Posts Tagged ‘Metal’

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that a doom / sludge metal act should take their time over things – and Sheffield trio Kurokuma have really taken their time over things in order to deliver their debut album. Having formed late 2013, they’re one band whose progress can’t have been said to have been hampered by the pandemic: instead, they’ve been evolving their sound over the course of a number of single and EP releases, notably the Advorsus EP in 2016 and 2018’s ‘Dope Rider’ single. This means that the arrival of Born of Obsidian feels like an event, a monumental summit in the band’s career. And if five tracks, in the face of it, does‘t look like much by way of a definitive statement that represents the apogee of some eight years of work, the fact that all bar one are over eight minutes long and each one packs the density of a black hole gives some necessary context.

‘Smoking Mirror’ lands things perfectly; there’s a definite groove, even a hint of funk – not in the Chili Peppers’ funk metal sense, but in a twisted, fucked-up psychedelic sense – to the bassline that bounces along before the crushing power chords crash in. The vocals snarl and scraw and everything comes together to deliver optimum weight. It may be a cliché to sat it needs to be played loud, and playing any metal not loud is a mistake, but having been recorded in London with Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Indian), volume really increases the appreciation of the quality production. There’s not only great separation between the instruments, but each brings something more to the overall mix. On ‘Smoking Mirror’, your attention is likely to be on the churning guitar, but the drums are outstanding in the way they kick through the dense, treacle-like distortion.

They promise an album that’s ‘equal parts primitive brutality and mind-bending psychedelia’, and it’s all there in the pulverising repetitions of ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli’. For its brevity, it packs in a neatly-constructed structure, with intro, verses, chorus, mid-section – which brings an explosive change of tempo – and megalithic, gut-churning riffing that rages hard and heavy. It demonstrates that there’s a lot going on with these guys, and that they’re not just lug-headed chord-thudders, but possess a level of musical articulateness that separates them from many of their peers.

Single cut ‘Jaguar’ is, it turns out, entirely representative, a roaring beast of a tune that has a rare swing to it – and a lot of cowbell. It warps and lurches with remarkable dexterity for something of such colossal weight. The repetitive riffery of ‘Ololiuqui’ batters and bludgeons relentlessly, maintaining its form and instead varying the tone and depth of the distortion, and stepping up the volume incrementally, before the nine minute ‘Under the Fifth Sun’ delivers a decimating conclusion.

With bulldozing, unyielding mass and density, Born of Obsidian is high-impact: Kurokuma have mastered the power of hard volume and brutal force – as is in keeping with the genre. But where Kurokuma stand apart – and above – is in the detail, the nuance, the deviation from the blueprint, which shows a unique flair, and surely Born of Obsidian is destined for cult status.

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Blighttown Records – 31 December 2021

Christopher Nosnobor

Australian metal act Hadal Maw emerge from lockdown with an EP that threatens ‘four tracks of uncompromising and confronting aural violence whilst also introducing new members Liam Weedall (Dyssidia) and Jarrod Sorbian (Départe)’, adding that ‘Musically the four track EP delves further in to the more visceral aspect of their sound and composition while maintaining the technical wizardry that the band established on previous releases’.

Metal comes in so many different shades, and while the more commercial end of metal is alright for banging heads to, it’s kinda tame, espousing nice production values. Hadal Maw, however, exist at the more raw and gritty end of the spectrum, and plough a dark furrow and plough it deep with some furiously gnarly abrasion.

They come blasting out of the traps with a magnificent amalgamation of discord and groove on the snarling blast that is ‘Fetishize Consumption’, and if firing nihilistic fury at the capitalist machine may be an obvious choice, it’s something that simply can’t be done too much, because excessive consumption isn’t simply the dominant culture, it’s the culture. And if you’re not against it, you’re part of the problem. Clearly, this is a simplistic reduction, which leaves little room for the fact it’s hard to escape the problem without going off-grid and living on roots and shoots. Living within the parameters of this contradiction – whereby digital technology and the use of social media is a necessary evil when it comes to disseminating any kind of message or output – isn’t easy, but channelling rage and(self)-loathing through catharsis can help, and Oblique Order demonstrates thar Hadal Maw are kings of catharsis.

The title track, which features ‘guest vocals from three of Australia’s most accomplished vocalists; Karina Utomo (High Tension), Luke Frizon (Growth) and Antony Oliver (Descent)’ gets darker, dirtier, with strangulated rasping vocals grate and grind over a low, slow, booming bass, which contrasts with the messy scribbly scratching guitar work. It’s turbulent and traumatic, in the most powerful, visceral way. It’s a low-end growl and chug that drives ‘Future Eaters’, a soundtrack to the darkest of all dystopias, and featuring a magnificently textured and detailed guitar break in the mid-section before everything comes crashing down hard.

The last track, ‘Vile Veneration’ could well be the soundtrack to this year’s honours list here in England. After a slower, quite intricate and evocative introduction, the drums power in and it’s a descent into the inferno from thereon in, with everything firing on all cylinders to truly punishing effect. It’s as heavy as hell and full of fury. The slowed-down, vaguely proggy midsection still packs weight as the band trudge, lumberingly through the final assault.

Oblique Order is a triumph not only because it’s relentlessly heavy, but because it’s clearly crafted and is remarkably varied in terms of tempo and tone. The band pack a lot into its duration, making for an EP that’s massively dense and hits like an asteroid on collision course.

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Iranian groove metal/hardcore band Confess describe themselves as a “five-piece street protest”. It’s not a figure of speech: Nikan Khosravi (vocals/guitar) and Arash Ilkhani (DJ/Sampler) have experienced political persecution first-hand. Theband’s upcoming album “Revenge at All Costs” is a cry of outrage in the form of chunky down-tuned riffs marinated in the Norwegian winter.

The journey started in junior high school in Tehran when Nikan got a CD from a classmate. It contained music videos by metal bands from the 90s and 2000s. "I was fascinated by the sound of the genre," he states. "Ever since this music has been the centre of my life." Nikan and Arash started the band as
teenagers in 2010, releasing their first album "Beginning of Dominion" in 2012. Their early sound gravitated towards old-school death metal and 90s hardcore, always with some grooviness to it.

Nikan started his own label "Opposite Records" in 2014. Up until now, this could sound like the story of any European band. But change the context and being a metal musician in Iran could mean anything from government surveillance to execution. Arrest and prison followed the release of the band’s second album
In Pursuit of Dreams in 2015. This led to the pair being arrested and facing execution on charges of blasphemy in one of Iran’s harshest prisons.

Fast forward to 2018, when both Nikan and Arash obtained refugee status in Norway. Confess started experimenting with seven strings and adding modern death metal sounds. But the groovy headbanging spirit of their musical DNA is very much alive. Confess has played in public without fear of repercussions ever since. After several concerts in Norway, their latest milestone has been opening for Mayhem at Festspillene i Nord.

As a taster for the 2022 album ‘evenge at all Costs, they’ve given us ‘Ransom Note.’ Watch ‘Ransom Note’ here:

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1st December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Do you ever feel that the problems facing humanity right now are of our own making? That the phrase ‘scum of the earth’ applies to humanity as a whole, because we as a species have simply fucked everything up beyond all repair? Because the simple fact is, we have. What other creature destroy its own habitat as well as those of nearly all others? Parasites seek to achieve symbiosis with their host; viruses mutate to become more transmissible but less fatal; the aim is not to kill its host but to thrive and expand. Mankind is worse than parasitic, the most brutal virus that evolves slowly and in ways which are counterintuitive, namely to exhaust its host. Where do we actually go from here? The prospect of inhabiting Mars with colonies because we’ve fucked up the world we were born to seems beyond insane.

The shock-factor-monikered Skat Injector are – as you’d likely expect – upfront in their positioning, pitched as serving up ‘Grindcore-inspired speedcore and a diatribe of anti-human propaganda because that’s what we deserve for what we’ve become.’ They have a deep sense of self-loathing and misanthropy, and it’s abundantly cleat on this dehumanised, inhuman blasting racket that’s dark, deep, glitchy, subterranean, demonic, wrecked on every level.

They rail against ‘Willful [sic] ignorance, habitat loss, animal abuse, global ecocide, global warming, environmental pollution, overpopulation and many other attributes of a leeching narcissistic race which needs to live within its bounds’. They shouldn’t have to; this is how life should work.

On Bled Under A Burning Sky, Skat Injector pound and rage and rage and pound, as grating, raw-threated vocals spit, snarl, and grind against a backdrop of frenzies percussion. The lyrics aren’t always – or often – decipherable, but the sentiment is clear.

‘All Tomorrow’s Genocides’ is like a grindcore Prurient, with soft, spindly synths slowly spinning misty swirls of fear chords around pulverizing drill-like beats. Explosive doesn’t come close to a fitting description.

‘An Earth Cleansed with Flame’ goes full harsh electro and is straight up Chis and Cosey trance backing, at least at first, manifesting as aggressive dance with harsh vocals, while the six-minute ‘The Future Sound of Suffering’ brings the suffering and it’s painful in its crunching brutality. ‘Vanishes Rapidly’ is constructed around explosive dynamics, and flips from near ambience to the firing of an AK-47 directly into the ear. It’s brutal and it’s savage, but also very much the ultimate expression of the industrial era, and ‘Obsidian Dawn’ only amplifies and intensifies. It fucking hurts.

The album is dominated by beats so hard and fast they sound like drills and nail guns, this is industrial and its hardest and most industrial, the sonic equivalent of applying a power drill on hammer setting to the eyeball.

At almost fifty-two minutes, it packs a lot of firepower, a lot of punch – so much so that it leases you panting and pounded – in a good way, of course, assuming you have at least a faintly masochistic streak and appreciate music that’s as much about testing your endurance as it is coaxing and massaging the pleasure zones with a battering ram and a taser simultaneously.

The second CD – another fifty-three minutes – of instrumental and extended versions of the album’s tracks is certainly not one for the passing listener or casual fan, and it’s perhaps not essential even for moderate fans, although the nine-minute extended version of the title track is certainly a nice pain-inflicting bonus.

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New Heavy Sounds – 29th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Back in the early 90s, when riot grrrl emerged as a thing, the UK inkies were all over it, just as they were all over anything that looked like being the next movement (who remembers The New Wave of New Wave, or The Scene that Celebrates Itself?) and sometimes, when there wasn’t anything, then they’d sometime just shoehorn some random bands into a bracket and give it a name and see if it would stick (Romo, anyone?). At that time, the music press proselytised hard, gushing about the way that hearing bands was like an epiphany – and every other band, apart from the shit ones, all of whom were call really fucking shit, were a complete revelation, as expressed by means of a smorgasbord of extravagant similes and extended metaphors.

Of course, what goes around comes around, and riot grrrl has been making a return for a while now. It’s fitting for the times when issues of gender identity and the difficulties women face every day in society are at the forefront of discussion. It’s the real grrrl power, it’s about liberation, and a reminder to those who need reminding – which is seemingly half the planet – that women can rock just as hard and kick just as much arse as guys, if not more so.

So it’s fair to say that in being transported some way back in time, Shooting Daggers’ debut release for New Heavy Sounds – a 7” flexi no less, that comes with a fold out insert, A4 poster, sticker and badge in a poly bag in a limited run of 250 – does yield a rush that’s tinged with nostalgia (although back in the 90s you’d be legging it round your local record shops to see if you could score a copy. According to their PR, ‘Sal, Bea and Raquel are a visceral amalgam of hardcore punk, riot grrrl and metalcore. They describe themselves as a feminist punk/queercore outfit who cite their influences as bands like Gouge Away, G.L.O.S.S, Turnstile and Gel.’

‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is a minute and fifty-one seconds of guitar driven shouty punk fury ‘It’s all about you!!’ Salomé Pellegrin snarls over the fuzzed-out thrash. There’s no subtext here: this is as direct and angry as it gets.

As if the point needs making any more explicitly, they double down on the vitriol on the B-side. ‘You look so sexy tonight, you make me want to dismantle the patriarchy’ – so starts ‘Missandra’ before a thick, lumbering grunge riff grinds in. Is it right to respond to hate with more hate? Perhaps not but misandry at this point in history is understandable, and it’s beyond time that men need to collectively own the centuries of shit perpetrated against women. No buts, no excuses. And it’s a corking song, too. They pack a hell of a lot into a fraction over three minutes here, switching the tempo up to go full hardcore punk, and yes, it’s a no-messing and much-deserved knee in the balls, the likes of which deserves to dismantle the patriarchy, one by one.

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5th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Oslo-based Norwegian stoner / sludge metal trio Rongeur came together in 2012, drawing influence from the likes of Eyehategod, Seigmen, High on Fire, Neurosis, Darkthrone and Arthur Schoupenhauer, ‘with the intent of making raw, heavy and honest music’.

Ahead of their second album, Glacier Tongue – the follow-up to 2017 debut An Asphyxiating Embrace, they’re offering up a single cut in the form of ‘Gutter Marathon’.

So what is a gutter marathon? After hearing this savage roar of noise, I’m none the wiser, although it feels like crawling on your belly splashing through murk and dirt in a rush to swim to the drain: it seems fitting at a time when the entire world seems like it’s drowning in shit, a lot of it if our own making.

Marathons are usually long, endurance tests, and similarly, stoner / sludge metal is often on the slower side, so the visceral blast of ‘Gutter Marathon’ comes as something of a surprise, blasting in at breakneck speed and being over in a minute and twenty-three seconds making it more of a sprint. But it’s grimy and overloading, a ferocious blast of snarling guttural rage, and sounds like their dope’s been laced with amphetamines. So Rongeur it must be right!

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Following five albums and numerous tours, Brazilian grindcore masters Desalmado are back with a new effort titled Mass Mental Devolution, due out on October 8th via  Gruesome Records in cooperation with  Xaninho Discos, Sana Maior Records and Shinigami Records.
Today, the Brazilian unleashed a music video for a brand new track titled ‘Across The Land’. With cinematography and 3D art by Walter de Andrade, this new video is now playing here:

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Desalmado once again remains true to their grindcore origins, not only for its aggressive and utterly destructive sounding music, but also for its musical and insurgent attitude, exposing the guts of a perverse and alienated world subservient to a system manipulated by the dominant classes and Mass Mental Devolution is no different.

Produced by Hugo Silva and Desalmado, recorded by Hugo Silva at Family Mob (São Paulo, Brasil) with the assistance of Otavio Rossato, Mass Mental Devolution really captures the intensity of the band’s live shows, a fierce and crushing grindcore sound that will make fans of Napalm Death and Brutal Truth more than happy.

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Roman Numeral (US) / Wolves And Vibrancy (EU) –13th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Linear narrative can be so dull, so predictable, or otherwise lacking in intrigue and imagination. There is so much more challenge – both as a writer and a reader – to a work that doesn’t follow that standard beginning / middle / end convention. There’s nothing predictable or obvious or linear about Fawn Limbs’ their third long player.

‘Day three. I woke up in a bed made of hay and roots. For a brief but fleeting moment, I couldn’t recall the incidents of the past days…’ This is how we arrive in Darwin Falls. It’s a sparse country vibe, a bit True Detective. It’s hazy, hot. The dry, cracked voice of Lee Fisher narrates the scene, and we’re as lost and bewildered as he is. Where are we? Why are we here? What the fuck happened? The picture gets darker as it unfurls, and it’s a slow, languorous build… and then, unexpectedly, everything erupts and shit spews forth as if from a volcano bursting from the very molten pits of hell. It tears with a burning fury at your guts and at your organs, and this is punishment. And then, this is calm, this is tranquillity. This is schizophrenic, unpredictable. It’s too much to process.

How you do describe Fawn Limbs? Odd and experimental is perhaps a fair starting point, and the first track in this is both. ‘Nesting Lumens’ is abstract and ethereal, a shade abstract, but it’s also raging chthonic demon-noise metal and all the brutality delivered with a razor-sharp technicality. It’s perhaps most interesting when the rage dissipates and we’re left with expensive post-rock tropes, and these extend into the majestic

The Transatlantic trio describe themselves as ‘avant-garde mathgrind’ and that seems a fair summary of the blistering hellfest that is Darwin Falls.

We’re still struggling to find orientation amidst the slow-twisting post-rock smog of the opening segment of ‘Wound Hiss’ when things suddenly turn brutal, a battering sonic assault that’s brief but so violent as to cause concussion.

It’s the extremity of the contrasts that render these songs so staggering in their impact. As a post-rock band, they’re outstanding at forging delicate, graceful pastoral pieces, musical passages of delicacy and grace – but instead of breaking into breathtaking crescendos of cinematic beauty, they rampage into howling blasts of anguish that explode on the most frenzied slabs of extreme metal. There are moments of eerie spaciousness, as on ‘Caesura’, a short piece which appropriately provides a moment of respite, and mellow interludes such as the still waters of laid-back jazz at the start of ‘Twitching, Lapsing’ which jolts into life with a haemorrhage-inducing blast of rampant noise and only becomes more impossible as the brass collides with a nuclear storm and a tsunami of noise.

If Justin Broadrick and co successfully combined free jazz with slow, industrial grind as GOD, then Fawn Limbs push the concept to another level, and the spoken word sections provide a fascinating counterpoint to the roaring, blazing sonic blasts that come in between. But ultimately, comparisons simply don’t hold up here. True innovation is rare, and we’re unaccustomed to it: it’s difficult to respond to it appropriately, somehow. It phases us. Shuddering, bemusement, bewilderment. A lack of comprehension. How do you measure it, and how do you process? Darwin Falls is a remarkable album, a sonic supernova, and it’s no mere hybrid: it is truly unique. Prepare to have your mind – and eardrums – blown.

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Cleopatra Records

Christopher Nosnibor

As a label, Cleopatra has arguably established itself as the home of goth and dark music, with leanings toward the vintage period where goth emerged from post-punk – alongside some classic 80s acts, old-school punk, and some weird shit, of course.

Belgian ‘band’ Controversial – the vehicle of Bart Coninckx – mines a largely industrial seam in the vein of Wax Trax! – early Ministry, KMFDM, Skrew, blending stark synths with grating guitars and thumping programmed beats.

It’s a bleak, barren start to the album with the eerie dark drone of ‘The Trauma of Birth’ that ruptures the haunting, ethereal choral sound with dirty guitars and grainy samples, before things get 80s motoric with the cyclical synth groove of ‘With a Vision of Death’: plinking videogame laser sounds give way to the heavy chug of a metallic guitar, and, low in the mix, a distorted, Al Jourgensen style raspy roar that growls and spits and snarls its way through a cacophony of tortured howl.

Having done birth and death, we’re into the myriad shades of pain of the human condition, from recent single ‘Violence’ – an absolutely relentless riff-driven pounder – to the brooding piano-led ‘Is This the Best’ via serene theatricals of ‘Crying’ that swerves into an epic prog guitar solo. You couldn’t accuse Controversial of being predictable or one-dimensional.

Over the course of thirteen muscular cuts (plus a couple of bonus remixes courtesy of Die Krupps and Laether Strip) dominated by some brutally heavy, hard-edge riffage, Controversial tears through modern society like, like a typhoon, like a forest fire, like a juggernaut with the brakes cut.

‘Commercial Breakdown’ blasts its way through pandemic control mechanisms and leans heavily on both ‘NWO’ and ‘Psalm 69’ but works because of it rather than in spite of it – because if you’re going to be overt, best to take a solid source of influence, and while much of the album is geared toward the grating guitar sound, a handful, like ‘Suffering Unseen’ (which nabs the drum fill from Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Nag Nag Nag’) go all out technoindustrial / aggrotech. The songs tend to be centred around heavy repetition, both with circular, repetitive riffs and motifs, and looped samples, pitched around the optimal 120 BPM to render them instant grippers.

No two ways about it, Second Genesis is a solid album with plenty of attack paired with an unexpected range.

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Norwegian genre-bending innovators She Said Destroy have recently shared another track from their long-awaited third full-length album Succession, due out later this year via Mas-Kina Recordings.

Check out this new track titled ‘Not Only Bridges’ here:

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Picking up where they left off with their 2012’s EP “Bleeding Fiction”, “Succession” was recorded at guitarist Snorre Bergerud’s studio Ymir Audio, located in Vilnius, during January and February 2020 and contains a collection of material written between 2007 and 2019, and as with earlier She Said Destroy efforts displays a wide range of musical styles. Thematically “Succession” is a natural continuation of She Said Destroy’s exploration of human nature on past releases.  This time around the impact of the Anthropocene era on our psyche and our surroundings rears its ugly head throughout the album. These are songs of frustration,  despair and hatred, but also of love and wanting to cling on to hope even when not believing that striving for a better world will bear fruits.