PICK OF THE WEEK: Succumb warp death and war metal, spill pure terror on crushing debut opus

It’s pretty rare these days to experience a band for the first time and come away wondering if you’ve ever heard anything like it before. Let’s face it, even the most extreme sounds have become fairly homogenized, so it’s hard for unique things to rise even from there. But it’s not impossible to find something new and exciting that actually stands out from everything else.

San Francisco’s Succumb falls into that category of bands that manage to do new things. While their love of death and war metal, and their processing of those elements, is something that has moved other bands, none have done in quite this manner. Having formed in 2014 under the name Cloak, the first seeds of what would become Succumb were planted, leading us to their tremendous self-titled debut record. If you haven’t already started to read things about this band, you should be inundated with stuff soon. Led by darkly charismatic and disarming vocalist Cheri Musrasik, the band charges through seven cuts here that are tough to fully describe. As noted, there are some familiar musical elements, but those are put through Succumb’s grinder and turned into a new form. The rest of the band—guitarist Derek Webster, bassist/vocalist Kirk Spaseff, drummer Harry Cantwell—also add their deranged personality to the songs, as Musrasik howls about topics including BDSM prostitution, autoerotic asphyxiation, dystopia, and every fucked up element of our modern society. It’s scary, unnerving stuff that jabs right at the heart of subject matters most are too afraid to broach within their own dark secrets, much less their art. Succumb smear it like blood across your mouth and face, with Musrasik leading the charge with her bizarre howls.

“The Initiate” begins the record, a quick instrumental track that opens and smothers, with guitars swirling, and the first taste of mucky death served. “Destroyer II” is the first real glimpse of the band at full power, as the tempo devastates and creates smoke so thick, you’ll choke. Musrasrik’s wild howl clashes with guttural growls, which could turn your guts, while the music has strains of hardcore laced into its death terrain. The pace sludges and drops heavy weights, while the back end has a nauseous, dizzying feel. “Bedchambers” has blunt force and voices spilling into tornadic winds. The madness is filled with aggravation and perversity, while the black thrashing grinds away at your swelling senses. “Survival” shows off the band’s hefty Voivod worship, as tricky, spacey guitars launch an assault, adding strange beams of light to their sprawling fury. There is a dark cartoonish quality to the melody, like you’re watching an animated smoke cloud twist into oblivion, and later, the reverb-rich howls and sci-fi-leaning guitars take you out of your mind and into a cosmic zone.

“Seeding” is the longest track at 7:23, blasting in with Musrasik’s fierce cries and the music boiling. Gravelly growls and sinewy riffs conjoin and form a wall of muscle, while the track keeps getting uglier and more unhinged. Growls rumble while the track thrashes away, and the whole thing ends in an ugly, dank basement where water drips and pools and noises scrape. “Coal Dark Earth” is a death assault from the start, with thick basslines roiling and Musrasik ripping out and heading toward your throat. The guitars form a wind-whipping storm, while the pace slams the gas pedal, and echo-laden shouts bring the song to a close. Closer “The Flood” starts with pianos trickling before a hole is torn into the body of the song, and pure devastation is launched. The pace slashes, while the guitars wander into darker corners at times, and the bloody growls and pained yells leave their final blistering, while the song comes to a monstrous climax.

Succumb are one of the most dangerous, yet exciting new bands in metal this year, and their self-titled debut is one that’s bound to stick in listeners’ sides as the year goes on. I’ve heard this album countless times now, and I can’t shake this thing no matter how familiar I get with the music. That makes my blood go cold and my insides shake, which is how I know I’ve come across a band that’s etched itself in my brain and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

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

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

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

Decibel Metal & Beer Fest packs Fillmore with tons of crushing metal and liver-bruising brews

Krieg (all photos by Christopher Woodford)

Last weekend was the first-ever Decibel Metal and Beer Fest, a meeting of the most extreme in metal bands and beverages. The long-running magazine that’s the standard bearer of long-form metal journalism packed a bunch of killer bands and brewers into the Fillmore in Philadelphia for a weekend of hell and hangovers. Christopher Woodford, a fixture in the Pittsburgh metal scene, whose Winterforge Promotions puts on killers shows on a weekly basis, was there to take it all in. That he did. Maybe a little too much… The following is his account of the events:

Physically speaking, my hangover from the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest could be a lot worse.  Sure, the spots above my eyelids look as though I puked my guts out, but I’ve experienced worse hangovers.  Metaphorically speaking, however, the hangover still lingers.  There is an ache to be back in the Fillmore again with hundreds of metalheads consuming beer and listening to live music.  The thrills remain only in memory.  At least the fest ended with nobody going to the hospital or passing out in an alley.

When Decibel announced the Metal and Beer Fest, I was totally excited by the lineup.  Mostly because Panopticon would be performing.  While I knew or had seen the majority of the bands, I knew completely nothing about the breweries invited to the fest.  The experience of drinking new beers is as pleasing as seeing bands for the first time: pure bliss.

With friends in tow, Zakk and Adam, we pumped up the jams and headed out on the highway to Philadelphia.  Those of you who are curious, we listened to The Kinks, Weird Al Yankovic, Extremity, Ulver, Castle, Tanika Charles, and Thundercat on our trip.

Artificial Brain

Before the fest, we hit up the preshow at The Barbary with Artificial Brain, Pyrrhon, and Die Choking.  All three bands I’ve hosted for shows Pittsburgh, and all three groups are intense, so it made sense to start the weekend off with these stellar bands.  The Barbary was packed wall to wall, hardly much space to move around in.  Which is good because nobody seemed interested in moshing.  Philly’s grindcore trio Die Choking kicked off the show with a blazing inferno and ended their set with a cover from local hardcore punk band Turmoil.  Pyrrhon followed up with a string of teeth-gnashing, brutally upfront songs, the kind of set you would expect from Swans if they were death metal.  Closing out the preshow, Artificial Brain rallied up the crowd with new songs from their recent album release “Infrared Horizon.”  Fellow Replicants would be have been pleased by Artificial Brain’s sonic assault.  First time listener, Zakk, expressed great interest and approval of their set.

Immediately across the street from The Barbary is The Fillmore, where Decibel’s Metal and Beer Fest was held.  The venue is massive and can easily hold a thousand or more folks.  My friends and I had no issues checking in: ID check, security check, fest wristband, and off you go.  Those who purchased the beer tasting pass were given a small, easily breakable plastic cup.  Later on at the fest, attendees were given small shot-glass sized cups for beer tasting because that makes sense.  A few geniuses (like myself) overcame this issue by asking for a cup of water at the bar, which was roughly an 8-oz. mixed drink cup.  Perfect size to consume copious amounts of free craft beer.

Finding out where your favorite brewer was located involved looking for their table sign.  Some of the craft breweries had big, elaborate signs, while others had colorful folks slinging tasty brews.  I totally forgot which brewer I drank from first.  I do remember it being a saison, and I do remember it being tasty, as are most saisons.  Citrusy, sweet, orange saison.  I became more familiar with the brewers upstairs on the second floor: Hammerheart, Burial Brewing, and Mikkeller.  Hammerheart smoked the shit out of their beers, like some Vikings raided a village, set fire to everything but the brewery.  The Hammerheart Weltenwanderer lager was particularly smoky, which was weird at first, but totally enjoyable.  Burial Brewing turned out to be my favorite brewery at the fest with their Ritualknife Black Braggot.  What’s a braggot?  Sort of like a mead (so there’s honey involved), but more malts are used while being made.  So, the Ritualknife came out dark, inky, and smooth, like a knife in the dark.  Burial’s booth neighbors were Mikkeller Brewery from Denmark, who had Danny Lilker (Nuclear Assault, Brutal Truth) pouring the Danish brews.  I was surprised to see Lilker pouring beers, as much as I was surprised by Mikkeller’s Mastodon Mother Puncher Farmhouse IPA.  Both were awesome.

Noticeably, the venue was full, but not packed.  So, there wasn’t a whole lot of beer spillage and enough room to spread out, both downstairs and upstairs. Zakk enjoyed being able to stand wherever and not have someone be on top of you.


Out of all the bands that performed on Saturday, Panopticon stole the show.  There were some mic troubles for Austin Lunn, the main writer/composer of Panopticon, but were resolved midway through the second song.  The joy of finally seeing them live was overwhelming.  Panopticon was arguably the most passionate, powerful music on display at the festival.  Aside from them, other notable highlights were Crypt Sermon, Krieg, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed, who brought the night to a close with utter carnage.

Sunday rolled around with no notable hangovers for our group.  Brunch and urban expeditions in Philadelphia occupied us until the evening.  Dinner at Sidestreet Pho delayed our arrival to Sunday’s fest openers, Cemetery Piss.  If you would like to know, the pho was superb.

Sunday evening at the fest is when things started to get…interesting.  Personally, there was a strong correlation to how much beer I drank and how heavy the music progressed.  Falls of Rauros set the mood with their atmospheric black metal charm.  Kicking myself for not buying a shirt from FoR.  “Oh, I’ll get one later,” I said to myself.  Pro tip: Buy the shirt before you get wasted.  During Khemmis’ performance, I enjoyed myself some more Burial and Hammerheart beer.  Burial’s Garden of Earthly Delights saison is as good as it sounds, and Hammerheart’s Sköll Och Hati smoked chocolate stout was like two Vikings fucking on a burning ship.  At the time, I wasn’t digging Khemmis’ set entirely; perhaps it was too clean for me. But in hindsight, they are actually solid live and will probably grow on me.


At this point, the drink game was well within reason until Hoof Hearted Brewery was brought into the mix.  These party brew dudes and their beer were the catalyst of my demise, along with one, two, three punch from Withered, Pig Destroyer, and Sleep.  Let’s start with the beers first.  Hoof Hearted’s pair of Double IPAs were South of Eleven (10.2% ABV) and Cultrider (11.5% ABV).  I can assure you they were strong, bitter IPAs, but that’s as far as my memory goes.  Things did get hazy after the eighth or so pour of Hoof Hearted’s beer. At some point, I did mix things up and tried out Burnt Hickory’s Withered beer. Sweet and crisp, not at all like Withered, but still fantastic.  By the time Pig Destroyer hit the stage, more people began to noticeably fill the Fillmore than yesterday.  This is around the same time my buzz game was strong.  Side note: more grindcore bands, like Pig Destroyer, would benefit from a noise/hype man like Blake Harrison.  Enthusiasm goes a long way, folks.  Closing out the night for Decibel’s debaucherous extravaganza was Sleep.  In my previous experiences, I know better than to smoke green and drink beer together.  Usually it’s one or the other.  Tonight, I was fortunate to make the decision of drinking more Hoof Hearted Beer and keep on partying like Slurms MacKenzie during Sleep’s set.  I ended up bailing early because my buddy and I got drunk enough.  I don’t remember walking back home but I do remember waking up, noisily puking, and then going back to sleep.  In the morning, I was awakened by our host’s dog licking my face and then proceeding to hump my arm.  Thanks, Jeff the Bull Terrier, you’re a real peach.

Final thoughts on Decibel’s Metal and Beer Fest:
Decibel put together an utterly fantastic fest.  The mix of metal bands made for a well-paced festival.  All the beer I tried was great, except for one brewery who I won’t name here, but maybe other folks liked them.  The layout and sound at the Fillmore couldn’t have been any better:  Quality sound all through the venue, with comfortable seating upstairs for those with drink passes.  According to my straight-edge friend Adam, even if you didn’t drink, the fest was still fun to attend.  Depending on the lineup next time (hopefully there will be a next time [EDITOR’S NOTE: Sounds like there will be a next time]), I’d recommend on attending the fest.  Just make sure to eat and drink plenty of water.

For more on Decibel magazine, go here: http://decibelmagazine.com

To check out the latest from Winterforge Promotions, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Winterforge-Promotions-931628180198416/

Germans Ingurgitating Oblivion contort death, terrifying space chaos on fiery ‘Vision Wallows…’

I’ve been kind of bored with the majority of death metal for a long time, because so much of it feels like what I’ve already heard a million times before. Bands that don’t do the same thing over and over again are becoming the exception, not the rule, so when they come along, it’s a strange breath of dank air.

German crushers Ingurgitating Oblivion have loftier goals than most bands. Their music is not easy to digest, and while it certainly is progressive in nature, it keeps your brain going and processing. But most of all, their music is a sonic adventure, and you remain engaged with what’s going on almost by force. “Vision Wallows In Symphonies Of Light,” the band’s third record, is a force with which to be reckoned but also a collection that could have you wondering what you just witnessed. This is a true front-to-back document, a record you can’t sample or jump in and out of and absorb the music with any real sense. This is something you have to tackle from the start and see through. It’s an epic, and it’s tangled and pissed, so you’re bound to run through the gamut of emotion. The band—longtime backbone and guitarist/vocalist (starting with this record) Florian Engelke, bassist/synth player/vocalist Adrian Bojarowski, drummer Paul Wielan (though Lille Gruber of Defeated Sanity played on the record)—spread out before their listeners an adventure in technical and progressive death that keeps your brain tied in and punishes the senses.

Every track on this thing is a mouthful to say and takes 45 minutes to write, yet here we go. “Amid the Offal, Abide With Me” is the 10:42 opener that emerges along with a noise cloud. Once it tears apart, the band hits a death-rich groove that obliterates the senses, and even when short waves of calm arrive, we get pulled back into the choppy deep end. Gruff, harsh growls mix in with the volcanic tempo, while the guitars charge heavily and maintain that assault as the track goes on. Soloing soars and brings a new sense of adventure, while the final bursts scrape before tranquility arrives and swallows the thing whole. “A Mote Constitutes to Me What Is Not All, and Eternally All, Is Nothing” is a 22:49-long journey into space. The first few minutes set the stage and mood, allowing numbness to wash over your brain and encourage detachment from the physical world. About 6 minutes in, the torment arrives, and your guts turn. Harsh growls and twisting, turning playing not only bring a sense of audio terror but also keep your eyes pasted to the plot. The guitars swim and roar, as the playing lulls you into brief stretches of serenity, only to be met by a bloodthirsty beast on the other side. Weird, chilling guitars bring a freezing ambiance, as the song dissolves into odd speaking and an engulfing sound haze.

“Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light” charges open and shows impressive prog-infested fire. The tempo is punchy and chaotic for the most part, with growls hulking and dragging behind it a path of blood and guts. A mystical section blows in and cools off the atmosphere, but that’s a temporary thing as the track bursts at the seams all over again. The band stomps and destroys harder than ever before, feeling like they’re about to take a city full of buildings down with them. Pianos then trickle like a mix of blood and rain, and that eventually overtakes the song and takes it to an elegant end. Closer “A Devourer of Fitting Shades Who Dwells in Rays of Light” is the shortest cut at 7:39, and its first half is like a fever dream as soundscapes spread and cause blurry eyes. Xylophones, warbled speaking, and strange guitars create a vortex of sound that is like walking through the fringes of a nightmare. At about the 5:30 mark, the beast rears its ugly head, and everything is dragged into hell. Throat-slaughtering growls, crushing playing, and an inferno of power whip into full strength before finally fading and disappearing into the universe.

Ingurgitating Oblivion’s rubbery, senses-obliterating death metal is in full force on “Vision Wallows In Symphonies Of Light,” their most ambitious record to date. They don’t tread death metal’s path with any sense of falling in line or desire to fit in with the pack. This band pushes all limits well past the boundaries, and their work should keep you guessing and panicking the whole way through this vicious record.

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

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

For more on the label, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx

Full of Hell smear their grind-heavy sound with agitation on punishing ‘Trumpeting Ecstasy’

Life is chaos and infuriating more often than not. Anyone who denies that is living a lie or is so ensconced in dreamland to acknowledge what’s going on everywhere. Luckily, grind experimentalists Full of Hell seem well aware of this fact, and their volcanic records reflect that.

Their latest, “Trumpeting Ecstasy,” is an 11-track effort that, in true grind fashion, is over before you know it. I realized that I can listen to this record almost twice while doing my thrice weekly elliptical training, which is a fun time, right? The record, not the elliptical. That thing’s boring as fuck. Anyway, Full of Hell also are full of surprises, and one of the most surprising things about this record is it’s a fairly back-to-basics return to form for the band. They’re here to level you and leave no traces of DNA behind. The band—Spencer Hazard (guitars) Dylan Walker (vocals, electronics) David Bland (drums), Samuel DiGristine (bass)—holed up with the great Kurt Ballou at Godcity Studios to create this bastard, and they also got some great contributions from Aaron Turner (Sumac, Old Man Gloom), Nate Newton (Old Man Gloom, Converge, Doomriders), Andrew Nolan (Column of Heaven, the Endless Blockade), and singer-songwriter Nicole Dollanganger, who absolutely owns the song on which she participates. The result is another awesome Full of Hell document that tears holes in your equilibrium.

The record starts with a Warner Herzog quote warped to hell, with him talking about the environment being in misery, and then it’s off with a full-on assault, with fierce shrieks and gross growls entangling, and the band punishing fully. “Branches of Yew” blasts by in 51 seconds, as the vocals warp reality, and the band launches complete demolition. “Bound Sphinx” tears at your guts right away, as the chorus boasts a death metal-friendly barrage, leading into sludgy chaos and a noise-infested flood. “The Cosmic Vein,” as hinted, has strange space sounds spreading out before jerky crushing arrives and lands haymakers. The pace of the song blisters, while crazed shrieks get inside your head and dizzy you. “Digital Prison” is a 41-second blast that has the bass clobbering and death grunts going for the throat, and that’s followed by “Crawling Back to God,” an unnerving track that features strange robotic speaking, a groove-splattered grind assault, and riffy madness that leads to the song’s misery-inducing ending point.

“Fractured Quartz” is another 41-second smasher complete with virulent speed, growls and shrieks battling, and complete terror meted out. “Gnawed Flesh” has a thick bassline, more tangling vocals, and a nasty, guttural approach. “Man will always fail!” sounds like a battle cry, while the end of the track is muddy and clobbering. “Ashen Mesh” is off to the races right away, as the death growls sicken, and there even are a few moments where the song’s kind of catchy. The vocals get ugly again, while noise is smooshed over the finish. “At the Cauldron’s Bottom” is a really surprising one, featuring Dollanganger singing over what sounds like a dumpster fire of noise looking to take lives. Her presence transforms this song into something eerie and mystical, before the final minutes bruise anew and remind you that you’re not, in fact, living in a detached dream world. The closing title cut is the longest at 6:23, as the song tears apart and dumps heavy riffs into its chemical makeup. The title is growled and howled repeatedly, before the cries of, “We’re lost, we’re losing!” delivers a reality check before everything corrodes into a file of ash and filth.

Full of Hell keep their wheels grinding and their artillery firing on full with “Trumpeting Ecstasy,” a 24-minute record that’s going to be really hard to top from the entire contingent of grindcore bands combined. This record is vicious and sudden, a perfect example for why this band is held in such high regard. This is violent, aggravated shit that perfectly aligns with the goddamn miserable world in which we live.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Sarcasm rage back with classic Scandinavian ferocity on ‘Within the Sphere…’

It’s been a long week, and a lot of negativity has been going on in the world and, as a result, on this site. But it’s the end of the week, it’s a big weekend for metal here on the East Coast, and it won’t kill us to be excited about something for once in our awful lives.

We have a new record from Swedish death crew Sarcasm, and if you need another reason to feel happy, I can’t help you. It’s not often we get a Dark Descent release and feel happy and excited inside. Usually their records bring out the angst and repulsion in our blood, which is how we like it (and why we love their bands). But Sarcasm’s second record “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds” is a gigantic dose of classic Swedish death that should remind people of the glory days of that country’s metallic output. There’s good reason for that, because the band’s time stretches all the way back to 1990, so they’ve been there and seen everything that land has had to offer. They were a part of it, even if their debut record “Burial Dimensions” wasn’t formally released until last year (though it was recorded in 1994 and initially presented as part of a compilation in 2011), and they’re just now gaining a foothold. The band—vocalist Heval Bozarslan, guitarists Anders Eriksson and Peter Laitinen (the primary songwriter for this record), bassist Jonas Söder, and drummer Matte Modin—sounds absolutely on fire and raging on all cylinders on this record, which I’ve found myself listening to on repeat without even realizing it.

“Bloodsoaked Sunrise” opens the record and gets things off to an immediately raucous start. Strong riffs and vicious growls roll out along with the tempo that should, even against your will, have your head bashing. The track is a short, blistering assault that gets the gates open and the torches blazing. “From the Crimson Fog They Emerged” sounds like an adventure from its title, and it is. Speedy mauling and a raspy chorus are the highlights here, and they are enhanced by a devastating pace and Bozarslan howling, “Once again we are manifest in flesh!” “Embodiment of Source” starts with a mix of clean guitars and acoustics before glorious riffs tear out of the thing. Nasty, fierce growls lead the way, while savagery and melody mix, smearing blinding light with streaks of blood. “Scars of a Land Forgotten” rips apart right away, galloping toward you with reckless abandon, kicking up dust. Forceful growls and intense playing give this track its muscle, while the leads swirl, the drums devastate, and this dose of throwback death metal leaves you as heaping mess.

“In the Grip of Awakening Times” has riffs awakening and meeting up with glorious melodies, giving it a tasty vintage feel that glimmers. A storm of growls and violent, yet catchy playing lather you up nicely, while a trudging assault refuses mercy and chews everything in its way. “Silent Waves Summoned Your Inner Being” has huge riffs (if you haven’t already noticed, this thing is packed with riffs) and a satisfying blast of speed. The verses are raucous as hell, while the leads fly like majestic eagles, and the bloodshed comes to a creaky finish. “A Black Veil for Earth” is the longest track at 8:37, and its first couple minutes are built on establishing mood. As the clean guitars begin to wash away, a slow-driving pace is set, bringing the band closer to smothering doom than death. The track hulks along and the vocals snarl, while a later wave of quiet guitars breaks up the chaos before going back to monstrous scraping and then bleeding away. Closer “The Drowning Light at the Edge of Dawn” is fast and punchy, with wild vocals slicing away and the band forcing you into the heart of their metallic fury. This is their final salvo, so they make sure you’re shaken and beaten thoroughly, keeping their mission burning right up to its volcanic conclusion.

Sarcasm’s second record “Within the Sphere of Ethereal Minds” is a goddamn pleasure to behold, and while it has its ample share of darkness and despair, the record is just such a blast to listen to. Beaming with powerful riffs and guttural shrieks, as well as swelling melodies rich with Swedish goodness, Sarcasm are a huge reminder of the heyday of Scandinavian death metal. These guys still are operating at the top of their game, and this killer second record is all the proof anyone needs of their prowess.

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

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

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

Minnesota crushers Buildings lay waste to societal woe with agitated ‘You Are Not One of Us’

It’s easy to be disgusted and just tired of everything right now. Just come to this site if you want to see that shit. I feel like I’ve written basically the same intro all year long because existence seems relatively futile right now, and the world is full of unknowing assholes. But how to channel that frustration into a singular sound?

Actually, three-piece Minnesota wrecking crew Buildings have that figured out on their raucous third record “You Are Not One of Us.” Side note: This record has some of the strangest cover art I’ve seen this year. But hey, it’ll stick out on a shelf. Back to the main point. On these 11 cuts that are furiously bass-driven (I’m saying that now so I don’t repeat myself every song) amalgamation of punk, hardcore, and noise rock, the band gives off the feeling of anger and hate, but not of the blind variety. These songs feel like the accumulation of disappointing experiences, dealing with dumb shits, and trying to make sense of everyday life that everything has turned them sour and pounded out a good sense of hate. These fellows— Brian Lake, Mike Baillie, Travis Kuhlman—sounds like they’re sitting right next to you at the bar during the daily tragedies known as news broadcast, with them nudging you like, “You believe these fucking guys?” I could be way off on this, but that’s how this music strikes me.

“Separated by Numbers” soaks in noise and feedback before launching ahead and taking on societal division many people deny is happening. “We’re segregated!” is a howl against class warfare, later followed by, “Hold up the rifle so I can aim down the barrel,” turning the sentiment hostile. “Net Waste” has the bass clobbering and wails of, “We got to let them hang!” that meet up with agitated guitars and a rising sound designed to drown out the senses. “Mouth Gift” reminds a bit of Pissed Jeans, with a simple, yet blunt chorus that rakes at the skin, and the shout of, “I bet she tastes so sweet!” leaving an uneasy impression. “Smell the Pool” is a crusher, as the vocals have a ton more attitude attached to them (not that they’re subtle elsewhere), and a damaged melody over the chorus that makes this feel mentally broken. “Palliative Care” again lets the bass drive, which it does hard as fuck, before it takes on some surfy guitars. The guitars chew at your nerve endings, while wild yells and a formidable rhythm section leaves welts. “Mother Nature” has hypnotic power and a tempo that forces itself into your comfort zone. The title is yelped over and over as the chorus hits hard, and noise takes the song out.

“Pray to the Toilet” isn’t about what you think it’s about from the title. No one is drunk and puking. Instead, amid a flurry of scowling yells, blunt talk singing, and sweet riffs, the band wonders if instead of you professing your faith if you “might as well pray to the toilet.” “Who is This” again has the bass dominating (I really am trying not to be redundant), the guitars buzzing like flies, and the vocals sounding like the epitome of psychological irritation. “Pastor Dick” opens with a riff that reminds me of old timey AC/DC. Just me? The vocals swagger, with the bark of, “You know it hurts sometimes,” promising nothing but hard times, as the guitars heat up and provide a punch-filled finish. “Creature” is jammed with bubbling guitars and lurching vocals, with the howls of, “You are my creature!” sending some chills. As the song winds down, the guitars leave deep scrapes, leading the way toward album finale “Pound.”  Guitars simmer, as the verses are delivered from a tormented throat. “You’re the queen!” is repeated, while the bass clubs you into oblivion. Later, guitars swirl and cause a strange hypnosis, while the final strains drip ominously into the sewer.

“You Are Not One of Us” resonates with me because I feel like Buildings are in my headspace. I’m tired of coming home from work, seeing the day’s events, and wanting to stand in front of a moving car. This band’s music feels like that hopelessness and distaste all balled up into 11 tracks that are just as nauseated as I am.

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://erodingwinds.com/products/buildings-you-are-not-one-of-us-lp

Or here (Europe): http://www.antenakrzyku.pl/en/product-category/shop/

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

And here: http://www.antenakrzyku.pl/en/

Artificial Brain’s sci-fi-lathered death metal plots out machine supremacy on ‘Infrared Horizon’

Dystopia seems to be a normal subject matter now that the world appears ready to explode at any moment. And if the time came when humankind was wiped from the map, what would be there to take the planet’s legacy into the future? If sci-fi storytelling is to be believed, it could be machines.

In fact, that very plotline is at the center of “Infrared Horizon,” the new record from Long Island-based tech death metal crushers Artificial Brain. Like the very evolution of creation they detail on this new 10-track album, the band shows amazing development from their strong debut “Labyrinth Constellation.” Musically, these songs bend and twist throughout the cosmos, not just showing a penchant for these musicians’ talents but also displaying a stunning amount of creativity. Vocally, Will Smith shows a great deal of diversity, still going for his gurgly squeals but also incorporating more death grunts and shrieks into his game. The rest of the band—guitarists Jon Locastro, Dan Garguilo (Revocation), and Oleg Zalman (Severed Savior), bassist Samuel Smith (Luminous Vault), drummer Keith Abrami—add fire and mind-melting fury to this story that imagines a future where humankind is extinct and robots and cyborgs outlive their creators.

“Floating in Delirium” begins the record with crushing, bizarre melodies before everything goes totally sci-fi and into space horror. Smith’s inhuman snarls come into focus, while the song rips everything apart and leaves only shambles. Gurgly and spacious, the song eventually bleeds out and paves the way for “Synthesized Instinct” that is outright blazing from the start. Tricky death and creaky growls and shrieks combine and show their force, while the song continues to morph creatively. There’s a really cool sounding chorus (I guess it’s a chorus) that chills your mind, while the back end feels like being forced through an alien compression machine. “Static Shattering” is speedy and shifty, with the pace mashing your fingers, and Smith delivering his story in blunt growls. A section of prog-fueled death emerges, while shrieked wails jar any sense of calm, and the song ends in a pit of menacing thrashing. “Estranged From Orbit” has a colder open, letting the freeze overtake you, before we’re back in the midst of a bloody, unforgiving assault. The bloodshed is fierce, as the band goes down bendy tunnels that rip your innards apart and deliver optimum punishment. But it’s not all total violence, as the band displays some really fluid, imaginative playing down the back stretch, ending the track in corrosion. The title track begins in sweltering heat before the song cracks open, and strange growls meet you. The track keeps evolving as it goes on, with violent crunches, strong soloing, and the entire thing sounding space bound. The final minutes are marked by slow mauling and monstrous noises that sound anything but friendly. By the way, the cut features appearance by Trevor Strnad of Black Dahlia Murder and Paulo Paguntalan of Copremesis and Gath Smane, who contributes to the outro.

“Anchored to the Inlayed Arc” erupts, with Smith’s crazed growls barreling out of control and the pace numbing everything. Horrifying growls and technically driven firepower lay waste to everything, as things come to a gross finish in a pile of intergalactic gloop. “Mist Like Mercury” has a cool start, turning into a muddy, tarry nightmare, with the music heading off in all directions. Ugly misery rears its head, while the guitars explore the entire abrasive terrain, the music spirals out of control, and you’re left on the ground with the world spinning out of control. “Vacant Explorer” is violent at the front end but also disarmingly melodic underneath the chaos. Creaky growls and speedy playing unite, while the pace swirls and causes vertigo. Animalistic shrieks arrive later, while the mood gets atmospheric, yet ugly, giving the song an odd, but fitting finish. “Graveyard of Lightless Planets” trudges through the mud, while growls belch and guitars reach all over. The bulk of the song feels more like prog than death, though that doesn’t mean it’s not oppressively heavy. The final moments fade out into a black hole of noise that bleeds right into closer “Ash Eclipse.” A monstrous explosion and gross vocals greet you, while a run of imaginative playing is torn to shreds by a violent assault. The pace then gets even meaner, slaying with a thrashy abandon, bringing a storm of outright savagery. As the song winds toward its final destination, the playing gets rubbery, yet thunderous, leaving the song in a sticky mess of alien goo.

Artificial Brain remain one of the most inventive, damaging technical death metal bands out there right now, and “Infrared Horizon” is an astonishing creation by a band that is boiling in their own bizarre juices. I tend to veer away from a lot of tech-minded death because it often feels so cold and heartless, trading in soul for chops. Not Artificial Brain. These guys can destroy you with their prowess and get your brain wrapped around their futuristic nightmare in a little less than 48 minutes.

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

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

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

Foreseen mount fiery assault on world affairs on blistering second record ‘Grave Danger’

Photo by Hilja Mustonen

Now isn’t the time to be fucking around. There’s a lot of serious, bad shit going on everywhere, and things feel close to blowing up from all the tension and violence. Yes, diversions from real life can be healthy. But sometimes you have to stare the thing in the face, acknowledge what’s going on, and get really pissed off about it.

Some great inspiration comes from Finnish crossover beasts Foreseen, whose second record “Grave Danger” is a fast, menacing, and punishing affair that’s not about to jab its tongue in its cheek. If a record could even do that. Instead, we get eight straight piledrivers about the shit going on in this world and their piss and venom about what the state of affairs. Oddly, even though they’re not trying to distract you with humor or alternate subject matter, you might come away feeling rejuvenated, knowing there are other people who clearly see the shit rainbow smeared across the sky and aren’t about to ignore it. The band—vocalist Mirko Nummelin, guitarists Erkka Korpi and Jaakko Hietakangas, bassist Joonas Hakaste, and drummer Marten Gustafsson—are full of rage and destruction, hurling their take on the world’s scene and what’s leading to this piss bath, all the while thrashing the hell out of you.

“Violent Discipline” starts the record with a ripping assault complete with ferocious vocals, furious gang shouts, and a nasty trip into some bludgeoning thrash. The soloing burns off the scum on the surface, as the song comes to a hammering end. “Chemical Heritage” mashes away, as Nummelin’s maniacal shouts leave welts on your skin. The guitars light up brightly over the rousing chorus, and the bulk of the song simmers in deadly speed. “Fearmonger” is fast and punchy, with a simple chorus for shouting back live, and the tempo shifting enough to result in vertigo. A thrash groove and razor-sharp solo brings the song to a thunderous end. “Bloodline” is crunchy and trudging, with the shouts echoing, and classic metal-style guitar work adding extra muscle. Most of the song is nasty and galloping, and the track gets a white-hot finish.

“Downward Spiral” has crazy riffs spraying shrapnel, while animalistic wails and group shouts give the song added levels of raucous energy. The soloing rips a hole in the thing, as the gas pedal is stomped into the floor, and gang shouts of, “Downward spiral!” inject adrenaline. The title cut chugs as the thick bass swaggers into the meat of the song. Blunt growls and savage playing thicken the assault, while the heavy thrashing and forceful lead guitar work push the tempo over the top. “Government Cuts” is heavy as fuck, which may seem hyperbolic considering what preceded it, but this is ante-upping material. Raspy howls and metallic leads reveal a show of force, while ’80s-flavored metal and a pace that keeps rocketing jars the bones. Finally, the song settles into the heart of the fire, while sinewy bass bruises, and eerie noises and various radio reports give the chill of global emergency. “Suicide Bomber” caps off the set, a track that doesn’t even reach two minutes but makes the most of its run plastering with spat-out vocals, pure chaos, and a crushing, vicious end.

I often think people are not pissed off or disgusted enough about what is going on right now, but that does not extend to Foreseen. With “Grave Danger” as evidence, these 29 minutes blister its audience and lob verbal grenades at the people who threaten our very existence due to their self-serving actions. There is a lot of fighting that’s going to need to take place into the future, and Foreseen sound like they’re going to be right along those at the front line of the battle.

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

To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Black metal adventurers Farsot continue pushing boundaries on ‘Fail·Lure’

Black metal being a lawless society with no rules and barbarians at its gates to ensure no one creates any is a huge myth. There are a ton of guidelines artists are not supposed to go break, and when people go their own way, they’re not seen as true or real. It’s pretty funny, really, and it’s nice that so many bands have ignored that and gone their own way.

German black metal dreamers Farsot long have gone past the original rigid rules and have created a space very much of their own control. Creating similar tributaries as etched by bands such as Enslaved and Oranssi Pazuzu, Farsot have pushed their sound into the atmosphere and have recognized feral brutality is not the only way to make captivating black metal. Over their time together (which dates farther back that their recorded catalog), the band has delivered three mind-bending records, the latest being “Fail·Lure,” a six-track, nearly 48-minute journey into subject matter so refreshingly off the beaten-to-death black metal path. Influenced by Peter Greenway’s 1988 film “Drowning By Numbers” (a tale of three women successfully drowning their husbands), as well as Art Nouveau works by artists including Knopff and Klimt, the band creates a tale rife with all the tenets bringing down societies since day one, as well as rifts between the sexes that have been amplified, especially here in America, over the past half decade. The members—III . XXIII (guitars), XX . XVI, (strings), X.XIX (vocals, lyrics), XX . VIII (bass, keys), XIX . XVIII (drums and percussion)—only go by strange initials and shroud their faces, ensuring the focus is on their art and not the people behind these messages.

“Vitriolic” starts the record with an eerie path of noises that spread before the song opens into atmospheric, melodic black metal that soars. Creaky growls mix with strange singing, something that happens quite a bit on this record, while the track then goes into space and hits orbit. Once it returns, the pace grinds away while the drama keeps lapping like waves, and the track drowns in acoustics and whispers. “Circular Stains” stars in a clean, progressive vein, as whispers return and circle, before the tempo rips a hole in the ambiance. Those Enslaved comparisons come into focus a bit, while throaty growls and sorrowful singing lead the plot. Cleaner guitars rain down, while growls scrape as the song spirals away. “With Obsidian Hands” begins clean but also with hearty howls. A synth wash settles in as buzzing growls make their presence felt. The pace chugs and takes on a proggy feel, while acoustics push in and help the song transition from dark to light. Later, the bass work bursts, while the keys hint of outer space travel as everything melts into the stars.

“Under Currents” starts with muscular riffs that bring the bruising. Growls and robotic speaking mix with chaos, but then breezy guitar work soothes the bleeding nerve endings. The song then goes into psychedelic dreaming, as the tempo ramps up, and a dose of spirited punishment is meted out and enthralls. Sounds hang in the air, while a gust of noise pushes in and removes the breath from your lungs. “The Antagonist” starts in an unexpected Western vibe, but it’s not long before maniacal growls arrive, and the song sparks the imagination. Buzzing singing numbs, while the music rips open and brings a sense of vertigo to the piece, along with shouts of “Who am I?” that loop and blend into the final streaks of trance. Closer “A Hundred to Nothing” is an instrumental piece with a bass-heavy start that falls into a pit of trickling guitar and atmospheric pressure. Strong melodies and proggy thunder combine with some low-rumbling whispers as the song melts away.

Farsot’s deep imagination and yearning for something outside the normal parameters of black metal is what gives us collections as riveting as “Fail·Lure.” They’ve managed to come up with something that fits in with but also stands apart from the rest of their catalog, as well as a piece of work that stretches your mind into other realms of thinking. The gatekeepers may want to keep black metal confined to a tiny box, but as long as bands such as Farsot are willing to destroy those boundaries, they’re going to be the ones to grow the sound well into the future.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://en.prophecy.de/pre-order-bundles/

For more on the label, go here: http://en.prophecy.de/

Necrowretch greet holy week with horrific homage to forces of pure evil on ‘Satanic Slavery’

Satan. He sure gets around, huh? That guy’s face and influence are all over metal, and he has been a major force pretty much from the start of the genre. Now, there are bands that aren’t just making music about the horror version of Satan but are branching out and paying homage to spiritual forces that are very far and away from the Biblical version of the devil.

Yet, we still have bands in our midst that go the terrifying bloodshed route with the fellow downstairs, and one of them is French death machine Necrowretch. Over the course of their first two records, both released by Century Media, the band has done its best to return death and black metal to the grave, reminding that this style of music is best when it’s played in the ugliest form possible. On their new and third effort “Satanic Slavery,” they’ve added more elements of pure evil to their mission, making this their bloodiest, most blasphemous record to date. All of this during Holy Week at that! Nonetheless, with Season of Mist now behind them, this band—guitarist/vocalist Vlad, guitarist /bassist Kev Desecrator, and drummer Ilmar—unleashes a hellacious assault over eight tracks and nearly 39 minutes. This is an ideally portioned record that makes the most of its time and absolutely devastates without mercy.

“Sprawl of Sin” begins the record with a weird soundscape before the cut rips open and goes for the throat. A nasty path of death is beaten, with a glass-gargling chorus and the guitars lighting up. The soloing is razor sharp, with an awesome classic feel before the track crushes all the way to its finish. “Tredeciman Blackfire” is furious and blinding, with vicious growls and grinding death mashing flesh. The pace is grim and stomping, with Vlad wailing about “evil prophecies,” and the final minutes going raw and metallic, with death bells stinging. The title cut is utterly savage, cutting a path toward the lungs and making a case for the evil one’s powers. The track makes it feel like your muscles are being mangled in a blender, with growls plastering and guitars swirling. “Evil Names” dips into doom waters but also unleashes riffs that sound like vintage Slayer. The drums pulverize as the music spills into mind-warping territory, with the guitars spilling fire and devastating thrashing leaving massive bruises.

“Hellspawn Pyre” is heavy as hell and blasts through cement walls, with the guitars boiling and the pace spewing violence. Every moment of this track is vicious and punishing, leaving massive dents everywhere. “Bestial Rites” erupts with drums blasts spraying and the pace clobbering. The growls are vicious and animalistic, as the chorus sheds blood and grinds at flesh, and stunning riffs hurtling toward the finish. “Curse of Blasphemy” is mucky and ugly, launching into raw chaos and a chorus that barks its orders. Unhinged cries do their damage physically and mentally, while the title is howled repeatedly and is chock full of terror. Closer “Verses From the Depth” destroys from moment one, with inhuman growls arriving and the drums eating away like acid. While most of the track sickens and the bulk of the vocals sound delivered by a mad man, the final moments change things. Proggy guitar work lands, as if from the cosmos, and a final fire-breathing solo drags the record to its killer end.

Necrowretch keep alive the more traditional tenets of death and black metal on “Satanic Slavery,” a record that makes no bones about its blood bathing in pure evil. The music is ripping and deadly, and the album itself is some of their most immediate music. This is metal that isn’t trying to win awards or critical accolades and only cares about how much plasma is spilled.

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

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

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