Don’t Miss These: Late 2021 & Early 2022
Some of last year’s latecomers and less heralded releases that you ought to not have missed, and maybe did. And a couple of brand new releases from this January!
P.H.O.B.O.S – Bleaker Beater
I was introduced to P.H.O.B.O.S through their Trinity -split with BAN. They were on to develop their industrial black metal into a direction more strongly influenced by doom, but now have done away with guitars and metal altogether.
Bleaker Beater is an unconventional exploration of sonic terror through harsh industrial sound still informed by the previous endeavors into black metal hellscapes, pulsing extreme electronica and malformed ideas of dub, wrapped in blood and myocardial issues.
Klabautamann – numbered
Klabautamann’s 2017 album, Smaragd, received a glowing review from Stick and I’ve become quite attracted to it myself. So I could hardly let numbered pass through these hallways without as much as a word.
While the group started as folky black metal, walked through jazzy black metal and got to proggy black metal, numbered presents its own brand of prog metal with an inclination to veer towards waters still tarnished with the oil of black metal, but nevermore based on it.
I wish it had come along earlier, or a bit later, and it would’ve competed for that wildly coveted EOTY spot. In the longer run such things do not matter and numbered is an excellent album you shouldn’t miss if you’ve the slightest inclination towards prog.
Negură Bunget – Zău
When Negru Mafa passed away in 2017, Negură Bunget was caught in work over the third entry in their planned Transylvania-trilogy. It wasn’t long until his former bandmates announced the recordings had proceeded to a point where the album could be completed without him, but it’s taken until now for said album to materialize. And it’s got the word “posthumous” written all over it in bold.
As in you’ll find yourself wondering whether these tracks were actually finished or not. The songs range between 7 and 16 minutes and Mafa’s parts don’t stretch for more than half of those runtimes. While the trilogy’s previous two installments had lengthy folk, ambient and airy post-rock-influenced sections that featured no percussion, there’s a lack of drive in his performance that suggests there might have been mere scratch tracks, and perhaps cut and duplicated to fit whatever arrangements the group managed.
Ionutescu’s folk instruments—Kaval, Nai, Tulnic & Duduk are as awe-inspiring as ever, and the highlight of the record, only this time guitarist/keyboardist Adi Neagoe’s ambiance is used to counter & bolster them much more than before, and given the complete lack of a bass, and Mafa’s playing being mixed to the very back, Zău’s nature is that of an otherworldy ambient journey in which black metal, or indeed metal in general, is just a footnote. An enthralling idea lacking in execution though likely so due to the forcible hand of fate.
Lie in Ruins / Graveyard
Two death metal bands that began to swing for the fences in the mid-aughts, Lie in Ruins from Finland released their latest full-length the other year to some fanfare and solidified their quality. Graveyard comes from Spain and besides a few full-lengths seems to be specialized in releasing masses and droves of splits, the latest of which this will still be as you read this, with any luck.
The ominous start of the split comes courtesy of Lie in Ruins’ “Curling Smoke” erring on the doomier side of their sound before taking a bulldozing turn with thick tremolo riffs, interspersed with chunkier chords. A good, solid death metal track keeping in line with Lie in Ruins’ sound, which always stood out from the Finnish crowd. Graveyard on the other hand, offers a wilder arrangement and wider variety on their side, but besides the thrashier riffs, the song passes through without leaving much of a mark. The leads are uninspired, the solo fails to elevate the song, and the choral/keyboard-laden sections don’t appear to have been fleshed out, leaving Graveyard just short of a trophy.
It’s a fairly strong, short death metal split that’ll only take up 10 minutes of your time and though it will hardly send their stock crashing through the roof, for the sake of Lie in Ruins especially, I wish you’d check it out.
In case the Bandcamp link is still only displaying Graveyard’s half for streaming, here’s a YouTube link to the whole split.
Sacrificium Carmen – Nekrognosis – Avain Varjoihin
I’ve always liked Sacrificium Carmen, even though I’ve gone back and forth with how much I actually enjoy their albums. Stylistically they bring nothing new or original to the second wave style of black metal that they live and breathe, but they also don’t sound like anybody else in particular. One might even say there’s some twist on their understanding and use of melody that’s uniquely them.
Recently its members have focused on a number of other projects, so I was glad to see them find the time for a third full-length, even if it came with some worry over quality due to overworking. What has been before, is. The strengths, troubles and weaknesses of Sacrificium Carmen remain exactly as they were. There’s enough flavour here to be recognizably Sacrificium Carmen, but little to take them beyond that point.
At 51.5 minutes, Nekrognosis is the group’s longest album and it shows as a difficulty to shoulder the mass. While the thrashier riffs in “Demonosofian Houreet” and “Erakkotemppelin Ilmestyksiä”, the playful, almost Mgla-like arpeggios of “Fraktaalimessu” as well as the organ interlude do bring a variety to the fold, the standout moments (“Ihmiskunnan inho seuranain” & “Mefistofeleen kuu”) are located at the far ends of the album. But the material is neither striking, nor memorable, nor exciting enough to carry this long.
Verilinna – Shovel Decapitation Ritual (Promo MMXXII)
Verilinna is the new electronic outlet for Oksennus mastermind K. Olavi K. Virta, and the one-song promo Shovel Decapitation Ritual, featuring Skill Violator, is its first release. It starts out as a fairly level, dark industrial-breakcore song, but as it progresses the percussion becomes more manic and wilder justifying the (ar)rhythmic in the projects description, and taking the lead while the rest of the music remains undisturbed in its pulsing movement. Can hardly wait for the announcement of the debut EP.