I often find that the seasons dictate my listening habits. For instance, fall is all about the Misfits, Samhain and Type O Negative, while winter is a feast of frigid black metal (yes, even in California, ridiculous as that may seem). Summer brings with it an obsession with Pepper Keenan-era Corrosion of Conformity and more specifically with Wiseblood. Even though summer hasn’t officially hit yet, I already find myself blasting this album in the car with the windows rolled down as the days start to get warmer and the desire to spend them chained to a cubicle hits rock bottom.
Not to be confused with the long-running Bay Area thrash/speed metal band of the same name, Norway’s Heathen is an obscure black metal entity that recently released its debut full length via the mighty Caligari Records. The first thing that struck me about Heathen is that there is literally no information on them to be found; nothing is known about the band’s lineup, their online presence is meager to say the very least, and they’ve already developed a penchant for self-titling multiple releases. Indeed, there is an air of mystery that surrounds Heathen, but if this excellent tape is anything to go by, rest assured that they have much more than an esoteric image going for them.
It’s been a few months since we last heard from the increasingly prolific Caligari Records, but fear not, because the label has recently released yet another slew of great tapes, the greatest of which just might be Seven Bloodied Ramparts, a reissue of the third album from obscure UK metallers Bretwaldas of Heathen Doom. Originally seeing an extremely limited physical release back in 2010, Seven Bloodied Ramparts might be a bit of an oldie at this point, but make no mistake, this is an album that deserves to be heard well beyond the handful of diehards that picked up on it the first time around.
I admit it, I fucked up. When Irk contacted me during the summer of last year about reviewing their Bread and Honey EP, I was thoroughly impressed with their noise rock assault and told the band that I’d be all about giving it a write-up. But as I continued to drown in a never-ending flood of new music in the ensuing weeks and months, I got in over my head, and as a result the promised review never materialized. So when the band graciously contacted me again regarding their split with fellow UK noise-makers Wren, I immediately felt like total crap when I realized I had allowed their previous release to slip through my fingers.
Although Satanic Warmaster has long been one of my favorite black metal bands due to their unwavering commitment to genre traditionalism, I found myself rather underwhelmed by their last full length, 2010’s Nachzehrer. The production was atrocious (and not in a good way) and to be blunt the songs simply weren’t there; the goofy looking werewolf on the cover and the less than insightful interview SW ringleader Satanic Tyrant Werwolf granted me that year did little to improve my opinion.
Beginning life as a traditional-sounding Norwegian black metal outfit, Oslo’s Dodheimsgard have evolved drastically with every release, to the point that if you were to play each of their full-length recordings to someone who was completely unfamiliar, they’d likely attribute them to several different bands. This near-constant state of progression and reinvention has made DHG into one of the most exciting groups to emerge from the Scandinavian second wave, the lengthy periods of inactivity between albums doing nothing whatsoever to dull my anticipation of their next move.
How good is the new Napalm Death death album? Against all odds, this band continues to age like a fine wine, and Apex Predator – Easy Meat continues the unfuckwithable fifteen-years-and-counting roll they’ve been on since 2000’s Enemy of the Music Business. I pretty much said everything I have to say about the band’s late-career renaissance in my review of 2012’s Utilitarian, but it’d be downright shameful if I neglected to spill at least a little bit of digital ink on the stunning piece of work they’ve unleashed in 2015.