Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (7/10/20)

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Start your day off right with some low-calorie reviews.


MarrowfieldsMetamorphoses
Black Lion Records | April 24th

Self-described as atmospheric doom metal, Massachusetts’ Marrowfields writes long, slow, heavy and murky compositions exclusively. With songs ranging from almost nine- to almost twelve minutes, and a narrow scope of predetermined moods to convey, you’d expect Metamorphoses to overstay it’s welcome, and it does so, but nowhere near as badly as your expectations may have been. Though their scope is narrow, Marrowfields makes the best of it, squeezing every last drop, including as much variation as they can without compromising their set mood, and between the crushing weight, there’s a great deal of beauty. Coupled with vocalist Ken Gillis’, what feels like near-constant, bellowing, Metamorphoses feels like a more trad. doom informed Primordial, though not as emotionally engaging as the latter. Despite what could have been several shortcomings, there’s a certain, entrancing factor in the band’s music that I can’t quite put my finger on that transcends them. I think it’s likely that it’s naming is difficult because the band isn’t sure what is either, but once they figure it out, Marrowfields will be onto great things. — KARHU


Cult of FireNirvana
Beyond Eyes | February 20th

The first part, or second actually, I guess, of Cult of Fire’s new double album Moksha / Nirvana, released separately digitally, and together physically. At it’s core, Nirvana is a straightforward, second wave black metal album with straightforward songwriting. But the small flourishes make all the difference. Nirvana isn’t a very dark, or a harsh record, despite the blasting drums and tremolo-picked riffs, it is serene, melodic and relaxed. All things Cult of Fire has been before as well, but this time, they’ve been stripped of the outer shell that used to hide them.  The use of Eastern-flavoured melodies isn’t a novel idea, especially since the songwriting isn’t thoroughly wrapped in them, instead using them as occasionally appearing hooks, if you can call something that doesn’t necessarily make a second appearance, or serve as the songs focus in any sense, a hook. But they’re ingrained deep enough in the songwriting not to feel like a novelty, but an extension of the album’s concept of Tantric Buddhism’s belief of turning the Five Poisons into the Five Wisdoms, much like the post- influence that has almost always streamed under the band’s music, but never taking up a considerable amount of their writing, allowing for them to remain rooted in black metal more strictly than post-black bands usually do. — KARHU


Idle HandsDon’t Waste Your Time II
Lone Fir | July 7th

Written around the same time as the band’s debut EP, and originally intended to appear as a part of that release, the two songs featured on Don’t Waste Your Time II ended up sitting around unused for two years. The arrangements haven’t been touched much, and the songs would still fit right in with the originals. Sadboi gothic rock with a twist of heavy metal and bonafide 80’s cheese was never as catchy before Idle Hands, and probably no one else was even mixing the ingredients together like they are, so it’s an immense pleasure to be getting some more of them already. But Idle Hands also got better pretty quick after their debut EP, meaning that “It Doesn’t Really Matter” and “Puppy Love” are only extremely good and catchy, and not quite at the level of Mana’s best tunes. It’s also pretty irritating that these songs weren’t included as a part of the original EP, as most of it ended up being re-recorded for Mana, and having more songs that weren’t would have added more point for it’s existence as a separate release retrospectively. Alternatively, re-recording the one song from the original that wasn’t on Mana, would have also worked, though half-invalidated the original. Whatever, great tunes all the same, and “Puppy Love’s” ending absolutely rules. — KARHU


NishaiarAwaxhun
Independent | June 20, 2020

I had this queued up for a while after it was recommended on Discord, and on a sunny Saturday noon, craving a quiet soundtrack for some r’n’r on the couch, I finally got around to listening to it. I mention this because I think the circumstances played a role in my patience with and enjoyment of the record – it’s not one that grabs you, but one that can carry you away if you’re willing to meet it halfway. Nishaiar’s blend consists of one part ambient, one part post-black metal, and one part instrumentation and chants from their home country, Ethiopia. So is this what people call “world music?” Who knows. They share some tags with that Altar of the Horned God record I reviewed the last time around, yet sound quite different; it’s a quiter affair with even rarer (and thankfully, less boring) black metal parts, focusing more on ethereal sounds. — Hans


CosmovoreInto the Necrosphere
Independent | May 24th, 2020

First of all, just look at that cover art. Beautiful. And remarkably fitting for this debut EP packed to the brim with crushing voidgaze, which I suppose is supposed to be blackgaze, only more ‘chasmic’, but there certainly is a lot of death metal influence here too. Call it what you want, it’s atmospheric as fuck. Instrumentation is solid, but the bass is actually killer. The vocals almost fade into the background, but menacingly loom overhead, further adding to the claustrophobia this EP brings forth. It isn’t too long either, so if you’re looking for a quick fix of atmospheric black/death metal, don’t look any further. That being said, it can get a bit repetitive, but since that is the nature of the beast, I think most people are going to be just fine with that. — SLNC


Almyrkvi / The Ruins of BeverastSplit
Ván Records | May 29th, 2020

I’m not ashamed to admit, that I always liked this certain subgenre of black metal, that can only be described as ‘cosmic’, although it sometimes feels a bit pretentious. You know, Mesarthim. Sinmara in some ways, and, of course, Almyrkvi. Teaming up with The Ruins of Beverast, they released a really solid split album here. Both bands play to their strengths without experimenting much, except for more liberal synth use on the Almyrkvi side, while it still draws up wide soundscape you’d expect from a cosmos-themed band. The Ruins of Beverast side almost seems tribal in comparison, with haunting chants and driving beats leading into “Hunters,” which is a track that is as Ruins of Beverast-y as they come. The production sometimes seems weirdly dull though. So dull, in fact, that I feel a bit more clarity could have helped overall impressions. Nevertheless, this split album delivers some rock-solid atmospheric black metal and genre fans, but especially fans of the bands on display here, definitely will get their money’s worth. — SLNC


FalconerFrom a Dying Ember
Metal Blade | June 26th, 2020

Falconer has long been one of my favorite bands; not only is Mathias Blad’s warm, soothing tenor a rarity in the world of metal, but they’re also a truly riff-oriented power metal band. From a Dying Ember not only sees the band continue their tradition of medieval folk- and trad-metal infused music, but it pushes it to new heights- this is some of Falconer’s best work, and that’s saying something. The dual-guitar attack is put to some of its best use here with gorgeous harmonies, and Blad puts forth one of his strongest performances of his metal career. The folk instruments are put to better use across the board, particularly on “Fool’s Crusade,” adding a bevy of interesting sonic textures without any of the cringe-worthy cheese one expects from folk metal. It closes out on “Rapture,” a revamped and previously unreleased Mithotyn track, a perfect capstone to the band’s illustrious discography. With the final words “As alone as one can be/I feel nothing but joy,” I can think of no better sendoff to one of the most unique bands in metal. — Spear

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