Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (10/6/22)


Little reviews to satisfy all our little brains

Xenoglyph Spiritfraud
Translation Loss | July 15th, 2022
Who doesn’t love some cosmic black metal? Xenoglyph does a great job mixing melody with dissonance and riffs so cold you start to paradoxically undress. Despite all the harshness, there’s an unrelenting optimism in the tone that I love, almost reminding me of Astronoid but with cavernous vocals. They have a touch of the Mesarthim astro style but with enough Mare Cognitum that it’s less gimmicky, if that makes any sense. Perhaps my favorite thing about this album is it leaves you wanting more, something this genre generally doesn’t do, with a cool runtime of 43 minutes. — Joaquin

Druids Shadow Work
Pelagic Records | June 3rd, 2022
With this release, Druids join the ranks of the few prog stoner doom bands that I actually enjoy, despite the bloated same-sounding genre. If you also see something special in Howling Giant, Sergeant Thunderhoof, and Dvne you might get a little more out of this as well. While the explosive moments are the highlight, they create memorable hooks with a crunchy arid tone in the slow moments too. There’s a great range in intensity in the vocals and I’m always a sucker for some gang chanting. They set a theme so strong you can almost see a set design in your mind. This thing’s got hooks, I promise. — Joaquin

Dawnwalker House of Sand
Room 132 | August 19th, 2022
Dawnwalker falls in that progressive rock area that also has enough of a metal edge to belong in a blog such as this one. Sort of like a Porcupine Tree with some occasional harsh vocals. Also maybe ignore that the album cover is basically exactly Opeth’s In Cauda Venenum. It’s not that proggy. There’s a little bit of that dark folk feel you’d get from a Chelsea Wolfe, but with a little more going on instrumentally. There’s such a massive range of influences and styles that it’s difficult to talk about as a whole, but give it a shot if you’re into some lighter prog metal/rock. — Joaquin

AbestMolten Husk
Moment of Collapse Records | August 19th, 2022

Molten Husk is the sound of rust crackling; of a superstorm bellowing through ruins. There’s a corrosive quality to Abest‘s mix of hardcore, post- and death metal, both musically and emotionally. From the bass, degraded to static, to the despondent lyrics, there’s little sunlight throughout, and what we can see through the smog is twisted and fragile. Songs flare and collapse in bursts of warped riffing reminiscent of Suffering Hour, and the few reprieves from this intensity ring out with scraping electronics.

Bands that write with this dense, suffocating atmosphere can get lost in the miasma, but Abest weaves memorability into each minute tragedy: “Into a Mirrored Hall” dissolves into sludgy, death metal trems at the halfway point, and “Narrative Subtracted” dives into leviathan grooves à la Gojira. If there must be a ray of hope, it arrives through Jan Oberg’s meticulously balanced production, allowing us to experience each layer of grime on its own terms. What a relief. – Roldy

Darkest EraWither on the Vine
Candlelight Records | September 30th, 2022

8 years after the release of their excellent Severance, Darkest Era has finally emerged from under their cairn in the Irish countryside. If Severance was a journey atop jagged cliffs and monoliths, Wither on the Vine is more akin to a stroll through a moor in bloom—a greater focus on lush, open atmosphere (“Tithonus”, “Wither on the Vine”) quickly becomes apparent. That’s not to say the bite of their power/folk/thrash fusion has disappeared; riffs buachaill mór dot the landscape, giving guitar nerds plenty to celebrate grimace along to.

The band’s willingness to take risks in tracks like “Tithonus” elevates them above their kin. Whether channeling Tin Spirits‘ classic rock balladry or barnstorming black metal (“The Ashen Plague”) the band’s conviction to their sound is adamant. Vocalist Krum is the decadent filigree atop it all—his voice has aged like a fine mead in the last decade, and lends a regal, dignified air to the proceedings unrivalled in the genre. Sláinte mhaith. – Roldy

Foreseen – Untamed Force
Quality Control HQ | September 30, 2022

It’s been a while since the Great Crossover Comeback was really at its peak, but a few latecomers are keeping the flame alive and may yet herald a second wave. Along with the newly formed Fugitive and the upcoming High Command follow-up, you should carve out a little space for Foreseen, a Finnish outfit who are trucking along on their third record now and not getting enough exposure, from what I see. A bit scrappier than their pure-thrash packmates, I see them on the Nuclear Assault end of the spectrum, with bouts of bouncy, high-register needling and slighty ragged straightaways that keep everything workmanlike. It warms my heart to see them to hop from 20 Buck Spin to the more speed-focused Quality Control HQ, where I’m sure they’ll receive a strong welcome and (hopefully) good touring supports. — A Spooky Mansion

Codex Obscura – Codex Obscura
Independent | October 20, 2022

One of the more put-together single-player outfits I’ve seen, pouring out poisonous aggravation with an almost detached precision. Codex Obscura‘s newest outing is long, cracking past an hour of mostly unrepeated hardcore backlash. Sometimes little landmarks present themselves, occasional industrial-adjacent surges and drones hanging in the air over the power drill squealing and busted jackhammer chugs. But this record harnesses a brutal emotional deadness, playing on coldly and mechanically like a forgotten piece of heavy machinery. It’s the feeling of being trapped in a maze, the songs rarely repeat themselves. Slowly descending into moments of glitch and mathcore as you become more hopelessly lost, until finally, when your brain is freed from the illusion of hope, the torment of the twisting corridors finally starts to make sense, and you realize you never wanted to escape, deep down. — A Spooky Mansion

Teen Mortgage – Tuning In
Independent | August 26, 2022

My favorite punk band right now, DC’s Teen Mortgage, keep the trickle coming with this snide single. Drawling nasal vocals, driving surfy production, and a hook that doesn’t quit. Not their most involved work, but an effective draw for you to check out the rest. — A Spooky Mansion


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