Sabbath Assembly - Rites of Passage (2017)

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Continuing their evolution from their earlier concept and musical direction, today we have Sabbath Assembly and their very unique “Rites of Passage” full-length release. Fully settling into their Doomy Psychedelic style, the band forges a very engaging sound that clearly identifies them from the rest and delivers over 44 minutes of intoxicating music.

Opening with the fuzzy bass guitar line of “Shadows of Revenge”, the band instantly immerses the listener into their own unique world. Led by Jamie Myers on vocals, this album sets a very lively tone with a upbeat tempo and solid guitar riffs. Showcasing their versatility, “Angels Trumpets” takes a bit of a different approach, creating a very delirious piece with multiple overlaid vocals and a very disturbing and eerie chaotic vibe.

Tusmörke – Hinsides (2017)

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Hailing from Norway, today we have the return of Tusmörke and their whacky retro mixture of Psychedelic Rock with Progressive elements. With a hearty 60’s/70’s vibe, this release has a very warm and fuzzy sound that is brilliantly complemented by folky rhythms and very fitting vocal arrangements. Slowly refining their sound over the years, the band is still as original and crazy as when we first got introduced to them back in 2012 with their “Underjordisk Tusmørke” release.

Opening with the festive “Hjemsokte Hjem”, the band sets the mood with funky percussions, energetic flutes, very melodic vocal arrangements, and dreamy atmospherics. Moving into more proggy and psychedelic territories, “Rykende Ruin” is a song that slowly progresses with very catchy synths and flutes leading the way. We particularly love how the band layers multiple elements to deliver a very retro and yet unique sound that is unlike any other band these days.

Snares of Sixes – Yeast Mother: An Electroacoustic Mass (2017)

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With several bands rising from the ashes of Agalloch, today we have Jason William Walton’s Snares of Sixes debut EP release “Yeast Mother: An Electroacoustic Mass”. Featuring a wide array of invited guests like Don Anderson (Agalloch) and Andy Winter among others, this release is a truly unique musical experience that is both delirious and yet cohesive. Unleashing four extremely intricate tracks, this release will certainly grab your attention since the first minute.

Nargaroth – Era of Threnody (2017)

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Hailing from Germany, today we have one-man Black Metal battalion Nargaroth delivering one of the best BM releases in the last few years with “Era of Threnody”. Featuring over 60 minutes of demoralizing music, Ash perfectly captures the dark and mystical essence of the genre and delivers ten incisive and punishing songs. With a unique energy and a high level of creativity, this release will haunt you from start to end.

Opening with a haunting combination of acoustic guitar and spoken sections, “Dawn of Epiphany” slowly morphs into a ravaging piece filled with sinister riffs and gut-wrenching vocals. This first track perfectly sets the mood for the melodic devastation of “Whither Goest Thou” and its moody atmospheric passages. As “Conjunction Underneath the Alpha” comes around, Nargaroth showcases an uncanny ability to perfectly blend emotion into their very aggressive BM core, making each track quite unique and demoralizing.

When Icarus Falls – Resilience (2017)

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It has been three years since the band unleashed “Circles” and we are glad they are back with their latest opus “Resilience”. Featuring nearly 40 minutes of suspenseful and engaging cinematic Post-Metal, this release does a great job in delivering a wide variety of moods while immersing the listener’s in the band’s craftiness. While not your run-of-the-mill Post-Metal release, you can clearly see the Neurosis/Amenra influences, but When Icarus Falls makes them their own and delivers another solid effort with this ones.

Opening with the hypnotic “One Last Stand”, we have a very intricate build up that is quite mellow and yet creates enough tension to keep the listener fully engaged. The clean vocals add that extra level of anxiety to the track as the tempo increases, making it quite a unique ad engaging experience. Things get more intense with the pulsating bass guitar line of “Into the Storm”, which slowly continues to get more playful as the track reaches achieves catharsis with harsh vocals and a very climactic ending.

Owler – Soil (2016)

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After a killer debut EP with “Waves” Owler returned in 2016 to unleash “Soil”, a highly melancholic collection of five songs that showcase more maturity and creativity from these Finns. Clocking in at around 30 minutes, this release takes all the elements of their first release and further refines them and integrates them into the band’s own signature style. This music is still highly recommended for fans of bands like Insomnium to The Man Eating Three.

Opening with the soaring vocals of “Storm”, the release kicks off with a very theatrical piece that fully takes advantage of “Juha Simola’s melancholic clean vocals. Things turn a bit darker and doomier with the heavy atmospheric and crushing riffs of “Amend”. We really enjoy how the subtle atmospheric keyboards set the mood for the harsh vocals and slower tempo.

Abazagorath – Disciples of Sacrilege (2017)

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As one of the most revered USBM bands, Abazagorath delivers their latest offering in the shape of a live cassette titled “Disciples of Sacrilege”. Perfectly capturing the band’s raw energy and sound evolution, this tape features the band playing songs from all studio releases. Clocking in around 50 minutes and being highly limited (150 copies); this is an item that cannot be missing in any USBM collection.

Opening with a savage rendition of the 1997’s “Rites of the Black Herald”, we are shown that the band’s three piece line-up means business. While there are small stylistic differences between the songs as the band evolved, tracks like “Ancient Steel” and “Beyond the Veils of Obscurity” are very well updated to the band’s current sound but still retain the quirks that made them brilliant during their heyday.

Ghost Bath – Starmourner (2017)

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Continuing with their impressive momentum after the release of “Moonlover”, Ghost Bath returns on a bigger label and with a more expansive sound in “Starmourner”. Delivering over 70 minutes of soul crushing music, the band continues to evolve with a richer and more diverse sound. Equally pleasing for older and new fans, this release is a perfect continuation of the band’s path.

After the mood setting intro track, the band gets down to business with the incisive lead guitars of “Seraphic” a highly emotional and ravaging track. The onslaught continues with the sheer brutality of the opening of “Ambrosial”. Here we have the traditional shrieks being outlined by pummeling drums, and before you know it the song turns highly melodic and hypnotic with some truly outstanding passages.

Amorphis + Swallow the Sun – 4/6/2017 – Slim’s, San Francisco, CA

With Amorphis finally returning to tour the US, there was no way we would miss going to this killer show. Braving the pouring rain and crappy Bay Area traffic, we managed to make our way up to Slim’s to be in time for the openers: Swallow the Sun.

Hailing from Finland, Swallow the Sun delivered a killer set with their moody Death/Doom / Melodic Death Metal sound. As the only opener, the band had around 45 minutes to deliver their highly melancholic music.

Dynfari – The Four Doors of the Mind (2017)

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Unleashing their most mature work to date, today we have Iceland’s Dynfari and their fourth full-length release “The Four Doors of the Mind”. Delivering over 48 minutes of majestic music, the band finds itself transitioning into more atmospheric and dreamy music than before while retraining some of their aggressive roots.

Opening with the dreamy album title track, the mood is set with a very martial pace and very interesting spoken vocals. The album continues its build-up as “1st Door: Sleep” slowly picks up the pace and the clean guitars give way for heavier distorted riffs, harsh vocals and pummeling drums. Keeping up the intensity, “Sorgarefni segi eg þér” delivers seven-minutes of killer tempo changes and lush melodic passages.

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