Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (2/23/23)

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Everyone loves minis, so let’s have some more. You can never have too many snacks.


Pest Control – Don’t Test The Pest
Quality Control HQ | February 10th, 2023

You have to listen to me, there isn’t much time (barely 20 minutes, in fact). I was on a scientific expedition to study a new crossover species of lice that only lives on cutoff vests and vape juice. All at once, my lab was set upon by a swarm of acromegalic insectoids that immediately started converting the premises into a skatepark hive. The only thing I know that can mutate arthropods to this seismic scale is direct Gama Bomb exposure, or perhaps unprotected Municipal Waste immersion. These skittering riffs come dripping with that nameless green stuff that Predators bleed, mandibles clicking in rabid time with the snare. Whoever receives this broadcast, they’re too fast to outrun, but once they reach the apex of their revelry, you can surf across the chitinous crowd to safety. –A Spooky Mansion


Daemonian – The Frost Specter’s Wrath
Via Nocturna | January 31st, 2023

Spring is right around the corner, leaving you mere weeks to sulk in the biting gloom before the damnable daystar returns to ripen your corpus into rank sop. It’s one thing to keep the listener in a comfortable subzero seethe, but it’s another to do it with flourish, so thank Daemonian and his rime-crusted meloblack odyssey, The Frost Specter’s Wrath. Lord Metal’s dauntless riffitude is overtly Wagnerian in drama, and obscenely Demonazian in frenzy. Penned with a cultist’s care towards the antiheroic epics of demonslaying fantasy black metal, the sophomore album comes careening ahead at heroic speed, heralding its own glorious arrival with blasts tighter than an Etsy-sourced chainmail speedo. –A Spooky Mansion


Worship Pain – Starless, Endless
Bad Moon Rising | February 3rd, 2023

An American, a Canadian, and an Australian walk into a bar in Japan. Before they leave, they start a blackened hardcore band. If I didn’t know Thom Smith as the drummer for the Japan-based international effort Swazond, one of my favorites from last year, I’d just assume that MA’s entry was bugged. Turns out that Worship Pain is also where the boys from Funeral Sutra have been squirreled away for the last few years, much to my delight. Starless Endless runs more moody than Cursed Inheritance, a black metal funnel of pitch with the hardcore curtailed to the angsty final stretch, but I love the contours of the rusty riffwork that powers the three tracks. “Candle” and “Knife” corral the flickering heat and wicked edge, true to form, but the 12-minute “Ghost” has the most post-metal mist emanating from its depth. As a tense midpoint to their other styles, Worship Pain has some choice flavors. –A Spooky Mansion


Lamp of MurmuurSaturnian Bloodstorm
Argento/Not Kvlt Records | March 26, 2023

Hey it’s Lamp again! This time he has cast aside his sexy Andrew Eldritchisms for a maybe-still-sexy-to-a-weird-subset-of-people Abbathian, blackened mighty masquerade. Fans of cool sunglasses and leather jackets will bemoan this loss, but tbh fans of LARP and ice wizards were in dire need of a win.

Everything about Saturnian Bloodstorm screams post-1999 Immortal. The riffs, the production, the presentation, the whole lot of it  was clearly summoned from the frozen heart of Blashryk. While some (read: big dorks) may decry the shift away from the murkier sound of Submission And Slavery and Heir of Ecliptical Romanticism as a sell out move, they’re wrong and foolish and should have better taste. The clearer production really lets the tite Lamp riffery and sicc solos shine and gleam like the frigid arctic sun. If you’ve ever wanted to hear “At the Hearts of Winter II: 2 Cold, 2 Bold” then this is a must listen, dawgs. Unfortunately if there are any other cool musical callbacks to other Guitar soloin’/Big Riffer Norweginian Black Metallers like Old Man’s Child or Enslaved I wouldn’t be able to tell ya, because I don’t listen to those bands (Galder makes me uncomfortable and vikings are blasé). –Megachiles


No Spill BloodEye of Night
Svart Records | February 24, 2023

Look ma, no guitar! Drums, bass, and a hefty dose of synths are all No Spill Blood need to take you on a magnificent journey. The drumming is heavily inspired by krautrock, meaning you basically only get one pretty steady rhythm per song, but it’s the perfect backbone for the dense, awe-inspiring, and often eerie sonic tapestries woven by the other two band members, whose instruments intermingle until it becomes hard to distinguish who’s doing what. While the basic concept might sound like space rock featuring Jean-Michel Jarre, the band is equally indebted to punk and extreme metal as they are to cosmonauts of the 70s. Something as highly aggressive as “Anvil Crawler” remains the exception, but the mood is kept dark and brooding throughout, and there are no clean vocals in sight. Fans of the last Oranssi Pazuzu might find a lot to like here. Highlights: “Ad Unguem,” “Ossein” –Hans


SkythalaBoreal Despair
I, Voidhanger/Moonlight Cypress Archetypes | November 18, 2022

Recently, The Bois were discussing the band Stump Tail Dolly (aka StumpTail), and I brought up how they reminded me of Primeval Well and Vile Haint. It turns out that all three acts, together with today’s subject, can be found on the enigmatic black metal label/collective Moonlight Cypress Archetypes, an institution which merits a closer look and will hopefully continue its output this year.

While the other three acts are all comparable, Skythala eschew the “midnight jamboree in a swamp” vibe in favor of a much more ominous and, above all, dissonant approach. The long, swirling songs largely do away with recognizable structures and largely rely on merciless repetition, yet still retain an element of unpredictability. A key aspect of the sound are haunting, Stravinsky-inspired orchestral synths, which can sometimes take center stage for prolonged sections, creating an atmosphere that is equally as unsettling as it is beguiling before you’re plunged back into the fray. The overall result is a nightmarish eddying that is hard to withdraw from despite the record’s considerable length. The closest comparison I can think of is the harrowing sound of Thantifaxath, which is high praise in my book. –Hans


Raum Kingdom Monarch
Argonauta Records | January 27th, 2022
As much as I like a sludge album that just pummels your ears all the way through, I love when a band finds a way to splice in something a little lighter throughout each track. Raum Kingdom does that with ease, switching between pulsing Cult of Luna intensity and smooth Karnivool grooves. There’s a surprising range in the guitar techniques, from a meandering clean post-rock melody to shredding that sounds like Mars Volta solo in the closing track. In a genre where you want everything to be loud, they did an excellent job with the mix, especially during those culminating apexes. You really can hear everything at all times. At just under 45 minutes, I feel like they didn’t even come close to showing everything they can do, and it definitely leaves me wanting more. –Joaquin

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