May 31, 2015

Vermörd - Dawn of the Black Harvest

By Matt Hinch. In a way, Vermörd are to black metal in 2015 as Noisem were to thrash in 2013. A bunch of teenagers with prodigious skills leaving listeners awestruck by not only their chops but by their songwriting acuity. They even come from the same area. Vermörd's debut EP, Dawn of the Black Harvest
By Matt Hinch.

Illustration by Luciana Nedelea

In a way, Vermörd are to black metal in 2015 as Noisem were to thrash in 2013. A bunch of teenagers with prodigious skills leaving listeners awestruck by not only their chops but by their songwriting acuity. They even come from the same area. Vermörd's debut EP, Dawn of the Black Harvest is a feast for the ears.

It's as steeped in eroding darkness as you'd expect from the artwork. Intro track “Disciples of Shakhbûrz” sets an ominous and dreary tone but with shades of triumph in its minimalist ambience. “Plagued Eyes from the Scrolls of Xafmirtas” blows that all away in a flurry of flesh-searing black metal and spirit-conjuring solos. Brilliant tremolos and relentless percussion drive into the skull like cursed nails, hammering home Vermörd's technical death metal side.

Terrifying and frigid BM screeching is met with deathly growls, further cementing their unholy union of blackness and death. They manage to convey that sense of ancient grandeur while absolutely flattening with face-melting speed and superb guitar acrobatics.

Vermörd show tremendous promise and ridiculous talent. They bring together melodic black metal runs with the crunch of death metal and turn it into something harrowing, oppressive, epically stirring and monumental in scale. It's to the point and not moody or brooding. Dawn of the Black Harvest is death and black metal made for getting it done with maximum bloody efficiency and zero sacrifice (other than virgins).


Tagged with 2015, blackened death metal, Grimoire Records, Matt Hinch

May 30, 2015

Lord Time - Drink My Tears

By Aaron Sullivan. Lord Time is the solo project of Los Angeles black metal band Harassor’s drummer, Sandor GF. Much like the solo projects of his other band members, Lord Time allows him to explore the many other sides of music and experimentation he’s into outside of the Harassor moniker.
By Aaron Sullivan.


Lord Time is the solo project of Los Angeles black metal band Harassor’s drummer, Sandor GF. Much like the solo projects of his other band members, Lord Time allows him to explore the many other sides of music and experimentation he’s into outside of the Harassor moniker.

Drink My Tears is ostensibly one song clocking in at over 50 minutes. But upon listening you realize quickly it is many different songs that make up this single track. These songs range from slow hypnotic dirges to raw black metal. Vocals can range from gurgling shrieks to distorted monotone, almost robotic sounding vocals. Some songs are broken up by experimental ambient pieces. The transitions are not abrupt. In fact many fade from one right into the next. There is no real pattern to how it flows, which is great. It helps the music stay fresh as you never know what is coming next. You return to things that sound familiar but nothing is repeated. The low-fi production of it gives it a bit of a haze. While listening, it gives you an almost dream like feeling (or nightmare depending on your mindset).

For me while listening to it I get this image of a journey through a multi roomed house. Every door opened leads you to a different place and sometimes back from which you came. It also reminded me a bit of the boat scene in Willy Wonka. While he remained calm (Lord Time) the passengers (the listener) are freaking out and unnerved not only by the images. But also by the uneasy feeling of not knowing what comes next. But like them you know you must stay until the end.

No doubt a single track of over 50 minutes is a bit daunting for most music listeners. But with so much content contained within the length is really just an afterthought. It’s great musical journey from start to finish.



On Lord Time's Bandcamp Drink My Tears is broken into two tracks. But it was recently re-released on CD and can be heard (and bought) as intended, as a single track on the Universal Consciousness Bandcamp page.

Tagged with 2013, Aaron Sullivan, black metal, free download, Lord Time

May 22, 2015

Obsequiae - Aria of Vernal Tombs

By Justin C. When we talk about metal bands being "old school," the timeline doesn't go back all that far, relatively speaking. For black metal, that might mean a second wave sound, or maybe going all the way back to ye olden days of the late 1980s for Bathory.
By Justin C.


When we talk about metal bands being "old school," the timeline doesn't go back all that far, relatively speaking. For black metal, that might mean a second wave sound, or maybe going all the way back to ye olden days of the late 1980s for Bathory. Metal as a whole doesn't go back much past 45 years or so, if we're considering Sabbath to be the genesis. Obsequiae, however, is here to show us what real "old school" means, and it's medieval. Literally.

Obsequiae's second album, Aria of Vernal Tombs, finds the band building on the sound they established on their debut, Suspended in the Brume of Eos. Blackish metal is interspersed with, and takes inspiration from, music from centuries ago. Aria's opener, "Ay que por muy gran fremosura," is from a collection of religious musical poems dating to the mid-1200s. "L'amour dont sui espris" is a rocking little lute ditty attributed to a French troubadour from roughly the same time period. All of the medieval pieces on the album are interpreted by Vicente La Camera Mariño playing a medieval harp.

The metal tunes, in turn, take inspiration from the ancient songs that fall between them. "Autumnal Pyre" plays with the melodic ideas in "Ay que por muy gran fremosura," except with distorted guitars and blackened shrieks. But if this were just an album that alternated between medieval tunes and metal covers of those songs, it would be more novelty than art, but the band doesn't fall into that trap. Obsequiae somehow manages to live in a musical world that's both ancient and modern at the same time. It's an alternate universe where electric guitars were invented 600 years earlier and were not only used to play the music of the time, but also changed the development of that music fundamentally.

The medieval tunes take a more prominent role on Aria than they did on Brume of Eos, but there's still plenty of meaty metal to sink your teeth into. "Pools of a Vernal Paradise" may mimic the free-flowing intro of the lute piece before it, but the thundering percussion and hints of Sabbath-ian riffage bring the heavy. The closing track, "Orphic Rites of the Mystic," may be preceded by one of the most delicate harp pieces on the album, but it contrasts that with some of the most ferociously performed vocals on the album.

There are a million great moments to absorb here. The songs are complex, mixing in ornamentations well known from Renaissance and Baroque music with surprising bits of dissonance and rhythmic sleights of hand that you wouldn't expect. It's a fantastic piece of music, and as a classical guitar player, I think it would be incredible if more people dug into the music Obsequiae is drawing from. But those excursions should be in between obsessive listens and re-listens to Aria, of course.


Tagged with 20 Buck Spin, 2015, Justin C, medieval black metal, melodic black metal, Obsequiae

May 21, 2015

Violet Cold - Desperate Dreams

By Celtic Frosty. Violet Cold is, according to its lone member Emin Guliyev, an “experimental one-man band from Baku, Azerbaijan.” Azerbaijan is a small transcontinental country situated where Eastern Europe and Western Asia meet, sharing borders with Iran, Armenia, Russia, Georgia
By Celtic Frosty.


Violet Cold is, according to its lone member Emin Guliyev, an “experimental one-man band from Baku, Azerbaijan.” Azerbaijan is a small transcontinental country situated where Eastern Europe and Western Asia meet, sharing borders with Iran, Armenia, Russia, Georgia, and flanked by the Caspian Sea to the east. You’ve most likely never heard of it until now, but with Desperate Dreams, Violet Cold’s first full length after releasing 24 singles and 2 EPs, Emin has burst through the doors of obscurity into the light. And what a beautiful, rapturous light it is.

It’s possibly due to Emin’s relatively unknown (at least within the metal scene) locale that Desperate Dreams is such a unique find within the saturated genre of post black metal. In the opening seconds of “La Petite Mort,” the album’s first and featured track, it becomes immediately clear that Mr. Guliyev is an extremely bold and gutsy songwriter. That major chord synth pop melody is one of the most joyous lead-ins to a black metal record you’re likely to find, and it sets the tone for the rest of the album with authority. These synth pop melodies and hooks are ever-present throughout all 8 tracks, usually serving as the centerpiece that holds the swirling chaos surrounding it in tact.

Though that description may be a turn off to the more morose among you, the synths on Desperate Dreams do nothing to round the sharp edges of Violet Cold’s ferocity. These black metal tracks rip and snarl, trying to claw their way to the promise of the shimmering euphoria to which those pop undertones elude, but ultimately falling short. Desperate Dreams is tagged on Bandcamp as “depressive black metal,” and despite an abundance of what could only be described as feel good moments, there’s an ever-present bleakness to these songs as Emin’s sorrowful screams betray the bright music surrounding him.

There is beauty in the existential struggle we all face as sentient beings. The daunting task of finding meaning, understanding ourselves, and ultimately surrendering to our own demise. Violet Cold has managed to stir that beauty to the top of the pot, if only for a brief 33 minutes, and asked us to consider this balance of light and shadow. The contrast and the interconnectedness of it all. The idea that even though we may always walk in the shadows, we are by definition never far from the light.


Tagged with 2015, Celtic Frosty, post-black metal, Violet Cold

May 19, 2015

Graves - Fides Ad Nauseam

By Craig Hayes. There’s a great review of Abandon All Life, the 2013 album from Californian powerviolence crew Nails, that’s always stuck in my mind. Chiefly because the author noted that in order to really capture Abandon All Life’s high-speed hostilities
By Craig Hayes.

Over at his blog Six Noises Craig is celebrating New Zealand Music Month, "New Zealand’s annual celebration of homegrown music". He writes "Generally, that involves a lot of mainstream media highlighting a lot of mainstream acts. So I’m here to try and redress the balance a bit. I’ll be posting a link to some rowdy New Zealand music for you to check out every day over the next month. Some bands will no doubt be familiar; others I hope will be fresh to your ears." Here's his take on Grave's new album, which he wrote before the celebration began.

Artwork by Keiran D Sipes

There’s a great review of Abandon All Life, the 2013 album from Californian powerviolence crew Nails, that’s always stuck in my mind. Chiefly because the author noted that in order to really capture Abandon All Life’s high-speed hostilities, their review should have: been one paragraph long, been written in ALL CAPS, and ended by telling you to go fuck yourself.

Obviously, if you've heard the kind of vicious and undeniably malicious noise that Nails make, then you’ll know that statement is essentially 100% accurate. However, that very same sentiment also happens to be an exceedingly good fit for Fides Ad Nauseam, the latest release from Auckland, New Zealand, band Graves.

Fides Ad Nauseam is an unquestionably ferocious and belligerent album too. And its contents are also delivered at hurricane speed by an extremely hostile sounding band. More to the point, Fides Ad Nauseam is loaded with fuck you firepower. With Graves’ incensed musical barrages bringing the kind of breakneck pandemonium that’s unleashed when hardcore’s hammer is used to bludgeon the darkest punk and metal into shape on vitriolic songs.

Graves’ metallic hardcore is raw and abrasive, and there’s a lot to enjoy if you’re a fan of Boston throat-tattooed crews, the savage racket of pulverisers like Mammoth grinder, or bands like Baptists, Hierophant, Dead in the Dirt, or Full of Hell. Similarly, Graves’ music is very much in the crossover vein. With everything played at a white-knuckled pace, and stacked with the kinds of nosebleed frequencies and enraged tones that’ll provide something for crust, D-beat, hardcore, and metal fans to enjoy.

Graves have released three ear-splitting recordings so far, with their 2012 self-titled debut, their 2014 split with Conniption, and the terse and turbo-speed Fides Ad Nauseam, which is Graves’ best release yet. Just as important as Graves’ sonic stamp on those releases is the imprint of the band’s attitude. Because there’s a strong DIY drive to Graves, along with a hefty chunk of confrontational clout too. So, you can expect zero concessions, or any hooks thrown in for your comfort.

Certainly, Fides Ad Nauseam starts off at 100mph, and never steps off the gas, no matter how bone-breaking the terrain. It’s all a crashing and gnashing deluge, with high-speed grinding guitars, and nine-tracks spat out in 12 brain-battering minutes.

Admittedly, given the primal punk and metal fusillades found on Fides Ad Nauseam, it might even seem somewhat counterproductive to think of breaking Graves’ methodology down to specifics. I mean, dissecting Fides Ad Nauseam clearly amplifies Graves’ best attributes. But then, the kind of assaultive noise that Graves dishes out is set on pummelling the listener into submission, not opening itself up for any in-depth analysis.

Graves deal in gut-felt hardcore and metal on Fides Ad Nauseam. The kind of brutal wall of noise that instinctively sends the blood pressure skyrocketing. So, sure, it’s right to praise the nuance. And yes, the skill it takes to play as hard, fast, and tight as Graves do should be acknowledged too. But, really, Graves aren't out to impress us at all. They’re here to impress upon us that there’s a very ugly world lurking right outside your door.

Graves go about dispensing that news in an exceedingly punishing manner on Fides Ad Nauseam. Leaving no room for sympathy, and little room to breathe with highly pressurized songs. With single word song titles such as “Hatred”, “Choke”, “Scorn” and “Vermin”, there’s little doubt about Graves’ thematic gamut either. It’s all punk rock’s wrath, delivered with a heavy dose of metal’s spitefulness. And it’s exactly the same mix of shock and awe on Graves’ other releases too.

There’s a musical consistency to all of those releases as well, with all being recorded, mixed and mastered by Tim Shann. And Shann has captured Graves’ visceral bite and bile extremely well on Fides Ad Nauseam. The album is hot-blooded and frenzied. With vocalist Richie snarling and spitting over guitarist Josh’s meteoric riffs––which switch from fierce hardcore to blackened punk to grindcore to crust, while the dirty distortion buzzes. Throw in drummer Martin’s relentless assault, and bassist Taz’s wallop, and Fides Ad Nauseam’s broadsides become incredibly cathartic, as well as very darkly anthemic. (Also, Fides Ad Nauseam features a couple of ripping covers in “Skitliv”––originally recorded by crust punk heroes Skitsystem––and "A Nation Sleeps", from hardcore legends Dropdead.)

Obviously, you can take your pick where to start with Graves’ three releases. They all feature the same innate and lightening-fast uppercut of metallic hardcore. They all contain abundant punk rock grime and fury. And with half an hour of music released in total so far, it’s not going to take you long to appraise Graves’ three blistering releases either.

Still, I’d recommend starting with Fides Ad Nauseam. It’s Graves’ most volatile release yet. It’s certainly an adrenaline-fuelled salvo from start to finish. And it just boils with seething intensity, and incandescent energy.


Tagged with 2015, Craig Hayes, crossover, free download, Graves, hardcore, punk

May 16, 2015

Merdarahta - As the Dark Clouds Swept Away We Could See the Sunset

By Matt Hinch. If I ever needed affirmation that the rock I live under is nice and cozy I can just think about how As the Dark Clouds Swept Away We Could See the Sunset is the first time I've heard Merdarahta despite the group being based a couple hours away and featuring members of Fuck The Facts
By Matt Hinch.

Artwork by Mélanie Mongeon

If I ever needed affirmation that the rock I live under is nice and cozy I can just think about how As The Clouds Swept Away We Could See The Sunset is the first time I've heard Merdarahta despite the group being based a couple hours away and featuring members of Fuck the Facts, most notably Mel Mongeon and Topon Das. Mel handles vocals obviously while Das is responsible for bass and samples. Rounding out the contributors are Seb Choquette on guitars and additional percussion and Leigh Newton listed as drums, vocals and budda machine.

The album strikes a hard contrast between sonically bludgeoning doom and a noisy, ambient drone and does so in a cyclical manner. The tracks alternate between oppressive, sludge infested doom and its polar opposite in beautiful yet unsettling noise/drone. One moment the listener floats in a vacuum, detached from earthly tethers and the next is slammed, full force into the ground, repeatedly and without mercy. It's a roller coaster of conflict that has the capacity to incapacitate the listener given the right environment.

The ambient tracks are quite a bit quieter and as stated not really grounded in much. They make the listener feel detached. Almost lost in a sombre sort of way. But they are the sunset that is revealed. Introspective too, allowing the mind to wander and ponder between the dark clouds of doom that act as more of a lashing out.

The doom passages are smashing though. It's like the plod of some infernal entity flattening all in its path with slavering bellows cutting through the din. Slow, sometimes atonal chugs of resolute heaviness beating out the frustration while the screams send it forth into the unknown. Waves crashing upon dark shores, wearing them away and inspiring awe, fear and peace all at once.

It's a contemplative album on both sides. Its creators no doubt using it to work through things, as well as the listener using it to transcend the drudgery of everyday life. No matter which side of the coin is presented there is catharsis through any means possible, the hard way or the peaceful way, especially in the albums's closer "Poverty Will Spread".

As the Dark Clouds doesn't follow expectations of solid structures but it's not so much jammed as it is free-form or stream of musical consciousness blood-letting. It's doom of a difficult sort as well. Not industrial but cold, not organic yet human with subtle tribal or ritual connotations. It's a tough album to describe and only slightly less so to experience. You have to let it be what it is and assimilate it as such. It's about letting go and moving on to something better (at least that's how it feels to me) not about forcing something to be a certain way. Sweep away the dark clouds, the doubt, the regret and just enjoy the sunset.


Tagged with 2015, ambient, doom metal, drone, Matt Hinch, Merdarahta

May 11, 2015

Akhlys - The Dreaming I

By Majbritt Levinsen. "Breath and Levitatation" - just breathe, levitate and let go... Like the title of the first track you are lured into a greater calm with its droning industrial ambiance which starts out this brilliant album.
By Majbritt Levinsen.

Artwork by David Herrerias

"Breath and Levitatation" - just breathe, levitate and let go...

Like the title of the first track you are lured into a greater calm with its droning industrial ambiance which starts out this brilliant album. You will be lifted upwards on a rusty post-apocalyptic roller coaster that, when reaching its peak, will lose all bearings and fall uncontrollable down into a hall of mirrors reflecting kaleidoscopic nightmares, which are both pitch dark, nauseating, claustrophobic and sinister, but also holds a serene beauty, hypnotic aural landscapes and bleak atmospheres that only can be derived from the depths of the unknown.

The Dreaming I became one of the most anticipated releases of the year after I heard "Consummation" on Soundcloud and could only hope for an album which would not stray too far away from the teaser-track. Luckily it did not!

The tracks are all brutally powerful on so many levels, the drumming is insane and goes on in hyper-speed laying a stable foundation to the bleak atmosphere Naas Alcameth paints with big brushes filled with tar, tears, blood, worms, venomous flowers and rotting cadavers. The guitars feels like a fine layers of delicate razorsharp spiderwebs rising and falling in a heavy murky breeze from the depths, and somewhere underneath lies the bass like a low hum from a sleeping beast. The vocal is sinister and dares you to come closer to listen to its terrible tales of nightmares. When Naas Alcameth incantates “Awaken! Awaken!” in the later part of "The Dreaming Eye", it feels like he is at the same time pulling out my guts, and I’m willingly letting him do it because it feels so good.

"Tides of Oneiric Darkness" stands out for me, but just a tiny bit, as all of the tracks on this album are solid compositions all on their own. It is both brutally fast, but has some really breathtaking rises and falls of the grinding guitar and then there are the moments when the track slows down just enough for you to look all the way down into the ethereal depths of the track only to takes off again, I have no words to describe it. The atmosphere can’t get any more dense, dark and absolutely marvelous.

All together it’s just a perfect glimpse into the unknown world of a dreaming mind. We all know how confusing and sometimes scary dreams can be, how our brain catalogues and orders and tidies up in our brain when we sleep, processing our daily inputs. Mostly we have no clue what we dreamt about, sometimes we remember the dreams and then there is the dreams that we cannot remember but still haunts us when we wake up. That nauseating, uneasy feeling we took with us from a dream, that will linger in you for the rest of the day. The Dreaming I is such a feeling transformed into bleak atmospheric black metal.

I am amazed by Naas Alcameth's pitch black atmosphere and brutal execution of the tracks and I’m sure it will find a spot on many best-of list this year.


Tagged with 2015, Akhlys, black metal, Debemur Morti Productions, Majbritt Levinsen

May 9, 2015

Label Spotlight: Transcending Obscurity Productions

By Kevin Page. Transcending Obscurity Productions from India, initially started as a webzine in 2005, then began releasing music in 2010. Let's talk about their three most recent offerings. Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, these Canuckleheads work in the sludgy doom ridden drone sewers of the metal world.
By Kevin Page.

Transcending Obscurity Productions from India, initially started as a webzine in 2005, then began releasing music in 2010. Let's talk about their three most recent offerings.

Artwork by Scott Stearns

Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, these Canuckleheads work in the sludgy doom ridden drone sewers of the metal world. Raw, evil, unpolished is the name of the game here. And with a bandname of The Whorehouse Massacre, I don't think I have to tell you what the lyrical content is about. This is a combination of the band's last two EP's that were released in 2013, Altar of the Goat Skull and VI, rolled into one nice little ditty for your listening (un)pleasure.



Artwork by Michael Yee

The first of two Australian bands we are featuring here. This Brisbane trio has unleashed their third full length album, Deathsteps to Oblivion, and a more appropriate title it could not be. While also heavily in the sludge domain, there's plenty of doomy death metal to go around. What the band is able to accomplish though is this interesting and unconventional amalgamation of sounds. Normally when you see these styles mentioned, you are fairly certain what you are gonna hear. But shatter that thought right now as they push the boundaries of what you would expect from each of the respective genres. I've yet to fully grasp all the nuances myself.




Norse, from the Southern Highlands of Australia, self released this EP, Pest, last year. Transcending Obscurity picked this up for a proper worldwide release this year, which was a smart move, as this simply needs to be heard. Classified as a blackened death metal, but it's so much more than that.

You'll notice the atonal riffs, but it doesn't really sound like Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega (two of the more prominent bands you think of in that style). The music is as cold as black metal but with a dissonant thickness of frozen Vegemite. The vocals shriek and spew fire like a rabid dropbear. It's horrifying and sorta experimental at the same time. Kinda the same way all of Australia's wildlife is.


Tagged with 2014, 2015, blackened death metal, death metal, drone, funeral doom metal, Kevin Page, Norse, sludge metal, The Dead, The Whorehouse Massacre, Transcending Obscurity

May 6, 2015

Razor - Violent Restitution

An Autothrall Classic. Violent Restitution is the thrash metal equivalent of being manacled to a batting cage and having each member of the Bad New Bears roster beat you in the ribs, liver, balls, and upside the skull a few times in successio
An Autothrall Classic. Originally published here.

Cover art by Steve Hutchens

Violent Restitution is the thrash metal equivalent of being manacled to a batting cage and having each member of the Bad New Bears roster beat you in the ribs, liver, balls, and upside the skull a few times in succession; then to smirk and spit in your eye as they hand off the sporty bludgeon to their next teammate. It's just THAT fucking entertaining and abusive, and in my opinion, one of the most fun, frenetic and simply intense efforts of its kind in existence; certainly one of the most incendiary and memorable speed/thrash records of the 80s outside of Germany or California. I've gotten so much enjoyment from this album in the past quarter century, that despite having purchased the LP, cassette and CD versions, I feel like I owe Dave Carlo at least another $100 dollars and a six-pack.

You know the old saying 'they don't make 'em like they used to'? Well, this is the living, serrated proof of that statement's validity. Even though I'm annually inundated with countless, excellent examples of blackened thrash, death/thrash or hyperactive paeans to the 80s, many of which manage to successfully ape the visceral excitement of a record like this, there's nothing quite the same. Like a Reign in Blood, Darkness Descends or Zombie Attack, it fashions the most straightforward of intentions into a seamless bloodthirst. Fast drums, angry riffs hurtling past you at a mile a minute, and gruesome vocals that sound like they're coming from a man who was just stabbed in the face during some barroom altercation with a half-broken glass bottle. No riff seems out of place, no derelict tempo or stylistic diversion enters the frame to diminish its momentum. Violent Restitution never pretends to be what it's not, knows and respects its own boundaries, and offers you precisely what its cover implies: an escape into social unrest, serial killer b-flicks, and a repository for unchecked, unapologetic masculinity. So close to perfection that you can taste it. In fact, if I wasn't such a massive nerd for Voivod in their prime, this would prove my favorite Canadian metal record. Ever.

Like its chronological/national neighbor Dimension Hatröss, Violent Restitution is a concept album. But the theme here isn't rocket science or speculative microscopic adventure. No, this is about 14 ways to kick your ass so hard that you'll have to floss your colon after it comes up through your throat and breaks all your teeth. The riffing provides the central force, tireless escapades of rapid mute picking and barrages of chords, coiled in the potency of Carlo's chosen tone. The guitars have more punch than almost any other Razor record. Less reverberated and atmosphere than an Evil Invaders or Executioner's Song, but denser and more effective than an Open Hostility. While Dave is the epitome of the thrash rhythm guitarist, even more so than fellow Canadian Jeff Waters of Annihilator, he's also quite capable of unhinged leads ("Eve of the Storm", "I'll Only Say It Once") that offer the bluesy, burning wildness metal snagged from its hard rock ancestry; or brief, spurious runs up and down the higher strings which add an extra level of chaos and acceleration to the standard machine gunning rhythm matrix he radiates.

Everything else on this album is secondary to that guitar, but by no means does it go down without a fight. Rob Mills' drums slap along like empty buckets being strung along a dragster on the speedway, and while there's not a lot of variation in what he's playing, he amply fills the shoes of predecessor M-Bro. Adam Carlo, younger brother do Dave, is the other new member on bass; and though his lines do little more than to mimic the guitars and increase their depth, there's this natural, pluggy tone to his playing that pounds away at your eardrums like the pulse of a heroine addict who just realized he's out of supply. Overall though, the album's engineers and producer (Brian Taylor, who had also worked with other Canadian mainstays like Sacrifice) did a knockout job of presenting Razor in this pummeling, pungent sound that easily trumps the airy aesthetics of its predecessor Custom Killing, or the thinner mix of Malicious Intent.

I should mention that the chainsaw samples, which appear at several points on the album, are excellent, and fire up the loins of the album's pacing even further. Unlike the ass-backwards, terrible Southern hard rock band Jackyl, whose cut "The Lumberjack" featured a chainsaw 'solo' and helped buy their fame, the gimmick is a lot more fun here, since it's obvious influenced more directly by the slasher flicks of the 70s and 80s. Violent Restitution, after all, is a very violent album, so when that buzzsaw begins a buzzin', it forces the listener to want to kick all that much harder. Razor also perfects their instrumental thrash opus here with "The Marshall Arts", an aptly pun-titled piece of moshing resilience which features some of the explosive riffing on the album straight out the starting gate. I'd place this in the arena with just about any other track of its sort, certainly with S.O.D.'s "March of the S.O.D." which had become so famous through its stint as the intro to Headbanger's Ball.

Stace 'Sheepdog's' vocals here are a tinge dry, but he's using the same register as the previous albums, with a lot of puerile, irascible barking and slight screams that beautiful permeate the brash hostility of the instrumental foundation. Alongside Jeff Becera or Cronos, this guy had hands down one of the best voices in the business, grimy in all the right ways and places. Violent Restitution would prove his swan song with Razor, and the metal scene in general (he did a brief jaunt with Infernal Majesty this same year that never amounted to anything), and let me say this: the loss is ours. Unlike most of the newly birthed thrashers of the current era, he has an instant character to his inflection that never evades your memory. It's not 'trying' to amount to anything, it simply is, and it's a fucking bloodbath well-suited to the hilariously blunt lyrics, a non stop flood of expressions guaranteed to get your face (or someone else's) clubbed in an alleyway.

41 minutes. 14 tracks. Choosing favorites among them would be nearly impossible, since the quality is so taut and consistent. Obviously "Behind Bars" has received much attention through covers (like the great Cannibal Corpse version), but "Hypertension", "Taste the Floor", "Enforcer" and so many others belong on a highlight reel of the 80s' greatest thrash. I also loved the smutty "Discipline", or "I'll Only Say It Once", which hearken back to the molten speed-dirt of Executioner's Song; and "Out of the Game" with that amazing mid-paced riff that just pops along up until the verse erupts. Only a hand few fall shy of perfection, like the title track, but at worst it's only enough that I could graze off a few points to my overall score. Yes, just a marginal increase in depth would have netted this a 10 out of 10, 100%, but it's nevertheless one of the most essential purchases a thrasher could make. Even in a year of brilliant extremity like Blood Fire Death, Punishment for Decadence, Leprosy, South of Heaven, The Morning After, and Malleus Maleficarum, this still earns a spot at the dinner table, and sharpened utensils with which to carve you up. Prepare for evisceration. Prepare for impact.


Tagged with 1988, Autothrall, Razor, Relapse Records, speed metal, thrash metal

May 4, 2015

Gilded Lily - L'Acéphale

By Justin C. The Bandcamp genre labels for Gilded Lily are "black metal electronic experimental." That's not bad, but I hereby dub them blackdoompowerviolecegrindexperimentalpunk.
By Justin C.


The Bandcamp genre labels for Gilded Lily are "black metal electronic experimental." That's not bad, but I hereby dub them blackdoompowerviolecegrindexperimentalpunk. Their demo, L'Acéphalé, is fast, vicious, and it's here then gone almost before you know what happened--the whole demo doesn't even break the 10-minute mark. But even with all the chaos, it has a surprisingly coherent sound.

Opener "Clasped Hands," as you might guess, isn't a reflection on the peace achieved through prayer. Black metal shrieks describe static images--clasped hands, cocaine on a glass table, and a family standing over a grave--punctuating an ambient backdrop. Just a minute later, we're thrown into the second track, kicked off by a descending punk riff that ultimately mutates into more swirling black metal territory, guided by a graceful melody line that sounds vaguely flute-like.

All of the lyrics are striking, but the third track, "Two Dogs," has some of my favorites. We're in a punky/trashy territory when the song opens up, and the whole story sums up a chance encounter between two dogs. As the song steps down into a doomier sound, the narrator imagines what a deeper conversation between the two might be like:
I wanted one to say to a brother of his
That he was not yet at peace
That he was sleeping in the home of an animal unlike himself
It’s strangely compelling, and it will stick with you a lot longer than another throwaway tune about Satan.

The title track closes things out, and at four minutes, it's nearly epic by this demo's standards. It has a density of musical ideas that should sound out of control, but as with the rest of the demo, the band makes it work. On one particular day, I listened to the whole demo on repeat about seven or eight times, and its charms were still revealing themselves during the last listen. I normally would have trouble really sinking my teeth into something this brief, but this is a hell of a blast.

P.S. Gilded Lily shares members with Swarms. I've only had time to dip my toes into their full-length from 2012, but it's worth listening to if you're curious about what a longer-form Gilded Lily sounds like.


Tagged with 2015, black metal, death metal, free download, Gilded Lily, Justin C, post-hardcore

May 2, 2015

Elder - Lore

By Calen Henry. A friend recently introduced Lore, the new Elder record to me as “filling the Mastodon shaped hole in his heart”. Crack the Skye is one my favourite albums and for me Mastodon lost the magic after that album. The epic song structures, searing leads, dual harmony riffs
By Calen Henry.

Artwork by Adrian Dexter

A friend recently introduced Lore, the new Elder record to me as “filling the Mastodon shaped hole in his heart”.

Crack the Skye is one my favourite albums and for me Mastodon lost the magic after that album. The epic song structures, searing leads, dual harmony riffs, acoustic interludes and proggy touches were Mastodon at the top of their game, but the whole record was amazingly unpretentious for its complexity and grandiose themes. Their later records never quite clicked for me.

Thankfully Elder’s brought all that back on Lore. Unlike Mastodon though, they filter all that through a stoner doom core instead of Mastodon’s Georgia-sludge-meets-Neurosis sound. The result is an album that really does fill the Mastodon shaped hole in my heart, but carves its own path, never sounding like Mastodon-worship.

There are really no down sides to Lore. Elder write and perform killer stoner doom riffs and combine them with jangly 70s prog rock inspired riffs, acoustic interludes, even an extended post-rock section complete with strings. Their adventurousness with composition shows just how good the songs really are.

Every part of every song (and they’re all over or around 10 minutes) feels meaningful. There is no filler and their willingness to change genres and styles really showcases how fantastic the riffs are, because when they come back it sounds like the heaviest thing in the world. Check out 6:19 in "Spirit at Aphelion". After an extended spacey mellotron sounding riff they bash right into one of the best riffs on the record. I dare you not to nod your head.

Elder’s choice of melodic sung vocals is also an excellent one. The gritty deliver underscored by solid melodic chops fits their instrumental sound perfectly.

It’s hard to imagine a better stoner doom record this year, and that’s with a new Monolord on the horizon.

Tagged with 2015, Calen Henry, doom metal, Elder, stoner metal