Welcome to Crack’s monthly round-up of extreme music
Make no mistake, the fringes of music are closing in on you. A world preoccupied by weighty, formless experiments, corpse painted theatrics and palm-muted misery is now but a click away. Those record sleeves decked with unreadable logos – the ones formerly only available in specialist shops in grimy small town malls – are now yours for the taking.
In the last few years the heaviest, most difficult artists committing their work to tape have been able to find an audience with relative ease. Sure, the audiences might not be huge but they’re always fiercely devoted. It’s a beautiful mystery. What seems totally absurd to one listener completely absorbs another. Those who are absorbed? They’re in it for life.
Grindcore, black metal, death metal, power electronics – call it what you like – each month we’re rounding up the best extreme music we can find on the internet and feeding it back to you.
Athene Noctua - Cugetarea MiticaSelf-Released
Historically, Athene Noctua, or the ‘owl of Athena’, is the syncretic embodiment of wisdom, poetry and erudition throughout the Western world. And what Romania’s Faurul Pâmîntului attempts to hone through Cugetarea Miticâ (literal translation Meditation Mythical) is his own erudition of atmospheric black metal.
Here, Faurul almost singlehandedly deploys every trope accustomed to the genre’s form. Trilling guitar crowing, antediluvian flute lines and imperceptible screams. There’s an ominous authenticity to Athene Noctua’s befouled idiosyncrasies and Cugetarea Miticâ is a bawling independent release from a noteworthy artist shining through black metal’s glut of solo multi-instrumentalist acts.
Vertebreaker - MMXVISelf-Released
Oregon’s Vertebreaker are unashamedly cavalier when it comes to egregious track names. They almost read like a Genius annotation of Burzum or Darkthrone lyrics. …And A Hateful Raven Under Anti-Christian Forests, Over a Blazing Chasm of Blasphemic Thrones.
Technically speaking, ‘Blasphemic’ isn’t in the dictionary. But who cares when your music chimes harder than the deafening peel of Satan’s smarting bell piece?
Altarage - NIHLIron Bonehead Productions
Chasmal pockets of Morbid Angel and Antiversum are heavily bruised on Altarage’s robust take on death metal. Last year’s MMXV demo was swiftly accrued by Iron Bonehead Productions; a label accountable for some of the most blistering underground metal releases in over a decade. With Nihl, this Spanish quartet vow to detune their fashionably coined ‘blackened doom’. Only the blast-beating behemoth, Womberous has been teased so far but it soars louder than a napalm strike. If this is anything to go by, Nihl is assured to be one of the stronger death metal records of the year.
Rotting Christ - RitualsSeason Of Mist
Rituals is Grecian extreme metal quartet Rotting Christ’s twelfth studio album. This is a critical (and almost biased) distinction for a band that has been active for over two and a half decades. They’re antiquated stalwarts in their own field and, similar to the likes of Behemoth or Neurosis, every record is assayed with a foreboding zeal and trepidation in equal measure. Their sound can only be described as signature, physically chiselling the trail for their successors (Varathon, Thou Art Lord, etc.).
They’re also a group that remain divisive in their ideals. In a total lapse of judgement and understanding, Megadeth cancelled shows where Rotting Christ were to support. The reasoning behind this is a mix of misunderstanding and delirium on Megadeth’s part. An ignominious omission considering Rotting Christ’s legacy; one they continue to amend with Rituals. It’s a record of vast tribalistic scope, studded with heritage metal riffing and totemic chanting. A strong addition to an already luminous back-catalogue.
Ten Thousand Miles Of Arteries - Even Spilled Seed Crawls Toward The WombAnnihilvs Power Electronix
This first debut proper from Midwestern solo outfit TTMOA is similar to temporarily losing consciousness, like the oppression of blood circulation to your brain. Ironic, this sort of erotic asphyxiation, considering Even Spilled Seed Crawls Toward The Womb was released on Valentines Day.
The act’s founding member, currently known only as NLC, has excoriated itself from the black metal leanings of earlier projects such as 2010’s EP compilation Exorsa. Instead, NLC concentrates on torrid power electronics and industrial disorder. Its lyrical narrative is loosely based on a post-apocalyptic landscape, where the last surviving human comes to terms with her impending fate as the redundant bearer of life. The record is a suffocation of drone; one that is both caustic yet wistful in a single turn.
Tombs - All Empires FallRelapse Records
Another teaser. This time in the malformed manifestation of Brooklyn’s Tombs. Deceiver, a track from the forthcoming EP All Empires Fall on Relapse Records, is an acerbic slither of what could potentially be the group’s breakthrough. Some may deject the group’s purified production standards owed to Apple Studio’s Sanford Parker (YOB, Minsk).
By no means does this whir with the same putrid derision as 2011’s John Congleton mastered Path of Totality (still their best release to date). What Deceiver presents is a group hell bent on traversing the boundaries of their own competence as songwriters. So far, so good.
Panopticon / Waldgeflüster SplitNordvis
The hermetic allure of Panopticon is not one of social retreat but one of a genuine love for an infinite winter. His black metal personifies the scolding numbness you feel when your ice immersed hands begin to discolour. So this split with Munich’s Waldgefluster, another solo act that incorporates traditional black metal with an emotionally isolated pagan aesthetic, could not be a more beautifully maligned marriage.
What has been released so far from this A-side / B-side is alarmingly accessible – two of which feature both artists covering one of each other’s songs. It’s ominously melancholic with notably bright vocal melodies. Black metal’s foundations remain, but the formula has been sweetened to taste.
Ithaqua / BØG SplitSelf-released
Japan’s Ithaqua steal this split. Hands down. Their psyched-out doom is maniacal. It’s the groggiest, grossest shroom doom you’ll hear all day. Australia’s BØG (not to be confused with Canada’s equally doom-laden BOG) deliver a self-composed B-side of scratchy post-hardcore and show a definite progression in instrumental discipline over last year’s discordant full-length, Mire. But Ithaqua. Their bass tone. Their drum fills. Their crust-tinged vocals. Their pedal mangling. Over a single A-side, Ithaqua are in pole position as one of the most gushingly exuberant groups to materialise from metal’s sludgey underbelly in recent memory.