Sunlight’s Bane -The Blackest Volume: Like All The Earth Was Buried
Label: Innerstrength Records
Black metal and grindcore are two of my favorite genres, and when those two get combined, I get pretty excited about the results. The two genres, at least sonically, seem to be a perfect combination, as both are often considered to be pretty abrasive and aggressive, as well as both being known for being extremely fast. Anaal Nathrakh and The Secret are a pair of bands that come to mind that mix the two genres together pretty well, and have released some great records over the years. Michigan’s Sunlight’s Bane are another such band, who also mix in a little bit of hardcore in the vein of Converge and Cursed, to create some truly angry sounding music.
The Blackest Volume: Like All The Earth Was Buried, the latest release from Sunlight’s Bane, is one truly savage record that really hits all the right buttons in the heaviness department. Things can go from blastbeats and black metal shrieks to sludgy, hardcore-influenced riffs at the drop of a hat, but the transitions between sounds are so smooth you almost don’t have time to think about what just hit you. “No Taste More Bitter” is a great example, with the grinding intro reminiscent of Trap Them, which gives way to a nightmarish blackened section with some truly shrill screams, then moves into a militant, hardcore-style marching rhythm, with the vocalist working himself to a fever pitch. I actually got goosebumps, it is truly that intense. As I mentioned, the grindcore elements, have hints of Trap Them and Rotten Sound, while the more blackened moments take on a somewhat old-school tone, though with a much thicker sounding low-end than your usual black metal recording. Album-opener, “Praise The Venom Shield,” really prepares you for what to expect on the rest of the album, and sets the bar pretty high for sheer intensity.
The production allows a lot of feedback to ring out in the mix, giving this record a somewhat live vibe (I’m reminded of Judas Goats and Dieseleaters by Ed Gein), though everything can be heard pretty clearly. Sunlight’s Bane have put together one awesomely fierce record here, and if you like your music angry and violent sounding, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of The Blackest Volume: Like All The Earth Was Buried.
Wiegedood – De Doden Hebben het Goed II
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Label: ConSouling Sounds
Formed in 2014 by members of Oathbreaker and Amenra, Belgium’s Wiegedood play a form of atmospheric black metal that has often been dubbed “post-black,” or “blackgaze.” Always on the lookout for forward-thinking bands, when I saw who was in the band, my interest was immediately piqued. For those that haven’t heard Oathbreaker or Amenra, they are truly two of the most boundary-pushing, atmospheric outfits in hardcore today. Both bands have a penchant for making some truly moody music, and their influence have translated extremely well in De Doden Hebben het Goed II, the second release from Wiegedood.
The music blasts as fast as any respectable black metal release, with some truly dark vibes created by the eerie minor chord progressions that manage to set the mood while making your head spin, due to the speed in which they’re played. Midway through opening track, “Ontzeilling,” some more melodic guitar riffs start breaking through the blackened maelstrom, bringing the fury into a melancholier territory similar to Altar of Plagues, or the more pensive side of Krallice. “Cataract” starts off with a sorrowful clean guitar riff, giving the overall feel of the record another layer of dynamics, which is part and parcel of this genre, and exactly why I love it. Wiegedood even have some droning style vocals that remind me of Attila Csihar’s clean vocals mixed in midway through the title track.
The production on De Doden Hebben het Goed II is absolutely top notch, with a hint of reverb giving everything a slightly ghostly quality, which compliments the atmospheric nature of the music perfectly. Clocking in at close to 35 minutes (give or take), the music flows so well you don’t realize how long you’ve been listening, yet there are plenty of memorable riffs that distinguish themselves throughout the record. If you’re into bands like Ash Borer, The Great Old Ones, and Altar Of Plagues, you’ll definitely want to give Wiegedood a spin.
Ominous Eclipse – The Horde (single)
Location: Ottawa, Canada
So, just to get it out of the way, yes, the artwork is pretty bad. I mean, it’s cool if you’re a teenager drawing it in the back of your notebook, but definitely not as cover art for your album. Even though, as a self-released production you cannot expect them to have the same presentation as an established band, this is the kind of thing that can cost them dearly. As dumb as it might be, people still judge a book by its cover, and artwork like that might lead someone to think that the music contained therein is just as much of an amateur job as that drawing.
As far as death metal goes, the music put forward by Ominous Eclipse is a bit all over the place. The one track contained in this single, spanning 7 and a half minutes, seems to have as its sole purpose attempting to demonstrate everything that these guys are capable of, without actually making up their minds and coming up with a decision as to what it is that they want to do. Don’t get me wrong; it is not bad, but it’s also not consistent.
The song seems to combine elements of melodic death metal bands like Arch Enemy and Children of Bodom, like the fast picking that opens the track and the growling vocals, with the grandiosity of Dimmu Borgir in some sections, and the pig-squealing vocals and machine-gun drumming of brutal death metal in others. They combine together in an OK fashion, but they mostly come off as a sampler of the versatility of the players, and not so much as a coherent effort.
It is evident that, as a band, Ominous Eclipse is made up of talented performers. The question is whether they can focus that talent towards what they’re really good at, and create something memorable.