Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 01/20/17


Ugh, Fridays. And Thursdays. And Wednesdays. And all the days. Today though, dive ear-first into Tragic Cause, Ekpyrosis, Ashenspire, Absent in BodyExhausted Prayer, Burials, Wrath of EchoesAmbivalenceScience of Sleep and Cross Vault.


Various Artists – Oration MMXVI
Oration Live Festival Compilation | February 20th, 2017

Unless you’re one of the elite 1% who can afford to travel the world on a whim and visit places like Iceland to witness ridiculously stacked metal festivals, you probably missed out on being able to attend the inaugural Oration Festival held in Iceland last year. And honestly, with a lineup like this, I’m not quite sure anyone truly deserves to witness such events in person. With the likes of Sinmara, MisþyrmingSvartidauði, Wormlust, Malthusian, Shrine of Insanabilis, Abominor, Mannveira, and many more all contributing a track each to this compilation, you’re certainly getting a potent dose of some of the most unique black and death metal bands of the past few years. The tracks have been given a studio mix/master, and sound pretty fucking excellent without sacrificing any of the live atmosphere. Featuring 12 tracks, of which only two clock in under 5 minutes, this is the best value you’ll get short of hijacking a flight to Reykjavik.  — Lacertilian.

tragic cause

Tragic CauseNo Restraint
Human to Dust Records | January 27th, 2017

Mix old-school thrash with a hardcore attitude and death metal vocals and what do you get? You get No Restraint by Tragic Cause. This German three-piece chugs and rips through their 9 songs with a pissed-off rage sure to please the bullet-belt crowd and the mosh shorts crowd. There is no reinventing the wheel with No Restrain, but that’s not the band’s goal. The music is simple, fast, and to-the-point. If you don’t like it, Tragic Cause doesn’t care. They just want to knock you over and take your lunch money. RIYL: Sepultura, Jungle Rot, Coldworker  — 365.

Ekpyrosis – Asphyxiating Devotion
Memento Mori | January 23rd, 2017

It’s hard to believe that Asphyxiating Devotion is just a debut album. These nine tracks of bone-sawing, blood-gurgling death metal belie the young band’s relative inexperience, instead sounding like a macabre love letter to all the perverse derivations of this most violent of metal genres. It’s difficult to pigeonhole this album into one particular flavor of death metal, and that’s what makes it so special. You have riffs that sting with a distinctly Swedish sharpness, grooves that stomp your tongue with a characteristically Floridian pungency, and pinched squeals and strained growls that leave a bitter aftertaste rarely found outside the French technical scene. It’s an unwholesome blend, but it makes this new concoction all the more addicting. Do not miss this if you worship death. — W.

116AshenspireSpeak Not of the Laudanum Quandary
Code666 | January 20th, 2017

The world of metal is a relentless, entropic force that expands, contracts, collapses, and spirals into disarray. Quite a ways down that spiral we find Ashenspire, spinning off into the void with every middle finger firing back at us. Their new album Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary angrily laments the dark deeds of British imperialism in a style that utterly resists classification. Instrumentally you might call this progressive and experimental black metal, with flourishes of art music that recalls ages past. Rest assured, however, that the band will take a hard left turn off of whatever tag you might put on it, all while remaining brilliantly engaging through long song structures. Vocally, however, they boldly plows into almost unexplored territory. Vocalist Alasdair Dunn occasionally sings in a full, sonorous mid-range. Most of the time, however, he’s bellowing passionately in a part-singing/part-speaking/part-spewing hybrid. The emotional weight of the musical exploration and the intense, declamatory vocal style drives the subject matter home, theatrically putting mankind’s cruelty center stage while the narrator has gone completely mad, gesticulating wildly behind a podium he’s already torn apart as if to tell us that all hope is lost. — Stockhausen.


Absent in BodyThe Abyss Stares Back #5
Hypertension Records | January 20th, 2017

The Abyss Stares Back #5 is a single 20 minute track featuring Scott Kelly of Neurosis. The track is a deft blending of shoegaze-like textures, industrial drones, and steady grooves. The steady drums and low-end riffs mixed with Kelly’s distinctive voice creates a hypnotic effect on the listener. There is some real beauty in the atmospheric moments of the song that make the 20 minutes not feel like a daunting task. Just when you are at your most content, the song kicks back in and shakes you from your slumber. The Abyss Stares Back #5 is best listened to in your quiet, reflective moments where you can struggle with your inner thoughts. RIYL: Gnaw Their Tongues, Dragged into Sunlight, A Forest of Stars  — 365.

Exhausted Prayer & Burials Burials/Exhausted Prayer Split
Apes Who Looked Up Records | January 13th, 2017

We premiered a track from Exhausted Prayer late last year, and now the split with Burials has arrived in full! The Burials half of the split is just solid weird death metal. It’s prog-ish in the way the guitar dances around with little care for tradition, but the deep growling vocals keep it brutal. The drummer never keeps the same beat for long and his blasting variations are a thing to behold. The split then seamlessly transitions into Exhausted Prayer, who are a little bit less weird and a little more blackened, but the pairing is clearly perfect. When they get to their top speed (like at the end of “Garden”) you can do nothing but whisper “shiiiiiiit” so you can show your appreciation while also not alerting your coworkers. The melodic hooks are strong and reminiscent of Uada-type black metal. You know, the good stuff. Joaquin.


Wrath of EchoesA Fading Bloodline
PRC Music | January 13th, 2017

Do you like Swallow the Sun? good, because Wrath of Echoes sure does. The booming melancholia of Swallow the Sun is in full effect for the Quebeckers. Featuring members of Doom’s Day and Daedalean Complex, strained guitars, whispers mixed with tortured grows, and gentle keys on A Fading Bloodline and gently rock the listener into an utter depression. There is an odd, yet comforting beauty through A Fading Bloodline that keeps the darkness at bay without completely banishing it. If there’s one draw back, it’s that the album only contains 5 songs. Regardless, the dark melodies and sad sounds are pervasive throughout and will leave an impression upon any listener.  RIYL: Swallow the Sun, November’s Doom, feeling bad  — 365.

ambivalenceAmbivalence – Hyena’s Breath
PRC Music | January 3rd, 2017

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Ambivalence, given the combination of their name, album title, and cover art, but I was pleasantly surprised by Hyena’s Breath. A lot of smaller modern-style death metal bands are one-trick ponies with extremely homogeneous and bland, but that’s not the case here. The variety among songs is very welcome, with the band employing speed, heaviness, and groove in equal measure. There’s nothing particularly exemplary about Hyena’s Breath– it’s all pretty straightforward and could have used some guitar solos in my opinion- but it is a brief and enjoyable death metal outing that’s good for a few spins. — Spear.


Science of SleepHellmouth
Bastardized Recordings | November 25th, 2016

While the name may initially bring forth thoughts of a doom-drenched Sabbath-worship band, Germany’s Science of Sleep specializes in brutal deathcore. Their album Hellmouth plays like a covert interrogation scene at a military black site. A cold, dank concrete room with only a single, bare light bulb accurately reflects the unrelenting assault that Hellmouth conveys. Endless chugs, rapid-fire double bass, and mic-in-the-throat vocals pound the listener into submission. The only thing missing is Jack Bauer yelling and running around trying to stop a bomb. Hellmouth is for those that already like the genre as it doesn’t break any new ground. To be fair, that doesn’t seem to be Science of Sleep’s intention. They just want to hurt you real bad. RIYL: Suicide Silence, Thy Art Is Murder, Carnifex  — 365.


Cross VaultMiles to Take
Iron Bonehead Productions | November 18th, 2016

“Epic doom” isn’t a term you hear often, at least not without someone spouting a puff of wacky tobacky smoke in your direction, but Cross Vault‘s Miles to Take is most certainly epic. This German quintet have crafted a wondrous journey of classical doom metal in just the span of two songs. Touches of classical and folk metal swell the the surface, giving the songs a sense of adventure and meaning. The mournful guitars create a beautiful atmosphere that perfectly compliments the soaring vocals, giving Miles to Take a sound the borders almost on a slower version of sognametal. Grab your sword and set out on a quest that will define who you are, all in the name of Cross Vault: RIYL: Tiamat, Candlemass, Lake of Tears  — 365.

Hey you. Yeah YOU. Want to contribute to mini-reviews? Find an album you’ve dug (or not) that preferably hasn’t been reviewed on the blog yet and has been released recently (within the last few months, or year if you’re so inclined), write around 100-120 coherent words about it and send it to toiletminis[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Please include the album’s release date, title, label, a link to the band’s facebook (if they have one), another one to their bandcamp (or any other place to listen to/buy the album if they don’t have one) and any other information/links that you think are relevant and want to include.

Don’t do it for me. Do it for the ghost of the MasterLord.

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  • Population of Iceland: ~332,000
    Black metal bands in Iceland: 4,324,549

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Iceland: Better Than Wherever You Live

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Absent In Body a) sounds awesome, b) has fantastic artwork.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa


    nope, just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

    • Joaquin Stick

      Ashenspire is actually pretty neat! I think it’s one that will take some time to grow on me (those vocals are beyond wacky, but in a really interesting way), but I dig it.

  • If, for whatever reason you want deathcore (Ie: are a poser like i am), Aversions Crown destroy Science of Sleep.

  • Burials / Exhausted Prayer split rules, thanks for reviewing it Joaquin!
    Burials reminds me of Darkane.

  • Howard Dean


    Morbid AngelAltars of Madness
    Combat/Earache Records | May 12, 1989

    One of the top 5 death metal album ever released. Absolutely essential listening. Crushes hopes, dreams, deez nuts, and sometimes cheap domestic pilsner when it’s out with the boys. No fucks given. Take no prisoners. Balls to the wall. (Overused cliche idioms) x ∞.

    “GHOOOOOULLLLS… Attack the church!
    CRUUUUUUUUUSH… The holy priest!
    TUUUUUUURNNNN… The cross towards hell
    WRIIIIIIIIIIIIIITHE… In Satan’s flaaaaaames!”

    • Space Monster W.

      Lemme know if you end up checking out Ekpyrosis. There’s a bit of German death metal (e.g. Vader) in there too 🙂

      • Howard Dean

        I just checked it out! Love the guitar tone. Pretty gnarly when they slow it down with the big break riffs. That’s pretty much exactly how I like my death metal. Good rec!

        • Space Monster W.

          A solid blend of groove and riff!

  • Waynecro

    I’m psyched about Tragic Cause, Ekpyrosis, Exhausted Prayer & Burials, Wrath of Echoes, and Ambivalence. Thanks, bros!