Monday, July 28, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Corrupt Moral Altar, Trap Them, Grimpen Mire, Sectioned

Corrupt Moral Altar are no strangers to this blog; any band that releases stuff on Bandcamp for free and gets praise from Napalm Death is going to end up on my radar. Mechanical Tides, their debut for Season of Mist, is where Wolverine Blues and Scum Converge (cough). Surprisingly adept at changing speeds, these guys sound as dangerous when they hit the brakes as when they're blasting out of control. And on the post-hardcore of "Admit Defeat" and "River Blind", they show they're capable more of than just pure destruction. [$9.99]

If anyone could be blamed for hardcore kids' current obsession with HM-2 pedals, it's Trap Them. On Blissfucker the band swings with the same Entombed-esque verve as before, except this time with an added emphasis on songwriting. The less is more approach serves them well on songs like "Gift and Gift Unsteady" and the closing track "Let Fall Each and Every Sedition Symptom". [$10]

Birmingham's Grimpen Mire come from the city where doom started, so I guess it's no surprise that they're one of the few bands doing it well. Their debut album A Plague Upon Your Houses is a commendable slice of sludgy doom, at times reminiscent of DoC faves Sea Bastard. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

The five songs on the new split EP by Edinburgh's Sectioned sound like Dillinger Escape Plan back when that was a good thing. On the other side of the split, fellow Scots Shudder counter the aggression with some lo fi shoegazing. An unlikely pairing for sure. The split is available as a "name your price" download.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Together As One

Terrorizer's Tom Dare posted an editorial discussing homophobia in metal. I didn't find his piece particularly well written or well thought out (in fairness, he does make some good points near the end). But the fact that it's currently causing a stir on their Facebook page makes me glad that he put it out there. His article was also how I found out that Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal are gay; they actually came out months ago (on my birthday, coincidentally enough) but at the time I was so swept up in being a New Yorker again that such things were a distant concern.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Crossover Top Ten

I was talking to a (much younger) friend who wanted to know where to start with crossover. I'm not the biggest fan of the style (I've always preferred grindcore, crossover's nastier, less goofy offspring), but I am from the generation when D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies shirts were ubiquitous, and over the years I have come to appreciate a few of the genre's standard bearers. Talking with my buddy got me revisiting my old crossover albums; here are my faves:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Darsombra Interview

I've been a fan of Brian Daniloski's music since his days in Meatjack, who were a staple of both CBGB's and my college all-nighters. With Darsombra, he took the slow menace of Meatjack and distilled it into something meditative and transcendental - coinciding with my own growing interest in doom/drone. I'm a sucker for music that pushes boundaries, so I e-mailed some questions to Brian, which he was kind enough to answer.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Meatjack Interview from 2003

As a tie-in with my Darsombra interview, I dug this one up from the archives: One of the first interviews I ever did was with Darsombra's Brian Daniloski and his brother Jason back when they were with Meatjack. It was in 2003, around the time the band released their last album, the criminally underrated Days of Fire.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Mortals, Tombs, The Sheltering Sky, Wolves in the Throne Room

The long awaited full-length debut by Brooklyn's Mortals is finally upon us. Cursed to See the Future is described by their label as "equal parts High On Fire and Darkthrone". You should always be wary of label write ups, but this is the rare instance where that's truth in advertising. There is a definite similarity to Matt Pike's steamroller riffing, and some blackened melodies cover the songs with a frostbitten sheen. But most impressive is the trio's use of dynamics. Not since Kylesa went all psychedelic has a band done something this interesting with the style. Big things loom on the horizon. [$7]

Brooklyn's Tombs were early pioneers in mixing black metal with doomy post-hardcore; while in the past I may have found their black metal sections to be stiff and uninteresting, on Savage Gold they're definitely the best the band has ever done - so much so that it doesn't matter that the other elements of the band's sound have largely been muted. When they do slow things down, it results in the kind of cold menace that Red Harvest did so well. One of the better chapters in the ongoing story of USBM. [$9.99]

Speaking of of the best forgotten bands of the last decade were NYC's Cattlepress. And so it was a big deal for me when I learned former Cattlepress guitarist Eddie Ortiz has returned with The Sheltering Sky. That Which Obstructs The Light is in some ways a sandblasting throwback to the late 90's/early 2000s when hardcore was bursting at its seams with unique and groundbreaking albums (and not coincidentally, when Cattlepress was at their apex). I'm glad Ortiz has a new vehicle for his unorthodox style after The Dying Light and Cattlepress called it quits. [$3]

Black metal bands releasing instrumental synth albums is nothing new; in a way, it was the next logical step for Wolves in the Throne Room. Celestite evokes the keyboard-heavy soundtracks of classic 70's horror and sci fi films by Tangerine Dream and Goblin. To that end, I tried syncing it up with the only sci fi movie I had handy, 2013's Riddick. As goofy as that movie is, the results worked surprisingly well. The Weaver brothers may find a second vocation scoring films. [$9]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mixtape 13: Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura PART TWO

Here is the thirteenth installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast, featuring part two of an interview with Kevin Hufnagel, the guitarist for Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura (among others).


34 minutes after I had pressed play, my consciousness returned and I took in the destruction to my home. My furniture was smashed to bits. Electronics lay in broken piles. On the other side of the apartment wall I could hear the neighbour's kids crying. Someone had called the cops; the sirens got louder, signalling their imminent arrival. As I prepared to set fire to my worldly belongings and go out in a hail of gunfire, I decided to hit play one last time.

The album I've been waiting for all year has finally arrived: Mighty Origin has unleashed Omnipresent, and god damn, is it something.

After the somewhat experimental Entity, I was wondering where Origin would go next. How far would they push their newfound love of groove and melody? Would the results still be death metal? The answer to that second question is an emphatic "yes". There's nothing as gonzo as the skronking midsection in "Committed"; and any hope of the band topping the best death metal album of the last decade were unrealistic. Antithesis is, and probably will always remain, the band's high water mark.

But taken on its own, Omnipresent is a work of remarkable craftsmanship. Though on occasion the band retreads past glories, there are enough moments that show Origin isn't afraid of tampering with their formula: "Redistribution of Filth" is three minutes of moshpit bait that may be the result of touring with Misery Index. And a black metal influence makes itself known with "Source of Icon O" being a fairly obvious (smart-ass) shout out to Emperor, as well as closer "The Indiscriminate" recalling the epic melodicism of the dearly departed Dawn.

Anyone who's seen Origin in the last few years knows what an entertaining presence frontman Jason Keyser is on stage; but in his first studio outing with Origin, he delivers some of the best vocals that the band has ever had on record. Alternating in classic grind fashion between a low bark and a high pitched scream, he's the vocalist that Origin has always needed.

Guitarist Paul Ryan, of course, is the heart of the band. Origin are often painted with the "technical death metal" brush, but while Ryan is a fret burner of the highest order -and the number of bands biting his style seems to be multiplying exponentially - it is his prowess as a songwriter that makes Omnipresent such a delight. The album is filled with memorable moments; nothing is overly complicated for its own sake and songs never outstay their welcome. Indeed, one of the great joys of the album is its brevity. Minus the occasional interlude and instrumental, it's barely half an hour long. [Reign in Blood anyone?]

On top of it all, behind it all, in front of it all, around it all: John fucking Longstreth, blasting away. There may be more inventive drummers in death metal right now (Ulcerate's Jamie Saint Merat comes to mind), but there are few who drive the music forward with such ease. One of my major regrets is that I didn't get to see Origin tour with Gorguts, when Longstreth play two sets per night.

I listened Omnipresent four times just the Friday I downloaded this; by the time the week-end had finished, the number of plays had probably tripled. I can't wait to load this up on my running playlist and take it out for a spin. I have a feeling I'm going to need a new pair of shoes by the end of the month.

2014 has been a banner year for death metal, but Omnipresent makes all the rest redundant. I don't want another death metal album for the rest of the year. I don't need one.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Cannabis Corpse, Unfathomable Ruination, Desecration, Paroxysm

Cannabis Corpse are back (and, one presumes, high). From Wisdom to Baked is their newest stem-strewn love letter to classic Florida death metal. Though the album and song titles are obvious nods to Gorguts and Death's later albums, this is still the same meat and potatoes style of early Cannibal Corpse. The band's gimmick makes it easy for people to dismiss them as a joke band, but this is a solid death metal release - smartly written and expertly played. And c'mon, "Individual Pot Patterns"? POINTS! [$9.99]

Speaking of gimmicks... a lot has been made about Unfathomable Ruination's participation in a performance art piece to play in an airtight box until they run out of oxygen (because "art", or something). I suppose any time a band gets this kind of mainstream attention the haters come out in droves, but UR are one of the more impressive death metal bands out of the UK these days. Idiosyncratic Chaos is their newest two song single, and combines the band's mission statement of being "brutal and unrelenting" with some pretty impressive chops. My only complaint is the snare sound, which sounds like someone banging on a paint can. Or maybe the inside of a tiny metal cube. [£2]

One of my friends recently took to telling me, "I thought 'catchy' songs went against all that death metal stands for!" I've always contended death metal is at its best when it has both hooks and blastbeats, as in the case our recent SE Asian visitors Desecration. Cemetery Sickness is described by the band as "blistering and catchy death metal", and I can't think of a better way to put it. With songs like "Cunt Full of Maggots" and the occasional porn sample, I don't think we'll ever have to worry about Desecration getting too smart for their own good. [£7]

[Note: At this time only two songs are available for streaming on their bandcamp page, but having listened to the whole album through clandestine means, I can confirm that it's all very much consistent with those two. Also, hella good.]

I'll admit it - I love me some Canadian death metal, and was excited to discover Paroxysm. Voracité, their newest album (and third overall) is a hook-driven affair that does a good job of juggling melody, technicality and brutality. There are definite shades of countrymen Neuraxis, but Paroxysm never get as convoluted as their ADHD countrymen. The album is also available as a single track, if that appeals to you for some reason. [$7 CAD ]

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mixtape 12: Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura PART ONE

Here is the twelfth installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast, featuring part one of an interview with Kevin Hufnagel, the guitarist for Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura (among others). I ran into Kevin while leaving the Red Bull Hardcore Activity in Progress event, when we were both waiting for the shuttle to take us from the venue back to the subway station. I've been listening to Gorguts since I was a teenager, so I asked him if he was interested in doing an interview. We met the following week at a coffee shop in Queens, and talked for over an hour.