This is the sixth album from the Texas-based blackened thrash metal band led by Proscriptor McGovern. Having been around for over 20 years now, my first introduction to this band was their opening slot for Immortal back in February. As impressive as it was to see McGovern croak out intense vocals from behind the drum kit, something about him creeped me the hell out (and not in a good ‘black metal’ way). The live performance had me writing this band off before giving an album a chance. That is until Abzu. Too many people said too many good things about this record, so I had to give it a chance. Turns out I really do like Absu’s cacophony of chaos, I just don’t like to see it. This album is all over the place, with the last track covering the distance between worlds in just over 14 minutes, and it is well worth your time. As for seeing it performed live, you’re on your own there.
An Autumn for Crippled Children – Everything
(Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum, 2011)
Everything seems at war with itself on the latest from this experimental band from the Netherlands. Soaring lo-fi melodies complimented with pianos and chimes fight to keep the pain at bay, and surprisingly succeed. The shrieking vocals sound like a poor soul trapped in the basement, or maybe they are the voice of the crippled child that has been locked away to protect the family name. Wherever this anguish, it tears and claws away at the shoegaze fabric of these compositions, but never breaks from the binds that hold. This album is as frightening and claustrophobic as it is beautiful.
Avichi – The Devil’s Fractal
(Profound Lore, 2011)
A true dedication to the lord of the underworld, this black metal document is the work of usbm staple, Andrew Markuszewski aka Aamonael. Usually a one-man sermon, Charlie Fell was brought in to provide percussion on this one. This album acts as a valid argument for modern usbm and proves once again that Profound Lore is one of the most existing outlets of extreme music today. Everything on this album is tight, every element fits perfect in the mix. Clean production, profoundly evil (decipherable) lyrics and an open invitation to the ceremony. Come bask in the glow of Satan’s Sun, just be careful not to burn.
could not find any valid reviews
Azarath – Blasphemers Maledictions
(Witching Hour, 2011)
Polish death metal is something I have explored considerably over the past year, with releases from Decapitated, Hate and Vadar standing out as highlights in a genre where so many bands sound the same. But it wasn’t until I heard the latest from Tczew-based blackened death metallers Azarath that I made the Polish connection. Like Behemoth before them, these bands are putting their country on the map by exporting their hate in the best way possible, through skull crushing metal. With Blasphemous Maledictions, Azarath has solidified its spot at the top of my ever expanding list of exciting things from Poland.
Epheles – Je Suis Autrefois
Black metal from France that bleeds putrid blackness all over the pure white snow. Tell me there isn’t something extremely ominous about the black figures on the cover — the cold, white surroundings highlighting their darkness. Interplay between light and dark are a big part in this record — the atmospheric elements only exist to lower your defences. This is a frightening experience, especially six mins into Les pleurs obscurs…, when it sounds like you are being attacked by a beast in those snowy woods.
could not find any full reviews in English
Ghost Brigade – Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
(Season of Mist, 2011)
Ghost Brigade might be from Finland, but they sound like they could be from somewhere in the South. Acoustic guitar, campfire tales and death metal. Tales of broken people with broken bones and broken dreams. There is nothing profound in these lyrics, but the seamless transition from clean vocals to death growls and vice versa make this one of the most listenable and enjoyable death metal releases of the year. This is a good place to start if you are still unsure about the extreme stuff.
Insomnium – One for Sorrow
(Century Media, 2011)
Another Finnish death metal band, Insomnium have a melodic formula and they never stray too far from the recipe. One for Sorrow is no exception to that rule. Detractors might call churning out essentially the same album year-after-year lazy, but I say if it works, why fix it? One for Sorrow is another strong release from one of the most dependable bands in the genre, and if that doesn’t sound too exciting, give the album a shot anyway. If you are a fan of death metal with melody, you will not be disappointed.
Mastodon – The Hunter
What can I say about the new Mastodon that hasn’t already been said? By the time you read this, you will have probably already chosen a side. There are those who believe this album is the ultimate sell-out and then those of us who believe this was the perfect follow-up to Crack The Skye. Short, heavy hitting rock songs are just what I needed after years of long, sludgy concept albums. Maybe it’s because I saw the last album performed in its entirety so many times, but I feel like a weight has been lifted with The Hunter. Sure, it is a cross-over album, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I think I understand what Mastodon was going for with this album, and I think they nailed it!
Taake – Noregs Vaapen
Black metal project, Taake, has been blessed with its fair share of controversy, but that’s nothing new for a black metal band. Racism, violence, pelting the audience with beer bottles — you can’t really get away from these accusations in the genre. But on Noregs Vaapen, Taake might have committed the unforgivable by including a banjo. Yes, a banjo. I would pay good money to see Høst is full corpsepaint banging away on this instrument, preferably in a rocking chair on a front porch somewhere in Alabama. The crazy thing is, I would also pay good money to see this album performed live. All string instruments aside, this is a great album. I’d call in black ‘n roll, if that is something that actually exists.
Toxic Holocaust – Conjure & Command
Joel Grind enlisted a full band for his latest release under Toxic Holocaust. The Portland, OR band is leading the way of this thrash revival. While the Big 4 continue to sell out stadiums, bands like Toxic Holocaust, Havok, Revocation and others are forging a new road instead of dwelling on what came before. They pay their due respect, and then lay waste to any claims of retreading the past.
Woods of Desolation – Torn Beyond Reason
(Northern Silence Productions, 2011)
Australian black metal. Very atmospheric. I got lost on the outskirts of my campsite in the Outback a few years ago and have never been so frightened in my life. You don’t understand darkness until you’ve veered off-course in the great abyss that is Central Australia. There were no woods where I was, but I learned the true meaning of desolation. If I would have heard the contents of Torn Beyond Reason during those nightmarish moments, I might have lost my mind forever.