Another month has just happened. We really have to figure out a way to stop this, it’s straight up month to month this year. Anyway I lowkey feel dead inside today so I’ll keep this short: the team found some cool new releases in March and wrote about it and Kep gets pretty political and Ellis gets hardcore and Melinda figures out what she’s doing minute by minute. Reviews contributed by Kep, Ellis and Melinda.
Novichoke – Wounds
Blackened death metal from Russia
Independent digital/Cassette via Noxious Ruin
Full disclosure: Wounds technically came out digitally in December of last year, but was had released on cassette by Noxious Ruin. More importantly, though, this bite-size maelstrom of calamitous blackened death comes from a project based in Russia that stands firmly and vocally against Vladimir Putin. Novichoke’s music is appropriately chaotic and furious, a brand of ugly dissonance that’s full-throated and relentless. They display a heavy influence from grind, shown in their tumultuous approach that’s driven by merciless blast beats and jagged riffs, and incorporate some true harsh noise into their caustic textures. Wounds is like sandpaper on a bare nerve; it’s complete hell and anguish and anger in 12 1/2 minutes, a raw and unrelenting listen that will crush you into dust through an authentically personal and violent level of aggression. The members of this project are anonymous for their own safety under Putin’s regime, and the EP is name-your-price on Bandcamp. Fuck fascism.
Converge – The Poacher Diaries Redux
Metalcore from Massachusetts, USA
Originally released as a split with grindcore legends Agoraphobic Nosebleed, The Poacher Diaries is an often overlooked gem in the Converge discography that proves the band already had plenty to offer before Jane Doe. Now, the Converge side of that record has gained a new lease on life, with a new mix by guitarist Kurt Ballou, and remastering by Jane Doe/You Fail Me mastering engineer Alan Douches. The production tool-up helps these tracks to hit with more of the force we’ve come to expect from the band over the past two decades, while also maintaining some of the raw and feral intensity that made them so compelling in the first place. It’s an essential for long-time fans, but could also work as a great little introductory record in the way that it sets up what would become the band’s golden period.
Konvent – Call Down The Sun
Death doom from Denmark
In a world of sand, there is no sink or swim, there is only coarse sand burying you with each grain. There is no need for urgency for your death is certain. This is a glimpse of what you can expect from Konvent and their second LP Call Down the Sun, a phenomenal follow up to their 2020 debut Puritan Masochism that continues to build their signature style with consistent artwork and further development of their dreadful death doom style. Death and doom, a proven combination that I have repeatedly enjoyed but there’s an extra level of spice Konvent brings to the table with their take on the genre. It’s less moping around in the cosmos or ambiguous misanthropy and is more violent purpose-filled wrath. They also aren’t confining themselves to the death doom tag in a purist way, instead adopting some elements of melodic death metal, black metal, A grade production and some modern vocal styles venturing into the realm of brutal death. The vocal variety is stunning. Call Down The Sun is one of the most well rounded albums of 2022 thus far.
Izthmi – Leaving This World, Leaving It All Behind
Black metal from Washington, USA
A welcome follow up to their debut LP The Arrow Of Our Ways which I enjoyed a lot in 2020 and I’m glad they have kept their emo inclinations that makes DSBM so appealing to me with the wordy meaning-filled titles and vocals that aren’t afraid to break. It’s a big album with a healthy mix of little isolated experiments in noise and post rock atmosphere as well as gigantic ten minute tracks spanning entire horizons of black metal, post metal and even a hint of post hardcore. The vocals and guitars happen quickly and with aggression, it has exactly what you’d want from black metal while also exploring the ideas adjacent to it. It can get surprisingly grindy at times and at other times chooses to absorb it’s self in proggy atmosphere. The combination of beauty and grim darkness makes for an entrancing listen, and an essential one for fans of Underdark. Be sure to have eyes on Izthmi because they are going to be a massive entity in the next general of black metal, if there’s any sense left in the world anyway.
Pillaging Villagers – Pillaging Villagers
Crossover thrash/folk metal from Wisconsin, USA
Let’s be real for a moment: fuck rich assholes who make and maintain their wealth by taking advantage of the poor. David Frazer, mastermind and sole member of Pillaging Villagers, clearly agrees. The project’s self-titled debut is a heady blend of fiery crossover thrash riffs and medieval folk melodies that will get your blood pumping for a bloody peasant uprising. Listening to this album is the most fun I’ve had with an album this year, and not just because I adore the premise; the gang vocal choruses are a blast, the layers of organ and hurdy-gurdy-esque melody are perfect for the aesthetic, the narrative lyrics are inventive and clever, and Frazer’s guitar and vox are a force to be reckoned with. Seriously, you’re a damn cop if you don’t want to sing along with the lyrics like “We are the wretched of the earth / The underclass / So raise your glass / One and all” and “Freedom long denied belongs to us / They can’t take it away / When we rise to say / Freedom is ours!” If you haven’t spun this yet, do it now and join me in raising two middle fingers at the 1%.
Gridiron – No Good At Goodbyes
Hardcore from Pennsylvania and Michigan, USA
Triple B Records
Gridiron’s debut full-length won’t do any favours for hardcore’s tough guy reputation, but if you’re looking for 22 minutes of pure aggro then this is absolutely the one for you. It does that kind of Madball thing where it combines big beefy crossover hardcore with hip-hop and rap, while arguably taking both sides of that equation to even further extremes. It could come off as a bit cheesy or OTT to some, but the band’s commitment and delivery means that pretty much all their punches land here. It helps especially that they absolutely bring it with the riffs, with fourth track “Brothers In Arms (12th Man)” doing a pretty great impression of arguably the best riff of all time (i.e. “The Killchain” by Bolt Thrower).
Ho99o9 – SKIN
I know I’m getting old because there were parts of this album where I thought “Where do these people get the fucking energy?”. This is such a heckers assault of of the senses blending abrasive rap, techno, noise, hardcore punk and avant garde. There’s more but I’ll let avant garde do a shit load of lifting here. I’m honestly blown away by this and I think many of you will too if you get through a few tracks and give it a chance. There’s some REAL hard shit on here and some absolute mosh bangers. The talent and execution will warm up quickly to my readers who enjoyed Backxwash last year because of her versatility of rap styles and use of noise. Fans of Death Grips and .clipping will likely find a lot to enjoy. SKIN has two familiar features and they both rule, “BITE MY FACE” has Corey Taylor on it and “SKINHEAD” has Saul Williams on it. I’m unfamiliar with Jasiah but their collab track “LIMITS” is just as good as the rest of the album. Out of all the styles and tempos expressed here I’d say my favorite are the trapcore segments, Ho99o9 does aggression really well, not just vocally but also with the beats/guitar combination. This is the rap album to beat this year, highly creative and entertaining duo. This is music for when you drank coffee to try and focus but all it did was heighten your ADHD, but I did it, I got through this article.
Matriphagy – Prelude to Evisceration
Death metal from Massachusetts, USA
From the active underground metal scene in Boston comes Matriphagy, a preposterously heavy three-piece death metal outfit with only a demo under their belt prior to this release. This EP is a meaty one, clocking in at almost 25 minutes, and it’s full of massively satisfying old school death metal riffage, nasty solos, and bestial vocals, all delivered with a bit of extra brutality. These guys are far from one-dimensional. The songs vary in length and tempo, the riffs run the gamut from blocky chugs to speedy fretwork and throw in some killer melodies and memorable solos, and the production is just ugly enough to make it all work and feel authentic. Plus there’s a shit ton of earthshaking slams. How often do you hear something that slams that isn’t brutal death? Long story short, I’ll be on the lookout for a full-length effort and jamming this repeatedly in the meantime.
AGLO – Collector
Death doom/sludge from Victoria, Australia
The newest bit of Aussie nihilistic sludge metal right out of the Jason Fuller/Brad Boatright sludge industrial complex we have going on down here. There’s a consistent pacing to collector that snuggles up to the inactive part of your brain, moving in unison with laboring hands and lumbering legs. An intentional constant burning produced by an abundance of distortion and a guitar ready to trill. One look at the album cover and you know this one is for the love of metal, and if you hear any of the tracks you will find a dedication to death, doom and sludge. All the doom coming out of Australia right now (Religious Observance, Potion, Lucifungus, Bong Coffin) is just so swampy and AGLO are among the wettest.
Answer From Cygnus – Cygnus
Atmospheric black metal from France
My fellow sad cosmonauts, blow the dust off of your helmet, we have a new journey before us… and it’s miserable. Melodic and atmospheric black metal with a killer rhythm section that is responsible for far more moshing and dancing than you’d expect from something so thoughtful and patience as this. I do not understand the French language but feeding some of these lyrics into a translator still produced some badass and epic minded cosmology related themes. Even with a poor translation it sounds hectic: “And an authoritarian silence freezing time and the stars/And elusive nuances that do not let themselves be undressed/Believes the cement of illusions for the flankers in perdition/Last born assiduous to the whims of a perpetual aberration/Here, governs the inexhaustible redundancy of everything” – from the track “L’instant”. It’s catastrophic gloom but the vocalist still sounds empowered, is desolation not simply triumph if your goal was to seek desolation? And look, is this a March release? no it came out on the last day of February, did I know this before writing all of this? Absolutely not.