Mini-Review Roundup: Celestial Grave, Somnium Nox, Element of Chaos, and more

July 19, 2016


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The love just keeps on coming in.  I can scarcely find time for myself with all of this music.  In any case, today you can get your jam on with two different styles of black metal, Swedish mathcore, and some killer progressive as well.  Never forget who sent you, but more importantly give the support where it's due: the bands.

1 Burial Ground Trance See Details for Burial Ground Trance

Two-piece black metal marauders Celestial Grave come to us from Finnland.  Their music is a delightfully grim marriage of thrashy, punk madness and malicious melodies.  At times Mayhem and Darkthrone, others Mgla or Cult of Fire;this is a group that knows how to deliver it to us raw, but not without a few flourishes to keep things interesting.  Burial Ground Trance is the group's debut recording on glorious cassette tape.  Iron Bonehead never fails to deliver the latest in dark, kvlt offerings of black and death, and this is no different.  Check out the opening track below now, pick it up in full on Friday.

2 Apocrypha See Details for Apocrypha

We don't get too many black metal releases over here from Australia, but Sydney has just released Somnium Nox's Apocrypha, and it's beyond good.  This is definitely more for fans of all things dark, but also atmospheric and progressive.  The release is made up of just one 16 minute song which goes through a number of twists and turns.  There is a firm foundation of venomous second wave mixed with a touch of doom, but from there things branch out into more expansive territories.  Tone shifts on a whim leading to whispy acoustic interludes, tumultuous waves of post-metal, and frequent returns to perfectly ominous black metal wails.  Don't hold the reverb.

3 A New Dawn See Details for A New Dawn

Element of Chaos have apparently been kicking around this release for a little while now.  They are a progressive metal band out of Rome.  I tend to think of their sound as Between the Buried and Me with a lot more synthesizer and frequent delving into various subgernes of death metal.  The song featured below is by far my favorite on A New Dawn.  It's a perfect composition between the powerful growls, superbly singable chorus, variety of styles, and unique implementation of the keyboard.  The rest of the album moves along in much the same vein, though at times getting a little bogged down in its conceptual side.  Even so, I highly recommend checking it out.  I haven't heard a lot of great prog metal this year, and this is well above the rest. 

4 MotörHeathen See Details for MotörHeathen

"Boston-based thrashing hardcore punk miscreants" PanzerBastard are here, and somewhere Lemmy is sipping whiskey and grinning from ear to ear.  This seven-inch is courtesy of PATAC Records.  Need a quote from the band?  “Here you go, motherf#@kers,” offers bassist/vocalist KPanzer.  I was in the process of writing my own description of MotörHeathen, but he sums it up better than I ever could: "Forged in a dark, smelly, room in the deepest, darkest bowels of Boston, your intrepid, dirtbag heroes internalized three years of misfortune, betrayal, underachievement, and general disgust with the human race to puke forth the four slabs of sonic offal now known as MotörHeathen. We are the bastard sons of Motörhead, Discharge, Venom, and Cro-Mags, on a mission to ruin your life."  Grab a pack (or maybe a carton) of cigarettes and a handle of Jack for this one if you happen to be of age.

5 Birch EP See Details for Birch EP

Yet more material for you Botch, Converge,etc. fans to get your fill.  From Gothenburg, Sweden; melodeath capital of the world, comes Birch.  Hell, even their name is just one sound off from their peers. This brief EP, clocking in at just under 20 minutes, is perfection.  "Rorschach" and "36 Views of Mt. Fuji" are my own personal favorites.  Birch has everything I come to look for in a great mathcore crew: powerful, passionate hardcore screams, an infectious turmoil of riffage, and maniacal drum work certain to leave you dreaming about marauding long division monsters.  Even the bass player has an axe to grind, and I hear some interest in experimentation towards the end of "Weltschmertz (Tabula Rasa)."  If Google Translate has not entirely failed me, "Fulländning.Name your own price.


6 The Color Out of Space See Details for The Color Out of Space

Plague of Carcosa is something different entirely.  This one man project out of my own Chicago stomping grounds is one of the more interesting takes on drone and noise I have heard.  Being more of a "where are the riffs?" kind of guy, I appreciate that the focus with this project is not only on creating doomy soundscape, but also getting experimental with his guitar.  These three tracks are chock full of psychodelic madness that would make Jimi Hendrix smile just as much as any drone musician.  I feel like the album should come packaged with a blacklight and a hookah.  Influences reportedly include SunnO)), Bong, Thou, and Bongripper.  Another opportunity to name your own price on this one.

7 The Well of Stars See Details for The Well of Stars

Checking in with France, from Nantes comes Onirism.  The lyrics are reportedly based on lucid dreams, which is fitting given the dreamlike nature of the atmosphere.  This is a black metal project, but the focus on foundational elements from the folk and ambient camps make it something more.  It's something that certainly stands out from the pack.  Things can get dark and grim, but also very peaceful.  There is a certain earth worship and celebration of untainted nature in the compositions.  And that last word is key, because Onirism doesn't make "songs," they make art.   Much of this album stands strong with instrumentals featuring both standard instrumentation along with mandolins, synthesizers, and wind instruments; but there are some harsh vocals to be found whenever the band deems it to be additive to the aesthetic.  If you are familiar with Belenos, there are members of that project in this one as well.