Monday, January 30, 2012

Tour of Duty: Hockey Canada

It's hard to remember that Canada has more to offer than Hockey, but when you search hard enough there's a lot of black metal to be found. There's actually quite a diverse amount of sounds and scenes throughout the Maple Leaf land, but I've decided to narrow in on what put them on the map; War Metal.

For those who don't know Blasphemy, it's basically black metal aesthetic, 80's death metal guitars stripped down to simple tremolo riffs and a complete lack of melody or anything nice and an overall need to constantly thud and thud quickly. With that in mind, basically any "war metal" band just sounds like Blasphemy (I'm only partially kidding). While nearly anything J. Reed's involved with will sound similar, this compilation hosts some varied stuff (not all strictly war metal for you nitpickers). That said...

There's Conqueror who I think of having written the one of the most extreme albums ever simply because it always on, always abrasive, doesn't allow room to digest anything, and is just plain torrid.It's an album that I love, yet rarely listen to in its entirety, however contradictory that might sound, War Cult Supremacy's the kind of album that makes you listen to Kenny G for weeks afterwards to even out the violence. There's Axis of Advance and Revenge who also have J.Reed on drums and offer a bit more coherence than Conqueror, but sound very similar. Rites of Thy Degringolade's got a strange uncomfortable and clunky sound to it that's really grown on me, Lust's a complete mess that could be a great if it weren't for some extremely out place and terrible vocals (and their regrettable NS bullshit). Antichrist's a great carbon copy of Blasphemy with a bit more of a penchant for cohesive song structures.

It pains me to leave out great acts like SkagosMenace Ruine, Akitsa, Trails of Anguish and others, but THE MOTIF MUST STAND.

1.Blasphemy - "Nocturnal Slayer" - Gods of War
2. Conqueror - "Chaos Domination (Conquer the Enslaver)" - War Cult Supremacy
3. Revenge - "Blood of my Blood" - Triumph.Genocide.Antichrist
4.Axis of Advance - "The Torture" - The List
5.Rites of Thy Degringolade - "Of Purist Impurity" - An Ode to Sin
6. Lust - "Spear of Destiny" - Genesis of a Satanic Race
7. Antichrist - "Chopped and Chewed" - Sacrament of Blood

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cerebrate -Demo CS

The current old school death metal revival is a trend I fully endorse. It's a bit funny to call it a trend as metal, especially death metal such as this, is pretty obscure in the larger picture of things; but it's gained momentum nonetheless.Cerebrate's a pungent musk of 90's Swedish death metal dragged through a dense fog of retrospect and admiration. Comprised of Ash Borer members, Cerebrate have all but a sold out demo cassette to their name (there's a promise of a pro edition to come soon). The demo itself is two tracks of cavernous death metal that's full of riffs, solos, brooding atmosphere and concrete gurgling vocals drenched in the reverb that's to be expected of such an act.

So much more than shameless homage, Cerebrate capture the magic of analogue and a time before "core" was the appropriate suffix to almost everything. Much like the band's black metal project, Cerebrate's cassette contains the bare minimum in terms of information and aesthetic; the track titles as well are simply "I" and "II." And while the production's stripped down, the music itself is dynamic and cataclysmic as songs are aren't content to just rely on one gimmick or one section.Dark tremolo sections lead to punky like stomps and thrashy midpaced sections with some seriously sinister riffs that'd make Incantation proud.

I by cerebratedeath

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tour of Duty: Teutonic Dreariness

A sociological study unto itself, Germany's bred some of the best depressive black metal over the years. I admit, a label like "depressive" is a bit silly for a bunch of reasons, but it fits as these are some of the bleakest and sordid acts around.Typically, many bands employ absurdly high shrieks (a bit unbearable in terms of Strenbend), thin production, and a focus on repetitive guitar lines that are melancholic and trance inducing. Of course not every band in Germany has these traits, or those on this mixtape for that matter, but they're just some key traits to keep in mind.

When there's a place called "The Black Forest" in your country you're expected to churn out some good black metal.
My favorite of the bunch is Nyktalgia for sure as they're one of the few to mix all the above mentioned traits and inject vigor and interesting craftsmanship. Wigrid's simplistic one man Hoffnungstod is a stellar piece of ritual melody that builds upon Burzum like simplicity and structure. Klage has the muddiest production of the bunch and in its haze is as forlorn as it is trance inducing. There's Anti who has a much slicker and more modern sound (partially because of a drum machine) and ColdWorld who's built upon an act like Wigrid and turned up the production attention and values.

You'll have to excuse the bump in motif, but there are two who might seem a bit out of place, Lunar Aurora and  Dark Tribe. Where Dark Tribe's a bizarrely unsettling, chaotic jamboree, Lunar Aurora's a conventional band in comparison as it's catchy and driving black metal with heavy attention to atmosphere.

1. Lunar Aurora - "Aufgewacht" - Mond
2. Lantlôs - "Kalte Tage" - Lantlôs
3.Anti - "Landscape in Minor" - The Insignificance of Life
4. ColdWorld - "Red Snow" - Melancholie²
5. Nyktalgia - "Misere Nobis" - Nyktalgia
6. Wigrid - "Die Entstehung" - Hoffnungstod
7. Klage - "Wurmestugend" - Dystopias Wiege
8. Sterbend - "Dwelling Lifeless" - Dwelling Lifeless
9. Dark Tribe - 'The Seed" - In Jeraspunta - Die Rückkehr der Tollwütigen Bestie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prevent internet tyranny and censorship.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Mind as Prison - Maryland Grindcore

Amidst the sea of great DIY acts in Maryland, Mind as Prison claim Maryland for themselves with their recent EP titled Maryland Grindcore. Old school and unadulterated, Mind as Prison blast through muddy and dismally dark grindcore with a dénouement  in the shape of a Sick of it All cover (fully fledged with its intro that the bands points out to be wrongfully cut from the track).

At times the putrid bass, hazy guitar, thundering drums and guttural grunts all run askew into a forceful tidal wave that's on one hand awesomely violent, and on another just plain muddy. The production is what it is, but it doesn't hamper the band's sheer aggression and delivery. It's a style of recording that's an honest excuse to lure you into a live show as I can only assume that's where the band truly exceeds. Songs are well thought out plans of attack in terms of structure and rhythm. There's tons of momentum behind every second of the band and when things do slow down it's just the rise before the fall.

Genuine grindcore for those of you sick of overproduce garbage like Rotten Sound and the like; Mind as Prison are fresh faces sticking to an old and true doctrine.

To Live a Lie Records

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tour of Duty: Tvr3 N0rVV3gian Blk Metl

For the first of this lengthy series, we'll take a look at the birthplace of modern black metal; Norway. I won't bore you with crap you either know, or that can easily be found elsewhere, instead, I hope to show many of the bands (or releases) that get shafted from the limelight.
If you don't like Immortal you're a stone's throw from being mentally incapable of being interesting or cool.
Strid, a band that can arguably be called the fathers of depressive black metal, Mysticum, who were one of the first advances into electronic music from a black metal point of view, Dødheimsgard  who took cues from Teutonic thrash as well as Sacrofago but got progressively weirder, then there was Manes who eventually developed into a sound like none other while incorporating symphonic influences, nowhere as simple as early Gehenna. Thorns gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons, before man main Snorre was incarcerated his demo work was light years ahead of every other metal band in the world. Many should know the name Ulver, I've included a demo track of theirs which shows how undeveloped some of their great ideas were.

There's Forgotten Woods who were one of the first to offer a glimpse into the winning combination of black metal and post-rock. There's also Ildjarn who was one of the first to strip black metal down to an oi like stomp and make it as harsh and primitive as possible, and  Tulus who win the award for stupidest album cover of the lot (but they played a wickedly brazen and sometimes bizarre style). And, of course, there's Zyklon-B, an all-star outing with Frost (Satyricon) on drums, Draug Aldrahn (Dødheimsgard) singing, Samoth (Emperor) on guitars and bass and fellow band-mate Ihshan on keyboards; maybe the most misanthropic and nihilistic out of all the Norwegian acts.

1. Ildjarn - "Svarte Hjerter" - Norse (1993)
2. Zyklon-B - "Bloodsoil" - Blood Must be Shed (1995)
3. Dødheimsgard - "Lost in Faces" - Monumental Possession (1996)
4. Tulus - "Midtvintermåne"- Pure Black Energy (1996)
5. Ulver - "Tragediens Trone" - Vargnatt (1993)
6. Thorns - "Funeral Marches to the Grave" -  Trøndertun (1992) 
7. Manes - "Uten Liv Ligger Landet Øde" - Under ein Blodraud Maane (1999)
8. Gehenna - "Angelwings and Ravenclaws" - First Spell (1994)
9. Mysticum - "Crypt of Fear" - In the Streams of Inferno (1996)
10. Strid - "Det Hviskes Blant Sorte Vinder" - Strid (1994)
11. Forgotten Woods - "The Velvet Room" - The Curse of Mankind (1996)

As well as trying to stay with lesser known acts, I've also limited this collection to releases from 1999 and earlier. I would have liked to do earlier than that, but Manes's demo material was just too foggy and poorly produced to include rather than their magnificent debut Under ein Blodraud Maane (probably my favorite effort here).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Momentum - Whetting Occam's Razor

Momentum's debut Whetting Occam's Razor showcases a style of hardcore that has its head in books and heart in the pit as their lyrics are expansive meditations of not only political matters but also matters of existence and the whole goddamn universe. While the music is driving, melodically intertwined hardcore with a concoction of misanthropy and hope, Whetting Occam's Razor is a fulfilling and ambitious work that hits all points of stimulation, both in ideology as well as musicality.

The music itself is a continually moving and heavy force not without similarities to Fall of Efrafa and Plague Mass (the band does contain members of the aforementioned bands). Where comparisons might be easy to make, Momentum doesn't sound exactly like those two, or any others for that matter. The album lends itself to picky listeners, as well as astute observers of "albums as a whole" as tracks like "Emergence" cement your interest with catchy hooks and a steady pulse while ones like "Miopia" are a fiery burst of hardcore that's just way too short as the curve ball that ends it sounds so great and "Masters" is an epic monolith of a track.

As mentioned earlier,the band is entrenched in various niches of science and political action. Much of their lyrics, topics, and even artwork are inspired largely by Carl Sagan. The band explores the expansiveness and possibilities that exist, or potentially could exist, in the universe. Thankfully though, the music doesn't tread this way and get unwavering and spacey in itself. This ends up being a nice match until the track "Void" and its melodramatic and didactic clip/reading that would make me embarrassed if others listened in.With that in mind, I am grateful that the band strays away from being too "heady" or pretentious, instead they play an emotive and thundering brand of music that offers plenty to think about and more to headbang too.

Overall I continue to enjoy Momentum's release and find myself staying up late with it spinning on my turntable and reading the lyrics to match.

Halo of Flies
Dec. 2011

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Around the World... err ... Rundt om i verden

Rejuvenating my college years radio show, I've decided to undertake a weekly endeavor that'll highlight black metal from around the world entitled: Tour of Duty. Stay turned as next week we'll explore the lesser known acts of Norway.

Burzum!? FUCK THAT SHIT- Mysticum!

I'd also like to point out I've fixed the comments section, so there's no longer any approval BS.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mental Waste - Meltdown

Mental Waste's Meltdown does as its name surmises, it's an outpouring of voracious hardcore that snaps from mild mannered d-beats to a fed up controlled mess of blast beats.

What this duo has going for them is a perfect control of hardcore (the whole umbrella here) tropes in terms of rhythmic manipulation and quick shifts in attack and style. Songs surge along with just audible enough vocals atop punk riffs and drums that breakout when needed as well as subside when it's time to get a dirge going a'al "Self Hate." 

Where the band does misstep, is a thankfully overlookable issue. The production sounds very digital, as if there was nothing externally played and the guitars, vocals, and bass were all plugged into a computer and given effects in production. Now, am I right? I don't know, but it sounds like that to me and that takes something away from it for me (reminds me a lot Nails in this way). Also, the fact that no credits are given to a drummer makes me assume it's a drum machine (this is something, as a drummer, I am a bit of a fuss about). As I said, I could be wrong; but it sounds like this to me.

But I don't want to dissuade you, this band is great; they've nailed the style of hardcore I love. Great, throaty vocals, punk sections seamlessly jump to quips of blast beats and then back again. The aggression comes through in every facet and that's what punk's about in its simplest form. Mental Waste offer a complete package here as the duo pens honest-to-goodness hardcore reminiscent of the early 90's when the blastbeat wasn't a staple and hardcore was derived from punk, not metal.

You can listen to the entire EP on their Bandcamp as well as check out their previous demo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 From a Vinyl Collecting Nerd

Here's some records I bought in the past year that didn't only sound great, but were some of the prettiest things I could've gotten. Depending on my budget, I'll try and make this a regular section, more or less for materialistic assholes like myself.

Thou - The Archer and The Owle

Maybe the most lovelingly made of the bunch, the thick jacket with  
a raised design on a pristine white is  a real pleasure when you see 
it in person. Marble swirl wax with old fashion looking prints of owls is the icing on the cake.

Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless
Hydra Head

After my friend showed me his original pressing of this record, and further introduced me to the band back when I was just a little shit, I realized this is why I wanted to collect vinyl; for this album alone. Being far outside my budget, it wasn't until "Record Store Day" this year that Hydra Head repressed this beauty and I was able to snag one.

Graf Orlock - The Doombox
Vitriol Records
What else is there to say about a 10" ep and the band's 3 LP effort on a CD all housed inside a cardboard ghetto blaster with an instruction booklet containing lyrics and insight to them. Outlandish; maybe, but reading the liner notes and realizing the band's affinity for 90's action flicks is as much a teenager revery as it is a political statement is very gratifying.

Fell Voices - Fell Voices
Gilead Media

The beatifuly dense artwork courtesy of Rainbath visuals might've been enough for me, but Adam at Gilead didn't stop there. A huge poster, great patch, and nice clean looking card with the info on it round out this heavyweight release.

Gridlink - Orphan/Amber Grey
Hydra Head

If you're gonna pay Hydra Head prices, you're going to expect this level of quality. The jacket is beautiful and ridiculously thick and the red vinyl is a beautiful choice. Beyond that, it's the whole Gridlink discography on one record (including a remastered Amber Grey with added guitar and bass). This was the one I was looking forward to all of 2010, happy to have it.
Teiatanblood - Purging Tongues

Teitanblood's DLP Seven Chalices is probably one of my favorite records, not only for the twisted and frightening black/death metal they put out, but the absurd amount of detail and attention given in their truely occult and otherworldly artwork/liner notes. The music on Purging Tongues itself is something I'm still unsure about, but looking at the B side etching on this record is a clear indication of how crazy this band can get.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The End Time: Best Albums of 2011

2011 has come and gone and from a musical standpoint I think we were quite lucky to have lived through it. Where there was so much to look forward to this year, I found myself very disappointed in what I had deemed future greats (Leviathan's True Traitor, True Whore to name just one), humbled with what I had known to be great (Grindlink's Orphan) and genuinely happy to see the other side of the coin (Wormrot's Dirge). Now, my jibberjabber aside, I've taken a  great deal of time to put the following list together, so much so, I'm sure you're all sick of reading "best ofs;" but please, give me the time of day and I promise to make 2012 a special year for you, and you alone.

Without further palaver, here's my favorite full length releases of 2011.

8. Drugs of Faith - Corroded
Corroded's a heart on sleeve effort with such a strong affinity for tempo and rhythm that I can't help but shout its praises. Firmly entrenched in the mid-tempo slop of the best/most prominent bass of the year, the band uses this feeling to centralize the whole effort and slowly build upon it throughout the album. Main man Richard Johnson's clear (not clean), yet virulent vocal delivery is a highlight as the lyrics are some of the most well written, honest, and powerful in the realm of hardcore. Self proclaimed "grind n'roll" is a win.

7. Gride - Záškuby chaosu
Gride are possibly one of the most interesting grindcore bands around, regardless if their previous efforts sounded like this (to my knowledge they hadn't sounded like this) Gride do their best to make the most acceptable curve-balls and freakouts around. Záškuby chaosu highlights this for sure as the band hemorrhages massive amounts of ideas in only 27 minutes and 54 seconds, doing their best to channel fellow countrymen !T.O.O.H.! yet thrash and grind harder then you'd expect from the opening noodle of a track. Gride are pushing the boundaries here and it'll only get more exciting to see where they end up.

6. Looking For an Answer - Eterno Treblinka

Where Gride might be rewriting the rules, Spain's Looking For an Answer are there to enforce the deathgrind rites that have been firmly established and treasured in Spain since Machetazo first threw down. Eterno Treblinka's sound is a tremendous throat-fuck of grindcore that's rited  in the muck of mid-nineties death metal and with the flavor of what you'd come to expect from Spanish grindcore (if I can write "throat-fuck," I can make up "rited"). Seconds over 30 minutes long, Eterno Treblinka is full of delicious Repulsion like mid-tempo efforts and scathing fast sections that make Carcass look like chumps. If I didn't already appreciate this scene enough, Looking For an Answer have solidified Spain as ground-zero of filthy, disgusting, grindcore; y'know, the way Matt Olivio would have it.

5. Wormrot - Dirge
I've finally come around to this band and I have Dirge to thank for that. Wormrot's return isn't marked with some ho-hum technical space trip,or rehashed effort, instead they've made things meatier, thrashier, and more rhythmically inclined. With their locks in socks, Wormrot's demeanor is a total ass kicking of a record based in split second shifts in momentum and speed, owing much more to stop n'go acts of the power violence realm rather than where they treaded before with traditional grindcore. "Spot a Pathetic" dripping into "Evolved into Nothing" is the highlight of the album for me as it forces you to do your best spinkick and break something. Overall, Wormrot's more organic approach, better distributed vocals and leanings towards power violence has made this not only better than Abuse, but one of my favorite grind releases in recent memory. For those who see this as a downgrade it's just "Fucking Fierce So What?"

4. Bosse-De-Nage - II
I keep seeing people calling this band weird, or post black metal. If you really had to pigeon hole this San Fransico act, I'd put it in the realm of depressive black metal much like oldies Strid and Diaboli and reformers Nyktalgia, and okay, a hint of stuff like Liturgy. Regardless, Bosse-De-Nage play a simple repetitive style of black metal with harrowing vocals that are as sublime as they are unsettling. Some of the weirdness might come from the vignette-like lyrics and song titles and obvious influences from French Surrealists/Absurdists. Thanks to a robust, yet honest production Bosse-De-Nage complete a modern day reproach to emotive black metal in which the insane vocals and simple, catchy guitars are key.

3. Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All
If Neruosis wanted to play death metal, I think they wouldn't bother as Ulcerate's already taken care of that for them. While I don't like comparisons all that much (such as the one I just made), I think here it gives you, the reader, a clear idea of what to expect, but is also a huge honor to these New Zealanders. The music is a technical eddy of textures and emotions. The band employs just enough dissonance and atonality to a brew of comprehensible sound that's as jarring as it is enthralling. Few bands can do what they've done and fewer can make me like it.

2. Gridlink - Orphan
The quality just continues as Chang, and his superhuman team of androids blast through a Sears catalog worth of brilliant riffs and technical fits in musicianship. Thankfully Chang's lower register is back which just builds upon the already great effort that was Amber Grey. Taking songs that would've been 5 minutes for other bands, Matsubara and Procopio, create a whirlwind of thrashy technical riffs that also contain melody and cram them into pockets of space around only a minute long. Music for the attention challenged, Orphan blisters with with supreme craftsmanship and an adept understanding of quantity.

1. Ash Borer - Ash Borer
Organic and verdant surges clouded in tendril like wisps of simplistic and building riffs create a dense and atmospheric sound that's unmatched. While there's a slew of other black metal acts to compare Ash Borer to, none possess the same skill at creating long, winding tracks that are full of momentum and melodic energy. Powerful and immersive, this is the kind of stuff that transcends every day listening; Ash Borer are a clear cut 1.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hungry Lungs - S/T

Hungry Lungs play a muddy and viscous style of hardcore not without a modern metal influx as well an unavoidable crusty presence.  Unfortunately, the ep itself is quite short  but it's 5 minutes well spent. Melodic leads atop heavy, albeit stock riffs, and surging drums create a pulsing style of hardcore I've come to love. Familiar yet unique enough, Hungry Lungs are a full fledged aural assault relying on a nasty wall of sound, perfect raspy vocals and devastating guitars which are sometimes allowed to play something catchy as hell. 

I'm going to have default to comparisons as I'm not so well versed in hardcore, but I'd say they remind me a lot of High on Crime with a touch of Kaospilot and His Hero is Gone.

Despite the lackluster length, Hungry Lungs offer up a strong offering of what I can only hope to be a fruitful campaign. Props for a cool name as well.
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