Mini Reviews From Around The Stick (11/2/2023)


Dig in!

Our favorite newsboy Joaquin Stick brings us a 4-course meal of mini reviews.


SvalbardThe Weight of the Mask
Nuclear Blast | October 6th, 2023
It’s around a band’s 4th album where I start to worry about things getting stale and my interest waning. It happens a lot when a band develops a unique sound, but after about three hours of material, the novelty is gone for me, and I see that novelty was all there was. There are those bands, then there is Svalbard. It seemed reasonable to think that the post-hardcore crossed with melodic gazy black guitar work would lack the ability to transform over time, but The Weight of the Mask feels fresh and inspired. They remain enraged by this stupid planet, and that is plentifully apparent in their infectious aggression. The clean vocals come in like a salve at just the right times, and as always, the guitar work is unparalleled in the genre. — Joaquin


Northern Silence Productions | October 6th, 2023
TW: I saw some hate on Twitter for the phrase “atmoblack”, so I’m going to keep using it out of spite. I haven’t been too excited about atmoblack this year, which is surprising since it has been one of my favorite subgenres over the last few years. I feel like there’s serious genre stagnation, so even things I have enjoyed have been forgettable at best. Heretoir, despite not really doing much to stand apart, are the first band to break through for me so far. Their ability to switch from that now well-trodden path to sad, doomy clean vocal sections is really great for breaking these long songs. — Joaquin


Dismal AuraImperium Mortalia
Avantgarde Music | September 29th, 2023
Sometimes, it’s best not to read the promo materials before listening. Dismal Aura is described as “a blend second-wave black metal with crust punk and grind elements.” That’s just not something I’d click on, to be honest, but DAMN this is good. I really love the acoustic guitar accompaniment to this style of melodic black metal. It adds to the ice-cold tone and sharp vocals. It also takes short breaks from the usually black metal riffs and switches to an almost post-metal groove, which is always a positive for me. It doesn’t hurt that the album focuses on imperialist bullshit, either. — Joaquin


Somnus Aeternus A Nightmare Lit by a Dying Star
Independent | October 13th, 2023
I wrote about Somnus Aeternus WAY back in 2016 when I was practically screaming at people to listen to Exulansis, which ended up in my top 10 for that year. I loved their take on doomy progressive death metal with incredibly purposeful lyrics. Sadly, the Czech band has been on a hiatus until then and plans to call it quits after this release. A Nightmare Lit by a Dying Star is just four long linear tracks that still weave between the genres with catchy, soaring melodies and evil slow growls. The landscape of metal has changed a bit since 2016, so some of the things that made their style blow me away last time are no longer unique, but I’m still very glad we got this swansong. — Joaquin

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