Monday, December 28, 2015
Country: United States
This is the kind of raw shit that I love; melodic, muddy, and drenched in grandiose orchestrations. Hailing from Olympia, Washington these guys (for the most part) eschew any kind of association with the Cascadian BM scene, opting instead for a sound more heavily rooted in classic Hellenic black metal a la Agatus, or Deviser. It's fitting considering the lyrical content, which is rife with references to the Minotaur and sporadic uses of Latin. Musically, Sacral Regicide draws the perfect line between filthy and pristine, supplementing the cascading waves of rich atmosphere. The whole of the demo is a wonderful balance of synth heavy and just plain FUCKING HEAVY; when they kick it into overdrive, they are relentless.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Genre: Melodic Black/Death Metal
Country: United States
Swedish extreme metal since its beginnings has been one of the most potent and influential scenes to grace the genre. From the the buzz-saw aggression of their Stockholm scene to the more refined melodic style of Gothenburg, Sweden has influenced countless bands and will undoubtedly do so until the end of time. Hailing from New Hampshire (which is pretty metal, I guess?) Yersinia Pestis play homage to their spiritual Swedish forebears through raucous and downright savage melodic black/death metal. Think a downtuned Somberlain-era Dissection, and you have idea of what these guys sound like; there's excellent split guitar harmonies, and enough whirlwind aggression to keep fans of heavier metal more than satisfied. Overall, the juxtaposition of elements is very well done, and I'm super eager to hear from comes from these guys next.
Genre: Black Metal
Country: United States
In recent years Mark McCoy has imbued raw black metal with a sense of artistry that has allowed him to create some of the most interesting work in the genre. On the surface he offers everything fans of this style could ask for - blackened dirges delivered in succinct bursts of punk-fueled riffage - but conceptually his releases are often far from the simplistic racket of his contemporaries. His Arts project and its Vault of Heaven album contained all the crudity and ugliness of raw black metal while daring to toy with its structural convention. Hallow dissembled BM and noise into an experience wholly more harrowing than the sum of its parts. Even his more "straightforward" projects - Devil's Dung, Ancestors, Haxan - exude a modicum of depth rarely felt within the genre. His newest project Devouring Ghost continues this trend. Created as the musical accompaniment to his latest exhibition, Devouring Ghost is a soundtrack comprised of stripped down black metal tracks that represent "the transience and mutability of a technically-constructed world."
Devouring Ghosts is Armageddon set to a black metal album. It certainly delivers on Mr. McCoy's promises; it's a viscerally driven and bare-bones BM pieces that successfully employs each of the genre's most well known tropes. On a cursory run-through that may be all it seems, and while undoubtedly enjoyable, leaves a bit to be desired as a whole. However, like most of his projects, repeated listens begin to belie how sinister and complex these hymns truly are. An undercurrent of chord progressions and ambient embellishments sneakily move beneath the more pronounced music, lending tracks like "Intamin" and opener "Trail Severed Grain" vast and winding soundscapes that one would not initially expect them to possess. This grandiosity while awe-inspiring, is far from welcoming. Evocative of a world flaming in monochromatic post-apocalyptic destruction, there is something so mechanical about the record's cold tonality that perfectly satisfies its thematic ambitions. Close your eyes and see a gray-tinted wasteland, littered with the mechanisms we are now so heavily reliant on. If Devouring Ghost was meant to portray the ambivalence in which we race to our inevitable destruction, it has done so with frightening accuracy.
Mark McCoy never fails to impress, and his newest project is no different; in fact, it may be one of his strongest yet. If you're not the type who can be bothered with conceptual tom-foolery but are a fan of raw, destructive black metal than you can still find plenty of enjoyment from Devouring Ghosts. For those of you who enjoy a terrifying narrative woven into terrifying music, Devouring Ghosts will be one of your favorite black metal albums of 2015.