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Albums of 5/3/24

The most interesting releases of the week!

Necropanther – Oblivion Jones

This new EP from independent melodeath band Necropanther contains some odd choices. If the band continues down this path their next full length might be their most interesting for better or for worse. The band’s last three albums, Eyes Of Blue Light, The Doomed City, and Betrayal, all feature spectacular and energetic melodeath blended with thrash, and all sound similar to each other. While the band’s EPs have been a bit weird before, they haven’t sounded like this. Oblivion Jones is a four-track EP with each band member authoring one song. While this approach to authorship throws away any potential cohesion, I can’t deny the experimental gains.

Oblivion Jones features more saxophone solos than I ever expected to hear on a Necropanther release. I went back to check the credits on all of their previous releases and found no saxophone credits anywhere. And now it’s a front and center instrument. The sound works better than anticipated, with the high energy sax blasting matching Necropanther‘s thrashy roots. But this EP also moves away from that high energy sound.

Unless I’m missing something, “The Transported Man” is more than twice as long as any other song in Necropanther‘s discography. The other three tracks don’t share the length, but across Necropanther stretch out their music and incorporate more cacophony and spectral exploration than I’ve heard from them before. The band has previously written short, punchy, riff-focused material that competes with Skeletonwitch. Now we’re getting something closer to a Hooded Menace song that’s listened to too much Radiohead. Necropanther have shown they can stretch far beyond what they’ve done on their previous full lengths while staying entertaining and energetic. What now?

As The Sun Falls – Kaamos

Theogonia Records brings us the second full length release from Finland’s As The Sun Falls. Kaamos sounds heavily inspired by bands such as Insomnium or Anathema in that they play a doomy, slower, more contemplative and emotionally squeezes form of death metal that focuses on eyes cast forlornly across the sky rather than riffs. Kaamos lasts for over an hour, but anything shorter wouldn’t really have fit the spirit of what the band was going for. Kaamos could have just been Wintersun with depression. Instead it’s an emotional journey with great little moments throughout and big, satisfying spectacle embedded in the album’s DNA.

Kaamos sounds smooth. The chord structure, the guitar tones, the vocals, the tom-heavy drum patterns leading to blast beats, the rhythmic harmonies of the bass, all of this aids in the immensity of Kaamos. I prefer the scarce clean vocals to the growls, but having the contrast works well. The production feels a bit artificial at times but still laps other albums of this style. The largest contributor to this smoothness is the transitions. Whenever the drums drop out or a guitar swoops in, As The Sun Falls makes it feel natural.

Ba’al – Soft Eyes

Some releases hit you from the first notes. Soft Eyes is one of those. The newest EP from the UK’s Ba’al, released independently, contains three heavy, meandering post-black/sludge/whatever tracks that don’t waste time with any buildup and goes right into hitting the listener with the emotional baseball bat riff. These long tracks contain long passages that sound stapled together, but in a manner that helps the sections feel distinct and related and causes the songs to feel more brief than they otherwise would. The heavy sludge works. The ambient noise works. The two shovelled into a single song work better individually because Ba’al knows how to write songs.

Everything about Soft Eyes would function less successfully without Ba’al‘s affinity for melody. Whether they’re grooving, establishing a new pattern, or dissolving the song’s previous journey, Ba’al know how to write. The format of this release also aids it. A full hour of this music may have been too much, but a little less than thirty minutes feels like a satisfying and full experience.