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!