Five picks from February

The whole point in this blog and these posts is for me to commit to doing something regularly. Namely, writing and listening to new music so I don’t get stuck in the rut of listening to the same albums for ten years. Ok, that’s two somethings but whatever. The point is that I make no apology for this being late because I’m still listening to new music regularly and here I am, writing about it.

I posted earlier about a single I have loved blasting in the car, Feral in Abstract by Codex Obscura. This makes it on to this month’s playlist, as does an album not on this list, Reaching Into the Void by Scars of the Flesh. I’ve not listened to this enough to put it in a list of my favourite things but I do enjoy what I have heard, and I can’t put another of my picks in this list because it’s not on Spotify!

You can get this month’s Spotify playlist here.

Krosis – A Memoir of Free Will (Unique Leader)

There are elements of a lot of things I like in heavy music in this album. They play with djenty Meshuggah-ish rhythms (An Intramural Madness for example), while pairing balls to the wall with more ambient sections.

There’s a wide range of vocals on display here which makes a difference from just hearing the same super high squeal/low growl. There are more technical guitar parts right next to the chun chun and it flows pretty well. I’m not a musician so I can’t go into any more detail than this!

The downside is that it’s a little long and honestly, the final 10 minute track is a bit much.

It’s probably classed as progressive deathcore and if you have an affinity for technical death metal and deathcore there will be a lot to like here.

Tómarúm – Wounds Ever Expanding (Self-published)

There are only two tracks here but they do a lot more with these two tracks that other bands do with a full-length album. I’m not keen on some of the mixing – someone on Facebook remarked to me that it sounds like two different songs playing at the same time, and I attribute that to the lead guitar coming out the right speaker and the rhythm coming out the right. It’s not balanced enough, which I think is a fair criticism.

This feels like a story told through a series of movements rather than your standard pop songwriting made heavy. There are repeating sections but with new ideas layered on top to signify progression for example. It also in turns reminds me of both Opeth’s style of prog metal and black metal in the blasting sections with the buzzsaw-like guitars.

In contract to Krosis’ ten-minute track, the second track here from Tómarúm doesn’t feel like a ten-minute track at all, precisely because it feels like it’s telling a story and going somewhere. I don’t know where, but I’m down for the ride.

Lorna Shore – Immortal (Century Media)

I learned of the stories about the vocalist on this record at the same time as the record itself. So I can’t separate the two. But I do know they fired him and toured with someone else while looking for a full-time replacement so I’m fine with enjoying this as a piece of art and separating the person form the voice.

It’s worth pointing out that I genuinely have been under a rock for around ten years in terms of new music and even then I was kind of blinkered. So Lorna Shore is apparently pretty well-known but this is my first exposure to them.

While I’ve inadvertently done a deathcore dive this month, Lorna Shore is a lot more black and symphonic-feeling deathcore than others on this month’s list. We’ve got the neo-classic guitar noodlings as well as orchestral moments, but you know, with rapid double kick chops behind it.

This is just a solid and consistent album that does what you would want from a blackened deathcore outfit and does it very well.

Xenobiotic – Mordrake (Unique Leader)

Mordrake might be my favourite album of the month. par for the course really, but I’d never heard of Australia’s Xenobiotic before I listened to this. Going back to 2018’s Prometheus, this sounds like a band coming of age and maturing past what may have been referred to as Deathcore into a sound of their own.

This is progressive in the sense that they play with time but in a smooth way so you don’t really realise you are headbanging in 5’s or 6’s. It’s death metal in the sense that you will be headbanging the whole time, whether it’s through surprisingly groovy blastbeated segments, chunky deathcore-style verses or trem-heavy, dual squeal/growl sections.

This isn’t going to blow any minds if you’ve spent the last decade listening to the stuff that Unique Leader has been putting out but I felt this album represents a new watermark for “Deathcore”.

Vástígr – Aura Aeternitatis (Avantgarde Music)

This actually came out in September ’19 so I’m cheating here but the vinyl was only released in February and this is how I came to learn of it so I’m sticking it on the list because I’ve listened to this outstanding black metal project a lot since I learned of them and bought the record.

I don’t know what more to say than this is in turns atmospheric and ripping black metal that doesn’t overstay its welcome. The music really does evoke the album art. It just feels like being from Austria rahter than Scandanavia gives this black metal something different that sets it apart.

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