Spotlight on Season of Mist

When we're in the mood for metal, we're in the mood for Season of Mist, one of the best metal imprints around. The label has a massive catalog so it wasn't easy to narrow it down to just a few but here's a listen to some of our favorite Season of Mist new releases.

Profanatica - Crux Simplex

This New York-based black metal band has been around for more than three decades so you can bet that here on their 8th album they sound exactly like they want to and give their fans exactly what they expect. And that's stuff like opening track "Condemned to Unholy Death" where the trio, led by band main man Paul Ledney on vocals, deal out an ominous and understated intro that indicates something is about to happen. And it does as the band bursts into a loud and furious thrash where Ledney, also the band's drummer, does double duty with screamo vocals and relentless pounding. Ledney uses the stage name Mayhemic Slaughter of the Heavens here and the other members use similarly lengthy descriptors for their stage names; the bass man is The True Perversion of the Heavenly Father and the guitarist is Destroyer of the Holy Hymen. The band's shtick is blasphemy so the stage names help you remember that if you can't make out the lyrics, which will likely be the case. But with cranium-rattling drums and fuzzy and doomy guitar riffs galore, the sinful message here comes across loud and clear anyway: have a goddamn good time!

TEMIC - Terror Management Theory

Not every band on the Season of Mist label deals in red hot molten metal and TEMIC is a perfect example. A super group of sorts consisting of singer Fredrik Bergersen (Marathon, 22), guitarist Eric Gillette (The Neal Morse Band, Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress), drummer Simen Sandnes (SHINING, Arkentype) and keys man/sound designer Diego Tejeida (Devin Townsend, Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress), TEMIC is a progressive band that has a taste for a more-refined type of metal. "TMT" is a short instrumental with a big, synth orchestrated sound that leads off the album and that segues into the driving "Through the Sands of Time," a groove that moves from Bergersen singing understated vocals to a more forceful sound powered by stellar drum work from Sandnes. Sandnes plays a big part in TEMIC's sound all the way through, keeping the beat on the jazzy prog of "Falling Away" and dueling with Tejeida's synth on the percolating "Count Your Losses." for "Acts of Violence" though he gets a break as he deals out a sublime beat, at least for the first part of the song, until he needs to keep up with Tejeida who goes nuts on synthesizer at the song's halfway point. Tejeida's keyboard harkens back to a sound pioneered by groups like Emerson, Lake & Palmer on "Friendly Fire" and while TEMIC are thoroughly modern some listeners will discern nods to some of the other classic prog groups here.

Wormhole - Almost Human

Wormhole is a five-piece band from Baltimore that describe their sound as "tech slam." Powered by two guitarists in Sanjay Kumar and Noni, bass man Basil Chiasson and precision drummer Matt Tillett, Wormhole are hard and heavy and very technically proficient with every note. But here's what we really love about this band: singer Julian Kersey who sings like an ogre who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and hasn't yet had his coffee, or whatever an ogre might drink to get his day started. The CD's booklet has the lyrics for each song; you'd be hard pressed to know what they are otherwise, unless, uh, you speak ogre. Kersey's style makes everything here fantastical as the band rips through the grinding horror-scape of "Spine Shatter High-Velocity Impact" and the title cut that musically perfectly represents one of the song's lyrics, "I've spent time in the place between life and death," where there is also an unexpected insert of a female voice clearly saying "tech slam." Tillett rocks hard on his kit throughout but he outdoes himself on "Bleeding Teeth Fungus" where he shreds mightily. Almost Human is so much fun that it may take a few listens before it sets in just exactly how very talented this outfit is.

Alkaloid - Numen

It's been five years since this German band, consisting of former members of Obscura, Dark Fortress and Triptykon has put out a new release but they make up for the delay here with a double-disc offering holding 70-minutes of music. Alkaloid is another band that leans towards progressive metal stylings; opening cut "Qliphosis" for example has metal hallmarks of rat-a-tat drums and gruffly-delivered vocals from Morean, who also is one of two band guitarists. But the guitar playing is more precise than it is shredding, with lots of melodic flourishes among the heaviness, with riffage often reaching ethereal heights. In fact the guitars often ring Satriani-esque, especially on cuts like "Shades of Shub-Niggurath" where the band strikes a delightful balance between jazzy prog and pure pounding metal. The effort's second disc begins with the brief acoustic guitar instrumental "The Black Siren," a delicate piece that shows another side of the band; the shortest cut on the album is nearly a flamenco piece. On the other hand, the side ends with the album's longest cut, the 13-minute plus "Alpha Aur," an epic about being hopelessly lost in space, or metaphorically lost on Earth, that again has lots of prog embedded in the story's soundtrack. In between is a three part opus "Numen (Dyson VII)," "Recursion (Dyson VIII)" and "The Folding (Dyson IX)," all of which are filled with mysterious lyrics that question the existence of everything. Suitable for this hugely impressive work is a great package; the CDs come housed in a hardcover book that's filled with song lyrics, credits and lots of spacey graphics and photos of the band.

Horrendous - Ontological Mysterium

Often categorized as a death metal band, here's another group that goes way beyond that descriptor. The American band has two guitarists who are also singers in Matt Knox and Damian Herring and they are abetted by bass man Alex Kulick and drummer Jamie Knox. Here they deal out cuts like "The Blaze," which yes is flaming hot with its inferno of speedy metal but tempered with guitar work that sometimes soars with a love for classic rock. "Chrysopoeia (The Archeology of Dawn)" rocks to a super-fast beat that could rival the pace of any Motorhead song; so does "Neon Leviathan." On the other hand "Aurora Neoterica" is slow and dreamy; it's a proggy instrumental that comes mid-album that you can think of as sort of a palette cleanser. Metallic prog is the order of the day on "Preterition Hymn" which has a bit of an early Jethro Tull sound lurking in the lava while the title cut contains a nod to Rush that will be obvious to some. That's a pretty cool reference as Rush were consummate musicians and so are Horrendous.

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