January 20, 2016

Label Spotlight: Transylvanian Tapes. Vol. 4

Written by Craig Hayes.

This is the third in a continuing series of posts highlighting recent releases from Oakland, California-based label Transylvanian Tapes. I first encountered the label back in 2013, when the decidedly fetid and pile-driving death metal found on Caffa’s bruising debut, Day Of Disease, caught my ear. Since then, Transylvanian Tapes has issued a bunch of impressive cassette and digital releases. So let’s dive into some more of that riotous noise.

Cover art by Zachary Lopez

The last marshalling of recent releases from Transylvanian Tapes was a doom heavy affair. Releases from Beira and Devoid made an appearance in Vol. 3 of this series, as did the formidable debut from doom titans Chrch. However, this time round we’re kicking off with a couple of releases that are far filthier, infinitely more diabolic, and both deliver their ungodly sermons at whirlwind speed.

First up is Northern Californian trio Defecrator, who certainly score high on the black-hearted villainy card with their debut, Tales of Defecration. There’s certainly no hand-wringing or worrying about whatever enlightened rules heavy metal has to adhere to this week in Defecrator’s sound or aesthetic. There’s just scorn and bile. And a marked hatred of you, and me, and seemingly every-fucking-thing.

If the sacrilegious and bestial roar of uncompromising bands like Archgoat, Proclamation or Blasphemy is something you enjoy, then you’re likely find that Tales of Defecration fits the bill too. There are three brain-battering and hellbound hymns from the twisted minds behind Defecrator on the release. As well as cover of “Condemned to Hell”, originally performed by veteran Finnish troublemakers Impaled Nazarene. Essentially, Defecrator just ram black and death metal down your throat with swarms of jagged riffs, turbo-speed percussion, and throat-slit growls intoning more-evil-than-evil prose on Tales of Defecration. So, you know, if you're seeking subtlety and grace, look elsewhere.

In all, Tales of Defecration is one seriously fucking ugly debut. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. It’s a murderous and decidedly coarse release too. And it's ruthlessly vitriolic.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Next on the list of horrible noise to emerge from Transylvanian Tapes’ grotto at breakneck speed is the debut from Hallucinator. The band’s Primeval Power demo is chock full of blistering metal that's similar in tone and velocity to the pitch-black thrash of bands like Desaster and Deströyer 666, or O.G fire and brimstone henchmen Aura Noir.

Primeval Power features plenty of scorching black metal and hyper-aggressive thrash, and there's even some Hammer Horror keyboards throw in, just to amplify the eeriness. Everything is delivered at a lightning-fast pace. It's all bleeding-raw, and sawtoothed round the edges. And full-throttle tracks like “Mad Reaper” and “The Hiss in the Skull” are a raucous reminder that sometimes the most unrefined and strident metal is also the most enjoyable of all.

Primeval Poweris ragged as hell. But all that unhinged and unbridled energy shows a lot of promise for Hallucinator’s future endeavours.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

San Francisco-based trio Brume bring some damn tasty bluesy and fuzzy metal to the table with their five-track release, Donkey. The band’s debut features abundant stoner swagger, and plenty of spliff-friendly doom. All of which isn't too dissimilar to the kind of slow-baked psychedelic metal that bands like Witch Mountain or Windhand have produced.

Certainly, Brume frontwoman Susie McCullan’s voice has the same entrancing magnetism and power that we've heard from Windhand’s Dorthia Cottrel, and Witch Mountain’s ex-vocalist Uta Plotkin. The rest of Brume are no slouches either. Drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis pounds the skins and cymbals with gigantic concussive strikes on Donkey. While guitarist Jamie McCathie dishes out gargantuan Sabbathian riffs that rumble and reverberate for an age.

Transylvanian Tapes have released a number of doom albums so far, and Donkey is right up there alongside Chrch’s Unanswered Hymns as the best of the bunch. Brume might not reinventing the wheel with Donkey, but the album crashes and smashes with enough aplomb and creative thunder to awaken the Gods. It's gloriously heavyweight and enthralling music. And kudos to Donkey producer Ryan Massey, because this album sounds massive.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Notes: Most of the links points to the band's own Bandcamp pages. For the tape releases go to the Transylvanian Tapes page.

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