Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Paroxsihzem - Abyss of Excruciating Vexes

By Justin C. I don't usually go out of my way these days to pick up more boundary-pushing blackened death metal. My attitude is, "Well, I've got some Portal albums, so I'm all set here."
By Justin C.

Artwork by Krag from Paroxsihzem

I don't usually go out of my way these days to pick up more boundary-pushing blackened death metal. My attitude is, "Well, I've got some Portal albums, so I'm all set here." And yet, sometimes a little something interesting sneaks through and asks for attention. Enter Paroxsihzem.

Paroxsihzem's last full length was featured here by Mr. Sunyata. His description of that album as "astoundingly heavy at any speed" featuring "bulbous riffs" and "incomprehensibly irate vocals" also fits their new EP, Abyss of Excruciating Vexes. To me, the band's riff-craft is what really holds my attention. Yes, they're chaotic, diving through and around each other, overlapping pure crunch with dissonant stabs, but in a way, they're surprisingly digestible. (This is all relatively speaking, of course.) The lurching opening riff of "BZ Experiment" could be from any quality sludge album, or at least it could before it fractures into a grinding pulse that seems to be coming in and out of phase with reality. But even so, it never fully abandons that straight-ahead, meaty feel from the intro, and that makes all the difference between interesting composition and "Well, I don't really care where my riffs start or where they end. I make my music for the pure forces of dark and chaos, not for the enjoyment of lowly humans!"

If anything, this EP sounds even heavier and murkier than the self-titled, and how you feel about that highly depends on what you value from this kind of music. Personally, I liked that the riffing was further out front on Paroxsihzem, on almost equal footing with the vocals. Abyss of Excruciating Vexes finds the vocals more in front while the guitars are pushed back into the cavern a bit--a bit too far back in my ears' opinion. I think they deserve to be more prominently showcased, and in fact, I think a more balanced mix like on Portal's Vexovoid would serve Paroxsihzem well. But to be fair, what's lost in clarity certainly adds to the suffocating atmosphere, and that has its appeal as well. Come for the riffing, or come for the smothering heaviness, but either way, Abyss of Excruciating Vexes is worth a listen.


Tagged with 2016, black metal, death metal, Hellthrasher Productions, Justin C, Paroxsihzem

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lucifer's Child - The Wiccan

By Andy Osborn. One of my favorite things about the Greek scene is how the bands can so clearly influence each other while still sounding wholly unique. Katavasia, a supergroup of sorts
By Andy Osborn.


One of my favorite things about the Greek scene (and there are a lot of them) is how the bands can so clearly influence each other while still sounding wholly unique. Katavasia, a supergroup of sorts, emerged last year with an incredible debut that sounded entirely Hellenic but still stood its own, war-torn ground. And with such influential bands as Rotting Christ and Varathron running strong for over two decades, it’s great to see the influences imparted without giving way to (too many) imposters.

I pretend to be a student of this scene, so I was shocked to stumble across Lucifer’s Child months after The Wiccan was unleashed. Their first album is so fun, so unique, and so singularly Greek that one would of imagined it igniting the metallic blogosphere into a drooling frenzy. But with the ‘best of’ rush getting earlier and earlier every year, it’s no surprise that a new, unknown Greek band on what’s traditionally a Norwegian Viking-ish label would get lost in the mix late in the year.

What draws me to Lucifer’s Child is how clearly defined their sound is already despite having no clear history. It’s far removed from traditional black metal, with nary a tremolo or double bass beat to be found and odd, circusy riffs drilling themselves into your brain and triggering whatever sort of dance mechanism black metal fans may have. Vocalist Marios Dupont does his best Sakis Tolis impression, and while that type of thunderous cry has become a mainstay on the peninsula, it’s still a refreshing vocal attack that fits the quartet.

But they don’t reveal this all at once, as the opening track only hints at the cards they’re holding without giving away the full hand. It’s a mid-paced rocker with some - but not too much - guitar trickery that’s a perfect appetizer for the dessicated feast to come. I declare all bands should copy this method: Instead of having some nonsense ambient intro that doesn’t doesn’t sound anything like the rest of the record, make an “Hors de Combat” to tease and intrigue, holding back until you really want to show off.

And showing off is just what they do for the next few tracks. “A True Mayhem”, “Spirits of Amenta”, and “He, Who Punishes Slays” are just plain ludicrous in what they achieve. While the song construction is fairly simple - take a fairly weird and catchy-as-fuck riff and toss in some rockin’ drums - it’s executed so well what it disguises you from what this really is. It’s upbeat alt-rock disguised at black metal. It’s what Queens of the Stone Age would sound like if they moved to Norway and started worshipping the devil. It’s a Kvelertak record from a different dimension. And it’s fucking cool. I’ve played those three tracks more than anything else in the past few months since I discovered them, that's how strong their hold is.

So it’s a bit sad that this epic build-up and subsequent fun doesn’t last forever. The first four tracks are by far the best and really define The Wiccan, because after some middling sameness, “Lucifer’s Child” and “Doom” completely ditch what they’ve been showing off so far and see the band transforming into some sort of psychedelic doom group - a look that doesn’t exactly fit them.

It’s an unfortunate note to end on, as the songs perfectly show the band’s weirdness without any of the fun. Although it doesn’t fully realize its potential, The Wiccan is still a wickedly fun album packed with ridiculously fun riffs and the type of joyful, upbeat rhythm that black metal usually tries to stay away from.


Tagged with 2015, Andy Osborn, Dark Essence Records, progressive black metal

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Label Spotlight: Unique Leader Records

Unique Leader Records opened up shop on on Bandcamp, and the Isolation Grind blog closed it's doors; let's combine those two things shall we. Isolation Grind was chock-full of well written reviews of extreme metal.
Unique Leader Records opened up shop on on Bandcamp, and the Isolation Grind blog closed it's doors; let's combine those two things shall we. Isolation Grind (formerly That's How Kids Die) was chock-full of well written reviews of extreme metal. Mostly of the black variety, but the column Oodles of Brutals (and other articles) featured the kind of metal you find on the Unique Leader roster: Technical, brutal and slam death metal!

So say goodbye to Isolation Grind with me, and welcome to Unique Leader on Bandcamp. At the same time give a warm welcome to Doomsday Device, the blog that continues Isolation Grind's focus on extreme metal, as well as commentary on the world of professional wrestling.


Cover art by W. Smerdulak

Katalepsy might as well be crowned the new kings of slam. Ok, I’m no expert on this shit, and technically these Russians have been around since 2003 so I guess they aren’t really all that new, but they are just now releasing their second album, Autopsychosis on that bastion of brutality known as Unique Leader, and it is what I like to refer to as HOLY SHIT AWESOME. Seriously, this album is so retardedly goddamn heavy and brutal, with slams a’plenty and gnarly toilet-dwelling vocals galore, that it puts not only Devourment, but just about every other band attempting this style to shame.

It doesn’t hurt that the production is absolutely perfect for this style of death metal. The sound of Autopsychosis is dark and crushing but crystal clear, allowing the listener to fully grasp just how much sonic devastation these guys are capable of dishing out. (read the rest here)



Artwork by Raphael Gabrio

Soreption often incorporate the lurching rhythms Meshuggah helped popularize, but unlike their countrymen, they never slip into the monotony of repetition (and don’t you dare call them djent). They also benefit from the vocal versatility of frontman Fredrik Soderberg, who utilizes a variety of barks, shouts and growls to get the job done, lending a human element to Soreption’s cruelly precise musical attack. In fact these guys might be the tightest band covered here, as each track on Engineering the Void is a tightly wound death metal smart-bomb that’s er, engineered for maximum impact. (read the rest here)



Cover art by Pär Olofsson

I was pleased to learn recently that Unique Leader is reissuing The Anomalies of Artificial Origin, the second album from Russia’s Abominable Putridity. This album had the misfortune of originally being released on one of the sketchiest metal labels that ever existed, which means it wasn’t promoted for shit and good luck trying to find it at your local shop. It’s a damn shame too, because this album might just be the absolute pinnacle of knuckle-dragging slam.

Basically, The Anomalies of Artificial Origin is just one massive mosh part, designed as an optimum soundtrack for mouth-breathers to beat the living shit out of each other to. It’s one of the most awesomely ignorant slam albums I’ve ever encountered and that’s what makes it such a ridiculously fun, not to mention neck-wrecking listen. It’s also probably the best sounding slam album ever, with an absolutely huge production that just flat-out crushes everything in its path. (read the rest here)


Tagged with 2012, 2013, 2014, Abominable Putridity, brutal death metal, groove metal, Katalepsy, Soreption, technical death metal, Unique Leader Records

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Short and to the point 3

By Aaron Sullivan. Wolvserpent have a new album out. The two piece band consisting of Blake Green (guitar, vocals) and Brittany McConnell (drums, violin) released a one song E.P. entitled Aporia​:​Kāla​:​Ananta.
By Aaron Sullivan.


Wolvserpent have a new album out. The two piece band consisting of Blake Green (guitar, vocals) and Brittany McConnell (drums, violin) released a one song E.P. entitled Aporia​:​Kāla​:​Ananta.

Their last album Perigaea Antahkarana is among my favorite albums all time. The unique ability to combine DOOM, Classical, Drone, and Ambient is unlike any other band I know of. They are like a darker Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The song balances between sounding epic and still retaining a touch of rawness about it. They combine beauty and darkness seamlessly. This band never ceases to amaze.




James Brown III can not be stopped. He is constantly producing amazing music through many different entities and genres on his Rising Beast label. Well add another, Vorpal Sword.

The common thread through all his endeavors is experimentation. Never standing in one place for too long. Vorpal Sword's first album, 10,000 Stab Wounds, can be best described as a mix of noise and Punky Black Metal. The static is right up front, a wall of it if you like. Behind it is punky blackened riffs and vocals so deep in the mix they too become noise at some points. This music is in your face and unapologetic.

Then comes the new Vorpal Sword album, Pain. A 15 minute track that when it starts sounds like we are going down the same road. But as I said before, he is never standing one place for too long. Instead it goes into a what is a DSBM song drenched in staticy noise. Within the 15 minute track it shifts quite a bit. I get the sense it could have been divided into many songs but was made as one continuous track for a reason, and it works. From the opening it varies to noise/power electronic interludes, punky black metal, and back to more atmospheric Black Metal.

With Vorpal Sword he once again shows his versatility as an artist. Where he will go next I don’t know. But I know it will be interesting.






Not sure what it is, but for me, when I see a band is from Germany, even more so one that that plays the darker side of metal, I know I’m in for a treat. Germany rarely lets me down, and Dolch only further prove what I have found to be true.

They play a mix of dark gothy post punk with touches of ambient. Reminding me of Urfaust and Vindensång at times. Slow repetitive riffing, almost drone like. Heavy with mood and creating great atmosphere. The vocals are a clean female style. They add an ethereal quality to the darkness that only furthers the atmosphere. I was hooked at first listen. A very exciting new band I hope to hear more from.



Cover art by Bob Layzell

Unlike Germany Italy is the opposite for me. Not a knock on the quality of the music coming from that country but rather I have not heard anything that I enjoy. But Phobonoid's self titled album is working very hard to change that. A concept album highly influenced by sci-fi, with a written prologue on the Bandcamp page:
"Distant flames, overlapping in the cloud of time.
The Alpha Centauri army moves towards the Solar System.
The will to power darkens the smell of putrefaction.
The Satellites Alliance must defend its territory, Phobos will have to embrace his weapons again.
Winning today to get lost tomorrow. Does it really matter?
Under the pall of mummified bodies lies the answer."
Phobonoid is one man band project of Lord Phobos. He mixes DOOM with Black Metal and hints of Industrial, along with ambient type instrumentals throughout the album. His raspy screams right in the middle of the mix. The music is dark and cold much like the outer space it takes place in.




From England comes black metal merchants Terra. There is a touch of mystery to them. The album is untitled, the songs merely numbered, no lyrics are given, they give only their first names and the cover is the dark void of space. But that only helps to draw focus to the music, and it’s a doozy.

They do such a great job of sounding raw and epic at the same time. Great atmosphere throughout. Spare use of vocals, it’s almost as if they are an instrumental band. At times I get a Wolves In The Throne Room vibe and other times I’m reminded of Altar of Plagues. Songs never stay on the same riff throughout a song. They shift constantly but it always feels natural not jarring at all. This was a favorite of mine from 2015. A very promising band.


Tagged with 2015, 2016, Aaron Sullivan, ambient, black metal, Dolsch, doom metal, drone, free download, noise, Phobonoid, post-punk, Relapse Records, Rising Beast Recordings, Terra, Ván Records, Vorpal Sword, Wolvserpent

Friday, April 8, 2016

Palace of Worms - The Ladder

By Justin C. Palace of Worms has been putting out solid, off-center USBM for a while now. I first became aware of them when they did a split with Botanist, and I enjoyed those tracks. But their newest, The Ladder, is on a whole new level.
By Justin C.

Artwork by Corviid Art.

Palace of Worms has been putting out solid, off-center USBM for a while now. I first became aware of them when they did a split with Botanist, and I enjoyed those tracks. But their newest, The Ladder, is on a whole new level. It blends complexity and accessibility into a compelling emotional journey and a damn fine listen.

When I was writing notes during one of my listens, I kept jotting down the contrasts of dark versus light on this album. It turns out I had good reason to do so, because Palace of Worms' sole member, Balan, had this very much in mind:
"There is still a lot of darkness in the record, but also an amount of light which I feel provides necessary contrast, emotionally speaking. I tried to make an album which was not one note on an emotional level because that’s not how I, or anyone else, operates, despite how much of a ‘grim kvlt warrior’ they claim to be. (via Invisible Oranges)"
This duality is evident from the very beginning. Album opener "In the Twilight Divide" starts out with a frenzied folk intro (not surprising for Balan, who's been part of Botanist's touring band) before dropping straight into a grumbling, stomping riff and hoarse (but understandable) vocals. It's pure "grim kvlt warrior," to use Balan's own words, but before long, the song goes atmospheric with vocals one of the album's guest contributors, Bezaelith from Lotus Thief. As with Lotus Thief, Bezaelith's vocals are lilting, harmonized moments of beauty--I can't imagine ever not being moved by them. When the furor starts back up, Balan growls about "getting myself to feel again," just as the song itself does for the listener.

There are similar turns in a lot of these songs. Album standout "Nightworld" starts with a marching riff and Balan screaming that he's "forever trapped in Nightworld," and Nightworld isn't made out to be the happiest place to be. But after another fantastic vocal contribution from Bezaelith, the riffs turn more melodic, and more hopeful. Suddenly Balan is addressing someone else with a very different tone from the intro to the track: "You've finally come, deliver me from this hell, deliver me from my Nightworld."

If this so far sounds like the songs are formulaic over the course of the album, fear not. The song structures vary as the music demands, and it helps that Balan has a lot of other cool friends besides Bezaelith. Ephemeral Domignostika (the man behind Mastery) offers some tasty-yet-insane guitar solos, and Mattia Alagna, from Abstracter and Atrament, adds guest vocals to the gothy "Wreathe." "Wreathe" might be the most out-of-place track on the album, but paradoxically, it still manages to fit in. And to keep the paradox going, album closer "Ephemeral Blues" is less bluesy heartache and more sunny, sweeping post-black goodness.

My general sense is that Palace of Worms has been flying under the radar for a while, but if the other press coverage I've seen so far is any indication, people are waking up to what Balan is doing. It's perfect timing, because regardless of whether you want to genre-nit-pick how black metal this album really is, the end result is a revelation for black metal and beyond. Hell, I'm probably going to buy the vinyl for this just to add my support and appreciation, and I don't even own a record player.


Tagged with 2016, black metal, Broken Limbs Recordings, Justin C, Palace of Worms

Friday, April 1, 2016

Famyne - Famyne

By Karen A. Mann. Even though their debut EP is only three songs, English traditional doomsters Famyne manage to pack a real wallop in a short amount of time.
By Karen A. Mann

Artwork by Sarah Elizabeth McKnight

Even though their debut EP is only three songs, English traditional doomsters Famyne manage to pack a real wallop in a short amount of time.

The band draws the majority of its influence from traditional doom, with Pentagram, Black Sabbath and Candlemass being the most obvious touchstones. But there are also nods to desert rock and even a little Southern rock. Their greatest weapon, is singer Tom Vane’s multi-octave, powerful voice and his dramatic delivery. Drawing lyrical influence from classic horror and the occult, Vane alternately sounds, possessed, terrified and maniacal on the first song, “Enter the Sloth,” which creeps and crashes, with some Iommi-style guitar flourishes.

Famyne gets really heavy, and even a little bluesy, on the second song, “The Tower,” which features some good, clean guitar soloing. The final song, “The Forgotten,” begins with an extended instrumental passage with a riff that would be comfortable on a Karma to Burn song. After segueing into a funky passage, the band dives headlong back into traditional doom, and Vane lets loose with sneering vocals that once again show Pentagram’s influence.

An excellent EP, hopefully a future full-length is in the cards for the band.


Tagged with 2015, doom metal, Famyne, Karen A. Mann