Hell Awaits is a column by Kim Kelly and Andy O'Connor that shines a light on extreme and underground metal. This time, Andy O'Connor sizes up new releases from Sumerlands, the Sabbathian, Albez Duz and more.
Sumerlands: Guardian Demo
Cyclopean Records, run by Jason Tarpey of Austin crossover legends Iron Age and Manilla Road devotees Eternal Champion, has been inactive for some time, but they’ve come back roaring with Guardian Demo, the debut from Philadelphia’s Sumerlands. The digital version is out now, but Cyclopean will release a tape version some time in the fall. This is one hell of an ensemble, featuring former Hour of 13 vocalist Phil Swanson, guitars from John Powers and War Hungry guitarist/Eternal Champion drummer Arthur Rizk, and Boston hustler Justin DeTore (whose Stone Dagger I’ve written up before, and is also involved in many other projects, including but not limited to Innumerable Forms, Magic Circle, the Rival Mob, World War 4, and Mind Eraser) on drums. Rizk also recorded this demo, and he was behind the boards for two of last year’s prominent metal albums—Power Trip’s Manifest Decimation and Inquisition’s Obscure Verses for the Multiverse. He really brings out the best in everyone; Sumerlands sound like Cirith Ungol and every lost 80s American power metal band on steroids of steel, getting swole and flexing their might. The sound is hardly new, but a blood transfusion does wonders, as the spirit is louder than ever. Swanson especially sounds killer here, sounding warped and weird. And this is not the first time DeTore has slayed in this style. Who knew hardcore dudes could put out the best trad metal these days?
Sumerlands: "The Guardian" (via Bandcamp)
The Sabbathian: Ritual Rites
Not to be outshone by Swanson, Chad Davis, Hour of 13’s nucleus, has a new band of his own: the Sabbathian. Here, he’s teamed up with Anette Gulbrandsen, who has contributed backing vocals to ex-Theatre of Tragedy vocalist Liv Kristine’s symphonic metal project Leaves’ Eyes, for a refreshing take on the beleaguered "occult metal" movement. Their debut EP, Ritual Rites, just came out through Svart Records, and it’s a wonderful new chapter in Davis’ career. Most "occult metal" groups are content to take almost every page from Black Sabbath’s self-titled, but The Sabbathian inject some righteous NWOBHM in the mix. This is especially true at the end of "Nightshade Eternal," where they break loose and Gulbrandsen manages to get more aggressive than the guitars. Opener "Ancient’s Curse" is slower but no less seductive; Gulbrandsen charges forth with a gusto many of her peers lack. With Ghost becoming too campy for their own good, the Devil’s Blood put to rest by Selim Lemouchi’s suicide, and Jess and the Ancient Ones remaining a place for Demilich members to hide their true talents, the Sabbathian will satisfy those wanting boogie with their evil.
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Albez Duz: The Coming of Mictlan
2014 is shaping up to be a much stronger year for doom metal than last, with high-profile and high-quality releases from Yob, Pallbearer, and Thou. German duo Albez Duz also deserves to be thrown in that fray of praise with The Coming of Mictlan, which comes out on the 12th through Iron Bonehead. This record sounds like Type O Negative, having been resurrected, become further alienated from the Brooklyn they once called home, retreat to the forests upstate and start listening to a lot of Agalloch. Guitars are traditionally doomy compared to Type O’s layered distortion, but they give space for the organs, pianos, and strings that populate the record. Albez Duz carry themselves like a shattered war hero, going forth with purpose but also unbearable longing for peace. "Drowned" is what Opeth should have gone for if they wanted to become a prog band, and it’s certainly beefier than the vast majority of neo-folk too. Another track of note is "Servants of Light", half uptempo rocker and half gothic dirge. Of course, nobody can compare to Peter Steele vocally, but Alfonso Brito Lopez does his damn best, and that’s nothing to scoff at. You could call Albez Duz the world’s doomiest, heaviest deathrock band, and Mictlan is more than damning evidence.
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Vermin Womb: Permanence
If you were a fan of the scorched-earth grindcore of Denver’s Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire, Vermin Womb will dig into you like the parasites Bobby Liebling claims to have. Two former CTTTOAFF members, guitarist/vocalist Ethan McCarthy (also of Primitive Man) and bassist Zac Harlan team up with Scourge Schematic drummer Patrick Fiorentino to carry on the utterly pissed off style of grindcore the deceased trio pioneered. Permanence is their debut through Throatruiner Records, and you know how they say you shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses? Well, this record turns every house into glass, and you’ve got a Roger Clemens-caliber arm and a pocket full of stones all of the sudden (and we’re not talking about the stones UGK rapped about). McCarthy’s growl and use of doom sections to break up the grind still remain unrivaled. One of the songs is "9 Fruitless Years of Total Fucking Agony" and you best believe they sound like they fucking mean it. If you mainly know McCarthy through Primitive Man, this is that band but sped up, whatever the opposite of "chopped and screwed" is. (Speaking of which, Primitive Man just released a new song called “Loathe,” also worth ruining your day for). Strip your genteel exterior and unleash your hate.
Vermin Womb: "9 Fruitless Years of Total Fucking Agony" (via Bandcamp)
Jute Gyte: Ressentiment
When you listen to a lot of music, critically or not, you’re eternally playing catch-up. That’s not a complaint, that’s just a fact of life. Still, it’s a little embarrassing to have slept on a band for so long, especially when they’ve put out a ton of releases. Jute Gyte, the black metal vehicle of Missouri musician Adam Kalmbach, already has a prolific discography since forming in 2002, and he just put out Ressentiment, his third release of 2014! And according to his Bandcamp, this has been done since 2012. Ressentiment is a study in microtonal shredding and odd doomy turns. When he goes into hyperblast, it’s an industrial nightmare not too far off from Blut Aus Nord. In a way, Jute Gyte fits with the individualism that defines some of the bigger names in USBM, but Kalmbach is in a class of his own. What better way to knock the wind out of a armchair nationalist than the ending lines of "Your Blood and Soil Are Piss and Shit"? "Where is it now, the glory and the dream?/ Your blood and soil are piss and shit/Your honor and glory vanity’s refuse." Thank Satan a dude like this puts his stuff on Bandcamp, else tracking down his limited releases would be a descent into Discogs torture.
Jute Gyte: "Your Blood and Soil Are Piss and Shit" (Buy on Bandcamp)
Clay Rendering: Fire is Fall's Rose
Clay Rendering, a duo consisting of Hair Police/ex-Wolf Eyes member Mike Connelly and his wife Tara, of The Pool at Metz, exist on the bare edge of metal. Their sound is dominated more by shoegaze, dream pop, and gothic post-punk, but fans of dark metal will find much to love. Fire is Fall’s Rose is their latest release, released quite soon after Waters Above the Firmament, which came out earlier this year. Clay Rendering take the ambient sections of diSEMBOWELMENT and construct whole songs from them, somehow further emphasizing the dread since there are no huge death metal guitars that come crashing. Side A features the title track, where drums and guitar creep but can’t dominate over the fog of drone. It climaxes into a series of screeches that break through the mist, metal without exactly being metal. "Red Roots," the other side of the 7'', is driven by mournfully jangly piano and faint club drums, the sort of thing you’d hear running around lost in an abandoned mansion. Its mood is more consistent than "Fire," but consistency doesn’t always mean comfort. This is the music for when you’re tired of overbearing loudness after a metal gig, but don’t want to the lose the darkness before your slumber.