Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery: Vita ex Mortis

Posted in Reviews on June 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn none shall live the hymns of misery

It’s a different Churchburn on the second album than it was on the first. The core duo of guitarist/vocalist Dave Suzuki (formerly of Vital Remains) and drummer Ray McCaffrey (formerly of Sin of Angels and Grief) are joined by guitarist Timmy St. Amour (ex-Howl) and bassist/vocalist Derek Moniz (ex-HeadRot), as well as guests Andy Grant adding noise/ambience and ex-member Mike Cordoso contributing backing vocals, for None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery, and as the follow-up to 2014’s The Awaiting Coffins (review here), the new outing immediately has a high standard to live up to in brutality and atmosphere alike. That challenge is met with a gleefully extreme seven-track/45-minute run that takes the basic model of the first album, which bridged together the often disparate styles of death metal and sludge, and makes the sound even more cohesive and individualized as the band’s own.

From the opening minute-long feedback introduction in “Vexare” through the chugs, shouts, nods and viciousness that follows until the acoustic notes that precede the ultra-slowdown roll of closer “Kaustos,” Churchburn conjure a vision of lumbering madness that, despite its bite and general abrasiveness, succeeds in its mission to cull together the multiple styles by which it’s influenced into a single impression. That is, where The Awaiting Coffins set death metal and sludge against each other on a collection drawn from the band’s original demo and two more recent recordings, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery feels more like a complete album, but one that unquestionably benefits from the experience of its predecessor. It brings its tectonic deathsludge together with a smashing weight worthy of inclusion in conversations alongside acts like Primitive Man, but also uses that as a foundation to branch out in different directions, showing some YOB influence on centerpiece “Authorized to Cleanse” — sonically if not in philosophy — and still finding room stomach-turning tension in the rhythm of the penultimate “Relieved by Burning Lead.”

What’s important to understand — and one can hear it in the eight-plus-minute second cut “Lines of Red,” on which Suzuki‘s blown-out vocals call to mind the heyday of Maryland’s Swarm of the Lotus, as well as the brazen lead guitar melodies and deft rhythmic turns of “Before the Inferno” — is that none of this has happened by mistake. There’s consciousness at work behind these songs, and while I’m not sure I’d call the material progressive, it has progressed from where Churchburn were four and five years ago. A solidified full lineup is likely to have something to do with that, but even in the sense of menace that marks the sample at the start of “Relieved by Burning Lead” or the build into the churning highlight and semi-title-track, “The Misery Hymns,” it is a willful execution of creative intent at work, not happenstance of throwing together riffs and seeing what happens. And with Suzuki and McCaffrey both still present as the driving force behind the group, Churchburn seem just to have begun a new stage of their overarching growth. The interplay of rhythm and lead layers on “Authorized to Cleanse,” which gives way to a blastbeat-laden attack that’s both one of the most poised and most outwardly searing on the record, speaks to the capacities of the new lineup, but at the same time, it’s clear that the moves Churchburn are making are the result of lessons learned from the debut.

churchburn

While almost a first offering unto itself for being the premiere with this lineup, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is very much a second full-length, and one that only pushes further along the encouraging lines of its predecessor. To wit, the shifting pace of “Before the Inferno,” which moves fluidly from sharp-edged twists through sections of faster chugging into more drawn out and doomed atmospheric roll, marks the kind of execution that, however much experience the players might have in previous bands, would be incredibly rare on a debut. McCaffrey‘s double-kick, Suzuki‘s distorted screams at the apex and the thud that finishes all delve deeper into the consuming aspects of the album as a whole listening experience, and while there are no shortage of headbang-worthy — let’s say, in your kitchen, 5AM, through laptop speakers headbanging, or, you know, at a show — moments of raw punishment, Churchburn have as much to say in ambience as they do in onslaught.

But here too the story is one of cohesion, and like the haunting grin of the horned figure on the Nestor Avalos cover art, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery casts much of its violence in subtlety. Even beneath the lurch of “Vexare” at the outset, one can hear in the low end of bass and guitar a push that seems to move downward and downward, not just following the march of the drums into the rest of the album that follows, but gradually leading the listener out of the light and into the manifestations of darkness to come. And at the end, the nylon-string guitar introducing “Kaustus” would seem to offer a moment of hope or respite, but the lumber that ensues and the panicking screams at the end provide one last look at the terrors already witnessed; a final reminder of the power Churchburn seem to find in the murk of their own creation.

Though it sounds insane, it’s methodical, so maybe psychopathic is a better term for what’s happening throughout these tracks, but in any case, by realizing this merciless intent, the band leaves no question as to the success of the album. It has been made with the intention to damn the spirit as well as the eardrums, and while there are stretches for which there will never seem to be enough volume — again, “Lines of Red” — None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is more than just aural sadism. It is crafted dark art and a work of precise concept that leaves more in its wake than simple bruises. If it is foreshadow, it portends utter devastation should Churchburn be able to continue along its line of progress, and if it is an ultimate expression, its triumph is writ large in every destructive second of its passing.

Churchburn on Thee Facebooks

Churchburn on Bandcamp

Armageddon Shop website

Armageddon Shop label webstore

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Churchburn Announce None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery out July 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn

It’s been a minute, but if you recall Churchburn‘s 2014 debut album, The Awaiting Coffins (review here), then chances are you remember it devouring the line between death metal and doom, the shredding leads and vicious chug of Dave Suzuki, also of a friendly little outfit called Vital Remains. And by friendly I mean visceral. In any case, though it wasn’t without its atmospheric/ambient stretches, it was a record worthy of opening with a song called “Embers of Human Ash.” Put it that way.

Four years later, there’s a new Churchburn coming from a new, expanded lineup of the band, Suzuki and fellow founder Ray McCaffrey joined by former Howl guitarist Timmy St. Amour and bassist Derek Moniz, who’s been in many, many bands. Due out July 18 via the much-respected Armageddon Shop, the record is called None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery, and I have little doubt that once again the band will live up to their slaughter-filled expectations.

The PR wire sent info. Preorders start June 1:

churchburn none shall live the hymns of misery

CHURCHBURN – None Shall Live… The Hymns Of Misery LP/CD/CASSETTE/Digital
Armageddon Shop AS-013
Release date: July 13, 2018
Preorders up: June 1, 2018

It’s been 4 years since “The Awaiting Coffins” was released. Churchburn is proud to finally unveil the new album: “None Shall Live…The Hymns of Misery”. To be released once again via the Armageddon Shop store label.

Recorded, engineered and mixed at Machines With Magnets by Seth Manchester: machineswithmagnets.com

Mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright for maximum hearing damage: audiosiege.com

We’re proud to feature the artwork by the dark mind of Nestor Avalos. He went above and beyond our highest expectations to create this sick piece of art for us: nestoravalosofficial.com

For added discomfort within the music, we had two special guests: Andy Grant of The Vomit Arsonist for his black ambience. Our metal brother, former member Mike Cardoso on backing vocals. Churchburn have also brought on two new members, both of whom have already made their own marks in previous R.I. bands: Timmy St. Amour (Howl) on guitar and Derek Moniz (Headrot, Wreak, Black Acid Prophecy…too many to mention) on bass. Their input and musicianship really show on the new songs and recording.

All photos for the new album shot by Mike St Onge.

Thank you to those who helped in funding some of the studio cost by buying merch and your continued support of Churchburn. We hope you dig this album as much as we do.

Churchburn 2018

BAND: Churchburn
ALBUM TITLE: None Shall Live… The Hymns Of Misery

TRACKLIST FOR CD/DIGITAL:
1. Vexare
2. Lines Of Red
3. Misery Hymns
4. Authorized to Cleanse
5. Before The Inferno
6. Relieved By Burning Lead
7. Kaustos

TRACKLIST FOR VINYL/CASSETTE:
Side A 21:24
1. Vexare 4:45
2. Lines Of Red 8:41
3. Misery Hymns 7:58

Side B 25:45
4. Authorized to Cleanse 6:02
5. Before The Inferno 7:00
6. Relieved By Burning Lead 5:49
7. Kaustos 4:54

Churchburn live:
May 28 Geno’s Rock Club Portland, ME
Jun 07 Northside Festival Brooklyn, NY
Jun 08 Brighton Music Hall Allston, MA
Jun 09 Upstate Music Hall Clifton Park, NY

Churchburn is the musical collaboration between two of the undergrounds masters of misery. Dave Suzuki, best known for his mesmerizing guitar work and brutal drumming in Vital Remains and Ray McCaffrey, who carved out sonic drum patterns for Sin Of Angels and Grief. The two have set out to share with the world their love of the riff. Not only the heaviest but also the most haunting. Each song is crafted with the most sinister of intent. Churchburn want the listener to feel a true sense of dread as each song progresses. Revamped 2017 Line up includes Timmy St. Amour (guitar) ex-Howl, and Derek Moniz (bass) ex-Headrot and many others.

https://www.facebook.com/CHURCHBURNDOOM/
https://churchburn.bandcamp.com/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/4XVE0BFa4oxWDyYdEdUFOH
http://armageddonshop.com/
https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/

Churchburn, The Awaiting Coffins (2014)

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Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 Completes Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Stop me if I’ve said this before, but Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 has be as close to an absolute no-brainer as I’ve ever seen in terms of attendance. I mean, so you’re gonna go out to the woods and listen to a bunch of meticulously curated doom and folk and black metal and psych for a weekend, camp out and top the whole thing off with a Panopticon set under starlight? Jesus. How much more could you really ask of a live event than that?

Cheers to Mary Spiro on a job incredibly done with this lineup. I don’t even know what else to say about it other than it’s pretty unreal and there’s nothing else like it happening that I know of in the US or maybe even anywhere else. Seriously. Who’s pulling bands from both coasts and Europe across genres like this for an outdoor event the vibe of which you can already feel just from the press release? Who’s got Castle on the same bill with West Virginian folk black metal?

It’s not all my bag, but I tip my hat:

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2017 poster

Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 – Official Lineup Announcement

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, the Mid-Atlantic’s only open-air camping heavy metal gathering, is pleased to announce the complete lineup for the 2017 festival, which runs from Thursday, September 14th through Sunday, September 17th at White Hall, Maryland’s Camp Hidden Valley. For the third year, the festival will host 39 of the undergrounds leading bands, representing all genres and subgenres of heavy metal.

Over three days, the four stages of SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST will come to life inside the woodsy landscape of Camp Hidden Valley. “Every year has been special, but I am just particularly stoked about what we have curated”, says Mary Spiro, organizer of Shadow Woods Productions LLC. “I am extremely honored to present the lineup this year because I think it reflects the best of the underground metal scene as well as some of the personal favorites of the festival organizers. Several of these bands, I have been trying to host at the fest since the first year and I am happy to finally have them play.”

Beginning on Thursday night, the Pavilion stage will light up and set the tone to the weekend with all-acoustic and intimate performances with Texas dark-folk maudit AMIGO THE DEVIL, Portland’s dark-folk soloist AERIAL RUIN and West Virginia’s Appalachian folk duo, NECHOCHWEN. Friday includes exclusive performances by Oregon’s haunting black metal band UADA and Georgia’s tortured blackened death quartet WITHERED.

On Saturday, as darkness falls over the Woodland Stage, atmospheric blackened folk giants PANTOPICON will play an exclusive, 70-minute set under the backdrop of the stars. Brooklyn black metal titans WOE, Rhode Island sludgy-doom foursome CHURCHBURN, mysterious blackened grind band DEAD IN THE MANGER (one of two east coast shows), and San Francisco extreme death quintet VASTUM (one of two east coast shows), will all deliver exclusive performances to SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST.

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST is proud to be sponsored this year by Moxie Bookkeeping and Tridroid Records and to receive promotional support from Grime Studios, Leftover Pizza Productions, and Perfect World Productions.

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2017
Complete Lineup (in alpha order):
Aerial Ruin – Portland, OR (Ritual folk)
All Hell – Asheville, NC (Crusty black metal)
Amigo the Devil – Spicewood, TX (Dark folk) **
Bearstorm – Richmond, VA (Blackened southern death-prog)
Black Table – NY/NJ (Progressive black metal)
Castle – San Francisco, CA (Heavy doom metal)
Churchburn – Pawtucket, RI (Blackened sludge) **
Cut the Architect’s Hand – Richmond, VA (Death metal)
Dark Water Transit – Baltimore, MD (Instrumental heavy rock)
Dead in the Manger – coast to coast – (Blackened grind) **
Dee Calhoun – Frederick, MD (Acoustic; vocalist of Iron Man)
Earthling – Richmond, VA (Thrash metal)
Elagabalus – Baltimore, MD (Experimental metal 2-piece)
Erlkonig – Baltimore, MD (Blackened death metal)
Fiakra – Freehold, NJ (LARPower metal)
Foehammer – Annandale, VA (Sludge)
Green Elder/Paul Ravenwood – Johnson City, TN – (Nature folk)
Heavy Temple – Philadelphia, PA (Psychedelic-doomed rock)
Hexis – Copenhagen, Denmark (Hardcore/black metal)
Human Bodies – Boston, MA (Crusty blackened hardcore)
Immaculate Deception – Baltimore, MD (Death metal)
Infera Bruo – Boston, MA (Black metal)
Kyoty – Dover, NH – (Instrumental post metal)
Mome – Portland, ME (Power psych rock)
Nechochwen “unplugged” – Wheeling, WV (Appalachian acoustic folk metal) **
Night Raids – Philadelphia, PA (Thrash/grind)
Panopticon – KY/MN (Black folk metal) **
Percussor – PA/DE (Old school death metal)
Seasick Gladiator – Washington, DC (Experimental doom prog)
Sloth Herder – PA/VA/MD (Sludge grind)
Take to the Woods/Jo Cosgrove – Baltimore, MD (Dark folk)
The Owls Are Not What They Seem – York, PA (Ritual noise)
Toke – Cape Fear, NC (Stoner doom)
Uada – Portland, OR (Black metal) **
Vastum – San Francisco, CA (Death metal) **
Withered -Atlanta, GA (Black/death metal) **
Woe – Brooklyn, NY (Black metal) **
Worthless- NY/NJ (Black metal) **
ZUD – Portland, ME (Black and blues metal)
** EXCLUSIVE PERFORMANCES

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST DETAILS
Location:
Camp Hidden Valley
White Hall, Maryland

Ticket Link: http://shadowwoodsmetalfest2017.bpt.me
Price: $175 Full weekend package (Thursday evening-Sunday morning) including all musical events and camping
Cabins: $20 bed (shared cabin)

Shadow Woods Metal Fest is 21+
Food & beverage vendors: Various food, beverage, and alcohol vendors will be on site with both vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore selections. No outside alcohol is permitted.
Marketplace vendors: Multiple record labels, distros, and artisans will be located in the Hall. For more information on becoming a vendor, contact shadow.woods.llc@gmail.com

PROMOTIONAL ARTWORK: Brian Sheehan
PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: Mary Spiro

http://shadowwoodsmetalfest2017.bpt.me
http://www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com/
https://www.facebook.com/shadowwoodsmetalfest/
https://www.instagram.com/shadow.woods.metal.fest/
http://twitter.com/ShadowWoodsMF

Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2017 promo video

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Quarterly Review: Motherslug, Worshipper, Ape Machine, Churchburn, OMSQ, Unhold, The Heave-Ho, Crypt, Oceanwake, Lunar Electric

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

When I finished yesterday’s reviews, I felt suitably beat, but as ever, there was a bit of catharsis to it too. Today’s pile takes us all the way to the other end of the world and back again to my (relative) back yard, and then loops around one more time for good measure with a few stops in between. While I’m coherent enough to form sentences, you’ll pardon me if I get right to it.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Motherslug, Motherslug

motherslug motherslug

If the name Motherslug or the cover art look familiar, it’s because the Melbourne double-guitar five-piece initially released their self-titled EP late in 2012 (review here). This NoSlip Records release, however, takes the tracks from that, couples them with cuts from Motherslug’s subsequent outing, a 2014 two-tracker called Three Kings in Darkness, and remasters both for vinyl as one 39-minute full-length. There’s a bit of progression evident in the newer cuts, “Trippin’ on Evil” and “Three Kings in Darkness,” but the LP smartly arranges them so that each ends its respective side, led into by two songs from the self-titled, so the impression is more that Motherslug are expanding their riffy, Southern-style sludge rock sound – which is still true, it just initially happened over two releases – rather than they’re mixing and matching different recordings. By the time you get to either, however, Motherslug will have already bowled over you with rolling, thick sludge riffs that could just as easily have come from Maryland or Virginia as Australia.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

NoSlip Records

Worshipper, Black Corridor/High Above the Clouds

worshipper black corridor high above the clouds

Allston(e) newcomers Worshipper make an accomplished-sounding debut with Black Corridor/High above the Clouds, two self-released tracks that mark their first release as a band. The two-guitar four-piece balance classic metal riffs and doom tendencies with soaring-style clean vocals and fast-moving grooves, as much Candlemass as High on Fire. “Black Corridor” wows with its solo but more with its hook, guitarist John Brookhouse and bassist Bob Maloney sharing vocals while Alejandro Necochea adds guitar and Dave Jarvis draws it all together on drums, and “High above the Clouds” adds some choice early-Dio “Egypt”-ology to the mix. It’s a sense of grandeur that’s neither overblown nor mishandled by the winding track, which coupled with its predecessor demonstrates Worshipper’s firm grip on a style melding heavy rock and metal into a take of their own, and a progression beginning that seems to have a definite idea of where it wants to end up. One can’t help but look forward to finding out.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Worshipper on Bandcamp

Ape Machine, Live at Freak Valley

ape machine live at freak valley

Hard to think of a band from Portland, Oregon, these days as being underrated, but Ape Machine fit the bill all the same. The four-piece of vocalist Caleb Heinze, guitarist Ian Watts, bassist Brian True and drummer Damon de la Paz played Germany’s Freak Valley festival as part of a 2013 European tour in support of the then-recently-released Mangled by the Machine (review here), their third album and Ripple Music debut, and accordingly, most of what shows up on the 48-minute Live at Freak Valley comes from that record, later album cuts like the swaying “Strange are the People” and stomp-slide-fueled “Ruling with Intent” leading to a run through Mangled by the Machine’s first five tracks, in order, to close the set. With a cover of Deep Purple’s “Black Night” (something they also did on their second record) in tow with others from their first two records, Live at Freak Valley makes a solid intro to a group more people should know.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Churchburn, The Awaiting Coffins

churchburn the awaiting coffins

A compilation that draws from Churchburn’s 2013 self-titled and two tracks recorded late in 2013/early in 2014 – opener “Embers of Human Ash” and the subsequent “V” – The Awaiting Coffins revels in its extremity of doom and no-light-shall-pass atmospherics. The duo of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dave Suzuki (ex-Vital Remains, among others) and Ray McCaffrey (ex-Sin of Angels) issue the CD/LP via Armageddon Shop, and while there are plenty of droning moments, acoustic interludes and stretches of depressive noise, the Rhode Island outfit is primarily brutal. Suzuki, joined on vocals for the first two cuts by guitarist Kevin Curley and bassist Mike Cardoso, leads a pummeling charge in “V” that’s more death than death-doom, but far be it from me to quibble. For “Come Forth the Swarm,” the Sin of Angels cover “Crown of Fallen Kings” and “Kneel upon Charred Remnants,” it’s just McCaffrey and Suzuki, and the dynamic is different and the recording rawer, but the bleak territory being explored has a similar root. Add on an unlisted cover of Celtic Frost’s “Return to the Eve,” and The Awaiting Coffins is even more of a sure thing.

Churchburn on Thee Facebooks

Armageddon Shop

OMSQ, Thrust/Parry

omsq thrust parry

Instrumental save for some samples, spoken proclamations and field recordings, Thrust/Parry was released by Belgian outfit OMSQ in limited numbers via Navalorama Records on CD to mark the occasion of a late-2014 UK tour, and it showcases an outfit of rare sonic adventurousness. Progressive, heavy structures unfold across three overarching movements in the 68-minute whole of the album, which at any moment makes shifts between dense riffs and crashing drums and exploratory washes of noise sound not only smooth but fitting, culminations like “North Sea” and 16-minute closer “4:48” as much about finishing a story as providing a sonic payoff, each cut serving not only the movement of which it’s component, but also the overarching flow of the record as whole. Stylistically wide open an unhindered by genre constraints, Thrust/Parry is a challenging listen that satisfies in proportion to how much one is willing to shift along with its changes in mood and style. Evocative throughout, it proves more than worth the effort.

OMSQ on Thee Facebooks

Navalorama Records

Unhold, Towering

unhold towering

Swiss five-piece Unhold trace their lineage back to an early-‘90s demo, but Towering (on Czar of Crickets) is their fourth album since their 2001 full-length debut, Walking Blackwards, and their first offering in seven years since Gold Cut in 2008. Something of an unexpected return from the Bern troupe, then, but not unwelcome, their Neurosis-influenced post-hardcore/post-metal finding renewed expression in the moody unfolding of “I Belong” or the tense bellow of the later, keyboard-infused “Hydra,” moments of triumph in ambient/crushing tradeoffs of “Voice Within” as guitarists Thomas Tschuor and Philipp Thöni step back and pianist Miriam Wolf takes lead vocals for a movement almost Alcest-like in its melodic course. Drummer Daniel Fischer and bassist Leo Matkovic are less a foundation than part of Towering’s nodding, modern-proggy whole, and it probably works better that way in smoothing out the various turns in extended pieces like the title-track or “Dawn,” which provides the apex of the album with the calmer “Ascending” and “Death Dying” as an epilogue.

Unhold on Thee Facebooks

Czar of Crickets

The Heave-Ho, Dead Reckoning

the heave-ho dead reckoning

Three words: Rock and roll. With Boston four-piece The Heave-Ho, it’s less about subgenre and more about paying homage to a classic ideal of straightforward expression. Dead Reckoning, the debut full-length from the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Pete Valle (ex-Quintaine Americana), bassist Keith “Barry” Schleicher (ex-Infernal Overdrive), drummer Dylan Wilson and lead guitarist Lawrence O’Toole, is eight songs (plus a closing radio edit, presumably for WEMF) of unpretentious rendition, steady in its delivery of grown-up-punker hooks and barroom rock such that, when Valle calls for “guitar!” prior to the solo in “Buffalo,” it’s entirely without irony or cynicism. Would be hard for “Thirsty Jesus” not to be a highlight on its title alone, but the lyrics also hold up. With a clean production style, centerpiece moment of clarity in “Afraid to Die,” and particularly riotous finish in “The Line,” Dead Reckoning has little use for stylistic nuance and a confident delivery across the board. Drunk as it is, it does not stumble.

The Heave-Ho on Thee Facebooks

The Heave-Ho at CDBaby

Crypt, Kvlt MMXIV

crypt kvlt mmxiv

Though Adelaide three-guitar six-piece Crypt title their debut release Kvlt MMXIV, it’s actually a Jan. 2015 release, a half-hour’s worth of stoner chicanery pressed up in a recycled-material digipak with a fold-out liner poster – the lyrics, yes, are written in a rune font – and the disc held in place by a piece of cork. The presentation of the songs themselves is no less off the wall, the lumbering “Green Butter” taking hold from the crust-raw opener “Siberian Exile” with unhinged low-end, drum stomp and some deceptively subtle airy guitar, and the weirdo blues howl of the following “These Last Days” only broadens the scope. Seems fair to say “expect the unexpected” since so much effort has been put into throwing off the frame of reference, but as the fuzz of “Idle Minds” and ambience into righteous groove of closer “Dead River” show, Crypt have more working in their favor than variety for its own sake, namely a fire in their delivery that burns away any slim chance this material had of sounding stale.

Crypt on Thee Facebooks

Crypt on Bandcamp

Oceanwake, Sunless

oceanwake sunless

Ferocious death-doom meets with melodic atmospheres on Oceanwake’s second album, Sunless – a title that’s not quite a full summary of what the Finnish five-piece have on offer throughout the four tracks/44 minutes. Opener “The Lay of an Oncoming Storm,” also the longest cut at 15:35 (immediate points), shifts back and forth between lumbering brutality and sparse guitar atmospherics, and while one waits for the inevitable clean vocals that would put Oceanwake in league with countrymen Swallow the Sun, they don’t come yet. Instead, the track explodes into crashes and screams. Ten-minute closer “Ephemeral” holds the most satisfying build, but between the two, “Parhelion” (9:09) and “Avanturine” (8:03) manage to remind of the particular melancholic beauty of death-doom – including some of those melodic vocals – and how resonant its contrast of light and dark can be when held together by an emotional core as resonant as that of Oceanwake. Sunless is gorgeous and devastating, and not necessarily alternating between the two.

Oceanwake on Thee Facebooks

ViciSolum Productions on Bandcamp

Lunar Electric, Lunar Electric

lunar-electric-lunar-electric

While one struggles not to be skeptical of any release in this day and age that opens with a “Radio Edit,” I won’t discount the quality of songwriting L.A.-based Lunar Electric display throughout their self-titled EP. Now a duo driven by guitarist/vocalist Dre DiMura, the band is highly-stylized but brims with a classic heavy rock swagger in “Bread and Circuses” (the aforementioned radio edit) and the subsequent “Moonlight,” a steady swing emerging in layers of heavy riffing and DiMura’s own croon, pushed ahead by the straightforward drumming of Kaleen Reading and the low-end heft of bassist Geena Spigarelli. They make a solid trio across “Moonlight” and “Sleepwaker,” which follows with its chugging break foreshadowing closer “Crossfire Child” (video premiere here) while building a tension of its own, though it seems unlikely that whatever Lunar Electric do next will have the same lineup because of geographic spread. Too bad. While young, and somewhat brooding, Lunar Electric nonetheless offer up a work of marked potential in their EP’s quick 17-minute span.

Dre DiMura’s website

Dre DiMura on Instagram

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