Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (4/15/21)

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Itty bitty reviews for your midweek afternoon consumption.


Starer – 18º Below the Horizon
Fólkvangr Records | January 29th, 2021

Nice. That’s my main takeaway for Starer’s debut. This album plays like a lovechild between Wolves in the Throne Room and early era Arcturus. It’s a weird mix of moody post black metal and spacy, synth led symphonic black metal. The name of the game here is emotion and atmosphere. If you’re looking for something evil or angry, this isn’t gonna do it for you, but if you like your black metal majestic and cosmic, you’re gonna have a good time. Don’t worry though: there is enough technical skill and songwriting prowess here to keep things from getting boring. It starts a wee bit slowly, but once it gets going, it’s a fun ride. 3.5 out of 5 — Goatforest


Ordo Cultum Serpentis – Derej Najash
Signal Rex | February 12th, 2021

Ordo Cultum Serpentis is a blackened funeral doom band from Mexico and South Korea, and the album art for their debut EP is really fucking cool. Seriously, look at it!  That cover is awesome!  It’s too bad that the music isn’t more interesting. Well, I say it isn’t interesting. I can’t really tell for sure. The reverb is completely out of control here. It’s to the point that all the instruments are completely washed out and muddy. Even when I can make out some stuff, there’s not a lot going on. Did I mention that this is funeral doom? I will say that the atmosphere is dark as the Pit, at least. This is good, because OCS sacrificed everything else on the album in pursuit of that atmosphere. I don’t know; there’s probably something I’m missing here. As background music, this might be cool. As an album to actually listen to, not so much. 1 out of 5. — Goatforest


Nekrofukk – Mysterious Rituals in the Abyss of Sabbath & Eternal Celebration of the Blakk Goat
Putrid Cult | March 30th, 2021

This one’s a bit weird, but not necessarily in a good way. As far as I can tell, Nekrofukk is going for a blackened doom/sludge sound, but they don’t take the path of, say Lord Mantis or Creeping, who try to blend the best elements of sludge and doom to draw out the best features of the fairly conflicting styles. Instead, this album sounds like a bestial black metal album that has gone through the hands of DJ Screw and inundated with keyboards. This results in songs that are very filthy and dark. However, they are also overly simple and uninspired.  The tracks that aren’t burdened with samples plod along and don’t really go anywhere. It’s a shame, because I really like the concept that they’re going for here. This album just isn’t a good execution of the idea. 2.5 out of 5 — Goatforest


Chaos Sculptor – Chaos Sculptor
Independent | December 20th, 2020

Woo Wee! This album kills! I know I highlighted these guys on my cooking article, but I really just wanted to give them a proper review, even if it’s only a mini. If you like your death metal rotten and evil, Chaos Sculptor is the album for you. While the album is not terribly technical by death metal standards, it is a very good one chocked full of sinister riffs. But showing off technique isn’t the point of this type of death metal, anyway. It’s got way more in common with Incantation than Obscura Creating a sinister is vibe is the goal, and Chaos Sculptor absolutely nail it with rasping, mid range vocals, twisting tremolo picked guitars, and some odd, shuffling d beat drumming.  This is a fantastic debut from a very promising  new band, and I can’t wait to hear more. 4 out of 5 — Goatforest


Dreams of the DrownedMissed Springs
Independent | March 25, 2021

Dreams of the Drowned is a solo experimental black metal project moving in similar circles as acts like Dødheimsgard, Fleurety, and Ved Buens Ende – musically as well as physically, having helped some of those bands out on stage in the past. Stylistically, the similarities with the latter are perhaps strongest. Enchanting, clean vocals hover like hazy mirages over blast beats and wonky riffs, and the EP closes with a “Ved Buens Ende 2006 Medley,” apparently using unreleased material from that band’s short-lived reunion. The three-and-a-half original tracks (one is an updated version of a song from a demo) do a great job of concocting bizarre dreamscapes out of said vocals and slightly dissonant guitars, with only the steady drums and the snarling bass maintaining some sort of connection to reality. There are harsh vocals too, and classical black metal tropes are slightly more prevalent than on the debut album, but where songs on that record did you the courtesy to start out fairly inconspicuous before gradually blurring the lines between reality and mirage like unreliable narrators slowly losing their credibility, these tracks dial up the psychedelia from the onset, plunging you into the madness much faster. If you dig this, check out said debut and keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up later this year. Hans


BeekeeperSlaves to the Nothing
Independent | July 2017/May 7, 2021

It is with great shame that I confess that I did not learn about this album when it initially dropped, nor when 365 did a breakdown of their excellent video last year. Luckily, news about the impending vinyl release made it to my inbox, teaching me the ways of the Keeper and making the album viable for my year-end list. In case you are as late to the party as me (and have not yet clicked play simply because of the band’s fucking awesome name), Beekeeper play absolutely ripping thrash with the slightest dose of heavy metal (check out those King Diamond-esque falsettos), an inkling of death (“Subservient Submission”), and some crossover attitude (“Kamel Krusher”). The result is a merciless, sometimes surprisingly technical, and consistently fun onslaught of incredible metal with not a dull moment to be found throughout. Believe the buzz. Hans


AphroditeOrgasmic Glory
Independent | March 30, 2021

Immensely charming speed metal from Canada, infused with Greek mythology, churninng out belter after belter about wars, gods, and Dyonisian excess. After dipping into the style with his main solo outlet Ice War, Jo Steel (aka Jo Captialicide) wisely relegated it back to this project, where he takes on more of a background role, providing “only” drums, bass, and rhythm guitar. As with Ice War, I could see the vocal performance being a point of contention here, as Tanza Speed can sound a little flat or even apathetic at times. Still, her peaks are fittingly over-the-top for the genre, and in any case, the next cool riff or insane guitar lead is never far off, so unless you’re looking for some sort of revelatory experience, the album is likely to grow on you at about the same tempo that the songs are played at. I recommend the manic punk energy of “Dance Wild and Free” and the murderous riffage of “Blood of Aphrodite” as samples. Hans


Hereditary – Disease
Independent | March 19, 2021

There’s a reason people tell you not to judge a book by its cover (or an album, as the case may be). A glance at the artwork for Disease told me this would be some grimy paint-by-numbers OSDM, so you can imagine my surprise when I hit play and was blasted by some paint-by-numbers melodeath instead. While my personal taste is at a point where I’d probably have preferred the grosser option, this isn’t a bad EP by any stretch. It’s well-performed and produced, the riffs are all solid (if a bit too familiar), and there’s some variation in texture with the intermingling of clean and distorted guitars in key passages. This probably isn’t going to do much for people who aren’t mid-00’s melodeath enthusiasts, but you could do much worse than Disease if you’re looking for a quick spin of something riffy and melodic. — Spear

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