Exploring the Depths of METAL ARCHIVES With Alex from UNDEATH: Introducing METALLUM MILITIA - Knotfest

Exploring the Depths of METAL ARCHIVES With Alex from UNDEATH: Introducing METALLUM MILITIA

Posted by Alexander Jones in Culture on August 7, 2023

Knotfest’s newest guest columnist Alex Jones explores the uncharted terrain of extreme music’s obscure and undiscovered – at random.

If you’re a heavy metal enthusiast who’s been on the internet for long enough, chances are high that you’ve utilized the glorious Encylopedia Metallum (otherwise known as The Metal Archives) on more than one occasion.

As its name suggests, the website serves as a virtual database for information regarding the vast majority of metal bands who have ever released any music and has proven to be an invaluable research and reference tool for metalheads worldwide. Can’t remember the last Death album Gene Hoglan drummed on? Need the year that Bolt Thrower’s last album came out in? Curious about what Cerebral Rot’s lyrical themes are? Metallum has you covered and then some (and the answers there are Symbolic, 2005 and “Death, Decomposition, Feces”, respectively).

My personal favorite feature that Metallum offers, however, is a much sillier one – the “Random Band” button, which upon clicking takes you to the entry of one of the 169,016 bands (and counting!) currently logged in the encyclopedia.

Its purpose, beyond idle amusement eluded me for years until recently, when I received a fateful email from my benevolent corporate benefactors at Knotfest, who inquired as to whether or not I’d be interested in doing some writing for them. What a perfect opportunity to use that glorious button for good and really plumb the expansive, elusive depths of the Metallum. There’s got to be some good stuff in there that no-one’s ever heard of, right?


It’s my pleasure to welcome you to “METALLUM MILITIA”, where every week I’ll be checking out and “reviewing” the first three bands that the “Random Band” button spits out at me. No do-overs – we’re doing everything live here. So, without further ado, let’s get into the inaugural offerings:

BAND #1: Apoxiomen
Country of origin: International
Location: Zagreb, Croatia / United States
Status: Active
Formed in: N/A
Genre: Progressive Metal
Themes: Greek epics
Current label: Unsigned/independent

Additional Notes: An apoxiomen (apoxyomenos), literally translated as “scraper”, is the name given to an ancient Greek sculpture of an athlete depicted in the act of scraping sweat and dust from his body with a small curved instrument after exercising. The band was formed by guitarist Marko Cmrk based in Zagreb, Croatia and American drummer Mike Heller.

What’s better than this? Greek guys being dudes. An international conspiracy (metalheads LOVE calling collaborative projects “conspiracies” so I’m going to carry on the tradition here) between Croatia and the good ol’ U.S.A., Apoxiomen appears to be a relatively new band devoted to telling extremely old stories.

Look, I’ll be totally transparent here – I’m basically a coward when it comes to anything resembling Euro-style power metal, so the fact that the band’s only album to date, Illium, opens with wistful siren crooning and then blasts right into synth toots under galloping riffs definitely got my hackles up. But you know what? I enjoyed this! Metallum simply slots the band away as “progressive metal”, and trust me, the amount of wacky time signature acrobatics on Illium certainly earn the title, but fans of power-leaning bands like Blind Guardian and Kamelot will definitely find something to love here.

Also, Mike Heller from Malignancy drums in this band! Small world! New York Death Metal is truly everywhere.

BAND #2: Sinkralkch
Country of origin: Sweden
Location: N/A
Status: Active
Formed in: N/A
Genre: Raw/Atmospheric Black Metal
Themes: N/A
Current label: Unsigned/independent

I was wondering how many spins of the proverbial wheel it would take me to land on an anonymous, one-man black metal project, and apparently the answer is two. Sinkralkch! Kind of sounds like a plumbing issue or an unfortunate rash, doesn’t it? I kid, I kid – obviously everything is very spooky and evil and esoteric here. It looks like Mr. Sink kicked this project off last year and has remained prolific with its output ever since, releasing three full-lengths, two EPs and a compilation appearance in just under a year. I guess when the indomitable spirit of lo-fi atmo-black overtakes you, it’s best to just succumb to its influence and start compiling as many grainy pictures of snowy tree branches as possible.

All bullshitting aside, this was pretty solid. Shades of genre masters like Paysage D’Hiver and Striborg throughout this discography with a little bit of Xasthur here in there in its icy despondency. This past June’s “Abandoned Light”, Sinky’s most recent release, is the runaway highlight by my estimation. Definitely worth throwing into your “CONTEMPLATIVE RUMINATING” or “DREADFUL ISOLATION” playlists.

BAND #3: Woe is the Accursed Earth
Country of origin: International
Location: Sala, Sweden / Batesville, Mississippi, United States
Status: Active
Formed in: 2015
Genre: Black/Doom Metal
Themes: Mystery, Darkness, Sadness, Horror, Injustice, Self-destruction
Current label: Cvlminis

We wrap things up this week with another international venture, this time between Sala, Sweden (most known for its silver mine!) and Batesville, Mississippi (Soulja Boy was born there!). You might gaze upon the band’s provided photo, which depicts members Tom Jervis (R.I.P.) and “W. Satanic Tony” (hell yeah) posing in front of a fluorescent green landscape in a picture that was clearly taken with a mcdonalds napkin or old potato and think “What on earth could this possibly be except EXTREMELY sick?”, and you know what? Your instincts are correct!

The band sounds like Katatonia with Mayhem vocals and Evoken-style doom passages that ground everything in a truly unique and captivating atmosphere. The leads are often genuinely haunting and affecting, and the toad-vocals, while somewhat jarring at first, are irresistibly good.

2016’s full-length “The Settling Ashes of a Crumbling World” is the one to check out above all else, and not just because the band forgot to turn the metronome off at the beginning of track three (Yes, really). It’s fun and experimental in a not-navel gazing way, clearly written and performed by consummate students of the game. Give it a shot!

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