Sunday, January 25, 2015

Boddicker - Crime Upheaval

Written by Matt Hinch.

Cover art by Joshua Brettel.

While everyone (including myself) was talking up the latest Trap Them release, Detroit's Boddicker were being criminally ignored. And it's hard to ignore something as unabashedly violent as Crime Upheaval.

Much of what Boddicker embody is right there in the album title. Crime (lyrically and aesthetically) and upheaval, as in how their HM-2 saturated buzzsaw guitars churn up a filthy and intimidating ooze of hardcore aggression.

With 12 songs in around 21 minutes none of these killing blows stick around too long but all are delivered with menace and remorselessness. The shorter shots are quick and deadly while the longer bleeds ring like a shotgun blast beside the ear.

Photos by Carmelo Española.

Boddicker mix tempos with ease from hit and run blasts through heaving, slow beatdowns. The latter a cruel torture akin to holding your hand on a person's face after a serious slap to really make it sting. But that's what gives the album its dynamicism. It would be easy to just hit the gas and mow down anything in the way. Mixing it up makes Crime Upheaval hang around in the old noggin a little longer.

Down-picked riff magic and chaotic violence come together to adrenalize the listener. Bestial growls rally the hatred while spazzed-out guitar complication is forced into competition with bone-breaking, mosh-ready rhythms and enough swing to send elbows and knees off in pendulous motions.

Photos by Carmelo Española.

Moments in tracks such as “Energy Blackmail”, where a lone guitar waits for the rest of the band to explode back in, like a cocked hammer and pulled trigger, are what lend the album extra gravity amid the breakneck pace that barely touches the ground.

It's no surprise that something as violent as Crime Upheaval is a product of Detroit. It's nasty and charged with a relentless energy for destruction. It came out months ago but it's best not to ignore it any longer. You never know what these guys might do.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Friday, January 23, 2015

American - Coping with Loss

Written by Steven Leslie.

Artwork by Kevin Gan Yuen

American is a little known, relatively new duo out of Virginia that plays a blend of black metal, sludge and noise. Having not heard any of their demos or singles, released in 2013, I just happened to stumble across them on one of my many late night bandcamp browsing sessions. And I am very glad I did. The band presents a unique and thoroughly engrossing take on modern USBM, while creating a distinctly dark and disturbing atmosphere.

Coping with Loss kicks off with three really killer tracks. Veering between melodic and captivating black metal sections and some really memorable, but minimalist sludgy low-end riffs, the tracks are pieced together with some rather effective noise samples and electronics. Not being a big noise fan personally, I must say that the early tracks get the balance just right, never overstaying their welcome or becoming monotonous. Songs like “Ritual Suicide” and “Decedents” constantly feel like they are on the verge of disintegrating, which adds an element of discomfort and unpredictability that make for a captivating listening experience.

I must say that while there is not much vocal variety on offer, the throat shredding screams are delivered with such palpable emotion and desperation that I really can’t find any fault with them. Dripping with raw unbridled hatred and nihilism they help drive home the depressive atmosphere of the music. They sit perfectly in the mix, ensuring that their power is maintained without ever overwhelming the music. The drumming is excellent throughout the album and really helps hold the tracks together as they drift between fast and slow tempos.

The tempo drops significantly toward the middle of the album as “Lamb to Slaughter” claws its way along in slow dirge. This is followed by three minutes of rather ominous noise in “Pulse Beating Slowly”, before “Solace in Silence” comes crashing in with blast beats and a relentless tremolo picked assault. Coping ends with 18 minutes of drones, samples and power electronics that, at least for me personally, is a bit of a let down and doesn’t really do justice to the power of the opening tracks. With that said, this really is an album worth checking out if you are a fan of utterly bleak and soul crushing sounds. I look forward to hearing how the band continues to progress and develop its sound on future releases.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Atanamar’s Favorite Bandcamp Finds of 2014

Written by Atanamar Sunyata.

Metal archaeology is the work of a lifetime; there are pages missing from every grail seeker’s diary. As more and more music appears on Bandcamp, we are offered a unique opportunity to rediscover the past in high fidelity. 2014 was prime time for musical gravedigging; I was able to unearth albums I had only heard in passing during the '90s, resuscitate specters of long lost tape trades, and replace the content of CDs that mysteriously disappeared in college. Best of all, I discovered classics completely unbeknownst to me. These are some of my favorite Bandcamp hauls of 2014:

Deathevokation - Chalice of Ages (2007)
Cover art by Axel Hermann

Deathevokation quietly produced a death metal masterpiece in the not too distant past, disappearing into oblivion before their prodigious achievement could be properly recognized. Chalice of Ages unfurls a fusillade of doom-tinged death propelled by Amon Amarth-grade grooves and fascinating melody. These tunes ride on a riff-hardened chassis, rampaging at all the right speeds. Deathevokation had a distinctive character, and their sole creation's pedigree is simply spectacular. Reunion, please?

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The Chasm - Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm (2009)
Artwork by Daniel Corchado

The Chasm is the best band whose discography was most unrepresented in my collection. That was quickly resolved when Max clued us into The Chasm’s Bandcamp page in March. Like Max, Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm is my favorite of the titles represented. The Chasm stand astride the death metal's continental divide, blending the progressive precision of Death with the skin crawling filth of Incantation (mainman Daniel Corchado actually played on Diabolical Conquest). Fascinating riffs, thrashy intricacies, and dynamics for days are the name of the game; Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm is all wins.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Adramelech - Psychostasia (1996)
Artwork by Turkka Rantanen

Adramelech emerged from the bountiful Finnish death metal scene in the mid '90s, possessing the utmost power of the riff. Psychostasia is the finest moment of the band's brief career. It's also a death metal classic, a balm to these jaded and abused ears. Impossibly compelling anti-melodies flow in torrents of glorious death, coalescing around indelible riffs and feats of compositional ingenuity. Adramelech have indubitable roots in Demigod's sinuous sonic oeuvre, but they also inherit bits of bizarre behavior from countrymen Demilich. Everyone should have a little Psychostasia in their life.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Disembowelment - Disembowelment (2005)

Funeral doom, as an art form, is concerned with feats of amazing restraint. Grindcore and death metal? Not so much. Disembowelment bridged that dichotomy in spectacular style in 1992. Transcendence into the Peripheral (included here along with most of the band’s recorded output) presents discrete visions of crisp, sharp, and haunting doom of the literal sort. Driven by industrial strength percussion, the outbursts of putridity manifest as sheets of blinding, grinding rage. Disembowelment’s time on this earth was brief, but their legacy is a delicious landmark.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Gadget - Remote (2004)

I'm usually behind the ball on grindcore. When I need it, I need it bad. The rest of the time? Clueless. I missed Gadget's debut by a decade. Here stalks Swedish grind-mastery that's light on the Sunlight sauce preferred by their countrymen (see Nasum, etc.). Articulate crunch is borne on precision blasts and big fat beats. Caution is thrown to the wind, but satisfying, nuanced melody seeps into the gears, ensuring optimal aural lubrication. Someone dropped their dipstick in a bit of Dissection; cheers to you, Gadget. Remote is timeless grind.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Human Remains - Where Were You When (2002)

Building on meaty mounds of spasmodic deathgrind brilliance, Human Remains recorded in fits and spurts in the early ‘90s until the Using Sickness as a Hero EP spelled their untimely demise. Human Remains possessed all of the genius you’d expect from a band featuring Steve Procopio (Gridlink, Discordance Axis) and Dave Witte (Discordance Axis, Municipal Waste, and every band ever). Where Were You When is a compilation of the band’s recorded material, and I was clearly not there when it was released in 2002. Every one of these tracks, from the most immaculately recorded to those produced in a toilet, are a pure joy of crushing daedal impossibility. Rejoice in moist, mandatory mucoidal madness.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]