Rebel Extravaganza

Heavy Metal And Other Occasional Musics And Cultures

Season Of Mist

Album Review: Cloak – Black Flame Eternal

Having seen the Atlanta quartet open for IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT in what amounts to a shoebox with a bar inside earlier this year, I can vouch that CLOAK’s “is it black/death or death/black” hybridization does carry over well into a live setting. To be honest, I’ve never “gotten” the WATAIN comparisons, as, musically, CLOAK has more clarity while managing to haunt – and thus far thrive in – the shades beyond dark and light, good and evil when it comes to lyrical fare. Striking hard and early the anvil of the search for enlightenment, ‘Ethereal Fire’ ignites, the band sounding full-bodied […]

Album Review: Oak – Disintegrate

Proving itself not only competent but comfortable in crafting longer songs with its debut, Lone, Portugal’s OAK returns with a single-track album, Disintegrate. CATHEDRAL wisely sidestepped the opportunity to do so when the disco doomlords “could’ve”, SLEEP blows minds and bong rips to this day courtesy of Dopesmoker (or Jerusalem, if you prefer), so it only remains to be heard if OAK “should’ve”. The opening track (also the closing track) begins with the feel of a soundtrack to a nature documentary or possibly of a community living destitute, separated by class, by creed, or by its own decision. Nothing is […]

Album Review: Strigoi – Viscera

Arising from the ashes of VALLENFYRE, STRIGOI are trying to establish more of their own sound on Viscera, their second album. The best word for that sound would be “gloomy”. The album still retains brutality, but things are more claustrophobic here, with a bigger emphasis on doom and Gothic atmosphere. That does give STRIGOI more of its own sound for sure, but they are not as immediate as the ferocious VALLENFYRE. The album’s tracks break down into longer, more atmospheric songs and shorter bursts of brute force where the scent of early British grindcore predominates. First cut ‘United In Viscera’ […]

Album Review: Gaerea – Mirage

GAEREA’s sophomore release, Limbo of ’20, was one of the surprises of that year, both showing a band successfully expanding upon the debut, yet remaining true to themselves – not so much a reinvention as a reworking – and ended up on the Best Of 2020 lists of myself and many others. All-important third album Mirage sees the Portuguese troupe keeping the 8 songs to around average length for the band, yet still under an hour for total playing time. While the extended tracks that bookended Limbo were grand, ‘Memoir’ captivates from the start, shimmering, hazy as a mirage itself, […]

Album Review: Black Anvil – Regenesis

This New York black metal crew pop up every few years with a new album, which gets talked about for a month or two and then promptly forgotten until the next cycle begins. With the title of Regenesis, perhaps they see themselves as reinventing the band and their sound. The album is well produced and competently played, but leaves me pretty cold. I know that past BLACK ANVIL works were more aggressive and darker than this. They do try to mix things up here and they succeed in giving each track its own identity, but the songs are generally softer, […]

Album Review: Saor – Origins

Freshly back from his second album under the also solitary but more overtly blackened FUATH moniker, Andy Marshall returns with Origins, and it’s here we find SAOR returning to its, erm, Roots, yet looking brightly, brilliantly forward. Contemplative from the onset, ‘Call Of The Carnyx’ rolls in like fog across the moors, a hypnotic guitar phrasing, clan drums calling, beckoning to join, to heed the harkening. Soon enough, the fires are lit, and an energetic phrasing is held aloft by galloping rhythm, just as quickly to return to a brief gentler moment – and this is where the strength of […]

Album Review: ABBATH – Dread Reaver

Black metal’s Uncle Buck returns to action and I’m not quite sure what to make of Dread Reaver. Yes, a lot of the ABBATH (and by way of osmosis, IMMORTAL) trademarks are here, but this has a different sound and approach than the man’s last two solo efforts. For one thing, the sound is rawer…a lot rawer. That’s not always a bad thing, to be sure, but the precision of previous ABBATH and also the last few IMMORTAL records is not here. Everything sounds a lot looser, almost like jamming in the rehearsal room, and the riffs don’t stick in […]

Album Review: Cynic – Ascension Codes

Conceived as a mind-journey – as, if we’re being honest, most CYNIC has been – pollen blown from Olias Of Sunhillow / Song Of Seven JON ANDERSON is evident from ‘Mu-54*’ and ‘The Winged Ones’, which is much pleasing to these ears, oft’ jaded and haggard from guitars with gain cranked to 11 and tempos that have more in common with arcane ritual than art given time to let the music breathe. ‘Elements And Their Inhabitants’ is positively otherworldly, and it’s here that newfound drummer Matt Lynch first slips into his role, as comfortable as an ivory finger into a […]

Album Review: Gaahls Wyrd – The Humming Mountain

Black metal thrives on controversy, whether intentionally created by the artists/bands themselves or a by-product of media hype. In that realm, few have lived that life to the degree of Gaahl. I don’t need to rehash, and won’t as a cursory web search can do that for those interested. GAAHLS WYRD’s debut album in 2019 was a chance for Gaahl (the man) to move away from Gaahl (the media/meme fodder) and simply record as an artist with like-minded comrades – and it succeeded. 2021 brings The Humming Mountain, a self-described “mini-album” that swims in the pre-history first explored on GastiR […]

Album Review: Thy Catafalque – Vadak

Reliability is a rare commodity these days, be it in personal relationships, professional commitments, or certainly in the arts. To find one of those bands – you know, the ones that worm under your skin and into your soul, to the point that you view each new release with hope instead of trepidation – is a true gift, indeed. Recorded in no less than 12 countries – aided by guest musicians and, indirectly, by the current isolation we all feel to some degree – ‘Szarvas’ ushers into Vadak with ULTRAVOX-worthy synthscapes, bolstered by bristling guitars that could as easily be […]