December 10, 2018

Holy Terror - Total Terror

An Autothrall Classic. Where so many bands in the late 80s were trying to take the formula presented by Metallica and Megadeth and add some accessibility for success, there was another side to the thrash scene entrenched more firmly in the influence of Slayer
An Autothrall Classic. Originally published here.

[On Dissonance Productions' Bandcamp you can find an awesome compilation of late 80s thrashers Holy Terror's entire output. Here is the mighty Autothrall's review of their first full-length, Terror and Submission from 1987.]


Where so many bands in the late 80s were trying to take the formula presented by Metallica and Megadeth and add some accessibility for success, there was another side to the thrash scene entrenched more firmly in the influence of Slayer, Possessed, Venom and the emerging German scene. Holy Terror belonged to the latter, and they had a sound that, by 1987 standards, was quite intense. Filthy, aggressive thrash metal which mastered both the elements of chaos and precision into a violent experience, like a Mad Max road race through the outlying deserts of the abyss. Keith Deen's apocalyptic vocals gave the band a grisly edge, but what really explodes off this recording are the guitars, which peel the rust off the abandoned cars that litter this hellish highway. Just as fast as Exodus, or Possessed, and about as complex.

The intensity showcased across Terror and Submission was a wise decision for Holy Terror, because unlike so many of their peers, they produced an effort that could be remembered fondly. This is still pretty fucking wild by today's standards, and the cult status of this band is well deserved, while so many other, safer thrash metal upstart albums of the 80s languor in the black hole of memory. I can't say that the entire effort is packed to overflow with memorable riffs, but taken as a whole it's 42 minutes of pleasure and pain for any thrash magnate who seeks the less traveled path.

"Black Plague" is disgustingly fast and will hit you like an 18-wheeler on demon auto-pilot. Don't like it? Then don't hitchhike on Rt. 66, motherfucker. The speed blisters and swells like the friction sores that must have caused great injury to guitarists Kurt Kilfelt and Mike Alvord, as their riffs buzz through the recording like a pair of buzzsaw wielding killers in a competition to see who can decapitate the most college students. The leads are just spastic, awesome nonsense, and Deen's vocals range from a harsher style to some clear wailing, but always around the same range. "Evil's Rising" is deep and crushing, but picks up to the same level of speed, with some great vocal howling and drumwork courtesy of Jack Schwartz. "Blood of the Saints" dials back the speed for a crude and rude opening rhythm, but sure enough, it returns to road worthiness with a surprisingly anthemic chorus section. "Mortal Fear" explodes into more chaos at the expected tempo, but "Guardians of the Netherworld" has an old school metal tint, pumping pace where Deen really gets to shine, basically Holy Terror doing ancient power metal.

A war is raging on inside us, guarded by the horde
With lesser gods of higher rank, prodding them to war
No Father, Son, or Holy Spirit
Nor defences from the foe
All are battered, tortured, shattered
Allegiance without death is woe

The lyrics to much of the album read like a poor man's Paradise Lost, much more serious and well written than other bands of the era were capable of delivering. "Distant Calling" has some great power melodies that wind up before the verse, and it's another of their classic metal charge pieces and one of the very best songs on this album. "Terror and Submission" features a kickass, burning lead over the dense, grinding melodies, and "Tomorrow's End" is just sheer, crashing momentum, like a windstorm approaching across a desert at 10x the normal speed. The bridge has a hyper, ascending rhythm that swerves back into the lightning verse, and there's a crunchy thrash breakdown in there as well. "Alpha Omega - The Bringer of Balance" is perhaps my very favorite track from the album, with a wealth of amazing riffs that are both caustic and beautiful, creating an epic atmosphere of desperation and warfare.

Terror and Submission has one of the best 'apocalyptic' tones of any thrash or speed metal album in history, right alongside Holy Moses' Finished With the Dogs or Znöwhite's Act of God (the latter of which came out the year after this). It's completely aggressive without needing to sacrifice good songwriting or musicianship, and I truly wish more bands had gone this route instead of going all Metallica lite. This is a great record, that belongs in any true thrashers collection, and it would not be their last...


[Autothrall also likes Holy Terror's second album Mind Wars.]

December 7, 2018

Domkraft - Flood

By Matt Hinch. When I saw Domkraft's name pop up in my email I took notice. I couldn't immediately remember what their previous album (The End of Electricity) sounded like but I knew I was excited. This was more than an “oh yeah, I remember that band” moment.
By Matt Hinch.


When I saw Domkraft's name pop up in my email I took notice. I couldn't immediately remember what their previous album (The End of Electricity) sounded like but I knew I was excited. This was more than an “oh yeah, I remember that band” moment. As expected, digging into their new album, Flood was no disappointment. Note also that this is the first release on a new label called Blues Funeral Recordings. Gotta keep an eye on that. I mean, it's run by Jadd Shickler of Meteor City/Magnetic Eye fame so I'm not worried about quality.

Domkraft deal in the psych/stoner/doom/sludge realm with emphasis on the psych doom. Obviously they prefer to keep the song lengths long, giving the hypnotic, repetitive riffs time to become superglued inside your head. We're not talking mind-numbing repetition though. In fact, the word “prog” has been thrown around in reference to Domkraft. They're no King Crimson but there is a complexity beyond the pulsing, head-nodding doom riffs that swirl and snake around you, enveloped in a fog of red-eyed delight. (They're probably fans of King Crimson though.)

Those bone-rubberizing riffs form a sturdy backbone. They're heavy and dark and a little mean but not gothic or depressing. Part of that may also be from the vocals. From the gut, and more bellow than anything, they berate the listener from the middle distance making Flood sound epic and open while the rest of the sound feels right on top of you.

I know they're not alone in this but Domkraft have a way of keeping things simple enough to remain grounded but it's laced with enough of the good stuff to at least evolve the mind into a state of higher being. They'll mix a measured pace and consistent volume with sneakily powerful builds, affecting psych, and percussive energy.

This unheralded Swe-doom band can compete with the likes of say, Conan and even Sleep. Flood should take you to the same places or even a little further on a somewhat different path given they deal with porous borders. (Not a political statement.) Domkraft set themselves apart with a more colourful atmosphere (and album cover). Even though they don't totally weird out the pervading feeling of tonal bliss and psychedelic aptitude maintains a consistent buzz for the whole 40+ minutes.

By the time you get to album closer, “Dead Eyes, Red Skies” you can even pick out the more overt blues touches. Just one more twist in the plot. Throughout, this many tentacled beast continually feeds on the kind of riffs you want to let soak in. Just open all your pores and feel it penetrate, working the psych magic from within. Domkraft may be doombringing riff miners but they have a depth outside of that. But who in their right mind is going to tell them to stop digging? There's always a demand for gold!

December 5, 2018

Vvilderness - Devour the Sun

By Hera Vidal. The news has been dark lately. There have been enough mass murders and killings in America to make one almost desire to tune out the world and hide under the covers, waiting for the end to come.
By Hera Vidal.

Cover art by Vvildr

The news has been dark lately. There have been enough mass murders and killings in America to make one almost desire to tune out the world and hide under the covers, waiting for the end to come. It also makes one hyper-aware of what could potentially kill them, especially when they fall under a certain label or group that someone wants to destroy. There have been too many instances of death and destruction and, for one glorious moment, we all want to disappear. Because most of us cannot afford to leave society’s confines, we have to find other ways to escape, and one of those ways is music. While black metal continues to churn out controversy after controversy, it can still heal us. It can still make us feel something akin to hope despite the dumpster fire that continues to burn into the concrete of our homes. This brings me to Vvilderness’s album Devour the Sun, an album that brings hope and good tidings to the table through the melodic tones of the music.

Even though Devour the Sun starts off with a melancholy that can chill you to the bone, the second track “Sól” brings some color to the dreariness of what you first heard. While the black metal remains embedded in its core, “Sól” creates a majestic tonality that elevates the music to another level, taking advantage of the listener’s awe as the music weaves in and out of airy notes and contrasting layers of acoustic instruments. This continues on the third track, “Devour the Sun”, continuing the theme of acoustics as it weaves more sounds together, creating a warm dissonance that doesn’t seem to be out of place within the scheme of things. Devour the Sun reminds me of the album Infinite Ocean by M.H.X.’s Chronicles, as they both have a dissonance that acts in accordance with a theme. With Infinite Ocean, it had to do with the sea. With Devour the Sun, it has to do with purification and reincarnation, and considering the softness of the sounds at work here, there is something highly ritualistic that Devour touches. It almost feels like you are moving through parts of a ritual, as if you are being cleansed by listening to this.

As the album moves onward, the music takes a turn for the dreary and the melancholic. Gone are those bright, melodious tones that have been part of the general structure at this point. Now, it has shifted to a folk-like aspect, as if the music is preparing you for what’s to come. Whether it is burning your body into a pyre or becoming dust on the ground, it feels like you are being led to your final destination, and you can only walk towards it. With the closing song “Aftershine” – a song that spans 10 minutes, filled with strings that reverberate and echo throughout it – the listener is taken through a deeply sonic journey that is filled with warmth and joy that doesn’t let up until about halfway through. Once the joyous sounds are gone, you are left within this sonic abyss where the music drones, as if you have reached your destination and you are about to be sent elsewhere. However, unlike the droning I am familiar with, which fills you with dread and uncertainty, it makes you feel comfortable. It feels like you have fallen asleep and have just opened your eyes, now awake to embrace your reality, whatever that may be.

All in all, Devour the Sun is an album that comes close to purifying your world from the destruction you live in. For that moment in time, you exist in the sounds of hope, joy, and ritual, and you can only hope to take that with you once you are back in reality. This is an album I will definitely come back to – there is something that makes me want to explore it once more, as if no one can resist the siren’s call of hope.


[Devour the Sun is also available in a vinyl remaster. It's a little cheaper, and it has two songs - one for each side of the LP.]

December 3, 2018

P.H.O.B.O.S. - Phlogiston Catharsis

By Ulla Roschat. Once again the French band P.H.O.B.O.S. live up to their name. With their 4th full length album Phlogiston Catharsis, which they released in September this year through Transcending Obscurity,
By Ulla Roschat.

Artwork by Synckop

Once again the French band P.H.O.B.O.S. live up to their name. With their 4th full length album Phlogiston Catharsis, which they released in September this year through Transcending Obscurity, they scare the living daylights out of you in about 47 minutes and 8 songs. You can even choose among your inner fears and demons, choose which they summon.

With their mix of Industrial Doom and Black Metal they conjure an atmosphere where the good old filthy, evil demon, that goes for your flesh and bone, your heart and soul, leaping out from the dark and obscure, feels at home as well as the SF nightmare that transforms yourself from a human being into a biomechanical "cyborgian" monstrosity. The horror is complete either way, combine them and you'll enter a new dimension of angst ridden insanity.

Right from the start you're immediately thrown into an atmosphere that is uncanny and terrifying. Relentless drums grab, pull and push you, while a distorted, oscillating guitar sound and echoing drones create an industrial kind of oily grimy, stenchy, nausea inducing sludge. But soon P.H.O.B.O.S. establish a hypnotic and compelling groove as well, the only hook to hold on to, and rather sooner than later to get hooked on - a psychedelic edge that somehow insists on the existence of independent humanity, or at least organic life, opposing the intrusion of mind and body by programmed machines.

With every minute that the album progresses the biomechanical and brain altering metamorphosis does the same, Once the program has started it drives on inexorable and merciless with glacial precision and evil impetus. Disturbing eerie noises and vocals like beastly, demonic snarls grab for you through veiling smoke to choke you, rip your heart out or rearrange your brain cells.

Unrelenting, propelling drums, dissonance, menacing drones all flow together and grow into a maelstrom of terror and insanity. The mechanic atmosphere is soaked with a sense of twisting, warping and shifting of inner and outer worlds. The subtle, underlying psychedelic vibe comes to surface from time to time, with repetitive, mesmerizing rhythms that carry spiritual, even religious aspects, as if to claim the last remaining traces of humanity.

Phlogiston Catharsis immediately grabs you and hurls you into another world, into atmospheres and soundscapes that are overwhelmingly dense and intense, and especially the omnipresent duality of disturbing chaotic dissonances and hypnotizing repetitive rhythms makes it as terrifying as it is beautiful and compelling.

December 1, 2018

The Foundry

Cutting edge contemporary heaviness displayed and discussed. By Bryan Camphire. With Vitrun Carpe Noctem return after a five year spell and exceed the high standards set on their excellent previous full length, In Terra Profugus. The six songs on offer
Cutting edge contemporary heaviness displayed and discussed.

By Bryan Camphire.

Artwork by Stephen Wilson

Carpe Noctem - Vitrun
Iceland. 6 songs, 52 minutes, Code 666, October 5th, 2018.

With Vitrun Carpe Noctem return after a five year spell and exceed the high standards set on their excellent previous full length, In Terra Profugus. The six songs on offer this time around twist and turn with many minor key melancholic melodic sections. The guitars make ample use of ebow and and tremolo arm, bending stretching and smearing pitches all across the band's darkened soundscapes. The third track, "Og hofið fylltist af reyk" (and the temple was filled with smoke), is a highlight for me; midway through the music reaches a fever pitch, and just when it seems that the band could not possibly ratchet the tension any higher, the song explodes like so many collapsing steeples being reduced to ash. Vitrun is the Icelandic word for vision, and this combined with the record's harrowing album art might suggest that the band is interested in exploring themes of the tangled aspects of perception. This much is certain, Vitrun is a strangely beautiful offering from these high caliber black metal experimentalists.


Artwork by Babar Moghal.

Ars Magna Umbrae - Lunar Ascension
Poland. 8 songs, 36 minutes, Independent, October 5th, 2018.

This one man band's name translates as The Great Art of Shadow. What struck me most about this release upon first listen was the strange innovative guitar work. Sinister snaky lines evince feelings of dread from the very start. Subsequent listens revealed that Lunar Ascension places a heavy emphasis on composition, with strong dynamics and drastic tempo changes in nearly every song keeping things interesting. There is a murderousness on display here that’s reminiscent of early Blut Aus Nord. When looking for how black metal has moved forward in 2018, consider this record.


Artwork Mar.A.

Cultes des Ghoules - Sinister, or Treading the Darker Paths
Poland. 5 songs, 55 minutes, Hells Headbangers, September 23, 2018

"Is it you, my master, whatever your name is, or is it just me, filled with divine bliss?" If you want to be filled with divine bliss of which the singer of Cultes des Ghoules speaks, listen to Sinister. This is yet another excellent offering to the band's weird catalog of releases. Slow lurching repetitive mesmerizing music to listen to around a fire in the woods whilst making animal sacrifices to unholy divine beings. The guitars are toothy and full of grit. The bass cuts through the mix nicely and will set fists swinging. The drums are commanding and in the pocket sans frills. I like to think of this singer as what Ozzy might sound like if he began releasing music for the first time in present day Poland instead of, you know, being the great grand father of heavy metal. There is something special and mysterious about this release, the band's thirteenth offering in thirteen years...

November 28, 2018

Soul Dissolution - Stardust

By Hera Vidal. Oh, boy, where do I begin with this one? Right off the bat, don’t be fooled by the way the album cover and the first track look and sound like. It might be a set-up for something atmospheric and cosmic that sounds like
By Hera Vidal.


Oh, boy, where do I begin with this one?

Right off the bat, don’t be fooled by the way the album cover and the first track look and sound like. It might be a set-up for something atmospheric and cosmic that sounds like the myriad of atmospheric black metal without substance, but the track “Circle of Torment” jumps straight into what I like to call Woods of Ypres territory. While Woods of Ypres was highly atmospheric and sad, “Circle of Torment” takes that essence and dials it back a bit, emphasizing the bite of atmospheric black metal and letting it assault you throughout its run. Granted, there are moments of reprieve – there is a soft yet tonal reverb – but the music remains constant throughout the track, a testament to Soul Dissolution’s sonic aesthetic and their preference for long, repetitive passages of music that hold the listener’s attention. There are a lot of sonic references to Woods of Ypres; in fact, some of the guitar parts sound a little similar. However, they are able to add their own flair to it, as it lacks the deep, guttural sadness that was prevalent in Woods of Ypres.

Despite this, there is something highly emotive about the way everything is set up. Everything, from the musical structure to the actual layering of the music and vocals, is constructed to maximize the emotions behind it. There is awe, wonder, and confusion all rolled into a spectacular cohesion that you can’t shake off. You can only sit there in bewilderment and splendor as the album plays, as you hear footsteps walking through the woods, as you wonder where else Stardust will take you. As you come to that thought, Stardust takes a sharp right turn and begins to show you a more playful side to its music – if you can call anything atmospheric playful – one where you are allowed to bask in the guitars’ warm notes and the contrast between what sounds like the keyboards and the vocals that echo throughout the album.

Unlike most atmospheric black metal I am acquainted with, where either vocals or the instruments add to the atmosphere of the music, neither of those are actually what creates the atmosphere. Something about the presence of the album’s aesthetic and its triumphant mix of emotions and catharsis really speaks to the listener. There is something wonderfully bizarre that is worth paying attention to, something that hides underneath the orchestrations, the emotions, and the harsh vocals that reverbs through the music. Perhaps that is the key to Stardust: a bizarre feeling that cannot be explained and needs to be explored via this album as a medium.

All in all, Stardust is an album that takes everything atmospheric black metal stands for and throws it out the window, melding aesthetics together that creates substance and memorable music that stands with you until the end of its run. I will definitely come back to this album at a later time. However, in the meantime, I can only say good things about it. In the crossroads of bewilderment and aesthetic, Stardust exists, filling a void that I don’t think anyone saw until this moment.

November 26, 2018

Evoken - Hypnagogia

By Karen A. Mann. I admit I didn’t know much about World War I until recently. But with the recent centennial of the war, which began with the 1914 assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, I’ve gained a new appreciation for this most grisly of wars
By Karen A. Mann

Artwork by Adam Burke.

I admit I didn’t know much about World War I until recently. But with the recent centennial of the war, which began with the 1914 assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, I’ve gained a new appreciation for this most grisly of wars, in which national identities were born as empires collapsed. Millions of average men died in squalid trenches as horrifying new technologies, including the use of poisonous gas, the widespread use of the machine gun and the armored tank were deployed. Not only did the earth became a putrid wasteland of unburied corpses but the war was directly responsible for spreading the virulent Spanish Flu, which killed millions around the world. World War I was so bad that it was called the War to End All Wars, because people thought that certainly no war could be worse. Instead, the political instability unleashed continues, like an unbroken thread of terror, in parts of Europe and the Middle East to this day.

It’s against this hellish backdrop that New Jersey’s long-running elegiac funeral doom quintet Evoken have set their latest album, Hypnagogia. On a battlefield during that horrible war, an anonymous soldier muses bitterly on his impending death. He records his thoughts in a journal, then strikes a deal with a malevolent spirit to leave part of his soul behind to attach itself to -- and drive to suicide -- whomever chances to read the journal. With each successive death the spirit becomes stronger and more deadly, weaving an unbroken tale of terror through the century.

Evoken has always been completely unafraid to push the boundaries of metal further than they can go, and then some. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing them perform an experimental set with Merzbow for the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh back in 2013. Brian Sanders, who contributed cello for their 2012 release, Atra Mors, returns on Hypnagogia, and at times plays a starring role. The album begins with an ominous string arrangement from Sanders, along with a distant chorale. The feeling is deep, dark and foreboding; lush and natural. A peal of squalling feedback introduces the crushing mechanical elements, bringing to mind primitive iron tanks rolling over and subjugating all that is natural about the land. Through eight songs, the band chugs through scathing doom with gnarled, blackened bits, serpentine riffage and eerie keyboard melodies, and pastoral, mournful passages with evocative vocals and stately string arrangements.

The album includes two short instrumentals -- aptly titled "Hypnagogia" and "Hypnopompic," that act as interludes in the action and represent the soldier's death and rebirth. The term “hypnagogia” refers to hallucinations a lot of us experience in the moments just before sleep when our bodies are paralyzed but our minds are still active. By contrast, “hypnopompic” is when we have paralyzed hallucinations upon waking up. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking there’s an intruder in your bedroom and unsuccessfully tried to scream, you’ve had a hypnopompic hallucination. Both songs have a hallucinogenic, disorienting quality and provide fitting bookends to the album's most adventurous song, "Ceremony of Bleeding, " which features a haunting, operatic choir ensemble in the middle. The album’s final song, “The Weald of Perished Men,” begins with ambient noise of crickets, wind and the sound of digging before easing into a clean, uplifting guitar melody that weaves its way through the entire song. A mournful cello and keyboard passage follows, with the soldier questioning what will become of him, then segues into crushing guitars and scathing vocals.

Fittingly released on Nov. 9, just before the centenary of war’s end on Nov. 11, 2018, Hypnagogia is an elegantly bleak, yet strangely warm and uplifting, ode to one lonely, anonymous man who found an ingenious way to live on, while repaying the world for the futility of his death.

November 9, 2018

Cult Leader - A Patient Man

By Justin C. Cult Leader, formed by the members of the defunct Gaza, made relatively quick work of establishing themselves as their own band, not just a continuation of Gaza with a roster change. Gaza officially disbanded in 2013, and Cult Leader put
By Justin C.


Cult Leader, formed by the members of the defunct Gaza, made relatively quick work of establishing themselves as their own band, not just a continuation of Gaza with a roster change. Gaza officially disbanded in 2013, and Cult Leader put out Nothing for Us Here the very next year, followed by an EP and full-length in 2015. They took a little bit of a pause after that, but 2018's A Patient Man was worth the wait. It finds the band expanding their sound even further, while still building on their hard-to-categorize baseline.

You'll see Cult Leader still labeled with variations of "hardcore" (and that seems to keep them out of The Metal Archives, for good or ill), but I think that's just a holdover from their Gaza days. What I hear in the band now is a mix of sludge's heaviness but without the murk, and grind's technicality but without the extreme level of chaos that tag usually implies. Add to that a new level of expansiveness in song structure, and A Patient Man makes for an album that took me many listens to wrap my head around.

The album starts off with a blaze. Punch your steering wheel and shout along with the growled refrain "HEAL ME!" in the opener, "I Am Healed." "Curse of Satisfaction" follows a similar path of tech-ish brutality, but the third track, "Isolation in the Land of Milk and Honey," starts to showcase a wider palette of sounds as it progresses, and the the album takes a hard right turn at "To: Achlys." This track prominently features a cleanly sung baritone, and it's a vocal style that dominates "To: Achlys" and the following track, "In a World of Joy."

The clean singing isn't new to Cult Leader. They used it in "A Good Life" on A Lightless Walk, and the haunting closing track of Useless Animal, "You Are Not My Blood," also used similar styling. What immediately struck me with "To: Achlys," though, is how prominent the clean singing is. To my ear, this style was pushed back in the mix a little bit in the band's previous albums, but here it is front and center, often with very minimalist backing.

It's a bold choice. "To: Achlys" and "In a World of Joy" are two of the longer songs in the album, and they veer into what I might call "dark folk" for a solid 12 minutes smack in the middle. I wasn't sure how I felt about this at first, but the more I listened, the more I was willing to follow them. These songs are filled with regret and isolation, and the vocals are earnest and almost primitive in a way. It's not a virtuoso vocal performance, but I don't think that would have been nearly as effective. I'd also argue that, in spite of the drastic stylistic difference, there's never any sense that these tracks are experiments. It's the same band, and maintaining your band's core identity in two very different modes is no easy task.

Cult Leader may switch back to the heavy churn after those tracks, like in "Share My Pain," but they're not done with their new expansiveness. The title track and the album closer, "The Broken Right Hand of God," are truly something else, and I'd be lying if I said I'd had a chance to fully absorb them. Listening to this album has been a journey for me, and I'm curious if it will get the attention it deserves in a distracted, I'll-listen-to-30-seconds-and-then-move-on scene, but I hope it does get that attention.

November 6, 2018

Madder Mortem - Marrow

By Kevin Page. 20 years these quirky Norwegians have been kicking around the metal scene. After a 7 year wait between prior albums (2009's Eight Ways and 2016's Red in Tooth and Claw) they've taken pity on us with only 2 years between releases.
By Kevin Page.

Artwork Thore Hansen

20 years these quirky Norwegians have been kicking around the metal scene. After a 7 year wait between prior albums (2009's Eight Ways and 2016's Red in Tooth and Claw) they've taken pity on us with only 2 years between releases. This album is a definite 'grower' as it took a few more spins than usual for it to sink in. But your patience will pay off in the long run. Here is my track by track breakdown.

After a brief intro, the album kicks off with "Liberator". The band doesn't waste any time getting right to the point. This track centers around a big fat juicy riff that weaves its way into your frontal lobe. For long time fans of the band, this would be the "My Name is Silence" of the album.

"Moonlight Over Silver White", one of my favorite songs on the record. There's something about that main guitar riff that tickles me with excitement. Masterfully woven together with smooth jazz and melodic metal, it bounces back and forth between two worlds.

"Until You Return" can be considered the most tender song the band has done to date. I could envision them in suits in a dark smokey lounge noodling away. But in typical Madder fashion, it's punctuated with fits of rage before returning to its casual beauty.

"My Will Be Done" is the most oddball/divisive track on the album. Essentially a groove metal bro dude tune with screamo vocals, interjected with the sonic feelings of present day Gojira/Mastodon on the pre-chorus and interspersed with Agnete's signature voice. I'll be damned if it didn't win me over in the end though. I'm not going to claim it's my favorite track or anything, but for something I initially thought stood out like a sore thumb (or even a down note), I'm totally fine with it. Consider it somewhat of a palate cleanser.

"Far From Home" is heavily reminiscent of "Armour" from Eight Ways. Soft, gentle, ends on a high note with Agnete's soaring vocals.

"Marrow", the title song and my 2nd favorite track. Not only is this a full on metal jazz song (with overtones of "Changeling" from 2006's Desiderata). It's another number I can see them playing in a nightclub lounge. Yet after lulling the audience into a false sense of security with "Until You Return", the utter shock and dismay of the unsuspecting crowd would be a glorious sight to see.

Photos by Aline Meyer.

"White Snow, Red Shadows" is fairly straightforward, at least for a Madder Mortem composition. Punchy and upbeat from start to finish. This is the only time I've heard Agnete vocally trying to keep up with the music.

"Stumble On" really snuck up on me and turned out to be my clear cut favorite. The backbone of song is a slice of Midwest Americana folk (with shades of "Hangman" thrown in for good measure). Featuring some of the finest vocal and lyrical work by Ms. Kirkevaag to date, it elicits that chemical reaction in my brain that moves me emotionally. The galloping drums and the build to the final crescendo is a thing of pure beauty.

Threads of purpose through our life
We will stumble on
Blinding darkness and endless light
We will stumble on

This is the time when shadows grow longer
When sharp blades grow blunt and you need to be stronger
This is the point where you don't run for cover
When everything's urgent and nothing is over
This is the truth and the heart of the matter
If you cannot hold, then everything SHATTERS

"Waiting to Fall" is the closer with a bombastic 9 minute run-time that ties together all the varied textures and emotions of the songs that came before it. Again, as a callback to previous albums, you'll get a distinct "The Eighth Wave" vibe here.

In my review of their prior album, Red in Tooth and Claw I felt the band had essentially let it's hair down and become fully comfortable in their own skin. Now with Marrow they have taken that a few steps further with a seemingly "we don't give a shit, here it is" attitude. Yet with an expertly crafted production (you end up learning a few things over two decades) they do indeed care.

November 2, 2018

Morne - To the Night Unknown

By Calen Henry. To the Night Unknown’s cover sets the tone; band and album name in simple typeface with a stark greyscale photo of flowers. It is stripped to the bone, but those bony fingers stretch toward epic heights.
By Calen Henry.


To the Night Unknown’s cover sets the tone; band and album name in simple typeface with a stark greyscale photo of flowers. It is stripped to the bone, but those bony fingers stretch toward epic heights. Morne take the slow burning riffs and the expansive guitar leads of doom metal and combine it with the bludgeoning slow build of post-metal and the minimalist composition of crust. Crushing bare-bones riffs, led by powerful drumming, underscore mournful leads and howling vocals. It’s as tightly focused as it is expansive.

Many a stoner or doom band hammers out a riff for several minutes and calls it a song. It takes a special band to make that approach work. In lesser hands, Morne's stripped-down approach could end up that way. “Less is more” says vocalist/guitarist Milosz Gassen. Like the album cover, riffs are as minimalist as can be but structured and arranged to create an engrossing whole.

Album opener and title track “To the Night Unknown” sets the album’s sonic palette; a crushing two note riff forms its backbone and its forward momentum. The riff twists and turns through variations upon which the band layers lyrical leads and supporting riffs, maintaining a balance between smothering menace and wailing agony. The focus is razor sharp, but the skill with which it all unfolds is mesmerizing. It’s an album to get lost in.

The lyrics feature a similar laser focus. All the songs speak of sadness and loss, darkness and cold, and loneliness and fear. They’re the perfect fit for the instruments giving life to the mood of the music.

The songcraft is excellent, and the album is thoroughly engrossing for those so inclined. The album length coupled with the band’s devotion to minimalism will polarize listeners. On top of the potentially divisive dichotomy of epic doom and stripped down punk aesthetics, To the Night Unknown is 67 minutes long.

Morne’s singular approach is worth it, though. They’re a unique metal voice accomplishing exactly what they set out to do. They will be exactly what many are looking for, though some may come away unmoved.

October 19, 2018

Thrawsunblat - Great Brunswick Forest

By Calen Henry. Though Thrawsunblat followed 2016’s Metachthonia with the two-song acoustic Fires in the Mist EP, an acoustic full length follow-up is a bit of a surprise. Thrawsunblat have long pulled from a folk song tradition
By Calen Henry.


Though Thrawsunblat followed 2016’s Metachthonia with the two-song acoustic Fires in the Mist EP, an acoustic full length follow-up is a bit of a surprise. Thrawsunblat have long pulled from a folk song tradition as much as folk instrumentation, and upon hearing Great Brunswick Forest, acoustic is a natural transition for the band. The band have managed to maintain the density of their sound, exemplified on Metachthonia. Here layer upon layer of acoustic instruments replace layers of palm muting and tremolo picking atop blast beats, giving a similar feel to the previous album.

Much of the approach remains unchanged; epic folky metal songs with a unique Eastern Canadian spin. This time, with the exception of some distorted rhythm guitar on a couple of songs, acoustic instruments take front and centre. The composition is still deeply rooted in metal, though. The riffs are down-tuned and pulled from metal, but played on acoustic guitar or mandolin. The riffs are expertly intertwined with the folky lead work, all played on acoustic guitar, mandolin, and violin.

Violin is common in folk metal, but here it’s no afterthought. There are the expected lyrical lead passages as well as harmonized backing parts, but they also explore the instrument's rhythmic potential with staccato backing parts and even some pizzicato work. It makes the violin integral to the album and meshes perfectly with the rest of their sound.

The other big change from prior releases is the drumming. It’s much more laid back with more of a rock than metal vibe, no blasts or double kick, which complements the instrumentation wonderfully. The drums are lively and give the songs drive, but they don’t push them back into full metal territory.

The vocals match the move to acoustic: no black metal rasps, just singing. The vocals are often harmonized and show an impressive range, from a clear tenor to baritone backing. Again, it’s an extension of the clean vocals on previous releases, but massively fleshed out and extremely epic. Lyrically, the shift is natural. Thrawsunblat have always sung about the majesty of nature and mixed pastoral imagery with lamenting the loss of nature. Now the music completely lines up with the subject matter.

With Great Brunswick Forest, Thrawsunblat have distilled their prior metal sound into acoustic folk metal without losing their musical identity. In fact, by going acoustic, they’ve really thrown their musical chops into sharp relief. Folk metal bands are increasingly common, and successfully “going acoustic” really sets a band out from the crowd. Indeed, it might actually be my favourite of their albums.

October 17, 2018

Marsh Dweller - Wanderer

By Justin C. Marsh Dweller's last album, The Weight of Sunlight, offered a unique take in the broad musical area of melodic/atmospheric black metal. A mix of influences and some serious guitar riff worship made for a pleasant departure
By Justin C.


Marsh Dweller's last album, The Weight of Sunlight, offered a unique take in the broad musical area of melodic/atmospheric black metal. A mix of influences and some serious guitar riff worship made for a pleasant departure from a lot of what was going on at the time (and continues to go on).

The title of the second album, Wanderer, might lead you to believe there will be more atmospheric black metal to come. Maybe some tastefully applied "crunching leaves in the woods" sound samples? But Marsh Dweller's sole member, John Owen Kerr, had something different in mind. Wanderer sees Marsh Dweller move into full post-metal territory, complete with all the crushing, layered riffing interspersed with sparse interludes that particular subgenre implies. In fact, Kerr himself said that Cult of Luna's Vertikal was a big inspiration for Wanderer.

So how does that translate? Pretty damn well, actually. A lot of the melodic sensibilities and sonic choices from Sunlight show up here, so this doesn't sound like the work of a completely different band, although if you had your heart set on an expansion of that sound, you may walk away disappointed. "Wander I" erupts with the sound of siren-like guitar line before moving into a hefty, chunky riff, a riff that gets built upon, churning and evolving as the song progresses, while still making room for some wide-open, clean-ish guitar work in the middle of the song. Kerr lets his vocals range from a lower, almost Ihsahn-ian croak up through harsh highs and, later on in the album, some chant-like cleans.

"Wander I" is a proper post-metal length, coming in at just over 9 minutes, but that's just a warm up for the purely massive "Wander II," which comes in at well over 17 minutes. It's a bold choice for the second track of the album, risking breaking the listener too early on. Reasonable people could argue as to whether this is really one song or more of a connected suite, but to my ears, it works as a single piece. Trippier guitar work opens the track with a bit of swirling effect, before moving on to a progress of riffs that build and release, layer upon layer, topped with a mix of growling styles. I'd be lying if I said I thought this song was as tight as it could be--there's a tremolo/white noise/sampled sounds section about two thirds of the way in that I might have cut down if my editing advice was sought, but if it overstays its welcome a little bit, it's not so much that it derails the song.

Recounting all of the details of all the songs would make this album sound fractured, which it definitely is not, but there are more surprises to come. "Coalesce," true to its title, acts as if it's almost falling apart in the middle, with guitar and drums seemingly at odds, before coming back to a unity at the end. "Wander III," another behemoth of a track, plays with tempos that are almost in the realm of funeral doom and includes dueling female vocals with dueling growls, all building to a furious ending.

As I've hinted at, this album runs the risk of pushing away some fans of Marsh Dweller's last album. When I first realized the direction Kerr was taking this particular album, I have to confess that I moaned inside a little--I need my post-rock/post-metal to be in the top 99% of its class to hold my interest--but after giving this a chance, I was able to put aside preconceived notions of what this would be and go along for the ride. Stay open minded and give this a fair shot--you may find a lot to like.

October 13, 2018

Deadbird - III: The Forest Within the Tree

By Nate Garrett. There’s a reason why bands that come from Arkansas are so powerful. The entire area is haunted. Ask certain people there and you’ll get certain explanations. Their theories will range from spirits carried along the river
By Nate Garrett.


There’s a reason why bands that come from Arkansas are so powerful. The entire area is haunted. Ask certain people there and you’ll get certain explanations. Their theories will range from spirits carried along the river, to restless Native Americans reaching out from their burial mounds. No matter what you call this ominous force that permeates the Natural State, Deadbird has always been one of its strongest channelers. The band has been dormant for a decade, and now it has returned with its best album.

Opening track “The Singularity” features intimate acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the dark melancholy of Alice In Chains. A swirling undercurrent generates a sense of foreboding beneath the beauty of the music. According to guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schaaf, the sound in question is a recording of a massive glacier calving (look it up). This is a fitting introduction to the album, as the looming end of humanity has always been an inherent theme of the band’s music.

“Luciferous Heart” is a romping rock and roll masterpiece. Layered guitars exchange classic hard rock riffs under a barrage of harmony vocals that sound like The Allman Brothers if they were from hell. The mid-tempo swing is disintegrated by a pummeling gallop during the bridge. This section resides somewhere between Black Sabbath and High on Fire, yet remains distinctly southern. The song then slows to a crushing crawl, proving that Deadbird is still among the best bands in the world as far as southern sludge is concerned.

“Heyday” is another epic track that runs the gamut of Deadbird’s creative arsenal. Like its predecessor, this song features haunting vocal harmonies, impossibly heavy riffs, soaring guitar harmonies, and enthralling dynamics. Next up is “Alexandria,” the most unexpectedly catchy track on the album. This is the closest thing to a single Deadbird has ever recorded, and it works. Remember when Baroness was more brawn than brains? That might get you in the right ballpark. The verse/chorus structure is streamlined for maximum potency, and the vocal melodies are as infectious as they get.

“11:34” is an instrumental, a compelling bassline awash with guitar harmonies that wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic Metallica or Priest record. But as always, Deadbird carves its own path, and the music is accompanied by the nighttime sounds of an Arkansas forest. You can almost feel the ghosts I mentioned earlier in this review. “Brought Low” is a heartfelt, bone-deep song about depression, driven by expert control of dynamics. It thrives upon the interplay of light and shade that bands like Led Zeppelin understood was so crucial. The verses are vulnerable and fragile, and the chorus is pure aggressive release. This song ends with one of the best riffs you’ll hear from Deadbird, or any other band for that matter. The last section in particular manages to be unpredictable and still viscerally moving at the same time. “Bone and Ash” is the most overtly heavy song on the album, connecting the dots between crust and post-metal. This track is pure aggression, an assault of d-beat brutality counterpointed by the groove of southern-fried doom. “Ending” is both the conclusion of the album, and the final chapter in the trilogy of subdued interludes. It’s the closing movement of a masterfully constructed piece of music.

Deadbird III: The Forest Within the Tree is a sprawling portrait of the heartache, longing, joy, depression, exhilaration, magic, misery, and hope that informed all the greatest music from the American South. This is the blues by way of Neurosis, southern rock via His Hero Is Gone, gospel that praises the best of classic metal, and soul that only life experience can produce. Deadbird lives.


Nate plays in Spirit Adrift and Gatecreeper.

September 28, 2018

Scorched - Ecliptic Butchery

By Matt Hinch. Back in August, I saw Scorched play at Migration Fest. I knew enough about the band that I wanted to stick around and watch them instead of going to a bar with my friends. That says A LOT. It wasn't an easy decision but it turned out just fine.
By Matt Hinch.

Arwork by Misanthropic-Art.

Back in August, I saw Scorched play at Migration Fest. I knew enough about the band that I wanted to stick around and watch them instead of going to a bar with my friends. That says A LOT. It wasn't an easy decision but it turned out just fine. 2016's Echoes of Dismemberment made enough of an impression that I was happy to reacquaint myself with their brutal style of death metal in the live setting. A mere two months after that earplug workout they've released another exercise in gruesomeness with Ecliptic Butchery.

Here we see the Delaware death crew taking the horror off the planet. They brought all the gore with them though. Blood still sprays in zero gravity! Just look at the song titles. “Blood Splatter Eclipse”, “Exhibits of Torture”, “Barbarous Experimentation”, “Dissected Humanity”, you get the idea.

Sound wise Scorched keep things pretty brutal. More California death than Florida to these ears. That's just how I hear it anyway. Heavy either way. While they have the chops to pull it off if they kept it fairly standard, they don't keep it standard at all. There are more than enough tempo changes to keep things interesting and some sci-fi synths/samples give it flavour. A song like “Mortuary of Nightmares” has it all. It's a total neck-breaker with galloping riffs, a sludgy part, chugging beatdowns, and percussion that kicks you while you're down.

Elsewhere they channel Cannibal Corpse (and not just with the vocalist's circling headbanging), work in some creepy organs, fall into a pit of doom, and even rub up against some d-beat rhythm. Throughout though the atmosphere one feels is truly dark and horrific. They don't necessarily do anything specific to set that feeling up. It's just part of the whole package. Well, save for the cavernous death growls. They suck all light from the room and enhance the death/doom quality woven into their precise instruments of aural torture. Let's not forget the slick, incisive solos that tip their hat to the mighty Slayer though, as they strengthen a certain familiarity. In my opinion anyway.

It's also my opinion that if you're going to play death metal with a sci-fi twist, do it like this. Keep the brutality. Keep the groove. Keep it death metal. Give the listener something they can sink their teeth into and chew on for a little while. That way if you aren't the kind of person that can discern lyrics, you can still wrap your mind around everything else hurtling you towards your demise. 2018 has been a pretty solid year for “traditional” death metal and with Ecliptic Butchery Scorched add their name to the list.

September 21, 2018

Abysmal Torment - The Misanthrope

By Bryan Camphire. Maltese metalheads Abysmal Torment churn out mighty intense brutal death. Their music is ultra complex, and their releases are totally unrelenting from start to finish. They play their own brand of brutal death metal
By Bryan Camphire.


Maltese metalheads Abysmal Torment return with their fourth full-length in a dozen years. Their music is ultra complex, and their releases are totally unrelenting from start to finish. They play their own brand of brutal death metal with an extra emphasis on the moshpit. Yet, this new record, The Misanthrope, doesn't divulge its secrets easily. The torrents of blast enshrine the majesty of this release like the walls of a fortress shield the riches of the keep.

With The Misanthrope, Abysmal Torment have upped the ante on all levels of their music including the production, squashing the mix with massive amounts of compression so that it sounds as loud and as in your face as can be. It's easy to view this type of production with disdain: it's very modern; it's the type of thing done by nauseating bands like Metallica today. Truthfully, I had to lower the bass on the equalizer on my car stereo while listening to The Misanthrope just so that I could hear more of what was going on with the guitar work on this release. I can not think of any other musical release I've heard that has this much kick drum in it, both in volume level and in quantity. This was off-putting for the first few spins. Then it drew me in. The bold-faced velocity of Abysmal Torment's full frontal assault beckons me inwards to look for subtlety in the eye of their mile-wide mayhem.

Indeed, subtleties abound in the music of The Misanthrope. The intricacy of this set on display more than makes up for its lack of dynamics, like a church ceiling that transfixes you despite your lack of faith. No doubt the sheet music for these songs would be liable to make a person cross-eyed. The details are dizzying, yet ever so meticulously composed and executed. Abysmal Torment are surgeons of slam, precise and exacting after they lay you out flat.

The emotional thrust of this brickmason-like music is what becomes so surprising about it over repeated listens. Tracks three four and five are a highlight for me, and each of them make me feel like Beavis and Butthead on speed as I listen. This is one of the bands best slight's of hand: amidst their unrelenting onslaught - riddled with odd meters, delivered at blistering speed - it's the groove they deliver that hooks you and riles you up.

I became such a big fan of Abysmal Torment over the years that I've scoured the rosters of many a record label that peddles this type of brutality - including Pittsburgh's venerable Willowtip Records, home to this release - and have found no other band who produces this sound with such finesse. They almost make it seem easy. If you're a fan of hyper complex rhythms, listen to the first track on Abysmal Torment's 2009 release, Omnicide, and try to count it. That song continues to mesmerize me many years after first hearing it.

The band has stayed true to their trademark density on The Misanthrope. Like Abysmal Torment's colossal records before it, I'm certain The Misanthrope will trickle clues to its mysteries that will seep slowly into the consciousness for many years to come.

September 14, 2018

Bosse-de-Nage - Further Still

By Justin C. Reviewing Bosse-de-Nage's new album feels a little like a homecoming to me: III was one of the earlier reviews I wrote for this site way back in 2012. It was in December, and I remember a lot of long, cold commutes to and from work
By Justin C.


Reviewing Bosse-de-Nage's new album feels a little like a homecoming to me: III was one of the earlier reviews I wrote for this site way back in 2012. It was in December, and I remember a lot of long, cold commutes to and from work trying to wedge my brain into what, at times, seemed like almost impenetrable music, a sound that seemed to try to push me away while at the same time continually revealing hidden depths. It haunted me, in the way that only good art can, much like All Fours did three years later. Now, in 2018, the band is back with their fifth full-length, Further Still.

In a break with their more anonymous past, the band has actually done some press this time around, with vocalist Bryan Manning sitting down with Invisible Oranges for an interview. The interview briefly touches on whether Further Still has "nostalgia" moments from earlier albums. I started this review talking about nostalgia, so it's an interesting question. I don't hear "throwback" elements to earlier albums as much as I hear the band refining their core sound. As early as II, the band had come to the kind of sound that, to my mind, defines them, but doesn't confine them. Maybe at some point they’ll do a complete stylistic shift, but so far, sinking into new Bosse-de-Nage always feels both familiar and bewildering at the same time.

Duality in general has long been the band's hallmark. The lyrics to the first two tracks--"The Trench" and "Down Here"--are both bleak little short stories of people who have been abandoned or about to be, yet there are moments of sweeping, chiming melody in the guitar lines in "Down Here" that, ironically, sound almost sunny. "My Shroud" starts with a slow burn, then alternates between energetic, almost poppy guitar lines and sections with some of the most intricate and harrowing compositions they've done. (Big emphasis on "almost" when I say "almost poppy"--they're probably not going to tour with Ed Sheeran any time soon.) The lyrics themselves describe an invisible shroud the narrator wears from birth to death. The listener is free to read whatever they wish into this narrative device--does the shroud represent the inevitable grinding down of life, or is there more to it?

"But wait," you might say. "That doesn't seem as weird as 'The Washerwoman' from All Fours. Isn't there something stranger?" Oh yes. I won't give away the whole story, but tension builds throughout "Sword Swallower." What might seem like an old-fashioned circus trick takes on new dimensions as the swallower takes his act in a fairly extreme direction before his crowd responds. It put me in mind of Kafka's story "A Hunger Artist,” but that's not surprising since Manning discusses his enjoyment of Kafka in the IO interview.

The music, as ever, is abrasive, punishing, and glorious. Manning's vocals are still of the strip-paint-off-the-walls variety, and the instrumentals grind, stab, warp, and soothe as needed. And as always, those drums. Those crazy, intricate, deft drums. I can say without exaggeration that the percussion on these albums are some of my favorite in all of metaldom.

I think the cost of entry for the listener of Bosse-de-Nage remains high. As Iggy Pop once said of John Coltrane, the music is difficult to get close to. But as with their previous work, this album will plant a seed inside you and grow if you let it.

September 10, 2018

Tragedy – Fury

By Craig Hayes. Crust punk titans Tragedy are one of the most revered bands around, and that was recently reaffirmed when the Portland, Oregon-based group’s new EP, Fury, suddenly appeared on Bandcamp. Fury’s arrival was greeted with almost rapturous fervour
By Craig Hayes.




Crust punk titans Tragedy are one of the most revered bands around, and that was recently reaffirmed when the Portland, Oregon-based group’s new EP, Fury, suddenly appeared on Bandcamp. Fury’s arrival was greeted with almost rapturous fervour by diehard fans, myself included, and that wasn’t any kind of overreaction. Tragedy’s music is colossal, concussive, and deeply authentic, and it’s been six long years since the band’s last vitriolic release, 2012’s Darker Days Ahead.

Tragedy’s breakneck, self-titled debut was released in 2000, and the LP was instantly (and rightly) hailed as a crust punk classic. However, Tragedy’s backstory also includes a very important introductory chapter. Tragedy features members who also played in the much-admired crust band His Hero Is Gone, and the sledgehammering noise that band made (before they disbanded in 1999) has had an incalculable influence on the world of thickset punk and metal.

His Hero Is Gone took the brawnier/crustier strain of punk that UK bands like Amebix, Antisect, and Hellbastard had formulated in the 1980s and made it bigger, badder, and even swampier. The band added heftier guitars and distortion, and a neck-wrecking amount of oomph, and that set the template for an entire generation of heavyweight crust bands.

Tragedy have unquestionably carried that tradition on. Their stentorian music has proven to be equally influential, and they've played in front of appreciative audiences the world over. However, Tragedy aren’t only famed for making high-powered music.

The band’s always known for being staunchly DIY and operating well outside the usual ‘music biz’ networks. Tragedy have also shown a complete aversion to social media and online marketing –– so much so that a few hardcore fans will no doubt protest about the band turning up on a platform like Bandcamp.

Appearing on Bandcamp doesn’t radically alter Tragedy’s DIY aesthetic though. If anything, Bandcamp has revolutionised the way underground bands and fans can connect without the need for hyped-up web campaigning. That suits Tragedy’s agenda, which has seen the band self-release their own records, avoid interviews, and deliberately sidestep the grinding wheels of the publicity machine.

In doing all that, Tragedy have become “folk heroes” within the contemporary punk underground. And there’s still a strong element of mystery to the Tragedy mythos, even if the group’s members happen to play in scores of other well-known and well-regarded punk bands.

Tragedy 2013. Photos by Carmelo Española.

Tragedy utilising Bandcamp means that tracking down a copy of Fury is that much easier –– and FYI: any punk fan worth their salt should purchase a copy forthwith. Produced by Portland heavyweight music wizard Billy Anderson, Fury features six tracks bursting with belligerent rage. The EP’s running time barely hits the 17-minute mark, but that’s more than enough time to appreciate that no one channels mind-crushing hostility quite like Tragedy.

Fury’s first track, “Leviathan”, roars out of the gate with thundering guitars, guttural barks, and crashing bass and drums. Stampeding hooks are scattered throughout, snagging you and dragging you along, and by the time second track “Enter the Void” kicks in, it’s clear that Tragedy haven’t lost one iota of their passion or potency.

In fact, guitarist/vocalist Todd Burdette, bassist/vocalist Billy Davis, guitarist Yannick Lorrain, and drummer Paul Burdette sound like they’re ready to riot. I’m guessing the band have been inspired by the overwhelming number of end-times headlines that seem to greet us every day. But, speculation aside, it’s simply magnificent to hear the band still sounding so fired up after so many years in the punk rock trenches.

Fans hankering for Tragedy to return to their feral and ferocious roots will be thrilled that tracks like “Kick and Scream” and “Fury” are speedier and more overtly unhinged than the mid-tempo (albeit still savage) tracks on Darker Days Ahead. Ripping guitars and pick-sliding galore cut through Fury’s murky mix, and scorching leads and fist-raising, shout-along choruses arrive with a palpable sense of urgency throughout the EP.

Throttling dirges are trampled by hurtling hardcore on Fury, and the EP’s final tracks, “Swallow the Pill” and “A Life Entombed”, underscore Tragedy’s ability to craft dark and blistering melodies that reflect shattered dreams, nightmare realities, and endless frustrations.

In that sense, with the world in turmoil and anxieties at an all-time high, there’s never been a better time for Tragedy to return. The band bring hope, and relief, delivered in a purging/surging rush of ear-splitting punk, backed by exorcising howls.

Over the years, countless raucous bands have tried to copy the most ferocious elements from Tragedy’s formidable playbook. However, as Fury proves, yet again, few bands exhibit Tragedy’s talent for making primal rage manifest. Even fewer bands can cast out anger with the sheer intensity of Tragedy’s cathartic anthems. And Fury adds six more reasons to stand in fucking awe of Tragedy’s intimidating discography.

September 6, 2018

Mutilation Rites - Chasm

By Karen A. Mann. Since forming in 2009, Brooklyn’s Mutilation Rites have established themselves as staunch purveyors of American black metal. Solid, but pretty comfortable to stay within their lane and not get too experimental.
By Karen A. Mann.

Artwork by Mark Riddick.

Since forming in 2009, Brooklyn’s Mutilation Rites have established themselves as staunch purveyors of American black metal. Solid, but pretty comfortable to stay within their lane and not get too experimental. They also put on a ferocious live show, and that energy has never been properly documented on previous releases.

On Chasm, their first release in four years, they blow expectations out of the water with a rampaging mix of death metal, grindcore and punk, while still nodding to their blackened roots. Chasm is also Mutilation Rites’ best-sounding album to date with much burlier guitars and intricate, gut-punching drumming. It was recorded on a strict three-day schedule by bass player Ryan Jones at Brooklyn’s famed St. Vitus club, where Jones is an audio engineer. The band freely admits in a short documentary they made about the album that they’re primarily a live band. Recording in a room designed for a concert almost certainly helped the band finally capture their live energy.

The album’s opening track, “Pierced Larynx,” sets the tone, opening with a feedback squall and a grinding cacophony before settling into a lurching death metal groove. The song then twists and turns in on itself, barreling through a variety of brutal styles and tempos courtesy of Tyler Coburn, whose exemplary drumming is a large part of why this album is so good. The next three songs follow a similar recipe -- ferocious riffing, blasting drums, gnawing shrieks and withered gutteral growls, and unexpected passages that keep the listener from getting too comfortable.

The band shifts the formula back to more of a blackened sound on the final two tracks, “Chasm” and “Putrid Decomposition.” Though both songs (notably “Chasm”) have moments of sonic brilliance, neither can match the ferocity of the rest of the album and could have benefitted from being shortened. Regardless, Chasm remains Mutilation Rites’ most adventurous and polished album to date. On the strength of “Post Mortem Obsession” and “Pierced Larynx” this album will likely be on my list of albums of the year.

September 5, 2018

Come to Denmark (and die)

How time flies when you're dead. The last of the legendary Kill-Town Death Fests was The Funeral Edition in 2014. But it seems you can't keep a good corpse in the ground and September 6-9 it's time for Kill-Town Death Fest 2018
Artwork by David "Torturdød" Mikkelsen

How time flies when you're dead. The last of the legendary Kill-Town Death Fests was The Funeral Edition in 2014. But it seems you can't keep a good corpse in the ground and September 6-9 it's time for Kill-Town Death Fest 2018 - The Resurrection! and the lineup is to die for.

Before band number 30 (the KTDF house-band Undergang) was announced the organizers told that the festival is now sold out! That's pretty amazing, and a testimony to how much Kill-Town Death Fest has been missed. If you got a ticket or are curious, you can check here for practical information. I can add that since the venue has changed smoking is no longer allowed at the concerts (though they're are smoking rooms indoors). And that's one thing I'm not gonna miss from the old fests. Anyway, enough of me talking. Have some Death Metal and see you in September?

This post has been updated with the latest Bandcamp releases from all the bands involved and is now organized in running order, starting with...

Thursday.

Black stage 18:00 - Reptilian (Norway)


Main stage 19:00 - Cemetery Urn (Australia)
the first European performance ever of Cemetery Urn at KTDF 2018!!!


Black stage 20:00 - Hyperdontia (Denmark/Turkey)
Hyperdontia will play their debut show at KTDF 2018!


Main stage 21:00 - Necrowretch (France)


Black stage 22:00 - Torture Rack (United States)
the North West mutilating barbarians Torture Rack who will be performing their very first European gig ever at KTDF!


Main stage 23:00 - Blood Incantation (United States)


Friday.

Outdoor stage 15:30 - Galvanizer (Finland)


Outdoor stage 17:00 - Taphos (Denmark)


Black stage 18:00 - Fetid (United States).
for the first time ever in Europe, the reeking fresh corpse of Fetid!


Main stage 19:00 - Pissgrave (United States).
for only the second time in Europe, Philadelphia filth mongers Pissgrave!


Black stage 20:00 - Ascended Dead (United States)
Ascended Dead will play their first ever European show at KTDF 2018!!!


Main stage 21:00 - Venenum (Germany)


Black stage 22:00 - Phrenelith (Denmark)


Main stage 23:00 - Grave Miasma (United Kingdom)


Black stage 24:00 - Triumvir Foul (United States)
the first ever European performance of Triumvir Foul at KTDF 2018!!!


Saturday.

Outdoor stage 15:30 - Deiquisitor (Denmark)


Outdoor stage 17:30 - Cadaveric Incubator (Finland)
The band has played in Finland and Russia, but this will be the first time they venture a bit down south of Finland.


Black stage 18:00 - Antiversum (Switzerland)


Main stage 19:00 - Undergang (Denmark)


Black stage 20:00 - Mefitic (Italy)
for the first time in the Nordic lands the cavernous horde of Mefitic!


Main stage 21:00 - Necros Christos (Germany)


Black stage 22:00 - Scolex (United States)
the first and for now only Euro appearance of Scolex!!!


Main stage 23:00 - Demilich (Finland)


Black stage 24:00 - Necrot (United States)
Bay Area crushers Necrot will do their first ever European performance at KTDF – The Resurrection!


Main stage 01:00 - Incantation (United States)


Gloomy Sunday.

Outdoor stage 16:00 - Dead Void (Denmark)


Black stage 17:00 - Mortiferum (United States)
the crawling heavy death metal band Mortiferum for the first time ever in Europe!


Main stage 18:00 - Spectral Voice (United States)


Black stage 19:00 - Sempiternal Dusk (United States)
Tonight we have another “first time in Europe band” coming your way, all the way from Portland, Oregon, the mighty Sempiternal Dusk!!!


Main stage 20:00 - Runemagick (Sweden)
Runemagick will be playing their first show in 13 years at this years KTDF!!!!


Black stage 21:00 - Rippikoulu (Finland)
Rippikoulu performing their legendary 2nd demo Musta seremonia in its entirety!


Main stage 22:00 - Derkéta (USA)
The band we are about to announce has been around since 1988 and up until now never played in Europe.


Black stage 23:00 - Wormridden (Japan/Denmark)
Wormridden for the first time live ever on European ground


Main stage 24:00 - Hooded Menace (Finland)
to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album Fulfill the Curse, Hooded Menace will headline our Gloomy Sunday and perform the album in its entirety!