Von, Witchcraft could soundtrack your Halloween night perfectly, demonically

Von

All you heathens out there who embrace pagan and occult traditions and don’t care about rotting in hell for dressing up as Dracula, it’s Halloween and you’re super stoked. People in your office probably are dressed as ridiculous creatures, possibly annoying with you their disguise. They, too, will end up in hell. So don’t worry!

If you should feel bad for anyone, it should be the school children. They will dress up as any number of different things, go door to door seeking treats, and basically put themselves on the fast track to hell. They’re going. You can’t stop them. You know that saying that all of the caverns of hell are filled with the world’s children, which was coined just now on this site? How do you think that came to be? That’s right, by embracing Halloween and basically setting your soul free to be devoured by ghouls. I bet you feel like a real asshole now.

Yeah, I’m not serious about any of this. Obviously. But some people are. They’re lunatics and they’re scarier than some cartoon evil ever can be. So in the spirit of mocking those who fear this great holiday and hide in their little dens while the evil day passes, let’s exacerbate their worries by talking up some truly demonic, hateful music today that would sound perfect blasting through your speakers as you pass out treats to goblins and ghosts all over your town. Assuming kids still do that. Our neighborhood is barren anymore come Halloween, which is a shame because I remember growing up and basically having to fight for my life to get the best candy from the best houses.

We have two albums and bands that are perfect for today, when we think about decay and death and hell and demons. That’s not to make light of their accomplishments. If we were going to ridicule metal bands for being stupidly outrageous, we’d simply review the new KISS album. Who is responsible for the cover on that monstrosity anyway? No, instead these are two bands you’ll want to check out if you haven’t already, one being a cult legend finally offering up a full-length debut, the other a more obscure unit with a familiar name.

You may have heard the name Von before or seen their logo on a T-shirt, and their legacy in domestic black metal is as solid as they come. They’re one of the most cited, influential black metal bands ever to come out of the United States, as their pull even was felt in Norway during the second wave movement (look up the Varg/Von shirt story). The band has a two-decade run of infamy that’s damn near unparalleled by any other U.S.-based band, yet they’re only now delivering their first official full-length album “Satanic Blood” that, you guessed it, is full of blasphemies and horror.

Von was born way back in 1987, at a time when people still thought Venom and Slayer were the real demonic deals, but their reign wasn’t to be long lasting. They played shows, released some demos, and eventually dissolved in 1992, with their impact seemingly suffering due to short shelf life and minuscule catalog. But their popularity grew as their music was discovered by other bands looking to ply the same black arts, and eventually Nuclear War Now! Productions put out a compilation of the band’s work. Von — consisting of long-time member bassist/vocalist Jason “Venien” Ventura, Lord Giblete” on guitar, and Charlie Fell on drums — reunited for a live show in 2010, put out a 7-inch, and started work on an official album, which we now have courtesy of their own imprint.

The music on “Satanic Blood” is expectedly raw and lo-fi sounding, though quite doom infested as well, with short songs mashed together and the whole thing drowning your sense in evil and tyranny. Also, if you’ve followed this band’s history and are lucky enough to have the old demos, you’ll recognize these songs as many have appeared before in other forms. So yeah, it’s kind of a full-length cobbled together by assembling old pieces, but it’s cool to have stuff in one place. Actually, organized religion-basher “Jesus Stain” is relatively new, having just surfaced this year on a split with TOAD, but most of the other cuts — “Watain,” “Venien,” “Veadtuck,” “Vennt,” “Chalice of Blood” — are reworked for this album. The CD also comes with bonus cuts “Satan” and “Litanies of Von,” easily the two longest tracks on this record as over seven minutes apiece.

Von is pure evil and filth, and their music probably will be what’s playing in hell. It might even be on the soundsystem as we speak. This is an infernal, sooty collection that should satisfy those who have long tried to get their hands on these songs, and their new live actions should be damnation on a stage.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.vonrecords.com/product/von-satanic-blood-12-x12-booklet-full-length-album-cd

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

Witchcraft

Moving on, let’s take a look at the new release from Witchcraft. Wait, what? Didn’t we already handle this a couple weeks ago. Yes and no? Different Witchcraft than the bluesy Swedish band recording for Nuclear Blast. These guys are black metal warriors from Hungary who are totally different than the retro outfit we have covered ad nauseam. They have been around since 1996, making obscure sounds and furious emanations that kicked off with a couple of demos and a split, before delivering debut full-length “Years of Blood” in 2006.

A noticeable change has taken place since the band’s last album, 2008’s “Under the Crust,” in that all the lyrics on new “Hegyek Felettem” are sung entirely in Hungarian. Being an English speaker only, I don’t have a clue what’s going on philosophically or thematically on this album, and the best I can do is guess that these songs are swimming in darkness and hate, much like their past work. The Angmar-led band (he handles vocals), that also consists of guitarist WL Rabenaas, bassist M, and drummer Knot, still is hammering out classic-sounding black metal, along the lines of the early work of Darkthrone and Immortal. The music sounds woodsy and organic, but behind all that is a blackness that is completely undeniable.

These eight cuts are fast, fairly lo-fi, and thunderous, and something really noticeable is Knot’s rat-a-tat-tat style of drumming that is like sticks smacking away at the inside of a skull. It sounds a little claustrophobic at first, but I was able to adjust. Opener “Istentelen” is fast and melodic, with blurry riffing and nice melodies buried in the chaos. “Megittam a vért” also relies on speed, but there are intricate guitar lines and grunting, groaning vocals that give the cut a meaner feel. “Arcomon gyűlölettel” should make Fenriz smile, as it sounds like something he would have conjured two decades ago; “Fekete és hideg” has more of a rock and roll vibe to it, though it’s no less heavy; while closer “Vörös köd” feels more punk rock, with Judas Priest-style guitar for good measure.

Witchcraft’s style might be hard on the ears if you’re too adjusted to the latest trend of slickly produced black metal. This is stuff for late-night basement adventures, searching through dusty old books in search of magick, and taking long sojourns into the woods. It’ll sound even better as the autumn goes on and will be perfect tonight for scaring the neighborhood kids.

For more on the band, go here: http://witchcraft.atw.hu/

To buy the album, go here: http://neverhearddistro.blogspot.hu/

Sludgy brawlers Northless return furious with new 10-inch, split with Light Bearer

Northless

For years there have been arguments about who is the loudest band in the world and what that accomplishment actually means. Don’t you just need a shit ton of stacks and a tight room without a gigantic ceiling to be the loudest band in the world? I never saw that as such a big accomplishment. Then again, I’m a writer, not a musician.

To me, being the loudest doesn’t have as much to do with how the sound affects your precious eardrums but instead has to do with physical impact. For example, High on Fire were so loud and impactful, it made my wife’s sore tooth hurt so badly, we had to leave. I didn’t think they were appreciably louder than a lot of other bands I saw before — though they did bring it — but the way their sound hit your body and shook it obviously made its mark. My wife still shivers when she thinks of that night, and that tooth is long since repaired. Seeing Sunn 0))) a couple years ago made me think I was going to unload the contents of my stomach on the floor, the noise was so powerful. It just reaches inside and shakes you. My ears didn’t hurt afterward, but my body sure did.

I haven’t had a chance to catch Milwaukee maulers Northless yet in a live setting, but from friends I know who have seen them, they’re another band that’ll turn your body inside out. Their studio output is heavy as it is, and their debut full-length, 2011’s “Clandestine Abuse,” was brutal and burly enough pouring through my headphones that I could only imagine how that would be replicated live. While we don’t yet have a follow-up to that aforementioned long player, the band hasn’t exactly been milling about doing nothing, evidence of which popped up in our inbox a month or so ago.

One of the band’s new pieces of work has been available for a few months, actually, but we’re just now getting to hear the thing. Better late than never, right? The other won’t be available until the end of November, but it’s definitely worth the wait getting this platter in your hands, especially when you hear how the band sounds on this thing.

For those of you new to Northless, the band makes a sludgy, doomy, hardcore-laced cloud of noise that can be absolutely devastating at its heaviest moments. They sound like mega hate grizzly bears stomping through the woods, seeking prey and not caring what plant life or trees they demolish in the process. I know that sounds like a silly description, but it’s also fitting. The band is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Erik Stenglein, guitarist Nick Elert, bassist Jerry Hauppa, and drummer John Gleisner, and in their time together, they’ve plied their trade for a number of labels including Inkblot, Gilead Media, and Halo of Flies, who are responsible for these two new releases.

We’ll start with “Valley of Lead,” their new, three-track 10-inch that will be unleashed officially Nov. 27 (though you can start to preorder today). It does contain some of the elements you’ve come to expect from Northless, that being relentless mashing, and Apocalyptic assaults delivered in cold, calculating fashion. But on the title track opener, we also hear a Northless that’s evolving musically. The track contains clean crooning, a rarity from this band, and its gazey doom is actually… gulp … pretty. “The wind goes through my fingers,” Stenglein observes, as the atmospheric storyteller builds block upon block, demonstrating an emotional vulnerability not obvious on the surface of most of their songs. It’s stop-in-your-tracks surprising, and it’s a great track to boot.

“Causality” takes things back to a beating in a mud pit, with drubbing tempos, monstrous growling, and heavy riffing that has nothing but ill intentions. “Elegy” moves slower and does manage to find dreamy threads, but it also hammers and wails on you, striking a nice balance between cerebral and barbaric. These three tracks combined show a grasping of the band’s roots but also a willingness to grow and expand into other terrain without compromise. I’m really excited to hear how their next full length is going to sound.

The other release is a split effort with Light Bearer, a London-based post-metal-style band that could not be more opposite sonically. Yet they hold up their end on this thing displaying jaw-dropping dramatics, with Northless handling the grit and nail chewing. This collection has been out since late July, but if you haven’t heard it yet, definitely give it a go. Both sides are more than worth it.

Northless’ contributions are ugly and could leave a deep bruising in your chest cavity. They ground and pound you on their two songs, opening with “For As Long as You Walk the Earth, Your Blood Will Reek of Failure,” a song that really doesn’t need to be heavily examined from a lyrical standpoint. The cards are on the table. It’s a cement truck blasting through the gates of a heavily guarded compound, and it reminds me a lot of what was on “Clandestine Abuse.” “Tears From Crime” also is a powerhouse, though it contains some moments where you’re allowed to breathe and recover before you’re dragged back to the corner for another stomping.

Light Bearer haven’t been around for a terribly long time, having formed in 2010 and released their debut album “Lapsis” in 2011 on Halo of Flies. They also popped out an EP “Beyond the Infinite: The Assembly of God” and now have this thematically accompanying, sprawling, 21:51 epic “Celestium Apocrypha: Book of Watchers” to this split. It’s a song that’ll definitely encourage you to float away with it, as the composition is spacey and foggy. The vocals are harsh, desperate shrieks, noise layers the background, eventually liturgical-sounding chanting fills the halls, and the song dives into valleys and surges to great, emotional peaks as their take on religion and the woes that have resulted from it are told in anguishing detail. It’s heady material that’ll take time for you to absorb, but the challenging, charging music makes it worthwhile.

Both of these efforts have gotten a lot of my attention lately, and I’m excited to have more Northless music (not to mention finally learning more about Light Bearer). Both releases are examples of truly heartfelt heavy music that both mangles and informs. Light Bearer certainly seem capable of being an enlightening band going forward if their work to date is evidence. And for my money, I don’t care if Northless are, decibel-wise, the loudest band on Earth as long as they keep delivering material this earth-crushing and soul quaking. That’s all that ever matters to me.

For more on Northless, go here: http://northless.com/

For more on Light Bearer, go here: http://lightbearerband.wordpress.com/

To buy “Valley of Lead,” go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo49-northless-valley-of-lea-10/

To buy the split, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo46-lightbearer-northless-split-lp/

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

Doomsday scoff at your puny problems, unleash agitated attack on debut release


It’s Monday, so you’re probably in a shitty mood. The weekend’s over, you might be hungover, and there are five more days of work until you get any rest again. Also, you had to watch Peyton Manning on Sunday night again. Are all of Denver’s games in primetime this year? It’s excessive.

So yeah, if you’re feeling like garbage, no worries. New band Doomsday are feeling it too, and their first release, a six-track, self-titled affair, might be just what you need to channel your disgust and depression and turn it into something ugly. Not that you should DO something ugly. Kick a trash can or something. Or a wall. Let these dudes handle the violence, which they pour out like disgusting bucket water on this release, that they recorded in six days last December.

While this Doomsday moniker and grouping are new, the dudes who make up this hateful display are well known. Guitarist Jeff Wilson, who we already heard from this year with Chrome Waves and who also plays with Wolvhammer, teamed up with drummer Zack Simmons (Goatwhore) and guitarist Jon Necromancer (Bones) to begin the project, and then they recruited vocalist Zion Meagher (Anti-Human Thesis) and bassist Bob Fouts (Gates of Slumber, Chrome Waves). All members but Fouts, by the way, also are formerly of Nachtmystium which is kind of weird and funny. But I digress. Combined, these five guys managed to jam pack so much hate and violence into this thing, it’s scary.

Musically, it’s a culling all of their forces. The music is sooty and blackened, doom-infested and black metal-fed, and occasionally punk rock-informed. These guys just plug in and destroy you, not paying a lot of mind to technical fireworks and instead simply worrying about bloodying your face and terrifying you with threats you’re pretty sure they intend to see to their horrible endings. If you particularly hate your job and are just dragging yourself around today, you may have had some of these thoughts. There are meds for that.

The record opens with “She Will Be the One,” which is not quite as romantic as you may think. It’s murderous, creepy, and violent, and Meagher hammers home his criminal intent with, “Now she’s gone forever.” Hey, maybe JR Hayes can relax now as he’ll have some company at those lyric criticism conventions. “The Punishment” is grinding and ugly, but it also kind of pokes fun at its subject matter. “It takes a certain paranoia, and you don’t have it,” Meagher accuses about his ability to shed blood vs. those who don’t have that same knack. “Bring Down the Knife” is quasi-catchy, and it’ll be no secret Chris Black (Pharaoh, Dawnbringer) is responsible for the lyrics because they’re so him. This song also has some of the best guitar work on the record, with some damn tasty soloing going on.

“Empty Vessel” is explosive and furious, a dirty black doom explosion where the proverbial shit hits the fan. It’s a punch to the temple and insult to your face. “Black Judas” is fast, the words are howled and growled, and the punk rock influence is felt more powerfully on this one. But as fun as it sounds like this will be live, it’s overpowered by closer “I Kill Everything I Fuck,” a pleasant, down-home little number that’ll sound great at your next family porch gathering. If you’re all convicts and fugitives. It has a loose rock and roll feel and is pretty blistering, so much so you might forget just how disturbing the lyrics and subject matter happen to be.

So there you go. Doomsday. They’re angrier and potentially more violent than you are, no matter what happened in that bullshit meeting that stole three hours of your life this morning. Be happy you don’t have to meet the protagonist of these songs in a prison or dark basement at any point today, otherwise that little meeting you whined about will seem like a birthday party. And don’t even get started on that bloated inbox, because answering those messages is way better than the demons these guys exorcised making this album.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://doomsday.bigcartel.com/

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

The lights come on for Bison b.c. as they rage impressively on new ”Lovelessness’


Fans of professional athletics always hope the young players who come to their team show marked improvement as they careers progress. After all, you can’t expect all rookies to make a giant impact in their first year playing professionally, so a progression over the years, where the game slows down for them and their talents begin to blossom, is what most hope occurs.

Same goes for a lot of bands. Yeah, there always are great debut albums that establish a band as a force, one to tell all your friends about, but that doesn’t always means great things are ahead. Sometimes a band blowing you away with a huge first album ends up with them being the Cam Newton of music, where everything after that is perplexing and weird. Bands that show up, do OK, and slowly get better as time goes on might not get all the instant accolades and “best new music” tags from the tastemakers, but for those of us who follow the journey, it’s satisfying.

I remember getting a copy of Bison b.c.’s “Quiet Earth” in a packet from Metal Blade with a bunch of other albums in 2008. I had heard about the Vancouver band and their penchant for sludgy goodness, but this was my first real experience with them. What I heard was good enough, as they seemed to be on the Mastodon track (which was a good idea at the time) but there was a lot of room for growth. “Dark Ages” landed in 2010, and while it did show some advancement, there was some magic missing, some dark corners that could use filling in order for this band to be what they truly were capable of becoming. Now, two years later with the release of “Lovelessness,” they’ve taken a gigantic leap forward and seem right on track.

This record is an interesting one for a few reasons. First, the album is made up of only six tracks, the least so far for any of their records, but as you might imagine, the songs are much longer and more involved. But they aren’t pushing time limits just to do it, just to be another one of those bands that sprawl and sprawl on end. Their compositions have an organic quality to them. They sound like they were built quite naturally, and this new personality fits them perfectly. It’s what this band was supposed to be all along. Another major element is Sanford Parker produced this record, and he’s able to help these sounds achieve an atmospheric, open adventurousness, almost like he, too, saw the potential and actually knew how to draw it out.

Bison b.c. have remained relatively intact since their formation in 2006. Guitarists/vocalists James Gnarwell and Dan And and bassist Masa Anzai remain from their original formation, while drummer Matt Wood joined the band in 2011, replacing Brad MacKinnon. It’s clear their songwriting chops have gotten stronger over that time, and perhaps some of that is due to playing together consistently and improving as a unit. Whatever the reason, Bison b.c. have their best record yet with “Lovelessness,” and their future looks incredibly bright. Even for such sludgy dudes.

“An Old Friend” greets you first, with dual lead guitar lines, a Southern-fried approach, and gruff clean vocals amid the growling, making for a nice, purposeful introduction to the album. Then things truly blast off. “Anxiety Puke/Lovelessness” is the first truly aggressive — philosophically — song on here, as it rages for nine minutes and takes on all kinds of personalities. It’s muddy and ugly, it cleans itself up at times, it goes into dusty desert territory, into outer space, then back to the surface, in full gallop, as it races toward its conclusion. This is the song that lets you know things have changed and won’t be the same again. “Last Thing and First Things” also manages to up the ante, letting the music really breathe and float in the air a bit. That’s not to suggest that the song isn’t a neckbreaker in its own right, because it is, but it allows the band to be both thoughtful in their playing and pummeling with emotion. And it ends with a yowl of, “Fuck OFF!”

“Blood Music” is the longest song on the record at 10:45, and it thunders open with a great riff that has a classic heavy metal feel. Through its run, it thrashes and mangles, goes psychedelic and echoey, and has more of the beastly vocals we’ve come to expect from these guys. Of all the songs on this album, I expect this will sound the best live, and it really feels like it was captured in the throes of creation. “Clozapine Dream” comes back to Earth and is the shortest song of the collection at 3:15. It’s their return to on-point bone crushing, and it’s a flat-out nasty cut. “Finally Asleep” ends the collection on a spacious, dreamy note, as strains of classic metal return and they carry you on their back into the night. It’s an effective closer that puts a bloody bow on the collection.

I love where these guys are going and that they seem to be intent to top themselves each time out. Bison b.c. never sounded as good as they do on “Lovelessness,” and these tracks should translate explosively on stage. And if history can be trusted, album No. 4 should knock us the fuck out.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/16160/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/english/content.php

Legendary, unstoppable Neurosis return with devastating ‘Honor Found in Decay’


There is a small list of metal bands that changed everything. They didn’t hit all at once, of course, but their presence in the era in which they originated helped spawn a tidal wave of like-minded musicians who responded to the artists’ ways and found their own creative calling.

Of course, Black Sabbath were the originators, the godfathers of all heavy metal and the one act cited by just about every genre as being a starting point or at least a major influence. Then you had Judas Priest and Iron Maiden that brought in the more theatrical, power-laden styles of metal and made it OK to fantasize and have spectacular dreams. And of course, you have Metallica and Slayer, who made it acceptable and almost necessary to do things as heavily and aggressively as possible. Of course, Metallica fell off that wagon over time, but Slayer still spills the blood. Then there’s Death, Bathory, Hellhammer, Mayhem, and others with death and black metal.

In the 1990s Neurosis, a band born in Oakland, Calif., came to power, and they combined elements of everything listed above but also took things to the stratosphere. They weren’t afraid to weave long, poetic sections of music together, they were more ambitious than most of the other bands of their era, and they gave birth to something completely different that’s still inspiring bands to this day. In fact, their presence gave birth to ISIS, also a heavily influential band that was sparked by its members’ love of Neurosis. Nowadays, I probably get more promos from metal bands that worship at the Neurosis altar than any other band, and while many give it a gallant effort and even produce good music, no one ever comes close to the masters. And no one likely ever will.

Neurosis also arrived at a time when mainstream metal was on its way to hell. Nu-metal was born, a scourge that plagues us to this day, albeit not in the same horrible volume as before, and your main festival Ozzfest was chock full of that garbage. But they also had Neurosis play their second stage before, and while I didn’t get to see them on that tour, I can imagine the mind fuck going on with a bunch of sweaty kids waiting for dreadlocks, rap over metal, and god-awful, downtuned, gunky guitars. Neurosis were way ahead of their time.

The band’s roots actually can be traced to the 1980s, when metal still was at an apex and was nowhere near its downward spiral domestically. Their first record “Pain of Mind” was released in 1987 on Alchemy Records, but it wasn’t really until 1992’s “Souls at Zero” (one of my favorite albums of all time) where their gears started moving toward the beast they would become. They released records fairly regularly during the 1990s, jumping from Alternative Tentacles to Relapse, and offering up classics such as “Enemy of the Sun” and “Through Silver and Blood.” Once 2000 hit, their output was less frequent, popping up every three years or so. Eventually, they started releasing music on their own Neurot, most notably their last album “Given to the Rising” in 2007, and now they’re back with their 10th full-length effort “Honor Found in Decay.” It was a long five-year wait for this platter, but as usual, it was totally worth it.

Most of what you’ve come to expect from Neurosis the last couple of releases is intact, with sludgy, doomy epics, growl-speak vocals, and tons of atmosphere, but they also go back to some of their folk-influenced music, as they dash in some European and Americana influences. That’s not a shock considering some of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till’s side work away from the band, and it mixes in just nicely, adding strains of earthiness and forestal majesty that fill your lungs with adventure.

“Honor Found in Decay” is a sprawling, aggressive collection that requires your undivided attention and commitment to their emotional display. The band — guitarists/vocalists Kelly and Von Till, bassist Dave Edwardson, synth player Noah Landis, drummer Jason Roeder, and visual director Josh Graham (of the great A Storm of Light, and who also designed the cover art and packaging) — find a way again and again to dig into the deepest valleys and also reach enormous, surging heights. The record is comprised of seven excellent songs that are some of their best in a decade, and at 61 minutes, you’re guaranteed to be physically and emotionally exhausted when it finally expires. As noted before, these guys are the masters, and this record leaves no doubt about that.

“We All Rage in Gold” opens the collection on a calculated note, as the melody is pulled back and the tempo is more like a rock song. The lyrics imagine cleansing one of blood in a river, with a howl of, “Death was my first companion,” sending chills down the spine. “At the Well” runs 10 minutes, and the vocal work reminds me of Tom Waits. This cut feels solemn and bleak for the most part, with heavy atmosphere and some bagpipes, but all of a sudden the thing ignites into a full rage, with emotion overflowing. “My Heart for Deliverance” runs 11:41 and has more strains of Euro folk, with strings, whistles, and organic energy. It’s also rich with doom and mud but also has some Southern rock richness to the guitars. It’s a great, all-inclusive song.

“Bleed the Pig” is slow-driving and also full of whirry keys, and it, too, explodes after too long with tribal drumming and animalistic aggression. “Casting of the Ages” is another challenger, with some folkish guitars, harmonica, and hints of Americana, but that all eventually melts into mechanical storming and noise buzzing, melting its traditional roots into a steely muck. “All Is Found … In Time” picks up where “Ages” left off, with a cacophony of chaos, but eventually a groove settles in, trippy, space-age sludge rolls out, and the line, “Cracking the bones to get to the marrow,” gives you a full indication of the mental, soulful exploration behind this song. Closer “Raise the Dawn” is full of whispers and lurching, somber doom, some banjo plucking, and more folk tendencies, giving a rustic conclusion to this devastating, soul-bruising album.

Neurosis are just as vital to metal today as ever. Their disciples are numerous, their influence is immeasurable, and their legend will outlive them. And unlike most other bands that have had the impact this band has, they’ve had a strong lineage of music to show for it. “Honor Found in Decay” can be put up against anything else in the band’s catalog and logically stand against past efforts. This band shows no sign of letting up, and it’s unlikely to be their final universe-altering statement.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.neurosis.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.bluecollardistro.com/neurotrecordings/categories.php?cPath=1030

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

With EP ‘Death Ritual’ in tow, Mortals get ready to demolish faces on new tour


Last week, we brought you an extensive look at Mortals’ crushing new EP “Death Ritual,” an astonishing two-track effort that shows a band with newfound savagery (and they were scary before this) as well as refined songwriting skills. This band is ready to explode, and it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if, next year at this time, they’re ensconced on a big indie metal label.

The band – guitarist/vocalist Elizabeth Cline, bassist/vocalist Lesley Wolf, drummer Caryn Havlik – are embarking on an extensive tour starting tomorrow (check out the dates at the end of the story), and the band was kind enough to talk to us about their new album, their ambitions, and what they hope these upcoming shows will do for them. Go check them out if they hit your hometown, and grab “Death Ritual,” an EP we absolutely support and love.

MMM: “Death Ritual” is another shorter release — two songs, albeit longer ones than usual. Is this a precursor to another full-length? Or are these songs you simply wanted to get out there now?

Elizabeth Cline: “Death Ritual” and “Final Hour” definitely represent a new era for us. We know these songs stand apart from and above our earlier stuff, and we wanted to record them straight away. To us, these songs are Mortals, and what came before is almost an entirely different band.

Lesley Wolf: As long as we keep writing music together we’ll eventually record again, but there are no concrete plans to do so on the horizon. The fact that we almost never play anything from “Savanger” anymore, and certainly not from “Encyclopedia of Myths,” also meant we strategically couldn’t go on another tour without a new release.

MMM: You certainly can hear a great deal of progression on these songs. They’re more wide open musically, lots of different influences packed into them. Is this a product of becoming better songwriters? Is your musical landscape growing more? A combo of the two? Something else entirely?

EC: I had a moment about eight months ago where I told myself, either this band is going to take a huge leap forward, or we should call it off. Just from touring behind our older stuff and playing it live, we were all dissatisfied with where we were at musically. For me, this translated into putting an ungodly number of hours into writing riffs, trashing them, and then writing more, and totally changing up my influences. I think we were all listening to a lot of High on Fire, Inquisition, Watain, and Absu when writing this EP. The second component of the change came from within the entire band. Caryn, the drummer, and I, have a tendency to write from our brains instead of with our ears. We learned to override that. Lesley is great at calling us out when we’re getting eccentric. We all started craving the more straightforward, stripped down, open sound that you’re describing, but what makes us Mortals is that our music is still packed with lot of changes and influences. We just figured out how to do that well.

MMM: What different influences — and not necessarily bands … could be genres of music, art, films — do the members of the band bring to the creative process? What types of things inspire you to write? What topical things push you lyrically?

LW: Music is what inspires me all the time. I am constantly seeking out new music, new bands. We are also fortunate enough to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented musicians and bands in Brooklyn. I can honestly say our fellow musicians here, many of whom we can also claim as good friends (Mutilation Rites, Krallice, Hull, Anicon, Batillus, Mutant Supremacy, Trenchgrinder, to name a few) are often inciting musical influence on us.  As far as lyrics are concerned, I don’t really write about specific experiences or stories. I pull from the dark recesses of my brain, where all the bleak, negative stuff builds up, and I try to expunge it into words or phrases that fit into our riffs. We are all in a world that is self-destructing, there is fear mongering everywhere, our society perpetuates it, and there is little to look at as a bright happy future anymore. Warfare, survival, mind control, loneliness; these are some of the themes I’m enjoying these days.

EC: Usually it’s a single killer riff that I hear in a song that gets me going. But generally, I don’t need to get inspired to write songs, I just do it. My process is that I write, get depressed, hate myself, think I suck, and then finally write a bunch more shit that I’m happy with. In my experience, a lot of inspirational moments as a musician happen after you work your ass off and get to another level as a songwriter.

MMM: Why did you settle on the title “Death Ritual”? What’s the significance?

LW:  Part of existence is death, it is a rite that we cannot escape, and it ties us all together as humans (or mortals, if you will) on this insane asylum of a planet.  Life is fragile while death is permanent.  It was also a lyric pattern that fit with part of the song.

MMM: You worked with Kevin Bernsten on “Death Ritual.” Why did you choose him, and what did he bring to the recordings?

EC: Kevin recorded Mutilation Rites’ “Empyrean,” which is just one of sickest sounding albums. Kevin brought the same thunder to our recording, partially because he has an insanely amazing collection of gear. I played through a Marshall JCM800, an Ampeg VL502 Lee Jackson and an Emperor cab. Prior to “Death Ritual,” “Empyrean” was the only album that made my speakers rattle off my desk. Now, my own EP does the same thing.

MMM: Think I read there are plans for vinyl version of “Death Ritual.” Correct? Mulling over any other format other than that and digital?

EC: Yes, I’ve wanted to make cassettes for a while. So get your Walkmans ready.

MMM: The band’s still going the DIY route — self-releasing the EP, doing the Bandcamp thing. Has there been any label interest? Is that something the band is considering, or are you happy doing things the way you are now?

EC: We’re a well-oiled machine from touring so much, but we would also love label interest. We’re in the process of figuring out who we need to know to make that happen. If you want to help us out, please get in touch.

MMM: Mortals certainly have shared stages with all different kinds of metal bands. What has that done for Mortals? Expand your audience? Or is it just fun to kind of mix it up with different kinds of metal bands?

LW: It’s clear when you hear a Mortals song that we all three love heavy music.  Period.  We play shows with other bands that are deemed heavy in one sense or another.  There are so many subcultures and genres, but it’s all a bunch of wordplay if you ask me.  Give me a good riff, some clever songwriting, that’s what I want to hear.  Blackened Sludge Doom Thrash Death Melodic Grind Atmospheric Crust Stoner. Whatever. Bring It.

EC: Agreed. We are all some of the most open-minded metalheads I know. We all seek out many different types of music and surround ourselves with many different kinds of people, and we’d all die of boredom if we had to hear the same genre of metal every night.

MMM: I’m assuming the band isn’t your full-time job (yet). Yell at me if I’m wrong. If not, what do you all do in the meantime? Jobs? School? None of anyone’s business?

EC: Everyone in the band has really successful careers outside of Mortals, which is probably unique for a touring metal band. A friend of ours is promoting our show in Lafayette, Louisiana, as doom metal by “intelligent people,” which I find hilarious. At a Mortals show, you can come for the music and stay to discuss the global economy. Just kidding, we usually want to get drunk after we play.

LW:  We all have jobs that allow us to have the time to tour and play music.  I work freelance in the graphic/fashion design world, Caryn works for WNYC (public radio), and Elizabeth is a freelance writer/editor.

MMM: Ultimately, what do you hope for Mortals future? Do you want this to be a full-time gig? Full-time touring unit?

EC: We don’t have any illusions about making money off metal. But I do think the music we’re writing deserves to be heard. And if someone called us up tomorrow and put us on a long-term tour with a bigger band, we’d all do it in a heartbeat.

MMM: You have a pretty extensive tour coming up in late October and early November. Playing, again, with different types of bands. How do you hope the tour benefits the band, other than having a chance to play your music live?

EC: We’re playing several festivals this time out and are playing with some bigger acts, so this tour is all about establishing us as a band to take note of and take seriously in this scene. We love the house shows and the intimacy of the DIY music circuit, but as a band, you always have to have a desire to go to the next level.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/mortalstheband

To buy their music, go here: http://mortals.bandcamp.com/

Grindcore monsters Pig Destroyer return with fiery, self-destructive ‘Book Burner’


I’m pretty sure Pig Destroyer need no introduction, cutesy opening, or correlation to my life or yours. We know what they are and who they are. They are violence, art, misogyny, humiliation, and true human terror all rolled into one, and their run has been both astonishing and frightening.

Having a chance to see the band in your town is pretty rare (unless you live near the Baltimore/DC area … or Japan), and they seem to operate on an agenda most bands would find foreign and sketchy. They show up when they want, bulldoze your senses, then go away. The band shapes and shifts, tries on new approaches, burns their own shit to the ground, goes again. Frontman/lyricist J.R. Hayes has a reputation — deserved or not — of penning women-hating, sexual, violent lyrics that, if turned into a script, would get that film banned from theaters. This is not for the weak of heart, and even if you find yourself getting lost in the band’s thrashy grindcore assault, you’ll be jarred awake by what Hayes is shouting in your ears.

Pig Destroyer never have been a band that’s been terribly prolific with their studio output. Ever since the band put out their debut “Explosion in Ward 6” in 1998, they’ve only hit us back four more times with long players. I can’t imagine they’d work very effectively under a model so many other labels operate, in that you need to have that new product out for the holidays to maximize on sales. They’d laugh at that. Instead, we’re made to wait until they’re ready, which is how it should be anyway. It’s taken them five years to follow up 2007’s killer “Phantom Limb” with their new platter “Book Burner” (2008’s bizarre, largely ambient “Natasha” doesn’t count), so expectations were sky high for this thing. What a lost art — building anticipation for a record.

Since 2007, Pig Destroyer have gone through a personnel change. Longtime drummer Bryan Harvey left the fold, and in his place is Misery Index kit immolator Adam Jarvis. Hayes, guitarist Scott Hull, and programmer Blake Harrison all remain. Also, you will notice there is no bass whatsoever on “Book Burner,” something some people find a little odd for the less-meaty low end. At first, I also had a difficult time fully immersing myself in the songs for that reason, but as time has gone on, and I’ve listened to the record more and more, that’s pretty much gone away. The songs are heavy and relentless, and their overall savagery becomes the thing standing at the forefront, with bloody knuckles and blackened eyes.

Another thing longtime fans will notice is that “Book Burner” sounds more like a classic Pig Destroyer record. There is a litany of short songs all strung together, as the line often blurs as to where things begin and end. That’s always something the band did so seamlessly, and even as they went a little conventional on “Phantom Limb” and put together longer, more ambitious songs, it lacked that “whack-whack-whack” the band’s albums typically have. So it’s cool to have that aspect back.

You’ll notice right away the immediacy of this album and its sinister intent. “Sis” blows right open, taking on a start-stop tempo that should shake the cobwebs from your brain. Then it’s right into “The American’s Head” and “The Underground Man,” both of which are fast, relentless, and thrashy. And over before you know it. “Eve” is doomy and foreboding, with regular guest screamer Katherine Katz on vocals as she shrieks her heart out, and that takes us into “The Diplomat,” a mathy, chunky song that is gruff and unforgiving, but also scathing and damning of human nature, especially with the line, “We never change, we make the same mistakes.” “Valley of Geysers” is drowning in static and noise and sounds like something off “Terrifyer,” while the title cut blasts and bleeds into “Machiavellian.”

Eerie “Baltimore Strangler” opens with a poem typically associated with addiction, before Hayes launches into his most violent tirade on the entire album. “White Lady” melts into a fury, then it’s into “The Bug,” which opens with a reading from the band’s go-to author Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” that’s reminiscent of “Jennifer” from “Prowler in the Yard.” The vocals are gruff, Katz rejoins the fray, and it’s one of the best pieces on the whole record. “Burning Palm” has visions on self-mutilation and is a scorching, jerky, weird song, “Totaled” is bizarre and wacky, and “Kamikaze Heart” sounds like what its title entails. It’s complete, utter violence.

Waiting five years is a necessary evil in Pig Destroyer fandom, but when they come up with something this incendiary and poisonous, you know the long stretch of time away from the band has been worth it. These guys show no signs of calming down, no indications of pulling punches, and no interest in cleaning up the blood on their hands. You might be offended, you’ll probably be disturbed, but make no mistake, you’ll be battered with some of the most aggressive, vitriolic punishment you’ve faced in a long time.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/TheRealPigDestroyer

To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/pigbook

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