Album Thoughts | Mammoth Grinder: Cosmic Crypt

After realizing how much Death Metal I missed last year, I swore to myself not to make that same mistake this year and going forward. Just in time for that proclamation came the news of some quality deathly jams already coming down the pipeline for 2018. Portal being one, Genocide Pact being another and the newest outing by these Crusty Death Metal hooligans being the latest one. This is the fourth full-length outing by Texas purveyors of Crusty Hardcore Punk-laced Death Metal of the gnarliest variety, known as Mammoth Grinder. This is another album I was looking right the fuck forward to since it was announced late last year and with good reason. Whenever they rear their ugly heads to unleash a new batch of jams onto the world, you can bet your sweet ass that they’re gonna bring a good hammering down on you. You can expect riff after riff after dirty, rotten, face-pounding riff and all the fast, ripping Punk-infused Death Metal ferocity that your eardrums can endure. That’s what we’ve gotten from the first 3 albums and you can expect no different from this one.

Cosmic Crypt is a slightly different approach to the band’s style than previously, as the last two albums were much more heavily Crust and Grind-influenced, which showed in the production, vocals, riffs and overall ferocity of their sound. This album is a lot more heavily influenced in old school Death Metal and has a bit of an early Obituary meets Gatecreeper feel to it with the murky, hazy atmosphere coupled with the sharp, abrasive riffs, bellowing growls and muddy, ripping drums, injected with the same Crusty, Grindy attitude that was present on the previous outings. It even reminds me a little of Vallenfyre with the Crust element, which is a plus considering the banger they just released, it’s not too far off either. This is just a continuous slew of chthonic and explosive tracks with a seemingly endless supply of filthy, Thrashy riffs that are blasted at you incessantly under a grimy, mucky atmosphere that pervades you like a mudslide as the attack goes on. From the moment Grimmenstein blasts through the gate and goes right for the throat like a vicious caged animal, no chance for a breather is given as each following track effectively follows the same formula. Some tracks are more aggressive and exhilarating than others, like Blazing Burst, which to me is the heaviest track on the album, and Molotov; just an absolute fucking ripper. These guys, much like Gatecreeper, Bombs of Hades, Black Breath and the likes, do a fine job of blending Death Metal with a great deal of Hardcore, Crust and Thrash in such a seemingly faultless way and making something absolutely face-ripping out of it without any element overshadowing the others. It’s what made me such a huge fan of Gatecreeper after hearing Sonoran Depravation for the first time and it’s putting Mammoth Grinder in the top tier of this section of Death Metal the same way.

As relatively primal and straightforward as the band’s style is, it’s still very well crafted and continues to evolve and intensify with each album. The old school Death influence makes it even better. The atmosphere and ugly, in your face vibe just further enhances the viciousness of the riffs and harshness of the overall sound. While the main purpose of this may be to just simply beat your face in and tear your eardrums asunder, it does it with style and never strays from that very motive. It’s simple, short, sweet and to the point but it makes sure to drive that point through your fucking skull in the mere 28 minutes it has to do so. That’s all I ever really ask for when it comes to Death Metal; just a straight up assault of filth-riddled riffage and nothing else. Save the fancy shit for the Tech-Death crowd (some of you are cool too tho, not hating).

I honestly hope that this wave of excellent old school Death Metal continues and 2018 is filled to the fucking brim with it. The last few months of 2017 really opened my eyes to what I was missing and got me invested again in the genre more than I’ve been in the last few years. It almost feels like a renaissance of sorts that’s happening with OSDM and if it is, i’m all in! This album and the next good few that are coming are just a few examples of quality Death Metal filth that’s dwelling the underground right now, waiting to be discovered. If you’re willing to dig deep enough, you’re bound to come across something that floors you, even if you’re an old, jaded fuck. Anyway, bottom line, Mammoth Grinder have yet to disappoint me, and by the looks of it, it’ll be a good while before they do. Excellent stuff for seekers of all things rotten.


Album Thoughts | Portal: ION

One of my most anticipated albums of the year thus far has finally dropped. I’ve been waiting to review a Portal album on this blog for quite a while and the opportunity has finally presented itself. After the announcement of this album back in October, it became one of the first things to look forward to 2018. Especially with the insanely jarring teaser that came with the announcement.

Needless to say, I was pretty goddamn exited for this one. So when it finally came time to indulge in what I was hoping to be another masterpiece of mind-bendingly horrifying Death Metal, riddled with trance-inducing atmospheric chaos and cacophonous fuckery with weird, raucous riffs that spiral at you like a tornado on speed, frantic, muddy drums that sway from one pace to another like their having violent mood swings and distant, almost whispered vocals that sound like they’re flowing through your headphones straight from the cosmic void, I was as exited as a pig in shit. This band has created some of the most disturbing and intriguing sounds in Extreme Metal in the last good number of years now, with albums like Swarth, Outre and Vexovoid, so I thought this one was bound to be no different, something that would grab me by the throat and drag me into a black hole of vociferous madness and spit me out when finished. Well, is this how it turned out?… In all honesty, it’s hard to say.

ION is a step in a new direction for sure, just not in the direction I was hoping for after hearing that teaser. In fact, much of what makes this band what they are is mostly stripped away. Of course, the first thing i’m going to question is the production. That foggy, murky atmosphere and otherworldly vibe that these guys are usually known to create is gone in favor of a cleaner and most straightforward sound. This totally took me off guard. Now, I’m not saying that this is a bad album at all, as I did enjoy it for what it was. To me, it’s a solid Technical Death Metal album with some experimental elements blended in, like the whispery vocals and odd, eccentric riffs and drum patterns. It actually got me on a bit of a Tech-Death kick for a couple days and led me to re-discovering some other quality stuff like Ulcerate and Visceral Bleeding. So it served that purpose at least. However, I just wish they continued what made them so unique and terrifying to begin with. After a brief intro, ESP ION AGE starts this off and sets the tone for what you’re in for perfectly (and no, I didn’t listen to the first couple tracks put out ahead of time. I try to avoid that because I like going into albums spoiler-free). It starts off with Portal’s usual display of wacky, psychotic riffs and blasting drums under those signature foggy vocals with random, controlled shifts in tempo and unpredictable twists and turns at every corner. Despite the lack of murky production, the music itself is still very aberrant and scattershot and it still makes for a nerve-racking ride of a listen.

Husk and Phreqs are probably the two best examples of the more eccentric and straightforward side of this album with their non-stop chaotic hammering of one psychotic riff after another and constantly shifting drum patterns all throughout. Then comes Crone and Spores, which both take their time to build some tension for a good minute or two then just explode into a blast-beat-laden assault on your ear cells with the same eccentric style of techy auditory fuckery that preceded in the previous tracks. They at lease end this on a merciful note with the 9-minute closer, Olde Guarde, but not without having the final pummeling last a good while before breaking into a weird but settling ambient passage to close it out. Again, this wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was satisfying nonetheless and had it’s own style of freakishness. It’s not as nightmarish as their previous offerings, but this one is no slouch when it comes to invoking a feeling of uneasiness and knowing how to control tension and keep you on your toes.

So, if you were disappointed at this one, I wouldn’t argue with you, I can totally see why, but you can still do much worse. This definitely isn’t a significant disappointment… like Deicide since In Torment in Hell-level disappointing, but I understand why it may put off some who were expecting that Outre or Vexovoid kind of sound. I don’t blame ya, but to me this is still a very decent slab of Experimental Technical Death Metal with some familiar tropes still present that we know and love from Portal. So for me, this gets a pass. If anything, this is testament to how good they really are, where even in their more sub-par moments, they still aren’t half-bad. True artistry right there.

Quick Album Thoughts | Last of the Leftovers 2017


So as you know, January has pretty much become to me what it is for Hollywood and shitty Horror movies. It’s my dumping ground for albums that I never got to review during the year that just ended. I’ve already dropped 6 reviews for albums that I felt really deserved a full review, although the year is dead and buried. After a month-long break, it was very refreshing to get back into my writing grind and get my reviewing on again. There aren’t that many new albums coming out this month aside from a few, some of which there are reviews coming for, but right now, there are just a few more outings that I want to talk about real quick before I put 2017 to rest for good. These are the 10 albums that I deem the best 10 that I just never got to review nor have much time to now. Some stuff that I slept on, some stuff that I discovered a bit too late and some stuff that I want to give more recognition to. These are leftovers that I’d actually fucking eat if they were food. 2017’s late best.

So, here they are! My 10 last best albums that 2017 had to offer.

Paradise Lost: Medusa

United Kingdom’s legends of Doom return with a solid follow-up to their refreshing return to form that was The Plague Within. Much like it’s predecessor, this is Death Doom at it’s finest with a little Type O-reminiscent melody thrown in for kicks. Heavy riffs, crushing drums and the recognizable swampy growls of Nick Holmes that serves as the essential ingredient to make Paradise Lost what it is (and made Bloodbath better too). Fairly clean on the production, but impactful nonetheless. This is Paradise Lost as their tried and true selves and it’s leaps and bounds above anything they’ve done after Draconian Times up until now.

Iron Monkey: 9-13

Raw, loud and face-pounding Sludge from the swampiest and filthiest trenches of the genre in the vein of Eyehategod and the likes. Ferocious riffs, muddy drums and devastatingly nasty snarls that rip you apart from the click of the play button. This is classic style Sludge at it’s best that can teach the Hipsters who have invaded the genre a thing or two on how to do it right. Great fucking stuff that I truly regret sleeping on.

Ascended Dead: Abhorrent Manifestation

Dirty, rotten and ruthless old school Death Metal that I HIGHLY regret missing. Muddy production, evil as fuck riffs, grimy vocals and hazy, pounding drums that serves no other purpose but to ravage your hearing abilities with it’s sheer aural force, the way Death Metal should. No frills, no fancy fuckery, just plain brutality from front to back. If you like Contaminated, you’ll enjoy this.

Anarchos: Invocation of Moribound Spirits

Some more dirty, crushing Death Metal from a rather overlooked act, from what I see. This is more ruthless and chaotic Death with super sharp, scathing riffs (Gatecreeper style, if I had to compare it), harshly loud production, classic-style growls and muddy drums. This is old school Death at it’s ugliest and unfriendliest and it’s another reminder of how I slept on so much good shit last year and I promise it won’t happen again. Death Metal is alive and well and hopefully this is only the beginning.

Gorephilia: Severed Monolith

Closing off the Death Metal section of this list, we have the sophomore outing by these Finnish purveyors of hellish Death Metal ruthlessness. Fast, ripping and intense with riffs galore, fast, briskly drums and muffled growls that add that old school flavor like a fine seasoning on a steak. Great stuff from the cold land of the Fins.

Perdition Winds: Transcendent Emptiness

On to the last great contributions of the grim and frostbitten. This is one that came out relatively late in the year, but fuck it’s a good one! This is loud, vicious and epic Black Metal, also from Finland (one of the best countries breeding BM, even still today). Full of ruthlessly sharp, scathing riffs, blast beats everywhere and intense, howling vocals that pierce through the air like a long, sharp hunting blade. The production is fairly clean but maintains a good hint of atmosphere to add to the chaos. This is excellent fucking stuff and it’s nothing to sleep on. Finland, I love you!

Hades Archer: Temple of the Impure

Another one that came out pretty late, but still deserves a spot on here. This is fast, ripping and hyperaggressive Chilean Blackened Death Metal that crosses slightly into War Metal territory. Blast beats allover the place, harsh, muddy riffs and raspy, monstrous shrieks that tear you to shreds from start to finish. Very intense and unforgiving stuff that’s worth a good listen. The War Metal influence isn’t prominent, but it’s definitely present, so if you’re into that, check this out.

Moral Void: Deprive

One of the many Hardcore albums that I never got around to reviewing and one of the few that I thoroughly enjoyed. Moral Void is a rising gem of a band within the Blackened Hardcore realm and they finally have a full-length album to show for it. This is intense, furious, cold and chaotic Hardcore with a heavy influence in modern Black Metal stylistically and aesthetically. Just fast, harsh and in your face with hyperaggressive guitars, ruthlessly fast drums and super harsh bellows that creates this beast of an album that grabs you by the throat and forces you to hear what it has to say without loosening it’s grip until the very last second. This is perhaps my favorite of the few Hardcore releases of 2017 that I didn’t get around to reviewing and that’s why I chose it out of the bunch.

Aosoth: V – The Inside Scriptures

Probably the most notable Black Metal outing that I missed in the last few months of the year. Aosoth return with their latest offering of ugly, vicious and strident Black Metal straight from the land of cheese and catacombs. I was going to give this a full review, but time just caught up with me on it, so I just put it here instead. Maybe in the future it’ll get one. This is just intense, ripping, creative and precise Black Metal that engulfs you like a storm with it’s muddy fury. Full of grimy riffs, blasting drums and echoed bellows, the whole works, this is another great outing from one of Frances best. Give it a listen and totally support!

Utzalu: The Loins or Repentance

Last but definitely not least, one of my favorite Raw Black Metal acts of the current day and their latest ear-ripper of an outing. This is raw, dissonant and unfriendly Black Metal that doesn’t know the meaning of the word “production”. Full of harsh, Punk-driven riffs, grimy, muffled drums and some of the most intense shrieks you’ll hear by any modern vocalist. These’s even a good bit of Harsh Noise blended in. Great stuff that I may give a full review to in the future. The folks at Vrasubatlat have yet to disappoint me.


So, there you have it. Those are my shitty January Horror movie albums for 2018 (except they’re not shitty at all). It sucks That I missed these, but such is life. Don’t always have time for everything. As shitty as it was for the rest of the world, 2017 was a badass year for music with much more good than bad. Some disappointments, of course, but not enough to winge over. Check all these out of you haven’t already. Especially the lesser known stuff. It’s all well worth it. You know I wouldn’t lead you astray of quality jams. *grins*

On to the future and may 2018 not fail us.

Random Recs | Absolver

When Extreme Metal and Noise merge, the result is usually something pretty crazy. When you look at bands who’ve incorporated Noise into their sound, the good usually outweighs the bad, at least in my opinion. Bands like Full of Hell, Enbilulugugal, Luciation, Marvargr, Gnaw Their Tongues and more recently, Nyogthaeblisz all come to mind when i’m looking for something that’ll make me deaf by 30 with it’s marriage of dissonance and brutality. If done right, the two can go together like peanut butter and jelly… if people still even eat that. I’m a fan of all of those acts mentions above and the reason I bring this up is because I have another name to add to this list; a name that does this in a more unique way than most. The name you see at the top of this piece is Absolver. They’re a budding new act coming out of the swampy, humid land of Florida who describe themselves as Blackened Noise Doom, and it’s a pretty accurate description. What they play is cold, seething and Sludgey Blackened Doom laced with harsh, piercing soundbites and programming that enhances it by putting an uglier tint on an already ghastly sound. I found this band mid-last year through Instagram, which led me to their Bandcamp, which led me to their debut outing, Oscillate thy Tongue (and Howl at the Sun), which at the time, I didn’t have much time to review, but included in my first Bandcamp Roundup post, but I feel like it deserves more recognition and more than just a small paragraph. So here we are. Since then they’ve released an EP as well, which also delivers greatly and i’m going to include that here too.

So without any further jibber-jabber, let’s take a trip to the volcanic wasteland that is the world of Absolver!

When I first heard this album, my immediate description for it was a Doom version of Full of Hell. The overall sound is slow, crushing and thick Black Metal-laced Doom with pounding riffs, muddy, dragging drums, echoey shrieks and a dismal atmosphere surrounding it. The noise influence is peppered in and well-utilized and even further intensifies the hellish ferocity of their sound. It was my first time hearing noise incorporated into Doom Metal and it was refreshing after hearing it done countless times with Black Metal and Grindcore. It was intriguing to find out what it would sound like mixed with the slow, dense and cold sound of Blackened Doom rather than the fast, ripping and chaotic style of the two other aforementioned genres. I was undoubtedly pleased with what I heard. I’m sure without the Noise influence, it would sound just as ugly and unforgiving, but it’s a nice touch. The sound of the slow, almost droning guitars is grimy as all hell and reminded me of something you’d hear from Nortt or even bands within the darker fringes of Drone Doom like Black Boned Angel.

The reason I described this bands sound as a volcanic wasteland is because that’s the kind of atmosphere it gives off. It sounds like it could serve as the soundtrack to a nuclear disaster that leaves a land barren and depleted with it’s remaining inhabitants deformed and with only each other to eat (basically The Hills Have Eyes, but cooler and more fucked up). It’s dirty, it’s vile and it’s unfriendly for ears sensitive to dissonance. This is a great slab of Sludgey Blackened Noise Doom that I highly recommend if you’re a fan of Full of Hell or anything dismal and loud. Give it a listen below, as well as the next one.

Ashen Ritual is their first EP and it’s not too different than it’s predecessor as it continues the pattern of Blackened Sludge Doom seasoned with Noise and electronic and it’s just as good, the only difference is that the atmosphere gets a tad more dismal and abyss-like. Which is a plus. Only 4 tracks, 2 of which being remixes of the first 2, but still just as effective as the album was. It’s dirty, noisy and precise in style and delivery. I can’t say much about it that I have already said about the album, but I recommend it just as much. So give it a listen below.

So if anyone who follows the blog and sees this, give these guys a listen and your support if you dig them. This is unique stuff if you like your music dissonant and foggy, or if you just like Doom or Sludge and are looking for something new. It’s well worth a shot. Also, give them a follow on Instagram. They’re pretty swell dudes. I’m looking forward to what comes next from them and you can bet your sweet ass it’ll get a review. For now, just enjoy the dystopian madness as is. This is only the beginning.

Album Thoughts | Shining: X – Varg Utan Flock

Ahhh, Shining. The ever so controversial, ever so infamous and ever so hyped Shining. Perhaps one of the most notorious acts to come out of Sweden today, who some love and some love to hate. Their reputation can mostly be attributed to frontman, Niklas Kvartforth and his wacky, almost GG Allin-like antics, on and off record and stage, attracting the ire and/or intrigue of the Metal underground, even stirring up some controversy last year on their No More Safe Space tour with Revenge and Wolvhammer with his erratic behavior and some other shit that was alleged. You can look all that up yourself. Google is your friend. Just don’t use wack-ass MetalSucks, that’s bad for you. Anyway, however you may feel about Mr. Kvartforth and his ways, his band is quite a weird case for me. Starting out as a solid old school style Black Metal band in their early days with gems like I: Within Deep Dark ChambersII: Livets AndhållplatsIII: Angst – Sjalvdestruktitetens Emissarie, this is where my highest adulation for the band lies. Really dark, cold and ugly stuff. Then as they grew and evolved and delved into the more melodic and progressive realm with the albums that have followed since, my liking of them has dissolved quite a bit. IV: The Eerie Cold & V: Halmstad are good too, but not my favorite of their works, then after that, they fell into Progressive Black Metal Hell and never really did anything interesting with it (until now). My biggest issue with their newer and cleaner material is that they sound way too much like a Black Metal version of Opeth. I don’t know if anyone else hears that, but that’s how it sounds to me; like they’re trying too hard to emulate them. I do like Opeth (up until Heritage, yuck), but I don’t need anther one. So everything after Halmstad just never did anything for me. With this album, however, things have changed.

This was a morbidly curious listen for me. I was on the fence as to whether or not I was going to approach this one. I ultimately decided to give it a listen and review because hey, if it sucked, at least i’ll get to tear it a new one and it’ll be fun. Well, if you follow me on Instagram, or took my hint in the first paragraph, you’ll know by now, that that is NOT the route this will go. I was pleasantly surprised with this one and I enjoyed it. This is the most original and creative I’ve heard yet out of Shining doing this style. Instead of the dull, cheap Opeth imitations we’re used to getting, this album is much more aggressive and unique in style. The riffs are more vicious and Thrashy in some parts, the drumming is more ruthless and tight and Niklas sounds more angry and intense than ever, vocally. This is a total breath of fresh air from what this incarnation of the band usually offers. I feel like they finally hit their stride with this style and it actually works this time. I was taken back by the blasting ferocity of Svart Ostoppbar Eld as it opens this beast with it’s savagely catchy main riff and Thrashy drum pattern as Niklas’ raspy, throaty yells rip through it with assertive force. Things are then slowed down to the usual Shining-like pace, but the intensity still remains. These tracks are dynamic and never stay in one place, but the aggression and passion behind them that’s been missing for a long time now is finally found again and exceptionally executed. Gyllene Portarnas Bro is another favorite of mine on here, with this long, wailing main riff that treads throughout the intro and between each verse. It’s another slower track up until the last minute or so, when it bursts out into a blast-beat ridden assault. This is the sort of cathartic, unpredictable viciousness that in my opinion, has been missing since Halmstad. I’m still not a Progressive Black Metal fan, but I think I can make an exception with this one.

Another favorite on here is Tolvtusenfyrtioett, which might be the best instrumental I’ve heard in a while. It’s a quick piano piece that’s a perfect mix of sad, creepy and calming. I hear a lot of Lifelover influence on this album as well, especially Erotik era, which is also a plus. This won’t go down as my favorite Shining album, not by a long shot, but it is a refreshing and significant step up from the last 5 duds from the last 9 or so years. Especially the last one, which I heard and thought was their worst ever and the final nail in their coffin. It seems like they finally took the time and initiative to craft something that actually stands out and put the energy into it to up the aggression and intensity and make something impactful. It doesn’t sound complacent or uninspired. This doesn’t mean that I’ll dive back into the last few albums and give them another try, but this one will be on repeat for a good while. It sure as shit won’t be the best Black Metal album of 2018, but it is a pleaser in my book.

So, regardless of how you feel about this band or Kvartforth himself, and I totally understand on both sides, I’m just here to say that whichever side you’re on, they pulled something good off here. So, if you’re not totally out of tune with them, you should give this at least one listen. I know it sounds like i’m fucking gushing over this album, but it really was a shock to me how good it turned out, going into this expecting another boring dud, especially coming from me, who doesn’t care for Progressive Metal of any kind. So take this however you will. Again, still not my favorite Shining album, but an improvement in this style nonetheless. If they keep going this route, there may be a chance i’ll be back on board completely, who knows.

Album Thoughts | Abigor: Höllenzwang – Chronicles of Perdition

2018 is off to a pretty damn good start Black Metal-wise. Starting off with an exceptional new outing by Watain and continuing with another band that has done it’s own share of experimentation with most of their recent albums. Abigor is a band that started out during Black Metal’s second wave and rode that momentum quite well and gained a pretty good deal of notoriety. 10 albums later, their sound has evolved a pretty good deal and they’ve put themselves on the Experimental Black Metal spectrum among acts like Deathspell Omega, Acherontas and the likes. Releasing some classics like Channeling the Quintessence of SatanNachthymnen (From the Twilight Kingdom) and more recently, Fractal Possession and their last one, Leytmotif Luzifer, they’ve carved out their own unique legacy, paved with some of the weirdest but nastiest Black Metal known to the genre. Leading us here to 2018, not much has changed at all. Their latest batch of sickening hymns may be their most dissonant and scathing offering in a while. While continuing the use of odd, sporadic riffs and dramatically accentuated shrieks and yells, the overall sound and aesthetic takes a colder and more straightforward approach than previously, at least to me, that’s how it sounds. Right from the jump, you’re assaulted by the piercing, deafening sound that this duo (sometimes trio) can create in the form of loud, sharp riffs, muddy, blasting drums and gnarly, howling shrieks blended into a terrifying whirlwind of hellish ear-slaughtering dissonance. It’s modern-style Black Metal done by veterans of the art with the right kind of atmosphere and unrelenting filth.

This is another case of experimentation done right and without overshadowing the core sound and essence of what is trying to be conveyed. A lot of bands make the mistake of getting way too ambitious and end up just distorting their style to shit and going sterile, but Abigor have always seemed to have the right idea and have always kept their sound on the straight narrow of extremity without compromising their stylistic integrity. It’s always refreshing to see that in an era where so many bands fail in that aspect. Sure, you can blame certain record labels for that, but even Belphegor have found a way around that with their latest outing, after several already on wack-ass Nuclear Blast. This is the type of album that goes right for the throat from the jump, as shown with All Hail Darkness and Evil, as it starts this hellride off with flesh-ripping force. I will say that some of these song titles are pretty cheesy, but don’t let it fool you. These tracks do deliver. Sword of Silence is another nasty one that’s slower in pace but just as hard-hitting and chaotic. I even get some Maniac-era Mayhem vibes at some points, particularly from The Cold Breath of Satan and Olden Days. This is forward-thinking Black Metal for sure, but the primal elements of the style are still alive and well peppered in with the madness that’s created. This style isn’t anything new for these guys, but it’s still pretty damn impressive each time and has yet to get old.

I wouldn’t exactly call this their best offering, but it is up there with their other top tier albums. They continue to belt out some of the most raw and dissonant yet dynamic and well-crafted Black Metal outings you’ll hear in the modern day. Abigor is an underrated gem among the veteran Black Metal crowd and while they do have a pretty good following, they deserve more. This is another album that gives me hope for 2018 in terms of quality grim and frostbitten jams. So, if you’re looking to kill off some valuable ear cells and make yourself deaf by 40 with some piercingly loud, filthy riffs and inhuman snarls from one of the best throats out there, then this one is for you. Experimental Black Metal done right with no cheesy gimmicks needed.

Album Thoughts | Watain: Trident Wolf Eclipse

Watain is a great band to me, though I can definitely see why they turn some people off. They’re easily one of the most hyped bands in Black Metal today and I can see where that gets annoying and how it can attract a lot of tourists to the scene, and especially coming off of their last album, which was their most ambitious and experimental one to date (which in my opinion fell flat), that didn’t do them any favors either. The Wild Hunt was just another weak Progressive Black Metal experiment, similar to what Shining have been doing for the last several years (although they so seem to finally be hitting their stride with it) and what Taake is starting to do now. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t do for me what Lawless Darkness and Casus Luciferi did. When I found out about a new album on the horizon when they announced it back in October (I think), I was excited but iffy. The question stood for me, would it be a step up? Would it be an even bigger letdown? In between? I’ll only find out when I hear it. Then out comes Nuclear Alchemy as the first single. On first listen, it was an okay track but nothing that knocked my socks off. All I can do then was wait. Wait until the onset of the new year to finally get my ears on it. Come the first week of January, in the midst of writing my leftover reviews, I finally hear it. It was not what I expected at all, but by the grace of the black flame, it was a pleasant surprise and I fucking loved it! This album is very much a return to form for Watain, bringing back that aggressiveness that was missing from the last outing and dropping most of the experimentation, while keeping a few subtle nuances.

The riffs are nastier and their sound is blastier than ever with some Thrashiness sprinkled in, and there are no clean vocals to be found. Guess they learned their lesson from They Rode On. One thing I like about Watain is, as big and hyped as they has gotten, even in their more experimental moments, they’ve always managed to maintain some level of extremity in their sound. I have yet to hear anything overly polished or too sterile from them; more than I can say about their peers mentioned above. They’ve always followed a certain path stylistically and they still seem to hold true to that path. This album is what I wish other bands of this stature could learn from in keeping things harsh and impactful while growing artistically. Nuclear Alchemy starts this off, and it actually grew on me on the second and third listen. Great opener with it’s Thrashy, riff-fuled feel that’s no false indication of what’s to come. Sacred Damnation continues the chaos and bludgeons you with more rifftastic goodness. It’s another track that took me a couple of listens to warm up to, but I did. Things get a little more creative with Teufelsreich, which reminds me a little of the mid to later works of Emperor, with more melodic riffs and more of a dynamic in pacing and aggression. There still is a fair degree of wandering outside the box despite the jump in ferocity, but this time it’s well-balanced and much more well thought out than The Wild Hunt was and it works. The mess that the last album left is well cleaned up and much more organized this time around and it’s resulted in a big step up. This album brings back the viciousness and chaos that made Watain great to begin with. More underground fans and others who are sick of the hype probably won’t pay much attention, but in my opinion, they’re one of the few bands who know how to transcend the underground and beyond by knowing how to translate their extremity and dirtiness to a higher stage while still branching off into broader creative territories.


Erik Danielsson even steps up vocally here, and again, no cleans are to be found. They Rode On wasn’t exactly a bad track, but it just didn’t fit. Well, justice is served here as his delivery is upped dramatically in ferocity and it especially shows in the faster and more vicious tracks like the first two and others like Furor Diabolicus and A Throne Below, which is a track that gives me strong early Gorgoroth vibes, which is a plus. Then we get more of the mid-paced, melodic side with The Fire of Power and the instrumental but engaging closer, Antikrists Mirakel. I feel like the dynamic that this album has and the dexterity it exhibits is what the last album should have had. Even with the experimentation, there’s always room for aggression and harshness, as long as one doesn’t outweigh the other. Watain is a band who I think has the proficiency to pull it off, it just might take a few tries to perfect it. Shining are finally doing it and it took them 5 fucking albums (review for their new one coming shortly). This to me is Watain at their finest. Their most aggressive and more riff-driven work is their strong suit and it shows in how they can maintain that even with the growth they’re exhibiting. Sworn to the Dark was another good example of that. The Wild Hunt was just a minor bump in the road. This album is undoubtedly a redeemer and while still stylistically ambitious in it’s own right, it’s not to the point of watering down. It’s proof that less is more.

Some will still probably turn their nose up at these guys, but I honestly don’t give a shit. This is top-notch modern Black Metal at it’s most ruthless and even with all the hype that some people just take way too far, a lot of it is warranted. This is a great album to kick the year off with and another bookmark outing by these guys. They’re great live too, as I saw them with Mayhem and Revenge a few years ago at Black Metal Warfare. Quite a show. Anyway, not to ramble on too much here, but I was pleasantly surprised with this one. The ferocity that made the band what they are is back and hopefully it stays. There’s always room for growth but there’s a right way to do it, and they pull it off well with this one. If they stay on this path, I look forward to the next one, even if it’s another 5 years down the road. It’ll be well worth the wait.