Twenty! Is this really the twentieth edition of Short Sharp Shock? Where does the time go? Metal never sleeps.
Band(s): Microcosmys/La Torture des Ténèbres
Title: The Gods Themselves
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 31 minutes
Release date: July 13, 2018
Here’s an underground black metal split release to start us off. Microcosmys are a duo from Ukraine playing ambient/atmospheric black metal. It’s instrumental, knows a good riff when it sees it, and creates effective soundscapes punctuated with moments of harsh wild abandon as the pent up aggression becomes too much for the band and the proverbial floodgates break. When this happens, it’s a violent blackened tide of grim distortion that’s unleashed. Apart from this, the music is generally slow/mid-paced and enhanced with tasty ambience and atmospherics.
La Torture des Ténèbres is a Canadian one-woman band, and her music is nastier and more fiery than that of Microcosmys. Here’s an artist that manages to somehow mix together harsh, violent, raw, noisy black metal, with bright, atmospheric melody. If done poorly, this would be a recipe for disaster, but here the two sides of the music combine to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s almost as if two songs are playing at once – a supremely underground black metal band, and a resplendent guitar part from your favourite post-metal band. The savagery of the one complements the bleak beauty of the other, and both of the tracks here are very enjoyable. Well, enjoyable if you have a taste for this sort of underground extremity, of course.
Band(s): Cast the Stone
Title: Empyrean Atrophy
Style(s): Swedish Death Metal
Duration: 27 minutes
Release date: August 31, 2018
God, I love me some Swedish death metal. I especially love it when a band manages to channel the core, classic style, while still adding in a bit of other things too, (with the caveat that they don’t destroy the elements that make the Swedish style so endearing, of course). Here, this means that Empyrean Atrophy essentially contains Swedish death metal songs that have been filtered through an American perspective (the band features current and ex-members of groups such as Scour, Cattle Decapitation, and Misery Index), and enhanced with progressive darkness and depth.
As an added bonus, for me at least, the final track here is a cover of the title track form Infestdead’s classic second album Jesusatan. This alone made me extremely happy, never mind everything else here.
Yep, Empyrean Atrophy is a very enjoyable and moreish release. Loved it.
Band(s): Depths of Hatred
Style(s): Death Metal
Duration: 22 minutes
Release date: July 20, 2018
And now for something quite modern…
Depths of Hatred mix technical and melodic death metal, with an atmospheric side and some crushing deathcore to make modern death metal that basically kicks ass. The band’s various different component parts work well together and there’s a vibrant energy to the music that gets me quite pumped listening to its multifaceted extremity. Brutal and sharp, this EP is a very enjoyable dose of violence for anyone into modern death metal.
Title: Beautiful Ruin
Duration: 7 minutes
Release date: June 29, 2018
NEW CONVERGE! Yes, caps and an exclamation mark are both appropriate responses to the mighty Converge. CONVERGE! This brief EP is the last of the band’s material recorded during the sessions for their most recent album – The Dusk in Us. As you might be able to tell from the EP’s brief duration, these tracks focus on the harsher, faster side of their persona, and the four tracks here, rip, tear, and slash violently with punk violence and intensity.
Band(s): Kalaallit Nunaat/Au Revoir
Title: Memories from Desolate Battlefields
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 39 minutes
Release date: April 20, 2018
Okay, okay, so this release is 39 minutes long…I know, I know, but it’s a split so I’m including it here anyway. Besides, it’s a damn fine collection of music so just listen to it and stop complaining.
The one man Italian black metal act that is Kalaallit Nunaat plays atmospheric and raw second wave black metal. The latter is influenced by the Scandinavian scene of the 90s, while the former comes from the Cascadian school of mood-building. The two tracks here mix and match elements from both, ultimately resulting in an underground interpretation that’s mostly very pleasing indeed.
The also one man, also Italian, also black metal act that is Au Revoir plays a post-metal variant of atmospheric black metal, with some elements of doom and shoegaze thrown in for good measure. It’s as relentlessly underground and raw as Kalaallit Nunaat’s music, although not as aggressive, apart from the serrated screams that occasionally appear. This ambient-led approach to post-black metal is effective, but will probably be an acquired taste for some.