Chuck Schuldiner Project

Monday, August 3, 2020

Void Rot - Descending Pillars

It's been two long years since we last heard from Void Rot, the Minnesota death doom band who had the potential to change the game. Now they are back with their first full length and holy crap - these guys might actually do it. Descending Pillars is an absolutely monolithic record. The bands crushing wall of sound approach and the indomitable slaughter of their rhythm section makes for some extremely compelling listening. They have crafted an offering that torments the listener, drives towards the soul and hints at much more to come.

Usually in the world of death-doom bands really lean to one side or another of the genre. Part of what makes Void Rot so interesting is their ability to in fact nicely straddle the twin worlds of death and doom metal. Descending Pillars continually impresses with the breadth of what is being done here. In particular the wonderfully ominous drums on a track like album opener 'Descending Pillars' really lend a hellish aspect to the whole thing. To listen to this album is to feel yourself gradually going insane. To realize that you will be dragged into hell and forced to check on the bitter pill of unreality. Void Rot are going for a very specific sonic aesthetic and they nail it perfectly.

There is a lot to sink your teeth into on this record from the gorgeous guitar tones to the generally stellar execution of the songwriting. At only 37 minutes, Void Rot nicely avoid the classic mistake of getting overambitious. Instead they have unleashed something that is a perfect concise summation of their junta against the world. It's a domineering offering that will leave you in awe - a devastating reminder of how tormented this reality really can be. Descending Pillars is just the first step and I think this band is about to get a whole lot more intense.

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Ars Magna Umbrae - Apotheosis

Here's a suitably evil one to kick off a Sunday - Ars Magna Umbrae are back after two years with Apotheosis. Their frightening brand of avant garde black metal is intimidating, powerful and guaranteed to go for the throat. The creepy soundscapes they conjure up are varied and ever shifting. It's hard not to be entranced with the unique ways that the music of Ars Magna Umbrae twists and turns, guiding you ever deeper into their distinct brand of sonic madness. The breadth of their sound is intimidating with tormented ministrations dragging us into the depths of hell.

Really what makes this record special though is the overall quality of the production. There are a lot of layers here and the way the guitars interlock on a track like 'Of Divine Divergence' is really crucial. Counterbalance this with some truly excellent vocal performances and you've got yourself a record that is almost intimidating in its sense of raw power and dirty looks. The dreamlike quality some of the melodies provide only serve to make this an ever more fascinating offering. Really - the entire record comes together in a surprisingly and wonderfully intricate way that ensures that Apotheosis maintains a place in any black metal nerds regular rotation.

Apotheosis is a thrilling record. It's extremely dense and demanding though. Those of us who are not already deep into the lore of a label like I, Voidhanger are going o have ahrd time with this one. That being said - for the scattered few for whom this type of avant garde and deeply arranged black metal is a way of life then it is going to be hard to turn off the mighty arms of madness that Ars Magna Umbrae evoke and the tormented unrealities that serve to make this a stunning record that will have devout fans coming back again and again.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Sacred Outcry - Damned For All Time

Man who knew that this is what I needed on a Saturday morning? European power metal in the grand old style! There is something incredibly charming about the genre and digging in deep into bands like Sacred Outcry is part of what makes these songs so worth it. 22 years in the making, their debut LP, Damned For All Time is a masterful offering that shows the band may have taken a while to make things happen, but certainly still know how to put together some awesome, and very fun music. It's just the hit I needed to kick start my weekend.

Perhaps the most obvious highlight here is the potent dynamic range. The band has a fondness for acoustic interludes and even touches of choirs, but it is done in a way that rarely drags and usually feels tasteful. The band do not lose themselves in the nonsense that so many of their peers embrace that just feels masturbatory. Even the 14 minute long 'Damned For All Time' seems to make sense within the larger context of what the band is trying to create here. Yes it's silly and over the top, but when combined with the doubled vocals and angular guitar playing it's hard not to be charmed by what Damned For All Time achieves.

There's a lot of technical ecstasy on display here, from burly and elegantly put together guitars to soaring vocals. The raw talent on display is thrilling and the simple elegance of the deliver serves to create a delightful listening experience. This is an impressive record and one that I think true metallers are going to find themselves spinning time and time again. Rather than sliding into boomer metal tropes like so many of their similarly aged peers, Sacred Outcry manage to make Damned For All Time an exciting and addictive listen.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Onirik - The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity

I, Voidhanger Records are back once more with that good good. Onirik's new record, their first in five years, The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity is an absolutely masterful offering. This is a record that is multilayered, intense and full of fascinating musical twists and turns. Though it was five years in the making, it was clearly five years well spent. The harsh cackles and spiraling song structures take you through a journey of nightmare logic. It's an epic quest and one that will leave you constantly grasping for meaning.

The angular playing on a track like 'Trapped In Flesh, Blood and Dirt' only serves to make for some of the most intense and out of left field extreme metal that I have heard in a long while. It's the bass playing in particular that stands out. It's given a much more significant place in the mix than usual and this turns into some rather compelling and exciting stuff. There is a weirdly sublime poetry to the execution here, with The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity continually coming through to remind us that Onirik remain among the best of their class. While perhaps not as aggressively weird as many of their I, Voidhanger peers they are just as good.

There are a lot of things to pick apart on The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity and on some level it seems like Onirik's goal here was to craft something that would really get you thinking. There are a lot of takes on traditional black metal here that have been subverted and frequently made proggier. This is an outsiders black metal album, one that showcases massive technical ability and thrills with its dynamic extortions. Frequently eschewing hyper speed guitars in favor of off kilter almost Voivod-esque sensibilities, The Fire Cult Beyond Eternity has all the trappings of a cult classic.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Selbst - Relatos De Angustia

This is truly South American black metal at its finest. Selbst were originally a Venezuelan band who have since relocated to Chile. Their unique sound is the sort of aggressive, angular and demented stuff you might expect to hear out of the Northern European scene. However, here we are treated to six tracks of deafening fury driven by blasting rage and hateful anguish. on Relatos De Angustia Selbst take their sound one twisted step forward. It's hard not to be enamored with the gorgeous madness of what goes on here as the band continue to evolve.

There is a sense of existential torment on this record that serves to make Relatos De Angustia a mesmerizing listen. The depth of these tracks is impressive, in fact this is one of the most full realized south American black metal records that I have heard in a very long time. The sense of dynamics is excellent and the band seem ambitious to make their sound ever broader and more elegantly executed. The stellar production especially shines through on tracks like 'Sculpting The Dirtiness Of Existence' where interlocking guitars and powerful atmospherics work together to ensure one of the deepest tracks on the record.

Abrasive, hateful and wonderfully introspective this is a black metallers black metal record. It borrows from several key sides of the genre and sees the band trying to build on past successes. Relatos De Angustia is a powerful next step for Selbst. They have advanced their entire sound with this second full length. Suddenly the years have locked into place and Selbst have proven that they are a premier black metal export and definitely something to be spending time with. Relatos De Angustia is a thrilling listen, let's sink our teeth into it together.

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