Greetings, Decibel readers.
It’s a somber week for a whole host of reasons, but for the purposes of this column we’ll stick to one related to music. We’ve lost Mark Lanegan, the singer of the Screaming Trees, also renowned for his work with Queens of the Stone Age, Mad Season, and his solo material. While his solo albums have legions of fierce devotees, and rightly so, I’ve always been a dedicated fan of the Trees. The band’s 1992 album, Sweet Oblivion is simply a God-tier rock album, loaded with obvious bangers like “Nearly Lost You,” “Butterfly” and “Dollar Bill.” But the record also contains a wealth of lesser-known gems like the gut-wrenching “More or Less” and irresistible earworms “Secret Kind” and “Julie Paradise.” Likewise, 1996’s Dust holds a well-deserved place as a late-era grunge classic, and the band’s middle years (Buzz Factory and Uncle Anesthesia) contain a lot of great tunes as well. Mark was a brilliant lyricist and his gravely low voice had a character all its own. It’s a voice that will be sorely missed.
Now, on to some new music.
Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero
Death metal’s hottest band brings down the volume but turns up the atmosphere on its latest offering. Taking a page from the likes of Lustmord, Raison D’etre and Atrium Carceri, Blood Incantation opts for an eerie, entrancing, ambient sound on Timewave Zero.
Stream: Apple Music
Brood of Hatred – The Golden Age
Tunisia’s progressive death metal behemoth returns with it’s third album. By turns both brutal and mysterious, Brood of Hatred weaves its riffs into a landscape resembling both the ocean waves of Mediterranean and the endless sands of the Sahara. If you like the techy excellence of bands like Obscura and the off-putting doom of Ulcerate, this is the sound for you.
Stream: Apple Music
Cryptum – Vile Emergence
This is a clear case of the contents matching the packaging. Cryptum plays a style of death metal very similar to the recent wave emanating from labels like 20 Buck Spin: Tomb Mold, Ossuarium, Witch Vomit, and so on. The vile legions of death have a new soldier in the fight!
Foreign Hands – Bleed The Dream
Ok, this is just straight-up pandering to the author here. Foreign Hands is a metalcore band of the style that dominated in the early-2000s, back when breakdowns, good-cop/bad-cop vocals and sideways haircuts ruled the day — and every album had to have birds on the cover. Before djent-inspired compression ruined everything and rendered everyone’s guitar sound totally robotic and toothless. As I was in high school and college at the time, I’m functionally powerless to resist a band that does a good job at replicating the spirit of those days. Nostalgia has its limits, as we’ve seen from the unrelenting waves of neo-thrash, new-old-school death metal and vampyric raw black metal. But at the same time, if it fulfills a need and does it well, can you really knock it? And when a band like this so deftly echoes Poison the Well, Remembering Never and The Bled, I really can’t knock it.
Insineratehymn – Disembodied
I imagine this band got its punny name from the Deicide album, and it’s fitting with the band’s old school death metal style. But the band is no Floridian retread, as the band’s sound hews much closer to groovy Finnish masters like early Amorphis, Demigod and Convulse. Or at least that’s the impression I get.