In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.
Ah, the EP. Loose in definition but clear in concept, it’s the not-quite-a-full-length musical execution that doesn’t always get the praise it deserves. Whether you want to explore a conceptual or musical theme that doesn’t fit within the framework of your band’s identity, or you have some leftovers that didn’t make the album but you hesitate to relegate to a B-side, the idea behind the EP is fascinating. So for this edition of Second Circle I wanted to focus on two new releases that fit the mold of maintaining a unifying theme over the course of their brief run time. So let’s knuckle down and talk about Sxuperion and Corpsehammer.
Myriad is the latest offering from US black metal outfit Suxperion, a solo project from Matthew S. who drums for Valdur, Weverin, and Endless Blizzard. Framed as the final entry in his “Cosmic Corridor” series started with 2014’s Through Cosmic Corridors, the album has an icy, detached feel to its take on atmospheric black metal. Picking up with fragments left over from 2016’s Cosmic Void, the droning tremolo picking that supports opener “Catastrophe Column” lulls the listener into a trance, the crashing cymbals accenting distant points in time before the music drops in the final minute to make you strain to pick out the eerie sounds.
When it picks back up in “Continuum” the drone evolves into a ripping riff, S.’s drumming lifting the music above to circle the brief howls of rage that serve as the vocals for the 1:30 duration. The title track is a menacing and full throated attack, but it’s the odd leads that mirror the riffs that are the most striking. “Iniquitous” is another all-too-brief burst of life with a mournful guitar line piercing the rhythm guitar work. At eight minutes “Unecumenical Current” is probably the swirling focus of the record, and its ebb and flow of lines move like water as the sound rises and falls, seconds of silence suddenly pulsating with new noise. If Myriad is the end of this concept, it’s a tight, brutal and cohesive end that has me looking forward to whatever comes out next.
Six songs. 15 minutes. Bathory meets Venom and has a quick lunch gushing over how amazing Motörhead are. That to me is Corpsehammer in a nutshell, and nothing on the assault that is their Posesión EP dissuades me from that feeling. This is nasty, gnarly, death/black metal that captures the essence of what the scene felt like at the beginning.
It helps immensely that the band is working in a trio format, and you can hear the bass being given equal footing with the guitar and drums. Vocally this thing is a beast, ranging from grunts and roars to massive bellows that shudder and lurch the music like a rag doll. Pick any of the tracks from “Pulso De Saturno” to “La Gran Puta (Beast Rider)” and you’re guaranteed nothing but a flurry of whiplash inducing head snaps.
Until next time,