Tape Wyrm XVII – Ten Recent Recommendations Tape Wyrm XVII – Ten Recent Recommendations

Recent Recommendations

I remember when first broaching to our editor Ben the subject of Tape Wyrm. We were hiking in the shadow of the Kangchenjunga during our yearly pilgrimage to the India-Nepal border. I recall looking up at the Five Treasures of Snow and mentioning that Pinpoint should have a metal column. There in the untamed wilderness of eternity, I promised my metal column would investigate new releases which would otherwise go unnoticed in our already esteemed publication. Ben agreed to my request before besting a snow leopard who had been hunting us for miles. Sometimes I revisit that trip remembering how Ben not only saved my life but taught me the value of courage. Sometimes, when alone in my trophy room with my malt scotch and open fire, I gaze upon my leopard rug and remember the promise I made to our editor. It was 75 years ago I discussed the possibilities of new releases and I would not want to tarnish this memory. It is for this reason alone, I have decided to dedicate the 16th issue of Tape Wyrm to new releases and the Nepalis tundra.


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Haemoth – In Nomine Odium
November 11th, 2011 (Debemur Morti Productions)

Alright, to be completely fair, this release is not new. It was released in November of last year but it recently made itself known. If you have read any of my previous articles, you are aware I consider artwork to be important in overall presentation and what it says about the band. Album art is particularly exemplary when it acts as an overture to an entire record. The cover for Haemoth’s fourth record In Nomine Odium is an imposing image of a demon shrouded in grayscale fog and smoke. Haemoth’s style of black metal is not unlike a sandstorm or avalanche where every definitive aspect is reduced to a blanket of chaos and fury. Shrouding the sound in deep atmospheric noise, Haemoth the band celebrates the windblown qualities of the second wave of black metal with the benefit of deeper audio fidelity. Heamoth the singer reduces his voice to distant screams which are then buried under three feet of cold earth. In Nomine Odium is an album which begs for headphones or at least a respectable sound system. The album’s textures and auditory depth are reasons enough to stop playing it on your kitchen iPod speaker cube. Why are you in this kitchen anyway? For Christ’s sake, I’m not saying to buy the golden FLAC version or only listen to it as a WAV file but at least treat your hearing with dignity and respect.

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Nekromantheon – Rise, Vulcan Spectre
January 13th (Indie Recordings)

My love for thrash always comes with at least two glasses of whiskey. After those two aforementioned hard drinks, Nekromantheon is fucking awesome. The band circumvents stereotypes by being Norwegian and playing a harsh form of thrash metal obsessed with Greek mythology. Rise, Vulcan Spectre may sound like a sci-fi concept album but actually takes its name from the Roman god of Fire. I have discussed the state of thrash many times and its inability to progress past its formative roots. Nekromantheon does the same thing Vektor did by creating something unique on the thrash template that is not obsessed with nostalgia. Though the Greek mythology template will most likely run dry before the sci-fi, Rise, Vulcan Spectre is still an enjoyable and forward thinking album. Guitar solos and complicated passages decorate the halls of this record which both celebrates and progresses the loved style. It is time to finally forget the big four and embrace your new uncles of thrash.

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Crypticus/Scaremaker – Split
January 17th (Selfmadgod Records)

Speaking of album art being the first thing to mention, the Crypticus / Scaremaker split album cover was what struck my interest before I even heard one song. It was not even a question of whether or not I was going to own this, if nothing else I had an amazing cover with accompanying soundtrack. This cover was illustrated by Putrid (AKA Mathew Carr) who has also done fantastic art for Hooded Menace, Acid Witch, and Vacant Coffin. Now on to the music. Crypticus is a Colorado based two piece band affiliated with the often misunderstood Razorback Records label. Much like their label mates, the band is obsessed with horror films, gore stories, and a questionably ironic relationship with the occult. Label representation aside, Crypticus swings like a 200 pound hammer in that it is heavy and unforgiving. For only being a duo the sound is filled out with outstanding quality, leading me to wonder whether or not a death metal solo project would be even more dense. Scaremaker, their partner in crime, is also from the States and tied to Razorback Records. In fact, the label’s owner Billy Nocera is listed as a co-vocalist for the band. Scaremaker brings up the end of this split with a female fronted black/death/trash combination which sounds nothing like what you are thinking. I am always pleased whenever I find female vocals which are as vile and putrid as their male counterparts. Vanessa Nocera (wife to Billy Nocera) lends her vocal talents to other Razorback artists such Wooden Stake and Skeletal Spectre. Razorback may be at the wrong end of many jokes, but their thematic angle and ability to get me to buy their records is phenomenal.

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Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron
January 20th (Season of Mist)

A Dodecahedron is a polygon with 12 sides. A practical use for this shape can be seen in the 12 sided dice used in middle school math classes and more importantly role playing games. The shape has a complex history and even more complicated implications to universal design. The band who has taken its mantle is not a fantasy based power metal band but an angular black metal band with the power to destroy reality. Dodecahedron also uses this same power to fracture the listener’s perceptions of time and space. Many things work in Dodecahedron’s favor. One, they’re perspective on the making of an avant black metal record is filled with terror and progressive dread. Complex scales and timing construct the walls to a structure void of logical reasoning. Despite the level of technical proficiency, the band never falls into a shameless display of showmanship. Dodecahedron never feels the necessity to flaunt their individual skills, rather they collect their strength in an unearthly marathon of horror. Think you can get through a full 52 minutes of metaphysical dismay which transcends both the past and future? Well, then prepare yourself for the 3 part 22 minute closer which offers no guidance and no way for easy escape. This Valentine’s Day will be spent in the catacombs of psychological apprehension.

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Woods Of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
January 31st (Earache)

David Gold founded Woods of Ypres in 2002 along with Aaron Palmer and Brian McManus. Together the three forged a small light in the Canadian metal scene. Woods of Ypres, along with Fuck the Facts, now stand as the most popular names in Toronto based metal. In December of last year, David Gold died in a car accident at the age of 31. Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light was the last record completed before Gold’s passing and is now being released posthumously and possibly as a final record. Within the realm of current events, Grey Skies and Electric Light will undoubtedly leave a resonating legacy.

Compared to the band’s first record, Grey Skies and Electric Light is a different band. Systematically, Woods of Ypres has been embracing a more melodic sound to replace their once dissonant form of black metal. Grey Skies and Electric Light unrolls a full Gothic banner complete with morbid obsessions and curiosities. Despite this, or maybe because of this, every aspect of this record is phenomenal. Grey Skies and Electric Light would have had an emotional impact without the untimely death of David Gold. Because of the tragedy however, the death focused lyrics take on a more profound tone. Songs like “Death is Not an Exit,” “Finality,” and the two part closer “Kiss My Ashes Goodbye” are now transformed into harrowing mortal harbingers. The additional weight on this record came without expectation or deliberation. If this is the last thing we hear from Woods of Ypres, I can not see a more fitting tribute.

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Eluveitie – Helvetios
February 10th (Nuclear Blast)

Melodic folk death Go! There are a lot of things Eluvetie has in their favor. One is their embracing of a melodic death/folk metal hybrid. Another thing is their tendency to sing in Gaulish and focus their imagery on ancient European history. Before the rise of the Roman empire, the Celtic tribes flourished over the greater part of Europe. This of course would change with expansion of bigger and stronger empires. Before the Celtic people were chased onto small islands and had their culture reduced to art vectors and St. Patrick’s day music, they had a period of great innovation and progress. Eluveitie celebrates this notion of ancient history with a brand of folk metal rooted in lore, folk legends, and national ties to a long dead culture. Eluveitie works in the same way as Viking and other Nordic centric metal bands. With a strong focus on an era which predates some sort of modern cultural period, Eluvetie celebrates and romanticizes a time period while still crafting an interesting metal record. Helvetios works because harsh death growls and melodic death guitar lines are used to tell the stories of antiquity. While siding themselves on the side of accessible compared to other bands such as Finntroll and Thyfring, Eluveitie is still obscured by levels of harsh dissonance. In comparison to their previous records, Helvetios is the best album after their much acclaimed Slania. If nothing else, a listener will get a history lesson and possibly ideas for upcoming history papers.

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Earth – Angels of Darkness Demons of Light II
February 14th (Southern Lord)

I think it may be time to stop considering Earth a part of the metal world. This once drone/doom juggernaut has embarked on a voyage through a distortion-less landscape marked by ghost towns and coyote skulls. Earth’s transformation from formless fuzz into clear anthems of longing has been for the better. Since 2005 Earth has been making some of the best records of their career. Whether or not it is “metal” is of course the job for online message boards and opinionated fans. What Earth triumphs in is making the concept of drone interesting. Without the use of imposing distortion, resonance and texture are crafted while still creating a theme of space and atmosphere. Angels of Darkness Demons of Light II is the conclusion to a two part production started in 2010. Recorded at the same time as the first chapter, Angels of Darkness Demons of Light II continues the themes without any surprises or turns. Visual artist Stacey Rozich returns to adorn the cover with brightly covered folk demons. I do not know what is next for this band and whether or not any dramatic changes are in store for the future, especially since they have already reinvented themselves once before.

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Lord Mantis – Pervertor
March 12th (Candlelight)

Sweet Lord, look at that album cover. In terms of artwork, Lord Mantis goes for the most vile and extreme. Lord Mantis one of the periphery bands floating around the dark Midwestern cloud currently occupying the sky above Chicago. With connections to Nachtmystium, Indian, and Avichi, Lord Mantis delivers a massive dose of blackened sludge. The band follows their much neglected and complicated debut with a more clean and streamlined record complete with disgusting album art. Pervertor retains the same intensity but with more accessible guitar riffs and refined percussion. The album is nowhere near radio friendly but it has migrated out of its once noisy abode. Charlie Fell, who has lent his drumming abilities to Nachtmystium, Avichi, and the newly created Von, delivers a punishing black rasp which now comes with extra punctuation admid cleaner atmosphere. Every song on Pervertor is intense from the shortest 4 minutes to the longest at nearly 10. If harsh joyless sludge is the way you would choose to spend your evening, I could not think of a better current option. Additionally, every song comes with its own unique sense of dread. “Vile Divinity,” is perhaps the first trumpet to the coming apocalypse as the song creates a swirling cloud of chaos — currently looming over Chicago. Now if I could only get the image of cunnilingus via crucifixion out of my mind.

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Sigh – In Sominphobia
March 12th (Candlelight)

My only disappointment with Sigh’s newest album is other people’s lack of enthusiasm matched against my own frenzy. For fans of Sigh, specifically those who enjoyed their 2001 carnival Imaginary Sonicscape, a long ten years was endured while the band went through the throes of identity changes. Thrash, death, and avant metal danced in and out of Sigh’s records ending at the bizarre Scenes From Hell. In Somniphobia finally allows the band to do what they do best — get fucking wild. Sigh lifts the embargo on weird and allows every odd fitting musical combination to walk into their front door unhindered. Bagpipes, accordion, smooth jazz, piano sonatas, and more saxophone than you can shake a stick at are allowed to come over and play. The result? An insane sleepover and the best Sigh album in 10 years. My enjoyment for Sigh and subsequently In Somniphobia only comes from years of enjoying the band’s music and thoughtful prayers for weirder albums. I hesitate to recommend this to new comers but why in the hell would you not want to start here?

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Black Breath – Sentenced To Life
March 12th (Southern Lord)

And with this album cover, Black Breath has officially jumped the thematic shark. I do not think the band even knows what time period they belong to or whether or not anything they do is real. Part of my obsession with Black Breath comes from the recent cultural and label fascination with hardcore, crust, and D-beat. Though the isolated metal styles have always enjoyed attention, Southern Lord Records in particular has paid close attention to the style. With releases from All Pigs Must Die, Trap Them, and Dead In The Dirt, metallic hardcore and D-beat seem to be experiencing a hip underground renaissance. Whether or not the fleeting interest in these three genres is over, Black Breath’s follow-up album is full of fury and covered in 80’s horror movie album art. What keeps me interested in Black Breath is their continual ability to create records full of teeth grinding tension. This is 40 minutes of relentless thrash/death destruction. Though the cover, album name, and even band name are all somewhat silly, the dedication to the intersection between hardcore and extreme metal is memorable. Let us destroy this furniture together.

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Upcoming albums of interest not listened to as of yet:

Kreator – Phantom Antichrist (Nuclear Blast)
Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living (Metal Blade)
Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Primum (Neurot)
Municipal Waste – The Fatal Feast (Nuclear Blast)
Meshuggah – Koloss (Nuclear Blast)
Drudkh – Eternal Turn of the Wheel (Season Of Mist)
Cannibal Corpse – Torture (Metal Blade)
Vesperian Sorrow – Stormwinds of Ages (The Path Less Traveled)



2 Responses about “Tape Wyrm XVII – Ten Recent Recommendations”

  • ZeagleFiend says:

    I’ve been meaning to check out Sigh for a while, as you hear a lot about them nowadays. This is the excuse I need, thank you.

  • Also get Hail Horror Hail (1997) and Imaginary Sonicscape (2001). Scorn Defeat (1993) is straight Norwegian black metal… in fact their 1990 demo was a favorite among the inner circle…it wasn’t until 1997 when things started to get weird.