VARIOUS ARTISTS  Grave Command: All Hallowed Hymns  LP PICTURE DISC   (Unseen Forces)   14.98

Back in stock! This killer compilation assembled by the Unseen Forces crew is a mishmash of different artists, all connected presumably by their shared intoxication of cemetery fumes and morbid visions, and presented as an eye-popping picture disc package with amazing artwork from Brian Profilio. All of this stuff is previously unreleased and exclusive to this compilation save for one, and it's a wild mix of styles that ranges from bizarre Finnish black metal to creepy electronic synthscapery to ancient doomed psychedelia.

Ghoul's "Noapte De Fantome Vii In D Minor" is up first, and instead of the frenzied surf-rock-tinged thrash metal that you'd normally expect from these hooded mutants, they drop a slab of haunted house soundtrackery and ghoulish pipe organ creep, which is as good an intro to this comp as you could ask for. That leads into cult 80's Portland heavy metallers Xinr and their track "All Hallows Eve", a vintage hard rock anthem in the vein of their recent Lp with ripping classic metal riffage and those oddball yowling vocals, followed by the equally vintage-sounding "Demon's Eyes" from Cali psych-doom throwbacks Orchid, an eerily anthemic blast of 70's era proto-doom rock complete with gritty, soulful vocals that help give this stomper a nice, rough edge to it's haunting hook. The mood abruptly changes when "Insects Fled To The Core Of The Earth" kicks in from Finnish black metal/psych weirdoes Ride For Revenge, a filthy, blown-out black dirge that loops around in a mid-tempo lurch, hypnotic and hideous, like a Beherit jam reduced to a low-fi hypno-metal workout, the simple monotonous riffage super heavy and distorted, the vocals a vomitious inhuman growl, the song continuously slipping in an out of faster paced thrashiness and that lurching Neanderthal groove, eventually collapsing into a mass of weird noises and garbled electronic. The side finishes with Xander Harris's "The Piper Of Soggoth", a killer bit of classic analogue synth-creep in the vein of Umberto, mining that same sort of vintage Italian soundtrack synth a la Fabio Frizzi and Claudio Simonetti but transforming it into a weird sort of galloping horror-prog. I'm totally hooked after hearing this, and will definitely be picking up his other stuff on Not Not Fun...

The b-side starts off with "Black Incantations" by a band called Grave Violators; never heard of these guys prior to thuis, but their primitive blackened thrash is savage stuff, with a reckless, chaotic undercurrent that combines with the weird, garbled vocals and hellish guitar heroics for maximum sonic evil. Old-school death metallers Deceased counter with the crushing thrash of "Torn Apart By Werewolves", showcasing the band's potent combination of classic Maiden-esque hooks and rampaging death metal. Occultation, the surrealistic goth/doom side-project from members of Negative Plane, makes an appearance with the amazing "All Hallows Fire", haunting female singing and gothic minor-key melodies wrapped around doom-laden heaviness and vast billowing plumes of reverb, slipping into some faster paced blackened progginess later in the song; definitely one of my favorite entries in this compilation. German black/death metallers Venenum do a cover of Mighty Sphincter's "Waltz In Hell", transforming the bizarre gothic hardcore of the original into an equally weird sounding blast of discordant and deranged death metal, and it's wrapped up with "Grave Command (Main Theme)" by Portland psych heavies Danava, who whip out the synthesizers for another amazing foray into classic horror-prog soundtrack music, their throbbing backbeat and creepy keyboards invoking the likes of John Carpenter and Goblin as they bring the album to a ghastly close...

One of the coolest compilations I've picked up lately, issued in a full color jacket and limited to one thousand copies.