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!


September 3, 2018

Derkéta - In Death We Meet

By Kim Kelly. Comebacks and reunions have lost their sparkle. They’re a dime a dozen nowadays, fueled by rising guarantees and nostalgia and buoyed by fans' all-consuming urge to see a band play "the old shit." Missed Carcass or Emperor
By Kim Kelly.

[Last week Derkéta updated their Bandcamp with a remixed/remastered version of In Death We Meet done by Ola Lindgren from Grave. The remix has replaced the existing version of the album, meaning you can download it free of charge from your Bandcamp fan page if you already bought it. And you definitely should do so, it sounds so good! To celebrate the new version of In Death We Meet here's a reprint of Kim Kelly's review plus a couple of photos by Brian Krasman from their recent set at Migration Fest.]

Cover art by Richard Schouten

Comebacks and reunions have lost their sparkle. They’re a dime a dozen nowadays, fueled by rising guarantees and nostalgia and buoyed by fans' all-consuming urge to see a band play "the old shit." Missed Carcass or Emperor the first time ‘round? No sweat, they’ll be right over (provided the money’s there). Nostalgia is now a thing of the past, but what of the bands that never got a chance to fade away? Derkéta's 2012 opus In Death We Meet may have felt like a comeback, but, improbably enough, served as their first proper introduction - one that took them nearly twenty-five years to make.

Far away from New York's brutish glamor or Florida's swampy heat, an ex-member of pioneering all-female death/doom band Mythic came together with two like-minded Rust Belt ladies and unwittingly launched what would become one of American death metal's unsung greats. It's taken nearly two decades for them to start getting the kind of recognition they so richly deserve, and even now, their first (!) proper album In Death We Meet is still flying further below the radar than one might like. The band's decision to quietly release the album themselves cut down on hype; I only found out the album existed during a chance encounter at a MDF distro stall, but happily plunked down those ten bucks faster than you can say "essential purchase."

There's never really been a core lineup, so to speak - members of Nunslaughter, Mythic, and now Cattle Decapitation have lent their talents to the cause, but at the heart of it all has been Sharon Bascovsky, a slight woman with a penchant for tuning down and possessed of a hugely powerful, caustic roar that'd bring Beelzebub himself trembling to his knees if he found himself on the wrong end of it. Joined by bassist Robin Mazen, drummer Terri Lewis, and guitarist Mary Bielich, Bascovsky has crafted a masterful collection of morbid, unerringly brutal death metal songs that would sound right at home on the band's cult Nineties output. They proceed at a relentless, measured stomp, shrouded in grim resolve. There isn't the faintest whiff of sterile modernity about it, and for good reason. In Death We Meet is the sound of a "Record" button being pressed on songs that have been hanging in the ether since 1990. Dérketa sounds old school because they were there - they lived it, and what's more, they created it. They helped build that fucking school, brick by muddy brick.

Derkéta at Migration Fest 2018. Photos by Brian Krasman from Meat Mead Metal

The album itself is everything a fan would want, and more. In Death We Meet feels far darker and heavier than your run-of-the-mill OSDM recording. The weight its creators carried on their shoulders press down upon its chords, and the album is intensely personal for reasons beyond its long gestation and perennially uncertain future. As Bascovsky shared with me during an interview last year, the title track on In Death We Meet was inspired by and dedicated to the memory of a close family friend who'd passed away unexpectedly. The death she screams of is not the glorified, incense-swathed reaper of popular metallic imagery; it's deeper than that. This death is all too familiar. Its hands aren't icy cold, but cool and papery, marked with hospital scars and bitten fingernails. It's death in its reality, not its fantasy - a heavy realization, a struggle to understand, and ultimately, the yawning chasm of rage, confusion, and grief that awaits us all. Derketa howl into the void, and come back gasping for air and clawing for purchase.

They have awakened from the cold embrace of their premature burial once more, and seem stronger than ever. Happily enough, Derketa have been playing live with a new drummer, and one can only hope that new material is forthcoming. Above all, they're survivors, and have fought hard for this second chance to shine. It's been a long time coming.

Hail the Goddess(es) of Death!

August 31, 2018

KEN mode - Loved

By Justin C. I've been a long-time fan of KEN mode, but I have to make a confession: I never got into 2015's Success. The album struck out in a different direction from their previous work, and I found it a bit uncomfortable to listen to.
By Justin C.

Artwork by Randy Ortiz.

I've been a long-time fan of KEN mode, but I have to make a confession: I never got into 2015's Success. The album struck out in a different direction from their previous work, and I found it a bit uncomfortable to listen to. Some quick research shows that I wasn't the only one with that opinion at the time, and it wasn't unusual to see the word "uncomfortable" come up. Sure, you say, but most of metal/hardcore is supposed to make you uncomfortable. That's true, but something about Success just didn't jibe with my particular sensibilities. But that happens. Sometimes bands and fans move in different directions.

One look at the album cover for Loved, though, and I was intrigued. What the hell is that smiling/grimacing/hooded figure doing? The artist, Randy Ortiz, really knocked it out of the park with this one, and it turns out that the art itself was an inspiration to the band throughout recording. Luckily, the insides of the album are as interesting as its outsides, and I was hooked on KEN mode all over again.

The noisy hardcore mix that the Matthewson brothers made their home is once again in full force here. Vocals alternate between bellowing, snarling, sneering, and even taunting, as the character in "Feathers & Lips" berates an unknown target with "Bully. Coward. I'm filled with this overwhelming instinct that I can break you." The lyric sheet reads like a tiny collection of short stories, not simplistic shouting like you might expect. (Although there are plenty of scream-along moments, too, like the repeating refrain of "Just because no one else is talking doesn't mean you need to be!" in "Learning to Be Too Cold.")

The riffing varies anywhere from straight-ahead bludgeoning in "The Illusion of Dignity," to the gentle, jazzy strains in "This Is a Love Test," a song that can't help but harken back to Rollins Band's "Liar." Not a surprise given that the band takes a line from Henry Rollins's memoir as their name.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the wild sax, provided by Kathryn Kerr. It first rears its head in "The Illusion of Dignity," adding a bit of jazzy chaos to a song that shambles along like a drunken elephant parade. It comes back to keep things from getting too smooth in the aforementioned "This Is a Love Test." I know some of you will inevitably say, "Ugh...horns," but Kerr's contributions are so frantic and filthy that they sound perfectly at home.

I don't know if you'd call this album a "course correction" or "return to form" for the band. I hate saying things like that because it's almost always an oversimplification of what the band was trying to achieve. But if you, like me, drifted away, you owe it to yourself to give Loved a fair shake. It's only 36 minutes of your time, and you'll find that KEN mode is as fresh and vital as ever.

August 28, 2018

Migration Fest 2018

By Matt Hinch. I don't travel much. I live a mere two hours East of Toronto and I might get into the city once a year for a show at best. So driving all the way to Pittsburgh was a big deal. But that big deal was Migration Fest 2018.
By Matt Hinch.

I don't travel much. I live a mere two hours East of Toronto and I might get into the city once a year for a show at best. So driving all the way to Pittsburgh was a big deal. But that big deal was Migration Fest 2018. Totally worth the sweaty-palmed eight and a half hour drive. Damned traffic. Three days packed with bands either on Gilead Media or 20 Buck Spin or hand-picked by them. The trust level here was sky high.

As much as I would have liked to I didn't see every band perform. Out of the 26 bands (I think) that shook the foundation of Mr. Small's I only completely missed 4 bands. Not bad if you ask me. So nothing here on Zombi, Deadbird, Pryolatrous, or the Cancer Conspiracy. Sorry. Other than that I'll try and recap the first multi-day festival I'd been to since 1996. I told you I don't get out much.


Day 1

I also missed the pre-show Thursday night because I was taking in a Pirates game, so at the coincidental time of 4:20 Friday afternoon Migration Fest proper fired up with Cloud Rat's violent grind. I wasn't as familiar with them as I thought but their energy pulls you in anyway. Couch Slut followed up with a hugely anticipated set. Their noisy sludge grind sucked people in as vocalist Megan O. screamed, rolled around, bloodied herself, and threw other cautions to the wind. She's a force on stage and the only disappointment was that she wasn't able to get down on the floor and kick all our asses.


I missed enough of Forn's set that I can't really comment much but I heard enough to regret missing most of it. However OSDM locals Derkéta crushed. It's a simple kind of death metal but they were tight and when they locked into a groove there wasn't a head that wasn't nodding. They looked like they were having a really good time too. As did many over the course of the weekend.

Perhaps the most talked about set from Friday was from black metal extremists, Yellow Eyes. They impressed so much their merch basically evaporated. They looked like an unassuming bunch but holy shit did they rip! Fierce, cold, and fast. Vile screams forced attention and the drummer...my goodness. Such ferocity and power! I thought he was going to break every piece of that kit. Yellow Eyes left many simply awestruck.


Bongripper shifted gears rather abruptly for those taking it all in. Going from Yellow Eyes's lightning-quick BM to instrumental doom, Bongripper was one of the main draws for me and I grinned/scowled the whole time as I watched hundreds of heads all nodding in unison, slowly, as they bulldozed their way through a heavy, heavy set preceding Khemmis.

The Colorado group had the crowd excited. Their newest LP, Desolation is fantastic and I was not alone in anticipating some of its songs blessing our ears. Obviously they did and did well. I started close to the stage but too far to the left. After 4-5 songs and failed attempts at a decent picture I moved to the back of the room and boy, did it make a difference. The vocals were sharp and the twin guitars flourished in an even more powerful way than they do on record. It was one of the best sets of the weekend and a fitting end to MY night. I skipped out on Zombi (never listened to them) in search of grub before everything closed!


Day 2

I know I wasn't the only one anxious to be on time for Day 2. “Last minute” replacements, Immortal Bird were set to open Saturday's festivities. I even heard one fella say it was the only set he actually watched. Hanging out with friends was a big part of the weekend. Immortal Bird, like everyone else, did not disappoint. Their amalgam of styles went over well and served as a killer kickstart. Props to vocalist Rae and the rest of the band for the afternoon adrenaline shot. Especially the drummer!

The crowd thinned noticeably for Scorched. They didn't deserve that. But the young death metal upstarts didn't let the smaller crowd get them down. Groovy and tight, they pounded through some gnarly tunes led by their circle-headbanging singer. On the drive back to my lodgings at the end of the day we discussed rules for a circle-headbanging competition between him and Corpsegrinder. They should just tour with Cannibal Corpse anyway.


I was wandering around and missed the start of The Ominous Circle's set. Shame on me. While I personally enjoyed some of the later sets more I think TOC made the biggest impact. Donning black hoodies under black leather jackets (hoods up obviously) and grim reaper masks the Portuguese monsters made for a very visual display. The singer even wore robes, gloves, and something to make him seem 8 feet tall. Maybe he is. Good god though did they put on a show. The singer openly gestured with his hands when growling from the depths of Hell, and stood stately with hands crossed when his cult mates were doing the heavy lifting. They were surprisingly great and they were quite busy at the merch table as well.

I can't say much about Mutilation Rites as I didn't catch all their set. I was getting a head start on Spirit Adrift merchandise but what I did see held true to their dirty and and wretched style. They introduced their new drummer and otherwise burned through their mid-afternoon set as one would expect. Their new album, Chasm is pretty good by the way. This is also a good time to say that you should not trust the order I'm talking about the bands in. There were changes and it was all just so much fun I may have lost track.


I totally skipped on Deadbird to take a much needed walk and scarf some chocolate bars but you can bet your ass I was back in time to get a decent spot for Spirit Adrift. I was close but with a central spot this time and I could hear it all. Nate's vocals came across different than on record. Less doomy? Still great! Some people even said it was better. With a similar setup as Khemmis their twin guitars soared as well. They've got such a grand, epic style of trad doom that translates extremely well to the stage. Or more likely vice versa. They even played a new song! It was somewhat more urgent, thrashier even, than their previous work and if you're a fan, be excited.

Mizmor. OH MY GOD, Mizmor. Ungodly heavy. Wholly doomed black metal is right! Whether slow or raging the air vibrated with negativity. They switched out drummers a couple times. Both great. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think one of them was Hell's MSW. (I think it was Mizmor's ALN beating the skins for Hell too.) The biggest impact came from the vocals. All those fucking terrifying screams you heard on Yodh are real, man. He pulled it all off live and you felt it in your bones! Spectacular.


I'll admit I hadn't listened to Pelican in a long time. Not sure why. Maybe I heard an EP I wasn't fond of and moved on? No matter. Their set made me want to get back into them. Maybe it was the shared back line or maybe I just misremembered their recorded works but they were heavy! Their musicianship was never in question but they looked like they were having a really good time. So were we. Vocalists be damned!

Due to a faulty Bluetooth connection, broken auxiliary cable, and fickle CD player I listened to Krallice's Years Past Matter on repeat for six and a half hours driving down to Pittsburgh. That didn't mean I didn't want to see the wizards of experimental technical black metal in the flesh. I had mixed feeling watching though. On one hand, gazing with awe at their fingers, hands, and feet and seeing the multitude of notes unfurl was pretty cool. On the other hand, that kind of playing doesn't necessarily make for a lot of stage movement. That was a bit expected but I can still feel a little let down. It didn't seem to bother anyone really though as their Saturday-ending set was met with raucous admiration.


Day 3

OK. The home stretch. I wanted to see Lev Weinstein drum for Pyrolatrous after seeing him in Krallice the night before but pints and puppies at a nearby brewery (Grist House) was too good to rush so I missed their whole set. But, pints and puppies! So Daeva was the first act I caught. It was also their first show! Impressive! Basically thrash metal. Good performers. And the vocalist made me think of a more extreme Dave Mustaine for both visual and audial reasons. I'd keep an eye on these guys.

O Canada! Torontonians Tomb Mold (figuratively) followed me down from Canada to infect the Mr. Small's stage with their filthy brand of death metal. They kicked ass to one of the more packed rooms over the whole weekend. They're a band on the up and up and you could tell by the reaction they received. Their new album, Manor of Infinite Forms is getting a lot of hype and they lived up to it! Just as nasty as you would expect. I'm bummed I didn't get one of their Fest exclusive shirts though.


The Cancer Conspiracy's set was my break for the day. Not that I didn't want to discover but I needed some moving air. The air sure was moving when Hell took the stage. They pushed the PA to its limits with slow, insanely heavy doom. Their mantra is “lower your head” and I did. Parked behind the sound booth I closed my eyes, lowered my head and banged/swayed through their loud and impactful set. I live for this kind of heaving doom that you can feel more than you need to see. Absolutely crushing!

False followed them with keyboard-accented black metal fury. Although I did have some trouble hearing the keys from a couple spots in the room. You couldn't help but hear vocalist Rachel's desperate screams though. Their atmospheric blackness was a nice change of pace from Hell but impressed on their own merits regardless of when they played. I talked to keyboardist Kishel for half of Mournful Congregation's set too. But that was later. There was another big Fest draw to see. Thou.


I'm not as familiar with Thou as I thought I was. That didn't mean I didn't enjoy their sludgy and hard-hitting set. With a third guitarist! They obviously drew a large crowd too being one of the bigger names on the bill. They crushed. In fact, I'd say they're better live than on record. As it should be. Although at the rate they're pumping out releases this year you would expect a band to be as locked in as they were. They kept the set relatively heavy thankfully and they have me excited for the upcoming Magus now!

Yes, I missed half of Mournful Congregation's set but that was only two songs. Their third comprised the other half. Slow, meaningful death doom filled the room as the fullness of night took hold to the delight (despair?) of the sweaty masses. This was one of those sets where I felt bad for not digging into their work more. The emotional performance won me over enough to put their newest slab back on my phone. Everybody wins!


Judging by the enthusiasm Fest closer Panopticon received I felt like I had missed the boat on them. I'm glad I stuck around. Bluegrass doesn't really do it for me but luckily their set was all ripping black metal. Sure, there were some acoustic moments and otherwise not-flesh rending movements but it was the only time the no moshing policy was disregarded, however briefly. They killed it. And made me a believer, as good performances should. Almost every song they played was so triumphant you thought it was going to be the monumental end to the fest. But they just kept throwing out more and more. No one complained. In fact, they even got an encore! People lost their minds for their whole set and with good reason. Plus, Austin Lunn is hilarious. They couldn't have chosen a better band to wrap up the crazy weekend.


Three days, over 25 bands and untold millions of degrees of heat later and I doubt you could find a soul there that left unsatisfied. The quality of bands that performed was rock solid top to bottom. Every band nailed it on stage and it all ran on time! Early even! Kudos to Adam and Dave for putting on such a fantastic festival of noisy, angry, heavy, dazzling, loud, and entertaining underground metal. Fans migrated for the weekend from across continents and Migration Fest was worth the trip however long. The only problem now is waiting to do it all over again.

Max and Matt having fun.

In the words of more than one Fest performer, “MIGRATIOOOOOOONNN!!!!!”

August 21, 2018

Kodiac - Formless and Void

By Ulla Roschat. Doom duo Kodiac from St. Louis/MO offer their 3rd EP called Formless and Void. It consists of only two tracks and has an overall playing time of 11 minutes and 2 seconds. That's short, all right. For one thing it simply
By Ulla Roschat.


Doom duo Kodiac from St. Louis/MO offer their 3rd EP called Formless and Void. It consists of only two tracks and has an overall playing time of 11 minutes and 2 seconds. That's short, all right. For one thing it simply doesn't need more than that to blow your mind and give you a listening experience that feels totally complete, then again it makes you want to hear more from Kodiac and their distinct style of Depressive Doom.

The two songs differ much from one another. The first one, "Nocturnal Ambrosia", is about half as long (3:44) as the second one "Figure In The Garden" (7:18). It is also an instrumental piece, whereas the other one gifts us with an abundance of vocal bliss and deeply touching lyrics. Most striking though is how they vary in the intensity of their respective sound.

"Nocturnal Ambrosia" is characterized by a mainly quiet and thrifty sound, but not in the sense of sounding "acoustic", there's definitely an "electric" feel to it coming from a cold guitar tone and tremolo in almost Black or Post Metal style. The song creates a kind of pastoral atmosphere right from the start, but the images that appear are like photographic negatives of pastoral scenes, low crackling noises add a creepy nostalgia and all this builds up a growing sense of uneasiness.

Towards the end the song gathers energy with a slow plodding but driving drum beat and sound and mood get more intense to prepare you for what's to come in "Figure in the Garden". Here nothing is quiet or thrifty - far from that - except for a calmer part in the middle of the song, pure massive Doom power thunders down on you. Sound and atmosphere are dense and intense throughout the entire song and the vocals hurl their painful and unsettling messages at you.

Despite their ostensible contrasts, the two songs are closely linked, it actually feels like they are one song. Not only do they merge seamlessly into one another, they relate to each other in their melodies, guitar tone, their moods of darkness and depressing melancholy. Even the pastoral feel of "Nocturnal Ambrosia" lingers on in "Figure in the Garden". If you listen to Formless and Void in a continuous loop (like I did the last couple days), you'll notice that it doesn't even matter with which song you start, you'll always get a cohesive story and an organic sound.

There are no frills in sound and song structures. Everything feels very immediate, natural and unfiltered, the force of the thundering sound as well as the beautiful melancholic melodies and the gut-wrenching words. Both songs together develop an avalanche-like dynamic that grabs you with an overwhelming emotional impact and inevitably tears you down into abyssal nothingness.

August 17, 2018

Rebel Wizard - Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response

By Justin C. I've most-often seen Rebel Wizard summed up as "NWOBHM meets black metal," and although that's a little reductive, it's also a pretty good summing up. Whether switching back and forth between those two broad styles or
By Justin C.


I've most-often seen Rebel Wizard summed up as "NWOBHM meets black metal," and although that's a little reductive, it's also a pretty good summing up. Whether switching back and forth between those two broad styles or mixing them in more subtle ways, there's no denying that dual influence, and it's still in force on the new album, Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response.

That's not to say that sole member NKSV (a.k.a., Bob Nekrasov) is in any way musically lazy. The second track, "The Prophecy Came and It Was Soaked With the Common Fools Forboding" starts out with some seriously riff-tastic NWOBHM before gradually escalating into black metal territory with the addition of tremolos, black metal screeches, and blast beats. Once the two elements have been successfully mixed, the song charges onward to the end with the throttle wide open. "Healing the Chakras With Heavy Negative Wizard Metal" takes a slightly different path, starting off with a more "traditional" black metal intro before moving into trash territory. No matter how NKSV proceeds, though, it's impossible to deny how ripping these songs are.

Is this all a bit tongue and cheek? Most likely. The cover art shows a hooded figure triumphantly holding aloft two Gibson Explorer-style guitars, which young me remembers being a signature move from bands in the NWOBHM heyday. Song titles like "Drunk on the Wizdom of Unicorn Semen" mix the profane and the goofy into word salads. But is the music itself a joke? Not at all. Unlike Steel Panther, for example, who tries (and fails) to entertain by parodying a musical style that was already a parody of itself, Rebel Wizard cranks out damn good tunes without making you feel the need to qualify it by saying, "It's good...but it's kinda dumb."

Sure, I could pick a few nits. Two different songs go with the somewhat-tired "rain/nature sound" effects. The album's closing track, "Exhaustive Glory," is unfortunately named because pushing 10 minutes and lacking the dynamicism of most of the other tracks does, in fact, make it a bit exhausting. But credit where credit's due: NKSV samples a fairly moving speech from philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti for the album closer, when he could have gone the easy path and put in some overcooked Satanism or dialog from a Mad Max movie.

But when all is said and done, this is an album that will rip right through you. Triumph of Gloom is the last Rebel Wizard album I've spent significant time with, and NKSV has upped his songwriting game as well as his level of shred, but technicality never overwhelms the musicality. So by all means, put the extra-kvlt doom and gloom aside for a little while and rock out. Maybe even smile a little?