Two more black metal bands for the price of one, and that price just happens to be whatever you please. Urfuchs from Hamburg and Henbane from Hildesheim. If there is a country outside of Scandivia equally known for black metal over the years, it's Germany. Both of these groups maintain an extremely morose atmosphere focusing on elements of doom metal in their otherwise kvlt sound. Sorrowful melodies are slowly dragged across the coals in time with the always grim howls of despair. There are still some faster moments, but this isn't a release oriented around blastbeats and shock factor. Henbane and Urfuchs prefer to linger in the shadows and coerce you into your own dark deeds via insidious whispers.
Throw on your sleeveless black T and crank up the D-beats, it's time for Whipstriker. This crusty thrash metal band with some heavy metal leanings is an old school riff frenzy perfect for fans of the 80's. A little Motorhead, a little Venom, a little Kreator; these Brazilians touch on a number of styles in one concise package. Driven by ripping hooks, highly energetic drumming, and filthy roars; you're going to wish you were at the show banging your head in front of the stage. The gritty production adds to the retro aesthetic just as much as the compositional choices. Solid stuff you should listen to on a dusty old casette player in a dark room covered in band posters. No dad, YOU'RE too loud!
Moving onto the UK, Hegemony plays some filthy death metal that would make even the coolest mom think about setting you up with a therapist. But hell, if she calls me we'll be assaulting our senses to this very album while we work on coping with all of life's annoyances. Just 3 tracks on this little EP/Demo, but that doesn't stop it from achieving intense levels of awesome ugliness. Blastbeats, blackened tremolos, and reverb-ridden growls grind the listener into a fine pulp that I can only assume the band drinks for sustenance. Forget Redbull. Forget Rockstar. Ground up metalheads is where the real rush is at. For just under $4 you can be digested along wtih the rest.
The tour continues. Welcome to France, home of many more black metal acts. Our focus today happens to be the atmospheric stylings of Cepheide. Another opportunity to name your own price, Respire is two lengthy tracks (roughly 16 and 19 minutes) built upon a strong sense of subtle progression. Veering away from the more common ugly and avant-garde leanings of many other BM groups in the region, this album focuses on lush melody and other post-black leanings. Cathartic wails explode from the distance, seeming to echo into eternity. Tireless, frenetic drumming and layers of furious strumming and backing strings envelope the listener in a stunning wall of sound that seems to come from all directions. It's a breathtaking experience that I cannot recommend enough.
We're going to stay within the same genre now, but hop back over to the United States. California's Mare Cognitum and Aureole, like Cepheide above, are focused on the more melodic side of black metal. Whether through 15 minutes or 5, these compositions are going to to take you places. It may be into the coldest reaches of space, it may be the darkest depths of uncharted waters; but rest assured you will go somewhere. Cascading lines of tremolo and ominous shrieks make Mare Cognitum's recordings a bit more aggressive a la UADA, but it's a careful union that balances the light and dark elements. Aureole are more focused on utilization of ambience to emphasize that silence can be just a laced with evil; and that playing with the dynamics in between is what maximizes impact. Once more, name your price.
Alright, it's been quite a marathon covering all of these excellent albums, but I have time for one more. Lubbert Das is another black metal band, this time from the Netherlands. Going somewhat full circle, Deluge focuses back in on the aggressive side, though they aren't without their atmospheric elements as well. Once more we are met with just two lengthy tracks filled with a number of menacing movements. Doomy marches, blazing blastbeats, wicked tremolo, ambient outros; there's plenty to keep things interesting. Like a wildfire, Deluge scorches everything in its path: sometimes roaring strong to terrifying heights, others creeping through moist areas searching for new kindling and giving off blinding smoke. And at the risk of sounding like a thrifty broken record, name your own price.
Southern Lord has released the new Plague LP from Bay Area, California hardcore outfit LIES, as well as a CD release that combines the new record with their previous EP, 2014’s Abuse. The music is noisy, harsh, and aggressive a la groups like Converge and Great American Ghost. Plenty of tasty riffs and filthy drums. The vocals are filled with gritty punk rock fury, and the hooks cover a number of different styles. Solid stuff for your basement show hardcore fan. My personal favorites are "Fear Monger," "Smothered," and "Dead Weight."