Upcoming Albums

Albums of 2/2/24

Here are the best releases of the week!

Artillery – Raw Live (In Copenhell)

There is some stigma around live albums, and I can’t say it’s unearned. Between bands playing air guitar and post-event studio touch-ups, the selling point of live albums quickly dissipates. But things don’t have to be this way. If the listener accepts that listening to a live album doesn’t give an authentic concert experience, but rather as a remix and compilation album, theses can be worth the time. I have no idea if the label did any post-production work on this release. It doesn’t matter.

Raw Live (In Copenhell) was released on Mighty Music, and shows the Danish legends having fun. The versions on here aren’t superior to the originals on classics like By Inheritance or Terror Squad. But that’s not the point. These are fresh, energetic versions that offer a different approach to established, successful songs. Anyone who hasn’t listened to Artillery before should go find a stream of By Inheritance immediately. For fans of the band, though, this is a good time that is simultaneously comfortable and new.

Ghoul – Noxious Concoctions

Noxious Concoctions only lasts for 18 minutes. Over a minute is wasted on a spoken word introduction with creepy wind noises. From there, opening track “The Eyes Of The Witch” goes into some lackluster riffs before finally, mercifully kicking into gear four minutes in. Even then, the opening track doesn’t leave a good impression at the end of it’s seven-minute runtime. This makes it a miracle that the first studio release from Ghoul since 2016, released on Tankcrimes, is worth your time.

This EP doesn’t come together as much as it rejoices in the jagged shards of underground music creation. At the end of the release, I find myself with fond memories of a band that goes far with simple and direct styles, letting tone and swagger drive. The thrash noises here are simple, lingering, and unblemished. Ghoul approach their music with confidence, which allows their riffs to work where they wouldn’t with a different band, and results in a grimy, DIY thrash sound that works perfectly for an EP like this.

Hasturian Vigil – Unveiling the Brac’thal

The differences in connotations between spooky and sinister are immense. Ghost is spooky, Hasturian Vigil is sinister. Ghost is Halloween music for people in scooby-doo costumes, Hasturian Vigil is…well, also that, but for with a straight face and a darker spectacle. This band gives an impressive setting for their debut EP, and desn’t break verisimilitude in the process.

Unveiling the Brac’thal, released on Invictus Productions, needs the quiet opener and creepy noises that great you when you first turn on the album. The atmosphere is such an important part of an album like this. But that’s not to say that the music would fail without the surrounding aesthetics. Hasturian Vigil throw in some nasty riffs in between their misty October-worthy noises, and they clearly know how to make long-form music work. I especially appreciate the clean bass. Having music that simultaneously sounds dark and distorted while also maintaining clarity is a treat.

Necrowretch – Swords of Dajjal

Swords of Dajjal is another quality Season Of Mist (Underground Activists Edition) release, which extends a streak of weekly albums worth listening to from this label that stretches back for what feels like forever. This time it’s more of an established band playing a clean blackened death style. I didn’t connect with Necrowretch at first because Swords of Dajjal sounds glossier and more distant than expected. Once I got past this, I found a band with stellar songwriting and punchy performances.

I still don’t think that the production job here does Necrowretch any favors. It doesn’t matter all that much. This release brings Sijjin’s Sumerian Promises to mind for reasons that are anyone’s guess. Necrowretch start off by arpeggiating in four over standard blast beats, but shift back and forth between this template and a variety of deviations that keep their sound interesting. The silences and fills in between the blast beats keep them effective. Shiftier guitar lines mesh well with the more standard black metal moments. Necrowretch seem to have it all except for production that fits their sound and the recognition they deserve.

Unaussprechlichen Kulten – Häxan Sabaoth

What the hell is that name. Apparently this is a Lovecraftian black metal band from Chile, crooning about Cthulhu and Satan. The music sounds fittingly eerie. Häxan Sabaoth was released on Iron Bonehead, and is the band’s sixth full-length release since 2005.

They label the release as death metal, but I hear black metal influences as well. Most of what I said above about Hasturian Vigil and Necrowretch applies to Unaussprechlichen Kulten in some manner. This album contains a spooky atmosphere that doesn’t overshadow the excellent riffs. The music shifts between standard sounds that you’ll expect to find from a band with this background and label, but Häxan Sabaoth contains enough spice to separate itself from the pack.