Phantom Winter – Sundown Pleasures

I really like the direction the band has gone with this album. Their last record was much more on the heavy sludge side, with some atmo sludge elements, and here they go much more on the atmo sludge side, with very heavy sludge elements. I really enjoy the sort of soaring, climactic approach to a dirty, heavy sludge album. Songs like The Darkest Clan embody this more than anything, giving a sort of grander scale to the album, rather than staying close at home with the heavy sludge riffs. The album just feels larger this way, and the experience is much more unique than if they had just played loud and proud.

Hence why the first track is so inexplicably mediocre. Phantom Winter introduces the album by playing this noisy, chaotic sludge track, that tries to masquerade as atmo sludge. The doesn’t work, and makes the fact that the entire rest of the album doesn’t follow this trend all the more confusing, especially considering the consistent quality of the other 5 tracks. I think all Phantom Winter needs to do is give their 110% for a full album, and maybe up the time to around 45 minutes rather then 40, and they’re be approaching the 9/10 category. Really enjoyed this, some of the best atmo sludge this year.


8.25/10

Blood Incantation – Starspawn

A weird, yet pleasantly refreshing mixture of OSDM and tech death, while combining atmospheric and prog elements to create this otherworldly beauty. Echoes of Timeghoul and Mithras are apparent, albeit this record is much cleaner then either. I feel like the one thing I wasn’t really thrilled about was how directionless the tracks could be at times. It seems like there were moments where the music just sort of meandered, lazily arriving to it’s destination after much slacking off on tangents. In a way, this makes me feel like I’m having a space exploration, searching unknown worlds for what they hold. Starspawn and Meticulous Soul Devourment in particular give a much slower and calmer view of the album, whereas the other tracks are generally much more violent in nature. I really love how I can hear the environment of the planet in the music, like I’m going through and audio guided tour of some intergalactic hellhole.

While the 34 minute runtime isn’t really bad per say (think it’s actually around the perfect time for this kind of album), I think the first track is just overly long and lacks the necessary diversity for it’s length. It’s kind of funny how part two of Vitrification of Blood packs in twice the amount of imagination as it’s first part, while being half the length. This is especially concerning as that first track takes up a full third of the album. However it doesn’t take enough away from this album for me to not give it a fantastic score, as this easily one of the top death metal records this year.


8/10

Spirit Adrift – Chained to Oblivion

Fantastic doom metal, held back only by it’s lack of “off button”. It basically is full throttle, tear jerking emotions the entire record, which yes, the vocals especially are soulful as all hell, but for it’s length especially it wears on you a bit. The songs sound pretty similar as well. Still awesome for what it is, haven’t heard a great trad doom record this year until now.


8/10

Throes of Dawn – Our Voices Shall Remain

Absolutely gorgeous. Immensely melancholy, sad, soothing, and smooth. It’s like hearing your hands run through silk. I love all the little bit and pieces they put into each track to make them interesting, like the saxophone on One of Us Is Missing, or the piano throughout the album. It runs a bit long, and I feel like it has a little bit too much of a “putting you to sleep” vibe, but it’s lovely none the less. Very relaxing if anything else.


8.5/10

Pulczesar – Pulczesar

Absolutely fantastic album. Great riffs, creative and fantastic guitar work, and god damn I love those vocals. This is stoner doom done just about as well as you possibly could, at just about the perfect length. I feel like the last track is a bit of a waste, but Guilt Heavy as the Universe is just so fucking good that it makes up for that. I’m really surprised at how awesome this is for a free download, these guys need to start charging for music this good.


8.75/10

https://pulczesar.bandcamp.com/releases

מזמור [Mizmor] – Yodh

This album is like porn in musical form to me. It’s got the perfect combination of aggressive, somber, evil, and reflective content that I crave in every album I listen to but never get. They combine their influences near perfectly (although I can’t really agree that i hear drone metal in this), and the only reason this doesn’t get a higher score is that they didn’t do anything “extra” to really wow me. This is still an absolutely amazing album, if anything because they managed to make an hour long album not feel long in the slightest. Track 3 is a masterpiece. If you like blackened doom at all, this is a MUST listen.


9.25/10

https://mizmor.bandcamp.com/