Five picks from November

The night draws in earlier each day. Its dark encroaches on my time bit by bit, trying to wear me down. Each morning it stays later, holding back the sun longer each day. “You will not win, darkness. YOU WILL NOT WIN.” I yell into the twilight.

The rain and sleet and snow may fall. The wind may gale. The night will cover it all in darkness, but I will prevail!
Dramatic inspiration aside, November sucks. It’s dark, cold and the day runs away from you faster than a dog that just rolled in its own shit. But November’s releases have been straight fire.
All of the things I enjoyed listening to from November can be found on this Spotify playlist. The top five, in no order, are below.

Of Feather and Bone – Sulphuric Disintegration

I had no idea what to expect from this record. The art and logo are suitably death metal but the band name didn’t strike me as a death metal name. Silly me.
Of Feather and Bone are death metal, and a very angry one at that. There is no breathing room on any of the 6 tracks on Sulphuric Disintegration. With cleaner production guitar-wise it might not hit as hard as it does. But as it stands, this is 30 minutes of outstanding, relentless death.
I am a drummer first, and it’s always something I listen out for. The drummer here makes a lot of the same stylistic choices that I did when I played death metal, and for that reason, I was hooked all the way through.
To be clear, the drummer doesn’t do much that you won’t expect. Neither does anyone else in the band. This isn’t the most original death metal, but it is the best I’ve heard this month.

Master Boot Record – C:>Defrag

How can you explain Master Boot Record to someone who has never heard them? I’ve tried a few times and the best I can come up with is that they are a synth-metal project from Italy putting out what sounds like the most epic video game music you never got a chance to hear in the 90s.
One of the main advantages of machines is that they can do things many times faster than is possible for a human. MBR take advantage of this. I doubt this music could be transcribed for human-playable instruments and played by humans. Speed is used tastefully though, and it isn’t overdone.
A lot of MBR honestly sounds like the guys in Periphery having a lot of fun making music in a new genre. There are some strong prog-metal passages here, as well as some beautiful soaring moments. Well, as beautiful and soaring as you can get on a 16-bit gaming system.
If you’re feeling up to it, try solving the cryptographic puzzle that comes with the album.
Völur – Death Cult

Pantheons of gods from different civilizations have long been fodder for heavy metal. While there is sometimes a bit of caveat emptor with bands using Norse lore or symbolism, it is definitely the most popular. Ancient Rome and Egypt have both served as a muse for bands and artists, but Death Cult is the first record I’ve heard that specifically uses Germanic paganism as a source of inspiration.
Knowing what influences a band is always handy going into a new record, and for me, the thoughts and feelings are just as important as the musical influences. Here, the sacrifices made to the goddess Nerthus serve as a primary thematic influence. Humans killing each other trying to influence something they can’t even comprehend is timeless.
Musically, Völur combines their free jazz backgrounds with doom’s slow, heavy grooves. The atmosphere they conjure is intensified by replacing guitar with a violin. Previous work was a droney, folky approach to doom, but with Death Cult, there is appropriately a hint of black metal in Völur’s approach.
I’ve had to dip into the back catalogue after listening to this and I wasn’t disappointed. There have been hints dropped of new work coming in 2021 to allow the group to release some of the more experimental/avant-garde material. Fingers crossed they continue on this trajectory.
Mountain Caller – Chronicle I: The Truthseeker

I am just not into musicals. Which is weird because I seem to mention how much I love concept records ever month. Both use music to tell a story, but there’s something a bit “on the nose” about the songs in musicals.
I like to use my imagination, with the lyrics supplementing rather than dictating the experience. But typically we do require something other than just music – whether it is lyrics, dance, acting etc. So what to make of Mountain Caller?
The band have confirmed this is indeed a concept album and not just a wacky name for an album. The Truthseeker is exploring herself and a desert landscape, with the record an aural telling of her journey.
Mountain Caller cinematically weaves post-rock and doom influences over 40 minutes and 6 tracks. In terms of telling a story, you only need these basic details to set the scene and the music and your imagination can fill in the rest.
This is the perfect soundtrack to your own journey, be it on a bus, train, car or just in your own head.
Tombs – Under Sullen Skies

I’ve had Tombs’ 2017 release The Grand Annihilation saved on Spotify for a long time and I can’t remember why. I don’t even remember doing it. Maybe they were hyped on Reddit or were a passing reference in another review. I need a better way of keeping track of everything.
Tombs’ 6th release, Under Sullen Skies, is driven forward at a solid pace by the chug chug chug of blackened doom that Tombs have become known for. Or is it doomed black? Either way, it’s a slower bluesy take on black metal that will crush your head between your headphones. Better listen to this on speakers to be safe.
Tombs know how to play slow and heavy. And fast and heavy. But bands who can do both are not exactly rare. So why does this stick out above the rest?
For me, it’s the expert genre surfing they can ride while still making music compelling enough for me to come back multiple times. They not only cover the breadth of what I enjoy about black metal, they hit the crushing heaviness I love in doom and also throw in some hardcore style riffs in there just in case your neck wasn’t sore enough.
I might even have to go back and check out the material between this and The Grand Annihilation.
If you missed it at the top, this month’s Spotify playlist is here.

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