Heavy Music HQ Reviews: Week of June 23, 2023

This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from The Anchoret, Crepitation, DeathCollector, Krigsgrav, Sigh, Structural, Sunami, Swans, Tsjuder, Vacant Voice, Vexed and Xasthur.

The ratings are on a 5 star scale.

Willowtip Records

The Anchoret – It All Began With Loneliness (Willowtip)

Progressive metal group The Anchoret started out as musician Eduard Levitsky creating demos by himself before enlisting help from various people around the world. This morphed into It All Began With Loneliness, which has all the technical craftsmanship expected from this style of music with extra pizazz. That comes from the inclusion of saxophones, flutes and gospel vocals.

There’s a death metal influence in a few moments, channeling a group like Opeth, which amplifies a momentary bout of hostile energy. Put that alongside the alluring closer “Stay,” with its mellow pianos and touching vocals, and The Anchoret prove to be capable of carrying an array of emotions that avoids becoming cumbersome.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Vicious Instinct Records

Crepitation – Monstrous Eruption Of Impetuous Preposterosity (Vicious Instinct)

Eight years after The Violence Of The Slams, Crepitation have set this year to release their second studio album, Monstrous Eruption Of Impetuous Preposterosity. It’s raucous brutal death metal, full of dark and sick humors which have sent the idea of gore, death and depravity to the level that forcefully expands the abhorrent universe of their debut.

Monstrous Eruption… is an utterly appealing presentation. Crepitation skillfully mix the world of slam with technical death metal touches, giving brutal death metal an engaging form which merges the cult status of slam with groovy brutal death. Along with the album’s highly dynamic songwriting, it is Chris Butterworth and Mark Pearce’s thrilling inhuman performances that are one of the album’s biggest attractions. With an album cover that depicts cartoonish monsters, to the opening song which starts with a quote from BoJack Horseman, Crepitation open their independent and boisterous path of extreme savagery to their audience.

Rating: 3.5
(Arash Khosronejad)

Prosthetic Records

DeathCollector – Death’s Toll (Prosthetic)

The British/Irish death metal band DeathCollector, whose members have been in bands such as Bolt Thrower, Darkened, Ashen Crown and Severe Lacerations, formed in 2021 to play cover songs. They then decided to write original material and issued an EP. Death’s Toll is their full-length debut.

DeathCollector have an OSDM approach while injecting some modern genre elements. Tracks like “Mental Hedonist” incorporate a melodic guitar solo to contrast the brutality and harsh vocals. Changing tempos on songs like “Terrorizer” also adds variety to the proceedings. While Death’s Toll isn’t breaking much new ground, the execution is flawless as they shift from dense extremity to more moderately paced grooves.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Wise Blood Records

Krigsgrav – Fires In The Fall (Wise Blood)

The long-running Texas black metal band Krigsgrav are approaching two decades of existence. Their seventh album Fires Of The Fall is named after a Robert Louis Stevenson poem. Variety has always been part of Krigsgrav’s style, and that’s the case here.

They decided to make this album more atmospheric and grandiose than 2021’s The Sundering. That’s evident on songs like “The Black Oak,” which injects some post metal moments that add melody and atmosphere. Krigsgrav also throw doom into the mix on tracks such as “When I’m Gone, Let The Wolves Come.” The album also has acoustic parts and death metal sections, making for a wide ranging but still cohesive release.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Peaceville Records

Sigh – Live: Eastern Forces Of Evil 2022 (Peaceville)

Like many bands unable to tour during the pandemic, the legendary Japanese black metal group Sigh performed via live stream. That performance is being released as Live: Eastern Forces Of Evil 2022, a nod to their 1997 live album The Eastern Force Of Evil.

The lineup of founder Mirai Kawashima (vocals/bass), longtime member Dr. Mikannibal (vocals/saxophone), new guitarist Nozomu Wakai and session drummer Takeo Shimoda play a career spanning, hour long set. They play a few songs from their latest release, 2022’s Shiki and go all the way back to their 1993 debut Scorn Defeat for “A Victory Of Dakini.” The physical version includes both a CD and DVD version of the performance. It’s an entertaining show, and Sigh fans will appreciate the varied setlist.

Rating: 4
(Chad Bowar)

ViciSolum Productions

Structural – Decrowned (ViciSolum)

If groove in technical death metal is a desirable trait for a listener, ala Meshuggah or Periphery, Israeli group Structural should perk up one’s interest. Their second album Decrowned has a bobbing effect to its riff, as if a sonic wave crashes over these songs. It’s broken up by entertaining guitar solos, which get prime attention even with songs firmly between four and five minutes each.

There aren’t wholesale changes made to the band’s songwriting since their last album, 2018’s Metacognition, though a few instances of melodic singing and orchestration/programming in intros are slight upgrades. Decrowned doesn’t divert from Structural’s take on a jagged form of death metal.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Triple B Records

Sunami – Sunami (Triple B)

San Jose based hardcore band Sunami have finally released their first LP, a self-titled effort that gets in and gets out with no problems as these 8 tracks in 18 minutes fly by in an instant. Opener “Y.S.A.B.” is heavy and in your face with riffs that crush between shouted lyrics.

The infectious groove of “Dirty Work” is powerful and can likely get an entire room moving, nary a body unscathed in the process. Their use of samples on the prior track and how they end “10 Toes Down” is excellent, marrying in this case their unabashed love of their hometown and their “San Jose Forever” mentality. Sunami, much like their name, are a force of nature and one to be reckoned with. This is the sound of a hardcore band building out from their foundation and making a sound that is all their own. Sunami is a must for modern hardcore aficionados.

Rating: 4
(Tom Campagna)

Young Gods Records

Swans – The Beggar (Young God)

The experimental collective Swans have been around since the early ’80s. The constant has been singer/primary songwriter Michael Gira. Their latest album The Beggar includes contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Gira’s Angels Of Light Project and guest Ben Frost.

As you’d expect from a Swans album, there are a wide variety of styles and approaches on The Beggar. Opener “The Parasite” is mellow and relatively straightforward with Gira’s baritone singing front and center, while “Paradise Is Mine” is more avant-garde. “Los Angeles City Of Death” is catchy and uptempo, and “Unforming” is ethereal and acoustic based. There are a few heavy parts on the record, such as toward the end of the title track, but most of The Beggar is introspective while still having Swans’ trademark approach.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Season Of Mist

Tsjuder – Helvegr (Season Of Mist)

It has been nearly eight years since the last Tsjuder full-length, though the Norwegian black metal veterans did release an EP in 2017. Helvegr is only their sixth full-length in their three decades as a band. In addition to longtime members Nag (vocals/bass) and Draughluin (guitar), the current lineup includes drummer Jon Rice (Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, ex-Job For A Cowboy).

Tsjuder’s brand of black metal is old school and intense, but they don’t forget the melody on songs like “Prestehammeren.” Things like an atmospheric intro on the 7 minute opus “Surtr” also add variety. The band is able to shift smoothly between more epic songs like that one and the title track and more compact numbers like the crushing “Gamle-Erik” and urgent “Faenskap og Dod.” They end the album with the instrumental “Hvit Dod,” which starts in a mellow and avant-garde manner before evolving to more traditional black metal. Helvegr is a welcome return and solid addition to their canon.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

Vacant Voice – Cathartic Beauty (Self)

Metalcore with an ear for melody is what Vacant Voice are about on their first release, Cathartic Beauty. The singing is on equal ground with the screams and shouts, while the crisp guitar work emphasizes a stark mood. There is aggression in the chunky breakdowns of “Self-Surrender,” but even that short track (about two-and-a-half minutes) finds a way to settle itself down.

At under 30 minutes, Cathartic Beauty trims out the excess. There are no interludes or instrumentals, and the closest the band gets to ballad territory is the dreamy aura of “Collapse.” Vacant Voice spent years nailing down their sound before even making their existence known, and Cathartic Beauty is the product of a group with a clear focus and vision.

Rating: 3.5
(Dan Marsicano)

Napalm Records

Vexed – Negative Energy (Napalm)

Negative Energy, the second album from the UK band Vexed, is an outpouring of energy in an appropriately negative fashion. The down-tuned riffs are caustic and claustrophobic in nature, the drums are pounding and vocals are quite tortured and fit in nicely with the surroundings. Overall, the musical performances are strong enough, but nothing to write home about.

The abrasive vocals can become annoying and get out of context quickly. Still, enough interesting elements like those in the song “It’s Not The End” make this album a compelling diversion. For alternative metal this is a reasonable enough effort, though the genre is rather uninteresting to begin with. The grating vocals brings down the experience slightly. What we have here is a decent attempt at alternative metal that is nicely produced and catchy, but with a little more innovation could be even better.

Rating: 3
(Adam McAuley)

Lupus Lounge

Xasthur – Inevitably Dark (Lupus Lounge)

Scott Conner’s one-man black metal project Xasthur started in the mid-’90s and he released 20 or so albums, EPs and splits before hanging it up in 2010 to focus on the dark folk project Nocturnal Poisoning. In 2017 Xasthur returned with Sigils Made Of Flesh And Trees, and his latest release is Inevitably Dark.

It’s a 23 song instrumental double album clocking in at 100 minutes or so and encompasses a plethora of genres and styles. It’s unpredictable and ever changing. A mellow acoustic folk song like “Euphoric Bad Trip” flows into the heavier and more intense black metal vibes of “Live Like A Broken Mirror.” It’s a very dynamic listen, with loud aggressive songs followed by subdued and softer numbers. Inevitably Dark showcases everything from dungeon synth to acid folk to jazz to black metal to death metal. It’s overly long and the heavier songs will be more compelling for metal fans, but it has a little something for everyone.

Rating: 3.5
(Chad Bowar)

One Response

  1. bobsala

    10 months ago

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