PICK OF THE WEEK: Portal’s terror explodes from hell in different forms on devastating burst ‘ION’

Truly mystifying and terrifying bands are few and far between now in metal, which is pretty sad. Problem is, there’s so much music out there and so many bands, most of which are very accessible and open on social media, that there isn’t any room for mystique. It’s cool seeing real people doing real things, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for terror.

This is something Australian death beasts Portal long have understood. Yeah, you might think a band donning dark cloaks and a singer with a goddamn cuckoo clock on his head might be gimmicky, and you’re not wrong, but there’s way more to it than that. They crush you under waves of mystery, and their music long has stood out as some of the grainiest, devastating, and oppressive in all of death metal. But something happened along the way. Tons of other bands caught onto their sound, so much so that the band’s brand of noise-marred death is practically known as the Portal sound. Those bands are fucking everywhere now, but no matter. Portal, those hidden maulers, have other tricks up their sleeves. In fact, if you ever saw the band live, you understand just how mind-blowing and proficient the figures—vocalist the Curator, guitarists Horror Illogium and Aphotic Mote, bassist Omenous Fugue, and drummer Ignis Fatuus— are as players and how incredibly talented they are. You get a deep dose of that on their astonishing fifth record “ION,” a nine-track, 37-minute document of terror that is astonishing for many reasons. For one, the songs are not baked with noise, nor do they sound like they emanate from a dank basement. Also, it truly gives the listener a view into just how intensely powerful these cloaked beings are as performers, a fact that hammers you over and over again on this album.

Opener “Nth” is the gateway to hell, a quick intro cut constructed of weird noise scrapes and eerie transmissions, then it’s into “Esp Ion Age” that just goes off the fucking rails. The guitars burst into a cloud of confusion, while the Curator’s vocals sound like they’re worm holing through your head and deep into your brain. The track’s elements fold all over themselves, while the back end of the song melts your mind and fades out fast. “Husk” is destructive from the start, letting guitars race in circles, and the tempos charge into a wall. The vocals peels away the skin, while the pace is delirious, practically causing you motion sickness. “Phreqs” is the first cut the band released to the world, and it rips your insides apart, as evil growls crawl toward you, guitars create a tornado into the afterworld, and the frenetic pace causes panic. Riffs peel off and leave noxious fumes, while the song boils into formless madness, and monstrous noises grinds out. “Crone” has aching strings and guitars sparking, practically bleeding oil, and then things gets shredded. The fury is dizzying, while the growls fold in, with the Curator repeatedly inviting, “Breathe the sickness.”

“Revault of Volts” opens in thick humidity, while the playing bashes away at your bones, and the drumming tries to turn you into paste. Howled, hissed vocals snake toward your mind, with the guitars wrapping themselves around them, jarring and spinning and spilling into a vortex. “Spores” is a drill eating ferociously into the middle of the Earth. This isn’t one for those who get anxiety from penetrating drone, as this song moves at one pace, consistently and violently, with guitars splattering and churning, and the vocals sucking up the blood. “Phathom” has riffs rippling, causing seismic waves, as everything spills like guts, growls begin to spurt plasma, and the end pounds relentlessly before ending suddenly. “Olde Guarde” is the 9:44 closer, and it tears open right away, with guitars destroying and confounding, and a thunderous, devastating pace taking hold. The music creates a thick soot, while the Curator moans and wails his way into the ugliness. The chaotic frenzy suddenly dissipates, overtaken by strange noises that sound like they’ve been created by ghosts, and then an oddly mournful passage emerges. A cosmic star bath floods over, and the record ends in the strangest way possible—in the arms of serenity.

As long as Portal stand as a unit, they’re likely to always shield their true selves from their audience. That’s part of the allure for these guys, though the most important aspect is they make unreal records such as “ION.” This already is a high watermark for death metal this year, and it reestablishes these guys as the masters over all who have followed and emulated their sound. These are the faces of fear, and it’s even more terrifying that we’ll never get to even see them.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/

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

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Swedish destroyers Agrimonia destroy boundaries, decimate senses on epic-filled ‘Awaken’

Photo by Anders Bergstedt

There was a time when a three-minute song was the ideal way to go about business. The songs were more digestible, and it was far easier to get the pieces on the radio. Even when something did go to a more dangerous length—Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” comes to mind—it would get chopped so that it could make the airwaves. Not much has really changed.

But not all music is made for mass consumption. Some stuff is more explosive and personal and is not meant to be divided into bite-size chunks. Metal long has been the home to music that defies boundaries and embracers sprawl, and Swedish crushers Agrimonia have delivered thunderous epics through their entire 10-year run. That continues on their awesome new record “Awaken,” their second for Southern Lord and one of their most expansive musically. They’re as heavy and thunderous as ever, but they also stretch their sound a bit and don’t always have to pummel you at every moment. The band—vocalist/keyboard player Christina, guitarists Magnus and Pontus, bassist Martin, and drummer Bjorn—doesn’t just stay within one path but pushes into multiple lanes, blending rock, post-hardcore, black metal, and doom into the puzzle. It’s an astonishing mixture, and it’s the best Agrimonia ever have sounded.

“A World Unseen” tears the lid off the record, a 9:11-long track that sets the pace nicely. The track sits in more of a straight-ahead rock/post-hardcore edge, as Christina’s howls bury you, and the melodies tidal wave. The guitars grind, while harsh howls lay waste, but then a wave of acoustics rises and brings calm. Out of that, the band sets into proggy, sludgy waters, while spacious leads infuse atmosphere, and the track bleeds out. The title cut runs a healthy 10:11, and its catchy start and charging riffs work their way into a pace that pummels. Christina’s growls power a super-punchy chorus, and then the song disappears into chilly keys and eerie sentiment before the whole thing ignites again. The howls punish, the guitar work bursts, and everything comes to a fiery finish. “Foreshadowed” is one of the shorter songs at 8:46, and its tranquil trickling at the start flows into a dark, moody ambiance that sets a shadowy mood. The song does start trudging, as the guitars cut you apart, and the tempo is nasty. “Watch out! It’s coming!” Christina warns repeatedly, but it’s too late as you succumb to a devastating big finish.

“Awaken” is the shortest of the group, a 3:01 instrumental that sounds like an interlude on a classic old thrash metal record. Acoustic are picked, and then sounds sweep in, guitars begin to rumble gently, and the track fades out, leading right into the monster of the group, 12:52 “Withering.” This has an ominous start, as storm clouds roll in and threaten, as riffs begin to pile up, and Christina’s chaotic growls drive the points home. Melodies envelop all, as the band settles into a brief hardcore-style lashing, and from there, it’s pure devastation until things ice over toward the end. The song feels foreboding, leading to an ending packed with a nasty burst that splinters and flies into space. Closer “The Sparrow” is 12:26, maintaining that cosmic vibe before a classic metal buildup is mounted. Things get humid, as piano drips, and finally about 3 minutes in, it’s fucking on. Vicious growls and slicing guitars make their way toward you, as damaged riffs and a thrashy explosion spit fury. There’s a black metal splash that colors the surface, and then the song seemingly fades. But it’s not over. Guitars soar again, feeling like they’re set for dusk, while growls snarl, and the whole thing ends up in the pit of a whirring dream.

Agrimonia have a stranglehold on making epic dramas that never feel half as long as they are, something they prove again on “Awaken.” Four albums in, and this band is changing and developing before our eyes, sharpening their edges and amplifying the drama. This is a great band that deserves more people talking about them, so hopefully this collection does the trick.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.southernlord.com/store

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

Hooded Menace increase deadly campaign with doomy, crushing album ‘Ossuarium Silhouettes…’

It’s still pretty early in the year, but everything already seems fucked with no real chance of recovery. So, let’s just immerse ourselves in unnatural horrors to get by. You know, the ones containing zombies and vampires, but not the shitty ones we see represented in our rapidly declining pop culture.

No. We’re talking digging into old films, scratchy ones, where you don’t understand the language, and what’s going on looks cheesy to an extent, but it still scares the living shit out of you. That’s where Finnish doom-death band Hooded Menace long have built their punishing terrors, and we get more of that on their massive new record “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed,” one of the finest in their entire catalog. As bleak, deadly, and soul-destroying as this record is, it’s a pleasure to hear if their sounds are what turn on your dark soul. We’ve been writing about this band since their start—both here and elsewhere—and I don’t remember another of their albums that was this instantly immersive. I took my cat to the vet the other day and had this playing and kept asking him if he heard this fucking thing? He didn’t give a shit because he was on his way to get a shot, but I knew he knew. This is a massive, unforgiving monster that this band—Harri Kuokkanen (vocals), Lasse Pyykkö (lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars), Teemu Hannonen (rhythm guitar), Antti Poutanen (bass), Otso Ukkonen (drums)—has created, and it comes at a perfect time when everything seems ready to crumble.

“Sempiternal Grotesqueries” gets things started with pure funeral doom misery, as the growls scrape along, and the pace begins to chug and crush. Melodies pool and flood over, as the riffs strike, and the song bleeds sorrow. Dual guitar lines merge and glow, and then we ramp back into violence, as the growls maul, and everything ends in elegant sadness. “In Eerie Deliverance” trudges and bleeds, as the guitars tear open a hole, and gothic playing emerges. A female voice speaks over the madness, while the song gets scarier, and the growls gurgle mud. Spacious playing comes out of that, as the song ends in melodic acid. “Cathedral of Labyrinthine Darkness” is slow driving with a thick bassline and atmospheric rumbling. The growls crush, pushing toward spacious thunder that opens the storm clouds, and that leads to meaty bass punishing, dual leads adding texture, and the back end wailing out.

“Cascade of Ashes” starts in a pit of growls, as the song blows open, and oxygen-infused terror begins to crawl its way toward you. The pace is lumbering and devastating, and then the pace halts and gives way to stormy, moody guitars. The growls slither, while the murky playing adds to the cloud cover, and the thick music keeps cascading right up to the end. “Charnel Reflections” begins with cool guitars dripping, as the mood gets darker and causes your chest to heave. The track gets sludgy and punishing, as the leads destroy bones, and the ground melts. The guitar work slips into Maiden-like glory, and then the pace kicks back into death, barreling out to the finish line. Closer “Black Moss” is the shortest song at 2:20, a place where guitars fold into each other, and the earth begins to quake. Great leads intertwine, gushing classic metal glory, but once the battle subsides, acoustic guitars emerge and take us into the mist.

Hooded Menace always find the ideal way to rip out our guts, and they’ve done it again, painfully so, on this massive new album. “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed” is a sinewy snapshot of a band that has recognized its power and is continuing to build on their massive bloodthirst. It’s a miserable world in which we live, so might as well revel with the filth and those who seek to eat our souls, disappearing into the blackness forever.

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

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

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

Tribulation’s bloody ascension continues with death-obsessed, blackened drama ‘Down Below’

Photo by Ester Segarra

I’ve mentioned this before, but the era of the big metal record has kind of passed. You do get landmark underground releases each year people get excited about, but beyond whatever shitty record Mastodon releases next, there aren’t a lot of albums that get large amounts of people excited.

Luckily, we have one of those today in the form of “Down Below,” the new record from Swedish black metal band Tribulation that follows up 2015’s much-praised “The Children of the Night.” This is the first really big album of 2018, and to have it arrive so early in the year already gives us a hype benchmark few bands will be able to approach the following 11 months. I asked this same question with the release of “Children,” a record that really left me cold (and, apparently, I’m alone in this assessment), in that does “Down Below” meet the lofty expectations and accolades already being showered on this piece of work (Decibel gave it a perfect 10 score)? The answer this time is a resounding yes. I didn’t dislike “Children,” but I didn’t see what everyone else did. This time, these nine songs that stretch over nearly 47 minutes feel perfectly portioned, inspired, and alive, the mark of a band on the brink of greatness and, if they play their cards right, wild success. There’s not a dull moment here, and the band—bassist/vocalist Johannes Andersson, guitarists Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén, and drummer Oscar Leander— reclaims some of the heaviness I missed from the last record along with their flare for drama. It’s a tremendous record, one that deserves all the applause it will receive.

“The Lament” gets us started, as cold guitars make the skin chilled, but then the band follows up with a charging blast, and Andersson wailing over the chorus, “Would we see you if you came to us?” as he stares down the result of death. Keys swarm, while the pace chugs, and Andersson laments about his subject facing a situation where one can “never find a way back.” “Nightbound” is a tremendous track, one of the band’s best, and it’s built on a steady guitar line, a humid tempo, and a NWOBHM approach that gives the song a vintage edge. “I remember who we are!” Andersson howls, as psyche-laced soloing spills in, and the infectious playing holds you right up to the end. “Lady Death” has winds gusting and some excellent riffs, with the band building a punchy pace dressed in whirring synth and deathly horrors, back-ended by a nice thrashy finish. “Subterranea” lets keys plink like frozen rain before the song kicks into higher gear, and Andersson calls about “visions in the snow.” The track cools off again but ruptures nicely later, letting lava fill in the crevices.

“Purgatorio” continues to push the death theme, as this cut is built on eerie noise, dusk-like melodies, and a calming pace with cosmic breezes. “Cries From the Underworld” follows, as keys glaze like honey, and the band settles into more of a rock feel (you could point to Ghost similarities). The singing remains gruff, while spacious leads infuse oxygen, and the track comes to a cool sci-fi finish. “Lacrimosa” pounds away from the start, as the pace bloodies noses before the power pulls back. Bells and chants haunt, while the soloing bursts to life, spacey synth flows into the scene, and the cut ends in drama and sorrow. “The World” has keys plinking and a pretty strong lead guitar line, while the verses are moody and gothy. The fires keep raging, and the track ends in the place of fever dreams. Closer “Here Be Dragons” (they wisely decided to shelf this as the album title) begins with synth driving and the playing bruising, as Andersson howls, “Here be death!” as you’re set on a nerve-chewing wait for your own demise. The track is one of the darkest on here, as the wail of, “Don’t you hear the distant howling of the wolf?” lets you hear the end coming, which they deliver with dizzying playing and a tornadic approach that lands at the feet of a psychedelic head trip.

Tribulation are one of the bands that have the best chance of breaking beyond metal’s planes into something greater, and if they get there, “Down Below” will be a major reason. I know we’re supposed to question bands that achieve mainstream accomplishments as somehow no longer worthy of underground embraces, but to hell with that. If you’re good enough to surge, then, by all means, do it. The world would be a far better place if a band such as Tribulation was on the lips of mainstream listeners rather than some of the others out there right now.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Panphage’s run comes to a glorious, rustic end with thunderous last epic ‘Jord’

Certainly, we all know the adage that all good things come to an end. Well, it’s not just all good things. It’s all things. Everything has a lifespan that, once it runs its course, fades out into the night. Creative ventures operate a little differently as those involved can keep things operating and breathing as long as they want, sometime well past the point of health.

One-man Swedish black metal project Panphage has come to its end. While only in existence since 2005, with the first full-length “Storm” not arriving until a decade later, sole creator Fjällbrandt has chosen to cease the project’s existence with the exhilarating third album “Jord,” which is the Swedish word for “soil.” One could argue that in the band’s relatively brief existence, Fjällbrandt has enriched the earth in the underground black metal realms, and now that the harvest is as hearty as ever, it’s time to bow out and let other bands have their time. This record pays honor to Fjällbrandt’s homeland’s heritage, as well as death and rebirth, be it physical, mental, creative, what have you. The seven tracks here well up inside your heart and soul as the soaring melodies and impactful wails (even if sung in a tongue foreign to our own) connect on a spiritual level and help the listener mark the end with Panphage.

“Odalmarkerna” starts the record with waves rushing and the power surging, as gruff growls make their way into the mix, and a melodic surge knocks you backward. The leads burn and glow while the vocals push through, and primal emotions and playing color the song’s final moments. “Måtte dessa bygder brinna” is harsh from the start, as the playing ruptures, and everything flows into an open field of melody. The vocals turn to wild howls, as if calling out from the wilderness, and an infectious chorus makes your heart surge. Lines are repeated like chants, while the playing envelops your soul, and the music overwhelms like a tidal wave. “Ygg (En visa om julen)” has sinister riffs combining with echoing growls, as a heavy Swedish folk influence makes its presence felt before the stormfront rages, and the guitars cascade like sheets of rain. Raw calls blister over the meaty basslines, while the final minute feels like the awakening from a summer shower.

“Skadinawjo” has a clean, calm opening before powerful riffs arrive, and the whole thing ignites. There is a female choral section spread over the chaos, while jarring, heavy growls meet up with a thrashy section that bruises. The tempo manages to get even more violent, and that spills right into “Den tyste åsen” that begins with a colorful explosion. The verses crush, while clean bellowing levels you in the guts, and the guitars cut through the madness. Strings mix in, giving the song a rustic Euro folk feel, and a spirited chorus and a last blast of energy bring the song to a blistering end.  “Som man sår får man skörda” has a savage start, as the music mounts an assault, and Fjällbrandt’s growls start to pummel the senses. The leads blend into woodsy savagery, and then the song halts and enters calm. Knocks echo, haunting you, and then the riffs explode again. Primal shouts make a crater-like impact, while raw fury boils over and the storm fades away. Closer “Osådda skall åkrarna växa (Outro)” has a calm voice calling over reflective music, as the energy lets down, the intensity melts, and the record, like Panphage’s music, fades away.

As Fjällbrandt lays to rest the ashes of Panphage, we always will have “Jord” to return to in order to be nourished time and time again. As for the legacy of this project’s music, it certainly is leaving black metal in a better place than the one it entered 13 years. We pay homage to the awesome band that’s brought us three amazing records, the last of which acted as the perfect epitaph to Fjällbrandt’s creations.

For more on the band, go here: https://panphage.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://nordvis.com/vinyl-c-24/panphage-jord-lp-p-630

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

French maulers Monolithe push doom reaches with devastating, blistering opus ‘Nebula Septem’

Most band make records, collecting a bunch of songs they’re been writing and putting them together on a record. No shit, right? You come here for amazing information like this. No, but look, that’s what most bands do. It works, and we come to expect it. But not all bands are this way, and some look at creating the album as challenging themselves to do something different. Every time out, it’s a new quest.

French doom band Monolithe have yet to approach a single album the conventional way. Every time they’ve created a new opus, they’ve rewired themselves and pushed their abilities into new areas. Their first four records were 50-minute-plus, single-track excursions that refused to break down their music into more manageable bits. Their last couple albums, they committed themselves to three 15-minute tracks to get out their sizable worldview. They’ve returned with their seventh record “Nebula Septem,” an album that takes their insane ambition and pushes it through the roof. Each of these seven songs (well, eight, since the last track is a minute-long outro) are named from A-G, and the songs are played in those keys. Also, since it’s their seventh effort, each song is seven minutes long. Talk about writing yourself into a box, but the band makes it work for the most part, though there are times when songs feel like they end because they must. That’s a small matter on a record on which the band— Sylvain Bégot (guitar), Olivier Defives (bass), Rémi Brochard (guitar/vocals), Benoît Blin (guitar), Sylvain Marchand (keyboards), and Thibault Faucher (drums)—pretty much delivers and keeps Monolithe’s creative juices flowing.

“Anechoic Aberration” begins the record in chugging, frosty doom, as elegant lead guitars guide the way, and gruff growls blast you in the stomach. Things then go on a proggy bend, as the pace switches and ushers in a darker section. Organs bleed while the tempo drubs, and the songs comes to a sudden end. “Burst in the Event Horizon” also simmers in prog waters, as cavernous growls burst, and the pace turns decidedly violent. The growls fry along with the sound spilling all over, complete with keys thickening, and the song bleeding out. “Coil Shaped Volutions” unfurls dark drapery, reminding of Opeth’s death metal days (hey, remember those?), and a slow-driving assault and warm melodies blend into smothering doom. Keys boil up again, while the growls feel scraped from the guts, and emotional guitar work picks up the pace and carries it to its end. “Delta Scuti” begins in heavy trudging, kicking up mud and blood before melodies rush into the scene. Synth stabs arrive in the middle of the song, bringing in an industrial edge, and heaviness returns in full, with the track ending in aching growls and relentless storming.

“Engineering the Rip” has a strange sci-fi influence, as warped synth runs set the mood and bring about a doom crunch. The gurgling growls mix into the melodic tempo before things go cold and get emotional, and the atmosphere thickens and darkens the land below it. “Fathom the Deep” has bizarre keys that gnaw away at you before the power kicks in and begins bruising. The song balances mud and infectious playing before the guitars begin to soar into the stratosphere. A psyche smog meets the song on the other end, as the track slips away. “Gravity Flood” is a stimulating instrumental as keys blip away and cold electronic pulses enter the fray. Alien weirdness approaches as the guitars take flight, while calming, humid playing bows out with the clouds. A final, minute-long track “(Concluding Act)” brings the record to a close with strange rap-like vocals and odd transmissions, bringing the album to a weird, and if we’re being honest here, somewhat off-putting conclusion.

Monolithe’s music has remained intense and challenging over the band’s run, and “Nebula Septem” continues their run of albums that refuse to adhere to the rulebook. While this album has its flaws, it’s mostly a pretty exciting document from a band that always keeps the doom genre exciting. We’ll take some tiny scars as long as we have bands such as this that keep challenging what it means to make—and hear—an album.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://lesacteursdelombre.net/shop/

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

Mammoth Grinder juggle ranks, return with destructive blast of punk-death on ‘Cosmic Crypt’

Photo by Jillian Keats

I’m not one of those people who supports the notion that one hasn’t lived until being punched in the face. That’s just stupid. You should actively avoid getting punched in the face, or anywhere on your body for that matter. I got punched in the face at a festival once, and I couldn’t do anything about it because, you know, I didn’t want to get arrested in another state. Or any state. But it sucked. Don’t let it happen.

Anyway, this new Mammoth Grinder feels like getting punched in the face 11 times. Your teeth will hurt after this even if you didn’t get slugged there. It’s from all the clenching from anticipating blows designed to put you down, all from this reconfigured band that seems not to have your best interest in mind. These punches are OK, though, because they are metaphorical but none the less impactful. We sustain them because it’s nice to have the band back after a five-year wait and because “Cosmic Crypt” is such a barnburner of a record. You have 11 tracks that fly by in a little more than 28 minutes, and each track packs a powder keg of a blast that will leave bruising. While the music won’t feel all that different from what greeted us on their last album “Underworlds” or even something such as “Extinction of Humanity,” the group that made it changed a lot. The only holdover is guitarist/vocalist Chris Ulsh (also of Power Trip), and joining him now are bassist Mark Bronzino (Iron Reagan, ANS) and drummer Ryan Parrish (also of Iron Reagan, and formerly of Darkest Hour, Disinterment, etc.), forming a crushing trio that wastes no time getting a lot of shit done.

“Grimmerstein” gets things going in a hurry as a noise haze builds and is shattered by grinding, punching death metal. The guitars have an awesome groove, as they’re doomy, fiery, and leave the earth scorched. “Servant of the Most High” has mauling fury and gloomy punishment, with cavernous growls and molten riffs liquefying rock. The soloing burns brightly while the track comes to a thrashy, savage end. “Blazing Burst” is aptly titled, with riffs coming at you rapid fire and a speedy burst pacing this monstrous assault. Thickness lays in toward the end, giving the track a sunburst sludginess like Black Tusk. “Divine Loss” strikes and leaves in a hurry, a 1:44 bruiser that smears your blood on your face and lets the blows rain down. “Molotov” ignites immediately, with calculated drums, fire-breathing guitar work, and a stomping pace leaving no guts unstomped. “Superior Firepower” has a different feel to it, with a humid pace setting in before shit is blown apart. Later, the track gets thrashy and menacing, with the growls chewing at your wounds.

“Human Is Obsolete” is muddy and thick, as the band trudges through the muck before finding their speed again. From there, burly riffs cycle into the song, and the track is dragged to a grime-infested, doomy death. “Locust’s Nest” swarms from the start, pounding hard while riffs churn away. This feels like it’s aiming to coat the ground in hot ash, as the back-end dissolves into noise. “Mysticism” is heavy and sticky, with thunderous terror doing its best to leave a crater behind, and the vocals feeling like they’re caving in your head. The intensity bashes skulls over its final minute, and then it’s on to “Rotting Robes” and its sinister, filthy riffs. The place is fluid and dangerous, with the leads bursting into flames, and the end feeling like a heavy steel gate dropping over your chest. The closing title track has guitars rumbling, growls echoing in space, and the leads blaring into madness. The vocals sound like they’re scraping the inside of Ulsh’s throat with a razor before the cut gets in a last blast before disappearing into an echo chamber.

While you won’t undergo any real bodily harm from the band, you’re bound to be bruised mentally once Mammoth Grinder are finished with you on “Cosmic Crypt.” Don’t let that spacey, adventurous title fool you. You won’t feel like you’re floating in the stars or lost in your imagination. You’ll feel like you’ve been take down, pulverized, and left to bleed out. And you’re bound to love every minute of it.

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

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

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