Aksumite – “Double Mask” (Stereogum Premiere)

Aksumite is one of the stars of Michigan’s Colloquial Sound Recordings, the label that’s home to A Pregnant Light, Dressed In Streams, and a slew of other artists that move in and around various styles of metal and punk. And like A Pregnant Light, Aksumite is prolific — this is the band’s 13th release, so if you like what you hear, you’ve got hours of rewarding listening ahead.

Aksumite’s name comes from the Aksumite Empire, a first-millennium kingdom that thrived in northeast-ish Africa (parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea) for a century or so shy of a thousand years. And while Aksumite have delivered killer hardcore punk over recent years with a collection of demos, EPs, and last year’s Self Interference, I often find myself looking for some of the exotic and ancient vibes that drew from Aksumite’s namesake and set the tone on Aksumite’s debut record, The Gleam Of Wetted Lips, and subsequently on the masterful Prideless Lions. Prideless Lions in particular was rich in arcane atmosphere — Gleam was more of a ferocious hurricane — and Aksumite mainman Damian Master (also the visionary behind A Pregnant Light) belted out his lyrics in a hearty bellow that boomed more than it roared. Master calls Aksumite’s sound “blood cult metal punk,” and dark magic pulses throughout behind the punky riffs and lively bass.

“Double Mask,” from the soon-to-be-released Rubber Room, sounds in a lot of ways like a natural follow-up to Prideless Lions, with, of course, some new tricks. The totally wild King Diamond wail early on is something we haven’t heard before from Master, and the harried singing and subsequent foreboding growls are new textures as well. But like Prideless Lions, “Double Mask” rocks with fury, and there’s something about it that transports the listener elsewhere. It’s awesome — listen.

Rubber Room is out 2/3 on Colloquial Sound Recordings.