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Review: Haunt by Vexing Hex

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When Ghost appeared on the scene a decade ago (damn I feel old!) they were one of the most exciting and oddball bands to appear in a long time, and their rise to fame was justifiably rapid and influential. It's unsurprising to see a wave of bands now coming through in their wake, and of all the bands I've heard from this scene Vexing Hex are probably the strongest. Musically the similarities to Ghost are indeed striking and they do a borrow a number of very specific elements from them too on their debut album. It would be dismissive of me to simply strike this Illinois trio off as a mere clone though, Vexing Hex definitely have more to them than that. Besides, with Tobias Forge's credibility sitting in the gutter right now it's pleasing to be able to listen to a fresh act take up the occult metal banner in an authentic way. Haunt begins with the intro track Hymn, a short but atmospheric mesh of droning choral harmonies. The vocal harmonies throughout the record are part

Review: In Somber Dreams by Mother Of Graves

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It seems like only a few short years ago when it was all about tech-death. In the wake of the late 2000s djent movement almost every new death metal band appearing on the scene was trying to push the boundaries of speed and technicality, whether they took any tropes from Meshuggah or not. Now though it seems the opposite is the case, and the bands at the top of the death metal scene are ones taking a slower and more solemn approach to death metal focussing more on atmosphere and melody. Bands such as Temple of Void, Spectral Voice and Hooded Menace have brought death-doom back into people's minds as a genre with far more potential than the often dreary and mundane gothic doom that it had developed into. It is at this point where we find Mother Of Graves; hailing from Indianapolis, this five piece combine sounds from across the heavy music spectrum and blend them into a style which far outstrips their genre tag. In Somber Dreams is a fabulous four track EP that does everything a fir

Review: The Still Forest, Bathed In Mist by Enter The Soil

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Following on from the release of Bleed This Earth's debut album earlier this year, multi-instrumentalist Justin Chorley has produced another record all of his own in the form of his long running solo project Enter The Soil. Utilising the same gloomy and depressive atmosphere that he developed with Bleed This Earth, The Still Forest, Bathed In Mist is a beautifully mournful album full of excellent ideas and musical concepts. Interestingly the record only has two tracks (the first and last) that even approach standard doom metal length; the tracks in between are shorter and more punchy than might be expected for a record in this style and it serves the record well to an extent. I do think, however, that some of the ideas here are a bit undersold and could have benefited from a little more development. Opening track Darkness Within Your Reach is a staggering journey through the mire, jolting from desperately slow chugs to droning funeral doom riffs, the melodies folding like sheets o

Opinion: Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle have beaten Pallbearer & Randall Dunn in the battle of the doom collaborations

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I rarely talk about production in much detail when I review albums, mostly because I believe it can receive far too much focus in heavy music commentary. For once though I am going to comment on production, so please forgive my lack of expertise in the subject, my comments come from the position of a disappointed listener not an offended sound engineer. This last week saw the release of two of the most anticipated doom albums of the year: Pallbearer's fourth full length album Forgotten Days and Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou's collaboration album May Our Chambers Be Full. Being a big fan of all the artists involved, and with a three hour plane journey to fill last Friday, these have been my most listened to albums of the last week. One of them has had far more playing time than the other though, and unfortunately it isn't the one from my seventh greatest doom band. Although rarely touted as a collaboration, I always get excited to see a big name band work with a new producer wit

New Spins: 26th October 2020

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Duma - Duma The guys at Cave Dweller Music (who I also write reviews for) put me on to this experimental release from Kenya. For a really great run down of the album check out their review , but in essence this is really like nothing I've heard before. Duma incorporate elements from grindcore and noisecore with disparate electronic particles that dance throughout the music, all the while bringing in afrobeat sounds and atmospheric field recordings to the mix too. This is definitely a record I urge people to check out if you want to open your mind and be inspired by some new heavy sounds Find it on Bandcamp here Falcifer - Falcifer Hailing from Switzerland, Falcifer do share their name with a particularly good Australian hardcore band, but that's all they share with them. Falcifer's atmospheric blackened doom is a thing of disgusting beauty, and on their first album they have combined some really interesting elements together to make something quite special. The riffs are sl

Review: Monad by Farer

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It's always interesting when a band appears in the heavy scene that eschews the traditional instrument set up. Kylesa really stood out with their two drummer set up, the duelling tribal beats creating a hypnotic sound that make them a thrilling live act. Sunn0))) and Earth of course invented an entire new genre by dropping the drums completely, and there's a number of bands who have favoured utilising bass as the main instrument over the guitar. Bell Witch and Om are the two most notable in the doom scene, but there is also the garage-dance-punk of Death From Above 1979 and the chaotic noise rock of Lightning Bolt, a band who arguably pioneered the bass-and-drums-only set up. There's few bands out there who go one step further and employ two bass players in their line-up. Melvins have dabbled in it recently by employing Butthole Surfers bassist Jeff Pinkus as a collaborator, and screamo legends Pg.99 at one point employed two bass players in their eight piece line-up; but b

New Spins: 19th October 2020

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Another busy week has gone by, and whilst I haven't been able to get any full reviews or articles on the blog for a few weeks, you can find some of my recent reviews at The Sleeping Shaman and Cave Dweller Music. That said there should be a really interesting new review coming this week, but in the meantime here is some more new spins... Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson and Balazs Pandi - Cuts Open Merzbow is probably as well known for his ridiculously large discography as he is for the stunning noise music that he continues to be the master of. His Wikipedia  claims that in 2020 alone he has released 23 studio  albums - I've heard about artists not being able to play gigs so writing lots of new music during the lockdown, but this is something else! Anyway, back in September (a lifetime ago in Merzbow's world) he released the third in a series of collaboration records with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and Hungarian drummer Balazs Pandi, a trio who have played together live f

New Spins: 12th October 2020

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This may be the first New Spins so far not to feature any doom metal, but if you like things a bit on the faster side then there's three great releases below to check out. Liturgy & Leya - Antigone I'm slightly annoyed that I slept on this one, but after picking up on it last week I've been spinning this track pretty consistently. A collaborative track with fellow NYC based avant-garde group Leya, it's a track which bubbles with intensity and in true Liturgy style can be deceptively melodic. The haunting atmospheric passages which strike through the track courtesy of Leya's harp-based compositional style bring a completely new dimension to the acidic energy of Liturgy's post-black metal style, overflowing with passion and fury. For all the shit that Liturgy took in their early days, being the archetypal 'hipster black metal' band that people would take digs at when they realised they actually quite liked Deafheaven, they have been one of the most pro

New Spins: 5th October 2020

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It's October already, and we're starting to receive some of the highly anticipated releases due out before the year ends that may well disrupt my already half-formed 'best of 2020' list. This weeks New Spins features two such records, and one which might well do on it's release next month. Satan - Toutes Ces Horreurs This is one of nine bands listed on Metal Archives as being called Satan, although I'm surprised it wasn't closer to 900. This particular Satan is the one from France that is listed as playing Grindcore/Black Metal, but that doesn't really do their experimental cocktail of sounds quite the justice it deserves. Released back in March of this year, the album opens with a spoken word piece backed by a free jazz composition that sounds like the soundtrack to a stroll through the Pompidou Centre's most abstract collections. The rest of this album is a flurry of intensity that manages to explore some of the deeper and more experimental corners

New Spins: 28th September 2020

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This week's New Spins contains some black metal, some hardcore and some sludge. It isn't all brand new, but it's all fucking great music... Ancient Emblem - Funeral Pyre Released a little over a year ago, I'm kind of annoyed that it's taken me this long to discover Germany's Ancient Emblem. As a band who espouse anti-authoritarian views, their brand of black metal has a ferocious passion to it that is palpable in both the music and the lyrics. Throughout this album the riffs have a raw black metal quality, but are played with a crust-punk energy and vitality to them. They can also do the slower atmospheric stuff as well at times, but Ancient Emblem are at their best when they're going full speed into their black metal fury. Lyrically it's pretty wonderful too, some naturalistic themes akin to WITTR but with an added sense of rebellion, using the environmental depictions as a metaphor for their social views. The band have several releases in their back ca