Author: Henry Glasheen

Luciferian Rites
When the Light Dies
Moribund Records
Street: 05.12
Luciferian Rites = Satanic Warmaster + Winterlore
 
From the very first blastbeat, When the Light Dies exults in its own fiendish black misanthropy. Luciferian Rites are content to stalk the perpetually frostbitten realms of early USBM and second-wave Norwegian black metal, and rarely wander far from those well-trodden paths on this, their sophomore release. Yet, instead of producing overplayed and boring tripe, it’s clear that these fellows feel true passion for their traditional sound. Count Shadow’s wretched howls sound tortured and raspy, and Abomination’s riffs range from blisteringly cold to unexpectedly heavy, venerating the full range of black metal without ever sounding like a pale imitation. While the album is mostly excellent, tracks like “A Dreadful Chant for Self-Destruction” suffer from a dearth of energy, plodding away at morose riffs without the infernal pacing of “Infernal Manifestation” or the title track. Nonetheless, this is a welcome blast of arctic frost from a quite talented band. –Henry Glasheen 
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Van Canto

Dawn of the Brave

Napalm Records

Street: 02.07

Van Canto = Heavatar + Jester’s Funeral

While Van Canto isn’t treading new territory with this album, their a capella take on power metal has only gotten more interesting and refined with time. Dawn of the Brave sounds refined enough that the band’s vocalized heavy metal arrangements no longer sound as gimmicky as they have on previous releases. This is partially due to an awesome selection of covers, such as Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” and Europe’s “Final Countdown.” However, the band’s original material is strong enough to contend with these classic tunes, and the result is a rather impressive album. –Henry Glasheen
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Age of Taurus
Desperate Souls of Tortured Times
Rise Above Records
Street: 05.27
Age of Taurus = Solitude Aeturnus + Argus + The Gates of Slumber
Three years after their promising debut, Age of Taurus return to bring down the heavy hammer of doom. Desperate Souls of Tortured Times might take some time to sink in, but once you give in to the unrelenting rhythm of its leaden dirge, there’s no going back. Very few modern metal bands are brave enough to draw comparisons to doom metal giants Candlemass, and fewer still do justice to the classic sound. Yet Age of Taurus seems to have hit on a unique sound, both heavily influenced by the golden age of doom metal and bravely departing from tradition. While this album is technically their first full length, it has depth and mature songwriting that make it sound seasoned and professional. Clearly, we are going to be hearing more from this band, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see their names next to their fellow paragons in the genre. –Henry Glasheen

 

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Macabre Omen
Gods of War – At War
Ván Records
Street: 02.20
Macabre Omen = Bathory + Kawir + Varathron
 
It takes a hell of an album to stand up to comparisons to the mighty Bathory, but Macabre Omen’s second full-length rises to the challenge with vigor and heroic triumph. Taking a decidedly Hellenic spin on Quorthon’s legendary viking metal material, Gods of War – At War resounds with an evident love for the black metal of Alexandros’ home country. Macabre Omen play in a style that embraces the chaos of ancient bloody battlefields, but revels in glorious melodies that pierce through the haze of violence and death. While Gods of War – At War still has quite a way to go before it could join Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods in the pantheon of epic metal godhood, Macabre Omen’s riffcraft is the stuff of legend. This release will definitely find its way into its fair share of year-end best-of lists. –Henry Glasheen

 

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Gladenfold
From Dusk to Eternity
Buil2Kill Records
Street: 05.05
Gladenfold = Wintersun + post–’00s Amorphis + Rhapsody

Even though it sounds like a smooth blend of bands from Spinefarm’s early years, Gladenfold mixes just enough power metal into their synth-driven melodic death metal to breathe life into a genre I had given up on years ago. The band’s musicianship is stunning for a debut, and the production is incredibly clear, giving those dueling guitar solos and sweeping synth leads the extra push they need. Yet, there’s something delightfully cheesy about From Dusk to Eternity. Gladenfold’s debut remains refreshingly out of place in an age where metal seems to be taking itself way too seriously.
–Henry Glasheen

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Lesbian
Forestelevision
Translation Loss Records
Street: 06.25
Lesbian = Neurosis + Red Sparowes + (early) Job For A Cowboy
While it isn’t the worst album I’ve heard this year, Lesbian’s Forestelevision might be the laziest. As if unsure of whether they wanted to sound like a jam band tribute to Radiohead or an unexciting knockoff of Neurosis, Lesbian frequently descends into meandering mediocrity. The whole album sounds like a series of half-baked riff ideas stapled together and hastily affixed with a “progressive doom” label, complete with deathcore breakdowns, atonal guitar jangling, and obnoxious post-rock interludes. The band thanks “drugs” in the liner notes of their 2010 Stratospheria Cubensis, which is appropriate, as I can’t imagine anybody actually enjoying this album without the assistance of hardcore narcotics. Periodically, the album will transition through sincerely interesting material, but instead of sounding premeditated and deliberate, it sounds like a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters and eventually reproducing the entire collected works of Stephenie Meyer. –Henry Glasheen
 
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Blood Ceremony

Let It Come Down / Loving You Single

Rise Above Records

Street: 06.23

Blood Ceremony = Jex Thoth + Mount Salem

This single gestures towards the more psychedelic proto-metal direction they’ve been taking since Living With The Ancients. With Michael Carrillo’s snappy rock beats and Lucas Gadke’s massive bass grooves, Blood Ceremony manage to confidently break away from the dullness of The Eldritch Dark. Their cover of Iron Claw’s “Loving You” shows that this band is able to play with some serious panache, but their other track feels a little dull by comparison. “Let It Come Down” gets a little caught up in its own jaunty swing and loses the energetic rock riffing of their proto-metal roots. –Henry Glasheen
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Moon Zero
Tombs / Loss
Denovali Records
Street: 04.25
Moon Zero = Steve Reich + Akira Yamaoka + Loscil

Like an unsettling dream, this pair of albums produces associations and feelings that displace and frighten the listener. Tim Garratt plays with the possibilities of maximalist ambience, pitting a full range of reverberating overtones against each other to create overpowering aural experiences. In the midst of the swirling ethereal sound cloud of “Dalyan,” you can occasionally hear voices that never become fully distinct, as if they’re being swallowed up in the undulating waves of noise. Vague impressions endure, like wiped-out faces from last night’s dream or the lines of static on an old VHS tape. Beautiful, odd and mesmerizing. –Henry Glasheen

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Erik Enocksson – Apan (Reissue)

Erik Enocksson
Apan (Reissue)

Posh Isolation
Street: 06.29
Erik Enocksson =  Christian Zanesi + Ben Prunty + Earth

Unfolding like a long, dark journey into the yawning void of space, Erik Enocksson captures a delicate weightlessness with his ambient music on Apan. While never overstaying his welcome with any one particular track, there is still something endless and captivating about Enocksson’s drones and ambiances, which combine guitar-driven waves of distortion and a selection of synths to create expansive soundscapes, enveloping the listener in a world of private contemplation. “IV” brings to mind the surreal, understated pacing of ’70s sci-fi films, while the majestic sweeps of “V” evoke alien landscapes and a sense of overpowering mystery. Themes of discovery and intrigue permeate the aural experience of Apan, melding together the pioneering spirit of musique concrète and a modern, more controlled aesthetic. While this album might not be pushing any boundaries in its chosen genre, Enocksson creates a genuinely interesting headspace that is at once nostalgic and unfamiliar, contemporary and deeply retrospective. Compelling even in its stark minimalism, Apan inspires introspection and reflection, making it an excellent companion on long nights spent looking up at the sky and pondering our place within the infinite reaches of the cosmos. –Henry Glasheen

Ben Q Best
Apricot Exorcist
Self-Released
Street: 05.24
Ben Q Best = A Perfect Circle + Gregor Samsa – Explosions in the Sky
Though his songs are tinged with a kind of delicate earnestness, Ben Q Best excels most in his ability to craft unique melodic passages that carry the darker themes of this album. His voice warbles and wanes through layers of shoegazey post-rock and quiet piano passages. Instead of relying on the long, building crescendos typical of post-rock, Best uses dissonant phrases, minimal instrumentation and a variety of other techniques that enhance the negative space of this album. Apricot Exorcist sounds like a small, guttering campfire with the warmth and closeness of its production, but the quiet still lurks in the darkness beyond the ring of firelight. “Milk Coma” and “Dead End Horse” take this aesthetic in a more intense and distorted direction, and feature some of the most catchy vocal lines I’ve heard in a while. –Henry Glasheen
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