Imagine yourself in the middle of a frozen wasteland, far from civilization. The snow has accumulated tremendously and has swallowed your feet completely. The bitter wind swarms about you, threatening to peel the skin from your face. You finally collapse in a heap from exhaustion and starvation. Unseen wild animals can be heard issuing their hunting cries in the distance. You are convinced that the end is nigh and you begin making amends with whichever god you believe in. The debut album from self-proclaimed “winterdoom” outfit Phantom Winter, “Cvlt”, recreates this scenario through their haunting compositions. Born out of the ashes of German post-metal group Omega Massif, Phantom Winter aim to rip any shred of hope you have in you and leave you for dead.
Whenever Aaron Turner attaches his name to a musical project, people take notice. Whether it be the forward-thinking metal compositions of Isis, the sludgy monkey-business of Old Man Gloom, the haunting drones of Mamiffer, the hardcore-tinged debauchery of Split Cranium and others, it’s hard to deny Turner’s musical prowess. So when Sumac was announced, everyone, including myself, was instilled with insurmountable excitement. Turner is joined by the equally proficient Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch, etc) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists), and the end-result is absolutely tremendous. Brimming with complexity and colossal heaviness, The Deal delivers the all the goods in a jam-packed 54-minute duration.
I was introduced to the eccentric yet virulent sounds of Muck sometime last year, when a friend randomly sent me the link to their 2012 full length, Slaves. The Icelandic quartet’s music immediately struck a chord with me with its erratic, complex instrumentation and general wackiness. Obvious reference points would be Coalesce, Botch and the like. But upon further inspection, one could see this wasn’t just rehashed mathcore sensibilities. Slaves definitely had a personality all its own. Muck return this year with the record’s follow up and it most certainly delivers. But rather than just rewrite Slaves, Muck opt for something a little familiar yet different at the same time. Much like its predecessor, Your Joyous Future is a unique animal.
The illustration of the woman about to have her throat sliced open by an unknown assailant is probably the best visual representation of Cowards‘ second full length album, Rise to Infamy. The Parisian quintet is said assailant; swift, cunning, merciless and violent. They attack when you least expect them and you won’t find time to recover from the initial blows before being subjected to more unhinged violence. A slashed throat will honestly be the least of your worries. The murderer analogy serves to prove that Cowards are no band to be taken lightly. Rise to Infamy is a dark and gritty record whose sole goal is carnage.
Dead In The Manger made an interesting entrance last year with the release of their debut, six-track EP, Transience. The band, who remain shrouded in anonymity, combined blistering black metal instrumentation with the ferocity and hyper-speed rhythms of grindcore. The six-movement record was immediate and dismal, as one would expect from a grind/black metal hybrid. To follow up that release, Dead In The Manger have crafted another six-track album that will, once again, drag you into the deepest depths of a blackened abyss.