Horrendous haunt, punish with ‘Ecdysis’; Sempiternal Dusk, Sol Invictus, Alunah, Doombringer release their own fresh killers



If you’re a metal writer, you’re sitting upon an embarrassment of riches right now. September and October have burst at the seams with really good releases, and figuring we handle one per day, there’s no way to get a grasp of everything noteworthy that’s out there for consumption. No complaints. I guess.

Horrendous coverWe’ll take a look at a few string records that have come out or are about to be unleashed on the world, starting with Horrendous’ tremendous second full-length “Ecdysis.” These guys may hail from the United States, but they have plenty of Euro influence to go along with them, and their embrace of the disgusting and ugly only serves to enhance their style. This album, the follow-up to 2012’s “The Chills,” catapults the band into the upper echelon of underground death units and should be one of the most talked-about groups going. I say “should” because people aren’t always paying the proper amount of attention. No worries. Guitarists/vocalists Damian Herring (ex-Fields of Elysium) and Matt Knox, along with drummer Jamie Know, sicken, pulverize and mesmerize on this 10-track, 43-minute mauler.

The 7:24 opener “The Stranger” makes it clear just how much their game has changed. This is a real challenger, letting the band space out musically while still keeping it mighty brutal, and it’s an inventive piece that combines modern and classic death influences. From the first time I heard it, I couldn’t believe how good it was, and it gives you true insight into the abilities this band holds. From there, you get a good thrashing, from harsh and punishing “Weeping Relic”; to the wild howls and skin-splitting lead guitars on “Resonata”; to doom-encrusted and ghoulish “Nepenthe” that puts a real chill in the air while it gnaws at your bones; to the slow-driving tragedy that is closer “Titan,” with howls of, “Carry me home!” that seeks not comfort but the total end. This is a devastating step ahead for Horrendous, and it is a record that should make them a contender for the U.S.’s most compelling and crushing acts. Go get this right now, preferably on vinyl.

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

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

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

Sempiternal Dus coverSEMPITERNAL DUSK, self-titled (Dark Descent) — While we’re discussing bands on the great Dark Descent label, that takes us to Sempiternal Dusk. The latest doom monster from drummer/vocalist Tim Call (also of Aldebaran, Nightfell, the Howling Winds, among many others) is heavy and unforgiving, and this is certainly worth your time. Also including bassist TG (of Shroud of the Heretic) and guitarist JH (The Warwolves), this band decimates you over five tracks that lean toward epic length and should satisfy anyone looking for horrific darkness. Starting with the 14:56 opener that includes a sample from the film “Bad Boy Bubby,” the track smothers you as it trudges along the land, claiming bodies and severely injuring others. “Upon the Gallows” really should need to further explanation, as you can imagine the lumbering terror and fury within that’s paid off in full when Call howls, “I am the eater of worlds!” at the end. “Seclusion of the Bereaved” grinds, burns, and buries, as it pounds away and encircles you with menace. This band is as heavy as they come, and really, anything involving Call deserves your consideration.

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

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

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

AB_066_Sol_Invictus_-_Once_Upon_A_TimeSOL INVICTUS, “Once Upon a Time” (Prophecy Productions) — Tony Wakeford is one of those artists who really needs no introductions. But we’ll give him one anyway. The leader for the past nearly 30 years of one of the most influential bands of all time in Sol Invictus, he has created his own world, philosophies, and poetry over the course of the group’s 18 full-lengths. The latest effort “Once Upon a Time” is another fascinating entry into this band’s lore, and their mix of neofolk, prog, classic rock, and metal never sounded this fully realized before. This time, Wakeford is joined by musicians including old partners Caroline Jago, Lesley Malone, Eilish McCracken, Renee Rosen, and guest guitarist Don Anderson (of Agalloch), whose playing is one of the main highlights of this 15-track adventure. Wakeford’s unique voice, somewhere between a bellow an a croak, drives home these great stories and songs, especially “Devil on a Tuesday,” where he wryly notes, “Now my head’s in a noose/Now I swing like a pendulum”; the unforgettable title track that will get stuck in your head; “The Devil’s Year” that feels like modern Opeth at times; biting “Our Father”; and “The Path Less Traveled,” a song that sounds like an ongoing diatribe, where he urges to look among “the banker and the beggar, between the spires and the fire,   between the winner and sinner” for the path less traveled. Tremendous effort from a band that’s still at the top of their game.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.theconnextion.com/prophecy/prophecy_index.cfm?

Or here: http://en.prophecy.de/shop/

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

Alunah coverALUNAH, “Awakening the Forest” (Napalm) — Over the past four years, British doom unit Alunah have been making some of the most alluring, powerful music in metal. Sadly, they’ve flown way under the radar in America, but that could change with their tremendous new opus “Awakening the Forest.” This is easily the best, most elegant of all of their records, and they really hit on something during these six cuts. Vocalist/guitarist Sophie Day is an absolute revelation, as she commands while delivering her vocals, refusing to let you drop your attention for even a second. The tracks range between six and nine minutes long, with the band keeping you engaged throughout, and people into groups such as SubRosa could find a lot to like here. As good as all of the tracks on this album, the centerpiece title track stands the tallest of all of them. The music builds the piece perfectly, and Day’s tremendous vocal melodies and domination of the hook takes the track over the top. There are a lot of doom bands out there today, and it’s never easy to pick and choose the good ones. But Alunah is on a powerful streak of consistency, and they’ve never sounded a great as they do on this album.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.alunah.co.uk/

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.napalmrecords.com/

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

Doombringer coverDOOMBRINGER, “The Grand Sabbath” (Nuclear War Now! Productions) — Behemoth aren’t the only ones making hellish noises and raising the ire of the faithful in Poland. Doombringer have risen with their debut full-length “The Grand Sabbath,” and this project that combines members of Bestial Raids and Cultes des Ghoules is a punishing, black thing that is the first salvo from what could be metal’s next great underground band. There is zero relent on these seven tracks, and the thing just gets nastier and more furious as it goes along. Comprised of vocalist Medium Mortem, bassist/vocalist Old Coffin Spirit, guitarist Tribes of the Moon, and drummer Sepulchral Ghoul, the band uses death metal as a base but mixes in black metal, doom, and thrash, making for one effective, devastating machine. From the 7:10 opener “Labyrinth of Everlasting Fire,” you’re thrust full force into the furnace with crushing, doomy playing and infernal growls, and from there it’s on to feral yet atmospheric ritual “Ominous Alliance”; “Nocturnal Assembly” that builds tons and tons of riffs on top of strange melodies, speed, and vocals that sometimes sound like chants; “Children of Moloch,” a boiling, punchy killing with bizarre singing that could freeze your flesh with fear; to the outright Sabbath-worship-meets-demonic-violence of “Grand Sabbath Reaps Souls” that is nasty, deranged, and outright punishing. This record is a devastating statement that Doombringer are here to be feared and that they’ll steamroll the weak.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://nwnprod.com/shop/

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