Splitsville: Oterbor, Oskoreien combine nature, chaos; Spectral Voice, Phrenelith destroy lives

Botanist

Botanist

We live in a fairly distracted society, where it’s tough for people to concentrate on one thing for too long before moving onto something else. But that’s what you get when people have devices to which they’re attached, so much so that walking out into traffic isn’t too uncommon. I think this is why the split release works so well for people.

That’s not to speak ill of the split. I love them. It’s a nice taste of two (or more) different things and doesn’t require quite the amount of dedication as a full album. Today we have two strong ones—the first a pairing of two remarkably interesting bands, the other a 7-inch release that hits hard and fast and also spotlights two groups that should be wrecking psyches well into the future.

There should be no second guessing how we feel about Botanist around here, the project of the shadowy Otrebor that’s drum-and-hammered-dulcimer-led fury that takes to task humankind’s disregard for our surrounding nature. On Botanist albums, the plants are goddamn doing something about this and are plotting their revenge deep within the Verdant Realm. No band sounds like Botanist, and no group should try. They’re back with “EP III: Green Metal,” their side of a split with Oskoreien, and it continues the campaign perfectly, expanding both the botanical universe as well as this project’s sound. On the other side, L.A.-based black metal project Oskoreien (led solely by multi-instrumentalist Jay Valena) smears their noise-infested, hauntingly spooky sound over two tracks, one a cover that you might not even recognize, it’s been so wonderfully disfigured. The other cool thing about this, other than the music being tremendous, is each band has their own special vinyl version, so you pick which sounds best to you.

botanist-coverOn the Botanist side, we start with “Amorphophallus Titanum,” which stings with drum kicks and dulcimer strikes, as dark, tortured wails rip away at your skin. A cold sci-fi-esque melody rings out, as drums rumble and everything crumbles away. “Clathrus Columnatus” has keys pounding, the drums encircling its prey, and disorienting screams joining up with the hissed whispers (those being from Azalea, the vengeful force of nature who is whispering into the Botanist’s ear). The pace is kind of playful at times, whether that’s intentional or not, and later guttural screams spill in to do more damage. “Varkoor” has the dulcimer making zany melodies, like your viewpoint has been warped, and the playing is really strong. It’s easy to be infected by what’s going on here, as pained howls and more whispered instructions melt together, the melodies push like waves, as what seems like a near-joyous outburst is mangled by misery-inducing roars. “Saprophyte” has the dulcimers pushing aggressively while the whispers and growls combine to damn “the enemies of nature.” Every element melds nicely here, bursting with colors and bringing this really strong song to a finish. Weird closer “Dracula Vampira” plinks open, like bloodlets dripping down, while the song lurches and strikes. The Botanist and Azalea mash their messages together again, wailing the title over and over before the track comes to a smothering end. These are some of Botanist’s most realized songs yet, as this project continue to morph into something greater.

Oskoreien

Oskoreien

oskoreien-coverWhere Botanist play with light and dark, Oskoreien mash together different shades of black. They open their portion, called “Deterministic Chaos,” with the title track, a 12:59 show of force that feels like an all-out machine assault. Static-laden beats stretch into doom, black metal, and noise, with synth stabbing behind for good measure. Guitar melodies stretch out over the haze, while unhinged shrieks plaster your insides and leave you feeling all liquidy. Later, mournful soloing burns its way through, leaving a painful pall. Synth arises again, leaving a creepy midnight 1985 essence that torments you. In fact, some of this reminds me of Pinkish Black at their psychologically ruptured best, as this track pours the thick fog and bleeds to its conclusion. Their half ends with “Without You, I’m Nothing,” one of the most unrecognizable Placebo covers you’re ever going to hear. Their approach to the track is to dress it in frightening shadows, thick helpings of darkwave, and the vocals delivered in blistering wails. In fact, when Valena cries, “Without you, I’m nothing,” over and over, he might be using someone else’s words, but he delivers them from the gaping pit in his own chest. The track sizzles out with cracking synth, leaving the same scar on his heart emblazoned on your own.

For more on Botanist, go here: http://www.botanist.nu/

For more on Oskoreien, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Oskoreienband/

To buy the album, go here: https://verdant-realm-botanist.bandcamp.com/album/botanist-oskoreien-ep3-green-metal-deterministic-chaos-botanist-version-saprophyte-yellow-gold-splatter-colored-vinyl-backpatch-pre-order-bonus

Or here: http://oskoreien.com/

spectral-phrenelirth-coverWhile death metal is awfully saturated with a lot of bands doing to same thing over and over, there remains rich pools of filth in the underground keeping things guttural. Two of them are featured on a new 7” effort jointly released by Iron Bonehead and Dark Descent (themselves two of the most reliable labels in metal), that being Denver’s infernally brutal Spectral Voice and Denmark’s mangling Phrenelith. Spectral Voice featured three quarters of the much-vaunted Blood Incantation (who put out one of the year’s best death metal albums) and have released a slew of smaller releases and a couple splits. Their music is eerie and brutal, which generally leaves me a little lightheaded and disoriented. On the other side, Phrenelith sounds like a walking, breathing dinosaur monster ready to eat cities. This group also is pretty new to the world, combining members of bands such as Undergang, Alucarda, Eldjudnir, Wormridden, and plenty others. They, too, have yet to release a full-length effort, but seemingly it’s only a matter of time before they decimate us on an entire record.

Spectral Voice’s contribution “Peeled Veins” sounds painful simply from its title, and once you dig into the track, it just gets bloodier. A flurry of playing and deep growls erupt, taking things into the infernal chaos, and from there, slowly delivered misery bubbles to the surface. The pace lurches and bruises before things unexpectedly fade. But out of that pit comes a single bassline that brings the muscle, and then things reopen and maul shit. The growls are caked in soot, strange guitars stymie, and things come to a scary, brutal end. Phrenelith arrive with “Once Fertile Soil,” where the fire blisters from the start, and monstrous growls not of this Earth bring the misery. The drums are absolutely demolished, while the guitars go exploring the oddest stretches of outer space. Things then take a feral turn for the guttural, as vitriolic death smears all of your hopes, while the final moments ramp up and scorch every living creature in front out if out of existence.

For more on Spectral Voice, go here: http://www.necroticdoom.com/

For more on Phrenelith, go here: https://www.facebook.com/phrenelith

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/

Or here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

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

The more I wrote about these two releases, the more fired up I got about them. All four of these bands deserve a place on any respectable listener’s record shelf, and they’re collectively making some of the most interesting music in all of metal. Whether you get one or both (get both), you’re going to be armed with sounds that will frighten the uninhibited and make you a scarier person to be around.

Finnish crushers Krypt expand mix of death metal, doom smoke on vile ‘Remnants of Expansion’

kryptsIf you pay any attention to the news going on in America, it’s a cesspool even the filthiest of horrific minds might not even have dreamed decades ago. An orange clown monster could end up being the leader of the alleged greatest country in the world, and a hurricane is ripping and tearing the East Coast to ribbons. Terror and fury in music? Bring it on.

That leads us to Finnish death/doom troops Krypts and their massive and drubbing second record “Remnants of Expansion.” This five track, 34-minute collection brings crushing ugliness, rivers of blood, and all of if delivered in mostly a slow, torturous way just to make it hurt even more. Anyone who likes their death metal dashed with doom will have a feast day with this thing, and gorging yourself really is the only way to go. The songs are unforgiving and gory, and the power is oppressive. My first visit with this record was during a dark, soaking rainstorm recently, and it seemed the perfect setting. Things were dreary and hopeless, and it felt like it would stay that way forever.

krypts-coverThis is Krypts’ second major foray into the world, as their first full-length effort “Unending Degradation” landed about three and a half years ago. If that record found favor with you, this one’s bound to boil your blood even further. The band—vocalist/bassist Antii Kotiranta, guitarists Ville Snicker and Jukka Aho (also of Goreaphilia who just joined up last year), and drummer Otso Ukkonen—has been together since 2008, and they also have a demo and EP on their resume. On “Remnants,” they solidify the formula and toss in a few extra volatile elements for good measure, and they’re as heavy and cement-truck destructive as you possibly can imagine.

“Arrow of Entropy” opens the record, an unforgiving 10:51 basher that explodes with noise and thick swatches of blackness. The track trudges and forces you to feel every bump in the road, as the lurching, painful growls slither underneath the hell that’s unleashed, and later mournful guitars stretch out to remind there’s much sorrow and pain smashed all over existence. As the track winds down, the tempo drubs heavily, the tones get dreamy and hypnotic, and the whole thing fades into the unknown. “The Withering Titan” unleashes throat-buzzing drone before black metal-style riffs arrive and pour tar and acid. Churning growls and calculated stomping keep punching away before the song explodes, and the band spends the final minutes mashing you terribly.

The title track is a chilling instrumental cut, with slowly drizzling doom pooling and sliding under your door, trippy playing causing your mind to wander, and a foggy exit pulling you into “Entrailed to the Breaking Wheel.” There, doom-infested guitars unfurl, while the drums pelt your fragile psyche, and the song gets unmistakably grim. Growls meet up with dark passages of guitar work, while the body of the track simmers in lava, giving off steam and heat. Vicious howls reach out and grab you, while the smothering chaos burns away. Closer “Transfixed” is mesmerizing when it starts, with the slow-driving playing apply pressure and deep growls scraping the depths of Kotiranta’s lungs. The drumming starts to turn things to dust while the guitars heat up and burn what’s left into ash, leaving you hacking and choking, the perfect prey for Krypts’ guttural violence.

It seems there is a lot of good music bursting through the earth as the Halloween season nears, and Krypts’ “Remnants of Expansion” is another one, and maybe even the bloodiest. This is horrifying music for a horrible time to be alive, and they never skimp on the darkness. You’re bound to wallow in the filth and soot this one spreads all over, and maybe that’ll make it easier to take when poison of modern life pulls over its curtain and claims everyone for good.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Waldgefluster expand ranks, atmosphere-rich sense of black metal on ‘Ruinen’

waldgeflusterEmotion and passion in music are things you don’t have to explain to anyone. At least it shouldn’t be. You put on the music or you see the band in a live setting, and you just know. The energy and power they conjure go right into you, fill your veins, and overwhelm you with the might the artists create with their songs and performances.

There’s never any doubt when hearing German black metal band Waldgefluster that every ounce of their music comes from their hearts. That’s one of the things that makes the band so special. There are many bands playing atmospheric, nature-rich black metal, but not many convey their feelings and inspirations the way this band does. The only experiences I’ve ever had with the band is through their records—I haven’t had the fortune to see them live yet—and every visit with them, no matter how many times I hear the records, always gets to me. That spills right into the band’s new record “Ruinen,” the fourth Waldgefluster record overall. Energetic black metal, soul-scraping vocals, and music that carries you right along with them into the wilderness are packed into these eight cuts, and every journey through these 63 minutes is exciting and enthralling.

waldgefluster-coverI keep saying “band” and “they” when referring to Waldgefluster, but the group wasn’t really a group until recently. Waldgefluster started off as the solo project for Winterherz, who started the thing 10 years ago and put out three full-length records on his own. Now for “Ruinen,” he’s joined by a full slate including guitarists Dominik Frank and Markus Frey, bassist Arvagr, and drummer Thomas Birkmaier, and the full-group experience leads to a watershed of sound and an enthralling performance that does the name Waldgefluster quite well. You practically can feel snow crunch under your feet and the wind sting your cheeks on this record, as the atmospheric elements have been further explored, and it’s going to be an excellent companion as it gets colder.

“Die Ruine als Schmuck” is the album’s awakening quite literally, and it feels like the sun cracking the horizon, with music slowly spreading and speaking perking up your ears. Then it’s into 10:29 “Weltenwanderer” that opens with fierce growls and hypnotic melodies. A theme of many of these songs is the walking through fire, into calm, and back into the blaze, as this track demonstrates. Singing mixes in with the harsher vocals, while blazing guitars meet up with cold, reflective passages that seem situated in deep morning fog. From there, a huge emotional gust takes place, with fury and beauty meeting, wild cries intertwining with melody, and a passage of heartfelt playing dissolving into the haze. “Trümmerfestung” is a tick off 12 minutes, and in enters in a wind gust that turns into furious howls and a trudging pace. The middle of this cut has an emotional caterwaul that might leave you grasping for the walls, and out of that, a tremendous bit of soloing glimmers before giving way to quiet acoustics and a mix of whispers and clean calls. The tempo later erupts all over, making huge dents before disappearing into acoustic waves. “Und immer wieder Schnee” is harsh and heavy with spirited playing snaking through and growls and hearty singing again taking turns to belt out the messages. Moody and spacious guitars later emerge, sending a huge rush of atmosphere into the room—and tripping out your mind—before a feral assault and sunburnt guitars join forces and fade out with a stretch of haunting knocks.

“Ruinenfelder” pulls things back a bit, as acoustics settle in, and cleanly sung verses waft over the track. Strings begin to swell, and the powder keg is poked, but the bulk of this is rustic and woodsy, countered with passionate cries and decimating howls. “Graustufen Novembertage” is burly and airy when it starts, with melody and feral expressions going tooth and nail. Again, the animalistic shrieks and deeply human singing combine, bringing an infusion of energy and a tug of war between light and dark. The growls burst, while amazing melodies and a torrid assault of drums team up and carry the track-ending dialog to a stinging conclusion. “Aschephönix” feels solemn at first before it tears open and soars into a cloudy, mesmerizing pace. Some of the track feels like it’s traveling through a thick, dark tunnel, though guitars crack through and shine beams. The track slips into the valleys, basking in the shade, and things even get chilly for a bit, letting you see your breath in the air. But the rupture you expect happens, with the vocals blazing through, melodies whipping up a frenzy, and a noise squall swallowing it whole. “Susitaival” closes the album in a quiet, calming tone, with hushed acoustics, gentle percussive taps, and noise rising and casting its shadow, bringing the record to a fitting end.

Waldgefluster remain one of the most thunderous, heartfelt bands in all of black metal, and their amazing run continues with “Ruinen.” This is the type of band that’ll never let metal’s, or their own, heart burn out and will continue to keep the torch blazing for as long as they can. This is a really excellent band, one of the most reliable in all of metal, and they never let you walk away from one of their records not feeling completely and utterly impacted.

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

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

Or here: http://store.nordvis.com/

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

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

Cara Neir unleash torment, dark human suffering on cataclysmic new record ‘Perpetual Despair…’

cara-neirCertainly we’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and are perpetually tired of hearing it. I upset myself just writing that statement, and now I’m sick. The saying does hold some weight and reminds us not to pre-judge, but sometimes you actually can see something and make a fairly accurate decision about what’s contained inside.

Take, for example, the cover and title of Texas duo Cara Neir’s tumultuous new record. It’s called “Perpetual Despair Is the Human Condition,” and the cover depicts a black-and-white drawing of a funeral hearse pulled up to the front of a church. You shouldn’t be expecting reflective, atmospheric, lovely music and instead should prepare for a burial. An extension of sorts philosophically from their explosive last record “Portals to a Better, Dead World,” the band takes on what it’s like to be a living, breathing, suffering human. There are things holding us back, forces that mean us harm, and disappointment that becomes as much a part of us as the lighter elements. Along with this, Cara Neir twist in sections that deal with social class imbalance and morality, showing how even in the brightest of times, we can be yanked back by conflict.

cara-neir-coverBased in Dallas, Cara Neir got started in 2008, as vocalist/lyricist Chris Francis and guitarist/bassist/drum programmer/backing vocalist Garry Brents combined forces and mentalities into a heavy music world that needed more punishing acts like them. Their debut “Part I/Part II” was released a year after their formation, with “Stagnant Perceptions” landing two years after that. Aforementioned “Portals” arrived in 2013, with their fourth full-length being “Perpetual.” That’s not to ignore all of the smaller and split releases they’ve released over their eight years. On “Perpetual,” the band melts black metal, punk, hardcore, noise, and classic screamo into a molten pot, and does it ever scorch. The eight songs blaze by, shaking your insides and spreading darkness all over. Along with Francis and Brents come notable contributors such as Jon Rosenthal (Venowl), Val (Ævangelist, Vlk, Venowl), Drew W.B. (Lonesummer, Moros), Andy Curtis-Brignell (Caïna), and Chelsea Anderson smear their own morbidity into the mix.

The record begins with “Spiteful Universe,” as Nietzsche lines are spoken over dissonance before the shit hits the fucking fan. Crazed vocals and a speedy assault combine to practically make you black out, and as things go on, they just get more unhinged. Later, atmospheric calm squeezes in, helping you imagine serene cloudy blue skies before a muscular riff takes over and wild howls bring the song to an end. “Normalcy” has off-kilter guitar work and vocals that veer toward death metal. Sounds swirl in the air while the playing dizzies, and after a brief comedown, the drums go off, and the track stampedes all over again. “Something’s wrong!” Francis screams as the arrival of newfound danger sends chills. “Pushing Failure” is jerky and unpredictable, with the drums smearing and the shrieks chewing glass. Later, a drift of humidity fills the air while pianos drip blood. “Bound by Believers” has some great melodic guitar work, as the lines loop through the mire. The track is catchy and terrifying, with panic launching an outbreak and death-laced punishment adding bruises.

“Window to the Void” has tricky, loopy guitar work that defies logic, while the pace is outright spastic, like a prisoner clawing and throwing his body toward anything just for some relief. The track is abrasive and punk fueled, blasting away over its entire run time. “Trials of the Lost” pounds away relentlessly, with riffs chugging and spiraling all over the place, and later some doomy storming arrives and brings the blackness. Organs add a dose of fear, while the back end is awash in black punk and heavy thrashing. “For You” unleashes feral howls and speedy aggression, with death gasps behind the madness and later some gazey guitar sprinkling. The tempo then begins drilling at your temples, while the track dissolves into murky muck. Closer “Chapter I: Coastline Black” throws some wrenches into the fun, coming off like a dark horror story, which is perfect for this season. Raspy growls push the plasma-spewing agenda, while the guys hit the gas pedal, galloping away and grinding teeth. Noiry guitars spill in, adding an interesting texture, but then it’s into throttling throats, bringing a creaky, spooky ambiance, and turning everything in front of them into dust and pain.

Cara Neir continue to add violently interesting, explosively morose chaos into the world, and “Perpetual Despair Is the Human Condition” is another unhinged chapter in their exposure of humanity’s darkest elements. Each inch of this album tears away at your skin and creates a collection of little blood tributaries that build up and make their mark. This band makes you confront the worst parts of humanity and existence and refuse to let you look away.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://brokenlimbsrecordings.net/collections/all

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

Stirring instrumentalists MONO examine birth, death, damnation on drama-rich ‘Requiem for Hell’

Photo by Mitja Kobal

Photo by Mitja Kobal

One of the most dramatic heavy music experiences I ever had was in some random classroom at Carnegie Mellon University several years ago. It certainly felt like a place far more suited for a lecture than an experience that would have my ears ringing for days on end, but it certainly stands out from the hundreds of shows I’ve ever attended.

The headliners that night were Japanese instrumental force MONO, and they were touring in support of their amazing 2006 album “You Are There.” I remember leaving that spring night absolutely stunned at what I’d just witnessed. The force the band packed that evening could have leveled a hall of any size, yet here I was, halfway up the stadium seat-style classroom completely mesmerized by their sound, expression, and massive weight. I already was a major fan of the band before that night, but I came out of there practically a zealot. From that album forward, I’ve followed MONO very closely, and from release to release, they always felt like they were taking a new path toward my psyche. That carries over to their new, ninth record “Requiem for Hell,” an album that stays faithful to their cinematic wonders but also mixes in several thick stripes of darkness.

mono-coverLike every MONO record, the messages and themes of the songs aren’t immediately apparent since their work is wordless. But the themes of life and love, death and darkness certainly are present, even if they’re carried on the waves of musical passages and not words. The five songs, inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” have sections of gentle reflection and shadowy tranquility. But there are other areas where MONO are at their heaviest and most terrifying, patching you into their creative juices that were overflowing while making this record. Reuniting with producer Steve Albini, the band—lead guitarist Takaakira “Taka” Goto, rhythm guitarist Hideki “Yoda” Suematsu, bassist/keyboard player Tamaki Kunishi, drummer/synth player Yasunori Takada—channeled all of their energy and blood into these cuts that never skimp on the drama and keep you plugged in from beginning to crushing end.

The album begins with “Death in Rebirth,” where dark guitars strike, and melodies fold over like relentless black waves. The song feels like as dark storm creeping over the horizon—that’s literally happening outside as I write this—and as things go on, the volume and intensity rise, and we’re at the threshold. Noise wells up and begins scarring, and then the song fades as it is eclipsed by thick clouds. “Stellar” has morose strings, chimes joining in, and static bubbling up like a swarm of insects. As the song spreads, it remains understated, like a quiet snow endlessly but silently coating the ground. Its beauty is a sight to behold, but its strength is not to be underestimated. The 17:48-long title track follows, with guitars slowly breaking from their icy grave, and glockenspiel dropping needles. Guitars and the pace pick up about five minutes in, with the melodies spiraling into the atmosphere, and an ominous stretch choking the sun. The track gets more aggressive, as if the danger you feared is right around the bend, and from there, everything is whipped into a tornado of sound and power, as the guitars catch fire and combine for a cataclysmic ending.

“Ely’s Heartbeat” is a song inspired a close friend’s (Temporary Residence owner Jeremy deVine) first foray into parenthood, as the in utero heartbeat actually are the sounds that greet you and serve as the driving center point for the song. This is where things brighten for the band, as the embrace of new life is at its apex. Here, sounds overwhelm as elegant guitars build steam and spill into an effusive onslaught of gazey guitar work that has become a MONO trademark. It’s utterly gorgeous and infectious, as the song continues to roll through the void, and beauty and sorrow collide to create a final drama-rich burst. Closer “The Last Scene” not only is fittingly named because it’s the final cut but also because its ambiance feels like a final credit roller. Guitars bubble while weird tones make themselves apparent. Piano splashes into huge displays of heart-gushing guitar, while a breezy, wonderfully atmospheric cloud break lets moody sunbeams strike the ground as you awake from your dream infused by what it is you just witnessed.

MONO have become one of the standard bearers for instrumental rock, and their career one day should have the “legendary” status attached to it. “Requiem for Hell” is one of the records that will help get them there, a collection that proves a decade and a half after their formation, they still have the energy and passion flowing in their veins. I doubt MONO have any suburban classrooms on their tour schedule now, but whatever room they’re in, they’re bound to fill it with chaos and change lives.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.temporaryresidence.com/collections/albums

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

Heavy thrashers Oozing Wound pack death, politics, fake theme anthem into ‘Whatever Forever’

Photo by Joe Martinez Jr.

Photo by Joe Martinez Jr.

One of the most satisfying experiences as a music listener is when you get a new record from a band you follow and are blown away instantly by the amount of improvement they display. I mean, you’ve always liked said band, and their music is in pretty steady rotation, but then they take shit to another level.

Chicago thrashers Oozing Wound always had a tongue sticking through their nuclear wasted-cheeks on their records, not that they didn’t take their craft seriously. But there always was a thing about them that you could take them as a band that hit hard but didn’t seem all that worried about being placed in the upper echelon of their sub-genre. All that shit’s out the window on the band’s tumultuous third record “Whatever Forever,” an album that, from its title, sounds like things are just going to be heavy and fun. And they are. But there is so much more substance this time around. The music is heavier, their teeth are sharper and out for blood, and they just sound outright dangerous. Oozing Wound never have sounded this deadly, and this record will force anyone who didn’t pay mind to these guys before to wake the fuck up. Now.

oozing-wound-coverThe funny thing about Oozing Wound, and maybe this is a reason we like them so much, as that even though I spent two graphs imploring you to take this band seriously, they totally don’t seem themselves that way. Yeah, records such as “Retrash” and “Earth Suck” were trustworthy thrashers, but these guys sounded eternally loose. The band—vocalist/guitarist Zack Weil, bassist Kevin Cribbin, drummer Casey Marnocha—hits on serious themes (climate change denial, death of loved ones) and not-so-vital ones (an ode to a movie not even made yet, Deep Space Nine), yet all the while they sound violent, urgent, and completely confident. Oozing Wound may scoff at the maturity or vast improvement accusations, but I sure hear it, and this band is a potent as they’ve ever been.

The record tears open with “Rambo 5 (Pre-Emptive Strike),” the best theme song ever for a movie you never saw. The track jolts to life with heavy riffs, punchy tempos, and outright maniacal howls that gnaw away at your senses. The track is heavy as hell and ends in a pit of demolition. “Diver” has a boatload of great riffs, as the intensity of this song is obvious. The guitars spiral all over, causing vertigo, and the vocals scrape at your skin, driving blood to the surface. Melody floods in later, the soloing scorches, and noise swells at the end. “Deep Space” feels like hurtling past the stars, as the song decimates alongside the wild howls. The soloing goes off the rails and spills chaos, while the pace mashes away and ends in a pit of doom. “Mercury in Retrograde” is the second-longest cut here at 7:38, and it starts with hypnotic riffs, jarring drumming, and wails of, “Feeling like a skeleton!” poking at superficial wounds. Melodies loop and catch up with drone, while the band hits a long, purposely repetitive track designed to test your patience and mock you. Then speed returns, and we all burn to death. “Weather Tamer” takes rightful aim at dickhead Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, and his harebrained attempt to disprove climate change. Wow. What a schmuck. Anyway, this is the longest cut at 8:11, and they dump noise, cool riffs, and a tricky and proggy section in order to explain this madness. There are parts that are trancey, sections that are spacey, and more melodies repeated over and over again, hammering home insanity.

“Everything Sucks, And My Life Is a Lie” practically overflows with sarcasm, but in the catchiest, most destructive way possible. The riffs absolutely chug, while the vocals are yowled hard, opening up and congealing wounds you may have. The soloing absolutely glimmers, while the ending comes to a raucous neck-jerk, with the drums going absolutely off. “Eruptor” is the first of two instrumentals, this one built on speedy playing, melody loops, and a pace that makes your head spin forever. “Tachycardia” has a bit of a stoner vibe to it, as the riffs spill, the vocals are barked, and the guitar work turns deliriously playful. Later on, every element unleashes pounding and torment, bringing everything to a meaty end. “You Owe Me, Iommi” has a very obvious target, and this instrumental spends its short running time mixing clean guitars into cosmic weirdness and relentless gong smashes. Closer “Sky Creep” remembers fallen cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov (a Google search for the image of his remains isn’t, like, lemon party bad, but it’s not fun) who died on the Soyuz 1 after re-entry to Earth. The song seems to be paced like his death, as the track speeds in terrifying manner toward the ground, the playing is stabbing and painful, and the vocals are pained howls. The track finally ends in thick, poisonous exhaust, with crazed yells and screams that are only too apropos for the subject matter.

Oozing Wound already were a bad-ass thrash band before “Whatever Forever,” but now they’re a force with which to be reckoned. You like some Exodus, Vektor, Municipal Waste, and even Early Man? Then this band is going to pulverize your body and leave you a pile of sizzling goo. You’ll be better off that way. Trust us.

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

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