Release Day Roundup: 5/24/24

It’s a good week to be a deathy black metal band beginning with the letter V, as we round up new releases from Vredehammer, Vale of Pnath, Vulgaris, Vasigr, Rotting Christ, Teramaze, Abrams, Sentiment Dissolve, Cutterred Flesh, the seriously sexy Lenny Kravitz and Bring Me the Horizon, finally.

25 days ago

Top Picks

Rotting Christ – Pro Xristou (epic/melodic pagan metal)

Greek metal titans Rotting Christ have always been a hard band to classify. From their basic black metal beginnings through their symphonic, goth-soaked middle-period, to the power-tinged, almost ritualistic style they settled on with 2007's Theogonia and perfected with 2013's Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού ("True to Your Own Spirit"/"Against the Demon Within"), the band has always stood apart. An appeal might perhaps be made to the nebulous term "Viking metal", but while Rotting Christ sometimes sound a bit like Bathory and Moonsoorw and occasionally like Enslaved, they also sound nothing like Amon Amarth, or Tyr and their ilk. Nor do they actually sing about vikings, so "Pagan metal" is probably closer, but even they also don't sound anything like Primordial, although there are more than a few nods to classic heavy metal acts like Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost in their riffing.

Rotting Christ have also continued to evolve across their career, steadily tweaking their sound across each album, so that every few records they seem to transform into an entirely different beast, with Pro Xristou ("Before Christ") constituting another landmark release in their storied career. While Rituals (2016) saw Rotting Christ get darker, and sometimes downright evil-sounding, previous outing The Heretics (2019) was a much lighter affair that saw the addition of a lot of heavy metal melodicism to their ever-evolving sound. Pro Xristou pushing its triumphant grandeur even further, delivering one of their most eclectic and accomplished offerings in the process. The album, which is "a fervent tribute to the last Pagan kings who stood resilient against the Christian tide" is suitably grandiose (and seems to be on the safeside of political ideologies potentially associated with such things, as far as I can tell). There isn't a single second on this album that doesn't sound utterly huge, and when its soaring melodies, pounding rhythms and hypnotic chants all coalesce, it sounds absolutely gargantuan—at once majestic and entirely intimidating.

In many ways, Pro Xristou is a simple combination of Rituals and The Heretics, but its impeccable execution also pushes it far beyond its predecessors, making it easily Rotting Christ's best release since Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού and instantly elevating it into the upper echelons of their shockingly consistent discography. Despite all its extravagance, I am yet to find it exhausting and I am never not awed by every moment I am in its presence.

Teramaze – Eli: A Wonderful Fall From Grace (prog metal)

At the complete other end of the metal spectrum, both sonically and ideologically, are Melbourne's Terramaze, who have been around a lot longer than I thought! It also seems like the band have truly come into their own, because Eli is not only leagues ahead of their previous (and especially recent) material, but one of the best examples in this specific style of traditional, power-tinged prog metal that I've heard in some time. The album immediately brings to mind the most recent and highly acclaimed efforts from genre heavyweights (and blog favourites) like Tesseract, Dream Theater and fellow Australians Caligula's Horse, except I've immediately taken to Eli more than any of those albums.

A big part of Eli's enhanced appeal is the return of on-again/off-again vocalist Nathan Peachey, who last fronted the band on Her Halo (2015), which was also probably the last time I really paid attention to a Terramaze record. Maybe it's just a matter of changing tastes, but Peachey seems to have only improved with time, laying down a performance here that's both reminiscent and worthy of Dan Tompkins, with some of that golden-era James LaBrie spice to push it over the top. Even so, Eli's one fatal flaw remains its extravagance. A lot of its tracks feel like three or four songs stacked on top of each other and often have more false endings than The Return of the King (2003) (while we're dabbling in Christian analogies). I probably could have done without the fourteen-and-a-half-minute cheese-fest that is "A Wonderful Fall from Grace", which can be especially trying after everything that's come before it, but there are enough stand-out moments and rediscovered vitality leading up to that to carry you/me through.

Vale of Pnath – Between the Worlds of Life and Death (symphonic blackened death metal)

This is a very good blackened death metal album. It sounds like mid-period Behemoth mixed with Septic Flesh, and makes the new Vredehamer album that's out this week look utterly tame by comparison. Also, the bridge riff in "Silent Prayers" is just the main riff of Immortal's "Tyrants" played even harder. No notes!

Release Roundup

Abrams – Blue City (Tooly stoner-grunge)

Annalynn – Failure Will Find Me (Sleeping with Sirens, Periphery, Crossfaith and Brand of Sacrifice-core)

Armed Cloud – Nimbus (proggish power metal)

Arroganz – Quintessenz (poorly produced death metal)

Backward Blue – Eye Of The Storm (prog metal)

Black Sorcery – Plummeting into the Hour of the Wolf (black metal)

Blasteroid – Crypts of Mind (tech death, prog thrash)

Bleakheart – Silver Pulse (post-goth doom)

Bleed The Victims – Serenades Of Agony (thrash)

Bring Me the Horizon – POST HUMAN: NeX GEn (alt/hyper-pop/metal, "Cherub Rock"-core)

Boneripper – World Ablaze (crossover metalcore)

Capstan – The Mosaic (progressive pop punk?)

Cathari – It Will Hurt The Entire Time You Are Alive (brutal noisecore, alt sludge)

Catharia – Unimaginable Dreams Of Fate (black metal)

Cavern Womb – Stages Of Infinity (weird death metal)

Chephreon – Dark Tales from the Deep Lakes (meloblack thrash)

Christ Denied – Christopsy (brutal death metal, slam)

Codex Mortis – Tales of Woe (blackened death metal)

Coroza – As Within (sludge doom)

Cult Of Erinyes – Metempsychosis (weird black metal)

Cunt Gushes Tungsten – Pure Autochtonic Shit (shitty death metal)

Cutterred Flesh – Love At First Bite (tech death)

Dark Affliction – Five Stages Of Grief (post-blackened doom)

DIIV – Frog in boiling Water (sad alt/post rock)

Electron – Hollow (nu/alt metal)

Esodic – De Facto De Jure (folky death thrash)

Evildead - Toxic Grace (deathish thrash)

Fly Over States – Ghosts (post-hardcore)

Forbidden Myth – Zantea Chronicles: The Nightmare Awakens (proggish trad metal)

Gnarwhal – Altered States (fuzzy alt rock, stoner doom)

Grand Massive – Houses Of The Unholy (alt sludge)

Hextar – Doomsayer (trad metal)

I Cut Out Your Name – Testament der Dekadenz (crusty death/grindcore)

Icy Steel – The Wait, the Choice and the Bravery (heavy metal, power trad)

Inlandsys – The Fallen (symphonic blackened death metal)

Jifnotcif – Woke And Dagger (punk metal)

Kalgon – Kalgon (ancient Chinese secret metal)

Kati Rán – SÁLA (dark folk)

Kayleth – New Babylon (stoner doom)

Knights of the Realm – Darker than Leather (heavy metal, hard rock)

Lamentari – Ex Umbra In Lucem (symphonic black metal)

Lenny Kravitz – Blue Electric Light (sexy funk rock)

Liar Thief Bandit – Icon (hard/trad rock)

Locusts And Honey – Teach Me To Live That I Dread The Grave As Little As My Bed (blackened doom)

Lovelorn Dolls – Deadtime Stories (industrial goth, Bratz-core)

Lower Automation – Welcome To My Deathbed (noise rock)

Lucifuge – Hexensabbat (black thrash)

Mad Hatter – Oneironautics (power/speed metal)

Moral Putrefaction – Moral Putrefaction (death metal)

Morgue – Close To Complete Darkness (noisy death metal)

Morgue Meat – Apocalyptic Visions (death metal)

Morgued – Reduced to Primitives (brutalish death metal)

Mortal Wound – Anus Of The World (death/butt metal)

Neurasty – Identity Collapse (nu/alt metal)

Night Laser – Call Me What You Want (hard rock, hair metal)

Nightside – Death From The North (black metal)

Old Sparky – Burn the Prophets (death thrash)

Painful – Nefarious Monarachy (black metal)

Pardoner – Paranoid In Hell (indie punk)

Poolside At The Flamingo – Accabadpra (deathcore)

Red Handed Denial – A Journey Through Virtual Dystopia (modern metal/core)

Reverend Hound – Deal In Steel (heavy metal)

Reversed – Wildly Possessed (blackened death metal)

Rotkin – Source of Laos (brutal death metal)

Sailor Hunter – Evolution (alt melodeath)

Sarcas – Rise of the Snowflakes (weird alt metal)

Satanic Priest – …of Blasphemies and Lust (black thrash)

Scheitan – Songs For The Gothic People (goth rock)

Sentiment Dissolve – The Orwellian Dream (brutal tech-death)

Shatter – Shatter (nu-ish groove metal)

Shattering Calamity – Catacombs of Habitual Defilement (Brutal Death / Slam)

Shivered – Existential Mourning (goth doom)

Sound&Shape – Pillars Of Creation (proggy/unsyncronised alt rock)

Spitgod – Through Life ‘Till Death (crusty death metal)

Squelching Flesh – Incarceration (progressive goregrind)

Summoner’s Circle – Cult (symphonic black metal)

Thola – Unseen (melodic metal)

Trail Of Tears – Winds Of Disdain (electro-metalcore, melodeath)

Ultio – Cor (black metal)

Ulvik – Last Rites | Dire Omens (folky post-black metal)

Valfreya – Dawn Of Reckoning (symphonic melodeath)

Vastigr – The Path Of Perdition (progressive post-black metal)

Vredehammer – God Slayer (industrialised/deathend black metal)

Vulgaris – Seat Of The Fire (deathy black metal)

Zolfo – Descending into Inexorable Absence (blackened sudge-doom)


Joshua Bulleid

Published 25 days ago