Skognatt: Ancient Wisdom

Last year came Landscape of Ice and Stargazer, now this year Skognatt presents yet another release titled Ancient Wisdom. This release is on the shorter side as only two tracks appear on it topping five minutes each. Even though this release is very short, you are provided with some mystifying and solid atmospheric black metal to lose yourself in. Through both tracks, the atmosphere is dense, dark and ominous and sooner rather than later you become wrapped up in its cold embrace. Neither of these tracks are fast paced either as they are played at a slower tempo which only adds to the ominous and quickening darkness aesthetic.

Skognatt begins Ancient Wisdom with a somber lead in that quickly disappears as they dive straight in to their down tempo cynicism. Complete with malevolent vocals that switch between haunting whispers and demon like screams, the opener-which is also the title track-trudges along gifting you with a listen that is devoid of light and all together cynical. The second track Xibalba provides you with more of the same sound; slow in tempo which picks up to mid tempo in certain parts, demon like vocals, and an undeniably dark atmosphere. In both of the tracks that appear on this record, the slower tempo works really well with the atmosphere that is presented ultimately providing you with a cohesive and dismally dark listen.

Skognatt does a great job of letting the atmosphere kind of take on a life of its own. It doesn’t feel forced or unwanted even though it is spread like the plague across each second of Ancient Wisdom. Nor are the atmospheric elements in your face or too over bearing as they can be some times. Instead, they are incorporated seamlessly to create an overall smooth, mystifying and dark sound that you will have trouble forgetting.

My only gripe about this release is the fact that it isn’t longer, and really that’s it. Ancient Wisdom is a solid release overall that has elements of traditional black metal as well as atmospheric black metal working together in cohesion to create a well executed sound.


Boyed: S/T EP

With a little bit of sludge mixed in with their brand of powerviolence, Boyed provides a murky and devastating sound within the nine tracks that are present on their self titled EP. Each track hits hard and quick, providing you with a concise run time as well as a punchy and violent listen overall. This wall of noise begins with Burning Bridges which serves as a thirty-five second opener for all of the chaos that is to come. Each track after Burning Bridges is just as anarchic and filled with pissed off determination. The only time when Boyed “slows” anything down is when they head for a break down and even then those bone stomping break downs are short lived as Boyed heads right back toward more of their uptempo violence.

Each of the nine tracks that are present on this release are bombastic and a blitzkrieg of noise as they leave your speakers as quick as they entered. This self titled release certainly is short but it doesn’t leave you without being entertained. Each track is solid and well executed providing you with a gritty and gnarled sound. From the get go, Boyed does a good job of getting you involved and head banging until the final song has concluded.

Even though there isn’t anything on this release that clearly stands out as unique and entirely different, this still is a solid record. As mentioned, each track is well executed and entertaining and this self titled release provides you with plenty of  violence, anger and grit to get your neck bending and your head banging. Through nine tracks Boyed shows that they are here to stomp necks and provide people with their daily dose of sludge and grime filled powerviolence.

This self titled record is a solid one that exudes bitterness and anger to the fullest extent. Boyed is an entertaining band and their self titled EP is entertaining as well. This nine track sample of what is to come is a good indication of what we are to expect in the future, and what we are to expect is more dirty powerviolence out of these Essex natives.

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Highburnator: Keystoned State

After many late night smoke sessions, plenty of joints snuffed out and numerous bowls roasted, Highburnator returns with Keystoned State, a four track EP that provides you with but grimy and dirty stoner doom. After releasing a great three song EP in 2014 titled The Clambake Doesn’t Stop, Keystoned State certainly does not disappoint either. In fact, this release from these perpetually stoned metal heads is just as good if not better than their debut release. It has been three years since their hibernation, but Highburnator has returned this year with a smoke filled and marijuana scented release that is easy to sink your teeth in to and listen to for hours.

From the first note on, you are hit with buzzing and fuzz filled sounds that get your head nodding from the get go. This certainly is the type of release where you want to roast a couple of bowls and just listen and enjoy all of the crunchy and mesmerizing noise. Even if you don’t burn a few bowls before, Highburnator has you covered as you seem to get a contact high just from listening. As soon as you press play, dense smoke pours through your speakers encompassing you. The overall sound of Keystoned State is thick and murky, filled with buzzing guitars and a thick sludge filled bass. Each track is just as good and memorable as the ones that came before it, and before you know it you are five bowls deep and keeping this EP on repeat.

The vocals that Highburnator provides are more gritty and murky.  Instead of soft cleans you are provided with vocals that are gritty and filled with plenty of  smoke. Since Highburnator is stoner doom, the overall sound is not aggressive of course, but the vocals certainly are the most aggressive element within this EP. With that being said, the vocals work oh so well with the overall sound as they provide an even more murky and buzzing sound.

Highburnator also does a great job of transitioning between their more slow burning doom elements and their rock elements providing you with both a relaxing yet head nodding release. When needed they tend to slow things down quite a bit presenting you with a hypnotizing fuzz filled sound, but they also pick the tempo gifting you with a more head banging sound. Keystoned State is varied and never gives you the same sound twice as each track sounds completely different from the others. If you are a stoner doom fan or just a doom fan in general, Keystoned State certainly is a release to keep an eye out for.

After two EPs, it will be great to see what Highburnator has in store as far as a full length goes. Keystoned State is just as solid as their debut EP and an even bigger step in the right direction from these stoners from Pennsylvania. Burn on, crank this up and just enjoy!

Eye Sea Black: Stigma

Emitting plenty of grit and anger is Udine, Italy based band Eye Sea Black. Stigma is the title of their debut EP and it provides you with five face shredding and melting tracks for you contort your neck to. This is a strong debut for this three piece as each of the five tracks that appear on this release are strong, heavy and head bang worthy of course. Right out of the gate, Eye Sea Black is aggressive and bombastic as they blast you with their opener No I In Faith. After a brief intro brought to you by reverberating guitars, Eye Sea Black gets right in to the thick of things as they blast away at around the one minute mark. After they begin they don’t stop or slow down even for a second as they provide you with ripping and gut punching track after track.

Each track on this release is a skull smashing effort that doesn’t seem to know when to quit, and will only quit until your skull is permanently caved in. Each of the five tracks on this release are filled with a combination of hardcore and death metal which ultimately provides you with a pissed off and purely aggressive sound. After that one minute intro into No I In Faith, Eye Sea Black blasts forth never to look back at the waste that they lay behind them.

With sharp and blasting drumming that is coupled with roaring bass lines and anvil heavy riffs, Eye Sea Black provides you with a devastating and memorable listen. On top of the acute musicianship are the vocals which are the heart and soul of the pure unfiltered aggression and pissed off nature of Stigma. These vocals are monstrous and throat ripping and I have to imagine that the vocalist had to have passed out after recording them. Each aspect of this release is executed well and each track on this release is so solid and well put together that it creates an entertaining listen.

Not only is the musicianship on point and not only are the vocals great, but Eye Sea Black does a great job of transitioning between their brand of pummeling death metal and their aggressive hate filled hardcore elements. With these two genres combined and sewed together seamlessly, you are provided with an explosive and shredding listen where you just don’t have a choice but to head bang and twist your neck for yourself, otherwise it will be done for you.

Overall, this is one solid debut for these heathens. Each track is solid, hard hitting and memorable. If this is what Eye Sea Black has to offer now in an EP, it will  be great to see what they have to offer in a full length. But for now, this is a great stepping stone and a great step in the right direction.

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Black March: Praeludium Exterminii

Forming in France in 2011, Black March have put out an EP titled Oderint Dum Metuant in 2014 and now four years later this past May these heathens released their debut full length titled Praeludium Exterminii. This ten track release is filled with nothing but damning thrash tinged black metal to crack your skull open to. Save for the intro and a little interlude more than half way through this release, you are provided with nothing but neck snapping and whiplash inducing black metal. From front to back, Praeludium Exterminii provides you with demonic, punishing and unforgiving metal for you to revel in and enjoy.

After a brief ominous intro, Black March dive right into the murky abyss of their record and promptly provide you with neck twisting track after neck twisting track. Until the interlude that appears at track seven, Black March does not stop their blackened metallic assault even for one second. Each second and each minute of this release is riddled with pure blackened sonic madness that does its best to tear you to pieces and lower you into an early grave. Each track is a purely malicious and malignant assault that is brought forth by rabid and blood thirsty vocals as well as buzzing head spinning riffs that are coupled by blasting drums.

Praeludium Exterminii is a bombastic and relentless record that keeps charging and charging, steamrolling everyone in its path until there isn’t anyone left. In its concise run time, Praeludium Exterminii provides you with plenty of brain mashing content, and not only that  but it keeps you coming back for more punishment. This is a thrashing and damning release that grips you by the throat almost immediately only to squeeze tighter as the album plays on. Each track on this record is highly potent and poisonous and Black March doesn’t waste a second between tracks as they jump right in to the next never giving you enough time to relax.

As chaotic as thrash and black metal can be, Praeludium Exterminii is a tightly knit record, one that doesn’t fly off the rails at all. Each track is tightly knit and well executed-including the intro and interlude-making this release a cohesive and well constructed album. Praeludim Exterminii is a good record, one that gets you headbanging immediately and one that you have no issues with coming back and listening to numerous times.

Seven Chains: Seven Chains

Sticking to the tried and true death/doom combination but providing a breath of fresh tepid air at the same time is Seven Chains. Their debut provides you with a unique and interesting look in to the death/doom combination never holding on tightly to either death or doom metal tropes what so ever. Within this release, Seven Chains find a way to break those tropes to create a sound that is unique and entirely engrossing. Each track is filled with something new and different and perhaps they add some elements into their music that you may not have heard before. Each track of the three tracks on this release are forever shifting and changing shape never giving you the same sound or look twice.

This self titled release has an overall sound to it that not only is haunting, damning and punishing, but one that is also odd at times and even so that is refreshing to hear. Even though the run times on this release are pretty substantial, you still can’t seem to pull yourself away from it as this record grips you and never lets you go. And as a matter of fact, you will find yourself on the edge anticipating what will happen next only to have Seven Chains throw you for another loop or twist. As mentioned before, these three tracks that are present on this release are forever shape shifting and changing, providing you with plenty of variety and diversity. Seven Chains does a great job of bouncing between both death and doom and if one genre seems to be over staying its welcome that is changed in a heartbeat. If you feel as though the dirge filled doom sections are dragging a bit these guys hit you with blasting death and the inverse happens as well.

The balance between death and doom is great and Seven Chains shows that they can play both with ease and melt both together seamlessly to create an interesting and gripping sound. Never once does it seem as though any of the tracks drag on for too long and that includes the twenty-one minute closer. Seven Chains seems to have an innate ability to capture your attention and never have it waver. Each of the three tracks on this self titled release are crafted very well and executed very well also gifting you with a cohesive, dark and purely sinister sound that is incredibly intoxicating.

Right from the get go the gnarled and haunting sounds of Seven Chains grabs your attention and from then on you become submerged in their dark and abyssal world that they have created with this release. Even through numerous listens this record never gets tiring or old as you always will seem to find something new that you didn’t hear with the listen before. Overall, Seven Chains has created something that is heavy, haunting, gnarled, ghastly and most importantly memorable.

Sentient Divide: Sentient Divide

Coupling black metal influences with death metal and some hardcore for extra spine stomping measure is Sentient Divide and up from the swirling abyss with them comes their nine track self titled release. Hailing from Spokane, Washington, these heathens provide you with a flesh tearing and completely damning and haunting sound that you won’t soon be able to shake. Once you press play on this record it digs its meaty claws right into you never letting you go even for a brief moment. There are only brief moments of reprieve from the sonic wall of pure madness and chaos and they come right at the very beginning of the record and at the end. Other than that you are subjected to nothing but a pure and devastating onslaught of death tinged black metal that aims to melt your soul.

Armed with poison filled riffs, bone shaking bass lines and blasting drums you are provided with non stop torment in blasphemous proportions. With banshee shrieked vocals that pierce your ears like no other added to the mix, this self titled release is a chaotic maelstrom of death and disease. There is no escaping the onslaught once you begin listening as the only option that you have/get is to sit there and take all of the punishment that these heathens dish out.

Each track on this release save for Precipice and Sentient Divide are for the most part an all out aural assault, but not entirely. Sentient Divide does a great job of shifting and changing tempos quite often providing you not only with a head caving and blasting sound but they also provide you with a slower more stalking tempo. While tempos tend to change all throughout this release, the atmosphere certainly does not. Throughout this self titled record you are provided with a haunting and dismal atmosphere that follows you throughout the entire release as it tends to hang on you and drag you asunder in the sinister and abysmal depths.

With the swarming musicianship coupled with blood thirsty vocals that is only to be supplemented by the detrimental atmospheres, you are only to be gifted with an intense and flesh ripping listen. This self titled release-and debut full length-is something to behold as it is monstrous and purely unforgiving. For this being Sentient Divide’s debut full length they certainly deliver and more. This self titled debut is an impressive piece of work that will surely please the deformed ears of many metal fiends.