Time Lurker’s atmospheric first record takes journey through humankind’s anxieties and pain

The self-titled debut record from French one-man black metal band Time Lurker could be a tale about any one of us. Also, could I pour more descriptors into that opening sentence? Anyway, having a universal theme for your music is good, especially if you want people to connect, and what Time Lurker has going on is an adventure we all are on.

From the start, Time Lurker creator Mick has viewed this project as one that examines the human journey for meaning, battling one’s demons along the way, as well as anxieties and fears. That’s a pretty simplistic way of explaining the story, but digging into the man’s music helps flesh out the concept. His atmospheric blend of black metal could have you reaching into the stars wondering if some of your own life’s fibers could be floating somewhere for you to collect. The music is undoubtedly heavy and emotional, and even if the words don’t resonate, the music surely will. These seven cuts that stretch over 47:37 envelop you from the opening moments, help you experience and process Mick’s transformation, and spits you back out with, hopefully, a little more meaning for yourself.

Opener “Rupture” is the longest cut at 11:27, and it lets space chaos woosh in through the door for instant infection. Guitars trickle before the whole thing bursts, as vicious growls and a storming pace push through. The growls continue to be savage, as a gazey wind builds behind everything before the thing goes cold. Out of that, the intensity returns, shrieks rain down, and the noise bleeds away. “Judgment” greets with sheets of feedback as harsh howls rip a hole in any sense of calm, and the gurgling growls sound like strangulation. Melody wells and overwhelms, while the pace catches fire, wild shrieks punish, and the power peaks before giving way. “Ethereal Hands” burns as it starts, with terrifying cries, incoherent wails, and melodies crashing down hard. More gazey power emerges, while a dark, thunderous assault hits the ground and devastates. Wild cries land, as does the sense of morbid anxiety that blackens this and leaves a choke of ash.

“Reborn” is a quicker song, mostly an instrumental cut that has noise hanging in the air, guitars giving off steam, and a weird synth glow that makes the thing feel like an alien transmission. That flows into “No Way Out From Mankind” that’s a crusher right away. Crazed growls and blinding playing totally overwhelm, while the darkness and heaviness begin to feel intrusive. The playing is dense and noise-infested, while the final moments are pulled together by a strong guitar attack. “Passage” is almost literally that, an interlude-style song with space zaps, clean guitars, and wordless cries comprising the body. This dose of eeriness sets the path toward finale “Whispering From Space,” an 8:36 track that feels like it’s doing exactly that. Sounds rumble before the song erupts, as fiery screams and a dangerous pace deliver the punishment. The melodies cascade over monstrous howls, while a scary bit of noise and threatening strings stare you down. Finally, the chaos bubbles over, as massive shrieks and the final bits of noise spit fire and finally subside.

Time Lurker’s debut is an impressive piece, a record that forces you to confront things that might be a little uncomfortable but should help you gain a little more meaning. This is a record that should find favor among those whose playlists contain nothing but spacious black metal and fit in nicely. It also will be interesting to hear where Mick takes this project from here and what focus that brings him.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.lesacteursdelombre.net/productions/v2/shop-3/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.lesacteursdelombre.net/productions/v2/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Suffering Hour make death, black metal fit their mission on ‘In Passing Ascension’

It’s been exciting hearing bands take death and black metal and push it beyond earthly boundaries. It’s always great when music stays traditional, and we love a ton of groups that do that. But injecting some imagination and otherworldly terror into the music can make it something with no limits that could take any form imaginable.

Another band going that strange route in Minneapolis-based trio Suffering Hour, whose excellent debut record “In Passing Ascension” is headed your way via the always reliable Blood Harvest. Their style isn’t just there to scramble your brains and dump them on a hot pan. Their music is brutal and fluid, very strong pieces that have a certain flight pattern but always find time to spiral and spin through corners you never expect. The eight songs found on this record are steeped in classic death, for sure, but they are anything but formulaic and predictable. The guitar work can send your mind into a vortex, while the vocals are smothering and alien, chewing away at your nerve endings while brutalizing your hearing. The band—bassist/vocalist DgS (also of Pestifere), guitarist/vocalist YhA, and drummer/vocalist IsN— that formerly was known as Compassion Die is a hammering unit, and over and over on this smothering album they crush you with their power.

“Insufferable Scorn” is an introduction of sorts, as weirdness and doom settle in, grim growls scrape, and the sense of spacey light headedness take us into “For the Putridity of Man” that rips open and boils like mad from the start. Gurgly growls spill, while the riffs begin stabbing with fiery blades. The guitars lean into psychedelics, while the bulk of the song swims in chaos before an unforgivingly crushing end. “Devouring Shapeless Void” is speedy and weird, with crazed, maniacal shouts jarring all your anxiety triggers and the playing just going off. Prog trudging and black metal majesty then meet as the cut blazes to an end. “The Abrasive Black Dust” simmers in noise before the guitars start to slur, and the cosmos rips into the room. The cut lurches and goes hypnotic, while a nightmarish dialogue sprawls over top, and the first growls strike toward the end of the song. From there, the riffs get unhinged, and the final moments dissolve into fog.

“Withering Microcosmos” has strange guitars and another dose of space prog, while the bulk of this instrumental cut soaks in atmosphere before trickling into “Through the Vessels of Arcane Power” and its unfurling eeriness. The guitars bubble while the pace tramples, and the growls go from blood curdling to manic yelps. The pace speeds up, while the music grinds away, and the last stretch is made up of authoritative riffs and blood-poisoning howls. “Procession to Obscure Infinity” is the longest cut at 8:45, and it has guitars scorching right away as the music prepares to open itself fully. From there, things get monstrous, with mystical slashing, animalistic shouts, and dizzying guitars rolling in and causing confusion. From there, the riffs blaze with melody, and a deathly march takes us to the gates. Closer “Empty Avowls” smashes from the word go, as the guitars swelter, and vicious growls carve a pathway to your central nervous system. Ridiculous riffs well up into dissonance, while a tech-minded serving of prog and spiraling guitars make the world around you spin and your path to the stars end abruptly.

Suffering Hour show both a ton of promise and muscular poise on “In Passing Ascension,” as impressive a debut record as we’ve heard this year. The band already has a firm grip on what they do well, and their prowess hints at even greater heights that can be achieved in the future. This is a record that proves death metal is in good hands as long as creative people with no intention on settling carry the genre on their broad, able shoulders.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/


Icelandic chameleons Solstafir push deeper into psyche skies on dreamy new opus ‘Berdreyminn’

Photo by Steinunn Lilja Draumland

Progression for a band can be good and bad, depending on where the music lands and if people accept what you’ve done. Ulver is practically unrecognizable musically from their original form, though many have embraced their radical turns away from their roots. Whereas, say, Mastodon doesn’t resemble their earlier records, and though they gained massive popularity, many of the people who were there for the start have been turned off by their musical journey.

Icelandic band Solstafir largely are travelling the Ulver route. While their initial sound soaked deeply in black metal and Viking waters, they’ve progressed into something altogether different over the years.  If you wanted to argue Solstafir aren’t exactly a metal band anymore, I wouldn’t challenge you. They might not either as the group—Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (guitar, vocals), Svavar Austmann (bass), Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson (guitar), Hallgrímur Jón Hallgrímsson (drums, backing vocals)—let that ship sail long ago as they moved more into atmospheric post-rock realms, which hit its peak on 2014’s amazing “Otta.” The record got them in with a larger audience, and now with their new opus “Berdreyminn” ready to land, their expanse should only stretch further. They did hit a rough patch a couple years back with the dismissal of longtime drummer Guðmundur Óli “Gummi” Pálmason, which was a fairly controversial topic for a while. Nonetheless, the band pushed on, and what you hear is an even larger base of sound, albeit one not as immediately gripping as “Otta.”

“Silfur-Refur” begins with noises blaring and guitars dripping, as the darkness starts to spread. Finally, the song tears open and charges, with passionate singing from Tryggvason, and the soloing burning away. Things calm before another late push, before a smooth finish glides away. “Ísafold” has murky synth and burning guitars churning through their vintage tube amps. It’s such a genuine feeling coming from them, with powerful vocals, bass romping through, and an epic, foggy finish. “Hula” is the first of a run of songs that topple seven minutes, a streak that goes through to the end of the album. The music buzzes into a psyche dream land, as keys drizzle over the singing, and an orchestral section meets up with pianos and hearty vocals, with everything fades into the horizon. “Nárós” has head-swimming guitars, with the singing pulled back, and the music glimmering. Later, the band kicks into high gear out of a haze, while things get grittier and more muscular, with the track having a surreal finish.

“Hvít Sæng” brings back the piano slithering, with the singing (it’s in Icelandic, so this is a guess) taking on a storyteller mode. As the track opens deeper, the melodies and intensity pick up, and a driving, spacious pace goes into swirling madness. “Dýrafjörður” starts amid thick strings, hypnotic keys, and a psychedelic thunder that brings with it an eerie nostalgia. The intensity bubbles and drives the song, while the singing enraptures, and the synth makes your head spin. “Ambátt” has disarming vocal harmonies at the start as keys plink, and a nighttime feel takes over the senses. The playing is calculated, while the bass rumbles, and a tornadic loop brings the song to an end. Closer “Bláfjall” has a heavy church organ standing tall, as everything eventually ramps up into power. There are teases of speed and heaviness, as the synth shines, the guitars chug, and some slide playing adds another level of texture. The organs spill back into the scene, as the song comes to a raucous, punishing finish.

Solstafir, amid chaos and their own creative fires, have another strong document in “Berdreyminn” that should help them build on the masses who follow them. It’s a far cry from the fire of their early days, but that’s only from a volume standpoint. They continue to draw from their hearts and ever-changing passions, which keeps paying off for this band and pushing their possibilities into the stars.

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Swedish doom warriors Below smear glory and fire back into metal with ‘Upon a Pale Horse’

There was a time when a great deal of metal, no matter the style, could be described as glorious. Huge melodies, vocals scaling mountain peaks, and rushes of energy were not uncommon. That’s been tempered a great deal over the past decades with the emergence of death and black metal, as well as cynicism and ill feelings creeping their way deeper into this music.

But every now and again, you get a band such as Below that creeps into the scene and reminds that you can spread darkness but fill the body and blood with energy while doing so. The band’s excellent second record “Upon a Pale Horse” is here, and for an album that centers on the arrival of death, you’ll be hard pressed not to be blown the fuck down by the band’s enormous sound and power. This Swedish band’s epic doom should remind people of banner creators Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus, as well as contemporary groups such as Crypt Sermon. The music is heavy and bellowing, and the passionate, soaring vocal performance from Zeb stands up there as some of the finest singing heard on a heavy record so far in 2017. The rest of the band—guitarists Paud and Berg, bassist Hedman, and drummer Doc—certainly holds up their end, delivering a performance that also should ignite fires within the hearts of those who hold Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Primordial dear. It’s just a gigantic, great-sounding metal record, one that doesn’t come around nearly often enough.

“The Plague Within” is a quick, synthy dirge that acts as an introductory piece and leads to “Disappearing Into Nothing,” which starts with sludgy doom and soaring vocals. The chorus floods the senses, as over that stretch Zeb wails, “My soul, it fades away!” as if he can see death on the horizon. The playing is powerful, as it is everywhere, leaving an indelible impression. “The Coven” dips into clean playing and grittier singing, as Zeb cries, “I’m under a spell,” before the pace charges up, and the lead guitar work glows. “Give into darkness and let go,” Zeb calls, as the soloing rivets, and the track bleeds to its finish. The 9:40-long title cut is the lengthiest song on the collection and a barnburner at that. Fire crackles as Primordial’s Alan Averill delivers a stirring speech before militaristic-style drumming and powerful doom riffs push their way through. Group vocals surge over the chorus, as the arrival of death sweeps over everything. Acoustics wash in before the song heats up again, the soloing fires hard, and another huge chorus lands before the song marches away.

“Suffer in Silence” is a mirror into the pain people often feel inside without letting anyone know. Crunchy riffs and a very 1980s-style barrage of guitars sprawl forth, putting a fiery touch on this song. “End this pain, end this agony,” sweeps from Zeb’s mouth, hitting hard inside, as the track charges hard, and acoustics fade away. “Hours of Darkness” has a rich acoustic open before the driving pace arrives and sends this into high gear. “Mankind will suffer for our deeds,” Zeb declares, while the soloing takes over, and the emotion comes to a flood state. The final moments are slow and fiery, letting the darkness seep in and assume control. “1000 Broken Bones” begins with a strong riff and nastier vocals, with more group singing adding to the hugeness, and Zeb’s vocals coming in high as fuck. The track is dark and heavy, leading toward closer “We Are All Slaves,” the second-longest track at 8:20. Clean guitars start before the singing blasts in, unfurling with the song and telling the tale of control that’s been a sad testament of all times. “I was born to be controlled,” Zeb wails, as the slowly punching song, reigning guitars, and morose ambiance spill over and eventually fade away.

Below have the mighty Metal Blade behind them and a crushing new record in “Upon a Pale Horse” that is one of the finest things that storied label has put out (and perhaps will put out) this year. It’s a call back to metal’s glory years when the riff and the raised fist were not clichés but necessary ingredients to making a great metal record. These guys have their shit together and eight powerful cuts that should topple the world.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

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

Desekryptor unleash violent death metal that goes for the jugular on ‘Chasm of Rot’ demo

There are many ways to appreciate music, whether it’s for feel, technical prowess, or something else. Point is, a lot of times it’s really something inside of us that’s triggered when we hear a new band and decide that their direction makes sense and captures our imagination. That’s a nice, flowery way to introduce a new demo from one of the nastiest budding death metal bands.

Desekryptor are a trio hailing from Indiana, and their crushing new “Chasm of Rot” nicely fills that gaping wound inside hoping for death that sounds dangerous, ugly, and not the least bit concerned with widespread acceptance. This style of music is supposed to serve a niche of folks who are equally disillusioned with the art they’re served in mainstream helpings and seek music that would scare the motherfuck out of what the masses are consuming. Desekryptor deliver that on this five-track, 18-minute display follows their “Demo 2016” that actually arrived early this year. The band—P.A. (vocals, guitars, bass), E.S. (guitars, bass), T.S. (drums)—smothers you with devastating, hellish death metal that isn’t trying to be anything other than hard-hitting, guttural, and evil. They provide that in ample portions here, and it’s the sign of a very promising band with a bloody future.

“Serpentine Scourge” starts with guitars cutting in like a chainsaw, and the guts of the thing mangled and torn apart. Gurgly growls and boiling leads increase the heat, while the final moments are utterly devastating. “Blood Tipped Scythe” is gruesome right off the bat, with the band delivering a furious beating that scoffs at any hint of mercy. The growls snarl fiercely, while the band finds a nasty death groove in which to trap you. When that hits, if you’re not inclined to throw a lamp across the room, maybe this isn’t for you? The pace is drubbing and mean, while the lead guitars kill, the growls maul, and everything is ground into dust.

The title cut is savage and filled with smoking riffs. Parts of this also soak in doom mud for a spell, while the track later tears apart and releases toxins. The music delivers a consistent flattening, while the vocals rumble in filth before the soloing takes off. The guitars only serve to aggravate the fires, while the growls become grotesque, and the final moments thrash away. “Organismacide” certainly hints hard at their lack of concern for all beings, with no one left off the list. A swirl of voices causes hypnosis, while the music lands direct punches, and the pain is meted out in calculated manner. The pace goes from hulking to obliterating, with furious growls, soloing that tears off the rails, and an ending that comes abruptly. Closer “Apocalyptic Funeral Trance” won’t have you gazing into the void as you might think. Instead, you’re treated to a thrash-fisted assault complete with lurching growls, relentless pounding, and vocals that make it sound like P.A. is drowning in his own blood.

Desekryptor make a lot of devastating headway on “Chasm of Rot,” a collection that sounds exactly like what its title promises. These three maniacs have a stranglehold over what they do well, and by sticking to this disgusting formula, it should mean a really punishing full-length effort once they get to that. Until then, if they keep the fires burning and the torture flowing, they’re going to be a band with which to reckon well into the future.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Von Till sets new fire for Harvestman with galactic ‘Music for Megaliths’

Photo by Niela Von Till

There are those within metal’s circles whose resumes cannot, and should not, be questioned. Steve Von Till is one of those people, as he has built ample credit and benefit of the doubt being one of the leaders of the great Neurosis, as well as his solo work and other projects in which he’s been involved.

We haven’t heard from Von Till’s Harvestman in seven years now, one of his most atmospheric and musically daring of all his projects, and one that sounds like it gets his head cleared and less chaotic artistic statements into his output. His new, fourth record under that moniker, “Music for Megaliths,” has arrived, and it’s the first full-length we’ve heard from this project since 2010’s “Trinity.” Von Till’s been awfully busy of late, what with Neurosis’ latest album landing last year, touring surrounding that taking up his time, and even delivering another solo outing “A Life Unto Itself” in 2015. Yet here we are, with Von Till riches the past couple years, with another collection of Harvestman songs. This collection spends as much time in the wilderness as it does in the stars. It’s cosmic and rustic, dreamy and droning, and a collection of seven songs that gets inside your mind and intoxicate you. This is music for many settings, but perhaps the most fitting would be at night, gazing into an open, star-filled sky.

“The Forest Is Our Temple” begins the record with guitars jangling and quiet bagpipes wafting over the horizon as the song comes to life. Guitars begin to strike, as things get muddier, and as the mood heads deeper into the woods, accordions join in and add texture. Sunburnt haze burns, while noise like a plane engine hovers overhead, and all elements return and fade out. “Oak Drone” kicks the spacey feel into gear, as steely guitars cut in, and a mesmerizing haze spreads itself thick. The music burns and hovers, sheets of synth fall from the sky, and the track disintegrates. “Rings of Sentinels” has a weird feel to it at the outset, with strange beats thumping, and a psyche-rich flow chilling your brain. Strings create bubbling, while the noises yawn and send themselves to rest. “Cromlech” sounds like it would be a universal odyssey from its name, and that pays off, as cosmic synth pulsates, sounds float high above the earth like the space station, and a hypnotic edge has you staring into dimensions.

“Levitation” has warm beats tapping, humid guitar work stretching, and the charge pushing ahead. A woosh of synth settles over the air, and then smooth singing is situated behind the wall of sound, feeling like a transmission from a dream. Tranquility settles itself, making this feel like a deep dream state, as a gentle psyche lather foams under the cut, and the sound pulsates from ear to ear. Listen to this one on headphones for full impact. “Sundown” has a fit of heavy drone, like a thick black smoke sweeping over the land, and static charges that remind me of the old “Asteroids” Atari game. Quiet guitars arrive beneath noise stabs, and again, a wave of space synth sets in and brings mystery, and everything blows out into star dust. Closer “White Horse” has keys awakening and blaring, while guitars begin to sting. Von Till starts a steely monologue, noting, “The stones call to me just like they always have.” As he continues his dissertation, noise begins to spiral disturbingly, before the track dissolves into the ether.

It’s rare to have an artist such as Von Till, who can express himself in so many different styles and means, and Harvestman remains an inventive one. “Music for Megaliths” should have you dreaming for hours on end, wondering what’s going on as you see those strange celestial bodies millions of miles away from your own. This project might not visit us very regularly, but when it does, it’s a unique experience that sticks with you.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com/

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

Sovereign wreak havoc on fiery new demo; Caïna, Cara Neir split a bittersweet, powerful display


We’ve been a little lax of late getting to some smaller releases that have come out, and for that, we cannot apologize enough. We tend to concentrate a lot on full-length releases around here, but let’s not forget some of the music that’s coming out that might not take up an hour of your life but still deserves to be heard and played repeatedly until you can’t hear a goddamn thing.

First up, we have “Spirit Warfare: Demo MMXVII, ” a new collection of three raw blasters from black metal beasts Sovereign that are sure to rip the muscle from your bones. We haven’t heard from the band since their killer 2014 full-length “Nailing Shut the Sacrosanct Orifice,” a colorfully named, brutally realized effort released by Broken Limbs that still devastates our senses to this day. These three new songs should satiate anyone pining for new stuff from this band, or anyone who wants a raw, black, evil dose of metal that doesn’t sound like it was processed in any way. There is pure terror wrapped into these songs, and the raw, unpolished nature of these tracks make them even more effective and should ramp up anyone’s excitement who gets to catch them on their tour of the Western U.S.

“Hammer of Fevered Light” rips the lid of this thing with static-laden guitars, huge melodies that get battered by noise, and ferocious growls that tear through bone. The leads continue to burn, while the vocals get smothered in the din, and then harsh madness takes over and punishes. The track keeps spiraling to its gruesome end, and then it’s on to “Diadem of Wound” and its blistering, rage-filled start. Creaky, echoey growls land, while the tempo rips away at the flesh, and then the soloing just goes off and demolishes. Static again floods the sense, mixing with the bloodshed, as everything grinds to a moaning halt. Closer “The Well of All Recalcitrance” has noisy, eerie guitars dripping, meeting up with a gazey, foggy flood that causes you to shield your eyes. The playing hangs threateningly in the air, as everything spills out and fades away. This is a crushing display that proves Sovereign are one of the most formidable black metal bands muddying the underground.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://folkvangrrecords.bandcamp.com/

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

Second, we have a tremendous 7” split that’s kind of bittersweet. This two-song track combines the UK’s Caïna, who are bowing out with their contribution to this release, and Texas-based Cara Neir, one of the more exciting younger bands in extreme music, whose physical make-up remains under development. For Caïna and its main members Andy Curtis-Brignell (multi-instrumentalist, vocalist) and Laurence Taylor (co-vocalist), this has been a long, sprawling adventure for the band that covers seven full-length offerings (their last was the tremendous “Christ Clad in White Phosphorus” that landed last year) and many other smaller releases, and we’re pretty sad to see them go. As for Cara Neir, they’re still riding the wave of their thunderous fourth full-length “Perpetual Despair Is the Human Condition” that landed last year and further cemented their place as one of heavy music’s freshest, most inventive bands.

Caïna’s track “Rhosneigr” is a fucking volcano, which you might not guess right away when you hear the atmospheric start. But then the earth’s crust bursts open, and grimy guitars, militaristic drums, and utterly savage vocals tear out and destroy. The track trudges and crushes, seemingly getting heavier as the minutes tick by, and the vocals have an urgency behind them that don’t just hint they’re the last in the band’s history, but in each members’ lives. As the song goes, the guitars get dirtier and more massive, before everything bleeds into space. Cara Neir’s cut “Stained Grey Bones” has a black metal-style rush at the start that’s not unlike the band’s usual work but still feels awfully bloodthirsty. The vocals have a more hardcore edge to them, as the melodies whip into shape, and the band lays down some tremendous old school-style metallic glory that should get the blood pumping. Fluid leads, wild howls, and cement-thick bass make their presence felt as the cut winds to a close. This is a nice little package that might not be the longest record in the world but will beat your ass nonetheless.

For more on Caina, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cainaband

For more on Cara Neir, go here: https://www.facebook.com/caraneir

To buy the album, go here: https://brokenlimbsrecordings.net/collections/all

For more on the label, go here: https://brokenlimbsrecordings.net/