Release Day Roundup 7/21/23

Rounding up new releases from The Zenith Passage, Rannoch, Oxbow, Mizmor, Remission, Somnuri, Agriculture, Mega Drive and more.

a year ago

Top Picks

The Zenith Passage – Datalysium (proggy tech death)

Everybody's favourite Faceless offshoot are back (baby!) and genuinely better than ever. The Zenith Passage's 2016 debut, Solipsist, certainly has its fans, but for me it represented tech-death in its most tech-forward and dare I say regressive form. Those itching for Planetary Duality (2008) part two may have been satiated, but I was and remain much more interested in what The Faceless were doing on Autotheism (2012).

Datalysm splits the difference, maintaining the finesse and furiosity of Planetary Duality while also often developing toward more progressive passages that bring Autotheism more readily to mind. Oddly, and even though none of The Zenith Passage's current line-up played (although perhaps contributed?) to Autotheism, it ends up serving as a sort of belated missing link between the two modern death metal masterpieces, that also plays handily into the strengths of both. There are also some more recent references in play, with more than a hint of Archspire's trademark staccato assault creeping into both the vocals and other instrumentation.

Datalysm is an album defined by prominent points of reference. For the first time though, it also feels like The Zenith Passage have ceased being foremost "The Faceless at home" and asserted a distinct identity of their own, once again becoming leaders rather than followers in the process.

Rannoch – Conflagrations (progressive death metal)

If you're looking for a Rivers of Nihil replacement following their recent shenanigans, then have I got the band for you! (Baby!) That band's influence was certainly prominent on Rannoch's previous (and rather outstanding) record Reflections Upon Darkness (2020). There however, they also mixed it in with influences from more prominent progressive death metal staples like Opeth, Gojira and the aforementioned Faceless. Conflagrations, on the other hand provides a pretty direct comparison with Rivers of Nihil's landmark 2018 album Where Owls Know My Name, to the point that opener "Desperate Era" sounds almost identical to the beginning of Owls' "Subtle Change". While we're at it, the start of following track "Prism Black" also sounds strikingly similar to that of Decapitated's "Day 69", and there are plenty of other "homages" littered throughout the record.

Conflagrations might not be the most original of albums, and admittedly seems like a slight simplification following Reflections Upon Darkness. Then again, originality is overrated, and if you're going to steal then you may as well steal from the best, especially if you can pull it off as well as Rannoch do here. If there's another knock to be had against the album, it's that—at 52 minutes—it is rather long, with the hard reset before final, mostly instrumental, seventeen-minute track "Threnody to a Dying Star" being perhaps the one moment when their adherence to Owls' template doesn't serve them as well as it could, even if the track itself is rather impressive and winds up sounding more like Fallujah.

It's perhaps misleading to be so critical of one of my top-picks, but that the worst I can say about Conflagrations is that it reminds me a lot of an album I love and that there could probably be a little bit less of it should also serve as an otherwise glowing endorsement.

Release Roundup

Ageless Summoning – Corrupting The Entempled Plane (death metal)

Agriculture – Agriculture (blackgaze, ecstatic black metal)

Ancestral Blood – Forgotten Myths And Legends: Chapter 1 (black metal)

Ancient Crown – Ancient Crown (death metal)

Antioch – Antioch VI: Molten Rainbow (heavy metal, speed metal)

Bad Juju – Blue Heaven (alt rock)

Bloodletter – A Different Kind Of Hell (thrash)

Blutgott – Respawned In Heavy Metal (heavy metal)

Blur – The Ballad of Darren (alt rock, indie pop)

Breaths – Floruit (post black metal)

Cady – Forged From the Sun (screamo, emoviolence)

Carthus – Images Of Tyranny (melodeath)

Cult Of Sobek – Petsuchos (death doom)

Clot – Grief Tethers (sludgy blackened deathgrind)

Cruxvae – Birth of Chaos (black metal, melodeath)

Cultic – Seducer (doomy death doom)

Cyclone Static – Cave Pop (alt rock)

Daniel Bohn – Emotions Of The Sky (blackened post metal)

Darkened – Lord of Sickness and Bile (death metal)

Devoidment – Cnidarian Synergy (tech deathcore)

Disimperium – Grand Insurgence Upon Despotic Altars (blackened death metal)

Embodied Torment – Archaic Bloodshed (brutal death metal)

Eternal Drak – Interdimensional War Of Satan (black thrash)

Feuerschwanz – Fegefeuer (power metal)

Gateway – Galgendood (sludgy death doom)

Greta Van Fleet – Starcatcher (lame zepplin)

Hardball – Hardball (stoner grunge)

Hrob – Hrob (death doom)

Inhuman Condition – Panic Prayer (death metal, thrash)

Inside Hatred – Cosmic Doom (death metal)

Jamie’s Elsewhere – Paradise (melodic metalcore)

Kondzik – Heroes of the Past (instrumental power metal)

Later Sons – Rise Up (Dudette Dudes Rock)

Maze of Terror – Into the Jaws of Terror (black thrash)

Mechanyzed – Crossroads Baker (heavy metal)

Mega Drive – 200XAD (darksynth, electro-industrial)

Midnight Fracture – The Silence (nu BFMV-core)

Mizmor – Prosaic (blackened funeral doom)

Mystfall – Celestial Vision (symphonic metal)

Necrosferatul – Candelabrum Necrosferatulum (black metal)

Nuclear Winter – Seagrave (melodeath)

Outer Heaven – Infinite Psychic Depths (death metal)

Oxbow – Love’s Holiday (alt rock, indie rock)

Remission – Impermanence (thrashy blackened death metal)

Restraining Order – Locked In Time (hardcore punk)

Saint Agnes – Bloodsuckers (nu metal)

Soil – Restoration (new old nu butt rock, bad SEO)

Soil of Ignorance – Through The Portal (brutal deathgrind)

Somnuri – Desiderium (prog sludge?)

Sorcia – Lost Season (stoner doom)

Sorrow Enthroned – Illicit Infantile Surgical Procedures (brutal death metal)

Soundscapism Inc. – Staring Down On Incandescent Cities (chill prog)

Spaceseer/Hiverlucide – Split (doom drone)

Temple Of Katharsis – Macabre Ritual (black metal)

Thunder Horse – After The Fall (doom)

Viral Tyrant – Vultures Like You (psychedelic doom)

Voivod – Morgöth Tales (new old prog thrash, good SEO)

Vulnere – Toothed Lines (technical death metal)

Heavy Blog

Published a year ago