Xanthochroid – Of Erthe and Axen, Acts I & II

All the extreme metal fans on the real Earth have been anticipating a return to Xanthochroid’s fictional Erthe since 2012’s immensely impressive debut, Blessed He with Boils. Taking five years to meticulously craft a two-act follow-up, the Californian band have rewarded our patience with Of Erthe and Axen, a cinematic, dynamic album pair that blends the best facets of several metal genres with orchestral folk pieces to produce something totally unique.

The band craft a story that dives deep into a universe they have created. Like their previous release, Of Erthe and Axen comes with a map … Read more

Toehider – “Good”

Releasing tomorrow on October 19th, the aptly named new album from Mike Mills’ Toehider is not just “Good” it’s great! But that’s to be expected of Mike as he’s continued to push the envelope in the prog genre in weird and interesting ways.

Mike’s early work under the name Toehider consisted of twelve EPs that he completed in twelve months. Quite a demanding schedule that only someone as crazy and driven as Mike could accomplish. I first really started following Toehider around when he crowdfunded his last album, What Kind of Creature Am I?, on the … Read more

Spires of the Lunar Sphere – Siren (Take the Fair Face of Woman and Gently Suspending with Butterflies Flowers and Jewels Attending Thus Your Fairy Be Made of Most Wondrous Things)

We’ve been somewhat mystified by Spires of the Lunar Sphere‘s debut, back in 2015, so their newborn with a most megalomanic title, Siren (Take the Fair Face of Woman and Gently Suspending with Butterflies Flowers and Jewels Attending Thus Your Fairy Be Made of Most Wondrous Things), has less of that bewildering factor. That being said, it doesn’t mean it’s bad – far from it –, just that you only make a first impression once. Still jumping between metalcore, post-hardcore, mathcore, and deathcore, the duo takes its idiosyncratic eccentricity to extremes of peculiarity and heaviness. Think Arsonists Get … Read more

Altarage – Endinghent

Altarage is a sickening death metal band from Spain. Their penultimate release – Nihl – was heavy and muddy and dissonant, and their newest one keeps that ball rolling. Endinghent was released on 13 October, and it’s ripe with forty minutes of the same breed of what’s commonly called avant-garde death metal. Think Ulcerate, Portal, you’re in the right frame of mind. While I would contest the avant-garde label, it’s a great album with a contemporary view on harmony and dissonance, and the chops to sit alongside other better-known names of the same ilk. The guitars are disgustingly heavy and … Read more

Redshift Pilots – Moonlight Synthesis

We recently often write about bands who bridge post-hardcore and progressive metal, it seems, and some also other genres, but here’s one that almost uncompromisingly links it with black metal. Redshift Pilots released their debut full-length album, Moonlight Synthesis, in early October. It impatiently shows its black colours with fervent blast beats and tremolo picking riffs, but then sways into atmospheres of post-rock and post-hardcore ambiances seamlessly and in an honestly impressive manner. Sure, some tracks stay more on one side than the other, like “Overgrown”, which is almost entirely post-rock, but has a blackgaze twist near the end, … Read more

Kamancello – Kamancello

Improvisation is the cauldron in which most great music is born, but for most musical acts it is just the beginning of the composing process. Some artists, though, are secure enough in their creative talents to make improvisation an integral component of their sound. The right musicians and framework can produce magic with this approach, and that’s precisely what a pair of internationally renowned string players have done on the self-titled debut album of Kamancello. If you like improvisation, chamber music, and portmanteaux, this is the album for you.

Kamancello juxtaposes the dynamic cello performance of Raphael Weinroth-Browne, whose … Read more

Barren Plains, Dawn Ray’d, Cervidea, Pingvinorkestern, Bird Problems, Black Kirin 黒麒, Mouthbreather, The Chasm, and Möbius

Barren PlainsAdrift
Barren Plains’ debut is a four-track EP of some great post-metal. The instrumental band builds strong atmospheres upon repetition and evolution of riffs and themes on top of odd-time measures. Each of the untitled tracks is as poignant as the previous one, which results in a memorable release. Name your price on bandcamp!


Dawn Ray’dThe Unlawful Assembly
This British black metal with a folk music tinge group makes wild songs, and The Unlawful Assembly is no exception. Wilfully atmospheric and at times chaotic, it’s an aggressive and vindicative album to revolt to.
Cervidea –… Read more

Not from Here – Not from Here

The Minnesota trio Not from Here puts a twist on the regular mathcore formula: the expected bass guitar is here replaced by a cello. This alternative lineup gives way to an interesting contemporary classical facet to the band’s music, most strikingly on their kétjegyű szók, “Ab”, “De”, and “Ex”, while being underlying in all the other tracks. Speaking of which, the songs on their self-titled sophomore release range from caustic mathcore to post-hardcore, with drafts of polyrhythmic sludge – the ending of “Should Certain Conditions Arise” –, drone metal, and progressive metal. It’s all instrumental, giving the music ample … Read more

Kurws – Alarm

Kurws are a peculiar entity. Alarm is their most recent release, and is almost embarrassingly good. “Nagonka” readily baffles you with its odd polyrhythmic bouncing groove accompanied by saxophone and recording artefacts left in. It’s composition aimed at emulating free improvisation, or is it? It doesn’t matter, the result is the same: Alarm is disconcerting and wild! The Polish quartet certainly continues to experiment with music and push themselves on the brink of cohesion. Thanks to analog tape recording, the texture of the sound is at times very grainy, giving even more consistency to the aural soup we’re served, which, … Read more

Moebius – Hybris

The Italian progressive metal quintet Moebius are preparing for the release of their debut album, Hybris, on 20 October. To do so, they’ve sent me an early copy of it, and I liked it enough to write about it! Yes, Hybris is an almost hourlong concept album on metals and minerals, it seems. It starts off interestingly with the track numbered “00” – “Inflection II” –, which is a didgeridoo and percussions jam, but the rock starts with “Obsidian”. Between groove metal and progressive death metal, the rest of Hybris impresses. The band’s music puts a lot of emphasis … Read more