Five December Releases to Close the Year

            We’ve reached the end of the last month for this year, and it wouldn’t be right to conclude without giving due attention to some great releases from this transitory period. December surely had a lot to offer, and it sees 2021 through on a strong note with the powerful energies of this selection. Here we travel from an ancient past to a harrowing future portended by the present, and the dark obscurity of their folkloric and other contextual qualities is soundly captured within. This will be the last entry before reflecting on some of the great music offered throughout the year, and the anticipation is steadily growing for what awaits in 2022.

RIFT     To Quench the Thirst of Wolves

            A full moon broods over Australia with the reawakening of RIFT, an incarnation from Balam of PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS, and its lycanthropic form becomes fully manifest on To Quench the Thirst of Wolves. This long-awaited return unleashes the vastness of a realm first glimpsed on 2006’s Eyes of the Basilisk, and a bleak shapeshifting mass emanates from riffs that bare sinister tones with dissonance as they advance. Intricate melodies and leads are embedded in this raw expanse, and notes cling in melancholy while the atmospheric keyboard and choral elements heighten an overarching majesty. A striking immensity is often reached as these arrangements develop, and their impressions are reinforced by interludes with clean and acoustic strings, along with various effects to suggest woodlands or other haunting imagery. A mid-paced rhythmic entrancement carries the invoked darkness, which flows through ravaging blast beat sections and then down to desolate regions, and the harsh vocals of A.S. echo across these soundscapes with soaring bestial outbursts to personify the creature of intrigue. Despite the lengthy hiatus, a creative lifeblood is reaffirmed in the strength of this work, and the inherent supernatural lore is reflected in its enchanting quality.

ANGOIXA     Distopia Digital

            Doom and despair are actualized in Spain with the third full manifestation from ANGOIXA, and various elements are integrated with classic death metal on Distopia Digital, which addresses our current social issues and inevitable downfall through technological dominance. The ruinous impressions are confirmed when crushing heaviness sets in, and it possesses a raw edge while traversing planes of sludge and thrash, along with a distinct riffing power on the title track, and these arrangements are executed with calculated rhythmic effect. Blast-beaten force leaves a notable mark, but the slower rhythms are where brooding developments occur, with unsettling dissonant vibes and other melodic complications augmenting the gloom. Tapped formations and pinch harmonics are among their accented details, and lead melodies evolve with soloing to capture highly evocative moments. The vocals show some variation but mainly utilize gutturals to enforce decimation, and subtle ambient notes highlight the intense burden of particular points. Another eerie dynamic appears during piano sections, and a storm at sea is also discerned within the fallout. The aftermath of those atmospherics combined with some catchy orchestrations and traditional brutality is an imaginative post-apocalyptic encounter for our modern age.

FUNERAL MIST     Deiform

            The project led by Daniel Rostén has unleashed a new infernal creation titled Deiform, and a scorching imprint is left from the fury of its orchestrated might. The riffs demonstrate this relentless force, which is matched in speed by pummeling drum blasts, and frenzied technical formations are glimpsed as they rage onward with searing intensity. Rhythmic accents pulse and fluctuate hypnotically within the tremolo density, where sliding patterns and other intricate melodies also take form, and majestic developments transpire with the arising melodic leads. Grooving mid-paces are integrated throughout the inflicted barrage, and slower purposeful rhythms convey ritualistic undertones, a feature enhanced with primitive drumbeats and droning vocals during certain passages, and gloom emanates from the notes of one in particular. A dynamic range of wickedry is displayed vocally, from the harsher rasps to rugged declarative yells, and different layers of expression include the use of choirs and childlike voices. Dark cavernous scenes are invoked alongside the howling wind, and some other unusual effects are noted among the ambience, along with samples of thunder and metallic strikes. Bells create menacing vibrations when combined with the riffing mass, and this entire work fortifies the spirit of Swedish black metal while raising FUNERAL MIST’s arsenal toward further conquest.

MORTIFEROUS     Necromancer Awakens

            Canada answers a call to the dead through MORTIFEROUS, and arcane forces permeate their full-length arrival titled Necromancer Awakens, along with the shadowy presence conjured by its sound. This spirit is mirrored in harsh vocals echoing as if from the depths of a ritual chamber, and they intertwine with clean sung and spoken incantations for enhanced effect. Fierce riffing employs various tremolo arrangements to cast an icy layer over these influences, which is intensified by the glaring quality of dissonant arpeggiated notes, and melodic structures are weaved throughout to drive the culmination of other sinister developments. Melancholic impressions are also formed during lead appearances, and the overall complexity is further demonstrated in drumming variations that accompany turbulent shifts. Chaos manifests as blast beats give way to sections of galloping or rhythmic pulsations, and a thrashy essence is revealed alongside the brooding tone of heavier grooves. Some riffs persist across those formations with a hypnotic flow, and moments of background ambience are similarly noted as this potent work invokes the anticipation for future aural grimoires.

ANGR     I

            A new international collaboration has taken effect with the debut from ANGR, and this hostile embodiment delves into the shadows of ancient times long forgotten. The essence of their name is thoroughly projected in orchestrations that maintain a sinister tone throughout, with tremolo formations progressing over the heavier depths, and striking developments occur when these elements interact with dissonant notes and other melodic forms. Some melodies reach heightened points while low-end varieties emerge within certain crushing moments, and the inclusion of a cleaner sound diversifies the gloom during an interlude. The frenzied tempos give way to slower paces, which is where brooding heaviness and intricate melodies are magnified, and the appearance of solos effectively capitalizes on these arrangements with their evocative and intoxicated qualities. Monstrous distortions arise from the croaked vocal rasp, along with incorporeal features to match numerous haunting impressions, and the malignance extends to ambient nuances of desolation and hallucinogenic darkness. A melancholic passage with distinctly anguished vocals completes the blackened spectrum of this release, and its malevolent spirit commands notice alongside an eagerness for a nightmarish follow-up.

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