Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Pelagic Records – 5th May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Biblical’ has become a byword for something tremendously large, epic, or of intense proportion, but also brutal and torturous and bloody. King Herod the Great is perhaps best known, not for his extensive construction projects, but for ordering the slaughter of the innocents: fearful of the threat of a ‘new king’, the story goes (although only according to Matthew) that he ordered the execution of all male children who are two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The legend has inspired some pretty horrific depictions in art, from Duccio Di Buoninsegna to Reubens, and in context, Herod is an outstanding name for a metal band. And Herod live up to their name, too.

Iconoclast is a clear step on from Sombre Dessein, released in 2019. Back then, they were touting a ‘progressive sludge’ sound: in contrast, their lasts bio sees the band describe themselves as ‘atmospheric groove metal’.

“I’m obsessed with late 90’s Meshuggah, early Dillinger Escape Plan, and early Cult of Luna,” explains guitarist Pierre Carroz deftly about the influences behind the sound of his brainchild.

But for all the stylistic progression, thematically, they’re still squarely focused on the societal scourge of religion, as the title suggests, and it kicks off hard and heavy with ‘The Icon’, a barrelling, churning grind of dirty guitars which at the most unexpected moments switch tempo and gets tetchy and technical. Then, just shy of five minutes on, there are some clean, drawling vocals reminiscent of Alice in Chains – but disembodied, bent, it’s like Layne Staley is calling from the other side, and within just six minutes and a single track, Herod have slammed down a whole album’s worth of ideas.

The thematic thread is also apparent in the song titles, all of we which are ‘The…’ something. If imbues the album with a sense of being a book with the songs as chapters with corresponding titles which guide the way through a discursive exploration. Only, that discussion is a blast-out, a levelling by force.

There are eight tracks all, most well over the six-minute mark, and they blend sedated melodies with expansive guitar, raging, raw-throated vocals and thunderous percussion. There are slow, sedate passages, as on ‘The Girl with a Balloon’ which invite comparison to the earthy, low-tempo grit of Neurosis, and they really bring the weight when the riffs crash in. As much as the monolithic power chords dominate, the earth-shattering bass is absolutely essential to the sound.

‘The Ode to’ marks a significant shift in form, a resonantly vocal chorus scaling the heights and looking upwards to the heavens, a works of majesty that speaks to the ethereal and the eternal – but over the duration, the guitars harden and drive until the mid-point achieves a punishing plateau of distortion before returning to a mesmerising sway brimming with Eastern promise – before once again a landslide of guitars bring absolute devastation.

Herod get devastation, and get atmospheric, too. They get the merit of a melody, but tend to really delay gratification in favour of punishment before reward. Mostly, though, they get the power of punishment, and they mete out plenty of that over the course of fifty minutes. It’s a big fifty minutes, and it’s as heavy as fuck.

The nine-minute finale is heavily immersed in progressive sounds and styling, but when the crushing riffs blast in, all is well.

For all of the moments of levity and mindfulness, Iconoclast is everything fans – myself included – would want from Herod – snarling, churning riffs and roaring vocals, which combine to absolutely devastating effect. They’ve certainly evolved, but they’ve not lost sight of their sound, and have simply expanded it.

The resultant Iconoclast is an absolute monster.



Industrial bass act SINthetik Messiah has just unveiled their new single, ‘Religious Soldier’.

‘Religious Soldier’ is about exposing religious leaders for brainwashing, abusing their followers and specifically, how they want their flock to be ‘good soldiers’ in their own twisted version of what it means to serve God. Setting the tone of the new single, SINthetik Messiah’s ‘Religious Soldier’ features a recording of a fake priest performing a fake exorcism on a brainwashed woman.

The sonic hammer of sound behind ‘Religious Soldier’ draws musical inspiration from the hardcore drum and bass, power noise, EBM, and old school industrial music scenes. The main vocalist, Bug Gigabyte takes his vocals from a punk rock type scream to a full on male choir. Lyrically, he begs the audience to wake up and not fall into a cult.

This two-track EP precedes a full length album due out in 2022.

Check it here:




Sargent House – 6th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Here in England – and Britain, as elsewhere further afield – division is rife: views and positions have become increasingly polarised and entrenched in recent years, and man, it’s fucking ugly. From here, it’s perhaps difficult to appreciate just how much uglier it gets when fervent religiosity is added to the mix. And while the white, Christian west expends boundless energy vilifying Islam, much of this feels like so much hypocrisy. For a religion that officially preaches for its adherents to ‘love thy neighbour’, Christianity is prone to being particularly harsh and judgemental, and as the album’s title suggests, there is a strong element of Christian judgment at the heart of the songs here.

The press release describes Sinner Get Ready as ‘an abrasive, unsettling portrait of devotion and betrayal, judgment and consequence, set in the severe and derelict landscape of rural Pennsylvania, a neglected and interstitial region deeply embedded with a particularly austere brand of Christianity, and where Hayter currently lives.’ It goes on to explain: ‘The rigorous and almost procedural site-specificity reflects an obsession with externalizing that site as the locus of great personal pain – pain that is the Will of that region’s presiding God; an atonement for sin that only the blood of Jesus can cleanse’. There is a certain specificity about the songs collected here, but, as is so often the case, the personal radiates out to become the universal, and however specific the subject and inspiration on a personal level to the artist a work may be, true art resonates far beyond.

Sinner Get Ready is an album that proves, demonstrably, that you don’t need noise or volume to achieve levels of devastating intensity. It’s spectacularly simple, raw, and at the same time complex and layered, not least of all in the vocal arrangements, and also hits like a tsunami. Sinner Get Ready is an intensely spiritual work, but it’s also quite simply an intense work, and one that conveys the power of the word of the Lord, that conjures fire and brimstone and that forewarns sinners- and non-believers – what they can expect.

The album begins gently enough, with rolling piano and strong but melodic vocals, operatic and elevating. But it doesn’t take long before things grow dark and disturbing on the nine-minute opener, ‘The Order of Spiritual Virgins’. The delicate, ethereal, choral evocations are rent with crashing, violent blasts of piano – fist-smashing thunderousness. It hits hard.

There is something of the musical about this, at least in terms of there being a narrative thread and a sense of characterisation running through it. It’s certainly more than simply a collection of songs: there is a sense of sequence, of progression. ‘I Who Bend the Tall Grass’ is sparsely arranged around a soft organ drone, and over which Hayter’s vocal cracks and breaks with force and emotion, and harmony melts into warped dissonance. ‘He has to die! There is no other way!’ she barks, rough and raw, before an atonal chorus of voices and drones carry it away.

Contrastingly, ‘Many Hands’ is traditional folk with an element of roots American country. It’s also dolorous, painful, its many-layered beseeching vocal, and ‘The Sacred Linametnt of Judgement’ is similarly folky, with a rich earthiness that speaks of tradition and evokes bygone times. Yet, as ‘Repent Now Confess Now’ brings into sharp relief just how alive some of those traditions still are in certain places, and these aren’t just small pockets, but huge swathes, and while the deep south is most commonly associated with hardline Christianity, it’s a trait of many rural areas. It may be 2021, but fire and brimstone and divine retribution are still dominant in these places, and what may seem strange to an outsider – like the material for a Louis Theroux documentary – this shit is real, and people live and die by their beliefs. There are some well-selected, well-placed samples, too, which accentuate this.

The songs on here soar, but rage with intensity, trembling with the fear of God and the weight of judgement and the threat of punishment. It would be hard to hear Sinner Get Ready and not feel moved in some way or another.