Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dephosphorus - Night Sky Transform

Without a doubt, grindcore can be a restrictive genre. Any genre could be I guess, but few more than grindcore as its pillars lay in short songs, a hybrid of punk and metal stylings and speed above all else. Some bands have successfully pushed the envelope, yet still retained enough of the zing that allows you to make the jump from Napalm Death to their sound. Examples aren't illusive, nor are they plentiful. Bands like GridlinkGride, and thedowngoing are just a few examples of successful innovation in the oft narrow minded world of grindcore. And while those acts are all great, few bands have the ability to become  unrecognizable or rather transcendent of genre;one such act being Greece's Dephosphorus.

Fully cognizant of all the tricks in the book, Dephosphorus need not look to the stars to realize how far ahead in the game they really are. Appetites were whetted with their splits with Wake and Great Falls, but neither can compare to the band's current pinnacle Night Sky Transform.

Foggy, dense, and ponderous, Night Sky Transform finds strength in nearly every facet possible. Songs are well constructed and diverse, from straight grinders like "Cold Omen" to a drawn out dirge like "The Fermi Paradox," Dephosphorus encompass so much in so little. This is the crux of their sound and what makes the album so enjoyable. "Starless" has an infectious groove that has made it my favorite track on the album. Needless to say, like any good album, each track retains a thread, yet reinforces and builds the stitch.

Strained vocals, audible at times, viral at others, compliment the superb guitars well as they highlight the emphasis's and scatter great lyrics like Orthodox incense. Shrouded in references and obscurities, lyrics often hint at grounded issues such as issues of authority or god, but other, more lofty ones such as our place in the Universe and the possibilities of other life and what forces propel us. Thankfully,  the band never comes off pretentious  but rather alluring like a modern Lovecraftian wonder in all things starry and untouchable.

As the album fades, the words "all hail Aurora" are chanted, maybe implying the Roman goddess who brought dawn to the world. Thought of this way, Night Sky Transform plays to change and creation and effectively ushers in one of the most original, powerful and simply awesome sounds in music today.

All hail Dephosphorus.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadowless and without feature.
Cormac McCarthy, The Road 

Horders are a droning ambient project coming from visual artist Give Up. Details are thin, which is perfect because Horders work best in secrecy and in abstracts. Fimbulvetr, the end time, is an appropriate title as the album recalls images of bleak, sun burnt landscapes covered in nuclear fallout.

As for the bands sound it is minimal, forlorn, and constant. Most tracks rely on slow and simple acoustic guitar passages dressed in hazes of noise, samples, distant voices, feedback and hovering electric guitar lines. Some songs are more involved than others, but for the most part they all connect well to each other never breaking the mood. Horders are at their best when they employ this bleak and sparse style. The mixture of organic elements with colder, machine elements works well as they represent an apocalyptic future where technology is a relic. The noise of crickets and cicadas are replaced with harsh streams of white noise and the hushed lull of a river or stream are replaced with static drenched guitars hanging like morning fog.

The only weak points are songs that are more conventional, like "Gallery of Plague" which is a trudging black metal song with a mood breaking guitar solo. Thankfully there are only two, the other being "War Lust."

But back to what's great about Horders. The atmosphere is intense and powerful, at times harrowing, at others dangerously seducing. "Destiny"  and "Lantana" have these low, echoing female voices that are intriguing in a most Lovecraftian way; your interest is only superseded by your fear. Points like this make Fimbulvetr such a great listen as it's not all frowns and gloom, but encourages some tangible emotion and instances of humanity which are destroyed by following tracks that are simply ugly.

Maybe it's what Fimbulvetr brings to mind - The Road, Tarkovskiy's Stalker,or even  the video game by the same name - that draws me to it, but Fimbulvetr is a viral like release that can alter your state of mind with only a few tracks.

Released by Feast of Tentacles, Give Up has also produced a beautiful and super limited wooden box version of the LP that, while pricey, is simply outstanding. Do your best to procure this and bring it to your fallout shelter and await the inevitable.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Error- S/T

Muddy, trudging and thoroughly displeased, Error from Iowa burn through 8 tracks of metal laced hardcore on their self-titled debut.

Vocals reminiscent of Most Precious Blood era Indecision, acrobatic drums and a guitar in need of more treble make up this three piece. The ep itself is quite good, you've got pummeling sections, blast beats, punky getups and nice transitions but the riffs get lost when the speed picks up as they have a low tone (to make up for the lack of bass I guess). When the riffs do come through they're solid head-bangable fare that I wish were just a bit thinner sounding due to flooded metal guitar tone.

A fun and dirty ep that alludes to good shows and some killer material down the road.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bosse-De-Nage - III

Fess it up to my pessimism, or to the fact that II was just that good, but I had little hope for Bosse-De-Nage's third installment in their pseudo post-alt rock-depressive black metal tome of vignettes. With that out of the way, and nearly two weeks of constant listening, III is an outstanding, powerful and ever shifting release that has catapulted Bosse-De-Nage into a stellar space.

Where II maintained a very simple approach, III explodes with potential and vibrant thinking. The album is much warmer and for the most part stays away from the drudge of previous efforts. Part of this is thanks to the robust and excellent production, another reason could be the influence of other genres. Where "The Arborist" starts in very familiar territory, the complete dominance of the drums is a welcomed and noticing change. Never content to play into a standard pattern for longer than a measure, the drummer is constantly exploring new tones and textures utilizing the whole kit and letting lose on nearly every fill. This dynamic of simple black metal riffing and fluctuating drums creates a pleasing, yet engaging atmosphere with energy.

The strength of III relies in the constant shifts and budding sound, yet overall fluidity and tying themes. "Desuetude" explodes with a 90's post-hardcore feel only to dissipate into multiple build ups and following flurries of blast beats and tremolo picking. While "Desuetude" fits, it sounds very different from "The Arborist" and the following "Perceive There A Silence" which trudges at a meandering and downtrodden pace. 

"Cells" returns to and highlights the band's dedication and attention to obscure lyrics and prose (another highlight of the band). Spoken words which seem to be largely about interpersonal existence drive the simple marching drums and sparse guitar playing until it explodes into a mid-paced section of layered and tortured screams which subside into a quiet ending. In this development, the song feels much like a story, with building tension, a climax, dénouement, and an end. "The God Ennui" starts as reprise of "Cells" with the familiar guitar line, marching drums and spoken words and slowly buds into a bombastic, overpowering tower of swirling guitars and thundering drums eventually ending in wash of double bass drumming and post-rockish guitars.

"An Ideal Ledge" ends the album on a rather standard note, possibly being the weakest point of the album. I don't particularly mind this as like ramping down from a work out, it gives your brain time to sort out the past 37 minutes that are no doubt  running rampant through your head.

Overall III is Bosse-De-Nage's finest effort to date and one of the most inviting and overwhelming releases in recent memory. The constant flux of minimal guitar lines with dynamic structures and omniscient drumming create a well balanced journey and an extremely powerful album.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wretch-The Senseless Violence

Australia's Wretch deliver nearly 13 minutes of grind infused death metal focusing on rape, dismemberment, feces, and other household topics with their debut The Senseless Violence.

The band's style reminds me of early 2000's death metal acts like Aborted or Dying Fetus yet Wretch carry the ability to chop death metal songs into grindcore like pacing and size. This works well for them as my personal preferences lean to the grindier, less polished side of things.

The high points of the EP rest in the band's lean song structures, impeccable drumming, and the slick opener "Purveyors of Senseless Violence." The low points would have to be the lyrics, ("I cannot decide/ which half to fuck/ or which half to hide." from "(Dis)located"), the modulated vocals and the over enthusiastic use of pinch harmonics.

As I've said, this isn't something I normally seek out, but given the band's promising capabilities in their riffing, drum work, and chops, makes me think Wretch have something going for them.

Definitely worth your time if gore-grind or anything like that is up your ally, this is way better than the majority of the stuff I've heard from that scene.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cellgraft -Cellgraft

Following their namesake, Cellgraft have called a quits with the release of their first and only full length album Cellgraft.

Opening track "False Sequence of Value" plays the traditional role in the grindcore roller coaster as the trudging beginning that acts as a counterpoint to the downhill throttle that awaits you throughout the rest of the lp. This is particularly effective with the band's muddled and ultra heavy production as the the opener hits like Mack truck.

Grind fans will be hard pressed to find anything to dislike, while those not in bed with the genre might find the album a bit too homogenous throughout the first couple of listens. However, when the time is taken to listen through multiple times there are a handful of great riffs and moments of utter grind bliss that should be studied with great zeal, one such being "Ebb of Cipher."

A strong contender to grind album of the year, Cellgraft is a downtunned grind spree filled with exceptional and interesting drumming, powerful vocals and great antics in song writing and structure.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sex Prisoner - Sex Prisoner

The name Sex Prisoner inspires a slew of images; none of which being the nice kind. Thankfully, like their abrasive name, Sex Prisoner sound anything but nice. At just about 12 minutes, Sex Prisoner compile a mosh anthology of pissed off power violence that relies on trudging sections to frenzied blasts with extremely vehement and strained vocals barking phrases like "I will break you" (the only other describable words through out the ep being "fuck" or "fucking").

Released through To Live A Lie,  the self titled ep sports an incredibly even and grimy production where the lashing guitars and gurgling bass do well sitting atop the drums, yet below the powerful vocals. Ramped up and anti-social  without any second thoughts, Sex Prisoner smash.

For fans of Infest, Despise You, Hatred Surge, Lack of Interest

Friday, August 3, 2012

Panopticon - Kentucky

"I'm not a coal miner as you well know, but I'm as close as I could be not to be one. My father was a coal miner who was killed in the mines and my husband is slowly dyin' with the black lung. And my husband and me was in the strike in the '30's in bloody Harlan County and I do mean it was bloody too. And they tell me-These miners say we're gonna stick it out unless Duke Power signs a contract till hell freezes over. And the men knows they got nothin' to lose but their chains and their union to gain."

"If I get shot, they can't shoot the union out of me"
                                                                                        -Harlan County U.S.A

Panopticon's latest album, Kentucky, is an ambitious and spirited mixture of black metal and traditional American folk music. Central to the album are political and social issues that surround, and have surrounded, the state of Kentucky since the first commercial coal mine opened in 1820. Coal mining, long regarded as one of the most deadly and strenuous occupations in the world was and is the life blood of many communities throughout the world. Much in the way it shaped Wales, Chile, and the Appalachian parts of the United States, it has also destroyed aspects of those areas. This is the focus on Kentucky, the human aspect of industry and its footprint on our culture and land.

Panopticon operates as one of the few vehemently political bodies in the realm of black metal, a genre that's often strived to be apolitical or for worse, has flirted with National Socialism. This is refreshing in of itself. Too many times have I read or heard black metal bands say "black metal shouldn't be about politics" or "black metal should be about Satan," the argument of what "should" or "shouldn't" be is thrown out as Panopitcon has effectively mixed influences for the better part of five years, and Kentucky's no different.

Musically speaking, the album is interspersed with traditional folk and bluegrass in between black metal sections which contain elements of folk, but unfortunately not as fluid as I had hoped for. An all too common trope is employed by Panopticon as one song may be folk, another metal, rarely are the two fully married. This isn't to say the album's bad, or sloppy- far from it, the transitions from folk to metal and back again are smooth and well done, but the contrast is obvious. The album's as atmospheric as it is invigorating and melodic, well strewn guitar lines match various instruments to create intricate and overwhelming melodies reminiscent of bands like Agalloch and Windir. The soaring interplay of what sounds like pan flute and guitar in the beginning of  "Bodies Under the Falls" is uplifting and powerful, and does well to contrast the banjo and violin towards the end of the track. The diverse, but cohesive structure of this particular track make it probably the best thing Panopticon's done yet.

Regardless of genre boundaries,  Kentucky is a rarity as it is inviting, warm and soulful yet aggressive and spiteful. The inclusion of folk staples "Come All Ye Coal Miners," "Which Side Are You On?" and "Black Waters" do well to balance these feelings as they are protest songs, songs of strife, yet less harsh than the metal tracks. The album feels complete in this regard as all things are connected, even the samples taken from Harlan County U.S.A and various coal miners fit perfectly.

Much in the way Barbara Kopple brought the issues of the coal miners of East Kentucky into light in her crucial documentary Harlan County U.S.A, maybe Panopticon's Kentucky can do the same for this generation of metal heads and supporters of extreme music.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spewtilator - Inhale Awaits

Best cover art of the year
Inhale Awaits, the final bong rip from Hotlanta thrashtards Spewtilator, would of been a great addition to their budding catalog of deathgrind laced thrash; unfortunately, days after I received this ep, the band announced they were calling a quits.

It's hard to approach this knowing there will be nothing more, because frankly, I need more of this band. In roughly 5 years the band composed 3 eps which all put together probably span just over half an hour. Stylistically, Inhale Awaits, might be the band's best effort as it's definitely the thrashiest and contains an excellent cover of Celtic Frost's "Into Crypts of Rays." This time around the band has dropped any kind of grindcore influences and stick to the mid/fast-pace beat with some of their best riffs yet.

The EP starts with "Xanax Fury" which flexes the band's dynamic writing and energetic vibe as the song keeps jumping ship to different grooves and riffs making it hard to sit still. Where as the first track is all over the place, "Burn in Hell" is a midpaced Destructionesque kind of jam that involves some awesome higher registry vocals a'la Tommy A on Hell Awaits and relies on a nifty little riff. "Into Crypts of Rays" might be the best cover of that song I've heard as bands like Insect Warfare and Marduk have found ways to muck it up.

As I said, it's a shame that they couldn't make it to an LP or even to play for me in my apartment and do keg stands, but I digress. Inhale Awaits is an unevenly recorded piece of filth similar to how uneven sounding Hell Awaits was (which means it's good) and showcases the band's best thrash chops.

Play fast(er).

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