Embracing the Descent: February 14 – 20, 2021


Hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since I did one of these. This probably matters to no one, but that’s a long time and I miss the mini-review format. So, I’m sitting here having the first drink of the evening and I want to tip this glass back many times, listen to metal, and say some stuff about it. And, all of it will be pulled from the current crop of incoming releases. The deeper in I get, my glass will go from full to empty at least a couple, or three, times so results may vary. Let’s do this and don’t forget to check out the full listing from Monday’s Initial Descent

Dopelord - Reality Dagger

Poland’s Dopelord have been around for a hot minute—remember Children of the Haze?—and have always spun a groovy, slightly evil brand of stoner sludge-doom. And for the Reality Dagger EP, the first two tracks are rather paint-by-numbers Monolordesque doom. Nothing wrong with that, but for these haze dealers, it just feels…odd? I mean, Children of the Haze was an evil, occultish stoner outing that jammed hard and follow up Sign of the Devil was more of the same, but better and even further down the left hand path. However, the third and final—and longest track on Reality Dagger—gets the damn lead out, finally! This being the title track, it kinda has to deliver, and that it does; psychedelic riffs, gruff death metalish vocals, witchy-dance-around-the-campfire grooves spun low and slow, and a closing showcase of guitar and drum fireworks are worth the price of admission alone. With the current state of stay at home and hope to not go insane with boredom, you could do worse than the opening two tracks here but stick around for the last one and be blown the hell away.

Check them out on Bandcamp since the new one isn’t up to sample yet.

The Lylat Continuum - Ephemeral

“This space epic flows seamlessly from track to track encompassing moments of sheer brutality with sections of pure euphoria” says The Lylat Continuum of their debut Ephemeral. And this little tidbit of info couldn’t be more spot on if it tried. From the spacey, atmospheric, near video game music inspired intro of “Into the Vast” to the gnashing death metal of follow up “Zero” and even deeper in to “Meta” the band traverses lush soundtracks, truly progressive death metal of the likes of Devin Townsend at his best, euphoric electronics, and otherwordly atmospheres with a kind of heft that many progressive metal bands fail at. It can be overwhelming if given a casual, background listen but to a focused study, this is literally candy to anyone looking for an alien amongst the metal masses.

Coagulative Matter, the debut album from French technical death metallers The Scalar Process, is a lesson in how to be technical without the tech. Plainly put, this is a technical death metal album with depth and flair in lieu of a noodly grandstanding effort. There’s way too many of those and it’s apparent the band is well aware of this as they pole vault across wicked difficult songs such as the extra terrestrial “Cosmic Flow” and the warp speed of “Celestial Existence” but where they truly shine is on deeper grounded tracks like “Poisoned Fruit” and “Beyond the Veil of Consciousness,” as it is here, within these songs, the band truly shows their full musical heft and abilities that while they don’t veer from far from technical or progressive they do raise the spirits of old death metal. The bass is fully prominent and the guitars lay down vicious napalm but the construction and execution of such ambitious tracks would fool you into thinking this band is far beyond its years. I can imagine the old Gods of death metal grinning at how this band has molded what their hands made into something of their own. Sound too grandiose? If so, you haven’t heard this album yet. I suggest you do that post-haste and do it with an open mind and enough time to process it.

And from there we move on to more brutal pastures. Pastures littered with dead bodies and hacked up entrails. After all, it is death metal so stick with me here, I’m just trying to get in the mood of The First Shining of New Genus, the debut from Russia’s Insect Inside. From the guttural vocals to the stutter start riffs to the inhuman percussion, this thing excels in its ability to batter you from all sides and angles. Three tracks in and it seems this band differs from most in the brutal/slam arena simply due to LESS bass heavy drops. Those things fit on a Kraanium album and have a place on such an album, but here it’s all about the nastiness of groove meets disgust. But starting on the fourth track and beyond that, I realize I’ve spoken too soon as things fall apart pretty quickly. The rest of the album treads this exact same ground and nothing new is introduced; no new riffs, no new barbarity, and the only remaining light is the stellar bass work at the beginning of “Derelict Sanity.” Unfortunately, this lack of forward motion drags this thing down and I hate that because the opening trio really moves me as a death metal fan. But, at least we get the goods right out of the gate so it’s not all bad. Venture in but beware, fatigue is a real thing born out of repetitiveness.

If you think you knew Australian black metallers Spire based on 2016’s Entropy, you don’t know shit. On Temple of Khronos the band takes everything once known and flips it on its head. Sure, the black metal is still there but only as a backdrop and to keep the beat, this time out it’s all about darkness and how much seedy shit they can pack into an album. Mostly made up of “Hymns,” each track dives further into the far corners of the mind where madness lives and threatens to awaken that long dormant part of the brain. “Tyrant” sets the mood with over-the-top theatrics and outlandish vocals while “Tormenter” does just that with relentless black metal and occultlike chants and “Harbinger” follows suit. But the true money shot here is “Puissant” with its ominous atmosphere. It’s dark, brooding, evil, and enchanting as a damn snake to a snakecharmer and this is the true essence of the album as a whole. As much as I was taken aback by the aboutface this album represents, I’m completely enthralled by it. It’s different yet still has that blackened razor wire sharp enough to cut bone and dark enough to keep you up at night. Sweet dreams, softy.

Good thing we’re not judging this by the album cover, Vic Rattlehead anyone? Just me? Anywho, Buried is basically Pyaemia just not 100% pure. Meaning, some ex members decided that “Pyaemia has been buried and long live Buried” so you get the idea. Now, Pyaemia this is not, to be clear. Brutal, old school Unique Leader type death metal has been replaced by modern death metal trying to be brutal with the same exact formula on every track across Oculus Rot. I can’t tell where one track ends and the next begins. Don’t get me wrong, the individual performances of Robbe V on drums and Steve on guitar really stands out in spots. And even Worm on bass keeps a tight low end throughout, but it’s just not enough to keep this from decomposing faster than a Walker from your favorite but played out TV show. On a positive note, the closing track “Tenebrous Worm” shows some real damn promise; tight riffs, guitar wizardry in spades, and the best vocal performance from Joel Sta on the entire album. There’s even a dab of jazzy, off kilter death metal c/o mid-era Gorguts dropped in for good measure—where the hell has this been the whole time?! Who knows, maybe an album heavy on this kind of stuff would seal the deal next time? The optimist in me will hold out hope, but one excellent track out of an entire album ain’t quite cutting it for me.

Alright, I’ve cleaned out the remnants of a bottle doing this and loved, almost, every minute of it. I wouldn’t say this will be a regular thing but I wouldn’t say it won’t, either. I needed to let off some steam and this fit the bill. Even if you don’t feel any better, I do—yay me. If you’re reading this now, after all that, thanks and maybe you found something to dig into or maybe you’ve got a big fuck you to give me. Either way, all is good. Until next time…

– Josh

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