Sounds Of The Metal Underground // Autumn & Winter Releases // 2022

1. // Ken Mode : Null (Artoffact Records)

Eighth album from the Canadian Extreme Noise-Rockers, and another typically abrasive blast of Post-Hardcore which landed in Sep 2022 via Artoffact Records. The sublimely dark and twisted album eloquently combines elements of Screamo-Post Metal with Doomy-Post Hardcore, and opens with the ponderous A Love Letter, which introduces a saxophone at one point providing a weird and demented Avantgarde Jazz flavour, which continues into The Desperate Search For An Enemy. Throw Your Phone In The River begins with a clanking rhythm, before the eerie and creaking intro to The Tie progresses with industrial soundscapes and a monotonous thudding percussion.

But They Respect My Tactics aggressively rolls its way around a pulsating Bass line while twinkling guitar leads create a hypnotic haze, while Not My Fault provides the riff of the album while Jesse Mathewson provides his droning depressive vocals. Lost Grip is a slow burning Doomy 10 minute cut with a heavy Bass and marching Drum while Jesse channels his inner Henry Rollins as he spits; ‘I don’t believe that you mean well’. Ken Mode also drip the subtle use of a piano into Lost Grip, which is the standout track on a great album as it gradually gets heavier and more chaotic, with an intricate arrangement and some dirty down tuned guitars.

2. // Throwing Bricks : The Burden (Tartarus Records)

Second full length album from Dutch five piece Throwing Bricks, The Burden was released via Tartarus Records in Oct 2022. And the natives of Utrecht have spliced together a heady concoction of sounds that intriguingly take influence from a melting pot of Hardcore, Sludge/Doom and Black Metal. The record opens with the crunching riff of Bricks Of Grace and the rasping vocals of Niels Koster sounding not unlike Colin H. Van Eeckhout of Amenra. This is powerfully delivered emotional music of the highest calibre, and the track meanders beautifully through various guises of Post-Metal goodness.

And it is Amenra producer Tim De Gieter who has recorded and produced The Burden at his esteemed Much Luv Studios, creating a sophisticated and punishing sound for the band which continues throughout, with False Promises also conveying a raw and emotional feeling of despair. Each track flows eloquently from one to the other, with the perfect blend of aggression mixed with subtle moments of pure melodic ariose. The Burden is without doubt a record that should see Throwing Bricks gain some well deserved recognition in 2023.

3. // Karg : Resignation (AOP Records)

Karg is the solo project from Harakiri For The Sky vocalist Michael ‘JJ’ V. Wahntraum, and Resignation released Nov 22 via AOP Records is the eighth album since 2008. JJ impressively performs all instruments on the record which is as adventurous as we’ve come to expect from a Karg release, providing the driving yet melodic Post-Black Metal he delivers with HFTS, along with a more experimental Black-Gaze influence. Resignation begins with the slow burning intro of Was Bleibt as shimmering percussive highs build to JJ letting rip with his distinctive vocal style.

The track sits over ten minutes and is a real journey of cinematic Post-Black Metal which meanders with highs and lows of aggression and periods of atmospheric respite. There is a shoe-gazey end section with clean singing, and this general tone continues throughout the release. Ebbe/Flut opens with JJ’s passionately tortured sounding screams before dropping into a hypnotic spoken word section, while Grab Der Wellen provides another ferocious opening before dropping into a kind of deep mesmeric Black Metal lullaby.

4. // Keiji Haino + Sumac : Into This Juvenile Apocalypse Our Golden Blood To Pour Let Us Never (Thrill Jockey)

In 2018 Aaron Turner (Isis) and Brian Cook’s (Russian Circles) innovative Heavy Post-Metal project Sumac hooked up with Japanese Avant-Garde multi instrumentalist Keiji Haino, to produce American Dollar Bill Keep Facing Sideways / You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On. An entirely improvised recording which blended together the experimental nature of Jazz with the obscurer end of Post-Metal, to produce music unlike anything else we’d heard before.

Into This Juvenile Apocalypse Our Golden Blood To Pour Let Us Never released Oct 2022, brought the peculiar partnership back together for a second taste of the collaboration, which was recorded in Vancouver in May 2019 while Haino was touring in North America. Six tracks of pure Avantgarde experimentation which expands on the ideas laid bare in their first encounter and enhances the execution some what, as each journey of sound takes your mind into a vast chasm of shimmering soundscapes.

5. // Holy Fawn : Dimensional Bleed (Wax Bodega)

Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, Holy Fawn followed up their imaginative full length debut album Death Spells (2018) with Dimensional Bleed released in Sep 2022 through Wax Bodega. They are a band who don’t seem to wish to be pigeonholed into any one specific genre, producing deep and thought provoking music of a melancholic nature, that will appeals fans of Post-Rock artists such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, whilst also incorporating elements of Black Metal, Doom and Folk music. Dimensional Bleed is an album which really epitomises the current Black-Gaze sound, euphoric and dreamy with snippets of compressed aggression littered throughout.

The record opens with the lush synth pads of Hex Sown, before the eighties floaty Synth-Wave feel of Death Is A Release explodes into a chasm of atmospheric distortion, where lush clean vocals eventually give into to the subtlest of hollow blackened screams. Lift Your Head shows their pure Black-Gaze sound where the harsher vocals sit deep buried in the mix. Holy Fawn use samples and Electronica on the slow burn groove of Empty Vials. And the title track itself stands out by providing the harshest moment of the album, when it hits full flow with blood curdling vocals.

6. // Fell Ruin : Cast In Oil The Dressed Wrought (Tartarus Records)

Third album in for the Detroit based Blackened-Death metallers Fell Ruin, who showcase a heady influence of Doom on Cast In Oil The Dressed Wrought released via Tartarus Records in Nov 2022. Beginning with the dark and ominous intro of Fixation, the album delivers the epitome of the calm before the storm, as the title track drops into a unique cacophony with the blackened vocals of Brian Sheehan, and a Doom heavy musical sound. The track is interestingly arranged with some neat work throughout by guitarist Robert Radtke.

The impressive Guitar playing stand outs again with the riff on the swirling Black Metal of Stain The Field, with Fell Ruin showing they can mix up the tone as the track drops into a calming middle break before progressing to a chaotic finale. The Burning Spire blends an old-school Black Metal vibe with an intricate Avantgarde arrangement, as the Guitars and Drums twist and turn around each other. And the record wraps up on a high with the vast Sightless Amongst The Weavers, providing an accomplished conclusion to the release with Fell Ruin exploring a deep and textured progressive element to their sound.

Words by – Abstrakt_Soul


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