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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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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Earth and Pillars – Earth II (2019)

Earth and PillarsEarth II (Avantgarde Music, 25 October 2019 [digital]; 15 November 2019 [CD]; 22 November 2019 [LP])

 

Good afternoon! Looking back a few years, I remember being quite taken with the atmospheric qualities of Earth I, the debut album by Italian blackened entity Earth and Pillars — which had originally been released in 2014, but we wrote a little something about it upon its vinyl reissue in 2016.

Well, just last month its sequel Earth II has emerged out of the æther, with the first physical manifestations (on compact disc) popping up last week, to be followed by a vinyl record edition tomorrow. Whichever format suits your fancy, would be worth seeking out.

 

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Ufomammut – Ecate (2015), 8 (2017)

Ecate

UfomammutEcate (Neurot Recordings, 31 March 2015)

Ufomammut8 (Neurot Recordings, 22 September 2017)

 

The name Ufomammut seems to be one that we Americans tend to struggle with. But fortunately the band has been kind enough to explain its origin: “ufo” (OOH-foe) is the Italian word for “UFO,” while “mammut” (MAMM-utt) means “mammoth.” Therefore the correct pronunciation of the name would be “OOH-foe-MAMM-utt.” Got it?

The etymological origin of their name is also one of the most accurate descriptions a band has ever given itself, as this trio combine the mysterious spaced-out vibe of a flying saucer with the earth-shaking immensity of a prehistoric pachydermic behemoth.

And now, for the first time in two years, they are bringing this spectacle to North American soil: hitting Maryland Death Fest this weekend, as well as Northwest Terror Fest in early June, and then surrounding these dates with a month-long loop around the whole country that kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday the 23rd) in Providence. Of course we’ll supply you with details about all these shows later. But first, an introduction to the band’s music for the uninitiated …

 

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Opera IX – Back to Sepulcro (2015)

Opera IXBack to Sepulcro (Dusktone, 01 November 2015)

 

This year marks three full decades since guitarist Ossian started Opera IX in Biella (Piedmont region, in the foothills of the Italian Alps). The band has put out an extensive discography in thirty years, and undergone numerous line-up changes, as they gradually morphed into the titans of occult black metal they would become known as.

One major shake-up occurred back in 2014 with a wholesale replacement of the entire band (other than its founder), including the departure of bassist Vlad who had been around since very early on, and vocalist of the previous decade-plus M. the Bard (who sadly departed permanently late last year).

With a brand-new ensemble — including M:A Fog (drums), Alessandro Muscio (keyboard), Scùrs (bass) and Abigail Dianaria (vocals) — in tow, Ossian proceeded to put together an album (in late 2015) that featured brand-new recordings of several songs from Opera IX albums past.

In today’s post we’ll check out Back to Sepulcro — as well as discussing what the band has been up to since that time. (Spoiler alert: a new album anticipated later this year, plus an appearance at MDF later this month!)

 

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Tethra – Like Crows for the Earth (2017)

TethraLike Crows for the Earth (Sliptrick Records, 11 February 2017 EU / 23 July 2017 US)

 


In recent years, many small and medium-sized clubs dedicated to metal music have closed or changed their genre because of the low attendance at the concerts.

It’s a global phenomenon that, if it does not have a clear turnabout, will oblige all industry employees to make drastic decisions.

We would like to raise awareness among all fans of this genre about this topic, assuming a catastrophic scenario for the next future: what will happen when the last live club will also close? Will emerging bands play no more or will they totally rely on aseptic live streaming from rehearsal studio and improvised venues?

For this reason, Thursday 8th June at 22pm (Italian time), we’ll play a full set Live Streaming show in a real live venue open just for us; furthermore, to give everyone the opportunity to participate in this event, we’ll keep the video online for 24 hours.

You can follow the event through our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TethraHell

This is our particular contribution to the cause, hoping to be able to induce a reflection before this catastrophic scenario becomes a reality, because that night we will create a paradox that more than one band has had to endure in its career: playing in an empty room … will you be with us?

 
With these words, Italian doom metal band Tethra (who formed nearly a decade ago in Novara) have announced that they will be playing a show in an empty room, to be broadcast live on Facebook TONIGHT (actually, THIS AFTERNOON if you live in the U.S. — click here to see when, in your own time zone) as a scheme to draw attention to the trend of falling attendance levels at shows. Which is kind of an interesting concept, if you think about it — if the event ends up being wildly successful it will definitely get their message across, but at the same time, it seems like that would only be reinforcing the band’s dire assessment of the current live music scene?

In any case, I did want to share this information with you, so that you could watch the performance and take part in this grand experiment. And I also wanted to take the opportunity to talk about Tethra‘s new release, which has been out a few months in Europe by way of Sliptrick Records in Latvia, while the label’s American division is scheduled for a release next month.

 

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Earth and Pillars – Earth I (2014/2016)

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Earth and PillarsEarth I (CD/digital via Avantgarde Music 25 November 2014; vinyl via Fallen Empire Records/Eisenwald, 21 February 2016)

 

Hey! Hope you’re having a good afternoon, everyone. Or at least, as good as can be expected on a Monday. As usual, I feel like I’ve been pretty much sleepwalking through work all day. I’m about to go grab another cup of coffee, then I’d like to tell you about this amazing album of transcendent, otherworldly black metal — Earth I, the debut by Italy’s Earth and Pillars. It’s got a lot of nuance and detail buried inside, and on repeated listens you can really dig deep and get lost in there. But if that’s not the sort of mood you’re in, you can just as easily just unfocus and let the overpowering waves of sound just rush over you. Either way, just don’t miss this record!

 

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