Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (7/22/21)


Little tiny reviews, get ’em while they’re hot

Këkht AräkhPale Swordsman
Livor Mortis | April 10, 2021

As you can probably tell from the cover, this is lo-fi black metal, but not the grim and trve kind. While the more sensitive approach results in a sound that doesn’t clobber you with caustic disregard for your eardrums, the audible bass guitar and the occasional melody also doesn’t do enough to tug at the heartstrings like a full-on blackgaze record might. Frequent interludes and occasional tempo changes in the proper songs do a good job of providing breaks from the constant, primitive tacka-tacka-tacka of the drums, but too often fail to provide anything as outstanding as the beautiful, wistful synth line in “Thorns.” More of that and maybe some vocal variation (the clean vocals in the closing track could stand to make more regular appearances) could really elevate this. As it is, it’s a lush, serviceable experience suited for those who are only just making first contact with their inner sadboi. — Hans

TrhäIhum Jolhduc
Independent | April 26, 2021

Nevermind not knowing who they are or where they’re from, I don’t even know if they’re using a real language. Kvlt! It’s perhaps no surprise then that the project is beholden to second-wave aesthetics sonically, but a bit of patience soon reveals that underneath the abrasive murk, the music runs quite the emotional gamut. The opener in particular bounds from joyful triumph to utter despair to sounding like a transcribed classical piece to melancholy to punk-infused spite. As for the other two tracks, I don’t know if they’re from different periods or if the steadily deteriorating sound quality is by design, but by the time the third track rolls around, the rawness of the recording becomes a little hard to stomach, even if the material is still robust. If you dig that first track though, I recommend the previous EP, which has a more consistent and equally awesome sound. — Hans

Deceiver LegionVarjoissa
Misantropia Records | July 23, 2021

Finnish black metal that sounds like Norwegian black metal? What a twist! While the Bandcamp comments somehow manage not to mention Immortal, I find it nigh impossible not to draw comparisons. Many of the riffs as well as the sterile, martial drumming recall the norsemen’s post-Heart of Winter work, and occasionally draw from Abbath‘s more rocking solo efforts, too. This is not a bad thing though, and to be fair, the project is able to set itself apart by infusing the music with copious amounts of melody now and then. This is most notable in the last two tracks, which delve into the somewhat dreamy aspects of atmospheric black metal without losing much of their immediacy. The title track ties all of these aspects into a neat package (including the last of three odd and peculiarly samey intros that consist of screaming and gurgling – not sure what’s up with that), so at least give that a go. — Hans

BloodboundCreatures of the Dark Realm
AFM Records | May 28th, 2021

After putting out their sophomore, Book of the Dead, in 2007, Bloodbound’s struggled to maintain either consistemcy or quality. Though not all of their following records are hopeless, and some would even erroneously place Unholy Cross as their best. Over the last decade+ they’ve been fronted by Patrik Selleby and have managed to reacquire some of that consistency, while their songwriting has fallen victim to the scourge of power metal that has sucked the life, the inspiration and the songwriting out of so many bands, the Sabatonisms. Creatures of the Dark Realm doesn’t shake the influence but instead loses some of the aggression and is frequented by fewer of the pseudo-folky melodies that gave the previous two some character. Even with so bland and one-note songwriting, Selleby does a fine enough work to keep the songs afloat and if you’re a fan of modern, riffless, brickwall, one-hook sing-along power metal you could do worse. Otherwise pass — Karhu

ShivaPlanet Eater
Realityfade Records | July 9th, 2021

If you don’t like Australian deathcore, just go ahead and skip right down to the comments to lambaste me. Anybody still here knows Aussies fuggin love they CHUGGS for some reason. Much in the same vein as some other of my favorite AU releases over the last few years like To The Grave, Depravity, Xenobiotic, and Zeolite, Shiva show up with Planet Eater and do some neat shit that feels nice in my ears. It’s got guitars compressed all to hell and back, over-produced drum tracks, disgusting layered vocals, all the cliché deathcore goodness people love to hate. As is my opinion on another Australian staple, Vegemite, I think the hate is undeserved. There’s a kind of unique flavor here that needs to be introduced in small doses, but once you’ve acquired a taste, it’s never enough. A few tracks in they begin to change things up musically, blending airy interludes and well done synth bits to give some breathing room and to keep the 50 minute runtime from feeling like a slog. There’s even some cleans in there I don’t absolutely hate. It’s deathcore. It’s good deathcore. Its good deathcore that transcends beyond repetitive boring breakdown followed by cringy gang vocal. Check it out. Or don’t. Also try some Vegemite. — Goof

NoctuleWretched Abyss
Church Road/Translation Loss | May 28, 2021

Another record to count among the spate of quarantine-inspired music, this solo release by Serena Cherry, lead vocalist and guitarist for Svalbard, turns its back on the typical COVID-record themes of loneliness and isolation for another cultural touchpoint – Skyrim. Though many of us chose to waste dedicate hundreds of hours to Skyrim years before the pandemic, Cherry dove into the game while stuck at home, where she also recorded the album, and sought to translate her experiences with the game directly into this atmo-black metal opus.

Every song, and the album itself, is named after an item, location, NPC, or shout from Skyrim. Narratively, I think this is an interesting exercise, though it does feel more like a novelty than anything else. The album sounds like a straightforward atmospheric black metal record; the main standout being Cherry’s ear for melodic leads, though the most intriguing ones only appear on a couple of the songs. You’ll find enough tremolo picking to cause a repetitive strain injury and all the typical blast beats that you’d expect from a serviceable atmo-BM record. But if you came to this album looking for Svalbard’s shoegazey brand of metal, you’ll be left wanting. In that case maybe load from save and try again? (2/5) — Eenzamheid

WizardthroneHypercube Necrodimensions
Napalm Records | July 16th, 2021

Brace yourselves: I’m about to give a Chris Bowes project a positive review. A glowing review, even, and this is coming from someone for whom Alestorm’s novelty wore off after a couple songs and fell off the Gloryhammer train after two albums. Wizardthrone, also featuring members of Aether Realm and Nekrogoblikon (among others) is his latest venture, and it’s exactly as goofy and cheesy as one would expect. It’s also extremely fucking good music, no qualifiers needed. It sounds like the unholy progeny of Enfold DarknessChildren of Bodom, and Wintersun, raised by whoever titles Bal-Sagoth songs, and I mean this in the best way possible. It’s catchy as all hell, featuring some flashy instrumental work and some fantastic head-bobbing riffs, and it leans into its cheesiness so hard that you’ll quickly find yourself accustomed to it. Blackened, melodic, symphonic- whatever you want to call it, it’s a ton of fun, some of the most I’ve had all year. — Spear

World Eaters – Grinding Advance
Independent | June 18th, 2021

I dig Bolt Thrower, you dig Bolt Thrower, we dig Bolt Thrower, so let’s not Bolt Thrower beat around the Bolt Thrower bush. Grinding Advance has a gargantuan, rumbling engine, and it’s going to bust holes in your wall like a Catholic Space Kool-Aid Man. World Eaters lay down suppressing fire from the get-go, exactly the kind of meat grinder guitar to make you grit your teeth and grimace, and also have a fine grasp of moody, gothic surges to really set the scene. “Armoured Spearhead” had me hooked me pretty much at once, but the chorus is what really puts it above the rest of the BT-worship squadron, easily keeping pace with the troops in 1914, Minenfeld, and Chainsword. — A Spooky Mansion

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