Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl: 11/14/19
Bite-sized reviews for easy consumption.
The Drowning – Radiant Dark
Transcending Obscurity | November 8, 2019
There was once a Golden Age of Death Doom, a time of epic, growly, and heavy sadboi jams that would rend your soul with melancholic melodies distilled straight from the tears of angels. The brilliance of the period shined brightest through Peaceville Records with the legendary trio of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Anathema. Although not labelmates, Katatonia brought just as much crushing depressive beauty as the Peaceville Three. Over time, for better of for worse, these paragons drifted away from the style they perfected. The growls disappeared as did anything that put the death- in death-doom. But fear not, my most intrepid and savvy toilet drinkers. The Golden Age has been reborn and that rebirth has a name: The Drowning’s Radiant Dark. These UK blokes have fashioned one of the most compelling and emphatic soul-crushers to grace these ears since the classics. It’s a RotY finalist and one not to be missed if you yearn for the days of old. In particular, give a spin to “In Cold Earth” or personal favorite “Blood Marks My Grave.” – Black Metal Porkins
Given the pedigree of Elder’s two albums, I can’t imagine this flew under the radar, but I also didn’t hear anyone talk about it (what do you mean, “read other blogs”?). Having heard said albums by now, I think I like the band best in the instrumental parts. Not that I hate the singer, but the moments that stood out to me were all laid-back, slightly psychedelic jam parts. Luckily, that’s all this EP (33 minutes though) is; three hazy, desert-y instrumentals with just the hypnotic effect and amount of reverb you’d expect from such an endeavour. The length makes this a perfect psychoactive snack, ensuring that things stay interesting and don’t slip into spheres where sober people won’t tread. Krautrock fans should especially get a kick out of the 18-minute Neu! tribute “Weißensee,” which is the best take on the genre I’ve heard since Giant Brain. – Hans
You may have already guessed that this isn’t the smartest music you’ll find here today, but damn if it isn’t hugely satisfying. What you get is a crisp 13 minutes of brutal death metal, just enough to deliver a shot of what I’m sure is totally healthy energy. With its big, beefy sound and none of the lyrical pitfalls the genre is known for, it’s sure to get you back on track when you’re slogging through another dreary afternoon at the office. – Hans
What utter, utter filth. Basically, if this year’s big death metal releases were too sophisticated for your taste and you think Fetid still sounds way too clean and not doomy enough, you’ll always have Ruin to come back to. Blood Harvest know your cravings and have re-released this banger from last year. I briefly spoke about their debut and am happy to report that this one improves upon pretty much every aspect: vocals are even nastier and somehow more gurgly, guitars are tuned so damn low that it’s borderline comical, and while everything sounds much more like a studio recording instead of one from a rehearsal room, the drums haven’t lost that “blanket stuffed in the bass drum,” “snare made of cardboard” kinda charm. If other death metal bands wear the word “disgusting” like a badge of honour, Ruin should be the ones handing out the badges. – Hans
You know that singularly obnoxious scene where the villain has the protagonist cornered and immediately launches into an entire life story instead of snuffing out the good guy and preventing their downfall within the next 30 minutes of tidy scripting? Mourned is the antithesis; Mourned is the sudden crunch of vertebrae, the bullet in the frontal lobe—quick, vicious death. These 2 tracks cover a lot of ground while remaining firmly embedded in the realms of OSDM; from the harmonized riffing in “Blue Ruin” (Hello, Heartwork) to the scraping slams that introduce “Corridors of Cain,” the band manages to meld modern sounds with their love of mid-paced death metal. These local boys sound great as well—far more polished (but not sterile, mind you) than most bands featuring cassette layout artwork. The stately double bass, the paint-stripping dual vocals, all of it carries a leaden weight that settles on the body like a funeral shroud. You’ve got 10 minutes to live. Don’t waste it on something else. – Rolderathis
Technical black metal is a minefield of avant-garde fuckery and skronked-up weirdness; it can be tough if you’re looking for something both archetypal and technically adept. Fleshmeadow is the panacea for your woes: Daymares is loaded with icy riffs performed at lightning speed with deft precision, and it’s much more intricate and complex than the typical black metal fare. But for all that speed and power, it doesn’t skimp on atmosphere; they know when to cut away and let that dismal feeling sink in. The crisp production and death-metal like bark of the vocalist make it very pleasing to the ears, too, and it’s an excellent (if short) album. – Spear
Have you been looking for some Spear-approved melodic black metal in your life? Well today’s your lucky day courtesy of the Russian Skylord! Technically, your lucky day was approximately seven months ago, but let’s not get tangled up in the brambles. Much of Frostcraft actually comes off like a melodeath band rather than a -black band, but the riffs are firmly in the latter category. Somewhat unusually, this doesn’t mean you’ve got another Dissection wannabe in your hands, and Skylord stands out fairly easily even if it wasn’t for the varying degrees of keyboard utilization (see “Triumphant Victory” for a particularly bright break towards more festive moods without falling into the happy-go-lucky rut of folk metal). Clean vocals are used occasionally to augment the mood (“Drained Emberdreams” or “Scarlet Lightning’s” ending for reference), thanks to their natural talent of weaving opposite moods together in splinter seconds without contrasting them too sharply. Make sure to check Frostcraft out. –KARHU
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