Esoctrilihum – Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension
by Hans Rot
Whatever a funeral dimension happens to be, or even how a mystic echo might sound emanating from such a source, it must be said that Esoctrilihum’s debut album is—oddly enough—titled quite appropriately. It is a dense, heavily multilayered sound, quite otherworldly in some of the atmospheric and borderline ritualistic projections that coat the snaking, churning riffs with their officious yet relatable devilry.
Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension is, however, far away from the norm in this regard—bearing more of a cosmic sense of self-awareness and confidence that doesn’t shove the experience down our throats. It breathes very naturally and find its own, seemingly capricious course, even if that means sneaking nasty palm mutations into the mix or overlaying the whole piece with a sprawling vocal delivery that feels more like an ominous presence than a normal part of the equation. This isn’t your typical atmospheric black metal. It’s perhaps the counterpoint to a band such as Nightbringer, dialing back some of the intensity and murkiness and replacing it with raw emotion and perverse arrangements that trip the mind in more subtle and varied ways. This album will definitely challenge the conventions of the style but it is also one that most likely won’t be mimicked.
Tau Cross – Pillar Of Fire
by Shawn Miller
With Amebix and Voivod members leading the charge, international collective Tau Cross unleashed their sophomore album, Pillar Of Fire through Relapse Records. While the band’s debut was a rather scorching affair, Pillar Of Fire burns a tad slower, yet it still brims with a heavy intensity. Touching upon heavy metal, crust, postpunk, and even folk, the album casts a wide net of influences, yet remains a cohesive and engaging effort—mature, yet bristling with a youthful energy.
Tau Cross have certainly delivered and album that lives up to the hype they generated with the debut; full of crunchy riffs, hard hitting percussion, haunting folk movements, and don’t forget The Barton’s trademark vocals,. Pillar of Fire is a slower burning album, most likely a grower for most listeners, yet its controlled intensity and fantastic songwriting warrants repeated listens; and never fails to deliver the goods.
Orden Ogan – Gunmen
by Larry Best
This band can do no wrong. Orden Ogan have been walloping us in our collective faces with bombastic power metal for years with absolutely no dip in quality. Gunmen continues their streak of excellence with ten more hook-laden anthems—both unbelievably catchy and remarkably heavy. This time, there is no intro, outro or interlude: just full-length power metal hymns such as “One Last Chance” and “Ashen Rain” which are simultaneously heroically epic and beautifully sorrowful. The folk influences that are their foundation are still present, but have mutated into a cinematic heaviness that begs to be headbanged along with.
Decapitated – Anticult
by Joshua Bulleid
Death metal drop-outs or groove metal overlords? Either way you look at it, Anticult is a defining album in the career of one of the most consistently impressive bands in modern death metal. Those put off by anything associated with the word “groove” need not apply, but if names like Machine Head, Sepultura, Kataclysm, Meshuggah and latter day Psycroptic bring a smile to your face, then you need to be getting in here on the double.
Anticult can be simultaneously over- and underwhelming to begin with. However, once you settle into its many frantic motions and let it takes you where you want to go it’s hard to deny the sheer frenetic enthusiasm of this record. In what has been an exceedingly disappointing (or, at least, damningly average) year for the older death metal guard, perhaps Decapitated have made the right decision in changing tack—keeping things fresh, while continually pushing their own internal development—and if they put off a few grumpy curmudgeons along the way, then perhaps that’s all for the best.