Another full week of underground metal and my ears are bleeding. I’m not complaining, but sometimes, all this good music makes it hard to pick a favorite. Remember last week there was a tie, and it was hard time too but here it is.
I.O.’s PICK OF THE WEEK NOCTEM Exilum (Prosthetic Records) This gem deserves a review all its own. NOCTEM’s blackened death metal imbibed a strange potion and rampages as Mr. Hyde through the entire album, but you can still see the wicked genius of Dr. Jekyll in every track. The percussion is phenomenal, the vocals sublime, and the bass rumbles with sinister grace beneath tremolo picking and brutal riffing alike. “Tiamat’s Crown” is just one sampling of beauteous insanity. Exilum is definitely a must-have and I would give it a rating of 4.5/5. The album drops on September 16th via Prosthetic Records.
ANN MY GUARD Innocence Descent (Smash Fabric Records) The moniker of doll metal intrigued me enough to chance a listen. It brings to mind Barbie head-banging (hey, she’s got the hair for it). There is something sweet to ANN MY GUARD and without warning a song will turn into a fae bitch, all silken smiles and pointed teeth. It’s only a glimpse, but it’s scary enough to titillate the death-wish in us all. Hints of doom and forsythia twine through heavy metal riffs. “Ivory Ballad” is just gorgeous. Believe it or not, self described as the love child between EVANESCENCE, Courtney Love, and PJ Harvey, the band is close but they forgot the VERUCA SALT.
attic Seasons (independent) Seasons is tight. The guitar riffs yanked me in and would not let go no matter how much I squirmed. There is something fundamental about attic’s brand of death metal yet they throw in melodically technical atmospheric mind-fucks that will make your ears cream, especially for those of you who like it ruff. That’s just the first four songs, which you can check out here. The album drops on September 23rd as a self-release.
SEVEN THORNS II (independent)
If you want symphonic power metal done properly, SEVEN THORNS has got the album for you. The guitars wail on II, but what I love is the voice. There is the required operatic quality but the vocals have a rough-hewn depth to them that contrasts nicely with the soaring high notes. They do a killer cover of ABBA’s “Mama Mia” as a bonus track. I’ve also included “Eye of the Storm,” which starts off in traditional power metal style and then destroys it. If you enjoy this, you will enjoy all of the new album with its dueling guitars, atmospheric keyboards, and thudding percussion.
WILDER FALOTICO One Free Metal EP Per Month For A Year (independent) One Free Metal EP Per Month For A Year, the ad read. I was like, “Damn, that’s too good to be true. This is gonna suck!” NOT. I am beyond impressed. WILDER FALOTICO (you know he got teased in high school so he’s one of OURS) has kept his word and made some kick ass music. The insane production schedule released its first progeny in November of 2013 with Pagan Influences & Symphonic Atmosphere. Much of the work is blackened death metal but diverges into other subgenres enough to make an awesome mix CD that would have any metal gourmand salivating. At least two of the EPs have instrumental versions (one distinctly progressive in flavor) for those of you who prefer lyric-less brutality. Start here:
But don’t stop. Taste each EP and savor.
Sludgy, drony, doom rock is what I’d call this Helsinki, Finland outfit. This is the kind of music you listen to in the bath with lots of bubbles and candles and a packet of razor blades, just in case. Melancholic metallic guitars, atmospheric keyboards, and a violin give this septet a signature sound that balances right on the edge of metal. Listen HERE. They are working on a second album so stay tuned.
PULVIS ET UMBRA Implosion of Pain (Pavement Entertainment) This Italian outfit is brrrrutal! The production has that “underground” timbre to it and it works. The base is death metal but there’s a veneer of thrash that gives it speed without sacrificing more melodic elements. Listen HERE.
OECIST XVIII LIII (Crowquill Records) For you instrumental lovers out there, I’ve hustled a treat of progressive post-metal that I really enjoyed. It has all the trimmings of technical finesse with interludes of guitar riffage and pummeling percussion that will send chills down your spine. What really impressed me about the album was how each song builds up a tension and then sends you soaring like a sling shot. You can listen to it for yourself HERE.
METAL DESCENT’S Battle of the Bands – Round I We’ve taken six of I.O.’s weekly picks and pitted them against each other in a brutal Battle of the Bands. At the end of the year, we’ll take the readers’ votes from each of the battles and write up the Top Ten Underground Heavy Metal Bands to watch in 2015. Vote for as many bands as you want but make sure to check all of them out. Round I closes on September 17th. Vote HERE.
Submissions from bands are accepted HERE.
I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can visit her personal blog at iokirkwood.com.