Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (3/17/23)

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DrowstormJubokko
Pest Productions | February 28, 2023

Feels like there should be an introductory sentence here, but I’ll just tell you that opener “Tributary” and “Carrion Wind” do a great job at creating an atmosphere of superlative distress with dissonant riffs clashing into each other like storm-lashed waves, climbing to ever new heights of dramatic urgency like you’re lost at sea not just without a paddle, but without even a dingy. Well done as it is, it could get boring if there were no sirens on the jagged rocks that are somehow also part of this analogy. From hands-down highlight “Death Roots” onward, melody moves more into the foreground and is expertly juxtaposed with the dissonance, adding a palpable sense of momentum, like a current dragging you who knows where. I’m too far out at sea now to elegantly tie this back to the gnarled tree depicted on the cover, but that would also have been a suitable metaphor. –Hans


Pure ImpPure Imp
Big Bovine Industrial Wastes | March 3, 2023

The excellent Kaldeket and Svisselsant were the reason I was eagerly awating a new BBIW release, and lo, it has arrived in a form most pure and most impish and most different from those two projects. This is Certified Curse-Inducing Lycanthropic Goth Pop for fans of that thin line between earnest artistic endeavor and aural shitposting. Minimal drum loops click and boom underneath a wide load of honestly excellent synths. The Imp’s vocals are an odd fit, and The Phantom only really explores his full vampiric potential on “Witches Dancing…,” but the material nonetheless has a bewitching charm. If you’ve witnessed the weirdness of acts like Bâtard and early Wolok and seen the sillyness of… well, all of Grime Stone Records, really, but mostly the latest Curta’n Wall, and you were enough of a mad scientist to dream up a combination of these sentiments, this just might be your jam. –Hans


Night Demon - OutsiderNight DemonOutsider
Century Media Records | March 17th, 2023

One of the best, straightforward modern heavy metal bands is back! Bold words, I know, but Night Demon have been killer since their debut album Curse Of The Damned and they continue their unbeatable ways on Outsider. Although it’s been five years since their last album, the band has remained busy with tons of live shows and podcast. Outsider is an all-out blast of heavy metal that can appeal to scene veterans and newcomers alike. While it is lyrically a concept album, listeners aren’t bogged down with esoteric concepts, heady philosophies, or a large cast of characters. The leads, riffs, and solos will have you air guitaring like a maniac while the catchy vocals will make you scream your lungs out. If you want to kick out the jams and feel the heavy metal heat, Outsider will take you to other dimensions and beyond the realm of time and space. –365 Days of Horror


Sermon - Of Golden VerseSermon Of Golden Voice
Prosthetic Records | March 31st, 2023

He is Him and Him is Sermon. Prosthetic Records reaches out into the void and pulls out the soul-hollowing sounds of Sermon’s Of Golden Voice. While fellow emotive and depressingly romantic bands like Katatonia tend to get lost in their feelings, Sermon plunges forth with a driving melancholy. Led by the mysterious Him (I choose to believe this is the same Him from the Powerpuff Girls), Sermon drives forth with an epic, sneering contempt and palpable malice for the corrupt few who rule over the downtrodden many. At times proggish and at other times atmospheric, Of Golden Voice is a complex and rewarding listen for those brave enough to gaze into the abyss of the human spirit. –365 Days of Horror


HomeskinEnd’s Daze
Independent (digital)/Fiadh Productions (tapes) | February 17, 2023

This is the final and most immediate of Garry Brent’s’ releases under the Homeskin moniker. The opening 2 minutes of End’s Daze have gotta be some of the most chainsaws-n’-leather-hard-rocking-free-riding-Capital-M-Metal riffing Garry has penned to date. That first guest guitar solo whipping in @ 2:43 has me feeling like the Bat Out of Hell motorcycle dude. By tracks 3-5 the oscillation between Real Rocker Shit and on-the-brink-of-dissolution black metal morphs into what Garry describes as a “80’s-inspired production and further exploration of the post-punk/goth rock vibe” and what I’ll call “danceable funky goth stuff” (those clean vocals are pretty snazzy!). A fittingly weird ending to a wildly prolific project. Also hands down the hardest album art of the quarter. Cats, a spooky dude in a helm, and a battle axe? Hell yeah. –Megachiles


Oak PantheonThe Absence
Independent | January 20, 2023

I can’t claim to be an Oak Pantheon expert but I do have their 2012 album From a Whisper, and am pleasantly surprised to hear the evolution of the band since then. They must’ve tweaked their formula over the years because this is scores better than what I remember, maybe even perfect. It’s progressive metal intertwined with folk and an emphasis on melody – without the cheese. They know when to speed things up, when to slow things down; when to bring on the heavy and when to bring on the acoustic (on multiple occasions within single tracks). The musicianship is stellar all across the board. Stand-out songs “Listen” and “Bard of the Hell-Bent Ages” include some of the coolest hooks I’ve heard in a long time. I love it and you should too! –McNulty


In Flames – Foregone
Nuclear Blast | February 10, 2023

It was inevitable that my weekslong Majesties-induced melodeath kick would lead me back to the source, and I finally gathered the strength to check out their new one. I had actually got my hopes up that this would be good; the addition of Chris Broderick on guitars was exciting, and the first single they put out was pretty solid. Final verdict? It’s… fine. The album starts off strong with an acoustic intro and a couple tracks in the vein of the aforementioned first single (which serves as the opener to the album proper), but it falls off pretty quickly in the latter half. It’s kind of funny that the band seems to have circled around to drawing influence from the metalcore bands of the early aughts that all based their styles on In Flames’ early output, complete with hyper-polished whiney clean singing. It’s slick, clean, and competently executed stuff catered directly to a radio crowd. Ultimately, In Flames is now just the other middling melodeath progenitor wasting the extreme talents of a former Nevermore guitarist. –Spear

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