Italian death dreamers Bedsore wrap tentacles around you on icy ‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations’

Photo by Void Revelations

Absolute fucking weirdness is the only way I can think to describe a band called Bedsore, which I assumed before digging in was going to deliver disgusting, gross-out death metal. Because, did you ever see a bed sore? They’re disgusting, and they apparently hurt pretty badly, though to this point I’m pretty happy I don’t actually know about it.

The Italian death metal band has their debut record “Hypnagogic Hallucinations” coming out on the mighty 20 Buck Spin, that label’s first singing from that country, and it’s a mind eraser. Yeah, it’s not a disgusting record at all and instead is one that will tap into your brain and slowly work its way into your skull’s machination. It’s kind of insane that this is their debut since it’s so sophisticated and mesmerizing in a way that hints at a band at this much longer their time together (their 2018 demo is what alerted the label to their strange ways). The band—Jacopo Gianmaria Pepe (vocals, guitars, synths), Stefano Allegretti (vocals, guitars, organ, keyboards), Giulio Rimoli (bass), Davide Itri (drums)—is compelling from the start and once the entire record unfolds, if you’re like me, you’re instantly pulled into their unreal psychosis that never, ever relents.

“The Gate, Disclosure (Intro)” opens the record with organs sweltering and the drums awakening before a synth fog hovers over the area. Things feel proggy and weird before elegant guitars unfurl, and we float into a psychedelic dream and toward “The Gate, Closure (Sarcoptes Obitus)” where guitars heat up and enter a death spiral. Wild screams erupt as the playing begins to slash, while the leads take off, meeting up with grisly howls. A trickling pool emerges as the music bleeds off into a mind-tingling aura. “Deathgazer” has riffs electrifying as the tempo stomps guts, and the playing stymies. Animalistic howls jab into your sides while the pace chews up again, leads boil and moisten your skin, and then things start to rip apart again before ending abruptly. “At The Mountains of Madness” is the longest track, running 8:57 and dripping in slowly as a thick mist develops. Suddenly, the song comes to life with chugging guitars, banshee howls, and then the playing speeding up into a hypnotic section that leaves your mind in a tailspin. The song punches back in as the vocals tunnel toward your soul as fluid soloing swims toward a mind-altering corner that eventually gives off bluesy streaks as the song disappears into the night.

“Cauliflower Growth” trudges in death as things drip into the murk, and that turns toward a sludgy path downhill. Strong soloing fills the air and gives off warm colors before the vocals become unhinged, and that keeps the fires going until the intensity levels off, clean guitars melt, and everything drains away. “Disembowelment of the Souls (Tabanidae)” aggravates blues strains again, floating your head, then guitars burn, and the screams become acidic. The playing feels like a slow-droning crash for a stretch as guitars light up again, and the ground rumbles. Hypnosis is something of a theme in Bedsore’s music, and that rears its head toward the end of the track, creating a soothing chill and a gateway to closer “Brains on the Tarmac.” Things begin reflectively as cold guitars slowly awaken into a dark noir as things gallop open, and maniacal devastation sets its trap. Insane playing shoves into shadowy darkness, throwing shrapnel before calm reaches in, flowing toward ominous nightmare terrain which pays off when the band hits muddy chaos again. The pace explodes while the howls mar brain impulses, with the track crashing landing closed.

It’s easy to get caught up in Bedsore’s strangeness and psychotic visions, but don’t let that divert you from how deadly their playing is, and how strong these dream-like death blasts are from start to finish. “Hypnagogic Hallucinations” is a mentally punishing record, an incredibly stellar debut album from these Italian beasts that’ll play over and over in your end. This is an adventurous, psychologically stimulating record that’s going to be a blast to investigate on subsequent visits.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Mystras spark tales of downtrodden fighting back with ‘Castles Conquered…’

Since as far as history goes back, we’ve heard stories of the lesser fighting back against those who hoarded their wealth and power over these people, often with bloody, violent results. We haven’t changed a bit over the centuries as those power structures remain in place and likely will until well after we’ve all moved to another plane of existence.

Greek musician Ayloss, who you also likely know from his Spectral Lore project, wanted to dig back into the ages and uncover some of these tales that remain applicable to this very second in time. His first record under the Mystras banner is  “Castles Conquered and Reclaimed,” a collection that also steps back and forth between time periods with its sound and creates something enthralling and empowering along the way. With nine tracks spread over more than 50 minutes, Ayloss divides the record between noise-glazed black metal and versions of Medieval hymns played alongside special guest musicians from groups such as Lüüp, Art of Simplicity, Neda, and Spider of Pnyx. It’s a stunning collection that celebrates the common person, those who fought back against tyranny and often didn’t live to see the end of the fight. It certainly can connect with those today waging similar battles seeking justice and equality.

The title track starts the record with glorious riffs creating an impenetrable cloud of sound before Ayloss’ shrieks rain down, though in a way where they’re part of the mix and not the driving force. Guitars circle before the leads reign, and the tempo then clobbers you with immense melodies. The yells scrape while the guitars wash over again, finally bleeding out into the night and toward first Medieval piece “The Cutty Wren” where guitar strings are plucked, and pleasant breezes wash over you. “The Murder of Wat Tyler” is the longest track, running 12:39, recounting the decapitation death of the Peasants’ Revolt leader in England in the 14th Century. The track takes on a glorious hue as it gets under way while muted roars push, and melody unfurls before speaking parts leading into wild shrieks. Regal guitar work swelters before the track takes on a tidal waving force and accompanying “woah-oh” calls. Black metal-style riffing takes over as total chaos erupts, burying the song in the dust. “Contre Dolour” is a mix of acoustic guitars and flutes, reminding of a warm day on the grass.

“Storm the Walls of Mystras” has a frantic opening that splashes colors and rage as it makes for the fortified city. A sharp guitar line pokes through the storming while vicious howls pay off the caterwauling emotion. The guitars begin to race as the tempo gains intensity, continually ramping up its rampage to reckless levels. Fiery leads blaze a path while boisterous calls and strange sounds take the track to its final mark. “O Tsakitzis” has violin scraping as the song conjures thoughts of a hot midday sun, sweat soaking one’s clothes, before we head into “The Zealots of Thessaloniki” where guitars sting, the drums rustle up dust, and an angry storm brews and spreads its wings. The playing is numbing in spots as leads break out and hustle, while the tempo gets fully charged up and has froth at its mouth. The guitars hit a pre-Dickinson Maiden-style gallop, bringing blistering punishment and bleeding out in the dirt. “Ai Vist Lo Lop” is the final interlude as acoustics trample the ground, shakers rouse, and whistles hit the wind and lead toward closer “Wrath and Glory” that opens in total pummeling mode. Strong riffs ride as the playing rumbles, bringing crazed cries and massive melodies to the table. The final minutes wreck and maul, slashing in and out of pools of blood while everything fades into the night’s fires.

The idea of the downtrodden fighting back against its oppressors is a tale as old as time, yet it’s one that remains relevant, sadly, in this day and age. Ayloss’ visions with Mystras certainly are steeped partially in an era long past on “Castles Conquered and Reclaimed,” but we see these very stories playing out now, in different parts of the world, with only our technology updated. This is a passionate, meaningful record that isn’t just a great slab of atmospheric black metal but also is a reminder that the fight lingers on, and we cannot be lulled to sleep or discouraged from clashing for what is rightfully ours.

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Ominous title aside, Zombi apply dramatic, enthralling edge to chilling nighttime vibes of ‘2020’

Photo by Matt Dayak

There’s a point toward the back end of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” where the shit has destroyed the fan, everything is in tatters, and it’s suggested everyone leave before it gets any worse. To which Clark Griswold replies to his wife, “Look around you, Ellen! We’re at the threshold of hell!” And there it is. 2020 in a nutshell.

That stupid opening is to break the ice so we can discuss the new Zombi album fittingly titled “2020,” which might suggest music that feels like it’s on the verge of destruction, where all hope is lost, and where your anxiety might as well just stop your heart in its tracks. But that’s not quite what happens with this album. Instead, we get the most ambitious Zombi has been in a while, a record that has guitars driving as much of the drama as the synth, and the music making your heart race as you weave your way through these nine tracks. The band—Steve Moore (synth, guitars, bass) and A.E. Paterra (drums)—creates darkly cinematic music again but this time delving into doom and sludge, grittier areas where they don’t always tread but make this album heftier and punchier, adding even more to its appeal.

“Breakthrough & Conquer” introduces eerie keys that turn into a tremendous melody line that feels like it could be the leading track for a movie. Strong guitar work accompanies it (they got an assist by Philip Manley from Trans Am)  that gives it a nighttime vibe, adding fluid leads to a spooky, fun track. “Earthscraper” folds synth into gritty doom guitar work, with everything grinding its way through. Sci-fi-style keys jostle as the playing bashes away before a humid haze hangs overhead, and the track disappears into a weird void. “No Damage” is the first of two consecutive tracks that gives off an early ’80s Rush vibe, which could not make me happier. Guitars churn as the synth floats, giving off a cool sheen. That melts into a sludgy pocket that has toxicity glowing beneath, ending with a rumbling fade. “XYZT” pushes keys into lush atmosphere, feeling both dreamy and punchy. Proggy playing gives off the feel of the aforementioned Canadian trio, while the music bubbles and zaps, the pace rumbles, and keys rain down into the shores,

“Fifth Point of the Pentangle” fades in as synth creates a cold front, as the bass drives into corners. That works its way toward the stars, bringing cool cosmos and star splashes that bleed into the night sky. “Family Man” is ominous when it starts, creeping into the room before the bass clobbers. The pace turns burly as it works its way further into the shadows while synth melodies entrance, and the track fades into majestic wonder. “Mountain Ranges” launches key sprawl as a calculated pace is achieved, and cool melodies chill the flesh. The pace is pretty steady throughout, treading waves and watching from the waters before it can come in and make its move. “First Flower” has drums awakening and the thick bass tunneling, while the keys create a mystical ambiance. The punches continue to land as the synth glimmers, the melody churns, and the music suddenly feels as if you have water filling your ears and slowly draining. “Thoughtforms” closes the album by introducing another great synth riff, while warm guitars wash in and change the temperature. The feel like is like early summer evening as the light starts to fade and the skies grow orange and purple. The leads begin to heat up before calm stretches, chilly breezes raise your flesh, and the track retreats into the final strains of daylight.

Two decades into their run, Zombi continue to surprise us as “2020” is one of the most jarring selections in their entire catalog. How strange it is that this music is arriving when it is, with a title that’s now incredibly ominous, though the music is imaginative, exciting, and bold. It’s a rare streak of color, a dash of energy in this motherfucking year 2020, a time period that shares a name with an pretty enthralling record from a band whose creativity doesn’t rest.

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Hardcore crushers Entry exude unity along with their smashing fire blasts on debut ‘Detriment’

Photo by Erica Lauren

For absolutely no good reason at all, we don’t end up doing a lot of hardcore records on this site, likely because there’s so much metal to cover that it just gets pushed to the side. And there probably are people better equipped than we are to cover it. But that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention, so when we can highlight a killer band, we’ll do so.

Southern Lord is basically running as half doom/half hardcore and has for some time now, and they’re delivering “Detriment,” the debut record from Entry. This nine-track record is over before it hits the 15-minuite mark, but it is a barnstormer of an album and makes a devastating impression in no time at all. The California-based band—vocalist Sara Gregory, guitarist Clayton Stevens, bassist Sean Sakamoto, drummer Chris Dwyer—raises the banner for unity in music, pulling into the more positive, strength-bearing aspects of punk and hardcore, but they do so with a stormy, catchy, brutal style that also delves into death metal just a bit. It’s a really energetic listen.

“Intro” is a quick starter with noise hanging in the air and grungy guitars, setting the stage for “Your Best Interest” to erupt. Things just rip apart as Gregory’s raspy wails blacken eyes, and the basslines pummel. The senses are completely mashed as the playing scrapes away, and the drums decimate. “Vulnerable” bursts out of its own body as punches are thrown, and Gregory’s throaty howls slice and dice. The riffs hold everything together as the playing stampedes heavily to the end. “Secondary” has drums exploding and punk blasts tearing everything apart. “We are secondary,” Gregory shouts as the track comes to a sudden, mashing end. “Selective Empathy” delivers rad punk riffs that ignite into melody before Gregory leaps all over things. The strong pace gets the blood charging while the track ends in a slow maul.

“These Feelings” bathes in feedback before the basslines drive, and the guitars completely explode. Maniacal hell is unleashed as speedy blasts erupt, and the track ends in madness. “Not Your Decision” begins with Gregory howling a quick “1-2-3-4!” to get things racing. Her vocals scrape by while the guitars fire up, and the clobbering pace is suddenly over before you know it. “Control” gets off to the races while Gregory’s vocals rip at the flesh, and the playing has a heavy punk charge. The song is catchy and filthy as the playing comes to a fiery conclusion. “Demons” closes the album, and it’s the longest track here, running 3:32. It’s also a step toward death metal terrain as they slow it down and allow the lava to build up and spill over, with the vocals sounding molten. The track continues its mauling best, hammering like a beast toward hell’s gates.

Entry make one hell of a monstrous impression on “Detriment,” a record you can hear in full in the amount of time it takes to shower, not that we recommend doing that because you might slip and fall down while punching the walls. This record works perfectly on Southern Lord’s increasingly diverse roster, and the band’s mix of punk, hardcore, and a touch of death metal should help them find a loyal audience there. The intensity and passion here cannot be denied, and this should be the opening salvo from one of hardcore’s best new hopes for the future.

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German doom crushers Eremit deal heaping dose of burly pain on killer EP ‘Desert of Ghouls’

I wonder sometimes if I didn’t do this site how many bands I’d never learn about or eventually run into that end up being favorites of mine. There’s so much shit out there in every possible sub-genre that there are incredible bands bubbling beneath the surface that a lot of people never find just because the amount of content can be overwhelming.

If you haven’t run into German doom squad Eremit yet, do yourself a favor and change that right now. A strong gateway to their wares is new two-track EP “Desert of Ghouls,” an effort that still runs a healthy 21:12, which is longer by a few minutes than a full-length record we’ll discuss tomorrow. It’s their first music since 2018 debut “Carrier of Weight,” and portioned in a sense that you won’t overindulge (doom records tend to be long) and get just enough nourishment to keep you going. The band—vocalist/guitarist Moritz Fabian, guitarist Pascal Sommer, drummer Marco Backer—adds a lot of their own DNA into the catastrophic doom so that they carry the banner, but they do it in their own way. This is a band that needs more exposure because they’re bound to find a ravenous audience.

“Beheading the Innumerous” opens the record with fuzz and chugging, as the playing drubs you numbly. Fabian’s grimy growls maul with menace aforethought, as the playing drills hammers into the flesh, landing impossibly heavy blows. As the track moves on, it switches paces into doomy trauma with the playing leaving heavy bruising, Fabian wailing, “Death will reign now,” and the song swaggering closed, capping off a mashing 8:57. “City of Râsh-il-nûm” is the 12:14-long closer that starts with drums crumbling open and the music swimming through psychosis. The track slowly sinks into dark waters while the track gets thorny and the guitars burn brightly. Growls hammer through while the playing gets burlier, stampeding as Fabian howls about the “city of light, city made of stone.” The bass charges up while the track rips open at the seams, gaining intensity as raspy cries mash away. The sinister playing begins to hit its threshold while the boiling slows, the music crashes to the shores, and everything bleeds into an insect swarm of noise.

Eremit’s thick doom here feels close to what they accomplished on their 2018 debut record “Carrier of Weight,” but with an eye toward their future and what that holds. “Desert of Ghouls” is an ideal introduction to anyone who has yet to familiarize themselves with this band so they can get a quick taste of what they do. This is monstrous doom metal that seeks to punish and leaves you basking in the midst of one of the sub-genre’s brighter new celestial bodies.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Lantern chew into death metal’s gross corpse on career highlight ‘Dimensions’

Obviously, this is also a pro wrestling site, and with the global pandemic and matches taking place with mostly no fans, there haven’t been a lot of great battles and huge moments to embrace and etch into 2020’s history. Luckily, this also happens to be a metal site, and we haven’t had that issue as there have been plenty of great records in the first half of the year to distract us.

Finnish death metal squadron Lantern has been building their resume for the past 12 years and their first two full-lengths, and they’ve left us with some devastating shit. But all of that has led to their thunderous third record “Dimensions” that’s coming our way physically next Friday (you can hear it digitally today, and that link’s below), and it’s their crowning achievement so far. I say so far because I’m not capping their potential whatsoever, but this album is the measuring stick at the moment for them, and this record is a rushing, strange, pulverizing document that’s one of the best death metal records of the year so far. The band—vocalist Necrophilos, guitarist St. Belial, guitarist/bassist Cruciatus, drummer J. Poussu—unearths all they have on this six-track, nearly 39-minute album that’s ideally portioned and never stops being utterly compelling.

“Strange Nebula” begins trucking right away, piling into crunchy, thrashy playing while Necrophilos’ trademark throaty growls begins to pool blood. “Unleashed from the source, the origin of chaos and death!” he howls while the chorus swoops in where he warns,” Beware the sky!” Finger-tapped guitars usher in a new darkness as the soloing explodes, bones are turned to dust, and the back-end trudges right into the mouth of hell. “Beings” has guitars hanging like a storm as gruff shouts and wrenching guitars team up. A humid heaviness makes its presence felt while  Necrophilos declares, “You are one with them!” as the track drains into hellish waters and right into “Portraits” where the tone grows eerier, and  Necrophilos gruffly sings, “Three candles light the way down these damp and stone-clad stairs.” Beyond are portraits that rob you of your sanity as you try to deny what you’ve seen as your trip succumbs to noise.

“Cauldron of Souls” lights up and goes into a furious pace right away while growls are spat out, and the riffs entangle you. A flurry of playing turns the room in a million directions while the growls pelt down on your flesh, and the track ends in decimation. “Shrine of Revelation” starts in a destructive manner while vicious howls lash at you, and the pace continually adds more fire to its repertoire. Solid soloing emerges and rides through the dark, bringing with it violence and melody that continue unloading until finally subsides. Closer “Monolith Abyssal Dimensions” is a beast at 14:17, yet it doesn’t feel half that long. Dark tunneling gets us into the body of the track where ungodly growls and carving playing brings you deeper into the abyss, while a thrashy assault leads to a blast of weirdness. That works with the wilting temperatures as things slowly work back into punishing order, as warm guitars add a level of steaminess. Drums blast and rattle the walls while delirious playing and Necrophilos’ warning that, “Kingdoms, mountains, and times succumb to the dark,” ushers this into a psychedelic, mind-warping finish.

Lantern still feel like an unheralded band in modern death metal, and that should change with “Dimensions,” a record that takes the logical steps forward and never relents on the punishment. At the same time, there is imagination and risk taking combined, making their sound even fresher than before and one that necessitates repeat listens just to absorb it all. This should go down as one of the year’s best-remembered death metal records in a field of strong contenders.

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Death destroyers Diabolic Oath unload infernal blackness on massive ‘Profane Death Exodus’

Having a ton of things piled up on you at one time can be a madness accelerator, making your head feel like it weighs a ton and keeping your anxiety running on high. There has been a lot of that this year, and for me, work is running a million miles per hour with hardly a breath to take, so it can seem like there’s an all-out assault on your brain.

Taking on “Profane Death Exodus,” the debut full-length from Pacific Northwest-based doom/death machine Diabolic Oath, can feel demanding and overwhelming during its annihilating run time. There is so much going on, such massive bludgeoning, that it can give you a touch of panic as you try to keep pace with everything that’s going on. This seven-track, nearly 39-minute destroyer has the band—(and this is what they list on their Bandcamp page, so fucking buckle in) The Temple – Six Pillars of Profane Pestilence (likely guitars), Ominous Void – Abysmal Lows of Unknown Origin (has to be bass), and Chthonian Conqueror – Exalted Purveyor of Unholy Thunder (going with drums here)—all applying their hellish voices to the mix, piling on for a record and experience that’s unrelenting and may need a few visits for you to peel back each layer.

“Towards Exalted Coronation” opens the record with guitars churning and growls lurching across the floor, leaving oil streaks. Menacing death reaches vile levels as the guitars catch fire and ignite, wild howls charge, and the track ends in chaos, running into “Immaculate Conjuration of Infernal Recrudescence” where the stomps and coarse wails greet you with fists swinging. The track slithers along as the growls sicken, while dark guitars collect and swirl, growls engorge, and everything comes to a bloody end. “Morbid Ekstasis” explodes as the guitars well up, leading to a massive assault that aims to suffocate. Death growls collect as the guitars splatter, while death clouds hang overhead and threaten your lung capacity as the track practically tears out its guts.

“Emundationem Flammae” is an infernal blast furnace as growls and shrieks unite, and grossness clobbers you wholly. The center crumbles as a stampede rushes through, while the fury turns into a thrashy assault that boils in its own juices. From there, the bass clobbers, creating death spirals that end up in mystical oblivion. “Apocryphal Manifestations” moves slowly through blunt, yet weird terrains, as death snarls curl around the corners, and calculated playing aims to make you absorb each blow. The tempo gets faster as terrifying shrieks rain down, leaving the bottom end to hammer the earth. “Opening the Gates to Blasphemic Domination” simmers in strange riffs while nightmarish growls emerge from molten pools, and bones are crunched and left for dead. The playing mashes as the shrieks peel back cuticles, finally retreating back into the furnace for good. Closer “Chalice of Conquering Blood” is the longest track, running a healthy 10:23 and beginning with waters trickling and doom ghouls crawling out of the mess. Growls level you as thunderous death and brutal punishment are handed out generously, and disease rots in the song’s belly. Bloody clashing meets pulverizing drums as gothy synth washes in, and the track disappears into alien clouds.

There’s a lot to like but also fear with Diabolic Oath’s debut from the outright soul-tarnishing death to the sooty doom in which it steps liberally. “Profane Death Exodus” is a deadly first full salvo for a band that’s still early in their development but have their weapons sharpened quite bluntly to take the longest possible time to open flesh. This is terrifying, unforgiving blackness that will leave your body bruised inside and out.

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Japanese doom legends Boris blast daggers into convention with thrashing, pummeling ‘NO’

No one can go to live shows right now, unless you’re an asshole and go to country music shows with no mask on and mass together like nothing’s happening. Really feels like that whole thing set us back a while. Traveling the world is not a thing we can do right now, and we are forced inside our borders, which can be maddening depending on how the population is acting (in the U.S, it’s not good).

Japanese doom noise legends Boris have made the most of this time as they considered the social constructs we’ve come to accept and the machination built around our lives without our opinions being regarded. That same can happen in music as artists get trapped into corners, but not Boris. They’ve lashed back with a new album “NO” that arrives as a self-release and is available digitally Friday, and it’s the sound of this band destroying their boundaries and digging back into what makes them who they are. These 11 tracks spread over 40 minutes are a shock to the system, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to their more melodic sound the past decade. These tracks are as heavy and molten as anything in their massive catalog, and it sounds like cutting free the chains and just churning out what moves them. It’s a pleasantly surprising, jarring listen by Boris—Takeshi (vocals, bass, guitars), Wata (vocals, guitars, echo effects), and Atsuo (vocals, drums, electronics)—a band that sounds like they’re here to blaze a new path and follow that into the future.

“Genesis” starts the record with sludgy pounding and an ominous tone as the music wallows in the grime. Strange noises accompany the menace as the pace mashes away, and the surprising heaviness clobbers you. The guitars light up, the drums hammer, and a calculated piece ends this muddy instrumental. “Anti-Gone” smashes open with doomy hell as it spits and punishes. Wailed singing and slashing playing open wounds as feral screams sit behind, and the track aims headlong into a noise storm. “Non Blood Lore” rips apart as strong vocals pound away, and a jolt of punk speed arrives. There are group calls over the chorus while the singing soars, and wailed howls mix with the thrashy ending. “Temple of Hatred” revels in drone before a speedy, frantic pace explodes, and madness overtakes everything. Shrieks gasp as a furious cloud lowers and brings with it agitated static. “鏡 -Zerkalo-” is a doomy storm with screamed vocals and a lurching underbelly. The track is mauling and vitriolic as damaged guitars chew away, while shrieks rain down, growls simmer, and the track ends in a blaze.

“HxCxHxC -Parforation Line-” glimmers before a burst of rays lights up the sky, and the vocals call out. A shimmery cascade sends sparks into the air as gas is poured onto the fire, and the track bleeds into oblivion. “キキノウエ -Kiki no Ue-” opens with thunderous drums that feel like they’re decimating the earth, while lives are just crushed. Sooty bass pummels as the vocals get sickening, while the cries of, “Can’t get away,” spiral out. “Lust” has an electric storm hammering as the track trucks and thrashes, landing noise-infested gut punches. The song goes right for the jugular, feeling impossibly heavy before fading into oblivion. “Fundamental Error” is a cover of Japanese hardcore legends Gudon, and it features guitarist Katsumi who played in bands including Outo and City Indian and now is in Solmania. It’s a pummeling take where the vocals spit nails, the group calls jolt, and the volcanic pace absolutely wrecks shit. “Loveless” starts as an icy one, a change of pace where leads ignite before everything is swallowed into insanity. Wild howls super charge as the guitars work practically blinds you, and the pace blisters. Muddy chaos cakes your veins before the track comes to a crashing end. “Interlude” ends things by acting as a cool down as noises mixes with the atmosphere, Wata’s chilling calls float, and magical energy fills each cell in your body.

Boris sound like a band totally recharged, not that they really needed it, on this stunning record “NO.” I was blown away from my first listen because the band absolutely lets everything they have hang out there and boil in their own juices. Boris always find a way to change things up with each record, but this is one of the most surprising, satisfying albums of their storied run.

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Austin metal maulers Skeleton inject your brain with chaotic energy with devastating debut

Photo by Danieal DiDomenico

Fun. Hey, remember that stuff? We used to have that shit all the time before 2020 struck and turned our lives into the utter pit of misery. But it’s still kind of out there in places if you look really hard, and once you find it, it turns out it’s still kind of magical and powerful.

Well, I say all of that with the arrival of Skeleton’s self-titled debut record, an 11-track, 28-minute smasher that’s just a blast from wall to wall. The Austin-based band actually have based a lot of their music in bleak, scorched-earth madness that reaps the blood, but holy shit if their stew of black metal, punk, and thrash isn’t an absolute blast to hear. Yeah, it’s downright serious and skull mashing, and you’ll feel like you’ve been through a war once it’s over. But your blood will rush the entire time the band—drummer/vocalist Victor Skeleton, guitarists David Skeleton and Alex Guzman, bassist Cody Combs—has you in its clutches, sending you into a pit of black chaos.

The title track, and band theme, kicks off the album and just rushes by as raw crushing rips out of the seams and the black howls land punches. Then we’re in to “Mark of Death” that has drums rustling and strong riffs galloping heavily while the raspy growls grab you around the throat. The chorus is menacing, and the back ends send fiery jolts. “The Sword” has the drums rushing the gates as thrashy darkness throttles you while we dash into the intimidating shadows. The riffs then wrap around as the burning punishment leaves ugly scars. “T.O.A.D.” has electrifying riffs that spill the blood as things get even nastier. The playing is melodic and bustling, stomping everywhere and leaving squashed guts behind. “Ring of Fire” is not the Johnny Cash song as it’s deadlier. Riffs crunch as the growls scrape along, while a humid classic metal vibe rolls in as Victor howls about “my ring of fire, burn!” as the track blasts out.

“At War” has riffs that tear the lid off the thing while Victor vows, “I’m not afraid to die,” as the track hits a flurry of speed. The pace chugs while the playing splatters, with the drums opening up wounds toward the end. “Taste of Blood” smothers you and drives right into the heart of battle while Victor demands, “Taste the blood of victory!” The playing mashes bones as cool leads burn over top and come to a maniacal finish. “Victory” is a quick 44-second interlude that glazes over, and that leads into “A Far Away Land” that opens in the throes of adventure. The coarse vocals send shockwaves as the playing takes on a devastating punk rock vibe. “Turned to Stone” has a huge start that heads into blazing riffs and wild cries. The track burns the hair off your arms as the guitar work delivers anguish, and the noise finally erodes. “Catacombs” is the longest track of the bunch at 4:45, and it closes the record, starting with eerie guitars and chilling air. Suddenly, a blinding display roars hard, turning everything to dust with the drums punching your ribs. The power dissolves into echoes before reopening with colorful chaos and everything burning its final drops of fuel.

Skeleton’s debut is one hell of a fun burst of black metal, thrash, and punk that flies by so fast, you won’t know what the hell hit you. It’s 28 minutes of madness that get your juices flowing, blacken your eyes, and make you appreciate the punishment. This is as fitting a time as any for music that just kicks your ass and lets you have a violent good time, and Skeleton more than delivers.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Adzes address environmental, human issues on ‘No One Wants to Speak About It’

There’s a lot of music out there right now that’s lashing back against the greater globe of tyrannical authority, which makes a lot of sense since social uprisings of late finally seem to have woken up to what’s going on and how we’re under the wheels. But truth is, these themes always have been out there, especially in heavy music circles, so what we’re seeing is a timely resurgence.

Musician Forest Bohrer is fighting the good battle against issues such as human and environmental issues as well as the thrust of capitalism that has crushed so many, and he’s doing so with his project Adzes, whose debut full-length “No One Wants to Speak About It” is arriving on the physical plane. His music combines elements of black metal, punk, noise, doom, hardcore, and plenty of other heavy flavors, and the eight tracks that stretch over about 50 minutes might be aligned thematically, but musically it’s a different story. Bohrer smashes through boundaries as he puts together these songs, splashing in every influence at his disposal, which makes for a rich, diverse listen. That also makes this music ripe for finding wide-ranging audiences, as there really is something for most ears, but at the heart are the messages, which stand rigid and firm, refusing to waver.

“Divide” opens the record and is the longest track here by a second. Dark guitars pour in before sludgy pounding loosens bricks, and Bohrer’s deep clean singing glazes over. Then that turns to guttural growls while the leads burn to life, and the ferocity brings thicker shadows. Roars punish as the pace clobbers, loading fuel on to the fire as the song reaches its climax. “Jesus Built My Death Squads” (obviously a nod toward Ministry from the title) has noise hanging in the air and the drumming opening up, while the pace remains calculated throughout. Guitars slosh while the growls slither, and a heavy low end brings added grime. Guitars haunt over an agitated burn while the track rings out. The title track has tricky guitars and drums blasting, erupting into a rage. Parts of this have a hardcore bend to them, as the bass recoils and strikes, and everything races hard again. The playing hammers ribs as the blazes return, bringing a churning conclusion. “415” has noise fluttering and the bass landing blows while a slow-driving hell is achieved. Into the furnace we go as shrieks crush, and a monstrous trail is carved, ending in noise-infested brutality.

“Demon-Haunted” has a feedback wave before sludgy doom races through the doors, and an animalistic pace lands blows. The ground is thick with tar as madness spreads its wings, and the guitars open up and sizzle. Raspy wails accompany the heaviness while the guitar work is like lemon juice in a wound, leaving you wincing as static spits jolts, and the track ends with a slowly increasing volume shock. “Overcome” is an instrumental piece woven together with clips about the melting Arctic and the disastrous climate situation too many have ignored for too long. The playing proves a murky, somber backing to this reality that’s teetering way too close to too late. “Loss” sits apart from the rest of the tracks as it simmers more in 90s college rock territory, which warms my heart. Clean vocals warble as synth warms the waters, and later on, guitar squall collects and sends energy shots that wrap around the lower-end vocals. The final moments charge up, with the guitars stabbing out in the end. Closer “I Won’t Last Forever” begins as warm air hangs overhead as the playing slowly mashes as guitars create heat lightning. The music maintains a punchy feel while the bass simmers and gets pretty proggy, while pace winds down and bleeds out into the ground.

Bohrer’s first full-length record under the Adzes banner achieves a lot of things from creating a diverse collection of heaviness to delivering pertinent messages that are vital and ever so timely. “No One Wants to Speak About It” also is a pretty spot-on title, though perhaps some of those messages are starting to sink into more people as we experience an astonishing awakening. Music like Adzes’ provides the perfect fuel for our torches as we try to battle back against generations of bullshit and work to achieve some personal catharsis along the way.

For more on the band, go here:

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