Embracing the Descent: May 9 – 15, 2021


Week 3 of this thing. I’m as surprised as you are, to be honest. But, maybe that’s a testament to what this year has had in store. Or, bourbon drives me to write some shit. You decide. Either way, this year has been strong, there’s no denying that. And, with the incoming album announcements it only gets stronger and stronger (get that AMENRA preorder in yet?). It’s a wave that has me on a high and it’s been a loooong time coming. So, humor me as we go in for a few more album picks and don’t forget to check out the full listing from Monday’s Initial Descent.

Reading through some early reviews of Abyss of Wrathful Deities, the second full length from Grave Miasma, it’s clear that folks are clearly honing in on their veer away from the whole ‘blackened’ aspect as well as their proclamation to the whole ‘old school death metal’ thing and it’s seemingly polarizing in one way or another. Thing is, they’re a death metal band first and foremost and their proximity to the older kings is just a love nudge, so why the surprise? I mean, they clearly have nailed the cavernous sound that death metal resides so well in, and have nailed the razor’s edge intensity and musicianship we have all come to love of our death metal greats, and of course THAT atmosphere of suffocating swamp water or quicksand that envelops almost instantly. They indeed have shed some of their blackened stance of year’s past, but to me tracks like “Erudite Decomposition” and “Demons of the Sand” really showcase stylistic points and a deeper sense of self they’ve been hiding. The tighter focus on nasty death metal riffs and the occasional swamp like groove culminate into the type of Grave Miasma outing I didn’t know I needed. However, I pause at calling out individual tracks as this is an album that must be experienced, at least on first run, all in one gulp. There’s no singles here, or individual stand outs. Front to back this thing reeks of everything I love about death metal through the years and what has made it such an exciting genre to watch today. The spirits of early Morbid Angel, Incantation, Immolation, Deicide, Benediction, and a whole host of other bands ponder in ecstasy at what this band has done in a short time. Finally, Grave Miasma is a death metal band that doesn’t hold a hook anywhere but in death metal and it is pure, ritualistic bliss.

Oldskull is based in Thailand, but you’d never know they weren’t from Florida based on their sick representation of the whole Floridian death metal sound on their full length debut Nether Hollow of No Return. Fun fact trip: they’re a part of a collective known as Siamese Brutalism that brings together local bands all over the extreme metal ilk to share and spread the word around the world of what they have to offer. Definite plus and do check that out, tons of great bands to uncover. Anyway, back to Oldskull: initial pass on this thing was that they absolutely worship at the brutal yet catchy altar of Obituary, but further investigation uncovers a band that, yes, loves all things Floridian, but they also love death metal for its ability to hook you with a catchy riff then cut you with a sharp blast or groove or bark. These nine tracks represent a hell of a debut that, like my experience, might take more than one spin to be a believer. But, multiple spins payoff in spades as “Funeral Culmination” and “Perpetual Void” stick in the brain like zombie ooze while “Frostmen” shows off their ability to drop into death doom territory and slay it just as they do the uptempo tracks. Oldskull shows a ton of promise here and with the jam based closer “When Downfall Comes” the sky’s the limit for whatever may come on the next album. But, for now, and for this debut, I’m sold.

Before we begin, The Monolith Deathcult is a cool fucking band name. With that out of the way…these guys are of the opinion that death metal has reached its apex in the speed category so they’ve set out to try to a) break it, and b) insert different elements to come up with a new and improved beast. A little jazz hands over here, some avantgarde weirdness over there, spoken segments sprinkled in, and a dash of industrial all make for at least an entertaining album. I get a Zimmers Hole vibe here. Nothing wrong with that vibe since When You Were Shouting At the Devil… is a longstanding fave of mine, but for a band that’s out to be ‘different’ or ‘boundary breaking’ it’s not what I expected as I didn’t expect to draw parallels to anything. And, even after several spins, I’m not completely sold on it nor can I break free from that comparison. However, V3 Vernedering does have tons of great moments; “Connect the Goddamn Dots” is an infectious rocker, “Gone Sour, Doomed” splits skulls with its death metal fury, “They Drew First Blood” marries death metal chops and operatic industrial waaaay better than that duo sounds on paper, and “L’Ouverture de Morose” is an extended epic of theatrical thriller movie feels which, again, works better than it should. V3 ends a trilogy of albums and based on this one and what’s come before, I’m definitely here for their next adventure and hopefully the next one will be where The Monolith Deathcult really shine and completely break free from any and all comparisons.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, they said. Well, in the case of Kryptik Mutation, they are correct. Pulled From the Pit is a massive death metal debut that is relentless in its attack, brutal in its stance, and neckripping excellent in its riffs and blast beats. It’s clear these guys are up on their horror, video games, and Suffocation. The solo in “Blistering Blow” is out of this world and speaks to kings like Rutan and Azagthoth, “Empires of Galactic Misery” bludgeons with vicious riffs and jackhammer style percussion but that slowed, doomy section around 1:10 is just EXTRA meat on the bone, and there’s “Tied Under a Buzzsaw” that showcases some of the best—and fastest—performances of the whole album, and those hacked up vocals? Damn! Whereas the rest of the album steamrolls, this track swings a huge axe and kills with laser precision. I’m hard pressed to remember a debut that landed its hooks faster than this one or a debut that was as relentlessly focused on being top tier. There’s shades of so many eras of death metal here that it boggles my mind and all of what’s on display are what I hold in high esteem. Yea, I know, high praise and all as well as some over-excitement, but absolutely worth it. This one came out last week so if you didn’t jump on it then, do it NOW. Trust me and thank me later. Oh, and the fact that the album cover tricked you into thinking this was some throwback thrash album just speaks to the band’s genius at putting together a complete package that has us olds foaming at the mouth.

News to no one since we’re on week three of this being a thing: I’ve cleaned out a couple, or three? four?, somewhat close to empty bottles, again. Fun was had and the offerings mentioned above moved me at some point to discuss and at least two moved me beyond that. Hopefully something here will have the same effect on you to the point where you decide to drop coin on one, or all of them. Anyway, until next time…


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