Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SOL interview

Digging deeper into the realms of doom/drone, I hit upon SOL's excellent album And the Mouth Of Time Was Open, released as a free download through Drowning Records. In contrast to the feedback laden work of Sabazius and Black Boned Angel, SOL offer a nuanced, even soulful take on the genre, making good use of unconventional instruments and meditative repetition. Plus, we share a name - consider me Adrian Sold. Drowning's Danny Kreutzfeldt put me in touch with SOL mainman Emil Brahe, who was kind enough to answer my questions.

Bandcamp Picks: Mammoth Storm, Have A Nice Life, Ea, Mühr

Mammoth Storm (featuring Draconian's David Arvidsson on bass and vocals) have only been around since the end of 2012, but they're worth keeping an eye on. Rite of Ascension's two tracks take the Dopesmoker aesthetic and spin it into actual (albeit very long) songs. It's too early to start naming the best doom release of the year, but this is definitely an early contender. Let me just listen to it a couple dozen more times to be sure. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.

Have A Nice Life from New England have been around for over a decade and are apparently a cult name in shoegaze circles. On The Unnatural World (their first album since 2008 and second overall), the post-punk/proto-New Wave of Joy Division takes a turn for depressive doom/drone, and is all the better for it. Highly recommended, even if it occasionally sounds like Nadja recorded with a TV on in the background. [$7]

I tried and failed to find out more about Russian (one man?) band Ea, besides the same regurgitated blurb that their music "is based on the sacral texts of ancient civilizations" which I'm assuming they mean the early albums of Paradise Lost and Katatonia. A Etilla takes the velvet-draped doom of the Peaceville catalogue to create a masterfully produced 49 minute epic. Cold and dystopian, but not without heart. [$4.99]

Doom/drone kings Sabazius may have had the final say on the genre, but that's not going to stop bands like Mühr from trying to get a word in edgewise. Messiah seems like it's going into Sleep/Om territory before the meditative bassline dissolves into waves of droning feedback. And it goes back and forth like that for most of its 40 minute duration, so get your vaporizer and a copy of Wizard of Oz cued up. [€5]

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crutches Interview

Crutches from Malmö, Sweden were one of the highlights of the recent Chaos in Rumah Api fest here in Kuala Lumpur. Blistering crust punk infected with HM-2 gnarliness, theirs is the kind of hardcore that makes Sweden the D-beat capital of the world. I fired off some questions to the band, which guitarist Andreas and vocalist Oskar were kind enough to answer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Friends, starring my Napalm Death hoodie [Volume IV]

It's been a while since my Napalm Death hoodie caused a stir in a supermarket - not since my last visit to Costco in fact. But here's what happened last Monday when I was in the Philippines:

Big Dude pushing a shopping cart: "Nice hoodie."
Me: "Thanks. You a fan?"
Big Dude: "Yeah, I saw them back in 2006."
Me: "Nice. Whereabouts?"
Big Dude: "Minnesota. I asked Barney what he did for work; he said 'Napalm Death is my job.' I said, 'Yeah, but do you have a real job?' "

I love you, sweatshirt. I may even write a song that says just that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Cannabis Corpse/Ghoul, Human Cull, Slug Bate, Floods

Tankcrimes started 2014 right with Splatterhash, the long promised Cannabis Corpse / Ghoul split. Cannabis Corpse do what they do best: smoke weed, and play death metal about smoking weed. You don't have to peer far through the pot smoke to see that this would have fit right in back when Tampa Bay was the death metal capital of the world. On their side of the split, Ghoul burst out some classy death/thrash with their typical galloping enthusiasm and even throw out some nifty 70's metal moves. [$3]

It's been almost a year since we last checked in with Brits Human Cull, and they're nowhere close to reeling in their crusty power violence. The Persecuting Society is the musical equivalent of a rusty straight razor left at the park, full of bad intent and potential lawsuits. The six song EP is available as a "name your price" download.

My friend Tuka Shahidi from DoC faves (and early Bandcamp Picks) eyeswithoutaface and Homolka has a new band of grinding nastiness called Slug Bate. Like the Swans/Siege worshipping days of early Napalm, Slug Bate's blasts of noise are as much provocation as they are catharsis. The 8 track demo is available as a free download.

Last year was a big year for hardcore bands who love Swedish death metal, with Nails and All Pigs Must Die getting lots of love from fans and critics alike. Along those lines are New England's Floods, with their first EP Day Of The Dead. Imagine Wolverine Blues all beefed up on TRT and beatdown hardcore. Nicke and Uffe would be proud/scared. The four song EP is available as a "name your price" download.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mighty Origin Found Your Keys (and 9 other reasons why they rule)

At the end of last year, Origin braved the cold to open up for Gorguts on a two week tour, their last one supporting Entity. I'm sure the whole tour was mindblowing, but their gig at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn was a rundown of reasons why Origin is the greatest death metal band around right now, as seen in the video above (time codes provided for easy scanning).

1 - Breaking the ice with stagedives (9:06)

Upon realizing that the epic "Wrath of Vishnu" wasn't getting the response it deserved, vocalist Jason Keyser knocks the audience out of its somnolent state by hand selecting an "icebreaker" - and chose possibly the least qualified person in attendance to stagedive. To the dude's credit, he went for it. When mighty Origin calls, you accept the charges.

2 - Mighty Origin found your keys (19:53)

Of course, jumping on and off stage and unto complete strangers does come with risks. Halfway into the set, Keyser holds up a set of keys that someone lost in the mayhem, and gives them back to their owner without missing a word. When did David "Hiphugger" Vincent ever do that? One expensive visit from the locksmith avoided, thanks to mighty Origin.

3 - Behold, the Silent Wall of Death (29:50)

Not for mighty Origin the usual moshpit shenanigans; when I saw them in 2011, they organized possibly the biggest headbang circle I've ever seen. This time, they introduced the "Silent Wall of Death" (taking some well deserved shots at Emmure and Winds of Plague in the process), and only started the madness of "Swarm" after the kids had already charged headlong into each other.

4 - They're playing in front of my old apartment

Anyone who knows me knows I fucking hate living in Malaysia. But I've never hated this godforsaken shithole more than while I was watching this concert - which took place in my old neighbourhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, less than 5 minutes from where I used to live. I could have put on my shoes, walked to Saint Vitus, watched Origin, returned home to make myself a sandwich, and been back to the club in time to see Gorguts' full set.

Seriously: Fuck this place.

5 - Their singer is hesher Tim Robbins

Remember the crazy European metalhead Tim Robbins played in Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny? Take away that guy's bad teeth and European accent but keep the slapstick and deft one-liners, and you've got Origin's new frontman, Jason. And really, who wouldn't want metal Tim Robbins singing for their band? I don't recall any major outcry when James Lee was ousted; I liked Lee's vocals (and his looming stage presence) but the addition of Keyser has made Origin one of the most enjoyable live acts around.

6 - Guitarist Paul Ryan holds that shit down

Now the sole guitarist (and lead songwriter) of Origin, Ryan's sick riffage and flawless shredding holds the band together. AND he provides backing vocals. With imitators creeping out of the woods in recent years, Ryan may turn out to be the most influential death metal guitarist since Terrance Hobbs first introduced slow chunky breakdowns to the genre.

7 - Bassist Mike Flores is a good looking man

But maybe I'm biased.

8 - Holy fuck, John Longstreth

I mean seriously. Look at that guy play. He's beating that kit like it owes him money, and he's barely breaking a sweat. Keep in mind, this was only his first set of the night; he played a full hour with Gorguts right after this. Best death metal drummer around right now, with few challengers to that title.

9 - They're making death metal "Omnipresent" in 2014

2013 sucked hairy balls for quality death metal; it was only in the fall when Gorguts and Ulcerate dropped their albums that things started to turn around. Origin already announced their new album will be out by this spring, ensuring that 2014 isn't going the same way. With Behemoth and Vader also releasing new albums soon, this year is already looking like it's going to kick its predecessor's ass. Hail to the blast.

10 - They may be paying me a visit

A little birdie told me that plans are in the works to get Origin down to play Singapore and possibly Kuala Lumpur. I'll believe it when I see it - after all, nothing good ever happens here - but I'm fucking ready. I knew I packed my Origin hoodie three years ago for a reason.

[Thanks to Frank Huang for filming and uploading this video - more from him here and here.]

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To Speak The Truth With Tongues of Flame

Pentekost is here. The playing is pretty sloppy and my friend Josh described the recording as "like playing through a sewer tunnel" (I took that as praise), but I did live up to the promise I made to myself to have a 5 song demo online, even if I didn't quite have all the songs up by the end of 2013. Sometime this month I plan on going into the studio and doing some vocals.

I have another six songs finished, and probably three or four in an incomplete state. Some of these songs are incredibly old; at least two of them were written in 2002 for the band I had in college. I don't think anyone has heard any of them. I realized recently that I didn't want to die with these songs stuck in my head, so that was the impetus to record them and put them out there as quickly as possible. I'm hoping to get the drum programming and recording done for the rest of the completed songs done by February.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Bliss of Flesh, Clawn, Facada, Madame Violence

France's Bliss of Flesh have been getting some attention for their latest release, and  Beati Pauperes Spiritu does a nice job of updating traditional death metal for a sound that's modern without being gimmicky. They wear their influences on their sleeves: the monstrous vocals and blackened melodicism point to Nergal casting a sizeable shadow over them (almost as if he's some kind of biblical monster or something). But that shouldn't be seen as a criticism; between this and Temple of Baal's newest album, the French really seem to have this blackened death thing down. [€8]

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm gay for Brazilian death metal (it's how I learned to love the genre after all). Clawn from São Paulo bear all the hallmarks of the countrymen: hyperblasting, Morbid Angel worshiping, Christ hating. The Great Excuse to Domination, their second album, was originally released in 2011 to little or no attention, the album has been newly issued through Bandcamp by Black Hole Productions. As Moyses from Krisiun once told me, "This is for fans of the true brutal daeth matel." [$6]

Black Hole Productions also released the newest album by Brazil's Facada. Black metal's venom meets power violence attention spans on Nadir. With 20 songs in about as many minutes, this is barely done beating you senseless by the time it's done with you. Came in handy over the holidays when I was desperate to block out my neighbour's X-mas caroling. [$6]

As evidence that both slam and terrible band names are universal, I submit Portugal's Madame Violence. Vengeance Through A Dying World is four songs of chunky death metal for pit warriors; think Dying Fetus, minus all the crazy sweep picking. Extra points for letting the bass player get his moment in the sun/mix. Still, that name: Ugh. [€4]