For the last couple years, Candlelight Records has done a great job shedding light on metal bands operating deep beneath the earth’s crust. These groups all have been more than worthy of the attention of metal fans the world over, but for some reason hadn’t quite made it to the surface yet so that more people could appreciate their worth.
The effort reminds of what Southern Lord has done in the same period of time for hardcore and crust bands, though Candlelight’s project, which used to be called the Cult Series, branched out all over metal to find bands of all different styles. This has led to bands such as Wodensthrone, Nine Covens, Reverence, Khors, Cnoc An Tursa, and a few others who got more notoriety and attention simply from having the Candlelight stamp affixed to their album. It’s been a pretty cool undertaking, and now we’re getting some more new bands you might not be aware of yet. But you certainly should work to familiarize yourself with these groups sooner rather than later.
As noted, all three bands whose records are featured in today’s piece have completely different sounds. So chances are, if you’re a rigid listener, you’ll probably gravitate toward one of the bands over the others. But try to expand your thinking if you operate that way, because you might be surprised by what these groups have to offer, even if their music isn’t in your typical wheelhouse. I have no idea what people keep in wheelhouses. Anyway.
We’ll kick off with Coltsblood debut full-length “Into the Unfathomable Abyss,” my personal favorite album of the three we’re covering today and a damn weighty new addition to the doom/drone cauldron that’s been boiling hot for years. If you’re a fan of bands such as Unearthly Trance, Inter Arma, Batillus, or Sunn 0))), you’ll likely immerse yourself gleefully in the band’s imposing heaviness and suffocating sound that comprises this seven-track, nearly hour-long record. The band is comprised of three members (two who are singularly named) including vocalist/bassist John (formerly of strange doom band Black Magician), bassist Jem, and drummer Jay Plested (who still plays with Black Magician). Together, they form a mighty combination that should maul and frighten you but also make you feel hope for this style of doom, that’s admittedly becoming something of an endless sea.
There are three devastating epics on this record, namely “Beneath Black Skies,” a track that sets its pace deliberately but heavily and drags you through clouds of drone thunder, mourning, and some fiery vocal rage to balance everything out; “Abyss of Aching Insanity,” that is full of hammering madness, thick noise, and sweltering madness that could mess with your head; and “Ulfeonar,” that has tribal drumming, deep caverns of sludge, and a lumbering pace that can bust up your face. But there are sections where they change things up, especially on “Blood,” that explodes with a fury and even lets some black metal filth slip in and cover the walls with soot, and “Grievous Molestation,” that also has injections of speed but mostly goes for spacious and atmospheric. Closer “Return to the Lake of Madness” is a clubbing instrumental reminiscent of the epic cuts on here, as it wallows in doom, heaviness, and drone, capping off this killer debut perfectly. I’m really excited about this album and band, and it’ll be fun to witness their metamorphosis as they get more experience under their collective boots.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Coltsblood
If you’re more into melodic and sweeping doom and death metal and bands such as Enslaved, Opeth, Amorphis, Swallow the Sun, and others of that nature, you’ll probably find a lot to like about Shores of Null. The band, that hails from Rome, is still a relatively new venture, featuring members of groups such as Zippo and the Orange Man Theory, and they don’t even have a profile yet on Metal Archives (or I am horrible at searching things). But for a newer group, they’re pretty tight already, trading off between gothic atmospherics and blackened nastiness, with clean singing and grisly growls taking turns telling the stories. As for its members, they are vocalist Davide Straccione, guitarists Gabriele Giaccari and Raffaele Colace (who both provide backing vocals live), bassist Matteo Capozucca, and drummer Emiliano Cantiano. On record, this band sounds full of life and passion, and I can only imagine how that must transfer live.
The nine songs on here are equally melodically heavy and gothically somber, making it perfect music to hear on a dark, stormy day when hope is fleeting. “Kings of Null” follows the instrumental opener “0x0000,” and it mixes deep clean singing with grisly growls, a common occurrence on this record, and the finish even gets a little proggy, which is a nice touch. “Souls of the Abyss” has that aforementioned Enslaved/Opeth feel to it, but not in an imitation sense. It’s more than they absorbed those influences organically and use them as guiding lights for their music. Other highlights on the record include “Quiescent,” a slow-moving, trickling song that has a deep sense of sorrow dressed in melodic glory; “Time Is a Waste of Land,” one of the heaviest tracks on the record with vicious growls, drums that approach blast beats, and a nice dose of fury; and closer “Eudaemonia,” a track that combines the best of both worlds for this band, trading off between brutality and strong melodies, harsh growls and passionate singing. This band holds a lot of promise as well, and considering they’re so damn new, who even knows how their sound will progress on their next record? It’ll definitely be worth hearing when it arrives.
For more on the band, go here: http://shoresofnull.com/
Finally, you knew we couldn’t get away without some straight-up death metal, and you get all of that (and even a little more), from UK crushers Ancient Ascendant. This band is the one with the most experience and biggest backstory of all the bands included today, as they have been together for nearly a decade and already have another full-length effort (2011’s “The Grim Awakening”) and a bunch of EPs to their name before their new one “Echoes and Cinder” arrived. The band worked with legendary metal producer Dan Swano on their new record, and once again, they splash doses of black metal and even prog into their furious mix. The members responsible for this nastiness and chaos include vocalist/guitarist Alex Butler, guitarist Nariman Poushin, bassist Alan Webb, and drummer Dave Moulding, and clearly they have sharpened their teeth over the years to become an even more effective killing machine.
You pretty much get thrown into the fire right away with this band, as they kick off with the unforgiving “Crones to the Flames,” a crushing number that highlights Butler’s monstrous vocals that sometimes sound a notch or two more intense than the music. In a good way. “Patterns of Bane” is neat in that it adds some proggy, sci-fi-washed elements to keep you guessing, but you still end up battered; “Fueling the Flare” also has some proggy notes to it, but the focus is on fire-breathing death and blackness, dressed with creaky growls and penetrating chugging that sounds a little thrashy; “To Break the Binds” has some massive double-kick drumming, strong lead guitar work, and more throaty growls that sound like they hurt to emit; and “The Toll of Mourning” is both grisly and melodic, letting the band show off different sides of their musical personality by knocking you over with their power and their prowess. For those who like melodic death on the more violent side, this is a band you definitely want to check out. Ancient Ascendant prove you can do death metal with a modern touch but not lose your sharp teeth, a lesson so many bands of this ilk could learn to make their music sound that much more dangerous.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.ancientascendant.com/
To buy any of the album, go here: https://www.manicmusiconline.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/