Lost are all who traverse these ominously twisting paths …

•April 16, 2014 • 8 Comments

Waking this morning, I peered through the windows and spied yet another surprise overnight snowfall, after having gone to bed with my yard clear of the stuff.  Though I knew that it would (thankfully) melt before the day was through, the back-and-forth battle of Spring and Winter directed my thoughts to the colliding worlds of demos, Doom Metal, and tapes, and two releases fit that bill for review this week.  First up we have the heavy doom/death of, well, Heavydeath, Swedemasters who provide all that you’ll recognize and just enough ‘more’ to tantalize, and the more hemp-appropriate doom of Sadhak, a one-man show that has more in common sonically with the Second Wave than might be obvious at first.

Marty remains sleep-deprived and bleary-eyed as he continues trying to catch up on shipping out pre-orders for Panopticon/Falls of Rauros LP, so I’m flying solo once again on the offerings.  Let me know I’m not totally alone (wah) by commenting on this week’s topic:
extreme music fans are typically forgiving of “evil” musicians’ behavior, but what about when a musician turns ‘holy’
(thinking of Dave Mustaine here).  Should metal fans, specifically, view such musicians as having de-legitimized any new music released afterward in some way, or should the taking of the right-hand path have nothing to do with the perception of an artist’s future output?
Comment/post playlists/yadda-yadda-yadda …

Jim Clifton Playlist
Sarcofago – Rotting
Thantifaxath – Sacred White Noise
Velnias – Sovereign Nocturnal
Panopticon/Falls of Rauros split LP
Cormorant – Earth Diver
Skogen – I Döden
Blood and Sun – White Storms Fall
Ifing – Against this Weald
Necros Christos – Triume Impurity Rites
Thergothon – Streams from the Heavens

Marty Rytkonen Playlis
Manilla Road – Gates of Fire
Manilla Road – Voyager
Crowned – Vacuous Spectral Silence
Rush – Moving Pictures
Lost Horizon – Awakening the World
Lost Horizon – A Flame to the Ground Beneath
Slough Feg – Atavism
Metal Church – Metal Church
Nargaroth – Semper Fidelis
Paul Stanley – Solo Album

Heavydeath – Demo I (Post Mortem in Aeternum Tenebrarum)

•April 16, 2014 • 2 Comments

HeavydeathWhat births forth when two members of Necrocurse, a band’s whose debut Grip of the Dead landed on my End Of 2013 List, conspire together to commit their doom-ridden expectorations to cassette? Why, the hellspawn Heavydeath, of course! For the second time in as many months, a band with a seemingly infantile name has grabbed me by the throat and bade me listen. Once I did, I realized with zombie brain-feast glee that the name perfectly fits the purpose of the band, and that purpose is to pummel you with absolutely pure doom/death. The gods of Thergothon and their peers reappear on this 24 min tape, bringing with them all that made those bands great: mud-puddle tuned and distorted rhythm guitars, filth-under-your-fingernails bass, chorus-effect melody lines, slow, simple (in this case, programmed) drumming, death vocals that could till the earth before harvest, and occasional cleaned/moaned vocals that have an appealing gutter vibrato.

Though it would appear at first that Heavydeath aren’t reinventing wheels (check that name once again), the musicians responsible have an innate ability to string riffs together in ways that keep them memorable and in (slow) motion. And that’s the focus on Demo I (Post Mortem in Aeternum Tenebrarum); Nicklas Rudolfsson (guitars, vocals) and Johan Backman (bass), having sharpened their doom swords over many years in the equally great Runemagick, spent all their time on constructing what could be considered ‘orthodox’ doom/death, ultimately releasing songs that, while on a direct path back toward their influences (and their younger selves), still carry a dreariness of their own that ages well on the ear. And that unique dreariness manifests fully on the closing, untitled ‘Bonus Track’, sounding like sun-melted, coagulating Godflesh and Joy Division albums…with a death metal David Byrne on the reverbed mic (heh).

Heavydeath bury their ingenuity beneath a deep respect for the past and a painfully simple moniker, but that’s their joke on doom’s unknowing followers. For what lurks beneath the surface will move minds into the mire just as well as their genre cohorts, but with tweaks that hint at even more original ideas to come. -Jim

Caligari Records

Sadhak – s/t

•April 16, 2014 • 1 Comment

Sadhak_stWelcome to Norway, by way of melancholic, ’70s-inspired psych-doom.

Andreas Hagen, also of stoner/doom metal band High Priest of Saturn, takes command of vocals, bass, guitar, and drums, to bring you the fjords of his homeland in a way that, while having an atmosphere of occultism, delivers evil in a way without the blasts of frosts or mouldering DM his countrymen are most known for. The self-titled debut of his project Sadhak, released on cassette by Shadow Kingdom, hovers on waves of warm, fuzzy tone, complemented by forlorn vocals and cymbal-heavy drum playing. You can almost feel the fog in the tube-driven reverb of the rhythm guitars that are a near-perfect foil for the melodic, well-phrased leads and clean voice that teeters on the edge of key, but stays on the right side of it. Hagen’s is a doom that does without deeply detuned guitars, and instead uses the overall sound as a whole to bring the swirl of wintry death into the listener’s soul, all while solemnly nodding to ancient black metal gods with its simple keyboards recalling Filosofem’s ‘Dunkelheit’ (on the chorus of ‘The Perfection of Wisdom’). And the album’s understated, but intriguing black-and-white cover brings on that ever-familiar, ever-desired since of aural cold, effectively evoking the music the tape contains. In all, a worthy achievement, as stoner-inflected doom doesn’t often exude enough moroseness for me. In this case, Sadhak brims overflowing with it.

Two tracks, eighteen minutes of music, and enough sorrow to bring the day into night, Sadhak should satisfy both those with a hankering for Orange amps and those that wish to experience frigid Norwegian climate though sound yet again. Limited to 100 copies. -Jim

Shadow Kingdom Records

You won’t go to bed hungry no, not tonight….

•April 9, 2014 • 19 Comments

Jim thankfully tows the line this week with 2 reviews for you guys to chew on. With tax preparation/completion and the arrival of the Falls of Rauros/Panopticon split 12″ that Bindrune has released, I haven’t had any time for writing. If you guys have ordered this slab…. a bit more patience for we’re working hard at getting the pre-orders packaged in the order in which they arrived.

It’s a good… no… GREAT busy!

Until next week… Pre-ordering new music. Yes or no? How long is too long to wait before you’re sending out that “what the hell?!?” email to the label? Cya next week!

Marty Rytkonen Playlist

Falls of Rauros/Panopticon – split 12″
Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars
Drowning the Light/Vampyric Blood – Drowning in the Vanpyric Sacrament of the Immortals Split
Pestilential Shadows – Depths
Aeternus – Beyond the Wandering Moon
The Accused – Oh Martha
The Accused – Martha Splatterheads Maddest Stories Ever Told
Evilfeast – Invoking the Ancient 10″
Immolation – Dawn of Possession
Ifing – Against this Weald

Jim Clifton Playlist
Evilfeast – Invoking the Ancient
Ifing – Against This Weald
Skogen – I Döden
Cult of Fire – Ascetic Meditation of Death
Ævangelist – De masticatione mortuorum in tumulis
Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon
Necros Christos – Triune Impurity Rites
Sacriphyx – The Western Front
Howls of Ebb – Vigils of the 3rd Eye
Judas Priest – Priest … Live!

Cormorant – Earth Diver

•April 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Cormorant_EarthThough I’ve seen the name in the metal press for years, I’ve never given Cormorant a spin; it could have been their placement on the lists of writers whose tastes don’t align with my own, it could have been laziness; most likely both. Regardless, here we are, a self-released, brand new album from these Bay Area ‘progressive’ extreme metal musicians and I have to say:


Coming at them with fresh ears, this crazed combination of early Cynic, black metal, neo-folk, expertly phrased leadwork and warm production bowled me over like a Northern Michigan wind gust. Earth Diver flirts with the aforementioned styles but melds them into a clay of its own making, ready for the earphoned elite to make out of it what he or she will. The folkish flow flattens out the varied vocal styles (Chuck-like death gurgles, clean singing, and a blackened hardcore delivery) into a highway that thoughtful guitars, skilled bass playing and odd-time percussion roll along while avoiding pompous, metronome-worshipping potholes. Melodic, triumphant, nigh Arghoslent-level battle riffs pepper (what could be, anyway) the war hymn ‘Mark the Trail’. Bits of thrash, doom and the dissonant guitars of Gomorrah’s Season Ends-era Earth Crisis can also be heard (check the excellent ‘Waking Sleep’ for examples), but somehow never confuse the already wide range of goings-on; no, these disparate additions serve only to add color to this band’s expansive – and tasteful – palette, in much the same way the intriguing cover art by Sam Ford of Wizard Rifle combines pleasing hues and monstrous imagery into something fresh and head-turning.

I often acquaint (or reacquaint) myself with a band’s catalog before writing a review, but in the case of

Cormorant’s latest, the arrangements, atmospheres, and utterly unique melody lines of the guitars riding the riffs call for complete listener submergence again and again, without the distraction of what has come before. Earth Diver demands – and deserves – the 2014 extreme metal fan’s time and attention completely on its own, as would any release of this caliber. -Jim


Impetuous Ritual – Unholy Congregation Of Hypocritical Ambivalence

•April 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

ImpetuousRitual_UnholyAn abundance of death metal bands today translate the stuff of nightmares into sonic anti-glory, but only a handful can transmute “creepy sound” novelty into repeated plays. Something has to lie beneath samples of screams and detuned-into-being-indecipherable riffs for future visits to occur, and while the specifics of that ‘something’ can be argued, its essence cannot: music and any accompanying ephemera must result in a cohesive and (at least mildly) memorable song to remain in the mind. Here Impetuous Ritual succeed where others fail. When I first spun the band’s 2009 debut Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence, I found myself enthralled with more than the murky, gut-churning aspect of the guitars; it was where the guitars were heading, where their clangor was leading that brought that sought after feeling of anticipation metal fans feel when they know a track’s “cool part” is coming. Now, with their latest release Unholy Congregation Of Hypocritical Ambivalence, that same sense of anticipation has been recreated, and while the effect can’t be completely separated from that given by their shared members in Portal, Impetuous Ritual’s choice of barely-there continuity over complete chaos ignites in the listener that singular wish to listen longer and more often. This continuity, in the form of song structures somewhat discernible against the cooling lava of sounds, enables Impetuous Ritual to deliver on the promise of their sculpted anticipation when their tremolo guitars coalesce with slow, doom style beats, when their whammy-bar panned-left-then-right leads dissolve until bloody screams, and when their forlorn, single-note palm mutes land on equally lonely and sparse floor tom hits. After the first play through, you’ll understand how the music found on Unholy Congregation Of Hypocritical Ambivalence (unlike that of any of Impetuous Ritual’s better known brethren) concerns itself with far more than chaos alone. Through constructed anticipation and bedeviled deliverance, Impetuous Ritual evokes what chaos leaves behind: desolation and, ultimately, emptiness. -Jim

Profound Lore Records

Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain …

•April 2, 2014 • 14 Comments

Last week while standing on the beach at Canaveral National Seashore, I watched in silent awe as the gathering clouds wrenched themselves to dark gray.  The  foam atop the waves began to roil with fervor, and the few people amongst the shell-sand that feared such things gathered up their belongings, heading up the wooden walkway to the safety of their wheeled machines.  My brothers-in-metal resolute, together we basked in the incoming natural ferocity and the then-emptiness of shoreline, appreciating the sea’s hatred of our flesh, the power in its solemn pulse.

‘Spring break’, indeed.

Returning home, the snow has finally begun to recede, leaving the brown of rebirth in its wake.  The difference in climes is jarring, and as we at Worm Gear adjust to melt both real and imagined, we skip tonight in favor of tax preparation, my son’s fifth birthday and vacation cleansing.  In its wake we leave playlists, and thoughts on the Sun and its effect on mood and mind; thus, our entreaty is this: if you could choose one metal album and one non-metal album to celebrate Spring seasonal fever, what would each be, and why?  Post and proselytize! See you next week, reviews of Impetuous Ritual’s upcoming and more are pending …

Jim Clifton Playlist
W.A.S.P. – The Last Command
Kiss – Animalize / Asylum
Skogen – I Döden
Motörhead – Iron Fist
Ifing – Against This Weald
Mastodon – Remission / Blood Mountain / Leviathan / Crack the Skye
JJ Grey – Orange Blossoms / Georgia Warhorse / This River
Mad Season – Live at the Moore
Arghoslent – Galloping Through the Battle Ruins / Hornets of the Pogrom
Lustre – Wonder
Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin

Marty Rytkonen Playlist
Skogen – Svitjod
Skogen – I Döden
Sacrilegium – Sleeptime
Sacrilegium – Wicher
Grom/North/Maroth – Sovereigns of Northlands
The Ruins of Beverast – Blood Vaults
Panopticon – Collapse
Vinterland – Welcome My Last Chapter
Evilfeast – Lost Horizons of Wisdom
Obsequiae – Suspended in the Brume of Eos


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