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 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].