Albums of the month: January

The first month of the year has come to pass and with that the first albums of the month article of 2020 is now live. I did mention I could be a bit late on my articles due to recently becoming a dad and this is one of those cases as I simply didn’t have the time to sit down with this. I’ve had a long list of bands but it was tough to get through it all, not only time wise but this was actually a very strong field of albums to kickstart 2020 in style! January is usually a slow month (was in 2019 for example) but not this time around. We got bands such as Lorna Shore, Wormhole and Svarttjern releasing their best material yet while we also got wicked full-length debut albums that packs a punch in Berzerker Legion and Sallow Moth just to name a few examples. Here is me hoping 2020 will be another strong year for metal and that this incredible start pushes the rest of the bands to release their best material yet.

Album of the month:

Lorna Shore – Immortal

All drama aside Lorna Shore has lived up to the hype and released their by far strongest album to date. Not only that I think it’s one of the best deathcore albums in years! Together with bands such as Shadow of Intent and AngelMaker they are pushing the genre forward to reach new grounds.

Lorna Shore – Immortal was released January 31st via Century Media Records.

Runners-up:

Svarttjern – Shame is Just a Word

I liked Dødsskrik a lot but with Shame is Just a Word Svarttjern has become even darker and evolved their sound to new levels. We already got a contender for the best black metal album of the year. This is fantastic and the best album so far by Svarttjern where they’ve truly managed to capture the essence of old black metal with the more modern touches. You can read the review here.

Svarttjern – Shame is Just a Word was released January 17th via Soulseller Records.

Sallow Moth – The Larval Hope

This is just a wicked full-length debut album from Sallow Moth. The Larval Hope is the best old school death metal album I’ve heard so far this year. It packs a punch and is varied enough, with high quality, to keep you wanting to spin this again and again. You can read the review here.

Sallow Moth – The Larval Hope was released January 15th via Dead Red Queen Records.

Berzerker Legion – Obliterate the Weak

What can I say I’m a sucker for catchy death metal! Berzerker Legion is something as rare as a supergroup (with members from Vader, Dark Funeral, Hypocrisy, Asphyx and Wombbath) that works and delivers a superb album.

Berzerker Legion – Obliterate the Weak was released January 29th via Listenable Records.

Wormhole – The Weakest Among Us

While Genesis was solid it might have lacked some bits to make it stand out and be a long lasting album in my playlists I find The Weakest Among Us bringing all the right stuff. You can read the review here.

Wormhole – The Weakest Among Us was released January 14th via Lacerated Enemy Records.

More great albums of January:

Frogg – A Reptilian Dystopia
Aseptic – Cascading Fluids
Unbounded Terror – Faith in Chaos
Blighted – Silhouette of the Sun
Diabology – Nobody Believes Me
Waldhexen – Ego Canus Lunam Cano
Vvilderness – Dark Waters
Svrm – Занепад
Vengeful Spectre – 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre
Kataphraktoi – Ursinne
Unreqvited – Mosaic II: La déteste et la détresse
Empire of the Moon – Εκλειψις
Erdling – Yggdrasil
Kaoteon – Kaoteon
Horned Almighty – To Fathom the Master’s Grand Design
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Impiety – Versus All Goods
Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic
Necropsy – Exitus
Dead End Finland – Inter Vivos
Kawir – Αδράστεια
Slave One – Omega Disciples
Defiled – Infinite Regress
Despondent – The Cosmic Horror
Frigoris – ….in Stille
Reincarnage – Reap
Child of Waste – Hunger Made Man
Aethyrick – Gnosis
Coffin Curse – Ceased To Be
Invictus – The Catacombs Of Fear
Dawn of Solace – Waves
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise
Nattverd – Styggdom
The Absolution Sequence – Silent King
One Vote For Violence – Desolation
Dark Usurper – Mortal Dissonance
I, Delusionist – Catharsis
Jordablod – The Cabinet of Numinous Song
Vananidr – Damnation
Macabre Demise – Awakening
Obsidian Tongue – Volume III

Wormhole – The Weakest Among Us (Technical Brutal Death Metal/Slam)

The year starts heavy for The Metal Gamer as the first review of the year comes from the brutal tech-death band Wormhole and their sophomore release titled The Weakest Among Us. Their debut album Genesis was a sleeper hit that came out late 2016, which I personally didn’t find out about until around a year after but it was definitely one of the better brutal tech-death albums for its time where I enjoyed the hints of slam and deathcore. Fast forward to 2020 and the Kumar brothers now got a drummer in Matt Tillett (Greylotus, ex-Cognitive (live)) and Anshuman Goswami (Perihelion, Cognitive (live)) on vocals joining them on The Weakest Among Us after Goswami having been doing vocals live for Wormhole. He got some big shoes to fill as both Calum Forrest and, the almost legendary, Duncan Bentley were doing solid work prior. Will The Weakest Among Us solidify Wormhole as a giant within the genre or will it prove to be the weakest among us, seeing the band take a step backwards with the member changes?

To start of with The Weakest Among Us got a whole different feel to it than their debut, the deathcore vibe is completely gone and it’s a lot more technical. The title-track “The Weakest Among Us” showcase that right from the start and shows a new side of the Wormhole that sounds more mature, heavier and vastly improved songwriting. With “rA9_myth” bringing way more slam bits into the giant hole I’m just about ready to be devoured by this worm as it is surely going for the kill by now. “D-S3” slows it down a notch, walking on the progressive path for a while, where you can hear some similarities to Sanjay Kumar’s other band Equipoise at times.

With more heavy slam in “The Gas System” putting the….gas back in the tank…. and the mouthful “Wave Quake Generator Plasma Artillery Cannon” we quickly go back into full gear again. The album closer “Ingswarm” is a wicked way to start your 2020 with some filthy breakdowns and the highlight of the album for me together with the opener, and title-track, “The Weakest Among Us” has been my two most played songs at the beginning of this year. Those two songs I think capture perfectly who Wormhole are in 2020.

One thing is certain The Weakest Among Us is a completely different beast than their debut Genesis and a much more varied effort. While Genesis was solid it might have lacked some bits to make it stand out and be a long lasting album in my playlists I find The Weakest Among Us bringing all the right stuff. As far as technical brutal death metal goes this is definitely one of the more experimental albums I’ve heard in the genre. Or as the promo said “prepare yourself for a new generation of Slam and Technical Death Metal!”. It might be a bit too nice and a bit too little brutality at times, while going too hard on the progressive/technical side but at the same time that’s a thing I like with the album. The Vulvodynia resemblances are basically all gone in my opinion, welcome the lovechild of Wormed, Decimated Humans and Equipoise in all its glory. A band that says “fuck it lets go nuts on our sophomore album”, try breaking some boundaries and the result is a good fucking album that makes 2020 have a flying start. Oh and did I mention they base their music on not only common sci-fi but Metroid lore (which you can see through the cover art)!? Metal gamers better dig this!

Written by J.B.

Artist: Wormhole
Label: Lacerated Enemy Records
For fans of: Wormed & Decimated Humans
Release date: January 14th, 2020
Favorite song: Ingswarm
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Interview: Equipoise

Equipoise is one of the new forces in technical death metal. Despite being that their EP did so well and the band is already seen as one for the furture, without even having released a full-length yet! That time is soon upon us though so what better time to interview the vocalist Stevie Boiser on the bands history, how the new album has been going and, of course, what’s Stevie’s favorite game of all time?

First thing first, who does what in Equipoise? Does everyone take part in writing the music?

Oh boy, well this could take a second because we’re like the Slipknot of tech death haha. By that I mean we have a lot of moving parts.  Equipoise is composed of Seven members.  Nick Padovani (Kossuth, Virulent Depravity) Guitar / Classical Guitar Hugo Doyon-Karout (Beyond Creation, Brought By Pain) Fretless Bass Chason Westmoreland (Burning The Masses, Ex-The Faceless, Ex-Hate Eternal) Drums Sanjay Kumar (Wormhole, Perihelion) Guitar Phil Tougas (First Fragment, Chthe’ilist, Zealotry, Eternity’s End, Serocs, Cosmic Atrophy) Guitar / Classical Guitar Jimmy Pitts (Eternity’s End, Pitts/Minneminn Project, The Fractured Dimension, North Tale) Keys  and Myself, Stevie Boiser (Inferi, Tethys, Ashen Horde) Vocals.

As far as writing music goes, Nick handled the majority of writing for the album. A few things here changed here and there by various members. Every solo on the record was written by its performer. In terms of lyrics and vocals, thats 100% my department. Now that we have a footing and a clear direction for Equipoise I’m hopeful that everyone will be contributing more for the next record.

Equipoise is somewhat of a supergroup with members from acts like Inferi, Chthe’ilist, Beyond Creation and Virulent Depravity just to name a few. How do did you all get together?

The origin of the band starts back in 2015 with Nick Padovani and Zach Hohn. They started jamming that summer and things quickly evolved from just playing riffs to writing and arranging songs. Once they had a few tracks completed Nick began reaching out to musicians he admired to see if they would be interested in joining the project. Hugo and I were both tapped and joined the band. I remember that Equipoise didn’t actually have anything recorded when Nick first reached out to me. He just sent me a GuitarPro file for what became Alchemic Web of Deceit haha. It worked though, I was hooked! 

Fast forward a few moths and we were able to complete our first offering as a band, our EP Birthing Homunculi. Much to our surprise the EP did pretty well, and we had a very warm reception. Not too long after that Zach left the band so we recruited Sanjay to fill the void. Sanjay had performed a guest solo on the EP and in addition to that Mixed and Mastered it as well so it was great to have him working with us again. I reached out to my good friend Chason Westmoreland to see if he’d be interested in playing drums. The two of us had been talking about being in a band together for a while and this was the perfect opportunity. Shortly after that Jimmy and Phil joined our ranks as well. I guess you could say that Equipoise was made possible by the power of the internet haha. We’re all pretty spaced out geographically so we didn’t really have the option of approaching this band in a traditional manor. 

Stevie you’ve been a really hard worker with many projects ongoing and you’re a great talent. As such you’ve already been apart of bands such as Vale of Pnath, Tethys and recently even joined Inferi. How has the ride been? Got any secrets to become a wicked vocalist?

Thank you very much Jimmy! I really appreciate that. Its been crazy man haha. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be in a number of really killer bands and as a result play shows for people in a number of different places. Im very grateful for that. Truth be told im just following my passion. I absolutely love it. Joining Inferi is probably one of the most surreal things thats happened to me. I’ve been a huge fan of their music since about 2007, so this is kind of a dream come true.

As far as vocal tips go I really only have a few. -Practice, practice, practice! Listen to the way your body responds to your vocal approach and then cater to it. You don’t want to burn your pipes out.  – Develop your own voice. Learning a bunch of different techniques or expanding your range is great. Id definitely encourage people to do that, but be conscious of how you can make these things your own. You are an individual and thus have your own voice. Find it, and own it.  
– Lastly, if you can. Invest in a quality way to record your own voice. While its not absolutely necessarily, its a great way to be able to experiment with your voice and listen back abjectivly. This can also save you money in the long run. Last year I recorded vocals for three separate albums (Equipoise, Ashen Horde, and Inferi) and demoed things out for Tethys. All of this was done at home and on my own time. Also, if you’re looking for a band you can use this as a means to audition for bands you’re interested in or at the very least, a way to get your voice out there.

The upcoming album Demiurgus will be Equipoise full-length debut. For how long has it been in progress?

Technically this album has been in the works since 2015. By the end of the year Nick had skeletons for the majority of the album. Although, we didn’t really spend time fully flushing out those ideas until a short while after Birthing Homunculi was released. Once we completed our line up we started the process of combing over each track and revising our work. Due to the face that we’re all so spread out we couldn’t really take the traditional approach of just jamming the songs together in a live room so we had a lot of guitar pro files and scratch tracks flying back and forth between members.

You signed with one of the best new labels The Artisan Era not too long ago. How did it happen?

After we released the EP we wanted to find a way to reach a bigger audience. Honestly, we really didn’t even consider another label. It was evident that what Mike and Malcolm were building with The Artisan Era was special. Every band the label represented released amazing music. We submitted the EP and informed them that we had a new album in the works. Luckily for us they really enjoyed what we did, and now they’re about to release our first full length record.

How do you guys find the time in your schedule between all your other bands to rehearse, write new material and especially go on tour?

As of now we are not an active touring band. However, Nick and I have been discussing the logistics of it all and if theres a large enough demand for it in the future we would love to make it happen! As for balancing writing, rehearsing, and recording equipoise material it all boils down to time management. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I tracked all of my vocals for the album a few weeks before the last Inferi tour. Personally, I try to approach my projects by order deadlines. I make sure to shift my focus from band to band so that I can stay fresh and up to date on each of them. I’ll typically spend my time working on whichever band has new material prepped and ready or a show / tour coming up.  

Since the release of the EP Birthing Homunculi the band has not only had a lineup change but also added another guitarist. How has that changed the sound of Equipoise?

Having both Sanjay and Phil join Equipoise was a huge deal for all of use. Both are absolute monsters with a crazy amount of skill and an uncanny ability to navigate their instrument. I think the best examples of this occur in the interplay of their solos. They both have such different styles, but they compliment each other wonderfully. I think that above all else having them on board really helped texture songs. 

There are a lot of guests on Demiurgus, especially on the last track Ouroboric. What was the decision behind having ten different session musicians on the album?

Our goal overall was to really push ourselves to create something special with Demiurgus. When it came to selecting guests for the album we set aside sections we thought would allow the to shine while simultaneously bringing a new flavor to the music. As a result we were able to work with a number of stellar musicians who would broaden our musical pallet. 

From what I see on Facebook I believe you’re a bit of a gamer. If I am right what’s your favorite game of all time and what do you play now?

Oh man… Thats a tough one! My answer is kind of cheating but I’ve got a threeway split for this one. Its a tie between Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 3 (SNES), and Majora’s Mask. I can’t tell you how many hours Ive spent with these games. Each has so much depth, incredible character development, and really fun gameplay.  Right now I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon Go. I’m trying to catch up on all the stuff thats happens since I stopped playing in 2016.  Currently Im doing some post game stuff in Pokemon Ultra Moon, playing the new Smash Bros, and Breath of the Wild/ I will be taking on Gannon almost immediately after this interview haha.

That was all I had! Thanks for taking your time Stevie, got any final words?

No problem at all Jimmy, thanks again for having me. Its been a pleasure! Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Demiurgus! It drops on March 8th via The Artisan Era. The New Ashen Horde record Fallen Cathedrals will be out on March 22nd, and New Inferi is right around the corner as well! For anyone who would like to keep up to date with what im working on for Inferi, Equipoise, Tethys, Ashen Horde, or my snakes feel free to follow my on Instagram @Mc_Screamy or on Twitter @ScreamyMc, See you next time folks!