Five Picks – May 2021

Yautja – The Lurcher

Discordant and grotesque. With all of the rage of classic hardcore but sounding thick and heavy; visceral. Like The Red Chord did. Remind me of a sludgier Yashira. The art in this case is an outstanding match to the music.

I’m not going to say more than that. Go listen to this album right now if any of the above strikes a chord with your tastes.

Grey Aura – Zwart Vierkant

Experimental, radical or unorthodox. That’s what it means to be avant-garde. The way Grey Aura have used black metal as the canvas upon which to tell the story of a painter in the early 20th century who becomes obsessed with Suprematism is certainly all three.

The closest I can come to some kind of comparison, albeit flawed, is to Voices (we reviewed their latest single here). Approaching the creation of art with a complete detachment from convention and form in order to tell a story is something both bands are very comfortable doing. Both utilise discordant, angular, chaotic sections as well as the quiet, smooth, jazzy passages. Both have also employed voice acting to great effect.

Don’t let the fact this is all in Dutch put you off. No, I can’t pronounce most of the song titles either but the journey this music takes you on is sublime.

Mental Cruelty – A Hill to Die Upon

‘A Hill to Die Upon’ is a bone-crushing amalgamation of epic symphonic splatters and melodic death-core. Upon first hearing this I was absolutely blown away by the production and quality of songwriting.

Mental Cruelty brings emotion through unbelievably melodic and mesmerising guitar leads, blast beats and crippling breakdowns. This is a clear progression from 2019’s ‘Inferis’ and offers everything you might hope to hear in a death-core album.

If you like your kick drums in the mix, soaring sweeps and absolutely brutal vocals then ‘A Hill to Die Upon‘ is definitely a record you should check out.

Personal favourites are ‘Abadon’ and ‘Death Worship’.

Morokh – All the Darkness Looks Alive

It’s a wonder why there are not more blackened hardcore bands who lean heavier on the “-core” side of things if Russia’s Morokh is anything to go by. All the best bits of both hardcore and black metal. Unless you like the nazi stuff in black metal. There’s none of that here.

This is the band’s 3rd album and they have mastered the balance between Trap Them style hardcore and the more melodic side of black metal, moving deftly between the two across the ten tracks on offer. There’s no reason fans of both hardcore and black metal can’t appreciate what Morokh do.

Dordehduh – Har

The end of Negură Bunget left a large “weird Romanian folk-metal” hole in the hearts of a lot of metal fans. Fortunately, there were two bands that rose from the ashes (to my knowledge). The outstanding Sur Austra released their second album Obârșie in February of this year and the other, Dordeduh released their second in May.

Har is not so much a departure than an evolution of what the band presented on 2012’s Dar De Duh. Many people more knowledgeable about music have written about this album because it’s excellent. All I want to say about it is that I can’t turn this one and just listen to one song. It feels more like an album you have to experience as a whole.

It’s kind of my responsibility to describe this to you so you know if it’s worth your time or not, but it’s two of the original members of Negură Bunget putting out arguably their best ever work so if that’s not saying enough then no flowery superlatives will be.

Honourable mentions:

  • Vallendusk – Heralds of Strife (Indonesian black metal)
  • AORTA – Majestic Downfall (funeral doom of the highest order)
  • Violet Cold – Empire of Love (super gay transcendent black metal for Azerbaijan)
  • Nihïlanth – Graceless Planet (death f’kin metal)
  • Dödsrit – Mortal Coil (crusty black metal)

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