A one man project from Italy, Scurìu set out to convey the darkest musical interests of its creator. An early demo released during the pandemic lockdown of 2020 introduced a small group of listeners to a sound that blended classic doom metal with traces of black metal harshness, and a vocal that almost seemed to channel Love Among Freaks’ ‘Berzerker’. If it weren’t for the presence of some great riffs and atmospheric spoken word passages, it might have even sounded like a comical pastiche of the extreme subgenres, but somehow – despite a wilfully lacking budget, truly home grown stance, and lack of actual songs – the recordings had something about them that pulled in the listener. It says a lot about how durable Cathedral-esque riffs can be, and how extreme metal’s insular and sometimes truly claustrophobic feel will hold up against less than ideal recording circumstances.
At the beginning of 2022, the world found itself in complete turmoil. Humanity was still battling against the coronavirus pandemic – something that’d threatened to kill everyone – and an escalating war between Russians and Ukraine led to a worldwide tension, fuelled by a power hungry dictator with his finger hovering over the metaphorical self-destruct button. With everyone effectively amid a new cold war, there didn’t seem many reasons to remain positive. Adding to this palate of complete dread and fear, environmental issues were still of a massive concern. The world was now a ticking time bomb in more ways than one.
Drawing attention to those environmental issues that appeared to have taken something of a backseat during the year’s first quarter, US one man band Breaths and Sweden’s Dimwind teamed up for a split release featuring material specifically focusing on the vitally important issue. Amid the two lengthy workouts on their ‘Seasons’ EP, the message of eco-preservation is sometimes telegraphed almost as clearly as the massive riffs themselves, and the results are both harrowing and intensely brilliant in equal measure.
Between 2015 and 2017 German trio Zeit carved themselves a niche within the world of extreme metal with three enjoyable – if challenging releases – that fused black metal intensities with an almost industrial abrasiveness. Further releases combined the black metal elements with heavier and doomier riffs, very much showing a band willing to stretch out without any concession to lightening up.
2020 was a busy year for progressive/melodic death metal act Ewigkeit. Their critically acclaimed 2019 album ‘Disclose’ basically set multi-instrumentalist James Fogarty on a roll of creativity and he filled the following year with a wide array of works. The follow up album ‘Scarscape 2.019’ fused Ewigkeit’s distinctive progressive death traits with a science fiction concept that was far less uptight than Arjen Lucassen’s works, before a follow up EP (‘XXIII’) flipped all expectations by dumping the aggression and indulging more of Fogerty’s classic metal influences on a far more melodic disc. He then closed the year by recording some of his angriest sounds to date – material scheduled for release in January ’21 as the ‘Depopulate’ EP.
Norwegian black metal band Mork return in March 2021 with their fifth full lrngth album, ‘Katedralen’. Ahead of the album, the band have shared a new video clip for the lead single ‘ARV’, which contrasts fairly typical scratchy vocals with a Sabbathy doom riff to create an intense slab of extreme Scandinavian metal.