Gird Your Loins, It’s A Track-By-Track Review: Transcending Obscurity’s Sampler Platter 2K24
Before I was the first person to recognize Chat Pile‘s greatness, I endeavoured to write a track-by-track review of the 52-track Transcending Obscurity 2020 Label Sampler. It drove me mad. I never did it again. Until now! There are almost 40 pages of Toilet ov Hell results when one searches the label’s name, and we’re going just got keep stackin’ those hits. The 2024 Sampler Platter arrived this week, and so here I am again, t go through, track-by-track, offering lightly-researched-and-basically-unedited-and-mostly-entirely-stream-of-consciousness responses to each track. Mercifully, there are only twenty-nine songs and not fifty-fucking-two. Full disclosure: I listened through once and then wrote my “reviews” on the second pass. I dispensed with any word-count formality (what was I thinking four years ago?) and more or less barfed up a bunch of half-thoughts onto a page. Here we go!
Diskord – “Shivering, As We Shed our Hides”
Has it already been three years since Degenerations? Sepulcrustacean gave their latest effort a 4.5 and included them in his Top Ten while using the term “astrodeath” to describe them, a term I find delightful and delightfully apt. This shit’s weird and off-kilter but not as hard to follow as I remember their last release. A sign of things to come??
Replicant – “Orgasm of Bereavement”
Infinite Mortality has already been announced and found its way to the Monday Press—Stick is stoked, y’all—though this is our first taste of this particular track from the upcoming April release. What else to say other than Chug Alert at 1:40. You could probably call your shot on this release and say it’ll appear on more than a couple Year-End Top 10s. Oh and then there’s 2:53. Riff ov the Week winner right there.
Carnophage – “Underneath the Horrendous One”
Who?! Cooler people than me will remember these Turkish brutalizers from their ‘08 and ‘16 releases on Unique Leader. (Spear was on it!) This is my introduction. Slick and sick blend of Suffocation, Immolation, and Defeated Sanity. You know how sometimes BDM bands achieve an odd sense of easy listening? I think Carnophage might have that in spades. This is fun.
Byonoisegenerator – “5mgInspiredVibes”
This track first came out with a video in the first week of November 2023. It is, as the band name and genre blend and track name all indicate, a wild fuckin’ ride. In 2018, Spear correctly listed their genre as “everything.” If you love screeching saxophone and wild-ass free jazz bass with BDM snare pings and everything else that comes with unhinged grindcore, this is all yours, baby.
Resin Tomb – “Putrescence”
Similarly to Replicant’s forthcoming Infinite Mortality, Resin Tomb’s Cerebral Purgatory has been announced by Stick, and we’re all dangerously stoked for what’s to come. “Putrescence” is the previously unreleased closer of an album that is coming out next week (1/19/24), and the hype train ain’t slowin’ down. Everything from about 3:00-4:00 explains what you need to know about these Brisbaniacs.
Maere – “Think of Me as Fire”
First, I just want to acknowledge that I love the track title. This track originally premiered in 2021 as part of a two-song single. Maere’s only other release proper is 2020’s I, but Stick, Bowl bless him, did share a new track from whatever’s forthcoming back in November. This is a weird blackened psychedelic type of disso-death that is jammed full of a lot of favourite ToH tropes (the clinkage, alone!). Though it’s not new, it has piqued my interest for whatever these nameless Germans might be brewing. Also, this track isn’t slow, but it is the slowest track so far. A twisted breather that isn’t much of a breather at all.
Devenial Verdict – “I Have Become the Sun”
This is the first new music we’ve heard from these Finns since 2022’s Ash Blind. This track pairs nicely with Maere, is all I really need to say. Both bands inject a dense sense of atmosphere into their disso-death, drawing things out and making things itchy and uncomfortable for the listener. Similarly, too, moments of relative calm bring your heart rate down below absolute levels of flashing panic long enough to take some inhales, some exhales, some inhales, some exhales, some inhales, some exhales. I don’t remember much from Ash Blind, but this band has some serious songwriting chops. The way the storm reignites at 4:06 could give one chills.
Vorga – “Magical Thinking”
Beyond the Palest Star is due to be released on March 29th, and there’s nothing amiss from these beloved purveyors of spaced-out sci-fi black metal. This 7-minute mind-eraser opens with haunting Carpenterian synths overlaid with a movie sample that gives the song its title before blooming into a sinister Samael-esque mid-paced riff. If the first 5 tracks of this sampler had us blenderized in a death metal whirlwind, this three-track run has us tripped out and spinning but at a much different pace. The third single to be released from Beyond the Palest Star, “Magical Thinking” might be the strongest one yet. Folks, get stoked.
Malconfort – “Rage (Indulgence)”
The only information I could find (after one search) on this band is the band’s own sparse Facebook page that says they began in 2018 and confirms their debut LP will be out on Transcending Obscurity this year. What a come up! Anyways, this song is fucking weird. The drums and guitars almost sound like the band is more influenced by US Maple or Mr. Bungle than any black metal band. The spoken-word vocals are going to either totally work or totally fall flat for folks. On my first go-through of this sampler, this was the first track that really stopped me in my… tracks. I look forward to how everyone responds to it.
Hell is Other People – “Fates”
Founded in 2016, Hell is Other People have an EP, an LP, and a split under their belt but have been quiet since 2019. If I were to don my trilby and slide into my detective underwear, I’d say they’ve been working on something good enough to land themselves on Transcending Obscurity for a 2024 release. Atmospheric post-black metal hits the Jean Paul on the Sartre in describing “Fates.” For fans of Deafheaven, Harakiri for the Sky comfortably emotive post-black acts that will have trve warriors furious.
Typhonian – “The Gatekeeper”
In a short blurb about their 2021 EP The Cosmic Pendulum of Time, Spear wrote, “Interstellar neanderthal death metal? Sign me the fuck up. Typhonian know how to bring both the weird and the supremely ignorant, offering a sound that’s equal parts mystifying and headbanging. These parts are spliced together fluidly and intuitively, almost shockingly so for what it is. Not mind-blowing music, but a good time regardless.” A few things must have changed for Typhonian over the last few years: you can still feel the interstellarity of it all, but gone are any Neanderthalic tendencies. This track is beautiful doomed-out, spaced-out melodic black metal that doesn’t lack for punch. Quite the showing.
Paganizer – “Flesh Requiem”
Crawl – “Until They Crawl”
We loved the Crawl/Feral split from 2023, particularly my premiere/review of it. (Particularly when I said, “Bone Chugs ‘n Harmony.”) The Swedes are already back for more. Crusty and musty (but not fusty!), “Until They Crawl” is a fun-as-hell buzzsaw blitz that smashes the Mosh Button at 1:46 to great effect. We’re chug-a-luggin’, and it’s about damn time. See you in the pit.
Feral – “Phantoms of Iniquity”
Here’s the other side of that aforementioned split! I guess both bands had something leftover to share with the world, and we’re all the more braindead for it. At this point, I should mention that I am losing my mind going through this entire Sampler multiple times. Anyways, you know what time it is. If Feral has had you by the short hairs up until this point, this is notice they won’t be letting go any time soon.
Baron – “Primordial Possession”
Pfft. Heaviest riff of the whole damn affair. I don’t even want to say more than that, because it would detract from how little regard this track or apparently this band has for you or your family. I know it says “Death/Doom,” but this is Death/Doom like Xibalba is Death/Doom, meaning that it’s actually a hardcore band playing dress-up as a death metal band (or the other way around). I probably wasn’t going to do this whole thing until I reached this track. Buckle your nuts and knuckle your butts, everyone.
Shrieking Demons – “Apostasy, Sodomy, and Sacrilege”
What an absolutely hilarious and abrupt change between two tracks with the same genre marker. Featuring a couple dudes from Assumption and formerly signed to Caligari Records, Shrieking Demons is Death/Doom in the most classic sense of the term “Doom.” The production even sounds more like an original Candlemass record than it does anything recorded after the year 1992. Fans of any and everything Old School are gonna plotz for whatever this band releases in 2024. (Timestamp 3:24 for a slobber knocker of a riff.) Tortured, unruly stuff.
Monument of Misanthropy – “A Nice Beheading for MoM”
A Nice Beheading for Methods of Mayhem. That joke has me laughing so hard, I don’t even really want to write anything else. You know what the deal is: if you like Aborted or Cattle Decapitation or Dying Fetus or Monument of Misanthropy themselves or any big, fat, honkin’ brutal death metal for that matter, you’ll be stoked to mosh your skull out of its fleshy casing at right around 1:53.
Cutterred Flesh – “Descent into Torment of Abyssal Whispers”
Cutterred Flesh has been releasing new music and teasing a new album since early 2023. Their M-A page says they’re less of a BDM band these days and more “Death Metal/Deathcore.” Do I not know what deathcore sounds like? Is this deathcore? Why? Why isn’t this just still BDM? Is it the more melodic denouement? Is “deathcore” just a category for things I personally don’t like? If I like something, do I just simply decry it being called deathcore? Probably. Deathcore sucks, whatever it is, but this doesn’t!
The Last of Lucy – “Shedim Séance”
Despite a band name I sort of totally hate for reasons I can’t really explain, I did like The Last of Lucy’s 2022 album Moksha. This is tech-death for folks who want their tech-death to be moshier than it is noodly, thicker-riffed than it is classically inclined.
Construct of Lethe – “Denial in Abstraction”
Another band name I don’t like for no real reason! Who cares, ‘cause CoL (Lacertilian) have been splattering our Toilet since at least 2016 (Joe TnK) with the veritable goods. Chaotic death metal a la Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal, these former Everlasting Spewers are back after 6 years to make you forget your own name and everything you thought you knew about death metal. Take a drink if you dare.
Phasma – “Shoggoth Bell Gate”
Hitherto unsigned international duo Phasma seems primed after appearing on both last year’s T.O. Sampler Platter and this year’s to finally release a project on the inestimable label. We’re back in the realm of Maere and Devenial Verdict with passages of sweeping, creeping cleans interrupting a jagged-edged admixture of death and black metal. Dizzyingly hypnotic or hypnotically dizzying? You decide!
Evilyn – “Penance”
Bands named “Evilyn” don’t play avant-garde death metal. Or, at least, so I thought. Notably featuring Lee Fisher (ex-Commit Suicide) on drums, this relatively quiet international side-project is feeling penitent on what will be most listeners’ introduction to the band. Citing Gorguts and Bloodbath as primary influences, this track has me looking back at their 2020 EP Inside Shells while looking forward to whatever they have in store for us in 2024.
Hierarchies – “Complexity Parallels”
This is another track that, upon first blush, I had to stop what I was doing and see what the hell was going on. This is bizarre, flanged-out technical death metal that sounds like it was raised in the French and Finnish scenes where the technicality and oddity outweigh the volume or amplitude. I can’t find jack shit about this band. Whatever starts happening around 4:17 is not of this world.
Fathomless Ritual – “Gelatinous Being of Countless Forms”
The fourth and what I would imagine to be the final single from the forthcoming Hymns for the Lesser Gods (3/1/24). You already adored my preview of “Gorge of the Nameless,” so I need not dwell on this burping, gurgling chugfest. This is the most like Dead and Dripping so far. Good. Good.
Atvm – “Cancer”
Oh man. People loved, and I mean loved, 2021’s Famine, Putried, and Fucking Endless. Top Tech for Spear, honourable mention for Megachiles, Top 5 for Sepulcrustacean. I remember finding it all a little too much, which is, of course, precisely the point. The band has retained all of its Marston-core tendencies and qualities as well as a taste for lengthy compositions. Eclipsing nine minutes, this is the sampler’s longest track, and, you know what, it earns every second of it. There’s probably five songs’ worth of ideas here, but they’re all grafted together rather seamlessly. If I couldn’t get hip to what Atvm was selling in 2021, I’m happy to finally get my invitation to the party, to mix every metaphor imaginable.
Defect Designer – “Certainty After the Kafkaesque Twist”
We’ve known since at least November 2023 that Chitin, the Norwegian noodlers’ follow-up to 2022’s EP Neanderthal, was slated for a 2024 release. The third single from an album set for release on Pi Day, “Certainty…” is a thrashy, wild, discordant, rubbernecking mix of proggy tech-death that doesn’t overstay its warm welcome.
Swelling Repulsion – “Fatally Misguided”
I could’ve sworn Swelling Repulsion released something last year, but it’s been since 2021 that The Severed Path landed at #2 on Hans’s Year-End Top Ten. Hans’ review seems still relevant. He wrote, “What I’ve called moderation in the review could also be considered modesty; where others insist on bombast and length in an attempt to create something ‘epic,’ the way these guys serve up one great idea after another before quickly clearing the table again for the next course seems understated in comparison, and therein lies one of the album’s many strengths.” At a spry 3 minutes, Swelling Repulsion does not seem to have lost sight of modesty, moderation, and precision in creating immensely beguiling tech-death.
Februus – “The Price of Enterprice”
I don’t know what “Enterprice” is (maybe just “enterprise” misspelt?), but I do know what cacophonous and rowdy prog-death sounds like. “The Price of Enterprice” (sic) can be found on the band’s 2023 Surveillance Orgy from Swedish label Horg Recordings. It’s not for me to say that the band will release anything for T.O. in 2024, but, to borrow a phrase from Hans just above, this might be just setting the table—putting out a little amuse bouche—for any future endeavours under the aegis of Transcending Obscurity.
Misanthropy – “The All-Devouring”
Hailing from Chicago with a slew of EPs and a couple LPs under their belt, Misanthropy round out this year’s label sampler with progged-out tech-death that approaches riffs like stumbling up and down an Escher staircase. If Defect Designer, Swelling Repulsion, and Februus are to be applauded for keeping things prim and trim, we should also tip our cap to Misanthropy for making room amid the uproar for a pit-clearing breakdown that lands to much glee at 3:50. If they continue to strike such a balance, I have two words: watch out. Shit. I mean: keep your ears peeled. Damn it. I mean: listen… up.
And there it is. Let me know which tracks stand out, which albums you’ve already pre-ordered. which bands were brand new to you, which songs you think I’m overreacting to, and any other feelings below.