Deafheaven return with darker, more explosive sounds that fire up, fully immerse ‘New Bermuda’

Photo by Kristen Coffer

Photo by Kristen Coffer

Maybe this has been going on all along, or maybe I’m just now waking up to it, but there are a ton of bands that, when they put out a record, they immediately get dismissed. Look, I love metal and defend it always, but there are some things that are just utterly stupid to me. Like if a band does something positive in a popularity sense, the genre will die.

So I dangle my metal card today (as I did when discussing Myrkur) with Deafheaven, who have returned with their third record “New Bermuda.” I don’t have a metal card. It’s so dumb. I know. The way I’ve always looked at metal is part of it is rebellion. It’s a lashing out at the norm, but when bands do that within the genre, it seems to be some unforgivable sin. Well, that’s boring and I don’t care to make that a part of what shapes my listening. I’ve always enjoyed Deafheaven’s music, and I do to this day. Their greatest “transgression” is they don’t adhere to a formula or tradition and always pushed boundaries, something I always consider pretty metal. Oh, and they’re popular beyond metal, another miscue over which they have no control. OK all tongue-in-cheek aside, Deafheaven have done some pretty good stuff thus far, and their new record is pretty surprising.

Deafheaven cover“Sunbather” was a pretty dreamy record, a document of desire and weird existence where you try to make sense of your life, your surroundings, and your nature. Their new record “New Bermuda” musically is something a little different. The music is much heavier and more abrasive for the most part, yet when they pull back, it’s more atmospheric and interesting. They add new twists to their music, most of it in the guitar work, and they keep building a universe that is wholly theirs. Their jump to Anti (home to life-long bad-ass artists Neko Case and Tom Waits) seems fitting, and a whole new audience will be exposed to their sounds. I fail to see the negativity in that.

“Brought to the Water,” which many people of the Internet have heard by now, kicks off with scathing noise, bells chiming, and a total eruption, with the guitars from Kerry McCoy and Shev Mehra swelling and creating texture, but also chugging like never before. The vocals even are a little different, more calculated and meaner, with the sound feeling as metallic as this band ever has. In fact, it doesn’t really sound like Deafheaven of the past at all. Melodies sweep in, atmosphere takes hold, but before everything gives way, there’s a final savage burst before pianos drip. “Luna” is completely volcanic at the start, some of the heaviest moments of this band’s catalog. The vocals are wrenching, exactly what you’d expect from vocalist George Clarke, while more colors flood the scene, emotions surge, and quiet eventually takes hold. Notes ring out, hinting at a swarm of beauty, but things get ruptured as the power surges again and the end blisters. “Come Back” starts making your head feel like it’s floating through the clouds, with the guitars rolling in and lulling you into numbness. Then you’re ripped into an inferno, with a thunderous pace, vicious growls, and total savagery. That pace keeps up, creating billowing smoke for the bulk of its run time, before it folds into the exact opposite environment. Chilled-out, ’70s-style guitars sweep in, feeling breezy and surfy, like you’re suddenly rolling alongside an expressway toward sandy beaches, where you will let yourself burn.

“Baby Blue” starts feeling spacey and rushing, almost like you’re expecting a mid-tempo rock song, complete with impassioned singing to come out of the other end. We know better now, but this also isn’t a total thunderstorm like the rest of the record. They pull back here a bit (even Clarke’s piercing growls settle down), and the wah-infused soloing makes for a nice change of pace, a completely different kind of headspace. Violence later erupts, as you knew it would, with all elements bursting and overflowing, the vocals crushing, and the music prowling toward a warm pocket of synth that fades into ambiance and transportation warning about traffic restrictions on the George Washington Bridge. Surreal stuff. Closer “Gifts for the Earth” is the one that still isn’t feeling totally right to me. There’s a fluid post-punk feel to the front end, a foggy bit that feels like it would benefit from some actual singing rather than the growling. Or perhaps that odd juxtaposition of sounds is supposed to make your skin crawl, and if so, that’s where I am with this. A psychedelic mist later takes over, marring your psyche, and as the track winds down, the bomb drops, the vocals sound as if Clarke’s guts are being ripped out (and maybe they are metaphorically), and the torment slowly dissolves into a bed of acoustic guitars and pianos as everything fades away.

No matter what Deafheaven do, they’re going to have their detractors. It sounds like from “New Bermuda” that they don’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to outside forces, nor should they. This is a heavy and channeled as they’ve sounded to date, a darker side to a band that already reveled in morose thoughts, loss, and out-of-touch-desires. Deafheaven have come at us with three completely different records now, and, like them or not, they remain an enthralling, relevant force.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://kingsroadmerch.com/deafheaven/region/

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

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review was written and posted in advance before the story of Kerry McCoy’s use of homosexual slurs on Twitter came to light. We don’t yet understand the context of his tweets, though we certainly do not condone hateful speech toward anyone of any sexual identification, nor anyone at all. It’s unfortunate these tweets are now putting a bit of a pall over a pretty great record. Hopefully he clarifies and apologizes.

Behold! The Monolith refuse to give in to tragedy, explode back on new ‘Architects of the Void’

BeholdWe’re always reminded to embrace life, not to take things or people for granted, and that in a split second everything could be gone. Existence is fragile, and it’s not until we’re faced with losing something, or finding ourselves facing fate, that these things come into focus. A lot of metal music celebrates these things and makes them into something that’s quasi-celebrated. It’s fun theater. But reality feels a lot worse.

A band that could tell you a hell of a lot about that is Behold! The Monolith, a band that was making a nice dent in the suddenly burgeoning sludge doom scene with their crushing 2012 release “Defender, Redeemist.” It was brutal, muddy, and a damn good time, a fantastical platter with bloody roots that was a mauler with every listen. But then the worst possible scenario reared ugly head: vocalist Kevin McDade was killed in a car accident, and suddenly everything was up in the air. Not only did the band find its momentum halted and a vital member of the band gone, but they lost a comrade with whom they built their path and developed their following. Had that been the end of the band, no one would have batted an eye. It would have been a shame to lose such a promising band, but fate is a fucker sometimes.

Behold coverLuckily, Behold! The Monolith were not about to bow to such fate. Yes, they were bruised, hurting, surely lost inside, but they refused to call it the end. Because of that, we are very lucky to have the band’s brand new record “Architects of the Void” to discuss. There was a good chance this third record never would have seen the light of day, but on a steed rushing through the night into battle, here it is sounding gigantic, vicious, and so true to the band’s spirit. First listen to this record, it was just wonderful to hear the band intact. Subsequent listens allowed the essence of the music to sink in and what these guys—guitarist Matt Price, drummer Chase Manhattan, new bassist Jason “Cas” Casanova, and the man taking over for McDade on vocals Jordan Nalley—accomplished on this seven-track, nearly 50-minute behemoth. The fires still burn, they maintain their burly edge, and they have created a record that only should solidify their standing.

“Umbral Veil” gets things going with slow-hammering doom, lurching growls, and a haze that is both misty and monstrous. There are some strong dual lead guitar bits cutting through the murk, while a sense of mournful glory emerges and bleeds into “Philosopher’s Blade.” Here, the drums awake early and pound, while the pace opens up and starts drubbing. The screams from Nalley are fiery and forceful, while nasty blasts make their way in and the band starts churning. The growls peel the flesh from your arms, while a strong solo tears through, and the track comes to a bashing end. “The Mithriditist” is muddy and stomping at the start, with some cleaner singing that reminds of earlier Mastodon, and the song going to strange, mystical areas. Yet a guttural twist comes out of that, with heavy fire raining down, guitars meting rock, and smothering noise slamming the door shut. “Lord of Bones” is an ominous one, with slow carnage bruising and the track getting fully into the darkness. The pace is thrashy, while riffs take command, and the gritty growls and volcanic leads give the back end of the track a destructive, bloody feel.

“Black Days Of…” sweeps in, a quick instrumental cut that’s full of strange noises, bleak vibes, and a cosmic atmosphere that clouds your mind. “Between Order and the Vistula” follows that, igniting from the start, with a stomping assault, bluesy guitars catching on, and the track coming to terrifying life. The whole thing splits open, with the tempo kicking up, screamy singing lacerating you, and a psychedelic edge emerging that gives this piece a pretty cool texture. The last half of the song is vicious and catchy, swaggering and sludgy, and a blast of crippling fury. The epic 14:10 closing title cut is wonderfully riffy, with the tempo taking its damn time, and the punishment being dealt in a calculated manner. There are smudgy bits, with fierce vocals dominating, cosmic blips adding frostiness, and a hopelessly pulverizing push that feels like one well-placed body blow after another. A drone void emerges, almost like a huge, mysterious space cloud, yet guitars cut out of that, with the playing waylaying and coming to a deafening crescendo, and noise sizzling and corroding over the record’s final, glorious minutes.

Just saying “Architects of the Void” is a triumph merely because it exists would short-change the great music Behold! The Monolith conjured here. Out of unspeakable tragedy that could put an end to most bands, these guys got up, collected themselves, and started making their barbaric drive all over again. It’s inspiring hearing these guys carry on and keep setting uncontrollable fires only they can tame, and this new beginning for the band not only should remind us of the fragility of life but also of perseverance and strength. All hail Behold! The Monolith.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://beholdthemonolith.bandcamp.com/album/architects-of-the-void

Human Bodies, Leather Chalice team up for vile, abrasive new split effort that may maim you

Bodies Chalice splitNo one wants to do anything on a Monday. No one. People who tell you they’re super ambitious on a Monday are liars. Period. They’re lying to you to seem all motivated and all that garbage when, in reality, they’re dying inside just like you are.

That in mind, we won’t try to force you to tackle an entire full-length release today. But we will take you on a trip through a gnarly new 7” split effort offered by Broken Limbs that pits Leather Chalice and Human Bodies like two angry vipers trying to get at one another and do as much damage as possible. This four-track effort is heavy, nasty, and should make you get in touch with all the disgust lining the bottom of your entrails that makes you want to lie down and give up. And look, the thing is not even 10 minutes long, so it’s not like you can’t find time during your busy, annoying day to bathe in filth and get some perspective for your life. So quit being a baby and just listen to this.

Human Bodies

Human Bodies

We’ll start off with Human Bodies portion of this display. This band hailing from Boston only has been together for a couple of years now, but they’ve already brought a lot to the table as far as recorded material goes. Human Bodies already have three demo recordings, a full-length, and a compilation out there, and the two tracks we get here continues their black, infernal intensity that’s slowly making its way across the world. The band currently consists of guitarist/vocalist Terzakis, guitarist/vocalist Gabe, bassist Jason, and drummer Dan, and they’re just at the beginning of their reign of terror, one that could result in them being one of the deadliest bands in underground metal.

Human Bodies’ section (recorded during the sessions for their full-length “No Life”) kicks off with “Only the Sigh,” as noise torment rips across everything and the track tears open with intensity. There is a chaotic haze that is nicely washed out, maniacal vocals, and thunderous power that walks a border between punk and black metal. A fiery bit of soloing emerges and leaves streaks of blood, and it spills right into “Malice Prepense.” “Carve the arms of the ones who cause mistrust,” is howled, as the pace blisters, the shrieks are harsh and callous, and the band hits a nice thrash pocket that will leave you devastated. The riffs are mighty here, their personality is gruff, and they allow their noise assault to fade out into the night. It’s but two songs and just a few minutes, but Human Bodies have struck a chord and should keep piling up kills from here.

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

Leather Chalice (photo by returntothepit.com)

Leather Chalice (photo by returntothepit.com)

Leather Chalice also are here to challenge you, grate you, rub your face in whatever it is you call metal, and do it all with an attitude that borders on reckless. The New Hampshire-based one-man black metal project, helmed by Jann, has been around just a year longer than Human Bodies and have a mess of recordings out there. There are two demos, an EP, their full-length “Sweet Perfume of Coffin Air,” and a slew of split releases with bands such as Caught and Sumpt. This music is frightfully noisy and smothering, with a bunch of influences of metal’s past woven into the wasp swarm of noise. Their tracks here are part of a “Coming Home” duo and they are perverse, disturbing, and violent songs that could shake the uninhibited, or just the unadventurous, to their core.

We kick off with “Good Intentions” that has wild shrieks, thick riffs, and a damaged sense of NWOBHM power looming behind the thick smoke. The guitar tones are weird and otherworldly, making you feel like you’re the one whose head should be questioned, and the words that swirl in a rage should make you feel anything but comfortable. “Last Gifts of Worship” follows, a tale of torture, sex, and blood, a disturbing combination that make some shiver at its filthy recollections. Yet this music is meant to be ugly, and it is every step of the way, from the crazed growls, to the grinding tempo that feels like being hit and ground to bits by a car, to the punk thrash riffs that rise up and, as quickly as they arrived, fade out. Leather Chalice leave very little to the imagination, and considering the road they’re on, they could become one of the most feared, reviled black metal bands out there. Check this split if you know what’s good for you.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.brokenlimbsrecordings.net/#!store/azhdm/collections/new-releases/1

For more on the label, go here: http://www.brokenlimbsrecordings.net/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Dalla Nebbia’s visit to death and suicide valley ignites exhilarating ‘Felix Culpa’

Dalla Nebbia coverI have a pretty decent obsession with Jonestown and the events that took place, especially the mass fatalities that occurred at the end of the Jim Jones-led cult’s existence in November 1978. I relish any documentary about the events, and I even have CNN’s recent look at the cult on my DVR. I’ve already watched it several times.

There’s something about the apparent salvation the People’s Temple members thought they were achieving and what actually went down. A raving, drug-addled lunatic had lured them away from friend and family to ultimately meet their fate. And when Congressman Leo Ryan and an NBC news crew touched down in November of that fateful year (ultimately they would be gunned down on an air strip by cult members), many disillusioned members thought they finally found real hope. Very few were right. It’s these themes of death, suicide, regret, and fearing a vengeful god that fuels the songs on Dalla Nebbia’s new album “Felix Culpa.” The record isn’t about Jonestown mind you, but there is a song on there that very much digs into that situation that really stood out for me as the center piece. Around that are tracks that, while not a concept piece, still touch on the darkness and despair living inside of us and the extinguishing of our earthly flames.

Dalla Nebbia formed in South Carolina, one of the more unlikely beds for progressive black metal. Over the past five years, they’ve crafted their sound, releasing a demo and EP before the arrival of their debut full-length “The Cusp of the Void” in 2013. The band—guitarist/vocalist/programmer Yixja (also of Mesmur), vocalist Zduhac, bassist Tiphareth, and drummer Alkurion (Funeral Age, Mesmur) bring a rustic, rushing sense to their music. It’s heavy and adventurous, sometimes coming closer to death than black, but they also balance that with musical delicacy, cosmic sparks, and smooth clean singing that often reminds of American folk music.

“Momento Mori” begins the record as a murky, foggy intro cut complete with flutes, glock, and a woodsy ambiance that flows into “Until the Rain Subsides,” the first giant on a record full of them. The riffs ignite as the melody flows, and creaky growls send us over the verses. At the chorus, the singing kicks up, creating a chorus section that is memorable and sticky enough to embed itself inside your head. The song has its multiple progressions, as most of the tracks do, and it comes out of the mist to surge to the finish line. “Abandoned Unto Sky” is speedy and crushing at the start, with the drums devastated, the guitars swelling, and the vocals weaving horrors such as finding abandoned body parts scattered about. The track is rupturing and dark, with more strong singing and melodic growls that get inside your blood. “Lament of Aokigahara” references Japan’s Suicide Forest, and the pall cast over the song from the subject matter alone is enough to weigh you down. “Prepare thyself for finality,” is howled, leaving a chill in the air, and amid melodies bubbling and majestic passages that surge is that sense of devastation and dread. As the song reaches a huge crescendo, the line, “The perfect place to die,” lets the gravity hover as the song bleeds away. “The Banner of Defiance” gets off to a raucous start, with blasts leading in but then subsiding. Folky singing emerges, as the tempo calms a bit, but we’re never far from the next burst. Later, any hint of savagery melts into cold guitars and blurry keys, giving off a dream effect. Thick strings from guest Sareeta cut through the murk as layers of darkness pile up and bring a suffocating exit.

“Not Within the Stone” has some razor-sharp leads followed by glimmering melodies, melodic growls, and a wave of singing bursting out of the din. In fact, there’s even some harmonizing, making things seem a little breezy in the forest, and that leads into tumultuous, emotional guitars, lurching growling, and a sense of deep sorrow permeating all. The title cut lets loose growls early, with sounds blurring, the drums being thrashed, and later some woodsy vocal melodies slipping in to add texture. There is thick, rich atmosphere, almost like a late spring day, and the back end sizzles and leads into “Das Gelachter Gottes,” a quick instrumental built on strange percussion, spacey sounds, and overall weirdness, an ideal segue into the ugliest chapter on the record, “Paradise in Flames.” Strings emerge, as does the scratchy recording of Jim Jones and he’s about to convince his followers to drink his poisonous concoction and fade into death. The pace plods along, with psychedelic echoes ringing out, and the keys creating a lush bed. But the volume and intensity rise all the while, as the volatility of the situation becomes clear. One final cold wave of music, accompanied by Jones’ madman ranting, and the track suddenly is engulfed in flames. A damn-near euphoric melody sweeps in, as the growls emerge, noting, “The poison is sweet,” while the sheer terror of one of the most infamous events in history fades out with its perpetrator uttering along with it. Closer “The Silent Transition” is a quiet, mournful ending, as if it’s soundtracking the passage of one’s essence from one plane to the next, and while beauty and peace finally emerge, it’s impossible to shake what you’ve just heard.

These are heavy thoughts and heavy themes on “Felix Culpa,” and Dalla Nebbia deliver these sentiments with the proper amount of respect to the subject matters and unleashing of their spirits. This is a record that sounded thunderous on first listen, but as I worked my way through the album again and again, more of the overall atmospheres and philosophies became apparent. It’s both an immediate record and a grower, and it’s one that I’ll keep sojourning through as my own existence shapes and shifts its meanings, traveling through both dark and light.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://razedsoul.ipower.com/rzd/095.htm

Or here: https://dallanebbia.bandcamp.com/

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

Big | Brave combine explosive drone, calm, and fiery emotion on unpredictable new ‘Au de La’

Big BraveNot all music is meant to be embraced from the first moment the music reveals itself. There are records that must be earned, bands that keep you at arm’s length, and sometimes it takes a stretch of patience and understanding for someone’s art to really sink in and make its point. Often times, those are the albums that end up sticking with me the longest.

That happened recently on a drive home from work as all I wanted to do was get home and bury myself inside. With my mind icing over, I needed something to jar me, and I turned to “Au de La,” the second record from Montreal trio Big | Brave that I had visited with a few times before that. I found the five-track offering interesting and different, but it hadn’t really sunk its teeth into me yet. But on that commute homeward, something happened and everything made sense. The thick drone carried me, the jarring crashing of their dual guitars and one devastated drum kit felt like lightning bolts going through me, and the swirling, stabbing vocals stood out and proclaimed what I was hearing as something that would not be equaled by anyone else that year. By that I mean there’s not another band that possibly could replicate what Big | Brave achieve on this record.

Big Brave coverThere is a tenacity and intensity to Big | Brave’s music, yet they can pull back and hypnotize you with quiet passages where it seems serenity will win. But it never does. Changes burst like lava, and the band seems to take a loose, improvised path through much of what’s going on here. Robin Wattie’s voice grabs you and forces you to listen, chanting mercilessly, wailing at the top of her lungs, and often feeling like she is going off the hinges as she expresses every dark fiber inside of her. Mathieu Bernard Ball’s agitated guitars and Louis-Alexandre Beauregard’s sometimes exploratory, often primal drumming adds to the power of this trio and make them a band from which you can’t turn your eyes and ears. As the music builds, so will the intensity in your soul, and first visits to this record could fill you with nervous energy as your try to anticipate each of their curves.

“On the By and By and Thereon” opens with guitars wailing repetitively, with feedback squalling, Wattie’s singing stuttered, and the machine creating a loop of fury. The power subsides a bit, slithering in the undertow, before the vocals return as a yelp, the cymbals are bashed, and the sounds lead to a finish that slowly subsides. “Look at How the World Has Made a Change” goes 11:52, and it squeezes every ounce out of that time with the first few minutes feeling spacey and floating, as the ambiance builds, and a hint of danger is on the horizon. The noise quivers and aches, while sounds pulsate beneath, the drums are struck, and what sounds like horns start to blare. The singing picks up its fire, as the band comes alive, blasting away, thrashing your senses, and timing their blasts with precision that makes the song feel even heavier than it is. “do.no.harm.do.no.wrong.Do.No.Harm.Do.Know.Wrong” has feedback howling, the smudging feeling prehistorically massive, and even some bluesy heat ripping out of the guitar work. Things get a little faster here, with Wattie’s vocals scraping and scathing, twisting into shrieks and shouts, and the final moments blazing shockingly.

“And as the Waters Go” is the unquestioned main event and the perfect portrait of how well this band builds strength and anticipation. The guitars start to stab as Wattie’s vocals cut through and rise above the murk. Her singing sprawls, lathered with rage sometimes, seeking release in other moments, and all the while, the bed of sound is gathering at her feet. This is where the band feels the least structured in the best way, and it’s like they built layer upon layer of heavy fog and smashing violence, doing whatever their commanding desires compelled them to do and creating a raging inferno all the while. The final moments let the haze set in, as the band slowly crashes on their instruments, never letting you know when they’ll relent and making you hope they never do. Closer “(re)Collection Pt II” is the longest cut at 13:18, and it allows humidity to collect. Slow drum strikes begin to push, as the singing joins in and the pace plods along. There are powerful strikes, of course, but also sounds that whir and a mix of voices lashing out. All elements mash together and create thick cloud coverage, with percussion rambling, calm sliding in, and guitars making your hair wilt. The track works well as a comedown, a cooling spot, where the bruises you suffered earlier are dressed, and you’re allowed to disappear into night along with the band’s music.

Big | Brave’s cacophonous noise and cathartic shedding of energy feels amazing to hear play out on record, and I can only imagine what this feels like in a live setting. “Au de La” is a really boisterous record by a pretty special band that’s finally getting a bigger stage to show their stuff. Expect a journey unlike any one you’ve ever taken before, and if at first the music doesn’t swell you, give it time to get into your blood and change your frame of mind.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.bigbrave.ca/

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

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

Doom maulers Witchsorrow show more ferocious side on devastating ‘No Light, Only Fire’

Ester SegarraIf you’re a regular reader (and if you are, thanks!), you’ve probably noticed we’re gorging ourselves on doom the past few weeks. This is the best time of the year for the stuff, as the air gets colder, the summer dies, and spookiness is injected into everything. It’s just a perfect setting for doom metal, and that streak continues again today.

If there’s one major shot point most people probably made about UK doom beasts Witchsorrow, it’s that their sound draws pretty close to Electric Wizard worship. It’s not an inaccurate assessment, but that hardly disqualifies Witchsorrow from getting the proper adulation they deserve. Truth is, while they do pound and haunt in much the same manner as the aforementioned legends, this band stands on its own. Never has that been more apparent than on their fantastic new record “No Light, Only Fire.” In fact, the band clearly tries to step out of that lofty shadow and really crafts a record that shows a lot more of what Witchsorrow are capable of doing. In fact, if the band keeps going down this path, the Electric Wizard rumblings will go away, and more people will start to recognize how damn formidable this group is.

Witchsorrow coverWitchsorrow flip the script a bit on “No Light, Only Fire,” and not just for them but for doom in general. There are some shorter cuts here, a few bursts of speed, and a more aggressive pace that the band hasn’t shown quite like this in the past. It’s a nice new side of the band, though don’t worry, the storming epics are here as well. But the album is better balanced and, as noted, we get to see more of the group’s true personality. The band remains intact from the lineup that created their mammoth second record “God Curse Us,” as Necroskull is on guitars and vocals, Emily Witch is on bass, and Wilbrahammer is on drums. This is a damn fine effort, and at eight tracks, 63 minutes, it is proportioned just right.

The band gets to work on “There Is No Light, There Is Only Fire,” which starts throwing punches right away. The band shows its newfound savagery on this song, as they go for the jugular with their playing, and even Necroskull spits out his words at a faster clip. The chorus is melodic and catchy, as he cries, “Chained to these demons forevermore,” and the band ends the thing with fire. “The Martyr” runs 9:01, and it slows the pace. “Beware the man with the truth in his hand,” Necroskull warns, as the band starts sludging along. The venom just grows from there, with, “I spit at your feet!” howled, as a mass of powerful soloing arrives and takes over. There is plenty of Sabbath influences here as well, from Necroskull’s howl of, “Oh yeah!” to the mystical bludgeoning. Great track. “Made of the Void” is the one cut where the Electric Wizard feel storms back, and I say that positively. The track is murky, echoey, and full of danger as the band accelerates their body count and revels in pure ugliness. “Negative Utopia” tells you all you really need to know with its title, as the band drives the hammer of doom hard and repeatedly. The soloing bathes in psychedelic fury, and as they are “watching the planet die,” they do their damnest to help rivers of lava flow and boil you as slowly and heavily as possible.

“To the Gallows” is another shorter one that crushes pretty hard. The track is charged up, Witch’s bass gallops with a fury, and the singing is a little gruffer than other areas of the record. The soloing smears again, the band slows the doors off the thing, and the howls of, “To the death!” hit like a lightning bolt. “Disaster Reality” spills over 11:25, and it trickles coldly and wickedly at the start. The power finally opens up, as the band hits a muddy, dangerous pace, lurching and slithering while the vocals find hints of melody. The menace woven into this one is apparent, as is the detached emotion of the vocals, sounding like they’re coming from a dying soul who realizes there is no hope in the future. Necroskull notes a force that “holds you down as you die in vain,” as the power flickers and finally fades. “Four Candles” is a quick acoustic-driven instrumental that spills into the finale “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas,” a track that first appeared on their limited edition 2013 EP of the same name. If you’ve heard it, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, get ready for a 14:23 drubbing filled with smoke-filled tones, total Iommi worship in the devastating riffs, psychedelic electricity, and a closing shot that proves this band’s power and fearsome dominance.

It’s great to hear Witchsorrow really coming into their own and carving out a notch for themselves in doom’s gigantic fence. They really show a new kind of fire on “No Light, Only Fire” and keep building onto the carnage they’ve amassed the past decade. If this record is a true indication of the band, Witchsorrow are really just getting started, and their future should be full of bloodshed and skullduggery. I welcome that for sure.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.manicmusiconline.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/

Twin Lords pack plenty of noise, truckloads of scorching riffs on ‘Devastating Planetary Shift’

Twin LordsI’m commonly in a bad mood. Maybe bad isn’t the right way to put it. I’m often in something that borders on complete frustration and total malaise over having to deal with other human beings. What’s a guy to do in that situation? Mope? Complain? Be an annoyance to everyone in which he comes into contact? In short, yes. To all of those.

But I do try not to be a complete pain in the ass all the time, so if I feel my mood needs a bit of a shift, music can be a help. This exact thing happened lately as I was dealing with a work project that got fouled up a bit, and the thing needed turned around pretty damn quickly. I went to my arsenal that is my Haulix account and turned on something that was on my review schedule coming up, and wouldn’t you know it, mood totally turned around. So if I ever get an e-mail giving me a thumbs up for a job well done, I’ll be sure to remind them to thank Twin Lords and their riotous debut record “Devastating Planetary Shift.” Holy shit if that seven-track, 41-minute slab of infectious noise didn’t point me in the right direction, and while it isn’t totally metal through and through, I think a great deal of you reading this space regularly are going to find a lot to like here.

TWINLORDSAs perhaps hinted in their name, there are two fellows making all the damage here. Dan Alex Rivera is your bassist/vocalist, while Andrew Hernandez handles drums, and together they make enough racket for a whole bunch of people and certainly more instruments. Their riffs are strong, the playing is delirious and spirited, and the gruff vocals remind of Lemmy at his most agitated. In fact, while comparisons are hard to come by with this band, I’d day anyone into bands such as Lightning Bolt, the earlier years of DFA 1979, and, yeah, Motorhead are going to be pretty amped by this display.

The record gets kicked off hard with “Rise,” as weird noises bubble, fuzzy riffs start to spiral, and gurgled cries erupt, making the song both catchy and annoyed at the same time. The band settles into proggy grooves here and there (as they do often on the record), and the final moments are fiery and blurry. “The Guilt of One Man” tears open, with crunch causing bruising and the riffs again served family style, in that there’s enough to make everyone fattened up. The melodies get loopy and strange, the vocals feel unhinged, and we end up in a bath of sludge. “Til Times End” begins in a weird fog, as a bizarre dialog plays, but then we’re off to the races, with the bass buzzing, the growls expanding to shrieks, and plenty of body punches thrown before the whole thing bleeds out. “Arithmaphobia” is a fun instrumental cut, with echoey voices calling out, noise spitting sparks, a muddy path being dug, and the cymbals just being crushed.

“Stoned Cutter” has the bass thumping you, the growls sounding pushy and mean, and the melodies causing a hypnotic effect. There are stretches that are crushingly slow, as you’re whipped by penetrating pounding, and the back end rages to life, with fiery, daring playing, and the bass scorching you, like it’s literally about the set fire to something massive. “The Fear” is a quick one, but it makes its presence known in short order, as the band blasts into a speedy tempo, the shrieks are packed with panic, and Rivera vows, “An eye for an eye for an eye!” Closer “Why Am I” is the longest cut at 6:43, and it takes some time to build itself up. Waves crash down, long echoes set the stage, and the riffs finally arrive, moving at a calculated pace. The vocals go for the kill, sounding raspy and stressed, especially when Rivera notes, “As I wait for nothing to arrive.” The intensity keeps boiling until the final moments, when the sounds bleed out and misery finally comes to an end.

This is a promising new band that already has a stranglehold on how to control noise in their favor. “Devastating Planetary Shift” is a smoking record, and Twin Lords seem content to bash away and make everyone either enthralled with rage or completely uncomfortable. I identified with it right away as it got me going and fueled my productivity. I’m not sure that was Twin Lords’ goal or anything, but damn it if they’re not to credit for one hell of a booming work week.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://handshakeinc.bandcamp.com/

Or here: https://twinlords.bandcamp.com/album/devastating-planetary-shift

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