Sons of Alpha Centauri journey into outer space, unleash alien post-rock smoke on ‘Continuum’

Stargazing at night is not something I do all the time. Weirdly, I always make a point to look into the stars every Wednesday evening, a long tradition about which I won’t bore you with details, but it’s always the time I try to reconnect with the universe and continue to wonder what lies beyond our realm. What stories are out there we’ll never know?

“Continuum,” the second record from long-running English instrumental band Sons of Alpha Centauri, made me think a lot more about the universe during the time I’ve spent with these eight songs. This effort, their first full-length since their 2007 self-titled debut, pulls back from the stoner rock vibes much of the other music centers on (they do claims bands such as Yawning Man and Karma to Burn as close allies) as expands further into the beyond. The music they create is fascinating and can open your mind to dreaming and wondering. It’s not always the heaviest thing on earth, which it doesn’t need to be, but the music definitely packs some gritty punches while they’re taking you on a mental and spiritual journey. The band—guitarist Marlon King, bassist Nick Hannon, drummer Stevie B., and noise/texture guru Blake—worked with former ISIS/current Palms member Aaron Harris on these tracks, and I’m not sure if it’s his influence, but the music should find favor among those who choose to dine on the flesh of post-rock and post-metal. Think something between Pelican and Clouds Taste Satanic, and any newcomer will have a pretty good idea what’s in store.

“Into the Abyss” starts the record on a spacey, strange note, as the music slowly opens and begins to spill into the atmosphere, leading to “Jupiter” that gets punchy right off the bat. Synth becomes a murky cloud, while gentle guitars liquify and stream through your consciousness, feeling almost like a Rush song. The track gets jazzy leading to charging riffs, grime, and a blistering end. “Solar Storm” is both buzzing and catchy, as the guitars drive hard, and the synth swallows you in its mysterious pocket. There even are elements of dripping deathrock here, with leads soaring out of that, and the tempo getting faster, barreling to a bruising finish. “Io” is based in fog and swampiness, with moody guitars striking out to the cosmos, and the melodies feeling like early morning, as you stamp the dew and gaze at the outline of the fading moon. The riffs tougher up later, jolting you out of your comfort.

“Surfacing for Air” is built on ’80s synth, guitars trickling like runoff from a drizzle, and everything heading toward the drain. “Interstellar” has intergalactic keys zapping and cold guitars sending a chill, before we head into serenity for a quick breather. New riffs climb out of the ground, with the band hitting the gas pedal before things slow down, and then we head into a hypnotic outro. “Orbiting Jupiter” has pianos dripping and the drama sweeping, feeling like the entrance to the record’s big crescendo, the 10:52 closer “Return Voyage.” The beginning is a reflective pool, with keys again emerging from space, and guitars swimming before getting jagged. The pace chugs ahead for a bit before serenity sets back in, as eerie synth blankets the area, and an infusion of atmosphere brings a charge. Finally, the tempo returns to its more aggressive patterns, with the leads churning, smoke rising, and the song bleeding out in an alien haze.

I could use more time remembering the incredible blackness in which we’re all enveloped, and a record such as “Continuum” might be the right avenue to get there. Sons of Alpha Centauri have packed a lot of music into their run, despite only two full-lengths, and it’s fun to hear them adding new influences and textures to what they do. This is an ideal album for a late evening outside, chair titled toward the stars, while you imagine what you might find if you got to explore the great beyond.

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

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

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Taphos prove destructive fire, demolish senses and stability on ‘Come Ethereal Somberness’

Several weeks ago, we talked about Danish death metal squadron Taphos, who had two of their demo recordings reissued by Blood Harvest in anticipation of a full-length debut record that was promised to follow. It really didn’t take long for that full platter to arrive, and now we have the answer to what the band could do with a complete recording.

It only took an initial visit with “Come Ethereal Somberness” to answer those questions, and the reaction was absolutely bloody positive. Every visit since has gotten even more immersive. The nine-track, nearly 36-minute record is destructive and absolutely pays off the promise they showed on their earlier work. The record is ideally served with no bloat and only razor-sharp playing and riffs that kill. The band— vocalist/bassist H, guitarists M and D, and drummer U—thrives in their death metal setting, proving to be, like Tomb Mold who we discussed yesterday, a filthy beacon in this sub-genre’s often littered terrain, where so many just think being brutal will get you by. Not so. It takes substance and power unlike most to truly make a mark, and Taphos are doing just that with this blood-curdling record that you should make it a point to hear.

“Letum” is a quick instrumental bookend that starts the record, as a monstrous haze builds, and hellish winds collect, pushing into “Impending Peril” that lights things on fire and prevents its extinguishment. The leads burn, while the growls spew acid, and it’s total demolition from there. The guitar work kicks up mud, as the punishment is fully meted out, and everything ends with eerie voices speaking and the guitars scraping away. “Thrive in Upheaval” is savage and relentless, with animalistic growls and fire-breathing guitars. The bass weaves in and out of traffic, the soloing scorches, and everything comes to a vicious end. “Ocular Blackness” has guitars swirling before we head into grinding madness. The growls are gnarly, while the guitars send blinding flashes, all the while the disorienting pace makes it necessary to clutch the wall to break your fall.

“A Manifest of Trepidation” trudges in the blood and muck, leaving sticky boot prints, and then growls pierce the surface as the song is blown to bits. Guitars hang in the air while the tempo changes violently, as speed and ridiculous bends take you for a sickening ride. The bass recoils, the guitars deliver jolts, and everything bleeds into the dirt. “Dysfori” is an instrumental piece that lets you catch your breath but leaves you haunted. Whispers work their way into the mix, while hazy acoustics give off a classic metal feel, heading right into “Insidious Gyres.” There, a molten assault and belched growls turn your stomach, while the guitars twist and tumble, with the soloing going off the rails. The track is hypnotizing and fast, with the bass swinging for your face, the soloing feeling like a thick insect swarm, with everything soaring right into the sun. “Livores” crushes teeth with a grimy, heavy attack, as the leads stretch and leave a burnt stench behind, and the drums flatten rock and bones. The song spends most of its time eroding your flesh, but then things cool off, and the final seconds leave you numb and disoriented. The back end of the instrumental bookend “Obitum” closes the journey with thick noise, squeaking acoustics, dreamy echoes, and the drums boring into your brain.

Now that we know Taphos are the real deal and not just a band with killer demos, we can spread the word about their infamy and violent undertakings that we meet on “Come Ethereal Somberness.” The band still is operating somewhat in a shroud of mystery, and there are plenty more eyes and ears to open as they go forward. But they have the goods, they prove their death meddle, and they’ll be expected to be one of the unquestioned leaders shaping this sound moving into the future.

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

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

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

Toronto’s Tomb Mold create vile death metal, disgusting fury on mucky ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’

Photo by Joey Arredondo

We’re still a good two months away from Migration Fest here in Pittsburgh, but it’s certainly not too early to start getting amped up about some of the bands playing that weekend. There’s not a single band you can afford to miss, and another that’s viciously climbing their way up my most anticipated list is Toronto-based death crew Tomb Mold.

I was pretty excited to see them for starters, but that’s been amplified to hell with the release of their vile second record “Manor of Infinite Forms,” a seven-cut, nearly 41-minute bruiser that takes what they did on their Blood Harvest-issued debut “Primordial Malignity” and makes it even fucking uglier. One huge boost in the band’s power is the addition of two members joining the original duo of drummer/vocalist Max Klebanoff and guitarist Derrick Vela, that being guitarist Payson Power and bassist Steve Musgrave. It gives the group a mightier, heftier assault, one that’s dripped all over this record and practically makes it stick to the ground with all the blood and puss that have congealed in the unforgiving sunlight. This band has to be in the conversation when it comes to who the best newer creators in death metal are, and their destructive ways are apparent and impossible to dodge when taking on this monstrous album.

The title track starts off the record, with morbidity at every corner, and the growls smearing soot everywhere. The riffs are just killer, as Klebanoff’s drumming decimates the earth, and more cavernous growls and sinister punishment tops us off. “Blood Mirror” has tricky playing to start, leaving you dizzy, while gross growls and an infernal fury combine to make life miserable. The leads burn a path, and then we’re back to skullduggery, as the growls gurgle blood, the band hammers away, and the soloing tears a hole in your brain. “Abysswalker” has speedy riffs and deep, lurching growls, while the band finds a new gear in which to sicken you. The guitars rain down gloriously, while the band hits the mud pit, stinging and landing blows, robbing you of your conscious state.

“Final Struggle of Selves” trudges and blisters, with the band thrashing away, and the ugliness being served in different forms. The pace changes suddenly, with the death spell boiling and brewing toxins, while the engorged growls bludgeon and send shit toward the void. Things spiral into hell from there. “Gored Embrace (Confronting Biodegradation)” is a mauler, as it lays waste to whatever’s in front of it, and the growls become more evil and furious all at once. The playing aims to damage the psyche, while you’re deposited into a pit of total devastation, while growls spew forth that are caked inches deep in muck. “Chamber of Sacred Ootheca” is disgusting from its title, and it doesn’t get any more appetizing from there, as the band lets filth well up and the guitars splatter plasma. The guitar work is awesome here, leaving a trail of slime behind it, while the pace suffocates, and the growls bury you face first in larvae. Closer “Two Worlds Become One” starts acoustically, which isn’t expected, but then the scab is ripped away, and the growls start to chew muscle. The drums send chaos, and the band finds a slow-driving pace to spread their misery. The song suffocates later, with the band chugging, a doomy haze settling over, and the band setting everything it created on fire.

Tomb Mold already had a stellar reputation before heading into their 20 Buck Spin debut “Manor of Infinite Forms,” and this record only magnifies their strengths and hardens their vicious assault. If you consider yourself any type of connoisseur when it comes to death metal, a trip with Tomb Mold is an absolute must. This is a band that already is shedding ample amounts of blood, and really, they’re just getting started.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/tombmold

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: World’s demise darkly colors Abstracter’s vile, hellbound ‘Cinerous Incarnate’

There are parts of the Earth that are a sooty, lava-spilled mess, where it looks like things are moments away from coming to an end, and people are in harm’s way. That’s just parts of Hawaii right now. But imagine if that chaos spread over the entire world, choking us out and threatening life as we know it.

I would be a broken record if I went on about the state of the world and how things are teetering on total destruction, as it’s a common theme. But while only a small section of the planet is drowning under molten rock, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where everything in existence is ablaze. Oakland-based doom/death crushers Abstracter imagine that final remnants of life, with final survivors clinging to hell, on their devastating third record “Cinerous Incarnate.” Not only does the band tell a blazing tale on this six-track, 43-minute record, but they also deliver suffocating punishment with their noise-infected, bloody sound. This is their first record since 2015’s “Wound Empire,” and it comes after a tumultuous period here in the United States and in the rest of the world when it feels like shit is about to be swallowed by Kilauea and driven into the cavernous hell from where this all came. It’s a painful, overwhelmingly devastating record from these guys—vocalist Mattia Alagna (Atrament), guitarist Robin Kahn, bassist James Meyer (Atrament, Vale), and drummer Adam Gambel—have crafted, and it’ll feel like you’re locked in for the fight of your life, one you cannot win. Also, Sutex Hexen sound master Kevin Gan Yuen adds noise elements all over the record, as well as with the apocalyptic artwork)

“Nether” is the 9:46 opener that has a cloud of noise building and bludgeoning riffs cutting through that. Alagna’s growls pummel, while the riffs get sludgy and ugly, and the pace feels like it’s kicking up mud. Snarly growls and a sweltering atmosphere carry the torch, while the oppressive heat rises before the song eases back to let eerie darkness drip into scene. From there, the intensity is ramped back up, while the band lands some added blows, and a noise sizzle eats everything away. “Cinerous” in one of a couple of noise-laced ambient tracks offered up by Only Now, and this piece leads toward “Asher Reign” that starts with blistering fury and terrifying hisses. Slow-driving devastation takes its time grinding your mouth in the dirt, while the track feels like it lurches in hell, with the drums coming alive and drawing blood, and a thick haze settling over everything. Massive feedback shreds the senses, while Alagna’s growls mar any sense of calm, the band begins to batter your bones again, and they apply a boot to your throat as the song bleeds away.

“Wings of Annihilation” has a reflective start, throwing you a weird curveball, before Alagna’s growls begin to bubble, and the track unfolds its heavy wings in calculated manner. The guitars have a dark swagger to them, reeking of sinister intent, while the growls send fire and cinders, and the temperature rises dangerously. From there, the gas pedal is rammed through the floor, with the drums pounding away, the band speeding up dangerously, and the track coming to a bloody end. “Incarnate” is the second ambient track, and it feels like it emanates from an alien soundscape, with its strange feel that can’t be a product of this world. The record culminates with “Devouring Night” that sends heavy chills down your spine to start before the hellish storm is whipped into a frenzy. Throaty growls unleash havoc, while the pace keeps gaining ground and chewing away, and later the song starts a heavy slither. The band takes its time delivering shots, almost like they’re lulling you to sleep, but before you know it, the lava erupts again. The band sends the song into a torturous pace, squeezing away and promising destruction before it’s devoured by a death cloud of sound.

Abstracter’s vision of the end is terrifying and suffocating, and the journey they take you on with “Cinerous Incarnate” will make it feel like your flesh is scorched, falling off your body. This is a trip into madness, yet it’s a state that could become reality before we know it. One day the world will expire and burst into flames, and this record is the soundtrack to that very event.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/shop-webstore/

Or here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/abstracter-cinereous-incarnate

Or here: http://i-voidhanger.com/shop/

Or here: http://tartarusrecords.tictail.com/

Or here: http://www.daymarerecordings.com/top.htm

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

And here: http://sentientruin.com/

And here: http://i-voidhanger.com/

And here: http://tartarusrecords.com/

And here: http://www.daymarerecordings.com/

Canadian black metal crushers Wilt examine frailty, Apocalypse on sobering second effort ‘Ruin’

We make so many references to Apocalypse on this site, it almost feels like it has become a creative crutch. With the current political climate especially here in the U.S. but also around the world, it feels like it could be any minute before we’re counting our days until the end of time.

A lot of this has to do with the music we cover and the absolute darkness that permeates so much of it. That same thing can be said for Canadian black metal band Wilt and their tremendous second record “Ruin.” The album is a concept piece about the frailty of mankind and is inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel The Road about a father and son trying to make their way and survive after a global Armageddon-style event. At the same time, the band also is reflecting on the loss of a close friend during the recording process, and the music and words are racked with pain, loss, anxiety, and guilt. It’s not a smooth, easy listen as a result, and if some of this hits home for you like it did for me, you also might find yourself examining your mental makeup and some of the things that have caused life-long scars. The band—vocalist Jordan Dorge, guitarists Brett Goodchild and Jay Edwards, bassist Craig Peeples, and drummer Myke Lewis—have conjured something more immersive and much darker than what they revealed on their impressive 2015 debut “Moving Monoliths,” and this collection will push your concept of what it means to be a human being.

“Into the Unknown” starts the journey as the main character heads off into mystery, with no idea what lies ahead. The track starts slowly, with melody slowly bleeding in, and as creaked growls join the mix, the melody bursts. Wrenching howls and sweeping playing catches you up in the pit of emotion, while the final moments are dark, bleak, and a hint of what lies ahead. “We Read the World Wrong” is tumultuous from the start, pounding down with anger and scorn, with Dorge crying, “You’ll see what could have been, what should have been!” The track is both melodic and abrasive as hell, with gazey riffs raining down and capturing your senses, and everything flooding and rushing toward you without mercy. “Strings of a Lingering Heart” has drums pummeling, as Dorge unleashes hell, screaming, “I wish I could escape this!” Guitars continue to add pressure but also loop colors into the shadows, adding new hues to the deep sadness. “All is lost,” Dorge declares, as the sound pounds its way into the ground.

“Summons Has Come” is the longest track at 10:12, and it unleashes a gazey surge at the start, which eventually lets a deluge of guitars cascade and saturate the ground. The track churns and creates smoke, with the guitars smashing holes and letting in rays of light. Later, the song speeds up dangerously, with Dorge basically shredding his throat, howling, “I leave this world behind,” amid a storm of madness. “Veil of Gold” is one of the gnarliest songs here, and the pain and self-loathing is evident. The track feels doomy and heavy, with Dorge declaring, “I am the forgotten.” There’s a slower pace for a while, as the tumult builds, and Dorge unleashes one of his most telling lines of the story when he lashes, “I am a waste of flesh, bury me!” The track continues to descend into darkness from there, as the track bleeds away scornfully. Finale “Requiem” is a shorter, instrumental curtain closer, with solemn guitars buzzing, melody flowing, and the guitars developing atmosphere, with the track dissolving and disappearing.

Wilt have created a devastating, sobering piece with “Ruin,” as this six-track, 44-minute album brings heaviness both in the music and in the painful story it tells. Even if the world isn’t ending, there are people who face personal, seemingly life-ending crises every day, a there is a lot for them to cull from this record. We are fragile, vulnerable, and sometimes it takes a painful tribulation to remind us.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://vendettarecords.bigcartel.com/

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

Ritual Necromancy end silence, bring hellish punishment, sooty death with ‘Disinterred Horror’

I just got done reading a bunch of tweets from people who apparently live in an alternate version of the world where the events of the past two years, especially politically, never happened, and where everything is just fine. It makes me want to run my face into an industrial-sized blender but also just revel in the dreamworld these people are seeing.

This is why I, and the rest of the normal world, need death metal. Sometimes it’s the only thing that makes any sense. Right now, the band bringing that sense of violent normalcy is Ritual Necromancy, a band that likely never had their music described in that manner. Sorry about that. Part of the reason their music is what’s helping me cope is that they’re next up on the review schedule, and I’ve been listening to a ton of their hellish second record “Disinterred Horror.” The other is their music always hits that spot that desires ugly, blood-curdling madness that these guys dish out in buffet-sized portions. We haven’t gotten a full-length from the band since 2011’s “Oath of the Abyss,” so a complete beating from this group—bassist/vocalist JF, guitarists AW and JR, and drummer KS—is long overdue. Here, we get five monstrous tracks packed into an economically served 37:37 that reek of terror and pure death metal punishment. It’s heavy, it’s unforgiving, and it’s even a little bit weird at times, which makes this thing a blast to take on in full.

“To Raise the Writhing Shadows” is our beefy 7:07 opener, and it starts with doom bells chiming and a garbled backward message instilling a sense of evil. Lunching growls erupt, while the slow-paced death assault is on, pouring blood into the machine and bringing it to a grinding halt. Mucky violence and massive punishment unite, while the senses are just obliterated. The pace then speeds up, as the growls envelop, and the track comes to a smothering end. “Command the Sigil” is fast and gross right away, while the mucky growls revel in filth, and the leads catch fire and scorch the flesh. Utter chaos arrives, sending everything into a frenzy, while the final moments are dizzying and bruising.

“Discarnate Machination” has guitars marring, while the growls tears holes in the flesh. The pace trudges and brings deliberate heaviness, while the drumming decimates, and the growls are cavernous and haunting. The sinewy fury later spills into doom-heavy fire, killing everything in its path. “Cymbellum Eosphorous” runs 11 minutes and fades in like a slowly developing nightmare. The guitars swirls and smear, while hellish vocals lead into a sequence that utterly jackhammers. Pained moans and sweltering playing unite, with the guitar work turns jagged and the pace hulking. The mud just gets thicker from there, crushing to the very end. The title track ends the record with thrashy fury, the growls boiling, and the riffs swaggering and chewing. A doomy haze drops and puts you in a fog, while the track erupts again and tears away at the flesh. The guitars catch fire again and even glimmer for a stretch, while the final minutes cut you down, grind your face in the dirt, and deliver a final death blow.

Ritual Necromancy’s music might not be the cure to everyone’s day-to-day cataclysmic frustrations, but fuck if “Disinterred Horror” didn’t come along at the precise right time for me. This record is monstrous and will destroy your world if you’re not ready for its violence. Or, it’ll make all the dumb shits in the world seem like the harmless joke they are as these guys burn out the wiring in your own brain.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Ritual-Necromancy-109890659103818/

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

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

World Untouched By Mankind reveal dungeon synth trip on ‘The Forests Are Old With Grief’

You’re swimming in a murk, unaware of your surroundings but not panicked or frightened. Instead, you’re calm and curious, as you make your way through inky waters and later into the mouth of a forest. This is an adventure, and there may be danger. But you keep on. You have to know what’s next.

That’s the feeling I get when immersing myself in “The Forests Are Old With Grief,” the first recording from World Untouched By Mankind, the ambient dungeon synth project helmed by sole member Night, also of equally strange black metal band Procer Veneficus. The music bleeds into your consciousness while absorbing these five tracks that actually were recorded a decade ago but only now were right to release into the world after they were remastered. Some of the time, these songs also feel like the dew-soaked bed of grass in which you awake after this trip you take, which can be physical or mental. Coming back to your proper surroundings may feel strange as you wonder where you’re been and how the experience will shape you going forward.

The title track starts the journey with eerie, strange synth, as sounds bubble to the surface, and we enter into a foggy fantasy world. “Beneath the Great Oak” is the longest cut at 9:05, and instantly things work their way even deeper into the mist, as melodies swirl and enrapture, and a weird coldness spreads over your body like the amalgamation of spirits. The track turns both woodsy and cosmic, feeling like a soundtrack to a dusty old B sci-fi or horror film, as its grip slowly releases you.

“The Earth Shall Be My Grave” has deep, chiming keys starting off, with laser lines cutting through, and the tempo plodding gently and spookily. The synth has an orchestral feel as it builds, with keys plinking like freezing rain, and the song fading out into mystery. “Cold Caverns of Time” has psyche melodies boiling, as organs swell in a pastoral manner, sending chills down your spine. You head will be floating in a medicine dream, while the pace swelters, and the thing spills into a haunting grave. Closer “Those Who Watched As the World Fell Silent” has passages that feel like they’ve stretched through the entire record and only revealed themselves now. A space haze arrives, as we swirl through a dreams scape, and sounds that remind of an airplane engine add a droning paralysis. The back end of the song feels like it plods through time, with the strangeness building and quietly fading away.

World Untouched By Mankind is a project that isn’t going to move everyone, but those who connect with “The Forests Are Old With Grief” are likely to digest the adventure we mentioned in the opening. You don’t have to travel in your mind to appreciate what’s going on here, but it sure enhances the record. Not sure what future this project has, if any, but this record is here right now to add a layer of experiential wonder unavailable on any body of music elsewhere in the world.

For more on the band and to buy the album, go here: https://pacificthrenodies.bandcamp.com/album/the-forests-are-old-with-grief

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