Dark Hemyspheres: July 2017

Once again the summer months are proving rather barren for Dark Hemyspheres as sunshine and holidays apparently don't pair well with bone-crushing extremity. But not all is forlorn as all-star ensemble Tau Cross, featuring the likes of Rob Miller and Michel Langevin, have produced an album that is as close to summery as heavy metal is likely to get – it doesn't only make you feel good, it is feel-good! Their sophomore Pillar Of Fire [5] is brimming with catchy yet crunching riffs, the whole piece imbued with the unbounded joy of just jamming out for the hell of it. The songs bounce along so energetically, tinged with a hint of big retro American rock that lends a larger-than-life quality to it all; best consumed with barbecues and beers.

Temple Of Void continue to blend some death metal with their doom, with disappointingly bland results. Lords Of Death [4] muddles about seemingly more in confusion than genuine fusion, lurching first one way then the next; the abrupt shifts disrupt the rhythm and atmosphere of the music, dampening both the grim dread and fierce bloodlust to the point of impotency. Repeated listens refuse to unearth any hidden layers, and the songs themselves, whilst decent, do not demand much in the way of attention beyond being loud. Ultimately this is a decidedly ordinary and quickly forgettable collection, even in a month as sparse as this for tasty morsels.

Listening back to old Decapitated, it is tremendously fun but horribly messy (they were little more than kids back then after all, and free of the tragedy that was still to come). The new iteration is much more focused and concise, bearing down with a chilling precision – but does that necessarily mean better? In the case of Anticult [6], the most honest answer is "probably". The clarity of production loses some of the extreme anger and pure passion, yet the added maturity emphasises the sheer brutality and incredible musicianship that deals such devastating blows to the solar plexus. Whilst it is easily heavy enough to beat the living daylights out of the sternest soul, the reliance on just the one trick gnaws away at the feeling this could be, should be, surrounded by a sense of terrifying awe that is sadly absent.

What immediately jumps about Spectre Abysm [5], the first Limbonic Art record in seven years, is the depth of the sound. Protagonist Daemon has finally moved beyond the shrill shriek of the "kvlt"-obsessed black metal contingent. Although still firmly planting one foot in the symphonic camp, the guitars remain the driving force throughout – however this time they have a production to substantiate them. A relentless and powerful assault upon the ears, the evolution the godfathers of the genre pioneered has finally begun to show its influence. The blistering, constant wall-of-sound battering is a delight at first, but alas an utter lack of any sort of relief eventually relegates this to a harsh background buzz. Whilst this is definitely a promising move, the journey is far from complete.

The Boris I fell in love with are back! Well, almost – enough to capture this month's Dark Star at least. After the near-universal dreariness released throughout the last decade, Dear [7] is a welcome return to many of their truly formidable calling cards, building upon a foundation of supermassive drones and glacial riffing. More Godzilla than Johnny Rotten, this monstrous beast lumbers along at a deliberate yet destructive crawl, Wata's gargantuan guitar rattling every corner as effectively as an earthquake on the likes of opener 'D.O.W.N. -Domination Of Waiting Noise-' and the appropriately titled 'The Power'. Elements of their punky and ethereal leanings are still very much present, but in this context work so much more effectively in relief to the monolithic slabs of noise they surround; the changes in pace and tone keep Dear engaging and interesting throughout, a record that delights in keeping the listener second-guessing the next move. At long last, Boris are once again drawing together everything that makes them who they are and crafting something that expresses it all rather elegantly.

Tau Cross – Pillar Of Fire (21st, Relapse Records)
Temple Of Void – Lords Of Death (28th, Shadow Kingdom Records)
Decapitated – Anticult (7th, Nuclear Blast Records)
Limbonic Art – Spectre Abysm (7th, Candlelight Records)
Boris – Dear (14th, Sargent House)

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