IN TENEBRIZ – Winternight Poetry

In Tenebriz is one of Russia’s more adventurous extreme metal bands. Rather than just settle for plain old black or death metal, their previous releases have fused black metal elements with bits of drone rock and post-metal, lending an almost cinematic feel to their work. Their 2018 release ‘Winternight Poetry’ is arguably their most adventurous, presenting a seven chapter half hour suite telling the story of Kai, whom upon visiting the kingdom of the Snow Queen, is taken prisoner and forever trapped in a world of permafrost. You wouldn’t know that unless you were told, since – as always with things from a black/extreme metal perspective – the lyrics are hard to grasp without the aid of the written word. For most listeners, it’ll be down to the music to do the talking…and luckily, this release features some great sounds and arrangements, befitting of such a brave piece of conceptual and progressive metal.

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AUTUMNWIND – Endless Fear

Autumnwind isn’t really a band; it’s a huge musical vision where its founder, Abdulrahman Abu Lail writes and plays everything. He uses this one man band as a vehicle for emotional outpouring, in his own words, as a way of “mind-describing” his own feelings through intensive music. This third album makes that theory even clearer by giving its five pieces of music titles which reflect emotive states. The results, as expected, are very heavy, though never so confrontational you’d struggle to listen or, indeed, want to shut off the feelings that Abdulrahman is keen to share.

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BLACKLAB – Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0

BlackLab are a sludge, doom and fuzz metal duo from Japan. Their album ‘Under The Strawberry Moon’ was released in 2017 in a very limited pressing. Recognising their potential to appeal to an overseas audience, UK indie label New Heavy Sounds remixed the album, beefing up the overall sound and subsequently gave it a broader distribution. The resulting ‘Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0’ isn’t just heavy. It isn’t just doomy. It’s positively devastating.

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KUROKUMA – Dope Rider EP

‘Advorsus’, the 2016 debut from UK sludge fiends Kurokuma, was easily one of the heaviest things to be released that year. Since then, the band have played various live shows, one of which was released digitally for posterity; they’ve contributed to a split release with sludge pioneers Conan and even found time to record a Kraftwerk cover. Nobody expected that. With one thing and another, even though it has only been two years, a proper studio follow up from Kurokuma seemed to be a long time coming.

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1968 – Ballads Of The Godless

At the very beginning of 2016, a doom-blues/stoner trio crawled from the wilds of Cheshire and into the ears of an unsuspecting audience. Amping the blues much further than most had dared, their debut EP presented a cornucopia of heavy riffs; their music a fuzzy love letter to metal’s founding fathers. Almost twelve months later, that EP remained almost unsurpassed, marking a place among the year’s finest metal achievements. A year on, the band signed with Black Bow Records – home to Bast and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – for a well received follow up.

2018’s ‘Ballads of The Godless’ – released through HeviSike Records is, well, heavy. Sometimes drainingly so. However, if you’ve already been acquainted with the 1968 sound, the album brings forth plenty of superb riffs; riffs which, when dressed in the band’s signature sludgy sound, have a timeless appeal. Timeless, of course, if you like Orange Goblin, Electric Wizard, Sloburn and Slomatics. As before, if you’re able to see through the heaviness, it also includes some fine, blues tinged sounds that – thanks to a very old-fashioned production style – are a welcome nod to a world of fuzzy analogue grooves in an all too digital age.

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