The Usurper

Noteworthy Metal – February

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #112. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Selections of noteworthy metal.

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This month I have an eclectic mix of stuff for y’all. My metal listening seems to be getting ever more scattershot; I flip through lots of albums waiting for the one that grabs my ear. Hopefully some of these grab your ear, too! Side note: I was going to add the new Windswept album on here but the Drudkh/Hate Forest association puts track names like “Disgusting Breed of Hagglers” in a certain light. Onward:

nuvolascura – nuvolascura
This is hands-down my favorite record this month, so if you’re looking for a quick recommendation here you go. Frequent readers will have long ago noted my love for hyperactive, deliriously melodic screamo in the form of – among others – Asunojokei, who knocked me on my ass last year. nuvolascura is straight-up Loma Prieta-style screamo, meaning blitzing grindcore tempos one second and delicate, dissonant odd-time guitar arpeggios the next. Lyrics like “never content with the body in the mirror/it’s so foreign, i hate it/can i be as i believe myself to be” are exactly the kind of thing I want to hear shrieked in my ear. The Jack Shirley production is lovely, too; up-front and bruising, a sinewy rhythm section wrapped in barbed sheets of guitar noise. Massively recommended from your friend Astrid.

Svartidauði – Revelations of the Red Sword
Dissonant black metal in the later Deathspell mold. Guitar melodies (and a warm, spacious mix) provide a firmer backbone below the chaos here than in the usual avant-garde BM act; I always think it’s silly when writers point out that extreme music has hooks, but sometimes they are more prominent than others.

Miscarriage – Imminent Horror
I don’t really know how to describe this. Grimacing, bass-boosted sludge with vocals that sound like a hundred demons fighting to be heard over a walkie-talkie. Each track is a hissing squall of low-tuned power chords, ritualistic drumming and nightmare screeching. The cover art is absolutely perfect for the abject grotesquerie on display here.

Critical Defiance – Misconception
Thrash metal always has a tinge of trad revanchism to it no matter the degree to which the bands in question play into that stereotype; Chilean quartet Critical Defiance sound less obnoxiously Retro, Dude than your various Joel Grind-style projects despite releasing a record that truly, completely could have come out in 1988. The slightly spongy high-end that mushes all the instruments into a pulsing galloping machine; the constant, brittle guitar cadenzas; the absurdly chunky riffs that blend Death Angel’s The Ultra-Violence with crossover sneer. This is a fucking great thrash record that virtually comes with its own pit. Leave the hesher revival bullshit to the kids and get into some grown-ass thrash.

Warmoon Lord – Burning Banners of the Funereal War
Under a Funeral Moon part two. That’s what this is, no more and no less. I happen to love Darkthrone, so Darkthrone worship is right up my alley. Warmoon Lord have more low-end than those early DT records and if you listen really carefully there are some neat beds of synthesizer and guitar melodies stacked up but they all blend into sheer texture from a distance. Admirably cold, singleminded black metal for the orthodox heads out there.

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Astrid Budgor is a writer and editor living in Florida.

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