Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (10/21/21)

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MINI REVIEWS. BIG ALBUMS.


Earthwomb – Becoming Immanence EP
Independent | October 7, 2021

“Atmoblack” is becoming a term that now covers everything from melody-forward barely-metal to pulverizing black metal that can’t neatly be slotted into the second-wave-worship file. Lima, Peru’s Earthwomb are in the latter camp. With their fierce, finely honed EP Becoming Immanence, they showcase a bevy of musical ideas that range from full-bodied black metal, as on “Fractal Phenomenon,” to gloomy instrumental explorations like “Trespassing the Paragons of Consciousness,” a blastbeat-powered space voyage that almost reminds me of Mastodon‘s Crack the Skye. The “atmospheric” label doesn’t do this beatdown justice—what it seems to connote here is deliberate, well-crafted musical exploration, like the more discordant passages in “The Gathering.” If you enjoyed Los Males del Mundo or Groza earlier this year, check this out. It’s as vicious as the former and more sophisticated than the latter, and it stands out from the atmoblack herd. – Theophrastus Bombastus


sungazer – Perihelion
Independent | October 11, 2021

I love doots. I especially favor doots with deconstructed vocals, doots with weird, chunky Seinfeld basslines; dystopian doot soundscapes; and the gentle whirr of machines dreaming. What I did NOT already know is that I also like doots with live instrumentation, jazzy guitar lines, and math-rock time signatures. Thanks, sungazer! This Brooklyn two-piece marshals nine guest musicians and creates a delightful cacophony on Perihelion that features the deconstructed vocals I savor, moments of delirious fun, and even some sax. “All These People” is a banger I could see Don CaballeroJustice, and Kurt Rosenwinkel fans enjoying in equal measure. “Days into Nights” is a perfect slow jam for rooftop gazing with your birdfriend. “Thicc” is a hilarious voicemail remix. And in between these three tracks are a number of other highly processed, slightly cheesy, and layered jazzy moments that seamlessly shapeshift from one genre to the next. sungazer is all over the map on approach, so there’s always something new to find. I can tell I’ll be getting a lot of mileage out of this bad boi in between metal records this fall. – Theophrastus Bombastus


WaldgeflüsterDahoam
AOP Records | October 22, 2021

Probably the best known trees ‘n’ shit -black metal band from Bavaria, Waldgeflüster first came to my, and likely quite a few others’, attention through their split with Panopticon. I’ve not exactly kept tight tabs on the four full-lengths since, but Dahoam, for any friend of the style, is a worthy addition to the collection. The three, lengthy tracks are standard, sorrowful fare for trees ‘n’ shit, though the cleans – and Austin Lunn, in “Mim Blick aufn Kaiser” throw a bit of a curveball towards the end. And the four shorter songs avoid becoming just standard interludes – I just could have done without the vocals in the intro, pasted straight out of a goth rock song. KARHU


CatalepticThe Tragedy
FDA Records | October 1, 2021

Looking at Cataleptic’s lineup and the slow release pace, it’d be tempting to sentence them to side-project status. From what I gather, this melodoom monstrosity is no such thing though. The Tragedy is the third full-length on an almost 20-year long path, and besides the gravelly, melodic death/doom that’s sparse on death, acting as an adhesive, it’s rich on just about every kind of extreme metal. “Disarmed. Disowned. Betrayed” finds itself in a maelstrom of vicious black/death hammering, though not as chaotic as its Revenge-quip might imply, while “Lost” and “Whipped to Drudgery” explore territory akin to 2000’s Paradise Lost, which is where the album shines best. It is good though, that this is my first dance with the band – 20 years and 3 albums down the line, I might have preferred something more professional. Because everything from songwriting to arrangements and production feels a little amateurish. KARHU


The OnsetTides
Independent | October 4th, 2021

Deathcore, eh? Can’t say I’ve ever been a fan, but having developed my metal tastes in a climate where almost anything ending in “-core” (or, god forbid, beginning with “nu-“) was severely stigmatized, maybe I just never gave it a fair chance. Morbid curiosity brought on by the extremely shitty cover design made me click play, and I was surprised to find I quite dig this. Or maybe I’m just surprised that it doesn’t sound as bad as it looks. Anyway, strewn amidst the big, enjoyably dumb, sometimes djent-y, always steamroller-y chuggs are slightly blackened and techened elements. While not elevating this to anything groundbreaking, they’re quite sufficient to stave off boredom throughout the EP’s brief run time. I’m also quite entertained by the rapid, almost rap-like delivery of the lyrics in some places, such as on “Denying Reality I.” Connoisseurs of the genre likely will not have any footwear removed by this, but I’m hard put to find anything they would balk at, and for a tourist like me, it’s a fun twenty-or-so-minute stint that doesn’t ask much but gives plenty. — Hans


Swelling RepulsionThe Severed Path
Independent | June 28th, 2021

Ever since hearing this, the perhaps best death metal album of the year, I’ve been struggling to put into words what exactly makes it so great. I’ve concluded that many factors interlace here and that it’s beyond my capability (and your patience) to minutely describe all of them. Let’s therefore stick to the one factor that, in a way, governs all others: moderation. Everything present here is present in just the right amount. The technical proficiency of both musicians is always evident, but never really put front-and-center or pushed over the top. There’s dissonance to be found throughout, but it remains one stylistic device among many rather than the main selling point. The production emphasizes clarity and warmth instead of drawing on high distortion or reverb to bolster its heaviness. Lastly, none of the songs overstay their welcome. It’s not hard to see how the endings to “Shooting the Gap” or the title track could have been spun into bridges to eventually land at something three times as long, but here, songs just end when they should. I wish this review could take a cue from that, but in writing it, another one of those aforementioned factors occurred to me: effortlessness. Everything comes together in a way that feels so natural that the album just sounds effortlessly cool – the only way to achieve genuine coolness. — Hans


Worm – Foreverglade
20 Buck Spin | October 22nd, 2021

If you reference a kick ass geological/ecological feature in your album title I will instantly like it and attempt to draw all sorts of hackneyed comparisons between the music and whatever kick ass flora/fauna live there. Sonoran Deprivation? Loved it. Made me think of saguaros, gila monsters, and the 1000 species of native bees that call the Sonoran desert home. Foreverglade? Hell yeah man, I’m thinking gators, giant storks, invasive pythons, the enigmatic manatee, and sedges that will cut you up like a serrated, cellulose knife, etc. My automatic, unerring love of this album aside, if you dug Convocation or Atramentus last year this’ll assuage your funeral DOOOOOOOM cravings. You got Mournful Congregation and Peaceville 3 harmonies, leads, and solos all over this bad boi (See Murk Above the Dark Moor, Empire of Necromancers, and Subaqueous Funeral), big n’ sad Finnish organs and synths (see Cloaked in Nightwinds and Centuries Of Ooze), and even some some brief choral chants a lá Pantheist. But fear not if funereal vibing isn’t always your thing! Like the proud, ancient alligator Worm are capable of terrifying bursts of reptilian speed. There’s a lurching, prowling groove to some tracks, a  “cavegator” death-doom sensibility as it were, that punctuates and heightens the slower, gloomier sections. Like it’s namesake wetland, Foreverglade hosts a richness and diversity of influences that together form a vast, unique sound. This very well may be the Doom AOTY, y’all. — Megachiles


Begat the Nephilim – The Grand Procession
Noble Demon | October 29, 2021

Even with a new Mordant Rapture single and a full-length Inferi album out this year, I can’t call my desire for synthy melodic tech death sated. Begat the Nephilim’s sophomore outing takes things in a somewhat different direction than the aforementioned acts; the overall songwriting is a bit simpler and easier to follow, but it occasionally goes into soothing prog sessions and busts out some truly exultant leads at times. There are parts that feel like a deathcore-tinged Nevermore (which is sweet) and some synth work that’s mystical as fuck, too, which gets my wizard senses tingling in the best way. This might all reasonably sound like a complete clusterfuck in writing, but trust me when I say it all comes together in a shockingly coherent and really interesting way. An all-around improvement from their first effort in terms of both songwriting and production, this is one to watch if you like your tech with a heaping helping of groove and melody. — Spear

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