Rumblings From the Underground: Voidnaga, Anger As Art, Criminal + More
Another week is in the can and you know what that means! It's time to investigate what's happening in the metal underground this week as we look at a couple of big news items, as well as five new releases out today. This time, Rumblings From the Underground is going to hit on a couple thrashier acts like Anger As Art and Criminal, but we're still exploring the depths with bands like Mithridatic and Voidnaga. Obsidian Kingdom round out the reviews, refusing to be pigeonholed.
What else have I been listening to? Glad you asked! I've been jamming Brutality's Screams of Anguish, Pestilence's Testimony of the Ancients, Death's Human (gotta love those remasters), the new Destroyer 666 record Wildfire and The Outer Limits from Voivod quite a bit lately in addition to everything you'll see below. As always, let's start off with a little bit of news...
Abnormality will release their sophomore record, Mechanisms of Omniscience, on April 29 through Metal Blade. The title track can be heard here and it's everything you'd expect from this outfit: full-fledged, blistering brutal tech death with all the fixings.
Dark Funeral are set to return with their first album since 2009, debuting new vocalist Heljarmadr and bassist Natt, who both joined in 2014. Where Shadows Forever Reign will be out June 3 on Century Media and the album art can be seen here.
Graves At Sea have been kicking around since 2002, splitting up between 2008 and 2012 and have finally put together their first studio album. They won me over years ago on their split with Asunder, which featured the indomitable song, "Pariah." The Curse That Is will be out April 1 on Relapse, and a new song "Tempest" was released this week and can be heard here.
Nucleus, the sci-fi/death metal enthusiasts are preparing their debut album Sentient, which is an exercise in death metal the way they used to make it! Demilich worship is the newest craze in the genre (ie: Chthe'ilist), but these guys do more than enough to stand out on their own. Check it out here and try telling me I'm wrong.
Anger As Art, 'Ad Mortem Festinamus'
If you're gonna thrash, hailing from California is the way to go! Anger As Art contains a wealth of metal veterans, featuring former and current members of Abbatoir and Bitch. Now five albums in, the quintet has perfected their sound and manage to stand out in a sea of pure idol-worshipping neo thrash.
Ad Mortem Festinamus is not only a mouthful, but an earful as well. A highly melodic and aggressive title track serves as an intro leading into "Pissing on Your Grave." It's as fun to listen to as it is to say and frontman Steve Gaines employs a fun and visceral approach to his delivery, injecting high shrieks that catch the ear. Frenetic lead playing and surgical drumming dominate the album, which includes other standout tracks like "Tombward" "Aim for the Heart" and "Unknowing Dead."
Criminal, 'Fear Itself'
Criminal were one of metal's most consistent acts of the '90s, flying the flag high in their native Chile. Now boasting a half Chilean, half British lineup after some relocations, they're set to release Fear Itself, the first full length in five years.
The perfect blend of the best elements of thrash, death metal and hardcore, Fear Itself beats its chest, "flexing muscles, display of force" across 12 tracks. Rather than aimlessly shifting from style to style, they take thrash rhythms and induce blunt force trauma with Chaos A.D. like hardcore aesthetics and a concussive drum performance. The death metal influence creeps in the most on "Summoning the Apocalypse," giving just enough variety just when you thought you'd pigeonholed Criminal's style. Fear Itself is a fresh take on some classic sounds, and who better to do it than a band that pioneered it in the first place? Still got it!
Mithridatic, 'Miserable Miracle'
France continues to churn out some of the most chaotic, malevolent extreme metal in the world and the latest happens to be Mithridatic. Miserable Miracle marks their debut record and after a few listens I still can't figure out where to start. Sure, this is unequivocally death metal, but scratch beneath the surface and there's something more sinister at work here.
Sometimes a band has what can only be described as "it" and forgive me, but the girls in the movie Bring It On described the phenomenon the best. I digress... Mithridatic are flat out uncompromising, sounding like one of the more formidable techdeath outfits out there and other times gurgling their way through some muddy waters ala Archgoat, but only for a few seconds. Perhaps the most mold-defying song, "Funambule Pénitent" starts off with a tectonic nod to Morbid Angel before tipping their hat to country mates Deathspell Omega at times. Make sure to dedicate a couple listens before judging for yourself.
Obsidian Kingdom, 'A Year With No Summer'
Okay, this one is a little weird, but stick with me! Just to get this out of the way, Obsidian Kingdom's A Year Without Summer will appeal to fans of My Bloody Valentine, Pharmakon and Cult of Luna. Not any of them — all three. There's an overlying sonic theme here, but damn do they venture out in all sorts of different territory.
Post-metal soundscapes tend to lead the way here, but they break for spacey and ethereal elements, drifting far away from their heavier origins. Each track is a journey on its own, sounding upbeat an indie on parts of "Darkness" and harsh and noisy as "April 10" builds up. A Year With No Summer sounds confused, but for the better, indicating the feeling if the record's title were true.
Voidnaga, 'Demo MMXVI'
Black metal has a habit of popping up in some of metal's least-represented countries, especially when you factor in how many one man bands can be found in the genre's frost-encrusted box. Voidnaga, a one man outfit from Malaysia, has broken through and unleashed the uncompromising Demo MMXVI. All you "the demos were better" elitists better listen up.
The guitar tones here are highly reminiscent of Black Witchery's Inferno of Sacred Destruction, though war metal is just a bit out of Voidnaga's stylistic reach. Consisting of just three songs after the intro track, it's 15 minutes of filthy, black metal delight. Memorable guitar lines weave in and out with a furious march pace, employing clever tempo changes that propel each track and keep the music from falling flat like so many other blast and fill acts.
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