Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Royal Arch Blaspheme - II

I knew 10 seconds into The Royal Arch Blaspheme's sophomore effort II that this record was going to be awesome. How'd I know you ask? Three sparse cymbal chimes give way to a disgusting landslide of ichor drenched vocals, grimy guitars and a putrid bass. Not only is this stuff absolutely crushing, but it's as unholy and vile as you can get. 

Comprised of Krieg main-man N. Imperial and Profanatica guitarist John Gelso (credited with drums and bass their previous album), The Royal Arch Blaspheme lumber through 42 minutes of midpaced black metal akin to Gelso's Profanatica, but not without a touch of their own vodoo.

Vocals are put front and center, and rightfully so as they're a worthy match for Gelso's Stygian guitar which shares space perfectly with the clunky Incantation like bass. A production job such as this one is a rare feat as it finds that sweet spot between dirty and strong, punchy yet atmopsheric without any dilution or vibes of studio magic.

"Lust Blood Sacrum" sets the standard of quality as it jumps from unrelenting punches to groovier sections that float in Gelso's snake like riffing then finally moving in a great transition to the next track "Ashes of the Holy Ghost" which is absolutely seamless and badass, making both tracks feel like one.

The Profanatica comparisons are impossible to ignore as N. Imperial does an extremely similar, albeit with his own twist, vocal performance reminiscent of Ledney's trademark distinguishable rasp. Along with the vocals, and even the drums which mimic Profanatica's mid-pace groove, Gelso's fretwork feel right out of Profanatica's back catalog along with a handful of twists, leads, and riffs that fit well and feel fresh and new; a good example being the catchy chorus of "Ashes of the Holy Ghost."

While Gelso's been kicking around the corpse paint for the better part of 20+ years now, no one plays like him and no other bands can sound this vile while still having something to head bang too. The overall grooviness and viscosity coupled with a dense and putrid sound make The Royal Arch Blaspheme a bludgeoning force of unholy black metal that looks to profane and head bang whenever it can.

Coming soon through Hell's Headbangers, be sure to snatch it up when you can.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coffins / Macabra - In Quarantine with Death

While Coffins's roots lay in homage, they have developed to one of the most recognizable and  best death metal bands around. Their dripping, slag like sound couple with nods to Hellhammer d-beats and viscous vocals have made them one of my favorites. Their typical snail pace is what we all relish when listening to Coffins, but the slight variation from slow to mid tempo is an easy and enjoyable trick. Thankfully, "Grotesque Messiah (Extended Version)" does just that.

Evil, suffocating, and absurdly heavy, Coffins's side of the split bludgeons you into submission in a well executed d-beat to slow refrain right back to d-beat kinda song. Complete with little leads and a dive bomb for good measure, Coffins offer up one of their more dynamic songs which, as always, is a pure blast to listen to.

 On the flip side, Belgian/American collaboration Macabra carry out an unusual brand of old school death metal. It's not the well executed but overtly grimy production that's unusual, or the gore infused vocals, or even the guitar playing really but rather the driving section of the song as it's a groovy mid-paced drum beat layered with palm muted riffs and out-of-left-field synth that's more akin to bad black metal than death metal. Beyond that misstep, Macabra do a great job of reusing the same components in different ways and combinations to create a track that's full of headbangability and an overall thrashy vibe.

Props to the labels invovled as well, especially Horror Pain Gore Death, who offer a sick slime green version of the 7". Included with this nasty split are 2 buttons (a logo for each band), a lyric inset, an 18"x24" poster of the album art which is collaboration between Mark Riddick and Vincent Locke, an OBI strip and a flyer like insert with each band's photo and a small blurb about each.

A must for fans of old school death metal that's as heavy as it gets.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tour of Duty: USA

The U.S. black metal scene has got to be my favorite bar none. Like many creative outlets we benefit from a land mass nearly the size of all of Europe, and a much more diverse population than many other countries, so it's understandable that we have a much more diverse and ambitious crop of bands. Regardless of all of that, there are so many U.S. acts that it's been a difficult task to just pick a few for this installment and I've only tried to stray from very current acts as well as the longer ones and those most well known (there's an exception for Leviathan as 1. it's probably my favorite band and 2. that track is awesome and hard to get a hold of).

Without further adieu, I present to you...

Tour of Duty: U S of A

1. "Hissing and Sullen" - Leviathan - Destroyers from the Western Sky (track appears only on this comp)
2. "Winter Bliss" - Demoncy - Joined in Darkness
3. "In Retribution, Anonymously Burned" - Frontier - Demo
4. "Crippling Blasphemous Persistence" - Infernal Stronghold - Godless Noise
5. "Crucified Whores (Of the White Light)" - Ibex Throne - Total Inversion
6. "The King of Jews" - Havohej - Dethrone the Son of God
7. "Unto Us He Is Born" - Profanatica - Profanatitas De Domonatia
8. "Show Me" - Bone Awl - Meaningless Leaning Mess
9. "Uno con Kaos" - Volahn - Dimensi√≥nes del Trance K√≥smico
10. "Who Shall Stand Against Me?" - Krieg - Blue Miasma

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Black Hole of Calcutta #2

Black metal South West Asian grandma fits way too well
Black Hole of Calcutta are just one of those bands that have my number. Upon first listening to their latest record, simply titled S/T #2, I was shocked at how the band effortlessly followed my own subconscious wishes as to how each song might progress... it's as if I've been scanned...

BHOC effectively quashes any notion of overachieving with the first track alone as elements of sludge, grindcore, and hardcore are meshed perfectly. The slow start, the furry in the middleand the melodic hooks 3/4's of the way through, flesh out a well devised plan of grindcore meets hardcore with an affinity for riffs.

"Cirrhosis" is another great flag marker as it's the closest thing of  a grindcore band's homage to  2nd wave black metal you'll find. The grim touch of black metal permeates throughout the band's sound, whether it's in the vocals or guitar work, the small dose is just the right amount as it doesn't cut down on the band's voracity.

S/T #2 lacks nothing and has a whole lot of everything. Thrashing grindcore with nods to hardcore and black metal find BHOC doing all that I could ask for with this all but too short LP.

Peep the whole thing on their Bandcamp (which is streaming above).
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