PICK OF THE WEEK: Primitive Man’s dour outlook brings misery to thunderous fury on ‘Immersion’

Photo by Alvino Salcedo

I’m having a harder time each week leaving my house and going out into the world because it’s a constant reminder of people’s selfishness and lack of understanding of the simplest concepts that are designed to accommodate other people, and really this started before the pandemic. It’s only gotten worse now, and my distaste of being around others has only thickened.

That kept picking away at me when taking on Primitive Man’s ungodly pummeling new record “Immersion,” a six-track, 36-minute ride into the worst parts of existence as well as your unmercifully scarred psyche. It’s not like Primitive Man ever have been a go-to band if you’re looking to fill your soul with joy, but with humanity seemingly on an endless descent into shit, it gets harder to conjure positivity in a place devoid of it. This record, their third full-length and first since 2017’s “Caustic,” is a purposeful slide toward embracing the darkness and gazing into the chasm that has created such ill feelings. The band—vocalist/guitarist Ethan Lee McCarthy, bassist Jonathan Campos, drummer Joe Linder—treats this madness with some of their heaviest, most relentless playing yet, a record that is almost half the length of their last album but somehow finds a way to leave deeper, more painful wounds both inside and outside of your body and mind.

“The Lifer” opens in a bath of noise lava with McCarthy’s growls corroding muscle, and sludgy hell leading the way. A lurching death march piles into mud as the guitar work continues to throw acid at things, and the pace is completely devastating, slowly pinching your nerves before fading into atmosphere. “Entity” has guitars firing up right away, eating away at your psyche, while noise hovers, and McCarthy’s growls churn. The track burns in place, letting heavy smoke billow while the playing lands heavy blows, storming in chaos that grinds into the dirt. “Menacing” is suitably named as it unloads with the drumming killing and the playing splattering guts. Lumbering growls weigh down your chest and continue to add pressure as the tempo clobbers, and the noise melts metal into liquid. The smashing refuses to relent while the track crawls to the finish line before spacey guitars jolt and release alien gases.

“∞” is an ambient track that would not sound out of place on McCarthy’s Many Blessings project. Sounds sizzle and crash as an onslaught of sound challenges your ears and mental dexterity, eventually fading into muck. “Foul” unleashes ringing noises, brutal riffs, and fearsome growls as McCarthy threatens, “Stay the fuck away from me.” Torture abounds from there with guitars cutting through guts and brief gusts of air being choked out by ominous tones. Sounds swirl into oblivion as the vocals punish the mind, feeling like a bloodletting, with the track slowly crashing to its end. “Consumption” closes the record and brings on stifling fury with the drumming destroying, and feedback hanging like a cloud of hornets. McCarthy’s wails rumble as the band hammers into grinding death, deliberately ripping its way back into the earth.

Existence is miserable with or without the world being in a perpetual state of anxiety over a plague and dealing with the fuckers who think this is political, and “Immersion” is a heavy reminder of that fact. Primitive Man always have reveled in the darker regions of humanity, but with things continually getting worse every day, these six songs won’t really leave you feeling great inside. But that’s the point: Embracing this reality is a way to make us more resilient, to develop harder shells, and to tackle the demons that have been haunting us, unless we choose sweet submission and give into the failure.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/primitivemandoom/

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/primitive-man-immersion

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Molina’s spider-bitten charms call out on final posthumous solo collection ‘Eight Gates’

Photo by Christopher Bennett

Jason Molina was a teller of tall tales. Anyone who read his biography Riding With the Ghost by Erin Osmon knew he had a history with telling stories that seemed fairly thin of truth or just lying outright. It was part of his weird charm, and it was as much a part of him as his music and his heartbreaking words, which could find a way to carve into your guts.

Molina passed from complications from alcoholism in 2013, dying alone, though the stories and music still uncovered remain, trickling out over the years since we lost him. The latest is “Eight Gates,” a nine-track collection of songs he recorded when he moved to London, somewhere around 2008 when he claimed to have been a victim of a mysterious poisonous spider bite that apparently baffled his doctors and left him on hantavirus medication. Naturally, there are no records of any doctor’s appointments, so it’s likely just another part of his lore. These songs also mark the last of Molina’s solo material he recorded before he died, so that adds even more gravity to the proceedings. Obviously, this is a metal site, but Molina’s music has seeped its way deep into that scene as well, and the artist’s earliest music was based in heavier sounds. So, he’s right at home with the audience for this site, listeners who are in touch with their own hurt and the way Molina so uniquely revealed his own.

“Whisper Away” starts with birds chirping, an element woven through the entire record, as strings and guitars awaken and Molina calls, “Whisper away your last smile,” as the track churns away, back toward the birds. “Shadow Answers the Wall” has the drums pushing and organs swelling, with Molina wondering, “If I had never believed and everything came into place, would the stars be looking down on me?” The drums rattle and echo in haunted soul while the track buzzes into the familiar chirps. “The Mission’s End” is acoustic with naked vocals, a simple folk tune where Molina urges, “We’re all equal along this path,” as the track bows out. “Old Worry” combines acoustics and organs, as Molina declares, “I took the oath of the wanderer,” another poignant line from a man whose notebooks were full of them. Sounds lightly ricochet, settling into the earth to rest forever.

“She Says” starts with Molina chatting with folks in the studio, quipping, “The perfect take is as long as the person singing is still alive.” The playing feels loose, almost thrown together in an alluring way, reveling in quiet and stillness. “Fire on the Rail” starts with Molina singing a capella, as he pokes, “Fire on the prairie, dawn, who have we failed?” Guitars flow in as the track bleeds slowly, sweeping like a ghost in and out of the room, leaving a draft behind. “Be Told the Truth” blends guitars, keys, and strings, dripping as Molina laments, “How could something be so falling apart?” The song quivers in place while the keys swell, feeling like a hot rainy night in the summer. “Thistle Blue” delivers guitars that seem to hint at trouble as keys surface, and Molina levels, “It’s late I know, but not for strangers.” The keys bubble as Molina’s guilt gets him again as he sings, “A choice at least once in your time whose heartbreak could I not leave behind,” calmly navigating through trouble back into the embrace of birds chirping. “The Crossroad + The Emptiness” is the final cut, and again, Molina is addressing those working near him as he says, “Shut up, this is my record.” The song itself is classic Molina folk as he sits on his Dec. 30th birthday, offering, “I feel the dread as you re-read my palms.” It’s a hush of a song, a track that quietly exists and ends before you really get a read on it.

This record is Jason Molina through and through, though it also is something that feels a little different from a lot of his work. Who knows what the fate these nine “Eight Gates” songs would have met had he lived, but with him retiring to another plane, we have these pieces, skeletal as they may be at times, to try to understand. It’s a welcome collection from a man whose star never got to shine as elegantly as it should have before his troubles came to claim him.

For more on the band, go here: https://jasonmolina.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://jasonmolina.ffm.to/eight-gates

For more on the label, go here: https://secretlycanadian.com/

Chilean destroyers Selbst bleed immersive, charring black metal on molten ‘Relatos de Angustia’

Many of our lives are immersed in chaos right now, the degree to which depends on our personal circumstances and whatever hell is circling around our heads at the moment. While trying to find a way to breathe through that and balance oneself is a healthy way to handle these matters, allowing oneself to align with the darkness and understand it can be as cathartic.

The brand of pandemonium in which Selbst immerse themselves isn’t quite the same thing, but their razor-sharp black metal could be that partner that walks with you into hell. The now Chilean-based group (they planted their initial seeds in Venezuela) fires up their engines on this new, second record “Relatos de Angustia” (translates to “stories of anguish,” which is fitting) and feels like the devastation that might encircle you so that you can align with it. This is a project helmed and created by N, though he has surrounded himself with a full live lineup (in case you’re confused as to why there are four people in the photo above), and the formula has bubbled over with even more danger and muscular, yet flexible playing than displayed on the promising 2017 self-titled debut.

“Praeludium” is an intro-style cut that has guitars awakening and generating heat, setting an ambiance that pays off with “Deafening Wailing of the Desperate Ones” where melody and fury meet. N’s vocals roar while the song continues to gain momentum, charging through the atmosphere, delivering thunderous power, and thrashing heavily until the song reaches its molten end. “The Depths of Selfishness” is scintillating when it starts as the drums mash away, and the vocals torch paths. Tornadic hell causes your stomach contents to splash around as the bass plods, and the assault ends with churning playing and corrosive wails. “Silent Soul Throes” bleeds open before it gains its footing while the bass work hammers, and N’s vocals stretch muscles. There’s a chaotic feel to everything as the track mixes into the fog, the calls let loose, and the soloing catches fire dangerously. That pushes back toward melodic circles, clobbering and turning itself into ash.

“The Weight of Breathing” erupts and is pounding you unmercifully before you even know what hit you. Throaty howls and jolting playing hit the open road, as clean warbling delivers mixes messages behind the scenes. The playing can be hypnotic at times as shrapnel flies and the intensity is raised, bringing another dose of speed on its final stretch. “Sculpting the Dirtiness of Its Existence” has a bit of a different pace when it starts, feeling moody and strange before the fires are agitated again. The vocals crush while the playing stings, bringing on a sorrowful haze that washes over the anguish, even treating some of this with a proggy edge. “Let the Pain Run Through” closes the album and almost immediately has you in its clutches, raining down blows. A progressive storm soaks the ground as synth thickens the rains, and the track enters into deep, black waves. The guitar work explodes and fills the skies while clean calls spread, and a goth-style shadow drops and envelops the world in darkness.

There is so much swirling in the air on Selbst’s second record that it practically demands repeat listens just you can unravel all the details in this thing. The easy way to approach “Relatos de Angustia” is to understand it’s a black metal record that certain knows its history but is making some dramatic sweeps of its own to apply some different DNA. It’ll eat you alive if you let it, or it’ll unveil exciting new waves of black metal if you can handle the unforgiving undercurrent.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/selbstbm/

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/

Or here (international): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

Ukrainian visionaries Nug place focus on personality disorders with sweeping debut ‘Alter Ego’

No one can defeat the mind, especially those suffering from a mental illness. In those battles, the mind is undefeated, and there’s little chance that it’ll ever be fully conquered no matter how much work one puts into the fight. Luckily, we live in a time when these types of disorders are not stigmatized like they used to be, so trying to address them doesn’t make you a pariah.

Ukrainian artists Nug put a very interesting and difficult subject matter at the forefront of their debut record, that being that idea of an alter ego and people’s troubles dealing with such a phenomenon. “Alter Ego”  is an eight-track, 49-minute excursion into the deep, trying to make a space for those who deal with personality disorders and the issues that cloud their lives. The band makes it clear that this music is meant to be a sort of companion along the way,  a force that can take you by the hand and lead you through the darkest of times. Along the way, the band—vocalist/synth player Yura Dubrovskiy, guitarist Vitaliy Rysakov, guitarist/backing vocalist Yurii Popov, bassist Bogdan Kalynets, drummer Jevgen Tarasenko—unloads atmospheric post-metal-style creations that would sound at home alongside Cult of Luna or ISIS in your heart, taking you on a sonic journey that reaches into the sky.

“The Birth/Народження” opens the record in calm but immersive noise where synth swims into the atmosphere and paves the way for “Beast/Звір” that immediately delivers swaggering riffs and smothering fury. Dubrovskiy’s vicious growls dig deep as the playing chugs along, and the gravity fills your chest. A cold weather front pushes through, bringing some calm with it, but then it bursts with new life, scraping ahead and chewing up earth as the track closes in a heavy groove. “Psyche/Душа” has colors rushing as the roars quake the earth, and spacey synth winds itself into the mix, blurring vision. The playing torpedoes into deep sludge as the hammers are dropped, and the track ends in thick mud. “Shores/Береги” lets keys swim in a cosmic woosh as the track begins to clobber, and Dubrovskiy’s vocals wrench your insides. Parts of this feel mystical, like a haze is taking you into hypnosis, and then the body soars through the skies, coming back into gut-wrenching madness, the vocals crying out, and the final blows leaving bruising.

“Eleven/Одинадцять” slowly emerges from the fog before the trudging breaks up rocks, mixing menace with imagination. The howls reach out as the playing crushes, jolting spines even amid some pleasantly breezy synth work. The playing pummels out of that as the devastation disappears into a haze. “Dorian/Доріан” delivers lurching wails and slurry guitar, slowly delivering punishment. Psyche flushes swagger in as the leads explode with power, bursting with blood and sparks as the guitars continue to mash, as sounds hover and the fury spirals out. “Radiance/Сяйво” ushers in keys and stinging bass, setting a mood that slowly picks up and digs into muscle. The track smothers harder later, sending devastation into the stars. Closer “Night Shine/Блиск Ночі” trickles in before it smashes apart, cutting into bone and letting wild wails ricochet. Keys blip as the power crumbles, trudging through the mists, blending into the clouds, and merging with the stars.

The biggest battles we face often take place within our own mind, something that can be both a gift and a detriment, depending on how our brain chemicals filter out. Nug capture a measure of that struggle on “Alter Ego,” a record that certainly can sink into your senses and make you feel different aspects of your own personality. It’s an immersive, powerful record that unveils different layers with each listen.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/nugband/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/bands/details/nug.aspx

For more on the label, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx

PICK OF THE WEEK: Draghkar mash mangling creativity into death on ‘At the Crossroads of Infinity’

We’re staring another Friday in the face, and remember when this used to be a fun stretch of 24 hours where you could escape the daily madness of the week and stretch out your experiences by doing fun shit in order to appease your aching brain? Yeah, the good times. We can’t really do that in the same way, so excuse me while the tension mounts.

I don’t have anything in this second graph that’s going to make you feel any better about that, but we do have the debut record from Draghkar to discuss, and that should at least make you look forward to having this in your hands. Anyway, “At the Crossroads of Infinity” is a smasher of a record, a six-track, 35-minute burst that’s perfectly portioned and will leave you mangled and torn. And that’s not so bad because how are you really feeling these past 6 months? The band—vocalist Daniel Butler, guitarists Brandon Corsair and K.S. Kuciemba, bassist Camron Fisher, drummer Phil Segitho—is comprised of groups such as Acephalix, Vastum, Drawn and Quartered, Plague Bearer, Grave Spirit, and a ton more, and they’ve previously offered up a couple splits, an EP, and other smaller releases before finally landing on this beast of a debut record that pays off all of the deadly promised they showed along the way.

“The First Death” opens up with guitars catching fire and the pace galloping, while Butler’s barked wails blast you like shrapnel. The track keeps getting uglier all while taking on more melody, and the leads bubble up as the growls scrape flesh raw. The soloing bursts in and sends lasers, while clean warbling ices brains, and a smashing barrage takes the song to its finish. “Beyond Despair, the Dawn of Rebirth” has a huge start with powerful leads and a charging pace, with Butler scowling away, his growls taking on filth and blood. The guitar work is super catchy, even amid such violence, while growls rip back in, and the track hammers closed. “An Erosion of the Eternal Soul” runs 8:07 and begins in the midst of a doomy haze where the leads slowly thaw the ice, and then the playing surges with raw growls and mashing intent. A moody pall spreads over the song as classic metal guitar work flows, with the soloing going for throats. Thunderous leads usher in a heavy lava flow, vile growls punish, and the playing gallops and lays waste to all.

“Seeking Oblivion” has eerie clean chants, a Butler trait for sure, before doomy drapes drop, and the guitars sprawl, crushing wills. The playing begins to thrash hard as the growls punish, and the leads swelter. Everything aims toward insanity as the track ends in glorious devastation. “Pursued by Black Forms” enters in a fray of madness, slamming away with a tremendous fury as the vocals look to destroy souls. The leads bleed fire as they race melodically, while the bass bubbles with cosmic weirdness, and the gates crash down hard. The title cut closes the album, the other 8:07-long track. This starts mystically as twin guitars join in the murk, and things progress in a calculated pace. Then the aggravation hits as the band slips into something that resembles Maiden trudging through death metal terrain while the bass is proggy as hell, and the vocals slam home the dagger. The leads boil before reigniting as the track lurches into ominous glory, growls scar, and strange chants bleed into a synth mist that carries off into the night.

Draghkar’s crushing debut “At the Crossroads of Infinity” is one of those albums that drops just when you need a boost or your ass kicked or both. It definitely plays in the deep end of death metal but with creative bursts and prog secrets that make the thing uglier and more infectious. Everyone in this band has a lot of other shit going on, but hopefully this is just the first burst from a band that sounds like they could give a lot of modern death bands a run for their money.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DraghkarBand/

To buy the album, go here:  https://tinyurl.com/y8u5j6q2

For more on the label, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/

Von Till peels back his musical approach, creates scenic scapes on ‘No Wilderness Deep Enough’

Photo by Bobby Cochran

There’s no telling where inspiration is going to hit you, which is why I used to keep a notebook by my bed at night in case I had a strange dream or thought I figured was going to be important at some point. It actually worked until I stopped doing that. Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways for the creative bug to bite, and you never know when that’s going to be.

For Steve Von Till, it was while visiting his wife’s childhood home in Germany that the seeds to his new solo album “No Wilderness Deep Enough” were planted, and over time, he started to put together ambient-style soundscapes he initially figured would be instrumental pieces until friend/engineer Randall Dunn suggested he apply his trademark gruff vocals to the pieces. Naturally, it worked, and what resulted was a record very different from Von Till’s previous efforts as there is no guitar at all, with the tracks being built with synth, strings, and French horn. The title itself has ridiculous depth, especially when considering the world in which we live, and Von Till (Neurosis, Harvestman, etc.) reached into the idea of maintaining one’s existence both alone and around others and how those things can be accomplished during such turbulent times. Von Till also is releasing a collection of his poetry called No Wilderness Deep Enough and Harvestman: 23 Untitled Poems and Collected Lyrics that you can find at the shop link below.

“Dreams of Trees” begins with lush synth washing over and Von Till’s voice piercing the calm. “Still now, you voices, let us rest,” he urges as the track quivers, feeling wintry along the way.  Keys drip as noise crashes around, layering in echo as strings moan, and the track leaks away. “The Old Straight Track” has noise rising and Von Till’s voice sliding alongside pastoral organs that produce smoke. “We have the sea,” he urges, digging deep, “And we’ll always have the sky,” as the atmosphere thickens, horns call out from the distance, and the track ends in regality. “Indifferent Eyes” has synth sparks that jolt your system, while Von Till calls, “Reach for the infinite deep,” a message he repeats throughout the song. The playing moves toward the horizon while the noise strips away, with the strings leaving a glaze. “The emptiness swallows us all,” he admits while the music slips into moody cold, soaring toward the end.

“Trail the Silent Hours” arrives from outer space as Von Till’s singing scrapes along the earth, and it feels like the night is settling in. “Stand there as an oak, holding ground,” he urges, “Seek shelter from surrender, but don’t give in,” as the track slips into dark pockets. “Shadows on the Run” is the longest track, running 7:19, and it arrives with sweeping strings and visions of a burning house, while Von Till’s singing mixes in with pulsating synth. “Searching high and low for something to behold,” he sings while electro jolts enter your blood. Strings thicken while haunting echoes convey the mood, swimming off into the distance. “Wild Iron” runs 7:02 and brings darkening piano, a calming pace, and synth wormholes that let your mind wander. Dreamy progressions fill your head with clouds as the calls resonate, mesmerizing and numbing, with the synth tunneling into the unknown.

Von Till found a way to do something completely different from the four solo records that precede “No Wilderness Deep Enough,” a collection that’s warm, cosmic, and utterly human. The musical journey he took on this record is no surprise for a musician constantly pushing boundaries, but even this collection can throw a long-time listener for a loop. And that’s a good thing. It’s a wonderful surprise from a thoughtful player who found a way to open yet another chapter of his creativity.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.vontill.org/

To buy the album, go here: https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com/artists/steve-von-till/?

For more on the label, go here: https://www.neurotrecordings.com/

Terminal Nation’s fire-churning rage matches a land in turmoil with massive ‘Holocene Nation’

Photo by Kurt Lunsford

There was a time when we thought COVID-19 was going to be the biggest issue and problem the United States was going to face this year. And then George Floyd was murdered. Then the floodgates opened. Then the government’s outright fascism spewed into the streets, and the people who claimed to want to fight tyranny parked themselves at the boot for a long, sensuous lick. This is America.

Imagine, if you will, being locked deep in Arkansas during all of this, a place as red as red can be, with what I’m sure is a population steadfastly wrapping their arms around the goddamn injustice marring our country. That’s where Terminal Nation hail, where their politics surely can’t be met with smiling faces. But in total defiance, they push on, and the results are all over their new album “Holocene Extinction,” a collection that is fire-breathing and full of torment, an onslaught that likely didn’t know it was going to be as on the head as it is. For those new to the band—vocalist Stan Liszewski, guitarists Tommy Robinson and Dalton Rail, bassist Chase Turner, drummer Chase Davis—expect a punishing mix of hardcore, doom, thrash, punk, and death, and along the way, their righteous fury for what they’ve seen and heard comes rushing to the surface.

“Cognitive Dissonance” bursts open, trudging and smearing blood, with wild howls landing blows. The guitars take on machine-like efficiency while Liszewski prods, “What side will you be on?” as the track spirals out. “Arsenic Earth” has nasty wails as the pace grinds away, and speedy jolts send electricity. The guitars light up and punish, leading toward the title track that churns your bones in their gears. “The doomsday clock, it keeps on ticking,” Liszewski warns as the guitar work builds momentum. “You cannot save a world that does not want to be saved,” Liszewski charges as the track ends in muddy thrashing. “Master Plan” blasts by, sprawling and throwing wild punches as the vocals are directly in your face, and the senses and nerves are chewed to its ending. “Revenge” is blinding with rage-infused vocals and noise hanging in the air like a threatening cloud. The playing gets gritty and wild as maniacal laughing splashes with acid, the system burns down, and everything melts into dust. “Thirst to Burn” is a maniacal 31 seconds that’s a hugely splattering attack that reminds of Napalm Death at their gnarliest.

“Orange Bottle Prison” starts doomy, bathing in drone before it shreds into hardcore-style violence. The track lays waste in no time as Liszewski howls, “I can’t escape from this orange bottle prison,” as the guitars openly burn off. “Leather Envy” is animalistic and goes right for the guts, tearing you open and letting the insides spill out, raging into “Expired Utopia” where the guitars melt rubber and release noxious fumes. A doomy haze later settles over an atmospheric pocket, feeling mournful at times as hope bleeds away, putting a pall on this instrumental cut. “Death for Profit” hovers over as Liszewski’s talk singing lands shots before the intensity explodes. The words turn into vicious barks, with Liszewski howling, “When will we ever learn?” about humanity being a commodity for trade, and spirited gang shouts help hammer home that message. “Caskets of the Poor” is speedy and chunky as the pace agitates, slamming home the message with gargantuan power. “Disciple of Deceit” explodes with the bass driving and raspy wails, with Liszewski accusing, “You play the victim.” The track is sludgy in spots, feels like hardcore insanity in others, and is utterly devastating. “Age of Turmoil” closes the album with chugging playing and the pace smashing. “Welcome to the age of turmoil,” Liszewski wails while the playing is calculated but hammering, as the track is slowly pounded into oblivion.

It’s an incredibly fitting time—cosmically so—for Terminal Nation to arrive with “Holocene Extinction,” a record that matches what we’re seeing on the news and in our streets as people finally seem to be waking up to reality. This record has those same levels of anger, sarcasm, and hope, fighting and refusing to ever relent, and it probably packs even more for a punch for them being deep in red territory. This record not only is recommended for its incredible musical content, but also because it sounds like the voice of a nation that has had enough of being fucked.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/terminalnation

To buy the album, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/terminalnation

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

Faceless Burial inject creativity, brutally progressive spirits on smashing new album ‘Speciation’

Stop me if you’ve heard the whole thing about there being an insane amount of death metal bands and records, and wading through them to find the ones worthwhile can be a chore. I’d imagine it’s harder for a listener than a writer, because I pretty much have every release at my disposal, so I have the opportunity to find what I like. I guess good luck to the rest of you?

Anyway, Aussie trio Faceless Burial indeed create the good stuff, and they do again on their mind-splattering second record “Speciation.” Hey, it’s Australia again, a land that has produced a ridiculous amount of darkness as of late, and Faceless Burial definitely fall into that mix. But that’s not all that’s going on here. While the band—vocalist/bassist Alex Macfarlane, guitarist Füj, drummer Max Kohane—has their tentacles wrapped around classic death and its tenets, they also have an adventurous nature about them, a creativity that is, gasp, fun. They have progressive tendencies, but in a way that injects a strange alien DNA and never delves into being brainiacs just trying to impress themselves.

“Worship” gets the record off to a gritty start as the growls bubble up and the leads warm as the pace lurches along. The track is punchy and mashing while the lead shatter glass, and the playing gets ugly, carving a bloody path. Guitars shift as the playing rumbles, getting tricky and proggy before turning thrashy. “Limbic Infirmary” is muddy and crushing as nasty growls penetrate before things speed up dangerously. Guitars sweep while the playing erodes, thickening and giving off a hellish feel. Cooler leads melt into the picture before the playing begins to swagger heavily, blistering and leaving heavy bruising that’ll need an icing. “Irreparably Corpsed” pounds away with utterly relentless intensity as the guitars swelter, with the leads carving away. That pressure never relents once as it smears psychologically before coming to a brutal finish.

The title track spews lava from the start as the leads glow and the vocals stomp through mud and rock. It’s clobbering and heavy, pure death metal filth shoved into your mouth, where you’re forced to chew. The track hits the gas pedal and bashes punishingly while the soloing opens up and soars, slamming closed in a burst of colors. “Spuming Catarrhal Gruel” crushes and thrashes from the start as melody jolts, and the playing hammers bones. Drums splatter as the guitar work cuts through, allowing the soloing to ignite and the proggy madness flow. The track races around, mangling senses before finally bringing mercy. “Ravished to the Unknown” closes the album and unleashes pure savagery, with the drumming delivering thunder. A massacre ignites as the guitars explode with rage, numbing the mind and going into thrashy chaos. The guitar work freezes the flesh with the track fading into a haze of static.

Faceless Burial have their roots in classic death metal for sure, but they also inject progressive spirit and a strange creativity that helps “Speciation” rise among the endless glut of music in this sub-genre. On just their second record, they’re incredibly confident and absolutely devastating on this six-track display, one that’s just enough of a serving to satisfy but not overfeed. This band has a rock-solid formula, and that’s all over this blood-thirsty sophomore record.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/facelessburial/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

Or here: https://www.mesacounojo.com/shop/faceless-burial-speciation-lp/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

And here: https://www.mesacounojo.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Dark city spirit at core of Imperial Triumphant’s monstrous creation ‘Alphaville’

If you could be granted a look into the future, would you want it? Knowing where we are now, the conditions in which we’re living, the uncertainty surrounding us, and the offensive black hole of leadership failing to guide anyone, do you really want to see how things turn out? If you do, is it better to know, or do you have hope things can turn around?

You’re not going to get any answers listening to Imperial Triumphant’s astonishing new record “Alphaville,” but you might get the inspiration to wonder on your own without actually being exposed to the truth. This, their first for indie giant Century Media, is their fourth full-length overall, but this version of the band truly begins with 2018’s “Vile Luxury” and continues itself here. That’s where their examination into their hometown of New York City, its history, its architecture, its spirit, and its future really started, and it gets an even sharper focus here. Over seven tracks and about 50 minutes (there are two bonus cover songs as well), the band—Zachary Ilya Ezrin (guitars/vocals), Steven Blanco (bass, vocals, piano, mellotron, synth, etc.), and Kenny Grohowski (drums)—again don their brass masks and cloaks on a mesmerizing journey built with black metal, jazz, noise, and so many other elements that make it feel like you’re shifting back in time to industrial greatness before jettisoning back to the present to take a look at the mess we’re all in. And this all was written before COVID-19, if you can imagine. The band also has some special guests on the record including Tomas Haake (Meshuggah), Phlegeton (Wormed), and Yoshiko Ohara (formerly of Bloody Panda), who also appeared on “Vile Luxury.”

“Rotted Futures” starts with noises swirling in eeriness and the sounds of decay rising from the streets before the long introduction gives way to a sludging pace that jerks and Ezrin’s vile howls. The guitar work lets its screws get jarred loose while the growls corrode, and a choral section sweeps through amid the commotion. The bass bends, growls scrape, and organs rise to carry it all home. “Excelsior” has bass smudges and a Voivod-ian edge, which makes even more sense later. The playing jolts your brain as crazed howls chew into jerky guitars and a cacophony of chaos that suddenly halts. What sounds like store overhead announcements work their way into the murk before everything re-erupts and melts closed. “City Swine” has guitars slurring as Ezrin growls, “We don’t need you,” amid mystifying terrain. The track then calms, letting quiet drumming set the course before the track enters into gargantuan playing that’s some of the heaviest stuff in the band’s history. “There is no place for you here,” Ezrin wails as the playing recoils and the track ends in a static bath.

“Atomic Age” begins with, you guessed it, a barbershop quartet, but one that feels like a crackling transmission from “Bioshock” designed to make our skin crawl. The track unravels out of that as guitars shake the contents in your stomach, and weird voices circle in the air. A brief respite unloads lava out of the other end as the horns wrench guts, ushering in a quiet section where an airplane flies overhead, electro pulses shock, and the track ends in utter strangeness. “Transmission to Mercury” opens with elegant piano spreading and horns swimming before the riffs wreck shop. The pace churns and brings nausea while the brass pumps again, and it feels like your head is merging through traffic. Fierce shrieks rain down, and they continue to wreak havoc over the final minutes before everything burns off. The title track arrives with guitars tearing into the earth, the bass liquifying, and the growls going after prone flesh. The tempo comes unglued, buzzing, destroying, and speeding through the metropolis while weird synth pockets hypnotize, and then the playing goes back to loosening the foundation. Mechanical croaks pelt away before manic hell is unleashed, leaving heads spinning and defaced. “The Greater Good” is the closing cut of IT material, and it stomps guts right out of the gates, with ghostly synth surrounding, and an avalanche of punishment dealt. Guitars feel like they’re ripping at your throat while shrieks and growls unite into a single beast, and the drums agitate. The keys form like a warped old film score unearthed from Armageddon, while the atmosphere simmers in sepia, and that storm spreads to the end. There are two bonus cuts as well—a version of Voivod’s “Experiment” from “Dimension Hatröss” to which they give an added death metal vibe, and a deranged take on The Residents’ “Happy Home.”

Imperial Triumphant’s decaying world they first introduced on “Vile Luxury” continues to slip away and erode, with filth and vermin in the streets at your feet. “Alphaville” is the logical next step, but it also stands apart from their last record as it feels like an animal that’s switched up some of its DNA in the process while remaining maniacally recognizable. Hyperbole aside, there isn’t bound to be another metal record this year that’s anything at all like this one, and repeated listens lure you into other portals to consider a societal decline that isn’t fiction any longer, as it’s knocking on our front doors.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/imperialtriumphant

To buy the album, go here: https://centurymedia.store/store/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.centurymedia.com/

Barghest’s mauling death metal splatters and takes victims with bloody, punishing ‘Altars of Rot’

What a year to feel shitty and full of spite. Just about every possible power structure has failed us, which is no surprise at all, and other members of the human race have found a stage to act like repulsive, mindless creatures with no concerns beyond their own disgusting bodies. What a wonderful time to be a human being.

Speaking of hatred and nausea for every fiber of existence, Barghest have returned with “Altars of Rot,” a fresh slab of death and black metal that will continue to rot you to the core. It’ll get in and add a level of blackness to any part of you that still has humanity remaining. That all sounds nasty and devoid of hope, and it is, but there’s also something fruitful to finding art that feels as miserable as you do inside and disappearing into the maw. On this, their third full-length and first since 2014’s “The Virtuous Purge,” everything is up for ruthless judgment, with no one offered a hint of mercy. The band—vocalist/bassist Troy Bennett, guitarist/vocalist Dallas Smith, guitarist Jason Thorning, drummer Max Kimmons—sound as savage and bloodthirsty as ever, turning in seven songs over nearly 33 minutes that wreck your soul and light fires of rage and revenge.

“Extinction Dialogue” explodes with mauling death as the vocals carve through, and the playing catches speed. “Shame is not armor that protects you from the woes at hand, blame is not a weapon with which to lash out at a weakly man,” Bennett wails as the track kicks into high gear, the leads cut through, and the track ends in bloody chunks. “Negative Forms” explodes with tricky riffs and the vocals tearing away before things get into a skull-mashing tempo. Black metal-style melodies melt away and flood with blood while Bennett ‘s vocals come unglued, and the track blasts into delirium. “The Pious (The Poisoned)” is a punisher that has filthy riffs and vicious growls, as the guitars fill the air with tension. “Sworn to uphold the vile words of men pretending to be gods, empty and weak and hollow, taking from the peasants of tomorrow,” Bennett wails while the drum work clobbers, guitars catch fire, and the track comes to a blinding end in hatred and filth.

“Ferinus Vis” punishes and erases whatever data your mind is holding onto as a violent pace and thunderous riffs arrive. The playing smothers as it curves into hell, growing completely unhinged as the guitars burn off into the murk. “Nomadic Plague” is … timely delivered in this diseased year of 2020, at least as far as the title is concerned. The playing is thrashy and channeled as the shrieks rush to the surface, and the drums smash at your fingers. “Intrinsically destroying everything, elaborately portraying martyrdom,” Bennett stabs as the tornadic assault ends abruptly and shockingly. “Endless Empty Shapes” brings with it deep growls delivered from the guts as the playing mars, and the words are spat out as if they’re sickening Bennett. The playing starts landing blows heavily and recklessly, stampeding with crazed desire, tearing away at guts and splattering blood. The title track ends the proceedings, kicking in with Bennett snarling, “Ignorant herds, weeping with false faith, led to their blind ways,” attacking with bloodlust right from the start. The drums unleash war while vicious growls lay waste, as hammers are continually wielded and allowed to leave gaping wounds in whatever they encounter. That intensity never relents as the playing continues to dole out punishment until everything finally comes to a merciful finish.

Barghest’s savagery and chaotic appetite for hellish ways arise again on “Altars of Rot,” another record in which they refuse to pull back musically and lyrically. This record is a beast that flies by in no time but makes sure you feel every ounce of the punishment along the way. There’s zero mercy to be had at this band’s hands, a lesson we’ve learned over and over during the past decade and a half of their reign.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/barghestsoulless

To buy the album, go here: https://barghestsoulless.bandcamp.com/album/altars-of-rot