Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 06/07/18

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I spent the whole day in a Clean Room. Ironically, I feel weird and grimy. Grimy, like Lesser GlowDjevekultThought Eater, Dimmu BorgirJute GyteDark Buddha Rising, InkvisitorAureole of Ash and Blaue Blume.

Lesser Glow Ruined
Pelagic Records | June 8th, 2018
Lesser Glow is one of those crushing post-metal bands that can bury you in a ton of sludge and surprise you with their lighter side. Cult of Luna is the easy reference point, but with a little more of a hardcore edge. The production is a big part of what makes this album work. It sounds like a slightly more polished live performance with an authentic intensity. With how heavy most of this is, the short run time really benefits them, leaving you not quite exhausted and wanting more. Definitely a stand out in a crowded scene. Album opener “Ruined” is something special. – Joaquin


Djevelkult – Når Avgrunner Åpnes
Saturnal Records | May 25th, 2018

Norwegian black metallers Djevelkult haven’t been keeping busy. Når Avgrunner Åpnes is only the band’s second full-length on their decade long trek, with no plethora of demos or short-form releases to show either. This kind of patient (djevel)kultivating of the sound often makes for all the better result, but in Djevelkult’s case it hasn’t quite had the hoped outcome. Playing simple, honest black metal reaching for the second-wave mark, but with a modern sound and arrangements, they lack the appeal of grey, bereft, no-frills black metal that they seem to be going for half the time. Whereas the melodic tremolo-runs, often doubled by the bassist, reach for a sound beyond the 90’s placing Djevelkult at an intersection that could lead for interesting, new-ish paths, but the band seems to be vary of taking any particular path and clinging to several, failing to reach keep charm of any. While there are many noteworthy moments, the previously referred-to embellishments in the title track, “Condemned into Eternal Void” and the almost Windir-like leads on “En Ny Tid, for the most part Når Avgrunner Åpnes is good, professional and unexciting black metal that would be well-enjoyed in a live-setting, and by enthusiasts on a record, but will not be regularly dug out of the naphthalene for years to come. A (very) careful recommendation. – Karhu


Thought Eater Bones in the Fire
Grimoire Records | May 18th, 2018
12 string bass? Fun to play with, I’m sure, but to actually make music with? Sounds like a gimmick. These guys proved me wrong with a damn fun album in Bones in the Fire. A sort of instrumental doom with odd time signatures and funky discord, these guys are digging deep into experimental land. I checked out their split from 2016 to see how this insane project has evolved, and I’m happy to hear they added in a little more (but still very little) high end this time around. I can only be pummeled for so long before I need some melody, you know? There’s a lot happening here in these 40 minutes, and all of it is damn gooooooooooood (with 12 “o”s). Fans of Dysrhythmia will dig this. – Joaquin


Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Nuclear Blast | May 4th, 2018

I spent two months trying to write a decent review of this and all I could come up with was: “The Disney-choirs don’t actually make an appearance on more than a couple of songs, and never as poorly as on “Interdimensional Summit”. The choirs are still cheesy as hell, and now that they’ve replaced the clean vocals also overbearing, and the way they’re accommodated in the songwriting is as often plodding as it is working. It’s still got more riffs than Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s entire career ever will and I like Galder’s tone on “The Unveiling”. The orchestra has been stripped down from Abrahadabra, in favour of Eonian‘s highlight – the keyboard arrangements, or rather, the keyboard tone. There’s a brief section in “lightbringer” that’s evocative of “Mourning Palace” and all I can think of is why are we not talking about how clearly “Mourning Palace”‘s melody is stolen from Enya‘s “Orinoco Flow”. This is the same Stain Aarstad who plagiarized Agony OST and Magnum leading into the re-recording of Stomblåst without said parts, why would anyone even be surprised. “The Empyrean Phoenix” is actually pretty nifty. Eonian is very listenable, but not great”. And even that’s kind of pushing it. – Karhu


Jute Gyte – Penetralia
Independent | May 1st, 2018

I was thrilled to see that Adam Kalmbach had released a new electronic album. His more popular forays into microtonal black metal are all well and good but for my money it is in the avant-ambient realm that he truly shines. And while all of his music is daunting, the truly bizarre thing about Penetralia is that it is roughly two hundred and thirty-six minutes long. That is just under four hours of ambient electronica. Who needs this in their life? The answer is that I do. I need it. And I didn’t understand just how badly I needed it until I listened to the entire album from start to finish in one sitting at work. And you know what? It was neither painful nor tedious nor four hours of my life I wish I could get back. It made for a very strangely pleasant and productively introspective workday. Penetralia showcases all of Kalmbach’s best compositional instincts, from heavy atmospheres of dread and beauty to mystifying doses of quasi-melody to deceptively complex textures that interact in surprising ways as they unwind. This is the soundtrack to a universe in which all biological life has gone extinct, and the cosmos is traversed by artificially intelligent spacecraft beings bleeping and blooping at one another across impossible gulfs of abject loneliness. Sure, there’s some filler to be found — most notably on thirty-minute closing track “Slow Fire” which, other than being very pretty, accomplishes nothing in the half hour it has been given. Regardless, Penetralia is far and away Jute Gyte‘s most satisfying electronic opus. – Richter


Dark Buddha Rising – II
Neurot Recordings | April 20th, 2018

Dark Buddha Rising have spent years perfecting their blend of dark, psychedelic, droning, doom. Having started to gain more traditional song-like arrangements and structures over the years, especially after peaking with Dakhmandal, though still largely avoiding them. II is the band’s first offering in three years and first without guitarist/vocalist V. Vatanen. Further refining the sound from Inversum, “Mahatgata I” is darker, heavier, sludgier and I dare say riffier – leaving it’s predecessor behind on practically every front, while reaching for some new sounds as well. While they may not brood in psychedelia as heavily anymore, it’s constantly looming in the background, and the added groove only pronounces it’s presence. The second half seems at first the more traditional DBR song, building on slow drones and howls for most of it’s duration, until the lead-weight guitars lay ruin to all carefully elaborated horrors, only leaving as the horns of apocalypse arrive. But the prominent chants the song relies on shift focus from tension towards despair in a way the band hasn’t quite before, feeling refreshing after the first half’s rolling magma. – Karhu


Inkvisitor – Dark Arts of Sanguine Rituals
Independent | April 20th, 2018

A neo-noir murder mystery with necromancy? Thrash metal? Hell yeah! Inkvisitor? Eeeh, these guys aren’t exactly known for homeruns, on the other hand their line-up was heavily revamped before the recording of DAOSR took place, and who knows, maybe their all the better for it. Oh hello pick-scrapes-a-plenty, old friend, I almost missed you. What is this, Gojira? Pantera? At least the new vocalist sounds much more aggressive than the last, I like the constant feeling his voice is about to break, without it ever really happening. I wish this album was as remarkable step up in quality as it is in idea. To back the great concept up, Inkvisitor has avoided the plainest arrangements, and broken out a few out the box riffing moments. But a few “mathematical” moments, Pantera-groove riffs or blackened edge (you name it, basically every song has a “twist”) don’t make for a great album when nothing really sticks. Choruses don’t stick, riffs don’t stand out, arrangements aren’t particularly memorable. Better luck next time, here’s to hoping they cook up something as interesting and also manage to back it up musically, down the road. – Karhu


Aureole of Ash – Morbid Reality
Halo of Flies | March 20th, 2018

To be blunt, I absolutely loved this record. While this crusty grind/powerviolence trio from Germany don’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, there’s something to be said about putting out a straightforward record that sounds so very satisfying. This is a very brief listen, but most of the 17 minutes are absolutely blistering (save for “Control” which takes on standard powerviolence pace and clocks in at 3 mins). You can find a lot of parallels with Cloud Rat (think Moksha) or a raw Fuck the Facts. Despite being labelled as crust, the production on this is rather clean but it works in their favor. This is a really good album that you can get a lot of spins out of, especially if you’re into grind, and it’s a rather refreshing listen despite it’s straightforward, no frills approach. – BertBanana


Blaue Blume Sobs
Independent | November 27th, 2017
There was room for one more mini so I’m going to subject you all to some indie pop hipster bullshit. Something about Blaue Blume reminds me of Disney-era Phil Collins crossed with Future Islands and it just friggin’ works for me. I don’t know why, but the melody and the way it culminates on in the bridge on “Macabre” is just so damn pleasantly depressing. I almost never like stuff like this, but damn, I really hope these guys take off in whatever genre this is. Check out these Danish pretty boys and tell me I’m wrong. – Joaquin

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