This article was originally written by Last Rites Old Guard member Ian Chainey
With more new metal releases than ever before, ‘heads are forced to acknowledge some rad records shoot between their legs as if they’re arthritic Buckners. This feature is designed to help catch us up with the neat needles in the hackneyed haystack.
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CARPE NOCTEM – IN TERRA PROFUGUS
Location: Reykjavik, Iceland
Label: Code666 Records
Style: Third-wave black metal
RIYL: Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, Abandon
Carpe Noctem is a band able to balance the holy shit, slit-yer-wrists scares of the ancient corpse-painted pied pipers while delivering on our modern avant-blargh expectations. In Terra Profugus, the outfit’s debut LP after two demos and an EP, is blanketed with a foreboding fog, an old-school aspect largely dehumidified when black metal transitioned from outsiders to artists. In a way, one could say it invites mayhem back in again, positioning Carpe Noctem to rub pauldrons with other advanced magick makers such as the aforementioned DsO and BaN. Like its sure-to-be buddies, it blasts with fleet beats, it twists howling souls around its gnarled finger, it sprays venom upon off-kilter rhythms and watches measures corrode, revealing a looming black hole below. Its most unnerving moments, though, come when the waveform appears to be at a level suggesting a whisper. “Odium Somniferum” ends not with a torrent of acidic trems, but layers of the kind of disembodied babbling rising in your subconscious right before your brain shuts down for sleep. “Vitriol” wrangles up Abandoned guitar lines and recasts it with a tone suggesting the bootgazing Western depressos in True Widow. Instead of a desert sun, an impossibly inky dot rises in the sky, frosting the tumbleweed with its subzero rays. And, that’s the thing: You think you know where Carpe Noctem is headed and then it pulls the rug so fast the bottom of your feet get burned. It’s In Terra Profugus‘s game, subverting 2013 expectations with a slightly skewed parallel path that builds upon the potentiality echo emanating from a past BM fork in the road. It’s a reminder of an era when an album could raise enough hairs to get you to turn on all of the lights as you brave getting a glass of water at midnight.
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DUOBETIC HOMUNKULUS – ANI JÁ ANI TY ROBIT NEBUDZEME, ŠEDNEME DO KOCA, VOZIT ŠE BUDZEME
Location: Starà Boleslav / Melník, Czech Republic
Label: Zero Budget Productions
Release date: 2/25/2013
Style: Progressive death metal
RIYL: !T.O.O.H.!, Ephel Duath
If Duobetic Homunkulus’s debut sounds uncannily like !T.O.O.H.!, it’s because lead throat/stringsmith Wokis was one of the stars twinkling on the under-appreciated ruby in the rough Rád a Trest. Wokis and partner in crime Walis (bass) transfer over a bit of the giddy genre jumping of the mankind obliterators, but end up with a 27 minute set aiming for something far nuttier. The instrumental “Kardanoidy” treats its melodies like a shell game, using quick shifts to keep you on your toes while never losing sight of the pea. Admittedly, it’s a mess of things; Spastic Ink sans sea legs, DEP-derived chugs, brief dives into Mirrorthrone‘s ivory counterpoint, pinches of accordion garnishes. It’s almost like someone pilfered your Dream Theater/Glenn Gould/Now That’s What I Call Polka!/Archive.org Mix CD, rubbed it against a porcupine, and returned it to player without you knowing. However, what’s really impressive is this collage approach always has the thread tied tightly around the double dubs’ fingers. The duo’s flow is never compromised, never failing to get to their destination despite the grind GPS programming as many alternate routes as possible. Sure, scenes fly by at the rate of a speed freak making smoke billow from his slideshow projector. Be that as it may, all of the frames are from the same vacation. Pick this one up to blow your brain, stay to watch how they pick up the pieces.
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ONIROPHAGUS – PREHUMAN
Location: L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Label: Xtreem Music
Release date: 9/1/2013
Onirophagus is a death/doom behemoth doing justice to the proposed style unification suggested by its tag. Indeed, for as often as Prehuman barrels along like Bolt Thrower or hits its tempos with a tranq dart packed with slow-acting Winter, it gets guitar-dualingly epic in that inescapably Argus sort of way. It’s a legit synthesis of the two genres, like Conan managed to cut together an “If They Mated” portrait of Asphyx and Candlemass. And, neater still, the riffs are like a metal Rorschach, bringing to mind a different possible lineage for each respective beholder. “Discordia” implies notes drawn with van Drunen’s pen, but its DNA is entwined with a basic Sabbath tri-tone. It’s clever. It’s both sides at once. It’s a le Carré novel with chugs, the closer-than-they-know-it teams linked by moles who have forgotten their own identity. Still, Prehuman‘s most important element is its ability to give you a goddamn walloping. Unraveling its origin becomes a moot point when Paingrinder, suffering Demilichian indigestion, orders another section to destroy your stereo. Nerd slamropologists will be in awe of the coexisting, cohesive jean jacket patches. Fans of music will luxuriate in grimy riffs that won’t quit.
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MEMENTO WALTZ – DIVISION BY ZERO
Location: Tempio Pausania, Sardinia, Italy
Release date: 9/30/2013
Style: Progressive metal
RIYL: Watchtower, Zero Hour, Twisted into Form
Memento Waltz, a throwback to awakened guardians and social graces, won’t find many dance partners, especially dressed up in its ’80s duds. Nevertheless, those accepting its outstretched hand will be treated to an intricate tango, guided by the sure steps of a talented vet. A mysterious vet. One that doesn’t come here often. Strange that a band that can shred this sublimely would be stuck for so long under six feet of soil. But, forget the past. Whatever tragedy befell these prodigies and caused them to wait nearly twenty years to release an LP is now, thankfully, behind them. Division by Zero is a real treat, progging away in a way that’s hard to call “progressive” in this decade, though it will surely release nostalgic chemicals into the cyborg processors of betamax ‘bangers. In that respect, it does what you expect, knotting-up strands of power metal, speed, and thrash with the OCD glee of a manic music teacher. Yet, it also wrings Dickinson drama out of the sneers and vibrato-rich shouts of singer Lord Goblin, giving this a balled-fist anthemic quality normally M.I.A. in sterile tech-fests. He’s the reason monstrous, blackboard-filling equations like “Mechdreamer” are able to land, roping in your attention with an undeniably relatable humanity. That said, like every entry on this list, Memento Waltz succeeds due to its nose for hooks and ability to knit a ripping yarn with the tools its style provides. You may scoff at its puffy hi-tops and threadbare jeans, but, when it gets you alone, Dio does it ever say the right things.