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Leviathan – Scar Sighted

leviathan

Since commencing his career under the moniker Wrest in the late nineties, Jef Whitehead’s diverse talents have contributed to an impressive résumé. Beyond notable offerings from his main project Leviathan, Wrest has released a one-off full length as Lurker of Chalice, collaborated with Sunn O))) and is an active member of black metal super group Twilight, whose most recent album (last year’s III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb) allowed him to work with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame. After four years of silence under the Leviathan name, Wrest has followed up the contextually controversial True Traitor, True Whore with Scar Sighted, an album that continues the cleaner production choices of its predecessor but explores a slightly questionable new direction.

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Sannhet – Revisionist

sannhet-revisionist-review

There are many different forms of beauty in this world. The form that most people would think of when the word is mentioned is clean, polished and catches the eye easily whilst stunning the beholder. However, there is a form that is not clean or polished, but rather hazy and jagged whilst still catching and holding the beholder as if time itself had frozen. It’s the type of beauty that is birthed within the confines of shadows and begs to be gazed not at, but into. The new Sannhet album, Revisionist, falls into the latter category.

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Elder – Lore

elder-lore-review

Some of the best music you can feed your ears is that which takes you on a journey. To translate the majesty of sprawling mountains, the serenity of a flowing river or the vastness of a magnificent chasm into a musical composition is something that many musicians strive for, but few are able to achieve. Creating a sonic journey that not only does these natural wonders justice but also stands the test of time is a daunting task, not to mention an ambitious artistic undertaking, but this clearly doesn’t intimidate Elder. On the contrary, creating sweeping soundscapes and taking the listener on an epic journey is simply what they do, and they do it damn-near perfectly.

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aafcc

On paper, the idea of “blackened dreampop” is an alarming prospect that is sure to raise ire and eyebrows alike, sickening the staunchest of purists along the way. Acts within the post-black metal school of thought have been pulling pages from new wave for years now, but few acts dare to combine the gritty visceral nature of black metal with blatantly accessible (and at times, major key) melodies and lush synthesizers. Enigmatic experimental three-piece An Autumn For Crippled Children have been hinting at and toying with these influences in various degrees for some time along the black metal periphery, finally biting the bullet with 2013’s try not to destroy everything you love (and even more so with its remix EP) by pushing the emphasis in favor of keyboards over guitars.

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steven-wilson-hce-review

Names are powerful things, we’ve discussed this in the past. It bears repeating though in the light of the album we are now looking at: Steven Wilson‘s name is one of those which shine brightest in the skies of contemporary music. From a solo project through one of the most successful progressive acts of the past two decades, finally back to a solo project, Wilson is one of the most varied creators working today. His last album, The Raven Who Refused To Sing, was an amazingly well-made record but also touched on one of the gripes that many people have with Wilson: his slow drift into aural nostalgia that some feel is holding him back from creating new and exciting music.

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bsw-igtkm-review

Those who are familiar with the above name probably know what to expect here. Black Sheep Wall are not known for their subtlety and the album name should be enough of a hint that nothing is about to change in that regard. I’m Going To Kill Myself is a powerful album at parts which leans on two foundations: in-your-face relentless vocals and cleverly arranged drums and guitars. As long as it keeps to these two tenants, it works. However, once it departs from them, it disintegrates into chaos that is never appealing in its madness nor justified by its statement.

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Marduk – Frontschwein

marduk-front-review

Marduk has long been in the black metal spotlight, casting darkness and death upon us all since the late 1990s. Their sheer rage and hatred can only be surpassed by the lyrical content, which deals with the usual black metal stuff, such as Satan and the like. However, one thing that has consistently set the band apart from the rest is their deep focus and examination of the Third Reich—the infamous regime of Adolf Hitler that led to World War II and almost led to the eradication of all non-white, non-Aryan peoples the world over, and brought us to the breaking point. This breaking point eventually led to toppling the regime and setting off 2 nuclear weapons, the only two ever set off during wartime, over their ally Japan. This reviewer must preface this review by stating what is obvious: there is no connection with the beliefs in the Third Reich. The band has no connection with it other than a historical one either, and this review is not acting as proponent to the atrocities Hitler committed. This review, however, will examine an absolutely blistering album from the band that proves that “trve” black metal is still alive and well.

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necrowretch-serpents-review

A quick search for the Rhône-Alpes region of France will point the inquisitive mind to the renowned peak of Mont Blanc, the world class vineyards around Lyon or the picturesque Lake Annecy; not towards a black/death metal band. Yet such is the variety of life in the modern age. Necrowretch is a black/death metal band hailing from the city of Valence in Rhône-Alpes region that, after seven years of existence, has released its second studio album under the name With Serpents Scourge. Not only does this album make absolutely no sense when considered within the big picture of its geographical surroundings, it also makes no sense in the big picture of where metal is in 2015 as an entire genre of music.

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Torche – Restarter

torche-restarter-review

Torche are in an enviable place popularly, critically, and musically. Their brand of sludgy, stoner metal fused with sugary vocal and guitar hooks have placed them in an exceedingly likable sweet spot. They’re one of the few bands to reliably garner positive attention across the spectrum of indie, alternative, and metal publications and blogs (not to mention across the political spectrum). Musically, they’ve managed to sound positively fresh on every successive release, revealing some new dimensionality to a sound that is already so easily memorable and deceptively simple. Frankly, it’s a shock that Restarter, their fourth album, is the first to be released by a label as large and well-known as Relapse. But here we are, and here is Restarter, an album with a title that sets its mission out from the get-go. But after a string of increasingly successful — and peppy — releases that has left the band at the height of their popularity, what exactly do they feel the need to “restart”? What Torche make abundantly clear on Restarter is that if they are to restart anything, it’s the notion that they are first and foremost, and will remain to be, a sludge metal band. A really good, anthemic sludge metal band.

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Mastery – Valis

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Whether interpreted as a work of pretension or brilliance, Valis is an inarguably dense offering from San Franciscan one-man black metal project Mastery. An eighteen-minute opening track, song titles cryptic in both grammar and lexicon and the composer pseudonym of “Ephemeral Domignostika” all act as precursors to Valis’ improvisational black metal blitzkrieg. All of this is should indicate fairly explicitly that Mastery has more interest in bastardizing its genre’s “Waves” rather than glorifying them. Traditionalists need not apply, but for listeners interested in an act that surpasses Deathspell Omega in their chaos, Valis is certainly a worthwhile endeavor to dissect.

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