You know the drill (and if ya don’t, pay attention, hotshot): these days more than ever time is money, or relative, or something like that — hence the consolidated capsule review format, dig? Regardless, never loan money to relatives, or else time will be your only remaining (if fleeting) capital (in lieu of patience, and, um, money). But enough about me and my digressive monetary issues and subpar time management skills (shaddap) — on with the new(ish) DIY tunes before I overshare myself into egoblivion.
King Goat – Conduit
Quantum leap wha? Brighton’s favourite sons make their full length debut with epic fanfare, pushing Trimm’s versatile, arresting vocals to the fore amid an ever-shifting sonic cavalcade of dark riff matter that leaves their self titled 2014 EP light years behind. A cosmic, brutal throat-punch of grandiose progressive doom that stakes an early claim on the Best of 2016 shortlist.
Martriden – Cold and the Silence
Who would have guessed that former-Montana-now-Denver-based black-prog apostates Martriden would pull a full Beyonce last November and digitally drop Cold and the Silence, the long awaited followup to 2010’s Encounter The Monoliths — all with zero fanfare, label support, or insistent PR foreshadowing to buffett critic’s inboxes? Because of this casual (and kinda-sorta kvlt-as-fvck) indifference to orthodox release liturgy, many were sleeping off a series of deadly holiday hangovers when this first came out. Which is a shame, because despite the lack of fucks given to advance marketing, Martriden have spared no creative and technical expense on Cold and the Silence, resulting in a truly epic career touchstone for Kyle Howard and co. (NBD, you guys).
Eldamar – The Force of the Ancient Land
One may be reflexively put off at first by a languid, spare MIDI synth melody introducing a black metal LP that is purportedly meant to cultivate a deeper connection with nature. However, when the cold, harsh breeze of frosted tremolo riffage rolls over the lush electronic bedrock, you’ll start to grok the quirky yet methodical madness at play on The Force of the Ancient Land. Add some well-arranged, ethereal clean female vox to contrast the anguished lead howls of creative mastermind Eldamar and epiphany — to say nothing of extended listening — is all but inevitable.
Iron Mountain – Unum (Prophecy)
Ok, so Irish post-(folk)metal troubadours Iron Mountain are now proud members of the Prophecy Records family. But since Unum, their debut LP for the respected label, was originally self-released by the band last year, it technically fits the specifics of this round up (hey — my generated content, my rules #sorrynotsorry). At times a head-on collision between Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Pogues (yet not nearly as awkward as such a juxtaposition might sound on paper), Unum balances vivid experimental folk impulses and transglobal instrumentation with cinematic, evocative songcraft, marking an all-around dynamic jump to the next career plateau.
LLNN – LOSS
Self-released digitally last summer, apocalyptic Copenhagen dark hardcore outfit LLNN have since hustled LOSS like a motherfucker, pushing hard to secure forthcoming cooperative indie-label support in 2016 across various physical media. And from the moment ‘Rapture’ unfolds with explosive, increasingly momentus purpose, that same business-like drive and focus is unflinchingly apparent. Here’s hoping the greater extreme music world is ready for these vile urban heralds of total armageddon.
Église – S/T
Another fine example of the scorching Danish metallic hardcore underground, Église display a mountainous gravitas and dynamic sense beyond their years on their self-titled debut LP — and no little reverence for Bannon, Ballou and co. Thankfully, Église are far from being a mere tribute outfit. The breakout star of this Scandinavian freak show, vocalist Martin Nielskov, draws upon raw, sandpaper howls and sinewy, self-aware lyrics (“I swear by my flesh that everything I am is a collaboration that goes beyond our wildest imagination”) to belie any superficial charges of zealous Converge-biting.
Morphinist – Nihil
Argwohn is nothing if not prolific, having set forth no less than 15 (!) releases of varying length under his Morphinist moniker over the last 3 years. Nihil, his latest blackened melodic expression of morose yet incongruously catchy incandescence, is also his most fully realized, from the sparse, Oriental-themed cover photo, to the haunting, atmospheric production. This existential survey of meaninglessness is paradoxically consequential, to say nothing of entrancing.
Bränd Jord – Ont krut
With barbed, angular guitar lines wrapped tightly around a rumbling, heavily distorted bottom, Swedish progressive black kvlt Bränd Jord (‘Scorched Earth’) shows as much affinity for the heyday of Chicago and Louisville post-hardcore/noise rock on Ont krut as it does Second Wave orthodoxy. Indeed, there’s really nothing that would have stopped this sexy, Satanic beast of a record from fitting right in with the Touch & Go or Southern Records indie-core elite back in the proverbial day (I was there, etc). Shorter: aging music critic gets teh megafeels.
Orbit Culture – Rasen
Swedish up and comers Orbit Culture may be unfamiliar to many (they’re damn sure new to me), having only been a thing since 2013, but these fine young lads from Eksjö seem to have missed the memo about melodeath’s (apparently exaggerated) creative demise — and goddamn good on ‘em for that.Their latest self-produced/released full-length, Rasen, adds some essential, all-too-rare intangibles to the crowded melodic death metal table — namely, catchy-as-fuck riffs, canyon-deep atmosphere, and raw, throat-searing power. Recommended.