and a maniacal cowbell call out, while the soloing begins to scorch minds before the song fades. “Inbred Vermin” starts with, you guessed it, another killer riff, as the song lights up and blasts its way through, with Culto vowing, “We will ride the winds of the thunder god!” This song also slows down toward the end for the band to grind you through the mud.

The title track gets off to a raucous start, with the riffs pummeling, vile and creaky wails dropping, and guitars lighting the blaze with a thick 1980s sheen. By the way, the record, and this song as a result, is named after a Norwegian metal band from the 80s that Fenriz loves. Because of course. “Throw Me Through the Marshes” is situated in a doomy haze, with throaty howls crushing and speed driving through later and blowing everything to bits. The back end of the song gets eerie and foggy, staying that way until it bleeds into the night. “Deeplake Trespass” starts with black metal-flavored melodies, with the band throwing haymakers and bloodying lips. The pace jerks to a different track later, as guitars go exploring into the wilderness, with the track blinding and startling as it concludes. Closer “The Wyoming Distance” has riffs, slowly delivered fury, and a huge blasting end. It’s not the most dynamic song of the bunch, but it’s fun enough, and it ends with our Darkthrone heroes laughing in the distance, aware they’ve destroyed us all over again.

At this point, most people know what to expect from Darkthrone, and for someone like me who has pretty much enjoyed every era, it’s more destructive ear candy full of fun and substance. Fenriz and Culto have no one to please but themselves, and they sure as shit sound happy and smothering on “Arctic Thunder.” If these guys keep digging back to what makes them happy and only serving their own whims, these guys will stay young at heart and metal to the core well after we’re all but memories on this earth.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Darkthrone-101075189934422

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

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

Anagnorisis delve into singer’s own childhood, aftermath with scarred and painful ‘Peripeteia’

anagnorisisOne’s childhood can be an amazing place, filled with colorful memories that bring us through our lives and transform us into better people. Bad ones can scar us for life and prevent us from ever climbing back from the damage done during that time. There also are those that don’t really reveal themselves to us until we’re much older and trying to retrace where we’ve been and how we’ve developed.

Zachary Kerr, vocalist and lyricist for black metal squadron Anagnorisis, has gone through quite a discovery of self the past few years, and that bleeds into the band’s incredible new record “Peripeteia,” which acts as his autobiography. The word itself stands for a sudden reversal of fortunes or change in circumstances that typically occurs after a moment of self-recognition (also known as anagnorisis), and things start moving their way toward their conclusion. For Kerr, much of this was spawned after finding two cassettes from his childhood, one from 1982 and one from 1987, where he basically is interviewed and discussed, a strange dissection of a kid’s psyche at such a fragile age. As it goes on, the other voices on the tape, I assume his mother and late father, can be heard giving advice to, admonishing, and praising young Kerr, all of which is looped throughout the record and moves the narrative. This story is interwoven into the themes of their last record, 2013’s tremendous “Beyond All Light” (we reviewed it here), as the first six tracks act as that album’s prequel, the final two as the prequel.

anagnorisis-coverAnagnorisis, who hail from Louisville, have been making some of the most dynamic and interesting black metal in the entire United States scene. Eschewing Satan and death and blood, this band instead has turned their focus inward, exploding things that create true misery and blackness. Along with Kerr are guitarist Zak Denham, bassist Josh Mumford, and keyboardist/sax player/ programmer Samuel Hartman, and they’ve created a dramatic, heart-stopping record that feels even larger and more impactful considering these songs were pulled from Kerr’s life and development as a human. Yeah, the playing is unreal and impressive, but the emotional content is just as rich.

“Transparent -” opens the record with quiet chiming and glorious melodies, introducing us for the first time to the young Kerr and his life. “Disgust and Remorse Part I” then rips open, as savagery unfolds, fierce vocals pierce the flesh, and melodies flood everywhere. More dialog from the tapes works its way through, while the music starts to dizzy and disorient. “Stripped of all defenses!” Kerr howls, as the emotion and tragedy collide, spilling into “Disgust and Remorse Part II.” There, strong black metal-style guitars tear out, with Kerr acknowledging, “My biggest weakness is my strongest enemy,” that later paves the way toward the heartbreaking, and all-too-close-to-home line, “Without the ownership of guilt, I have nothing else to cling to.” Strong soloing fans the flames, as the track gets uglier and more scar-infested as it goes on. “5306 Morningside” has guitars awakening, and more dialog from the tapes spills into the picture. The bulk of the track is destructive and smears heart content all over the place. “Night Skies Over Nothingness” has noise loops, quiet guitars, and eerie keyboards that bleed through the impending chaos. Once the track gets going, it’s crunchy and violent, but when Kerr’s dialog as a child breaks in, he sounds confused and unsteady. Riffs spiral and pay off that imbalance, while the growls crush and grind, with everything ending with a heartbeat. Then comes the title track, with Kerr’s mother reflecting on her own mother’s death and hauntingly singing “Cruising Down the River.” It feels like a dream. Out of that, the track explodes, with punishing harsh growls from Kerr, as he wails his heart out. The track actually gets kind of catchy in spots, as choral sections spiral into the void and start-stop mashing leaves bruises. “I now know myself and trust no one!” Kerr howls, suddenly enlightened, and the end has organs spilling and soloing scalding, leading to the sequel section.

“Metamorphosis” has more of a rock feel to it and it unleashes, though eventually the rage rises up and boils over, and the track feels like a bloodletting. “Time reigns supreme, yet no wounds heal,” Kerr levels, and then strings rise up and sweep in the drama. The track is engulfed with chaos, as the guitars start to breathe fire, and the song explodes completely. The playing is blinding, as it feels like trying to withstand a hurricane, only to fold. “Staring into the eyes of the enemy, which is me!” Kerr belts, making an indefinite wound on your psyche, and that punishment gives way and heads toward finale, “Transparent +.” The interview clips slip in again, as strange music flows, and cleanly sung lines swell. The song then lights up fully, as roared vocals push violently, and the same chimed lines that greeted us at the start brings the record to its end. But if you listen on repeat, you’ll notice the finish essentially loops back to the start.

If it was understanding, closure, or healing Kerr has been seeking all of this time, hopefully he found what he was looking for. The music and themes on “Peripeteia” are as jarring and massive as anything this band has done before, and the heart of the matter is what has become of one of the band’s central members and where he goes from here. This is a record that should retain its relevance well into the future, because these are themes that make up all of us in one way or another, and it could become a companion for us when we experience our own awakenings.

For more on the band, go here: http://666.anagnorisis.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/shop-webstore/

For more on the label, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Khemmis delve into fantasy and expanded doom hemispheres with great ‘Hunted’

Photo by Travis Heacock

Photo by Travis Heacock

There’s likely not a healthier sub-genre of metal right now than doom. Yeah, we’re inundated with a shit ton of death and black metal bands, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those scenes are healthy through and through. Way too much waste. But doom is thriving, and the faucet is running heavily.

The latest in the line of unreal doom bands is Denver’s Khemmis, who in barely a year’s time have released two great records, the latest being their awesome second release “Hunted.” As many great new and long-standing doom bands have been crushing us with great music, Khemmis is beginning to rise to the top of that field, and this record should keep their momentum steamrolling. The band’s melodic side is strong and alive, expanding even further with some absolutely killer choruses on these five tracks. They also have pushed the boundaries of their song limits without losing any steam, as their move toward epic has proved to fit them expertly. For all the people who have fawned over Pallbearer the past few years, and we’re among them, it’s only fair if the same amount of attention is showered on these guys, because they exist on the same level.

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}The record has a heavy nautical theme to its, as water and battles with great bodies of liquid are splashed all over this thing. Fantasy and human struggle are very present, and the way they move you into these songs carries you through the 43-minute record with force. The band—vocalist/guitarist Phil, guitarist/vocalist Ben, bassist Dan, and drummer Zach—have come a huge way from their debut “Absolution,” itself a damn great record, and now this new powerhouse should charge up their reputation and keep putting their name on plenty more people’s tongues. The more I listen to this record, the more infectious it gets, and the melodies just won’t release my brain from their clutches. Not that I’m seeking that.

The record kicks off with “Above the Water,” where elegant melodies unfurl and the tempo begins to rumble. Strong, burly riffs unload, while the chorus is strong and effective, with a call of, “I won’t die, it isn’t my time,” striking with grit and determination. Twin leads join up, the soloing burns, and this harrowing trip at sea burns off into mist. “Candlelight” is murky with really strong singing and another killer chorus. As the song goes on, the bottom drops out and lurching growls surface for the first time. Soloing slips out of a haunting passage, as the song bursts to life again, and the vocals soar as the track slowly marches away. “Three Gates” gallops heavily, reminding a bit of High on Fire, and the vocals are a decimating growl over the verses. The chorus slips in and stuns, with the lamentation of, “Wash away my ashes in the sea,” swelling with emotion. Later, a half-growled, half-sung line, “The skies hold no salvation,” pierces the skin, while the track crushes with heavy waves before fading out.

“Beyond the Door” runs nine minutes and starts with sorrowful guitars and the revelation, “No light beyond the door,” before the track catches fire. Fantasy elements mix in with bouts of sadness, as the song plays with myriad heavy emotions. Later on, the soloing breathes fire, with growls and heartfelt singing joining up and fighting alongside one another, and the guitars leading the charge to the other side of the door. The 13:31 closing title cut trudges as it starts, laying into you with punches and making the bruising surface. “Every night, there is a dream I can’t contain,” Phil calls, as soloing bubbles up, and riffs out of the Thin Lizzy playbook blow through. The rhythms shuffle, while soloing flexes its muscles and the power absolutely erupts. As the track winds to its end, a cold, calm passage leads into the guitars trampling again, blazing passionately as sounds stretch out, the mind comes back to reality, and everything fades into the last remnants of your night’s dreams.

Khemmis are one of the best new young bands in metal, and “Hunted” is another solid building block and they crush their way through’s doom’s kingdoms. The songs are heavy and fun, melodic and destructive, and it’s going to be remembered as one of the best metal records of 2016. Their live reputation is stellar, and now they have two great albums to their name. There appears to be no boundaries for this band, and it’s going to be a blast to watch them crash through gates and bring their music to more and more people.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/music

For more on the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/