Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Goth Girl Interview

DoC friend Andrew Cleveland has been a fixture of this blog - his bands Pretty Mouth and The Blind Surgeons Operation have been featured multiple times. A little while ago he started a new project called Goth Girl, which raises the misanthropic noise element of his previous bands to the Nth degree. I e-mailed him some questions to find out more about his new music-ish endeavor.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Swedish Death Metal Round Up 2015

2015 marked 20 years since I first embarked down the Left Hand Path (well, I started with Clandestine, but still). Since I first became obsessed with it, Swedish death metal has seen its share of ups and downs - including fickle public tastes turning from one regional scene to another and then back again. But the country remains the most reliable source of high quality heaviosity. And as much as I bemoan the dearth of originality and creativity currently plaguing the scene, I remain quite helplessly drawn to every band that comes out of it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Avant Noir [Black is the new Prog]

Since the beginning of its Norwegian incarnation, black metal has challenged popular notions of what it means to be a metal band. Euronymous and Fenriz spearheaded a renewed interest in genres not in vogue at the time - roots thrash and NWOBHM being the most obvious. But the second wave of black metal, with its fixation on classical music and classic metal, as well as its rejection of what was popular at the time, soon opened itself up to the encroaching influence of progressive rock. By the end of the 90's, no subgenre of heavy music was more boldly experimental than black metal. Ironically, that meant that black metal bands wandered even further from their tenets than any of the "life metal" bands that the second wave chastised.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - 2015 Stocking Stuffer Edition

The holiday season is upon us; chances are, you're worn out from last minute shopping, grating relatives, and transit fiascos. Never fear, your friends at DoC are here to lift your mood. Pour yourself a stiff one and fortify yourself with these free downloads of the heaviest of heavy metals...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

An Interview with The Communion

NY's The Communion are no strangers to this blog; I discovered them this past May when they played with Antigama and DoC friends Buckshot Facelift, and their split with Helmsplitter was one of my recent Bandcamp Picks. I was immediately impressed with their take on grindcore, which eschews the usual crust and goregrind paradigms, drawing from influences as disparate as black metal and power electronics while retaining the genre's immediacy. Since they seem to enjoy my convoluted pontificating, I hit them up for an interview, which vocalist Nick Cacioppo answered in record time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Tod Huetet Uebel, Temple of Evil, Tome of the Unreplenished, Mesarthim

Lisbon's Tod Huetet Uebel aren't fucking around when it comes to unleashing total darkness. Malícia is a vicious assault, reminiscent of Anaal Nathrakh in its unrelenting speed and debauched vocals. Inhuman, all too fucking inhuman. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

If their name or cover art weren't a giveaway, Cyprus' Temple of Evil are dedicated to all that is unholy and blasphemous. The 7th Awakening defers to Necrophobic in making black metal that's both memorable and diabolical. Mediterranean in origin but Scandinavian at heart. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Meanwhile, fellow Cypriots Tome of the Unreplenished take a more introspective tack. Shoegazing guitar lines, whale songs, and martial drums edge Innerstanding into post/avant garde territory, though the album has enough blastbeats and shredding to keep things from getting too twee. A thoughtful album from a little explored part of the metal map. [€6]

One man band Mesarthim, as the astrological name suggests, is in search of space. Isolate combines tinkly keyboard melodies and minimalist guitars for a take on black(ish) metal that's atmospheric and strangely uplifting. Interstellar in theme and stellar in execution. [$1]

Sunday, November 29, 2015

On recontextualization, repurposing, appropriation, and theft

Roy Lichtenstein, "Image Duplicator"; Jack Kirby, originator
In the literary world, it's called plagiarism, and ends careers - even if the work you plagiarized is your own; in the hip hop world, it's called biting, and gets you called out. Comedians who use other people's material are smeared as "joke thieves", and the label has been attached to stars as big as Robin Williams and Dennis Leary. But if you're a visual artist or a musician, it might make you a millionaire (with enough scratch to settle out of court once the aggrieved party finds out you've taken their work).

Seeing one of my blog posts in someone else's zine, used without my knowledge or permission, got me thinking a lot about when it's okay to use someone else's work without their consent; specifically, using existing work as source material in creating your own art or music.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dead To A Dying World Interview

Dead To A Dying World was a band I knew nothing about before stumbling upon their Litany album a month ago. Incorporating everything from doomy hardcore to black metal melodies and post rock atmospherics, their music has a scope and ambition few bands attempt. Since I have a soft spot for artists that go out of their way to break the mould, I reached out to the band for an interview. Guitarist Sean Mehl and multi-instrumentalist James Magruder took turns answering my questions.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Abhorrent, Pronostic, Living With Disfigurement, Xerod

San Antonio's Abhorrent put the "tech" in "TX Death Metal". As you'd expect from a band that shares members with Spawn of Possession and The Faceless, Intransigence is one fingerprint-erasing riff after another, synced with some unrelentingly pummeling drumming. This is a band that puts their incredible chops to brutal use. [$8.99]

From Voivod to Martyr, Quebec has delivered some of the most adventurous and musically advanced metal bands - add Montreal's Pronostic to that list. Their sophomore album An Atomic Decision delivers enough hooks and NWOBHM nods to warrant comparisons to Amott-era Carcass, as well as fellow Canadian tech/death bands like Quo Vadis and Neuraxis. As impressive as it addictive. [$8 CAD]

Speaking of warranted comparisons, Living With Disfigurement surely own a Carcass album or two. Posthumous Indignities reeks of repeated listens to the gore/grind godfathers, as well as fellow sick symphony sympathizers Impaled, Exhumed, General Surgery, etc. Exhume to consume with relish. [£4 GBP]

Likewise, the self-released EP by France's Xerod doesn't skimp on the savagery, Infinite Cycle follows Cynic and Pestilence down a tech/prog path and adds some Euro-metal flourishes for good measure. Hopefully someone will throw some money at them soon so they can get the production their talent deserves. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

INI Interview

2015 has turned out to be a banner year for the progressive side of Norwegian metal. Along with stellar albums from Enslaved, Arcturus and Dødheimsgard, Trondheim's INI released their debut If Nothing Is, an ambitious and confounding work of musical iconoclasm. Unable to find much information about them, and needing to know more, I fired off some questions, which vocalist Boeddelen was kind enough to answer.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: The Blind Surgeons Operation/Sete Star Sept, Helmsplitter/The Communion, Depression, Cattle Decapitation

DoC friends The Blind Surgeons Operation have just released a split with grindcore darlings Sete Star Sept. Like I told TBSO's Andrew Cleveland earlier in the year, his band's style of noise/grind causes great discomfort and discombobulation; no change on that front, though this is the first release to feature a live drummer. On side B, Japan's Sete Star Sept bash out 11 tracks of their trademark bass/drums assault. Face-melting live, I'm sure, but the recording sounds like you're listening to them rehearse from a block away. [Free]

Great Violence And Hidden Depths sees IL's Helmsplitter and NY's The Communion covering every corner in heavy music. Helmsplitter's half is a love letter to all things fast and brutal, sounding like an early Nineties death metal band whose logo you would have scrawled on your notebook in high school. The Communion stick with crusty grindcore for the most part, descending into the sludge/noise abyss on the final track. In addition, the band have a video for "Hymen Balaclava" that will probably get you fired from work. [$6.66]

Germany's DEPRESSION have been around for a quarter century, flagbearers for a continental grindcore scene that never took off like its British or Swedish counterparts. Their newest album Die Dunkle Dimension is 25 tracks of simple but catchy grind, one for each year the band has been active. Fans of Phobia and ENT would do themselves a favour in searching this out. [€6]

From the chrysalis of rudimentary death/grind, Cattle Decapitation have emerged as one of the most polished death metal bands around. The Anthropocene Extinction sees the band stepping away from the technical overload of the past two albums, streamlining the songwriting but hanging on to Travis Ryan's Ozzy-ish clean singing. Song to song, this is one of the band's strongest releases to date, and one of my favourites of this year. Bonus points for the title "Pacific Grim". [$9.99]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fuck The Facts Interview

I first discovered Fuck The Facts at the Knitting Factory in New York back in 2008. The band left an impression on me with their eclecticism, stubbornly ignoring boundaries by mixing death, grind, crust, and doom at will. They've yet to slow down since then, and they've also yet to disappoint. With an impressive new album out through their own label Noise Salvation, it seemed like a good time to finally reach out to them. I sent some questions to the band, which guitarist Topon Das and drummer Mathieu Vilandré took turns answering.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Cryptopsy, Lost Soul, Gorod, A Loathing Requiem

Since the Unspoken King debacle, Cryptopsy have learned what their fans want - namely unrelenting speed, gurgling vocals and a bass that sounds like it's being hit with a hammer; and their new crowdfunded EP The Book of Suffering- Tome 1 delivers all that and more. Short and sweet, but flawless in its execution, it seems the band are indeed back to doing what they do best. [$3.99]

Lost Soul's last release was in 2009, but it's clear that the time away was spent thinking. Their eclectic new album Atlantis: The New Beginning expands the band's established sound, with a renewed emphasis on streamlined arrangements over blistering speed, and employing some very Ihsahn like choral singing and hits of groove. After years of dreary revival and regurgitation, it seems death metal bands are ready to take chances and expand the boundaries again - and Lost Soul, a band that always did, will be there meet them. [€10]

Despite its title, there's very little recycled about the new album by tech-death gurus Gorod. A Maze of Recycled Creed expands the band's hyperactive style into new areas of expertise, burning up the fretboards and showing they're not afraid to get funky along the way. Pimp walking brutality. [€7.99]

The project of one Malcolm Pugh, A Loathing Requiem will put all other one-man bands on notice. Acolytes Eternal is a work of considerable thought and spectacular musicianship, that fans of Neuraxis and Beyond Creation will love, aided by a stellar production. This blows away most "real" bands. [$8]

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bury Your Dead

This originally appeared in the second issue of Repulsive Regurgitation zine. I'm including it here for posterity...please don't steal this and the pics that go with it by putting it in your own shitty little thing without my permission. [I'm talking to you, Malaysia.]

Every movie monster is analogous to a larger problem. Vampires represent fears of sexuality, or drugs, or AIDS, or alienation. Frankenstein was an allegory for science run amok. Werewolves are twisted representations of adolescence, both male and female. Dawn of the Dead was about mindless consumerism; The Walking Dead is about fans of The Walking Dead. [Seriously, I have no idea why that show is so popular.]

Hesher Xmas

Is there a more metal holiday than Halloween? With its pagan roots and shameless embrace of everything horrific and ghoulish, it's the one day of the year when the rest of the world turns into us. This is our Christmas.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Temple of Baal, Vehemence, Abhorrent Decimation, Marasmus

Temple of Baal have been delivering some top notch albums for over a decade, under the radar for the most part. Mysterium is a master class in how to create the perfect black/death hybrid, expertly balancing discordance, melody, blast and restrained tempos. Another jewel in the crown of le metal noir. [$4.99 til the end of October]

Arizona's Vehemence were one of the first bands I ever interviewed, so I'm happy to hear they're back at it. Forward Without Motion picks up where their cult classic God Was Created left off, hammering their knack for melody home in 3/4 time and blowing away preconceptions of what it means to be an American death metal band. The only sore point is the production, which feels too much like a home recording and lets the bass drum run roughshod over the mix. Let those soaring melodies fly free, lads. [$10]

London's Abhorrent Decimation should be appealing to fans of modern death metal. Miasmic Mutation contains a good mix of all out speed, mid-paced groove and lots of catchy parts to get heads banging, all anchored by some assured performances. The Glen Benton-esque vocals make this longtime Deicide fan happy. A thoughtful melange death metal's past and present, as well as glimpses of its future. [£5]

It took all of 2 seconds for me to know I was going to love Kansas City's Marasmus. Conjuring Enormity is hyperblasting American death metal that hooks you in and doesn't let go, like the mighty Origin at their unrelenting best but with a few more progressive flourishes. The future of death metal is safe with bands like this pushing their physical and creative limits. [$7]

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Horror Film Music 101

Hesher Christmas is quickly approaching. Being the antisocial kind, I'm not going going out this Halloween week-end, preferring instead to hole myself up in my bunker with a bunch of old friends like Evil Dead and Reanimator. [Also I'm in Malaysia, where there's zero percent chance of running into slutty Laffy Taffy.] But before I hit play on my Panasonic reel-to-reel, some thoughts on horror movie music.

The music in a horror movie sets the mood, builds tension, and drives home the scares. At their best, horror film scores stand separate from their film counterparts as albums/songs of their own merit. Here are ten of the best - most of which have been used by metal bands in some form or another.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: Snail, My Home On Trees, Old Man Lizard, Low

Seattle's long-running shoegazers Snail were one of the bands that never saw their share of the spotlight when their town blew up. [Tad Doyle feels your pain, Snail.] They broke up in the Nineties, got back together in the Naughts and have released an album every few years since then. Their latest, Feral, is a fuzzed out marriage between shoegaze and stoner rock. The giant mushrooms on the album cover spell out both the band's sound and how it's meant to be enjoyed. [$10]

Like the great Sergio Leone, My Home On Trees are Italians with a thing for the desert. On How I Reached Home, the Milanese band sink their teeth into Kyuss' laconic desert groove and won't let go, with vocalist Laura Mancini doing a pretty good approximation of John Garcia's soulful pipes. A new take on the spaghetti western. [€7]

If the lack of vocals on Earth and Pelican albums was ever an issue, Old Man Lizard has you covered. Their new self-titled album keeps the ominous heft (and twang) of Earth's best albums, and adds some Neurosis-styled yelling. Even if the field they're playing in is overcrowded, this is a smart and somewhat unique album. [€7]

Minnesota's Low are slowcore pioneers - just don't tell them that. Ones and Sixes grafts the dual voices of Alan Spearhawk and Mimi Parker over sparse beats and simple guitar work, making the band's trademark minimalism sound expansive and overpowering. The band says it best on the opening track: Careful, measured, tortured, stable. A new high for Low. [$10]

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

nostalgia as curation

back in the day was still too late
Ah, nostalgia. Can anyone resist the temptation of romanticizing the music of their youth - especially if they just missed it? A few recent documentaries - Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC and the BBC series Music For Misfits: The Story of Indie have come not to bury the past but to praise it.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hate Storm Annihilation Interview

I saw Hate Storm Annihilation on my most recent NY trip, when they opened for Master and Solstice at the Acheron in Brooklyn. Despite their young age and relative newcomer status, they held their own admirably with the veterans. Since I've always been a sucker for this kind of brain melting, unrelenting death metal, I e-mailed some questions to the band, which guitar whiz/vocalist Craig Schmuhl was kind enough to answer (the band is completed by drummer Konstantin Dermendjiev).

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Creeping, Ogotay, Nightfell, Ravens Creed

The boundaries between death, black, and doom are fluid for New Zealand's intriguing Creeping. Their third album Revenant finds common ground with Gorguts and Ulcerate, but focuses more on slow tempos and discordant atmosphere. The production, courtesy of Ulcerate's Jamie St. Merat, brings the best out of its bleakness. [€6.66]

Coming out of one of the best countries for extreme metal, Poland's Ogotay have a lot to live up to. The songs on Dead God's Prophet wouldn't be out of place on a Behemoth album, though with a slight experimental edge that reminds me of the late, great Red Harvest. I can't say no to another great Polish band. [$8]

When I heard His Hero Is Gone as a teenage hesher, I was ecstatic that hardcore bands were finally using death metal(ish) vocals. I can only imagine my younger self's excitement if he knew HHIG's Todd Burdette would go on to form the dark and deathly Nightfell. Their second album Darkness Evermore is what you'd expect if the guy from Tragedy put out an album with the drummer from the Howling Wind; that said, it's not that far off from canonical bands like Bolt Thrower and Asphyx. Slow death metal for slow death metal fans. [$7.77]

Nottingham's Ravens Creed aren't ones for overthinking things; Ravens Krieg is about as straight to the point as you can get, drawing from the early, simple days of death metal, with plenty of nods to Hellhammer, Master, Death and the like. As subtle as nails in a baseball bat, and about as effective. [€5]

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Steals, This Book

I took this photo from their Facebook page for my own use. I hope they appreciate the irony.
Someone I don't know took my post about Rumah Api (and the photos that went along with it) and published it in their zine without my permission. It was a pretty personal post, which is part of the reason why having it reprinted without my consent is so irritating.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Tsjuder, Barshasketh, Vacivus, Bone Tomb

The long running and long overlooked Tsjuder have released possibly their best album yet. Their new album Antiliv seethes in the classic second wave fashion that their fellow Norsemen seem to have abandoned, along with some thrash inflections and the occasional Celtic Frost moment. Not an album that will set the world on fire, but some churches may be left with scorch marks. [$9.99]

Originally from New Zealand but since relocated to Scotland, Barshasketh have tilled the ebony soil for some time (as their bandcamp page can attest to). Their latest album Ophidian Henosis is their most mature and accomplished to date, bringing to mind the sweeping melodicism of the mighty Dawn. With the bands that inspired them defunct or dormant, these guys might be in line for succession. [€7 ]

A little while ago I wrote about Dawn of Chaos and hoped aloud that whatever the members got up to next would be as good. Little did I realize that they had already reassembled with a new vocalist as Vacivus, making music as good if not better than their previous incarnation. Their debut EP Rite of Ascension ratchets up the chaos for a sound that's pure evil (and very Immolation). An intriguing beginning to their second act. [£4]

Also worth a listen is Vacivus guitarist Dan Rochester's Bone Tomb. On their debut EP Tombs of Blood you'll find two pristine UKBM songs and a cover of Celtic Frost's "Sorrows of the Moon" that strips the original of Tom Warrior's awkward New Wave affectations but is otherwise faithful to its spirit. [£4]

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Alda Interview

I first heard Alda through the Replenish Records Bandcamp; their Tahoma album was one of my very first Bandcamp Picks, and has kept me company on many a long train ride since then. With a new album out, I decided to e-mail some questions to the band about their past and future, which drummer/vocalist Michael Korchonnoff was kind enough to answer.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Fuck The Facts, Alda, Anopheli, Myrkur

DoC faves Fuck the Facts return with their best album yet. Desire Will Rot sees the always eclectic québécois quintet diversifying their sound further with some OTT metal moments on top of their usual mix of grind, death, doom, and hardcore. A band that breaks the mould and then stomps it into dangerous little shards. Magnifique. [$4 CAD]

Alda, one of my first ever Bandcamp Picks, finally deliver their long awaited (by me at least) third album. Passage continues where its predecessor left off, combining atmospheric black metal and folk, with more confidence and stronger performances (particularly with the vocals). An album for long walks in the woods; it may not deflect any Agalloch comparisons, but it shows the band is coming into their own. [€6.90 ]

It's amazing what a difference one instrument can make; Oakland CA's Anopheli might be just another band following in Tragedy's footsteps if it wasn't for the addition of a cellist. The Ache of Want puts her front and centre and lets her drive the music, the end result being even more apocalyptic than this kind of dark crust usually is. One of the best, most compelling hardcore albums I've heard this year, and it's available as a "name your price" download.

Well, the cat's out of the bag on Myrkur's Amalie Bruun; her dance pop and shoegaze background is now common knowledge. Honestly, Myrkur's full length M would benefit greatly from embracing that background a little more. The straight ahead black metal moments are a little generic, and songs that lean too heavily on her (admittedly pretty good) clean vocals dredge up comparisons to the Ghosts of Goff Metal Past (anyone who got a Century Media Identity comp back in the day will know what I'm talking about). But the album's sublime opener (not to mention their contribution to this year's Adult Swim singles collection) suggest that Relapse's faith in the project isn't misplaced, just a little premature. [$10.99 ]

Friday, September 25, 2015

Grindcore 101

Rich Hoak of Brutal Truth/Total Fucking Destruction
Considering half the people I know in KL are in grindcore bands (some of them in two or three), I thought I'd flex my cred as someone who's followed the genre for 20 years, and seen most of the movers and shakers play live (some of them two or three times - suck it, Malaysia). Grindcore has a long history littered with thousands albums that anyone can (and will) argue for - but these are the ten most essential.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pseudostratiffied Epithelium Interview

I discovered Costa Rica's Pseudostratiffied Epithelium recently, and was thoroughly impressed by their latest EP. As someone based in another overlooked and under-represented scene, I decided to reach out, one jungle to another, to find out more. I e-mailed some questions to the band, which guitarist/vocalist Mauricio Baltodano was kind enough to answer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Not A Fest XV

With Rumah Api on hiatus til its legal problems are sorted, the gigs that were scheduled there have to find alternate venues. Many of them have been reassigned to Penvia Studios, far from anywhere worth seeing and my own grim residence. The area, where a church recently drew protests from Muslim residents for displaying its crucifix outside, can euphemistically be described as "kampung". Or as my Malay buddy Azri bluntly put it, "These are rednecks." I drew some unfriendly stares as I made my way to the venue (and I wasn't even wearing this shirt); I wondered where the fuck I was when it started drizzling and a woman in a hijab eyed me coldly from the back of a moped. I finally found my way to the spot and back to civilization, and I've never been so happy to see kids in patch jackets.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - Hate Eternal, Abyssal Ascendant, Dawn of Chaos, Embrional

Hate Eternal are back, doing what they do best, which is making Morbid Angel look bad (not particularly hard these days). Aside from some slower moments and Vital Remains-ish melodies, Infernus is for the most part a back-to-basics assault of unrelenting blastbeats and blistering riffs. Few people know this music inside and out like Erik Rutan. One of my favourite albums of the year. [$9.99]

If for whatever reason Vader were unable to perform their duties, I'm sure French heshers Abyssal Ascendant could step into the void. Chronicles of the Doomed Worlds - Part I. Enlightenment from Beyond  ties HP Lovecraft's otherworldly mythology to some Vaderiffic metal (with a little Nile and Suffocation thrown in). Great band, but someone should take them to task for that awful cover art and logo. [And maybe lay down a moratorium on bands with "abyss" in their name.] The album is available as a "name your price" download.

It's a pity Dawn of Chaos called it quits, because the band had the potential for big things. Recorded back in 2012, the posthumously released The Need to Feed displays a knack for killer hooks and memorable songs. The bone dry production isn't particularly to my taste, but it doesn't hinder the music. Hopefully whatever the members get up to next has more of the same. [£5]

Great things have been happening in Poland this year, with the second album by Embrional joining 2015's challenging releases by Blaze of Perdition and Outre. With nods to Behemoth, Decapitated, and Thaw, The Devil Inside takes the established Polish predilection for chaotic speed and skews it towards the avant noir as well as some tricky math metal. Bit of a thinker, this one. [25 PLN]

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rumah Api: A Love Story

[This was written last year for an issue of Punkcaroba Zine. I was waiting for the issue to come out before posting it here for posterity's sake; but in light of last night's raid on Rumah Api, and the ensuing arrest of several of my friends, I decided to put it online now. I hope Man, Wan Hazril and the rest get out soon.]

A lot of people assume that I have some deep love for the local scene because I write about it on my blog. The truth is, I’m one of those people who are compelled to write about themselves and their surroundings, and I just happen to find myself here. Coming to Malaysia basically meant losing everything and everyone that was important to me. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate this place with an unbridled passion.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: Pseudostratiffied Epithelium, Genocide Pact, Howls of Ebb, Bloody Violence

Of course there's a death metal scene in Costa Rica - just ask the long-running Pseudostratiffied Epithelium. Their name may speak to their Carcass-worshipping roots, but their self-titled EP reveals that a deep love of Incantation has since taken root. If this is a sign of what's going on in Costa Rica, then deeper investigations are warranted. The EP (along with everything else on their Bandcamp page) is available as a "name your price" download.

Genocide Pact feature members of Disciples of Christ, but where the latter are unrestrained grind/powerviolence, GP are as restrained as death/grind gets. Forged Through Domination is a throwback to Carcass and Bolt Thrower albums of the early 90's, building songs out of slow, swinging riffs, though thankfully with none of the straying tempos that Bolt Thrower were so infamous for. A mid-paced death metal album that actually grabs me is a rare thing; this is one of the few. The power of the riff compels you. [$5]

Howls Of Ebb takes two things the Bay Area is known for - Autopsy and psychedelia - and combine them into one eerie, unsettling package. Their three song EP The Marrow Veil takes the listener from the garage to the void and back through its nearly 40 minutes. The thin sound is regrettable, though, especially since HoB offer so much more than the typical old school revival band - the music deserves to sound better than it does here. [€7]

Brazil's Bloody Violence don't fear the top three strings on their guitars, that's for sure. Divine Vermifuge combines blastbeats with noises that you wouldn't think a stringed instrument could make. Between the squealing riffs and the pig grunt vocals, this could be ground zero of a swine flu epidemic. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: INI, Krallice, Outre, Gates of Holocaust

2015 is turning out to be a banner year for the progressive end of Norwegian black metal; joining new albums by Arcturus, Enslaved, and Dødheimsgard is the debut of Trondheim's INI. If Nothing Is is a remarkably accomplished and ambitious album, with razor-sharp guitar playing worthy of Blasphemer or Ihsahn, and the distinct influence of Mayhem's under-rated Grand Declaration of War. Paradoxically, this is an album as indebted to second wave black metal as it is a rejection of its tenets. [90 NOK]

Guitarist Colin Marston does time with Dysrhythmia and Gorguts, so maybe it's not surprising that Krallice would wander down a similar path. Ygg Huur takes a bat to preconceptions about USBM, delivering an album that's as intense and chaotic as it is intelligent and challenging. I can't pretend I understand everything that's happening here, but it's obvious more thought went into each song than most bands put into an entire album. [$7]

Like their countrymen Thaw and Blaze of Perdition, Poland's Outre use black metal as a jumping off point for their own musical digressions. On Ghost Chants, the band employs restrained tempos and layered guitars to eerie effect; though when they turn on the speed, they can blast with the best of them. A band to keep an eye on. [ €7]

Brazilian metal isn't known for being particularly progressive, and Gates of Holocaust aren't out to change that with their sophomore album. Void is as free of pretension as black metal gets, embracing speed like a South American Dark Funeral. It's nothing you haven't heard before, but it is fun, solid, and completely free.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Moment of Then

This week, Jon Stewart's tenure as late night host comes to an end. Regular guests Dennis Leary and Louis CK are helping see Stewart out the door, which I guess speaks to his claims that he views himself as a comedian and not the cultural force that we try to make him out to be. Undermining that view? The revelation that Stewart had been "summoned" to the White House a few times (according to Politico, it was to help sell policy; according to Stewart, it was to watch King Ralph and get scolded by the President for making young people cynical).

More interesting than Stewart's last few shows has been Comedy Central's month-long online marathon of his entire run as host. It was a fun reminder of better days and worse; like most of the things I love in this world, I discovered The Daily Show in college. Back then I was listening to Jello Biafra's spoken word albums and dismissing most news outlets as corporate puppets (those two things are undoubtedly related). The Daily Show, then under Craig Kilborn, was much more irreverent and mean-spirited than it is now. The criticisms lobbed at upcoming host Trevor Noah of racist, sexist and quasi-homophobic jokes are a sure sign of the culture's short memory, since that's exactly what the show was like when Stewart inherited it. It took a few years, a writing staff reshuffling and an unthinkable tragedy to hammer the show into the shape that it is now.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: OHHMS, Surrogate Prey/Death After Birth, Old Witch/Keeper, Sleep's Holy Mountain: The CVLT Nation Sessions

OHHMS aren't a band for short attention spans; their entire discography at this point is only four songs and has a running time of over an hour. Of the two tracks that make up their second release Cold, "The Anchor" walks fastidiously in Sleep's shoes for nearly 20 minutes, while "Dawn of the Swarm" suggests extended plays of Isis' Oceanic. Surprisingly engaging considering the length. [£3.99]

Burning Water is the title of the long awaited (and long baited) split EP between DoC friends Death After Birth and Surrogate Prey, finally out and on Bandcamp. Surrogate Prey play a nasty form of sludge in the vein of Eyehategod and Grief; Death After Birth, one of the longest running metal bands from the region, have a more traditional doom approach, but are no less heavy. These six songs represent one of the best releases to come out of South East Asia. Get it now. [$6]

A couple weeks back I mentioned I was looking forward to the split between Old Witch and Keeper. Well it's here, and it's bleak as fuck. Old Witch have honed in on their oppressive style, mixing ultra raw doom/drone with icy swathes of keyboards to keep things both heavy and atmospheric. That's a lot for Keeper to follow, but the Californian band do with their own filthy Khanate-esque doom. A six part invitation to self-harm. The split is available as a "name your price" download.

Before they became the phenomenon they are now, Sleep were one of a number of bands paying tribute to Black Sabbath on Earache's Masters of Misery comp; two decades later, they're the focus of their own tribute album, courtesy of CVLT Nation. As is usually the case with tributes, the quality oscillates from band to band, but of particular note are Bog Oak's mesmerizing version of "Holy Mountain", and Sea of Bones' stellar deconstruction of "Dragonaut". Who knows, one of the bands here may make it big and gets a tribute of their own some day. Check back in 20 years. [FREE!]

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: Blaze of Perdition, Abyssal, Peste Noire, Nadiwrath

Having faced their share of tragedy and trauma, Poland's Blaze of Perdition return with their off-kilter style of black metal. Near Death Revelations eschews traditional song structures and catchy riffs, creating discordance in a way that recalls Deathspell Omega as well as the similarly forward thinking Ulcerate and Mitochondrion. The decision to continue after the death of one of their bandmates couldn't have been an easy one; but it's obvious that Blaze of Perdition have a unique take on black metal, one that the sometimes stubbornly derivative genre would be poorer without. [$7]

The mysterious one man band Abyssal also presumably look to Ulcerate and Mitochondrion for inspiration. They don't have Jamie Saint Merat's arsenal of cymbals, but Antikatastaseis makes up for it with martial drums, shoegazing riffs, and eerie keyboards. Atmospheric and unsettling, this is a glimpse at the next generation of death metal. [$7.49 CAD]

Even for the weirdness that is French black metal, Peste Noire are pretty freaking out there. La Chaise-Dyable has folky rhythms, Greg Ginn-style skronk, whistling, and even an accordion; all topped by mainman Famine's bizarro Attila Csihar-ish vocals. This is an album that will test your capacity for crazy gibberish. [$7]

If all this avant-noir is leaving you discombobulated, Nadiwrath should serve as a welcome palate cleanser. Circle of Pest is straight-forward black metal with a few rawky touches that absolutely smokes recent albums by Taake and 1349 that tread a similar path. Very few things in life are making me as happy as this right now. My favourite black metal album of 2015. [€4.90]

Friday, July 17, 2015

VHS Interview

Canadian death squad VHS formed earlier this year, and only have one seven song demo to their name. But what a demo it is: A no-frills affair that recalls early Death and draws inspiration from the video horror culture of the Eighties and Nineties. As someone who spent the best week-ends of his teenage years with friends bonding over both obscure horror movies and metal bands, this hit the sweet spot for me. I e-mailed some questions to the band, which vocalist/guitarist Mike was kind enough to answer.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: Skinless, Noisem, Cloud Rat, VHS

I've had a soft spot for Skinless since my college years, when I saw them live a few times promoting their first two albums. Only The Ruthless Remain sees the return of Sherwood Webber's guttural vocals, as well as the first appearance of second guitarist Dave "No Relation" Matthews. The band always had a knack for groove, and the production (by longtime engineer Brett Portzer) gives it free reign. Gone are the tampon lollipops and goofy intros; Skinless have grown up, and only death remains. [$8.99]

It's "second verse, same as the first" for DoC friends Noisem. Their sophomore album Blossoming Decay is the band doing what they do best: Gnarly death/thrash and go-for-broke power violence. This is the sound of pure unbridled fury; if you want to hear them sing some Miley, you'll have to go elsewhere. [$5]

Following the well-received Moksha, Cloud Rat seem poised for bigger things. Qliphoth shows the band isn't willing confine itself to one genre, combining grind with discordant Converge-ish hardcore, screamo and shoegaze. Another solid release from this under-rated band. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Canadians VHS have an interesting concept, drawing as much inspiration from the direct to video horror movie culture of the Eighties and early Nineties as the death metal of the same period. Rewind or Die! should bring a smile to the face of anyone who spent a week-end bonding with friends over the dubious charms of Troma or Full Moon Features. Even the barebones production is a nice parallel to the limited budgets of classic B-horror. [The album is available for pre-order for $5.55 CAD].

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: Sea Bastard/Keeper, Weedeater, Shape of Despair, Freedom Hawk

Somehow the best doom/sludge metal band around right now released a new song months ago and it slipped past me; on their latest split EP, mighty Sea Bastard offer the 20 minute dirge "Astral Rebirth", which feels like having your head smashed into the pavement over and over again in slow motion. Meanwhile, California's Keeper hold up their end with "777" recalling Khanate at their filthy, hateful best. I'm looking forward to their upcoming split with Old Witch. 777/Astral Rebirth is available as a "name your price" download.

Weedeater are back in all their moonshine-drenched, misanthropic glory. Goliathan contains the hook-driven sludge and puckish humour that fans have come to know and love, including the appearance of a banjo and harmonica. It's sometimes hard to tell if Dixie Dave likes playing up regrettable stereotypes or merely inhabits them, but songs like "Battered and Fried" make the case that it's the former. [$9.99]

Finnish doom titans Shape of Despair don't flinch when it comes to maintaining their glacial pace. Monotony Fields is as funereal as funeral doom comes: Oppressive chords smothered in icy keyboards and haunting vocals (plus the typically guttural Finnish death growls). But somewhere in the despair is something beautiful and uplifting. This is the best introduction to this band/genre that anyone could hope for. Just clear your schedule beforehand. [$9.99]

Virginia Beach's Freedom Hawk probably would play some Skynyrd if you asked nicely. Into Your Mind is upbeat stoner/doom a la the Obsessed topped with T.R. Morton's fantastic Ozzy-ish singing (if Ozzy could actually sing, that is). Need tunes for a road trip this summer? This may be the album you're looking for. [$10]

Sunday, June 21, 2015

By (sort of) Request: Doom Metal 101

A close friend of mine is working on a comic book set in the world of metal; in the course of bouncing ideas off of me he asked if I had any recommendations of bands he should check out.

This is what an aneurysm feels like.