Humulus – The Deep (2020)

HumulusThe Deep (Kozmik Artifactz, 28 February 2020)

 

If you couldn’t tell from the band name (humulus are the plants which grow the flowers we refer to as hops), that very cool cover art of a cephalopod holding up a beer bottle may clue you in: this Italian trio is birra-obsessed.

In fact, in the first ten years since their formation, these Lombardi gentlemen have put as much passion and effort into the development of their own self-titled brew as they have into creating three albums and EPs. So while their sound on this fourth release The Deep (released just a few days ago) may superficially resemble the style universally known as “stoner rock,” wouldn’t it make much more sense to call this “alcoholic rock”?

 

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Konvent – Puritan Masochism (2020)

KonventPuritan Masochism (Napalm Records, 24 January 2020)

 

Good afternoon, readers. How are things where you are? Here, we’ve had a few pleasant and sunny days in a row, which is certainly a rarity. But today is a typically dismal and dreary Tuesday. So fittingly, it’s time to listen to some dismal and dreary music.

Without any further ado, here is Puritan Masochism by Copenhagen’s Konvent.

 

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Völur – Disir (2016), Ancestors (2017)

VölurDisir (Prophecy Productions, 24 June 2016)

 

VölurAncestors (Prophecy Productions, 02 June 2017)

 

Hey folks! The Shadow Frost festival that we talked about recently starts tomorrow and runs through the next day. Whomst among you are headed to Maryland for this event? That’s a pretty enticing line-up, huh?

So having said that, today seemed like an appropriate time to delve into a pair of albums by Torontonian trio Völur that I’ve been meaning to discuss ever since they first caught my attention several years ago. Not an ideal time to write about them, of course, as that would have been actually in 2016 and in 2017 (respectively) when they came out — but nevertheless, an appropriate time. Here we go!

 

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Suum – Cryptomass (2020)

SuumCryptomass (Seeing Red Records, 14 February 2020)

 

Have you ever been tricked by an album cover? Like, you got totally drawn in by this mesmerizing artwork that so perfectly encapsulates a particular mood — but then you listen to it and the music sucks, or at least it completely fails to match up with your expectations based on its exterior?

Or looking at it from the opposite side: how often has poorly-designed and/or conceptually uninteresting imagery caused you to bypass listening to something, which for all you know could have ended up being your new favorite record if you had actually given it a chance?

Well, today we’ve got the rare treat of an album whose outward appearance exactly lines up with its internal contents, Cryptomass — the sophomore release from Roman doomsters Suum, which emerged mere days ago from the decaying catacombs illustrated above (and credited to the band’s guitarist, “Antonio Painkiller“), by way of Ohio’s Seeing Red Records.

 

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Necropsy – Exitus (2020)

NecropsyExitus (Xtreem Music, 21 January 2020)

 

It’s hard to believe, but here we are in mid-February and once again the temperature here in Pittsburgh is right around 50° (that’s 10° to you non-Americans)! Believe me, I am not complaining one bit, but we’ve really had an atypically mild winter so far. But we can still get into the winter spirit if we so choose, by tailoring our musical selections accordingly. Frigid black metal often helps, but another way to embrace a similar mood could be with Scandinavian doomy death metal. That’ll be our agenda for today.

Formed over 30 years ago in the city of Lahti (southern Finland), and having undergone a couple name changes, several line-up changes, and even a decade-and-a-half hiatus; Necropsy re-emerged in the late ’00s, finally following up a long series of 1990s demos with full-length albums in 2011 and 2015.

This January ushered in the release of a brand-new 4-track EP, that showcases the band putting the brakes on its typical death metal tempos, transitioning into a somewhat slower and doomier style. And now that you’re all caught up on historical facts, let’s check out Exitus!

 

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Rat King – Garbage Island (2016), Vicious Inhumanity (2020)

Rat KingGarbage Island (Within the Mind Records, 24 June 2016)

 

Rat KingVicious Inhumanity (Within the Mind Records, 17 January 2020)

 

As much as I hate to admit it, during the almost eight and a half years I’ve been administrating this website, I have amassed a list of literally hundreds of albums I’ve hoped to find time to write about and share with you folks. Realistically I know I won’t ever get through ALL of them, but at the moment I am striving to keep up with the new ones as well as I can so it doesn’t get any worse; and if I can knock off an older one here and there while I’m at it, wonderful.

So having said that, here’s a record that just came out within the past month, as well as one that’s been sitting on my to-do list far too long. Both are by Seattleite trio Rat King, released on their own label Within the Mind, and both were recorded by the legendary Mr. Tad Doyle — but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. As you will soon discover. Please to enjoy!

 

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Sâver – They Came with Sunlight (2019)

SâverThey Came with Sunlight (Pelagic Records, 08 March 2019)

 

Here in the Valley of Steel we don’t pay much attention to what’s trending or getting a bunch of recognition elsewhere; all we care about is listening to what we enjoy, and (sometimes) writing about it.

But having said that, sometimes it’s also nice to feel vindicated and validated, when something we identify as “good” achieves recognition from elsewhere.

Case in point: They Came with Sunlight, the debut offering from Oslo trio Sâver — which upon its release about eleven months ago made quite an impression upon this reviewer, later to become firmly entrenched in our selection of last year’s best records.

Well, just a few days ago the band announced that the album had been nominated for a Norwegian Grammy. In fact, it was one of four from 2019 recognized in the Metal category by the Spellemann committee, for the award officially known as the Spellemannprisen.

And so, if you haven’t already become enamored of They Came with Sunlight, here’s your opportunity to see what all the fuss is about!

 

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