January 2023 Feature Release - The Pit Edition

First Post December 31, 2022 08:16 PM

So just like that we find that a new month is upon us which of course means that we’ll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we’re asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We’re really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don’t be shy.

This month’s feature release for The Pit has been nominated by myself. It's last year's highly regarded "Moon of Foul Magics" sophomore album from Canadian melodic blackened thrash metallers Autoneosis. I've read a lot of good things about this release & the band's debut seems to have slipped past me so I'm excited to see if it's something I can get into. Let us know what you think.


January 03, 2023 11:05 AM

This is a great choice for feature release and I would say replicates the direction of travel I was looking to take The Pit playlists in terms of expanding the range and scope of the tracks beyond just the conventional thrash, speed metal nominations and the groove, technical and crossover sub-genres as well. 

A review for this one is not ready yet but my listens so far have been nothing short of enthralling.

January 03, 2023 02:31 PM

Moon of Foul Magics starts out innocuously enough, with an intro track that could have been mistaken for the newest Opeth single, but the slight growls towards the end sets the stage for what is, in my opinion, the best "straight up" Metal album of 2022. It may have gotten beaten out in the end for me personally by Tómarúm's debut, but that album has a ton of progressive elements and extra bits to really make it shine for me. Moon of Foul Magics is just a straight-up riff fest and a blast to the senses with none of that fancy shit, and it made its mark on 2022 as being one of the only albums of that kind to be extremely effective. I've been constantly coming back to this one for months now and it remains consistently fantastic. I'll see if I can write up a proper review after I'm back from vacation the rest of the week, thanks for highlighting this one Daniel.

January 03, 2023 11:05 PM

Here's my review:

With the New Year now upon us, I’ve notice that last year’s “Moon of Foul Magics” sophomore album from mysterious Toronto extreme metal outfit Autonoesis seems to be hitting a lot of people’s end of year lists so I thought I’d better see what all the fuss is about given that their 2020 self-titled debut managed to slip past me too. The second Autonoesis record is being touted by fans as being a total riff-fest, somewhat of a tribute to the greatness of metal. Well, let’s see if all of the praise is warranted, shall we?

“Moon of Foul Magics” can be a confusing & overwhelming experience upon first listen. There’s a lot of flip-flopping between different influences & subgenres going on which makes it hard to know what to make of it until you’ve given it a couple more airings. Black metal, thrash metal, progressive metal & even a bit of death metal & Viking metal (see the Bathory inspired “Valhöll) are all represented here but if you examine the tracklisting in detail you’ll find that the record is really built on a melodic black metal platform, similar to Dissection, Sacramentum & “At The Heart Of Winter”-era Immortal (particularly in “Nihility, Endless Winter”). The thrash component is very obvious in the classic half-time Slayer/Dave Lombardo breakdowns & more technically complex Coroner/Vektor riffs but I think it’s a touch ambitious to suggest that a release like this one should sit in The Pit alongside the Metallicas, Panteras & Exciters. It would appear to me to be a much more comfortable fit for The North. The progressive component is more sporadically used & is most apparent in the Opeth style clean sections which are beautifully executed just quietly.

The guitar work is very skilfully performed with a high degree of musicality & melody being employed at all times. I can’t say that I enjoy the neoclassical slant on the solos though as I’ve always struggled a bit with that particular technique when it comes to extreme metal, particularly when there’s lots of wanky sweep picking being used like there is here. The black metal screams are fairly generic & uneventful & I can take or leave them but the real weakness in the Autonoesis sound is in the drumming which lacks ambition & sophistication, particularly when you consider how much creative license has been taken with the rest of the instrumentation. This left me wondering whether Autonoesis are really a one-man band & the more I think about it the more I feel that I might be onto something there.

I have to say that I’m a little surprised at the overwhelming acclaim that “Moon of Foul Magics” is receiving online. Perhaps it just comes down to personal taste as the more melodic side of extreme metal has never been my strong suit but I don’t find anything particularly classic here to tell you the truth. It’s certainly an enjoyable metal record with a lot to say but I tend to find it to be a little unfocused & light-weight, not to mention a bit lengthy. It’s like Autonoesis have used the album as a place to showcase how broad their taste in metal is with many songs starting in one place & ending in a drastically different one. I have time for most of the nine individual tracks (with “Crypt of Thought” being the exception) but none of them manage to quite hit my musical sweet spot. I guess I’m just not the target audience for a record like “Moon of Foul Magics”.


January 05, 2023 09:16 PM

I checked out this record b/c of Xephyr ranking this as their runner up for AOTY considering our thrash history kind of lines up. I did not like it as much as Xephyr, but still a very good record nonetheless:

Progressive thrash metal is a genre that I typically view with a concerning eye. Part of my reasoning for this is of how drastically different these styles are. What I appreciate in a thrash metal album is something that can be punchy and direct, while progressive metal is usually elongated with uncommon song structures and conceptual formats. Given my recent thrash metal tastes in recent years, you can clearly see why this subgenre sounds interesting, but leaves me with very little substance.

Of course, I also like melodically sound tunes that are well constructed, which leads us to Autonoesis and their 2022 sophomore record, Moon of Foul Magics. This record has some really good ideas that are being played and experimented with throughout its hour runtime. From a purely thrash perspective, the riffage on the title track, "Nihility, Endless Winter" and "The Conjurer" are very good and have a catchiness to them. Sure some riffs don't feel as exciting, however they have a uniqueness to them that, if this was the whole album, I'd be ready to call one of 2022's best.

But that's not what we get here. Progressive metal has a terrible habit of trying to blend multiple songs together and almost never pays off the way that the band expects. And so when this philosophy is brought over to a thrash metal idiom, it turns a record into Riffs: the Album with no connectivity. Autonoesis does a better job of this than most, but that simply because they are following the Vektor formula of slow-fast-slow. How do they change it up? Simply invert the tempos! It's a very basic way of writing progressive music, which in a way, does help Autonoesis with their thrash metal foundation. Tunes like "Raise the Dead" and the closer "Descending the Void" are decent, with varying levels of developing the riffage beyond the initial annunciation of the theme.

Another aspect that makes Autonoesis stand out is the heaviness. This band has clearly come out of the Possessed school of thrash with many elements sounding close to death metal, and even more tricks of the trade out of black metal. Acoustic interludes throughout the album such as "Vahöll" have a Saor-esque timbre, while the bridge of "Descending the Void" sounds closer to early Opeth. It honestly kills a lot of the momentum that has been building for passages prior, but many of them pick that intensity back up throughout and many of them sound excellent.

I will not admit to loving this, but I did enjoy my time with Moon of Foul Magics. The sound is rough and fowl at times and plays into the records benefit as both a thrash and extreme (blackened death) metal record. The riffing is above average and also knows how to balance (a)tonality. But the record could have been trimmed, many ideas are cut off before a conclusion because that's what the slow-fast-slow songwriting formula tells us to do, and momentum drops for much the same reason. I want to like this more since it seems like a thrash metal record targeted for me, but I feel like its missing something.


January 05, 2023 09:49 PM

So you think it's closer to a thrash release than a black metal one Saxy? I was on the fence a little bit at first but ended up thinking of it a more of a melodic black metal release than a thrash one. A couple of the early tracks kinda point people in the thrash direction (i.e. the Vektor-isms of the title track & the blackened death/thrash of "Raise The Dead", particularly their Slayer-worshipping bridge sections in both) but I don't really think I'd label any of the subsequent tracks as genuine thrash metal to be honest. The melodic black metal subgenre has always had a thrashy component to it so I felt that it kinda covered it. The progressive material is a little too sporadic to go with a primary tag too in my opinion so the meloblack thing is close enough for me (although admittedly not with a lot of confidence).

January 06, 2023 11:31 AM

I repeat, this was an excellent choice Daniel.  Despite my reservations that I highlight in my review below, I still find this an enthralling experience.  In my handwritten notes for this review I referenced Vektor but noted that this was a more "meloblack" banger style of thrash metal (and I absolutely stand by that this belongs in both The North & The Pit).  I would not be adverse to some recognition of the progressive elements but wold need far more listens to this to really decide.  Anyway, my review:

This is a devious little release (although given the length of it I am not sure that "little" quite covers it). I have read the other reviews from my esteemed academites (?) and I do not really have anything different to add in all honesty. I am less inclined to agree that this does not have a place in The Pit - I would equally argue that it has some argument for addition into The Infinite clan as well as The North. What this all means in real world terms, for the uneducated reader of this review is that Autonoesis cover a lot of ground on this record. This in itself is impressive based on the effort alone and that is one of the main takeaways from this record, the work ethic and amount of stuff that is in here is really commendable. Does it all work within the confines of one single release? Well yes and no.

Give me tracks like Raise the Dead all day and I am a happy enough bunny. This high-intensity track is arguably were Autonoesis are at their least stretched in terms of technical ability but it shows their heart better than most other tracks on here, largely because it is one of the shorter and more direct tracks that bleeds pure thrash from start to finish. Where things start to come unstuck a little for me are on the longer tracks and there are far too many of them. With three tracks over or around nine-minutes in length (plus an eleven-minute plus closing track) I do find myself a bit lost in Moon of Foul Magics at times. There is a sense of frustration in hearing a track go through multiple sub-genres and influences over a protracted runtime. Often when listening to one of the more lengthy tracks on here I cannot help but think that some of these ideas could be more succinctly deployed as individual tracks. There would be nothing wrong with letting a thrash track just thrash and chop its way through three or four-minutes and parking that progressive interlude or epic black metal passage into a track all of their own.

This is not to say that they do not blend elements well as a group or individual artist (I have no idea how many people are in Autonoesis but I suspect it is a one-man project with contributors), the musicianship on here is superb and the lead work in particular is sublime. I just cannot help but feel that there is more going on here than can be comfortably digested by many listeners. Even with dedicated, alone time with this record the lack of distractions does not necessarily make the focus on everything anymore acute.

I still think this is an ambitious and highly recommendable record, not in the least because I am actively looking to expand the range of offerings in The Pit playlists each month and this is a refreshing "take" on a few sub-genres that still has the riffs to pull enough punches in the thrash metal realm.


January 08, 2023 01:08 AM

I don't mean to ruin the fantasies of any of you kvlt/elitist types out there but Autonoesis is apparently this guy:

January 08, 2023 02:22 AM

"I'll be back..."

January 08, 2023 11:43 AM

I don't mean to ruin the fantasies of any of you kvlt/elitist types out there but Autonoesis is apparently this guy:

Quoted Daniel

Fucking red-neck, mullet-sporting,  Bret "Hitman" Hart shades wearing, clean-shaven lumberjack black metal is my pet hate.  I feel dirty.

January 22, 2023 12:40 PM

It seems like this is the album that has grabbed everyone's attention as far as thrash metal goes in 2022 and I know little about it or it's creator, so check it out I must. The opening track sounds so much like Planet Caravan that I'm surprised Sabbath's lawyers haven't slapped an injunction on it, so it is hardly off to a genre-defying start. The title track follows and this is much more like what I would have expected and really hits the spot, until... what the fuck is smooth jazz elevator music doing here in the middle of an ass-kicking black metal track? Oh, but things get worse my friend as that snoozy interlude is followed by a migraine-inducing neo-classical guitar solo that is less than welcome in my earphones and I'm left scratching my head as to what is going on here and whether I even have the right album on! So I checked and yes, Spotify confirms that this is the record everyone is so stoked by. I'd better stick with it then I think with a sigh, but this could be a long hour. Luckily, the title track is the most egregious, although not only, example of Autonoesis wanting to be everything all at once so the low point has been passed and it should be plain sailing from here on.

Indeed, Raise the Dead is much more up my street with it's uncomplicated blackened thrash appealing far more to my palate. There is a short exuberant solo towards the end of the track, but it falls far short of the neo-classical excesses of that exhibited during the title track. Generally speaking I did enjoy the rest of the album, when it blasts and thrashes is when it appeals to me most, although the viking-ish instrumental Valhöll did manage to capture my imagination somewhat too. The washed out shrieking vocals were pretty decent and certainly sounded effective enough. I just get the feeling that there was too much of a concerted attempt to cram as many influences into the tracks as possible, which often sounded contrived and distracted from what should have been a fucking good blast.

As I have indicated often enough before, I don't like getting into discussions over genre minutiae, but I think if, for example, Moon of Foul Magics was to become The Pit release of the year then it would sit uncomfortably with me as I think it is much more of a black metal than a thrash record, although there are undeniably thrash elements present. Overall it is an interesting enough release, not always for the right reasons and when it is good it is very good, but there is just too much inconsistency of vision which ultimately I found frustrating.