Album roundup: Protolith rivet on ‘Dark’; Ad Nauseum mar souls; Cape of Bats create raw terror

Protolith

Protolith

It hasn’t always been easy this year to fill out an entire week with record discussions because it’s been a strange past 10 months. A lot of times we’re struggling to find things to write about because, in this site’s very humble opinion, it’s been a down year for metal. Some really good, special albums, and a whole lot of … other stuff.

Protolith coverBut this week we are spoiled with riches, having a bunch of new releases to which we want to devote time, so let’s not waste time and get to three really good records we’ll cover quickly. First up is the awesome “Dark,” the second record from Connecticut-based Protolith. The follow-up to their debut “Light” (obviously) is a rampaging, thoughtful collection of eight songs that run the gamut of death, black, sludge, and post-metal, doing so with elegance and great power. While the songs are lengthy, it never feels weighed down at all. Instead, it moves slowly, steadily, and dramatically, taking you seamlessly from one chapter to the next and always succeeding as something quite visceral. It also will make great listening over the coming winter months. It kind of has that vibe.

If you’re down with bands such as Agalloch, ISIS, Enslaved, and Opeth, you’re likely to be into what these guys do on this record, opening with “The Construct,” a dark tale that opens with water lapping and then opens up into lurching doom and riveting drama, with the final howled line, “The mourner in silence will give up and die,” as the music trickles out. There is plenty of dense heaviness on progressive and desperate “Reprise”; bustling “The Oath” has some dreamy, jazzy passages; and the rough, yet melodic “Transcendence” nicely mixes light and dark. No pun? But there are different textures as well, such as on “Dimensions” that can be cataclysmic but also has cleaner vocals woven into the cosmic soup. Plus closer “Swansong” has a folk edge, with the singing swelling, lines from “The Silver Swan” worked into the story, and a gazey, glorious backing that should swell you with emotion. I’ve gotten more in touch with the record the more I’ve heard it, and I think it’ll sound right at home when snow quietly is falling to the ground once again.

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

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

Ad Nauseum

Ad Nauseum

If you’d rather feel like you have thousands of pounds of Earth caving in your chest, Florida’s Ad Nauseum have you covered, son. Pounding and lurching with terror and strength, and glazing their sound with eerie ambiance and ear-drum splitting noise, this band comes at you with four tracks on their debut self-titled EP (it follows a demo and a couple of split releases). Everything this band does is heavy and imposing, and even at a smaller serving like this offering, the group comes off feeling powerful, overwhelming, and parading in the hopelessness that is your life. The sound is rough, the vocals grumble beneath, and Ad Nauseum might be one of the grimiest bands in all underground metal.

Ad Nauseum cover“Walls” immediately stars boiling your brain with noise hiss that drives its way into your sanity, and then the slow-driving filth arrives and starts battering. The music is sinewy and ferocious, with harsh growls crawling beneath the din and more soundscapes scraping viciously. The hammering builds into a brutal transmission, and then we’re on to “Futility” that lives up to its name. The growls are throaty and monstrous, with everything torn apart to let the lava flow. The noise rises and darkens the sky like a never-ending insect swarm, and out of that rises “Locked In.” It’s a shorter cut with a doomy downturn and unforgiving heaviness, and then it’s into closer “Slalom in the Public River.” It’s a nasty one, too, with grim roars, a tone that reminds of Godflesh, and a lumbering, bloody tempo that leaves bruises and psychological torment. This band is heavy and tumultuous, and Ad Nauseum’s first EP is a promising step for these crushers.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.brokenlimbsrecordings.net/#!store/azhdm/collections/new-releases/1

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

Cape of Bats

Cape of Bats

Cape of Bats are something altogether different yet, merging black metal, punk, goth, and deathrock into a chaotic, charred presentation that’s suffocating and fun at the same time. Splitting members among the U.S. and Ireland, the band has a pretty impressive array of releases in their catalog before this debut full-length “Violent Occultism.” There’s something about their absolutely raw sound that makes me think of the early days of black metal (I feel some vintage Bathory) but they also have strange synth and rather killer melodies that prove they have a little more up their sleeve than that. This mangling beast blasts you with 13 tracks over 36 minutes, proving a lean but deadly fighting machine devoted to the occult. And what a perfect time for this to drop.

NAC_4-Panel_Jcard_BACK_Template_forILLUSTRATORAs filthy and completely unpolished as this band is, their music has a definite charm that can’t be eclipsed by that fury. From the trucking, yet carefully built opener “Kali Yuga (The Lightning and the Moon),” the terror swells, with shrieky growls by Francis Kano pushing the way and always stinging your senses. Most of the songs roll by in no time, peaking on throaty, stomping “Resurrection” and its tremendous guitar work and sooty madness; “Lord of the Shadows,” which is a perfect amalgamation of black metal and punk from these guys; “Weeping Daughters of Jerusalem” and its gothic dashes that chill the blood and chorus that sticks in your chest; the fiery, thrashy “Buckets of Blood”; and closing cut “Hecatian Nights” that has guitars rampaging everywhere, the vocals ripping a hole in your will, and the band blistering you aggressively. Cape of Bats are a shitload of fun, a great throwback to when punk and black metal looked to convey raw emotion and shed blood, agendas that have been lost by many participants in both of those terrains. This kills.

For more on the band, go here: http://capeofbats.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.brokenlimbsrecordings.net/#!store/azhdm/collections/new-releases/1

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

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

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