PICK OF THE WEEK: Yellow Eyes lay waste to deep freeze with entrancing ‘Sick With Bloom’

Yellow EYesIt’s not the ideal time to be thinking about the winter thaw. Considering that season remains a little less than a month away, that thought could be chalked up to wishful thinking, despite the fact that I enjoy the snow and deep freezes. Yet here I am, dreaming of lawns melting out from under snow, soggy, sloshy walking trails, and the first hints of warmth through the cold.

Those thoughts come back to me so many times when I visit “Sick With Bloom,” the unbelievable new record from Yellow Eyes and their third long player overall. Maybe it’s the album title, maybe it’s because the final track is called “Ice in the Spring,” but so much of this record makes me think of March and April, when seasons clash, one refusing to give way to the other. You can’t prepare for the conditions, and the way you dress in the morning is not the way you would for afternoon or early evening. It’s something that I’m really stuck on experiencing these six songs, and I wonder if in a few months when that times arrives if “Sick With Bloom” won’t have even more power. If that’s even possible.

Yellow Eyes coverYellow Eyes have done a fine job carving out a stellar reputation for themselves while also staying oddly elusive. Their music is some of the most energetic, thought-provoking, and creative in the U.S. black metal scene, and as time goes on, the bigger their cult following seems to get. Yet their music isn’t the easiest to come by in the physical sense (just peruse http://www.sibirrecords.com/ to see all the items that have long been sold out), and most of that they’ve done has been built in a live setting. Yet the band–Will and Sam Skarstad, along with drummer M. Rekevics (also of Fell Voices, Vanum)–is putting out their highest-profile release yet (Gilead Media is handling the honors), so for a lot of people, this might be the first time you get your mitts on one of their records. And all for good, as this is the best thing they’ve ever put out (cue the “such and such album was better” crowd) and should open plenty more ears to their amazing sound.

The title track opens with insects chirping, chimes gently clashing in the breeze, and the eruption of the first of a swarming collection of warm riffs. The drums are decimated, while the raw, coarse shrieks rough up the skin, and an infusion of melody brings blinding colors. The music spirals, causing a dizzying effect, and that vortex continues and pushes its way into “Streaming From the Undergrowth.” There, riffs gush and the band pounds away, with wrenching vocals enhancing the complete chaos over which it spreads. Much of this feels like a black storm dropping, destroying any sense of calm or beauty and spreading all the way to the final minutes when serenity, and the insects, return. “What Filters Through the Copper Stain” emerges out of that, with melodies washing over slowly, only for electricity to burst with force. The band bruises and crushes, as riffs dominate, and their onslaught remains continuous until calm emerges, a storm settles over and soaks the ground, acoustic picking rises, and noise whines.

“The Mangrove, the Preserver” starts with black melodies pouring down, with anguish spilling out of every crevice, guitars sparking and sweltering, and the vocals scraping open your skin. It feels like being in the middle of a swath of rain and unforgiving winds that rob you off your balance, and these elements continue to churn and burn all the way to the finish. “Fallen Snag” erupts right from the start, with an entrancing pace claiming your ground, and speed and calamity being the dominant traits. Spindling, clean guitar work bubbles underneath the surface, while spacey, atmospheric elements slow the pace and cause the track to end in a shimmer. Aforementioned “Ice in the Spring” caps off the record, starting with arguably the best riff on the whole damn record and the band completely exploding. There is so much emotional caterwaul on display here that it can be overwhelming, as the band keeps lashing away, and a psychedelic wash lets just a glimpse of itself trickle to the surface. The track keeps driving, unloading everything it has before serenity arrives, acoustics rise up again, and the droned chirping drags you into the woods looking for new buds of life.

Yellow Eyes’ reputation was earned the hard way, and the praise you hear for them is completely justified. This is a band that improves with leaps and bounds every step of the way, and they’ve outdone themselves on “Sick With Bloom.” This record is a contagious one, a collection of songs that you’ll want to repeat after each listen. I’ve done that myself a ton of times already, and I’m sure I will well past spring’s final victory over the ice and snow.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Yellow-Eyes-659862920738821/

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

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

Oakeater create noisy havoc, commit aggravated assault on senses with searing ‘Aquarius’

oakeater_coverIf you’ve paid any close attention to our ramblings here at this site, you know we’re pretty into the album experience. Sinking in to one piece that will take you captive and pull you through a journey is something we absolutely relish, and the more pieces like that to dot our meager collection, the better.

“Aquarius” the second record from Chicago-based noise technicians Oakeater falls into that category. Spread over six tracks come claustrophobic trauma, atmospheric weirdness, and sharp bludgeoning that could take off your head. It’s a record ideally experienced from front to back, with no breaks in between to disrupt the momentum. If you absorb it in that manner, you’ll find yourself on a black cinematic ride, with the walls shaking around you and the earth seemingly ready to swallow you whole. The band pulls you in all kinds of directions, which isn’t a shock coming from a band whose name is “loosely influenced by Norse mythology and an industrial shredder.” That is as close as I can think to describe the band’s approach, which is mashing and abrasive.

Comprised of Alex Barnett, Seth Sher, and Jeremiah Fisher, this band’s first full-length in four years pulls you through metallic noise, strange cyclones of mesmerizing chaos, and fierce cries that jar your system and rip you from whatever state you were in before tackling the music. Fisher explains that the sounds you hear are a form of catharsis, the result of a self-stimulated panic attack that causes him to create in havoc and explode with violent imagery. The feral cries you hear are all a part of that experience, as he wails about dead deer and, as strange as this sounds, false memories of imprisonment at the hands of bloody Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. No wonder this sounds so bloody terrifying.

“Wishful Beginnings” starts with grim noise unfurling and the atmosphere in a deep fry. The sounds keep looping and dizzying, with dark drops and haze, scrapes moaning and wailing, and the track slowly bleeding away. “All That Is Sacred” opens with cymbals splashing and test lab-style percussion rumbling, pushing in toward woodsier sentiments. Voices swirl and surround you, making it seem like the heights of a drug dream, before harsh growls tear away and cause immediate fright. From there, the fury builds, with industrial fuzz welling up, and weird knocking sending chills in the middle of an electrical storm. “Hatchet” is a shorter one, but no less unnerving. It sounds like someone dragging their leg through the woods and shoveling rocks, with strings bending, the sounds going into trippy corners, and the music bubbling over.

“MAPS” begins with sounds rumbling and vibrating, with wild shrieks erupting and sending jolts, and the body feeling like it’s being summoned into outer space. The wailing begins anew, with weird, rough playing piercing, and the terror dissolving. The title track strikes slowly at the start, with doomy transmissions galloping, drowned yells lurking under the blankets of clouds, and the rhythmic rattling setting off anxiety. Darkness hovers overhead, while the charging keeps wafting and the sounds threatening. Closer “Respite” unleashes doom calls, with the vocals gasping and rapid-fire strikes drawing blood. At times, it feels like a programmed machine gun pelting the walls, while the tension builds and keeps pummeling right to the end.

Oakeater’s approach likely won’t soothe the nerves of those dealing with heaping anxiety, unless those people can align with the madness and take it as a form of brutality therapy. “Aquarius” is a jarring, throttling experience that won’t be understood easily by the masses, who are not ready for such a display. But those who see the path ahead and are unafraid to take it, this is one of those experiences you won’t soon forget.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Oakeater-248563928505272/

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

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

Serpents Lair unleash hatred, disgust toward humanity on fiery debut ‘Circumambulating’

Photo by Marie Tellerup Madsen

Photo by Marie Tellerup Madsen

With the holiday season approaching, it’s typically a time for good tidings, joy, and wishing everyone warm and wonderful sentiments. Sadly, a lot of that masks (at least temporarily) a lot of the ill in the world and the fact that many human beings really only spend one period a year being half decent before they’re back on the track to proving their true colors.

It’s always nice to know there are going to be bands out there to call people on this, and one of the latest to do so is Denmark black metal squadron Serpents Lair. All you have to do is go as far as their Facebook page to read their mantra, “We must end the preservation of human life now,” to know all you need to about the intent of their music. So yeah, let this band do a number on your holiday spirit and see how miserable you feel when it’s all over. Hey look, a reality check is a good thing, and if you’re not one of those people out there who only can show humanity and compassion toward people once a year (as much a sham as that is), then perhaps you belong on the other side of the wrecking ball, splattered all over by the war machine. Here’s guessing a whole lot of people aren’t going to miss you.

Serpents Lair coverThere may be some exaggeration coming from me in all of that, but not from Serpents Lair. The band’s debut full-length “Circumambulating the Stillborn” is a seven-track document of pure ferocity. Your head will feel weird, your body will ache, and you will get a heaping dose of filth and disgust once thing things comes to an end. This album is so mighty, it is taking a few forces to push it out into the world. The esteemed Fallen Empire will release the vinyl Stateside (Duplicate has it for our European friends), while the equally as crushing Hellthrasher Productions in Europe will put out the CD version in January. As for the band itself, we have no idea what forces are at work here, because the members have kept their names shrouded in mystery. No matter. Whether they’re grisled vets, newcomers, or a combo of the two, they’re a damn exciting new band that’s worth following all the way to the end.

The eerie intro cut “Epipháneia” starts off with you immersed in strange emanations, rumblings of power, and liturgical choral sections that bleed into “Epistemology of Death,” a 9:22 bruiser. From the start, the track ignites and chugs, with melodies swirling in a hellish vortex, and the growing sounds threatening. The band lets the tempo simmer for the most part, speeding up in places, settling into calm in others. But all the while it’s heavy and serious, with the growls dissolving into moans, the melodies mystifying, and the track eventually finding its terror again. The band hits the gas pedal and wrecks all the way to the close, paving the way for the title cut that begins in a tornado of fire. The vocals are utterly maniacal, scraping and drawing blood, while the band ruptures the gates, storms hard, and lets every element just go off. “Mortui Vivos Docent” has a clean, mystical intro that makes it feel like walking through a misty woodlands. Then the drums starts to bustle, and the track is ripped apart, letting strange playing in to sicken your mind, punishing pounding to leave welts, and the back end to completely explode with a tidal wave of horror before finally dissolving in weird waters.

“The Serpentine Gnosis” lets drums spill in, off-kilter riffs create smoke blankets, and a slowly moving tempo cause damage while is slithers and slides. Eventually there is a burst of power, and the band slashes its way along, with maniacal growls assaulting your senses and strong riffs making soup of your bones. Darkness envelops everything, with guitars threatening underneath, the band hitting a thrashy tempo, and everything reaching yet another spiral that causes vertigo. As we wind to the end, the band clobbers you again and wreaks total havoc before letting things settle for instrumental “Dwelling on the Threshold of Tartarus.” Here, guitars glimmer, the pace hypnotizes, and everything builds to a crescendo, leading to album closer “Devouring Wrathe.” The track instantly catches fire, with the drums devastated and the vocals sounding deathier amid black melodies. Later, the vocals sound more like a shout, while the band lights up and pushes forward with vigor and violence along with these howls that bring complete savagery along with them. The final moments are threatening, mauling, and unforgiving, paying dividends on their promise of complete eradication.

Serpents Lair probably only are looking forward to ringing in a new year if destruction and madness come along with it. The effort they put forth on “Circumambulating the Stillborn” to shed blood is apparent, and that’s something that makes these seven tracks so impactful and smothering. This is a fiery, exciting new flame in the black metal world, and woe to any foolish soul who tries to extinguish that blaze.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://store.fallenempirerecords.com/product/serpents-lair-circumambulating-the-stillborn-lp

Or here: http://duplicaterecords.limitedrun.com/products/561525-serpents-lair-circumambulating-the-stillborn-lp-preorder

Or here: http://hellthrasher.com/shop/

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

And here: http://www.duplicate-records.com/

And here: http://www.hellthrasher.com/

VoidCeremony mar death metal in suffocating noise cloud on ‘Cyclical Descent of Causality’

Void CeremonyThere was a time and place when metal, especially black metal, was supposed to sound like it was recorded in an underground lair, with zero attention paid to production values. It was war all the time, and the rougher and more abrasive your music sounded, the better it would be received by its audience.

That type of thing doesn’t happen nearly enough anymore. Perhaps we’ve all gotten over the idea that the only way to be true is to record on shitty equipment and have it sound like a blur of chaos. Or maybe it’s just an idea that’s kind of lost for the most part. California-based unit VoidCeremony are not exactly musicians who cling to polish and putting out records that are pristine. Their brand of black and death metal sounds like it was chewed up by a machine, sent into space, infected with intergalactic parasites, and shot into your ears. If you listen closely, and you must if you want to pick out nuances, you can hear the brilliance and the alien tendencies that make their music so destructive. But no doubt it’s smeared with noise and terror so much so that it often feels like you’re being crushed by a formless blur that won’t go away.

VoidCeremony coverVoidCeremony formed in 2013 by former members of Portalgeist, releasing their first EP “Dystheism” a year later, and now following up with their latest collection “Cyclical Descent of Causality” that we’re discussing today. The band is comprised of the aforementioned Portalgeist members Garrett Johnson (guitars/vocals) and Jon Reider (guitars/vocals), and joining them are bassist I. Mann and C. Koryn, who both plan in the awesome death metal band Ghoulgotha. Certainly we are at the beginning of this band’s run, but there are plenty of hints at the madness that could be ahead of them simply based on the strength of this release.

The band kicks off with “Benighted By Malignant Sorrow,” a track that meets you with washed-out fury, vocals that are barely audible beneath the din, and swirling, entrancing melodies that do not make themselves obvious. The band plays in deliberate circles, allowing the song to burst apart, with vivid soloing tearing out of the space. There are tons of shifts, the band feels like it’s boring a hole through the side of a mountain, and the track comes to an abrupt end. “Sacrosanct Delusions” follows and sets everything ablaze. The growls that creep absolutely lacerate, while the band hits speed runs, all situated under a blanket of sound. The playing is tricky and mucky in spots, with the growls feeling grim, and the momentum continues on high right up to the end of the assault. Closer “Empty Grand Majesty” has some awesome leads and an emerging progressive personality, with interesting riffs sprawling out, calculated mashing causing bruises, and the sound boiling and churning. The pace later reignites, with the vocals scraping, melodies spiraling out of control, the feeling that a storm is taking over. A final dose of spacey weirdness makes this all catapult toward a bizarre finish.

VoidCeremony have the goods to make a serious dent in the metal underground, and their soot-caked, noise-infested sound should warm the hearts of those who spearheaded and participated in tape-trading culture. They are a fiery, violent band that operates in the shadows musically and definitely has the power to enjoy a vicious future. “Cyclical Descent of Causality” is one of their first building blocks, and it’s one soaked with blood and bone dust.

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Magic Circle unleash the spirit of classic metal on doomy ‘Journey Blind’

Magic CircleMetal makes me think of the weekend. Every form of metal, actually. The traditional style mostly, but all metal in general. That’s probably because that’s when I listen most (something that’s been the process ever since I discovered this music), and often times that’s with a nice beer in hand, trying to forget the woes of the week.

The first time I ripped into “Journey Blind,” the second record from Boston-based traditionalists Magic Circle, I instantly was transferred to a Saturday, later at night when the dark has emerged and I’m icing my feelings. They remind me of a band I’d hear in the deeper hours of “Headbangers Ball,” when all the good stuff got played because all the hair metal fans had gone to sleep. The power of Candlemass, post-Ozzy Sabbath, St. Vitus, and bands of those ilk came rushing to mind, as well as some more recent additions to the world such as Night Demon and Dawnbringer. The music is heavy but melodic, the vocals are sung, but with an edge, and each track on the album takes you away somewhere fantastical, even if we aren’t discussing dungeons and dragons on the record.

Magic Circle coverMagic Circle first formed in 2011, with member of bands as varied as Doomriders, Innumerable Forms, Stone Dagger, and Death Evocation coming together to form this pure heavy metal machine. They rolled out their first full-length, a self-titled platter, a couple years later, and now they’re back with this sophomore offering. The band is comprised of Brendan Radigan on vocals; Chris Corry and Dan Ducas on guitars; Justin DeTore on bass; and Q behind the drums. Their sound is totally natural and effective, making it sound like they actually recorded this during late nights in, say, 1983. Instead, they just have a grasp on what makes fine traditional heavy metal, which they show you on “Journey Blind.”

The title track opens this opus, with keys initially swirling, giving off a fantasy feel, before launching into doomy guitars that charge up and singing that has grit and passion. The fires are tended to by the band, with strong lead guitar work, galloping and chugging, and a finish that’s just killer. “The Damned Man” is crunchy and heavy from the start, with the singing commanding, and the band achieving a true vintage feel. The guitars chew and glimmer, while the singing feels grimier, and a quick burst of acoustic melodies pave the way for a crushing finish. “A Ballad for the Vultures” breathes doom winds again, plotted slower but still heavy, as the band stomps at a calculated pace. That pace doesn’t last, as the band rips the song open later, with faster playing, the vocals practically spat out, and the soloing spurting burning lava and glory. “Lightning Cage” starts with acoustic flourishes before the charging begins, ripping into a heavy, catchy shuffle. They keep the storm brewing throughout the track, with the band hitting the gas pedal to the end.

“Ghosts of the Southern Front” feeds off the energy of the previous cut, injecting a classic rock feel into the song and again reaching for the genre’s deeply entrenched roots. “I have lived my whole life with my soul asleep,” Radigan wails during this epic, with the band continuing to push the drama and volume, and the pace consistently mauling. The guitar work gives the track an awesome aura, making it easy to get lost in their creation, and they renew their vigor in the cut’s final moments, plowing everything in front of them. “Grand Deceivers” trudges menacingly, with some damn tasty guitar work and really heavy sections. The singing drives the verses, with dual guitar lines meeting up and creating one voice, and the track burning brightly right before it fades. Closer “Antediluvian” throws punches right away, giving off a 1970s charge as the riffs start to bubble. A brief period of calm leads right into tumult, with the band breaking the earth beneath them with their playing, and the vocals sounding dirtier. As they finish up, the playing bristles and singes, and the track makes its final impacts before fading away.

Magic Circle have crafted one of the more enjoyable classic, honest heavy metal records of the year, an album that feeds of the origins of the genre, as well as its majesty and glory. “Journey Blind” should excite the graybeards who have been around since the Sabbath/Priest/Maiden heyday, and even those who came later who are into this sound’s rebirth. This is a damn fun listen that will get you no matter what day of the week you’re hearing. But preferably, it’s late night on Saturday.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/collections/music

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

Nordic black metal maulers Saligia create disorienting fire on bizarre second record ‘Fønix’

Saligia_1The year is getting long in the tooth, and patience and interest are waning. There remains a lot of music left to hear (or deposit into the scrap heap), and it’s not hard to walk away from something just from pure saturation. But the end of 2015 also is offering something different than most years, that being a handful of really interesting releases that keep the remaining juices flowing a little longer.

One of those comes from Nordic black metal outfit Saligia (named mnemonically after the Latin translations of the seven deadly sins), who return with their powerful, often times demented new record “Fønix.” They may hail from the land that fired up the heart of the Second Wave, but Saligia certain trudge their own path. This very much is a black metal record, but it’s disorienting, interesting, and at times really weird. No paint by numbers, no rigid rules, and just pure furnace-ready expression. It’s definitely will grab you and unleash periods of violence, but they create atmosphere and odd ambiance that are elements just as important as the beatings.

Saligia-Cover“Fønix” is the band’s second full-length, with the first “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” coming in 2011. The band first bubbled to earth in 2006, unleashing two demo recordings that preceded their debut long player. An EP “Lvx Aeternae” followed in 2013, and now here we are, with this fiery, strange new record that will turn over and over in your head. At the helm is long-time creator Ahzari, who handles guitars, bass, and vocals (that element is one that separates them from most in this realm), and with him is drummer Vegard M. Berg, who joined the lineup permanently a few years ago after being a live player with the band. The idea is these creations are from visions and dreams Ahzari has had floating in his sub-conscious, and that certainly registers as often times these tracks feel like they originate from a nightmarish void.

“Fire: Tear Apart the Veil” chugs open, with the vocals as half growl, half shriek, always easy to decipher. That’s what sets apart Ahzari’s vocals in that they certainly aren’t a traditional style (he comes off more as off-kilter storyteller), but they work perfectly with the music. The song starts to break apart as it develops, with the pace really galloping ahead and Ahzari wailing, “Our father is death!” Soloing spirals, the savagery builds, and we’re on to “Revelation: A Sign Reveals.” There, disorienting melodies arrive, with warbling vocals bubbling and the pace boiling. Furious guitars swelter, with the vocals decimating your senses and the melodies swaggering. Things get unhinged, as strange emanations arrives, the drums are crushed, and total violence rampages to the finish. “Abyss: In Darkness Forge Alight” thrashes heavily, with the tempo penetrating and mashing, the crazed vocals rushing, and the band causing dizzying madness. The final minutes really ramp up the intensity, with Ahzari howling maniacally and the music smearing and swirling.

“Voices: Her Hidden Darkness” blisters and grinds you in its gears, later injecting a cold, watery undercurrent that sends chills before terror strikes the heart. Ahzari digs deep to blister your flesh, while the guitars take a slurry, drunken twist, causing blurred vision and vertigo. Weird, clean singing slips in, compounding the calm, and then the track blows apart, with shrieks raining, the pace switching continuously, and the end burning away. Closer “Fønix: Flame Coronation” is the longest cut at 10:08, with a clean, mesmerizing start that takes its time and lets the drama build. Doomy thrashing arrives later, with the vocals tearing open the scene, the pace punishing, and the music flowing fluidly. The guitar work commands and compels, with a yowled, wordless melody slathered over top, and the band letting their fiery transmission fades into the night.

Thankfully Saligia have found a way to inject some ingenuity into black metal and leave us with something that makes a serious dent, especially mentally. “Fønix” definitely is not an end-year dump of an album and instead is vital, striking, and flooding with chaos. The more time you spend with this thing, the further you’ll go down the rabbit hole of this band’s warped imagination.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.van-records.de/

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

Revenge remain most fittingly named band in metal with fiery, bloody ‘Behold.Total.Rejection’

J. Read

J. Read

Chaos and fury are constants in the world of metal, and sometimes it seems like bands are trying to outdo each other by going to more ridiculous levels to be extreme. Of course that’s not really a criticism because the heavier and more brutal one can be really is a measuring stick. Yet some do it better than others, and others stand on top of the wall, watching the contenders try to match their grit.

Revenge is one of the bands at the top of the wall, hurling skulls and shrapnel at those trying to oppose them and beating back the surge with unforgiving terror. The band’s name is Revenge. The band’s music sounds like revenge. It works perfectly. Over the past 15 years, this Edmonton-based band has been carving out a reputation as one of the nastiest, most dangerous in underground metal. They have succeeded with explosive leaps and bounds. The music, from their very beginning with their introductory 2001 EP “Attack.Blood.Revenge” all the way to their new full-length “Behold.Total.Rejection” has been a constant barrage of noise, horror, and smothering. They don’t relent, they don’t waver, and they don’t compromise, which is what makes this band so revered. The new record is just more of the same. Which should make all Revenge minions very happy.

Revenge coverRevenge remains the hellish creation of J. Read, who handles all music and lyrics, as well as plays drums and does all of the vocals in the studio setting. With him is Vermin, who plays guitar and bass and also handles vocals in a live setting. They are a formidable, punishing duo in any setting, and on this fifth record (their first for Season of Mist), you will feel like you are in the middle of a war. The tempo is pretty much the same from the start to the finish, and there is no room to breathe at all. These 10 songs are on a constant, filthy rumble, with the band sounding as rough around the edges as ever but also completely devastating, just in case anyone was worried they would change with their upgrade in record label. It’s the same Revenge, which is a damn good thing.

“Scum Defection (Outsider Neutralized)” bursts immediately, almost as if the record happens to open on an assault that’s been well under way. The track is hellish and clubbing, with the vocals sounding like mechanical gurgles and snarls, with sounds splattered all over. “Shock Attrition (Control in Decline)” is raw madness, with the drums clobbered, the tempo speeding along, and infernal shrieks meeting up with blood-curdling growls. Soloing rips out of the frenzy, while the pace scorches. “Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side)” is like the opening salvo of war, with the sound exploding, and the band whipping through with reckless energy. The vocals sound like they’re boiling in blood, as doomy riffs arrive, and shit flies everywhere. “Mass Death Mass” hits a slight death groove, one of the few deviations from the all-out barrage, though that later melts away and insanity strikes again. This one is bloody and short, served just right. “Mobilization Rites” also has some muddier guitar work, as total annihilation arrives and rains down fire. Everything burns and smokes, with the band thrashing heavily, and chaos being released to stomp all.

“Silent Enemy” has bass thundering and poking through right before the pace detonates, with every element smothering and the vocals sounding like they’re delivered by an attacking Balrog. The growls become rhythmic belches amid a pace that crushes wholly. “Desolation Insignia” is thrashy and meaty before it is blown to bits. The drums rattle, the growls decimate the throat, and the whole thing feels outright beastly. “Hate Nomad” has guitars spiraling out of control, dizzying and disorienting right before the blades arrive. The vocals are a mix of growls and grunts, while the bulk of this thing is numbing. “ETHR (Failure Erased)” is 1:26 of smearing violence, an animalistic display of aggression that’s terrifying and oddly sobering. Closer “Nihilist Militant (Total Rejection)” is savage and blood-thirsty right away, mauling with a purpose and eventually dragging you into a strange noise haze. Out of that, feral grunts arrive, the drums are beaten without mercy, and passages where the band drags you through tar make the journey feel that much more painful. As the track reaches its end, the growls sound warped, and the band pounds away until consciousness slowly fades away.

Revenge are not easy to digest, and many times it feels like you’re under a constant assault on “Behold.Total.Rejection.” Likely, that’s exactly what the band had in mind, as they did their best to put the feeling of bloodshed into song. They remain one of the deadliest bands in the world, their intensity is at frothing-at-the-mouth levels, and it’s clear the only thing on their mind is total and complete vengeance.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here: http://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: The Body, Krieg create nightmarish team, bleed industrial blackness together

The Body Krieg coverWhen I was a weird kid, growing up with few friends and not many prospects to add to that collection, I was obsessed with professional wrestling. Actually, much of what I wrote applies to me now. I’m just realizing that. Anyway, in the times between Wrestlemanias IV and V, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage formed one of the greatest alliances alive in the Mega Powers. It was a dream come true, padding the disappointment of being a giant loser because Hogan and Savage were a team!

For some reason I remembered those times when sifting through the new collaborative piece combining The Body and Krieg. It’s hard to imagine these two gargantuan forces combining to make great racket together, but that’s just what happened, resulting in this devastating eight-track new album. Luckily, their union isn’t likely to be derailed by their respective love for Miss Elizabeth (got really bad news for them if I’m wrong), but the idea of two massive sides coming together to create something colossal certainly remains and looms ever so largely. The two sides act as a true team, making sounds that bring their respective talents together and doing their best to damage your psyche and hearing. But, amid all of that, the musicians involved branched out and created something far greater than just The Body + Krieg.

The Body—guitarist/vocalist Chip King, drummer Lee Buford—have been making horrifying sounds for some time now, taking death, doom, and noise and raking their eyes until all parties involved beg for mercy. In fact, the creation of this collaborative piece occurred between the recordings of the band’s terrifying high-water mark “Christs, Redeemers” and “I Shall Die Here,” and they remain one of the most unique, you-know-it-when-you-hear-them bands going. Krieg is the longtime project of Neill Jameson (you may have read some stuff he wrote on the internet), a black metal force that has spanned two decades now and released myriad splits, EPs, and full-lengths, the most recent in that category being last year’s “Transient.” This effort does include elements of what you’d expect from each band, with King’s and Jameson’s voices smearing together and trading off hellish vocals, but what’s less expected is the smear of noise that scuffs and bruises these songs.

“Bottom of the Bottle, Bottom of the River” infuses waves of doom and noise right from the start, with King’s horrifying shrieks and Jameson’s growls bloodying your face. The track is abrasive and corrosive, with strange sounds plinking away, waves of synth noise, and the fury storming before it fades. “Carved Out and Caved In” lets programmed beats spray, with wild growls over top and creepy melodies sinking into a nightmarish trance. Sounds sizzle as wails rain down, with the track melting under the heat of a solar crisis, King howling away, and the doom returning to unleash more blows. “Fracture” opens in noise-encrusted hell, with the dual vocals causing havoc and panic, mixing together and taking monstrous strides, while the music goes cold and spacious, bleeding out to the sound of King’s anguish. “Celebrate Your Shame” is a mauler with Jameson howling over top and the tempo jerking around. The sounds cascade hard, crunching and bashing, with both voices flailing out.

“Never Worth Your Name” is immersed in mournful synth and solemn darkness, with Jameson crying desperately, with King joining in and scraping his way. The sounds devolve into zaps and terror, burning over top as the funereal melodies bubble and spill over, with mad shrieks punishing before the track fades. “Gallows” stabs and jabs, with deep growls smothering and an industrial hellstorm breaking out and marring the environment. Burly doom riffs cut into bone, and both voices meld together to increase your anxiety and awareness of danger. “A Failure Worth Killing Yourself” is grim just from its name alone, and then it pays off with cosmic blips, both vocalists unleashing torment, and all of the sounds swimming together in a pool of murk. Machine-like tension rises out of that, and it all spills over into closer “The Final Nail,” where black guitars smudge, carnage floods over, and noisy clubbing takes command. Melodies bleed underneath the horror, slowly releasing their grip and letting in an infusion of spacey weirdness, disorienting blips, and a cloud of dizzying power that wafts until the track gasps away.

The intensity and quality of The Body and Krieg bound together as one is not a surprise at all. This is as punishing as anyone familiar with these bands should expect, but the noise effect and the industrial wasteland in which this album trudges brings the element of surprise. These are two great, tumultuous bands when they’re on their own, and together, that psychosis wells up overwhelms anyone in its wake.

For more on The Body, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/the-body/334047229514

For more on Krieg, go here: https://www.facebook.com/officialkrieg

To buy the album, go here: https://atalossrecordings.merchtable.com/

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

Wrekmeister Harmonies dig into horrific human behavior, death with ‘Night of Your Ascension’

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

All of us have encountered situations that have angered and disgusted us, and our reactions to those things likely are all over the board. Do you lash out at what you see? Report it to authorities? Approach the people in the wrong? Walk away and assume what you witnessed is none of your business? There really is no right or wrong answer, and it all depends on you and the context.

Society’s reaction to people’s worst, most vile actions is something that long has fascinated musician/composer J.R. Robinson and fueled the latest chapter in his Wrekmeister Harmonies project. For “Night of Your Ascension,” he looked at two gruesome cases, one from many centuries ago, and one from recent times. Combining with a cast of many noted musicians including Marissa Nadler; Lee Buford and Chip King of The Body; Mary Lattimore; Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea and noted producer); Dylan O’Toole and Ron Defries (both formerly of Indian); Chris Brokaw (Come); and a bunch more in order to make his ambitious piece see the light of day. Over two compositions that last nearly 50 minutes combined, Robinson and his cast create haunting, moving, horrifying visions that will shake you, break you, and make you see portions of humanity perhaps you haven’t cared to face.

Wrekmeister coverTwo subjects gets covered on this album, the first being Don Cardo Gesualo, a 17th century musician long thought to be shockingly ahead of his time. But his brilliance is countered by an act of brutality so graphic, it likely could not be depicted in full on a movie screen without an NC-17 rating. His status enabled him to escape prosecution, though some would argue the torment he suffered the rest of his life, as well as the terrible death he suffered, was at least a price paid. For years, people have balanced whether it is just to pay homage to the man’s creations (and people think Varg is bad!), and the reaction many have had to this conundrum is something that fuels the 32-minute title cut.

The track opens with drone spreading, with Nadler unfurling her haunting vocals, hovering over the song like a ghost. Her calls continue to grow, enrapturing as the song develops with her, as she leads you by the hand into the mysterious night. Synth and noise meet up to create a haze, while strings arrives, are plucked, and then sweep over the body of the track. The sounds glimmer like gold, as choral arrangements give a chilling, yet pastoral ambiance, and then guitars begin to rumble as the worst of it all arrives. The track rips open, and as hell bleeds through cracks in the earth, we head through pockets of calm surrounded by tumult. Furious growls rip through everything and shock the system. Howls are running wild, as the music takes weird twists and turns, the situation remains grim and violent, and cosmic blips sink in, making your head feel not quite right. Then the shrieks grow deadlier and more deranged, chants mix in with the terror, and the end comes in a storm of clatter and panic.

Our second subject is Father John Geoghan, a Roman Catholic priest from the Massachusetts area who was accused of sexual crimes involving more than 130 youths during his time as six parishes over 30 years. He was one of the primary figures whose actions exposed the church’s problem with sexual crimes toward the end of last century and into this one, and Geoghan didn’t serve the entire decade-long sentence to which he was sentenced. That’s because he was murdered by cellmate Joseph Druce in horrific fashion via strangulation and having his chest stomped in. People questioned the decision to place the pedophile priest in the same area as violent white supremacist Druce, and the track “Run Priest Run Extended” is a horrific replaying of those events.

The 16:47 run time of this track essentially follows Geoghan in his cell and moves through to his grisly murder. Static and eerie strings flow, with wordless harmonies and chants setting the stage for what is the brutal end. Noises begin to churn and guitars threaten, as the tension begins to build, and as the track develops, it gets cloudier and uglier. The choral parts remain, but they begin to sound pained and suffering, slowly making their way toward the inevitable as they push and pull through the first 11 minutes. But you know the killer is near, and once King unleashes his unmistakable, inhuman shrieks, you’re aware the moment has arrived. The drums pound away, imitating the beating, and noise swells, with King’s parts tearing away at your psyche, completely unnerving you as you as you follow each deadly blow. The piece folds into absolute chaos, with spacey noises zapping, keys plinking, and the fading of life mirrored in the sudden calm that takes over, envelops the scene, and slowly, but surely, fades away.

Absolutely blood-curdling in spots, hauntingly beautiful in others, and always crushingly sobering, “Night of Your Ascension” is the most gripping Wrekmeister Harmonies release yet, one that made me dig way deeper into the stories of those involved. Great records with deep content make you do that, and it also has led me to examining each situation and how I would react to them. As cut and dried as each seem, there is far more beneath the surface. Such is life, which is why every action could be met with myriad reactions depending on the witness.

For more on the band, go here: www.facebook.com/wrekmeisterharmonies23

To buy the album, go here: http://www.thrilljockey.com/products/night-of-your-ascension

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

Gold’s seductive, deathly rock pokes at bleak future, personal woes on intoxicating ‘No Image’

GoldThere are those times where no matter how hard you work, no matter how much you care, you spin your wheels. It’s frustrating as hell, and it can send you back to the drawing board a million times to try to figure out what you’re doing wrong. Personally, I wake up every day trying to be a certain type of person and trying to fit that into the crumbling world around me and my own shortcomings. It’s easy to feel you’ve gotten nowhere at all.

That may not be exactly what Gold are going for on their second record “No Image,” but perusing the assorted biographical information included with the album, and listening to the music itself, it brought me back to that thought. The band already has done some interesting things with this new album, including their amusing, relentless use of emojis as well as the shocking, upsetting video they released for the first song on the record “Servant,” itself a tour de force. The band is digging into the idea of wanting to move ahead and progress through life, yet always being pulled back by other forces normally out of the person’s control. Also, especially with that video, sometimes there are things you can’t unsee or erase from your memory. Elements of seclusion, confusion, isolation, and hurt permeate these songs, and this collection is one you can’t help but revisit over and over, always peeling back new layers.

Gold coverGold hail from the Netherlands, and their stunning debut record “Interbellum” landed early last year. The group mixes various sounds together from dark and death rock to goth to doom to very tasteful pop, always ending up in the gloomiest sections. Yet even when things are utterly drab, the songs burst with life, energy, and catchiness, making what can seem like a hopeless situation feel a little sticky. Out front is vocalist Milena Eva, whose incredible presence and stabbing charisma really fuels this music. Along with her are guitarists Thomas Sciarone (formerly of The Devil’s Blood) and Nick Polak, bassist Tim Meijer, and drummer Igor Wouters, who add style and substance to the album and pour gasoline on the fires. It’s not a metal record, per se, but it’s still damn heavy.

Aforementioned “Servant” kicks off this record, with Wouters driving the track with his steady, swaggering beats, and Eva pouring her dark essence, wailing, “Dark and narrow, deep and narrow are my dreams.” The chorus is one you won’t remove from your head, and every bit of this is totally alluring. “Old Habits” blisters, with the Theremin floating mysteriously, the tempo pulsating, and Eva repeating, “Old habits die hard,” on yet another chorus you won’t be able to stop repeating. There is cosmic noise, static squall, and guitars that bubble dangerously. “O.D.I.R.” begins in a pocket of noise before it punches open, rambling ahead and claiming prisoners. Eva is in full command, and at times she reminds of a really sinister version of Shirley Manson. “Shapeless” is a straight-up rock song with guitars scraping and melodies shimmering, and it piles into “Tar and Feather,” where the music pops you and Eva’s singing pokes and prods. Violence and torment bleed into the scene later, with the singing digging deeper, and the scene getting even darker.

“The Controller” starts with a Western noir feel, with the music later feeling gazey and dreamy, and the signing floating above the din. The guitars get more active as the song slowly starts to open up, with the volume piling, and the noise blaring and raking at your skin as it reaches its end. “The Waves” is faster and more aggressive, with the vocals and music bulldozing equally as hard, and the colors causing your head to spin. They leave you no time to take a breath or prepare, as the music weighs down, and Eva belts, “There ain’t no way out of here.” “And I Know Now” owes its beginning to raw punk rock before the track pulls back and get more atmospheric. The path gets easier and kind of gentle, showing a new side to the band, but as the track winds down, the singing and playing start blazing. “Don’t” lets guitars strike out, as Eva’s voice quivers dangerously, as she weaves tales of longing and desire. The track plods and bruises, pulling you over each rock on the road, with the track blowing open as it nears the finish line, buzzing and leaving chills. “Taste Me” gallops out of the gates, with Eva’s voice fluttering, the guitars chugging, and the melodies poking at elegant pop. The singing leads the way, a bright, blazing light in the night, as the music burns beside her, and everything fades into oblivion.

Gold are an alluring, seductive band that sucks you into their vortex and never lets go. “No Image” is a really strong, darkly fun record that always gives you something new and exciting with each listen. These are dark times, hopelessness is in every corner, and bands like Gold are here to take you by the hand into the night so you can try to find some sense of glory together.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/

Or here: http://www.van-records.de/shop_content.php

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

And here: http://www.van-records.de/