Posts Tagged ‘Metal’

Southern Lord – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

High Command’s new release on Southern Lord drags me back to a point of debate I’ve covered variously over the twelve years I’ve been doing this reviewing thing: what distinguishes a single from an EP, an EP from an album? And aren’t EPs and mini-album’s the same thing? It may be so much hair-splitting and semantics, and about as important as genre boundaries in the scheme of things, but… well, High Command, being a crossover of thrash metal, punk, and hardcore, are a cause of consternation on that front too.

The two tracks on this digital single, which prefaces the 7” EP release due early next year via Triple B records, are fast, furious, gnarly, and there’s no question over their thrashiness.

‘Everlasting Torment’ may not be literal in its title, being a short, sharp four-minute attack of overdrive, but it does pack all the melodic fretwork, thunderous drums and mega-fast plectrum flashing of something purgatorially thrashy, while counterpart – or B-side, if you will – ‘Sword of Wisdom’ penetrated with a raft of sudden tempo changes and pierces with the lunge into a monster guitar solo.

It’s a whole lot less sludgy and perhaps less Ministry and a lot less industrial than its predecessor, although the key trappings are all in place.

However you position it, this release brings a full-range display of some pretty frenzied fretwork which is driven – hard, and fast – by a strong, dynamic rhythm section that packs all the power, and if any of it threatens to slide toward cliché, the execution and sheer brute force are more than enough.

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Mr. Bungle, who recently released their first album in over two decades, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (Ipecac Recordings), have partnered with acclaimed Director Derek Cianfrance (“The Place Beyond The Pines,” “Blue Valentine”) for the band’s “Sudden Death” video.

"If you lived in Lakewood, Colorado, during the early 1990s, there’s a slim chance you would have seen and heard a 16 -year-old boy driving slowly around town in a white, 1974 Mustang II, with his windows rolled down, disrupting the neighborhood by blaring the music of Mr. Bungle. That 16-year-old kid was me, and that music that I listened to, over and over and over again, set the bar for my life as an artist,” explained Cianfrance. “So, 30 years later, when I got a call from Mike Patton asking me to direct a music video for one of the songs on their new album, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, I questioned whether my life was really a dream… I informed Mike that I had never directed a music video before, but he wasn’t dissuaded. I listened to the album and asked if I could work with the song “Sudden Death.” It reminded me of the feelings of angst I carried throughout my youth while growing up in the shadow of a looming, forbidding thermonuclear war. I decided I could make a short film (well, not so short – the song is almost 8 min!) about these fears that haunted me. I was also interested in meditating on the theme of desensitization in modern society, where citizens are gradually and systemically numbed to the possibility of cataclysmic consequences. Since the song was written in the mid-‘80s, I determined that the video should feel like it was made during that time and imagined it as some sort of rediscovered relic. Shooting during a global pandemic proved a fitting backdrop to the malaise of the song. It also presented a unique challenge as I was too nervous to work with actors – so I had to come up with another solution. making this video with a small team of trusted collaborators, and working with my life-long heroes, was nothing short of a total dream come true."

Watch the video here:

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PERCHTA have released a video for the song ‘Wåssa’, which is the fourth visualisation of a track taken from the Tyrolian band’s debut album ”Ufång”.

PERCHTA comment: "The video for ‘Wåssa’ is the fourth clip from our album ‘Ufång’ and closes the circle that ‘Åtem’ had begun this spring", writes the vocalist. "This song is dealing with the element water and dedicated to the cycles of life. It is symbolised by the tripartite primal goddess, the virgin, the mother, and the crone as it flows through the water’s cycle of existence from the drop to the bottom of the deepest lake."

Watch the video here:

12th June 2020

James Wells

According to their bio, Milton Keynes based British metal outfit Chasing Ghosts were ‘born of a passion to create dark and melodic music’ and their latest offering ‘is no doubt their biggest and most ambitious record yet, a union of haunting female harmonies and natural sombre strings, resulting in an evolution of all the darker elements in their already present sound since the release of their critically acclaimed debut album in 2018’.

Cynic that I am, was prepared for this to bring me some suffering, with a load of overblown bombastic rock – and make no mistake, there are elements that creep towards being OTT, but they manage to balance it with enough drive and majesty and emotional resonance as to render it an engaging and powerful release.

Opener ‘Until the End’ is a bold, gothic sweep of a song with intricate guitar lines that interweave across choral vocals that evoke the spirit of The Sisters of Mercy, and, moreover, the myriad bands who followed in their wake. The rhythm guitar chugs hard while the lead picks a serpentine thread and the baritone vocals (which aren’t short on a hint of Carl McCoy) cast a mix of gloom and drama over the whole thing.

Brooding violins sway through the intro to ‘A Darker Place’ that pitches somewhere between All About Eve and Evancessence, while the title track, ‘Bring Me Suffering’, which draws the curtain, is what one would justifiably describe as an ‘epic’, a seven-minute, string-soaked rendition of emotional anguish that rides post-rock crescendos while surging to a slow-burning climax that makes you ache as you listen.

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Inside Out Music – 28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Almost 30 years into their career, Sweden’s Pain of Salvation, led by multi-instrumentalist Daniel Gildenlöw land a new album with the ambition of demonstrating that ‘Ultimately, progress will not be stopped’. They go on to unravel the details that ‘Pain of Salvation have been firmly at the forefront of the progressive rock and metal scenes for nearly three decades now’, and that ‘the Swedish band have consistently demonstrated a sincere passion for moving their own extraordinary music forward, while always remaining lyrically enlightened and ferociously intelligent. As a result, the band’s return in 2020 could hardly be better timed’.

The press release makes a gargantuan leap from the band’s formation and crash-lands us with a ‘Fast forward to 2020 [when] the world is in a state of disarray’. It makes sense in a way: we’ve all landed where with absolutely no fucking clue how 2020 actually relates to or connects with anything: the past has dissolved in a haze of time eroded to desert and a future that seems impossible. Chronology is utterly screwed. I can barely remember last week, or even what I had for dinner last night.

This is one of those multi-layered, multi-textured, multi-genred and highly detailed albums that is simply impossible to digest on the first few cycles. I sat, a shade bewildered, a tad giddy, and not just on account of a couple of strong, hoppy American IPAs down on an evening after three hours sleep the night before. The album’s first track, ‘Accelerator’ collides myriad elements, twisting together contemporary prog with an electronic twist, some dancy synths and some chugging industrial guitar riffage that slams in and it all coalesces to a bewildering sonic whiplash that works well and hits hard.

Next up, ‘Unfuture’ steps up the weight, slugging hard some industrial country with menace that’s a melange of Alice in Chains and Nine Inch Nails and it’s both brooding and heavy. And it’s clear that on Panther, PoS have hit their stride with optimum, riffage and a weight that achieves critical mass when it matters.

It’s not all good: the title track is a cringeworthy and incredibly dated-sounding stab at a hip-hop nu-metal crossover that doesn’t sit comfortably anywhere in 2020, let alone with the rest of the album, and when placed alongside contemporary grunge-tinged prog efforts like ‘Species’ – which comes on like Pearl Jam crossed with Amplifier – it just sounds odd.

Then again, songs like ‘Species’ bring full-blooded riffs and some solid overdrive, and the thirteen-minute finale, ‘Icon’, is the album’s ultimate pinnacle, as a snaking, picked lead guitar line rattles against its cage to twist around a gritty, thick-chorded riff. It yields to moments of folksy levity, but they’re gloriously crushed by the weight of big, grinding chuggery, not to mention a pyrotechnical guitar solo around the eight-minute mark. Miraculously, it actually works without sounding like indulgent wank, and that’s no small feat.

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InsideOut Music – 24th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s almost as if they planned it, or saw it coming (although not sufficiently to prevent the release date being put back three times). And you could almost believe it, too: there’s a potently portentous aspect to Haken’s brand of progressive rock, and Virus is very much timely as much for its ruminations on the psychology of contemporary culture, as the press release explains:

‘If ‘Vector’ was an origin story, ‘Virus’ portrays an ascent to power, tyranny and subsequent endgame. The opening track, ‘Prosthetic’, bridges the two albums where scars of institutional abuse are brought into focus. This 6-minute onslaught of brutal riffing starts the spread of a virus that affects all aspects of our lives, be they biological, psychological, technological, environmental or political.’

They’ve been working on the album since the release of Vector in October 2018, and it shows: the level of detail in the interweaving guitars and the spacious melodies are remarkable, but then, so are the thunderous riffs.

The ten-and-a-half-minute ‘Carousel’ is a clear standout, and packs the experience of an entire album into a single song. The rest of the songs are much more concise, at least if you take the five-part ‘Messiah Complex’ suite as separate chapters. As you’d perhaps expect, this is a grand and grandiose sequence, with everything elevated and amplified, and with the addition of some bombastic orchestral strikes, while the final part, subtitled ‘Ectobius Rex’ goes full-on industrial metal riffage.

Elsewhere. ‘Canary Yellow’ is a condensed epic, soaring shoegaze anthem, while the final song, ‘Only Stars’ is a magnificently sparse affair which finds Ross Jennings emoting an almost choral elegy. It feels like a moment of calm reflection in the wake of a wave of devastation.

For all of the heavy power chords that crash like slabs of granite in a most contemporary metal way, I’m in some way reminded of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of the Worlds and Mansun’s Six, although Jennings’ vocals often carry that rich but troubled soulfulness of Dave Gahan. If this all sounds like an unlikely and improbable cocktail, it’s testament to Haken’s abilities that they make it all work not only cohesively, but deliver some great songs along the way.

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Following on from their 2016 record “You Will Burn”, Scottish hardcore quartet Razor Sharp Death Blizzard have returned with their new album “The World Is Fucked” which is set for release on July 17th. Ahead of this the band have released a video for their new single “Suicide”.

Frontman Jamie Clark had this to say on the track:

“When we write our songs, we almost always write in the practice room. “Suicide” took me by surprise by the intensity of the music. I like to stand in the room with Daz, Liam and Ross going for it so I can feel the song. The music brought out a lot of emotion in me be it anger, be it tearful. The emotion that came was the feelings for suicide I’d had off and on for a number of years and this song really helped me bring things out. I tried to put into word some of the feelings and thoughts I had.

From the crushing self-defeat to the feeling of wanting to through myself from the Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry on my way to and from holiday with my wife and kids. From not knowing what I was feeling, the utter confusion, wondering if someone would help me now that ‘I’ needed help. All things came to a head when we were a couple of weeks away from a European tour and I ended up doing one show and the rest of the guys played as a three piece for the remaining shows. It coming to a head was the best thing to happen. I was able to talk to those closest to me and turn a lot round.

The end of the song says it all and is a mantra I kind of abide by and its was Daz that said it ‘ no matter how dark the night may seem, tomorrow may be brighter’. What advice I try to give is please talk to someone, that first step will take so much weight from your shoulders. It won’t cure you but will give you courage to talk. It really is okay to not be okay. The hardest step is talking to someone but trust me it’s the best step you can take.”

Both tracks can be streamed here:

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Loyal Blood Records – 22nd May 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Nothing says metal like calling your band Barren Womb. And nothing says DIY like making that metal / noise-rock hybrid racket like being a duo. Norwegian noisemongers Timo and Tony have been hard at it for nine years, and Lizard Lounge is their latest effort: it’s pitched as being for fans of Quicksand, Melvins, Clutch, Refused, and Big Business, and the work of a band who capture ‘their raw and unpolished live energy in studio recordings’.

‘Raw and unpolished’ perhaps does them a disservice, with implications of amateurism and a certain shambolicism. Lizard Lounge is cranked up, the production direct, unfiltered, but they’re tight and everything is perfectly balanced. They know what they’re doing, and they fucking nail it here.

Bringing the intense blast of 80s hardcore but with a twist of humour (as titles like ‘Crop Circle Jerk’ and ‘Karma as a Tour Manager’ indicate), and elements of mania that so indeed call to mind Melvins and also contemporaries Cinema Cinema, they burst out of the traps at a hundred miles an hour with ‘Cemetery Slopestye’, a sub-two-minute punk roar that sounds like a full band.

‘Hairy Palms’ brings a loose swaggering groove and grunge pop flavour that combines Pulled Apart by Horses with DZ Deathrays, and this pretty much encapsulates the playful edge that brings light to the hefty riffery that defines their sound.

The aforementioned ‘Crop Circle Jerk’ is jaunty, almost indie, in its funk-tinged style, but its delivery is more like Melvins or JG Thirlwell covering Tom Waits, while ‘Molten Pig’ brings the sweaty, grungy heft of Tad: it’s dirty, dingy, the cyclical overdriven riff simple but effective and played hard and fast, while the vocals grunt and snarl, and it certainly captures the essence of that late 80s / early 90 Sub Pop sound. ‘Nerve Salad’ continues along the same vein. It’s not pretty, but it’s got a vital energy.

Likewise, ‘Be Kind, Have Fun, And Try Not to Die’, which is the poppiest song on here by a mile. Fuck me, I might even call it ‘anthemic’, but it’s anthemic in the way bands like, say, hawk Eyes’ do anthemic, and melds Kerrang! Radio with full metal edge that borders on a mid-90s Ministry kind of grind, and closer ‘Hydroponic Youth’ carries that Filth Pig vibe to the close.

It’s no criticism to say that for all the lyrical intents and purposes, this is an album you just allow to pummel you. The sentiments are articulated through the medium of sound more than the words themselves, the delivery of which conveys more power in context. Lizard Lounge is wild and loud and absolutely hits the spot.

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Cruel Nature – CN133

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s not often demo tapes get a ‘proper’ release. Then again, it’s not often you actually get demo tapes these days: cassettes may be making something of a comeback on the underground, but you’re more likely to get a demo recorded on mobiles with the tracks assembled using some smart software than on a four track. I remember my old Fostex X-18 seeming incredibly compact back in ’92. Less true of the X55, but with its double-speed spooling and advanced mixing capability, it was more like having a proper studio on your desk. How times have changed.

But when it comes to black metal, low-grade production is integral to the aesthetic. It’s supposed to be impenetrably murky, the songs emerging from a booming condenser mic recording overloaded with volume, crackle, and hiss.

I was fortunate to catch Petrine Cross virtually live at a Heinous Whining streaming event the other week, and it was devastating: I was blown away by the dark intensity of the performance, and this release confirm this was no one-off or a case of me being carried away with too many cans in my atempt to recreate the gig experience at home.

A solo project for Esmé Louise Newman of emotionally-charged black metal duo Penance Stare (and her resumé is pretty impressive too), Petrine Cross is pitched as ‘Thought-provoking raw ambient black metal, inspired through solitude and literature, that hits hard in all its oppressive glory.’

‘Charred Skirts and Deathmask’ could be read one of a number of was, but it begins with a soft-edged undulating drone, which continues throughout its eight-plus-minute duration beneath a crushing deluge of punishing guitar noise. There are no discernible chords, no clear structure, just a full-on deluge of sludge. There are some vocals in there somewhere, too, I think. I don’t need the details, and that’s perhaps as well, as they’re obfuscated by a dense wall of undifferentiated sound that’s all in the mid and lower ranges.

I’m listening by candlelight and screen glare, and it seems appropriate as the snarling blast of ‘I Beneath a Rougher Sea’ tears from the speakers, a muffled, murky blast of a cyclical chord sequence, overloading with distortion. It takes some time for any form to emerge from the searing sonic wall, and when it does, it’s vague, melting in its blisteringly intense grind.

The recordings may be primitive, but I’m not sure they would necessarily benefit from a more luxurious, layered studio treatment. The context is key: this is black metal – albeit in a stripped-back, ambient form – and doesn’t require polish. These recordings are cavernously dark and dredge the depths of the soul. Search deep.

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Christopher Nosnibor

I’m both intrigued and vaguely amused by the focus of the press release, which informs us that ‘In anticipation of their upcoming European tour in support of Suffocation, Belphegor and Hate, Italian metallers Necrosy have released a brand-new video for the track “Drown In Perdition” (at 320 bpm)’. But then, in certain circles, presumably including those of Thrash Speed, and Technical Death Metal (the latter being where this Venetian foursome position themselves in genre terms), the pace is of importance.

The album, Perdition, was in fact released back in 2015, and this video single is something of a stop-gap while they piece together album number two and gear up for a significant tur of the European mainland. What no UK dates? Well, no, and it’ probably not necessarily a Brexit thing, but while we’re at it, fuck Brexit and the damage the latest piece of hateful, movement-limiting legislation will do to touring bands and the music industry. Bands and fans and the economy alike will suffer.

On the subject of suffering, ‘Drown Into Perdition (at 320BPM)’ (and yes, the parenthetical element is noted on not only the video’s YouTube post, but also the album’s track list) is pretty fucking punishing, a whiplash blur of frenzied guitars and drumming which provide the backdrop to a guttural howl and while the lyrics are wholly unintelligible, the sound articulates by the medium of sound a fair approximation of the song’s title – a hellish, torturous assault.

The woman in the white dress / sheet who features in the video feels like a bit of a superfluous addition, but provides a nice visual contrast to the hairy, tattooed blokes lunging and prowling while wielding their instruments menacingly. It doesn’t detract from the song though, and of this is any measure, both the live shows and upcoming album should be pretty intense.

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Tour dates are as follows:

March 11th – Legend Club – Milan, Italy
March 12th – Kufa – Lyss, Switzerland
March 13th – Gare De Lion – Wil, Switzerland
March 14th – Le Jas Rod – Marseille, France
March 15th – BT 59 – Bordeaux, France
March 17th – Stage Live – Bilbao, Spain
March 18th – Capitol – Santiago, Spain
March 19th – Hard Club – Porto, Portugal
March 20th – RCA Club – Lisbon, Portugal
March 21st – Independance – Madrid, Spain
March 22nd – Razzmatazz – Barcelona, Spain
March 24th – Grillen – Colmar, France
March 25th – Garage – Saarbrucken, Germany
March 26th – Helvete – Oberhausen, Germany
March 27th – Felsenkeller – Leipzig, Germany