Mini Reviews from Around the Bowl (1/12/23)

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These albums were under consideration for our AotY lists, but they didn’t make it for whatever reason. We’re giving them their due today.


Warforged The Grove | Sundial
The Artisan Era | September 9th, 2022

I listened to this album three times during my “top 10 choosing window” because I enjoyed it every time, but it just didn’t have that stickiness I need to really remember what I liked about it. The clean vocal and slower proggy sections really hit for me, but this is a tech death band, so I should probably have more to say about their core deliverable. If they had a full album of “Sheridan Road” and “Burning Days” type tracks, I’d be all in, but there’s maybe a little too much of the generic techy deathcore that is very well done but just not my vibe. — Joaquin


Mountaineer Giving Up The Ghost
Lifeforce Records | February 25th, 2022

This soft gazy-post-metal album has me very excited about this band’s future. They have a clear understanding of how to use repetition to enhance catchiness without becoming dull, as expertly shown with the melody and vocal line in “Bed of Flowers.” The vocals have an alluring slowness in their delivery that reminds me of two other bands that just missed my list, SOM and Cloakroom. It’s an album I listened to a lot last year, and yet in a Costanza “it’s not you” type thing, I just personally don’t have anything interesting to say about it other than “I like.” — Joaquin


ARKÆON Parasit
I, Voidhanger Records | November 18, 2022

Like any good parasite, ARKÆON latched onto me without drawing too much attention to itself. The squirming black metal riffs approach atonality at times, risking removal with a sharp pluck, but there’s just enough anticoagulant saliva pumped into my body to let the feast continue. Parasit‘s warm production, bounteous clinkage (“Smertens Vilje“), and eerie melodies create an anesthetic effect, rounding off the edges of discomfort felt from the band’s chaotic songwriting. Long-form black metal tends to be the enemy of memory, but each track on this LP is at least cruel enough to stick around my synapses. The lumbering motif in “Forbrænde” is particularly nasty, a musical evocation of dread akin to a witching hour phone call, or finding a plump tick buried in your skin. This is an album for anyone who ever let a leech drink their blood undisturbed, simply because they found the process fascinating. — Rolderathis


Cover art for Rye's Everything, an abstract, spiky white form on black.

Рож – Всё
Independent | January 2, 2023

The naturalistic, moody black metal craftsman perhaps better known as Rye started the year almost immediately with a captivating six-song release. Всё (Everything or Finished) comes at an interesting time in that part of the world- Rye, a Russian national, recently departed his homeland for fairly obvious reasons. In a sense, this record captures that unique pain of exile in its expressive textures and use of natural sounds like rainfall and insects and feels cast away and far from home. On another level, however, Всё feels less self-possessed than 2021’s impeccable В​е​ч​н​о​е and, ironically given the name, perhaps a tenth incomplete. Perhaps a better name for this latest release would have been Mежду? — Theophrastus Bombastus


Cover art for Friendship, Love and War, a hooded figure with a sword on a hillside full of yellow flowers.Gudsforladt Friendship, Love and War
Night of the Palemoon | September 9, 2022

Highest on my list of slept-on albums from last year is the raw black metal pageant that Gudsforladt released in September. Despite the necrotic production, this is a record possessed of nothing short of gallantry. Each composition is concise and compelling. Details like Mellotron and frenetic ride clinks give the record bounce. I wish it hadn’t taken list season for me to get around to this one- equally good on crappy speakers as blaring from your trunk, this is a record that will project illuminated manuscripts in your head while you nod along. — Theophrastus Bombastus


Toughness The Prophetic Dawn
Godz of War Productions | September 9, 2022

What if you took the brutal, jagged rhythm base and riffs from the chug-heavy end of tech-thrash and combined it with the off-kilter riffing style most commonly associated with Demilich these days? That would seem to be the red string through Toughness’ debut. There’s much more to The Prophetic Dawn than that, including the surreal in-between of said influences. It thankfully seems to lack any outright lyrical inspiration from Lovecraft, but the music might as well be the most visceral of his horror come flesh. — KARHU


Without WavesComedian
Prosthetic Records | March 18, 2022

I ended up axing Comedian from my year-end list for the simple fact that I didn’t listen to it as much as the other things that made it, but I’d like to heap some praise upon it lest it go unnoticed here. I loved 2017’s Lunar for its sheer unpredictability, with the band refusing to stick to any consistent sound from song to song. It was a rough and wild ride even by prog standards, but it was a fun one. Comedian is much smoother but no more predictable: the band has honed their ability to write a good hook and create a logical flow throughout the album while retaining all the chaotic mathiness of their previous record. It’s not going to be for everyone, but those who can keep up with it will find a lot to enjoy. — Spear

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