Posts Tagged ‘Doom’

FVNERALS have released a video clip for the track ‘For Horror Eats the Light’, which is the first single taken from the dark doom duo’s forthcoming new album Let the Earth Be Silent, which has been scheduled for release on February 3, 2023.

FVNERALS comment: “The track ‘For Horror Eats the Light’ is a lament about giving up all sense of hope, embracing the absence of light and a forced return to barren lands through devastation”, guitarist Syd Scarlet explains. “The song is about contemplating our lives coming to an end while accepting that nothing can save us and nothing should. It was written to include several movements that each mirror an emotional stage. The title of the song was inspired by a quote from Thomas Ligotti: ‘Not even the solar brilliance of a summer day will harbor you from horror. For horror eats the light and digests it into darkness’.”

Tiffany Ström adds: “The video was created by Simona Noreik, an amazing artist with whom we had previously collaborated on our live visuals”, the singer and bass player writes. “Simona’s artistic vision really complemented the apocalyptic nature of our song perfectly and she managed to portray desolation, extinction and nothingness with grace.”

Watch the video here:

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Lupus Lounge – 25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s catharsis and there’s catharsis. Extreme times heighten the tension and anxiety, and increase the urge to purge. This split release from Tchornobog and Abyssal – a truly international effort, with Tchornobog hailing from Portland, Oregon, and Abyssal representing the UK with their brand of Death/Black/Doom Metal that explores, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, themes of oppression, and decay.

Tchornobog take this approach to catharsis and purging completely literally. As the press summary notes, ‘Any track opening with a multi-layered recording of a number of vomiting sessions is bound to continue on the darker side of the musical spectrum.’ And so it does, delivering on the threat / promise that “The epic song ‘The Vomiting Choir’ delivers 24:08 minutes that form a descending spiral into a bottomless pit filled with a mostly dissonant sonic miasma of pure negativity and surprising complexity.”

The sounds of regurgitation, guttural coughs and choking and spluttering echo on for a good minute and aa half before the band piledrive their way into an extended workout that finds them burrowing deep into the thick sods of the earth towards the molten pits of hell.

It’s relentless and brutal, and proper old-school: the lyrics are impenetrable and so are the guitars, as a thundering, grey blast of impenetrable distorted guitar blasts away hard and fast and dark and heavy against pummelling percussion, and delivered at a breakneck pace, there are rasping, dead walker noises. There are tempo changes, and mood shifts. And there is deep, dark, anguish and throbbing pain. ‘The Vomiting Choir’ is dark, dark, dark, heavy, and oppressive. Thirteen minutes in it feels like an eternity has passed, an entire album’s worth of anguish squeezed into an excruciating document of torture. But no: there is more, much more, as the next wave and the next movement crash in. For a moment, around the 14/15-minute mark there’s a feel of Joy Division being covered by a black metal band, and the piece drives on and on, ever harder, ever darker, toward the piece’s crushing conclusion with a heavy, throbbing riff of swirling hypnoticism.

Abyssal offer no relief whatsoever, not that you’d really want them to. ‘Antechamber of the Wakeless Mind’ could well be summary of my lifetime as an insomniac. There’s no chance of sleeping through this twenty-four minute barrage of jolting, jarring metallic rage, where everything blurs in a blizzard of fretwork and drums faster than an industrial knitting machine.

It’s a truly exhausting experience; after just five minutes of busted-lunch growling and wheezing against a screeding backdrop of mangled guitars and beats that explode like machine-gun fire, the experience is exhausting – but also exhilarating in the most primitive, purging, cathartic fashion. It’s an extended release, one that’s punishingly intense and physical as well as cerebral.

As a pairing, this split is truly harrowing, mentally and physically draining, dragging its way through the darkest depths.

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2nd September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

UK duo Thraa consists of Sally Mason and Andi Jackson, whose bio states that ‘Working without the constrictions of a traditionally structured song, this duo improvise around meditative drones, combining Sunn 0))) influenced guitars with soaring vocals. Making single take recordings, they capture an organic sense of sound that has cavernous textures with minimalism at heart.’

In some respects, this debut EP brings us full-circle in terms of drone evolution, and it’s fitting in the most appropriate, and planetary sense. The most successful and celebrated purveyors of drone, Sunn O))) famously took their moniker as a reference to drone/ doom progenitors Earth, who will, in certain circles, be forever remembered for the tectonic grind of their epic second album, Earth 2, from 1993, which contains just three tracks spanning some seventy-three minutes, with nothing but guitar and bass feedback stretching out, crunching along at a glacial pace and carrying the weight of entire continents. It’s hard to believe that this release will ever be surpassed for all that it is, with two of the three tracks stretching out around the half-hour mark with no shape or form, only an endless, grating, grumbling grind. Into Earth connotes a return to base material, a slow collapse, even a decay into compost form, but also hints at a sonic slide toward this territory carved out by the original and definitive drone act some twenty-nine years ago.

Thraa intimidated at the shape of things to come in June with the release of ‘Move Among Them’, which is the first of the EP’s four tracks. It’s swampy, sparse, beginning with an awkward, gurgling, wheezing, a kind of tentative snuffling grunt in the bass region before soaring, sculpted feedback howls and churns metallic—tinged clouds of scraping ambience. It probably sounds like a contradiction on paper, but hear me out: the screeding layers blur into a whirl without definition and tumble into a vortex of abstraction, and in doing so, create the sound closest to that early Earth whorling wall I’ve heard from any other band.

The title track lacks even more overt form, spurs of guitar feedback screeching as it breaks loose from the dense, rippling wall of undifferentiated noise. There are strong elements of Metal Machine Music here, but it’s around the midpoint that a slow, rhythmic piano emerges, along with a haunting understated vocal from Sally that’s half-buried beneath the noise of explosions and / or tidal waves. It’s both dolorous and ethereal, and BIG | BRAVE comparisons aren’t out of place here, either.

Everything coalesces after the subdued scrape and low-end rumblings of ‘Elgon’ on the seventeen-minute finale ‘Over Warm Stones’. Nothing different happens as such: there is only more, in terms of duration, and in terms of atmosphere. The snaking, rattling notes that swell and shimmer provide a sparse, textured backdrop to a quivering, evocative vocal performance.

Into Earth may not offer anything new, per se, but does provide a strong contribution to the canon of emotive, evocative ambient drone / doom which features vocal, which in this instance are essential to the experience, and it’s an experience which is compelling, immersive, heavy as hell and at the same time heavenly, before it collapses into a landslide of feedback that stretches out to the horizon.

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Doom metal meets dreampop on ‘Crows, Sparrows and Cats’ by Blacklab, the self-proclaimed ‘Doom Witch Duo from Osaka, Japan’. Featuring a lead vocal by Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, the Hawkwind riffs, motorik heavy stomp and fuzz fat guitars coupled with that cool pop vocal is a surprising combination that hits the spot.

Hot on its heels comes a new video, featuring Hanaka the thirteen year old daughter of Blacklab drummer Chia, who creates her own dance routine for the track whilst footage (from their recent stay in London) is projected ‘Liquid Len’ like, for full psychedelic overload.

Watch the video now:

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‘Crows, Sparrows and Cats’ is taken from their latest album ‘In A Bizarre Dream’ which is out this Friday (New Heavy Sounds).

Their debut ‘Under the Strawberry Moon 2.0’ saw them taking Sabbath inspired doom, mashing it with a Japanese sensibility and a fuzzed-up groove. It certainly caused a stir, but only hinted at their potential.

Album two ‘Abyss’ added to the mix. A Stooges like squalor to the riffs, dollops of lo-fi hardcore punk and loose riffing, pointing the way towards a signature sound.

So what of the ‘difficult’ third album? Not so difficult at all it seems.  ‘In A Bizarre Dream’ ups the ante considerably, to let rip and define what Blacklab are about.

The combined talents of Jun Morino on production and Wayne Adams (Big Lad, Green Lung, Pet Brick, John, Cold In Berlin) on the mix have conspired to produce a towering beast of a record. A real step forward for the ‘Doom Witch Duo’.

The drums have a humungous ‘Fugazi’ like welly, and the guitars are a boiling maelstrom of fuzz dense riffola and warped psychedelics, with added synth. Yuko’s throat shredding snarls are as mean as a pissed off Satan, and melodious, often within the same song.

This is doom meets hardcore punk, hooky melodies, and killer riffs, all cranked up to the max. Japan has always had a special take on ‘noise’ and ‘heavy’ and with ‘In A Bizarre Dream’ Blacklab add their own spin to that tradition.

Gone is the lo-fi approach, here is Blacklab in full effect.

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Dark heavy psych/doom group Lucid Grave has unleashed the “Old Spirit” music video, made by Dóri Halldórsson and Amanda Jensen. “Old Spirit” serves as the second song from the Copenhagen quintet’s debut album, Cosmic Mountain, which came out on 15 July via Electric Valley Records digitally and on four versions of vinyl (Test Press, Solid Yellow, Transparent Red Splatter Black Vinyl, Ultra LTD “Cosmic Edition”).

Lucid Grave Informs: “‘Old Spirit’ is a heavy psych rock song with influence from the early ’80s punk. The song is about a fast spacy universe in-between two worlds. The song is inspired by the lead singer’s days in the high desert in California. The desert heat is hard on everything and everyone. And the wind still tells stories of the Native Americans, the legends of desert rock, and the military base in the unforgiven sun.”

Watch the video here:

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Lucid Grave is a dark heavy psychedelic band with stoner-doomy tendencies from Copenhagen, Denmark. Sonically, Lucid Grave is a boiling pot of heavy fuzz rock like Black Sabbath/Coven/Hawkwind and ‘80s punk like Black Flag/The Nuns/The Gun Club, all wrapped up in a nice blanket of modern heavy stoner rock and doom. Honoring the howling occult cinema of the ‘80s, Lucid Grave finds inspiration in everything that’s heavy, filthy, and free!

They emerged from the underground communal house and punk venue Ungdomshuset in the dying days of 2017. A few months later, in 2018, they released a self-titled demo and spent the next few years playing shows around Denmark with bands such as High Priestess, Cities of Mars, The Gates of Slumber, and Heathe, while making more materials as well. In 2020 Copenhagen label Virkelighedsfjern released Lucid Grave’s EP called Goddess of Misery, a venture seriously disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak — which meant no shows for a while. That time was instead spent on writing materials for their first full-length album. In 2021 they released a single called “Surfer Bat,” an upbeat ‘70s heavy Rock song with a twist of gothic punk vibes and a dash of Latin music. It caught the attention of the Italian heavy psych label Electric Valley Records.

Cosmic Mountain, the debut LP of Lucid Grave, is a journey through your favorite drugs of life, the highs, and the lows, being chased through the desert and fighting a haze of demons. The album was recorded live and over-dubbed in just three days at the beginning of 2022. As it was with the previous single, “Surfer Bat,” Patrick Fragtrup was again behind the mixing board for the session, and it is clear that there has developed an understanding between him and the band as this record sounds both huge and fierce without losing any clarity or energy from the group. The project was finished by Shane Trimble of High Reeper at his California studio.

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Human Worth – 3rd June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Because being in several awesome bands simply isn’t enough for some people, various members of Lump Hammer, Lovely Wife, Penance Stare, Möbius, Plague Rider have another band, the soft-sounding Friend. They’re practically a scene unto themselves, and you can pretty much guarantee that anything noisy emerging from Newcastle will feature one or more of James Watts, Tim Croft, and Skylar Gill – to the extent that the involvement of any one of them is essentially an assurance of quality. Putting the stamp on that assurance is the fact that Friend’s debut is being released by Human Worth, the London label that has, in a very short time, racked up an outstanding roster of new and established acts, all of a noisy persuasion, without a single weak release in their rapidly-expanding catalogue. And Friend’s Champion is a worthy addition.

It’s a proper gnarly take on the classic power trio format with driving riffs dominating from the opening bars. ‘International Top Bloke’ crunches in and batters away hard with a simple, cyclical riff reminiscent of Blacklisters; Tim’s guitar is so dense and dirty it sounds like guitar and bass all in one, while Gil’s drumming is megalith-solid, pounding away, nothing fancy, just all the heavy. And there, low in the mix, Watts gargles and gurgles tormentedly, sounding as if he’s being throttled by Satan’s very own flaming hands. As guttural growlers go, he is exceptional when it comes to channelling all shades of anguish by means of throat alone. But for all that, there’s a flicker of joy – or, perhaps more accurately, a cathartic release – which emanates from Champion.

The pitch is that they’re ‘pulling from influences ranging from Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins and Failure to Old Man Gloom, Floor and The Abominable Iron Sloth’ and while on paper it may seem an incongruous combination, in practise, it not only makes sense, but absolutely works.

‘The Beast’ is appropriately titled, for it is, indeed, an absolute beast. It begins with unexpected delicacy, a brittle, chorus-tinged guitar picked is as much The Cure as it is ‘Black Hole Sun’, but then the drums and distortion pile in and it’s a huge, throbbing surge of overloading sound that threatens to damage the speakers.

Whatever Geoffrey’s done, it must be pretty bad, as they rear through five minutes of bludgeoning brutality. There are some gritty, cyclical riffs reminiscent of Bleach-era Nirvana beneath it all, but the production is so dark and dirty the end result is wonderfully nasty sludge metal, then there’s ‘Dungeon Master’ that sounds like… well, it sounds like downtuned grinding hell. Not so much Sunn O))) as a total eclipse. Watts’ vocals aren’t the focal point: they’re another instrument (of torture) in the band’s arsenal or aural abrasion. If ‘Wellness’ seems to offer some light, some respite, it’s a pale, sick sense of hope that glimmers as Watts sounds like he’s writing through his last moments of torturous, gut-ripping pain.

The last two tracks – the eight-minute ‘Uncle Tommy’ and ten-minute ‘A Reminder’ combine to deliver a devastating finale. They’re so much more than heavy noise, too, with texture, tone, gradual builds and even moments that feel truly uplifting – even if they are blown away by bulldozing distortion. The former is a surprising blues / glam stomp, while the latter feels like an album’s worth of riffs of heavy metal thunder packed into a single track. It’s not only intense, but finds Watt’s deliver some audible lyrics, albeit briefly.

The word ‘friend’ may connote comfort, company, companionship, even cuddliness, and while the band offer none of these things, Champion does offer a kind of awkward solace through monster riffery and outpourings of angst. An album worthy of its title: proper champion.

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Cruel Nature Records – 27th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Aidan Baker – classically-trained multi-instrumentalist from Toronto (now resident in Berlin), who specialises in electric guitar works – using treated and otherwise non-conventional playing methods – is an artist who I seemingly can’t escape from. His ever-shifting styles and labels may be as difficult to keep pace with as his ever-expanding catalogue, but it seems that whoever’s releasing his work, I’m on their mailing list. This is very much a good thing, as Baker is one of those artists who, despite – or perhaps because – of being impossible to pigeonhole, never disappoints.

Baker’s second release on Cruel Nature, following 2021’s Stimmt, marks something of a shift, from what the accompanying notes ‘was big on atmospherics and abstraction’ to a sound that ‘shoots a bullet straight into the heart of the riff and explodes it, in all its scorching white-out fuzzed-up glory’.

On listening to the album’s grunt and growl guitar assault, the specific meaning of the album’s title remains unclear: ‘tenebrous’ is either obscure, or murky, or otherwise causing gloom, while ‘tenebrism’ refers to ‘a style of painting especially associated with the Italian painter Caravaggio and his followers in which most of the figures are engulfed in shadow but some are dramatically illuminated by a beam of light usually from an identifiable source’. ‘Tenebrist’ seems to lack a specific definition. So is Baker casting himself in the role of an artist whose musical compositions follow in the shadow-casting tradition of Caravaggio, or is this a nod to obscurity, darkness, gloom?

It’s perhaps an amalgamation of all of the aforementioned meanings. The title track, which comes in two parts, lifts the curtain, with a heavy overloading trudge of massive distortion, the guitar too loud of the mics recording, while the drums plod, half-buried but strangely crisp and clear, down in the mix. Unexpectedly, I’m reminded of the production and mix of Moby’s Animal Rights, although the guitar here is much less trebly, angled instead toward the mid and lower ranges, with ‘Tenebrist II’ really plunging deep into psychedelic sludge. The speakers positive crackle with the thick distortion, wrapped in swathes of feedback.

‘Turgid’ is a crackling, buzzing, math-rock explosion: it’s busy and blistering, and somewhere towards the end, the sound thickens, become denser, darker, more abrasive, culminating in a spark-flying meltdown.

The blurb describes Tenebrist as ‘low-down and heavy, and serving up ‘swathes of grunge, pummelling the senses and scattering rhythms through its maximalist energy’, but this is an understatement that only goes so far in conveying the massive sonic impact. ‘Violet Contrast’ is missing an ‘n’: driven by thumping, thunderous drums in a mist of low, slow, smoggy synth drones, it builds gradually to a monumental, percussion-driven climax over the course of a sustained crescendo of drums on drums.

‘Dramatic Illumination’ – in two parts – seems to cast a nod to Caravaggio, and this thirteen-minute suite cuts a dark sonic furrow, as clattering percussion and drones of low, low frequency feedback moan in an avant-jazz mess of calamitous noise, whereby the entire song sounds like the slow wind-down at the end of a set. You wonder when and where it will end… but it doesn’t. Finally, on ‘Dramatic Illumination II,’ the guitar glides in, but it still feels like the end.

The eight-and-a-half-minute closer ‘Chiasroscurious’ is a culmination of the album’s journey; a shuddering, juddering, wall of noise that makes you momentarily think your stereo’s fucked and your speakers are knackered with it’s massively overloading distortion that’s absolutely ruinous, swelling to a sonic tsunami that redefines devastation.

Tenebrist hurts. It’s immense and devastating on every level. The volume hurts. It’s a beast, and exactly the exercise in punishment we all need.

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Electric Valley Records – 24th June 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

In my recent review of the new album from St Michael front, I commented on German humour – in a positive way, I should add. So it was with a certain relief that I noted that BongBongBeerWizards hail from Dortmund. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a shit name for a band irrespective of where they’re from. I genuinely thought that Doom/Drone/Sludge Metal had run its course in terms of daft names and gone over the border some time ago, and that Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard (now MWWB, presumably because they realised the name was daft rather than that they believed it was an obstacle to commercial success) had had the final word in name-generator style absurdity. And they ought to have. But then these buggers turn up with an even stupider name. But at least we can reasonably assume they know it’s a fucking stupid name and are pissing themselves over it.

BBBW may well be hampering their potential audience reach – I’ll admit, I did think twice about bothering to listen – but that would have very much been my loss, because Amprire is an instant classic as a storming example of the genre. With just three tracks and a running time of almost fifty minutes, it’s Sunn O))), it’s Earth, it’s Sleep and it’s Bong in a tectonic collision – more of a slow melt than anything likely to cause earthquakes and mudslides. That said, there are tempo changes galore on the twenty-three minute ‘Choirs & Masses’, a megalithic beast that’s got the lot: heavily reverbed vocals and choral ceremonials that echo from cavernous depths of despair while the guitars churn and growl all around, thick with dripping distortion. At times it’s a raging thrust of riffery, at others it’s a gut-churning crawl, or an ominous organ note that hovers indefinitely, and there are many changes to hold the attention over its epic duration.

‘Unison’ raises an even denser, thicker guitar-driven tempest that’s so thick and sludgy it’s suffocating, and when the vocals are absent, churns into full-on Sunn O))) territory with the gnarly guitar obliteration.

It’s hard to really say that there’s a real arc or progression on an album like this: it may be more of a case of will or projection, but I suppose whether it’s real or an illusion, the end result is the same from a listening perspective, and the perception is that things become more focused and ultimately heavier and denser over the duration of the album. And as an album, Ampire is a beast: epic, ambitious, and for the most part, the changes are well-timed if not always smooth – some of the transitions feel a little bit like stopping one riff and starting another – but it hangs together overall, and it maintains and even increases the weight right to the crushing end. Overall, it’s an admirably solid album. Still an awful band name, though.

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Neurot Recordings – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s something about Neurot: as a label, it certainly has a distinct ‘house style’, and if it does seem to be predominantly in the vein of Neurosis, then Ufomammut’s latest offering, Fenice,  is simultaneously definitive and a departure, in that it’s clearly metal in persuasion, and given to long, slow, and expansive workouts, with the majority of the album’s six pieces running (well) past the seven-minute mark. It’s delicately-paced, too: it’s not all a crawl, but the crescendos land a fair way apart and the build-ups are long and deliberate.

Opener ‘Duat’ is an absolute monster, clocking in past ten and a half minutes, and beginning with ominous dark ambience and slow to a crawl electronics, before a surging techno bass grind cuts through and pulses away. It’s three and a half minutes before the guitars pile in, and when they do, everything comes together to forge a piledriving industrial blast: for a moment, I’m reminded of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘March of the Pigs’, but then things switch again with a tempo change, slowing to a lumbering thud. It builds from there, and the final minute hits that sweet spot of pulverizing riffery that is pure joy. Ufomammut may be a ‘doom’ band by designation, but this is some of the most dynamic progressive metal you’ll hear.

Having set the bar so high so early, the challenge is, can they sustain it? ‘Kepherer’ is a dank, semi-ambient interlude that provides some much-needed breathing space. ‘Psychostasia’ starts off gently, but again, builds into a really slugger, the riff hard and repetitive, the vocals half-buried amidst overdrive and reverb, and it’s so, so exhilarating.

It takes an eternity of a slow, nagging cyclical motif, rich in chorus and reverb, before ‘Metamprphoenix’ breaks, and segues immediately into the throbbing behemoth that is ‘Pyramind’, where things do, finally, hit all-out doom grind with the heaviest, most crushing power chords. The bass goes so low that it practically burrows underground, while the guitars soar skyward. Closer ‘Empyros’ is the album’s shortest track, and it’s three minutes of punishing guitars that pick up precisely where ‘Pyramind’ leaves off and just drives and drives and drives, churning, hard, heavy.

If you’re seeking instant gratification, Fenice isn’t the album you want, but that doesn’t mean that it by any means feels drawn-out or like there’s much waiting involved: despite the lengthy songs, and the slow-builds, the textures and atmospheres are remarkable. I have a friend who loves his slow-burning metal and math-rock, but hates Amenra because he finds them insufferably tedious. Personally, I’m a fan, but I get the impatience, and it is largely around this kind of slow, earthy metal where time stalls and aeons pass between events, and the builds take several lifetimes to come to any kind of fruition – but this most certainly isn’t an issue for Ufomammut on Fenice. The compositions twist and turn and continue to not only hold the attention but to tug at the senses, keeping the listener on edge, poised, tense, expectant. And they always deliver on those expectations.

There is a clear and definitely trajectory here, too, building over the last three pieces to a point where the riffs are dominant – megalithic grinds that hit hard. Fenice makes you feel a broad range of things: boredom or disappointment aren’t among them. It does require some work, but it’s amply rewarded.

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Southern Lord – 23rd April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Covering multiple works in a single review feels like a major short-changing exercise, and I feel I should apologise to the artists involved in advance. It kind of depersonalises and maybe even cheapens the coverage, and I remember how I felt when the book version of my PhD thesis finally received a review, only to find that it was in an article alongside three other books. It may have been a paragraph of praise, but nevertheless, it was a solitary paragraph in a long article. Nine years of work, 90,000 words and 300 printed pages given a one-paragraph thumbs up… meh. But still, better than a thumbs-down or no paragraph.

A decade on, it’s still not settled with me, and I always try to do better. But sometimes, bundling makes sense and feels justified and this is one of those times.

Having spent many a virtual column inch in recent years bemoaning how Record Store day has made a deep descent from being an event that served to raise awareness of independent record shops to another cash-in for major labels cranking out shitty reissues on limited colour vinyl to wring yet more funds from completists while at the same time driving some of the most shameful scalping activity anywhere on line, it’s a relief to find something positive about RSD 2022.

That something comes of course from an independent label in the form of Southern Lord, who, as a sidenote, had commendably stuck to producing outstanding vinyl releases regardless of trends, fashions, popularity, or Record Store Day, and, admirably have continued to release whatever the hell they please, with a catalogue that’s an equal balance of cult hardcore punk re-releases and cutting-edge works of crushing weight that perpetually push the parameters of metal, with recent releases from Neon Christ and Big | Brave highlighting the polarities of the label’s interests.

This pair of RSD releases exemplify this span to perfection, and while admittedly one is a reissue, the other very much is not – and as such, they represent the label’s standard release scheduling. As the press releases outline, ‘The Catatonics were one of NYC and Syracuse’s pioneering hardcore punk bands…While the band’s seminal Hunted Down EP has remained one of the most highly sought-after releases of the genre, the heightening collector’s price made this 7” inaccessible to most people. Southern Lord has now elected to re-release this EP as a 12”, with bonus tracks.” And, meanwhile, Forest Nocturne is ‘the first full length solo venture of Greg Anderson, under the moniker of The Lord. Inspired by the great horror film composers of the 70s and 80s, Anderson turns his back on the riff worship of Goatsnake or SUNN O))) and instead creates a truly unsettling atmosphere heavy with tension, offset by 90s Scandinavian death metal’.

The Catatonics release certainly gives value for money: the original 1984 7” released on Anorexic Nympho Records featured five tracks: this reissue features a whopping eighteen. Following the bonus intro cut if ‘Descending in E’, the original EP accounts for tracks two to six, while the rest is an almost exhaustive gathering of compilation tracks, early demos and live recordings, all remastered from original tapes. Only two of the eighteen songs run beyond three minutes, with most clocking in under two, and this is rough and ready, ball-busting full-throttle, relentless fury, nonstop-pounding hardcore at its rawest and most furious, and the live cuts are particularly raw and brutal, making this a unique and comprehensive document of another underground band’s short but high-impact career.

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The Lord’s debut is a very different proposition: it’s clearly contemporary for a start, although it’s steeped in vintage metal stylings, and driven by an understated and simple but gut-churning bass that digs tunnels beneath your ordinary lives. Forest Nocturne is an album that twists and turns, and more significantly, gnaws like rodents, and like woodworm, at the smooth, flat planes of sonic normal. I say ‘normal’, as if that’s a thing – but The Lord conjure vast aural expanses, broad vistas that invite the listener to bask in the rich density, before tearing it to pieces.

A slow, swelling church organ droned doomily on ‘Church of Hermann’, a piece which is truly awe-inspiring. This is an instrumental album that definitely marks a departure for Anderson and feels more like early Earth than Sunn O))). Then again, it’s doesn’t really sound or feel like either.

Thick swells of strings that build into brooding, megalithic waves, define the power of this instrumental work. ‘Forest Wake’ starts with the wail of a siren, and brings bulldozing bass and power chords wrapped in gut-punching clouds of distortion. Those clouds dissipate for a time, and the atmosphere looms large and heavy as things unfurl, but take a moment to breathe and there’s nothing to see here other than smoke and that absence… It grinds, and it absolutely fucking kills, going full Sunn O))) drone doom on ‘Old Growth’. Forest Nocturne is hard and harrowing, immense, epic, beautiful, and yet at the same time devastating. The last track, ‘Triumph of the Oak’ is a new shade of heavy, an angering mess of thrashing chords that crashes down so, so hard.

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Finally, thanks to Southern Lord, there are releases that are actually worth getting up and queuing for at the weekend.