Barren Altar: in the midst of smoke they are in death.
Barren Altar: in the midst of smoke they are in death.

Welcome to another installment of DEMO:LISTEN, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, black, doom, sludge, progressive, stoner, retro, grind, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s DEMO:LISTEN we return from the spleen of the North American underground with demos from Barren Altar and Amphisbaena.


Just as strange as all those thong-sandal-wearing desert rock dudes stepping on their wah pedals over in Finland, Barren Altar’s lunar cries of tremolo-picked doom agony are coming from happy-go-lucky Santa Rosa, CA. Forever ago in 2014, Barren Altar discretely put their demo A Monument to Endless Suffering online, while Arcane Visions put it out in the form of 50 pro-tapes. Gee, I wonder why none of us heard it? Regardless of when we’re finding out about it, Monument lives up to its heavy name. The trick is Barren Altar crack your skull early, like ten seconds into “Malignant Light” is one of heaviest riffs you’ve ever heard. That way the following moments of volatility, e.g. all the explosive black metal, and/or epic sludge, and/or self-reflective/-loathing post-metal parts seem not only natural, but ingenious. It’s like dating someone and after one really great night together you find out that they’re actually totally insane. But in the end you end up loving them even more for their weird mood swings.

Heads up: Barren Altar is opening for Absu next month in Sacramento. Not one to miss if cruel evisceration by way of extreme metal is your kink.


Being the mythological two-headed snake with a taste for ants and human corpses, Amphisbaena seems a star-crossed name for a band featuring current and ex-members of Antediluvian, Rites of Thy Degringolade, and Weapon. But unlike the creature they named themselves after, Amphisbaena can only go one way: straight into your ears. Although you may see it somewhere described as such, Amphisbaena’s self-titled debut EP is more than just an offering of meta-sadistic, anti-cosmic smothering blackened death. By taking an overall Daedalian approach to writing their songs and supplanting conventional riffs with movements (i.e. not a lot of hot licks or repetition), Amphisbaena’s arrived at something rather fucking artful for a metal demo. Additionally, three of its four members provide vocals and the result is something like a Greek tragedy set in some post-apocalyptic opium den with Haasiophis of Antediluvian cast as the gurgling chorus. Easily the sickest stuff you’ll hear until a new Antediluvian drops, so you better get your pronunciation straight now. Or mispronunciation. However you want to say it, Amphisbaena is a name you ought to get used to.

The Amphisbaena demo comes out soon on tape from Graceless Recordings. You know, that label that put out your two new favorite bands’ demos, Chthe’ilist and Pissgrave?

Check this space next Friday and every Friday for more promising new metal bands!