Portal, “Ion”Portal always gives their listeners strange insights into unfathomable rituals – murky recordings that sound like something one should not have stumbled upon. The one single that has released from the new record, “Phreqs” is unsettling in its clarity, being one of the first Portal recordings to not be drenched in murk and filth. And, as with all horror, sometimes the unseen monster is more frightening than the one that is seen, and sometimes the monster is far more terrifying when it becomes concrete. That is what intrigues me so much about “Ion.” I cannot wait to see what The Curator and Horror Illogium have crafted for us, and the insight it will bring to Portal’s distinct mythos of the “Vint-Age,” the Victorian esoteric aesthetic which Portal has cultivated for almost 25 years.
Harakiri For The Sky, “Arson”Harakiri For The Sky has had one of the most interesting musical progressions I have found in recent years. Starting as a fairly run-of-the-mill black metal project, they have slowly morphed more in line with groups like Converge and Circle Takes The Square. Adding that extra emotional bent has worked extremely well in their favor, adding space to breathe and letting the harsh reality of the lyrics settle in. HftS has eschewed the genre conventions of Satan and Hell in favor of depicting the living hell that is the reality for too many people, singing about drug abuse, self-deprecation and harm, and alcoholism, grounding the songs in something so much more concrete. “Arson” looks to continue that evolution, bringing in Krimh from Septic Flesh to add an even more punk-influenced drum sound to the record.
Behemoth, title to be announcedOne of the most popular and influential black/death metal bands in the world is finally returning after 2014’s masterwork “The Satanist.” Behemoth have fully embraced the atmospheric side of their sound, drowning their records in mysticism rooted in Eastern European occultism and thelema. “The Satanist” is an absolutely massive record, recorded while frontman Nergal (Adam Darski) was in chemotherapy for leukemia, and the listener can feel the triumphant transcendence of cancer in remission in every second of that record. I cannot wait to see what they cook up on the next album. Some fans didn’t appreciate the change in sound, but I hope the band embraces the weirder side of their sound even more to create something truly memorable.
The Ocean, title to be announcedAny time a new Ocean record is on the horizon, I get excited. This German collective gathers 20-30 new musicians for every epic concept record that they compose. Their last one, “Pelagial,” was an exploration of the ever deepening zones of the oceans and seas, and the one before that was a double record concerning worship of the stars and worship of humanity. It has already been five years since the release of Pelagial, and there are plenty of unexplored realms for the collective to do a deep dive on. Over the last few records, the band has embraced orchestral arrangements and choirs, so hopefully, they continue to get more elaborate compositions on whatever the new album ends up being about.