Album Review: Black Crown Initiate — “Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape”

Black Crown Initiate - Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape

Black Crown Initiate made a splash with Song of the Crippled Bull, an EP that crawled deep into my skin and never left. On Selves We Cannot Forgive, they had struck gold with the balance of death metal and progressive tendencies that many would compare to the sound Gojira explored on Magma, albeit with a more melodic dissonance that made the album a delight to listen to. With this in tow, Black Crown Initiate managed to avoid the second album pitfall and now had a new direction to explore: whether their progressive tendencies could bloom into full technical mastery with an experimental edge. With the release of Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape, Black Crown Initiate has succeeded in this regard, creating an album that shows adept mastery into their craft while also revealing just how deeply emotional they can be. Continue reading

Album Review: Geist and the Sacred Ensemble — “Waning Hymns”

Geist and the Sacred Ensemble are a tough band to pigeonhole.  To even call them a band seems like an oversimplification, when they’re more of a collective or organization, combining music, aesthetic and ideology seamlessly into one amoeba-like unit.  Take one part Swans, one part Inter Arma, one part Ulver and one part Crass and you might come close to what Waning Hymns sounds like.  Then again, maybe not.  It’s an album that begs a deeper dive than just seeing what box it can be shoved into, a whole greater than just the sum of its influences. Continue reading

Album Review: Imperial Triumphant — “Alphaville”

In a romantic sense, New York City embodies a perfect sampling of America.  Opulence and poverty, history and revision, thriving culture and commodified gentrification, honesty and corruption, passionate vision and stubborn ignorance, grandeur and insignificance — all these things come together to make up a city that is as beloved for its endless opportunity and diversity in people and worldviews as it is reviled for its deep-seated association with power, money and depravity.  Imperial Triumphant have taken it on themselves to tell the whole story of the city they call home, and Alphaville is the next chapter in that tale. Continue reading

Album Review: Judicator — “Let There Be Nothing”

judicator - let there be nothing

There’s a nasty rumor – perpetuated by years of actually being true – that when an underground band signs to a larger, mainstream label their sound gets neutered; their wings are clipped and their teeth are filed down so as to not harm the delicate sensibilities of the commercial masses.  Prosthetic Records have been defying this with excellent releases from the likes of Vile Creature and Rebel Wizard, just to mention two amazing releases from 2020 alone.  So it should come as no surprise that Judicator, far from delivering a rote, by-the-numbers slab of historical power metal have put out possibly the heaviest, more glorious record of their careers with Let There Be Nothing.  This is the benchmark by which I hold other bands who want to carry the label of “USPM” accountable in terms of power, majesty and killer anthemic riffs moving forward.

You’ve been warned. Continue reading

Album Review: Nekus — “Death Nova Upon the Barren Harvest”

Come drudge through the mucky waters of the death doom cave with Nekus and their debut record Death Nova Upon the Barren Harvest.  Hailing from Germany, Nekus is a talented trio of faceless, nameless beings, proving their expertise in the hybrid genre and making it their own.  This four-track, 28-minute-long “mini album” is the perfect introduction to this new band and their unique, gritty, and haunting approach to metal. Continue reading