Another monthly installment of recent metal releases worthy of as much time as you can give them…
Succumb – Succumb
So what makes death metal, death metal? This is a question pondered over time and way more space than we have here but one of the key components of death metal is the gurgling, growling vocals, right? But what if at least some of those vocals were transformed into tortured, ghostly wails? Would it still be death metal if those growls were relegated to back-up duty? Great question, and frankly one that probably can’t truly be answered. So take it as ‘an exorcise in rhetorical questions that will drive purists crazy’ and just enjoy the new album from San Francisco’s Succumb for what it is – a genre-bending slab of unique cacophony. With riffs and blast beats that sound like they came crawling out of a vortex between the Florida swamps and the Norwegian forests, combined with the pained moans of front woman, Cheri Musrasrik, Succumb take all things blackened to inventive heights as they fight the good fight against the extreme metal status quo. Fans of extreme music that isn’t afraid to proudly where the “experimental” tag should get on this album post haste.
Bask – Ramble Beyond
One of the most underrated and unsung albums of 2014 was Bask’s American Hollow. It was, and still remains, a masterwork of Southern metal, combined with fits of psychedelia and draped in an alt-Americana aesthetic. On their newest release, North Carolina’s Bask take the title of the record to heart as they ‘ramble beyond’ the sign posts that mark where one genre begins and another ends. The land of stoner rock might be where Bask winds up finding a seedy motel to finally hole up in, but even your average stoner rock band doesn’t soak their sound in this much soaring, progressive psychedelics. It’s an album that, much like its predecessor, drifts and sails far beyond anything that could reasonably be considered “metal”, yet sometimes within the same song brings the hammer down with the best of them. You’d be hard-pressed to find another album heavy enough to find its way into metal publications and showcased on stages with metal bands, while being this melodious and, frankly, this gorgeous. It’s a downright captivating sonic experience from beginning to end and one worth revisiting over and over again.
Necrot – Blood Offerings
After gifting us a compilation album last year of previously release demo material, Oakland’s Necrot simultaneously threw the gauntlet down for both themselves and a death metal scene that has seemingly (once again) crawled itself up from the smoldering bowels of all things unholy. Happy to report that the goods have been delivered in bloodied, blasphemous chunks on Blood Offerings. Necrot combine a distinct taste for the thrash of their Bay Area forefathers with a love of all things brutal. Indelible riffing is combined with the occasional galloping rhythms to create a truly headbanging-worthy experience on tracks like “Rather Be Dead”. Meanwhile the straight-ahead assault found on the title track, among others, successfully hearkens back to a time when death metal was still as fresh as a new pair of white high-tops. All told, it’s a truly haunting affair and will most likely stand as one of the better death metal records you will hear this year.
Destroyer of Light – Chamber of Horrors
If it’s thick, dirge-like riffs you are after, the kind of music that just rumbles and thunders its way across the landscape, then look no further than Austin’s Destroyer of Light. After two solid releases and a split with Arizona’s Godhunter, Destroyer of Light return to once again blast low-end heavy, doom-inspired, stoner rock directly into the stratosphere. Destroyer of Light could never be mistaken for a band that treads lightly. No, instead this is a band that consistently drives the spike home one monstrous swing at a time. Like the darkened, catastrophic landscape that graces the album’s cover, Chamber of Horrors holds no uplifting message of hope. With possibly their best record to date in hand and a vast array of influences – from the likes of Trouble and Candlemass to the swampy sludge of Eyehategod – proudly worn as back patches on their collective battle vests, Destroyer of Light are more than ready to pick up the doom flag and carry it successfully into battle.
Mountaineer – Sirens and Slumber
On the growing and depressing list of bands that departed from us all too soon stands Secrets of the Sky. Their two releases were two for the ages before they finally imploded. Meanwhile one of the most underrated bands in all the metal world today is Oakland’s Lament Cityscape. So it should go without saying the new project featuring a founding guitarist of Secrets of the Sky and all three current members of Lament Cityscape coud potentially be pretty fucking epic…and it is. The newly formed Mountaineer play a brand of post-everything peppered with the most ethereal elements of their previous/other projects, and on debut album, Sirens and Slumber, they aren’t afraid to take that sound to strange and esoteric places. There’s a certain element of calming darkness here that flows from track to track like a thin shroud being wistfully pulled across someone dearly departed. It’s an album that soothes yet never truly relaxes in the way your average shoegaze record might. Yet shoegaze fans can also find something to cling to here. “Take your time, this takes patience after all…”, come the lyrics on the track “Pull The Blinds”. It’s a powerful message and one that could apply to this album. Take your time with it, pull the blinds, and let it join with the oncoming night as they both engulf you.