INRAIN- “Rhyme Disarray Destination” Official Song Premiere

The Indonesian attack is at it again through Eastbreath Records with a band this time called INRAIN.  Now if you’ve been paying attention, ER has been signing more technical bands and that’s what the record label looks to be focusing on.  Now, let’s shift gears to something really groovy and straightforward shall we?  I have been gifted one track titled “Rhyme Disarray Destination”.  Holy crap, it grooves. It’s a solid modern take on death metal, with the energy and emotion some bands in the genre lack sometimes.  The drumming is on point, and the vocalist just rips.  The guitar lead is melodic, and an unexpected melodic progression underneath it just to change things up.  Then, it kicks back into full gear.  I dig the track, and hope you do too. You can check out Eastbreath Records right here for all your INRAIN needs. While you’re at it check out the rest of their impressive and growing roster…..must I say the Indonesian Artisan Era? Only time will tell. Stay brutal and stay tech!




Phobiatic to Release Fourth LP

With three full lengths and an EP under their belt, German death metal project Phobiatic are almost ready to release another. Founded in 2008, Phobiatic boats members of other projects like Warfield Within, I Despise, and Fake Idyll. The death is strong with these other projects as well.

The influence of death metal giants like Suffocation, Origin, Cryptopsy and Dying Fetus are heavy amongst their discography, but don’t let statement form a bias against them. Phobiatic offer their own flavor of technical death metal, but don’t think for a minute that their complexities take away from the brutal foundations of their music.

When I asked drummer Kai Bracht about Phobiatic’s upcoming release, he said that they’ll still offer a high level of technicality, but are bringing other metal influences into their material.

Their newest jams are currently in their mix/master stage, but for now, you can catch Phobiatic’s three previous LPs and their EP, as always, on their bandcamp. I’m stoked to hear what goodies they’ve got cooking and we wish them the best of luck with their hunt for a record label worthy of their material.

Interview; Levi Dale, The Ritual Aura 2019

Amidst the sea of generic, run of the mill promotional crusades, The Ritual Aura‘s Levi Dale has devised a rather interactive game of sorts in anticipation for the band’s third album, Velothi.  Curious as I was, Levi was kind enough to let me pick his brain about the new record, the campaign, and a few other things. Have a look!

Dave Jurenovich: What’s your musical background and how you were brought up artistically?
Levi Dale: I started playing guitar when I was 11, so 14 years ago now – mostly self-taught, and it just took over my life for a very long time. My mum has a pretty good taste in music so I was exposed to a lot of it growing up, lots of rock and metal with bands like Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. As tastes got heavier I was introduced to technical death metal and it completely flipped my perception of what you could do with music and guitar.
I pretty much knew then and there that was what I wanted to be doing, no questions asked.

DJ: What inspired you to begin The Ritual Aura?
LD: TRA started as a creative outlet for the music I was writing in 2012/13 – my first serious attempt at writing a record – which eventually became our first album; Laniakea.
I met some great musicians in the process and it all just went from there. We shared similar goals and got along really well, all just wanting to create interesting music and push what we can do.

Vick Sacha: Out of the vast array of music you could be playing, why death metal?
LD: The immense creative freedom and diversity within the genre is something that really stands out to me, yes there are stylistic conventions we tend to gravitate towards, but people are constantly finding new and unique ways to push the boundaries; through various sub-genres and styles there’s always a god-tier gem of an album to discover right around the corner, and the quality is only getting better each year.
I also just really enjoy writing and playing interesting material, so it was either this or… I don’t even know what I’d be doing, probably classical music.

VS: You’ve concocted a rather interesting and elaborate PR campaign for your newest release, Velothi. What inspired you to send your fans on a crypto-historical scavenger hunt?
LD: A big inspiration for it was Cicada 3301 and their yearly puzzles, alongside some other ARGs I had come across through the magic of Youtubeland.
The whole idea of an alternate reality game is really interesting to me, so I just started planning puzzles, not really expecting much. I ended up spending days on it, and eventually was confident enough to put it out there.
It also gave us another means of interaction with the community, which is always welcome.

VS: Your campaign has been up for a little over a week. So far, has the response been what you were expecting? What do you predict for the future outcome?
LD: Seeing everyone work together to solve the clues has been both humbling and amusing – you guys are awesome.
The feedback so far has been great, people have solved each tier in 24 hours or less, so I may have to kick things up a notch for the final stretch..


VS: What correlation does said scavenger hunt have to do with the album’s content?
LD: While it’s not massively intertwined with the record itself, certain puzzles serve as a way to introduce people to album-relevant lore and point them in the right direction for reading material, should they want to learn more.
I’ve scattered a few things in there that’ll make a LOT more sense when the album drops. Little hints and previews are everywhere!

DJ: What can you say about your upcoming album and what sets it apart from the rest of your library?
LD: Velothi is easily the most experimental and ambitious record we’ve done so far, from the change in approach to writing, to the sheer amount of guests and styles woven into things, everything has been scaled up since Tæther.

VS: The date of your upcoming release’s date is still ambiguous, and 2019 is far from over. When do you think you’ll announce a release date? Or does the answer to that lie within your PR campaign?
LD: People have been really patient regarding a release date, and I should finally be able to shed light on that in the coming month or so. The goal is early to mid-year, and with recent developments on vocals and mixing of the record I’m pretty confident we’ll be finished sooner than that.

VS: Do you want to talk about any session musicians you’ve recruited on this record?
LD: Currently there are 11 session musicians spread across Velothi – by far our largest guest-list yet.
This album introduces several new instruments and styles into the TRA palette, from violin/viola (Ryan Cho) and operatic vocals (Adrianna Tentori), to nylon (Nick Padovani) and fretless guitar (Fountainhead).. just to name a few.
Everyone has done an incredible job with their parts and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

VS: I can’t imagine that you’ve stopped writing, so how far into your next release are you?
LD: Nothing is really concrete yet, I’m still looking at candidates for lore/concepts beyond Velothi, but have a couple of ideas.
Prior to writing our last album I immersed myself in Japan’s folklore for a few months and the stories that really stuck became ideas for songs, which lead to inspiration for the music itself.
I generally prefer to start with the story and themes before writing any music.
Velothi was pretty much the same story, so there’ll probably come a day soon where I sit down and work out where to take things next.
If you break each album down so far, we’ve covered sci-fi, horror, and fantasy – so i’d like to continue the trend and mix things up again next time.

VS: You announced late last year that Velothi would be released on your own label, Ire Harvest. What were the deciding factors that led you to start your own label?
LD: I started Ire Harvest following TRA’s departure from our previous label, to serve as a dedicated platform for the projects I’ve been working on/plan to release in the future, and eventually help other bands with a bit more experience under my belt.
In the time TRA has been active I’ve handled a lot of the background work, and figured if I’m already doing it I may as well be building something that has the potential to grow into its own entity and maybe help other people out one day.

VS: Can you briefly talk about why you took on Lūmenwood as the second band on your roster?

LD: Lūmenwood is a side-project I’ve had in the works since late last year, alongside Brandon J. Iacovella – the other guitarist in TRA and riff-vanguard in Proliferation. We’ve since completed the line-up for a debut, featuring some excellent musicians, and the material we’ve put together so far is sounding great.
Hearkening back to the previous question – giving Lūmenwood a platform from the very beginning also helps with insight from a label perspective, regarding the problems I might encounter that TRA is perhaps beyond running into.
Murphy’s law in full effect and all.

DJ: Do you think you’ll ever play any shows in the future?
LD: We have in the past for special occasions (like the launch of Tæther), so I wouldn’t rule it out moving forward.
Currently we’re spread across 4 different continents though, so albums are and will likely always be the main focus, but if the stars aligns we’ll be there!

VS: The lot of you are still fairly young, as is The Ritual Aura itself, what does the future hold for you?

LD: I feel like we have a LOT of ground left to cover as far as writing music goes.
Velothi continues the tradition of a paradigm shift between records, one we’ve strived for with each album so far, and will continue to aim for in the future – this really helps keep things fresh and interesting as time goes on. Maybe next album will be about cake! Who knows? and that’s exciting!

VS: Any last comments, questions or concerns?
LD: Thank you for the great questions!
I hope you and your readers enjoy Velothi when it finally drops, it’s been a blast putting it together these past 2 years, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it.

New single coming very soon! Solve the puzzles to hear it early.. much love <3

And I cannot thank Levi enough for taking the time to answer. You know the drill, guys. You can find all of The Ritual Aura’s music on bandcamp and a bunch of other music platforms. Any additional details will be posted when we know them. And most definitely keep your eyes peeled, your quest is not yet over.

Continuum release ripping single “Release From Flesh And Blood” from upcoming album


Tech Death shredders Continuum have just released a single “Release From Flesh And Blood” from their upcoming album “Designed Obsolescence”.  It’s a shredder, for sure.  A huge addition I believe in the band is adding Inanimate Existence drummer Ron Casey to the throne, who I think stands out big in the song.  Being an Alleagaeon fan, Riley fronting the band on vocals is pretty sweet.  The guitar work is ever so fabulous between Chase and Ivan, ripping it up with some sweet riffs between the band’s insanity.  Their debut album was solid, and am not disappointed in the new single. They did get to play some shows in support of the first album, and would like to see them try again for “Designed Obsolescence”.  I’m super excited to hear what the lads have in store for the rest of their second album.   Pre orders will be live at the end of the month through their label Unique Leader Records.

Here’s the statement from the band Facebook page:

“New song up now along with artwork and tracklisting for “Designed Obsolescence” out February 22nd!
Santa Cruz, Ca based technical death metal behemoths Continuum have unveiled the album art and track listing for their brilliant, mind bending, and absolutely unrelenting sophomore album Designed Obsolescence, which they will unleash on February 22nd.

PRE-ORDERS GO LIVE JANUARY 22ND (bundles, vinyl, cds, merch)…

Designed Obsolescence was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Zack Ohren at Castle Ultimate Studios and features nine violent, incredibly technical, and endlessly engaging tracks which showcase how the group, which features current and former members of Animosity, Deeds of Flesh, Decrepit Birth, Allegaeon, possess an otherworldly command of the genre. Drums were recorded by new member Ron Casey (Inanimate Existence, ex-Brain Drill, ex-Rings of Saturn) whose surgically precise playing is the perfect complement to band’s technical prowess. Artwork was created by the incredible Par Olofsson.

Guitarist Chase Fraser commented on the album, “We’re really excited to release our second record for Unique Leader Records. I feel like this album incapsulates the feel of our first album while adding many more layers and expanding on the concept of what Continuum can do as a

Designed Obsolescence track listing:

1. Theorem
2. Release from flesh and blood
3. A History Denied
4. Designed Obsolescence
5. All Manner Of Decay
6. Autonomic
7. Into The Void
8. Remnants Of Ascension
9. Repeating Actions”


Blood And Thunder- The Necromancers Cantos


Blood and Thunder (inspiration from Mastodon, I’m going to ignorantly assume who I love) is a killer melodic death metal band who released their latest EP this past November “The Necromancers Cantos”.  Blood thirsty bears, naked women with green hair…..pretty gnarly right? Time to focus on the music, I don’t want to know where your messed up minds are gonna go so let’s stay on topic.  These guys drew me in with a polished, heavy and obviously very melodic sound.  The keyboards are used so intelligently and swiftly where it occasionally harmonizes with the guitar on some leads. It isn’t cheesy in the sense of it’s super up front like a terrible 80’s band,  the synth and keyboard are in the RIGHT spots on the EP.  Yes, there are parts where it’s the leading melody in sections occasionally but it isn’t overused.



Ryan Yancey – Drums / Vocals

Nick Hughes – Bass

Damian Boger- Keyboards

Major Bruno- Guitar

Michael Anthony- Guitar

Oh, and as you can see their drummer is their vocalist….which is not easy to do, by the way.  How cool is THAT? The guitar tandem of Bruno and Anthony is dynamic and have well written parts.  I already touched on the synthesizer and keyboard talent of Damian, but Ryan seems to be the gravy on the mashed potatoes.  His voice has a nice range of a low enough guttural, and those higher growls you tend to hear in melodic death metal.  His drumming is equally as impressive, to boot.  The guys have already opened up for stellar acts such as Amorphous, Dark Tranquility, Moonspell and Omnium Gatherum (by the way that was all in one show!).  You can also add Koorpiklani, Ensiferum and Becoming The Archetype to that list as well.  Don’t worry, they’ve also headlined plenty of shows in their existence which is just reaching over a decade since they started the machine in 2008.

If you’re into melodic death metal, with a bit more melody and harmony than usual Blood and Thunder will fit that to a tee.  “The Necromancers Cantos” is a solid EP with lots of energy and is pretty heavy as well.   The Seattle based band is just another testament to the Midwest and Northwest metal explosion of some great newer bands. Check out the EP just about anywhere on any streaming platform or digitally.


And what a massacre it was! Man, the last time I saw Bug Jar that packed, it was 1349!
It was awesome walking into a packed bar, supporting a local metal lineup. Initially, I was unsure about the turnout, but I was wrong in ever doubting Rochester to begin with. It was extra sweet seeing all of friendly faces from my neck of the woods who also made the trek out.

Death/ grind/ noise amalgamation Sulaco busted open the night and god damn, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a crowd get as rowdy as the one for them did last night. The floor was packed, and it was difficult to move. Unless you were front and center, of course. The pit even got a little too out of hand when a rogue crowdsurfer latched himself onto the light rig, broke it, and landed hard on the floor. I think I saw him get up and mosh a bit later, I sincerely hope he’s okay. And I hope he didn’t hurt too bad this morning.


Utica NY’s premiere prog/death quartet Inhumatus once again demonstrated their outstanding musical prowess, and kept the energy flowing in the room. Have I told you how stoked I am to hear new music from these guys? Oh, I did? Well, you should keep an eye out for these guys anyway, I’ve heard some clips of riffs, and their impending new record already sounds quite promising.

And then, Ancalagon. Do I even need to tell you about Ancalagon? By now you should know that Rochester’s meloblack giants never disappoint. But Friday night, frontman Matt brought with him a +1. Can you guess what what was in his small wooden crate? Seeing these guys do what they do best was absolutely the best way to close out live metal this year.  This whole show was. And I couldn’t have been happier.


I might have one more article to churn out in the next couple days, but in case I don’t end up finishing it, I hope y’all had as much of a stellar year as I had. I am forever grateful for everyone’s support. I love you all, and you will certainly see (and hear) more of me in 2019. ♥♥♥♥

So, did you touch the octopus?

Dante’s Theory- Playing Fields Of Bloodshed

Again, I’m gonna weird y’all out but my bacon loving heart is growing larger and larger for our asian metal brothers.  This time, this band isn’t from Indonesia for a change.  Dante’s Theory shreds in Singapore, and hot damn.  They’re very energetic and entertaining.  It’s not too modern for me that it’s a deathcore disaster (I don’t like the core subgeneres, sorry kids!) but in fact very, very flavorful.  The vocals are passionate and the driving force along with the band’s drummer.  The band released their latest song “Playing Fields Of Bloodshed” all the way back in September on the 26th.  It is part of a 2 song EP titled  “Deconstruct”.  You can check out the band’s music, as well as the aforementioned song below.  I hope you guys dig the song! I sure as heck did!


Vocals – Remy
Guitars – Syaz
Bass – Aaron
Drums – Karsten




Septicemic to Release New Single

For fans of First Fragment, Beyond Creation, Inferi, The Zenith Passage

Almost a year after releasing their first EP, Raleigh based tech quintet Septicemic will be releasing a new single on the first day of 2019. However, lead guitarist Josh DelVendo was kind enough to allow me an early listen.

“Kallara B” is a quick track, but don’t let its duration fool you. From the get-go, it throws you around with fast pace blastbeats and riffage that remain consistent throughout the song.  Vocalist Derek Wertz has a solid range, from dirty highs to lows, some pig-like squeals, and a myriad of tones in between.

What I like the most is that this song has no extra “stuff”- no extra instrumental layering, minimal vocal layers, no symphonic orchestral section, no miscellaneous sound clips. Just some guys, their instruments, and their superb musicianship.

I’ve jammed “Kallara B” several dozen times already, and I’ve found myself air-drumming half the time. If you’re into fast, unrelenting techdeath, Septicemic is absolutely for you.

My only beef is that I wish the song was longer. I feel like it’s only the first segment in a ten minute epic; a behemoth track that would carry its strength and weight throughout its course, laying waste to its listeners.

BUT! Don’t underestimate this song or this band; “Kallara B” is just a small taste of what Septicemic is capable of. You can preorder the single here. It’d be wise to keep your eyes on these guys, there may just be a full length on the horizon. For the time being, you can jam their EP, Vrykolakas, which is also pretty damn sweet, right here on their bandcamp.


Vick’s EOTY Pics 2018: Part II

Earlier this year I wrote a brief list of some of my favourite releases of the first half of 2018. Primarily because I knew how many more incredible releases were to come, and I knew that if I didn’t mention at least a few of the earlier ones, I’d forget most, if not all of them, by December. Especially since most of these bands are completely new to me.

And it’s tough, because there have been SO MANY incredible releases this year, and I know that even now I won’t be able to delve beyond the tip of the iceberg. I’m still learning about albums that dropped six months ago that I had zero clue about before now. And unfortunately, I still gravitate to only about six albums at a time.
*I didn’t include EPs on this list because god damn do you really want to read through another 1000 words? Nah, didn’t think so.

So alas, here are a few more that were just positively exceptional; the ones that reached up from the abyss, grabbed me by my ankles, and pulled me under until I was 20,000 leagues beneath.

Clavicus Vile; The Nightspirit’s Call– Clavicus Vile is difficult to place in any one particular subgenre; I suppose they are technical/ progressive death metal but they bring so many more elements to the table, especially in their first LP, The Nightspirit’s Call. The first track, “Seek What is True, lures you in with a tribal, Middle Eastern instrumental orchestral piece before the next track grabs hold with a techy black riff and some raw black metal highs, but throws you in a different direction with a beautiful and melodic solo. The next track, “Multiversal Overlords” slings you around again with a sweet, chuggy riff overlayed with some nasty sweeping. And then the low gutturals. And simply, that’s the course of the whole album. When you think you know what’s coming, Clavicus Vile throws another trick out of their sleeves. These guys are so underground it hurts, but I hope that even this article will garner them a couple more fans. Even with just one release, Clavicus Vile has proven themselves to be such a stellar project, and without question, I look forward to seeing what other magic they can craft.
Favourite Track: “The Architect of the Hourglass”, just when you think it’s over, it’s not. It’s a stunning example of their outstanding musicianship, and willingness to experiment, even within just one track.

Clavicus Vile

Yatin Srivastava Project; Chaos // Despair– Sahil from Demonstealer/ Demonic Resurrection pumped this album quite a bit, and I figured I could trust his judgement, so I checked it out. Most of the album had to grow on me, but all it took was one song to get me to play this LP on repeat for hours at a time. With secure foundations in progressive rock, but with a good amount of metal influence, and a hint of Indian influence, Chaos // Despair will take you on a roller coaster of emotions and musical styles from ambient acoustic to djenty breakdown, and everything in between.
Favourite track: “Ozone”; this track was love at first listen for me. The progression of the track and the emotion it conveys is outstanding. The ending is a little unexpected, but it polishes the song off perfectly. It was cool to hear his songs with singing, as his previous release was all instrumental.

Yatin Srivastava

GorodGorod; Æthra-I feel like this album was painfully overlooked, especially with bands like Beyond Creation, Hate Eternal and Arsis all releasing new records around the same time. This French prog/tech/death quintet has actually been around since the late 90s and have since solidified themselves as prog/tech giants amongst the death metal crowd.  One of the “big name” metal site compared this album to works by Protest the Hero and BTBAM, as if those were bad things. But I feel that Æthra has more of a The Human Abstract/ Nocturne vibe, with a little added chaos. Which isn’t a bad thing, it just helps add to the diversity of the tracks.
Favourite track: “Bekhten’s Curse”, and “Goddess of Dirt”; It’s tough when each track has something amazing to offer, but these two stuck out for me. Both songs perfectly piece a fair amount of technicality with incredible rhythms that make it incredibly difficult not to jive to. Julien Dereys’ vast vocal range is remarkably exhibited in these two tracks, but he does have a few other tricks throughout the course of the album.


Inertia; Teratoma– It’s no secret that local techdeath trio Inertia have released the best album out of Buffalo this year. Teratoma undulates between sultry, jazzy and very emotional to technical and chaotic yet brutal to 100mph-fist-in-your-face breakdowns. I know, I know, I’m not huge on breakdowns anymore, but I’m a sucker for well written and well placed ones, very much like the ones scattered throughout this album. Simply put, the musicianship is purely outstanding. Inertia are another band that proves that you don’t have to sacrifice intricacies and repose for brutality- you can do it all, and do it exceptionally. Since it’s release, Teratoma has repeatedly lured me in like the sirens of myth, and I so willingly allow myself to be beguiled by this record.
Favourite track: “Cotention”, I know its an 8+ minute track, but the last minute of the song is 100% worth it. It’s actually worth jamming the whole record. No spoilers on this one, just do it, if you haven’t already. Those that have already know what I’m talking about.


The Ocean Collective; Phanerozoic I: PaleoziocPhanerozoic I: Paleozioc– I’m actually pretty disappointed in myself that I’ve never bothered to check these guys out until this release. Since their birth in 2000, The Ocean have spawned quite an impressive discography, including eight full lengths, Phanerozoic being the most recent.  It chronicles the current geological eon, and the earliest era within the eon. But one doesn’t need to be fluent in the terminology or concepts to enjoy surfing the emotional tsunami this album manifests. Sure, the songs can be long and sludgy, but don’t think for a second that that equals monotony.  The Ocean incorporate a lot of variety, and even when a riff might start to get repetitive, intricacies are dropped in to recapture your attention. Their musicianship is outstanding and offers a solid range of progression and atmosphere, all the while still being heavy. Phanerozoic is surely a prog kid’s must have. But beware, this is just the first in the Phanerozoic chronicle, and it would be wise to keep an eye out for the next chapter in this saga.
Favourite track: “Cambrian”, The way the first track transitions into the second is absolutely seamless, and is an incredible start to your trip through the Eon. These two tracks are a solid example of what The Ocean are capable of, but beware to not underestimate them.

The Ocean

Torturous Inception; Arcane Dominion– Not all brutal death was created equal. One of my favourite things about the subgenre is its consistency, but with that comes an incredible amount of redundancy.  And I think there’s something to be said for brutal death bands that shape many more facets than just deep gutturals, chugs and blast beats, and Torturous Inception does precisely that. Every bit of every song fits together perfectly; every vocal pattern and blast beat compliment each riff flawlessly. My only beef is that it’s a rather quick album, so once you’ve fully immersed yourself, you’re pulled back up to the surface to hit “play” again. This was the last of all of my most anticipated albums this year, and I was certainly not left disappointed.
Favourite track: “Silhouette Visions”, the rhythm in those riffs have me headbanging the whole time, moreso than the rest of the album. And Tyler Lauer’s vocals don’t disappoint either; his consistency and range are just unbelievable. I anticipate seeing more of these dudes in 2019.

Torturous Inception


The “Honourable Mentions”:
There were so many albums that came out this year that I love, but of course there were ones that I loved more than others. Those up there were the ones that just grabbed me and refused to let me go. These next few didn’t quite have that grasp, but I cannot deny their greatness.
Beyond Creation; AlgorythmObscura; DiluviumXenosis; Devour & Birth | Sulaco; The Prize | Bloodtruth; Martyrium |Behemoth; I Loved You at Your Darkest | Augury; Illusive Golden Age | Spectral; Neural Correlates of Hate | The Beast of NodVampira: Disciple of Chaos | Torn the Fuck Apart; Genetic Predisposition to Violence |Mass Casuality; Preparing the Dead | Aborted; Terrorvision | Post Mortal Possession; Perpetual Descent | Hate Eternal; Upon Desolate Sands | Arsis; Visitant | Stillbirth; Annihilation of Mankind | Irreversible Mechanism; Immersion | Halothane; A False RealityImperial Triumphant; Vile Luxury | Burial in the Sky; Creatio et Hominus | Bloodshot Dawn; Reanimation | Xenobiotic; Prometheus | Deadborn; Dogma Anti God | Cosmic Atrophy; The Void Engineers | Posthuman Abomination; Transcending EmbodimentAethereus; Absentia | Parius; The Eldritch Realm | Oubliette; The PassageSerocs; The Phobos/ Deimos Suite

The Disappointments:
Fortunately the only album that really bummed me out this year was Soreption‘s Monument of the End. Now, I love both Engineering the Void and Deterioration of Minds, and I love the kind of unique sound they’ve developed for themselves. But I feel like Monument is just an mediocre regurgitation of the two previous records. The vocal patterns are incredibly similar, the song structures are also very similar. The only thing that’s different from the previous two is Cattle Decapitation‘s Travis Ryan’s guest appearance on the last song. But even that track is redundant; they always finish with a track that features some melodic interlude that transitions into a breakdown, and then the album ends. I feel that the amount of talent in the band is too great to continue to conform to this cookie cutter song and album structure that’s already been overused for this band. There is so much potential, and I suppose I was just expecting more.

Looking Forward To:
It’s no secret that I’ve been anticipating a new Contrarian album since Rochester’s prog/death giants announced that they were going into the studio earlier this year. Of course, I had hoped that I could have included it on this list, but I am not disappointed that I will have to wait until next year to crown Their Worm Never Dies as my favourite release of 2019. Yeah, sure, I’m biased, but I have set my expectations extremely high for this album, and I know very well that these guys would have to try extremely hard to release an album that was even remotely disappointing. Their Worm Never Dies drops March 15 via Willowtip Records. But for now, you can jam their new single, “Exorcism” via their bandcamp. And while you’re there, feel free to treat yourself to one of those swanky new hoodies. But make sure you forget about it, so you get a dope surprise in the mail come March.

Speaking of outstanding prog/death from the area, our pals in Inhumatus reemerged this summer when they opened for Defeated Sanity and Behold the Arctopus in Rochester while they were on a quick run on their way to Maryland Deathfest. Who could stay away with a show offer like that? They’ve played quite a few shows since then, and have even opened for melodic/ progressive sextet Ne Obliviscaris. From what it looks like, writing is going very well, and if we’re lucky, Inhumatus will release some new tracks in 2019. But for now, you can score this dope 3 song demo on their bandcamp, and if you like what you hear, you can catch them on one of the last shows of the year in Rochester with our meloblack pals in Ancalagon and death/grind/noise amalgamation Sulaco. Details here.

Fleshgod Apocalypse also announced earlier this year that they would be returning to the studio, and focusing more on their death metal roots, akin to their 2010 EP, Mafia. Since then, they’ve established themselves as Symphonic Death juggernauts, and I’m excited to hear them return to the simplicity of just death metal. Drummer Francesco Paoli returns to the front on vocals and guitar, but continues to be the foundation of this project. You’ll be able to catch them on tour with Hypocrisy in early spring 2019.

A Decade of “Planetary Duality”

It was the late 2000s, I was still relatively new to metal, and I hadn’t yet found my niche.  Sure, bands like Shadows Fall and Lamb of God were cool, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for. Not that I even knew what I was looking for in the first place. I had stumbled into a newer label, Sumerian Records, whose roster featured a couple bands I was really getting into. I made a point to make sure I explored all of the bands’ discographies; some I was completely disinterested in, and others stuck with me for a long time.

Not many bands, nonetheless on that roster, have truly stood the test of my fluctuating musical tastes throughout the last decade. And only a couple of those bands really helped shape my current musical interests.

I don’t often get to say that I loved an album at first listen, but The Faceless‘s Planetary Duality was one of those instances. It satiated my appetite for breakdowns, but also kept my interest with complex riffage and song structure, intricate solos, and pro gutturals. Lyrics about aliens and stuff helped alot too. The title track is how I was introduced to Art Bell‘s Coast to Coast AM radio show, too.

The first time I got to see The Faceless was on a Summer Slaughter run that stopped in Niagara Falls. That was four years ago. Since then, with the ensuing drama of full lineups quitting, dropping shows and tours, and some heavy drug usage, it appeared as if founder Michael Keene and The Faceless were destined to implode on themselves. And I would be forced to carve another notch in the “Bands I’ll Never See Again” column.

Naturally, I was proven wrong.  Over the summer, a tour was announced with The Faceless as the headliner, plus some added support. Keene had managed to recruit a full live band willing to look past all the drama and tour. Contrary to previous instances, Keene was showing up to shows relatively sober, coherent, and playing at (almost) his typical skill level. And I finally had my chance when they stopped in Rochester.  Though he was rather quiet throughout the night, he nailed every riff and solo, and his singing was still on point.

Of course, I busted a proverbial nut when they announced that they’d be doing a Planetary Duality 10th Anniversary tour, especially right around the holidays. And with a date within reasinable driving distance from my humble abode in Buffalo. The full tour lineup is exceptional.

Bravura, from Erie PA, crushed open the night with their own flavour of techy and blackened death metal. If their name sounds familiar, they recently polished up a tour with our pals in Dredneks.

Interloper were up next, featuring members of Vampire Squid, ex-Intervals and ex-Rings of Saturn. Unbeknownst to me, they were down a vocalist for the night; though I would have loved to see Mike Semesky again, I’m certainly not disappointed in their instrumental set. That’s the beauty of techdeath bands like Interloper- sure, having a vocalist to front the band and lyrics to help add to crowd participation are great, but they’re not necessary. They did an outstanding job even though they were down a man (and a guitar during the last song).

The Last Ten Seconds of Life, whom I’ve heard of for years, were up next. I had never made a point to listen to them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once their set got going, I noticed how nuts the crowd was getting.  But I felt underwhelmed. Chugs and hype really don’t do it for me anymore. Sorry, I think?

I have been itching to see Vale of Pnath for a while. With a little deja vu from earlier in the night, they too were down a vocalist and thus chose to play an instrumental set. And again, I was met with incredibly techy but melodic, complex but catchy music that didn’t really need vocals. Writing this, I am reminded that I am far overdue to revisit their discography.

I have ceased giving fucks about Rings of Saturn long ago after witnessing poor etiquette and lack of professionalism. The only things cool about seeing this band on Sunday was getting to catch Yo Onityan, filling in for Lucas Mann, totally rip on his 8-string, and being able to stand offstage with their new touring drummer front and center.

And of course, our headliner. Aaron Stechauner and Andrew Virrueta, of Interloper, reappeared as this tour’s hired hands. Julian Kersey (ex-Aegeon) returned on vocals. Keene was exceptional. He wasn’t reclusive, and seemed enthusiastic about talking with fans and signing vinyls. Though annoyed with some technical difficulties, his attitude was incredibly positive. He was a frontman for the first time since I first saw them. He was incredibly engaging and his stage presence was outstanding.  This new lineup started off playing Planetary Duality front to back. They continued with “Autothiestic Movement: I-III”, a couple songs off In Becoming A Ghost, and ended with “Ten Billion Years”.

It was close to midnight by the time their set ended, and I had an hour and a half drive back home. I was exhausted. But my heart was happy.