Sunday, October 1, 2017

An Interview with Nucleus

Chicago's Nucleus has been a band to keep an eye on for a few years now, playing a progressive style of death metal that hearkens back to Nocturnus and Voivoid, both musically and thematically. Their debut full-length Sentient and the follow up EP Fragmented Self were both impressive statements of purpose, and showed how far the band had come since their early recordings. As I love music that's both thoughtful and heavy, I got in touch with the band; guitarist Dan Ozcanli was kind enough to answer my questions.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Monarch!, Totengott, Cavernlight, Hundred Year Old Man



The 8th (!!!) album from French outfit MONARCH! plumbs the depths of misery without getting too monotonous. Never Forever is a car crash in slow motion of sludge metal, feedback, and droning noise passages. Emilie Bresson's vocal approach is accordingly eclectic, mutating from shrieks to growls to creepy clean singing and spoken word sections. A band that doesn't just perform doom metal as a form of Sabbath worship. [$7.99 CAD]



Spain's Totengott wear their Celtic Frost influence loudly and proudly. The aptly titled Doppelgänger is a spiritual twin to the heaviest Frost material, including a pretty spot-on Tommy Fisch-sticks impression. The world certainly isn't lacking reverential imitations of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, but Totengott ranks among the best (and heaviest). Urgh! [€5]



Wisconsin's Cavernlight are only on their second album, but have seemingly mastered their style of sludgy doom. As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache (a long title for an equally drawn out and morose album) is at turns crushing and ambient, culminating in the monumental final track, which employs female vocals and a blasting finish. An eloquent and cathartic work of loss and sadness. [$5]



Leeds' Hundred Year Old Man approach the genre with more in mind than slow chord progressions. The three songs on the single/EP Black Fire is suitably bleak, adopting ambient drone to find a middle ground between Cult of Luna and experimental musicians like Aidan Baker. Heavy, but with the thoughtfulness befitting a band on the high-minded Gizeh records. [£2]

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

in the nineties we loved feedback and arty record sleeves.


Almost completely forgot about this: Dragbody were a band from Florida who did the noisecore thing (a la Converge/Botch/Kiss it Goodbye) and recorded an EP at Morrisound (albeit with an engineer who was neither Scott Burns nor Tom Morris). I saw them at CBGBs and bought this 7" from them (and liked it enough to track down their full-length Flip The Killswitch a little while later).

My memory is a black hole of false impressions and mis-remembered happenings, but I vaguely recall talking with these guys after their set and their being nice to me. That's something that would stand out to a long-haired metal kid who had just started going to hardcore shows in the Nineties.

I'm not sure why Dragbody never caught on with a wider audience; I'll put it down to the innate tribal/lemming mentality of hardcore kids at the time. Most of my hardcore friends would rather listen to a mediocre band from their hometown than take a chance on an unknown band from out of state or another country. [To wit: No one I knew cared about Refused until after they had broken up and made their way to the "best of" lists of punk rock's cool kids. But I digress.] Dragbody's releases were certainly as good as anything else in the style released between Fixation on a Coworker and Jane Doe. I'm glad someone has made this available online; hopefully a Bandcamp release is in the works so their music can find its way to a newer, less boxed-in audience.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Celephaïs, Myrkur, Wolves in the Throne Room, An Autumn for Crippled Children



Five years since their ambitious 25 minute meisterwork Tir N'a n'Og (still phenomenal and still available for free), DoC faves Celephaïs are back with another bout of bleak folky instrumentals. Each track on Monad is a journey of tension and release - prosaic and contemplative one minute, bloodthirsty and unrestrained the next. As far as nature-themed black metal goes, you'll have a hard time finding anything that tops this. The album is available as a "name your price" download.



All the haters in the world haven't slowed down Myrkur. With her second album Mareridt, the erstwhile Amelie Bruun shows the songwriting prowess only hinted at on her unexpectedly divisive debut, letting her ethereal vocals traverse over black metal, gothy doom and neo-folk, along the way teaming up with fellow purveyor of Pitchfork-friendly darkness Chelsea Wolfe. Bruun probably won't end up being the cross-over star that Relapse is hoping for, but she brings a refreshing outsider's perspective to the heaviest of metals (not to mention some catchy tunes). No doubt everyone with a Von patch will hate it. [$10]



Wolves in the Throne Room have returned - for real, this time, and not as a synth rock band. Thrice Woven picks up where Celestial Lineage left off, augmenting the band's already epic forest metal with choral singing and acoustic passages without getting too twee about it. Not sure the bone dry recording (done by the band themselves) gives the songs the richness they require; certainly such passionate odes to nature and paganism deserve a fuller sound? Regardless, if anyone has forgotten why WITTR was such a monumental force in USBM, this should serve as a cogent reminder. [$9]



It may be heresy to describe any black metal as "pretty", but An Autumn For Crippled Children certainly make a case for it. Recorded in 2015, the three songs on morfine meld fuzzed out guitars, shuffling drums and sombre synth melodies for a sound as deeply rooted in Joy Division as it is in Burzum. An opiate haze in the northern sky. [€3]

let my people rock

Had to do some travelling recently. The long layovers and delayed flights gave me an opportunity to catch up on some cartoons. Among the most delightful was this episode of Bob's Burgers that introduces the fictional prog rock band Zentipede and their sci fi concept album/rock opera General Inzanity, complete with laser light show.



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mixtape 37 - D.O.A.



Here is the 37th installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast, featuring an interview with Joe "Joey Shithead" Keithley of Canadian punk legends D.O.A.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Inanimate Existence, Beneath, Pyrrhon, NYN



Three albums into their career, Inanimate Existence have delivered their most definitive statement. Whereas previous albums were somewhat fragmented due to an overeagerness to integrate female vocals and jazz parts with the band's djenty origins, Underneath A Melting Sky is their most cohesive and consistent album; the band has refined their style of slow, thoughtful death metal to create songs that improve with every listen. This may be the album that puts their name with Atheist and Cynic; not as disciples, but as equals. [$8]



After their last album, Reykjavík's Beneath seemed poised to be the next big thing in tech death. But Ephemeris takes a step back from the band's fret-burning past, employing more slow grooves and psychedelic interludes to reel the listener in before the blastbeats start falling like hammers. Iceland's flagship death metal act is maturing like fine hákarl. [$9]



NY's Pyrrhon have returned with more compositions of confustication. Despite their mathy reputation, What Passes For Survival isn't lacking for nastiness, built as it is on a foundation of blastbeats and discordance. A messy stew that owes at least as much to Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan as it does to Gorguts and Brutal Truth. [$7.99]



The brainchild of Virginia-based Noyan Tokgozoglu, NYN's ambitious debut is a discombobulating affair. The aptly (if confusingly) named Entropy: Of Chaos and Salt intersperses frenetic tech death with seaboards and theremins, as well as Eastern melodies and percussion. Noyan is similarly eclectic in his vocal performance, ranging from growls to power metal histrionics with Mike Patton-esque abandon. The approach doesn't always work - in particular, the last track "Taken Away By The Tides" feels like being locked in a room with a particularly obnoxious Nintendo fan - but the talent on display is undeniable. [$7]

Thursday, August 24, 2017

an interview with VÖLUR

I can't think of another band like Toronto's Völur. Though multiple bands through the years incorporated strings with metal, the Toronto-based trio distinguish themselves by eschewing guitars entirely. Their latest album Ancestors shows just how very heavy their violin-centric vision of doom can be. Since there's nothing this blog likes more than risk-taking iconoclasts, I reached out to the band to find out more. Vocalist/bassist Lucas Gadke (also in Blood Ceremony) was kind enough to answer my questions.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

An Interview with Ingurgitating Oblivion



Germany's Ingurgitating Oblivion released one of the most entrancing albums I've heard this year. Ambitious in its scope, Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light branches out from a doomy death metal base, employing jazz and classical influences, along with unorthodox song structures and instruments. Knowing that this is an album I'll be digesting for years to come, I contacted the band to find out more about the album's creation and the band's history. Founder/guitarist/vocalist Florian Engelke kindly took the time to answer my queries.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Long Hundred 004/100: OLD - Formula



...in which one of Earache's least popular albums might be one of their best.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Bliss of Flesh, Tchornobog, Wode, Execration



France's Bliss of Flesh are a band keeping their eyes on both the past and the future. Drawing lyrical inspiration from Dante's Divine Comedy, Empyrean's black/ death swagger is very much influenced by Behemoth, though the blast-centric modern production also brings Anaal Nathrakh to mind. Sometimes darkness needs a sheen to it. [€7.99]



Tchornobog is one of several musical endeavours of prolific multi-instrumentalist Markov Soroka. A study in contrasts, the debut morphs from churning claustrophobic death metal to atmospheric doom and back in its 4 churning compositions, the shortest of which is 12 minutes. Like the similarly chimaeric (and similarly awesome) Abyssal, Tchornobog shows the limits of the genre(s) have yet to be reached. The album is available as a "name your price" download.



Don't be fooled by Wode's English origins; the Leeds band eschew the twee leanings of their countrymen for something much closer to Dissection and Necrophobic. If the title weren't a hint, Servants of the Countercosmos is very Swedish in its approach, delivering catchy hooks at no-nonsense speeds and hammering away at black metal conventions along the way. The cosmos should consider itself warned. The album is available as a "name your price" download.


Sometimes there's no escaping your nationality; though the band labels themselves "death metal", at their core Oslo's Execration are true and black. Return to the Void has enough blackened thrash mixed with heavy prog to seal it as Norwegian through and through. Even so, with its avant dissonance and Lovecraftian themes, I have no problems with describing the album as "R'leyan". [$8.99]

Sunday, July 23, 2017

An Interview with Azarath


Poland's Azarath has been releasing incredibly brutal albums since 2001, but most metal fans probably only know them as Behemoth drummer Inferno's other band. With a terrific new album out through Agonia Records, the time may finally have come to redress that. As a longtime fan of the true brutal daeth matel, I got in touch with the band, and guitarist Bart was kind enough to answer my questions.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Ex Eye, Völur, Progenie Terrestre Pura, Cosmic Void Ritual



If there's one band that seems to reaffirm Relapse Records' commitment to digging up unusual acts (and not just Neurosis/Mastodon clones), it's the New York based Ex Eye. At times recalling the frenetic intensity of the first Lightning Bolt album (with Colin Stetson's saxophone in place of Brian Gibson's bass), at times encompassing the grandeur of Godspeed You Black Emperor (and on at least one song, ACTUALLY COMBINING THE TWO), their self-titled debut may be the most experimental album the label has issued since they shut down the Release imprint. I've never heard an album quite like this one.  [$10]



Violins and doom metal are natural bedfellows - just ask My Dying Bride - but Toronto trio Völur make it an exclusive relationship by eschewing guitars all together. With its emphasis on strings as well as choral arrangements, their second album Ancestors brings to mind European doom oddballs 3rd and the Mortal and In The Woods, as well as more recent eclectics Giant Squid and Grayceon. It's not all moody introspection; the closing track picks up the pace to create a cacophonous racket. A lesson in violins you won't soon forget. [$6.99]


"Space metal" is becoming an increasingly crowded if diverse genre; Italians Progenie Terrestre Pura are cosmic explorers in their own way. A blender baby of different subgenres, oltreLuna doesn't shy away from either caustic black metal or prog indulgence, adding electronica, new age keyboards and acoustic sections along the way. As bold and experimental as anything Devin Townsend has done. [€6]



Cosmic Void Ritual are only interested the darkest parts of space. Transcendence Through Galactic Death, their second EP in as many months, combines the "recorded in a sewer drain" aesthetic of early Carcass with tricky time changes and unconventional riffs. A project as intriguing as it is enigmatic. Both EPs are available as "name your price" downloads.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Long Hundred 002/100: Sacrilege - Lost in the Beauty You Slay

...in which a group of also-rans with a borrowed name released one of the seminal melodic death metal albums of my youth.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Sólstafir, Dynfari, Skáphe, Draugsól



One of the most memorable concert experiences of recent years was seeing Sólstafir play a late afternoon set in Maryland a few years back. With their eclectic style and oddball charisma, they seemed like a band on the cusp of bigger things. Their latest album Berdreyminn might be their breakthrough album; simultaneously looking forward and backwards, it draws on a bygone era of psychedelia and space rock as well as modern post rock/dream pop to power their uniquely trippy style of heavy rock. Add in the occasional choir and piano accompaniment, and you've got a kaleidoscopic opus of longing and nostalgia. [$11.99]



Fellow Icelanders Dynfari have their own psychedelic proclivities. Ostensibly grown in a mushroom field, The Mind of The Four Doors strays brazenly from its atmospheric black metal roots into more experimental territories, with Timothy Leary-esque dissertations on the nature of reality and acoustic folk excursions. This is what happens when black metal goes to college and gets existential. [€7]



Skáphe is a project created by Alex Poole of US black metal pillars Krieg (among others) with Dagur Gonzales of Icelandic black metal standouts Naðra and Misþyrming (among others). Their latest release is single 22 minute composition, a nightmare world of dissonant notes, reverberating howls and sudden time changes. A journey to the center of an unwell mind. The track is available as a "name your price download".



Not everything is avant garde and experimental up in Iceland - newcomers Draugsól stick to a more traditional template. Volaða Land grafts black metal malevolence to death metal savagery, resulting in a speedy little rough-hewn debut that never gets monotonous. Quite possibly the first ripples of an emerging behemoth. [€7]

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Devouring Star, Artificial Brain, John Frum, Ingurgitating Oblivion



The new three song EP from Finland's Devouring Star splits the difference between "black" and "doom". Embodying cold restraint, Antihedron goes about its work with all the emotion of a steamroller (and at around the same pace). Glacial in more ways than one. [€6]



In their short career, New York's Artificial Brain have managed to carve out their own niche of sci-fi themed death metal. Infrared Horizon, their sophomore release, combines speed and dissonance while smartly using repetition to anchor its tumultuous sturm und drang. A hadron collider of simplicity and progressive sensibilities. [$8.99 CAD]



With a line up that includes alumni of Dillinger Escape Plan and John Zorn's band, you'd be forgiven for expecting some batshit crazy calculator rock from recent Relapse signing John Frum. A Stirring In The Noos is only slightly offbeat in its approach, fusing elements of mathcore to NY-style death metal in a way that's reminiscent of the Red Chord in their early (and best) years. A smarter take on brutality. [$8.99]



Since 2001, Germany's Ingurgitating Oblivion have been distilling their own unique blend of avant-garde death metal. Befitting its convoluted title, their third album Vision Wallows In Symphonies Of Light is a twisted, morphing behemoth that excels in conjuring haunting soundscapes that are in no particular hurry to end. The seeds that Gorguts planted 20 years ago are bearing some strange and interesting fruit. [$8.99]

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Full of Hell, Succumb, Art of Burning Water / Nothing Clean, Lock Up



Following the noise-centric experimentation of their collaborations with Merzbow and the Body, DoC friends Full of Hell return with a back to basics, head to toe battering. Trumpeting Ecstasy shows how much the band have mastered their brand of grinding power violence, plying their hellacious racket at breakneck speeds without ever losing control. Throwing in a Morbid Angel riff (and possibly a Pete Sandoval dig) on "Crawling Back to God" is a nice touch, as is the ambient interlude on the title track. Ruthlessly economical. [$7.99 CAD]



Labels are a tricky thing with Bay Area band Succumb. Ostensibly a death/grind band, the tumultuous discordance on their self-titled debut has as much in common with Converge as it does with Incantation, with Cheri Musrasrik's howls sounding like they were recorded in a particularly malevolent storm drain. With the fawning over the old school revival drawing to a close, the time is ripe for savvy experimentalists to fuse genres in ways that haven't been done to death. [$7]



DoC faves Art of Burning Water are as prolific as any band you'd care to mention, most recently issuing a split with fellow Brits Nothing Clean. Nothing Clean fires off 7 tracks of grinding powerviolence in less than 5 minutes, the cumulative effect being that of a curb stomping. AOBW contribute a Negative approach cover and two originals that bludgeon you quicker than it'll take to read their titles aloud. It's a fine line between stupid and cleaver. The split is available as a "name your price" download.



The newest addition to the Lock Up saga has Brutal Truth frontman Kevin Sharp making his first recorded appearance alongside fellow veterans Shane Embury, Anton Reisenegger and Nick Barke. Demonization distinguishes itself from both Brutal Truth's embrace of chaos as well Napalm's recent experimental excursions by firing off 13 impossibly tight, teeth-rattlingly fast grind anthems, plus the title track (which is very much a sequel to the under-rated Napalm industrial dirge "Contemptuous"). I don't know if Lock Up are generating quite the same excitement as when the supergroup was first announced; and the preponderance of other Napalm/Truth spin-offs has tarnished some of its luster (smile and wave, Venomous Concept). Still, few people have a handle on the genre as firmly as the gentlemen in this line-up. [€7.99]

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - The Obsessed, Duel, Farflung, Doctor Cyclops



The Obsessed have returned with their first new release since the seminal Church Within album came out back in 1994. Sacred is an appropriate title for the fourth Obsessed album, because HOLY FUCK THAT GUITAR TONE. [It's the same guitar tone that sent me sprinting across a parking lot in Baltimore back in 2013.] The album is of everything the band released previously in their nearly 40 (!!!) year career - though the double bass drumming that pops up on "Stranger Things" is a surprising but welcome deviation from their classic sound, adding a bit of Motörhead bombast to the proceedings (which is appropriate, as Wino has always been a kind of doom metal Lemmy). It's a bit of an over-reach to call this an Obsessed "reunion", since no one from previous line-ups is involved; packaging new Wino material with a recognizable name is more of a marketing decision, really. In truth, there has been very little to differentiate Wino's various projects over the years - but it's still good to know that he's out there, no matter what the incarnation. [$10.99]



Following a solid if somewhat forgettable debut, Austin's Duel return with an album that's both heavier and more memorable. Witchbanger maintains the band's laconic pace, but adds some Tipton and Downing bombast, channeling Priest's early albums with its galloping swagger, though singer Tom Frank utilizes a soulful tenor instead of the vocal hysterics that characterized Seventies metal. Even without Halford's stratospheric range, this delivers the goods. [$8]



On their latest EP, the long running Farflung have updated Hawkwind's search for space with some modern post rock inflections. Anchored by hypnotic basslines, Unwound Cellular Frown lets its FX pedals burrow into every bit of sonic space, combining the repetitive, reverberating indulgences of two eras for one long psychedelic journey. [$7]



The past is present for ocular rockers Doctor Cyclops. Their third album Local Dogs is a Hammond organ assisted love letter to Sabbath, as well as the bands that followed in their wake like Pentagram and Witchfinder General (who are covered at the end). Noted insalubrious descanter Bill Steer shows up on a couple songs to contribute some leads and indulge his retro fixation. Hey, it's gotta be 1974 somewhere. [€10]

Friday, April 28, 2017

Catching up with Necrowretch



I first encountered Necrowretch back in 2015 when they were touring South East Asia. It took me a 5 hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur down to Johor Bahru to see them, and their hellish thrashing death metal did not disappoint; neither did the podcast interview we did. Since then, they found a new home with Season of Mist Records, and just released their third album. I checked in with vocalist/guitarist Vlad to find out more.

Bandcamp Picks - Ulver, Author & Punisher, Planning for Burial, Longhouse



Ulver's transformation from "True Norwegian Black Metal" to their present state has really been something to behold. Heralded as their "pop" album, The Assassination of Julius Caesar masterfully and unapologetically encompasses kraut rock, synthpop, soul, trip hop, and even an extended John Zorn-esque sax freakout (courtesy of Hawkwind's Nik Turner) - no surprise, considering how boldly Garm moved from black metal to folk to electronica earlier in his career. But who knew that the band that released Nattens Madrigal twenty years ago would surf from black metal's second wave to New Wave? [€7]



I can't think of another act out there like San Diego's Author & Punisher, the musical outlet of mechanical engineer Tristan Shone that utilizes his custom built machines as instruments. Pressure Mine contains five songs of subwoofer-threatening doomwave, with Shone's forlorn vocals sitting astride all the throbbing and clanking. This is R Kelly for robots; Genesis P-orridge and Blixa Bargeld would approve. [$5]


Pennsylvania's Planning For Burial are adept at several kinds of bleak. Below The House runs on droning guitar noise, shuffling drums and plaintive keyboards, traversing from rumbling doom to pop-adjacent shoegaze. Like the album art, an exercise in minimalism. [$8]



If there was a doom metal version of a Whitman's sampler, it might be Ottawa's Longhouse. II: Vanishing draws not only from the indie-friendly heft of Isis and Cult of Luna, but also the velvet darkness of Paradise Lost, with more than just shades of Gregor Mackintosh in the riffs. It's about time someone attempted a unified field theory of doom metal. [$7 CAD]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An Interview with Sunless

When they released their first demo last year, Minneapolis-based Sunless impressed a lot of people - not least of which was this blog. Wasting no time, they put out their full-length debut Urraca a few months back, solidifying them as a band for fans of progressive and mathy death metal to remember. I reached out to find out more, and bassist Mitch Schooler was kind enough to educate me on the band's history and the scene they came from.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Cloud Rat, Moloch, Crevasse, Hexis, Sigil, Syndrømes

It's been a few years since their last full-length Qlipoth, and DoC faves Cloud Rat have returned with two split releases. Their grinding hardcore is as fast and chaotic as it's ever been, but they also take the time to dabble in shoegaze ("Amber Flush" on the LP) and off key wailing ("Fish in a Pool" on the 7 inch).  As for their dance partners: Nottingham's Moloch provide the doomy Yang to Cloud Rat's speedy Yin, submitting 18 minutes of feedback-drenched sludge (like there's any other kind). Crevasse, meanwhile, could be Cloud Rat's Continental analogues, sharing both a fondness for Converge and a female vocalist intent on blowing her vocal chords out.  [Cloud Rat/Moloch: $7; Cloud Rat/Crevasse is available as a "name your price" download; physical copies of both are available through Halo of Flies Records.]





Copenhagen's Hexis took DIY to new heights earlier this year, touring South East Asia on their own and even bringing their own lighting backdrop with them. On their second album Tando Ashanti, they ignore most of hardcore's self-imposed restrictions, creating a hellacious racket with discordant guitar noise and floorshaking double bass drumming. Leave it to the Scandinavians to capture the heart of sonic darkness. [€7]



Death metal and hardcore have been crossing streams since their earliest incarnations - so it's not surprising that Austin's Sigil would stake a claim to both worlds. Kingdom of the Grave combines bare knuckle hardcore with the thrashy efficiency of early death metal, and isn't above enlisting a string section along the way. This is where bullet belts and tote bags find common ground. [$7]



Counting Joe Yanick of Masakari and Carl Auge of His Hero is Gone in its ranks, there's no doubting Syndrømes have this dark crust thing down. Unsurprisingly, their debut EP strongly resembles His Hero is Gone with its growling vocals, moody interludes, and fast bouts of barely controlled chaos. 4 songs is not nearly enough; hopefully there's more of this in the works. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Buckshot Facelift, Azarath, Necrowretch, Extremity



After years of self-releases and DIY work-horsing, DoC friends Buckshot Facelift are set to make a splash with their 5th full-length. Ulcer Island will keep listeners on their toes with its bouillabaisse of grind, groove, blackened melodies and sampled interludes. I haven't heard a grind album this adventurous and entertaining since Brutal Truth called it a day. [$9.99]



There are few albums released this year that I've been looking forward to as much as the new Azarath. In Extremis refines the band's blast-centric style: Teeth-rattling speed tempered with the occasional lurching, Immolation-style break. This is as tight and vicious as the band has ever sounded; for fans of "the true brutal daeth matel", this is where "FUCK" meets "YES".  [$7.90]


Unadulterated death metal is the raison d'être for France's Necrowretch. Satanic Slavery, their first album for Season of Mist (and third overall) sees the band sticking to their guns, delivering one speedy paean to darkness and evil after another. As more and more of the bands who surfed in on the wave of old school nostalgia move on to other things, bands like Necrowretch who are impervious to change become notable for their dedication. [$9.99]


Given the eclecticism of its members' other bands (Vastum, Cretin, and Agalloch among them), Extremity sounds like an excuse to keep things simple and have some old school fun. Extremely Fucking Dead is a throwback to the early days of the genre, but not as tediously derivative as most OSDM revival albums. It's not going to replace Symphonies of Sickness or Severed Survival, but it'll get the head banging and the toe tapping. [$6.66]

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

For fuck's sake, go get the new Immolation album now

Life has a funny way of reordering your priorities. At the end of last year, I checked obsessively for updates on Immolation's Atonement and couldn't wait for it to drop. But it was only this past week that I remembered that the album was in my possession. Things had gotten so busy in my life that the album just took up space on my phone for months without me listening to it. But I'm sure making up for that now, I tell you what.




Immolation is a band that I've been listening to since I was a teenager, but it's fair to say I never really understood them until recently. I don't think I'm alone in this; while Death clones appeared almost immediately after the Death By Metal demo, and Morbid Angel worshippers from Brazil and Poland have been clogging distro lists since the mid-Nineties, it wasn't until the last decade and the growing popularity of bands like Portal and Ulcerate that Immolation's impact on the death metal scene became apparent. Musically speaking, Immolation left a higher bar for both listeners and copycats to clear; maybe it just took longer for the rest of us to catch up to what they were doing.

Atonement pulls off the rare feat of being a new album from a decades-old act that continues in the same style that band started out in, and not only follows a string of impressive releases but surpasses them. And yet, the album doesn't do anything vastly different from what Immolation are known for. They've matured, certainly, and their recent recordings are better produced and more accessible than anything they released in the Nineties. [As someone who struggled and failed to assimilate a hissy, frequently jamming Here in After cassette 20 years ago, I appreciate that recording technology has brought coherence to the genre's sonic overload.] A few acoustic touches hint that Immolation have noticed what Gorguts have been up to lately, and liked what they heard. But other than that, a quarter century since they first unleashed their blastbeats and blasphemy on the world, Immolation remains Immolation. Ending the album with a re-recording of the eponymous anthem from their debut is a nice hat tip to long-time fans, but also underscores how little Immolation have strayed from their roots.


Bands that have been around as long and released albums as consistently as Immolation tend to follow a predictable career path: long stretches of palatable if uninspiring albums, with a few peaks and valleys (a la Vader or Cannibal Corpse), or decades of trying to recapture their seminal years after a brief period of clueless reinvention (Metallica, Morbid Angel, Slayer...the list goes on). It's rare that a band that has been around as long as Immolation puts out something this good. It's an accomplishment that shouldn't go unnoticed.

For fuck's sake, go get Atonement now.

Monday, April 3, 2017

An Interview with Buckshot Facelift



I've known the members of NY's Buckshot Facelift for years through their other bands Grey Skies Fallen and Artificial Brain. If their idiosyncratic style wasn't a selling point, then their highly entertaining live performances would be. Since they have a new album Ulcer Island coming out in a few weeks, I figured I'd hit up vocalist Will Smith (his second time being interviewed for this blog) and guitarist Rick Habeeb (his third time - so you know he's getting a free coffee) to fill in all the blanks on Buckshot's past, present and future.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Ohhms, Ddent, Hymn, Cloud Catcher


After the patience-testing affair that was their 2015 EP (2 songs with a combined run of half an hour), English downers OHHMS wisely rein themselves in on their debut full-length. The tarot-themed The Fool isn't lacking for long songs, but is much more hook-laden and engaging. Of particular note is the penultimate track "The Lovers", a bass-driven duet that sees frontman Paul Waller trading off with a female guest vocalist. Heartbreak is heavy, man. [£7.99]



French project DDENT aren't short on inspiration with their instrumental concept album. As per its English translation ("Depression"), آكتئاب is bleak, oppressive and unrelenting; but despite being based on Arab psalms, the album is more akin to the icy doom of Scandinavian bands like Swallow the Sun and October Tide, with nary a sun-kissed Middle Eastern melody to lighten the mood. The album is available as a "name your price" download.



Norwegian duo Hymn certainly make the most of their minimal line up. Perish is as heavy as any sludge metal band worth mentioning, but avoids being overly simplistic (or generic) by its clever use of dynamics. Slow and restrained, this is quite unlike what you'd expect from Norwegian metal band. [49 NOK]



Denver's Cloud Catcher are a boon for any air guitar aficionado. What separates Trails of Cosmic Dust from the vast swathes of Seventies/stoner rock bands is guitarist Rory Rummings, who tears up the fretboard with the confident swagger of Iommi or Hendrix in their prime. Self-indulgent, and all the better for it. [$7]

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Sunless, Cartilage, Carnal Decay, Mordbrand



A year after their demo marked them as prospects to watch, Minnesota's Sunless have delivered a debut that lives up to the hype. Urraca sees them following the convoluted path hewn by Gorguts and Ulcerate, eschewing speed for speed's sake to focus instead on atonal riffs and shifting time signatures. Great things are afoot here. [$5]



Bay Area band Cartilage make no bones as to who their influences might be. Much like Impaled (whose Doktor Ross Ewage helped with the layout), Dialect of the Dead updates the classic gory deathgrind of early Carcass with a clearer production and some impish humour. Symphonies of putrefaction, rotten to perfection. [$6.66]



My crash course in European slam continues with Zurich's Carnal Decay. You Owe You Pay keeps the circle pit going by alternating between fast sections and big catchy grooves like clockwork. The bass drops and other electronic flourishes will send anyone with a patch jacket running for the safety of their Hellhammer demos, but this should make the slam kids dance like happy prospectors. [$6.99]



Sweden's Mordbrand seems to only get better with every release. On Wilt, the prolific trio inject more hooks into the classic Stockholm death metal sound, turning in their most memorable batch of songs in the process. As the revival herd thins, those who stick around become the true kvlt. [$9]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Dead Witches, Necro, Endless Floods, Body Void



After months of beating the drum for their debut, Dead Witches are upon us. With its rumbling low end and occult overtones, Ouija spells true British doom in no uncertain terms. And with Mark Greening behind the kit, Electric Wizard would be the most obvious reference point - but this is more engaging than anything the Wizard has released in over a decade. [€8]



DoC faves Necro finished up 2016 with another master class in heavy psych rock. Adiante, the Brazilian trio's third full-length, pimp walks out the gate with Lillian Lessa's confident delivery topping the band's Seventies' keyboard-inflected low-rider grooves. "Swinging" in every sense of the word. [$7]



Restraint is key to Endless Floods. On their sophomore album (cleverly titled II ) the Bordeaux trio delays gratification as long as it can, stretching out their minimalist instrumental passages like taffy. When they bring the heavy, it's with the efficacy of a forklift operator dropping slabs of concrete. Watch your heads. [€4]



Starting their EP off like repeated punches to the face is a good indication of where Body Void's heads are at. Their first release since changing their name from Devoid, Ruins is a punishing affair, alternating between feedback-laced sludge and (relatively) faster hardcore sections - like Eyehategod through a burned out sub-woofer. [$5]

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Palace of Worms/Ecferus, Samskaras, Acranius, Theory In Practice



Denver label Crown and Throne deliver a split release between two intriguing one man bands. In their first new material since last year's eclectic The Ladder, Palace of Worms' contribution sees them narrowing their focus to deliver three outstanding tracks that draw from classic death metal without getting bogged down in the tedious orthodoxy of revivalism. Indiana-based Ecferus follow that up with their extremely dissonant and withering style of black metal. They may eschew playing with other people, but one man metal bands will always have each other. [$5]


Montreal-based duo Samskaras do what Canadian death metal bands do best - namely, melody and technicality. But beyond blistering speed or finger-cramping fretwork, what makes Asunder worth repeated listens is its emphasis on catchy riffs and thoughtful arrangements. With a few singles to their name, I'd say it's time they put their considerable talents to work on a full-length. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.



What I know about "slam" could fit on a postage stamp; even so, I can say that Germany's Acranius are one of the better bands in the style that I've heard recently. Their third album Reign of Terror is a bingo card of slam tics - gurgling vocals, squealing pinch harmonics, and pit bait chord progressions - but hits them with confidence and panache. Even a sub-genre agnostic like myself has to admit that this is some fun stuff. [$6.99]



Gone for most of the last decade and a half, Sweden's Theory In Practice return without losing a step in their blistering and unmistakably European style of technical death metal. Crescendo Dezign hits with mechanical precision, breaking up the shredding with some Meshuggah-esque math interludes (thankfully without getting too djent about it). It's good to have these guys back, but a new Mutant album would be boss...  [35 SEK]

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mamatfest 1.07.2017

Of all the places in KL that could host a gathering of heshers, Black Box - in the upscale, yuppie-catering Publika mall- is perhaps the unlikeliest. Its cavernous sound makes it a less than ideal place for metal (unless it's that heavily reverbed early back metal sound you're after); but with few other options, their hospitality is appreciated. Also, the juxtaposition of expat children on skates tearing around clusters of Heshers is an amusing way to spend the time between sets, as was the sight of affluent yuppies getting roped in to take group pics of guys in death metal shirts.