Caligari Records has proven itself capable of releasing excellent recordings from just about any metallic subgenre they see fit, but some of their very best stuff of late has come from the realm of slow ‘n’ low. Whether it be the Pentagram-esque trad of Denmark’s Demon Head, or the uh, heavy death of Sweden’s Heavydeath, this is a label that knows its doom. But The Unquenchable Pyre, the debut recording from Abjvration, just might be Caligari’s most debilitatingly heavy offering to date.
Things up to now have been quiet for San Francisco’s Pale Chalice. The band released their debut EP Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation via The Flenser back in 2011, and I think we can all agree that in today’s metal climate four years is a freakin’ eternity between releases. But give just one listen to Negate the Infinite and Miraculous, the quintet’s inaugural full-length for new label home Gilead Media, and it will become readily apparent that Pale Chalice favors quality over quantity.
Since 2010, Minneapolis, Minnesota’s False has been quietly making some of the best USBM in the game. Their split with the equally excellent Barghest, as well as their untitled 2012 EP were both great slabs of atmospheric black metal that remain largely unnoticed, or at the very least woefully underrated by the metal community at large. With the release of their untitled debut full length on the ever-reliable Gilead Media however, False is poised to bid farewell to their under-the-the-radar status once and for all.
At this point it’s well documented that shows during the week are typically a no-go for me; I’m a corporate lackey that’s typically in bed by 9:00 pm. That said, there was no way in hell I was going to miss Church’s tape release / tour kickoff show with Lycus, Usnea and Ufomammut in spite of it taking place late on a Thursday night (shout out to my boss for letting me take off the Friday before a week-long business trip). The Sacramento doom quintet recently unleashed their absolutely stellar debut album Unanswered Hymns in digital form, but being a physical format guy, I was dying to pick up this three song behemoth in glorious analog and hold it my hands, not to mention the fact that Church are an excellent live unit and I’ll find just about any excuse I can to see them play.
Last year, Gainesville, FL’s Ars Phoenix put out one of the best darkwave albums I’ve heard in quite some time in the form of Violent Rain, a release that combined robotic synths with an icy, sinister vibe to create a delightfully dark yet catchy and at times even danceable take on the genre. I revisit the album often, so I was quite excited when the band e-mailed to inform me that they had some new material out in the form of a split with fellow Floridians Burnt Hair titled Shinju (“double suicide” in Japanese).
My first exposure to Sewer Goddess came back in 2013 in the form of Mutilation Process, a thoroughly unsettling live recording released on cassette by the always great Graceless Recordings. Ever since that initial taste of their harsh electronic depravity, I’ve longed to hear more from the band, but tracking down their releases is no easy task. Fortunately, they’ve opted to release Painlust, their most recent studio assault, through high profile noise/electronic/industrial label Malignant Records, making it much easier for schmucks like me to track down this half-hour long exercise in mechanized malevolence.
I haven’t really heard much straight-up death metal that tickles my fancy in 2015, so it was a pleasant surprise to get a copy of Negative Vortex’s Tomb Absolute in the mail from the ever-reliable Caligari Records. Indeed, the Oakland, CA-based quartet kicks up quite the storm of burly ‘n’ bulldozing DM on their debut demo, which will surely appeal to fans who can’t get enough of the genre at its most crushingly traditional.