Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (5/28/20)

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Tiny reviews, tiny album covers, tiny men living in your walls


Lesser Glow Nullity
Pelagic Records | May 29, 2020

Shocking, I know, but Pelagic is releasing another extremely competent sludgy doom album. Even in my current mood of not being able to get too excited about anything new, I’m digging the atmosphere Lesser Glow lays down on Nullity. While it’s sort of a paint-by-numbers genre album, those numbers guided them to a pretty good painting. The punchier and less post- tracks like “Red Ayrag” and “Versterven” are the highlights for me. — Joaquin


MamaleekCome and See
The Flenser | March 27, 2020

I’ve tried and tried and tried (and tried) to write something about this album. All I can think of are things I don’t want to say about it. I don’t want to talk about Mamaleek’s evolution from a deranged bedroom post-suicidal black metal band into something trippy whose execution requires a knowledge of modes and scales. I don’t want to quibble over how much black metal is still rattling around in the band’s source code (basically none). I don’t want to make some lame joke about how in the time of COVID-19 this former two-piece, who never played live, has now blown up to a full live band and thus IS NOT OBSERVING THE RULES OF SOCIAL DISTANCING. I don’t want to use the word “blues”. All I really want to do (all I can bring myself to do) is note that Come and See is like stumbling drunkenly into the wrong alleyway at 5 a.m. after a bar crawl and having an eccentric homeless millionaire pop out at you from a trash can to bark spittle in your face about the rotten economy and the fascist nano-ticks building a simulation inside his lymph nodes. FFO: Noise rock, the American Southwest, and Oscar the Grouch. — Richter


Omniarch – S/T
Independent | May 8, 2020

Seeing purple aliens in menacing poses used to be enough to sell me on an album, but I’ve become weary in the years since 2008. Today, I know what to expect from a band when I see these particular shades of periwinkle: typewriter drums, arpeggios and the odd sensation that I’ve been abducted and returned to Earth 30 minutes later with no memories of the journey. That being said, 2020 doesn’t care about my preconceived notions. Omniarch‘s S/T debut is adorned with artwork closer to Yu-Gi-Oh! than H.R. Giger, but for some reason it drew my attention. I think I’m actually just glad it’s not Pär Olofsson and shows some spark of life, a cartoonish playfulness that makes me think these folks are enjoying themselves. It certainly sounds that way from the music they play.

Whether channeling Darkest Hour‘s burly melodicism (“A Voracious Awakening”) or taking a detour through somber acoustic passages (“Caligula”), this collection of songs is always unpredictable; while they’re ostensibly a tech death band, the constant stylistic shifts help them transcend the stale staples of the genre. The most surprising element of the album is the chameleonic approach to vocals: deathcore’s shrill shrieks give way to the staccato barks of Archspire without warning, and crew shouts or whine-free cleans are never far off. Together with the varied (and accomplished for such a young band) songwriting and solid production, Omniarch has crafted an impressive debut that’s made me rethink my stance on tech. — Rolderathis


VarmiaW ciele nie
Pagan Records | April 20, 2018

“Album recorded entirely live in an old barn somewhere in Warmia. Vocals recorded live in the forest somewhere in Warmia.” Haha, black metal, am I right? Seriously though, I don’t know whether it’s owed to the places it was recorded, but this album sounds fantastic. The guitars have a beautiful crunch to them, most notably when they’re on full speed. The acoustic folk sections that pop up here and there are fittingly minimal in composition and sound. The horns that are mixed with the black metal parts sound appropriately intense, almost like they’re strained to breaking point. The harsh vocals have an oddly metallic ring to them, which I dig, and I find the cleans to be similarly unique and gripping. The album’s a bit on the long side, but for once, that’s beneficial, as it feels like you’re being drawn into its world. Gamers would call it “immersive.” Hans


VacuousDemo I
Independent | April 13, 2020

There’s something beautiful about OSDM demos- trashy riffs recorded in someone’s nasty basement, just as nature intended. Incidentally, Vacuous have crafted a pretty decent-sounding demo; it’s as gritty and grimy as one would expect, and the mix gives each instrument plenty of room to breathe. The music itself belies an eclectic but cohesive sound across its three tracks, drawing from a Demilich-style sound (think more Sewercide than Nucleus) to a crusty pseudo-D-beat to some spooky, chunky doom. I wouldn’t say it’s anything you haven’t heard before, but it’s rarely heard all in one place. Vacuous are off to a promising start, and I think we can expect some solid tunes from them in the future. — Spear


Black CurseEndless Wound
Sepulchral Voice | April 2nd

It’s not difficult to get the appeal of Black Curse’s debut full length. It’s focused, confident and extremely vicious death metal, with an ever-so-slight hints of a blackened spirit, and flirtation with the cavernous school of sound. The tempo changes and fairly thoughtful arrangements make sure the experience doesn’t become too homogeneous, creating anticipation and offering rewards. Arthur Rizk’s mix captures the chaos perfectly but brings a semblance of clarity to it, adding another feather to his hat. It’s also easy to see why the hype machine began to roll so vigorously, after all, Black Curse is formed by members of Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice, Khemmis and Primitive Man. But Endless Wound is only tremendous on paper. It does everything right, technically, but it’s neither engaging nor memorable. Good, but not great. War metal for people who complain about war metal being a grift. KARHU


VainajaKiviristi
Independent | April 27th

Vainaja’s two, conceptually interesting full-lengths made them one of the finest newer death(/doom) bands from Finland. Kiviristi is the first part of their double-EP and dives deeper still into traditional 19th century lore and  the history of Church of Vainaja, disclosing the possible reasons why preacher Wilhelm Waenaa, whose life ended in flames inside his own church, once a man of God, converted and became the feared leader of a twisted cult. The two songs that make up the musical side of Kiviristi continue on the trail of expanded length set upon by Verenvalaja, but the arrangements have reverted to a more bare state where the orchestrations and clean vocals aren’t as strong elements anymore. Instead the dynamics have become deeper and every chord change comes with more weight and deliberation. It’ll be interesting to see where the second part takes music, and how will it be reflected on the story. Kiviristi finds Vainaja as potent as ever, and despite it’s short length, makes for a thorough experience. KARHU

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