Saturday, 28 December 2013

Deviated Instinct / Summon The Crows split

Towards the end of the last decade the return of the likes of crust punk originators Amebix and Deviated Instinct was certainly unexpected, downright unthinkable to those who were there the first time around, but when you take into consideration the context for their respective reformations it makes perfect sense.

Their music first soundtracked the anger and frustrations of a generation over two decades earlier who were disillusioned with Tories, wars they didn't vote for, widespread unemployment among the youth... it's almost 2014 and look where we are. Nothing ever fucking changes.

Deviated Instinct's sole contribution to this split, the appropriately monickered 'End Times', is a ferocious four-minute exercise in filth. Founding members Leggo and Mid have definitely been keeping tabs on the genre they helped define, incorporating many of the contemporary characteristics of what crust has evolved into; the abrasive guitar and almost death-like vocals make this sound far more relevant than the endless young bands ripping off the Portland-via-Tennessee-circa-2000 sound.

They share this split with a band who clearly take influence from their forebears, Norway's Summon The Crows. Contributing two tracks of crust in a similar vein, they more than match Deviated Instinct for all-out aggression and raw tone.

Originally released by Nakkeskudd Plater, this vital split 7" has recently seen a re-press by Disiplin Media. Don't hesitate to pick it up, as it's putrid proof that crust is alive and well and just as angry as ever.

Deviated Instinct on Facebook | Bandcamp
Summon The Crows on Facebook | Bandcamp

Friday, 27 December 2013

Temples Nights: A New UK Festival Worthy Of Worship

With such a vast array of festivals catering to connoisseurs of all things slow, fast, noisey, experimental and just plain heavy running all through the year, and all over the world, it's a great time to be a music fan. There's a veritable embarrassment of riches on offer for those who like it heavy, from internationally-renowned event such as Maryland Death Fest and Roadburn, to consistently excellent UK events like Damnation and All Tomorrow's Parties.
But this year one event has stood out from the pack.

Temples is the name on everyone's lips when talking about the 2014 festival circuit. From the instant intrigue upon hearing of the pedigree of the promoter, to the rabid proclamations of devotion upon the announcement of that first headliner, there has been a near-constant buzz among music fans from all over the UK and beyond, with ticket sales reported from many far-flung corners of the world.

As creator, director, promoter... well, basically the man behind Temples,
Bristol-based DIY promoter Francis Mace has thrown all his experience into this massive undertaking. His hard work and dedication have clearly paid off, as the festival boasts three of the biggest names in modern metal; psycho-delic doom miscreants Electric Wizard, post-metal pioneers Neurosis and Maryland groove machine Clutch, as well as a whole host of other top-shelf bands, covering everything from d-beat to doom. Don't just take my word for it, look at the list of already confirmed bands: 


With yet more acts to be announced, and the excitement over Temples Festival already building to a frenzy, I spoke to Francis about that incredible lineup, Bristol becoming the new home of heavy, and more...

Read the interview over at The Sleeping Shaman



The inaugural edition of Temples Festival is set to take place in Bristol's Motion venue between Friday the 2nd and Sunday the 4th of May next year.

Weekend Tickets are on sale now from www.templesfestival.co.uk while Day Tickets are available exclusively through www.bristolticketshop.co.uk & www.gigantic.com.

http://www.templesfestival.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/TemplesFestival
http://twitter.com/templesfestival

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Thou: A Beginner's Guide

With the forthcoming release of Heathen, the 4th full-length release from Baton Rouge's Thou, it has recently come to my attention that some people may not be as excited as they should be for this release.

Most people came to Thou through their critically-acclaimed album Summit in 2010, but anyone who digs a little deeper than that sprawling, experimental masterpiece will discover a multi-faceted band who deliver scathing commentary on a variety of modern socio-political issues, filtered through the vocabulary and imagery of the past, set to a horrifying soundtrack that uses sludge metal as it's base, but has ever-expanding tendrils into post-rock, hardcore, and more unusual sounds like wind instruments and spoken word.

This constant reinvention and consistently high quality have made them a band worthy of tracking down every release they've put out, which I have done my best to do. This is far from my full collection, it's just most of it has been in storage for the past couple of years:


  



As a primer on why I love this band so much, I've put together a short list of my favourite Thou tracks. There really is no excuse for not giving this band a shot, seeing as their ENTIRE discography is available for free download via their website: get right-click-save-as-ing over at http://noladiy.org/thou.html.


Smoke Pigs (taken from Thrive And Decay / various labels / 2008)
Beginning with a sample taken from the Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter (in itself an excellent popcorn commentary on some of America's fundamental flaws, don't be turned off by the words 'Mark Wahlberg movie'), with the crack of a gunshot through the head of greed and injustice the track kicks off. It's an absolutely apoplectic exploration of the dichotomy that not All Cops Are Bastards, but that the idea of policing others in itself is flawed and dangerous.

Any track that contains the lyrics "I don't want to hear about  racial profiling, broken bones, or prison rape; or another unarmed kid filled from head to toe with fifty government-issued bullets" has got to be worth a listen over the endless 'weed and satan' bollocks this genre is better known for.



Burning Black Coals And Dark Memories (taken from Peasant / Level Plane Records / 2008)
With plaintive post-rock chimes, this track lulls you into a false sense of security before screeching vocals and howling feedback drag it into darker territory. Pretty bleak stuff considering it takes it's title from an Eddie Vedder lyric from the Into The Wild soundtrack.

This live clip from a couple of years ago also best demonstrates the sheer fucking intensity of vocalist Brian Funck, roaring wild-eyed into the mic like a politically-aware goblin. When I saw them play this track in the 007 in Prague last summer, I was actually scared. No other song inspires chills up my spine like this does...

 

I Was Ignored And Judged And Cast Down (taken from Tyrant / One Eye Records (reissue via Southern Lord / 2007)
The halfway point of this song, when the absolutely heart-aching melodies intertwine with the foul vocals and distortion, is one of my favourite moments in music ever, I sometimes play through this whole album just to make the payoff of this moment even more worthwhile. When it comes, I hope you'll hear why.

 

The Work Ethic Myth (taken from Peasant / Level Plane Records / 2008)
Musically this is one of their less adventurous songs, but the lyrics alone speak for this themselves, and should resonate with anyone who feels trapped in this broken society:

We have paved the roads that have led to our own oppression. Fear of the unknown, of rejection, has put brutes and villains in power.
The fetters that restrict our arms and throats were cast by our own hands, just as we have set our own guards at the door.
We drag boulders a thousand leagues to erect their palaces. We have established a system of education that celebrates sacrifice and creates generations of slaves.

Hold hands in a ritual of deception.
Hold hands in a ritual of desolation.
Hold hands in a ritual of self destruction.

We are the accomplice class: footstools for our masters, spineless bastards all.



Into The Void (taken from Through The Empires Of Eternal Void / Vendetta Records / 2009)
This heavy as absolute fucking fuck version of one of Sabbath's best tracks is dragged howling into the 21st century, proving that both their words and their tones are as relevant as ever.

This may not be one of their own compositions, but the sound of the bass alone completely transforms this track; I guarantee that with headphones on and the volume up, you will actually begin to feel your teeth dislodge when it gets to that bit. You'll hear what I mean soon enough...


There are dozens of other tracks I could share and gush about, I could genuinely discuss this band for hours if given the chance, but hopefully this selection will justify the hype, and convert a few others to a band who put most of the unimaginative low-n-slow crowd to shame.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Coltsblood / Crypt Lurker split tape

I don't know what it is about Liverpool at the moment, but between the bastard sludge of Iron Witch, Corrupt Moral Altar's strain of absolutely apoplectic grind, and the breakout success of caveman battle doomers Conan, there must be something foul polluting the Mersey. In addition to the aforementioned bands, Liverpool has recently spat forth two more of the nastiest groups currently going in UK Doom; Coltsblood and Crypt Lurker.


These two heathen clans have convened to record a limited-edition split cassette which was first available on their Winter MMXIII tour, and any remaining copies will be available from each band afterwards.

Coltsblood open their side with 'Consumption', a continuation on the ideas heard on their Beyond The Lake Of Madness demo. While the tracks on the demo had a tendency to wander aimlessly, if still threateningly, the (relatively) concise 9 minute running time of this track flays away any excess down to the bare bones. Opening with the discordant clanging of strings, soon joined by the cacophonous clatter of drums, they ensnare the listener in the murkiest of aural mires before proceeding to drown them in guitarist Jemma's painfully overdriven tones. When vocalist/bassist John Paul McNulty's subhuman rumble of a voice joins the fray, the feeling of total, inescapable despair is complete.

The other track on their side is a cover of my favourite Celtic Frost track, 'Procreation (Of the Wicked)'. Thankfully they choose not to just record a note-for-note rendering, instead imbuing their take on the track with a bristling malevolence that Tom G Warrior himself might cower in fear of. The raw recording quality distorts everything to the point of being almost unlistenable; it's so loud that it's a wonder any of them were able to tell what the other was playing at all. Befitting a cover of the band who started this whole thing, it sounds appropriately primal, and more cavernous and terrifying than 99% of black metal bands.


Crypt Lurker's side also contains one original and one cover: their own 'Behold! A Black Pestilence Dwells Within This Cyclopean Tomb' and a cover of Beherit's 'The Gate Of Nanna'. Their own track follows on perfectly from their tourmates' side, another 10 minute solid slab of raw blackened doom that will drag you down further into the endless chasm that Coltsblood cracked open. Whichever of the Lurkers it is who abuses the microphone has the kind of feral roar that reverberates around your skull, an entirely unpleasant sound that nonetheless gets stuck in your head even more than the intracranial fragmentation of a hollowpoint bullet.

I'm not kvlt enough to have heard the original by Beherit, but Crypt Lurker deliver an absolutely scum-ridden recording of 'Gates Of Nanna', all ultra-distortion and clipped blastbeats. To those that know the track, it's probably marginally more recognisable than Coltsblood's Celtic Frost cover, but no less terrifying or crushing.

Coltsblood on Facebook | Bandcamp
Crypt Lurker on Facebook | Bandcamp

Gnaw - Horrible Chamber

New York extreme noise terrorists Gnaw feature such disparate luminaries as Khanate's Alan Dubin and acclaimed sound designer Jun Mizumachi, so when their debut recording This Face stuck sharp aural objects into everyone's ears a few years back, no-one was really too surprised at how unpleasant an experience it was. With their follow up album Horrible Chamber, released via Seventh Rule, they're back like a recurring nightmare.
Even if you think you know what to expect, nothing can prepare you for what lurks within...


Opener 'Humming' is comprised of some of the most unpleasant sounds imaginable; atonal piano, monolithic mechanical crashes, harsh industrial noise, and Alan Dubin's voice. Yes, that's the sort of company his piercing shriek deserves. His vocal style could loosely be described as the midnight rantings of an entire psychiatric ward filtered through a single acid-gargling larynx. It is not an enjoyable sound.

Even when they take things into more 'traditional' territory on 'Of Embers', there is still an abrasiveness that almost all modern heavy bands lack. Well, it's not that they lack it, it's just that Gnaw sound genuinely dangerous compared to the endless parade of staid metal bands fucking around in forests with makeup, or mistaking 'slow and unimaginative' for 'atmospheric'. When was the last time you feared for your life on a nature hike, or felt threatened by some stoner showing off how loud his Orange cabs are?
Gnaw are the sound of urban decay and the horrors wrought by humanity.

'Worm' writhes just as slimily as it's namesake, while 'Widowkeeper' is even more unsettling for the fact it is mostly whispers and noises so faint you'd swear they were audio hallucinations. Not for the first time you may question the toll this album is taking on your mental state. When almost halfway through the colossal cymbal crashes and buzz of distortion arrives, you'll be thankful just to be hearing anything you can define as 'definitely not my slowly crumbling psyche'.
The remainder of the track lurches wildly around like the heroin slaves on the 3am bus out of whatever dark city you live in. A pretty apt analogy, as just like in that scenario, you'll be drawing your knees up and cringing into your seat praying that the track doesn't notice that you're there.


When the sparse guitar introduces 'This Horrible Chamber', the fact it has something approaching tuneful quality is suspicious. Gnaw are lulling you into a final false sense of security, so you have time to brace yourself for whatever lurks within the chamber. The sense of unease builds and builds until it's almost unbearable. You'll beg before the end, to be put out of your misery, however, over the 12-minute running time, it feels like that misery is destined to be interminable. Howls and moans, dissonant creaks, ghostly echoes, feral feedback, all expelled with the intensity of grindcore, but far more punishing than that genre could ever hope to be.

Horrible Chamber is an experience I have no desire to repeat any time soon. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Stalk these maniacs on Facebook, and visit Seventh Rule to pick up a copy of the album.

This review originally appeared at Echoes And Dust, head over there to read the full unedited version...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Malthusian interview

My first band interview, conducted with Ireland's black/death heathens Malthusian, is up now over at Echoes and Dust. An excert follows, but you should read the full unedited version at the original site. Thoughtful responses from a thought-provoking band.


(((o))): The idea of Malthusian catastrophes being a catch-all term for the destruction of vast swathes of the human race via war, famine and disease is fertile material for subject matter within extreme music, and it has obviously inspired your choice of band name. In the two centuries since it's publication, the original ideas put forth by Malthus in An Essay On The Principles Of Population have been misinterpreted, co-opted, and disparaged by many.

Are the ideas put forth in the original text something that you all have a similar viewpoint of as a collective, or does it inspire debate and dissent among the ranks? How does Malthusianism, free of any modern political agenda, inform your lyrical content, if at all?

Malthusian: We are more concerned with artistic expression than presenting any sort of formal political agenda. Malthus's theory of human population being regulated through epidemic, war, natural disasters, crop failure and such struck a chord with us and gave us a starting point in terms of lyrical inspiration. That said, we have not and will not be restricting ourselves to such matters. The name simply captured the feeling that we were developing with the music, it sounded intriguing and a little bit different to the normal Death Metal band names you see everywhere. We are not interested in toeing the line or worrying about other people's notions of what a DM band should conform to.

(((o))): Coming from diverse acts such as On Pain Of Death, Altar Of Plagues, Wreck Of The Hesperus and Mourning Beloveth, what led you all to get together to create an arguably even more sickening noise than all your other bands?

Malthusian: The constant need to express ourselves through dark, unpleasant music was all the motivation we needed.



Malthusian's MMXIII demo tape (limited to 300 copies) is available to order now from Invictus Productions.

Harm Wülf - There's Honey In The Soil So We Wait For The Till

In recent years there has been a glut of material released by members of various heavy music scenes who venture forth as solo artists, taking things back to basics with intimate acoustic material. The likes of Mike Scheidt, Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till, Nate Hall and even the mighty Wino have released albums of acoustic tracks that hold just as much weight and gravitas as the genre they're better known for.

While Harm Wülf, the alter-ego of Blacklisted frontman George Hirsch, may come from a completely different scene, his contribution with There's Honey In The Soil So We Wait For The Till is just as heavy and just as haunting as the long list of doomed troubadours. That this album doesn't contain the seemingly obligatory Townes Van Zandt cover is evidence enough that Harm Wülf is a vastly different proposition than most releases of this ilk.


Opening with the stripped-back strum of 'Oldfur', it's clear that Hirsch is writing from within a vastly different sphere of influence than most of his acoustic contemporaries. The cadence and flow of the music has an almost neofolk quality, while Hirsch's voice is slightly buried in the mix. This may be a more intimate recording than his work as a hardcore frontman, but he's still keeping his cards close to his chest here, his words just indecipherable enough to retain an air of mystery.

Closing with the album's title track, which begins with finger-picked guitar and the keening wail of a singing saw, it reminds me of The Black Heart Procession's sparser output; it has that same mournful quality. The martial drums used sporadically throughout serve to both unsettle the listener and to hold them rapt, and when the track erupts in the driving rhythm of pounding drums, you'll be utterly swept away by the drama of it all. When it all comes crashing down before returning to the opening guitar motif, and ending with a sample from Where The Wild Things Are, there's a sense that you've just been told a story, that there's an underlying theme to this album. With a few more listens, you may just put together all the pieces of the tale.

As Harm Wülf, George Hirsch has cast himself as the protagonist in a fascinating musical story, and in doing so has created an intimate record full of haunting moments that you'll find yourself returning to again and again in an effort to reap what he has so beautifully sown.

Read my full review at The Sleeping Shaman...

Noothgrush / Coffins split LP

This review originally appeared on Echoes And Dust.

When I caught both Noothgrush and Coffins at the inaugural Heavy Days In Doom Town fest in Copenhagen last year, I almost couldn't believe what I was witnessing. Given that Oakland's Noothgrush had been split up for more than a decade, and that Tokyo's Coffins were from, well, Tokyo, I felt especially lucky just to have gotten the chance to see each of them. I never thought it would happen. That both bands completely decimated the crowd with their respective sets was tantamount to their sheer crushing weight; the power of the riff is constrained by neither time nor distance.


When I got talking to Noothgrush guitarist Russ Kent a few days later before their show in Hamburg, he mentioned that Uchino from Coffins had suggested the idea of both bands embarking on a Japanese tour together.
That was 18 months ago, and only now are both that tour and the resultant split record happening. I guess taking things agonisingly slow isn't something that only applies to their music.

Noothgrush don't fuck around on their side, their first track 'Humandemic' immediately capturing the sound of Sabbath's Paranoid record, with Russ' SG-through-a-Laney tone complimenting Chiyo Nukaga's trademark gigantic cymbal crashes perfectly. So well do they emulate the doomed vibe of their musical forefathers, that when Dino Sommese (you know, of Dystopia, Asunder, Ghoul, every other fucking band) spews his bile-scorched vocals over everything, it almost seems like a shame to pollute the pure '70s atmosphere. That is until you remember that this is the return of Noothgrush, one of the most disgusting, and disgusted, sludge bands to have been dragged into existence in the '90s. They were just as angry about the era they were living in then, and Dino's hateful howl reminds you that rage has not dimmed one iota; this is miserable music for miserable times.

Their second contribution to the record is a re-recording of their classic track 'Jundland Wastes', which has been floating around in various recorded forms ever since their 1995 Kashyyyk demo. The quality of this recording, even the clarity of the sample playing throughout the intro, is sure to cement this as the definitive version. The mid-track lull allows Gary Niederhoff's malevolently crawling bass to detach from the main riff for a couple of bars, before everything coalesces again and the band drag themselves through the eponymous wastes towards the end of the track. Never mind Tusken Raiders; Noothgrush are the scariest thing to ever inhabit the deserts of Tattooine.

They close out their side with the 9-minute 'Thoth', a tribute to beloved Bay Area DJ Cy Thoth, who passed away this year. Beginning with looped samples of Thoth himself before Chiyo's drums herald the arrival of a monstrous riff, it's classic Noothgrush, even down to Russ' full-fretboard pickscrapes.
The track meanders madly, with further samples of Cy Thoth thrown in throughout, Dino's absolutely ferocious vocals providing sharp contrast to his spoken word psychedelic ramblings.

When the track, and Noothgrush's side, ends with a recording of a laughing Thoth warning everyone to "watch out for cannibal attacks! Everyone is suspect!", it's clear even to those unaware of his work that he was a true original who will be much missed by his community. Thankfully, the heavy music community can welcome one of it's own true originals back to the fold.

It's good to have you back, Noothgrush.


I'll admit it, compared to new Noothgrush material, anything else was going to pale in comparison, but thankfully they share this split with one of my favourite bands of recent years. Given that Coffins have actually covered Noothgrush in the past, on their excellent tribute EP Sewage Sludgecore Treatment, they know exactly how much grime they need to apply to their already putrid death-doom. The first track of their side, 'Drown In Revelation', is able to match the other side for both filth and fury.

Slowly fading in, the ominous approach of the drums soon joined by prowling bass, while the feedback builds and builds, until with an "UGH!" they launch into one of those deadly riffs that Uchino seems to have an endless supply of in his arsenal. Given that this is something like their eighth release in just the last couple of years, they manage to maintain a ridiculously high quality level with all their recordings, with their recent full-length The Fleshland already being one of my favourite releases this year. Around two-thirds of the way through the track, the band kick things up a gear into full-on death-doom mode, the lurching, stuttering riff backed up with punishing double-kick drums, before slowing everything down to a doomed crawl. When they return to that monstrous main riff again, if you're not in full-on headbanging-and-invisible-oranges mode, there's something wrong with you.

'The Wretched Path' continues in that same vile vein, with the influence of Celtic Frost clearly heard in the faster passages of this track. I never though I'd say this, but this track near enough fucking bounces along at points, it's so uptempo. However, don't mistake that for upbeat, I'm sure that whatever Uchino is growling here, the words themselves are foul enough to offset any remotely 'good time' vibe.


I may be biased as I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this record ever since I learned that it might one day become even a possibility, but the half hour of misanthropic sludge and deadly doom on offer across both sides of this LP confirm that it's one of the heaviest releases to be unleashed this year. Ignore at your peril, and prepare to abandon all hope.

You can stream, and buy both digital and vinyl versions of this split via Southern Lord.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Vastum - Patricidal Lust

With Patricidal Lust, San Francisco's Vastum eschew the done-to-death (if you'll pardon the pun) tropes that so many modern death metal bands are content to endlessly recycle, in favour of delivering a far more horrifying, disquieting record than any other band has dared to release. The subject matter on offer here will perturb even the most hardened fan of a genre that often seems stale and exhausted.


Featuring members of Bay Area heretics Acephalix, as well as the prolific, seemingly ubiquitous Leila Abdul-Rauf of Amber Asylum and Hammers Of Misfortune, Vastum have come to pollute your consciousness with six sickening tales of sexual abuse, abominable deviance, and mental anguish. A far more perverse proposition than its predecessor Carnal Law, it's sure to be the most uncomfortable listening experience you'll have this year.



Patricidal Lust is available now on CD and LP via 20 Buck Spin. Head over to their site and pick one up! You can also stream the album and read an excellent interview with the band at Invisible Oranges.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Malthusian - MMXIII

Anyone who is even vaguely aware of the writing of Thomas Robert Malthus will immediately recognise the significance of the monicker Ireland's Malthusian have bestowed upon themselves. In simple terms, the primary tenet of Malthusianism is the knowledge that the Earth's population growth far outstrips the increase in resources required to sustain it. As such, the population must be reduced by factors such as war, famine and disease; that suffering and death is necessary to sustain the human race at even a basic level of subsistence.

From this, it can be construed that these factors, known as Malthusian catastrophes, are the base inspiration for all those who espouse misanthropy and the stated desire for the infliction of suffering; pretty much most death/black/doom metal, in other words. The three tracks of skull-scraping racket contained on Malthusian's MMXIII perfectly embody these principles in horrifying aural form.


With a ghastly hiss, the ominous opening of 'Wraith//Plague Spore' seethes its way from the speakers. The keen, atonal edge of the guitar winding serpent-like through the cacophony of percussion, while the vile vocals escape like gas from a bloated corpse. The sepulchral atmosphere of this opening section soon becomes a shuddering death rattle, all blastbeats and churning guitar.
The unintelligible invocations barely audible over the thunderous din of the music, which writhes between black, death and doom metal with horrifying ease, are spewed forth by each member of the band, each throat possessing a different demonic timbre.

With MMXIII, Malthusian are a howl of rage against a sickening species in dire need of a cull.

Read my full review over at Echoes And Dust...

Friday, 1 November 2013

Corrupt Moral Altar - Whiskey Sierra 7"

Corrupt Moral Altar are bad for me. The last time I saw them play I ended up spending every last penny I had on shit beer, staggering around Glasgow city centre 'til 3am in search of something deep-fried before giving a couple of them drunken directions back to where they were meant to be crashing that night. Considering it was only around the corner from my own flat, I'm reasonably sure it took far longer than it should have.
Like I said, they're bad for me.

That said, when a band plays the kind of utterly fucking manky racket that can be heard on their Whiskey Sierra 7", what do you expect?


Kicking straight into the title track, the riff immediately grabs you in a headlock, before the drums proceed to knock your skull in. It's total cacophony, never relenting for a second. Even the breakdown about halfway through offers no breathing room, inflected with blastbeats and shrieking vocals as it is. Closing out with a sludge tempo stomp, they keep up the intensity right to the end, before launching into the blistering 'Lord'.

Drummer Tom Dring lays down a not-quite-d-beat rhythm that the rest of the guys make some downright vile noise over the top of. Every time I hear this track, the "WOO!" a few seconds in has me cracking up. It's like Refused, if they had any fucking balls on them that is. The first half of the track is a start-stop staccato stagger, before they lower the dose and take the whole thing down to a doomy crawl.
The atmosphere of the latter half of track is totally different to the rest of their output, and is a great example of where they could take things when they get around to recording a full-length record.
Whether they're playing fast or slow, either way it ain't fucking pretty.



The last two tracks are songs that could originally be found on their Luciferian Deathcult EP, as well as their Needle Drugs demo. I'm pretty sure these are the recordings from the Needle Drugs session.
Either way, these songs are just as raw as the two newer tracks, Chris Reese's vocals sounding particularly scathing on 'Politics Is A Bargain Between Beggars', and the abrasive groove of 'You Don't Have To Go To Clown College' demonstrating just why so many folk toss around Iron Monkey comparisons when talking about CMA.
That comparison may be apt, but it doesn't quite convey just how fucking furious this band are in their own right. The swaying breakdown that closes out the record will provide the perfect soundtrack to my own wasted movements when I see them live again in a couple of weeks.

Pray for my liver.



Whiskey Sierra is available for free download off their bandcamp, and you can pick the actual 7" up from the band's bigcartel. I recommend doing that because it's available with a variety of mental t-shirt designs for a total fucking bargain price. Go grab one!

Corrupt Moral Altar on Facebook | Twitter

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

IRN - S/T tape

Self-proclaimed 'sewer doom' Toronto three-piece IRN have spewed forth one of the most disturbing and disjointed releases you're likely to hear this year. Taking their cue from their filthy forefathers in bands such as Grief, Dystopia and Corrupted, they meld these influences to create a bile-fuelled slab of uneasy listening that is unflinching in its aural assault.


The downright intimidating opener 'Adrift Between Burned Out Villages' is an almost 18 minute exercise in separating the wheat from the chaff; if you can survive this track, you can survive anything. Not content to stick to any traditional formula or structure, the track becomes a relentless trawl through every dark recess of heavy music, spanning everything from eerie atonal passages, chiming notes of post-rock prettiness, the clatter and clang of experimental noise, scrambled squeal of guitar torture and even the injection of some almost jazz-like percussive elements and rhythms, all the while maintaining a distinct undercurrent of menace.
Like I say, formulaic they are not.



If you fancy surrendering your mind to the twisted, decrepit sounds found within this album, pick up a tape from Breathe Plastic as soon as you dare.

Pendulous - Mirrored Confessions tape

California isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of funeral doom. The crushing laments of the genre are more traditionally associated with the perpetually grey skies of the north of England, and freezing winters in southern Finland.

Los Angeles natives Pendulous' debut release Mirrored Confessions proves that people can be utterly miserable no matter how sunny their environment may be.


When the opening notes of 'Reflections' wind their way out of the tape, they are a mere harbinger of the calamitous cacophony created by the full band [...] When the track culminates in plaintive guitar and deep, rich piano, it has what a surprising number of bands of this ilk lack; it actually sounds truly mournful. This exceptional quality is what puts them firmly in the upper echelons of the genre, alongside their contemporaries in Loss and Bell Witch.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Hipoxia / Gangrened split tape

Despite having my ear to the ground for all things disgusting, horrifying, slow, fast and everything inbetween, occasionally a release will come along out of nowhere and completely blow me away. Okay, when I say nowhere, this one came from both Finland and Spain respectively.

A tape release between Finland's Gangrened and Madrid's Hipoxia, released through no fewer than nine, fucking nine, labels, it landed in my inbox through unknown channels. Out of curiosity as to the contents of this mysterious email I cued up the stream via bandcamp, and had my mind completely melted by what I heard.


Hipoxia's track 'Gangrened Reality' is 16 minutes of corruptive brutality, comprised of droning organs, gigantic cymbal crashes and howled vocals. It's interminably torturous, and anyone who enjoys ambient noise, drone doom, and total fucking misery will feel right at home within it's suffocating confines.

On the other side, Gangrened expel two tracks of black doom that will have fans of Cough, Tombstones and Electric Wizard putting down their bong long enough to pick up a copy of this tape.
Their track 'The One That Leads The Way' exemplifies this perfectly, as well as featuring vocals that at times have an almost Unsane-like abrasiveness. Fucking lovely.
 

If writing this blog is encouraging bands from all over the world to send me their latest filthy output, I'm more than happy about it if everything sent my way is as excellent as this tape! If you make the sort of racket that encourages people to ingest hallucinogens and leave the house with a clawhammer just to see what happens, please get in touch!



The Hipoxia/Gangrened split tape is available from the following EU labels:
Boue Records | Filthy Rat | Strange Records | Discos Macarras | Féretro Records | The Bloody Dirty Sanchéz | Twin Souls | Laserblast Records | Desfiladero Records

Gangrened on Facebook | Hipoxia on Facebook 

Bonesaw - The Illicit Revue

When I first heard of Aberdeen's Bonesaw while trawling the murky depths of the internet for heavy Scottish bands, I was instantly sold. Any band that self-deprecatingly describes themselves as 'Autopsy on a budget' is worth a listen in my book, and as soon as I checked out their splits with Abscess and Bone Gnawer I was hooked. Ugly, primitive death metal, played the way it should be, festering warts and all.

Now with the forthcoming release of their second LP The Illicit Revue, they're spreading their vile intent even further.


The brilliantly lowbrow artwork courtesy of Dennis Dread should give you an idea of what you're in for with this release: demented, horrifying, tasteless, it's everything you could want from these purveyors of filth, and from the opening bars of 'The Forging Of Year Zero' onward, it's exactly what you get.

With an album bursting at the seams with putrid horror, Bonesaw have cemented their reputation as Scotland's premier exponents of creeping, crawling old-school death metal, and if you'd still rather throw on some Mental Funeral, Slowly We Rot or In Battle There Is No Law, then The Illicit Revue will sit nicely among your collection.

Available from November through At War With False Noise in the UK/EU, and Unholy Anarchy in the US.

Read my full review of this filth over at Echoes & Dust...

Baroness / Royal Thunder - Cathouse, Glasgow

I've been a massive fan of Savannah's Royal Thunder's debut EP for a couple of years now, so I was almost looking forward to their set more than that of the headliner.

Photo by Juan Fernandez

Their sound in the live environment was just what I'd hoped for; warm, rich, and with plenty soul, heard in tracks like 'Mouth Of Fire' and 'Whispering World'. Mlny Parsonz' soulful wail is a force to be reckoned with, and when she really lets rip during the chorus of 'Sleeping Witch' you'd be hard-pressed to find another vocalist who can match her range or raw emotion.

Photo by Juan Fernandez

Enough has been written about the trials and tribulations that fellow Georgia residents Baroness have endured in the past, but the overwhelming display of sheer good will between the Glasgow crowd and the band had me near enough welling up. I don't think I've ever seen a band look so grateful just to be playing a show. It's testament to the spirit of the band that they chose to continue, and to pick up where they left off.

Photo by Juan Fernandez

Their set drew from all the colours of their catalogue, with fan favourites like 'A Horse Called Golgotha' and 'Swollen and Halo' from Blue dropped in among the new Yellow & Green tracks, as well as a completely storming 'Isak' from Red closing out the set.

When at some point frontman John Dyer Baizley says "It's good to be back", those simple words are imbued with more meaning than he perhaps even intended. This was more than just another gig, more than just another tour; this was the triumphant return of Baroness.

Read the full in-depth review over at Echoes & Dust...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Exhaustion demo

It took me a while to believe the hype about now-departed hardcore unit Throats, but when I finally saw them live it all made sense. I came away from that show with bloodied knuckles and ripped clothes, thinking "But I don't even like them?".

I went home and listened to the self-titled 12" I'd apparently purchased in a concussive haze, and all their secrets were revealed. I became obsessed with them, just as they announced they were disbanding at the end of 2010. Yet another case of a UK band cut down in their prime, I wasn't the only one lamenting their loss.

When I heard that a couple of the members had a new band on the go, so much time had passed that it raised only the mildest curiosity. Since seemingly everyone who had a hardcore band 3 years ago is now playing substandard pretentious bollocks of some variety, from electro to doom, I assumed they would have lost their youthful intensity and have recorded something similarly 'mature'. How fucking wrong I was.


Exhaustion's demo is just as blistering as Throats ever were, if not more so. From the piercing feedback that announces opener 'Ennui', a searing series of blastbeats and bile that's over almost before you can register that it's begun, through the ultra-distorted grind of 'Strangeness In The Strangeness', it seems I've found another band to hang my hopelessness on.

'Inessential' is a total fucking mess, blending everything from blackened tremolo, d-beat, sickening retches instead of remotely human vocals, all within a minute. 'Conceit' is a death-tinged grind that sounds like the band beat the vocalist close to death before dumping him down a well to record his vocals. The guitar work in the closing seconds is utterly mind-scrambling; I'd imagine the tab for this track would probably look like it was written by aliens.

There isn't much in terms of variety on offer, with penultimate track 'Liminal' continuing their penchant for torturous noise in the vague semblance of grind, but who needs 'songs' when you have sheer fucking fury?


Closing track 'Perfection Misunderstands The Ends...' actually has a vaguely melodic intro, the woozy, bluesy twin guitar harmony setting up the devastating d-beat attack which soon follows nicely. The constituent elements of this track are given a bit more breathing space here, allowing you to actually keep up with what's going on, which will be handy in a live environment; you might actually leave the gig with your sanity intact.

This demo is a hugely promising sign that Exhaustion will fulfil the potential that Throats displayed all those years ago. I highly recommend you take eleven minutes out of your day and get really fucking angry about it.



I highly recommend purchasing an actual tape from Church Of Fuck.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Black Tusk / Fight Amp / Dune - Ivory Blacks, Glasgow


It's been a few weeks since I've had the funds to attend a gig, and there's been a bit of a drought of good shows of late, so when I heard Black Tusk were coming to town there was no fucking way I was gonna miss them.

It's been a couple of years since I last saw them play the same venue with Howl to a largely uninterested and static crowd, but having seen them inspire chaos in the jam-packed smallest room at Roadburn last year, and inspire my own drunken chaos when I saw them a few months later in Prague, I hoped that Glasgow's rowdy stoner contingent would give those shows a run for their money.

While it was a bit livelier than last time, the crowd still didn't seem to wake up until the last few songs of the night, apart from those old dicks that insist on push-moshing at every show you see them at. Gie it a rest guys, eh?


First on the bill were Edinburgh's Dune. Having previously seen them supporting no less than Eyehategod, I was looking forward to their complex but catchy progressive sludge. For such a recently formed band, they bang through their set with a confidence even many seasoned road dogs lack, guitarist Victor's fleet-fingered solos intertwining with the relentless rhythm laid down by the rest of the band.

With vocal duties split between everyone but drummer Dudley, set highlights like 'When Planets Die' and the tri-vocal attack of 'Red Giant' have a variety lacking in so much modern sludge, and in a live setting you don't know who to keep your eye on, but Dudley's unbridled enthusiasm for hitting things really hard is a lot of fun to watch.
With their forthcoming album Progenitor due out in a matter of weeks, Dune are ones to watch. Keep your eyes to the stars. Or just Edinburgh.


Unfortunately that gives fellow locals Aye-Aye a hard act to follow, and their set of languid stoner grooves fails to keep the momentum going. It's through no fault of their own, they're just up against some of the most energetic, adrenaline-fuelled bands going today. Though they did come "all the way from Madagascar" to play, complete with bringing along some eerily accurate jungle sounds and some extra bongo work courtesy of Q-Ball from Bacchus Baracus / Co-Exist / Every Other Bloody Band In Scotland, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking them out on a bill where they're not quite so conspicuous.
Someone put them on with Skeleton Gong and Isak and I'm there!


Philadelphia/New Jersey's Fight Amp ramp the energy level back up with a set of tightly-wound, noise-tinged hardcore, tracks like the frenetic 'Lungs' from their debut Hungry For Nothing and 'Bad Listener' from their second record, sitting alongside cuts from their latest album, Birth Control. Before seeing them play I wasn't too familiar with them, but their aggressive, abrasive twisting of various Karp-isms has got me trawling their discography. Lovely stuff.


I've already mentioned the frenzy-whipping capabilities of Savannah's Black Tusk, but it bears repeating; if you've never seen this band live, you're fucking up. As much as I like their recorded stuff, I never get the urge to just throw on some Taste The Sin at home, because I'd fear for my furniture if I got too into it. The live setting is where this band really proves their worth, tracks like 'Bring Me Darkness' and 'The Ride' demonstrating the band's sheer unabashed love of playing, as well as just how goddamn tight they are. Guitarist Andrew and bassist Jonathan throw their guitars (and themselves) around with reckless abandon, while drummer James cements his reputation as one of the hardest hitters I've ever seen play, and none of them ever miss a beat. Mental.



For my first foray back into gig-going that'll continue with fellow Savannah... Savannans... Savannah-ites...? Anyway, I'm seeing Baroness in a couple of weeks, so don't sleep Glasgow, get out to the gig, and make it worthwhile for touring bands to venture north of the border!

All photos by Steff Vogeler.

Bombs Of Hades - The Serpent's Redemption

When Bombs Of Hades first got together with the intention of getting wasted and blasting out some old-school Swedish death metal, who could have predicted that after a handful of EPs and split releases they'd release one of the gnarliest albums to follow that template of recent years? With their sophomore album The Serpent's Redemption, they've done just that.


The Serpent's Redemption is a raucous, raw slab of old-school death metal, for fans of Tormented, Death Breath and Dismember.


Released on CD via Pulverised Records last year, 2013 sees a reissue on vinyl via Blood Harvest Records, a far more appropriate format for such decrepit death metal. Pick up a copy here:
The Serpent's Redemption LP from Blood Harvest

The Serpent's Redemption streaming on Bandcamp

Friday, 4 October 2013

Uzala - Tales Of Blood & Fire

Tales Of Blood & Fire, the sophomore album by Boise/Portland doom-mongers Uzala is a very different beast from their self-titled debut.


As well as a change of line-up, with bassist Nick Phit departing to focus on the reunited Graves At Sea, and drummer Chuck Watkins leaving Graves At Sea to focus on Uzala, the band simply sounds far more confident having been road-tested on a couple of US tours.

Opening track 'Seven Veils' exhibits this growth immediately, the growing growl of distortion enveloping the listener, as clean guitar wavers and winds its way through the fuzz. When guitarist/vocalist Darcy Nutt's voice arrives, its with a new-found command, the strength of her hypnotic croon putting Uzala far ahead of the pack in the increasingly crowded 'female-fronted occult doom' genre. 


Final track 'Tenement Of The Lost' is a concise distillation of all the elements that make Tales Of Blood & Fire so compelling; haunting vocals over fuzzed-out riffs and hard-hitting percussion. What more could you ask for from one of the best doom albums released this year?

Tales Of Blood & Fire will be released as a deluxe vinyl package available through King of the Monsters 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Uncoffined - Ritual Death and Funeral Rites

DOOM METAL OF DEATH! That's the definition Uncoffined have (anti)christened their particular deadly strain of doom, and on their debut LP 'Ritual Death and Funeral Rites' that's exactly what they deliver. The death-doom genre has experienced something of a revival recently, what with genre-defining bands like Autopsy and Asphyx back together and churning out new slabs of filth with terrifying regularity, and prolific underground acts like Coffins and Hooded Menace seeing their latest albums released on Relapse, it's great to see such a relatively obscure sub-genre thriving.


Uncoffined are just one of many bands spreading the repulsive gospel of death-doom, but the morbid tales heard on 'Ritual Death and Funeral Rites' mark them as being one of the best. Don't hesitate to pick up this album, and doom yourself to death!

Read my full review at The Sleeping Shaman...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Jucifer - за волгой для нас земли нет

Jucifer are an entirely unique proposition, the only married couple who travel the world in an RV for the sole purpose of redefining what you think you know about volume. To see them live is a visceral experience, you feel the music as much as hear  it.

After they returned from spreading the gospel of Amp Worship on their first tour of Russia in 2011, the first-hand experience of the country inspired the recording of an album dedicated to the people, the place, and the story of Volgograd (more commonly known as Stalingrad).

'за волгой для нас земли нет', which translates to "Beyond the Volga there is no land", is another epic historical concept album from Gazelle Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood, the likes of which no-one but these two veterans of volume could create.


From the staggering and shrieking minute-long blast 'Дом Павлова / Pavlov's House' through to the churning and chanting drone of 'Сибирь / Siberia', Jucifer demonstrate their chameleon-like ability to cast their metal into any and every mould to stunning effect. It's this diversity that enables them to tackle such weighty thematic subjects set to the sounds at the harshest end of the musical spectrum, and to hold the listener rapt.

I mean, on paper (or screen for that matter), how appealing does a concept album about Russian history set to a mix of everything from grindcore to drone sound? Exactly. But Jucifer's skill is that they take such unwieldy ingredients and turn them into one of the most interesting albums released this year.

Read my full review over at The Sleeping Shaman...

Monday, 30 September 2013

Wolvserpent - Perigaea Antahkarana

When Boise, Idaho duo Pussygutt reinvented themselves as Wolvserpent with the release of 2010's incredible debut album Blood Seed, it was more than just a mere change of monicker; it reflected their transition from sparse, abstract dronescapes towards a more structured, malevolent sound that put them within the wide-ranging classification of metal, albeit at the outer fringes.
The blackened doom they conjured with that album held me utterly captivated, so much so that it was the very first album that ever moved me to try to put into words what I felt for its haunting, otherwordly ambiance.
Listening to it again many times after my initial review, I don't think I'll ever adequately describe the feelings it evokes, nor the nightmarish worlds it creates within my mind.


When the Perigaea demo became available late last year it coincided with a dark, isolated period in my life, and quickly became my escapist soundtrack, a creepily comforting collection that I would retreat to time and time again. The band's assertion that the demo was only "the early stages and younger concepts" that would inform the finished work, and that it would be "an entirely different manifestation of the ideas heard on the demo" made me eager to hear where they would take what was already an accomplished recording and concept.

The culmination of a two-year writing and re-writing period, with the finished album recorded with renowned producer/engineer Mell Dettmer (Sunn 0))), Boris, Earth), the release of their sophomore album Perigaea Antahkarana is upon us.

Considering that Wolvserpent is comprised of only two members, Blake Green on guitar, vocals, and keys, and Brittany McConnell on drums, percussion and violin, the way they build up the various layers in each song without them sounding cluttered or over-thought is miraculous, and their use of loops and effects pedals to produce such a wide variety of sounds is especially impressive in a live environment.


At 81 minutes this is not the sort of album you'll throw on for some easy-listening, but if you're willing to dedicate yourself to it, to submit to an awakening of your atavistic instincts, it's one of the most rewarding immersive experiences that metal on the more avant-garde end of the spectrum can offer.

Read my full review over at The Sleeping Shaman...

Tombstones - Red Skies and Dead Eyes

The jagged mountains and darkened forests of Norway may be better known for inspiring the harsh, frostbitten sounds of the second wave of Black Metal, but recently the flux of excellent bands extolling the virtues of all that is low and slow has been attracting the attention of anyone with an ear to the underground. With the release of its third album Red Skies and Dead Eyes, it’s clear that Oslo’s Tombstones are at the forefront of this movement.


From the six tracks of bleakest doom on offer within the grooves to the beautifully presented packaging, replete with stunning illustrations courtesy of Glyn Smyth, Red Skies is one of 2013′s essential purchases.

Read my full review over at Summoning Spirits...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ephemeros - All Hail Corrosion


I'm a sucker for West Coast miserablists like Asunder, Aldebaran, Laudanum, Samothrace, and Anhedonist, so I was excited to hear of a relatively recent addition to this band of happy campers, Portland's Ephemeros.


Comprised of various gloomy luminaries from bands such as Nux Vomica, Graves At Sea, Uzala and Bastard Feast, these guys have a proven pedigree for creating harsh sounds for harsh times, and All Hail Corrosion, their debut offering, is an even more dismal sound than anything they've created before.

The title track opens with the plaintive chime of a lone guitar, before the full band come crashing in, all devastating weight and foul growl. From there it's a slow burner of a track, their guitar harmonies have that beautifully melancholic quality present in all the best funeral doom, that sound that instills an ache in your chest. When done right, as it is here, there's nothing like it.
Ephemeros offer both despondency and redemption in their sound.

All Hail Corrosion is available now on CD via Seventh Rule:
http://shop.seventhrule.com/collections/new-releases/products/ephemeros-all-hail-corrosion-cd


With a vinyl release available for pre-order from Parasitic Records:
http://www.parasiticrecords.bigcartel.com/product/ephemeros-all-hail-corrosion-lp


All Hail Corrosion, All Hail Ephemeros!