Upcoming Albums

Albums of 4/19/24 and 4/26/24

The most interesting releases of the last two weeks!

Ater – Somber

Somber is Ater‘s second release, brought to us by Torque Records. The promo material describes this release as “Meshuggah-inspired,” which is accurate but incomplete. Ater add deathcore and ambient influences to the Meshuggah base to create something less bizarre but more sinister. The end result sounds like a more grounded Xenobiotic or an alternative universe where Meshuggah enjoy melodies as well.

Ater succeed on the back of their ambience and instrumentals. Instead of succumbing to aimless wandering or bland sameness, the quieter aspects of Somber add to the metal skeleton of the music at worst and at best are the most interesting lead the charge. Somber won’t be for everyone due to their influences, but people who aren’t turned off by Ater‘s influences will find a pleasant time here.

Sons Of Ra – Tropic Of Cancer

Tropic Of Cancer is a fusion album with fantastic guitar solos mixed with dreamy saxophone solos. Given the band’s apparent affinity for weirdo genius Sun Ra, the instrumental EP sounds relatively straightforward. The band’s promo blurbs create some noise about post and prog leanings in their music, but Sons Of Ra create music that metal-exclusive listeners may not appreciate. Cynic and Imperial Triumphant fans beware.

So we have jazz fusion with metal influences more in name and in promotional style than in music. The guitar tone sounds more metal than jazz in a few places, but trying to determine the influences that Sons Of Ra bring to their music isn’t a fair way to talk about this music. Instead, what I hear are impressive improvised solos from this group that bring forward an atmosphere over meaningless technical accomplishment. The guitar player is not afraid to lead with his tone, which creates songs that have a true sense of tight, micro-exploration. The other performances on Tropic Of Cancer bring similar strengths to the record. The drums in particular shift styles from track to track and sound great on all of them. The bass complements the guitar well, usually through distinct lines and not just doubling the higher instrument. Tropic Of Cancer is a fun, short jazz release from a band whose music I’ll have to further explore.

Engulfed – Unearthly Litanies of Despair

Straight death metal from Me Saco Un Ojo/Dark Descent Records. If you are familiar with the label’s typical style and quality, you will not be surprised by Engulfed‘s new album. The band shares members and songwriting DNA with Burial Invocation. The OSDM production job doesn’t take away any clarity from the music, and drums and bass reward the production’s faith in them with some huge and grimy moments. The riffs drag the listener along while the song structures don’t provide any surprises or stumbling blocks. Every part of Unearthly Litanies of Despair sounds competently made.

The inevitable question for an album like this needs to be addressed: What does this record do that a thousand other death metal albums don’t? There are some doomy influences here, which won’t shock many genre aficionados. Some of the songs feature moments that made my turn my head, but there’s nothing on Unearthly Litanies of Despair that truly surprised. Engulfed made a record for people who love death metal and want more of what their favorite bands already do. And in that they succeeded. So while the snide answer for the question above would be “plays competent music,” the more honest response is that Engulfed do not separate themselves from the pack stylistically, instead choosing to let their songwriting propel them. Unearthly Litanies of Despair could be on year end lists and is undoubtedly worth the 7-year wait.

Inter Arma – New Heaven

I didn’t like Sulfur English. Might have just been a wrong place, wrong time thing. But based on the strength of Inter Arma‘s back catalog, specifically Sky Burial and The Cavern, New Heaven was circled on the calendar. New Heaven is the band’s sixth full length, if you include a covers album, and was released on Relapse Records.

The opening title track sounds like something released by an Ad Nauseam-worship band. Full of weird noises and dense dissonance, the track still has plenty of space for typical Inter Arma oddball moments. After the opener ends, the thread continues unravelling. The harshness remains, but even from track to track Inter Arma refuse to stand still as they stretch their sound further and further into whatever direction takes their fancy. New Heaven sounds nothing like Sky Burial, and it sounds only slightly like Sulfur English, but all three albums sound indisputably Inter Arma. I hope the band’s motion never slows down.

Tombstoner – Rot Stink Rip

Big and mid death metal from Redefining Darkness. Tombstoner are a New York death metal band who sound like they learned from the soil they grew in. Immolation‘s influence is here, behind a layer of Cannibal Corpse. While some fans may not be down for the less flavored approach to death metal that Tombstoner take, the band justifies their muscled approach to the genre with some crunchy, melodic riffs and high energy songwriting.

Rot Stink Rip is gym music, through and through. No large changes in tone or quality pop out throughout the record. High, fast, and stylish guitar solos flank grinding downtuned riffs and continuously pounding drums. Tombstoner remind me of Cytotoxin with a blunter production style. The album could have been a bit shorter and I wouldn’t have minded some more variety, but what we got in Rot Stink Rip is a satisfying accomplishment and a fun album that sounds like an 18-wheeler crashing through a brick wall.

Full Of Hell – Coagulated Bliss

I first started paying attention to Full Of Hell with 2017’s Trumpeting Ecstasy. The riffs were vicious and the aura was absurd. Since then, the band has gone farther and farther into noise territory and become more and more unique along the way. Through full-lengths and wild collaborations, about the only thing that Full Of Hell has yet to do is release bad music. Coagulated Bliss doesn’t change that.

If you listened to Weeping Choir or Garden of Burning Apparitions, you know what to expect here. On Coagulated Bliss, Full Of Hell give us fiery, shrieking grindcore that they often obscure with smokey industrial noise and garbled transmissions. In the past I have appreciated the more experimental side of Full Of Hell more than I’ve actually liked it. While Coagulated Bliss doesn’t change all of the issues I’ve had with this band in the past, including production that doesn’t fit the music, Full of Hell remains a thoroughly entertaining band that sound like they can do anything they want and make it interesting. Coagulated Bliss is worth repeated listens even if you’ve never enjoyed Full of Hell. This is a fearless band.