Foreseen mount fiery assault on world affairs on blistering second record ‘Grave Danger’

Photo by Hilja Mustonen

Now isn’t the time to be fucking around. There’s a lot of serious, bad shit going on everywhere, and things feel close to blowing up from all the tension and violence. Yes, diversions from real life can be healthy. But sometimes you have to stare the thing in the face, acknowledge what’s going on, and get really pissed off about it.

Some great inspiration comes from Finnish crossover beasts Foreseen, whose second record “Grave Danger” is a fast, menacing, and punishing affair that’s not about to jab its tongue in its cheek. If a record could even do that. Instead, we get eight straight piledrivers about the shit going on in this world and their piss and venom about what the state of affairs. Oddly, even though they’re not trying to distract you with humor or alternate subject matter, you might come away feeling rejuvenated, knowing there are other people who clearly see the shit rainbow smeared across the sky and aren’t about to ignore it. The band—vocalist Mirko Nummelin, guitarists Erkka Korpi and Jaakko Hietakangas, bassist Joonas Hakaste, and drummer Marten Gustafsson—are full of rage and destruction, hurling their take on the world’s scene and what’s leading to this piss bath, all the while thrashing the hell out of you.

“Violent Discipline” starts the record with a ripping assault complete with ferocious vocals, furious gang shouts, and a nasty trip into some bludgeoning thrash. The soloing burns off the scum on the surface, as the song comes to a hammering end. “Chemical Heritage” mashes away, as Nummelin’s maniacal shouts leave welts on your skin. The guitars light up brightly over the rousing chorus, and the bulk of the song simmers in deadly speed. “Fearmonger” is fast and punchy, with a simple chorus for shouting back live, and the tempo shifting enough to result in vertigo. A thrash groove and razor-sharp solo brings the song to a thunderous end. “Bloodline” is crunchy and trudging, with the shouts echoing, and classic metal-style guitar work adding extra muscle. Most of the song is nasty and galloping, and the track gets a white-hot finish.

“Downward Spiral” has crazy riffs spraying shrapnel, while animalistic wails and group shouts give the song added levels of raucous energy. The soloing rips a hole in the thing, as the gas pedal is stomped into the floor, and gang shouts of, “Downward spiral!” inject adrenaline. The title cut chugs as the thick bass swaggers into the meat of the song. Blunt growls and savage playing thicken the assault, while the heavy thrashing and forceful lead guitar work push the tempo over the top. “Government Cuts” is heavy as fuck, which may seem hyperbolic considering what preceded it, but this is ante-upping material. Raspy howls and metallic leads reveal a show of force, while ’80s-flavored metal and a pace that keeps rocketing jars the bones. Finally, the song settles into the heart of the fire, while sinewy bass bruises, and eerie noises and various radio reports give the chill of global emergency. “Suicide Bomber” caps off the set, a track that doesn’t even reach two minutes but makes the most of its run plastering with spat-out vocals, pure chaos, and a crushing, vicious end.

I often think people are not pissed off or disgusted enough about what is going on right now, but that does not extend to Foreseen. With “Grave Danger” as evidence, these 29 minutes blister its audience and lob verbal grenades at the people who threaten our very existence due to their self-serving actions. There is a lot of fighting that’s going to need to take place into the future, and Foreseen sound like they’re going to be right along those at the front line of the battle.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Black metal adventurers Farsot continue pushing boundaries on ‘Fail·Lure’

Black metal being a lawless society with no rules and barbarians at its gates to ensure no one creates any is a huge myth. There are a ton of guidelines artists are not supposed to go break, and when people go their own way, they’re not seen as true or real. It’s pretty funny, really, and it’s nice that so many bands have ignored that and gone their own way.

German black metal dreamers Farsot long have gone past the original rigid rules and have created a space very much of their own control. Creating similar tributaries as etched by bands such as Enslaved and Oranssi Pazuzu, Farsot have pushed their sound into the atmosphere and have recognized feral brutality is not the only way to make captivating black metal. Over their time together (which dates farther back that their recorded catalog), the band has delivered three mind-bending records, the latest being “Fail·Lure,” a six-track, nearly 48-minute journey into subject matter so refreshingly off the beaten-to-death black metal path. Influenced by Peter Greenway’s 1988 film “Drowning By Numbers” (a tale of three women successfully drowning their husbands), as well as Art Nouveau works by artists including Knopff and Klimt, the band creates a tale rife with all the tenets bringing down societies since day one, as well as rifts between the sexes that have been amplified, especially here in America, over the past half decade. The members—III . XXIII (guitars), XX . XVI, (strings), X.XIX (vocals, lyrics), XX . VIII (bass, keys), XIX . XVIII (drums and percussion)—only go by strange initials and shroud their faces, ensuring the focus is on their art and not the people behind these messages.

“Vitriolic” starts the record with an eerie path of noises that spread before the song opens into atmospheric, melodic black metal that soars. Creaky growls mix with strange singing, something that happens quite a bit on this record, while the track then goes into space and hits orbit. Once it returns, the pace grinds away while the drama keeps lapping like waves, and the track drowns in acoustics and whispers. “Circular Stains” stars in a clean, progressive vein, as whispers return and circle, before the tempo rips a hole in the ambiance. Those Enslaved comparisons come into focus a bit, while throaty growls and sorrowful singing lead the plot. Cleaner guitars rain down, while growls scrape as the song spirals away. “With Obsidian Hands” begins clean but also with hearty howls. A synth wash settles in as buzzing growls make their presence felt. The pace chugs and takes on a proggy feel, while acoustics push in and help the song transition from dark to light. Later, the bass work bursts, while the keys hint of outer space travel as everything melts into the stars.

“Under Currents” starts with muscular riffs that bring the bruising. Growls and robotic speaking mix with chaos, but then breezy guitar work soothes the bleeding nerve endings. The song then goes into psychedelic dreaming, as the tempo ramps up, and a dose of spirited punishment is meted out and enthralls. Sounds hang in the air, while a gust of noise pushes in and removes the breath from your lungs. “The Antagonist” starts in an unexpected Western vibe, but it’s not long before maniacal growls arrive, and the song sparks the imagination. Buzzing singing numbs, while the music rips open and brings a sense of vertigo to the piece, along with shouts of “Who am I?” that loop and blend into the final streaks of trance. Closer “A Hundred to Nothing” is an instrumental piece with a bass-heavy start that falls into a pit of trickling guitar and atmospheric pressure. Strong melodies and proggy thunder combine with some low-rumbling whispers as the song melts away.

Farsot’s deep imagination and yearning for something outside the normal parameters of black metal is what gives us collections as riveting as “Fail·Lure.” They’ve managed to come up with something that fits in with but also stands apart from the rest of their catalog, as well as a piece of work that stretches your mind into other realms of thinking. The gatekeepers may want to keep black metal confined to a tiny box, but as long as bands such as Farsot are willing to destroy those boundaries, they’re going to be the ones to grow the sound well into the future.

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Necrowretch greet holy week with horrific homage to forces of pure evil on ‘Satanic Slavery’

Satan. He sure gets around, huh? That guy’s face and influence are all over metal, and he has been a major force pretty much from the start of the genre. Now, there are bands that aren’t just making music about the horror version of Satan but are branching out and paying homage to spiritual forces that are very far and away from the Biblical version of the devil.

Yet, we still have bands in our midst that go the terrifying bloodshed route with the fellow downstairs, and one of them is French death machine Necrowretch. Over the course of their first two records, both released by Century Media, the band has done its best to return death and black metal to the grave, reminding that this style of music is best when it’s played in the ugliest form possible. On their new and third effort “Satanic Slavery,” they’ve added more elements of pure evil to their mission, making this their bloodiest, most blasphemous record to date. All of this during Holy Week at that! Nonetheless, with Season of Mist now behind them, this band—guitarist/vocalist Vlad, guitarist /bassist Kev Desecrator, and drummer Ilmar—unleashes a hellacious assault over eight tracks and nearly 39 minutes. This is an ideally portioned record that makes the most of its time and absolutely devastates without mercy.

“Sprawl of Sin” begins the record with a weird soundscape before the cut rips open and goes for the throat. A nasty path of death is beaten, with a glass-gargling chorus and the guitars lighting up. The soloing is razor sharp, with an awesome classic feel before the track crushes all the way to its finish. “Tredeciman Blackfire” is furious and blinding, with vicious growls and grinding death mashing flesh. The pace is grim and stomping, with Vlad wailing about “evil prophecies,” and the final minutes going raw and metallic, with death bells stinging. The title cut is utterly savage, cutting a path toward the lungs and making a case for the evil one’s powers. The track makes it feel like your muscles are being mangled in a blender, with growls plastering and guitars swirling. “Evil Names” dips into doom waters but also unleashes riffs that sound like vintage Slayer. The drums pulverize as the music spills into mind-warping territory, with the guitars spilling fire and devastating thrashing leaving massive bruises.

“Hellspawn Pyre” is heavy as hell and blasts through cement walls, with the guitars boiling and the pace spewing violence. Every moment of this track is vicious and punishing, leaving massive dents everywhere. “Bestial Rites” erupts with drums blasts spraying and the pace clobbering. The growls are vicious and animalistic, as the chorus sheds blood and grinds at flesh, and stunning riffs hurtling toward the finish. “Curse of Blasphemy” is mucky and ugly, launching into raw chaos and a chorus that barks its orders. Unhinged cries do their damage physically and mentally, while the title is howled repeatedly and is chock full of terror. Closer “Verses From the Depth” destroys from moment one, with inhuman growls arriving and the drums eating away like acid. While most of the track sickens and the bulk of the vocals sound delivered by a mad man, the final moments change things. Proggy guitar work lands, as if from the cosmos, and a final fire-breathing solo drags the record to its killer end.

Necrowretch keep alive the more traditional tenets of death and black metal on “Satanic Slavery,” a record that makes no bones about its blood bathing in pure evil. The music is ripping and deadly, and the album itself is some of their most immediate music. This is metal that isn’t trying to win awards or critical accolades and only cares about how much plasma is spilled.

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Extremity’s brutal death metal strains unleash devastation on debut ‘Extremely Fucking Dead’

Photo by Jehnifer Mickalacki Sublett

Metal tends to lean toward hyperbole and words that the members involved with bands can’t quite live up to on record. It happens. It’s an extreme music form, things are meant to be over the top, and often band names, song titles, and album names can promise things that can’t always be delivered.

That takes us to new death metal force Extremity and their debut record “Extremely Fucking Dead.” On the surface, it seems like it’s putting a lot out there based on those words alone. But then you put this thing on, and holy shit if you’re not extremely fucking dead when it’s over. This six-track, nearly 27-minute debut record is the product of some super reliable, heavy hitting members of metal’s underground, namely guitarist/vocalist Marissa Martinez-Hoadley (Cretin), guitarist/vocalist Shelby Lermo (Vastum, Ulthar), bassist Erika Osterhout (Femacoffin, Necrosic), and drummer Aesop Dekker (Vhöl, Worm Ouroboros, and formerly of Agalloch). So, really, it should have been obvious from moment one that this thing was going to destroy, and that’s exactly what it does.

“Intro (Mortuus Est Valde)” is a quick piece that basically does what the title says it does: greet you at the horrifying door and pull you face first into the stench. “Crepuscular Crescendo” punishes right away, as the throaty growls and fierce leads do battle for your soul, with the only winner being bloodshed. It’s punchy death, both gritty and ugly, with the howl of, “There’s no escape from this hell!” bringing sobering reality you might not be ready to face. “Bestial Destiny” blisters and sends you into battle with Bolt Thrower-style guitar work that’s nasty and satisfying. The track stomps your guts, while Martinez-Hoadley and Lermo trade wails and screams. The track charges hard into fiery soloing, and the vicious back end of the song brings everything to a bloody end.

“Chalice of Pus” not only sounds delicious, it also delivers animalistic fury that should scare the shit out of you. The band hits a heavy, muddy groove as the vocals choke you to near unconsciousness, and the soloing fans the flames of chaos. The guttural madness spreads like plague from there, burying you in total ugliness. “Fatal Immortality” stomps the ground so hard, it practically measures seismically, and the growls of, “A smoking gun, a bullet in your head!” pay off in deadliness and backhand-across-the-mouth insults. The track is devastating and purely driven to salt your wounds. The closing title cut tears into flesh, as the growls maul any sense you have remaining. Striking soloing and sore throat-inducing vocals mix, as the album title is snarled over and over again, as they beat their point into you. Finally, as the song chugs and chews away at your throat, you receive mercy in the oddest of final sounds: a flatline stretching to the record’s end.

Extremity pays dividends repeatedly on “Extremely Fucking Dead,” a pure death metal assault that doesn’t mess around and goes right for the throat. This band isn’t relying on their members’ well-respected resumes and sound as hungry and vicious as a group trying to earn their first reputation. This is a fat-trimmed, gut-wrenching display that’s bloody, violent, and ripe for repeated listens.

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Hexis’ blackened hardcore spins tales of sacrifice, resurrection on violent opus ‘Tando Ashanti’

Rebirth and resurrection are two tenets that comprise common threads in most of our lives, mainly through religion. Whether it’s the literal rising from the dead or just a new outlook or way of seeing one’s life, these two occurrences are so engrained in most of our cultures that it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a story or personal example of either one.

Danish wrecking machine Hexis also have their own take, and that is smeared all over their thunderous second record “Tando Ashanti.” The title itself references the demon Tando Ashanti, who demands sacrifice of 14 people, seven men and seven women, at the same time. That’s grim on its own, but the journey Hexis have built into this record and these 11 songs doesn’t simply bow to the powers of the dark. Shadowy as their intent may be, they have woven in a narrative of resurrection of the weak and dead, a path you can follow to whatever conclusion you find. The band isn’t super black and white about the meaning of all of this, so it’s your job to comb through this nearly 39-minute battlefield for clarity and understanding. This must be done by essentially mining a battlefield with the war still raging on, and there’s no guarantee you’ll land on anything before having your face ripped apart.

“Tando” tears off the lid with guitars charging and hanging in the air, as well as strange whispers and feedback contributing to the horror factor. “Ashanti” explodes with grim guitars, throaty growls, and a tempo that boils and crushes. The riffs slow down and sludge later, with sounds stinging and the thick bass bruising. “Molestus” has melodies contorting and the pace chugging violently, as the track works toward the jugular. Howls of “nightmare!” repeat and thrash, as the cut dissolves into acid. “Ritualis” scrapes skin off the surface while the riffs lather like thick oil. The growls are cement-grade rivers, while the band piledrives into and through the chaos. “Calamitas” has dramatic, urgent riffs that storm, and the intensity of the thing could have you on the verge of a blackout. The vocals wrench, and the tempo that mauls from front to back finally lets you have a breath. “Nocturnus” is one of the longer cuts on here, setting into a hardcore-style offensive before everything chills out a bit. The music has a calculated feel for a stretch before the churning starts again, and the vocals turn bones into fine powder.

“Opacus” feels like being caught in the gears of heavy machinery, as your insides are twisted, and your pain points hit their apex. The track is monstrous, decimating before eventually bleeding away. “Cordolium” has guitars collecting in an ashen cloud before coating the ground. The track slowly hulks, while the growls rip holes, and the guitars spit sparks. Everything swells and is pulled into a tornadic terror, with the vocals curdling and the song ripping toward its end and right into “Resurrection.” There, noise drone foams up and spreads, with the harsh cries dragged over top. From there, it’s a slow grind to its end. “Septem” is aggravated and blinding with rage, as the vocals crush the gears, and the guitars swirl. In fact, most of this song is dizzying and disorienting, paving the way for the merciless finish of “Presagium.” Damaged guitars and thorny vocals mix while the pace jackhammers everything in sight, and the final minutes are comprised of strange coldness and a dense noise cloud that chokes away all.

Hexis’ mission is a dark and foreboding one, never more obvious than on “Tando Ashanti.” This band’s penchant for mixing hardcore, black metal, and doom is potent, and over two records now, they’ve charred those standing in front of them. This record is as deadly as they come, and you could leave this thinking you bear the black mark of the next one up on the demon’s chopping block.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Nightbringer’s esoteric black metal contorts, damages mind on ‘Terra Damnata’

There is a special place for bands that don’t simply give you album experiences but also add something transcendent to their work. It’s not just a matter of being overwhelmed by their music, and the decibolic madness contained within. It’s also a gateway to something else that isn’t attainable by any other means, no matter how far your imagination may stretch.

Colorado-based black metal wanderers Nightbringer never just release a collection of songs. Their strange, esoteric ways are woven into the fabric of their music, and playing one of their records sometimes makes it seem like you’re on the doorstep to a convulsion. Their new opus “Terra Damnata” is another bizarre trip down a wormhole toward a plane of existence and understanding you didn’t know was possible. Each of their five records provide a sort of atmospheric, out-of-control adventure you can’t control or even possibly predict. It has been that way since their 2008 debut “Death and the Black Work” and continued to bleed into their last album “Ego Dominus Tuus” in 2014. On this record, the band—vocalist/guitarist Naas Alcameth, guitarist VJS, bassist Norgaath, drummer Menthor, guitarist/vocalist Ophis, vocalist ar Ra’d al Iblis—get more symphonic and layered, always bludgeoning you but keeping your head so full of mysticism, you cannot help but be entranced.

“As Wolves Amongst Ruins” starts us in the midst of absolute chaos as guitars contort and rain down, and maniacal howls remind you of the rare atmosphere in which you’re encased. Strange bouts of speaking and bizarre melodies continue the push, while eerie keys take over and help the track wash away. “Misrule” unleashes tornadic riffs, mad blasts, and crazed shrieks, leading into a dizzying pace and a cloud of fury that hangs in the air. Later, the growls spin your heart and mind as the song settles into its resting place. “Midnight’s Crown” once again puts the room at a spin, with humid ambiance and speedy playing jostling your nerve endings. Strange warbling and heavy synth waves increase the drama, while the music spirals toward the ground, and a huge symphonic finish adds strange texture. “Of the Key and Crossed Bones” is delirious and savage right off the bat, as the tempo drubs unforgivingly, and the drums punish relentlessly. Monstrous vocals mix with enrapturing melodies, causing the pace to sicken and enthrall equally before mystical final moments drag everything back into the fog.

“Let Silence Be His Sacred Name” has keys dripping like cold rain before total eruption sends shrapnel flying. The track binds up your guts with its horrific twisting and turning before the band settles into a nasty thrash groove. The storming only continues from there, as violent outbursts charge hard before atmospheric pressure subsides, and keys blur out the picture. “Inheritor of a Dying World” sets the music to a boil, as wails of, “Inherit the world of dust!” jars the mind. The music goes cold for a stretch before the band starts landing heavy punches again, sprawling and ripping, as calls of, “There is no solace,” only adding to the uneasiness before everything subsides. “The Lamp of Inverse Light” has more off-kilter tones and a really bizarre set of surroundings, almost like you’ve entered an even higher level of Nightbringer. Ghostly speaking mixes in with the spiritual chaos, setting the stage for closer “Serpent Sun.” Wrenching guitars and crushing vocals make their way toward you before terrible shrieks and vicious bursts up the ante of terror. The drums burst and the riffs twist into a tight ball, while horrific growls send the final messages before the track ends abruptly.

Five albums in, and Nightbringer continue to be one of the most inventive, spiritually mysterious bands in all black metal, and you need no further proof than “Terra Damnata.” Their dark works only grow stranger and more violent as time goes on, and their mission gets even tougher to figure out completely. That’s part of the wonder in taking on this band, since they know no boundaries physically nor mentally and leave no hints as to where their mission will take them next.

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Craven Idol brush off vintage death metal chaos, eviserate vices on ‘Shackles of Mammon’

Photo by Jack Latimer

It’s fitting that an old, crusty sound could reach back into the annals of time and feast upon something that has afflicted humankind for ages. Just like the best death metal tends to prey upon our fears and the disgust inherent in murder, violence, and decay, so too can it address other horrors that eat away at us for completely different reasons and that can be just as ugly.

UK-based death troupe Craven Idol sound as tried and true of old school death metal bands come these days. Their ferocious, unhinged approach feels genuine, and while some could guess this band is paying homage to, say, Bathory, Venom, or Bolt Thrower, they instead are continuing to cut the same bloody path and extend it into the future. But beside the sound of “The Shackles of Mammon,” their second album, is the aforementioned unearthing of subject matter as old as civilization, namely people’s tendencies toward vices, their destructive nature, and the justification of said ways. Much of that pokes at humankind’s reliance on religions in a way to make good for what they do wrong to themselves, others, and society as a whole, a plague that remains feasting at our collective veins. The band—guitarist/vocalist Immolator of Sadistik Wrath, guitarist Obscenitor, bassist Suspiral, and drummer Heretic Blades—brings a savagery and primitive fire to these songs that can tear you apart and leave your rotting corpse vulnerable to anything that wishes to gnaw from your bones.

“Pyromancer” eats the heads off this thing, with guitars ripping and wild howls smeared over everything. The chorus is a simple, pulverizing piece that’s actually pretty fun, and the final moments are taken out in a quick blast. “A Ripping Strike” is eerie at the start before it lives up to its title, as guitars churn, and the pace kills. Heavy shrieks crush before the effective chorus hits, and then weird speaking that chills your bones lands. The soloing is fiery and fluid, with the band taking on a Maiden-esque fit of glory before the song rushes out. “Black Flame Divination” is deadly and gut-ripping, with the vocals sounding unhinged. But once again, a very direct chorus shows the strength of brevity. The track is fast and ferocious right up until it ends. “The Trudge” is one of the longest cuts here, running 7:45 and taking its time developing a thrashy pace. Parts of the song are more tempered but still remarkably heavy, as the piece chugs and melts into sticky doom. Guitars scorch and vocals slash before its blazing finish.

“Dashed to Death” has boiling guitar work as the music begins to stomp, with the vocals a mix of gurgling growls and massive shrieks. The playing agitates, with Immolator of Sadistik Wrath wailing, “Kill for your god!” before the tempo picks up again and pulls scabs off your wounds. “Mammon Est” is speedy and nasty, with searing guitar leads doing damage to your soul and your ears. The howls are filthy and the playing is reckless, before everything blasts out. “Hunger” hits the gas pedal again, as Immolator of Sadistik Wrath unleashes throaty growls to add more blood to the raging pace. Later, some strange, slurry soloing pushes in, adding an extra dose of weirdness to a final half that’s pretty damn odd. Closer “Tottering Cities of Mon” is the longest piece at 8:37, with a deliberate pace taking time to accumulate bodies, mashing you into slow-driving hell. Later, some classic metal guitar work brings an even deeper vintage edge, while an unsettling dialog grabs your attention, and the playing disappears into a pocket of strangeness.

Craven Idol have both a stranglehold on the ills of what keeps society such a miserable place as well as what makes classic death metal so great. “The Shackles of Mammon” is a fire-breathing, satisfying piece that feels organically violent and always unsettling. If you can’t find all the death metal nourishment you need out of Craven Idol, you’re likely doing it wrong.

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