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]