Smaller reviews to fill the void between larger reviews. A different kind of feed experience.
Cable used to be a hardcore band but they transitioned into an atmosphere fueled form of sludge in recent years. The hardcore influence can still be heard quite strongly. It reminds me a lot of Rollins Band and The Jesus Lizard in terms of writing and vocal delivery, as well as spoken word avant garde bands like Endnote or Oxbow but with softer stoner corners. It’s really fuzzy and more catchy than the tag “atmospheric” normally brings to mind.
So I got a message from this band, Agabas, a few days ago asking me to check out their self titled EP. It’s a super cool little thing. They call themselves a death jazz band and I can’t say that’s something I’ve ever listened to before. This kind of music certainly isn’t my area of expertise but I do know fun music when
Altar Defecation are a hidden gem among the Australian black metal scene. This new EP is very much proof of that, this is one of the best pieces of pure black metal I’ve heard all year. First of all, the production is WAY better than what you would typically expect from this type of thing, it is mixed very well. Instrumentally it’s pretty standard for it’s genre, it is very riff heavy tho, especially on the track “Fiend”.
There are also some synths thrown in the mix that make things pretty interesting, specifically on the closing track. The vocals are very well performed standard black metal screams. The bass is very present too. The atmospherics and lyrics on the EP create a very evil and occult theme and mood. Blasphemous themes are heavily explored here too and i can always get down with that.
Hey everyone, I have a cool album that I wanted to share quicky here. This is The Omnipresense of Loss by Urza. Urza are a funeral doom band from Germany and this is their first full length. It’s some really great Evoken style funeral doom, or at least that’s the band that came to my mind first when I was listening to it.
There’s some really great stuff on this album. The vocals are a particular shining moment for me. They go from a deep death metal style all the way up to a Ghost Bath-like shriek. It’s produced very well too, you can clearly hear every instrument and nothing gets left behind in the mix. There are some minimalist parts where it reminds me of something Bell Witch would do.
I listened to this because the album art is really alluring, there’s something captivating about this scene, whether it’s the creature itself or it’s purpose in this violent world. It’s pretty weird.
Musically this is some sludge death metal erring on the side of brutal death if it weren’t so slow and sludge. Not unlike 2019s toxic release from Horrisionous who are just a little better honestly. Not that anyone will remember, since it was an Australian release of high quality.
Verdict: A diverse musical experience that features some symphonic undertones and melodic death riffs. Add to this combination an ounce of folk to bring the medley to combination. Each song on the album presents almost a separate aspect of the band’s work and each is worthy on its own merits. Quite a worthy album, considering it is the German’s debut.
DSBM, like most black metal is extremely hit or miss. I heard one DSBM album 2 weeks back that’ll be up there on my worst albums of the year list, HIGH. That said, when this genre churns out hits they are brilliant. Deadspace are one of the genres gems and their new album Dirge proves that. It’s a dark and gloomy wasteland of black metal music and it sounds great.
The passionate and raw vocals lay a tad low in the mix against the thunderous melancholic riffs. The production is a little rough but with music like this that’s more of a compliment than anything. There is a very distinct mood and despair to this album that is displayed perfectly. Too often this genre comes off phony and fucking goofy, but I have trouble taking this seriously.
Wormed have cemented their own little niche in the death metal world as a brutal death metal band that doesn’t solely focus on brutality. They have a knack for very proficient guitar playing, crazy time signatures, along with themes that tend to focus on scientific or futuristic subjects. They think like a tech death band but they kick the brutality up 10 notches and ditch the squeaky clean production that genre typically has. I think their discography has had some hits and some misses but this is definitely a hit. It’s all the best parts of their sound blended up into a little 15 minute long EP. The vocal performance is fantastic here too atop the exquisite yet punishing instrumental!
Dawn Of Domination is the bands second LP and it fits very nicely into the collection of Aussie thrashers. It sold me with it’s solid opening track – I’ve always a big fan of instrumental openers and less interested in samples or ambience to start off a metal records – especially not a blackened speed metal record. You have to bring the energy up front and the guitars always feel alive here which helps a lot.
The bass is very present, it has a distinct metallic twang that litters the tracks, a kind of constant that keeps everything anchored. You generally know if you’re a fan of this specific sound or not – it’s a tried and true framework. At least now you can get a taste for Australian metal in the mix and I recommend sussing out similar bands and projects from around the world. There’s only so much you can do with blackened speed metal so it all kind of sounds the same on some level, but that basically translates to “they are all awesome” too.
As The Kingdom Drowns is a chewy treat that endures multiple listens well. There’s plenty of brutality but there’s also room for more elaborate and melodic guitar work. The vocals also reduce intensity at times to accommodate them without ever tipping into cleans. There’s something to be said about a stalwart mid range vocalist in the current scene where the emphasis is placed on lows and highs. The result is a series of balanced and flexible songs, sometimes creating an anthem and other times dueling with futuristic licks.
The standout track for me is “Beyond The Black”, the feminine guest vocals bring an epic feel to the song with the peak feeling almost like a musical number about to break out between the metal layers. It’s very big. Jason (Psycroptic’s vocalist) get’s a lot higher than usual here as well with similarities to Mastodon and new Cattle Decapitation with their “clean but not clean” style. It follows through to the calmer opening of “Upon These Stones” nicely. Another solid track that reminds me a lot of Opeth which is never a bad thing. It’s high quality stuff and the fact that it can be compared to these titan’s of industry is telling.
ACKOD is a very unique project that somehow exists between the void of minimalism and the bravado of extreme metal – not so surprisingly, out of California (partly), recorded at . It’s complex and brooding. It’s also likely to challenge a lot of people whose idea of music is more neatly packaged and familiar. Personally I find it quite exciting because it’s a part of a sound that doesn’t belong to a time in music but rather one that pops up here and there throughout it’s history like a rare breed. Stuff like Maudlin Of The Well if anyone can remember an underrated project from so long ago. ACKOD have come to 2019 with two releases and two more on the way. All of these releases are following the same story thread started with their first release in 2015, Vol. I: Enculturation and then Vol. II: Organic Emotions in 2016.
These two 2019 albums in particular are quite special, not only as a return for the project but also their collaboration with artist ma-ko (@drivemeawaytroubledheart) on both album covers, really elevating the presentation of the project. ma-ko’s art has been on my feed for some time, I completely adore their style which to me seems very inspired by video game fantasy, I have a feeling these covers had some inspiration from Hyper Light Drifter but their other work on IG speaks to older JRPG’s with a beautiful and traditional aesthetic. The lyrics seem to come from the same place as the art, perhaps there was synergy there. The stories resemble the volatile societies, history and politics of such fictional places. So let’s get into these two albums and keep an eye out for the third.
Of Blood And Wine should satiate any of my stoner and doomhead readers, it’s got everything you want from the genre and more. It doesn’t go too soft despite often threatening to. It keeps a good balance of rock to roll. The vocals are clean but there is a louder more strained vocal that carries a bit of gain. Much like Entombed’s live album Unreal Estate where they put a theatrical rock spin on many of their death metal classics. It gets quite death rock when you aren’t expecting it. Fans of Motorhead should be at home with this vintage galloping sound.
The driving force behind the music are the guitars which lay out some energetic and far reaching riffs. It’s a motivating groove that’s always tumbling like it’s filled with rocks. The drums tend to give the guitars a lot of room to shine without ever stealing focus. It feels by the numbers but no less effective as an essential part of the sound. “Erzebeth” is the highlight for me, a 12 minute epic that keeps you interested. A lot of changes occurring within the track, varying in severity from wild to subtle. There’s a cultish vibe to them akin to All Them Witches that summons images of dancing in the woods as a part of some macabre ritual.
I have always been familiar with Bolt Thrower but never so intimately as to know their albums and history. I’ve enjoyed their compilations and that’s about it. Fortunately my interview with Luke Oram motivated me to listen to one of their LP’s in full. I was not disappointed – this a killer death album with that classic old school feel. There’s also the dual appeal here for me because it’s a work that is inspired equally by metal and general nerd hobbies and interests. I don’t personally have any investment in Warhammer 40k but I can absolutely appreciate it’s art direction and extensive lore. Nerd-dom pairs so well with metal – the mix of passion, heavy themes and craftsmanship always make for something truly solid.
This album is so pure, being both a product of the time and ahead of it’s time simultaneously. It’s everlasting metal that’s difficult to switch off once it starts spinning. I’d describe the vocals and guitars as doing mostly mid range work – this doesn’t feel crazy downtuned or gargled, but rather an organic work of measured brutality. The drums seem to prevent everyone from going astray and occasionally teams up for an onslaught of double kicks. Everything sits comfortably in the mix – I don’t think there’s anything I’d change.
Somehow I had gone through most of my life being a big fan of Ulver and yet had never felt the need to stretch beyond the album Perdition City, which will always be in my top ten recommended non-metal albums. Thanks belongs to Luke Oram for bringing it to my attention in our interview and prompting me to explore their earlier black metal work. It was a very rewarding experience.
“Ulver had many musical changes throughout their career. On their demos and 1st full length, Bergtatt, they played black/folk metal. 1996’s Kveldssanger is an entirely acoustic folk album and 1997’s Nattens Madrigal is raw, aggressive black metal. Around 1998 they began experimenting with all kinds of experimental, electronic and avant-garde music, fully detaching themselves from the (black) metal scene.” – From the Metallum
A solid album of death metal that will please anyone, simple as that. The vocals aren’t too soft or too abrasive and the instrumentation has a moody amount of melody but never dawdles. It’s a tight piece of technically proficient music. It’s an addictive listen and I’m sure backtracking through their discography will be a rewarding task. I hadn’t heard of Memoriam until 2019 and I don’t know how that happened considering all of their stunning covers are from the legendary Dan Seagrave. Just look at this to start sensing his body of work, it’s intense. I adore his focus on buildings and architecture, something I’m personally obsessed with in album artwork.
This is a great example of attention paid to visuals serving the music. It adds a certain sheen. Consistently good use of artwork appears professional or fleshed out as well, it sets the listener up to want to like what they hear. It’s a package that suddenly becomes worth buying on CD or vinyl, or viable to sell these things.
For a new doom duo these guys go pretty hard. As their Facebook asks, “How can 2 dudes be heavier than my whole band?” and that’s pretty accurate. These doom riffs are crushing and thicc. It also features the classic Australian sound that can so easily be confused for southern or groove metal. It’s very playful and progresses through the tracks very organically. I really like the track “Flesh” – it sounds very much like a Melvins song – which I never get sick of hearing.
The vocals are clean, as per the usual with stoner doom. The influences appear to be Buzz Osborne and Ozzy Osbourne. There’s never too much of an emphasis on the vocals or the lyrics though as the mixing seems to allow any kind of germination. It all blends together nicely in a complete package. It’s not too long or too short, just a really solid debut that should be an easy listen for any doom head.
Here’s hoping they do some more physical releases (tapes please!)
Australia is just churning out old school death inspired records this year and it’s amazing. Crypt Crawler are less on the grind side of things than I’ve been covering lately and follow more traditional death and melo death structures and styles. A definite must listen for fans of Amon Amarth, Death and Obituary.
The general highlight of To The Grave is the consistent guitar solos. It’s something that a lot of modern slam and grind neglects, if only out of necessity. It’s nice to get back to familiar thrashier territory – the death sound that formed my teen years as a metalhead. Standout track is Soul Harvester. It has a really great clean guitar opening and some catchy hooks. It felt like the album arrived at this track in a way too, in that the track contains the entirety of album in a neat summary. Some good pay out.