Bell Witch spill darkness over gargantuan 83-minute track on devastating epic ‘Mirror Reaper’

Photo by David Choe

Cavernous sadness, depression, and suffering are ideas that cannot be shoved to the side. One can’t just “feel better” or “smile.” In fact, anyone who ever suggests those cures to someone in suffering should receive, automatically, a punch in whatever area they feel is physically their most sensitive. It might not even things out, but it might help alleviate some frustration.

Seattle-based doom duo Bell Witch have been a catalyst for examining those feelings during their entire run together. Taking on their music can be akin to being torn apart psychologically, as you are reduced to your rawest level and forced to build back up again. I’ve ensconced myself in their music during particularly rough times, and I’ve always found a mechanism for identifying and trying to work through darkness. On their epic third record “Mirror Reaper,” the band compiles all that woe and agony into a single 83-minute track. It is, obviously, a challenger of a record to tackle at once, but that’s how you must consume this. They also deviate further into areas other than sadness and personal torment. The band—bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond and drummer/vocalist Jesse Schreibman—tackle the philosophy “as above, so below,” expounding on the seven Hermetic principles (mentalism, correspondence, vibration, polarity, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender) that speaks to the duality of life and the alignment of experiences on all planes of existence. Along with them, guest vocalist Erik Moogridge (also of the excellent Aerial Ruin) gets a larger presence here, and hanging over all is the memory of former drummer Adrian Guerra, who passed away last year and whose voice still is heard here about halfway through the song with vocals and words that were preserved from the past. It’s a haunting and beautiful moment.

The track starts quietly, delicately, almost as if it’s letting itself bloom slowly. Somber melodies pour out, while growls lurch forward at about seven minutes in, letting the gravelly bottom leave its impression on your skin. The music sounds like a gray downpour, kind of like the one outside my window right now, as cleaner singing crawls in, and things head toward serene waters about 20-minute into the piece. Cloudy, shadowy singing emerges, as a strange fog builds, and growls return to bring a gruff edge to the song. Vicious screams splatter, while the melodies spiral and cause hypnosis. The playing laps and tangles, stretching through another section of storming, as the main melody keeps swimming beneath, acting as the track’s spinal column. Growls and ghostly singing mix, as Guerra’s contribution sends chills, as he calls, “Reigned, weaved in the needle, the cycle turns around, air, burnt to ashen mountains.”

Organs spill in, leaving a funereal feel, as the voices float, and about 67 minutes in, sounds pulsate, and the song opens its blackened arms. The ambiance is ghostly, which is impossible to shake, while the heaviness returns like a bomb. Chant-filled singing spreads like a mist, as sounds ring out and cause your ears to screech. The pace continues to pound away, pushing you from one side to the other, and at 77 minutes, it sounds like the piece is fading away. Yet, out of that rises clean notes, keys that swim in the ether, and cold singing that causes your flesh to chill. The music keeps rolling over itself, creating a tornadic effect, while that and the haunting singing continue until everything is swallowed into the void.

“Mirror Reaper” is the biggest, most ambitious document of Bell Witch’s run, and there are so many emotions and philosophical ideals packed inside that you must return for multiple listens. As daunting as an 83-minute song is on the surface, the music captures you and pulls you underneath its waves to confront the souls buried beneath. The band shed a lot of blood and poured out their guts to make this record, and it’s one that, once you’ve absorbed it, you won’t soon forget.

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

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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PICK OF THE WEEK: Spectral Voice smother death with space doom on crushing ‘Eroded Corridors…’

Records and bands that could change the landscape of metal take a little bit of time. Great albums and bands are not simply born overnight, and it often takes time on the road or in rehearsal getting all the pieces just right, all the infrastructure exactly where it needs to be.

You’ve likely heard that Colorado death metal dreamers Spectral Voice are a force with which to be reckoned. They’re accumulated a very justifiable reputation based on a slew of demo recordings and splits, not to mention their face-scorching live show, and now they’re finally registering their debut full-length effort “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing.” It has taken half a decade for the band to deliver this five-track, 44-minute opus that pays off every bit of pre-hype the band has received. Simply, this is one of 2017’s most inventive and immersive death metal records, one that isn’t concerned with utter brutality only. Yeah, it’s heavy as fuck, but it’s also a slowly simmering, cosmic display, one showered with doom’s blood and often drubs you until you have no choice but to submit. The band—drummer/vocalist E. Wendler, guitarists P. Riedl and M. Kolontyrsky, and bassist J. Barrett—bring experience from forces such as Blood Incantation (their ranks make up three quarters of this band), Abyssal Dimensions, and Stillborn Fawn, but what they do here stands far and away from those projects. This is a record that will turn your blood to ice water and make you feel like you’ve been haunted by some extraterrestrial force.

“Thresholds Beyond” is a 7:20 scorcher as dizzying guitars and scorches growls barrel out. The pace punishes while the vocals lurch deep below the filth, but then things go chillingly eerie. Clean guitars slide behind that, and then the tempo hits a calculating drubbing. The playing bruises and mashes, with the band giving this a monstrous end before the song slips into noise. “Visions of Psychic Dismemberment” is the longest track, stretching over nearly 14 minutes. The song starts in moody darkness before the punishment arrives. Nasty growls and muscular guitars intertwine as the things erupt. The drums do maximum damage, as a wild cry tears out of Wendler’s mouth, and we’re on to psychedelic madness. The track seems to be drawing to a close, but it’s a trick. The song restarts and goes down a terrifying path, opening more death wounds, and then they concentrate more on trampling. Screams scrape, chants rise like fog, and the song disappears into pulsating hell.

“Lurking Gloom” is a pace-changing instrumental where the riffs drizzle and chill the skin, clean guitars spill, and then things begin to soar and cut. We enter demolition at this point, as trippy melodies sink their teeth, and strange playing melts away. “Terminal Exhalation” runs 8:24 and begins with thick, somber riffs. Liquidy doom guitars bring heavy condensation before the band begins crushing you in their gears. The growls grind mercilessly while we head into a mesmerizing section that plays games with your mind. The guitars then bring on heavier showers that feel like a mid-winter freezing rain, and all that drains away into a psyche vortex. Closer “Dissolution” goes 9:38, and it brings the hammers early, as the band mauls and thrashes away. The riffs chug and swallow whole everything in its path, and then we head into violent hyperdrive. Wild screams wash through the night, while the tempo gets dangerous and fearsome before everything ends in a thick, ghoulish haze.

Spectral Voice’s debut offering may have taken some time to arrive, but it’s well worth it. Their approach to death metal differs from what most other bands have been doing (including their other projects), and this is a smothering, mesmerizing display that will leave your room spinning. This infectious, alien-like violence is impossible to shake and could have you visiting this record until you no longer have a grasp of your own reality.

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

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

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

Dawn Ray’d create anti-fascist black metal, defend their own with ‘The Unlawful Assembly’

I’ve seen a few people the past few weeks complain about music writers injecting personal politics into their work. That’s their right to be put off by that. Reality tells us something different. These are bad times. People are being sickened. The government lies and crimes have climbed to an unprecedented level, and we even are seeing people make excuses for those who hope to hold others down. If not now, then when?

If politics in metal isn’t your thing, then perhaps steer clear of Northern England black metal band Dawn Ray’d. They wear their views all over themselves. They’re in their DNA, every fiber of their music, and rocketing from their mouths. They call their music anthems for the upcoming class war. Visit their social media outlets, and you find a band—defiantly and honorably—lashing out against the disgusting silliness that is NSBM and the scourge that is fascism. Their amazing debut full-length “The Unlawful Assembly” is made up on 10 tracks of passionate, folk-infused black metal chaos that refuses to take a seat while facing oppression of others and vile viewpoints that were relegated to dark corners of society before people in power enabled them. This is music we need right now, especially in a black metal world where there are artists and fans who take the extreme opposite viewpoint. The band—vocalist/violinist Simon B, guitarist Fabian D., and drummer Matthew B—created a document that stands in the faces of forces that sicken and blacken the good elements of mankind and stages a revolution that would eradicate the true evil forces that mar this world. The record is out now in the U.S via Halo of Flies and the UK from Feast of Tentacles, but the band recently signed with Prosthetic, who will put out the CD version a little later this year.

Opener “Fire Sermon” swelters in string drone before a gruff bark signals fiery times are here. The band pummels forward, with violins cutting into the chaos to add a sorrowful texture before the storming erupts again. The tempo pulls back and forth from calm to blazing, with the final moments hammered home and bleeding into “The Abyssal Plane.” Violins lead the melody surge before the band opens up properly and lets the assault move forward. The melodies and vocals provide ample thunder, while the strings add a Celtic edge that seeps into a sound vortex and right into the mouth of “Future Perfect Conditional” that begins clean, as if the morning dawns after a violent night. Violin scrapes across before the band starts to pummel. The wild shrieks match the furious pace ideally, and later growls gurgle as if choking back bile. “You heard the call and you did not answer,” Simon B howls, “You heard the cry for help, and you turned away!” That frustration and anger ramps up as the song bleeds over and finally comes to a crushing end. “Emptiness Beneath” sits in a sound bank before a melodic gallop is unleashed, and razor-sharp riffs lead the way. “Let the fires burn as a signal that our community won’t fail to protect them again!” Simon B wails, a testament that actions against them will be met with blood. “A Litany to Cowards” is a folk-driven end to the first half of the record, as acoustic guitars, strings, and Simon B’s clean voice power this one, as he accuses, “You chose the weakest to shoulder all the blame.”

The second portion kicks off with “A Ceaseless Arbitrary Choice” that floats before it detonates. The vocals tear at flesh, while the riffs flood the scene, and strings come in on the back end for atmosphere. Here is another case of the tempo pulling back and then hammering the ground again, as deathier growls are emitted, and the lighting blinds before fading. “Held in a Lunar Synthesis” lets black metal gush in, as the verses emit speed and chaos, and a melodic, barbaric assault pushes the song ahead before it steers into a noise halo and somber strings. “Strike Again the Hammer Sings” has a string-rich burst at the start before the track rains down heavily and causes your head to feel the pressure. A sequence of calm arrives to let in some cool breeze, but then it gets shredded again. The vocals are a cascading collection of screams, while the song comes to a clobbering end. “Island of Cannibal Horses” has a clean start, letting the intensity slowly build, and then the walls are blown apart. Passionate cries tear from Simon B’s mouth, as he calls, “The streets are ours now, and we have every right to uproot them,” while the band delivers a deluge of pounding that’s impossible to avoid. The madness eventually is swallowed by a barrage of acoustics that stretch out to the end. Closer “A Thought Ablaze” is much like the closer of the first half, a folk-infused song that has raw singing, rustic guitars, and violins spreading. The words are pointed as always, as Simon B vows, “My heart has been tormented, but broken it will never be,” a rebellious statement that no matter how hard the forces above them try to destroy their will, they never will surrender their mission.

Dawn Ray’d already impressed with their great first EP “A Thorn, A Blight,” but this first proper full-length “The Unlawful Assembly” expands upon their vision and mission even more. That the band is an incredible black metal force with moving songs obviously is important. But the fact they carry a message that lashes back against the government, the upper crust that would just as soon keep its boot on the throat of the unfortunate, and nationalist scum makes this record more impactful and one of the most important metal records of 2017.

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

To buy the album (US), go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo105-dawn-rayd-the-unlawful-assembly-lp/

Or here (UK): http://feastoftentacles.bigcartel.com/

Or here (coming soon): https://store.prostheticrecords.com/

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

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

And here: https://prostheticrecords.com/

Gloam renew horrific campaign of black metal chaos with fiery crusher ‘Death Is the Beginning’

Chaos isn’t born overnight. It’s something that festers over time, gathers up in your bloodstream like a sludge, and only can be exorcised when the body and mind are ready. Therefore, when that is applied to the generation of true black metal, patience must be harnessed in order to get material that is worthy of getting inside you and making you one with the blackness.

It’s been a couple years since Gloam massacred people savvy to the underground with their debut opus “Hex of Nine Heads.” Gilead Media was wise to reintroduce that album late last year to those who missed out the first time, and that seemed to pique a lot of interest among those who desire genuine black metal rife with that aforementioned chaos. Now, the band has returned with “Death Is the Beginning,” a three-track, nearly 20-minute EP that’s easily digestible from a serving standpoint but should shake the intestines of anyone who gets too close without understanding what they’re facing. For those new to the band, this is a fitting introduction, one that coincided with the band setting out on a new tour a month back, and a document that should light new fires. The band—guitarist/vocalist Colby Metzger, guitarist Shane Terry, bassist Dayan Weller, and drummer Fynn Jones—expands on what they presented on “Hex” and delves even further into the hellish blackness on this EP that should hint at what’s coming next.

“Anguish” starts the record, and it’s an intro piece, an instrumental that starts clean before guitars kick in, the track slowly unravels, and serenity is disrupted by jagged teeth and drums kicking in your mouth. “…Of a Carrion Kind” launches with a melodic swath of black metal with riffs spilling out of gaping holes, and hellish growls pelting away at your skin. A vicious path is cut, as the vocals crush, the storming gets heavy and unforgiving, and while the song slows some, it unloads heaviness that compresses chests. The title cut finishes off the album cleanly before eeriness sets in, and suddenly, you’re feeling a heavy dose of anxiety. Growls sicken as the pace boils with impenetrable pain. Guitars then gush blood and guts, as the band keeps applying pressure with the thunderstorm continuing. The guitars spiral into a tornado, leaving your belly queasy and the room spinning out of control. The intensity keeps raining down daggers until the song ends all of a sudden, robbing you of your breath.

Gloam’s black metal is hearty and immersive, and “Death Is the Beginning” seems to indicate that this really is just scratching the surface of what this band can do. These three cuts are filling and fiery, a true mark of a band that’s really gotten their shit into high gear. This is a massive, punishing set, and short as it is, it does enough to bloody your poor little nose.

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

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

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

Vassafor’s demonic darkness causes chaos, psychological violence on ugly ‘Malediction’

Suffering at the hands of demons—like, real demonic figures, not personal woes that drag down your life—can’t be something that’s over fast. I doubt it’s a quick off with your head and then it’s over. You’re probably in for a long, drawn-out experience during which you’re begging and pleading for the mercy of death so that you’re suffering can end. Come to think of it, personal demons are that way, too…

That’s a similar way that New Zealand cultists Vassafor approach their infernal servings of black and death metal. They’ve been making hellish sounds for a couple decades now, despite a lengthy lapse between active periods, and they’re back with their long-awaited second record “Malediction” that salts all your gaping, bleeding wounds. Over the course of five tracks and 50 minutes, the band—guitarist/vocalist/bassist VK (also of Temple Nightside, Terror Oath, etc.) and drummer BP (Malevolence)—spreads its torturous, Satanic-rich ideals to terrify and inhabit places in your mind not ready for such invasion. These songs drag face and chest across rocks and other rugged terrain, leaving trails of drying blood and bone behind as a testament of their ways. The band refers to their mass of chaos as Southern Vassaforian Hell, and when you tackle these songs, you’ll know exactly what they mean. You’ll feel like you’re on an excursion to total damnation. Also, both Iron Bonehead (vinyl/cassette) and Debemur Morti (CD) are handling this record, so depending on your format preference, you’ll want to know where to go. Both covers are featured below.

LP cover

“Devourer of a Thousand Worlds” is a massive starting point, a 16:26-long crusher that stands as the longest song on the album. Out of terrible noise come cavernous screams from VK and doom-infested bleeding that seeps into the ground. From there, a black metal burial destroys, as the song ignites and begins landing heavy punches. The sound is charred and marred, as creaky vocals sound emitted from hell below, and the storming increases into an industrial-style assault. Riffs return and thicken the rampage, while guitars splatter, and the back end has a thrashy atmosphere. “Emergence (of an Unconquerable One)” is full of demolition and echo-rich playing, as the guitar work rises and slays, and the band heads into a vicious gallop. Thick basslines arrive and act as a backbone, while doom riffs arrive and blacken everything. The tempo gets savage later, with guitars looping and causing hypnotic pain, and the final moments burning off like a sacrifice.

CD cover

“Elegy of the Accurser” has powerful riffs and a pace that stomps everything in its path. Classic-style black metal pours from their veins, while whispery growls sit beneath the madness, and the playing has an old-school quality to it. Strong soloing explodes from the pits, while churning growls peel paint, and the song comes to a vicious finish. “Black Winds Victoryant” is the second-longest cut, clocking in at 14:17 and beginning like a black-and-white opening to a classic horror film. From there, the music unravels, as guitars stretch and twist, grinding away and simmering in dark doom pools. Demonic vocals lurch while the music is whipped into a frenzy that seems impossible to overcome. The tempo slows to a mashing blast before the lid is ripped off again. Gurgling growling mix with massive roars, while the band compounds all of that with a war-torn storm. Closer “Illumination of the Sinister” stretches a healthy 10:44 and initially lets loose weird noises and haunting chants that crawl up your spine. Again, the band delves in doom, while the guitars catch fire, and a crazed path is carved. The band stomps hard but also infuses the agony with melody, which is both infectious and disarming. The monstrous playing only floods from there, ripping out serenity before fading into thunder.

Vassafor impress both with their bloody convictions in their music and the way they create a vortex of fear in their art. “Malediction” won’t light the fires of all death and black metal listeners, because their approach can be an at-arms-length experience due to the intensity and nature of their music. But make no doubt, this is raw, barbaric power that can get in your cells and transform you from within.

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

To buy the album (vinyl/cassette), go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/

Or here (vinyl): http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

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

And here: http://www.debemur-morti.com

PICK OF THE WEEK: Spirit Adrift expand lineup, crushing doom sound on ‘Curse of Conception’

Photo by Alvino Salcedo

If you’re a regular apostle of metal—and you’re not reading this site if you’re not—we’re at an amazing time when it comes to new artists. The past half-decade or so have brought us a spoil of riches, ranging across many metallic sub-genres, and the result has been a stress on the wallet but a serious kick in the ass when it comes to finding music that sounds good.

One band we’ve been particularly excited about is Spirit Adrift, whose 2016 album “Chained to Oblivion” was our No. 3 record of the year. And that album remains in heavy rotation around here, along with recent releases by other awesome newer acts such as Blood Incantation and Khemmis. But here we are, a year later, and the band already has returned with record 2, “Curse of Conception,” out on 20 Buck Spin. We can say “band” now, because the group has expanded beyond original creator/guitarist/vocalist Nate Garrett (also of Gatecreeper) and added a full lineup including guitarist Jeff Owens, bassist Chase Mason, and drummer Marcus Bryant. This eight-track, nearly 47-minute album also is a massive step ahead for the band, as the sound expands past doom and into classic heavy metal glory, and Garrett’s singing gets even stronger and more varied. This is a group maturing before our eyes and ears, and this is one of the finest metal collections of the entire year.

“Earthbound” starts us off, as acoustics sweep across the scene, and then riffs kick open and let the power bleed. Garrett’s singing soars above the verses, which are filled with energy, and over the chorus when he calls, “We’re bound to the earth, enslaved by life,” you get the pain of existence’s relentless grip on us. As the song reaches its final part, the soloing lights and sets blazes, as the refrain is revisited before the curtain drops. The title track has riffs tangling, as Garrett takes on an Ozzy-style vibe to his singing, which is only fitting. “You shape reality so you can feel sane,” Garrett cuts, as the stresses and horrors of everyday life again come to roost. The chorus is powerful and infectious, sticking in your mind, and later, the vibe chills a bit and adds new texture. The guitars shake with life, as the leads soar and swelter, giving the song an elegant and punishing end. “To Fly on Broken Wings” starts quietly before glorious guitar work unfurls royally. The verses chug and, as we’ve come to expect, the chorus has major impact. Later when the pace shifts, only to ramp up the intensity again, Garrett calls, “I was born with a fire and yearn to fly higher,” putting a blood-jolting finish on this killer track. “Starless Age (Enshrined)” begins like a doom ballad, with guitars dripping blood and exposing vulnerabilities. “Suffocating in this emptiness, enshrined beyond the stars,” Garrett wails, as the track starts to reveal its thorns. The band comes to life, as the tempo gallops hard, and Garrett sings, “It crashes in a wave, this planet is a grave,” with the guitars bringing the song to a fiery finish.

“Graveside Invocation” thrashes heavily, recalling heyday Metallica. “Dismal verses disobeyed, betrayal in eternity!” Garrett wails before launching into a tasty, classic-style chorus that deserves roared back. After the guitars wage war, we head into grimy terrain, as guitars slink, the pace slithers through tar, and the track heads out into strange space blips. “Spectral Savior” pours doom thick as cement, as riffs bash away, and the band even shows a little swagger in their playing. “You spoke to me of death when we were dreaming,” Garrett wails, before the song gets chilly and delves into immersive eeriness. Strange keys release dreamlike emissions, as Garrett repeatedly calls out, “Who will save me?” with equal parts sadness and conviction before the song bleeds away. “Wakien” is an instrumental piece that’s rustic at the front end, with mandolins fading in and the band taking a folkish path. Acoustics pave the way for the guitars to muscle up and thicken, with the whole thing traveling through a psychedelic lens to the other side. Closer “Onward, Inward” is a battering ram once it gets started, as the band delivers their most devastating assault yet. Filthy trudging leaves boot prints on flesh, while Garrett unleashes some grittier singing that reminds of James Hetfield at his barking finest. The track eventually finds a hint of tranquility, as keys plink, a deep haze covers the land, and sunburst vocals harmonies add a late-evening vibe to this song that fades with the final remnants of daylight.

Spirit Adrift have become one of the most vital young bands in metal in a very short time, and “Curse of Conception” is a powerful document that is emotionally rich and will obliterate your senses. Every check box you can tick when it comes to a great album is marked, and this is one you won’t help but visit repeatedly. This project has come very far in not very much time, and as good as their work is here, their best days likely are still ahead of them.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/20bs-vinyl

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

Dreadnought creatively blend drama with channeled chaos on stirring ‘A Wake in Sacred Waves’

The way metal is presented has been growing for years, often to the moans and wails of those who would see it remain static. But like any form of art that has any hope of surviving, there must be evolution, new ideas, and means of expressions we haven’t seen before. If we don’t, it dies.

That’s why we all should be thankful for bands such as Colorado’s Dreadnought. Their approach to metal is difficult to explain and likely won’t be embraced by meat-headed war bros who still haven’t figured out how to operate within society (or outside of their parents’ basements). Their music has elements of Wolves in the Throne Room and FALSE, but also Queen, Kate Bush, and even indie rock band Eisley (who I’ve listened to a lot the last decade). They have sharp metallic elements, but they also add plenty of theatrics and progressive waves that could lure a Yes fan. Here on their third record “A Wake in Sacred Waves,” the band members turn their heads toward another earthly element, this time water, on this four-track collection, as they imagine the life cycle of a sea monster that rises to dominant status only to fade as life disappears forever. Here, you have sonic adventures and not just songs. The band—Kelly Schilling (clean and harsh vocals, guitar, flute), Lauren Vieira (keys, clean vocals), Jordan Clancy (drums, saxophone), and Kevin Handlon (bass, mandolin, lyrics)—pours so many different sounds and curves into these songs, that taking just one listen won’t allow you to absorb it all. Every visit unravels new layers, letting you experience this in full.

“Vacant Sea” begins the tale, and it’s a 17:22 epic that is the longest song on the record. We begin a capella, as Schilling opens the story, and then each member joins gradually, bringing a giant epicness. Pianos drip before the song tears open, and the first demonic growls are unleashed. Behind that savagery is a prog weirdness that is infectious, and from there, the pace rises and falls, threatens and soothes. Psyche-drenched synth floats through the air, while Schilling calls, “I lie in wait!” The music gets tricky again before hard shrieks rips open flesh, the leads burn, and serenity returns as flutes carry us away. “Within Chanting Waters” has a burly first few moments, with singing stretching over top, and the drums bustling. The guitars create a haze as the pace picks up, and the vocals scrape along the ground, leaving flesh. A trance-inducing section rolls in, while sax and flute align and add a New Age feel, and keys join to increase the hypnosis. Gut-wrenching shrieks are leveled, as the song gets loud and more urgent, but in the final minutes, keys trickle, and serenity floats away.

“Luminous Scale” is the shortest track, still running a robust 10:33. The song bubbles up, heading toward the arms of tranquility, before guitars catch fire, and we’re right back into explosive territory. The singing is forceful and compelling as Schilling observes something “teeming with aggression” before she lets growls rip out. Again, we battle light and dark, as the vocals are a vicious snarl in spots, but then we have lush harmonizing between Schilling and Vieira before the song drifts into the water. Closer “A Drifting Reign” ruptures like a rain storm, as keys and a progressive push move forward. The singing floats while the music brims with emotion, and a period of lush vocals heads right into a caterwaul that gushes with power. That energy sinks into drama and melody, as both Schilling and Vieira meld together vocally, and the track heads into shadowy coldness. Gargantuan shrieks punish, the keys bring showers, the elements cascade, and the song disappears into a capella singing, the same way the record began.

Dreadnought is one of the bands redefining how we think of metal, and “A Wake in Sacred Waves” is an exhilarating experience that grips from first moment to last. This is like listening to a bunch of seemingly different soundwaves coming together as one and making a cohesive whole. This band has been making inventive music for years, and it’s about time the rest of the metal world caught onto them.

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

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

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