Towards the back of the Vault, just past Reese’s cell, there’s a small staircase that leads to a hidden subterranean chamber where we keep the real underground shit. These are the obscure releases and rare finds that will get you points with the cool kids.
Welcome to Beneath the Vault, a column in which we take a brief look at the many review requests we get from bands that aren’t always fortunate enough to afford a promotional campaign or the backing of a big record label. Whether you like your music like you like your coffee or prefer listening to groovy tunes with headphones and some smoke, we’ve got you covered with these underground treasures. If you’re a band and would like a review or a spot in this column, click here to put in a request.
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Release June 20th, 2018
Hænesy are a Hungarian black metal band that play a blend of atmospheric, ambient, melodic, and post-black metal. Katruzsa is a very enjoyable slice of blackened darkness. Mixing aggression with subtlety and textured atmosphere, Hænesy have crafted a dark-yet-colourful album of affecting and engaging music. The songs effectively combine aggression and atmosphere, and are expansive and expressive in their delivery. This is an album that’s obviously been well-considered and planned out by its creators, and overall I really enjoyed the 50 minutes of material on Katruzsa. (Nigel)
Where Ice Meets Ocean
Genre: Bush Metal
Release June 30th, 2018
Bush Metal? What the fuck is Bush Metal? Well, this is what the band call their music. It’s essentially a mix of stoner and sludge metal/rock, and is all about the riffs. In fact, I’m going to capitalise that because this is really at the core of what Arcticcircle are all about – RIFFS! RIFFS RIFFS RIFFS! I have to say that I enjoy this release more than I thought I would. It has real character, and the songs are very unpretentious and endearing. The band just want to rock, and rock they do. Short and sweet, Where Ice Meets Ocean is a damn fine listen. (Nigel)
Genre: Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal
Release June 2nd, 2018
A new album already? Nascent only came out in February, but already we now have this new slice of atmospheric blackness. Black Earth emphasises the band’s post-black metal side more, and has a more experimental feel to its material. Wide-ranging and expansive, the music on this album is rich and layered, providing the listener with six diverse experiences to delve into across the 36-minute playing time. It’s a mainly instrumental album, so it’s easy to focus on what the music is doing. Although not perfect, and this one man project is obviously still developing, Black Earth is still very enjoyable. (Nigel)
Genre: Heavy / Doom / Thrash Metal
Released: February 13th, 2
First up from me, we have a real lo-fi ripper from Chicago’s Ancient Séance. The demo is fairly short, clocking in at just under 14 minutes, but shows a lot of promise in its brief run time. Most of the album is dirty thrash delivered beneath sinister lyrics from vocalist Syl. The highlight for me, and the reason I added it to the column, is the very mellow intro to “Cryptic Lullabies.” It’s got a dulcet groove that threw me for a loop when I heard it the first time and sounds completely different from the other songs on the demo. I hope to hear more cross genre stuff like this in their next release. (Bryan)
Under the Dark Mark
Genre: Thrash Metal
Released: March 31st, 2018
Another band from our neighbors to the west. Bloodletter plays clean and gratifying thrash metal with melody similar to Skeletonwitch. Riffs in songs like “March to the End” and “Beast in Black” are The Black Dahlia Murder catchy and their executed to perfection tight and fast. It’s also got some impressive twin lead work from guitarists Pat Armamentos and Pete Carparelli. The band says that they’re here to “teach lowly sinners that fast, melodic and heavy thrash metal is here to stay,” and after listening to Under the Dark Mark, I can’t help but agree with them. If you even remotely like thrash, than I can’t recommend this enough. A very solid release!
Wizard of phüzz
Genre: Desert / Psych Rock
Released: March 30th, 2018
I’ve been wanting to include Cleõphüzz’s EP in this column for a while, but had not gotten around to writing something about it until recently. Just like you’d expect from their name, the guitar tones are about as fuzzy as you get – like I’m talking velcro level scratchy. While the vocals don’t kick in until the second track “Mirage,” they really pack a punch. Alex has a raspy soulful voice that’s sometimes sweet and other times snarky and it really amps up the bluesiness of their compositions. Additional vocals from Carolune, who also plays the cello and sitar, broadens the sound making the songs seem fuller and ethereal. Altogether, I really enjoyed this one a lot. It’s just a super groovy toe tapper. And I don’t believe I’ve heard a stoner rock band that’s used cello before, but it’s a nice addition. Highly recommended!