November 30, 2012

Pyrrhon - An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master

Artwork by Caroline Harrison

I got Pyrrhon's An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master back when the band self-released it on their Bandcamp. Later they signed to Selfmadegod, which led to said Bandcamp being decimated. Before the entire album was available as a name your price download, after you could only stream two songs. When I whined about it here, vocalist Doug Moore patiently explained that Selfmadegod requested Pyrrhon remove most of the album, and since they were nice enough to invest their resources in our music, it was the least we could do to oblige.

Fast forward to now. Selfmadegod has a Bandcamp, and An Excellent Servant But a Terrible Master has been restored to its full glory on the Pyrrhon Bandcamp. The circle has been closed (or something).

Pyrrhon plays technical death metal. The band has exquisite chops and writes lyrics that has something to say. Jazzy rhythm section, intense tremelo picking, chunky riffing, catchy breaks, spacey solos. And chaos. This is music that echoes a pulsating city, more specifically New York.
The subway tunnels sigh
Damp air rushing up through oiled grates
Drawn from phlegmy pools
That fester beneath the streets
Like New York Pyrrhon's music is busy and off-the-wall, and has lots of cool shit going on. And they manage to keep the chaos grounded, as Danhammer Obstkrieg writes Pyrrhon succeeds where a lot of ultra-technical death metal acts fail by actually allowing the listener to get her rhythmic bearings before going off on a fret-abusing tear.
Above, the world buzzes
Wires, fridges, flickering fixtures
Commercial jingles and radio chatter
Blaring klaxons and whispering mendicants

The city has fallen ill
Its foundations sink into muck
Check out the review from Heavy Blog is Heavy and off course the music itself.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Pyrrhon also have new 2012 Demo streaming at their Bandcamp.

November 28, 2012

Oak Pantheon - From a Whisper

By Natalie Zina Walschots. From A Whisper builds on Oak Pantheon's already sterling reputation. Their style draws frequent and favourable comparisons to blackened folk and doom metal legends Agalloch and Cascadian black metallers
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Artwork by Bob Stokes

From A Whisper builds on Oak Pantheon's already sterling reputation. Their style draws frequent and favourable comparisons to blackened folk and doom metal legends Agalloch and Cascadian black metallers Wolves in the Throne Room, and for good reason. They pair plaintive, wistful clean singing with masterfully executed harsh vocals, to great effect, especially on the vast and mournful "It." The guitar work has a ranging, windswept quality that evokes the loneliness and haunting power of an immense pine forest buried in snow.

Oak Pantheon excel at painting sonic soundscapes and take a very visual approach to songwriting, allowing their tracks to unfold with the kinetic power of a wolf running across a plain. While there are many moments of acoustic loveliness on From a Whisper, Oak Pantheon never let the listener forget for a moment that the natural world they pay homage to is as dark as it is breathtaking, full of teeth, claws and sudden blizzards. If complex, shivering, blackened folk metal that places a hot muzzle to your throat and lets your blood leak out beautifully into the snow is for you, From A Whisper will be one of your favourite records of the year.

November 25, 2012

Ludicra - The Tenant

Profound Lore was one of first labels to release their back catalog on Bandcamp, including many out of print releases; Giving you a chance to learn about bands that you might otherwise have missed. I became interested in Ludicra when I read the "Thank You Ludicra" loveletter Cosmo Lee wrote on Invisible Oranges after they had split up. Then The Tenant was uploaded to the Profound Lore Bandcamp, and a few clicks later it was mine.

Most loved this band, a few called them "hipster metal". AllMusic has this to say about the first two tracks:

"Stagnant Pond" is quite pretty, but "A Larger Silence" is as ferocious as anything by Mayhem or Darkthrone. This dichotomy between savagery and refinement is at the core of Ludicra's music

Photos by Carmelo Española.

And the esteemed Full Metal Attorney writes about the one aspect of Ludicra that set them apart from most other bands:

This is decidedly feminine black metal. The primary vocalist (the screecher) and the guitarist/backing vocalist (the clean singer) are both women, and it seems they must be the driving force behind the band ... But by calling it pretty and feminine, I don't mean to diminish any of its metallic qualities. The music still manages to be heavy and even aggressive in some places. It also covers a lot of ground, from the somewhat staccato heaviness of "In Stable", to the doom-like "The Undercaste" ... But mostly it centers on isolated-sounding sadness.

Photos by Carmelo Española.

The isolation and confinement is expressed in lyrics like the ones to the brilliant Clean White Void:

Take me to the cut and dry
Cold... a frozen place
Makes me hide any expression
Makes me hide in the fake

What makes Ludicra so fantastic is the way the beauty and aggression of the music seem to offer an escape from the dark places detailed in the lyrics. Check this out if you haven't.

Thenn - Threshing the Golden Fields EP

Thenn - Threshing the Golden Fields EP. This is crusty black metal with that punkish sense of chaos and aggression. The croaked vocals sounds fantastic, I can't imagine what the singers vocal chords must feel like after tearing through a set. The songs mixes ripping black black metal with carefully selected elements of crust/hardcore; they come at you in raw bursts of blackness. Read the detailed review from Cvlt Nation and check them out.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: Nope that is not the album artwork, Thenn just hasn't uploaded any yet.

Life in the Dark - The Sunya is Rising

The Sunya is Rising, the debut EP from Life in the Dark is dominated by the title track spanning 23 minutes and 27 seconds. Epic drone that ebb and flows between crushing melancholy and quieter dirges. I think this is entirely electronic, with what sounds like giant guitar chords and massive mechanical drums all bathed in reverb. Coupled with melancholic little piano melodies and the sad wailing voices you can pick up deep below in the mix. You could call this electronic funeral doom, I call it a beautiful piece of music. Check out the review by the gentlemen at Lurker's Path.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 23, 2012

Agruss - Morok

Guest review by Eric Yanyo from Valley of Steel.

Agruss is from the town of Rivne (Рівне), Ukraine, just a short distance away from one of that country’s nuclear power plants. Furthermore, that town is only about 400km away from the town of Chornobyl (Чорнобиль), or more commonly known by its Russian name Chernobyl (Чернобыль). As you are probably aware, that town — now almost completely abandoned — was very close to the site of another Ukranian nuclear power plant, until an explosion occurred there, releasing nuclear contaminants all over the surrounding area.

Says Agruss, “Morok is a joyless vision of the tragedy that is happening around us. Death is already there and we are standing on the brink of the Abyss.” Living in such close proximity to a constant reminder of mankind’s destructive potential has understandably left the band feeling very hateful and vindictive. They describe a harmonious symphony that occurs in nature, saying that just one element of that symphony has chosen to play his own part, resulting in a dissonance that has upset the otherwise perfect balance.

Fading in with the sound of a chilly breeze, the dulcet tones that open the first track, “Damnation,” set the landscape for the forthcoming tale. But as we soon discover, there is very little peace and tranquility to be found here. An explosion of drums and guitars carry the vocals — a blend of ethereal ghostly shrieks with subterranean barked growls — with everything soaked in enough reverb to convey the barrenness and emptiness of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. For well over an hour, the pattern continues: occasional soft, mournful sounds and echoes rise out of the silence, only to be swallowed whole by the terrible emotion that comprises the band’s allegory for mankind. Whether it would be worse to be among those killed by a catastrophic disaster, or to be left alive, trying to survive in a land that is poisoned and dying — the venomous emanations of this record seem to express sufficient rage for both, in songs such as “Damnation” and “Punishment for All,” while simultaneously mourning the living and the dead, in some of the more atmospheric and sullen moments of songs like “Fire the Saviour from Plague” or “When the Angels Fall.”

The real centerpiece of the album, though, is the suite “Under the Snow” which makes up the final three tracks. Part I mainly consists of heavy-hitting doomy death metal riffs, with the vocalists howling with blind fury; Part II begins even more down-tempo, with even the drums accompanying the sludgey doom of the guitars, only to explode into a blastbeat session with screamed vocals even less intelligible than before, as well as the eerie inclusion of what sounds like the chiming of church bells. Finally, by Part III, everything has been ground down into patently post-metal territory: over the course of these final fifteen minutes, all that remains are some atmospheric sound effects behind a dreary repeated guitar motif, with the addition of some agonizing wails coming from such a distance that they might actually be from beyond the grave. The cautionary parable having reached its culmination, the vocals here seem to be representing the cries of the repentant after it’s already too late to do any good. Eventually, all else is silenced but the howling of the wind through a land of nothingness.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: This review is adapted from the original published here. Morok contains 9 songs, of which only 5 are streaming on the Bandcamp. If you buy the album you get all 9 tracks.

November 22, 2012

Pro-Death - The Aesthetic Somber Of Death

Pro-Death's The Aesthetic Somber Of Death is available on the Black Goat Records. This is Mechanized Death Metal. Not the slick industrial death metal of Fear Factory, these machines are rusting and on the verge of falling apart. The growling is guttural and the guitars are downtuned and buzzing; the production is raw and crusty like an old-school death metal record.

The Aesthetic Somber Of Death is collection of previously unreleased material from 1999-2005, this means it lacks the coherence of a real album and the production sometimes varies from track to track. But these are minor quibbles, the best songs like Earth's Disease mixes crushing death metal with raw machinery to great effect.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: The Aesthetic Somber Of Death contains 11 songs, of which only 5 are streaming on the Bandcamp. If you buy the album you get all 11 tracks.

November 21, 2012

Impetuous Ritual - Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence

Review by Adrian Tan.

For the uninitiated, Impetuous Ritual’s brand of metal is difficult to digest to say the least - no less of course due the obvious Portal influences where two members are common denominators across both bands.

The music here is driven relentlessly by swirling guitar riffs that threaten to suffocate the listener right from the get go. Things are not all one dimensional though. Once accustomed to the chaotic and buffeting guitar riffs, one would notice the curiously juxtaposing rhythm section. Tempo changes here keep pace to anchor the frantic chaos most of the time but there are moments where it grinds to a crawl (such as that on the aptly named album closer “Dirge”). This subtle mix of dynamics works well to create an overall atmosphere that is dreadful, and at the same time, intriguing. Taken as a whole, this concoction works surprisingly well to absorb the listener. As if emanating from a long abandoned, ichor stained, unholy temple of some vile deity (undoubtedly Lovecraftian!), one is slowly but inexplicably dragged into it’s depths of insanity.

It is difficult to draw a genre boundary for Impetuous Ritual (and Portal too for that matter). While the technical execution is undoubtedly a mash of Death and Doom metal, the emotional content here is anything but. And this for me, is the exact reason why there is so much to love about metal in the first place.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Graf Orlock - Los Angeles

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Graf Orlock (named after the character in early cinema masterpiece Nosferatu) are a grindcore band from Los Angeles, CA. They have been labelled cinema-grind for their use of film dialogue as lyrics, especially from action
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Graf Orlock (named after the character in early cinema masterpiece Nosferatu) are a grindcore band from Los Angeles, CA. They have been labelled cinema-grind for their use of film dialogue as lyrics, especially from action and science fiction titles, and their extensive sampling of dialogue, especially as song intros. Guitarist/vocalist Jason Schmidt also runs Vitriol Records, and releases all Graf Orlock's material, as well as others like Ghostlimb and Dangers.

The band favour the EP format; most of their releases have been short, tight compositions, and Los Angeles follows 2011's well-received Doombox EP. This particular release veers away from the speculative fiction they often favour and instead samples Michael Mann's Heat. Graf Orlock match the irresistible structure of tension and cathartic violence of action films with ten minutes of tight, explosive music designed to titillate and entertain. The lo-fi quality of their sound takes on the cast of grindhouse sleaze, the crackle of feedback evoking the imperfection of celluloid.

There's intimacy to Los Angeles as well, a type of enforced closeness that you often see crop up between characters in violent films who have been through too much not to form a relationship with each other. Love inspired by trauma and explosions is the perfect metaphor for Graf Orlock, and in particular Los Angeles, all distilled immediacy and adrenaline, with the tang of gunpowder.

November 19, 2012

Dephosphorus - Night Sky Transform

Written by Atanamar Sunyata.

Artwork by Viral Graphics

Dephosphorus’ debut album, Axiom, was a game changer. That transdimensional contraption is driven by ominous divinations, deranged sprints, and grinding grooves, its gears lubricated with a spectral sheen of black metal might. Axiom is, to put it lightly, sublime.

Night Sky Transform, released in August, reveals a band in rapid mutation. The grooves swing a bit wider, and the break-neck grind-vibe is often subsumed by sludgier sentiments. The bursts of wanton speed persist, but their movements are more controlled. Axiom’s sinister black aura is boiled down and poured over the proceedings in the form of mucilaginous arpeggiation. The cadence here is more varied, with wicked riffs rolling and rocking at various neck-wrecking velocities.

The album’s most striking moments manifest in the form of anomalous dirges. Several tracks feature clean vocals, chanted or semi-sung, drawing a sharp contrast to the throat-ripping diatribes Dephosphorus have thus far conveyed. “The Fermi Paradox” trudges in a hypnotic orbit while “Unconscious Excursion” emotes the livid mania of a Cobalt creation (with help from Ryan Lipynsky). The album’s lyrics detail apocalyptic astral conjurations, cosmos conquering crusades and visions of extraterrestrial bloodshed. These tales are all thankfully included in the bandcamp download; they’re an essential part of the listening experience.

While I might prefer Axiom’s precipitous sonic vision, Night Sky Transform is no less revelatory. Dephosphorus have built another bona fide beaut, shaping space and time into unfathomable and irresistible forms. Night Sky Transform is a harbinger. All Hail Aurora.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness

Classic metal albums have really begun to appear on Bandcamp. Relapse Records started with their alumni page (Amorphis, Incatation etc), soon you had The Season of Mist catalogue page (featuring Mayhem, Watain, and others), classic Manilla Road on the Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp, and even lost gems like this one from AntropomorphiA

Artwork by Dan Seagrave

Classic metal albums have really begun to appear on Bandcamp. Relapse Records started with their alumni page (Amorphis, Incatation etc), soon you had The Season of Mist catalogue page (featuring Mayhem, Watain, and others), classic Manilla Road on the Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp, and even lost gems like this one from AntropomorphiA. New on Bandcamp are Osmose Productions (Enslaved, Immortal etc) and Earache Records with Napalm Death, and now Morbid Angel's debut Altars of Madness from 1989.

Also available on the Earache Records Bandcamp is Bolt Thrower's War Master from 1991 and it is interesting to compare the two albums. War Master sounds decidedly (and deliciously) old-school. Altars of Madness sounds remarkably modern with it's production tricks, unorthodox time signatures, and Trey Azagthoth's hallucinogenic soloing. David Vincent had not yet perfected his signature deep growl, here he utilizes a raspier style, sounding like a mix between death and metal vocals. And off course Pete Sandoval's drumming set new standards for just how fast you could play, easily matching Azagthoth's blistering riffing.

In his review from From the Dust Returned his eminence the Autothrall calls Altars of Madness "an immensely influential work." And I would say that you can trace a line from this album and up to much of contemporary technical and progressive death metal. If you haven't checked this out yet, you owe it to yourself to do so.

November 16, 2012

Undergang - True Metal of Death

I wrote a little piece on Undergang for No Clean Singing.
Thanks to NCS head honcho Islander for publishing it.

November 14, 2012

Relapse Sampler 2012

Relapse Records have added a free 2012 sampler to their Bandcamp. Featuring highlights from all of Relapse Records' releases on the year plus a preview of what's in store for next year. The previews are a song from new signing Ironhorse's debut album Dragged Down a Dead End Path and from General Surgery forthcoming EP Like An Ever Flying Limb. Both feature the kind of facemelting grindcore that is one Relapse's specialties. All tracks from this years releases feature individual artwork and description of the album it was pulled from, but it would have been cool with a link to the album as well. 21 tracks in total, many from albums I haven't had time to listen to yet (new Pig Destroyer!). A great sampler.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 13, 2012

Jodis - Black Curtain

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

A supergroup of sorts Jodis features Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer), James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD), and Tim Wyskida (Khanate, Blind Idiot God) and their second Ambient Drone album called Black Curtain

Sparse. That is the word that best describes this album. An economy of notes. Plotkins guitars are like subdued sonic waves. Chords struck and allowed to resonate into the darkness. Wyskida’s drumming adds texture with deliberate strikes meant to accent the songs as opposed to simply keeping a beat. Turners vocals are made of quiet melancholy in a way I have never heard from him before. In fact his vocal approach on this album is a big step forward from their first album. Jodis’ sound have much more in common with Khanate or Jesu than Isis. In fact if you crossed Khanate with later era Earth, this may very well be how the music would sound. Songs move at a snails pace and envelops the listener with a feeling of floating in isolation. While Turner’s vocals are your guide through it all.

As many know, Hydra Head is closing it’s doors. And while that is sad news. If this is one of the last albums they release before doing so, then they are going out with a bang. Let’s just hope that the end of Hydra Head does not mean the end of Jodis. Because with their second release it really feels as if this band is hitting it’s stride and has much more to say musically.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Murmuüre - Murmuüre

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Everything Has Been Said

When I listened to this self titled album by Murmuüre for the first time I actually just wanted to skim through it to get a first impression, but I was so intrigued by the very first sounds that I found myself listening to it closely from the beginning to the end instead…, again and again.

These six tracks come in “styled” in a Black Metal outfit, but the huge variety of influences it draws on and the way it was created by mixing the different components make it an experimental electronic project as well. The base and the core of all six tracks is an hour long guitar improvisation, from which Murmuüre (in fact it is one single guy from France) selected parts and then added all the other components to them. There are all kinds of ambient synth sounds, chaotic drumming, programmed and live, and vocals that were, according to Murmuüre, “recorded during a cathartic trance at a sacred place in the forest with a mini-disc recorder.” To listen to this album is an intense and emotional experience. A seemingly chaotic mash up of ambient, fuzzy, noisy synth sounds, Black Metal riffs, drone scapes, fragile enchanting melodies, creepily whispered vocals, flutes and weird crackles and distortion is magically disturbing and disorientating, but at the same time it is breathtakingly organic in it’s emotional impact. And herein lies the essential beauty and brilliancy of this work. So many different ideas are brought together here and created into a complex entirety.

This album of Murmuüre will remain the only one of this kind, so the guy says who is Murmuüre. What a shame, but it’s completely plausible to me, because I think the album expresses a very personal emotional state and everything has been said.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 12, 2012

Undergang - Til Døden Os Skiller - Indhentet Af Døden

Art by David Torturdød from Undergang

The two full-length albums by Denmark's Undergang are now available as name your price downloads on their Bandcamp. Indhentet Af Døden (from 2010) and Til Døden Os Skiller (from 2012) are both putrid slabs of old-school death metal. You know the other death metal cliches: rotten, filthy, disgusting, nasty. All true. Indhentet Af Døden bludgeons you with brutal riffs performed with with an almost hardcore like single-mindedness. But don't confuse this with simple-mindedness, Undergang keeps you on your toes by adding the odd weird riff and time-signature change. As the esteemed Full Metal Attorney succinctly labels them: Obituary twisted by Demilich

On Til Døden Os Skiller the death metal have been given a little more room to breathe, making this a remarkably atmospheric album. As this enthusiastic review from Sputnikmusic states: What can be most appreciated about "Til Døden Os Skiller" is how well Undergang keeps that filthy, evil atmosphere always present. The use of chilling sound samples (all Danish) certainly helps, the instrumental Kadavarmarch even starts with a rendition of the Lord's Prayer. But make no mistake this is still Undergang playing death metal for you, just a little deeper and slower. And as the best death metal the pounding riffs constantly instill a sense of life in you, even though the riffs are literally killing you.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 11, 2012

Enslaved - Monumension

Enslaved's Monumension from 2001 marked an important step in their transition from a straight black metal band to the King Crimson of Viking Metal. On Monumension they maintain a base of thrashy black metal, but contrasts it with Pink Floyd-esque psychedelic rock. As befits the progressive tendencies none of the songs feel alike, but despite that the album flows well; moving from straight black (and death) to the aforementioned psychedelic parts with ease. And tossing in elements of sludge and doom, and even a couple of blasted sequences along the way. Keyboards are used well; they add atmosphere and progressive touches but never threaten to overpower the songs. The production has an organic feel; everything sounds a little rough around the edges, creating an interesting contrast against the progressive intricacies. Monumension is an album that feels alive. Check out the reviews from AllMusic and From the Dust Returned.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 9, 2012

Make - Axis

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

One year after the release of the fantastic album Trephine. MAKE continues on their genre mixing quest by releasing the three song Axis E.P. Like all music they make, progression is the name of the game.

The title track is a slow burner instrumental that gains speed as is goes. Going from Drone, to hypnotic shoegaziness, to an all out guitar assault in the span of 17 minutes. Chimera starts with a Sludge heavy riff with screamed vocals, moves into Black Metal rasped Sludge, and then into guttural voiced Sludge. With each new vocal style also comes a shift in the music’s tempo. Are you getting the point that these guys never end the way they start? The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters sees the bass and drums locked in a groove while the guitar is creating all kinds of atmospheric sounds. Then 4 minutes in shifts into an Ambient Drone piece as the drum and bass slowly fade out giving way to piano.

This three song E.P. does a great job of showing how versatile and progressive this band is. Their songs are constantly shifting in the most fluid ways allowing all their influences to be heard without songs feeling bloated. MAKE blew me away with their full length and have done it once again with this E.P.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 7, 2012

Autolatry - Of The Land

Review by Andy Osborn.

The very first Bandcamp page I had ever stumbled across was for Autolatry’s 2010 LP The Hill. At the time I was mourning the loss of USBM greats Ludicra, and Autolatry’s like-minded metal helped me through the grieving process immensely. Earlier this year, though, the band released another great recording. Of The Land is a concept album about the beauty found in the band’s home, taking you through the wintry forests and mountains of the New England wilderness. Autolatry play a new-school brand of black metal that is just begging for its own official title. It’s melodic, prog-influenced grimness covered in a sheen of ice and beauty. The songs are crafted meticulously, drawing every inch of breath from the chilled riffs to explore their full potential and tweaking them through each verse and chorus. Between acoustic bridges, unsuspecting timing and beautifully reserved solos, Autolatry compact the sweet spots into accessible packages instead of drawing out every unique section as so many “forward-thinking” bands tend to do. They put enough work into their sub-six minute tracks that others would take a quarter hour to explore, making the Of The Land a wholly satisfying listening experience rather than leaving you begging for more.

The EP is book-ended by up-tempo forays which give away hints of influence from Northern Europe without straying too far from the band’s prog roots. Such hearty fare is impressive for a band so young; on their most recent tour only 3/5 of the band was of legal drinking age in the States. To have crafted something with so much soul speaks volumes of the energy of their lives and of the passion for what they do. Masterfully cemented at the legendary Morrisound Recordings studio, the mix perfectly complements the band’s style. The guitars are gritty without giving way to frostbitten buzzes and the bass shines forward, guiding and swaying the band through journeys that sometimes step into jam session status. Of The Land is metal for music lovers, full of rich texture, undoubted skill and completely lacking in compromise.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Napalm Death - Scum - From Enslavement to Obliteration

Napalm Death's Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration. The birth of grindcore from 1987 and 1988. In the expanded and remastered 25 years anniversary versions. On the newly opened Earache Records Bandcamp. Oh yes! The press release for Scum states that
The album has been specially remastered from the original tapes using Full Dynamic Range (FDR), allowing the music’s nuances to shine through, giving the whole album a more ferocious and dynamic sound
This review from Freq tells what this actually means for you, the listener:
This re-issue has plenty of moments where you can hear THE FUCK out of the drummer, the vocal reverbs, the guitar crunch and so on. Weirdly, this feels like a moment when Grindcore has, by some cultural osmosis, been absorbed into a world where it’s really nice to hear every element of the playing on a record which, when I first heard it, was a baffling wall of noise.
In the end of this interview from Decibel Magazine, Mick Harris (the drummer on both albums) discusses Scum in context of the re-release. He describes it as essentially two different recordings with two different lineups and two different sounds:
the muddiness of side B and then the heaviness of side A—Justin [Broadrick] caught a bit of [Celtic] Frost on there, we won’t deny that! Quality influence but Justin’s take on it, that bend of the string and those little harmonics that he’d put at the start of it
Later he names side A the thrashier fare and calls side B just filth. This puts in words why side A was always my favorite, it does have a more metallic edge. And I can assure you, the menacing riffs of the title track and the fantastic blasting section in the middle of Siege of Power has never sounded better!

From Enslavement to Obliteration is an album I somehow never got around to - a mistake I intend to rectify right away. Off course The Metal Archives has lots of reviews of both these seminal albums, go here for Scum and here for FETO.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 5, 2012

Barrowlands - Demo 2012

Barrowlands 2012 Demo is black metal wrapped in warm and comforting Cascadian cloth. The use of acoustic guitars and cello gives the epic melodies a tinge of folk music. The sorrowful sound of the cello in particular fits this type of black metal very metal. The riffing and the blasting are still there though, just not in abundance; in fact the drumming is quite dynamic. The intensity ebbs and flows through the use of subtle tempo changes. The tremolo picking is sometimes accentuated by interesting guitar leads, solos even. An enjoyable and very atmospheric demo.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 4, 2012

Amarok - Amarok

Amarok has been described as the loud deafening roar of doom. They play really heavy doom combined with sludge and drone, and have a fascinating dual death/black vocal approach. The mix of guttural groans and chilling screams reminds me a little of Laudanum. The tempos vary from slow and drony to Sabbathian stomps. The guitars packs a mighty punch and occasionally break into buzzing leads. Memorable (and sorrowful) melodic parts, and enough variation in the arrangements to keep things interesting.

Here's an account of how Amarok began life as a band. According to the Doommantia review the CD version of the album features three songs. In the comment section Amarok states that due to time constraints the vinyl version on Orca Wolf Records only has two of them. You can find the third song on their split with Pyramido, and a fourth on their split with Enth. Amarok helpfully includes roman numerals in their song titles, together I to IV is more than an hour worth of outstanding doom!

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note. The reviews of the Amarok splits links to the Boue Records Bandcamp. You can get all three Amarok releases directly from the Orca Wolf Records Bandcamp.

November 3, 2012

Aleph Null - Dale

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

From Germany comes Aleph Null. They mix Sludgy DOOM with a hint of 90’s era Seattle grunge.

This E.P. has all the trademarks one looks for in Sludgy DOOM music wise. Riff based guitars, heavy bass, solid drumming, all done with an undeniable groove. Vocally is where the grunge feel comes in, calling to mind bands like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Sponge. Vocals are sung in a clean bluesy refrain with touch of echo for effect. Which is welcome change of pace from the usual growled or screamed vocals many others go with. The production is great. Crystal clear without taking away from the heaviness of the crunch of the songs. Mixed perfect so that all can be heard.

For a debut E.P. this shows a lot of depth and promise. If they continue to do this well I think this may be a band talked about for some time in DOOM circles.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Planks - Funeral Mouth

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

After the release of The Darkest Greys/Solicit To Fail album I was hooked as a Planks fan. Their take on Sludge was exactly what I love. So when I heard of the release of the new album Funeral Mouth, I was anxious to see where they would take it next.

Atmosphere is what they are going for on this one. Allowing song to breathe and feel open. The trademarks one loves about the band are still there. Grinding guitars, throbbing bass lines and pounding drums. Vocals are still barked and the aggression is still there. They have just found a new way of delivering it, and done what Neurosis found out long ago: Putting something soft next to the heavy makes it much heavier.

Planks has seen a lot of progression in it’s short time as a band. Starting as a Hardcore influenced Sludge band, they began adding Black Metal and Doom elements to later albums. This one adds the element of Atmosphere with great effect. Who knows what future albums will bring in terms of style. It’s just good to see a band want to expand their sound with each release

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

November 1, 2012

AntropomorphiA - Bowel Mutilation - Necromantic Love Songs

Cover painting by Dré Smulders

20 years ago AntropomorphiA from Holland released their first demo Bowel Mutilation and their first full-length Necromantic Love Songs. Now both albums are available on Bandcamp (I suspect due to them getting the vinyl treatment by The Crypt). Melodic yet brutal death metal with originality. Old but not old-school.

Utterly guttural growled vocals, perfectly evil sounding. Not a lot of excessive technicality on display, but this is by no means primitive; The bass and the drums are always doing something interesting. Did I mention bass? These two albums are filled with lots and lost of gorgeous bass playing. The rumbling bass riffs in the doomy Splattered Remains, the beautiful bass lines in the beginning of Crack The Casket, an almost funky bass intro to The Carnal Pit.

I think Necromantic Love Songs is a lost classic in its own right, but if you combine it with Bowel Mutilation it becomes truly awesome. Starting with the fanfare intro of Bowel Mutilation. Skipping the last two tracks (which also appears on Necromantic Love Songs). Continuing with the whole of Necromantic Love Songs. And ending with the simple but effective bass solo A Nekromantik Love Song. This is all I could ever want from Death Metal. Here's a review from The Metal Archives.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]