Label Roundup: Transcending Obscurity – Heads for the Dead, Replicant, Norse, & Noltem (Reviews)

Wonderbox Metal gets sent a lot of new music, (which is great), but there’s no way that everything can get covered unfortunately, (which is not so great). This new column hopes to redress this balance, if only slightly, by taking a look at a handful of releases that a record label has recently sent out that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

Transcending Obscurity is an excellent record label that has released some phenomenal music over the years. If you have the time I highly recommend going back through the label’s multifaceted back catalogue as there are some true gems there. Let’s have a look at a selection of their more recent output below…

Heads for the Dead - Slash 'n' RollHeads for the Dead – Slash ‘n’ Roll– Death Metal – International

Heads for the Dead are always a band I enjoy hearing some new material from. This latest EP of old-school death metal offers something a little different to the norm – three deathly interpretations of classic horror movie soundtracks, and two covers, (Misfits and Ramones).

This is damn good fun. Slash ‘n’ Roll delivers 20 minutes of horror-themed entertainment in death metal form. Each of the songs is very enjoyable and well-realised, and the passion for the material that the band clearly have is put to good work.

Nice.

Replicant - Malignant RealityReplicant – Malignant Reality– Death Metal – United States

If dark and malignant dissonant death metal floats your boat, then Replicant should be high on your list of priorities.

This album features a rare form of dissonance in that it exists quite comfortably alongside churning groove and sickening melody. If you ever wondered what the likes of Demilich and Gorguts would sound like if they hideously warped Dying Fetus‘ sense of pit-friendly groove, (or even Machine Head’s), then wonder no more.

Malignant Reality is impossible to stay still to. Don’t miss this monster of a record.

Norse - AsceticNorse – Ascetic – Black Metal – Australia

More dark dissonance for you know, only in black metal form. I’ve enjoyed Norse‘s output over the years, and Ascetic is no different in this regard.

This album is sharp and mechanically precise. It’s bleakly atmospheric in a cold, evil kind of way. This is non-standard black metal, played with eerie melodic character and surgical skill. Largely mid-paced, (although certainly not exclusively), with twisted grooves and a piercing character, Norse’s latest continues their direction into ever more individual and idiosyncratic waters.

Make sure that you check this out.

Noltem - Illusions in the WakeNoltem – Illusions in the Wake – Black Metal – United States

Noltem’s atmospheric black metal is engaging and vibrant. Despite being the band’s first album, it sounds highly accomplished.

The music is layered, multifaceted, melodic, and emotive. Furious aggression and beautiful atmosphere is effortlessly combined into a 41-minute record that simply shines. With gorgeous melodies and windswept blackened riffs, the band take the listener on an absorbing journey through six immersive and expressive tracks.

Illusions in the Wake really is an exceptional album. It’s easy to listen to and effortlessly enjoyable. Noltem have produced something quite special here.

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